Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Potpurri

I heard shrieks of joy outside the other morning and looked out to see this: doubled up swinging! Thank you big kids for including slightly-less-big-but-ever-growing kid!
 Since I was out there I helped Soren get into the new sandbox under the play structure. He posed for the picture below, then started shrieking again--and this time it wasn't shrieks of joy. "MONSTERS!" he cried. "MOM, HELP, MONSTERS!" Obviously worried (roaches, termites, shiver), I peeked into the sandbox. Um.................. potato bugs. Rolie Polies. Not monsters. I giggled, then tried to assure my shrieker as I scooped them out. 
 These two giggled along with me. They are great little companions. Thank heavens for wonderful neighbors.
 ***
I realized something this week. When your kids are small and do cool stuff, you can share it on the blog without feeling braggy. We all love a good Soren story, right? But as your kids grow and continue to do cool stuff, it's harder to report on without sounding braggy. So I'm going to brag instead about our garden and our hydrangeas, and mix in completely neutral stories about Zane and Annie, just for fun. Or something. :) 
Here is our garden haul from this past weekend. Kale for days! :) Zane has said in earlier weeks that it's too bad most of our garden goodies are green. Green = not as good as non-green. Actually, I had a really big salad to make yesterday and was so glad to be able to "share" all that kale. And in the meantime, the non-green things are beginning their moment in the sun.
Zane had his swim banquet last Thursday evening. He told me going in it was his favorite night of the year. "Good friends, great food and lots of it, awards, and a team gift! Nothing can beat it!" I am so happy he's found a home with this wonderful, hard working team. And at the end of the night, he came home with a new CAT-monogrammed (clemson aquatic team) fleece blanket (monogramming is big here in the south--the only place I've lived where this is the case) AND a trophy for being the most improved swimmer in his age group. When presenting the award, his coach said, "Zane is always ready to swim, be it at the beginning of practice, or 5 minutes after the end of practice when you have to yell at him to get out. And he loves Butterfly, which makes him even more remarkable." Zane beamed during the speech, and so did I! Hard-working, easy going, wonderful kid.
***
 The Hydrangeas are out, and starting to overtake their own bushes with yellow and blue deliciousness.
 I'll add more pics when all the blooms look like this:
Speaking of flowers blooming, our Annie has had the chance to work one-on-one this month with the extraordinary Russian ballerina who usually teaches only the older girls at her ballet studio. They are learning a variation from the ballet, "Don Quixote" and it has been a thrill to watch the two rehearse together. As Annie's mom, I am used to getting much backlash and attitude whenever I try and correct or advise (I mean come on, we all remember Annie at 2, right? 3? 4?), so I really wondered how she would handle one-on-one tutelage from such a professional. I'm so happy to report that she's taken to it beautifully, and I actually see the two of them having a blast during their lesson. The teacher expects the best and Annie gives it to her, in technique, attitude, and style. They bound together across the room like two gorgeous gazelles, while I remember my own stumblings in Ballet I at Wyoming and laugh at the memory. I'm so happy to see Annie in her element. It has been a real treat this month.
***
Um, did someone say Gardenia scents to back up the Hydrangeas in the front yard? May, you're my favorite.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Garden Details (oh yeah, and those awful school pictures)

Let's start with the school pictures, actually. Seriously, when are they going to get that we don't want pictures of our kids in front of fake water scenes? Annie thought she "totally looks like a teenager" in hers (said with her best teenager voice without even trying. heaven help me). 
 And poor, sweet, honest Zane. When he is not into something, it's kinda written all over his face.
But you're standing right in front of a beautiful lake scene! The least you could do is not look like you're being tortured! 
Ah, well, maybe next year.
***
 I could tell you about any aspect of my days at the moment and you would probably nod off. We do a lot of the same things, over and over! Kids to school, gym to sweat, grocery store sometimes, pick up kids, teach lessons, head to swim/dance, dinner, sleep, repeat! Boh-ring.
But one thing I've really enjoyed doing over and over this spring is heading outside around dinner time, supplementing our meal with things from the garden. On this particular night, I had a helper.
 He likes to "pull a carrot (or two) outta the ground!" You never quite know what size you're going to get! He would prefer they came with no dirt attached, however. 
We've also enjoyed "baby broccoli" this year, though I've yet to cook it in a way that highlights the veggie itself and not the butter/oil/salt/pepper on top. One night I commented on our happy baby broccoli (broccolini) and Brandon said, "Oh, really, that's a real vegetable? And we planted it? I'm so relieved! I just thought we had sickly looking broccoli, but I didn't want to hurt your feelings!" Phew!
We did three kinds of greens this year: spinach, romaine lettuce, and kale. If any of you know Jon Gaffigan, you know kale is normally "like spinach with hair." I'm happy to report, though, that our kale is tender and quite un-furry. We have enjoyed many salads made entirely from these three garden greens. Very cool.
 
The peas plants came up and then did nothing (i.e. no peas), but this week they busted out some really pretty blossoms which gives me hope! My southeastern neighbors had never heard of growing peas this way like we do out west, and now I might know why. At least we got some flowers out of the deal! 
  
And the cauliflower is just starting to grow inside of each plant (we've been watching for weeks and weeks now!). In a couple more weeks, we're going to have an army of cauliflower on our hands.
I recently read a letter my dear Grandma Bee sent me in high school. It is a letter of memories, probably requested by me for a school project. One of her favorite memories was going as a child to her grandparents farm out in Tooele, UT. She loved having fresh fruits and vegetables aplenty, because at home they always had to be very frugal about what/how much produce they ate. She said she thought that was why she loved gardening so much---it gave her the opportunity to give so many fruits and veggies away to others. I sure love that Gram. If she were here in a few weeks, I'd give her a cauliflower (or two)!
This final shot is of the front/back half of the garden. When my parents were here they planted tomatoes, beans, cakes, and basil. All are coming along nicely.
 Again, if you asked me what I did this spring, this would be a favorite. I gardened! Come over, I'll give you some of the loot!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Late April Happenings


We are back to our normal routines now, which don't seem at all as fun as having Gigi and Gramps here. Soren was pretty bitter about NOT being able to JOIN them on the airplane that day, in fact. But there have been a few events and quotes I wanted to try and remember.
First of all, boyfriend. is. potty trained. Finally. Some kids take one weekend. When they're two. Soren took eight months. And he's almost four. Oh, potty training, the bane of my existence. I'm pretty sure it's more painful than child birth. But anyway. Hooray Soren, we can be friends again!
Soren has also taken an interest in all friends of Annie. Mostly those who invite her to their parties. So he's VERY upset when the invitation only says "for Annie." But this last weekend, friend Brian invited Annie + siblings (and mom) to a party in his backyard. A party where there was an 18 foot inflatable slide. Um, jackpot! Zane chose mountain biking with Pops instead, but Soren was ALL IN.  And every time he went down, after yelling, "AAAAAHHHHH!!!" he'd get to the bottom, raise his hands in the air, and say, "I want to go AGAIN mom!" Thank you, Brian's parents!

Speaking of Zane's mountain biking adventures, here's the text I received from him that afternoon while watching Soren plummet down this thing one hundred times:

"Hi Mom. This is Zane. I had a bit of a 😠🚵🏻 and crashed epically when going off a jump. Now I am safe and we are going to get 🍧 from cookout."

So basically, mountain biking is lots of fun and lots of injuries? Heaven help me! At least there's ice cream at the end!

Okay, that's all I can think of. We are holding on tight to the steam engine that is MAY around here. I'm sure everyone feels that way this time of year. Lots to look forward to this month and the summer following it!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy Parents' visit

My dear, dear folks came to visit this past week. They are such wonderful people. We were all very much in need of their love and attention. And did they ever deliver! Let me count the ways. Let's see, there was the yard work, and the reading to children, and the garden expansion, and the game playing, and the exterior clean-up, and the concert going, and the food prepping, and the scripture reading, and the movie going, and the frame finding/hanging, and the secret bed making, and the shed cleaning out, and the basketball shooting, and the happy chatting, and the yummy restaurant eatings, and the joke telling, and the compliment giving, and the choir attending, and the flower planting, and on and on and on. These guys came and gave everything to us, day after day. The only thing we could give in return was our wonderful springtime weather and our smiles and hugs and thanks. Not sure it was balanced, but they didn't seem to care. Here are some pictures of the fun:
 We've had this sandbox for at least six months now, but making the push to buy the sand and put it under the play place was apparently too much for us. Until now! And it's a gift that keeps on giving; the two littles are at this exact moment in the same positions you see them below, while I type blissfully nearby:
 (Annie wanted to remember her sand castle creation. She's been learning lots from those cake shows on Netflix.)
Our garden produced some wonderful greens during the visit. We had enough homegrown happiness for four or five family salads, made up of kale, spinach, and romaine lettuce. Annie's garden for the win!
Speaking of gardens, ours is thriving! So much so that we got the courage to double it in size by removing some nearby bushes. And by "got the courage" I mean I told my dad I was thinking about doing it and 12 minutes later, the bushes were out and the garden was huge! He was like my fairy godfather---bippity boppity boo!
With our newfound spaces, we (Gramps and Annie) planted pole beans, tomato plants, cucumbers, bush beans, and a basil plant. Bring on the summer veggies!
 The rest of us looked on and helped when needed/blew bubbles/shot basketballs that night. Soren also had his adorable new binoculars from Sunbeams handy, just in case.
Gardening by osmosis (aka watching while other people get their fingers dirty) is my favorite kind of gardening!
We asked Zane to take a couple pictures that same night. Soren would NOT cooperate until we offered him some MarioKart time (another highlight--getting batteries after needing them for many, many months--I'm telling you, things other than food for the table and toilet paper are just outside my usual purchasing radar). And even then, his best attempts were a little subpar. As my mom noted, it's hard to get both. sides. of. the. smile. up at the same time sometimes! Silly boy.
 
Hydrangeas started to pop during the visit! Can't wait for more to come.
 Here's another fun activity, this time inside the house. This is our beloved Golden Books Go Fish game, in which you might be asked, "Do you have the Saggy Baggy Elephant?" or "Do you have the Pokey Little Puppy?" When Soren sat down across from my dad, he said outloud, "I'm going to crush the competition!" And he did.
 (Lucky you, there's the Saggy Baggy Elephant down in front!)

 One thing that was very cool this trip was that both my parents got to take a grandchild on a date to a performance at the Brooks Center on campus. My mom and Zane went to something called Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk and my dad got to take Annie to the CU Symphony Orchestra where some of her older ballet friends performed with one of the numbers. We don't have a picture of the Gigi/Zane night, only funny stories about missing the turn and almost going all the way to the church in the next town instead, but we do have a picture of Annie all dressed up with Gramps. As you can see, they were quite a pair throughout the visit.
And speaking of the Botanical Gardens! :) What, we weren't speaking of that? Well we are now, and let me tell you, I've figured out the way to get Zane pumped about the Botanical Gardens. Simply allow him to skip school AND supply him with a Slurpee and you're golden. Brilliant! It only took Gigi and Gramps to figure it out!
 
 We basically walked around and soaked in the beauty of spring and our love for each other that morning. And when it got too hot, we left. Easy peasy.
 
 
 (It was such a nice change to see a smile on that Zane's face! Love these boys of mine!)
***
Here's one more shot from my front yard. Happy girls, beautiful azaleas:
I am so grateful for my parents. They swooped in and gave us a wonderful and memorable week. Brandon was here for the first half, but he got out of pictures by going out of town for a conference before I got my camera out. And when he left, though we missed him, his void was filled by these two loving helpers. Easiest out-of-town-conference endurance ever.
On top of everything, my parents make me feel like a super hero. Much like Soren below. Mom and dad, thanks for making me feel like I have huge muscles, inside and out! Love you guys!