Monday, June 27, 2011

The Garden

Today's photo credits once again go to Amy. All the shots in this post are totally by her, except for the canna lily at the end, and the sunflower banner. (Thought I'd warm up the blog a bit for summer.)
Our garden is doing quite well this year! Last year was a little disappointing, for reasons I don't really recall, but this year our small yard once again has that cozy, green, tropical feel. The grass has finally won out over the dandelions and so far we haven't had too many pest problems on the veggies. We had several very dry weeks in late May and early June, but lately precipitation has been just about right.

Of course, the first sunflower to bloom was NOT one of the ones I planted, but a volunteer. It is taller than me and is currently bent with the weight of a lot of seeds - I saw a goldfinch pair there today. Amy and I also planted some cutting mix of sunflowers in the same bed, and those are all quite tall and just about to bloom. Behind them are the canna lilies once again, thriving.

It is occurring to me as I write this that some more illustrative pictures would go nicely with all this pithy explanation, but I don't have any of those right now... I just have the three-year-old perspective pictures. But I think I like those better anyway.

We have three tomato plants - 2 cherry somethings and one "purple cherokee" - both heirloom varieties that I successfully started from seed! I do wish I'd started them about 3 weeks earlier; they would have been fine.

Early in the season we also dug in some grocery store potatoes that had started to sprout. They grew like crazy and threatened to take over the garden so I took them out and have since planted some beans (which are surprising me, since this picture was taken, with their runners - I need a trellis)... And Amy wanted to plant radishes and carrots, too. I have also recently put in some cucumbers. I know how fast they'll grow in this heat, and with a growing season that extends well into the fall here there should be plenty of time for them yet.

It seems the little photographer snuck in a self-portrait.

I was questioning whether I took this picture and just didn't remember (I was using the camera that night, too). But the angle is right for her little arms, and I know she took it because she's actually looking at the lens - she never looks at me if I'm trying to take her picture. Mr. William was of course in on the fun as well.

The astilbes did very well again this year; they are just finishing up blooming. And we planted morning glories everywhere, though are still awaiting their flowers. More pictures of all of this as the season progresses!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dogs, Drawing, and the Yarn Monster

For someone like me who is fairly project-oriented, likes to-do lists, and likes crossing things off, this whole child-rearing business often leaves me asking myself the question "what exactly did I do all day?" I use this blog to remind myself of what I do accomplish, at least in the creative department. So when I feel in a blog dry-spell it is easy to think that I haven't been up to much of anything besides the usual. Then today I took a look around at stacks of construction paper and art-work-covered walls and realized that I very much have been engaged in creative endeavors these last few weeks, and in the best possible way, because my kids (both of them!) are in making some huge strides in their own little artistic lives.

Amy has had the markers out every day, and of course William wants to do whatever she is doing, so I've be letting him draw as well. He's quite delighted with his scribbling and does so pretty competently for a one-year-old. He's also fascinated with taking the caps on and off, and when all that gets old, crumpling the paper or tasting the markers is always good fun too.

Though after a long day of self-expression there comes a point where he has to turn in his markers and go for the pinkie... an artist's life is tough.

Then there's Amy. Oh, my darling Amy, who vexed her mother for at least a year with her disinterest in coloring or any similar activity. Amy who fiddled and fidgeted and pretended crayons were people rather than draw with them. Amy, who now happily spends every morning at the kitchen table with her mother for "arts and crafts time" while William naps. My Amy finally can draw.

Oh, and she can also write her name, legibly and without prompting. And a few other letters, too. But back to the drawing. This yellow page below was probably the breakthrough moment for her. She has been OBSESSED with dogs lately. Lady and the Tramp gets a daily screening. We go to Petco a lot. She pretends to be a dog. She pretends we have dogs. She has her book of dog breeds pretty much memorized and she'll tell you exactly what breeds of dogs she wants to get "when we have a bigger house." And for the most part I'm pretty happy to indulge her obsession because it is closely tied with her new found love of drawing and coloring.

See all those dogs up there? (I drew the dogs) Well, each dog is sitting on its own grooming table, with a collar and a leash tied to the wall so they can't run away. Just like the grooming salon at Petco. She drew all those tables. And to the left of every table is another table with the grooming supplies: scissors, shampoo, claw trimmers. Of course.

Later that night I took William up for a bath while she wanted to stay downstairs to do more drawing. This is what she presented me with when she came upstairs:

Those are all "dogs in cages." Big ears and everything. I realize that these drawings are probably only remarkable to me, but the joy on her face when she showed me this one was the best. She's a perfectionist, and doesn't like to do anything unless she can do it well (I wonder where she gets that from). So until quite literally two weeks ago, she would not even attempt any kind of free-hand drawing, no matter how much I encouraged her. Then this dog business came along and I was busily drawing dogs and cages and leashes and Petco signs and all sorts of other paraphernalia for her when she finally wanted to try it herself. Now it has all clicked for her, and she's an unstoppable force of markers and construction paper.

Here's a rare departure from her dog genre. These are black-eyed-Susans (she came up with it, I swear), a blue sky, butterfly, and some pink clouds.

And here are two in her series, Owners with Their Dogs:

I really am so stinkin' proud of her. I desperately wish I had more talent for drawing, or more artistic education, or both, but nevertheless creating is something I value so highly in my own life that I really want my kids to at least feel free to give it a try in theirs.

I think we are, at last, off to a good start with that, and I am one happy Mama.

Oh, and I almost forgot! The Yarn Monster! I refuse to write another post about this dang afghan until it is finished, but had to update: I have finally turned the corner and am past the half-way point. Since it is worked on the diagonal those rows closest to the middle got soooo loonnng and I really lost my MO. But now I'm back at it with renewed enthusiasm. And restocked yarn. Hence the Yarn Monster. All I have to say is that I've had to buy an awful lot of yarn for the afghan that was supposed to be a stash buster. This thing is going to weigh 15 pounds by the time it's done. But I love it.

A few more quick things then I'll be done, I promise.

-A big Happy Third Anniversary shout out to my brother (who never updates his blog) and sister-in-law. Love you guys!
-I rarely link to other blogs because, well, we all know what is out there. But I just loved this piece today - one of my favorite bloggers guest-posting on my other favorite blog. And it pretty much sums up about how I feel about my life and my house these days.
-And lastly, stayed tuned for a garden update post sometime soon, with pictures by Miss Amy herself.

Okay, that's all I've got! Thanks for sticking with me on this one and indulging a mother's pride. Now I'm off to work on that monster...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Moment

I am sitting in the white rocking chair in our bedroom, nursing my little boy. It is darker right now than it usually is at this time of the evening, thanks to a passing thunderstorm. I am listening to Don and Amy reading together down the hall. Outside the soft rolls of thunder give way to a steady and gentle rain. The window is open and the barest breeze slips in. We left the stereo on after dinner, and I can hear music drifting up the stairs. The CD has changed though, and the familiar chords of Dougie MacClean make a perfect soundtrack to this moment. One of the cats is dozing on the bed, stretched out and so relaxed that she is snoring just slightly. As the rain eases a wood thrush starts calling, clear and crisp and melodious. My boy is now fast asleep and I carry him to his room and lay him down in his bed. Kisses to both my angels, and I slip out the door.

My mind is quite occupied these days just thinking over all the things coming our way in the next six months. My hands are quite occupied with two little kids who always need something. It is rare and wonderful to have a moment like this, so simple and quiet that I can be fully there and a part of it.

Wishing you all a moment tonight.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Family Update Brought to You by Robin Hood

This is, sadly, just about the only thing I've sewed in months. Amy has been bugging me for quite awhile to make her a Robin Hood costume (to go with her Maid Marian costume, which she still wears at least twice a week). I kept putting her off thinking she'd forget about it, but she's Amy - she never forgets about anything. So, thankfully, my idea for how to make a RH tunic, belt, and hat as simply as possible actually worked, and she was satisfied. Of course she really needs someone else her size to wear this costume so she can be MM and fall in love with RH... usually her stuffed Clifford ends up wearing the Robin costume. My my, it's not easy.

Anyway, I'm feeling otherwise short on bloggy material this week because there has just been so much else going on. Sniffly, feverish girl at the beginning of the week, nearly-walking boy, broken air conditioner, errands to run, house to clean, blah blah blah. But the biggest news from this past week simply must be shared: After six months of waiting, we finally received word on Don's OCS (Officer Candidate School) application...

... and he was accepted!!!!!!

I am so incredibly proud of my husband on this huge honor and accomplishment. He devotes a staggering amount of energy to his job and has the drive and vision to serve in a capacity far beyond where he is now. We have talked about the OCS possibility for the whole five years that he's been in the Coast Guard, and even before he joined, so the fact that we now know that it is going to happen is really amazing. We'll have most of the summer together, then he'll be away for four months of training, and then we'll be moving to places unknown.

So that's the scoop. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers for those of you who have known about this process. We can't wait to see what's next.