Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Plants Grow Me

 Sweet Basil growing on the kitchen windowsill.

Basil is an intentional plant.  You have to decide you want it and plant the seed.  You have to wait for it and wait for it.  It will only germinate in the right conditions.  It loves warmth and lots of watering.  You have to give it what it needs each day or it will not thrive.   But when properly cared for it is a sweet aroma and useful for many things.  
 Wild rose outside the window.

This wild rose was trying to grow in the wrong spot.  I know, I know, plants are supposed to know these things, like where to grow and when, but not this guy.  Perhaps that is why it is called a wild rose.  I saw it and dug it up and put it in a proper place.  It needed the sunshine and shelter of the spot right outside the window.  It also happens to be now right where our family can see it every day and enjoy its beauty. In the fall it will give us fruit, but only now because its in the right spot where it can get what it needs.
Concord grapes just forming on the vine

Last year, we decided it was time to really prune back the grapevines.  They are so overgrown after years of not being tended.  We still were getting fruit from them, but the trellis supporting them had become rotten and needs to be rebuilt.  It is such a tangle of vines that in order to rebuild we really needed to cut it down completely just to sort it out.  I had read about it and was glad to learn that grapes are very resilient and would grow back even better than before, but still I was hesitant.  Grapes only grow on second year vines and I didn't want to miss out on the fruit.  

Last fall we decided it was time though, and I cut the vines back alot.  It was hard work and felt somewhat emotional to me.  I remembering being upset that I had to do it, but didn't feel qualified for the task.  I had tried and tried to find someone to do it for me.  Someone who knew how to prune back old tangled vines, but I couldn't find anyone.  Finally deciding it was my mess to deal with, I went to work.  After two days of work, I finished most of the cutting with the intent of doing more in early spring as we rebuilt the trellis.  And then spring came, and it was wet and cold and the planting took longer than we anticipated and the trellis never happened.  And last week after the storm I found the vines were suddenly green and bearing fruit.  More fruit than I could've even imagined.  And I am not afraid of pruning anymore, since I've seen with my own eyes what it can produce.
 Snow Peas in Bloom

I love growing peas.  Their vines are graceful, their flowers dainty.  They grow little pods full of sweetness all packaged up like a gift.  All the while it gives back to the soil nutrient rich nitrogen.  Carefully fixing the nitrogen deep down so it will stay put until it is needed for another plant.  I check on them each day and they remind me of how I want to be.  They whisper growth right down into me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Boys

Hen likes to have toast and tea.  In real life too.
 Why does a two year old like such a thing?  Because his favorite book is currently The Two Towers by Tolkien.  I can not distinguish the why of his love for this book.  It could be that he loves when his papa reads to him for way too long before bedtime.  All of them really revel in that attention and time when papa tucks them all in and then lies down on the floor (at their level at last?) and reads to them.
It could also be that Hen, small as he is, just knows what he likes.  He doesn't seem to know he's only two.  Yesterday at baseball, as we were packing up to go, we looked around and couldn't find Hen.  He was just with me the second only takes a second!  We quickly found him in the crowd weaving his way over to someone.  He looked determined.  I quickly followed and got to him just as he approached the snack lady and said, "May I please have some pretzels?"  She looked a little shocked.  I was a tad embarassed.  But hey!  He saw something he wanted and decided to go ask for it.  I say that's pretty mature.  And such nice manners. 

The two older boys have been busy in their world of play.  Our days are spent reading good things, working alongside one another, and playing.  Sometimes the playing is outside exploring, sometimes it's inside with toys or make believe.  They have been working on their friendship, and although they have always been close, it's getting better still.  They are more aware now of how their actions affect each other and I see them at times thinking of the other person instead of only themselves.  Good stuff.

After yesterday's baseball practice.   Two happy boys.

And little Owl?  (Not pictured)  Well...he's often found curled up in my lap these days.  Yeah.  It's that five year old thing that happens....remember that?  Where he wants to embrace the independence and often does, but at the same time wants his mama more than ever.  I'm glad to receive such love just now. Mothering is just my cup of tea.  What a gift.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Figuring It Out

Wow, what a week it's been.  A storm blew through after all the heat we had and we spent the following day cutting wood.  We lost two huge tree limbs, and one of the trees might not make it as a result.  Yet, we felt spared.  We have so much to be thankful for and considering how scary the storm seemed we are glad no one was hurt.  The rest of the week was filled with more planting, weeding and watering, in the garden and in our hearts.  Life is such an adventure.  I never want my boys to stop learning, to stop trying, to stop loving.  So I won't stop either!

We headed up to my parent's place for a quick visit on Sunday and now are home for a new week.  Today is the first day of baseball.  J bought himself a new glove.  I love watching the boys play catch with their papa.  I love watching J play with our kids.

The strawberries are ripening.  We picked our first bowl this morning for breakfast.

Yesterday I balanced the checkbook.  I feel like I deserve a cookie for this.  Seriously.  But that would defeat the purpose of my recent working out.  The kids and I walked three miles yesterday.  I pushed the double stroller the whole way with the littlest two in it!  And today I walked again with a friend of mine, who has blessed me with a willingness to get out there with me in the wee hours of the morning.  I think I rolled out of bed at 4:40 this morning.  I told the boys we'd definitely need to rest before baseball tonight, and I'm hoping I make it until then.  (don't sit down, don't sit down....)

And, well, that's all really.  There are plans of course.  I'm hoping to do a baking day soon followed by a cooking day.  I'd like to get some things in the freezer for later use.  I plan on enjoying this summer in whatever way we can!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Hot!

Today was the second day of temperatures in the high 90's here.  For us that's hot.  Well, for anyone that's hot!  It's been a long two days, but only one more to go according to the forecast!  Today to beat the heat we went out for lunch and lingered over cold drinks.  We went to the library and actually hung out there. (yes, I am a "get in, get what you need, get out" kind of person with four kids at the library most days)  We had shut the house up early, early today to keep the "cooler" air in, but by 2:00 it was 85 in here.  We were droopy.

Then, J came home a bit early and walked in the door saying, "Come on, we're going out for pizza!"  Whoo hooo!  So we headed out again and found refuge in a glass of rootbeer and the cold local pub that has awesome homemade pizza.  Then off to the lake for a quick dip and home to baths and bedtime.

I just wandered in from watering the garden.  It is amazing how we survive these kinds of days just fine.  I know many people in the world are always hot and hungry and more.  But we are not so used to it, since it's only springtime here and the spring has been cool and wet.

Also, just wanted to say, that I'm sorry I haven't written more, but I just don't have it in me right now.  I don't do things half heartedly most of the time, and the blog just hasn't seemed worth my time right now.  I love to write.  I love that some of you check in with us through my writing and photos.  I love that it is a record of our days.  Words to remember for us.  Yet, it is an investment from this end, and I have to admit that there is only so much of me.  I think I may be in a season of feeling like I need to invest more in the moment.  More "right here" in this small sphere that's been given to me.  And honestly that is more than enough for me! :)

So we'll see.  We'll see what happens with the writing.  Know that I've been making rugs and crocheting flower barrettes like crazy.  I just haven't posted them on here for awhile.  Maybe someday, I'll give you a peek.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Turns out we are "house rich".  Who knew?  Seems, I'd guess, from many perspectives, living in this old house with all the many many unfinished or in-need-of-repair things would make us anything but rich.  And it's true that we are so rich in so many ways.  Our house is such a huge blessing!  

House rich just means that we are paying way more than we should be...according to Dave Ramsey...the percentage of earnings that you spend on your mortgage should be about 30% of your monthly income.  Oops.  Ours is almost 75%.  That being said, I think we've done a wonderful job living and feeding six people on so little without going into debt.  Don't you think?

So....we've realized how much we need to make this house worthwhile.  I mean it is.  But you know.  We have to use what we have to make up for the income that we just don't have right now!  (Still hugely blessed!)  Which brings me to the garden.  If you haven't noticed we've been pretty busy.  And here is what we have to show for it.

 Strawberries.  Tons of strawberries, just forming now...
 Broccoli.  Yum.
 Lettuce.  Can't remember the variety.  Isn't it pretty?
 Beets.  Hurray!
A favorite spot of the boys while mama is working in the garden.  The seat watches over the hen house, which is always fun.  The more coveted seat is on the blanket in the dirt next to me, the digger of bugs.  I'm actually after the quack grass roots (yes, i've dug up the entire garden by hand this year) but don't tell the boys.  They think it's cool that I am looking for bugs.  We've read several books about garden pests this year and finally found a good one that has photos of bugs in their larval stage too.   Can you just picture us all puttering out in the dirt.  One boy finds a caterpillar and the other flips through the book looking for it's name.   There is so much learning going on over here!

Tonight, we have a pizza night planned, which includes early bedtimes for the littles and some time for J and I to connect. (here's hopin' one of us won't fall asleep as soon as we sit down!)  The boys have been staying up so late working and playing outside.  Somehow, nine-thirty has become the standard bedtime, and my early risers have been sleeping in!

Oh, one more thing...the boys wanted me to tell you that they cut down a tree this weekend.  It's true they did.  (with lots of help)  We cut down a tree that was causing some damage to the garden and a neighboring tree.  The boys sawed the pieces apart and hauled them to the woodpile all afternoon.  I'm so proud of my little men.  And so thankful that I am able to teach them the joy of hard work and living to serve one another.