Saturday, October 19, 2019

Cold Front









It always, always feels like a holiday around here when the first cold front blows through... like, the first real cold front (I'm not talking about those false-hope fronts that bring the daytime highs down into the mid-80's, y'all). We got a good one this week, and I felt perfectly justified pulling out the hot chocolate, hoodies, and long pants, then later lighting a fire in the fire pit (never mind that it was also because we cut down a couple trees and needed to clean up the branches).

We even had to close down the windows a couple times- we got chilly!

I know it'll be warm again soon, but I am so glad we got to really feel fall for a few days!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Horses and Dinner







We had the privilege of joining some friends at a charity dinner this week to celebrate the work done by Riding Unlimited in our community. Using horses- and a tiny little donkey named Tony- as therapy animals, the good people at Riding Unlimited work with the handicapped and people struggling with physical limitations. They put on an impressive event, complete with a honky-tonk band, brisket, and an appearance made by some of the therapy animals. They made a particular impression on Kyle, who was extremely impressed by their whole operation and left vowing to be one of the contributors in the following year.

Audrey and Henry especially liked the donkey and the dancing.

I enjoyed the company and the amazing sunset out the barn doors. We rubbed elbows with some of the wonderful, spunky clients and other community supporters. It was so good to get out of our 'usual' and experience another angle of what's going on around us. It was a good night.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Elevensies













It's never very much fun to have a birthday on a weekday, is it? But we did our best to help our oldest Little make the most of her day today- first thing in the morning she had her birthday bag and a lemon muffin, followed by a ride to school and drop-off with Grammy and Gramps, cupcakes to share with her classmates, special drinks when she got back home, steaks for dinner, three new book series to add to her collection..................................... and her very own laptop.

Oh, and she lost her first molar at dinner, too.


Little Brother is doing his very best to be happy for his sister, and we're having fresh new conversations about responsibility and trust now, too, thanks to this new device being located in her room. I think she's up for it, though. My girl is a pretty good rule-follower. The first thing she said after all the "THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUs" was, "Now I can do my homework on my own computer in my own room!"

Set that good example, Big Sister. I think I know what just made the top of Little Brother's wish list!

Happy birthday, Audrey Grace, we love you more than you will ever know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

11-Eve


Sister's turning 11 tomorrow (at 6:40am, to be precise). She asked me this morning if she was going to be a teenager after this birthday, then she said she couldn't think of anything she wanted for a birthday present, then she asked if she could have some coffee.

My sweet smart girl, my ninja, my violinist; a Minecraft extraordinaire, Guinea pig tamer, OJ maker, and ponytail aficionado; afraid of spiders, not afraid to help a stranger, thoughtful and funny and uninterested in frilly things..... the best girl a Mama could ask for.

We did a "Yes Day" this past weekend instead of a traditional birthday party this time around (her choice), have you heard of these? Basically for one full day you get to do whatever you want (within reason). Anything that would add to the enjoyment of the day, the answer is yes.

She had doughnuts for breakfast.
She played Minecraft all morning.
She had Ramen noodles and a trip to the ice cream shop for lunch.
She skipped our usual rest time and played Minecraft some more.
We had fondue for dinner, and for dessert she had frozen CoolWhip topped with the filling from Oreos (just the filling, not kidding).
She stayed up as late as she wanted and read in bed (she lasted until about 10pm).

She reports it was an excellent Yes Day.



Of course we have a few more surprises for her real birthday, and there will be cupcakes to bring to school tomorrow. It's hard over here, lemme tell ya.

Oh my girl, you are a hoot. Happy 11-Eve!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Hanging Out



 



I had the opportunity last night to get my two Littles to settle in the kitchen with me while I made dinner. We all shared "special drinks," talked about our bests and worsts for the day, and joked around. The windows were open, the house was quiet, and the dog was calm(ish). It was a great time... just hanging out.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Pasta

We made two huge lasagnas this past weekend- from scratch- for some friends that came over for dinner... and by 'from scratch,' I mean we made homemade bechamel, homemade marinara, and homemade pasta (then packed it all in a disposable casserole pan because, life).

What's funny is I thought it would be an afternoon of me in the kitchen doing sauces and browning meat and making pasta sheets all by my lonesome while respective screens held everyone else captive... but a funny thing happened when the pasta maker came out...




First there was one, then there were two, and in the end all three of my people were in there with me, helping (or taking photos)! I shouldn't have been surprised, they all historically have a healthy interest in helping to make (and eat) pasta (going all the way back to here).

It was a good time (and a good dinner)!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A Lesson Learned

We cleaned up the yard a bit this past weekend, and part of that process was finally moving the chicken tractor from it's fateful location where it failed our peeps (I haven't done a thing to it since that morning). When I rolled it away to be stored next to the garden, Audrey was left staring at the hole where the coyote breached the perimeter, and she decided she didn't want to see it anymore. It made her imagine her scared Blue Chick and all the feathers she found afterwards.

She decided she would fill it in and mark the spot so she could remember the peeps, but not feel sad about what happened anymore.

And so she did.



I watched her from the sidelines and stayed out of the way, and she worked at filling in that hole by herself until it was to her satisfaction. She didn't look up, she didn't ask for help or say a word about the rocky soil or the manual labor, she just kept her head down and did the work until the hole was filled and marked with some gray-blue stones... the same color as her Blue Chick's feathers.

When she was done she moved on with her day, and I think that small effort gave her a measure of peace that all my words- and the reading of this book- hadn't helped her find.

For a moment after I discovered our loss, I considered trying to hide it from my kiddos, and though I did end up telling them that morning what happened, I think the fact that we took more than a month to go out there and actually deal with the site testifies to the fact that on some level I was still trying to protect them from the reality of what happened out there. However, I have to consider that in keeping the details from them, I might have actually dragged out their pain and sense of loss (for the Chicken Friend at least), and facing it head-on and dealing with it hands-on is actually what helped the most.

I'll have to remember this lesson learned, for sure.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Right Now




Right now, I'm...

...feeling that seasonal tugging and pulling outward to our outdoor projects; this past weekend I finally made the time to break up my iris and move them away from an area where Suka had basically trodden them down to nothing. In their place now stands several large boulders that I'd like to see her destroy! Hardscaping for the win!
...gearing up for our first weeknight soccer game (tonight) that will probably keep us out until 9pm. I hope our little guys can last that long... and it's still so hot, too!
...spending a lot of time feeding bees. This hot and dry streak we can't seem to break is really delaying the fall nectar flow, and even hives that had good stores coming through the summer are needing a little help. Keeping fingers crossed that we'll get some rain- and then a nice fall bloom- before it freezes!
...looking forward to a Wednesday night out to participate in a wine dinner at a local farm-to-table restaurant with some friends, and hoping us bigs can last that long (because we'll probably be out after 9pm on another weeknight... unheard of)!
...fighting all of nature right now to keep my hens and eggs! We're now down to three hens and our young mosaic rooster, and I have a suspicion as the seasons change that the attention they're getting right now from all the predators is only going to increase. We may need to give that automatic door a break for a bit and coop them up (ahem) while we lock down and fortify the run. Plans are already underway.
...beginning to think about a certain girl's eleventh birthday, now only about three weeks away (as I have been recently reminded). This year she is choosing to pilot a new celebration idea- the Yes Day. Instead of a typical party with friends and favors and such, Sister wants to have a day where we do whatever she wants (within reason) and no one can say no from the moment she wakes up until she goes to bed. She is practically giddy with all the things she thinks she's going to ask to do, and the list keeps growing. It will be interesting to say the least... and Little Brother is watching and taking notes!
...feeling absolutely weary of the mid-90's, the humidity, and the absolute lack of anything autumnal. Could we at least have a puff of fresh air? This summer feels like it will never end, and all the fall ads with flannel and hot drinks and fires are making me feel rather jealous.

Right now I'm alternating between hiding out in air conditioning and sweating my everything off working outside, making grand plans for when it finally cools off, and wishing that we weren't flying so quickly towards Eleven Years Old and the end of the year, all at the same time. So same old, same old.

Monday, September 23, 2019

This Moment


Sharing a moment from the weekend- a simple, special, extraordinary moment I want to capture and save: Sister on her violin in the peace of her room, practicing holding her instrument with her chin, plucking the strings.

Wishing all a happy Monday- and a happy first day of Autumn!- as well as a week filled with moments just as simple and just as special.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Weekending




This weekend we managed a super-hot soccer game, a trip to Daddy's office to hang up his new art, a cookout with friends, banana pancakes, a movie, and even a little spare time for harvest moon-gazing, reading, and cookie-baking. It flew by, but it was a good one.

Wishing all a week that subscribes to the same. Happy Tuesday!

Friday, September 13, 2019

10 Summer Moments

The summer has flown by... and with it my vow to post in this space more frequently! Alas, my attempt to balance working from home with friends and swimming and company and pets and chores left little room for me to sit and process it all. However, there were moments when I managed enough lucidity to snap a quick picture or make a mental note, knowing eventually I'd make it back in here to share them... 

1. Soccer Games: Henry's soccer games are now firmly rooted in our weekends through October, and if you go looking for us on any one of those Saturday mornings you'll find us at the soccer fields. This last game his team actually won (3-2), but it was so dang hot he was kinda sick afterwards. He played really well, though, and he was eventually able to eat an entire hamburger with cheese, fries, and a Sprite, so we're pretty sure he made a full recovery.

2. Friday Nights: We've frequently been finding ourselves at a friend's house on Friday nights, sharing food and drinks and decompressing from the week together. My kiddos are totally smitten with their whole family, but a certain Big Sister is particularly smitten with a certain Middle Brother, and it has been a hoot to watch her navigate her first real crush. He's a good sport about it, too.

3. Henry's Drums: This summer Henry turned a corner in his drumming and has seemingly quadrupled the amount of time he spends playing. He runs up there right after school to work through some grooves, he pauses in the mornings to work on a drum roll, and he's been keenly listening to favorite songs on the radio and in our frequented playlists to bring to his lessons and dissect with his instructor. Right now he's pretty much got down to perfection Hotel California, Toto's Africa, the first part of Journey's Don't Stop Believin', and a slowed-down version of the Foo Fighter's Pretender. He's really focused on the Journey song, though, because he recently discovered he has a friend who plays the piano and a friend who plays the guitar, and both know the song from beginning to end. There may be a band forming over here, just sayin'... 

4. Bees: Our three hives pulled through the summer honey harvest and are currently in the home stretch of a varroa treatment. I'm only having to feed one hive (North Hive, the smallest of the three), and I'm cautiously optimistic about the oncoming season change. In other bee-related news, we have an awesome new Communications Director on the board of our local bee club now, and he has started posting some really, really great photos on our new club Instagram page. Audrey and Henry have even made a few appearances. You should check it out: @dentonbees. 



5. New Responsibilities: This summer has also seen Audrey in particular really step up and start inserting herself into everyday things in a more meaningful way. She's been helping with dinner, helping with outside chores, helping (more) with the animals, and recently she learned how to pump gas! It has really punctuated how much she's growing up... it's hitting me pretty hard right now.


6. Daddy's Birthday: Daddy celebrated another trip around the sun here recently, and knowing he'd cheekily request a baked Alaska if we asked he what he wanted, we decided just to make him one. We made it a cookies & cream baked Alaska, complete with crumbled cookies between the ice cream and the cake layers. Audrey made the meringue and Henry lit the candle. It turned out great. We then gifted him some art for his office, and Henry gave him a ticket to a special drum solo. By all accounts it was a good day.




7. Weeds: This summer has been unusually green, and along with a really awesome hay cutting at our place (we got 21 round bales in a single cutting!), some weird plants have made a reappearance at my parent's place that were there when they first moved in and have mystified us for years. My little bro and I used to call them "bean pod plants" because they would make these beans that looked like smooth-skinned edamame and would pop like bubble wrap. Seeing them come back up again in my parent's field made me feel kinda nostalgic and renewed my curiosity about exactly what they are... and we finally figured it out! Glottidium vesicarium, aka bagpod- a legume and NOT a Harry Potter curse- is what my bro and I turned in to fishing poles, pretend cooking ingredients, and would pick and pop at each other when we were practically Audrey and Henry's ages. The funny thing is I never remember noticing that the plant produced flowers, but look how pretty they are!


8. Puttin' Up: Though I managed to miss blackberry season and most of my mom's pears were turned into cobbler or perry, I didn't sit out the harvest this year entirely. I was able to put away a few new strings of dried chilies, dehydrate a bunch of sweet peppers for that ground pepper powder I love so well, and I totally scored some huge cabbages at the grocery store that I made into sauerkraut this past weekend. My laundry room now smells like the worst kind of flatulence, but it is easy to overlook when you know there will be 'kraut in the end!



9. Inside vs. Outside: Through increased social awareness and the influence of peers, my kiddos have come to prefer sitting inside in front of a screen to almost any other pastime, and this shift became extremely evident this summer. It has been quite a struggle for me to accept that they now prefer Minecraft over digging in dirt or making art or working with dough... all that stuff my little Littles filled their days with. I found myself outside alone a lot this summer, despite the fact that we limited their time on devices and made them earn it. Don't get me wrong, they did do a variety of things this summer, but if given the choice they would choose video games over anything else hands-down. It's been kinda a bummer for me to get to a point of acceptance with this one. I still want them to want to do the things with me that they used to love.
  
10. The Overflow: The most recent newsworthy event around these parts is the waterfall that fell from around the vent hood opening over the oven this week, a result of an overflowed toilet upstairs that a certain little brother neglected to mention. It was one of those Murphy's Law scenarios- a minor clog with a jammed stopper and no one nearby to notice until it was too late... but thankfully it wasn't a worst-case scenario because I was in the kitchen when it started making it's way downstairs, and the water only came out around the vent, so the drywall remained mostly OK. You better believe I put in overtime bleaching everything and then some, though! Ugh.



So that's what's been going on here and there and everywhere- our little moments squeezed into and out of the slack between working, school, and the few hours of sleep here and there that we can find. I'm dangerously close to becoming one of those insufferable people who is busy all. the. time. and can't talk about anything else except the errands, classes, practices and games they have to haul their butts to every evening and weekend... but I'm trying my best to find the balance, the negative space between the business, the calm on the other side of the chaos. 

I'm not lost yet.