Monday, June 18, 2012 birthday..

My son is 8 today. 8, really?! I cannot believe that this little man, who gave me such grief as a baby, has grown into such a neat kid. To clarify what I mean by grief, this child of mine hated sleeping, and to be fair, still does. Now, however, he is instructed to let his mother sleep if he decides to get up at some god-forsaken hour in the morning. Thankfully, he is capable of finding his own breakfast, as long as any sugary treat is hidden or kept under lock and key.

For his 8th birthday celebration, he opted for a tennis birthday. We try to keep things simple for our celebrations, so I was a little nervous at first about the cost. Turns out, we probably spent more money on the cake than the actual "tennis" part. We found 2 instructors, who gave an hour lesson to 8 of our son's closest friends, at a local tennis court.

The instructors were perfect. Enthusiastic, patient, creative, and LOUD. But what do you expect with a bunch of boys? There were some great games, fantastic hits, and bizarre moves. Such fun to watch. My husband took the smaller kids onto another court with a friend and they made their own games and drills for the smallest on the guest list. *and by small, I am not referring only to height.

In retrospect, this was the perfect birthday party for my sport-lovin' son. We had a few snacks and some cake after the lesson, and had to drag (yes, drag) the kids off the tennis courts to open presents. We could've done without the presents and snacks/cake for all they cared. With these boys, it was all about staying in motion. And stay in motion, they did. Tennis, football, tackling each other, chasing each other...there was very little sitting done by any of these young men (and young ladies).

A party is not complete without a proper "thank you for coming" gift, so I put together some bags with a few notions and treats.  And my gift to the parents? Worn out kids. You are so very welcome.

It's hard to believe it's been 8 years. We are very proud of this young man of ours. He is quite the athlete, with tennis and flag football his current sports of choice. He excels in math, and loves to figure out how things work. He is gentle and kind to his younger sisters. He is almost a carbon copy of my dear, sweet hubby. It's been fun watching this boy grow, most of the time. But I'll excuse those little character flaws on this day. On this day, I will celebrate the boy that he is, and the goodness he has brought to our lives. Sooooo much goodness. And laughter. And amazement. That I had a part in creating this life is something that I will treasure, always.

Happy birthday, my dear, sweet Isaac.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

..mary, mary, quite contrary..

My garden is growing quite well, thank you. We have finished the radishes, and have harvested some peppers, cilantro, and parsley. But I am getting ahead of myself.

parsley, mint, basil, cilantro
I felt I was doing so well with my gardening, that on a recent trip to a local nursery, I picked up more gardening goodness. Enter thyme, rosemary, 2 heirloom tomato plants (names escape me, and I don't keep those plastic tags), 4 pepper plants (2 red bell, 2 cayenne), rose geranium, dill, parsley, basil, lemongrass, and mint.
 thyme, rosemary

Initially when I started this container garden, I had planted 4 small pots with mint, dill, parsley, and basil. After planting my seeds, carefully fertilizing and watering them gently, I looked through the booklet that came with the seeds. I wanted to make sure that I was putting them in the correct light, keeping them watered just enough, in the hopes of enjoying a bounty of herbal goodness.Then I saw the expiration date. It was staring me in the face, all faded and worn. 2003. Crap.

 rose geranium.....smells heavenly

I remained optomistic. Surely some seeds would prove hardy enough and show me some love. And I truly thought that I had beat the odds when I saw small little leaves start to sprout up. I watched and waited, expecting these leaves to grow and change into leaves that were more familiar, more like the herbs I was anticipating. Instead, I got a lesson on what weeds look like. That is all that filled my pots....weeds.

do you see all those peas?
And I decided to start over. This is where my new plants come in.

 tomato and peppers
I opted for small plants, not seeds. After acquiring these herbs and vegetables, I carefully put them in their new pots. Success. No more weeds, or, at least, now I know what those mangy creatures look like. And all is well with my garden.

strawberry pot

I think the only other thing I will add to my garden is some cucumbers. I plan to put those in the empty space left by my radishes. And my peas? I haven't yet eaten any of them, but they are covered with pea pods. I am waiting until they are swollen just enough. I have a few tomatoes and a couple of peppers as well, but I am trying desperately to keep my girls from yanking these burgeoning fruits from my plants. What about my strawberries, you ask? Well, the plants continue to flower, and now that it's June, I think I will let them go (I have been pinching them off up to this point). The plants seem to be thriving, and a couple of the ones that seemed dead, have now returned, albeit much smaller. I hope to enjoy some strawberries soon.

more strawberries
It continually surprises me how much pride I have for this little garden. There is so much satisfaction derived from going out and finding something to use for a meal. Whether it's a radish for a salad, or some cilantro for a garnish. To me, it's far more appealing to turn to a patch of earth for my food than to the inside of a refrigerator. And as it turns out, the more I utilize the herbs and veg in my little "patch," the more it produces. Who knew? (Be nice, I'm still a novice).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

..for the birds...

A couple of years ago, my husband took an interest in birds. It had something to do with the fact that some Mississippi Kites were breeding/nesting in the park across from his parents house. This is apparently a big deal for bird enthusiasts...but for myself (unenthused, at that point), I could not wrap my head around the fact that there existed a bird called a "Kite." Huh.

Time passed, and I took the opportunity to learn a little about these winged creatures, by listening to my husband try to identify different species, and by attempting to provide nourishment for them throughout the seasons. I think the moment the tides turned for me was when I was driving over a bridge in town and noticed bald eagles fishing in the rapids of the river below. Bald eagles. In late winter. Soaring right in front of my eyes. For the first time, I felt the magnificence of these birds.

When driving, or when on the phone, in the midst of a conversation, my husband will stop everything to announce whatever feathered friend he sees. BLUE HERON! TURKEY VULTURE! RED-TAILED HAWK! DOWNY WOODPECKER! He does have a pretty good eye. I do NOT have as good an eye, but I make every attempt to see what he's seeing. I'm just fairly certain that when he sees distinctive markings, I see blurs in the distance. But my resolve is strong and I remain interested.

 In our yard, we have added a few bird feeders and a bird bath over the last year. This has resulted in our backyard becoming akin to an aviary. Over the past few seasons we have seen hummingbirds, robins, black-capped chickadees, juncos, finches, cardinals, bluejays, and woodpeckers. Roaming the neighborhood you can find an occasional duck or goose, and then there is the gang of turkeys. Yes, turkeys.

Surprisingly enough, we do not currently live in a small, rural area.....yet. I live in what is considered a mid-size city, and I am astonished and in awe of all the small creatures a few nuts, seeds and fruit will attract. I have come to enjoy watching these animals. They swoop in, take a few nibbles, take off again, flit from branch to branch, tree to tree, and, more than I care to think of, sometimes smack into our picture windows. I've seen them playfully chase each other, jockey for prime position at the feeder, chirp and sing their itty-bitty lungs out, and build nests and raise young in our yard.

So, I guess I'm ok with these fowl. I'm enjoying all the life they bring to our little backyard.

Note: All pictures were taken in our backyard, both from the inside and out. I apologize for any unseemly glares.