Thursday, May 30, 2013

a boy and his boots

Although Cruz is quite selective with his footwear, his pirate rain boots are proving to be the one exception.  And with the buckets of rain we've been getting lately, they're also proving to be quite practical...

So much rain!  Last night, it poured...for three hours straight.    And with headlines of already-saturated ground, river levels, and flood stages, this is beginning to feel all too familiar.  Just five years ago, the historic floods of 2008 left us all redoing our basements and watching the news footage and river levels in awe as the majority of our state was literally under water.  It was one of the weirdest summers in memory and I remember thinking that we have lived through something we'd likely not see again.  After all, they call it a hundred year flood for a reason, right?  But now, as the flood warnings seem to have a permanent place at the bottom of the TV screen and as neighbors help neighbors clear out basement belongings and attempt to salvage what they can, I'm starting to question what we're in for.  Beau and I discovered water in our basement this morning, but were thankful that 2008 smartened us up and that nearly everything was water-proofed and protected.

Thinking of all of you who stayed up late sucking water out of your basement last night!  The sun will shine soon, right?

Life has changed for us since 2008 and we now have a two year old boy who thinks the rain is quite fascinating.  Although rain storms will always bring a twinge of anxiety around our household now that we are homeowners, they are also cozy and inviting, especially when you can enjoy them from a (partially) dry home.  Last night, we watched the rain pour, I taught Cruz the words to 'It's Raining, It's Pouring,' and when the rain gave us a break for an hour or so, we went out to explore, save some night crawlers, and splash in the river that had formed in our street.  Cruz trudged up and down the gutters, hummed the theme song to 'Jake,' and bravely touched a worm or two.  It felt good to get some fresh air and soak in the smell of spring before we began to get wet again. 

We've been doing our best to make the most of mother nature this week, but as June inches closer and closer, we are ready for the sun!  The pool was supposed to open last weekend and our summer pass is burning a hole in my wallet!  Hopeful the ground will dry soon and the sun will shine again.  Hopeful...

But for now, I'll let Cruz wear his pirate boots and continue to acclimate myself to a world of night crawlers, puddles, and wet socks!     


Friday, May 24, 2013

End of the Week Musings...

Feeling content.  It's Thursday night and both of my boys are asleep and it's just after nine.  I tucked Cruz into bed wearing his Jake and the Neverland Pirates headband, said his prayers, and cracked a window in his room to let in the crisp spring air.  For the first time all day, the house is completely quiet and I'm soaking in the serenity.  I pulled on a fleece sweatshirt and went outside to give the gardens a drink and spent a lot of time staring through my windows into the home we've created here for the last five years.  I see so much when I look through those windows - a kitchen ripped apart and remodeled with our own blood, sweat, and tears, newlywed nights, dinners on the deck, and dreams and plans for our future, a feline friend we'll always love, and a brand new baby in a carrier here to see his house for the very first time.  This house, but more importantly, the life we've created here means so much to me, and I'm a bit of an emotional wreck thinking of leaving it.  We're here for the time being, but I tell ya, sometimes I want to live here forever...  

Eating greens.  We didn't have a lot to eat around here for lunch today, so I grabbed a scissors and took to my cut-and-grow lettuce bowl for a healthy salad.  Have you seen these lettuce bowls?  I found ours at a local greenhouse and supposedly, you just cut what you need as you go and it will continue to replenish all summer long.  I topped my salad with some cherry tomatoes and an avocado, along with salt, pepper, and some balsamic vinegar.  I feel this amazing sense of independence when I'm able to grow my own food and begin to have visions of cows and pigs and a coop full of chickens...before I remember that I don't really like the smell of them...

Reading Glennon Melton's, Carry On, Warrior.  I just started it, and have plans to dive in after I'm finished with this blog post.  I love Glennon's Momastery blog, and appreciate her sincerity, her hilarity, and her amazing way to write what is in my head so eloquently.  I have high hopes for her book.

I also just finished M.L. Stedman's, The Light Between Oceans.  It's truly a wonderful book and a definite must-read of the summer.  And if you don't trust me, read the Amazon reviews.  They're off the chart.

Listening to lots of things.  I'm not sure what's gotten into me, but I've been listening to a lot more country lately.  Blame it on summer, but that Rodney Atkins', Back Road song makes me want to hop in a car and be back to 16 again...just for an hour or so ;)

Proud of my boy.  It's been a big, amazing week for Cruz, a week of potty training, and patience, and much to celebrate.  Of all the developmental milestones and markers, this one has definitely been the most daunting, but I'm thankful for one amazing lead teacher at daycare who lives up to the reputation of being a potty training queen.  She decided it was time for Cruz to start going diaperless during the day at school, and asked that we bring lots of extra clothes, an extra dose of patience, and good plans for reinforcement at home along with us on Monday.  Four days later and our boy is proving to be a prodigy.  He's went dry just about every single day, wakes up dry after nap time, and even tells us when he has to go.  We've been really blown away by this, as a week ago I would have said he wasn't close to ready.  We've been celebrating with stickers on his rocket ship chart, lots of potty dances, and tonight I took Cruz on a special trip to Target (our first public outing in underwear, aka, terrifying) to wander through the aisles and pick out one new toy.  He picked out a Jake and the Neverland Pirates telescope (go figure) that came complete with a matching red headband and secret treasure map.  He proudly marched through that store holding his new toy and felt like a million bucks handing it to the cashier.  We celebrated another dry night with a treasure hunt in our backyard and a popsicle before bed.  I'm still holding my breath a bit with the whole potty training thing; however, am pleasantly surprised with how smooth it's going thus far.  Now if we can just get Tricia to move in with us after this week...  

Our potty trainee with the first two stars on his potty chart.  He filled up that chart by today - a week ago, I told Beau it would be all summer before we'd hit 26 successful times. #neverunderestimate #overthediapers  

Loving my newly organized pantry and linen closet, a crossed-off to-do list, and a rediscovered treasure map we bought Cruz when we visited Cape Cod when he was just a baby.  Lemon in my water, peonies almost ready to bloom, and a blueberry cheesecake cupcake from Scratch.  Our thick grass in the backyard, long conversations with my brother on the phone, and unexpected calls from my dad during the day.  And finally, a three-day weekend, and long summer that awaits...  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gardening 101 from a Green-Thumb-In-Training

We got our garden veggies in the ground last week and much to my disappointment and impatience, they aren't towering with produce quite yet!  I have a perfect view of our two three garden beds through Cruz's window, and find myself watching and willing them to grow multiple times during the day.  I realize it's only been a week, but I thrive on instant gratification...

We had great luck with our garden beds last year and had tomatoes, banana peppers, and basil coming out of our ears by the end of summer.  I specifically remember telling Beau that we just had to cut back this year, as we started having cherry tomato throwing contests by the end of last season.  That said, a couple of Weck jars, dreams of sweet pickles, and a discovery of kohlrabi later and we not only have as much produce, but a third garden bed to put it in!  

We did cut back our tomatoes from last year, planting two beefy, two roma, and two sugar sweet (yellow cherry tomatoes), and dropped our banana peppers and jalapenos to 1 instead of 2 each.  In addition to our bell peppers and herb garden (basil, mint, lavendar, cilantro, and rosemary), we added some new veggies I'm anxious to try: onions, lettuce, kohlrabi, three varieties of cukes, snap peas, and some climbing green beans.  Who knew you could 'climb' cucumbers, peas, and beans by sticking some stakes in the ground and creating a wall-like structure with a trellis?  It's the same reason we decided to plant our mint in a pot this year --- some greens will get a tad territorial and take over your garden if you let them.  So, to save room, we are going to try climbing our cukes and beans and hope for the best.  

Until I spent a night or two on Burpee's website, I had no idea that gardeners had their very own language.  I discovered that my cilantro 'bolted' as soon as it got hot outside and that in order to cultivate a crop through the summer, I would need to plant new seeds every week or so.  I also discovered that when cilantro bolts, it turns to coriander, and that human hair sprinkled in your garden is not only a good fertilizer, but helps keep the bunnies away.  Amazing stuff, huh?!

I have goals to use every last bit of our produce this year, to try my hand at canning tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and pickles and salsa, and find creative ways to make the most of our backyard grocery store.  I'm most definitely a work in progress when it comes to this gardening thing, and would welcome any tips, recipes, canning advice from my fellow green thumbs out there. 

Finally, just a few tips I've learned along the way...

-Peat moss is a must for your raised beds.  I have no idea why, but we are convinced it led to our abundance last year!

-Have I mentioned yellow banana peppers grow out of control?  

-Pick your basil and snip the ends before they begin to flower.  Do the same with your cilantro.

-Mint leaves are a wonderful addition to just about any drink.  Water, lemonade, iced tea, mohitos...

-Cute bunnies turn into beastly savages as soon as your garden is in the ground.  Keep them away by spraying a mixture of vinegar and tabasco sauce around your garden, or sprinkling human hair in the dirt.  Both are much better alternatives to the wolf urine you can buy at your local gardening store ;)  


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

So you wanna have a picnic?

If you've been visiting this blog for awhile now, you know that I'm a fan of a good picnic.  Nothing says summertime more to me than setting up our own little island in a secluded spot outside, eating picnic food on patchwork while our bare toes skim the soft sea of green around us.  I've always loved picnics and remember them as a child.  Sometimes, they involved nothing more than a peanut butter sandwich in the loft of our custom swing set in the backyard, and other times, they included trips to meet Dad on his lunch break, bringing Happy Meals for us and leftover bread for the ducks by the river.    

I love picnics of all kinds – quick, unplanned, easy prep picnics of sandwiches and juice boxes packed in the back of our bike trailer, post-pool picnics of pizza, hot dogs, or Tropical Sno on the swings, and sometimes, elaborate picnics with homemade summertime food and drinks. There’s something very summery and carefree about setting a picnic table, eating food out of mason jars, and reading stories outside. It makes the normal routine of mealtime a little more exciting by changing the scenery and getting away from the kitchen.

Over the course of a few summers, I've discovered I'm getting better at planning and prepping for these sorts of things and no matter what kind of picnic you have planned, there are a few go-tos I'm always sure to have on hand.  

1.  a good quilt.  Not too big so that it's a pain to lug around, but long enough to lay on and not get itchy from the grass.  The one that you see in all my pictures is from Etsy; however, I've seen beautiful quilts purchased for pennies on Ebay or from thrift stores.  J.J. Cole also has picnic blankets that fold into a bag for easy transport on the go.

2.  a picnic basket.  I'm also eying all the cute insulated totes they now make for picnics since it seems I'm always packing my basket and a cooler.   

3.  fun, fancy drinks.  An easy way to class up a picnic is with unique and refreshing summer cocktails.  Dress up a jug of water with lemon slices, blueberries, or mint leaves, buy a cool beer, or try San Pellegrino's Limonata or Blood Orange sparkling soda.  Just don't forget a bottle opener!

4.  a plastic bag for your trash - in case your local park asks that you take it home with you.

5.  wet wipes.  A must, especially with little people.

6.  sandwiches on baguettes.  I like to hollow out one side of a French baguette and use that instead of regular sandwich bread.  It's thicker, tastier, and won't get soggy.  Last weekend, I made a pesto caprese sandwich.  It was delicious and incredibly easy.  Just hollow out one side of the baguette, spread some pesto on one side, then layer with sliced roma tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves.  Cut the sandwich in half or thirds, wrap tightly in parchment paper, and tie with a string to secure it in place.

7.  finger foods for the littles to eat.  I like to bring along fruit, trial mix, or dry cereal for Cruz, along with something for him to do so we don't eat and leave as soon as dinner is over.  His Cheerios book, some bubbles, or a lift-the-flap board book work great for us.

8.  Finally, I like anything that comes in a jar!  I want to try these cherry crisps in a jar and love all the jar ideas in this beach picnic.   

Happy Picnic'ing this summer!  I would love to hear your own go-to picnic recipes and tips.  And remember, when all else fails, a $5 box of pizza and some plastic dinnerware can be just as fun!

Monday, May 20, 2013

This weekend, we...

I love weekends in the summertime, especially ones like this one. This weekend brought the perfect mix of productive and relaxed, of things to do and look forward to, with pockets of unplanned, open space for us to go with the flow a bit and find our own fun. Other than a few graduation parties and an anticipated morning play date with good friends, we didn’t have much planned, and we made sure to savor the open canvas with a slower pace and some of our favorite summertime distractions. 

This weekend, we… 

…reunited with the old crew at graduation parties. It was so wonderful to see so many familiar faces on Friday night, and made me feel honored and blessed to be part of this forever family. 

…played at the park ‘til bedtime. Friday night was gorgeous, and we decided to replace books at bedtime with curly slides and stepping stones at Pfeiffer Park. Cruz made friends with some older kids with a skateboard, and they even let Cruz have a ride or two. Suddenly, Mom and Dad were standing in the middle of the playground by ourselves, feeling dejected and old. I can’t imagine when he’s 16… 

…shared donuts and coffee at the park with Nate, Kate, Harper, and Will on their last weekend in Cedar Falls. We will forever remember Harper as Cruz’s first true friend, and have loved getting to know this wonderful family. We wish them the best of luck on their next adventure and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing our first Tulip Festival in the future… 

…got a little productive in our backyard space. Planted one last garden bed, mowed the lawn, cleaned up Cruz’s pirate ship water table, and secured our outdoor umbrella in its spot on the deck. It felt good to do some spring cleaning outside, and I felt myself officially ushering summertime in as we manicured our space.

This year, we had a little more help from our growing boy. For being quite picky on wardrobe choices and especially shoes as of late, I was surprised to see Cruz shed the clothes little by little the longer he stayed outside. Soon, in nothing but a diaper, Cruz was getting reacquainted with his water table, splashing in its leftover puddles, and doing his very best to keep up with Beau with his lawn mover. This mental image I have, of my diaper-clad boy pushing his mower every which way behind Beau is classic summertime. And although he was having the time of his life pushing that little mower around, I have a feeling Pap’s riding lawn mower rates a bit higher than Daddy’s push. 

…went on a picnic. Although we had plans for a picnic last weekend for Mother’s Day, we decided it was a little chilly and decided to postpone for a nicer night. The night was perfect, maybe the best yet, and I made Beau promise we could stretch the evening out, take our time, and go home when the sun went down. 

Cruz fell asleep on the way to George Wyth, so we opened the windows of the car and let him sleep while Beau and I enjoyed a surprise little dinner just the two of us. After Cruz woke up, we read some books, blew some bubbles, and ended the night with a walk to the park playground. 

…played cribbage by candlelight on the back deck, just Beau and I, followed by my first s’more of the season on the Big Green Egg. We cheat a little by using the egg, but holy cow does it roast the best mallow. 

As I think about Memorial Day weekend and the first official kickoff to summer right around the corner, I am thankful for the prequel we’ve already enjoyed. We have a lot of big decisions to make and some upcoming changes to prepare for; however, I’m anticipating a summer full of fun, carefree, and happy memories in the making. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...