Monday, September 29, 2008

Apples, apples everywhere....

(My sister and brother-in-law in 2004)

A few years ago (pre-children), Dan and I took a great trip to Ottawa to hang out with my sister and brother-in-law. While we were there, they took up out to a local apple orchard to pick apples. We had an incredible time - pure, little-kid-loving-the-moment fun. And since then, I have wanted to go again.

So when my sister mentioned that they were taking my beautiful niece apple picking, I went to my trusty laptop to find a u-pick orchard around here. After a little searching, Kiyokawa Family Orchards became our destination. Now, I am incredibly lucky because Dan is great at appeasing my whims, and willing to drive while I sit in the passenger seat and knit (gotta love that!!!).

We were lucky enough to get a beautiful day with incredible views of the mountain. The orchard had a great fort that Max enjoyed running around in, and the Golden Supremes and Galas were ready for picking. As always, the fun of the picking overtook any practical need for THAT many apples, but at 59 cents a pound, it's not a big deal. Max looked like such a kid, and Luke was thrilled to hold and bite an apple of his own. Our only worry? The potential for sunburn (mommy forgot the sunscreen on the last weekend of September). Talk about feeling fortunate.

No deep reflection - just wanted to share a great day and some fun pictures (photography by Dan).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Our Garden...

Now, most of you know that I grew up "out in the country". We raised cows and pigs, rode horses, and had to change irrigation pipe on a daily basis. So it may surprise you to know that we never really had a garden. Just wasn't on the agenda for my parents (and who can blame them - they had enough going on). Plus, my Grandpa was a Gardener with a PhD in tomatoes - like hundreds of pounds a year - and they gave us a lot of their bounty.

So I was a little surprised last year when I was struck with this crazy urge to garden. No, strike that. I wanted cherry tomatoes. But I figured that while I was at it, we should toss in a few other things. Dan helped me build two raised beds, and my dad took me to go get soil to fill them. Then, this past February, Max and I started some seeds.

They died. I would forget to water them, and they never seemed to be growing past the initial sprout. And I almost gave up.

But we decided to give it a second go. In April we planted some peas, lettuce seed, and cilantro. And then in May we planted tomato starts, peppers, and some herbs. These didn't die. In fact, the tomatoes and peas grew like crazy, and we even had some pumpkins sprout from the seeds that were in the compost. And several times a week, Max likes to go out and check his garden. We talk about which tomatoes are ready to pick, and how to be gentle and not damage the plant. We stood outside and ate peas by the handful. We speculate over the pepper that has grown to be very obviously not what was on the little label from the nursery. And we soak in the enjoyment of time together in our special little space.

My original goal has been met. We have eaten more cherry tomatoes than I ever thought possible. And with trepidation I am starting to watch the weather forecasts for our first freeze and the end of the garden season. Having my little garden has made me feel more connected to the memory of my Grandpa while connecting with my child. I'm going to miss it. But at the same time, I can't wait until next season - there are more things I want to try, and for that we may just need to build another bed or two...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On the move....

Can you see it? The twinkle in the eye? That's the look that brings the squeal of excitement to my lips and the catch in the throat. Our baby? He's on the move.

Luke is rapidly crawling his way out of that baby stage and letting us know that the toddler he will become isn't all that far away. He cruises the house at a rapid pace, and pulls up on anything in reach. From hoisting himself into the empty bathtub to trying to ride Max's push bike, he's taking life head on, and has the bumps and bruises to prove it. And while he isn't the comparative giant that he used to be (at his 9 month appointment he was 30 inches - 95th percentile, but only 20 lbs - 50th percentile) his personality and smile are bigger than ever.

One of my favorite things happened this last weekend. The light bulb went on in a major way, and he has started actively, consistently started signing "milk" to us when he is hungry. We saw it with Max, but it amazes me all over again to watch the glee in his eyes when he knows we understand what he is trying to tell us. Yeah, it's lead to an increase in nursing sessions, because he's often just trying it out to see if it still works. But you know what? Who cares?

The other change? For this month, anyway, Luke has become quite the mama's boy. I don't know if it is me being back at work, or just a phase, but he wants mama in sight or holding him almost all the time. It's tiring - especially at the end of a long day. But you know what? Since the rest of his day is dedicated to moving up and away, I'm going to take full advantage of those times when he wants to be held close. It won't be much longer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The next great Orator?

Max's imaginary play has taken a fun turn lately. For a long time, it was all in his head - you'd see him moving toys around with definite intent and enjoyment, but exactly what was going on was anybody's guess.

No more - the imaginary play is now accompanied by full on dialog - sometimes in the form of conversations between one toy and another, and other times with Max addressing the toys as the leader of whatever action he is imagining. It is so much fun to watch the situations develop, the characters come out. His toys are gaining names (today we were joined by Edward and Travis - names that we have no idea where he got), and have tasks to accomplish.

The other day he gathered all of his cars and trucks on his parking garage where they could "watch a movie". The movie? Max standing in front of them singing the hokey pokey. Today he lined several of his people up on the chair so he could instruct them. He found his microphone, stood in front of them, and began issuing directions for building cages for a new zoo. He would throw in instructions like "be sure to be responsible" and "we all have a job to do here". My favorite was when Luke crawled over to join him, Max proceeded to tell the toys, "This is my brother Luke - he doesn't know how to play with you yet."

I just can't wait to see where this imagination and desire for leadership and direction take him - and feel pretty lucky to be along for the ride...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Busy Days....

Ahhhh.....feels good to be back here. I hope that I can get back to regular posting this week - now that life will be settling down a little bit.

The start of work has been good - I have great students, and being home by 12:30 makes getting up a little easier. While I still don't feel like I've quite got the groove down, it's on the way. After Open House next week, things start to feel like smooth sailing.

The busier part of my life lately has been here at home. We have had visitors of the most wonderful type lately. Last weekend my sister, brother in law, and niece flew in. My sister in law and her significant other also came to town. With the siblings came both sets of parents, and a gathering with my mom's extended family. It was incredibly fun to get to hang out with everyone, and the boys loved all the attention and cuddling. Then Monday the house emptied out for a couple days before my mom, sister, and niece returned.

With a trip to the zoo to see the new baby elephant, spa pedicures, a pizza party at Yuen's home, a visit to the farmer's market, shopping at one of my favorite children's stores, hours eating, hanging out, protecting Savannah from the exploring hands of Luke, playing with Max, adoring the incredible inquisitiveness of my niece, it's been a little crazy. But fun. Lots of fun.

And now the house feels empty. A little lonely. But we're ready for it, I suppose...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Perfect Birthday...

Sunday was my birthday - not usually my favorite day on the planet. In fact, it rarely is even a blip on my radar this time of year. But last week when Dan asked me what I wanted to do for the day, I decided that it would be the perfect time for a last little summer fling - a day at the beach.

It really was wonderful - the day was supposed to be rainy and cloudy, but we decided to go anyway. As we came over the coast mountains, the clouds cleared away and the sun came out. After a dinner at our favorite clam chowder place (Mo's, of course), we headed out on the beach to play.

Max loved digging in the sand, and Dan helped him build sand castles. They also flew the kite that our neighbor gave him last week. Luke and I hung out and enjoyed the sun. Luke also partook of a few mouthfuls of sand - must not taste too bad, because he didn't stop after the first five bites. I couldn't believe how we lucked out. For me, there's not a whole lot better than sand between my toes and the roar of the ocean.

The evening at home wasn't so bad, either. Dan made mint chocolate brownies and we grilled burgers. I got some great new knitting books that I can't wait to dive into and an incredible, beautiful RED mixer! I realize that it sounds a little "fifties housewife" to be so excited about being domestic - but after sewing an apron and baking bread I guess I better just own up to it. I'm happiest making my home. So sue me!

All in all, the perfect day. Maybe birthdays should come along a little more often...