Sunday, October 31, 2010


We had a great day today.  Instead of our usual craziness of trying to do too much "holiday stuff", we took it easy.  The weather was beautiful, so the yard called for attention.  Max and I planted over 75 bulbs today (mostly tulips and narcissus), we cleaned out the garden, and Dan mowed and cleaned up tons of leaves.  It was so nice to be able to work on all of that without the rain!

To celebrate Halloween, first we went over to my grandma's house. It was great to see her, my Uncle Jerry and his girlfriend Brenda, and mt Uncle Jim, Aunt Robbi, and cousins Ian and Sydney.  They loved getting to see my little pirates, and my pirates loved seeing people they love.

We came home, ate dinner, and headed out for Grandpa Tom's church.  They were having their second annual "Trunk and Treat", where members of the congregation decorate their car trunks and pass out candy to children from the church and neighborhood. The boys loved seeing their grandparents and thought that the cars were pretty cool, too.

Once we got back home, Dan took the boys around the neighborhood, while I stayed home to man the door.  I was really impressed at how polite the trick or treaters were, and the boys had fun on their short adventure.

It was a great evening overall.  Our little pirates were adorable, even if they had been planning for months to be a knight and a dragon.  (Last minute changes made possible by the dress up box...) Now, off to "check" their candy (and hope for a butterfinger...).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nearly a month...

It's been nearly a month since I've written, and looking back I'm not sure where it has gone. Ok - that isn't exactly true. It's been full. Really full. But so full that I think I am just going to have to give it one massive update, or we'll be catching up for months.

So, here's where it went:

1. At the end of September we lost our cat, Oden. He had been sick off and on the entire time we had him, and after many vet visits and all kinds of exams, there really wasn't a clear issue or a solution. Oden was Max's cat, and of course he was pretty upset. I was glad we had the fish episode to prepare him, and the one positive thing was that we had a few weeks to get ready. Still, there's not much more pitiful than watching Max haul the dead cat in a laundry basket around the house for a couple days before he was ready for us to bury him. And something a little funny? Luke still tells people that his orange cat is "very, very sick in a deep, deep hole".

2. We went to the beach with my parents. What was supposed to be a crabbing weekend became a arcade, swimming pool, air hockey weekend. The 55 mph winds just weren't conducive to being out in a skiff, but we had a wonderful time anyway. I was so happy to see the boys so happy to be in the pool every day, and they loved riding their bikes up and down the promenade.

Max loving the pool

3. Just after coming back from the beach, my grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. We could hardly believe it. Fortunately, I am part of an amazing family that has worked hard to rally around her, and we are really thankful that she is still feeling well. My aunt and cousin were able to come to town, my mom came up, and my uncles who live in town have all worked hard to get appropriate care established. Now we just love her up as much as we can.

4. While my family was gathering, we were also joined by my wonderful sister-in-law for a weekend. It is always so fun to have her around. She is such a kind, considerate, crazy-smart person, and the boys adore her. We just wish she lived closer!

5. We were also lucky enough to have my sister and her family join us for a week. (Well, my hard working brother in law flew out, back, back out, and then home again within a week to help my sister get my niece and nephew out here.) Max and Luke were so happy to have their cousins around, and I loved cuddling with the princess (my niece Savannah) and the peanut (my nephew Asher). My sister and I got a couple of nights out together, and she even helped me attempt to shop. They are such easy guests, and we miss them already.

Alex reading to Max and Luke

Asher, 4 months

6. Speaking of great guests, there was also my Mom. She was here for about a week and a half, and in that time she kept the house clean, helped my Grandma, fixed dinners, cleaned out my pantry, and read countless bedtime stories. I don't know how she manages to do all she does, but she sure makes our life easier when she is around.

7. Dan and I got a weekend away. One of my best friends from high school got married in Vegas the weekend we were at the beach (we got to watch it all online - so very cool!), and his reception was in our hometown. While we were there we got to sleep in, watch a movie (The Social Network), shop (successfully this time), and catch up with friends I hadn't seen in years.

8. We also hit the pumpkin patch. Taking all four kiddos, my fabulous mother in law, sister in law, sister, and Dan to the world's busiest pumpkin patch was quite an adventure, but the weather was incredible and the kids had a lot of fun picking out pumpkins, playing in the mazes, and riding the mini merry go round. It was a bit of seasonal fun amidst all the other craziness.

Savannah, Max, and Luke (in disguise, apparently)

Erin, Asher (in the pouch), and Savannah
9. And finally, we spent a LOT of the last month outside. Portland has enjoyed a gorgeous fall - sunny skies, weather in the 60's kind of days. Nearly every day the boys have come home from school and spent an hour or more riding their bikes and scooters in the driveway and garage. They get quite the little loop going, and the chance to spend time outside has done wonders for all of our moods. Max has developed his balance on his scooter and glider bike, and Luke loves to bomb down the hill on the "big bike" (12 incher with training wheels). The laughter and fun they have together out there is such a nice way to wind down from the day. I'll be pretty sad when it's too wet to do any more.

Savannah riding a bike

So, that's what we've been up to in October. A busy, fun, emotional, FULL month. We're so lucky to have such wonderful family in our lives, and this was a great few weeks for really paying attention to just that.

Pumpkin carving

Monday, October 4, 2010

A small harvest...

It's been an interesting year for gardening. Every year I learn so much about the process. But sometimes I think the biggest lesson I learn in gardening is just how much is OUT of my control.

This year has been a little strange - a very cool summer, with a very wet June. Our first rounds of cucumbers and squash all rotted out, and the second round was late getting started. The beans never really got going - beyond a handful at a time, there were never enough beans for a meal. The chard varied between not growing at all, and leaves that were baked hard from too much sun exposure.

Our large tomatoes have only been getting red in the last week - and most are showing signs of evenings that are too cool. The blueberries did well - but this was only their first year in ground, so the harvest was small. Squash? Overcrowded vines didn't allow for much fruit.

We really only had a few successes this year. Our eggplants grew well, and turned out many fruits (too bad I'm the only one who likes them!). The hops plant provided enough hops for one batch of home brew. And our cherry tomatoes - Sungolds, primarily - have been amazing. And since that's our favorite, it's the only one that really matters.

So, lots of frustrations in the garden, and few moments of glory. Was it worth it?

Of course. The reason I garden is only very partially for the harvest. No, I garden because I want my boys to know how food grows. I want to remember my grandparents, amazing tomato growers. I want an excuse to be outside. And I want to try something that pushes me to let go of my need to control everything.

So, while I still have the beds to clear and soil to mulch, I'm already planning for next year. How about you?