Wednesday, June 19, 2013

time to plant and prune

At the end of April we were out in the backyard cleaning things up a bit. We aren't responsible for regular yard maintenance; the church pays a landscaper to do that. However, there is a hole right in the path of a child running to the swing set. Many have tripped and fallen. Joe, with Hannah and Joseph's help, filled it in a bit.

Hannah also helped Daddy plant basil and parsley.

Now, nearly two months later, the basil is doing great. We've already enjoyed plenty of homemade pesto.

The parsley, though it was nice and full at first, is not doing so great:

...Given a little too much lovin' from Joseph. He watered it everyday, filling it up to the top again and again. I've nursed it, and it's coming back. S-l-o-w-l-y.

And then there are the vegetable seeds that Hannah and I planted at the beginning of May. They came in an egg-carton kit my mom gave Hannah. This is what they looked like at one week old:

Please disregard the labels. They are incorrect, thanks to a little helper named Joseph. The carrot and green bean are swapped for sure. I'm not sure what else is off...

When it was time, we planted the seedlings at three weeks old. Because of the sunlight we needed to plant in a certain spot in the backyard. The more appropriate places for a garden would not get enough light, and so we used cheap laundry baskets and filled them with mulch from our compost pile, and lined the baskets along the ivy off the back patio. Keeping them well watered, we have watched them grow:

Today, at six weeks old, they look like this:

 {cucumber on the top left; watermelon on top right and bottom}

 {radish on the top left and bottom (not looking good); cucumber on top right}

 {squash on the top left and right; carrot on the bottom}

{green beans}

While my mother-in-law was in town she correctly identified them. Thanks, Gran Gran.

As for the lemon tree:

It has been moved from the ivy to a temporary home in the patch of dirt (discussed above) where grass doesn't seem to want to grow. But our lemons are growing:

 And new ones just came up in the last week or so!

The main "crop" will be ready a little later in the summer, and I'm not sure about these new ones. The Meyer lemon tree is an interesting thing. The fruit grows big and stays green for a while, looking like - you guessed it - limes. As the lemons mature, and have fully ripened they are bright yellow, almost an orangey-yellow.

I haven't mentioned the fig tree in a while. About five years ago, my mother-in-law took a sapling from our beloved fig tree at our old house in Savannah. We nurtured it and kept it in a pot until we moved to Sandersville, where we planted it in the ground. The placement was the best we could find in the backyard with full afternoon sun. Our fig has not thrived as much as we would like, but it's doing ok.

And today there are 13 little figs growing!

We had lots of yard work done this week. We had to wait a while, but it is beginning to look a lot better. The joys of living in a parsonage include having to go through different people and committees before being able to have anything done. This can be frustrating at times, but it's easier when you have a good trustees committee - and more importantly, a good chair of the trustees. Right now we are fortunate to have a great one. Still, the process is the same: before any exterior - or interior - work can be completed, the trustees have to approve it. And so, as ridiculous as it sounds (and may be), our bushes could not be pruned without permission. And the bushes both in the front- and back-yards were a little out of control. They got a good haircut and now they look like this:

{That's my little girl on the front steps. And talk about resurrecting plants, below are my geraniums from last year that were as good as dead a few months ago...more victims of J5.}

Yes, I realize how unattractive they are, and will be for a little while, but that's ok. I'm just thankful we got to this point. Most of the bushes along the sides of the house and in the back are azaleas, which grow back easily and fill in nicely. These along the front of the house are a variety of the yew family, and might not come back as well. In that case, we'll plant new ones all together.

The main purpose of all the landscaping work was not for looks. That was secondary. The main goal was to make the yard better for our family - as we are out there playing as often as we can be. Herbicide to kill the sticker-weeds (lots of "owwies") and fertilizer to help grass grow in the holes was sprayed all over the yard. Soon we'll be able to run around barefoot in the sprinklers! Pine straw was laid and other bushes trimmed.

In the back of the yard amidst the trees and along the side of the yard, poison ivy is growing rampant.

The landscaper sprayed and is diligent about getting rid of that. {Joe is very allergic, I'm allergic, and we don't know about the kids but assume they are probably allergic.} The ivy off the back porch where Joseph likes to throw and dig for toys was sprayed and will be removed and grass laid in its place. I am so excited about this! The ivy makes me nervous, both because poison ivy has been found growing in there too, and because with ivy always comes a higher risk of snakes. I don't like snakes. And, quite frankly, the ivy is just not attractive.

There are a couple trees (small and large) that need to be removed and I'd like to create a border along the back of the yard (mainly so the kids can't get back there), but also for aesthetics. I'd love hydrangea bushes or something similar and maybe some other flowering plants like lantana or zinnias, shasta daisies or sunflowers (my favorite)...but I am happy with the progress we're making.

On a final note, this year I bought all the fixins and made my own hanging plants for the back porch. I'm told that that is the less-expensive way to go and I like that I have more control over the type of flowers. This first year with having to buy the baskets themselves, it really didn't end up being any cheaper, but it was a good exercise, a little project for the kids to watch, and next year I won't need to buy the baskets. It was my mom's suggestion (a former and knowledgeable florist) and I'm glad I took it. Definitely a skill I'd like to hone. I chose petunias, impatiens and marigolds. They turned out ok.

And, except for the marigolds, are holding up pretty well.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

daddy's day

The children were a little more cooperative today than they were on Mother's Day after church...

I stress, a little. Joseph was ready to go eat lunch and not happy. It would definitely have been better timing if we could get a picture before church, but for obvious reasons (ahem, Daddy being the pastor), we can't.

Not a lot of celebrating happening on Evergreen Drive today as Joe is not here and has quite a full day. But, we gave him his cards and small gifts earlier... I think he knows how loved, and needed, and appreciated he is in this house. I don't know what I'd do without him, truly. Hannah and Joseph are incredibly blessed to have such an amazing man to look up to. And, don't think for a second that I don't realize how blessed I am too. I can't imagine a better partner in raising our children.

Happy Father's Day to my Dad, Poppy, and to the other dads in my know who you are. Thank you for what you mean to me. And to all the men out there who are lucky enough to be called daddy: happy day!

Friday, June 14, 2013

bye bye puddle jumper

Hannah's been taking swim lessons this week. I am not allowed to watch (which is a good thing), but yesterday when I went to pick her up she wanted to show me what she's learned. Oh, and her name is Ariel in the pool. Call her Hannah and you might get reprimanded. {Her friend, Katie, was Cinderella but yesterday became Ariel too.}

That's right y'all - no more floatie for this girl. I was excited on the first day when Mrs. Brownie said she didn't need her puddle jumper (floatation thingie that fastens around her chest and has arm holes). Well, I don't want to go back so we're sticking with it. Obviously she is no super swimmer yet, but hopefully we'll make major strides this summer. We know she's ready.

Joseph was hot from a long stroller ride, so Mrs. Brownie let him get in the pool. Don't think she realized that once he got in, it would be hard to get him out. This kid loves the water.

They were made to swim. I am so thankful for these little water babies.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

mobile uploads and a visit from gran gran

Since the last edition of mobile/iPad uploads, we've been busy kick-starting the summer.

Went to a couple birthday parties for friends, Frank (1) and Kessler and McFerrin (3). Picture quality is bad, but fun was had by all.

Waiting (impatiently) for Daddy after church one Sunday {Hannah's actually blowing a whistle and yelling. Joseph yelled more calmly.}:

Dressed in patriotic attire for church on Memorial Day weekend:

Lunch with friends Elizabeth and Jane, and their mom, Jennifer. We love Subway and lunch dates!

Later that day we had a bit of a behavior problem and a certain little girl landed in timeout and fell asleep.

Last week Gran Gran came to visit.

Hannah had Gran Gran busy the whole time - playing dress-up, doctor, house, coloring, painting, reading, you name it. I'm not sure who was more tired on her departure! It was a great visit and we can't wait to do it again (hint, hint GG!).

Yesterday we met Aunt Karen and Uncle John for dinner. They are dear friends of ours and Hannah's godparents. We miss them so much.

It's been a busy and HOT June!

{The last two mornings it's been 90 degrees before 10 o'clock!}

Monday, June 10, 2013

sea island

The week of Memorial Day, we joined friends for a few days of fun in the sun (with lots of sunscreen). Other than a couple meals a little too late for Joseph (and once we moved Hannah to a nice, fluffy pallet on the floor after the first night of her sleeping between us), it went pretty well. The weather was gorgeous the whole time and the kids had a ball playing in the water.

Joseph especially liked the fountains on the side of the pool. He quickly realized his hat would make a great bucket, so he filled it up, dumped it, and filled it up again...

...and again. Pretty much the whole time we spent at the pool. Everyday.

Hannah had a great time swimming around in her floatie, playing with Annabeth (and the many new friends she met in the pool) and jumping to Daddy.

Practicing her kick...

Taking turns with Momma's sunglasses...

And, for whatever reason, Joseph spent a lot of his time rubbing his eye. I think below he actually had sand it in. I took him to the bathroom and flushed his eye out. But the rubbing continued even after the beach.

The only family picture taken:

More rubbing...see what I mean? Maybe it was sunscreen. Maybe it was the sun...who knows.

Henry going after Hannah with a bucket of water.

Joseph took naps as I pushed him around in the stroller.

Resisting a pool-side diaper change. Can you say rehearsal dinner picture?

One of my favorite memories from our trip is when I pushed a sleeping Joseph in the stroller down the beach, and climbed on the jetty. I sat on that concrete wall for an hour as he slept, staring out at the water, watching the waves come in.

Mostly, I talked to God. I always feel so close to Him when I can get alone and spend time in nature, witnessing His awesome creation. Somehow I feel like my problems and worries are put into perspective. I feel calm and unhurried. I sense His presence and power and feel completely at ease. He knows me inside and out. I don't have to over-think; I can just cast my cares on Him and praise Him. It was a nice time of reflection and prayer, and exactly what I needed. I wanted to remember it, so I took these pictures with my phone.

We spent one more afternoon by the pool.

And then it was time to pack up. Hannah was not ready to go.

The end of a vacation is always sad, isn't it though? It was a nice trip. We were thankful for the invitation to get away and are grateful to have kind friends.