Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Seventeen Months

The twins have new nicknames around here: Earthquake and Tornado.  While one of them is busy dumping the entire contents of a shelf or cupboard on the floor, the other is busy strewing these items all over the room.  They are especially fond of doing this to anything I have just picked up and put away, as well as the laundry I've just folded. 

They are so delightfully adorable as they destruct, chattering and giggling.  Oh, how we love them! 

Last night I was sitting on the porch watching the thunderstorm.  I had Leaf with me and Twig was inside.  Only the glass storm door was closed.  I looked over and they were standing on either side of the glass smiling at each other with their hands in exactly the same spots on the glass.  It was like Leaf was looking in the mirror.  It was so cute!  I wasn't fast enough to get a picture, but I wanted to write it down so I would remember it. 

I tried to take a picture of them while we were in Utah in their cute matching Sunday dresses.  I didn't think my expectations were too high: just get the two of them together with a background of green lawn. 

It didn't work so well.  My in-laws were laughing because I would pick them up and set them where I wanted them and then before I could get into position with the camera they would go running off in opposite directions.  I was laughing too!  This was the best picture I got of the two of them!

I did get some cute shots of just Leaf though.  

Here they are just yesterday in their high chairs.  Twig is the first picture and Leaf is the second. 

The countdown has begun: four more Sundays until they go into the nursery at church!  Usually the last few months at church are so hard, but actually I have had it easy with the twins.  Bean and Fish take them with them to their classes.  Bean enjoys it so much that he actually doesn't want them to go to nursery.  I don't know how they will feel about nursery.  It's pretty crowded, and there's already a set of twin girls in there just four months older than they are.  It will be interesting to watch that transition.  I can't believe it's coming up so soon!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Garden Beginnings

I am so excited about growing a garden this year!  A previous owner of this home loved to garden, so we have lots of space in the yard already dedicated for growing flowers and vegetables.  However, during the time the home was neglected, these areas turned into wild, weedy jungles.  It is our privilege to be able to turn each garden plot back into a cultivated place of peace and delight.

How I love to grow things!  The older I get, the more I realize how deep this love of the earth goes into my soul.  It surprises and thrills me.   Watching this same passion blossom in my children brings another thrill.  Even the twins love playing in the dirt with Mommy. 

So, this bed is right up by the house.  Last year it was one big messy mass of grass, weeds and discarded tree branches.  It also used to have a nasty pond, which we tore out last fall and are in the process of filling in.  There's still the weird rock that looks like a termite mound, but we'll leave it for now because it's really heavy.  This area was probably originally intended to be a flower garden, but it's one of the sunnier spots in the yard and this year it's going to be the kids' individual garden plots, as well as my herb garden.  You can see that they are already marking the borders of their sections with pebbles. 

 I know it doesn't look really great yet, but it looks so much better than last year!

Here is Roo's little corner, on the side.  She did a great job clearing out all the weeds and now she has a potato plant growing.  More to come!  

 I work diligently to tear out the grass that had taken over.  You can see that I still have quite a bit to do.  It's slow work, because the grass has a deep and intricate system of roots which must be dug up, and this can only be done when the soil is of a workable consistency (most of the bed is pretty heavy clay, which is hard to work when it's too wet or too dry.)  As I work I encounter surprises such as a scattering of small landscaping rocks in one area and a load of turquoise aquarium pebbles in another.

As hard as it is to deal with in the garden, I am grateful for the tenacity of the grass.  Our lawn is patchy in spots, but I think that it will fill in without my help now that we have removed some of the things that were hindering its progress, such as a couple of badly-placed trees. 

At the back of our yard is an old dog run.  On either side of it are the remains of two vegetable gardens.  We tilled them this spring.  One side had very workable soil, though it's a spot that gets quite a bit of shade.  I planted four rows of potatoes, which are doing quite well.  

The other side is kind of an interesting place.  It has a little decorative fence in front of it, so obviously someone invested a lot in making it into a garden at one point.  The earth, however, was pretty hard when the Badger tried to till it.  Last year it was waist-high crab grass.  Post-tilling, it is a carpet of bindweed along with one random peony bush which apparently didn't mind being chopped to ribbons by the tiller.  The peony getting ready to bloom and I'm pretty excited about that because I love peonies and I have never had any of my own.  However, Leaf is determined to bite the buds off the bush, so I may or may not get any blooms. 

 What shall we do this this little section?  Well, hopefully we shall haul in a load of compost and turn it into a fertile, fruitful field.  But probably not this year.  We've talked about just putting pumpkins back there this year.  All we'll have to do is make two or three small hills for seeds in that hard soil and the entire plot will fill in with vines. 

Since I took that picture, a lady at church offered me some raspberry plants and I put them back along that fence you see.  Hopefully in the future this corner of my yard will be a magnificent vegetable garden edged with raspberry plants.  Wouldn't that be lovely?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Just For Me

One thing that was awesome about this trip to Utah was that we got a second spring.  When we got to Utah everything was blooming and blossoming like how it had been in Kansas a couple weeks ago.  It was so delightful to get a second round of daffodils and forsythia and crabapple blossoms. 

When we arrived, the lilacs looked like they were getting ready to bloom.  Sure enough, the day we left, they popped open.  Lilacs are not terribly common in Kansas; you see them occasionally, but it's nothing like how it is in other places I've lived where they are everywhere in late spring.  I love lilacs, and I love the lilac hedge in front of the Burrow (the Badger's ancestral home.)  So I felt like they bloomed just for me, and it made me very happy.  

Car Pictures

Here are some pictures that should have gone with my post about traveling with eight kids.

Thanksgiving Point

I remember when, back in the mid-1990's, this funny green water tower appeared along I-15 in the wasteland between the town of Lehi and the point of the mountain.  "Thanksgiving Point," it said.  My family went out and visited it: ate at the little restaurant, looked in the small gift shop, and thought "this is kind of strange out here in the middle of nowhere."  Over the years I watched it grow: first a museum, then a farm with a fall corn maze, then a movie theater, then more museums... and rumors of some really incredible botanical gardens.  It took me a few years to wrap my brain around the idea of botanical gardens, since in my mind that area was one big mass of dried-out sagebrush.  But I kept hearing glowing reports, and I decided I really wanted to see them. 

Visiting the gardens became a top priority for me when I realized we were going to be there during tulip time.  I arranged to meet a couple friends there.  Driving out there, I was amazed at how the area has changed.  That quiet little spot off the freeway is now a mass of office buildings and restaurants, with housing developments carpeting the once-barren land surrounding. 

I only had half my kids with me (since the older ones were camping in southern Utah with the Badger,) but between the three of us we had seventeen young children with us.  Since my friends' children are exceptionally delightful and well-behaved (and my kids are pretty okay) we had a marvelous time. 

I LOVED LOVED LOVED the gardens!  I honestly felt like someone took the lands of my dreams and brought them to life.  I really felt a connection to the place.  And being there in the spring was a real treat-- you know how I feel about daffodils.  Our favorite place was the Secret Garden, so much like what I imagine the one in that marvelous book to be like.  We ended up eating our picnic lunch in there, and my two friends and I had a deep and thoughtful discussion about various facets of life and motherhood. 

The whole experience was very nourishing to my soul.

Five Girls

I finally got a chance to photograph all five of my daughters together in their Sunday dresses.  I love having five daughters! 

A Perfect Family Hike

The Badger had this brilliant idea on our drive out to Utah.  Yes, camping with all our little ones would be insane right now.  But we would be driving right through red rock country on the way in; why not stop and do a hike with the family?  It would break up the drive a bit and tire the kids out. 

In 2010 the kids and I hiked Little Wild Horse Canyon (down by Goblin Valley State Park) with my sister and nephew, but the Badger wasn't able to come on that trip.  All these years now we've been telling him how awesome it was, so we decided to make that our family hike. 

It ended up being one of those absolutely perfect family outings that just makes your heart sing.  Here are 45,000 pictures. 

The beginning of the hike, taken by me:

The beginning of the hike, taken by the Badger:

We only have one baby backpack, so we tried putting Leaf in a wrap carrier on Bean's back.  That didn't work out so well... I haven't done much wrapping of babies onto backs, so I guess I didn't really know what I was doing.  We took her out and I was going to wrap her to my front instead, but we ended up just carrying her most of the hike because it was easier.

The hollow tree that we remembered was still there at the mouth of the canyon.    

Little Wild Horse is such a great hike for families and children.  There is one part near the beginning where you have to climb up over a rock, but it's very doable, especially with lots of friendly reaching hands.  

The Rabbit loves to climb, and she was constantly climbing up the walls of the canyon as we hiked.  We joked that the soundtrack to our hike was "Rabbit, GET DOWN!!!"  Later in the week when the kids were down camping with the Badger they actually wrote a song, "Rabbit, get down!"  

This place is absolutely kid heaven.  

Hiking together as a family was just so, so wonderful.  We haven't done many family activities since the twins were born, especially outdoor activities.  So this was such a rejuvenating experience. 

As we were starting out from the parking lot, Peanut complained that she was tired and then freaked out about having to scramble down a very small rock.  We thought, "Oh no, she's going to complain and be difficult the whole hike."  But once we got in the canyon, she thought it was so cool that she did the whole hike happily and without complaint.  

A Frog marching... He did great on the hike too.  We only went a mile or so up the canyon, so it was just the right length for our little people, but the canyon is so awesome that everyone absolutely loved the experience.  It is sometimes challenging to find things that appeal to all ages when you have a large brood, but this was ideal.   

Rabbit, GET DOWN!!!!

Do you see the lizard?

Starting to get really narrow...

What do you do when you're in a narrow spot and you run into hikers going the other way?   No problem! 

Snack break!  

 Rabbit, GET DOWN!!!

As we walked out of the canyon, the Badger and I watched our kids hiking along together and talked about what a wonderful time this was for us.  Our whole family is together now, and that only for a few short precious years until they start leaving the nest.  It was so lovely to be all together, enjoying nature and having a good time.  

 Little Wild Horse Canyon will always be a special place for our family.