Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer 2010 in Review

In June, we went to a sort of local berry farm and picked 15 pounds of strawberries. I would have liked to have picked more, but I ran out of funds, and my helpers ran out of steam.

Most of the strawberries turned were turned into jam, although I also made a scrumptious strawberry pie.

The jam cooling. (We've gone through 6 of the 12 jars already.)

We spent a lot of time watching the girls at the pool this year. They were both on the Parks and Rec Swim Team. The girls did pretty well, and the team went 7-0 in dual meets and took 1st at Conference. Woo-hoo!

This is Flower adjusting her goggles.

Jelly Bean getting ready to dive in.

Super went for a non-water sport. He really enjoyed T-ball.

In July, there is an Arts Festival that is held
in the downtown area.

This is a picture of one of the main downtown
streets and the booths.

And here is Super eating ice cream from one of our favorite places. (Well, eating and wearing. In this pic, he just got some ice cream on his cap.)

In August, swimming and T-ball are over, and so we do a lot more just hanging out. But we did go to a minor league game last week. The kids had fun, for a few innings anyway. Here are the girls.

And here is Super. Yes, his hair is shorter. It was actually much shorter than this too. He got his haircut almost to "buzz cut" length earlier in the summer. He wasn't a fan of the short cut, and to be honest, neither was I, so I think that his curls will be returning as his usual look.

I don't have pictures of all the things that I have harvested from the garden this year. In June, we had broccoli and green beans. Beginning of July, there were cucumbers, and by the end of July, tomatoes had started and peppers too. August has been more tomatoes (lots more) and more peppers. Zucchinis, sweet potatoes, and sweet corn were failures. Oh, and in the herb garden, I've been harvesting basil, oregano, and parsley.

I've also been preserving food. In addition to the strawberry jam, I've canned beans, pickles, peach jam (SOOO good), and tomato sauce. I plan on canning applesauce and peaches in September. I've dried the herbs and I plan on drying apples.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's that time of year -

The summer went by too fast. We did lots of reading and some learning this summer, but we spent much more time hanging out at swim meets and t-ball games. But here it is, the end of August, and time to think about "back to school." Flower is in 5th grade this year (how that happened, I have no idea), Jelly Bean is in 3rd grade, and Super is in Kindergarten.

Flower and Jelly Bean. Based on pictures, it really looks like they get along really well. Trust me, it is an illusion. LOL

Flower. I swear her other lower leg is there somewhere.

Jelly Bean. This shirt is yet another piece of clothing that my friend Stacey talked me into getting on a shopping trip almost two years ago. The kids have really worn and worn those clothes.

Jelly Bean and her sister's hand

Sigh. I swear, he can smile.

I swear.

See I told you.
He doesn't have some unusual attachment for the tree, but it was a picture of him actually smiling, so I just went with it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Celebrate Life Day

It was around two years ago. I was celebrating my birthday with my two friends and my sister. We went to this fun restaurant for dinner and dessert. I hadn't wanted to do anything for my birthday, but my sister encouraged me to at least do something small. I was turning 42, so it wasn't like it was some momentous birthday, but that really wasn't why I didn't want to celebrate my birthday. It was August 2008, and 2008 had been a very bad year so far. Things were unraveling all around me. It seemed almost anything that could go wrong was. Money was well beyond tight. My sister was sick and was looking at very major surgery in the coming months. My marriage was at an extremely low point. And of course, losing Christopher just a few months before who was due in August. I couldn't think of any reason to celebrate my life.

Early on, when we were at dinner, the conversation turned to all the on-line auctions, donations, fundraising for NieNie's Recovery. I just listened for a few minutes, and then I said "I've never heard of this woman. Who is she?" And they explained that this woman, Stephanie Nielson, had had a blog for a few years now, before the blog craze really took off, and that she often posted about her life with her husband and her children and how she loved her husband and her children so much and how happy she was with her life. And then on August 16, 2008, she was involved in a plane crash with her husband and the pilot. The pilot died, and her husband was burned over 30% of his body, but Stephanie's body was burned over 80% of her body. The blog world, and people beyond, were drawn, compelled to do anything they could to help Stephanie and her husband Christian.

When I got home, I went to Stephanie's website and spent hours reading. I almost couldn't believe that there was someone that happy out there. And somebody who was so content with her life. And somebody that was so willing to let the unimportant things go by so that she could have a moment with one of her children. Somebody who still talked about their husband like a teenage girl with a crush. Or somebody that could always see that even if today was a bad day, tomorrow would be better.

When we were at dinner, we had talked about Stephanie's blog, of course, and we also talked about blogs in general. My sister had been using LiveJournal for awhile, but was thinking about making the switch to a more public blog. My two friends didn't have public blogs yet, but they were thinking about it. They asked me if I had a blog. Well, I did. I had started a blog back in 2006, but it was private, and I couldn't figure out how to get back on it after my first post, so I kind of forgot about it until I found out I was pregnant with Christopher. So I figured out how to get back on my blog, but kept it private, so that I could have some place to talk about my pregnancy with him. And then after we lost him, it became a place where I could talk about my grief and that I could share about him with other people. But I hadn't really considered having just a "regular" blog.

But the more I thought about it, I thought I would try it. I'd recently started trying to live a more simple life and I often had all kinds of thoughts about it rattling around in my head and it might be nice to have someplace to write them down. Maybe I'd talk about my family too. So at the end of August, I came up with a title and did my first couple posts. And I've been blogging for almost two years now. (And on my homeschooling blog too! I don't post much over the summer, but if you've never checked it out, take a look sometime!)

It has helped me to have a place to put all these simple thoughts, and it has increased my interest in all kinds of simply self-sufficient things to the point that now I'm starting to a book. It helped me to have a place to talk about my kids, my life, albeit a very whitewashed version for awhile, but as time has gone on, I've shared more and more about my life and just my journey. And by having some place to share all of this has helped me get to a much better place than I was in 2008. Writing here didn't solve all my problems. Having great friends around me, talking, spending time with my family, and just keeping getting up every morning helped me get to a better place too. And of course, not all of my problems are solved either. But I am at a place where I am grateful. Not grateful for all the bad things that happened in 2008, or for any of the other trials that I've had happen. But I am grateful that I do have my family. That I do have my friends. And I'm grateful that I am alive. That there is a future out there. And opportunities.

And NieNie? I still read her often. And am still amazed by her. I managed to feel pretty sorry for myself back in 2008. And yes, I had trials, and not just minor ones. And my life had never really been a "charmed" life either. But I hadn't spent much time, ever, feeling blessed for the every day like Stephanie had before her accident. And now, two years later, she still feels blessed for the every day. And it didn't take her two years of feeling sorry for herself to get back to that place either.

She said recently on her blog:
"I have 2 years behind me and I hope they see that life is- and can be still so so good.I am so happy to be alive.Life is a treat, a marvelous gift.I will forever dedicate this day- August 16 as a day to celebrate life. I hope you will too."

And I will. Every August 16th, from now on, I will have a Celebrate Life Day. And in addition to that day, every day, I will do a little thing - an extra kiss, a little note, a smile - to celebrate Life.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I wouldn't say I have regrets

about this summer, but I wish we could have done more of some things, and I wish that we had done some things that we haven't and probably won't.

There, of course, was lots of good. The garden is going better than last year, and I've been much more healthy this summer too - much more walking/jogging and eating healthy. And while we did and enjoyed the summer library program, we did much less of the optional activities and a lot more reading.

But we didn't go camping, and we played outside less than I would have liked. But there was more playing together, which I did like. And we did do quite a bit of walking together which was fun. And lots of art. And games. And just free play in the living room.

I didn't get to go on vacation this year, but I have plans to change that for next year. I've already blocked out the dates with my daycare/preschool families for next August, and I'm taking a whole two weeks off. I haven't done that in I don't know how long. And I'm saving up my pennies starting now so that it happens.

I just wish that August could be a little cooler and a little longer. That would make Summer just about perfect.