Friday, May 30, 2014

Around the Yard--Late May

This has been a nightmarish week--my kid was assaulted by another kid at school on Tuesday, and I have been beside myself. My brain has been in a tailspin, hashing and rehashing every bit of the incident, and what might have precipitated it and how am I supposed to keep my children safe in this crazy f-ed up world. I honestly think I may be more bothered by the whole thing than he is (Mr. Reticent, he doesn't talk much about this sort of thing).

Aaaanyway, before Tuesday, there was Monday, at the tail-end of a busy weekend (baseball and birthday party and more baseball and shuttling kids all over kingdom-come). I stole a few moments to wander the yard, camera in hand, soaking in all the very late-Mayness of it, with leaves and buds all in their last burst of opening, when they're all young and tender and green (or, to quote Pony Boy Curtis quoting Robert Frost, "golden") and not even a tiny bit insect-nibbled yet.

Z and I finally got his screech owl box hung up a few weeks ago. I think we were too late--no owls have moved in--but it will be ready for next year (and when we went to a raptor program, we also found out that screech owls do live in Maine).

The lilacs are just starting to open (I thought we would lose them to pouring rain, which happens pretty much every year, but the sun came out yesterday, and maybe it will stick around a few days this time).

A sure sign that we're beyond frost danger (though we did get down to 35 degrees F yesterday)--our houseplants have all moved outside (how about that brown Christmas wreath? Time to take that down yet you think?).

I hope the bees found the apple blossoms before the rain earlier this seek washed them out of the trees.

I weeded my lazy garden and put in a ton of plants evicted from one of my  father-in-law's gardens.

They're mostly irises, which is fine with me, because I love irises, but it does mean that my garden is pretty much done by the end of June.

Meanwhile, C has been continuing apace rebuilding our vegetable garden beds. All that's left of the old gardens is the bed where I planted garlic last fall. It's like the shack that hangs on as luxury condominiums go up all around it. But even the shack will go, after the garlic is harvested.

My favorites this time of year are the little plants that spring up in the lawn (why would anyone ever use weed-killer on their grass when they could instead enjoy such delights as: Blue-eyed grass.

Violets (this has been a bumper violet year).


Grape hyacinth don't really count as "springing up" since I planted them there, but they're doing a good job of spreading around (much better than those little blue things that come out a month earlier and are called something like squill or squib...I can't ever remember their unlovely name).

Just looking at these pictures reminds me that there is solace and healing in nature, and that I (and my son) need to get outside this weekend.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Birthday Party Redux

On Sunday, we threw E and Z a Lord of the Flies Rings birthday party.

I had gone onto Pinterest to look for ideas and witnessed all manner of craziness. I really think we need to call an armistice in the birthday party arms race, don't you? Of course, if you really love spending a month turning your living room into a Hobbit Hole for a two-hour party, then who am I to judge?

I did NOT make our house into a Hobbit Hole, but I did make a ring-shaped cake (a good excuse to buy a bundt pan on Etsy). I was surprised to find none of my cookbooks had a bundt cake recipe, so I found one online (somewhere in the middle of the spectrum that ranges from cake mix to eight hundred ingredients). It took a lot longer to cook than advertised, and I forgot to pay attention near the end, so it came out more brown than golden, but a little goat milk caramel sauce helped out. I even bought one of those disgusting tubes of frosting gel and wrote the elvish words around the outside.

The cake, along with some elf food (fruit and matzo crackers--a stand-in for that dry elf bread) and Hobbit food (bread, cheese, popcorn, pretzels--hey we're modern hobbits) made up the "feast"

To start the party, the boys (yes, they were all boys) decorated cardboard shields, and then they went to Elf Training School.

Slack line.

Balance board.

Bow and arrow.

And sword fighting.

After cake and ice cream, they separated into two "teams" and ran through our woods trail in opposite directions, twice (I had suggested that C dress up like an orc and let them all chase him, but I guess the thought of being run down by seven nine-year-olds armed with sticks did not appeal to him). After that, the party was over. 

For party favors, I made these "hand kites" which I called The Ring of Mordor, using wooden rings and satin ribbon in volcano colors, as well as a small piece of polished quartz (the arkenstone) and a small amethyst (a special elf crystal), as well as their shields, of course. 

E and Z's best friend stayed the night, and they all watched The Fellowship of the Ring (talking through the whole thing!!). Monday C's dad brought over presents, and I finally made M's birthday peppermint bark (not quite a week late!). Now I think we are finally through Birthday Season. Phew.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hermit Island Camping Adventure

Someone at work asked me, "What do you do, camping for four days?" Here's just a sampling:

Make pizza on the campfire. 

Play guitar.

Play with fire.

Eat birthday cake.

Sit in the dark (and make sparks with Newman's Own wintergreen breath mints--to everyone's astonishment)

Make moles-in-the-holes.


Fly kites.

Hammock (that's a verb, right?).


Open presents in the tent while it pours rain outside.

Play on the beach.

Go for a foggy hike.

Find a message in a bottle.

Climb rocks.





Find magical fern clusters.

Eat more birthday cake.

Play frisbee on the beach.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Nine and Thirteen

E and Z turned nine on Saturday.

We spent their birthday weekend camping at Hermit Island, as per tradition (more on that later this week). Right now they are obsessed with The Lord of the Rings (mostly Z) and Star Wars (The Clone Wars--mostly E). They love to build Legos (and trade Legos) and play baseball and climb trees and get dirty (mostly E). They play-fight with sticks and their bare hands, climbing on each other and wrestling like puppies all the time. They are the best of friends--though they would never admit it--and only once in a while get sick of each other (at which point, a minute or two in separate rooms is all it takes to dissipate the negative vibes). They would both rather read than almost anything, but they both also need a large dose of outside time and exercise every day (especially Z).

They were made very happy with Mad Libs, tea, chocolate chip cookies, Lego sets, four-square balls, a Nerf gun (E) and a "gold" elf crown (Z), and the next two How to Train Your Dragon books for birthday presents. They'll be having a Lord of the Rings party next weekend, for which I bought Nerf swords and plastic-and-foam-and elastic "bow and arrow" sets, finally putting a nail in the coffin of my "no weapons" policy that lost much of its teeth back when their older brother was small and made guns out of every conceivable household object. They are "boy" to their cores--and yet, Z lays his head on my lap to get his braids re-done every couple of days, and E still knits now and then, and they both run to tell me when new flowers pop up in the yard.

And M turns thirteen today. Thirteen. That means I am mother to a teenager. And you know what? It's not nearly as scary as I thought it would be (yet). M's a pretty cool kid, with a good sense of humor, who is fun to hang out with and talk to (even if he does call me a "chump" a "bozo" and a "fool" every now and then). He has a pile of guitar-themed presents waiting for him at home, to be opened after his brother's baseball game. A few nights ago, he had a nightmare that I'd thrown him a birthday party and invited all of my friends and everyone he's ever met, and he tried to escape but couldn't. It sounds like fun to me! Hopefully his best friend will come over to jam this weekend, and eat peppermint bark. And it won't be a nightmare.

I have to admit, that it hurts my heart a little to think about "Pat the Bunny" and Peter Rabbit books, wooden trains and stuffed animals, to remember those babies with their bald heads, in their snuggly nightgowns and big, fat cloth-diaper butts, their chubby feet curled up frog-like as they slept. But I kind of like the people they're becoming, so I guess it's okay.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Memento Mori -- Mutha Magazine

The old-fashioned name for baby teeth is “milk teeth,” presumably because they grow in while the baby is still nursing, each tooth one milestone closer to the inevitable solid food and weaning of the child. The dentist name for them is “deciduous,” like trees that lose their leaves every fall and grow them anew in spring. The name suggests renewal and rebirth. But, unlike trees, children only shed and regrow their teeth once, a reminder of the fleeting nature of childhood and the impermanence of life itself, and that second chances are doled out rarely.

Please go here to read the rest of my essay, "Memento Mori" at Mutha Magazine. Thanks!
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