Sunday, June 30, 2013


Saturday morning early found the Handy Man and I perusing the Farmer's Market.  This week's haul included both orange and red beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, blackberries, blueberries and a Boy!  We met Rae at the Market and brought the Boy home for a Pirate Playdate with Gramerly.
When Bean and Ol' Henry were tiniest boys, I brought them home a new toy every other week.  Since then, I haven't needed to buy much else, with exception to dress-up and princessy stuff because Bugg wanted to do whatever Bean was doing.
  I loved the themes though.  If it was Davy Crockett, then I felt the need to supply him with every single item and experience that would support our pioneer adventures.
I was a little concerned, because Giddy-up is very attached to his Mama, and I really wasn't sure how he would do without her all day.
Hmmm, bribes are always good, huh?  He gets some minimal screen time now that he's two.  I have a no electronics policy for our regular Playdate.  Since he likes shows, I asked the Mama if I could get him a DVD of Disney/Fisher Price's Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  I thought we could title these visits, Just Gramerly and Giddy-up Playdates, so he'd get the message that neither Mama or his beloved cousins would be in attendance.  Also, so if he asked about Jake at our regular Thursday dates, I could explain why Jake would have to wait.  I have this disease of always trying to cover every base, because sad Gramerlings break my heart and there's quite enough heartbreak in the world already.  I drive myself crazy with this mission, but I digress.
Surely your surprised to know, that in addition to the DVD's, I needed to get that cutest Fisher Price ship with the cannon balls that really shoot, and a funny crocodile that pops out the side.  What's a ship without mateys, so an extra Jake along with Cubby and Izzy found it's way in  the ol' Amazon basket.  Then, that 30 percent off coupon at Kohl's provided Jake underpants for a potty-training Boy and then there was this adorable Jake shirt.   Laws, I'm a danger to myself when a theme gets rolling.
We pulled away from the Market with a teary little two year old, but within a minute he was smiling and I was able to assure Mama,  in a text, that all was well.

As soon as he came in, he found the boat and was very impressed, so I asked if would like to see a show about that boat.  I was able to witness his comatose stare Rae has mentioned. Even in this state, he was able to take nourishment. While his most of his body didn't so much as twitch, one hand was able to find it's way from the blueberry bowl to his mouth until said bowl was empty.   After the show, we played with the ship for quite sometime and then it was time to go outside.
We wound our way into the big creek where we spent nearly two hours throwing rocks.  Pappy had to get on his creek boots and join us, because you know three people throwing rocks is more fun than two.  Bean loved this activity as well, especially the big rocks. I would take a bucket and collect him bucket after bucket of rocks. I wondered to Pappy how many rocks I've picked up in this ol' creek.  I told Giddy-up that the plop of big rocks sounded like a bull frog and he thought that was the funniest thing he'd ever heard and laughed at every bull frog plop.
After lunch he said it was time to go upstairs, and to get Pingoo (the penguin) and his blankees.  I did, and up we went. I put him in bed, he laid down, I covered him up and that was that.  About an hour and fifteen minutes later I heard over the monitor, "Gramerly, where are you?"
After much stickering, we headed back downstairs for some cooking time.  I have a mixer, blender and coffee pot.  The mixer really mixes and the blender blends, whilst the coffee percolates.  Some flour, rice and multi-colored sprinkles make for a fun time.

 For half the time he was  interested in the measuring and mixing, but the last half hour he was most intrigued by how all those moving parts worked and spent lots of time experimenting with on/off, both the buttons, the beaters and how it felt against his fingers.

About six years ago, Gardener E parted with her big Ferdinand book that I read over and over again to Bean.  I still hear that tiny voice responding to "He liked to sit just quietly and...." with "'Mell the towers"(smell the flowers).  Squeezes my heart every time. Giddy-up enjoyed the story as well.
Cars and tea pots rounded out a very full and lovely afternoon.  He referenced Mama in his play a few times and once said, "Mama, I like her. Sweet." He has such an amazing vocabulary and a delicious laugh. I could eat him up.
Playdate is important to me. It really is a lot of work and sometimes tense in it's own way, you know, constantly counting heads and trying to do everything each one wants to do. Still, I want these summer days of play with cousins and friends and their Gramerly imprinted on their hearts and mind. But I love, love, love these one on one hours.  There aren't enough of these times, but when they come I try to be very present.  I am hopeful and prayerful,  that soon Rae will get a call that her new baby is here, or on her way and then there will be two and brand new experiences.  Perhaps I better see if the princess stuff is stocked up, you know, just in case.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Playdate Steamed

Wednesday evening brought wild and woolly storms through the area, all evening long and well into the night. Lots of water, but thankfully, no downed trees or any damage.
Playdate dawned gray, warm, steamy and close, but the play went on.  I couldn't uncloud my lens, but it did paint a picture of the atmospheric muck we trudged around in all day. And let's just just say those of us with curls hand some wild and woolly ones too.
Missy Buttercup is adding lots of detail to her portraits this summer.

Tandem painting with Giddy-up and Ol' Blue Eyes.

 One way to combat the steam is to just climb right on in the water table.

Break out the tools and fix the helicopter.

A little drumming in a cardboard box.

Finally painting summer shirts. I'm not sure the paint will ever dry.

 Wee Will is smiling and talking and such a delight.

 Ceece created a wet and wriggling blurb to splash around on.

 Handy Man finally hooked with up the depositor of the garage snake skins.
 And since the water had the creek up, Grandfather brought a kayaking opportunity.

 Before Grandfather arrived, we went to play in the creek. I had a Humphrey Bogart moment with Baby Boy, who at four is not so much a baby anymore.  Anyway, I'm sitting there, in the creek, and he walks over, gets close, cocks his head and says, very conspiratorially, "Here's the thing." What four year old says that. Needless to say, I'm intrigued.   "Yes."
"You need to always do what I say."  "I'm the boss of this place."  Good to know Baby Boy, you are the boss."
 Antebellie, very seriously shared with me how this very creek came to be.
In times past, it wasn't a creek, but a bridge and there was so many cars, it broke the bridge and the cars fell in and made the creek.  All the car parts are still there somewhere, but they are hidden because this all happened a hundred years ago.
Well, then.
These last two hot and steamy summers have really made me feel my age.  When it's in the eighties and low humidity, I just go, go, go. When it bumps up to ninety plus and the humidity is 99.9 percent, except when it was a hundred and raining, I feel like a wrung out one time too many dishrag long before the dishwasher's loaded, or the last toys put away.  Still, I look over the day with grateful heart at the fun, the learning, the growing, the laughs and relationship building. They are growing at warp speed and I'm sadly aware that these carefree summer days are numbered.
So, here's the thing (ha).  I won't remember the heat or my exhaustion, but I will remember smiling and lending an ear to hear what Baby Boy needed to say,  watching Drummer Boy's little drummer girl, Giddy-up finally enjoying the dolphin swing and his precious laughing, Bean figuring out the kayak and the paddles and the soft coos and ear to ear smiles of our tiniest Wee Will. Heart warming all.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm a Rock Star

Today was my last official summer obligation.  Well, there's Playdates, of course, but I don't count those.  For about ten years the Sunnyside Master Gardner's have hosted a Kid's Garden. The Optimist Club had place for some raised beds.  Each Monday through the summer, the kids learn all about plants, actually plant, care for, and harvest their own little garden.
 These gardens put mine to shame.
 The first part of the morning the kids spend in their garden, weeding, picking, watering, or whatever needs doing.
 The second part of the morning is spent in the classroom learning all kind of things about plant life.
 Membership in Master Gardening is based on volunteering so many hours in educating the community on good gardening practices. I would say there were twelve or fifteen adults there with helping hands for the class of 24.  20 kiddos came today.  I've been involved off and on with this group and the Kid's Garden for many years.  The leader asked if I would teach on the subject of ecology.
We discussed recycling, reducing and reusing. I brought the bunny boys and we talked about what a great garden additive the bunny poop can be. As you might guess, I read a good book about a great old tree.
The kidlets rotated through three centers.  In one, they turned used two liters into bird feeders, one where they reused egg carton and egg shells as little plant pots for the seed they started, and with me they turned shredded paper into a new sheet of paper.
In the big sack of shredded paper I brought from the school office, some bright yellow paper was shredded. Not much compared to the white, but enough produce this lovely neon green color, the kids loved.
 One of adults referred to the slurry as "Cream of Paper"  and it does have the consistency of Cream of Wheat. Though lots of, "Ooohhh," and "Gross,"comments were heard, they couldn't wait to get their hands in the mix.
 You might observe that these are adult hands. They couldn't wait either.
It's such a great group of people and so many are so faithful to this project, but by their own admission their experience lies in gardening, not so much in teaching children.   
So, for the Rock Star business, the adults about waylaid me when class was over to wax eloquent about my lesson and went on, and on, and on.  I haven't had a lot of experience being the Rock Star, but it was very nice to feel so appreciated.  I sometimes forget that what comes almost as naturally to me as breathing, just doesn't come so easy to everyone.  I know it's a God given gift and I'm thankful for it so I won't let my head grow too large, but it was rather a delightful way to begin the week.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Busy In Bee Town

So we're 12 weeks into this bee business and it continues to be an interesting experiment.  There are droves of bees now.
I couldn't believe how fast the top bar hive (Harmony) took off compared to the Langstroth hive (Mordor), especially considering they had to make their own comb and Mordor has wax frames.  When I went into the hives to put an empty bar and frame in the brood chambers three weeks ago, Harmony had thirteen drawn comb and Mordor only seven.  Following expert advice, I not only put a frame in the brood chamber in Mordor, but went ahead and put another super on top ( a box with frames).
I went to check last Sunday and was quite shocked to find all the frames drawn and capped. Whoa, they went at warp speed compared to how they started, I don't get that.  They are aggressive and I have a hard time managing without help, so the Handy Man got a sting proof bee jacket for Father's Day and I got one for myself.  Thankfully, I had prepared by bringing another super full of frames, so I was ready and got it on.
In the Harmony hive, the girls had done some work on one bar I put between combs,   but the last two showed no effort.  Mordor is now way ahead in the honey department. Very curious.
Anyway, I get Mordor put back together and Handy Man moves fifteen feet down the hill, unzips his hood and one of those mean bees nails him in the throat and I see more on their way and I'm yelling, "Back up, back up!"  Thankfully he only got hit once and more thankfully, he isn't allergic.  My first bee sting from that hive didn't result in more than a mosquito bite looking place, but the next one on my nose was very, very scary.  I would post a picture but you may never wander outside again. Trust me, it was awful. So, tomorrow I will call and get a prescription for an epi-pen.
Today, they were loving the sunshine and zooming in, out and around like crazy.

That last comb in Harmony still doesn't show much effort.

The bees were certainly dense on all the other frames.

A peek into Mordor showed bees covering every frame in the new super.  This will be honey we can have.  
I'm ordering a new queen, then begins the arduous task of trying to find the old one and introducing a new one.  I'd much prefer to move that hive into the woods and leave it to it's own devices, but I don't want anymore mean bees.
This really gives me a much greater respect, awe, whatever, for the folks who've gone into the wild after honey, with no bee jacket.  Ughh, not for me.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Low Population

Giddy-up was the first to arrive yesterday, and also the first to leave.  What we hoped were just spring allergies had him feeling more and more dreadful as the morning went on.  He just wasn't up to being playful.  Thankfully, he was able to enjoy the first ripe blueberries of the summer.

Pink eye and out of town guests made for just a few kidlets at a time all day.  It was very warm, but there was always a breeze, so it was a great summer day.
One new little friend visited and just wasn't so sure about all it all.

 We are all loving the tree fort. Whatever you do, shoot, color, cut, paste, it's more fun when you are up in the trees.
My little Brown Eyed Button finally decided I was acceptable and let me hold her all morning. She is the sweetest, tiniest little thing.

Hmm, scissors or my gun, hard choices.
 Last weekend I did some very serious shrub trimming. As I was snipping out those long green sticks it occurred to me that instead of pitching them over the hill, they could become something. Ahh lands, the ever present need to create from my trash is just flatly a nuisance some days.  Can ya'll see the Handy Man shaking his head?  Yeah.  Well, I waited till the grass was mowed and began a little wiki-up in the play yard.  I sent a note out to the big people and told them to bring any scrap ribbon, material, twine, a bread bag, etc. and we would weave our wiki-up throughout the summer.  Baby Boy just fits inside. Now I will have to find a story about a Native American and a wiki-up so I can read to them. So cute.
 We picked lots of mint for perfume sprays and lavender to dry for sachets. We chased chickens, rode in trucks, splashed in the pool, sporting our new do's.

Before clean up for VBS, it was imperative to be sure some new and exciting creature wasn't lurking in warm creek water.
Summer as it should be.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

It is interesting, these holidays where you don't exactly participate due to, well, no longer having a needed piece of the equation.  Daddy has been gone thirteen years, and still, Father's Day seems strange to me.
So, though he isn't my Dad, he fathered my children and I celebrate the Handy Man today.  It was just going to be a sting proof bee jacket and some new books, but it turned into a bit more owing to circumstances of the week.
What is it about guys and trucks.  I don't get it. His truck was fourteen plus and starting to  show some serious signs of aging.  Being rear ended, forcing him into my car, didn't help at all.

That,um, is it called a tailgate? It's hanging on by a prayer.

Being blessed to have never been in an accident before, he was a bit frustrated. He'd been considering a truck for a long time anyway.  I thought it might help, since we were already at the dealership, to have a look around, and this truck found him.
 In case you can't see that big smile, here's a closer look-
That big grin warms my heart and I am so happy for him.
 We had our first date in the new truck last night and my first ride to the DQ for a dip cone.
    "Alright Chickapea, I've smiled enough, get in the truck."
 Parenting has changed so dramatically through the generations. Remember back in the day when being a good father meant keeping your kid fed and shoes on their feet?  Not much affection or emotion.  I never really felt, as a child, that my father liked me much. He always worked nights and a second job, so I didn't spend much time with him.  He was permanently disabled by a stroke when I was eleven and he really wasn't too crazy about me through my teens either.  He did, however like the Handy Man and my chicklets and I ended up being one of his most favorite places to be in his last years.  Sadly, Handy Man never had that emotional connection to his father and sadder still, that never really changed.
I guess we learned a lot about parenting from what we didn't have.  Every time I see him building something for the gramerlings, or down on one knee, teaching them something new, or loving to squeeze them, or running whenever one of his kid's calls, I'm grateful that we've come so far.  And I tell our children that I expect they'll take that loving and liking even farther with their own children and grandchildren.
I was blessed to have loving brothers and a brother-in-law who helped parent me along the way.  I'm so very thankful for having the love of my Heavenly Father modeled for me in a such a way.
The greatest blessing though for me was the love of this Handy Man.  It is no small thing for someone to look over all you ain't, which is not a tiny job in my case, and focus on all you are.  Such love.
I always encourage folks to remember to "like" the people they surround themselves with. It seems to me that loving isn't enough.  If you aren't liked, then you don't feel that love, no matter how fed or shoed you are.
Happy Father's Day guys and blessings on those who fathered having no biological children and those who daily father in the absence of one!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ahhhhh, Well Hello Summertime

So when I left Thursday morning for my last cooking camp class( and last long term obligation for several weeks) at 7 in the morning, it was 84 degrees.  Gee.  Camp turned out to really be a lot of work and I was very glad to be almost done.
Here the ingredients are lined up for 18 children to make one batch of bread that would become one small loaf of cinnamon bread, one plain and one garlic.
While the bread was rising, we made kool-aid playdough.

I hurriedly packed and cleaned and rushed home to get things ready for Playdate, as plans had been neglected in all the needy car, wrecked car, new truck, camp situation.  

I'm never more thankful for technology than after Playdate, when I can look at and remember pictures of our day.
There are always several highlights of the day, so I'll share them here.
Wee Willie paid us another visit.  I fear we are a tribe simply besotted with babies, the lot of us.  Land's, you'd think by now we would have had our fill, but no way.
 Handsome boy.
 Snack and storytime reading of The Paper Princess.  Such wonderful listeners, right down to the two year old.

 It isn't at all unusual to find one or more digging in dirt, so when I wandered on to this scene, I just smiled, until I looked closer and laughed out loud and yelled, "Get the camera."

Diggin' in his white Sunday pumps is a bit unusual and whole lot hysterical.

 Last year Giddy-Up was interested in these cars, but just wanted to sit in them, so he did.  This year, he finally decided to ride in one with an older kidlet, he just sat there with a stoic look on his face. When they stopped he would simply say, "Go," but never cracked a smile.
Yesterday he got in the driver's side and he finally made the connection that it was his ownest little foot that made it go and from then on it was an absolute joy ride for all of us.  That big mulberry grin is precious to me.

I love the way they switch play friends through the day, and share each other's joy- Sweet!