Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Tale of Two Teenagers

When my chicklets come for Playdate, I want them to have a lot of freedom of play, lots of choices, lots of good times, hugs and kisses that abound.  As much as I'd like to be SuperGramerly, I'm not, so we enlist some help.  Back in the day we were blessed with  our friend Kate, and various students I would invite to join us,  then another of Ol' Mother Hubbard's neighbors came and became an ever present additional pair of hands on Playdates.
Anna Laura was young when she first started coming, but I noticed right away that she had that special gift with children that  made her presence priceless.
 Never loud, never pushy, just right there, to straw a juice box, apply some more insect repellent, run through the woods, hold the tadfrog, kiss the boo-boo, wrangle a chicken, snuggle whichever one was in need.
 I was amazed then and still, that throughout Playdate, I never, ever heard a harsh word, never noted that fatigue was settling in, just right with my people, doing whatever my people wanted to do.  A prize I tell you!
I thought for sure I would see a different side of this angel girl when I got the bright idea to haul Playdate to the beach for  two ( oh, yea, dreaming, crazy person that I am), count them, two weeks a couple of summers ago.  Along came our brave and fearless Playdate sidekick.
  For two weeks, she was exactly the same.  Never was she on her phone or laptop when wee folk were awake. Never did she spend more than the minimum of time in the shower. Never did I have to pick up for her as well, when making rounds.  Never was there a need to adjust the menu, or the activities on her account. Never in two full weeks.  I was then, and am still amazed and thankful for her devotion to these precious ones.
 The only problem, she was successful in every last one of them, now including my little  Giddy-Up, believing that they are her very favorite and wanting more of her attention then anyone person can give that many wee folk.
What a talent!!  We love Anna Laura.

To me, this so captures who she is. For those of us looking on, it doesn't appear that there's anything in front of them to grab attention, but she is in tune with whatever it is Swee-Tee and Baby Boy were wanting her to engage in, and as usual, she makes room for both.  Heart squeeze!

Back in day, when I had three teenagers, all at once, for many years, a wonderful young woman joined me on that journey- laughed with me, cried with me, pastored and ministered to my children and me as their youth leader and my friend.   Mine grew up and she married and soon  had a boy of her own.  I was there when he was born and captured the first picture of a tiny, beautiful baby.  It was an unbelievable turn of events that allowed her to be my teaching assistant last year. Well, Arie didn't stay little for long and this year was wanting a bit of a summer job, so I invited him to be my Playdate helper.  How fun to watch him with this next generation of week folk.  He made it his business to convince Giddy-Up that he was a perfect guy for whatever adventures Giddy-up could contrive.

His patience even won over my little Brown Eyed Button, who doesn't much care to get too far from her Mama.

He was willing to dig worm after worm for her entertainment until she too came to see him as a friend.
I have had my share of experiences with rude, obnoxious teens, too caught up in whatever was going on with their hand held device to know I existed.  How wonderful to spend my summer with two teens that were engaged, interested, kind, respectful, loving and just generally a joy.  What a blessing!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Playdate, Oh Playdate

Wow, weather perfection for our last all day Playdate- sunny, breezy, cool, wonderful.  Let's just say it was a very full and busy day of fun and visiting.  If I counted correctly, I believe there were thirty six of us participating in the end of Gramerly's summer festivities.  Often over the course of the summer, I'll have some friends stop in that want to see the kidlets and four came by yesterday.

Since Aunt SuZQ was all finished with the "Big C" business, she brought Aunt Lois and her great-greats and Auntie G-Lou brought Mom.

  Ceece's sister blew in with a new little Westerly Wind for me to smooch, so ages ranged from four weeks to ninety three years- love it! We're so thrilled that little mister is here all safe and sound.
Of course, no smooching for me till Bean had his turn.

Lots of crafting, creeking, and eating.
Mr. Giddy-up arrived first and wanted to spend some time with his rocks and dump truck in the driveway.  As soon as we ventured inside, he spied the stack of birthday cupcakes.  Earlier in the week, I had visited our local cake decorating store to find the anise oil for the bees.  I knew I was making cupcakes, to celebrate Bean's birthday, so tried to find a little something to go on the top.
Bean is into baseball,  Star Wars and fish, so I picked up those toppers, added some flower rings for the girls and then noticed penguin rings, which I just had to get for my penguin loving Giddy-up.
Here's the birthday Bean with the extra cupcakes.
  I suppose  you've surmised that I'm a detail loving person.  Sometimes I sigh at myself, because all the effort I invest in the details (I call that "plate coloring") often are only noticed by me.  Not so with a cupcake and penguin ring and a boy. He was tickled pink, so much so that he needed to have another at noon.
Today the Veterinary Clinic was open.  Every summer I head to the local Dollar Store and purchase bandaids, bandages, cotton balls and powder and let them have at it with their stuffed animal.  This never fails to delight.
 Missy Bugg's real dogs nearly relieved her Lady Bug of an ear (do lady bugs have ears, maybe it was an antennae).

Giddy-up thought that powder was the most amazing stuff.  Arie showed him how to put powder on the stool, then make an imprint in it. It was too cute watching him trying to get his leg high enough to imprint his shoe.

 Ceece read an idea of creating personalized plates with permanent markers. Gwen wrote their names in the middle, so decorating  the edges

was going on as well.
 Still, there is a whole afternoon to go and go, go, go we did.  To be continued.......

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Royalty Here At Home

At 10:47 this morning the UPS man arrived with our Beehighness and her Beeladies-in-waiting. After looking at that little box of bees, I felt better about the fact that after two attempts, we never spotted the queen.

It would have taken some serious study with my high powered cheaters on to have figured out which one is which.  Thankfully, in lieu of  a tiara, Beehighness is sporting a dot.
So, I read on some forum that a guy had tried over twenty essential oils and found that bees love anise oil sugar water.  So I track some down and fill a spray bottle with anise syrup, concoct smoking material from cotton, dried grass and cardboard, don the bandanna, neck wrap, cucumber peels, the whole nine yards for day three. 
Yesterday,  I got stung on my thigh, nearly inner thigh through my heavy canvas pants.  Well, I got stung a lot, but I had doubled gloved and between that and those 20 lb armor-all jackets, no stingers got through.  I guess I'm never going to be glad to be stung, but I was a bit concerned about it after the massive face swelling of my last sting.  Just a red, itchy puffy place on my leg.  I'm guessing stings on cartilage/bone react differently. Let me just say, this last sting was miles from any bone or cartilage.
Anyway, I changed to a baggy pair of grey sweat pants and put a pair of skinnies underneath for good measure. This time Handy Man got stung through his pants.  He hardly reacts at all.

We went back to the box we divided yesterday and went through both, but still could not find a queen. So we brushed the bees off the comb, put the new queen in the deep, checked through all the other boxes and got rid of any drone and queen cells.  The hive is much calmer this evening.  I'm praying they'll accept this gentle queen.  Do you see the white blobs at end of the cage. That is candy.  The bees inside use it to feed the queen. She can't feed herself.  The outside bees eat it as well. Hopefully, by the time they reach the queen, they will have accepted her.
It's funny, though it is terribly hot in that outfit and bees are leaving trails of their entrails all over you and are buzzing right on your veil in front of your face, you just sort of get in flow and forget them and get the job done.
Handy Man didn't double glove and his gloves were soaked. Water ran out of my inner surgical gloves when I pulled them off.  Have mercy, between those jackets and having the BeeHighness sent First Class in her private jet, any honey we get from this hive will be liquid gold.

Monday, July 22, 2013

One Does Not Just Walk in to Mordor

Once bee business was booming, it was easy to see that our hives had very different personalities.  Harmony, the top bar hive, is calm and Mordor, as you might guess, aggressive. I have not looked forward to having to dig around in that hive for the queen, in order to literally squash those aggressive tendencies, and replace her with a nicer version.
I read, read, read and thought it through very carefully.  First, I decided I needed to have a good experience so yesterday I spent some time visiting with the Harmony Hive which resulted in a very hospitable gift.
 It was with much excitement and joy we tasted our first piece of comb filled with honey and filled a few wee jars so the gramerlings can share in the tasting.
 Sunshine in a jar and very delicious.
You can see in the above photo, the papery covering on the honey which means it's capped and ready. Not all of the comb was capped if you notice in the bottom right corner.  I cut the comb off the top bar, and cut away any unfilled or uncapped comb and put it outside with the bar.  The bees come and take every last drop of honey. I purposely left a strip of comb on the bar for the bees to have an easier start, so honey was dripping everywhere. That honey is now back in the hive.

 So, preparing for Mordor.   One does not just walk in to Mordor, you must be ready. First you pray, naturally.  The bee jackets are really fabulous, no stings through them anywhere, but they are so stinking hot, so in Rambo style, I had to get on my bandana, as it's difficult to work with sweat pouring down your face.
 Next, a cooling neck wrap to try to keep me calm and collected when battling the bees.
All kinds of bottoms and tops to put over and under the sections as we took them apart.
Then Handy Man is suited up, but what you don't see is the cucumber peels in his pocket and the cinnamon toothpick he's chewing, both considered to be repellants.

Bees, Bees, Bees and more Bees, but not a Queen in sight.

Well, there is only so much being swarmed by bees a person can take, so after an hour we surrendered- our first attempt a dismal failure.  I  believe the queen is in the deep, which we have separated , so when we try again, we will only have one box to go through, not three.
Yesterday, I was loving bee keeping life and today I  was seriously questioning my bee keeping ability.  For my part, I'd like to just park this little missy and her witchy-poo consort in the south forty and wish them all the best, but it feels wrong to continue to send genetic bee nastiness out into the netherworld. So, we'll try and try again.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Loveliest of All is the Unicorn

Sadly, I headed back to the classroom this week to start putting my room in order and look at schedules and calendars.  Ugh, that part of my career I find most unpleasant, and I will be in a foul frame until the first student walks through the door, when the game changes and I get to start teaching.

There was serious, almost desperate need for an Oh MY JOY moment and really, what could be better than the first unicorn sighting at Playdate.
My typically reticent wee Brown Eyed Button girl thought a unicorn transformation was simply hysterical.  When I see the pictures, I see that that laughter bubbling right up and out.

It was so. very. stifling. hot.  Soaking yourself was just the wisest choice on such a day.
 My sweet Giddy-up thought this new toy was fascinating to watch, but had no interest in a ride for himself.  After observing his cousins over several trips to Gramerly's, he finally decided to give it a whirl and was smitten.  I believe his joy was being able to control the speed himself by pulling the handle.
 Remember the now famous baby shirt?  Still doing it's mesmerizing work on our newest Wee Will.
 Antebellie approached and asked, "Well, I thought of something to ask you that maybe, well, it might be a good idea, I mean we want to, you know we were thinking, umm- Can we paint ourselves?"  To which I answered, "Sure."

 At some point, paint has to come off, so this is a "You wash my back, I'll wash your's," train.
 Painting our best Playdate Pal is as fun as painting your ownest self.
Another Blueberry Lover.
One Summer Playdate to go. Are you kidding me?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What's that Buzz?

Much of this bee business is quite exciting.  I've never been more aware in my life of what's blooming around and about.  On our weekly Farmer's Market run, I'd just commented to the Handy Man about what our bees might be finding to eat.  We were trying to think if there are any big pesticide using farms in our vicinity and were hoping not and hoping our bees were powering up on some good food.
As the day cooled, we headed to the garden, where I discovered the early corn tasseling.
 Upon closer inspection, I discovered the corn was covered in honey bees.
 Packing that pollen in as hard and fast as they could go. I could see  the sprinkles falling onto the ears that will insure a cob of kernels.

 It's a wonder they can fly with all that pollen.

They didn't have far to fly back to  their hive.

Of course, throughout my delightful romp in the corn with the bees I was accompanied by my helper. He provides lots of slobbery kisses, trampled flowers and chewed up toys.  Time to play with his own puppy.

He had a visit with the Vet who pronounced him, "Practically perfect in every way."  His only need is a big bone to help a tooth get through. A prescription he was thrilled to receive.

Let's see, how about a family check-up.  Aunt Lois is doing well and is as brown as a berry from her mornings on the deck.  Aunt SuZQ has finished her radiation treatments and seems more herself these past few visits.  Mom doesn't have anything major going on at the moment, but isn't too interested in being too far from her chair.  Rae and Michael are still waiting for the call of a new little one and have some serious decision making to do.  I know they would appreciate prayers for direction.  This adoption business is not for the faint hearted.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Endless Quest

Klub Kimby happened on Playdate's afternoon, but much had gone on prior to that.  Giddy-up's favorite activity of the day was his friend Arie playing airplane with him.  

 Then Arie initiated a game of "Catchers," which I wouldn't have thought a two year old would really get, but Giddy-up did and had the best time playing with his cousins. Ol' Blue Eyes and Buttercup joined the fray.
 Remember the cute black pig filled with some summer fun cash from my classroom. Well, here is the big purchase.  The kids love it and I can't get very good pictures because I can't look at them long enough.

 The endless quest is to get a good Playdate picture of all them together.  This was the scheduled day.  I knew it would really be problematic this year as the day has stretched from early morning on to evening.  The youngest ones come earliest and leave for nap, whilst the elder gramerlings trickle in throughout the day. I asked everyone to come before lunch, but sadly Swee-Tee wasn't able to come.
Here's the most of them in their painted Playdate shirts in front of Fort Rivendell, Gramerly's Mother's Day gift from the Handy Man.

 Note that in most pictures that little Brown-eyed Button is looking for an exit.