Auntie Heather’s Photo Recap

My new favorite photograph of Jeffrey…

The only photo of Abby where she is not making two-year old photo-face…

I adore this photo… Bean and Heather, loving each other.

Jeffrey and Heather picking blackberries, with Beanie in the background

My sweet Bean- note the lovely blue nails…

The blackberry fruits of our labor. This is actually mine…

The Peach Pie I said was the prettiest one you would never, ever see. I lied.

Happy Anniversary

 Nine years ago today, giddy and positively overflowing with joy, I married my best friend. That moment was quite easily the happiest single point of my life.

While the ensuing nine years have been nothing I could have imagined, marrying David is still the best decision I ever made. We have travelled together for more than half my life, but the nine years as husband and wife have given me the greatest happiness and deepest sorrow, all of which makes me more human, more complete, more capable of love and closer to being the person I came here to become.

Our story is here, documented more for our posterity than for anything: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. No, I don’t actually think anyone is going to read all that! Talk about naval gazing… Anyway, happy anniversary David. I love you. (Picture was taken in Yosemite, on the trail next to Vernal Falls)

Happy Birthday Beanie

Dear Sweet Bean,

You were so excited last night, you had trouble falling asleep, and this morning, when you climbed in bed with me, your eyes were so bright as you pried my eyes open to remind me that  “TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY MAMA!” Yes, yes it is, sweet boy.

Five years ago tonight, you came like a firecracker into our lives. There hasn’t really been a dull moment since. The last year has been a year of growth, discovery and answers. You are such a wonderful mix of quiet discovery and volatile energy. You are as at home running wild in a summer rain storm as you are curled up in my lap looking at the moon. One-on-one time is precious, and I see the loveliest sides of you when we go on our Beanie-Mama Dates. We both love those times.

While you are reserved with your affections, you are willing to talk to anyone, at length, about whatever has captivated your interest. Just last weekend at the blackberry farm, you talked extensively with a man on the next row about wasps and bees and the relative merrits of each, including an explanation of the wasps who take over bees hives in Japan. You don’t forget anything.

You have declared today to be Backwards Day, in hopes of opening your presents this morning instead of after dinner. The concession was to allow you to open one present, and you are currently deeply involved in a Play-Doh undersea world, courtesy of Grandma. The rest have to wait for later.

You are so excited about starting your new pre-school, and we are hopeful it will be a good learning environment where you can work out some of the things that challenge you, as well as make some new friends and share some of your exuberant happiness.

Baby boy, I’m proud to be your mama. I pray that we can always meet you halfway on your journey- because you are definitely on a journey- and that you will carry in your heart how very much I love you.

Love,  Mama

Random Drivel

My blender died. It made many a batch of whole-wheat blender pancakes, and survived from before I was married. That’s a pretty fair lifespan. Even when it was time to go, the poor thing tried to hold on, and I had to pry the glass from the motor, where it had tried to grind itself so hard, it had worn down it’s little metal parts and they had practically fused. That’s a hard working blender. A moment of silence, please…

Tomorrow is Beanie’s 5th birthday. He wants to do the whole day backwards, so he can open his presents first, and he wants to grind wheat. Yes, you read that right- grind wheat. The boy loooooves to get the grinder out and feed the wheat kernels into the stone wheels. Happy birthday! Here’s a bag of wheat!! hooray!

Bean is gradually slipping back to his comfortable, pretty pants ways. I know Mo is relieved, since Thing 2 was absorbing the extra girl energy and yearning for some pretty-ness. Bean’s still trying to dress in boy clothes, but I see him eyeing the pretty-ness, and this morning I caught him in a pair of Abby’s pants. I told him he was fine, and he paired the pants with a blue shirt so they became a “boy” outfit. This is all his doing. I’m just hanging back letting him figure it out.

Next time you’re in the store, and they have a big end-cap display of limited edition Pringles, and the Mozzarella Marinara looks interesting to you- run. Run far, far away. Do yourself this kindness. It’s my gift to you.

I’ve finished the energy-color program my friend is getting certified for- we started with a two-day seminar, then we went shopping withour color and energy cards, then she came over to my house and went through my closet. It was intense, and I have no idea if I look better or not. Seems I’m supposed to wear gold, and not so much with the silver I historically prefer. I keep hearing Carrie say Ghetto gold is fine, but for real jewelry? Puh-lease. I’m supposed to wear more pink, and brighter colors. Sigh…

OJ Simpson is on trial again? What the frick did he do now? Criminy. Just put the guy in jail already.

I finished the wedding invitations. They came out pretty. (I need to paint. For those of you waiting, I promise, soon. Bean should finish testing with the District by next week, and once his school starts, I’ll finally have time.) I’m also making the flower-girl dresses for this wedding- not sure how that one happened, but I’m sewing on dupioni silk, and am more than a little nervous. I need a serger..!

I totally cheated for Beanie’s cake tomorrow and bought the frosting in the plastic tub. I never do that! Anyone ever use it before?

Here is my mothering tip for the day: Never, ever let your daughter get hold of your MAC long-wearing lipstick. Abby found my tube of $20 goodness yesterday while I was in the bathroom, and she colored all over her legs, belly and has a few perfect circles from the tube on her cheeks. It set before I caught her, and I have tried cold cream, astringent, eye make-up remover, baby wipes and vitamin E oil. It’s still bright pink, sparkly and pretty. No way am I driving downtown to MAC to buy remover- we just get to live with the painted chick. So if you want good lipstick that lasts, that’s your brand- just beware.

Lazy Bees and Other Nonsense

The orchards were calling my name this morning, and their voice was so melodious, I ignored everything else and answered the call. I’ve only got my darling Heather here for three days, and I justified spending three hours picking the bounty of God’s green earth to be an acceptable compromise.

It was a lovely, saturated, satisfying, sustaining, delicious and wholesome day. After a late breakfast of leftover french toast, cheesy eggs, cinnamon apples and orange juice, Heather and I packed the boys in the car and headed out to the farms.

I was hoping for apples and pumpkins, but with the late spring and mild summer we’ve had, many things are weeks behind schedule. We found a farm we liked, put on the sun hat, grabbed a hand-cart and headed out towards the trees. No apples yet at this farm. Turns out we were just in time for the tail-end of the peaches. Lovely, succulent, sun-warmed, juicy and fuzzy peaches. Beanie ate two of them right there in the orchard, dripping sticky juice all over himself and not even caring. If this keeps up, I’m not going to recognize my boy soon. Boy clothes AND new foods. Mamas head is spinning.

We also found some green tomatoes screaming to be fried up with cornmeal in Sipsey’s old cast iron skillet. I had to get them.

The cucumber patch was next, and though the plants were covered in tiny gherkins and tons of blossoms, there were only enough ripe ones to put up one small batch of Bread and Butter pickles. Mmmmm. I’m sending them home with Heather for Crazy Chicken Annie- she loves them, and the recipe is from my great-great grandmother in Iowa. I don’t really like B&B pickles, but I make them every summer, just since the tradition of doing it feels like a warm, crisp apron from the line in the backyard.

Some peppers, onions and garlic made it’s way into our wagon, as well as some spectacularly fuchsia dirt-laden beets. Jeffrey won’t eat them, but he sure did have fun digging them up with me. I vow this year to find a recipe for beets I like- each year I’m enchanted with how lovely they are, then I cook them and remember they taste like dirt.

We tip-toed past the beehives, buzzing with activity in the warm afternoon, and discussed whether bees are in fact, busy. The consensus was Yes, and wasps are just mean. The bees were on our way to the enormous rows of blackberry brambles…

At first, I was thinking we would just get a few, maybe enough to make a pie or some jam- but they were so fantastically fat and squishy and juicy and heavenly, we quickly filled a basket with more than ten pounds of berries. And we never even made it all the way down ONE row. That’s how many berries there were… Beanie ate as many as he put in the baskets, the purple juice mingling with the peach on his chin and shirt. He and Jeff also made friends with other berry-seekers among the brambles. My children are not shy.

Our baskets were overflowing, and the cart was getting heavy. Jeff and Bean labored under the hot sun to pull the wagon back to the cider house. Gimpy Heather and Lazy Mama sipped mint juleps in the shade… no? Oh, I keep wandering off. Ok, so we paid for our bounty, nabbed some local honey from those lazy, no good bees, and hopped back in the car to look for pumpkins and apples.

No pumpkins, and we had to search out the apples, finally finding an organic farm with some fantastic honey crisp lovelies Heather is smuggling under her shirt back to California tomorrow. No one will notice, I’m sure.

I picked up another honey made by those lazy bees, and some apples too. We had just about had our fill of nature and honey and outdoor-ness, so we headed home.

Tonight, after I made the pickles, Heather watched a movie with the Monkeys while I made the best double-crust peach pie you will ever, ever not see, and a blackberry tart with french pastry cream filling, drizzled with red currant glaze. All. From. Scratch. Yes. I rock.

I still have nine and a half pounds of blackberries I need to make into jam- but I was out of jars and lids. I told you I’m lazy. Martha Stewart would have blown the canning jars herself from the silica she keeps in a pretty, labelled basket for just such an emergency. But me? Nope. I folded. I blinked. I chickened out, and there the blackberries sit, taunting me in my mediocrity.

Getting the boys in bed was a teary affair. They’ve decided Auntie Heather hangs the moon, and they were both teary messes with the thought of her leaving in the morning. It was good to be distracted, then I could just pretend the wetness on my cheeks was transfer from the bawling boys. It’s been a good weekend…

Apple Pickin’ Time

Oh yeah. Guess what we’re doing today… Cousin Heather is here, and the boys are completely monopolizing her love and attention, and it completely delights me. This morning, after a super-fantastic breakfast of Cinnamon Cream Cheese Stuffed French Tourist Toast with Praline Topping (yes, you can have the recipe) the Mo Mommys and Flat Daddy are joining us to head up to the orchards and pick us some fresh, crisp, fall apples. I’m guessing Apple Dutch Babies are on the menu for tomorrow’s breakfast.

The missionaries are coming for dinner tonight, so Heather gets to experience the delight and utter unpredictability that is two nineteen year old boys away from home for two years. Jeffrey also has his first soccer game of the season today. Also, a friend of mine is closing her huge scrapbook store, and she’s selling all her papers for 10 cents each, all stickers for 50 cents, and all eyelets and decorative crap for 50 cents. Bet you wish you were here now too! I plan on spending some money I don’t have. Sometimes a girl just has to be irresponsible.