The thing about blogging breaks is that they aren’t really breaks. Life has a way of being full of things. I keep meaning to write about them, and instead of waiting for me to sit down and do that, life just keeps rolling on with more and more things happening. As a way to ease back into blogging, I thought I’d do a quick-ish catch up post to let you know what we’ve been up to the past few months.
1. This has been our most ambitious garden year yet. I built a fourth raised bed, made a new flowerbed/herb garden on the corner of the house by our patio, and dug up a huge quantity of weeds and garlic chives that had taken over a former flowerbed to try to create a cottage garden. Things have done well- we had more strawberries than ever this year, the tomatoes and cucumbers are out of control, and we had lettuce well into July because of its position in the shade of a corkscrew willow tree that has finally gotten large enough to cast a decent shadow. My lavender stayed alive this year, and the four o’clocks I planted have finally grown up enough to reach the trellis. The cottage garden is a work in progress, but I think it’s looking promising.
Despite all the good, though, this past week has brought record numbers of squash beetles and Mexican bean beetles, neither of which have ever been this big of a problem before. The cucumber plants have spots that turn into holes that turn into wilted, brown leaves and the cucumbers themselves are bitter. I’m trying to rally and keep things under control, but part of me wants to pull up the cucumbers and the squashes and just fill those beds with spinach and lettuce for a fall crop. Maybe some peas. Could I do that?
2. We had a lovely trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my extended family. It was wonderful for our kids to have their cousins to play with all week…and to my astonishment, we actually had moments where both George and I were sitting in chairs on the beach while the kids played. This is definitely the first time since Sam was born almost 9 years ago that we’ve been able to both kind of relax at once.
3. A friend loaned us his copy of Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. It’s a story of a family of four children who spend their summer at a country house with a small sailboat. In Boxcar Children style, they are allowed to sail the boat to a small island nearby and camp out there. Adventures ensue. This charmingly British book was new to me, and it has changed my kids’ lives. They play at sailing all the time now, turning our play structure into a boat and wrapping our swings around the posts to be the rigging. If you haven’t read it, you must. It’s a perfect read-aloud- nothing earth-shattering ever happens, and yet it manages to be very exciting reading! The Audible recording by Alison Larkin is also quite good.
The sailors in my backyard were further inspired by their new favorite movie, Disney’s Moana, which is one of the best Disney movies to date. Moana is a strong, independent non-princess who sails her own canoe and manages to convince a demigod to do the right thing. Her grandmother, Grandma Tala, is my favorite character ever to appear in a Disney film. The sailing in the movie got wrapped into the sailing play…and now Felix struts around with his shirt off pretending to be Maui.
4. Sam joined the swim team this year and loved it. He had practice almost every day in the month of June, and we often listened to books (Swallows and Amazons) or the Moana soundtrack in the car on the way. In fact, we figured out that if we started the soundtrack in the pool parking lot, it would take us into our driveway as the final notes sounded. I cannot believe how many times I have heard those songs this summer. Swim team has ended now, but Sam is already talking about next year. And all of us are still singing the songs.
5. Felix celebrated his third birthday this week with coffee cake for breakfast, a trip to a favorite playground and lunch at Chick fil-A. He did not want a traditional cake and asked us to take him out for ice cream instead. I appreciate the chance to fulfill someone’s birthday dreams with such a simple request. Things seem to get more complicated as they get older, you know?
6. I spent many hours this summer working on a new study for the Blessed is She series of Blessed Conversations. The studies are designed for small groups to use as a way to dive deeper into Church teaching and grow in faith together. My study is on the cardinal and theological virtues, but there are six others by some of my favorite writers, covering a variety of topics from the Trinity to the Ten Commandments to the Beatitudes. There is also a leader’s guide for women who are facilitating small groups. They are available for purchase now. I really want to try out one of the ones I didn’t write and am thinking about getting a group together…because I always seem to want to start up new things as fall approaches…
7. …but maybe someone else will start a group and I can just go be part of it, because I have a bad habit of getting all excited at this time of year when school is about to start and suddenly I think I can do everything when there is about to be a lot more to think about and do! We have two first graders and a fourth grader this year, along with our energetic three year old who will definitely keep things interesting. I’m not sure how difficult it will be to have three people in academic subjects instead of just one- Kindergarten is pretty relaxed around here, and this is the first year we will be juggling multiple math books. When I start to get anxious about how hard it is going to be, I remind myself that it cannot possibly be as hard as going from one child to three children all at once in the first place. Giving birth to twins and bringing them home to your almost-three-year-old has to be more difficult than starting them in school with your almost-nine-year-old, right? That’s what I’m telling myself.
If you made it this far, you’re all caught up! How has your summer been? Ever read Swallows and Amazons? What are your thoughts on Moana as compared to the other “princessy” movies?
Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum today for 7QT– be sure to go check out Kelly’s homeschool prep update and all the other assorted miscellany, all neatly organized into lists of seven.