Suddenly, it clicked.

Last night, it all came together and Henry did two laps of the living room. Today he's already been trying to run. I love watching the pure glee on his face.


Heavy Gardening

I've skipped all triathlon training for the past week because I've been putting long hours in the garden.  I start around 8am and sometimes I don't come in at night until 10:30pm.  We've had some hot weather lately, so I've been gardening in the dark by camping headlamp when it is cooler.  crazy?  or crazy smart?

Anyway, we decided that Henry needed a sandbox and that is how the whole project began.  I got this great idea from Carolyn: take one small swimming pool buried in the ground and fill it with play sand.  I added the idea of staking down one of our tent footprints over the sandbox as a cover.  For an investment of $14, Henry has been having a blast.

This is the before photo for perfect sandbox home:  
(this photo is from 2 years ago, so you see the old fence)

Finding the right space for these three hostas ended up with me digging up and transplanting over 25 different plants.  Some of the plants were so big that I could barely lift them.   So, I think I've still gotten enough workouts in.

I have to add a sidenote about triathlon training and gardening.  For the last 4+ years, I would have been crippled by back pain and sciatica after only 2 or 3 hours of gardening.  I'd be super disappointed that I'd overdone it but still complaining (while laying flat on my back on the floor) that there was so much more to be done. 
Who knew that swimming would do wonders for my gardening?

Henry has had a ton of time with me outside this week.  Sometimes he helps in the garden by yanking and tearing hosta leaves, tossing (or eating) mulch and digging (and eating some) dirt.  He looks pretty proud of his handiwork, doesn't he?  Now if he could just put those skills to work in the sandbox without eating too much sand. 

I'll have to post more of the garden design pictures soon.  I may even let you peek in my garden journal if I'm feeling brave.  Until then, what are you up to outside?

Summer is here!

The summer solstice is nearly a month away, but I'm going to call it.  We've had 90˚+ for two days, Henry has been in the kiddie pool three times in two days, and...

...the tomatoes are in the ground.  I planted four varieties: Wisconsin 55, Roma, Brandywine and Juliet grape.  I usually do 6 or 7 tomato plants, but it is very hard to can at boiling hot temps with a child underfoot, so I scaled back.

I also got a little silly in the garden, like these gnomes guarding the snap peas from the naughty chipmunks.

I was in the garden tonight until 9:30pm.  I don't usually garden in the dark, but I had more seeds to plant and 80˚ and dark was better than 90˚ plus and sunny.  I almost started a rhubarb pie when I got in tonight, but my energy fizzled out.

Oh!  I thought of one last harbinger of summer:  we leave to go camping tomorrow!  I may have to make the pie before we leave.  We used to be backpack campers, but if we have to do car camping with a baby, we might as well enjoy some homemade pie.


Picture that smell

Ben was mowing the lawn tonight while wearing Henry in the Ergo carrier.  Both guys came back in the house during twilight and the little one was just inches away from sleep.  He needed a new dipe before bed, so Ben was changing him and I took the opportunity to smooch Henry's eyespot.  (In case you don't know, the eyespot is that lovely bit of skin between the outer eye and the temple.  I adore that spot.)  Henry had this magical scent combination of cut grass, a fresh orange peel, sunshine and fresh air.  Can you picture that smell?  Really it was heavenly and I wish I could bottle it and wear it all of the time.  Since the boy was so sleepy, I got a few more good sniffs in until I felt a little drunk and then Ben whisked him off to bed.

I guess bed is where I should be headed now but I keep breathing deeply trying to find that scent again.

Giveaway Winner!! (and a gratuitous cute baby photos)

First, I want to thank everybody for the comments on the tea towel and the many project posts.  Blogging about my recent adventures did help to spur me along further in order to take decent blog pics.

Second, I need a tea towel giveaway winner.  Henry would certainly eat any paper slips, so I had to use a random number generator.  The winner is....


I'll be sending your towel out tomorrow along with some energy bar cookies.  I have to post the recipe on here if I haven't already.  They are very tasty.  In fact, these are extra good because I didn't have to do any of the work.  Ben made them!  Kristin, I hope you are not allergic to oats, eggs, peanut butter, chocolate, dried fruit, or deliciousness.  

.  .  .  .  .

In other news...
We had a fantastic family day on Monday.  We went to Picnic Point, Vilas Park 
and Vilas Zoo in Madison.

I present mama duck and ducklings, my little duckling playing at the park, 
riding the carousel at the zoo and the kiddie zoo train.

Project #4--Triathlon Training

Just two years ago, I could have NEVER pictured myself in a triathlon.  I love watching the Olympics.  I admire triathletes and want to be one, but I always thought, "I'll be a triathlete in my next life."  
Well, things have changed.

Swimming--7 laps of the pool:
A friend and I swapped yoga lessons for swimming lessons a year and a half ago and I learned that I could actually swim.  Mostly backstroke, but still.  Just two years ago you could not have convinced me that I could swim, and now I can.  That's a pretty big deal.  Ben's also given me some lessons in the past couple of months, too.  I couldn't even do a full length of the pool in freestyle two months ago and I had no idea how to do the breaststroke.   Now I can do both.  I'm building up slowly so I don't have to gasp for a few minutes every time I finish a length of the pool.

Biking--17 miles:
I was never worried about this section of the event.  I did the Wright Stuff Century Ride.  Admittedly I did the metric century--100km or 62 miles--but that is a VERY hilly ride through the driftless region of Wisconsin.  And it was back in 2001.  I also did the MS Ride back in the 90's (doesn't that sound weird and old all at once?).  That ride was 150 miles over 2 days.  So, anyway, 17 miles is definitely doable.

Running--3 miles:
Here was my biggest stumbling block.  Just 3 months ago I would have told you that I am NOT a runner and nor would I EVER be.  I considered running painful and vomit-inducing and the runner's high was a vicious myth.
But...then I had a major case of the Februaries this year and I joined a gym.  One day the elliptical machines were all full and I had had a particularly aggravating day with the boy (cutest on the planet--but aggravating) so I got on the treadmill and ran it all out.
After giving birth and living through the trials of the newborn stage, my threshold for physical and mental pain is completely different.  Running pounds out any mommy angst, it is the most efficient workout when you have a mildly crabby baby waiting for you in the childcare.   And the best part is:
It makes me feel like I can do anything.

This experience of training for a triathlon has completely changed my vision of myself.  I used to pick up new crafts "just to see if I can do it." Okay, I still do that.  But now, in addition to seeing myself as a wife, mother, knitter, sewist, gardener, yoga teacher, physical therapist, baker, painter, bicyclist etc. I can add swimmer, runner and triathlete to the list.  I don't have to win a race.  I just have to drag my butt across the finish line and live up to my own goals.  
Goals which are pretty high, darn it. 

Note: Cute baby pictures do not mean to imply that Henry will be doing the triathlon.  He will be playing 
with a babysitter during the event.  And he'll probably join me for a nap with him when it is all over.

Project #3--Stripping Paint

This is what our sun room looked like when we first moved in, four years ago.  That dreadful rust color is crackle paint.  Can you believe someone did that on purpose?  We also had dark brown crackle paint upstairs, brown and white crackle paint on the fireplace and green and gold Packer crackle paint as a decorative touch on the broom closet door.

(remembering all of that makes me shudder now)

Well, we only have two crackle paint doors left in the whole house.  Henry has recently been picking at the paint on the door to the basement, so.... I'm finally getting around to stripping it.

Here is the door when we moved in:                                       and here it is two weeks ago:

Working in the driveway or the garage:

And here it is without any finish.  It is still in the garage.  I have to work during naps or when Ben has Henry, so I still have to do the other side of the door.

It feels good to make progress, even four years later.

Rounding out the days nicely

I've been posting here lately about craft projects and garden projects and I have more posts like that up my sleeve, but I thought I'd say a little about the other things that happen in between the many projects that are brewing around here.  

Henry is nearing numero uno and he has a long list of favorite things that we play during the day.

Peek-a-boo is a huge hit and he loves pulling a blanket over his face and then lying very still while I ask, "Where is the baby?"  Then he continues to stretch out the dramatic pause, and then he starts kicking his legs and when he just can't stand it anymore, he flips back the covers with a huge laugh.

We do a lot of spinning.  He loves doing it so many times until I nearly lose my balance, and then he holds himself really close like a baby monkey.  Sometimes he just looks up at me and grins.

There is a fair quantity of upside down tickling or just dangling.  (I think he's almost ready to learn some yoga inversions.)

Singing is a big hit.  The "Bubbaloo" song that I made up for him is the most popular, but nearly any song will work and short youtube video songs are especially popular.

When the weather is nice, Henry and I go out to the patio swing at least twice a day for a 10 minute "settle down."  And then we do it again with a couple of books before bed.  Dr. Suess ABC rhymes on warm spring evening with a baby in jammies on the patio swing is just about the best thing ever.

Another popular outside activity is eating mud and grass.  I don't participate myself, but it is very popular with the household members under age one.  He's also gotten a little sneaky about it.  Whenever he has a stick or leaf or maple helicopter in his mouth, he gets very quiet and then turns away from me when I come near him.  That's the signal that I have to dig something out, so I do.  He's also learned that it is much easier if he then opens his mouth and sticks out his tongue because I'll chase after him anyway.

Lastly, Henry loves to watch the cooking on the stove.  That is particularly so if Ben is cooking or if we are over at our friend Paul's house when he is cooking.  I love that he admires guys in the kitchen already.

So, there are some days that the creative projects take much longer than they used to and it can be frustrating at times, but our days are much richer with our babe.

Henry, I'm proud to be your momma.  Thanks for being such a great guy.

Reveal and a Giveaway

Remember way back when I first told you about my tea towel swap?  I never remembered to show you the towels I made.  Here is a reminder of the pretty tea towels I received:

And drumroll please....

Here is my tea towel:

And you can win this towel by leaving a comment.  
Comments close and a winner will be drawn in one week.
This is the first giveaway I've ever done, so I'm excited.  I'll probably throw in a surprise treat!
Good luck!

Sewing advice link

I have garden dirt caked under my fingernails and more on the knees of my pants and I'm pretty sure that I still have a little bedhead from this morning.  There are toys and kitchen implements spread in an even layer all over my house.  I might do some sewing if Henry will go down for an afternoon nap.  But, according to this advice (on the wonderful Sew Liberated blog), I have a lot to get in order first.  I don't even own any lipstick. 

Project #2--Weeding

Spring starts with crocus season,

(this is a Siberian crocus and stands only 2 and a 1/2" tall and the bloom only lasts a day)

then there is daffodil season,

(these are the daffodils in Henry's garden)

and then during fern and lilac season...

...comes the onslaught of the dreaded dandelions.

I love a pretty dandelion crown as much as the next girl, but there has to be a limit--especially if you want to be friends with the neat lawned neighbors.

I've pulled a five gallon bucket stuffed full of dandelions today.  This is the seventh one of the season.  That doesn't count the four buckets that Ben pulled...

Luckily Henry has a blast cruising up and down the driveway in his walker while I'm weeding on my hands and knees.

And if he gets too rascally, then Ben finds a way to entertain him in the yard.

Are you working on any possibly pointless projects lately?  
Really, please tell me all about it because it would take my mind off of the other weeds popping up.

Grading and Cooking

Ben's grading calculus exams right now.  I don't want to trade places with him, so I'll self evaluate my cooking club contribution for last week. 

I'm lucky enough to have other stay at home parent friends that like to cook.  We get together once a week and make a huge batch of food so everyone has dinner to take home plus a dinner for the freezer.  We take turns watching the kids play and turns chopping and cooking. (I'm lucky that Paul is willing to be the master onion chopper--I hate burning onion eyes.)  Last Monday I was in charge of choosing the recipe and gathering the ingredients. 

We made homemade gnocchi (pictures in honor of melissa):

rolled, cut and attempted flicking over fork tines--they look kind of terrible.

rolled and cut only--pretty little pillows.

Unfortunately, upon eating, all of these landed like lead hockey pucks in your stomach.
Grade: Needs Improvement, C-/D+
I need to try more recipes and see if I can figure out this fork business. 

Luckily we also made pasta sauce from scratch and a huge batch of tasty baked meatballs.  Those items turned out nicely, so maybe I'll change my grade to a B- for the whole project.

Have you done any cooking experiments that went well or not so well?  Do you have anyone you like to cook with?  Curious minds want to know.

Project #1--Backyard Fence

The fence has been in a sorry state since the day we moved in.  Every post was rotted through and it was held up (poorly) with metal stakes and wire and old stumps.


I did not do any fancy tilting of the camera to shoot this picture.  It really was that crooked.

This project was completed with the excellent and talented help of my neighbors.  Greg, next door, is a general contractor and Darrell, through the backyard, is an electrician.  Since I wasn't strong enough to work the two-man power auger (I would love to have photos of this but that would have been seriously uncool in their company.), I did all I could with the other tools to be helpful and not get in anyone's way.  I now know how to (manually) dig a post hole, how to use a breaker bar, how to tamp the dirt and concrete, how to measure out the posts and make the fence level and true.*  That's a lot to learn in a day in exchange for water, sandwiches and some beer.  I have the best neighbors ever.

*Whacking at stumps and old concrete, weeding some wicked garlic mustard and taking out small trees were just bonus activities.  


 don't you love the compost bin highlighted in this picture?

I think it turned out rather well.

How about you?  What are you taking on this Spring?

Spring Inspiration

I think I've discovered where I get the inspiration for trying to do so much in Spring.

Exhibit A:

This all happened in a week and a half!  No wonder I think I can move mountains.