Sunday, April 26, 2009

Outdoor Times

Impatiens and Begonias waiting to be planted

We've been spending a lot of time outdoors these past few weeks. Every April I become quite an optimist when it comes to planting and our garden. Sadly, by August, defeated by the heat and attacking plums (that are flavorless and plentiful), I just give up and hope that everything in the yard hasn't completely died beyond recovery for the next year.

This year, Matteo has really enjoyed the process of planting and watching sprouts grow from seeds so there is hope that my little gardening buddy will keep me motivated. Please indulge me as I take you on a tour of our yard and what we've been doing :).

Our porch windowsill egg sprouts are happily showing some life

We soaked these seeds a few weeks ago....

...and here they are sprouting!

Matteo wanted a wheelbarrow so that he could help me in the yard. So far he's done an amazing job of moving gravel from one area of the house to another :}
This is the inside of our "green shack". I hesitate to call it an actual greenhouse since it seems like such a fancy name for our little growing shed. We'll put more shelves in next year as we become more proficient at starting plants from seeds.
I rescued these succulents from a neglected cactus garden I tried doing a few years ago and am hoping that they'll do better on the deck with more care. (Who knew you could actually kill a cactus? I thought they were indestructible like cockroaches.)

And here are where the kids play when they're tired of gardening with mama :)...

Some stumps I retrieved from a tree removal in the area. When the boys were younger, the stumps served as an obstacle course. Now they like to move them around to look for roly polys.

This is "le petit maison"

I think that our yard will be a work in progress for years to come. The former owner, bless his heart, LOVED concrete and so our yard is almost entirely paved over. All the vegetables will be planted in big barrel containers when they're ready and I have a few small beds for flowers. Despite that, we feel pretty lucky to even have our own outdoor space here in the Bay Area, so thank you visiting our little patch of earth :)

Happy Planting Everyone!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Good Evening

A hot, busy weekend
A visit from much loved family
Planting begonias and a magnolia tree
Kids splashing in the wading pool

...and finally...

q u i e t

a chance to exhale with Ivan on the back porch
with only the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Egg Dash

As a little girl, every year at Easter time I used to go to an Easter Egg Hunt put on by the Mabuhay Club, a Filipino group my parents belong to. Over 30 years later, the Mabuhay Club still exists and this past weekend was the first egg hunt the boys participated in. What is funny and sweet about this particular egg hunt was that it's not really a "hunt" per se, but rather a laying of a gazillion candy filled plastic eggs over a field for the kids to run out and gather. What ensues is a crazy feeding frenzy of kids running to scoop up the eggs and a stampeding herd of parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents accompanying them to point out eggs-actly (hee!) where the eggs are.

(I tried to stay out of the action as much as possible- my excuse being that I had the infant Luca Bean on me and that someone had to take pictures.)

The boys right before the hunt... scoping out the scene and planning strategy

The whistle was blown and the stampede is released, while my brother's dog Balut sits happily watching the action

Nico and his basket

Matteo shows off his loot!

This was the first egg hunt for Ivan and I think he was almost knocked over- if not elbowed out of the way- by an elderly filipino woman helping her grandchildren find eggs (my mom later apologized ;}). It's so incredible to me that the Mabuhay Club, this wonderful group of people, still do this event every year and that my boys are participating in the same egg hunt I had done as a little girl. This was also the first time that the boys had access to huge amounts of candy (we haven't really done Halloween yet), so we did what any reasonable parent would do... we left the kids jacked up on sugar with my folks, while we went on a mini-date to get coffee :)

... and lastly, the boys each got a little Buntspechte bunny for the holiday

Hoping that everyone who celebrates Easter had lovely day!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring Egg Tree

This craft was a total triumph for my Crafting-By-The-Seat-Of-My-Pants-Series. I'd like to say I was being resourceful, but truth be told, I was just too lazy to go to the grocery store to buy an egg decorating kit and I wanted to try using things that were already in the house. So I rounded up the following:
  • eggshells (how serendipitous that I am going through a broccoli and cheese egg scramble obsession lately!)
  • tissue paper and yarn scraps from Etsy purchases- those Etsy sellers sure know how to send a pretty package : )
  • frozen blueberries to dye eggs
  • homemade glue from flour, sugar and vinegar
  • Christmas ornament wire decoration hangers
  • toilet paper rolls to use as egg holders
  • tree branches from pruning our plum tree this week
  • pasta sauce jar
  • rocks
First, I made some egg dye by boiling frozen blueberries and mixing in a bit of vinegar. I only did a few eggs and just dipped them in repeatedly until I got the color I liked.

Then using the homemade glue mixture I covered the eggs with a paintbrush and tore up small pieces of tissue paper and yarn to cover and decorate the eggs.

I cut up toilet paper rolls and let the eggs sit and dry on them for about a day.

For my tree, I anchored the branches in a jar using rocks. Then I cut tissue into triangular pieces, glued the middle and then wrapped it around the branches to make a "blossom" effect. Using leftover tissue and the wire decoration hangers, I wrapped tissue around the wire to act as an anchor and put them through the holes in the eggs, tied some yarn and hung the eggs from the tree!

It did occur to me as we were doing this (several times, actually) that I could have spent the $2 on a PAAS kit, but I wanted to challenge myself to see what I could do with just whatever was in the house. I totally loved doing this with the kids and I'm hoping that doing crafts like this shows them how to be creative in repurposing everyday items!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Our Days

It's been a quiet, sweet time here. It feels like Spring has set a rhythm to our days that lends itself to lots of wonderful time outside. The boys and I have been working in the yard, preparing it for planting and I'm sure it's not news to anyone that 2 and 3 year olds are excellent at pulling weeds :). I started some seedlings in eggshells this week and it makes me happy to see them whenever I'm on our front porch.

I've been rediscovering my passion for books and reading lately. A frequent stop for us these days has been our library which just happens to be across from Matteo's school. It's such a pretty building, designed by Julia Morgan, very typically Berkeley with arts and crafts architecture. It's so amazing to me that I can look up books online and they'll be ready for me at our local branch within a few days- faster AND cheaper than Amazon! I've just finished Run by Ann Patchett and the Three Junes by Julia Glass, such lovely books. I find such nourishment from reading and the escape to other lives and places.

Aren't these shoes just godawful bright and ugly? Yet, they represent so much hope for me. Hope that I can reclaim my body. Hope that I can make time for myself. I've taken them on a few runs and have been pleasantly surprised that I didn't keel over after a few blocks. I know my body has been doing some important work these past 4 years making babies and all, but darn it, I want it back! I started running with my dad when I was 10 years old and it has always been a way for me to work out problems and relieve stress, as well as helping me keep my weight down. Well, there's more than a bit of weight to come off, but I'm hopeful these ugly shoes will help.

Matteo and Nico have really taken to riding around on their balance bikes. It just seemed like yesterday we were pushing them around the neighborhood on their tricycles. It makes me laugh to see them zipping around the block on these two wheelers without pedals, though there is a twinge of melancholy as I wonder when did these babies of mine turn into such little boys?

The time has been passing so quickly these days, dear friends. What have you been doing to enjoy the Spring?