Living in Oregon gives one a fine appreciation for summer weather. The days have been hovering around 80 degrees, usually with clear skies and a gentle, cooling breeze. Perfect for just about any summer activity one could imagine.
There are so many things to do, from picking berries, to playing in the river at a park nearby, to taking beach trips, to having playdates with our friends who will be back at work when school rolls around again... and special summer activities like the county fair this week!
We've been having a very busy time of it, and I'm still turning down activities here and there. "Stressed" is not the right word, but sometimes the kids just have enough of activities and it's time to stay at home and mellow out.
Or, you know, the "mellow out" that you can do with two little ones, which is usually pretty busy in its own right. ;) At home one of our big activities is the garden, which is going gangbusters. This leads me to my first picture:
That's fifteen cups of basil right there! I picked it yesterday from my four basil plants. Today I used 2 cups of olive oil, 2 1/2 of Parmesan, 1 1/2 of walnuts and pine nuts, and all that beautiful basil to make an enormous batch of pesto. The end tally was 5 1/2 cups! That went into the freezer tonight as Alex fed dinner to the kids. Pesto is one of my food passions, and I'm so glad we'll have plenty for the winter. The basil plants are growing so well that I'll be able to make another big batch in just a few weeks.
The garden is also ramping up production on the veggies. (At last, more than just lettuce and herbs!) Here's Jack showing off one of the carrots. He's been waiting and waiting to pull one out of the ground! We kept digging one up just a tiny bit and seeing that it still wasn't ready. He finally got to gobble this one up without any more prep than just washing the dirt off.
We also have peppers and all our tomatoes finally showing signs of ripening, along with a few eggplants that are SLOWLY getting bigger. Add our few cucumbers to that mix and we're in business! We also have chard, lettuce, winter squash, more carrots (a later planting), summer squash, zucchini.... In about two weeks I'll be complaining that we have more produce than we can eat, I'm sure. ;)
We also have projects going indoors. Jack is being a wonderful helper these days. There are a lot of projects related to the fact that the people who lived here before us were... not of the same mindset as I am.
Painting is one big thing. Scrubbing is the other. If/when we ever move again, I'm hiring professional cleaners before we take occupancy! Today I finally got back to my project of scrubbing the kitchen floor. I don't think the previous tenants ever mopped -- literally. I've been hand-scrubbing one tile at a time to actually find the floor under all the grunge.
Well, I scrubbed for a while and then took a quick break. What do you know, Jack scampered over, grabbed my sponge and cloth and took up right where I left off! He did a wonderful job, getting 20 squares clean before he was distracted by Daddy returning from work.
The best was what he told me as he scrubbed: "Mommy, I making your day! I making your day! By scrubbing the floor!!!!" Boy, does he know when he has figured out a good way to help me. :)
As if that weren't enough, there is one more project we worked on today. It's nearly time to plant the winter garden, which means I am in need of more garden space. Jack and I tag-teamed this one. (I mentioned he's been a great helper recently, right?) I dug up big clods of the dense clay, and Jack beat the stuffing out of them with his hoe. His mission was to break them up small enough that we could blend in some of our homemade compost.
Here's the completed hole, with loosened clay down to 12 inches deep. We ultimately had to call it quits for bedtime, so tomorrow we'll be mixing in the compost, filling up the hole, and planting a little more lettuce and lots more chard.
Why all the chard, you may ask? Well, Evie LOVES chard cooked up with a little onion and garlic, so we have to keep her well-supplied! She can literally eat an adult portion in a day, and I'm more than happy to indulge her.
You may also notice a few cars parked by the side of the hole. Jack got tired after a while of swinging the hoe (the whole thing so far has taken at least two hours) so he drove his cars over the bumpy, dirty landscape while I finished digging. I can really appreciate that he wants to spend time with me. He was right there by my side until I dragged him in for his bath and bedtime!
By the time the end of the day rolls around, I spend a little time loading up the dishwasher, tidying toys out of the kitchen or putting away laundry that we've folded earlier. I keep a notebook handy so that as it occurs to me, I can write down what's happening tomorrow.
I try not to forget anything too important -- like the fact that I told Jack we'll make blueberry muffins together tomorrow. Or that Evie needs more diapers. Or that I haven't talked to my sister Amy in a few weeks now.
And I trust that whatever I am forgetting, I am forgetting it in favor of something worthwhile like spending time planting seeds one by one with Jack, or blowing raspberries on Evie's belly, or having a quiet moment with Alex after we get the kids to bed.
In closing (since I can't say "in short" after such a post...) it's a busy, busy life right now. But that's part of the flavor of summer, and part of the joy of it is that I know winter will come again. It will bring the rain and the slower pace, and we will all take a deep breath for a few months until it all ramps up again in the spring.
Yes, I'll admit it. Part of the glory of gorgeous, hot crazy summer days is that they make me think of how I can't wait for the winter season.
BUT there is just so darn much good stuff to do right now, and I'm thankful for the sunshine and the long days, and the many friends and family who are accompanying us on our wild ride. And now -- good heavens! -- it's almost midnight and I have to get to bed! I know a very happy baby who will be up with the sun, waking me with her latest words: "Hi maaaaaama!"
It really is a beautiful life. :)