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Dear Ethan – 10yrs

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

I’m stunned to know that you’re now two digits old. How can that be?! How have you grown so much so quickly? You’ve certainly been doing that this summer – 6lbs of it! I anticipate a growth spurt this fall – likely right after I’ve bought you new pants.

These days you and Victor are nigh inseparable. You’re two peas in a pod. I love seeing you guys play, and even more love when you go out into the orchard, sit down and just talk with each other. It’s a blessing in so many ways.

This summer you’ve really started growing up. You’re much more rational and understanding. We got you a membership at the library and you’ve been blowing through books like a typhoon! You’ve also begun calling me “Mum”, which is amusing especially since you asked, first.

We traveled to Ontario for my family’s yearly Cottage weekend. You got along fabulously with everyone, especially your cousin Paige (who’s a very nice girl). With as great a trip as we had, we’re definitely going back next year, and thereafter. There are 12 kids within 4 years of your age (most within 2-3). I’m really looking forward to seeing you grow up with them.

Love,
Mum

Garden Update #11

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Things are getting a little crazy around here!

As you can see, the grass is taking over the pathways (plan to fix that this weekend), and everything is in that August BIG phase. Tomatoes are tall, lettuce is tall, cucumbers are tall. We’ve got loads of green tomatoes, and yesterday I enjoyed my first of the season – a black cherry, YUM! I’ve been pickling cucumbers like crazy, these days – first as single jars and since we went away this weekend a couple larger batches. We’ll need more cucumbers next year, I think, but love this variety and set up! We’ve had our first of the heirloom burpless cuc’s too, and it was great!! Really thin skin and very sweet. I’ll be saving that seed, definitely!

Blueberry bushes are in full production, and I’ve given away lots and still have 2 big freezer bags full plus another 6+qts on the bushes waiting for me (tomorrow).

We’ve got two types of melons we’re trying this year, both are doing well and one type is covered in teeny little melons!! I’m really excited to see what comes of that. They’re called Cream of Saskatchewan and are a white watermelon.

Sadly, this summer has been a pepper-flop. We’ve got a few, pathetic plants that we had bought as seedlings, but everything we started has all but died. I’m starting them earlier next year, and putting them out later.

I tried my first gooseberry, finally. YUMMY!! I can’t wait til the bushes are bigger, and am definitely hoping to plant a few more this fall!

I’ve realized, too, that I’m going to need a little kitchen potager closer to the house. The big garden will be great for longer growing crops and things we’re planning to put up, but it’s somewhat ridiculous to run that far out for a last minute dinner addition like herbs or beans. We’re planning on remodeling the kitchen to use the back door as our main entrance, so having one there is most practical. Something small, though, and pretty. :)

Garden Update #10

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Sorry, things have been a bit crazy what with the strawberries and swim lessons and office redo and all. First things first…Strawberries! I can’t count how many we’ve gotten – I’d hazard a vague guess at somewhere between 25-30 qts of berries. I’ve put up 2 batches of jam (4qts each made 8-1/2pt jars), given away about 10qts, and there’s another 8qts or so in the fridge headed for the freezer this afternoon. Plus we ate some. :D

When we put up the tomato trellis, the timing was perfect as they immediately went into overdrive of growth (it’s been hot).

Last weekend we put in cucumber trellis and the timing for that seems like perfect also – they’re just starting to get tall enough and send out their “fingers”. I don’t anticipate we’ll need to help them along, either, since the lines are so close together.


First we removed all the pathway cloth.


Put up the cucumber trellis.


Close-up.


Then weed-wacked the rest of the paths. So much tidier looking!


Here’s what the garden looked like yesterday. The tomatoes are really taking off, and I love how the cucumber trellis helps the tomato trellis to balance the width of the garden with some height.

Speaking of tomatoes being happy…

Also, Victor had been askomplaining about not having any flowers in his bed…

He’s even asked if he can “take over” the blue potato bed – I think because it will soon be very flowery!

We’re starting to get a few currants, and the blueberries are only a few weeks away, too. All in all… things are going very well! I’ve started seeing Japanese Beetles, though, on the currants. I hope they aren’t too bad this year!

Garden Update #9

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Planted 1/2 of my garlic (yes! SO.LATE!). Only half because clearing out that half of the bed nearly killed me – and it’s the easier half since I already cleared it out last summer (before wasps attacked Victor – that kinda killed the moment at the time). The other half I’ll either need Ken’s help clearing out, or it’s going to wait til next spring when I’m feeling crazy.

This weekend we moved the tomato trellis – they are tall enough now that they’ll start flopping over soon and need the support.

Victor’s bed is looking good – blue potato in the middle and corn around the edges (with a basil in the far left corner). The bed on the left is the rest of the blue potatoes, which are doing really well!

The other potatoes we planted were yellow and haven’t done nearly so well, which is kinda a bummer. We have some, but only about 70% germinated.


The rest of the garden is doing well. Sand isn’t going to happen this year, afterall, so we’ll likely pull up the cloth over the pathways and keep weed-wacking it. Strawberries are going crazy now that it’s warmed up for a few weeks! I just put away a batch of jam and there’s loads more on the plants! W00t! Ken had a spoonful of the jam and nearly swooned. ;)

Garden Update 2014-8

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Yesterday the last of the boxes was built and in!

Still empty (3 of them), but in their spot and ready to go! We are DONE building boxes (*knocks on wood*)! I’d have filled some today but it’s godaweful hot and Mondays are always super busy for me, so tomorrow it is!

We also started putting down fabric for the pathways. Once it’s in we’ll add sand to level and then pavers (sand soon, I hope, pavers next year because $).

As for growing things, our gooseberries have gooseberries!

(I’ve never tasted one so I’m pretty excited to try!)

Our currants have currants!

(small but present, and one of the bushes has grown exponentially this year!)

And all in all, everything looks exciting and great (to me). Some of my seed was, maybe, a little old and not doing so great, but I’m too pleased to let it bother me much! Yay gardening!


(click that for a bigger shot)
Looks pretty awesome (and huge…what were we thinking?!), right? There’s the gooseberries/currants in the foreground, then the boxes – greenest bushiest ones are strawberries, ones with trellis are peas/beans – closest – and cucumbers/cabbage – furthest, tomatoes are in the middle boxes on either side, a new rhubarb is started at the far end of the left-hand-side boxes, and the blueberries across the back edge – the blackraspberry “patch” in front of it is going bye-bye soon because of a nasty vine that’s taken over.

Of the potatoes/corn that the boys planted, we have one blue potato growing. Given it’s the 1st potato I’ve ever had growing it’s the best.potato.ever!

On a sucky but not unexpected note, we found a few chervil plants that I’ve pulled and am hopeful it’s the last of it this year. Blasted stuff!

Garden Update 2014-7

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

I spent all of yesterday in the garden. Ken helped me build the 2nd tomato box I needed, and I got it situated and filled on my own. We’ve another 3 to build this weekend, but this allows me to plant the tomatoes before the rain hits for the next few days.

The 4 center boxes are made, in, and partly planted. Yesterday the boys planted their popcorn and a single potato in the middle of their own boxes, and 9 potatoes in the potato boxes. Our plan is to fill the potato boxes as they grow through the season. Here’s hoping it works! After they planted their own things, both boys were eager to help further so Ethan helped with the hose and Victor planted cabbages.

I got all my tomatoes in and surprisingly had extras despite a dismal seedling germination rate. I planted peppers (again, dismal germination such that I’ll be buying jalapenos and sweet pepper seedlings locally) and just scraped by with enough of our favourite – the Thai Burapa pepper. Next year will be better. The seedlings are small, but hopefully will do fine.

Garden Update 2014-6

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Tiiiired!

This Saturday we built boxes!

I learned how to use a circular saw and Ken used the drill and did the heavy lifting out to the garden. These will be for the boys and, this year, for potatoes since we’ll be able to fill up as we grow them. Now that they’re in place, I’m thinking something else, structural, in the middle of them all – a pergola perhaps – but not this year! Next weekend we’ll (hopefully) be building the last 4 large boxes and be DONE!

Today I spent the morning planting seeds in some of the boxes today – beets/carrots/radish in one, zucchini in the leafs bed, beans/peas, and cucumbers in the cuc/cabbage bed. I also planted some morning glory and moonflower seeds to climb up outside the garage porch.

I’ve moved my seedlings out to the porch by our bedroom to start hardening them off. I’m hoping to have them in the garden this weekend or early next week, if possible!

Garden Update 2014-5

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Got my tomatoes repotted today! I’d also ordered some fresh seed of the one type I *really* want to have and the pepper that we *really* love and can’t get locally and sowed those. It’s super late, but I can always try, right? Ken thinks we should keep the peppers on the porch in pots, instead of planting them in the garden. It’d mean we’d be responsible for pollination, which is definitely possible, and we’d have peppers (ideally) all year long. I’m thinking about it.

Next year I’m definitely going to need more lights – things are pretty cramped on the two shelves I can use (the repotted tomatoes need two lights).

Things are looking much better! It’s cloudy (my new phone takes great pictures, doesn’t it?!) but you can just barely see the brown blob in front of the blueberries (the row of shrubs along the back) which was a big hot mess of black raspberries and is now cleared out and will hopefully be more manageable – though how we’ll keep the grass and weeds under control is beyond me. In the next 2 wks I’m hoping to get the trellis moved and the boys boxes built and ready for them. I also need to mulch. Lots of mulch.

Garden Update 2014-4

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Today was a great, though tiring day. Boys were really well behaved (!) and I spent most of the day in the garden. I unmulched the blueberries of last year’s leaves and started on the proper mulch they’ll get this year. Victor was a big help. I also tackled and, dare I say, defeated the black raspberry patch/mess – all cleared out, save the few remaining live canes. Surprised to see a ton of fiddleheads coming up (didn’t know they were in there!) and pleased to see more raspberries that’ll emerge soon. Hopefully we can keep it all under control this year! I also raked out the liliy bed I planted along the garage last spring – they’re all producing several more shoots so they must be happy, despite the neglect. I’m going to be planting some hardy glads in with them, and maybe some irises once they arrive.

Though my peppers did terribly with germination, I’m trying another batch of the Thai, specifically (we just love them so much!). I even ordered more seed and will try them once they arrive in a few days. I’ve got the 1-month seeds in, though, and so far so good!

No pictures of the garden today, unfortunately. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and I spent it working.

I do have this, though. Our neighbours across the street have a great climbing tree in their front yard and Victor finally made it “up”. It’s his first time all the way up a tree and he was very proud!

“I’m a NUMBSKULL!”

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

It was cold, yesterday, so Victor had his stretchy gloves on. Riled up from playing outside for so long and having such a good time, he got extra frustrated that the doorknob was slipping and he couldn’t open the door. He choose to shove the window, in his frustration.

Ethan came in and told us, and we searched and searched for Victor…finally finding him down at the far end of the street. As soon as he saw me coming his crying went up several notches, he took off his shoes and threw them, and I could hear him wailing and screaming at me that “I’m a NUMBSKULL! You MUST know it! I’m a NUMBSKULL! I’m SORRY!!”

I did my best to not laugh out loud as I approached, checked his hands, talked about running away, and we came home. He’ll pay, or help pay, to replace the glass and he’s on probation with video games (if we feel he isn’t listening to us at any point in the next month, he loses vg for the next day – listening is a challenge for him these days). This was one of those moments that I know we did a good job in how we handled the situation.

I’m a numbskull, indeed! LOL

Garden Update 2014-3

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Quite amazing what a few days can do in springtime, isn’t it?

We had a walk around the yard today – everything is looking good, even the questionably-alive currents from last year (some did great, some didn’t seem to survive). The lilac’s are doing superbly, after last year’s pruning, and I’m thinking they’d been neglected far too long. I’ll get back in again later this summer to shape them some more. The strawberries are doing really well, and frankly I’m not 100% sure what we’re supposed to do now. They need mulching this year, that much is clear, but do we cut them back before we mulch? Leave them and poke the mulch under the leaves?

Once things have melted some more, we’ll have more soil delivered and build the last of our boxes (another 4 large plus 4 half-sized). It’ll be great to have them all built!!

Victor Questions

Friday, April 11th, 2014

This evening, while watching tele, Victor turned to us.
“Mommy, why do we live if we only just have to die?”

Who would have thought, at 7, we’d be discussing the purpose of life with him?

Garden Update 2

Friday, April 11th, 2014

…still waiting. Patches are melting here and there, the Bleeding Heart by the side door is coming up, but still so much snow!

So instead, you get a Hiker Dude on April Fool’s Day!

(complete with “backpack” and “poles”)

Return to the Garden

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

*NOT* very inspiring, is it? However, we’ve got big plans for this year!

We’ve already got boxes 1-6 built, plus the pink ones (strawberries). We’re going to build 7-10 plus the 4 square ones in the middle which will be twice as high and are where the boys are going to have their own little gardens (popping corn, runner beans, carrots, etc). I’m excited to see how they do, and hopeful they love gardening as much as I do. The polygons next to those 4 will be…something. Flowers, likely, though I’m not sure yet. It’ll be in-ground, that much I know. We’re also going to again try to tame the black raspberry patch (HA!) and I’m hoping to plant cranberries between our currants and gooseberries along the bottom edge. We’ll be moving the tomato trellis’ to boxes 2 and 8 and boxes 4/5 (where the tomatoes were last year) will be trellis’d for cucumbers, peas and beans. I’m hoping to paint the trellis’ too – something bright and unexpected like royal blue, maybe.

I’ve set up a new seed starting shelf system in the spare bedroom and started seeds, like a dutiful garden-mistress, and I’m taking care of those that are able to sprout. Much of my seed stock is old, so whatever I can’t start this year I’ll pick up from Dandelion Acres – a local garden center that we used last year.

Some of the seeds are from my original big garden and didn’t make it (onions, I’m looking at you!). However, this year I’d wanted to try growing an onion I remember from back home, Ailsa Craig, so I’ll have *some* onions, at least.

I also started tomatoes, of which most are doing well,

and peppers that are slower than the tomatoes but I’m trying to be patient with them – the Habanero’s are doing well, but I’m feeling somewhat anxious about the Thai’s because I can’t get those locally if they don’t make it.

In a few weeks I’ll get started on more seeds, likely using the tray with the failed onion seeds. I’m not crazy about the seed starting stuff I used this year – Jiffy – because they’ve got some mold growing on the outside of the pot membrane. I hope it stays under control.

So that’s what’s going on, at the moment, in the garden at least. Hopefully I can keep updating all summer as I like having the record to look back on. I’m excited to try new plants (potatoes – blue ones for the boys, even) and to see how the boys do with their gardens.

Dear Victor (7yrs)

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

I know, I know… I missed last year completely. I apologize for that, and simply say that we both know I’m imperfect but that I love you more than my imperfections imply. Imp.

So much has happened during the last year I can hardly quantify it. You’ve learned to read and are doing fantastically at it – you’re one of the top readers in your class and you *love* reading. You’re desperate to start reading chapter books with big chapters, but are just shy of capable. Close… so close. I’ll give it another few months, I expect. For now you love Frog & Toad and Henry & Mudge and keep telling me about Cam Jansen (book at school).

This past summer you learned how to ride a bike (!!!) and love doing so.

You also learned how to swim, and though you tend to goof around during lessons more than I’d like, you do it (swim) well.

I’m hoping to teach you how to skate this winter, at the local outdoor rink.

You’ve really flourished in your love of art this year, and we have many of your school artworks framed and on the walls.

I can’t wait to see what you bring home this year! Often we can find you at the dining table working on something artistic or other – drawing, cutting, origami, painting, you name it! You made a fairly decent, functional beyblade stadium for Ethan, and made a lovey card for me because you thought I was sad (I had a headache). I love that you spend so much of your crafting time making things for others, and love even more how much you’ve taken to taking care of us. You’re much more aware, these days, of people’s emotional state and how you can help.

That’s another thing you’ve jumped on this year – helping. You *love* being helpful and literally run to the kitchen to empty the dishwasher.

For your birthday we “surprised” you with a trip to Jay Peak’s indoor waterpark. I say “surprise” because you knew we were going *some*where, but not where. Though we asked, you wanted us to not tell you and keep it a surprise. We had an absolute blast there, and you were very well-behaved and waited in line and for other’s to clear slides before you threw yourself down them. You loved the kiddie area with the fountains and jets of water and kid-friendly slides and, just as much, loved the big tube slides that we could go down in pairs though I think your favourite was the single slide that you could do on your own. We gave you lots of free-rein to see how you’d do and you were awesome!

In general buddy, you are always awesome! You’re still learning how to deal with some existential emotions and how you’re perceived by others, but you have a wonderfully considerate, kind heart. You’re almost always game to try new things (salad, this weekend!) I can’t wait to see what new things you show us you can do this coming year!

Love Always,
Mommy