26 October, 2018

The Garden

This summer, we grew a garden. We started it in April while my mom was visiting. She taught us a bit about how to begin and we just rolled with it. Carrots, corn, green beans, peas, tomatoes, and later pumpkins. 

I loved how much each child worked in the garden this summer. After breakfast, Gage would randomly call out, “Goin’ to the garden!” And barefoot, he’d go through the backdoor and over the chicken wire and pull weeds, examine caterpillars, talk sweetly to his cornstalks, and pick any vegetables that were ready.

Kjel LOVED going out with her little bucket to pick green beans for dinner.

We ate A LOT of green beans this summer. Oh, they were delicious. Roasted with garlic, or in a stir-fry. We all love green beans around here, so it was really wonderful. We liked eating them raw, too. 

We loved the sweet peas while they lasted, but we must’ve done something wrong because they started dying very quickly in the season.

Gage’s cornstalks gave us a handful of ears of corn that we absolutely savored. 

Will’s carrots are still in the ground. I plan on digging them up when I’m done convalescing. I love that word. 

Our pumpkins are a sad story of failure. We knew very little about what were doing and half-doubted anything would happen. But one day, GINORMOUS pumpkin vines spread across the yard, and the bright orange flowers bloomed, and we were convinced we’d have thirty or forty pumpkins. We did have TWO pumpkins begin to grow. And then a family of mice found one and enjoyed it heartily. The other one may have had a fighting chance, except that the pumpkin vines had started attacking our tomatoes and we knew it was  time to chop them down and give the other producing vegetables a fighting chance. 

So we killed the pumpkins. Sad but true.

One day we found a red snake in the garden. Merit made her kissing face and DEMANDED, “Kiss it, nake.”

Will’s favorite chore was watering. One day I playfully sprayed him with the hose and never have I felt so ashamed! He looked at me like he was Julius Caesar and I was Brutus. 

We all spent much time, cumulatively, going outside and just looking at the garden. Poking and prodding and pulling a few weeds, but mostly just looking at it, shaking our heads in wonder that stuff grew!

We considered for buying a new house this summer. We ultimately decided not to, but Gage at one point said, “Guys, if we move we can’t take the swing OR the garden OR the shed with us.” Sold.

We have big plans for next year. A separate patch for green beans, tomatoes more in the sun, carrots more carefully lined up so we can weed more easily. 

Merit is Growing Up

Merit is a great negotiator. When she wants to paint her nails, she’ll nod her head the whole time she’s talking and say, “Paint? Fingers? YEAH?! Paint? Fingers? YEAH?!” it is HARD to say no to that! 

She changes her outfit at LEAST six times a day, often more. “A DESS!” She’ll holler, then run upstairs, little legs pumping while she pulls all of her and Kjel’s dresses off the hangers.

She has completely denounced pajamas and only wears nightgowns. 

She is sleeping in a big girl bed! We bought two matching twins years ago that could be stacked up on top of each other to make a bunk bed. A few weeks ago, Steven took the plunge and the bunk bed is made. He even made a ladder! It’s really darling. At night I lay between the girls on Merit’s bed (bottom bunk) and sing to them. They both sing with me. Kjel in her sweet, high, vibrato. Ha. Merit sings one or two words and holds them out really long. It’s sweet.

Merit is an adventurous eater like Gage and Kjel. She’ll try almost anything. Her favorite foods, though, are whatever the kids don’t finish from their school lunches. 

She loves to play a game with me where she points to herself and says in a very high, airy voice, “I Mommy, you Ment” (Ment is how she says Merit). Then she’ll give me band-aids and food and treats, take me places in her “car” (the white couch) and put me down for naps.

I often find the lights off, curtains closed, and white noise on in Emme’s room after Merit has put one of her babies to bed in Emme’s crib.

Merit and Will are best frenemies. Will so badly wants to be her friend and sometimes she is so darling and sweet with him - rubbing his back and kissing his forehead and singing to him. Other times she grabs a wooden block and smacks him in the face with it for no reason. He has gotten to the point where he screams when she is walking toward him. Which is fun. But actually... kind of understandable. She can be such a stinker. When she gets in trouble for being mean to Will, she turns around, folds her arms and says grumpily, “No problem.”

Merit is a HARD WORKER. No one washes dishes or windows like Merit. 

She is happy to putter around with whoever she is with all day, tidying up and taking care of her babies. Gage often smiles at me and says that Merit will be a great mom someday.

STeven and I were starting to worry a little about Merit. She was struggling with being kind to friends or kids at the playground, and being so defiant and grumpy all the time. Then the big kids went to school and I was able to switch into little kid mode again (instead of switching back and forth which is hard to do all day) and miracles happened. 

She and I really, truly bonded. I have given her more attention and just affection - Merit NEEDS hugs and smiles and back rubs - she needs them to function. I started taking time to not just hug her but get down on her level and pull her into my lap. It doesn’t take long, usually she jumps up after a few seconds. But it’s enough - she is shining now. Much kinder and easier to reason with. 

I love Merit. I love her innate personality and all the learning she has done to cultivate that spicy personality into a task-oriented, helpful, funny, nurturing child. 


Florida Trip with my Mom and Sisters (and babies)

In July, my mom, sisters, our youngest girls, and I took a trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida to sit by the water, soak up the sun, talk for hours, and eat delicious things. 

It was one of those times when you paint a picture of perfection and then something even better happens.

We spent hours, many hours, swimming in the warm waves, talking about everything. We rented a tiny loft apartment from airbnb and ate key lime pie and held each other’s babies. 

After spending all day at the beach, we’d come home sandy and sun kissed and French braid our hair, put on our beach dresses, and walk into town to enjoy the live music at the pier and buy gifts for our families back home.

We ate the most delicious, decadent brunch of our lives and I still think about the four tender slices of filet mignon that I barely had to chew. Ah, that was so delicious.

Mostly, I loved being in a place I love with women I love. It is good to talk with other women in an environment where you can be who you are, without being interrupted. I learned from one sister that there is never a time to NOT be Christlike. Another one reminded me of the basic human necessity of daily belly laughter. Of course, my mom is the fount of all wisdom and taught us things that we will teach our daughters, who will teach their daughters. 

I loved bonding with my nieces. Mae is Sierra’s daughter and she is one sweet, obedient child. She sits when she’s told to sit. None of my kids do that! She has the most hilarious low-pitched chuckle. Kind of like Santa. I LOVED holding, walking with, and spoiling sweet Mae. 

My other niece, Cosy, is brimming with personality, like Az. I hadn’t seen Azure since she’d had Cosy and watching her mother her little girl was surreal and tender for me. Cosy always had her hat and her sunscreen and took her naps at the right time, and was clean and happy. 

It is good to see my sisters being incredible mothers who take their callings so seriously.

Poor EmmeBeth got a little sunburned. I have NO idea how, but one day she was quite red. It stressed me out a little but I was more careful to constantly keep her shaded and by the next day she was fine. 

I think my favorite moments were at sunrise and sunset when Emme and I and my mom or a sister would be out listening to the waves and running our feet through warm sand.

In the words of Pablo Neruda (I think?) I need the sea, it teaches me.

Really, it does. I need my sisters and mom, they teach me even more than the sea does. :)
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