Monday, May 31, 2010

Rex, King of Nature

Rex would like nothing more than to frolic, free, in the back yard. He wants to chase the butterflies and roll around in the warm mulch and eat bugs and terrorize birds. This is not allowed, though, because we live on busy East Lake and there is a large hawk that likes to hang out in our back yard. I'd been avoiding mentioning that we think he took out our chickadee family, but there you are.

Each day when we arrive home from work/school/daycare, we enter through the kitchen door, and Rex is quietly waiting. He darts past my feet into the garden, under some plant or another. Kate dutifully trudges out, scoops up the recalcitrant cat, and carries him back in. He always looks so defeated. Poor little guy. I'd love to let him go play, were I not worried I'd be scraping him off the blacktop later.

The other day we watched a special on PBS about agility training for pets. They started with dogs, no big news there, but then they moved on to cats and Kate was fascinated. "I'm going to work with cats now", she informed me, after watching all things cats could be trained to do. I decided that since Rex wanted so badly to be outdoors, I would let Kate work with him. So, I picked up a kitty harness called Come With Me Kitty, which I thought seemed to bode a bit ill because it sounds like kitty's about to get in trouble. Still, it was worth a shot.

Rex sat peacefully in my lap while I fitted the device on him. Then I took him out for a trial run. I carried him outside, and he instantly laid down, rolled over on his back and looked angry. So that went well. Kate has tried twice with him now. This is not what Rex had in mind when I said to him "Rex, would you like to go outside?" and his heart leapt. Oh, cruel irony of life. He is most likely looking for something of mine to pee on as I write this.

Art Festival

Ah, the Decatur Art Festival. It attracts some wonderful artists, but for the past couple years we've seen almost nothing of them, because the children own this festival now. Saturday we headed to the Decatur farmers market because I heard there were peaches. I heard correctly and am happy to report they are fresh as of today and I will be eating a lot of peaches this week. From there, we hit the festival, just in time to join our friends Kim & Jerry and their oldest, Alexia, who is Sarah's friend from school, and their adorable baby, Simone, who doesn't care if we're around or not, for the drum circle.

I love to watch my kids watch live music. Kate cannot resist drums, and even though she's mildly inhibited, I could see her little booty start to shake on it's on, in perfect time. If she doesn't know you're watching, you can sometimes get an adorable show. Sarah, who never hesitates to dance, was struck motionless. At first I thought maybe it was too loud for her, or she just didn't like the drums. When we tried to leave before they'd played their last song, though, she cried and begged me to stay with her.

We walked through a very small part of the artists' tents, spotting some art I'd love to own, on our way to the kids' set up of "bouncy things" and excitingly flavored popcorn. Kate had gone with Alexia, while Sarah and I hung back for more drumming. Jeremiah and Monkey met us, and we walked the plaza together. On the way, a guy sat solo, playing his trumpet for change. He played Mary Had a Little Lamb, for Sarah, who'd stopped short to hear him, too. Then he played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Or maybe Bah, Bah Blacksheep. Possibly the ABC song, I don't know. Then, after we gave him a dollar, she requested Dream a Little Dream. After her private concert, Sarah was ready to bounce.

We left that afternoon, thinking the skies were about to rip open, saying we'd return on Sunday, but of course, the day got away from us. We did make this year's first trip to the McKoy Park Pool to swim in the freezing water while it rained on us. The girls were so elated to be there that the rain and cold didn't matter. Kate is on the precipice of being a full-on swimmer. It's so fun to see, despite what the chlorinated water does to that poor child's eczema. Sarah will be ready for real swimming next summer, or maybe even by the end of this one. So close...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lavish Party

When I was very little my mean parents made me go to bed unreasonably early. They would often tuck me in, kiss me goodnight, and then forget all about me while they hosted lavish soirees in the living room. Repeated requests for various lights to be turned on or cups of water to be delivered were frowned upon. So there I'd lie, wide awake and abandoned, listening to all the adults talking and laughing and probably eating ice cream and watching cartoons. I hated missing it all.

Fast forward to present day. Now I'm one of those adults and I know for a fact that my suspicions about the eating ice cream at least, were spot on. Last night was Monday dinner night with the Third Avenue Provosts, though we only had Steve because Joy was in Hartford. We tucked Kate and Sarah into bed, kissed their sweet heads and then forgot all about them while we ate our dinner (followed by ice cream) and watched the series finale of 24.

After we said our final good-bye to Jack, who would probably rather be dead than how they left him but whatever, I went upstairs to check on the girls. As I ascended the stairs, I could see that something had been placed at the top of them.

When I got about halfway up, it became apparent what that something was.Little Sarah, I knew, had hated missing out on our lavish living room party.










When Jeremiah scooped her up and carried her back to her room, she seemed to wake up. He laid her down on her lion rug on the floor, where she loves to sleep. She wasn't, in fact, awake at all. She'd been disturbed, though, and she slowly stood up, and began walking in little circles in on the floor between her bed and Kate's. At one point she shrugged her shoulders, raising her arms at the elbows with her hands up in confusion, then went back to walking in tight circles. We watched for awhile, pointing and laughing, until Jeremiah finally picked her up again and laid her down in her bed. There she remained, quietly snoozing, while we headed to our own bed to do the same.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Today is the Day the Teddy Bears Have Their Picnic

...and the bunnies and one lama and a pig.
And here are a few random pictures I took in the office before uploading photos to the computer this morning. Monkey turned 8 months old yesterday. See how tiny he is? We hug him and sing "hold me closer, Tiny Boxer..."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Farmers Markets

Saturdays in Spring get exciting. There are so many local farmers markets to visit on Saturday morning, we can never make it to all of them. We used to just hit the Green Market at Piedmont Park, my love for which I've mentioned before. A mere stone's throw from that market is the Morningside Farmers Market, which opens at 7:30AM. Now we also have the East Lake Farmers Market (or ELF Market, if you're a hip East Lake resident like me) and the Decatur Farmers Market.

The ELF Market is in its second year and needs all the support it can get. It has taken up residence in what us locals fondly call Cracktown, at Second Avenue and Hosea Williams. A guy was gunned down there about a year or so ago. Drugs. The corners have been purchased and some of the stuff razed. The plans for mixed use, cool-looking buildings have been completed and the community managed to get the zoning on a couple neighboring lots changed. The recession has brought that progress to a screeching halt, though, and this farmer's market is one way we've managed to take that corner back. It needs love. Go love it if you're local.

Today we visited the Morningside market and then headed over to Decatur. This activity for us could be described a
s our church. We all go, even Monkey. We smell and taste all manner of wonderful things from sweet berries and cheeses, to flavored iced teas and coffees, to muffins and other baked delights and even puppy treats for the pooch. We visit with our neighbors. Everyone chats over pets and children while we wait in line to pick our goodies. Best of all, I think, is the chance to meet and talk to the farmers. They love to talk about what they grow, how to grow it, how to harvest it or split it, and how to prepare it. I've talked to soap makers and wood carvers and jewelery makers as well. We always see people we know.

At Morningside today the girls met a woman who sells her painted cards and has a table set up for the kids to create works of art. For a dollar per kid she'll watch over them and guide them. Sarah drew a flower, and then this woman, whose name is Charlotte and who I think is from Puerto Rico, taught Sarah how to control her brush strokes. After a 1 minute lesson, Sarah produced a completely different flower (it's the one to the right, just in case you weren't sure. Yes, Sarah painted that!) I bought one of Charlotte's cards, but I plan to selfishly frame it and place on a wall here rather than mail it to someone.

Tonight we'll be enjoying strip steak from the same farm whose meat and produce CSAs we've joined, along with some fresh fingerling potatoes and an arugula salad. I love farmers market day!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Updating Again, part 1

Sometimes I can't get in here for awhile; it happens. It bums me out a little because there have been little gems from the children's mouths that I've now forgotten. I should really write this stuff down immediately.

Our biggest bits of news start with our trip to the Fabulous Fox Theatre to see Mary Poppins with some friends. Although we had the worst possible seats (the very last row in the very highest part of the balcony all the way stage left. Why are there even seats there?), it was a great show and the girls had a lot of fun.

Prior to the Mary Poppins outing (OK, jolly holiday) Kate had a breakthrough moment. All school year, Jeremiah or I have had to drive her to school, park and walk her to her classroom, just like we do with Sarah at daycare. We've tried a few times to convince her to let us drop her off, but without success. The week before last, Kate failed to bring her backpack, which contains her school work and her lunch, with her in the car. That was the 3rd time this year. Before we'd gotten into the car, I'd put her backpack in her hands. So, when we arrived at daycare and I noticed there was no backpack in the backseat, there was the usual apoplectic response from me, in which I cannot finish even a portion of a sentence because I'm censoring out all the cussing. Finally, we dropped Sarah off in her classroom and, while walking back to the car, I told Kate "you are coming with me to get that backpack and then, I think you're going to have to go through the drop-off lane because otherwise, you will be late for school." I steeled myself for a panicked fit from Kate. Instead she drew in a deep breath and said "Well. I'm a little bit scared, but I'm excited." As we approached the lane I explained how it works:

"Alright kiddo, here's what you'll do. When I stop the car, not a moment before, you unbuckle yourself, give me a kiss-"
she interrupted me "and a hug!"
"-and a hug, open the door and hop out onto the sidewalk. Then you walk to class. It's that simple!"

We arrived in the lane and Kate unbuckled herself, stood up, gave me a hug and a kiss, got herself out of the car and even closed the door all the way, then stood beaming with pride on the sidewalk, waving good-bye to me. And I got a little choked up.

Since then she's used the drop-off lane several times, but as if she sensed that Jeremiah and I were both a little wistful about all this, she has insisted on being walked in from time to time.

Now I need to go to work. More later.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sweetness

I was already awake when the girls tiptoed in, shushing each other loudly. Rex had been climbing up to the transom window over our bed and launching off it onto my bladder. When I heard the girls approaching I closed my eyes and feigned sleep. I heard them come to a stand still by my side. Then, nearly in unison they sang out "Happy Mother's Day!"

I opened my eyes and beheld various works of art composed in my honor. My favorites were the page full of hearts from Sarah "because I love you so much!" and the drawing Kate did of me, watering my garden. She also grew some flowers for me, which we planted in the garden together this afternoon.

My gifts were that I got to go for a bikeride on this stunning, perfect day. It was cool, the sky was cerulean blue and I got an up-close view of a red tailed hawk and, in keeping with the red bird theme, a very close encounter with a big redheaded woodpecker. Then I enjoyed a "surprise" breakfast of (gluten-free, of course) pancakes and bacon. Then, I was allowed to spend the majority of the day working in the garden. Bliss. Jeremiah grilled dinner for us, per the girls' request, and we had a marshmallow toasting session. I think thoughts of work only drifted by once all day. Now, Jeremiah is grilling some bananas to serve over the brown sugar vanilla ice cream I made last night and I'm listening to the girls sing themselves to sleep.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mammoth Jalapenos

Growing in my garden! I'm not sure what's "mammoth" about them. Maybe they're originally from Mammoth. They don't seem that big to me. Anyway, they're beautiful because they grew in my garden. I can't wait to eat them. The spinach and arugula (which Kate & Sarah grew from seed) are done. They provided us with many happy salads and are now attempting to flower and seed. I think I'll replace them with cucumbers and cantaloupe.

At the Green Market at Piedmont Park, we bought a pint of outstanding strawberries, which proved to be far too tempting - we ate the entire pint before we made it home. OK, mostly Sarah and I ate the entire pint. We also bought plump, sweet sugar snap peas. The two farmers from whom I purchased those items were more than happy to regale me with advice on any vegetable gardening question I posed. I love these guys! We also got some irresistible cheeses, but the woman selling them was not the cheese maker (only slightly less blessed are the cheese peddlers) and I'm not interested in making my own cheese (yet). Anyway, the garden is looking healthy and happy. I'm just about to harvest some broccoli. Here's some more from the garden yesterday. That first one is my thyme forest, followed by my favorite, and Sarah's too, to sniff, sweet marjoram:

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Moment of Silence For the CR-V

This is what the CR-V looks like now that someone T-boned it. We loved this car. It was in perfect condition and we owned it. It's nice that I can sit here and lament the loss of our beloved car instead of lamenting the harm or death of my beloved husband. I've already lost count of how many times we've thanked all the forces of good in the universe the girls weren't in the car when this happened. As you can see here, the door on Sarah's side was torn off the car. Jeremiah is one sore fellow today, but he's going to live. We're looking forward to him seeing the chiropractor for an assessment of the real damage. I know it was an accident, but damn, lady watch where you're going!

Practicing My Surprised Face

Kate: Mommy. What is your favorite breakfast?
Me: Hmmm...I like it when we make pancakes and have them with fresh berries and super-crispy bacon.
Kate: Weeeelllll, maybe we should make that for Mother's Day for you. As a surprise!