The children found a turtle in the yard this weekend. A female Eastern box turtle (we think). We all admired her shell, her ability to completely withdraw, and her age. Hythe became particularly attached to her. He held her and gently played with her for hours. Then he found a box and set it up as a home for her. He took her to a party that night, named her Climber, and was quite devoted to her. She got over her shyness and came out of her shell for Hythe. We told him that he would have to put the turtle back in the woods that night, but when the time came, he cried furiously and said he wanted to keep her as a pet. We decided there was no use arguing with a tired child, so we kept Climber until the morning. I did a little on-line research (as you do when up against an issue you know next to nothing about) and found out that box turtles are hard keepers – they can live up to 100 years in the wild, but can die within 3 days in captivity, and that healthy captivity requires a lot of habitat manipulation and equipment that we don’t have. In the morning, Hythe came to me and I explained what I had learned about keeping turtles as pets. He said, “I’ll let her go this morning.” Which is what he did. He shed a few tears, too, as he watched her crawl away.
There is a lot of living going on on the porch this time of year. The weather is allowing us to be outside a lot – eating, playing, drawing, writing, reading, sleeping. The porch swing is everyone’s favorite place to sit and rest, or read, or nap. The porch provides shade, comfortable seats, freedom to be messier, room to spread out. I love going out to read a magazine or my book, to drink a cup of tea, or to eat lunch. I’m so happy to be out there and to see the children out there. Porch living is the best!
A week or so ago, Hythe asked me for his own garden. After some negotiating, he agreed to let me give him a section of the garden we already have. It had nothing planted in it and it could be his own. With some help, he dug up some squash (or gourd or pumpkin) plants growing out of the compost pile and transplanted them in his garden. He also planted some lettuce and cucumber starts from his aunt and uncle, and I bought him a cantaloupe plant from a farm stand. Then, he sowed some sweet corn seeds (with his cousin, Levi’s help). I think he still has plans to get more plants in that little patch of dirt – probably pumpkins, but maybe beans. We’ll see. I love seeing him in the garden, sincerely interested and working.
And, when I asked him if he would like to learn to sew, he said yes. I made some napkins for my mother and mother-in-law for Mother’s Day, and let the children do the top stitching around them. I set Hythe up at the machine, explained how to do everything and then set him loose. He did remarkable well, keeping his top stitching fairly strait. And, most importantly, he enjoyed it!
I love spring tree and flower buds and blooms. To me, they are the most beautiful things to witness all year. Fall is pretty, glorious in splendid warm colors of red, orange and brown, but spring is sweetness, subtlety, and star-laden. There is a hopefulness about spring, reminding us of new beginnings and refreshing starts. Spring is the time I want to stop to recognize and enjoy the new blooms each day, the green as it creeps a little further up the mountain, leaves emerging from the tightness of a bud.
Dull olive and reddish brown change to emerald. Birds sing all day.
A fine layer of yellow pollen covers most things, inside and out. Until a rainstorm chases you in from the garden and drenches the laundry you have hanging on the line. Keeping it real, but life is sweet.
There has been a lot going on in our lives this spring. Spring seems to be like that – energy ramps up and things-to-do increase (and I am more excited about all the things to do), yet the beauty unfolding each day makes me want to slow down and enjoy it. Another life balance, I guess.
One beautiful weekend, the girls rode in a horse show. It was a schooling show (meaning it was not terribly formal and more for fun and practice than real competition – at least that’s what I think!) at Biltmore, so it still felt a bit fancy. They had a good time, and overcame their nervousness, bringing in a few ribbons. I am reluctant to continue to have them compete in horse shows. It is expensive and high-pressure, but they do enjoy it and it is fun to watch.
We’ve been out hiking a bit this past week (I am so incredibly happy to have warm weather to make it easy to get out). Which I do less of than I’d like, especially seeing as we live in the heart of great hiking in NC. But, my mother and one of her friends came up to hike last week. We hiked beautiful trails, saw wildflowers and nice views. The children hiked with us a few times. The three youngest happened to be home with strep throat (feeling fine but quarantined from school) one day and we walked up to a bald nearby. The older two raced up the mountain, stopping to wait for us at intervals. It was great to see them having fun together as those middle two don’t often get their own attention, and generally play with their other sister and brother. So, it was wonderful to watch as they played, ran, and laughed together.
I’ve also been working in the garden, enjoying the flowers (it has been smelling nice around our house for weeks now), and loving the porch living that spring brings (posts to come).
I just read a great, and funny (my favorite kind), article about quilting. Really, more about grandmothers and quilting. Which made me think again about how awesome our mothers and grandmothers really are (or were)! I loved this article for the truth it speaks. I sew, don’t quilt much, but I think the sentiment in this article is applicable to so many domestic skills (or arts) from cooking to raising children to knitting to painting.
The school the children go to has a 2 week spring break, which we took full advantage of. We made it to the beach with the in-laws and cousins, and then to Elizabeth City for a short visit, then back home to work in the garden, ride horses and attend parties. And before we started on all those adventures, we “had” to stay around for Easter, or more specifically for Easter egg hunts. It is a truly lovely time of year around here, with trees starting to leaf out, plants flowering everywhere, and (often, but not always) a mild and enjoyable temperature. Easter is always picturesque at the Big House (William’s grandparents home), even when it is raining.
We had a great time at the beach and one of my favorite things was seeing the cousins playing together – and having lots of aunt time (myself being an aunt and children with their aunts). There was lots of sandcastle building, wave riding, ocean dunking (the adults couldn’t really hang in that cold ocean like the kids could!), game playing, bike riding, and music making. We had the obligatory puzzle which everyone worked on when they could. And, it may be the first time we’ve been able to have a puzzle out without worrying about a toddler pulling it all apart (big step!). After a few days, the boys figured out the palmetto branch stems made excellent swords and battle spears, so there were some major battles and a few minor skirmishes on the beach an around the house for a few days. And, there was a lot of relaxing – reading on the beach, sleeping in, glass of wine in the afternoon while beach gazing. It was a nice vacation.
We are living the birthday month strong right now. Evva’s birthday is followed exactly 2 weeks later by Anne’s birthday, which is followed exactly 3 weeks later by my birthday. Mine, of course, is not quite as important at this time of life as theirs – and quite right. I am consulted on themes, fun activities, and cake flavors for weeks, maybe months for their birthdays. This year, Anne overwhelmed herself thinking about the party plans. Should she do this activity or that? Sleep over or not? Which games? Which friends? She finally turned to me and said, “I want a surprise party”. This put all the decisions in our court. William thought she would most like to have a stereotypical surprise party where everyone hides and jumps out to yell “Surprise!!” when the birthday person arrives. We would invite lots of her friends, have a few games, cake, presents, and playtime.
So, that’s what we did. Anne knew there was going to be a party, but we played it down a lot and wouldn’t talk about it. Her friends were good about not giving it away either. William took her, Evva, and a friend horseback riding, and all the guests arrived. Everyone hid, then jumped out with “Surprise!” when Anne walked in the house. She was shocked and surprised and very happy. William had set up a treasure hunt which sent the group of 21 children racing through the damp, cold weather for about a half mile, looking for clues to get back to the treasure. It was fun to see them all running through the gray day in their brightly colored jackets, laughing (and then panting as they had to go up yet another hill). Then, we had a doughnut eating contest. A race to try an eat a doughnut that is hanging from a string without using your hands. It is very tricky! And, hilarious – which is the point, I think!
I made Anne a lemon cake with raspberry icing (which is what I will make myself for my birthday – so good). Some sweet friends had brought over streamers and balloons before the party. Present opening was fun – with lots of books and arts/craft supplies. Her group of friends are really wonderful – fun and kind – and Anne loves them. Anne said this birthday was her favorite, and I was so glad.
Spring has definitely sprung here in the last week. We’ve had warm weather, trees and flowers are blooming, birds are singing, frog eggs are hatching. We planted peas, carrots, spinach, and beets in the garden. I finished pruning the blueberries, and have been spreading mulch and weeding during free moments. We ate baby kale and collard sprouts from the winter garden last night.
Hythe brought home some frog eggs from a little fountain outside of someone’s house a few weeks ago. They hatched after a few days and it was fun to see the little tadpoles wriggle out of their eggs. He has been very protective of the tadpoles, and sometimes reads to them. He’s been having me boil lettuce “for 15 minutes, mom” to feed the tadpoles. I have no idea if that is really a food that tadpoles eat, but they are all still alive and growing. I don’t know what kind of frog/toad they are, but we’ll see soon, I hope. Everyone has enjoyed watching them grow.
Anne’s birthday is on the first day of spring which currently looks as if it will be cold and rainy (maybe even snowy). She’s been quite down about the irony of spring weather – actually quite outraged that spring would do something so unpleasant on the first day of the season and her birthday, no less!
And, the time change threw us off this week. I’ve been forgetful and harried, and the children have been tired. We started the week off by showing up to church an hour late, completely forgetting about the time change. And, I’ve ended the week completely forgetting about driving carpool to school and the volunteer work I was supposed to do this morning (which I did, but showed up an hour late!).
But, spring is so beautiful. I feel a little affronted, like Anne, that we will have cold rain (and snow?) this weekend, but it is spring, and spring weather is fickle. Surely we have to have some of that coldness and rain mixed in with the sun and warmth. It will keep things beautiful and growing.
Evva turned 9 this week, and we had a Harry Potter themed birthday party for her, which I think might have been her favorite birthday party yet. It was pretty laid back, but we all have fun planning the activities. We had a sorting hat which actually talked (through the phone hidden under the stool), wand decorating, a broom stick relay, potions making, and tea leaf reading. There was a good mix of structured Harry Potter things to do and lots of free time to play on swings, climb trees, and giggle. And, the weather was perfect.
Evva got a stuffed polar bear (her favorite animal) and roller blades from us. She (and Hythe) have been getting around the house on wheels lately, and it is pretty funny. It might help them with working on household chores if they can roller blade to set the table or pick up toys.
A few days later, we went to the library where Hythe found a selection of horse books. He checked them out and really wanted to give them to Evva as his birthday present to her. He wrapped them up and presented them to her when she got home from soccer practice. He was so excited to have a present to give her, and it was very sweet to see him being so thoughtful of his sister. Evva loved the books, and didn’t mind at all that they had to be returned in 3 weeks. Cute, sweet, and funny!