Friday, August 6, 2010

Why, yes, i DID make these dresses, thankyouverymuch

i bought these two skirts on clearance for $.47 each
and turned them into these, is less than an hour.

This is my idea of sewing

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How does my garden grow?

I've been calling a small and shaded area of dirt my "garden" for the past four years. And because of my love of the landscaping and terracing in our backyard, I've just lived without a real garden.

But this year that all changed. All thanks to my father-in-law. The man is the most hard-working human i've ever known. And when he comes to visit he gets things done that Reid and I have put off doing for months (or sometimes years!) He calls us weeks in advance to get us thinking about what we want him to work on while he's here. And after a few meager attempts of "oh, Mike, i just want you to relax" i usually come up with a decent-sized list of to-do's. This trip the to-do was these garden boxes.

His trip out here in April was part of an entire Allred family gathering we hosted. It was so fun to have everyone here in our cozy little house. We fit. Barely, but we fit. My girls had a blast playing with their cousins, Reid and I had a blast visiting with family. And Mike--well, between games of "Princesses and the Bad Prince" and walking around with Gabe in his arms, he built five awesome raised-bed garden boxes. These boxes meant digging up and transplanting some rose bushes. They meant a slightly less beautiful backyard.

But you know what else they meant?

The world to me. Seriously. This was early April. My mom had only a few weeks left. I was in constant heart-ache and denial, watching life slip out of my mom, and there was nothing I could do about. And I needed a place where I could make things live. Where everything was in my control. Where "nature's course" wasn't my worst enemy.

That's exactly what this garden was for me. It gave me something to do and to focus on in the times i was back here in Denver, between trips to Provo. And you can ask Reid--it was all-consuming. I researched EVERYTHING you can imagine. I chose square-foot gardening, and planned and mapped each box out, with several rough drafts. I learned which plants thrive well next to which plants, and figured out when i could plant what, which ones to start from seed, which ones to buy. I mean, i was obsessing over this garden. It was a coping technique. And it worked well.

After the funeral and everything, I came home to copious amount of spinach in two of the beds. This made me happier than any other single thing could have. We ate spinach in and on everything. The girls thought it was the coolest thing ever, which only added to my state of bliss. (It still does, in fact. Watching them enjoy the garden has been a huge added bonus that I somehow hadn't anticipated.)

I've been dreaming of a real garden since i-don't-know-when. So, really i don't know how I didn't convince myself 4 years ago to make this change. But I'm glad I didn't. This garden has been my happy-place all summer. The newness of it is a big role in that. And, i kid you not, I sit on my deck and stare at it. Often. The way you do the ocean. And it amazes me, the same way the never-ending water does.

And although the #$%@ bunnies had their way with our beets and strawberries, they were kind enough to leave us our snap peas, lettuces, some kale, tomatoes, more tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, squash, carrots, peppers, basil and the satisfaction of watching tiny seeds turn into exactly what they claimed they would!!

And here's a photo i just found--it's the closest I've got to a "before" picture, with the rose bushes that we transplanted behind the girls. And you know what? After looking at the lush, beautiful garden above, i miss these roses even less.

We all love Kindergarten

Grace is loving Kindergarten. And Kindergarten is loving Grace. The two are getting along so swimmingly, in fact, that at times i start to feel a bit left out. I see other kids who still cry when their moms drop them off, and I sometimes wish that Grace would shed a tear or two for my sake. But, (fortunately, i suppose) she does not cry. She runs ahead of us (or leaps out of the van, depending on whether we're having a walking or driving day) and gets right in line with the other kids--without looking back. When we finally catch up to her, she still lets me give her a kiss (in front of all her friends!), and she still gives Abby and Eliza a hug. Then she goes inside the classroom, without looking back.

We come back home, and Eliza and Abby play together for 30-45 minutes (which i LOVE). Then Eliza naps and Abby and I have time to read, have piano lessons, or do puzzles and games (which i LOVE, since Grace isn't really into either and i'm a big puzzle/game fan), and then Abby heads down to the basement to play by herself (which i LOOOOVE). Abby had a hard time the first few days, but has adapted REALLY well. I think she actually enjoys being the "boss" sometimes...even if there is no one down there to boss around.

And I am left with a few minutes all to myself. It's really quite lovely, if I may confess. I've worked on some projects, done P90-X (minus the 90 part...let's call it p8-x for now), read a couple of books, occasionally do a bit of housework, and i sometimes even take a nap! The TV is not on. Neighborhood kids are not over. All in all, this little change has done good things for everyone involved.

Grace is learning to read at school -- and loving it. I'd considered taking it upon myself to teach her to read a few months ago, to "give her the edge" at school--but ultimately didn't feel right about it. And i'm SOOO glad I didn't. Not just because she and I don't really have a great teacher/student relationship, but because she is learning to learn!! She's enjoying her homework, she's mastering her "sight words" and feeling the satisfaction of progress and accomplishment.

But my favorite change? my favorite part of all of this? it's waiting out on my lawn for Grace to come home. She runs down the street, I scoop her up, and she gives me the world's biggest hug (the one you might expect from a child who does cry when her mom drops her off) and I carry her into our house. She runs to the bathroom to wash her hands (because she's a bit neurotic about hand idea why... :), comes and sits on my lap, and tells me whatever little bits of her day she wants to talk about.

In fact, she's coming home right now. I've been instructed today (by Miss Grace, herself) to meet her half way up the street, so I better go!