Monday, March 19, 2012

Lily of the Valley

Although the left side of my house receives a tremendous amount of sunlight, the other is shrouded in shade. It's also a little hidden from view by the large rhododendron bush on that side, which is largely the reason why so far it has been sadly neglected in my gardening zeal. I've had a plan for a while percolating in the recesses of my brain to fill the area with lily of the valley, one of my favorite flowers. Its delicate plumage and intoxicating fragrance need lots of shade and moisture, so I'm pretty sure it will thrive on the right side of the house. Today I ordered a pack of 20 lily of the valley plants to begin to give it the attention it needs.

Spring has come so early to the Philly area this year. I don't ever remember things blooming this early or experiencing consistent 60-70 degree weather in March. It's given me a real case of gardener's fever. All I want to do is plan and plant. I have to restrain myself though because I know we could still experience a frost for another 3-4 weeks. No matter, the true start of spring is tomorrow and my garden is already a-bloom with daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. Just wait until you see my hyacinth garden. I'm going to post a picture tomorrow. It's breathtaking.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garden update: In 7 days the heirloom tomatoes (center) and cherry tomatoes (right) have sprouted. I could hardly contain my glee this morning when I checked.

Lavender has also sprouted.

This photo was just amazing to me. It's a seed that has just started to unfurl and looks a bit like a fuzzy caterpillar. Planting is such a cool process.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Monster for Real

The other day while driving in the car, Genevie called out from the backseat, "Mom, I just saw something for real. It was a monster!" surprise and fear evident in her voice. I knew immediately what she saw. We had just driven past a Liberty Tax location, which at this time of year invariably has a poor soul dressed in a really freaky looking Statue of Liberty costume complete with grotesque mask trying to drum up business. But I agree with Genevie. The mascot is more of a deterrent than an inducement. They should be called Monster Tax.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's Up, Dude

Any time we honk the horn, you will invariably hear a pint-size voice from the back shout indignantly, "What's up, dude?!?"

I have no idea where she got that rejoinder.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Starting from Scratch

Yesterday I started my garden the old fashioned way -- by sprouting seeds. I've never done this before. Last year's garden was cultivated from plants bought at Home Depot.

This year I wanted to challenge myself and try growing the vegetables that have to be started indoors, such as tomatoes and peppers, all by myself. I bought a Burpee seed starting kit and an ambitious number of seed packets, both those that need to be started indoors as well as direct sow plants for when the warm weather hits.

To do it this way, you have to start early enough to allow for adequate germination before transplanting outdoors, so for our planting zone, this is the ideal time to start. The seeds above are sweet pepper seeds.

I'm sprouting heirloom tomatoes,

red bell peppers,

big boy tomatoes,


cherry tomatoes,

and lavender to augment my herb garden. Incidentally, my rosemary, thyme, oregano, and chives all survived the winter. I'm going to try growing cilantro from seed once it gets warm enough. Then all I need to add is basil and parsley, perhaps some mint or lemon balm.

This self-watering seed starting kit couldn't be easier. Once the dehydrated discs were soaked and the seeds planted, I popped on the plastic top, set it in a sunny spot (like our basement steps), and watched the greenhouse effect in action. The plastic immediately fogged up with warm, humid air. So here's to a successful and bountiful growing season. The tomatoes should start sprouting in 7-10 days, so you can expect an update then.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Genevie Is 3

It doesn't seem possible that my baby is already three, and yet so she is. I look at her long her and her even longer vocabulary and see a complete transformation from the little peanut she was the day she was born to now. But there is no sadness for me. It is all amazement as her personality blossoms and develops. She is quite the character and becoming my little sidekick.

Genevie loves brownies so that's what she got for her cake this year.

This year she was so aware that it was her birthday and knew exactly what was expected of her -- probably because we just did it twice in the past couple of weeks.

She opened her presents with enthusiasm...

...and massive smiles.

All done.

Up Close and Personal

The window feeder is getting a lot of action lately. In fact, we are having to refill it every few days. In this photo I somehow captured the one and only starling I have seen try this little feeder. It was way too large and had to clutch the sides with its feet.

This photo is completely priceless for a point and shoot, I think. I somehow managed to capture the male house finch in flight with all the motion of its wings without its face becoming blurred.

I just love how close I can get to the birds while they feed and truly marvel at their beauty.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Snaggle No More

Look who lost a front tooth! Now I guess I can't call him Snaggle anymore. Drat. I was really growing fond of that moniker.


Monday I took both boys to their well visits with our new pediatrician. It was all fairly uneventful until we got to Davis's vaccinations. I hadn't warned him he would be getting any and had casually brushed off the pre-visit inquiries with vague we'll-have-to-see's despite the fact that I knew he was due for his last round of shots for a while. The last time he got a shot, his flu vaccination back in the fall, he took it like a wounded animal. He was far more upset about the fact that I would let this happen to him than he was about the stick itself. Given that history, I was reluctant to work him up prior to the actual shots, opting instead to keep the atmosphere light and fun.

But it was inevitable, and sadly he had to get three. He never cries outright, like his older brother would. Instead he makes these heart-rending animal noises in his throat that make him sound like an injured puppy. Afterwards, as I rocked him and cooed to him, I told him about how brave he was as a baby in Aberdeen when he would get his "sticks", as they call them there. He would hardly cry and settle right down afterwards. They love to hear these stories from the past, and I love to tell them.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yellow Tulips

How I love this time of year. Even though the trees are completely stripped and devoid of all signs of life, if you look closely, you can see the early swell and bud of pre-spring promise. My lilac bush is covered in red buds. All of my bulbs are up and some are even open, including a white hyacinth and one lonely daffodil that Genevie promptly plucked from its perky stem. It makes my heart so happy to see the earth coming alive again and I begin to make plans for this year's garden and flower beds.

I got these tulips last Sunday at a local discount produce store. At the counter, the man who rang me up said, "What are those?" "Tulips!" I told him. He laughed and said, "I've been working here for over a year, and I don't know any of those plants." I had to restrain myself from launching into an impromptu flora lecture. In just under a week their yellow flowers peeked out. Imagine my complete delight at discovering they are yellow. There is nothing cheerier than yellow tulips. This past autumn I planted two bags of purple tulips to accompany the red ones I already had in my beds. I can't wait to add these yellow ones to the mix.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Addison Is 7

Well, we've made it through 2 of 3 celebrations this crazy birthday season, and now Addison is 7. As the day dawned, it struck me as supremely impossible that my oldest child was now 7. Somehow that sounded so much older than 6 and given how vividly I can remember the ride to the hospital that February 22, 2005, to be induced with him -- 5 days late -- right down to the clothes I was wearing and the silent, nervous tears I shed, it seems like it should be just a few months ago, not 7 years.


Addison's birthday fell mid-week this year, so we did a mini celebration that night with Chick-fil-a and brownies and presents. His proper kid party was scheduled for Saturday.

For his party, I ordered a Cars 2 cake. He invited a handful of school friends to join him for a viewing of Cars 2 on our new TV.

Lightening McQueen pinata and party bags for the guests.

Needless to say, Addison was mighty excited. This was his first proper kid party since the big bash we threw when he turned one, which obviously he does not remember.

Addison took this photo of Davis while we were preparing for the guests to arrive, and it just cracks me up.

Believe it not, Davis took this one. I love itty-bitty sister cuddled up to big bro.

Everybody watching the movie.

The new flat screen which we're loving. We haven't owned a TV since we moved to Aberdeen back in 2006. It's a 3D TV which is so cool!

Waiting for cake.

Opening presents. It was a great party for Addison but Trey and I were completely wiped out afterwards. I think we underestimated the exponential energy of seven 7 year olds, mostly boys.