Monday, May 2, 2016

Spring Cleaning in the Garden

Spring arrived several weeks ago, and we have been hard at work improving our neglected gardens.

I realize my recent posts have been rather gloomy so decided to share some pictures of flowers.  It's impossible to be gloomy with flower pictures!

The first picture is not actually my garden.  This is a neighbor's tree whose branches hang over the fence.  I am happy for the beautiful "intrusion".

I believe the original owner of our home must have had the property beautifully landscaped, as there are winding paths and terraces.  Unfortunately,  subsequent owners didn't maintain things so when we purchased the property some areas were overgrown while others were bare dirt.  I say "we" have been working hard on it but, to be honest, my husband has done the lion's share of the work.  He spent hours pulling some ivy near the foundation of the house. It was unsightly and, more importantly,  it provided great cover for mice.  (He found 7 mouse nests in the ivy!) There is another, larger area of ivy that needs to be removed but that has to wait until another day.

The picture below is part of a terraced slope.  There are 2 lovely types of thyme on the slope.  One is lemon thyme which I ADORE - if you step on it or clip it the scent of lemon fills the air.  The other blooms for months with lovely purple flowers.  Last summer it was buzzing with honey bees.  Makes me think I should learn to be a beekeeper!  Last year the thyme was surrounded by bare dirt but this year we have covered all of the bare areas with mulch which improves the look quite a bit.

We have also been adding flowers.  Last year I planted 2 clematis.   One is doing quite well this year, while the other is limping along.

This is a branch my husband cut off of the neighbors tree so that I could use it in a vase.

Perhaps you can see some of the flowers I've planted:  creeping phlox,  rock cress and wave petunias.  The upper terrace has been mulched but we haven't finished the lower terrace yet.  Doesn't the mulched terrace look so much nicer?

That's all for now.  Happy spring!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Looking for Perfection

My idea of fun/relaxation is making cards. This past week I made a set of 8 to give as a gift, and I was pleased with how they turned out.  Here are a few of them:

This was my absolute favorite:

And I liked this:

But now I am in the midst of a dilemma.   My Dad's birthday is this week and I am fairly (but not entirely)  certain this will be his last birthday.   I so badly want to make him a perfect card.  It's important to me.  But I greatly struggle with making masculine cards.  I made the card below for him, but it is miles from perfect.  It made me cry.  I have time to try again, but I fear I will fail.

I know perfection is an unreasonable expectation, but I hope I can at least create something I am pleased with.  I know Dad will appreciate anything because he's my Dad, but for some reason I need to be unashamed of this, his last birthday card.  So, yes, I am looking for perfection.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Crazy, busy, hard, sad

We've had Forrest, a miniature Schnauzer, for 3-1/2 years.  He is the perfect dog for us.  Some time ago I began to think a second dog would be fun so from time to time I looked at our local animal shelter.  One month ago we found an adorable little guy who we thought would be a wonderful addition to our family.  We brought him home and named him Pluto and we all sort of fell in love.  Crazy.

Two weeks later I was at a friend's house when I received a call from a nurse regarding my Dad.  "...blah, blah, blah, might be cancer...".  I hung up and within moments the phone rang again.  It was my Mother-in-law calling from the emergency room where she seemed to be having a heart attack.  Two days later she was having open-heart surgery and plans were being made for her to recuperate at our home.  Currently she and her best friend are staying here.  And I've accompanied my Dad to the doctor and my brother took him to the hospital for a biopsy and next week we 3 will see the doctor again for results.  Meanwhile,  I was trying to housebreak Pluto.  Busy.

It became clear I couldn't do all of these things simultaneously,  and so the puppy, dear sweet Pluto, had to be returned.   Hard.

The day we went to meet Pluto I felt a prompting to pray but I ignored it.  The day I returned him I wondered in anguish how I had messed things up so badly and a small voice told me I should have prayed.  God knew about the crazy that was coming my way and if I would have "waited on the Lord" before making a decision my family could have been spared this sadness.  Sad.

I miss Pluto.  I doubt my kids would ever believe me, but I'm pretty sure I miss him more than they do.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight oh Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. " Psalm 19:14

Lately I've been thinking often about some relationship issues I have.  I am shocked by the nearly continual stream of ugly thoughts that I find in my head.  I am countering the thoughts by repeating this verse to myself.  I am slightly encouraged by something a pastor once said: you can't stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can prevent it from making a nest in your hair.  The thoughts come without any effort but getting rid of them is taking considerable effort!  I am thankful for God's Word, which is always available to help me.

And now, a picture of progress in my craft room:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Changes are coming

This is a room in the process of becoming my craft room.  It was painted 4 colors, all of them horrid, and had ugly carpeting.  Last week I painted every inch - wall, ceiling, trim and built in shelves - just plain white.  Today the carpet was taken up and tomorrow laminate floors will go down.  Then a whole host of things will be installed and finally I will have a wonderful craft room.  I am so excited!  I'll have to try to remember to post pictures as things progress.

Monday, January 18, 2016

En Garde!

Ethan has long had a fascination with swords and sword-like implements.  From wrapping paper rolls to plastic light sabres to daggers and samurai swords, if he can swing it he loves it.  So 3 years ago, when we were set to arrive in Boise at the beginning of summer, I was happy to find a fencing class to help fill the long days.

Sometime last year the man who taught that summer class started the first fencing club in Boise.  Ethan was one of the first students which was nice because for a time he basically received one-on-one lessons.

Ethan is now at the point of attending competitions and this past weekend the entire family travelled to a competition in another state.  The competition did not go well for Ethan. I believe he decided early on that he could not win therefore he didn't.

The experience woke me up.  My parenting style seems to be opposite of most these days.  I would say I take a hands-off, sink-or-swim approach to everything including fencing.  I am the driver and the check writer.   Beyond that I thought I could be Ethan's head cheerleader, but this weekend showed me that I need to be more.  I know nothing of the rules of fencing therefore I am incapable of offering any advice.

Eric and I struggled with the fact that Ethan's coach was not present.  It meant Ethan was on his own out on the fencing strip while his opponents had coaches encouraging and instructing. Ethan is smart and strong and I believe fencing is the perfect sport for him, but he is also driven which results in him not being okay with anything less than 100%, first place, the best.  I could not convince him that there was great value in the experience,  that it's not about winning. At the end of the competition we were all frustrated and crabby.  I badly wished his coach was there to help, but I realized that I am going to have to step up and learn some things because I don't know how often a coach will be around.  So today I begin the process of educating myself in the sport of fencing.

En garde!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Attitude of Gratitude

Because I believe every blog post should include a photo, I'm including this picture of one of my poinsettias.  My kids' school sells them every year as a fundraiser.   This was my first year remembering to order them and I must say they are the most beautiful poinsettias I've ever seen.  I will definitely be ordering again next Christmas!

As I write it is a little past 3 a.m.  This blog was born a number of years ago when I frequently found myself unable to sleep.  I seem to be in another of those sleepless patterns so perhaps I will use the time to write again.   On this particular night night I have little choice of activities as I am away from home in a hotel with my family.  

As I sit in the quiet my thoughts go to a recent Facebook post from a faraway friend.   She is going to be speaking to a group on the topic of gratitude.   The phrase "attitude of gratitude" is circling in my brain; my friend mentioned it as a practice.   I am wondering how my life (and the lives of those around me) would change if I would adopt such an attitude.   It seems quite obvious that we would all be changed for the better.

Immediately I am able to think of so much to be grateful for.   So what if I cannot sleep! I'm sitting in a warm hotel room; I enjoyed an abundant dinner last night; my family is healthy.  These simple thoughts easily and immediately spiral to so many things I have to be grateful for!

Also on Facebook, a friend shared a writing from another friend who had recently left her youngest child at college.  It was a very moving piece about the sadness of no more children at home.  That day is still future for me but I do know that it will arrive all too quickly.  Thinking of this allowed me to be grateful for my children even when they were needing a referee earlier.

My first taste of practicing gratitude is shockingly easy and oh-so-pleasant.   This could and should be a wonderful new beginning!