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Archive for the ‘Family Fun’ Category

Happy summer!  As my friends who’ve been reading for awhile know, summer and fall are pretty much tied for my favorite season.  Fall might have a slight edge, but there’s just something to be said for that magical perfect summer of long warm nights, campfires, lightning bugs, mountaintops, cookouts, and messing about in boats.  Because those are the ingredients for the perfect season, right?  I could go on and on forever about all of the things I love about summer, and all of the fun stuff I hope to do – but let’s just get to the list.

  • The BIG one!  Take a family vacation to C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A.  (Tickets are booked, but the rest of the planning looms.)
  • Go adventuring on the water.  I’ve got some ideas: whale-watching for one, and a kayak tour of the sea caves at Channel Islands National Park for another.
  • Make a homemade tomato tart using tomatoes and herbs that I grow in my garden.  (I’ve planted eight tomato plants.  Something has got to grow.)
  • Visit my parents and get in some quality time with family friends, and spend a day at the lake.
  • Same trip: bag another Adirondack high peak (or two?).
  • Re-read Jane of Lantern Hill, which will always be a summer book for me.
  • Take another trip to Little Washington and eat at the Inn, thanks to an incredibly generous gift certificate from the world’s sweetest mother-in-law.
  • Take the kids for bike rides on the Mount Vernon Trail.  (There are a few things that have to happen for me to do this – a tune-up for Blue and Steve’s bike, locating the bike rack – maybe – and helmets for the kids.)
  • Buy a GoPro.  I’ve been wanting one for ages and it’s time to take the plunge – plus we’ll need it for all these adventures.
  • Spend a weekend on Virginia Beach with my dear friend Rebecca and her family.
  • Keep up the Saturday walks to the farmers’ market and do some baking with seasonal fruit.

I could continue, but that’s eleven things and I usually cap it at ten.  I hope that I manage to check all of these items off the list this season!  Summer always brings out the ambitious maximizer in me, but I really want this one to be epic.  I’ve been working insanely hard and dealing with a lot of stress, and I’m craving fresh air and adventures.

What’s on your summer agenda?

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Ready or not, it’s summer!  Longtime readers may recall that summer and fall are pretty much neck-and-neck for my favorite season, so while I’m never jumping with joy at the passage of time, I’m usually at my most chipper when the calendar changes from spring to summer.  Let’s get the fun underway!  With Memorial Day Weekend behind us, summer is officially upon us and it’s time to take one last look at the old spring list before turning attention to sunshine and sand and messing about in boats.  Here’s how the spring shook out.

  • Take the kids to see the cherry blossoms in bloom by the Potomac.  We didn’t actually do this, but I’m going to call it done, because we made it out for several other local flower events – including tulip picking on Easter Sunday and a hike through the Virginia Bluebells on another weekend.  I’d have loved to get them to the cherry blossoms too, but they definitely experienced the glory of spring flowers in northern Virginia.

  • Plant a container garden with Peanut.  (I want to grow tomatoes, herbs and salad greens.  She wants to grow roses.  We’ll probably grow both.)  Check!  Patio garden is underway, things are actually growing, and I’ve only snorted cayenne pepper once.  (#blackthumb #teachablemoment)

  • Get our back patio set up and start grilling and eating outdoors regularly.  This is half done.  The back patio is set up – complete with container garden, sand box, grill and dining table – and we’ve been hanging out and enjoying it plenty.  But we haven’t gotten the grill cleaned up just yet.  It’s on the agenda, and soon, because I refuse to go another warm season without regular al fresco dinners.

  • Re-read Anne of Green Gables (my beautiful new Folio Society edition!).  Done!  This one’s not difficult – I’m always glad to visit with Anne, and especially when I get to do so through the vehicle of a beautiful new clothbound hardcover from Folio Society.  Yes, please!
  • Take at least one adults-only hike – either the Billy Goat Trail in Maryland, or possibly an Adirondack hike?  Didn’t happen, but I have high hopes for the summer!
  • Spring cleaning!  Get the house in order and feeling fresh.  Well, this was never going to get completely done, but I’m crossing it off because we did get the house in order.  The living spaces are all unpacked – finally! – and I’ve deep-cleaned the front porch and done a ton of airing out the house and dusting away the winter.
  • Do another Whole 30 (I’ve already started this).  Done!  I wasn’t as disciplined as I usually am, but it was still a good thing to do.  I’d love to squeeze one more round in before summer wedding season – we’ll see.

  • Go rock-climbing.  Done!  I took a belay certification course at Earth Treks Crystal City in March and had a wonderful time.  I’ve decided to push off the actual test until I have more time to practice the knots, but I’m hoping to get back to the gym for some bouldering in the meantime.  It’s hard to make the time, but I’m always happy when I go.

  • Finally unpack and organize my books.  Done!  Reunited and it feels so GOOD!  It was a family effort, but Steve got my books out from the dusty corner of the basement where the movers inexplicably decided they belonged (grrrrr) and I spent a weekend sorting through them, making a huge pile for donation to the library (since completed) and organizing and shelving the keepers.  I am like that hearts-for-eyes emoji every time I look at my shelves now.
  • Take a weekend getaway somewhere – Chincoteague, maybe?  Or Annapolis?  Or Little Washington again?  Didn’t happen.  A busy spring at work, coupled with a lot of travel on the agenda for summer and fall, had us sticking closer to home.  We’ll make up for it the rest of the year!

All-in-all, I’m really pleased with the way the spring went.  Considering how busy things were at work, and how stressed out we were about some outside-work situations, I’m impressed that we were able to do anything.  We stuck close to home for the most part – the travel that I was hoping for didn’t happen – but around the house and our home base in NoVA, we got a lot done and had a delightful time with all of it.  Spring is usually one of our crazier seasons, between heavy workloads and – in recent years – wrapping up the school year.  So I’m looking forward to a nice long summer full of fun and adventure.

How was your spring?

 

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Switching up the order of posts just a bit – I know that on Monday I told you that I’d have my May reading round-up for you today, and Memorial Day recap on Friday, but there’s one more day in May and I think I’m going to finish a book this evening.  So we’ll do the books on Friday, and instead talk long weekend fun today.  Prepare for a photo bomb!

We had a really nice one!  Unlike last year, we didn’t travel anywhere.  Instead, we opted to stick close to home and find ourselves some local fun.  Saturday morning found us heading out bright and early for Exploration Days, a toddler event at a lavender farm out in Loudoun County.

Exploration Days is an event led by April Schmidt of Nurturing Growth, a family health and wellness organization.  The event welcomed kids ages two to five (with their parents in tow!) to explore Seven Oaks Lavender Farm and learn about some of the plants and insects the call the farm home.

April handed out magnifying glasses to each of the kids and began the tour with the herb garden (which smelled incredible).

Nugget didn’t totally get the magnifying glass concept, but Peanut was way into it.  She spent several minutes looking through her “gold” magnifying class at a swallowtail caterpillar.

April also encouraged the kids to smell some of the herbs – including lemon balm and mint – growing in the raised beds.  Nugget enjoys smelling things, so he liked that part.  Then she led the group (it was just us and one other little girl with her mom) over to a blanket and taught everyone a song about the five senses.

Next, we headed out into the farm, while April continued to point out more interesting plants and insects!  Most of the lavender wasn’t in bloom yet – just one varietal was starting to purple – but the farm is opening officially for the season this weekend, so I think we may give it a week and then head back out there to do some lavender picking.

Even without lavender, the kids enjoyed exploring and running around the fields.  And there were other flowers in bloom!  How gorgeous are these red flowers?  #frontyardgoals.

Next, we sat down at long tables and the kids got the chance to decorate popsicle sticks to use as markers for their own little seeds, which they got to pot and take home.  Nugget had fun decorating the marker (while I hovered over him and repeatedly shouted “Not on the table!”) but he was sort of done with it once it came time to actually plant the seeds.

He dug in the potting mix while Steve helped Peanut fill up her little purple pot, and then April ended up planting a bean for him.

April even kindly added a trip to see the “tractor” (it was a lawn mower, I think?) on to the program, since Nugget talked about tractors the entire time.  He liked the tractor.  He liked the sand box even more, with its fleet of trucks.

They even had activities for Steve!  While Nugget dug in the sand box and Peanut played in the play house with the other little girl, Dad – okay, and Mom – fed the bunnies in the bunny pen.

GAHHHHHH THEY WERE SO CUTE.

(Don’t worry about these bunnies, by the way.  They’re just there for entertainment purposes, and at the end of the season they’ll go home with various farm visitors as pets.  Not food.)

Such a fun morning on the farm!  Thanks to April and Nurturing Growth for the event – we had a great time.  It’s actually rare to see an event that not only welcomes toddlers and preschoolers, but is actually designed for them.  April was fun and engaging with the little ones, didn’t bat an eye when someone (Nugget!) wandered off in the middle of her song, and knew when to cut it off and move on to the next activity before attention spans ran out.  Clearly, she’s got lots of experience with this demographic!  As parents who like to get our kids out and teach them about the world, but find it hard to find weekend events for little ones as young as ours are, we really appreciated April and everything that she arranged for the kids through Exploration Days.

Moving right along!  No weekend is complete without a trip to our favorite playground.  Sunday morning found us on the swings.

And the slide.

And the… steering wheel.

Then Daddy and Peanut joined us, and we made our way down to the river to check out Jones Point, a small NPS-managed park in Old Town (nestled right under the I-395 overpass).

When we moved away, Jones Point was just starting to come back into popularity.  The government did a big refurbishing effort and it’s now beautiful, but even though we live so close, it hadn’t occurred to us to check it out until one of the other dads at Peanut’s school mentioned to Steve that their family had been hanging out at Jones Point a lot recently.

The park occupies a green space down by the river, and there is also a big open area under the 395 overpasses.  It’s quieter than you would expect, and actually really cool to see the big bridges from underneath.  I was sort of skeptical about whether it would seem nice or not, but it did.

Although the overpass area was cool (and would be a great – safe – place to teach a kid to ride a bike, as several families were doing) we didn’t linger there.  Instead, we checked out the map and made our way to our first destination – the playground.  (Yep, second playground of the day.)

Peanut enjoyed it – she’s starting to get really good at climbing, thanks to the playground at school. Not that long ago, Steve or I would have been hovering underneath her, ready to catch her if she got tired and slipped off.  Not anymore!  She totally had it covered.  But this particular playground didn’t really have any equipment that was appropriate for Nugget, or that he could use.  He wandered around looking for something to do, made a run for it a couple of times, and then we left to look for something the whole family could enjoy together.

Like the Jones Point lighthouse.  When Steve suggested visiting Jones Point, I said, “That’s where the lighthouse is, right?”  He didn’t know what I was talking about, but – I was right!

The historic lighthouse is down by the river – and I think it would be really cool to see it from the water, and all lit up.  But seeing it from land, by day, was nice too.

We wandered down to get a closer look and check out the views of National Harbor.

So pretty!  From there, we headed off on a very short hike through the wooded area of Jones Point, and checked out the historic D.C., Maryland and Virginia boundary markers.  Jones Point was such a pretty park, with lots of fun different areas to enjoy.  I predict we’ll be spending a fair amount of time there this summer.

Not many pictures from Memorial Day itself, but – look who we spent it with!  Zan and Paul were in town.  Yay!  Zan joined us late morning, and Paul for lunch.  While we waited for Paul, the kids dragged Zan to their favorite playground and insisted she accompany them onto all the equipment.  She was a good sport!  From there we headed off to check out a Mexican restaurant for lunch, which was good, but not anything really special.  The company was really special, though!  We walked home, put the kids down for nap, and then spent a couple more hours chatting with Zan and Paul out on our back patio while the babies were asleep.  It was such a fun lunch/afternoon with friends that we don’t see nearly enough!

Zan and Paul left to go to a cookout with other friends just as our kids were waking up, so we headed out for more fun, since the weather was so gorgeous.  We tried the playground again, but there was a toy-snatching incident (Nugget’s favorite school bus was grabbed by another kid and I had to chase the kid all over the playground to get it back – his adult didn’t lift a finger to solve the problem, which annoyed me) so I took Nugget home early.  We met up with Dad and Peanut and headed down to the waterfront for some art appreciation (dinosaur and kitty paintings!) and dinner.

All in all, a fun and relaxing Memorial Day weekend with a good mix of kid activities and grown-up friend time.  Can’t beat that!

How was your Memorial Day weekend?

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Well, it’s time for a garden update and I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that the garden seems to be doing reasonably well – or at least, some of it does.  We’ve had a lot of rain recently and it’s making a big difference.

The bad news: to the extent the garden is thriving, it doesn’t seem to be to my credit, and if I decide to get involved with the care of a plant I seem to kill it.  Steve says that if I go against every single one of my natural instincts, I might still have a garden by the end of the season.  How’s that for a vote of confidence?

Flashback:

When I last left you, we’d gotten plants into three pots (which we moved from New York, much to Steve’s chagrin – they are heavy – because I love their colors).  Peanut and I planted lettuces in the big pot, beans in the medium pot and rosemary in the small pot.  We’d jumped the gun just a bit on buying our plants and hit the garden centers before many edibles were ready, with the result being that I had to buy something to avoid a preschooler meltdown.

Fast-forward a few weeks later.  Things were doing reasonably well, and the garden centers had more tomatoes and herbs, so I decided it was time to roll up my sleeves and really dig in.  (#gardenpun).  I visited Lowes and picked up a couple more pots, which I am hoping are big enough for tomatoes.  (Some quick internet research indicated that tomato plants need a fairly large pot for their root systems.)

And that’s when I made my first mess.  I decided to move some plants into pots that were more appropriately sized for them – planting things in the wrong-sized pots was a planning fail to begin with, but see above – I just had to go with it and buy the plants too early, to avoid a preschooler tantrum, and things ended up in poorly sized plants as a result.  Yeah, I suppose I could have put more thought into it in the first place and then I wouldn’t have had these problems.  Well – whatever.

It started out okay.  I moved the rosemary into the medium-sized pot and added some newly acquired parsley and thyme, and planted mint in the small pot (so it could be alone).  But in order to do so, I had to move the beans, and that’s where things started to fall apart.  I tried to untangle the bean plant from the trellis (which was too small) and I ended up killing the poor thing – look how sad it is after I replanted it in the barrel and tried transferring it to the Ultimate Tomato Cage.  Whoops.

Other failures of this iteration of the garden – the lettuce bolted, and someone ate all of the leaves off my purple Thai basil and tormented the poor thing until it gave up the ghost.  I was blaming squirrels (read on) but Steve mentioned he’s also seen some black birds lurking around my pots.  Sounds like I might need a scarecrow.

On to Act III of this little play.  I made yet another trip to the garden center after the weather had warmed up a bit, and picked up more tomatoes and herbs.  I grabbed some more mint to add to my mint pot (now I have a mix of chocolate mint and julep mint in there – yum) and another basil plant to plop in my tomato pots.  The herbs are looking decently well.  We’ve had a ton of rain recently and they’re loving it.

Also looking well – my original tomatoes!  The plants have shot up and I’ve even spotted a few yellow blossoms.  For awhile, the leaves were looking a little brown and sad, but all the recent rain has really helped.  And the beans that Peanut brought home from school, which Steve planted and then I moved.  Why am I so trigger-happy when it comes to moving plants around?  No wonder I have a black thumb.  I need to learn to leave well enough alone.  Thankfully, the beans seem to be happy enough in their new pot, which they’re sharing with some more tomatoes I picked up from the garden center last weekend.  I wanted lettuce, but the garden center was pretty much out, and the few plants they had left looked sort of sad to me.  So I decided – this is going to be a tomato and herb garden this year.  Farmers’ market lettuce for everyone!

A few more tomato plants – I spy lots more yellow blossoms and a few little green fruits!  I totally cheated and bought a couple of plants that already had fruits.  Hey, I’m trying to set myself up for success here.  I bought Rapunzel, Fantastico, and Green Zebra tomatoes in addition to the cherry variety I was already growing.  It’s going to be all tomatoes, all the time this year. 

Bringing me to my second “don’t be like me” tip.  So, remember how I said I thought I was having a squirrel problem?  We do have a lot of squirrels in our neighborhood, and they’re hardcore, bold urban squirrels with no respect for people’s property.  So I googled “how to repel squirrels from garden” and came up with a few tips, including – cayenne pepper.  Apparently, they don’t like the smell.  (Of course, the same website also said they don’t like the smell of mint, and something was digging up my mint plants.  In thinking about it – maybe Steve is right, and the problem is crows, not squirrels.)  Anyway, I decided to give cayenne a try, and on Tuesday morning before I left for a business trip, I traipsed out my back door in my slippers with a jar of cayenne in hand, which I proceeded to sprinkle all over the soil.  It definitely looked intimidating.  Then I thought to myself, “This cayenne is pretty old.  I wonder if it’s potent enough to repel the squirrels.”  I leaned down, took a whiff, and… HOLY $(@*$&%(#(#& IT IS POTENT ENOUGH TO REPEL SQUIRRELS OH GOD #@@)%*@#&$.

Gardening pro tip!  Snorting cayenne pepper hurts like a mofo!  Don’t do it!

And if you don’t know, now you know.

Last thing – while I’m telling you about all this other garden equipment I’ve been acquiring – plants, pots, cayenne pepper… there was one item that has proven to be absolutely necessary.  If I didn’t want that happy little dude to dig up my plants, fling soil around the patio and dump handfuls of gravel over my most delicate herbs – all of which was happening – some sort of distraction was needed.  Enter the sandbox!  I’d been meaning to get one for awhile but was hung up on finding the best safe sand.  I finally found an acceptable option (Sandtastik, for my mom friends who might be in the market) and as for the box itself – well, clearly I had to go for the Fisher Price turtle.  Can’t beat a classic, amirite?  Both kids love it, and more importantly, so far, the sandbox seems to be fulfilling its purpose of distracting Nugget and keeping him out of the garden.  Of course, now every surface in the house and on the patio is covered with a layer of sand.  You can’t win them all.

Gardening friends: have you planted yet?  How’s it going?  Have you also snorted cayenne pepper in an effort to repel squirrels?

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When I think back on the fondest memories I have of my childhood, the vast majority of them took place outdoors.  I could almost convince myself that I lived outdoors as a kid.  Like any active, sporty family, we had our favorite fresh-air pursuits.  While we did our share of hiking, I wouldn’t say that we spent an inordinate amount of time on the trails.  Summer and warm fall days found us, instead, on the water – sailing, canoeing and kayaking, mostly, with occasional motorboat jaunts, and my dad was never far from another spin on his windsurfer.  In the winter, we skied.  Downhill, mainly, but also cross-country just to mix it up.  Hiking was lower on the list, although I think we all enjoyed it.

Now that we’re grown-ups (well…) my brother Dan and I have both become avid hikers – even more than we were.  He’s trekking the Colorado wilderness with his wife, while I’m traversing heritage Virginia rail trails with my family, but we’re both out there, and I am sure that the legacy my parents gave us – the love of nature and the outdoors, the satisfaction of pushing boundaries, and the thrill of adventuring in the wide world – has a lot to do with that.

Just as my brother has his adventure buddy – my dear sister-in-law Danielle – I have mine in Steve.  Some of our earliest dates involved exploring the footpaths and waterfalls around the Cornell campus.  On our third date, we drove out to Buttermilk Falls State Park, where we hiked to the namesake falls and I claimed an enormous pink boulder for France.  It was a fun date, and also an important one, because I don’t know what I would have done if it had turned out that he didn’t like to go outside and play.  As our relationship developed, so did our hiking haunts.  I showed him around my beloved North Campus – taught him to play shoe golf (best game ever) at the Cornell plantations, introduced him to the best bridge-jumping spot (he didn’t jump) and slid with him down miniature waterfalls just upstream.  Of course, you know how the story ends.  We got married, took our hiking farther afield (to England and Scotland!) and eventually, found ourselves with two little trail tots.

I hiked during both pregnancies.  With Peanut, at least until ish got real at the end, I was on the trails most weekends (and inevitably fell asleep in the car on the way home).  I pushed even harder while pregnant with Nugget – sometimes unwittingly.  The picture above?  Snapped by a summit steward atop Cascade Mountain, our first Adirondack high peak, two days into my second pregnancy (and totally oblivious to the stowaway).

^Another family-of-four picture, this one snapped at Letchworth State Park – photo credit to my dear friend Zan.  Nine weeks pregnant and feeling sorry that Nugget had such a boring view while the rest of us enjoyed gorges and waterfalls.

When I think about the childhood I want to give my kids, I think about a childhood like mine – one lived outdoors as much as (maybe more than) in.  I think about fostering a deep respect for the planet, a commitment to protect and preserve our wild spaces and the creatures who share the earth with us.  I think about their sense of wonder, their marveling at the miracle of nature.

And the way I am fostering that appreciation is to give them the gift of a childhood on the trails and on the water.

In a very real sense, Peanut and Nugget are growing up in the woods.  They’ve been living on hiking trails since they were both tiny babies – starting in the Bjorn (Peanut) and the Ergo (Nugget) and eventually graduating to a Deuter KidComfort III and an Osprey Poco Plus, respectively.  Peanut spent her babyhood at Great Falls and Rock Creek Park; Nugget spent his at Knox Farm.  I want both of them to grow up with those same memories – of playing and exploring with their parents – that I did.

I’ll be the first to admit that my wanting to raise my kids outdoors is at least partially selfish.  I love the outdoors, and I dearly miss some of the active pursuits I used to enjoy before the kids came along.  I have been an avid kayaker since I was fifteen, and have had few opportunities to get out and paddle in recent years.  (The four hours I spent cruising around Lake George with my friend Seth last summer just served as a reminder of how much I miss paddling.)  And every winter I mourn all the skiing I’m not doing.  So, yeah, I hope they love this stuff because I love it and I miss it and I cherish the hope of one day paddling Blackwater or Smith Mountain Lake, sailing the Chesapeake, exploring the Blue Ridge, and sliding down the West Virginia ski slopes with them.  And more, and bigger – I want them to know my home mountain range as well as I do.  I want them by my side when I finally explore the national parks of the West.  I want to put my arm around Peanut as we watch the sun rise from a Hawaiian volcano, to high-five Nugget after a day of paddling kayaks and spotting marine life in the Pacific Northwest, to see the wonder on both of their faces during an African safari.  If I have it my way – and Steve has it his way – they’ll grow up as true adventure kids.

They’re little now, and we’re keeping our expectations down.  A short, flat trail sounds about right for our current stage of life.  Bonus points for spotting birdies.  (Relax, Nugget, Great Blue Herons don’t eat little boys.)  Next summer, we might be down to just Nugget in a backpack, while Peanut runs alongside us with her own little pack.  Before I know it, they’ll be paddling and sailing and skiing with us.

I’m doing my best to enjoy each moment as it comes.  To cherish the memories we make now, and not to get too hung up on the stuff that we used to do, that’s beyond our capabilities at the moment.  I’m taking grown-up adventures as they come, and not sweating it if the biggest adventure on a weekend hike is a diaper changed trailside.  Because I know that it’s just a few tomorrows until they can keep up with me and be true adventure buddies – if I haven’t ruined the whole experience by placing too many expectations on them too soon.  And I also know that the memories they are making on these trails – even now, at four and two – are setting them up for a lifetime of adventure in the great big world, and I hope that someday they look back on our family hikes as a cherished gift, and a gift that they’ll pass on to their own children.

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Going to pick-your-own farms is one of my favorite family activities – fresh air, the chance to play farmer, and a basket of goodies at the end; what’s not to love?  Over the past few years Steve and I have taken the kids on excursions to pick apples, blueberries, and strawberries at various places and times.  But for some reason, pick-your-own flowers were never on my radar until recently.  That changed when I read Novadventuring‘s guide to all things summer in northern Virginia, and the list of pick-your-own flower farms caught my attention as a perfect outing for a certain flower-obsessed little girl.

A little follow-up research clued me in to Burnside Farms and their annual “Holland in Haymarket” event – millions of tulip bulbs planted together in a riot of color.  How could we miss out on that?

Can we start picking now, Mom?

The boys joined us for a few minutes, but then wandered off to do man things like slide down the super slide and jump in the bounce house.

Peanut, meanwhile, was all business.  She actually struggled a bit with picking the tulips because you are supposed to pick them a certain way – close to the ground – which was hard for her to remember.  But I think she still had a good time.

 

This was definitely a popular destination.  The farm is open for walk-up tulip picking during the week, but since we went on a weekend – Easter Sunday, actually – I had to purchase tickets in advance.  One of these years, maybe, I’ll take a day off work and bring the kids out mid-week when we can have the place all to ourselves.  But this worked for now!

What a fabulous event – a perfect day to pick beautiful flowers with my little tulip.  We’ll definitely be back for the Summer of Sunflowers at Burnside, and we’ll be checking out the lavender fields at other area farms this spring.  Now that I have realized that pick-your-own flower farms are a thing that exists (and how did that never occur to me?) I can’t get enough!

 

 

After we’d filled our basket, we headed to the processing and checkout area and discovered one more surprise waiting for us there —

BABY CHICKS AND DUCKS.

They were the sweetest, darlingest, preciousest, cutest balls of fluff.  Joey-and-Chandler jokes were made.

Goodbye for now, Burnside Farms!  Thanks for the sunshine and the beautiful bouquet.  We’ll see you in July for the sunflowers!

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It’s only April, and already the garden has been a bit of a comedy of errors – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Peanut and I were both chomping at the bit to start our garden this year.  We planted a garden two springs ago, as a fun way to get in some one-on-one mother/daughter time with a new baby in the house.  It was fun, and we got a decent amount of food out of it – quite a few salads and lots of herbs, although the tomatoes struggled and then were all eaten by backyard pests once they’d finally sprouted.  Last spring, we were living in temporary housing while we planned our move back home, and planting a garden – even a container garden – just wasn’t in the cards.  Peanut didn’t say much about it, but I know she was disappointed.  So this year, she was doubly excited when I asked her if she wanted to garden with Mommy again.

As soon as the calendar turned to March, she started begging to get plants for the garden.  I wasn’t sure when would be the right time, so I did a little research and concluded that by mid-March, if the weather was looking good, we should be fine to get plants into pots.  Clearly, I was wrong, because we visited multiple nurseries in search of tomatoes, basil, etc. – and everyone looked at me as if I’d sprouted another head when I asked where the edible plants were.  We finally found a few things – some sugar snap peas, cold weather lettuce, and rosemary – at Holly, Woods & Vines down by our old house.  I snapped them up because if we left another greenhouse empty handed, Peanut was going to lose her mind.  We’ll supplement in a little bit, when the warmer weather plants are out.  (Please ignore the pink-haired mermaid photobomb above.)

We got home and got ready to plant.  Steve had nicely prepared the pots earlier in the week, setting them out in the sunniest spot on our back patio and filling them with mulch and then topsoil.  My little gardener and her mermaid were ready to get their hands dirty!

Since the plants we came home with weren’t the plants I was intending to come home with, I did some fast thinking about what should go where.  First thing into the soil was rosemary – the only herb available so early in the season – in the smallest pot.

(Don’t mind the big red splotch on Peanut’s fleece.  That’s her school jacket and it has the school crest embroidered on it.  It was hard to see in pictures but still, I don’t plan to announce to the entire internet where my kid can be found during the day.  Since my photo-editing skills are basically limited to zoom, crop and Instagram, it’s totally obvious that I scribbled over it in red “paint” – but whatever, it does the trick, right?)

Rosemary planted, it was time for the lettuce to go into the big pot.  It’s already pretty much doubled in size since we planted – we’ve had so much rain!  Can’t wait to start eating some backyard salads again.

Last pot – sugar snap peas.  I had no plans to plant peas, but like I said, we had to get something or Peanut would have lost it.  Now that we have them, I’m enjoying watching them curl their little tendrils up the tomato cage, and I hope that we get to enjoy some fresh peas all season long!

And – that’s it for now!  We gave everything a quick “welcome home” water with our new orange watering can and have just been having fun watching things grow and change ever since.  We might need to add a planter once we’re ready for tomatoes, but all in good time.

Anyone else get a ridiculously early start on planting this year?

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