Friday, July 25, 2014

Ordinary Days and our Fourth of July

"After all,' Anne said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."
Anne of Avonlea
Lucy Maud Montogomery

These are ordinary days. Ordinary summer days... when we spend a lot of time out in our yard, playing in the sandbox, walking up and down our road between our house and "the farm", playing at the park, and doing a whole lot of just living. Whenever we go somewhere or do something really fun, I end up with hundreds of photos from the day or event. I love to capture the essence of an adventure or a feeling in photographs, but it takes a lot of photos to really tell the story, and honestly, I don't have a lot of time for pulling the story together at the end of the day for sharing. I still take a lot of pictures because I do want to recount some of these experiences for the kids when they're older and they don't remember.
However, Sarah at Memories on Clover Lane is always reminding me to really appreciate the ordinary days, to live in the moments and soak up the ordinary.
Jenny's Story reminds me how quickly the years go by and how precious these summer days with my kids are. We've been having lots of fun this summer, but mostly, we've been living in the ordinary. It's good. It's front-porch sitting, cold beer drinking, sparklers at dusk, bug spray and sunscreen, kiddie pools and playtime with cousins.
Addison watches the farm cats from her perch on
the bench next to the old dairy barn.

Playing in the grass next to the barn.
Walking in the park with Grandpa Jennings on Fourth of July.
We drove down along the Mississippi and enjoyed a picnic at
one of the beautiful bluff-top parks overlooking the town of Red Wing, MN.

 The granary on the farm got a fresh coat of paint last year.

My handsome boys

There's nothing like a sweet, juicy summer peach on a hot day!
Celebrating Fourth of July with Grandma and Grandpa Jennings, high above the mighty Mississippi up on top of the river bluffs.
 Farm cats, farm cats, everywhere.
This little princess has a litter of kittens that are about 7 weeks old
and Gavin has been preparing to bring one down the road to our house.
He has a place all set up for it and has even made
pipe-cleaner toys for it.   

 Feeding Grandma's chickens at the farm.
Pretty chickens, even if they're a little blurry.

My beautiful disastrous neglected wildflower garden. One of my
favorite views even though it's full of elm trees, burdock, and foxtail grass.
Far taller than knee-high
on this beautiful Fourth of July!
So glad our corn is looking so good!

Gavin brought the wagon up to the farm to pick up the kitty crate so he can start preparing a safe place for a new kitty.

TRYING to pull Dad down the road.

The kids took this job very seriously and scrubbed and hosed
down that kitty crate with great determination. 

Kids were feeling a little under the weather this Fourth of July, and we
really enjoyed this lower-key way of celebrating with a
small picnic at the park and some sparklers in our front yard.

LOVE these ordinary days.


Monday, July 7, 2014

These two


These two. They fill my heart. They are sunshine and stars, they are twinkling fireflies on a summer night and warm snuggles on a cold and dreary day.
They fill my soul with love
(and yes, frustration, helplessness, worry, and tears sometimes too)

We've never had either of the kids professionally photographed and it has always been a bit of a sore spot between Cliff and me. I want to have their photos taken professionally and Cliff doesn't think we need to spend the money on that because we have the ability to take photos on our own. I take a LOT of photos, probably too many photos. But I just love taking their pictures. I love the way a good photo or series of photos brings a memory streaming back. I have lots of pictures of the kids doing things, spending time with people we care about. I wanted some pictures to print and display at home, so a few weeks ago I asked Cliff to help me take the kids pictures. We agreed we'd do it that weekend. Friday came and I honestly forgot about the photo-taking. Cliff was working on the farm and the kids and I had been outside playing most of the day. He came home around 5:00 that evening and said "If you want to do those pictures, let's do them now. We have a half-hour."
So, in exactly 30 minutes, we washed the kids faces, slipped off their dirty clothes and got them into clean ones, pulled one of our patio chairs into the shade in the front yard, and snapped about 200 pictures. There were about 190 out-takes and 10 good ones.
Gavin actually snapped a hilarious sequence of me and Cliff as we were trying to set-up the family shots. He even photo-bombed a picture or two of us. Funny kid.

These few below just make me laugh because they show a bit more of the kids' silly personalities.  


 My favorite little foursome.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's Summer, Folks!

It's June 24th. Yep, June 24th. Firefly season. If you scroll down just a bit, you'll see that my last "live" post on this blog was April 24th, two whole months ago! April was practically winter compared to what we have going on now, which is steaming hot sunshine with rain and thunderstorms thrown in every day. Now, don't you go thinking that I have just been sitting around daydreaming - although I am a dreamer - and not writing or taking photos... nope! I have seven posts in draft form and just never quite got around to clicking that "publish" button. Why? Oh, I was waiting for a photo from a friend to add to the post, or I wasn't sure it was something anyone wanted to read about, or I got pulled away mid-post and when I came back to it later wasn't in the same mood or it didn't make sense anymore... lots of reasons. The biggest reason, however, is that I wasn't finished selecting photos. This is my problem. I take thousands of photos - hundreds a month, sometimes hundreds a day. Then I have this unnatural need to keep them ALL, but only want to post the great ones. So, I spend countless hours during my "night off" sitting at my computer sifting through those photos and determining which ones are the best for telling the whole story (scrapbook or blog), which are the ones I might want to print and frame to hang in the house, which ones are the clearest of the kids faces, etc. and trying to mark the best ones for use. Then I never finish that task and therefor, never publish a post, or complete a scrapbook page, or print and frame anything. Poo.

But, we've been having fun! and we've been taking photos! Here are just a few things going on...

Gavin is taking gymnastics class again this summer and is also in soccer. He loves soccer and he likes gymnastics so far. I think he'll really start loving gymnastics when he gets to do more skill practice and less tumbling. I already see how much he likes it this year compared to last year as we're going to the gymnastics club this year as opposed to the park & rec gymnastics. Archery starts up again in a couple of weeks too and then swimming lessons. He'll be a busy boy! That's okay though, because those are all evening activities (or Saturday morning) and he is generally at home all day, so it's really his only opportunity to get out and be social. Both kids are home with a sitter on Mondays, at my sister's house on Tuesdays and then home with another sitter on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so getting out of the house (and off the farm) is good for them!

Cliff's Archery season has ended and he picked right up with Sporting Clays again. He's also been enjoying lots of late-night bowfishing with friends. His bowfishing is my scrapbooking - our one night a week (or every couple of weeks) that we stay up (or out) way later than any responsible parent should hanging out with a friend or two, catching up, and doing something fun.

My six weeks of beginner guitar lessons have just ended and I'm not able to register for the next six week session because it conflicts with Gavin's archery. Even if Cliff takes Gavin to archery, someone needs to have Addison because taking her to archery isn't an option at this time. I'm a little sad that I can't continue with guitar right now, but hope to sign up for the next session in another month and a half or so. So far I can play the first two or three measures of about 15 different rock songs, and that's it. Can't even pluck out kumbaya yet! My goal is to learn to play one our family's favorite songs, "Can You Canoe" by the Okee Dokee Brothers by October. I have this vision of sitting around the campfire in our back yard playing this song and my kids running around stabbing each other with marshmallow roasting forks  catching fireflies. I know that by October the fireflies will be long gone, but fall is really the perfect time for roasting marshmallows and sitting around a fire.

Can You Canoe?

Along with all of our "daily" activities and work and the farm, we've managed to fit in several really fun little adventures along the way too! Just for example...  here's a very brief recap of one recent weekend, and this was one weekend that Cliff just happened to be out of town (bowfishing), so the fact that we did anything fun at all is even more incredible.


Thursday evening after work - Gavin's first gymnastics class of the season = fun!

Dairy Queen ice cream cones on the way home = mess!

Friday: Spent the day at one of our favorite local State Parks with my sister and her kids and our good friend Carrie. We hiked, explored, had a picnic lunch, played in the water, caught a couple of snakes... you know - regular state park stuff.

Then in afternoon after our park visit, the kids got to hang out with a favorite babysitter while my girlfriend and I went out for the most fabulous late lunch and drinks on the patio of one of our favorite summer lunch spots overlooking the river. We shared the most delightful Brie Cheese Curds with Lingonberry Sauce and a White Truffle and Wild Mushroom Flatbread along with a fancy blue ginger beer concoction.

After lunch and a tiny bit of shopping, we went home and picked up Gavin and took him the truck & tractor pull that was happening in our town that night.  We ran into a friend of his there and a few friends of ours as well.

Saturday morning we took Gavin to his first session of summer soccer and he had so much fun. It was freezing cold and rainy, so those of us watching were just trying to stay warm, but the kids sure had fun! 

After soccer we went out for lunch before heading back home for a rainy afternoon snuggled up with a movie. Our friend Carrie left Saturday afternoon after watching a movie and Cliff got back in town a couple of hours later and we still had all day Sunday left! Cliff and I sat out on the screen porch and listened to the rain, shared some wine, and caught up with each other a bit!  On Sunday morning the kids and I got up and made scones for Cliff for Fathers Day. We had a quiet day at home and then had both sets of Grandparents over for an awesome dinner of smoked ribs, mashed potatoes, pasta salad, green salad, and watermelon. It was a perfect evening and a perfect ending to a great weekend! 

...and that was just ONE weekend!