Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lately















Summer, so far.

The small Bears have finished their first two-week session of swimming lessons. I can't believe it! They'll go back for another session in mid-July. They both passed their levels with flying colors so they should be able to go into the next level when we go back. I spent the time at the pool under a big pine tree, like I do every summer. It's shady and cool, situated on a small hill above the road. There are some good breezes. It's not very quiet, since it overlooks a busy road, but I enjoy myself. I sit on a towel and read. It's thirty-five minutes of relaxation; someone else is entertaining the children. I brought the really lovely cookbook/memoir 66 Square Feet by Marie Viljoen with me most days; her writing is beautifully evocative and the recipes look fantastic, as are her husband's photos taken around New York City and on their own gorgeous terrace and roof garden. It's one of those books you want to read just a little at a time, to really savor and reflect on everything you just took in. I've also been reading Mermaid by Eileen Cronin, a poignant and tough memoir about the author's life as a victim of Thalidomide. Absolutely excellent too.

I haven't crafted all that much this summer. I think I'm just feeling distracted. The kids are getting older but somehow needier lately; I think they're more easily bored this summer. I've been finding myself putting down projects after just a few minutes to settle an argument, find more art supplies, wipe up spills...they're getting bigger, older and busier. I need to encourage more independence so I can take the time for myself again. I miss it. I have been crocheting most days - I work on the flowery circles during our daily audiobook time and I work on the ripple throw (a gift for my in-laws) in the evenings. But I really want to sit at the sewing machine more often, and I have some embroidery and crewel projects I want to work on too. It's just a phase, I keep reminding myself. When the really hot part of summer is past, they'll want to play in the backyard more and I'll have a little more quiet and solitude then. For now, I do my best to work a little here and there, in the interstices between sudden and urgent neediness, the moods and the moments of crisis - real or imagined - in our long summer days.

I'm still in a positive frame of mind about cooking. I made marinated, grilled vegetables this past Sunday, which we ate with grilled steak and simple buttered couscous. The vegetables were so delicious. I can't wait to make them again. I used sliced eggplant, zucchini spears and sliced red bell pepper. I wish I could say I made some fabulous marinade recipe from scratch, but no. I put it all in a plastic bag with some bottled Italian salad dressing and left it in the fridge for the afternoon, then grilled it all briefly while the meat cooked. So delicious. Next time, I might add yellow squash or just more peppers. Tomorrow, Father's Day, is a big cooking day for both me and the Bear; we're making smoked ribs for his father. I'm making my doctored-up baked beans, starting with canned baked beans and fancifying them from there. I love baked beans. They're fine plain, as they are from the can, but it's easy to make them even better. Oh, and we're having grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream for dessert! Happy Father's Day to us! (And all of you).

Other things we've been up to include: burning hedge-debris in the backyard (and watching the fire intently, if you're small and not allowed to get too close), riding bikes all over the neighborhood, playing with friends (and their moms; we need playdates too), making pizza, baking cookies, watching nature shows on Netflix (when children are present) and watching Derek on Netflix (when they are not), trying to keep math and reading skills sharp over the summer, trying to improve everyone's handwriting (or at least not let it get any worse), picking astonishingly sour plums from our trees, waiting for my friend's delicious apricots to ripen so I can "take them off her hands." Summer is pretty okay so far.

41 comments:

  1. The pictures show a happy, cozy type summer! I love that tree shot!

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  2. So sweet, the photos of the little bears.....

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  3. What a lovely post, and beautiful photo's. The grilled veg sound lovely, just my sort of food. Both the books you are reading sound interesting and your crochet is so pretty.

    I found that as children get older they become less physical hard work, carrying, dressing etc, and more emotionally hard work, teenage tantrums and worrying about them when you have to give them their independence.

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  4. Sounds a lot like my summer so far! The swim lessons sound like such a fantastic part of your day! And those books sound excellent! We have swim lessons as well but only one bean out of the three is swimming! Your shots are so pretty friend....just look at that garden! I do hope you find time for your making soon! A wonderful Father's Day celebration to your family tomorrow!!! Nicole xo

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  5. You really have such a gift for writing, and along with your beautiful pics this post makes me feel a part of your lovely "summer so far". Keep creating memories and enjoying your family time together,
    Happy Father's Day to your men, and enjoy that delicious meal!
    Hugs xx

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  6. Well, this sounds like the most delightful summer Jennifer, and I do love your photos. The small bears are so cute and growing up fast! I know you love sitting under that tree to read whilst waiting for their swimming lessons to finish, I hope you have not encountered any negative talk this time as I know it was a bit of a problem in the past with other mums. I know what you mean about crafting, I find it difficult to get to my sewing machine too and knitting is the easier craft to do when children are around. I miss sewing though! Have a great Father's day, your meal sounds lovely and I am sure the Bear will love it. I am cooking steak tonight for the dad in our house, so that should go down a treat. :)

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  7. Lots of wonderful photos in this post.. I just love to see the obvious devotion of your husband to your beautiful children. You've got a great family. I'm glad you're still taking time to crochet. I finished that hot pad and started immediately after on a big granny square to use as a pillow cover. I want to do a bunch of different crocheted pillows for the house and the trailer. Enjoy the summer.. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  8. I love all those highlights of your beautiful family life. If you ever have the time, please make a post of how you work this crochet plaid, I think you have another like this! Thank you!
    Hugs from here
    Olympia

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  9. I smiled as I read about the swimming lessons - I find lessons give me little snippets of Me Time, too, where I stitch, crochet or read. I don't mind sitting through them at all! And your summer looks idyllic, enjoy the time with the children, the crafts will always be there! Chrissie x

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  10. I think it sounds pretty idyllic so far. You're right the children's neediness is only a phase. Although it's not always easy when you are " stuck in a phase". I hope Father's Day goes as planned. X

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  11. It sounds like you are having a wonderful summer so far... Love the ripple blanket ... Your in-laws are so lucky! It's is going to be a beauty . Hope you continue to find little moments of joy to work on your beautiful crochet :)

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  12. I think so many things call for our attention in summer, it's hard to keep the balance. you have a whole load of lovely things happening there. The book sounds good and your meal looks lovely. I like the sound of buttery couscous. I'm always looking for food inspiration. I love your fire bowl! Heather x

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  13. Sounds like a nice spot under the tree while the children are swimming, Jennifer, and that does look like a lovely recipe book - 66 Square Feet and how appropriate for your foot to be in the pic too! Ah, children go through phases and this too will pass and in the meantime just enjoy your summer, it sounds like its shaping up beautifully.Your pics are all so lovely again, thank you for sharing them and your entertaining news! xoJoy

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  14. It sounds as though you are having some blissful summer times! Your new blanket is lovely, I like the colours in the bit that you showed! Ripples are so lovely aren't they. xx

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  15. Your food looks so good! And your garden's look great too!

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  16. Your summer sounds like it is off to a terrific start! That picture of GB with her dad is precious. The grilled veggies sound yummy - I might try this when we have guests next week! The two books you have been reading during swim lessons look interesting. I might just have to get the kindle edition of the Mermaid. As the parent of a multiple amputee it would be especially interesting to read about this woman's story. Thanks for bringing the book to my attention, Jennifer!

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  17. I love posts like these, little glimpses into someone else's life, in a place far away from mine, with beautiful photos and elegant words. And you do them so well Jennifer, thank you for sharing, I hope you and your family continue to enjoy your summer. x p.s. that tree picture? Fab!

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  18. Lovely photo's Jennifer and I do love reading about your Summer days with your lovely family. :)

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  19. Beautiful photos Jennifer. Sounds as if you are having a perfect summer so far.

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  20. Your summer so far sounds delightful. Believe it or not, now that our children have "flown the coop" I miss breaking up those little arguments. It has made me realize the old adage of trying to enjoy your life in the moment that you are in presently because those moments are too soon gone. So for now, I'm trying to enjoy life each day. Your children obviously adore their Daddy and the feeling looks mutual. I love those kinds of photos. The crochet is beautiful and so is your yard. Serene and happy.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  21. Love your photographs - they tell a story without any words (which, I think, is the main point of a photograph anyway). I know it's easy for me to say (empty nester) but try to enjoy all these busy days with your kids, even if it seems they constantly need you. Those years FLY by and when they're older teens, they'll be too busy with their friends to pay any mind to you. They'll be running in the door..."Hi, Mom!" Two minutes later they'll be running back out the door going somewhere else..."Bye, Mom!"

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  22. Lovely photos. Gosh your garden looks so beautiful lots of life there. X

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  23. Hi Jennifer, thanks for popping by my blog and leaving a message. I love meeting new people and have been thoroughly enjoying reading through your blog posts. Kids needs are constantly changing as they grow, mature, discover. Sometimes they love their newly acquired independent thinking and then all of a sudden it seems all a bit scary to be growing up and they come right back down to just being a very little person again with a little persons needs and mum's supervision and interaction. I think parenting is probably the most complicated role we will ever have in life. I'm still learning with 21 and 24 year old daughters still living at home. Despite the fact that perhaps your kids need you a little more at the moment, I believe it's very important to take time out for yourself and your needs. We can get lost in the world of motherhood and find it difficult to maintain a sense of self. Some may think this is a selfish way to think, but if you don't take care of you, you can't take care of others. A lesson learned the hard way for me. Enjoy your summer, those blue skies in your photos certainly are cheery when it's grey and raining here downunder.
    Anne xx

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  24. Jennifer, I love the photos!- Sounds like a lovely summer. :)

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  25. Happy Father's Day to the Big Bear. I love the photos of your family Jennifer. I think you need to establish a quiet time for everyone every day. From 3 - 4 every one has to do something quiet and do it all by themselves. Color, look at a book, play in their rooms. And for one hour a day Mom has to be quiet too! I hope you get my drift.
    Hugs to you,
    Meredith

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  26. Hey Jennifer,
    Wonderful family photos Jennifer. I know what you mean about not having any time to yourself. Olly has been super demanding this past couple of weeks. I have that book on my Amazon wishlist, so I may buy it to take on holiday with us in August. And yes, Mum play dates are very important. I don't ever have these. That may change when Pops starts school. I may meet someone at the school gate. All my friends have grown up children, and the Mums at all the pres school clubs seem like babies themselves to me. I feel so old compared to them! It's something I really miss. That coffee company with another woman.
    Have a lovely week.
    Leanne xx

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  27. The grilled veg sounds delicious, my kind of food. I think kids go through phases where you have to be present all the time, but they pass and they'll learn to occupy themselves again. It sounds like you're having a lovely summer so far.

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  28. Your summer days sound so lovely. I really like the ripple blanket you are working on too.
    Marianne x

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  29. I love seeing your summer images of family life, those are magical moments you have captured. Sarah x

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  30. Sounds like you're having a great summer ... our wee ones finish school Friday week and I'm anticipating planning a lot of fun things to hopefully prevent exclamations of boredom ... sometimes being bored is'nt a bad thing though ... I think it can make us think outside the box a little and maybe encourage us to recognise the need to just be ... my childhood was a lot slower than my kids and I an sure that wasn't a bad thing ... Bee xx

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  31. I love those pictures of your family. When I try and take photos of mine they instantly stop whatever they're doing and put on big cheesey grins. Funny, and sweet, but I want to capture the other moments too. Yours are so evocative (is that the right word ?). Gorgeous
    Jillx

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  32. You're obviously enjoying the long summer break together, despite the occasional irritations which are part of anty family life. I still can't quite get my head round a summer vacation from school which is twice as long as my grandsons will get. They are still in school until July 22nd!

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  33. Summer seams a long way off, looks like you are all making the most of lovely warm days.

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  34. Hi Jennifer - we feel like our Summer is finally starting to begin here in the UK. I love the hues in your summery pictures.

    Nina x

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  35. I have that book its fabulous, it was one of my Christmas presents. It sounds like you are having a lovely summer,

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  36. What a lovely summer you're having. Those vegetables look delicious. I hope you all had an excellent Father's Day too.

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  37. I love all your summery photos, they capture the feeling so well. Love your pretty ripple throw too....I find making a crochet blanket is a good project for stopping and starting with when things interrupt the crafting!
    Wishing you a happy week, Jennifer.
    Helen xox

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  38. Sounds great. You are enjoying the summer. Kids are so active in their summer classes! Dishes looks good.

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  39. I just LOVE the look of your back yard! also thanks for the book recommend, that book looks like a lovely read! I hope we can buy it over here too

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  40. Beautiful photos; I particularly love the family ones :-)
    I agree with Meredith's suggestion.
    Wishing you a relaxing summer,
    Tracey xxx

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  41. Oh what gorgeous photos! Your bears are darling! Your food looks amazing and gorgeous colors of yarn. Crazy how much busier things get as our children get older, isn't it? xo Jen

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