My world, right now, radiates in bright yellow. And when I upload my photos, I see the light, the summer sun so undeniably bright and bold and shining right down upon us. Yes, it's summer. People complain about the summer. I complain about the summer. But I don't like to. Indeed, it's hot. Quite hot. But the breeze is nice. The slow and easy pace is nice. The water is nice. The excuse for ice coffee in the afternoon, well, that never gets old. And those sunflowers, good gawd, have me swooning. Summer ain't all bad. Not even here in Texas.
I'm gonna try to savor these dog days. Allow myself to mosey about and dream just a little more than I normally do.
It was a lovely Sunday. We spent the morning at Berry Springs. The wildflowers are still so showy and gorgeous. I feel like I must pinch myself to insure it is all real.
The excursion included a picnic complete with breakfast tacos, the spotting of many different kinds of birds, a sweet warm breeze, meadows ablaze in yellows and reds, and the springs flowing loud and clear.
Our afternoon included naps, sewing, mopping, and tidying up for the week ahead.
Dinner was tomato salad, vegetable soup, and garlic/mozerella bread.
The evening was spent outside savoring the pleasantness of these late May days at my favorite restaurant ~ enjoying Spanish coffee, a side of chips and salsa, and wonderful conversation with a friend.
Now, I'm off to tuck my satisfied self into bed.
Since we moved to our current house nearly two years ago, I haven't really messed around with the bedroom layouts. Beatrix had her bedroom with her toys in it. Byron and I used the third bedroom as an office/craft/guest room. But for awhile now, I'd been feeling an itch to rearrange, move stuff around, and make it work for what we truly needed. I am in love with idea of stretching the usefulness of a home. This is the biggest house I've ever lived in and it isn't big by modern (American) standards -- 1400 square feet! We have the space we need to live contently, but there aren't a lot of extra rooms to play around with. At its current function, our house is pulling its fair share of weight as a school/home.
Yet the two back bedrooms rooms, we felt weren't really used to their greatest potential. And those two rooms totaled a decent amount of square footage. Bea's original bedroom was quite large about 200 square feet while the third bedroom (office/craft room) was a bit smaller. However, Bea's big bedroom was the most underused space in the house. She rarely played in it (except during quiet time). Seriously, what 4 year old wants to be in their bedroom playing alone while their family is elsewhere? She plays where ever we are busy working - and for us that's in the kitchen, living room, or the yard. I enjoyed having an office/craft room, but it was smallish in size, and difficult to use during daytime hours because if I tried to work in it, Bea naturally wanted to do the same, but the room was not layed out in a way that included her. (How unMontessori of me!)and I couldn't visualize adding some of her things to the space and having the room flow nicely.
So we moved her bedroom to the the office/craft room. It's a smaller and brighter space which makes it very cozy and happy. She loves it! Her only request was that she wanted her new bedroom to inherit the lambskin rug that was already in there. Deal! And we made her former bedroom into our project room. Her new bedroom layout is simple (and a little Goodnight Moon-ish in my opinion). In her bedroom, she has her bed, her chest of drawers, and just a few toys and books that she can enjoy looking at and playing with during quiet time.
The room isn't quiet done. There are curtain rods without curtains because I'm still undecided if I want to cover her window with panels. Curtain panels seem so much because there are so many windows and I do love the uncluttered, bright look, but I also don't want the room to feel too feel plain. Right now, the windows have solar shades for privacy.
Also, we are using one of her little chairs as a night stand to hold her books. One day, a proper nightstand will enter our world. And maybe a shelving unit of some sort. Something like this. And as much as I adore her petite trundle bed, I know a day will come that she will outgrow it. At that point, we'd like to invest in bunk beds (the kind that has a full bed on bottom). That would be useful for when my mom or other visitors stay with us. Bunk beds would help to maximize the amount of sleeping space we have to offer and to make our home more welcoming. Let's face it, no one gets excited over the air mattress option.
Making this Beatrix's bedroom has also inspired me to spruce up her view! Currently, all of those gorgeous windows overlook to a very sad corner of our yard. By the way, do you know how much I disdain wooden privacy fences? Bleh...Oh, that's a whole other conversation. However, I do hope to build some flower beds along the said disdainful fence over the summer. I'm sure a perrenial garden overflowing with turk's hat, echinacea, black eye susans, lantana, etc. might help to fix my attitude about our perfectly functional (ugly) fence line. On the bright side, she said that she loves having her bed tucked under the windows, because now she can watch the chickens so much easier than before. And chicken watching is obviously very important.
Our project room now homes the majority of her playthings, my work desk, my sewing maching and chest of fabrics, and her reading nook. Now we can work and play together and still be in the same place. There's plenty of room for both of us in here. As she gets older, I want to continue to tweak this space to make sure it holds creative appeal to her. I envision this space to evolve into our homeschooling room at some point. I'm thinking that I'd like to make a creative writing/art space as well as shelves that hold learning materials that she is currently using. I'm not trying too hard to make those spaces now, because those materials are also available in our living room and on the screen porch classroom and it feels redundant to duplicate what we already have there.
Rearranging the rooms was so much fun! Both spaces feel fresh and cheerful and are serving our needs more appropriately than before. I'm also finding myself reinspired to photograph these rooms. I love capturing little corners and objects that I'd long overlooked before.
I'm determined to not grow out of this house and to make it work for us for the long haul! When I think back to my childhood or when I consider the size of homes my mom and Byron's parents grew up in with many more people, I'm sure we have just enough space for our family.
A couple of nights this week we've had really strong thunderstorms that have awoken us all. Beatrix has crawled into our bed with us on both of those nights. The storm on the second night seemed to hammer in what the first one was trying to achieve. The thunder roared and rolled and vibrated our house and rattled the windows. It was a humbling storm indeed, one of those that can't help but smack down the lofty power and control that we humans think we hold. During Mother Nature's grand show, I rolled over to spoon Bea only to realize that Byron was doing the same. And I thought in my sleepy, hazy mindset of comfort and protection because here we were, the three of us, in the middle of the night, buried under our layers of bedding, holding on to each other. Shielding the little one in the only way we knew how - with cuddles and covers.
Sometimes I wonder when she'll stop joining us. Surely she will stop at some point. At what point in her life will she feel (or act) strong enough on her own even when the world around looks and sounds threatening. I'm hoping that one day she'll find our collective strenghth within her, not because having more bed space is nice (well, it is...), but because it's the natural progression of it all.
Yesterday, we noticed our cat venturing across the street to the field on the other side. The grasses are tall there and as Blackie stealthily weaved in and out of knee high blades, she looked up at me and said, "Mama can you hold me up so I can watch him?" And of course, I was just waiting for her to ask. To give me permission to hold her. She's four years old. She's not exactly my baby that needs to be carried anymore. Yet, as much as I am still her bolster, her security, she is mine. So many times, I have to remind myself that she doesn't need me to hold her anymore. And that my hand is enough. And so often, I wonder, what day will be the last in which I bend down, pick her up, fit her body against mine, and rest her on my hip. What will I do without her sweet little body and her squooshy cheeks to caress against my own?
It is the same. This love and this letting go. The need to push forward and the need to hold on. From the sleepness nights of infancy to the 1001 daily questions of a four year old. This girl needs me all the same. Though she and I, as in mama and daughter, will have a relationship that will continue to grow in complexity and I can't help but smile about that thought. I can't wait to know who she will be in 5 years, 20 years, or 40 years from now. For now though, I must accept. I must embrace that I'm her home plate.
There is no doubt. One day she will stop crawling into bed and nuzzling between her mama and daddy. One day I will not be able to hold her on my hip. Those days will come. I know when they do, most of me will be ready for it. But I'm sure a small piece of my heart will always be left wondering where did my little one disappear to? And what's that empty space on my hip.
Hello ~ just popping in to post some instagram photos from the recent days. There are a few non-instagramers in there too. As you can see, they are mostly all of plant life. A few little snapshots of homey stuff, sunshine and shadows, and of course, the little miss.
We (I) had a wonderful Mother's Day. Totally indulgent, restful, and rejuvinating.
On Friday, Byron helped me to do a little room switcheroo. That part of the weekend was not restful. The end product, however, now that I am enjoying! We made a project room out of one of our bedrooms and reconfigured Bea's bedroom!
We spent the rest of the weekend with family who were in town visiting us. Two days full of great food and conversation and the joy of seeing cousins reunite and play together. All around good stuff!!
And on Saturday night, Bea slept at the hotel with her grandparents. Which means, something very special happened on Sunday morning. Byron and I got to wake up slowly. We got to enjoy quiet cups of coffee. And listen to the bird singing. Just the birds singing. Nothing else. Byron even went out to fetch the Sunday NYT and we read the paper together. I got to read the travel section for the first time in so long.
What an indulgence! It was amazing!
I love being a mother more than anything and I love that little girl beyond meausere. You know that. But dang...everynow and then, and quiet morning feels so welcomed -- so welcomed.
I hope all you mamas out there had a lovely day.
Here's just a bunch of random photos taken of the garden and around the house from the last week or so. I know I've mentioned it before, but our spring has just been so spectacular. I am convinced that every now and then, Texas deserves a true spring. Just last week, there were days where I was still wearing wool sweaters and socks. That is just unheard of in our parts. Most every year, by now, we are dancing with the 90's on a regular basis. But this year, oh my, we have some lucky stars shining down on us.
It took me three days to complete, but I finally made a batch of strawberry jam this afternoon. I kind of like the ultra slow pace of it all. It definitely helps to calm the homesteading-is-just-too-much thoughts that big homesteading projects tackled during the middle of the work week can often induce.
The garden is so lovely right now. No major pests in sight as of yet....I'm excited about harvesting onions and garlic soon! This evening, I bartered eggs for tomato plants from our library cafe owner, so I'm eager to clear out some area in the beds to make room for more tomato plants. I love small town bartering. Nothing feels as groovy as switching out eggs for tomato plants -- at the library. Beatrix said, "So, mama, our eggs are like money, right?" Yep, says I...
Also, there is another pair of birds (mockingbirds) building a nest in a tree right next to our screen porch. I am in awe of nature's creatures. Their tenacity just moves me so...I want to surround myself with more and more gardens, critters, and cute, useful animals.
I really, really want a beehive by next spring and rabbits too.
Last week, on a foggy, cool morning before Byron left for work, Bea had a special request. The night before, one of our swallowtail butterflies that we'd been raising in our habitat emerged out of its chrysallis. This butterfly was ready to flutter and fly out into the great big world.
And so a request was made by Beatrix: Daddy can you come with us to the field to release our butterfly?
And how could anyone refuse such a request, right? Think about it: how many times in our long lives will be invited by a four year old to release a butterfly into a field of evening primroses covered in morning dew? Not nearly enough.
Since this blog works mostly as a jouranl of my days and weeks, I'm playing catch-up tonight and a simple list of the recent happenings will have to do.
1) pneumonia. the little one. we've visited her doctor more in the last 10 days than we have the entire year. she's better, but still has an awful, wet cough.
2) parent/teacher conferences. done for the year. the part of my job that stirs up my nerves the most.
3) tired, tired, tired mama. i haven't been taking enough walks. going to bed too late or else having interupted sleep. eating too many sweets and not enough greens. need to change all of that. feeling my age is a bummer. hmm...
4)reading Child of the World: Montessori, Global Education for Age 3-12+ . A lovely, easy to read book on Montessori education. This book is appropriate for both parents and teachers -- anyone who is interested in how we learn will enjoy this one. I loved that it had useful information regarding both school and home settings. A keeper for sure.
5)garden - drip irrigation installed. Yeah!! Plants growing and healthy. Sunflowers and cosmos will be blooming soon. Beautiful time of the year.
6) chicks incubating. 18 days to go!!
7) a pair of Carolina Wrens have been making their home in a bird house on our house! Amazing. I'm so giddy at the thought of baby birdies.
8) on our coffeetable sits a butterfly habitat with two swallowtail chrysalises. we've been tuned into the metamorphosis show where two caterpillers turn into butterflies. we'll watch that one over and over on any day.
9) our world is abloom. our town is known for poppies. some people's yards in my neighborhood look like this one. maybe one day, mine will too.
10) took a drive to the big city today. the little one fell asleep on the way home. for the first time in a long time, i listened to the news on NPR. can you imagine my shock? call me naive, call me ignorant, call me out of touch. but since i've started working at home and no longer commute in the car, my news intake has DRASTICALLY decreased. okay, maybe i have no news intake it's just not part of our day to have the radio on (much less tuned into the news). and i have to admit, i mostly use the computer for mind-numbing habits such as pinterest and blog reading at the end of the day...so there you go...my head is completely in the sand in our little corner of the universe. and i'm not quite sure if that is something i want to change.
11) i love seeing photos of my mom and grandma when they were younger. so every now and then, i make a point to snap a cheesy photo of myself in my ordinary, everyday life, even though i much prefer to be behind the lens than in front of it. i bet beatrix will appreciate these glimpses of her youngish mama when she gets older.
It's a beautiful time of the year in Texas right now. Ah...wildflower season. The roadsides and fields are bursting with colorful blooms. A couple of days ago, Beatrix and I visited The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. The photos above were taken there. It's a poor place to have your camera battery die 7 minutes into exploring, but that's what happen to me that day. Sweet Beatrix...she gets me and my attachment to the camera. She asked me, "What are you going to do, mama?" I just told her that I'd have to rely solely upon my memory today.
The weather here has been so peculiar. It's cold and rainy right now. I'm still wearing wool socks and layers. The heater is on and this is how it has been for the last month or so with warm and (very) windy days tucked in between here and there. I love it, but I'm receiving a wonderful lesson on how much fun sunshine really is when it comes to photography. There have been so few shadows and sun rays to play with these days. Lots and lots of gray.
Back to the subject of wildflowers and Texas...
We've been having fun learning to identify different wildflower specimens and even singing a few Texas songs. Which always makes me chuckle inside...I'm not from Texas, but Beatrix will grow up being so clearly from this state. It's funny where life takes ya.
These are our two favorite Texas songs right now:
Bluebonnets, bluebonnets with your coat so blue.
Your bright eyes are shining through the silvery dew.
I know you're a dolly offered for the rain.
I know you'll come back again to Texas in the Spring.
I have to admit, I had a ball teaching this one to the kids today:
Deep in the Heart of Texas
The stars at night - are big and bright
Deep in the heart of texas.
The prairie sky - is wide and high
Deep in the heart of texas.
The sage in bloom - is like perfume
Deep in the heart of texas.
Reminds me of - the one I love
Deep in the heart of texas.
The cowboys cry - ki-yip-pie-yi
Deep in the heart of texas.
The rabbits rush - around the brush
Deep in the heart of texas.
The coyotes wail - along the trail
Deep in the heart of texas.
The doggies bawl - and bawl and bawl
Deep in the heart of texas.
There are also some really wonderful stories and folktales that Beatrix has enjoyed so much pertaining to the prehistory and history of Texas and our treasured wildflowers.
Bluebonnet Babies is a wonderful little story about the lifecycle of the bluebonnet. It's a very gentle read and is very reminiscent of tales such as The Story of the Root Children by Sibylle Olfers.
The Legend of the Bluebonnet is a captivating story about a Native American tribe working through the tragedy of a terrible drought. The land (and tribe) is saved by an orphaned member who has the ability to sacrafice her most prized possession in exchange for rain from which the bluebonnets grow and bloom.
Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers chronicles Lady Bird Johnson's life and how her passion for wildflowers became her great legacy. A Texas heroine for sure! The story book is beautifully illustrated and sends a great message about the importance of noticing, loving, and ultimately advocating for the preservation of the natural world. When I read this book to Beatrix and the other children, I skipped over a couple of pages pertaining to the death of her mother and her husband, President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
The sun should come out tomorrow. I'm looking forward to checking in with the garden and taking a walk around town to see what is new and blooming. Spring is always such a fun time of the year. I love sharing my love of gardening and wildflowers with Beatrix. It warms my heart to see her interest grow with each new year.