Where Did All My Productivity Go?

Oh wait, it’s summer vacation. Summer vacation means my productivity level has taken a bit of a vacation, too, at least when it comes to my online presence. I’ve had plenty to keep me busy, though. Summer vacation means Big Bit is back in the fold at home, so I have all three home to take care of and entertain. All day. Every day. It’s fun getting to do things together as a family, such as zoo trips and all that, but it is harder to get things done around the house with three little ones under foot. And even harder to do some of the stuff that is just for me. Especially blogging, since that requires a certain level of energy in order to maintain coherent posts and such. After a day of managing the house and taking care of the girls, I find it hard to muster the energy to do anything other than sit down and veg for a bit before calling it a night. Part of me hates to admit it, but when school starts up here in a few weeks, I will probably be one of those moms doing a little happy dance in the parking lot after drop-off.

So what have we been up to?

The garden survived those last freezes and is blooming, though not as well as last year. My guess is the late freezes and such messed with the growing season. The moss roses are still my troopers. Of all my plants, they seem to have handled everything the best. The bluebonnets have barely bloomed at all, and this late in the season I doubt they will do much more. The bulbs don’t seem to have handled the stresses of our weather this year as well, either. They aren’t dead and are still growing, but neither the gladiolus nor dahlia has bloomed, yet. I’m not holding out much hope for the gladiolus, however I see some possible budding on the dahlia, so maybe I’ll still have some luck with that. If it does bloom, I’ll take some pictures, since it should be a pretty one.

We also took some time for a family “vacation.” First one in nearly two years (such is military life). We went back to visit family and let everyone meet Niblet, since most of the family hadn’t been able to meet her in person before. I’m guessing you noticed I put vacation in quotes. I’m not saying the trip wasn’t enjoyable, because it was. It’s just that traveling with three small children, isn’t much of a vacation for mom and dad. Luckily, since we haven’t taken any sort of time off like this in so long, my husband has enough leave accrued so now that we’re back home from our journey, we get to take a “stay-cation,” which is proving to be much more relaxing. He’s been spoiling me by taking point on the kiddos and letting me sleep in the past few mornings. It’s so decadent to sleep past 8am!

After this though, it’s back to the routine. Hubs will be back to work and it will be time to get ready for back to school. I’m not mad at that, though. It’s nice to have a routine and a specific set of to-do’s for any given day. Anyway, maybe when the routine comes back, my productivity will come with it!

In Our Garden: Finally! (And a Cheeky Squirrel)

This past weekend the Bits and I were finally able to get our garden going. Even though the temperatures are still dipping a bit at night, we shouldn’t have anymore snow coming in to kill any seedlings. Hopefully, since we’re planting a bit earlier than last year, our bluebonnets will do a bit better this time around. As per Big Bit’s request we aren’t growing any vegetables this year, only flowers. We have bluebonnets and moss roses in the large containers and just moss roses in the smaller ones that housed my herb garden last year. The moss roses did so well and looked so pretty last year, so I wanted to have more this year. Also, I wasn’t able to find good looking herbs to replant this year and I still have quite a bit of what I was able to dry last year, so I needed to fill those planters with something else anyway. However, I do have some green onion going in some shot glasses that I salvaged from dinner a few nights ago. They seem pretty happy and in another few days I’ll transplant them into some small pots so they can sit out on the patio while the weather is nice. Last year’s green onion produced almost enough to get us through the winter without buying more from the market. I’m excited to see how much I’ll be able to get out of two.

This year’s “experiment” is bulb flowers. I have a few larger pots that I’m using to try my hand with some gladiolus and a dahlia. If they bloom, it should be very pretty and give a little more pop to our plantings. Hopefully they prove as hearty as advertised.

And now on a mostly unrelated note, I have become convinced that the squirrels out here are possessed, or, at the very least, slightly evil. The morning after we had gotten our seeds planted in our garden, I wake up to find a squirrel digging thru our freshly seeded planters. Big Bit declared him to be a “cheeky squirrel” (we’re fans of a certain British cartoon pig in this house), and while nothing seemed to be too badly disturbed, I did go out and buy some extra seed packets to plant as insurance. If it had just been that, I wouldn’t think anything more of the squirrels here except that they are annoying little pests, as is normal. However later that day, the girls and I came home from some errands and as I was unloading them from the car, I noticed little green shavings on the ground. As I was coming back out to grab another one of the girls (unloading a car when all three kids are in carseats is a multistep process), I noticed there was a hole about 4 inches wide in the lid of my neighbor’s trashcan and there was a little squirrel head peeking out at me. The thing had chewed thru the lid of the trashcan! It didn’t care that I was right there, it just stared back. I am inclined to believe that this was the same squirrelly offender who had been in out planters earlier that morning. He had a cheeky look about him. The final straw is that he seems to believe he he resides here now since the past two mornings that I have been getting Big Bit out the door for school, there he has been on that trashcan, calm as you please, giving me the stare down as I go about my business. Yesterday morning he was even chewing on a french fry he’d found (probably in the trashcan) with a look on his little squirrelly face that seemed to say, “Yes, I’m here. What of it?” Cheeky little squirrel.

In Our Garden: Successes and Setbacks

Time for an update on our garden project! First, the good news:

The lupines and bluebonnets are still sprouting up nicely and seem to be doing very well. We are still a long way off from having flowers, but this good start is making me hopeful that we will have some before the end of the season. The onions in the crock pot turned planter are also doing very well. One looks like it will be flowering soon. I promise to take a picture of our “bloomin’ onion” once it is in full flower. The herb garden also seems to be happy (for the most part). The green onion is still sending up new shoots, and I’m getting a nice little stash of chopped green onion bits in my freezer. I’m guessing we’ll have to have baked potatoes or something for dinner sometime soon.

The real success story, though, has been the oregano. I was able to get our first harvest about a week ago. Between the two plants, I got a nice sized bunch which is still currently hanging and drying out in our dining room. Big Bit was completely fascinated by the whole process of harvesting the oregano and then getting it tied (or in this case, rubber-banded) together to be hung. I’m planning on doing an Italian dish when it is fully dried out, so Big Bit can see the complete cycle, from garden to table. It’s important for kids to know where their food comes from. I’m also very proud of how well Big Bit has learned to identify the plants in our garden. She can name all the herbs we’re growing and point out which is which. I’m glad she’s enjoying this and that she’s learning from it, too. I am one proud and happy mama.

Our First Oregano Harvest

Our First Oregano Harvest

And now on to the not so good news:

The first setback is that a heatwave we experienced seems to have been too much for a good chunk of our baby carrots. Of all the sprouts we had, I think maybe a third or so are left. They just couldn’t take the heat. Hopefully we will still get one or two out of the planter that can be harvested and cooked (once again, illustrating garden to table), but we’ll see. Hopefully the survivors are a hearty bunch and even if we do get more high temperatures (which we most likely will), it won’t do the rest in.

Setback number two is that a few nights ago we had a wind storm that decapitated my rosemary. There is one measly little sprig left sticking out of the dirt in the planter. However, the roots are still intact and I am hoping that the plant can recover and send out some new growth. I also recovered the portion which broke off. It broke off right at the soil level, so I’ve stuck it in a shot glass filled with water and am seeing if I can encourage it to send out some new roots. If I can manage that, then I can get a little pot and replant it. If not, well, rosemary roasted potatoes are delicious. It hasn’t turned brown yet, though, so I’m holding out hope.

Gardening with My Girls

I don’t know what it was, but something made my eldest adamant that we have a garden this year. I’m thrilled by her enthusiasm, but at the same time I’m a bit nervous. While there are a number of accomplished gardeners in my family tree (my grandfather had one of the most amazing vegetable gardens I’ve ever seen), I do not claim to be one of them. Some people have green thumbs. Mine is probably closer to black. I managed to kill lucky bamboo back in college. However, I am all about supporting my daughter’s interests, so if it’s a garden she wants, a garden she shall have.

Now, unfortunately, our current house doesn’t have much of a yard, so our “garden” is being limited to planters on our patio. We have three large planters, two smaller ones, a cracked crock pot that I’ve turned into a planter, and a small, plastic princess pot that came with a zinnia growing kit. In one of our larger planters, my eldest (Big Bit), has chosen to try and grow carrots. They are her favorite vegetable and I have promised to cook them for her if we are able to harvest any, though at this point I still think that’s a rather big if. In our second large planter we’ve planted lupines because one of Big Bit’s bedtime stories is Miss Rumphius, a story about a lady who plants lupines in order to leave the world a more beautiful place. Finally, our last large planter has been seeded with bluebonnets.

Big Bit and I planting her carrots.

Big Bit and I planting her carrots.

The smaller planters (excepting the plastic princess pot with the zinnias) are my domain. The cracked crock pot holds two onions that sprouted in our pantry. I don’t expect to really do anything with them, but I planted them nonetheless, because, why not? The smaller box planters have my little kitchen herb garden. I have oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme. I also have some green onion being grown from kitchen scraps. (Thank you Pinterest for the tip!)

As I said before, I’m not some amazing gardener so my expectations for this project are very modest. However, both the girls seem to really enjoy going out and tending to our garden. Watering is an especially anticipated task. Regardless of whether we actually manage to grow something (though hopefully we do!) I’m glad to have a project we can work on together as a family. Fingers crossed, I will be able to make positive reports on our garden’s progress as the season progresses.

Like I said, we're all about watering here.

Like I said, we’re all about watering here.