Friday, May 18, 2018

Spring at The Crooked Apple

Every year, when we finally thaw, I love walking around my yard and greeting the newly awoken residents of our home. Seeing a new year's growth and beauty after a harsh winter aligns with the emotions that I go through myself, so it's sort of a cathartic experience.

I took pictures a few different times over the past couple weeks, so it's kinda cool to see the progression of spring happening around here. The early photos were taken during the first week of May, and the more recent ones were taken this week.

See the moon? :)

A recent wind storm knocked a yellow jacket nest out of our oak tree and it
broke into pieces - so cool to see what it looks like inside!

Early chives!

And now they look like this! little chive blossoms are starting.

Nearby in the herb garden, our oregano and mint are growing like
crazy and sort of co-mingling!

I mentioned this in my IG stories, but every spring we have an explosion of striped squill
in our front yard. They take over the landscaping and the grass, and they're impossible to
contain! I secretly love them and I make little bouquets out of them.

Deer tracks! We see lots of deer in our yard this time of year.

I also spotted this...I'm calling it my little grass fairy! It's really a
helicopter seed from a sugar maple that started to sprout! I love it!!

The same wind storm that brought the yellow jacket nest down did this!! We have several dead
Ash trees in the back of our yard because of the emerald ash borer epidemic. They fall easily in
the wind, so we always keep the boys away from the woods if it's even a little breezy!

My lilac! This is my special one...Luke gifted it to me in 2010 with the intention of
planting it at our new house. It grew and grew for years, but it took 7 years for it to
finally produce flowers! I'm excited to see if I'll have lilacs every year!

Yes!! Early lilac blossoms from early May.

Check them out this week! They smell AMAZING!

We planted another lilac near our infamous crooked apple tree after my original lilac failed
to produce any flowers. We hoped that putting it in full sunlight would give us some flowers,
and while this one always flowers, it hasn't grown in size at all. It still makes me happy to
see blooms on it!

And here's that same bunch from this week.

Right next to that second lilac is a very small forsythia. I LOVE them! I think
maybe it's just that when you see all these yellow flowers emerge you KNOW
spring has officially arrived! They're so bright and happy!

And it's super cool when they start transitioning to their green summer leaves.

While I toured my yard to see what was new, I was shocked to find a THIRD
lilac growing by the fence! We've lived here for 8 springs, and I've NEVER seen
this one before!!! I don't know if it just took a hiatus from blooming the way my
Mother's Day lilac did, or if we transplanted a piece of the original and forgot that
we did, but I was happily surprised to find it!!!

Across the lot, we have a bleeding heart that Matt and I planted a handful of years ago. It has more hearts every year! This photo is from early May.

And this is from this week.

Love them!

I don't know what these are, but they are ground spready flowers that grow in the landscaping along
our fence all summer. I love their little bits of color.

And of course, our apple tree! This is its prettiest time of year!

I love a good apple blossom against a blue sky!

Their flowers are SO pretty!

Can you spot the bee towards the middle? He's HUGE!!!

I also spotted this cutie ;)

My boys gave me half a dozen flowers for Mother's Day between gifts and
the plant sale at school. I put them all together into this Rae Dunn planter
so they can all grow together. I love all of my sweet flowers!

It makes me SO happy when the trees all have their full-size leaves! They're
totally in, now (like as of Tuesday or Wednesday), but they have that delicate
feather-softness of brand new leaves. They haven't gotten their summertime
hardiness just yet, which makes them a little extra glow-y and sweet. This is
the view from my hammock beneath my favorite sugar maple in our back yard.

This was taken earlier in the month before the trees had mature leaves, but it was warm and summery,
and the birds were SO LOUD in that excited way just before dark. My backyard in warm weather
is my happy place!

Matt and I have been working on weeding and cleaning up the yard for multiple weekends now, and this weekend we hope to get our gardens going. We'll add basil to the herb garden and tomatoes to the raised beds, and this year I'm planning a tea garden! I can't wait!!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mother's Day Weekend + Thoughts On Motherhood

Being a mom is (without a doubt), the thing I wanted most out of my life. It was always my goal, my dream, and my plan.

Over nine years of motherhood later, I'm so thankful for all the ways it has surprised me. It's not exactly how I pictured it, but even more than that - the things I've learned and the depth it has given my life are not at all what I anticipated. You can prepare and wonder and guess, but until you have a tiny person calling you Mom, there's no real way to wrap your mind around the lessons and expansion that come along with motherhood.

Four years ago, when I was pregnant with Jake and maybe a little emotional, I wrote a post about the expansion of love and the beautiful heartbreak that we feel over and over again as our kids grow. It might be my favorite post of all time, and I love sharing it again as Mother's Day rolls around. (Click here if you're interested!)

This year we spent the weekend celebrating, and it was lovely.

Jake had a Mother's Day tea at school, which is a tradition I've celebrated with all of my boys through the years. It's so sweet every year, and it always chokes me up!! My phone was acting up during it (of course) so most of my pictures and videos didn't turn out, but I did get this one. The kids all sang a few songs to us, gifted us with a flower, and then we shared some treats together.

On Friday evening, Luke had a friend over, and then we spent the rest of the night making having a fire in the backyard. It was super cozy by the fire, so we had our dinner there while we chatted. Our backyard fires are my favorite!

In typical motherhood fashion. our Saturday had a bit of a frustrating start. Matt and I were sitting down to try and reset the day, and he asked what I'd want to do to turn the day around. I asked him if we could drive to the outlets to get a new purse (the one I shared in my "What's In My Purse" post broke a few weeks ago!!!), and he agreed.

The purse I picked out looks very similar to the one that broke - it just a had a few updated details. I also found this super cute rose gold necklace that I had to grab! Everything at Kate Spade was 80% off for Mother's Day weekend so I couldn't pass it up!!

After the outlets, we stopped at Tops and picked up some ingredients for breakfast the next morning as well as movie candy. (We'd decided to make it a movie night!) On the way home Matt suggested we try a restaurant nearby for dinner, and I was game! So we ate at Almaza Grill, which is a Lebanese rotisserie place, and it was soooo good! Matt and I enjoyed it the most, but even the kids were happy with it! I love taking them to places you wouldn't assume to be kid-friendly to broaden their horizons!

We ended the night watching Lego Batman and snacking on chewy sweettarts and snow caps.

The next morning, my boys all piled into my bed with hand made offerings they'd been hanging onto from school. They each gave me cards and drawings that were sooo cute. They also made an envelope with a note inside that said "it's your lucky day" and there was a penny with it. I've totally deemed it my lucky penny!

They both made clay keychains for me - so cute! I don't know if their teachers saw the same Pinterest ideas or what? haha But they're so adorable, and they were so proud of them.

They left me in bed to sip my coffee and enjoy some quiet time while they cooked, and then they brought me breakfast in bed. Luke made the pancakes himself, and they were super good! It was such a sweet, relaxing morning.

We spent most of the day outside...doing some gardening, swinging, cleaning up the patio table for dinner, and grilling. It was a beautiful, relaxing day!

As Mother's Day weekend came to a close, I sat and thought a lot about how our family life has evolved over the years. There were long newborn days at home, many-many viewings of Nick Jr with a side of Cheerios, trips to the kids gym and organized playdates, getting emotional at preschool graduation and again on the first day of Kindergarten, and this current phase of playing host to my kids' blossoming interests and friendships. Instead of intense care-taking, I'm instead encouraging them to pursue their hobbies and responsibilities as I follow behind them with the vacuum cleaner and a bottle of Febreeze. (Have you smelled boys?)

luke bought me this lilac tree for mother's day in 2010, and it didn't start blooming
until last year! now it's amazing and gives me these beautiful heart-shaped
blooms that smell SO GOOD, and they mean SO much to me!!!

I rejoice in the moments when they ask me for a snuggle or write me a sweet email that just says things like "I love you way more than you love me" (which I respond to with, "That's not possible"), and I get my rewards when I go through their take-home folders and find little "I love mom" notes scribbled on their classwork. I take these like they are water in the dessert - only each grain of sand in my dessert is made up of dirty dishes, stained laundry, random drawings, action figures, and legos. (Lots and lots of legos.)

It can feel daunting and pointless and exhausting and ridiculous.

I break down more often than I'd like. I spend a day cleaning the house, only to throw a fit about how dirty it is 24 hours later because, doesn't anyone respect how hard I worked on cleaning all day? But what keeps me afloat are those little schoolwork notes they don't realize I'll see, and the request for a cuddle, and the following two important thoughts.

My boys have a wonderful brotherhood - it's real, deep, and committed. They love each other, support each other, and take care of each other. They fight like you might imagine brothers would, but then they wrap their arms around each other at the playground when someone falls, and they ask their friends if their brothers can join them to play. Their whirlwind use of our house is supporting a childhood that they're going to look back on fondly.

And as an extension of that, I find peace in the notion of householder yoga. More practiced yogis can tell you a lot more about it than I can, but it's the idea that the service you provide as a householder is your work towards peace. Keeping a family held together and functioning, and acting as an emotional safe place is some of the greatest work we can do in this life. We perpetuate love in this act, and love is where all good and beautiful things on this Earth originate. It might all seem daunting - but if we slow down, back up a little, and notice the subtle beauty of the little things in our daily lives, we might just notice that what we're doing as mothers (or fathers), is maybe the most beautiful work there is.

I hope your Mother's Day was lovely, mamas.

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