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Halloween

November 5th, 2013 | Posted by Brinestone in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

We’ve had some requests for Halloween pictures, so here they are. Duplo was actually a skeleton for the ward Halloween party, Iron Man at school, and Spiderman for trick-or-treating. You know, because he had options. Unfortunately, I only got pictures on Halloween night.

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I dressed up for the ward party as Bat Mom (my towel and wooden spoon aren’t that easy to see, but they’re there). I don’t usually dress up, but when I was looking for costumes for the boys, I tried on the gloves, the cape, and the belt to make the kids laugh, and the rest kind of fell into place. It was so easy, I thought, “Why not?” (I apologize for the quality of the picture. Lego was the photographer.)

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Settling In

November 5th, 2013 | Posted by Brinestone in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

This post is long overdue, but life is finally settling into a normal routine to the point where I can spare the time to sit and write about it. We like our home and love our neighborhood and ward. It snowed a bit this morning, and as I walked the boys to school with fluffy snowflakes falling all around us, I was struck by a deep sense of gratitude to be where we are right now. It is so nice to be able to walk to school through a beautiful park surrounded by nice homes and gorgeous trees full of colored leaves (for the next few days, at least). It is so nice to have a yard to ourselves that I can care for without worrying about stepping on toes or being in someone else’s space, or even needing to pick up someone else’s trash.

The people here are so kind and welcoming I almost can’t believe it. One woman brought us pizza soon after we moved in just because. Another family brought us cookies and invited me and the boys to lunch one day. I’m almost overwhelmed by it all, but it’s nice to feel like someone knows we’re here and cares about us.

The boys are doing well in school. Lego has a really small class (16 kids), and one of his closest friends moved away a few weeks ago, which was really sad. Duplo says school was “great!” every day when I ask him. Parent-teacher conferences are this week, finally, so I’m eager to talk to their teachers and see in more detail how they’re doing.

Jonathon is doing well at the Church. We visited him a couple of weeks ago during UEA break and got to ride the elevator up to the 23rd floor, meet his coworkers, and then ride even higher up to the observation deck.

All in all, we’re doing well, and we hope you are too.

Whirlwind

August 16th, 2013 | Posted by Brinestone in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

In the past 17 days, we have:

1. Gotten the news that Jonathon has a great job
2. Scoured the Internet for decent rental listings
3. Spent two days looking at rentals
4. Submitted an application for one
5. Packed up the entire house
6. Registered the boys for two different schools (the one down here in case we couldn’t move before school started despite our best intentions)
7. Moved a lot of boxes up to the new house
8. Taken the boys to swimming lessons
9. Dug up all the carrots and beets in the garden (with the help of my sister)
10. Cleaned the house thoroughly (okay, I’m not done with this yet, but I will be hopefully tomorrow)
11. Played a lot of Dominion (which probably is the only thing keeping me sane)

We move tomorrow. I am exhausted. I have not been sleeping well. I am so excited to start this new phase of our lives. Lego starts school on Monday and Duplo a week from Monday. They both did great in swimming lessons. We’re pretty well packed up, so I’m feeling optimistic. But dang, I have butterflies galore. Why am I so keyed up tonight? I sure hope we can make a good life up there, and I sure hope Jonathon enjoys and excels at his new job.

(I also hope we don’t forget to pick up the dry cleaning tomorrow.)

My garden

August 7th, 2013 | Posted by Brinestone in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

So, here’s the promised garden post. I took these pictures at least a month ago, so really, they bear little resemblance to the garden today. Everything is ripe or past ripe now.

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I’ve discovered that pictures of vegetable gardens aren’t the best. Even a garden that is well weeded will look slightly untidy in a photograph. Anyway, this picture shows the rows of beets on the right and carrots on the left. Both are ready or nearly so, and I think I will dig them all up with the help of my youngest sister tomorrow, in preparation for our move.

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Here are the lettuces. I have planted lettuce before but have never had as much success as I did this year.  The solid mass of lettuce is buttercrunch, which was less bitter than I’ve ever had buttercrunch lettuce be before, but still only okay in comparison to the summertime lettuce, which is in the two rows to the right. Eventually, each of those lettuces got to be a good-sized (cantaloupe-sized?) head, crunchy and crisp like iceberg, but with a bit more flavor. I will only ever buy summertime lettuce seeds in the future. It has been so nice to be able to eat large salads all summer, virtually for free.

 

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My sugar snap peas were delicious, but I clearly didn’t plant enough of them, and I had a hard time keeping them watered enough. On the other side of the chain-link fence is someone else’s garden, which they have on a drip system, and they didn’t want our water to cross the fence. This meant that I would turn it on so only the outer drips of the sprinkler reached the fence line, which, unfortunately, is where the peas were.

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These were my pumpkin plants a month ago. Now they’re huge and taking over everywhere, and there are at least four pumpkins growing on them. The seeds were from some of the big jack-o-lantern pumpkins I accidentally grew last year, but this year, the pumpkins are on the small side. I don’t know if it’s just that they aren’t getting as much water or if they’re just plants that produce smaller pumpkins for some reason. Oh well. Not pictured, I also have a couple of watermelon plants that have pea-sized watermelons on them now (finally!). They will probably never produce an edible watermelon, but I don’t care because we’re moving anyway.

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This picture of the tomatoes is hilarious also because there is literally no space between one plant and the next now. I have to move branches out of the way to get in there and pick. Some of the cages are tipping over, and chaos is reigning. But also there are tomatoes. Sweet, juicy, warm garden tomatoes. I always forget how delicious they taste until the next crop arrives.

Not pictured are some green bean plants that aren’t doing so well. I think they hadn’t sprouted well enough to photograph when I took these. So . . . that’s my portion of the garden. There’s also this:

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Those rows are all green beans. Over a hundred plants. My garden is on the right, where that red chair is tipped over. Past my garden, there are a few rows of corn, and over near the fence line in the background are lots of squash that she planted as well. It’s been kind of stressful helping her to take care of it all. She intended to come every weekend to weed, pick, whatever, but life gets busy and she just hasn’t. In an effort to not let all of it go to waste, I weeded the rows, put insecticide on it when earwigs ate a good fifth of the bean plants, weeded the rows again, picked green beans that were getting huge, weeded the corn, picked zucchini. She has now started coming out more regularly, and she did say I could keep what I wanted because of all my help, which is nice. We’ve been eating green beans a lot, and honestly, I don’t think she misses them, considering she picked half of a large garbage can’s worth of them last week, and there may be that much ready to pick now.

I’m sad that the tomatoes will mostly not be ready before we move because they’re my absolute favorite thing to grow. Not only are they great for munching, salads, Mexican food, etc., but they’re delicious canned, in marinara sauce, and in salsa. I have 13 or 14 plants growing (some volunteers from rotten tomatoes that fell to the ground last year that I somehow successfully transplanted into empty spaces in the garden). If I had managed to can all of them, we may not have had to buy pasta sauce or salsa all year. Maybe. At least for a good six to nine months. Alas.

If you’re in the area, please, please help yourself. My landlady even said I could tell my friends to come pick tomatoes. Come once a week. Take lots.

And finally, a few pictures of the rest of the back back yard:

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the swing set

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the fire pit

As you can see, it’s not super pretty. It’s usually dry and weedy and prickly, but it has some nice space to run and some fun things in it. I’ve definitely spent a lot of time back there this year. Some weeks, I spent over an hour or two a day. I just love the feeling of working hard outside with the sun shining and knowing I’m making things more beautiful and providing good food for my family while also helping our budget.

Our next yard is small, with no space for a garden, but after this year, maybe the break will be nice. Maybe we can spend lots of time at the park instead. I’m sure the kids wouldn’t complain.

 

 

Jonathon got a job!

August 7th, 2013 | Posted by Brinestone in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

So yeah. 🙂 We’re pretty psyched. The story behind it is a little unusual, though. He applied and interviewed for a contingent (short-term, like a year or two, as long as the funding for it lasts) proofreading position at the Church. They really liked him and told him that he was one of their top candidates and that he’d hear by the end of the week. The week ended—no word. We (or at least I, but I think Jonathon too) were getting really worried. Then another whole week passed with no word. We started to wonder: at what point is it okay to ask what’s going on?

Finally, the following Monday, Jonathon got an email saying they had hired someone else for the contingent position but that they wanted to create a position for him and were working on getting approval to do that. Another week passed. We had no idea whether they’d actually get approval to hire Jonathon, or, if they did, how long that would take. We started looking in earnest for other jobs, and Jonathon even began applying for one in Arizona. I have to admit, I was getting pretty grumpy about the whole thing. He’d been unemployed for three months now, and while a large freelance project in June/July and another smaller one in July, plus Jonathon’s writing gigs, plus my piano teaching had allowed us to coast, I had wanted to move during the summer so that the boys wouldn’t have to move during the school year, especially with Duplo starting kindergarten this year. It would be so hard for him to start kindergarten at one school and then move a month or two later, and unless we kept getting large freelance projects, we were facing either getting a job and moving or not getting a job, running out of money, and moving in with parents in the next few months. I didn’t see any way around moving during the school year.

Anyway, apparently the job-creation thing is a go! It is awesome to think that they were so impressed with Jonathon that they made room for him. He’ll get to work with a guy he used to work with, and they get along great. I think this job is very nearly ideal for him and for our family. (One downside is that he’ll have to shave his beard. But I guess we can’t have everything, right?)

And here I am, at 4:30 a.m., writing this because I can’t sleep. I woke up at 3:00 with El Guapo, and afterward, my mind was buzzing so much with to-do lists and what-ifs and general excitement that I couldn’t fall asleep again. Depending on Jonathon’s start date at the new job, we’re probably going to be moving in two or three weeks. We’ll need to find a place ASAP, as in, hopefully this weekend. I’m supposed to register the boys for school at their current elementary tomorrow, but I’d rather do it at the school they’ll actually be attending, which means I need to know which school that is.

Suddenly all the realities are beginning to sink in: I’ll have to tell my piano students I’m moving. That makes me really sad. I hope they find excellent teachers and don’t just quit. I’ll have to leave my calling in this ward as the primary chorister, which I deeply love. I’ll have to leave my tomatoes behind just as they’re beginning to ripen. I wonder if my landlord would mind friends and family stopping by from time to time to harvest them. I do plan on digging up all the carrots, beets, and lettuce I have in the garden before we go. Isn’t it just human nature to see the “grimy lining” of any great thing? I feel so ungrateful to even be thinking about these things, but any change, no matter how positive, is going to be a tiny bit melancholy because of things left behind.

Well, I was hoping that writing this all out would help me set my thoughts aside enough to sleep, so I’ll stop there. It may be a while before I post again, but I’d like to write up the post about my garden before I leave it and I forget. It was a big part of my life this summer, and I want to remember it.