Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This is my last night of freedom before my summer class starts. The PowerPoint notes for tomorrow night's first class meeting include a slide titled "course workload" with a grid displaying time (May, June, July) on the horizontal axis. The vertical axis (bottom to top) reads: "easy," "normal," "threshold of pain," "ouch." Yeah, it's gonna be that kind of class. At least the "ouch" peak is in early July and then the trajectory heads back below the "threshold of pain" for the rest of the month.

So we've been enjoying the heck out of these 10 days between the spring and summer semesters. The first Monday night of "summer" (which starts locally as soon as the spring semester ends and most students leave town), John came home from work and suggested we scrap our dinner plans and head downtown to our favorite burger place to celebrate. It was a great idea and a lovely evening. Daniel had been through a few shirts that day, and I didn't even really realize he was wearing this one until college students (there are a few lingering) were pointing and snickering. After dinner, we walked to the Old Capitol, the heart of our campus and let the boys climb the steps. Then Edward wanted to see the theater where he'd gone on his field trip, and as we walked down the block for another look, we happened to pass an ice cream store, and we happened to go in and get two kids scoops of ice cream. But this is the image that truly captures the magic of the evening. Later in the week, we took an afternoon trip to the park in our old neighborhood, where we discovered Edward's new climbing skills. He'd never gone more than about two footholds up this wall before, but this day, the wall was conquered. Over and over and over again. It was as much fun to watch as to climb, I think. We also dropped in on a former neighbor, who was gracious enough to let Daniel use his bathroom. Then he disappeared to his basement to find two small trucks he'd picked up at a local event several months ago and had been saving for the boys' next visit. They were pleased.

In other news, Edward's beans have sprouted and appear to be thriving in his pot. We definitely haven't seen a 1:1 ratio of bean seeds planted to sprouts appearing, but he does not care at all. The two or three sprouts in the pot are pure delight. We have a few more seeds to plant next week to help support a continuing harvest. The tomatoes are growing taller and the basil is also flourishing. All are quite well hydrated with the rain water collecting in our new rain barrel.One of the Saturdays I was in class, John and the boys went to get this at an event a local environmental group was holding. In the week between our purchase and its installation, we missed out on collecting torrential rains, but no matter. It takes surprisingly little rain to fill it. We've already installed an overflow hose, just in case we don't take enough out for the plants in between the summer storms. Edward loves using the spigot to fill his bucket. Daniel would also like to help himself, but has not yet mastered the concept of closing the spigot when he's done. Close supervision required.

In a slightly more expensive water activity, John used the occasion of our first heat wave of the summer to enlist the boys' "help" in washing the car on Sunday afternoon. The bumpers and license plates have never been so clean! But they filled a warm afternoon with cool, wet fun, so what more could we ask? Jumping back a bit in time, I'll also note that we had a nice Mother's Day visit with John's extended family at his grandparents' home in Chariton. John's cousin has three kids, the youngest of whom is Edward's age. They're now finally at an age where they can actually play together and it's fun to watch them mix and match. Edward actually spent quite a bit of time outside breaking open rocks with Chloe, age 9. And Daniel and Bailey (4) chased each other full of giggles. This is how they said good-bye.And so it goes. Busy as always. We'll try to keep up to date with our summer fun, but if you're feeling neglected, keep in mind that I'm on a path toward "ouch" and may not always have time to come up for air.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

So, the past four weeks have found all three Kenyon boys solo because Mary has been taking an intensive MBA class that required her to be gone Friday evenings and all day Saturday. We managed, but I'm glad to have her back on the weekend team.

While I had to use some creative ways to corral them early on (see above right), we reached an understanding early on and had a great time. Most of our Saturdays involved trips to the Iowa City Public Library, which continues to be a great diversion for them (and I don't just say that because I'm on the library's board). One week they had an Earth Day program with lots of activities, while another was a special May Day program complete with Maypole.

One of the Saturdays we skipped the library and went to a 4H AgFest at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. They pack a lot into a couple of buildings, giving the boys the chance to pet animals, learn about agriculture, meet a police officer and ride on a small carousel. We did this last year, too, so it was interesting to see how much more engaged both boys were. Edward seemed to get into things more, and Daniel interacted with the animals more this year, too.

They also have become very adept jumpers, using our living room furniture as a jungle gym. Each seems to jump a little higher and a little farther than the day before, and I fear what will happen when they max out the recreational abilities of our couch. The video below shows some of their prowess/parent-scaring skills

Yesterday brought a graduation party for a friend of Mary's who was a year ahead of her in the MBA program. It was a chance to celebrate her success and see friends, but also a test-run for what we'll be doing this time next year when Mary finishes her degree. It was a nice, laid-back affair, and Daniel got into the spirit of things by lounging in this hammock chair. He didn't stay there long, but was comfy while it lasted.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sunday was a beautiful day for yard work. With the forecast finally showing no signs of overnight freezing, it was time to move some hostas. The area you see the boys "prepping" was empty all last summer. We let them dig there until we discovered that neighborhood cats considered it a latrine. I resolved to plant there this year to discourage such use. Not sure it will make much difference, but at least the boys won't play in it. We had extra bags of dirt after we filled the pots for our tomatoes, basil and green beans, so before digging the hostas for transplant we tilled in some fresh topsoil and compost since this area was quite dry and depleted. Then the boys were quite enthusiastic about the watering task. Daniel waters himself as much as the plants.

They each had received a packet of seeds a the Saturday morning library program. Daniel's was a mix of various flowers, which we planted between the hostas, and Edward got beans, which he carefully planted in his very own pot. We decided on container gardening this year after last year's tomato and basil withered in our clay soil. The cool summer may also have contributed, but I thought this was worth trying anyway. We read on the package that it will be about 50 days to harvest for the beans so we counted days on the calendar and Edward wrote a "B" on June 21. Fingers crossed they actually grow!

And one more amusing Edward anecdote in this brief update. Yesterday after watering in the backyard, we came around to the front to ride bikes. At one point, Edward parked his bike across the sidewalk and said, "The road is under construction, can't come through!" Then he stood looking at me, winking one eye and then the other, over and over. I finally laughed and asked, "Edward, why are you winking at me?"

"That's the construction lights," he replied, as if I were a complete dunderhead. He was mimicking the on/off blinking lights on a construction barricade. Perhaps you had to be there, but I have to say this struck me as hilarious.