Aug 10, 2010

The Year of the Yard

It was my mission to clean up our yard this year. There were times over the past few years when I found weeds that were as tall as I am. Or perhaps it was when Evie turned 9 and I realized that we still hadn't built the playhouse we'd intended to build when she was three. Whatever the reason, we decided to do it. It was no small job. But with the help of a professional gardener, and many weekends spent weeding things have turned around and we can really enjoy our yard for the first time.

Since we'd taken a big trip to Disneyland last year we decided to stick close to home this year (though we will be going camping on Orcas Island later in August) and use some of the money we would have spent on a trip to buy outdoor furniture, specifically a double chaise lounge. What I really wanted was a comfortable place in the shade that I could read to the kids. After much searching for ready made cushions we decided to order custom cushions off the internet. I counted down the days waiting for them to arrive. Lucky me, the day they arrived I had nothing scheduled and the weather was nice (we've not had great weather this year).

Or that's what I thought. Before I got them out of the package we found this.

A newborn baby bluebird laying in the middle of the patio! It was incredible to see it fight for life. Since it hadn't got its feathers I swear I could actually see it's heart beating and lungs breathing. It could lift its head even though it was obviously a struggle. He moved his little wings. I knew it was unlikely to survive but boy did we try. How could I not?

We built a nest for it since we could not find it's nest anywhere. Perhaps it was dropped by a predator. We attached it to the bush near the birdbath, using twist ties, hoping it's parent would find it. But it wasn't to be. After a few hours I was amazed this little guy was still hanging on. Against internet advice we gave the baby water using a dropper. It was amazing to watch it's beak open eagerly for that water. Perhaps it was too much for it, the baby passed on shortly afterward. I felt terrible but hope that we gave it comfort and he felt cared for in his final hours. He earned his place in our family plot, next to the baby mice (rats) we tried to save a couple years ago. Alas, the day was gone. My day relaxing in the shade was not to happen.

We have had some happier times in the garden. Picking zucchini.

The kids learned that zucchini is covered in little prickles. They actually hurt a little, but rub off easily.

I wish Ainsley could have come out with us to pick them, but since she can't walk or stand it is just too hard. She hates getting her hands "dirty".

 Despite my best intentions I never did make zucchini bread.

But we did grill all but the biggest one. If you've never tried grilled zucchini you don't know what you're missing. Just slice it about 3/8 - 1/2" thick, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place directly on the grill for a few minutes on each side. Mmmmmmm.

It's been fun for the kids to grow stuff and eat it out of the garden. So far: blueberries, herbs, peas, lettuce, green beans, zucchini, raspberries, strawberries (a few), a single cherry (we got bugs). Yet to come: tomatoes (if the weather improves), apples and pears (if the bugs don't get them). We aren't yielding much in the way of quantity, but it's enough.  That's enough about fruits and veggies.
The size of the double chaise makes a wonderful, comfortable and safe place for Ainsley to play outside. She's really into playing with her dolls lately.
And wants to take them everywhere with her, even to bed. Sweet!

We added a 5th chair to our outdoor dining set so Ainsley officially has a place to sit with the family when we eat outside.....But this is what she likes to do in it. Check out that look on her face! She knows she's not supposed to do that.

I love to see my man using power tools!

Steve built a ladder. The kids have access to the tree house again. Our neighbor was upset by the kids walking on the hillside that borders our properties. So this summer we had to derail plans to finish the tree house and build a fence instead. And that meant removing the original ladder. Of course that didn't stop the kids from climbing the trees to get into it. Nor did it stop the neighbors kids from doing the same thing. I feel much better now knowing they have a safe real ladder. It's looking like the tree house won't get finished this summer. Next year, right?

I really do love that Ainsley doesn't have to sit on the stone and has a comfy place to play. Last week she got the circle shape into the shape sorter all by herself! And the triangle with a little help.

After so many inflatable pools were punctured (by raccoons last year) we finally decided to get the metal frame type. It's a little ghetto and takes up the whole patio but the kids sure love it! They can actually swim in it.

Of course Ainsley likes to get up close and watch. Darn that girl. This is her new "Oh NO, I'm busted!" face. I'm seeing a lot of it lately.

She really is getting to be quite a monkey!

We made a zen fountain. The kids placed river rock in the bowl. Looking at the water running over the Buddha's head is calming. I need that.

Now the only problem is we need some better weather (it's been cool and rainy) and some time to enjoy it. We've started some new therapies and have been shopping for wheelchairs. More about that later.

I hope you all are enjoying these final weeks of summer.


  1. LOVE your!
    I want one like in that movie "It's complicated"
    have you seen it?
    You have Fruit and Vegetables...awesome!!

    Ghetto Pool? Pfft! - we have one of those too, Me likey the ghetto pool on hot days :)
    Our weather has been crappy this summer though, and soon the children will be back in school...Bummer!

    Love your double chaise, and I love the color!

    Seems like Gage is following right there with Ainsely Susan, climbed onto the couch a few days ago, and has started doing the bear walk!
    Don't ya just love it?!
    He seems to becoming more of a boy in his play lately and is liking pulling our hair, I think the girls and I have signed Gentle around twenty times in the past week...Geesh I've had ehough of that!

    Seems like you're having a fun summer, and I LOVE that image of the flower Susan...blow it up and frame it for sure.

    Hugs and all the love in the universe from me to you.

  2. Looks like you have been very busy. Congrats on reclaiming your yard. It is always a work in progress isn't it? It is so nice to see everyone and their smiling faces, even Ainsley's oh-no face! Here is hoping for some warmer days to spend on the chaise!

  3. I bow to you. I have no green all. Love the pics and seeing Ainsley up to no good. Love it!!