November 3, 2018

Busy Planting

Just like the way you can have 15 books on hold at the library, then 10 come in all at once, all my planting chores have piled up this week! 

My big bulb order came in on Tuesday:
100 double narcissus (mixed varieties)
75 hyacinths (25 each of 3 kinds: 'Fondant,' 'Gyspy Queen,' and 'Pink Pearl')
100 Fritillaria meleagris (the checkered lily! can't wait for this one!)
50 anemone giant:  'Monarch de caen' mix

Plus, 10 Norway spruce and 2 lilac bushes from the Arbor Day Foundation.

I knew this was coming, so I was able to get a head start on weeding out the place for all those daffodils, at least! I put them along the left side of the garden.
I have peonies planted about 1 foot away from the fence and 3 feet apart in that area.
So I planted the daffodils in clumps of 10 (or so) in front of and between the peonies.
As I was digging the holes for them, I found a discouraging number of bindweed roots, but I got out as many as I could. I'm hoping the daffodils will help keep the weeds down along Peony Row.

In that same area, I FINALLY got the peonies planted that I got from my mom in August.
I don't know if they are even going to make it. 
There's still space for 2-3 more peonies on the end of the row closest to the lawn.
Probably room for 10 more on the far end--after I get it all weeded out and move the big logs next to the fence. My peony plan is to add some every year. They're expensive! 
They take 3 years to really start producing flowers for cutting, which feels like a long time to wait!

Today was a slightly warmer day (upper 40's), so I was able to get out there and do a little more planting. Not as much as I had hoped, frankly, because we couldn't get the little tiller going.
You see, my plan is to put the hyacinths along the back side of the greenhouse.
There was a small hill of dirt there from when my husband dug out the foundation for the greenhouse.
So I was able to remove that extra dirt and added a small amount of compost on top.
Then, while he was looking at the tiller and trying to fix it, I decided I had better keep going on the next things.

So I moved on to the 10 Norway spruce.
I put in 5 along the west-side fence, between the gravel and the back of the shed.
Assuming we can keep them alive (might be a big assumption), they should form a nice windbreak....eventually. They took a long time to plant, however, because I was digging out the weedy turf to make the holes. Then I brought in backfill from elsewhere in the yard (including the hyacinth hill), in hopes of not returning quite as many weed roots to the soil.
The other 5 I planted just 3-4 feet apart at the far end of the orchard. We don't really know where we want them to go permanently, but this will be a fine spot for them to grow for a year or two until we figure it out.

We have such a deer problem here that the next step was to put up some protection.We used our tomato cages, which didn't work at all for the tomatoes anyway this year, and flipped them upside down, securing them to the ground with extra long landscape staples.
Then we covered each cage with 1" hardware wire. Except that I estimated instead of measuring, so we were short on the hardware wire. By the time we got as many done as I had wire for, it was dark.
That was only 4 out of the 10. Yes. I was way off. 
So, assuming the other 6 last the weekend, I guess I will be going back to the store on Monday to get some more hardware wire. 

Never did get back to my hyacinth bulbs.
Oh well. I guess I'll have my work cut out for me on Monday, won't I?

After that it's just the checkered lilies, which are small and should go fast, and the 2 lilac bushes (which came as 2 tiny sticks--I have my doubts that they will actually grow.)

Last year we had our first big snowfall Nov. 16, so I can feel that clock ticking away.

Once I get these planted and get the garden tilled, I'll heave a sigh of relief and move on to other things!

October 30, 2018

End of October: It Is What It Is

As I was organizing my digital photos yesterday, I realized that I haven't done one of these posts all year! That's about 10 months too long.
I enjoy having a way to look back and see what my garden is like on a month to month basis.
Since we'll probably have snow by the end of next month, there's no time like the present to document this year!

Starting in the backyard:
Looking into the vegetable/cut flower space. Everything is done. 
The kids and I have spent a couple of full days now weeding this, in an attempt to get the worst out before tilling it. It's discouraging, to say the least, especially considering how many hours I spent weeding this summer. 

My goal for next year: NO BARE SOIL. 
Let's make it happen!

Also, please note the newly finished greenhouse!! Yay!
Unheated. Still figuring out how best to use it.

All that remains of the sunflower patch, hung on the fence to allow the birds one last shot at those seeds.

Feverfew around the base of the apple tree.
I planted these as starts from a neighbor this spring. I only got one cut out of them this year, but they are growing and healthy, so I'm hoping next year they will start pumping out the blooms!
Plus, they managed to survive maurading chickens, hot summer days, and an accidental weed-whacking. 
My only qualm is that I've read that they repel bugs, including bees, so you shouldn't plant them near anything you want pollinated. More research must be done on this!
(Not that this apple tree has bloomed at all in the 2 years since we've lived here, but still...)

Foundation of the chicken palace finished just last Saturday!
This will be more than twice as big as their current space.
Here's hoping it will go up quickly, so they can be in it for the winter!

Lilies in crates. 
These aren't looking awesome, but the whole point is for them to grow roots this year and then come back strong next year and bloom. I am finding more spots to tuck them into flowerbeds, as well.
They'll most likely spend the winter in the greenhouse.
Primarily trying to keep them safe from deer/voles.

Our sycamore is shedding its bark. 
I think it has grown. I keep trying to compare photos from last summer, with how it relates to the mountains in the distance. 

This back corner flowerbed has had a rather lackluster year.
Again, despite multiple and sustained attempts at weeding, it is chock full of bindweed. I am generally against using chemicals in the garden, but this bindweed may get a dose of Roundup come spring. Both clematis that I planted along the fence died. The honeysuckle in the far left corner along the fence doesn't look too happy, either. Peonies did fine for their first year--put up foliage. Roses stayed small, but did bloom. I have added yarrow, which is thriving here, and several other things, with mixed success. 

I feel like it needs a big shrub in that corner to anchor it. Not sure what to put there yet.

Moving to the tiny East-side flowerbed along the house:
More lilies! These are definitely looking better than the crate-planted ones.
This flowerbed is overrun with grass.

If the warmer weather holds out for me another couple of weeks, I'm hoping to get this weeded and mulched before winter.

The clematis I planted in this bed, a little further down by the porch railing, hasn't done much, but seems to at least be hanging on. 

Moving around the corner now, to the long skinny beds at the front of the house.

This is going slower than I had hoped.
I put 2 hydrangeas in this year, one in spring and one in fall.
The closest one is a 'Limelight' and the further one is an Oakleaf.
They were expensive! Hence 1 per season.
I also put in a couple of hostas, and moved the existing long line of tulips into a couple of clumps.

This is the other half of the front shade beds.
I've got some lovely pansies to show here, and not much else!
I plan to put in matching hydrangeas, and then go about filling in the spaces.

Moving to the beds along the front fence now.

This is the corner bed on the right, with the ornamental plum tree in it.
I just recently planted a patch of snowdrops in here, and when the rest of my bulbs come next week, I'm planning to fill that back corner with the purple-checkered Snake's Head Fritillary. I think the combination with the early plum leaves will be stunning.
I've also added some small purple alliums, a 'Banana Daquiri' geum, and a mini rose.

Looking down the line.
This bed did fine this year.
Nothing spectacular, as the peonies and roses are still very young.
A handful of blooms from the roses; the peonies all put up nice foliage.

I added some lilies to the ends, and the Nepeta 'Junior Walker' catmint, (on the left), which has begun to fill out nicely. I'm worried that the roses didn't get planted deeply enough for our winters, but they seem to be healthy and thriving, so I plan to just mulch deeply and hope for the best.

Now for the driveway corner bed on the other end.
This is where I have probably added the most new things this year: sedum, some heirloom irises, more alliums, another 'Banana Daquiri' geum, mini rose, lilies, more muscari.
Can't forget the scabiosa either!

I bought these 2 in the spring, one pink, and one purple, and plopped them in.
I have been cutting flowers from them ever since!
As the season has gone on, the flowers have just gotten bigger and more beautiful.
Plus, this was taken today and we have had several hard frosts that have killed just about everything else. Look at them go! Yes, I am adding more scabiosa (pincushion flower) next year!

Finally, we get to the oval flowerbed on the west side of the house.

This is another bed inundated with bindweed. I can't seem to stay on top of it!
I've been pleased this year with the roses and the agastache.
This bed has several plantings of perennial bachelor's buttons in deep purple, which have flowered nonstop all summer. I have had to keep pulling out dead stems and leaves, but doing so seems to rejuvenate it! I have used these extensively for cut flowers. 
I will say, though, the quality was by far the best in the spring.
Summer I couldn't use much of it, because all the leaves were bug eaten and the buds didn't look so great either. Fall it has picked back up again and even survived multiple frosts.

The yellow leaves you see are ninebark 'Dart's Gold.'
I wasn't sure it would survive after last year, but both bushes have filled out nicely.
I'm looking forward to using more of it in my arrangements next year.
The pie cherry tree is still alive, although it didn't seem to grow much this year.
I'm hoping next year it takes off and provides some much needed height to this bed.
I also added 2 varieties of asters to the bed and some heirloom irises.

Well, that's the recap!
I know it was long--congratulations if you made it all the way through!

I am starting a whole bunch of perennials from seed, so next I should have all kinds of lovely plants to fill in these beds!

September 21, 2018

Mini Theme: Off the Deep End

Of the book reviews I had yet to post, a handful of them had a rather dubious connection: characters that went off the deep end, taking others with them. Unfortunately, these stories all happened to be true. Yup.

It is fascinating to read about dysfunction--more so than happiness, I'm sorry to say. Unless the happiness has been hard-won after some bouts of misery. I had a writing professor say once that "Only misery is interesting." I suppose that has some truth in it.

So these books have their share of misery, coupled with some generous doses of mental illness. So if you find yourself drawn to these types of stories, dive in! Leave me a comment letting me know which was your favorite on the list.

p.s. Yes, the first one on the list was from nearly a year ago! High time to get this review published and out the door!

Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy, by Paul Thomas Murphy

3 stars: Interesting, but very detailed; a bit long to get through in parts.

Did you know that there were 8 different attempts on Queen Victoria's life during her reign? I didn't either. In fact, there's a lot I didn't know about Queen Victoria prior to reading this book.

For each assassination attempt, Murphy goes into detail about the man who was behind the weapon. His background, family situation, previous employment, mental health, and much more. The steps and planning leading up to each crime were similarly brought forward, with a blow-by-blow account of each attempt at the climax.

Then we learn about what happened to each of the men, including their trials, and any incarceration or other punishment meted out. This leads into side discussions of the judicial system in England at the time, various prisons and their histories, and so on. Back to the main topic, we also see how Queen Victoria and Albert handled each incident, and the effect on the monarchy itself. Surprisingly, each attempt greatly strengthened the love of the people for their Queen and the influence of the monarchy itself.

I liked this one; it was a good read. I just had to take it a bit at a time and keep coming back to it. I didn't realize that Victoria and Albert had 8 children, nor did I remember that he died so young leaving her a widow. Their love story was neat to learn more about.

Though they were diversions off the main topic, I was also interested in the way the law changed over the years, to deal with these men. The original crime for "taking a pop at the Queen" was high treason, with life imprisonment if the Queen pardoned him, or hanging if not. It became clear over time, however, that some of the attempts were copycat crimes, or for notoriety rather than actually wanting to kill the Queen, or even as a ticket out of poverty at the expense of the crown (prisoners had their room and board provided, after all) and so on. So the law and subsequent punishments were changed to administer public shame and embarrassment, rather than death or life imprisonment.

If you liked this one, here are 2 more for you about the lives of royal ladies: To Be A Queen.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, by Simon Winchester

3 stars: Quite interesting.

Writing and compiling the definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary was a huge undertaking, spanning several decades, and eventually filling several volumes. The head of the project for most of that time, James Murray, decided on an extra thorough and time-intensive approach. He solicited quotations from the general public. The idea being that each quotation, from all types of literary and old texts, would show the various nuances of the word in question. The quotations then had to be read and checked and decided upon one at a time for inclusion into the OED or not.

So, in the meantime, there was a Dr. Minor, who suffered from hallucinations and delusions and who murdered a man based on these delusions. Dr. Minor was locked up in an insane asylum for this murder. It was, however, certainly not a padded cell. He had a sitting room and over the years procured quite an extensive library. He lived most of his life in this asylum.

During his incarceration, he heard the call for submissions for the dictionary. This type of quotation treasure hunt amongst his books was just what he needed to fill the long days. He became one of the most prolific contributors to the OED, and even would contact Murray at times to see what words were being worked on and if there were any in particular that still needed quotations. Murray didn't realize that Minor was in the asylum until many years into their correspondence.

* * * * *
I'm glad I read this one. I enjoy learning more about these niches of history that otherwise I would know nothing about. Now I want to go peruse the OED, though I doubt our small-town American library would have a copy.

Content: Many of Minor's hallucinations were sexual in nature. While not graphically described, I wouldn't give this one to my kids to read.

Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier, by Tom Kizzia

3 stars: Chilling, but with some hope at the end.

The Pilgrim family consisted of Papa and Mama, and 15 children. They moved up to the tiny Alaskan village of McCarthy, and proceeded to make themselves right at home. In fact, they set up living in an abandoned copper mine a ways out from the settlement, and began building a home, and making roads in to their place.

As far as anyone knew, they were God-fearing Christians, who all had a bent for folk music. They were quite charming in their homemade clothes, and the children were not shy about making friends and talking to the other folk in the town. They seemed like a happy, homeschooled, "back to the earth" type bunch, who didn't care what other people though about them.

The longer they lived there, however, the more trouble started sprouting up around them. It seems they didn't actually purchase the land they had settled on. Also, the National Park Service was getting pretty bent out of shape about the roads (bulldozed through federally protected land). When the NPS sent out a representative to start a dialogue about it, however, the Pilgrim family resisted mightily and vocally. McCarthy soon became split in its views as to whether or not the Park Service had the right to kick out the Pilgrims.

That wasn't the worst of it. The cracks began to show in the Pilgrim family's fa├žade of brightness and goodness, too. The children more often than not appeared woefully neglected; and became downright surly to anyone trying to talk with them. People began missing things from their homes or yards, and there began to rumors flying about the living conditions up at the Pilgrim's homestead.

All was not right in the world of the Pilgrims and before it was all said and done, their story would be big news.

* * * * *
This book had me at "Alaska Frontier." I am quite predictable that way. Anything featuring my home state immediately perks up my interest.

This was quite the story. An entire family completely held captive, basically, by their father--a man who reinvented himself as needed to make his next conquest. A man who ruled his little kingdom with an iron fist, while claiming to have sanction from God. The worst kind of evil--evil that masquerades as God's will.

Those poor kids, growing up in a home rampant with all kinds of abuse and neglect. It goes most into the story of the oldest daughter, and what she did that brought everything to light. The author first came across this story as a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News.

I found the land use debate quite interesting as well. Though it was sparked off by this family's resistance to government "meddling," it was more of a backdrop to what was really going on with them.

Content: Physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. For adults.


* * * * *
Have you read anything lately that would fit my mini theme?

September 19, 2018

Pat of Silver Bush, by L. M. Montgomery

I am slowly trying to read every L.M. Montgomery book and review them all on this blog! So, I found this one that I had never read before. I love the cover art in the edition I got. However, this book has sat on my bookshelf untouched for many months before I finally picked it up the other day.

Pat of Silver Bush, by L. M. Montgomery

2 stars: It was okay, I guess. My least favorite of hers so far.

Pat Gardiner lives at Silver Bush, along with her family and the family's old nurse Judy who has been with them forever and ever. Our little Pat is a precocious girl, who is fiercely attached to everything and everyone that she loves: each member of her family, Judy, and Silver Bush itself. She is violently opposed to change of any kind coming into her world, but particularly change that effects any of the inner circle.

In fact, she despises change so much that she is inconsolable when her father shaves off his mustache, and quite distraught when her favorite aunt gets married. Yes, little changes and even happy events cause no small amount of heartache to Pat. She does get over such things, eventually, and sometimes even comes to prefer the new state of things to the old. Not that she will readily admit it.

No matter what happens, though, Judy is there to give her counsel, tell her ghost stories, or comfort her. Judy is the rock around which her little world spins. Thank goodness for Judy!

* * * * *
I had a hard time getting into this one. One obstacle was Judy's speeches. She was almost more of a main character than Pat, and had quite a bit of dialogue on nearly every page, all of it written in dialect form. It took some getting used to. You almost had to read some of the passages out loud to figure out what she was trying to say. So that was distracting and kept pulling me out of the story.

Secondly, and I almost hate to say this, but I didn't care for Pat all that much. She was so deeply affected by every little thing and would get so upset about it. I had to just shake my head a lot. She would be difficult to live with in real life, that's for sure. If you couldn't so much as rearrange the furniture without her heart breaking over it; as a parent, I would have a hard time putting up with it. Or I would I laugh at it, which no doubt would make her my mortal enemy.

Judy's sayings were at times funny, but she really stole the spotlight for most of the book. I think it should have been called "Judy of Silver Bush," really. She was much more interesting than poor little Pat of the deep emotions.

I think I will read Mistress Pat, just to check it off my list, but I'm not looking forward to it much.
(A sad thing to say about any L.M. Montgomery book.) Maybe the sequel will redeem the first.


September 16, 2018

September Bloom Day

Boy, it's been awhile since I've done one of these posts! 
There has been so much else to do, my camera hasn't ever been the same since the fire, blah blah blah. Anyway, I'm ready to get back on the bandwagon! 

So, without further ado, here's a peak at what's blooming in my garden right now:

Sunflowers! These are in my cutting garden, and I have had way more than I could use or sell this year. Hoping to change that next year, with better marketing, but for now they have sure been a cheerful addition to the backyard!
Check out that gigantic bloom front and center! Loving that!

Also for cutting, these Bells of Ireland just keep going and going!
This is my first time growing them, and I am amazed at how prolific they are.
I've cut some to dry as well--they turn a beautiful ivory color when dry.

These bachelor's buttons are also part of my cutting garden.
I love the burgundy! I've also got blues, pinks, and purples still going out there, as well.

Moving up front now:

The English roses along the front fence have put out a handful of blooms this year.
Since I only planted them in April, I wasn't expecting much more than that.
I am already looking forward to the day when they will cover the fence with those gorgeous, peachy pink blossoms. This variety is 'A Shropshire Lad.'

In my front oval bed, the perennial bachelor's buttons are coming around again.

I had to get a picture of that huge bumblebee that was buzzing around the blossoms.
I've pulled out handfuls of dead or dying leaves and blossoms, and the plants seem to be reviving now. At first I was carefully cutting out the dead parts, but lately it has literally just been grabbing and yanking. The stems break off near the bottom and away we go.
Earwigs seem to love the inner layers of these, and I especially dislike earwigs, so I am happy to take away their habitat.

Same bed.
This lovely purple is hummingbird mint, or agastache.
Yes, I have seen hummingbirds sipping nectar from it on several occasions this summer.
It is so tall and airy. It's a bit too big for this bed as is, but I think as everything grows a bit more around it, it will be just right. 
Those gorgeous roses behind it have bloomed all summer, as well. They go from a soft yellow/orange, to sunset peach, to a cream with hot pink highlights.  I wish I knew what kind they were, but they were already here when we moved in.

So, that's just a little of what I've got blooming.
What's going on in your neck of the woods? 
Check out May Dreams Gardens for more Bloom Day posts.
And yes, I am late! (Usually they go up on the 15th of each month.)

September 14, 2018

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

I just read this one a few days ago, on the morning it was due to go back to the library. My daughter had been trying to tell me about it, but the details were getting a bit mixed up, so I decided to just read it for myself. I'm glad I did. It has been awhile since I've read middle grade fiction, actually, so it was a nice change of pace.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
2008 Caldecott medal winner

4 stars: Nice mix of narrative in picture and word forms.

Hugo is a boy who lives in a train station in Paris. His father repairs clocks and anything mechanical at a museum. There's an automoton that his father comes across in the attic of the museum. It's broken. Together the two of them begin to fix it, excited to see what it will do once it's back in working order.

Then his father dies in an fire at the museum. Hugo is left on his own, under the care of his drunken uncle, who is the timekeeper at the train station. Eventually, the uncle leaves too, so Hugo is truly on his own. He knows enough about the clocks (from his uncle) and has enough mechanical know-how (from his father) that he is able to keep the clocks going himself. He has managed to salvage the automaton from the ashes of the museum, so he does his best to start repairing it again as well. He steals food every day and tries to stay out of sight and away from the Station Inspector.

Then one day he steals something from the toy shop booth in the station, and the old man who runs the booth catches him. Piece by piece, his carefully constructed world comes crashing down. What arises in its place will surprise him.

* * * * *
This book is at least half illustrations. Many sections of the story are told entirely in pictures, then the narrative picks back up in words. The book itself is very large for a middle grade book, for that reason.

I enjoyed the mix. Selznick did a great job of integrating the two forms, so that it was fairly seamless. There didn't seem to be any holes in the plot from going back and forth. It was interesting to see what the pictures conveyed vs. what the text said. Obviously, with the text you get to "hear" what the character is thinking, and understand more of their backstory, and the motivations behind their actions. The pictures are more visceral, bringing the emotions to the forefront, and leaving quite a bit as a mystery.

It was very well done. I can see why it won the Caldecott. It would be especially great for kids who aren't very strong readers. It's such a huge book, but goes by so quickly with all the pictures, I would bet they would really feel proud of themselves for finishing it. I can imagine they would be that much more motivated to read the words, too, to find out what's going on in the pictures.

I really liked the ending.

Now I need to check out Wonderstruck again! (I got it for my daughter after this one, but she's already read it and sent it back to the library.)

Do you have a favorite of Selznick's books?

August 23, 2018

Summer Recap

School starts in less than a week, so time to recap this year's summer. It bore a passing resemblance to summers of the past, but in many ways was its own unique beast.

Thumbs Up:

1. Utah living, for the win!
We saw SO MUCH family this summer! It has been awesome! My family had a reunion up in Idaho, with every sibling there and almost all the spouses too. Most of the grandkids.
    The kids and I have taken several 2-4 day trips to see grandparents on both sides. We have all gotten very quick and efficient at packing our overnight bags. It has been so fun to be able to just take off for a couple of days! In fact, we're squeezing in one more at the end of this week. Good times!
   We've had several family members visit us at our house, too, and there have been many day trips both ways (them coming and us going) for special events or just because. This continues to be, by far, the best thing about living here.

2. Hiking.
From mountain canyons to dinosaur trackways, we have done a lot of fun hikes this summer. Our most recent hike, we ran into 3 bikers. When they saw my little one in her shaded, cushioned ride in the hiking backpack, they said, "Well, one of you has it made." Yep, she's the baby princess and gets to ride along, enjoy the scenery, and dribble snacks down her Daddy's neck. I have been proud of the rest of us making it on our own leg power!

3. Mini Vacations
I guess this goes along with #2, but we have done a couple of fun mini vacays this summer. Most notably, to Vernal and Dinosaur land, but also more recently the "Use up all the gift cards" vacation to places close to home. We saw "Christopher Robin" in the theater and realized it was the first time my 6 year old has ever been to a movie theater. Wow.

4. Flower, flowers, flowers!
With my business going, I have spent more time working on and playing with flowers than any summer ever before! It has been really good for me to practice putting together bouquets, and so fun to have dedicated garden space just for cutting flowers. Much more I could say about this--maybe the next post!

5. Mix it up.
I felt like we had a really good mix this summer of going out and about, then staying home and getting stuff done/recouping. We've had some fun outings, plenty of time to read and do arts and crafts, and more or less kept to a routine of chores and music practicing. It has been a good mix. At least for this introvert. I usually enjoy the time and whirl of social interactions and big activities, but then I always need to recharge in a quieter, less busy place.

6. Baby hugs.
My sweet baby turned 1! She is so cute and huggable and just so fun. She keeps us all laughing. She's the one we all hug when we're feeling bad and then we feel better.

Thumbs down:

1. Bickering makes me insane.
For real. With all the fun and good days, we had some of those days where my little darlings just couldn't stop bothering each other. FOR THE LOVE! JUST STOP IT! At the end of the worst one I told my husband that I wanted to run away from home. I meant it. I would have come back after a day or two. I just couldn't take one more second of it. It's like being pecked to death by chickens. No one big incident, but just a thousand nonstop small things and everyone unhappy and making everyone else unhappy. Ug. The worst.  

2. Balance is tricky.
With this business I've been getting off the ground, there have been too many days when I've been working outside or on the computer, while the kids do their own thing. I usually have them do chores and practicing while I'm working on stuff, but still. Sometimes not.
  In summers past, I have been better about planning regular fun activities to do together. While we have done some things, I haven't done nearly as well at that.

  Related: there is always more work to be done in every sector. When I spend time on my business, the rest of life still goes on. So meanwhile, my housework is neglected and other areas of my life take a backseat. Or I do really well at home stuff, but have that nagging in the back of my mind of all that still needs to be done outside. It can lead do me feeling stressed and like I'm failing at everything. I'm working on that.
  I am hopeful that adding a little more structure/schedule into our summer next year will help with that. Maybe that will look like setting aside certain afternoons for certain types of activities, or maybe having certain days blocked out for business/flowers, then making a conscious effort to do more with the kids on the other times. We'll see. More work and thought needed here.

3. Where have all the friends gone?
While we did see tons of family this summer, getting together with friends has been a struggle! We've tried multiple times with different friends and really only had success with a couple of my daughter's friends. Everyone has been super busy, I guess. Or maybe most people we know also have a lot of family around? I don't know, but either way, we had a hard time finding kids at home for our kids to play with!

It's totally opposite of our summers in Washington. There, we would take our usual trip down to see family for about a week, then the whole rest of the summer was playtime with friends! (That was all we had out there, after all.) I'm hoping that will change next year, as we continue to make friends and get to know people better.

 * * * * *
So really, only 3 challenging categories. The good has outweighed the bad, for sure.

I am always happy for school to start. I loved school growing up, and I'm happy for the opportunities for learning, growth, and fun, that my kids will have.

This year I'll only have my baby at home during the days, which will be very different. It should be good, though. She'll probably be super bored without all her playmates! I'm really hoping to be able to power up during her naptimes, especially, and get a bunch of stuff done.

We got down the box of fall decorations today, but I'm not letting the kids put them up until next month, at least. I've got to say goodbye to summer before I dive into fall. It's coming quickly, though!

Do you have traditions that help you transition from one season to the next? Do tell!