Aug 27, 2011

Shafer Butte

Today our friends Shaun and Chelsea had a great idea to beat the summer heat. They suggested that we take a quick drive out of town to Shafer Butte, go on a short hike and then have a picnic dinner. It was awesome. The hike was lovely and easy, the food tasty and mother nature didn't disappoint. She regaled us with awesome vistas, perfect temperatures and even a soaring eagle. It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon with friends.
On the trail.

Porter still loves hiking.

Even though the flowers were past their prime, the colors and meadows were delightful.

Now almost 3 years old, and rockin' the quint-double pony, Lucy is a seasoned outdoor enthusiast.

Can you see the fairies and magical wee ones? I just know they're there.

Shaun enjoying a moment of solitude.

Taking it all in. I think these boys look alike in this pic.

Lucy got to hitch a ride with her dad, lucky girl.

Porter loves his aunt Chelsea, and I do too!

Aug 24, 2011

Gettin' My Groove Back

It's been 7.5 months since my life was turned on it's head when Porter was born. The time has passed so quickly and I've enjoyed every moment, but I certainly haven't been in my right mind for most of that time. The initial hormone ebbs and flows, lack of sleep, no routines and general uncertainty that comes with a new baby makes for a somewhat limited view of the world. Thankfully that's all changing.

In previous posts I've mentioned possibilities on the horizon, and one was my new job with Heart Hugger. The other opportunity came in the way of a possible new home purchase. While walking my neighborhood a few months ago I came upon a lovely house that was for sale and I made an inquiry about it. Once we took the tour, it became a very appealing home for us to potentially raise our family in. It was big, had a pool, and needed just enough updating so that we could make it our own. I even coined it the "barbie dream home." We went through all the steps to get financing and everything else a family needs to consider when buying a new home, but in the end we decided that now isn't the right time for us to make this kind of a commitment.

What did come out of the "barbie dream home" were many conversations and realizations about where we are now and where we're headed in the future. We reevaluated our finances, which was a bit of a shock to my system and had some really difficult discussions about money. In the end our little family came out on top and we're stronger than ever. I also realized that while the "barbie dream home" would have been pretty awesome for us to have, what I really looked forward to was doing something new and different. My mind and body were ready to start getting back into a routine and back in shape.

For my new mommy friends who are reading this, I'm sure there are new mom's who get back into the swing of life much faster than 7 months post-partum, and there are no doubt women who take longer than that too. Even though your life with baby has changed so very much, rest assured that when you're ready, life is right there waiting for you to take the reigns and start getting involved again. When you do, there is such a greater appreciation for what you're capable of, for the moments you have with your own thoughts and for how truly blessed you are, right now in this moment.  Here are the ways that I know I'm gettin' my groove back:

  • I decided that I was ready for ME time. So I joined the Y and started working out 4 times a week while Porter stays home with his dad. Not only has this been great for my mental and physical health, but Luke also really enjoys the time he gets to spend with his son.
  • Getting a part time job that I can do from home feels wonderful. I'm able to bring in more money for our household, I get to be creative, and it involves legitimate discussions with other adults.
  • I actually get dressed in the morning, rather than wearing my PJ's all day. 
  • There is food in my fridge and pantry that I'm able to eat at regular times throughout the day. I've never appreciated square meals so much in my life!
  • Our day starts with something of a routine. This has been a true revelation.
  • The house gets cleaned regularly. I thought that when I was at home with the baby that it would be easy to be a homemaker and a mommy. I was wrong, very very wrong. My job is to be a mom to my son and that meant housework had to wait. Finally, we decided that on Saturday mornings both Luke and I would clean the whole house and then we could spend the rest of the week living in it. It makes me feel so much more comfortable to know that my home is clean and I'm not constantly fretting over when it's all going to get done.
  • We made a budget and are actually sticking to it. Thanks to Wells Fargo Online Banking it's easy to see how much money we really spend, right down to the penny. Who knew it would work so well, or how much we actually spend?!
  • I made plans for the garden and have been getting quotes from landscapers about prepping the yard for fall planting. It's actually going to happen!!
  • I bathe regularly and even shave my legs, woohoo!  For the new mommies: Aunt Flo also came by for a visit 7 months after baby. I would have been happy to be one of those new mommies who didn't see her for 12-14 months, but the break was nice while it lasted. Sorry if that was TMI anyone, but I wish someone had told me to expect a hiatus in that area so I would have looked forward to it rather than freaked out about being broken somehow.
  • This week I started separating my laundry into colors and whites again. My whites thank me.
  • Porter started sleeping for 8 hour stretches at night, which has been quite a gift. Thanks to the Ferber method, waiting for the right time for me to let go a little, a bedtime routine, and a husband who was willing to watch the baby monitor while Porter learned how to self soothe. It wasn't pretty, but it was textbook and the crying only lasted for 2-3 nights. So far bedtime has been something of a dream, total pun intended!
A few of my new plans are pretty big projects, but I am always grateful for the small blessings too. I figure if my son is getting his life in order and getting coordinated enough to crawl already, then I'm right there with him. Here's a quick video of his new skill that he picked up this week. He doesn't go very far yet, but he's already getting good at crawling to me and lifting his arms to be picked up. For the moment, it's nice to be loved and wanted by such a cutie baby as he.

Aug 22, 2011

Hot Child In The City

Kids may be returning to school this week, but summer is making her presence known in Boise with temperatures in the high 90's and it's predicted to reach 100 degrees later this week. It's HOT! Since we have an old house, there isn't any air conditioning built in. If we were really desperate we could make some window units work, but after many summers in the high desert we've learned how to beat the heat, save some $$$ and lower our carbon footprint just a little. Here's how we do it, so if you're feeling adventurous you can try to stay cool on a budget too:
  • Shut all the windows and blinds  during the day to keep the sun/heat out and any cool air in
  • Open your windows at night and work those fans to get maximum air flow during the coolest part of the night
  • Turn off appliances, computers and televisions while they're not it use. I found that our computer and tv monitors put off enough heat to warm your hands in the winter.
  • During the hottest part of the day be still, like a lizard
  • Sometimes, it's nicer in the shade of a tree during the hot part of the day and then your body heat isn't heating the house
  • Get a portable evaporative cooler aka "swamp cooler"
  • When you really need to beat the heat and get out of the house, take a dip in the kiddie pool. 

Cherish the heat while you can (unless you live on the coast and it's not sunny until September!) soon the leaves will be dropping, temperatures chilling and the holidays will be upon us. Happy summer my fellow lizards!

Aug 17, 2011

Something New

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had some exciting opportunities on the horizon. Well, one of those came through in the form of a new position in my dad's company, Heart Hugger. As of yesterday I am the Director of Social Media Marketing. I'm really excited about this new opportunity for a few reasons: I can do it from home, I've wanted to work with this company for a LONG time, and it's a new and creative challenge.  After the realization that I wasn't starting the new school year as a teacher I decided that my brain and schedule are ready for a little more structure and creativity. So, right now you can become a Heart Hugger fan on Facebook, and eventually find us on all the other social media outlets too. The content I post will be interesting, helpful, and pertinent to everyone, so check it out!

In Porter news, I finally captured his two bottom teeth in a picture!

He's totally entertained by the giant bear from his Aunt Katie.

Aug 11, 2011


Seven months ago, this week, we brought home a newborn baby boy. Well, he just keeps getting bigger! Here's a smorgasbord of photos from the last week.

To beat the summer heat we spend the late afternoons in our front yard in the shade of our maple tree. I also found the rapid photo button on my camera and caught some interesting faces.

Who needs an African safari when you can watch the cats bask in the front yard?

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Porter, he's a talker and often a yeller.

Thanks to Chelsea's sister, Lissa, for the great bubble idea. Porter was entertained, or at least very curious for at least 20 minutes, and it helped clean off the tray, BONUS! He's sticking out his tongue just like his dad, very focused.

Like I said, a yeller.
Then Olive came along. These day's kitties are always the most interesting thing around.

 That's my boy!

 He got me.

Red triangle, meet blue star.

Here's a video of Misty getting some serious attention from Porter. She's the only kitty that will come near him these days because his love is so, well, intense. Sorry the video is so dark, had to work with what I had in that moment.

Aug 8, 2011

Garden: Revolution

Before I really get into the gardening part of this post, let me give you a little background as to why I'm so pumped up about working on our ever expanding garden. As most of you know, before I was Porter's mom I was a teacher at Challenger School. For me, teaching is a calling. It is what I was born to do and it comes very very easily. As someone who wasn't an especially good student, I'm a great teacher. I knew I wanted to be a teacher from when I was in second grade, and moving to Idaho allowed me to fulfill that destiny.

I worked at Challenger for almost 5 school years. I taught preschool 3 year olds through first grade. The majority of my teaching was with kindergarteners. There were many things I loved about teaching but the top few reasons were:
  • while the routine stayed the same, everyday is different
  • I relate really well with young children
  • I love to sing and be silly
  • watching children learn to read, write and explore their growing world is an incredibly satisfying and rewarding experience
I stopped teaching in November 2010, not expecting that I would be pregnant for another 2.5 months. It was a glorious time to reflect on my past career and prepare for my next calling as Porter's mom, which I embraced whole heartedly.

Since finishing at Challenger I have been asked by many people, in the last 9 months, if I missed working. My response was always no. I certainly couldn't leave my new baby with anyone other than family, of which there is non in Idaho. I still wouldn't change my answer today. I love getting to be with my baby to watch him grow and make sure that he receives the kind of attention that I think he deserves at this young age. 

My friend Chelsea has recently taken a job teaching preschool at Challenger, and today is her first day of training. Up until today I was always sure that I wouldn't miss working, but to my surprise I was wrong. Knowing that today is the first day for all of my co-teachers, and I'm not there, makes my heart ache in a way that I hadn't expected. I'm realizing as the day progresses that I miss the anticipation of the new school year, the preparation, camaraderie and the feeling of beginning the school year anew. I think I am mourning the end of a really good relationship. One that I left to begin another amazing relationship, but it's not until now that I realize how much I miss teaching.

Thankfully, there are a few things that are helping me improve my mood today. One is that I get to spend my days (and nights) with this cool cat,

Ready for our morning stroll to the store and to grab a latte. Gotta protect those baby blues! 
Another is the knowledge that I will have many opportunities to go back to teaching once my kid(s) are older. It's a profession that isn't going anywhere. The final thing that is helping me move forward is a large project that has been ongoing since we bought our house 6 years ago, and that is the improvement of our large and majorly unlanscaped backyard. It is this project that gives me something to look forward to, and gives me the opportunity to dig my hands into the earth and make something grow. Not unlike teaching, watching a garden move from dry, parched earth to a fecund oasis is heart warming.

When we bought our home in Boise there was no landscaping and the two large trees in the front yard were dying and had to be removed.  This left us with close to 1/4 acre of weeds, dirt and some crazy grass that grows in the spring and fall when it rains. For my birthday about 4 years ago I received a pre-designed low water garden from High Country Gardens. This was a great gift and it gave life to our sad front yard.
Our house when we first bought it. Those two trees had to be taken down immediately because they were threatening to fall on our house or our neighbors houses.
After getting most of the roots from the old trees removed we planted a Norwegian Maple in their place. As you can see, there was dead grass and weeds as a ground cover. Not as pretty as it could be in my opinion.

We also planted 3 hydrangeas in the planter directly in front of the house. They fit in the back seat of the Corolla.

 This is what  they look like today. They are taller than me and touch from side to side.

 They bloom from mid-late summer when most of the other plants are finished blossoming.

The blooms start as a greenish white and in the fall they turn a lovely shade of light pink.

 The next step was to put in our low water garden and we planted a plum tree on the left.

 You can hardly see them, but all the plants are in the ground.

This is the view from the front step right before we mulched all the baby plants.

 The garden is really at it's most beautiful in the spring.

 View from the front step in the spring. You can see the Thyme Lawn is in full bloom too. Follow the link for the post I did on this lawn specifically in It's About Thyme.

"Moonshine" Yarrow


 Pink Yarrow

A volunteer wildflower

Juniper berries, gin and tonic anyone?

 This is what my yard looks like today, mid summer (mostly) weeded, dead headed and cut back. I'm hoping for second blooms on a lot of my plants when the temperature cools a bit.

It is because of the success of my front yard that I have high hopes for our backyard, which looks like this:

That's our above ground pool. It cost $7.99, what a deal!

 I also have plans to work on my square foot garden next spring. It will work!

 We planted this maple in the backyard at the same time as the one in the front. It's fall colors are beautiful.

 We also planted this Russian Sage at the end of the cement patio. We'll have more of this, please.

This is the view from the back of the yard towards the house. As you can see we have a lot of yard space and very little done. Here is the plan for the backyard,

With the exception of having a professional come to scrape off the grass and level the land we are going to install the garden ourselves. It's going to be very water wise, including the Buffalo Grass lawn that will hopefully be installed next spring. This fall we will be installing the butterfly bushes around the back edges, more Russian Sage in the middle of the yard and a pre-planned Xeric Aroma Garden from High Country Gardens to the right of the grass area. I have high hopes for next summer when my family comes out to celebrate my mom's birthday in July. It probably won't be complete, but there should be major transformation by then. While my life as a teacher is on hold for a few years, stay tuned to find out how my life as a home gardener pans out!

And for those of you who made it to the end of this post, I reward you with these:

 Porter looking like a Wilson baby...
 ...and 30 seconds later he looks like an Alton baby.
 I'm under attack!

 Gramma Mikie showing Porter her toes, pretty flexible for a gramma!
 He's smitten with her.
Coming soon: crawling.