Sunday, May 29, 2011

Loving Life in Logan

At the moment our family is relishing a fabulous weekend with the Andrus grandparents in Colorado. Before blogging about this Memorial Day tradition, I want to post some pictures of the fantastic weekend that we spent with the Wheeler grandparents two weeks ago.

Here's Grandpa Charles helping Eli at the park. Our Easy E absolutely adores slides!
Of course, he also loves snuggles from Grandma. This babe recruits cuddles from everyone! And just in case you're not volunteering, he leans his head closer and closer until you finally do.

Oh, the joys of swinging! Brooklyn loves flying high now that she's mastered the technique. She also likes teaching her friends to pump by transforming between a bench and a rocket.

Talia thrives on the feel of green grass, especially beneath her bare toes.

Of course, this grassy lawn is extra special as part of the Logan Temple grounds. Here's the famed bench where Jason proposed 8 1/2 years ago. It was a fairy-tale moment with Christmas lights, soft music, roses, and the man of my dreams.

Whimsical as the moment was, I scarcely could have imagined how quickly this very same bench would be occupied by a precocious 6 1/2 year old daughter,..

a spunky 4 1/2 year old daughter,..

and an adorable 20 month old son! ) (Pretty soon we're gonna need a bigger bench!

Some precious sisterly moments.

Our visit to the Logan Temple was particularly meaningful because Grandpa Charles is the head groundskeeper there. While the grounds have become increasingly beautiful over the past decades under his leadership and supervision, the temple gardens seemed prettier than ever this spring. Isn't this tucked-away path precious?

As Talia stooped to admire the tulips, I felt grateful that her underwear was at least color-coordinated.

As Grandma Susie went to set Eli down for a photo shoot, the gleam in his eye let us know that he had something else in mind.

Putting his hand on her leg, he made it quite clear that he wanted her to stay near.

And, just in case we had any questions, he leaned in for a hug and a snuggle so she'd stay close by. Oh, it feels so good to be loved!

At last, one blue-eyed cheese for the camera.

Gazing up at the Logan Temple from the front. Eight years ago this month, Jason and I were sealed in Logan--a sealing which connects us to our children eternally, just as it connects us to my grandparents who were married there generations earlier.

Despite the misty rain on our wedding day, I didn't think there could ever be anything prettier than the tulips.

Of course, that was before I had munchkins to embellish the flowers.

Eli and Susie enjoy a quiet moment of peace.

Meanwhile, Talia perfects the art of mischief.

Our bank accounts may not be padded, but spending an afternoon at the temple with family makes us feel positively rich.

Before leaving, we even got to meet the temple kitty. (Okay, it technically lives across the street, but this spiritually-minded feline likes to hang out with the patrons.)

Pure delight!
Hand-in-hand, it was a beautiful day!

Of course, Grandma's house is always full of more delights, such as dress-up clothes, piano time, and freshly baked cookies. Thanks to the lovely spring weather, the girls added dandelion bouquets to the fun.

Picking flowers was the perfect Sunday activity before heading to church in the married student ward where Grandpa Charles is currently serving as bishop*. (*In the LDS church, each local congregation is presided over by a bishop who volunteers his time since there is no paid clergy.)
Thankfully the kids realized that the gorgeous yellow flowers in the front yard were just for looking.

Hanging out on the front porch. If you zoom in, you can see the sidewalk chalk figure that Brooklyn drew straight down the step.

After coming back from a run one morning, I discovered a sign on the front door that made me smile. It's great to be loved by your kids, and lovely to run with your spouse! Jason and I shared a marvelous 14 mile jaunt up Smithfield Canyon where we enjoyed the budding spring flowers, waterfalls, and rushing stream. Just in time too, since the next day the water started rushing right over the road.

Here are Brooklyn and Talia, flying over to the neighbors' homes to play with there animals.

We saw bunnies...


another kitty...

and even some baby goats!

The goats belong to Dave Suisse, who trains them to carry his gear while he backpacks. Jason has many fond memories of backpacking with the Suisses.

When choosing between goats and children, please remember that goats will haul your loot, whereas children will make you haul theirs. Either choice will constantly nibble and insist on being fed.

Here's to many more happy weekends with Grandma and Grandpa!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Garden Update

Our garden is growing! The pathetic-looking tomato starts that seemed destined for compost have recovered so well that we added a trellis for them to climb.

This box also features cucumbers, bok choy, beans, and several varieties of peppers. My favorite plant, however, is this cute little tomatillo. I'm so curious to see the husks develop!

Our other boxes are also starting to take off. It's taken some work and replanting, but we now have strawberries, spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes, chives, swiss chard, and possibly a jalapeno. Despite two attempts, we haven't managed to sprout any kohlrabi, much to Jason's delight and my father's chagrin.

Apparently a big, hungry bird found our red, ripe strawberry before we did. Darn!

Our last box features four different kinds of lettuce, three kinds of basil, green onions, a zucchini, some cucumbers, plus more beets and swiss chard.

Over the past few months, I've reflected often on the purpose of our garden. After all, despite the fact that we don't have many weeds in our boxes, it still is a fair amount of work to keep them moist in the St. George sun. It certainly hasn't saved us any money, particularly this year. The cost of building the beds and filling them with good soil was so hefty that it will be many years before we recoup that investment.

As much as I hate to admit it, so far our garden hasn't even been particularly rewarding in terms of produce. I've discovered that I don't really like how radishes taste, although I love how easily and quickly they grow. And beautiful as the lettuce may be, most of it is so bitter that I prefer to leave it as an ornamental variety in the garden instead of bringing it inside to adorn my plate. Once the tomatoes are ripe, I fully anticipate edible bliss and delight. Yet at the moment, the food isn't very inspiring.

And still, I love our garden. It's worth the time and expense, all for the miracle of watching things grow. It's amazing! Plant a seed so tiny that you can barely see it, and in several months time you'll be chomping on a carrot. I love sharing this miracle with my children, but to be completely honest, I'm just as excited as they are. It was fascinating to watch the pole beans move entire clumps of dirt as they pushed through the soil, transforming the seed bean itself into the bottom leaves. I had no idea that's how a bean grows!

Gardening requires plenty of patience, but it's a godly kind of wait. In today's world of instant satisfaction, there's something deeply gratifying in witnessing the law of the harvest. It's true that you reap what you sow--eventually--but the process cannot be rushed. Remarkably, slow as the growth may be, it's still thrilling.