Saturday, March 8, 2014
Annika's girls had their spring break this past week. Poor, poor, Minnesota school kids! It barely hit zero when they were here. We got to have the girls stay with us for a few nights and it was delightful. Because these girls are delightful.
Mara got us outside the first morning. I didn't think we'd last as long as we did. But everyone seemed happy to be outside. That morning Svea had come to my bed and told me, "Aunt Becca, there were stars and now the sky is pink and purple. Do you want to come see it?!!" She was a sweet little alarm. And since it was 7:00, I couldn't complain.
I let Ivar and Svea nap together the first day. Which was adorable and futile. They came out of their room many times having to fill up their water bottles, and later having to to go potty, and later just because it was an absurd idea to have them nap together in the first place. But at least I got a cute picture. :)
We made a banner and Elsie got to use a marker for her first time. I believe her face sums up her great joy in this milestone moment. Unfortunately she now thinks she's too cool for crayons. But obviously she's a disaster waiting to happen with a marker in her hand.
Towards the end of their stay I was feeling at a loss of what to do next. I was really run down and we'd already had enough screen time. So I was thrilled when our slumberland truck showed up to deliver our couch and chair. And then, to my good fortune (and to the truck driver's terrible misfortune) the truck got stuck right there with front and rear wheels all stuck in snow banks. It took 90 minutes of digging, the use of mattresses under the tires and a tow truck to get it out. Neighbors were blocked from their homes. It was pretty epic. And for a mama looking for a diversion, it created the most exciting closing event I could have hoped for.
Here the kids wait for the great reveal, and then are the first to give the new couch its first sit.
I love these kids so much. When they were about to arrive Rory said, "You seem to be feeling much better. Are you well?" And I said I was just so excited for my nieces to come over. It was the same feeling when I was a little girl and was going to see my cousins. Just so, so excited. And a joy to be together. We talked a lot about this summer when Claire, Simon and Nellie are coming to Minnesota. We can't wait!!!
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Oh dear. We've been struck down at this house. But since I'm not going down, we're doing our best to keep our chins up. It started a week ago with Rory getting the flu. Not the stomach flu...but the fever, chills, achy body flu. He rounded his week out with a case of pink eye. I got the flu the day after him. While on a conference call, I started getting really, really cold. By the end of the call I had bundled up in hat and scarf couldn't figure out why I was shivering so bad. I took a hot shower, my legs were achy and I went to be for five hours. I woke up and told Rory, "I feel like I was in a bad tussle with a bull yesterday." That's how my body felt...like I had been kicked around, bucked around, stomped on... And I think it's the first time I've ever used the word tussle in a sentence.
Eventually this flu morphed into terrible colds. I lost my voice for a few days. Rory and I basically have whooping cough each night. We sound terrible. Elsie's nose is a constant run and Ivar can't believe his good fortune and all the television I am letting him watch. We'll get that back in check when we're all well again. Until then, a mama's gotta do what a mama's gotta do.
Elsie and I walked out to the mailbox last night and found a box from Tennessee. It said, "Just a Reminder..."
I opened it up and there were these awesome words:
What joy! It was a springtime care package from my cousin Jeremiah's family. I am assuming they had read my blog post about falling down in the walgreens parking lot (still have impressive bruises on my knees and shin from that one) and took pity on me. What a gift!
Inside was hand spun, beautiful, rainbow bright art yarn. I adore it. And flower tea! And a prism to make rainbows and paper sun catchers. And creative and thoughtful cards from her kids to my kids.
The timing of this box was impeccable. And all day we've been making rainbows in our living room, reminding ourselves that SPRING ALWAYS COMES!
Friday, February 28, 2014
I'm a big fan of summer camp. I worked as a camp counselor throughout my college summers and then as a program director for a number of summers after seminary. I think amazing things can happen when young people get away from their screens and out in God's creation for days at a time. I think powerful relationships can be formed when kids eat, play and live together. I believe God speaks clearly into hearts when kids are given the time and space to listen.
Recently I have become a huge fan of The Soul Sisterhood. My friend Amanda has poured her heart into these retreats and summer camps, filling each moment of the day with intention and creativity. The camps focus on cooking, sewing, crafting, journaling, building deep friendships with one another and strengthening each camper's unique identity in Jesus.
The retreats are intentionally small in size...limited to only 12-15 girls per camp. There is a camp grandma who is there simply to love the girls. There is a camp cook who helps the girls make and bake all the goodies they will eat all week. The counselors are just a bit older than the girls and there to serve as mentors and role models. The camps meet at a farmhouse just outside of the cities
And here's the exciting part. Amanda has just added another week to her summer for any 11-14 year old who would like to join the Soul Sisterhood! The camp week begins around 4 pm on Sunday, July 6 and concludes on Thursday, July 10th. Girls will be coming from all over and will enjoy a week of community, crafting, good food and time with their Creator.
If you know of anyone who might be interested, I cannot say enough good things about this summer camp. And feel free to drop me a line with any questions!
Click this link to find more information about the week.
And click here for registration information.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I just wiped out in the Walgreens parking lot. I was walking into the store behind a big running suv thinking how it would be bad if someone fell behind that car and just like that my face was looking at the ice. I landed on my knees, caught myself on my wrists, and watched my red box rental skid across the ice.
In an instant I was over winter. I've kept nice and positive, but picking myself up, wrists stinging, knees throbbing, and assuring kind people that I was okay, I decided I'm done.
I'm done with sub zero temperatures. I'm done with my breath being sucked out of my chest when I step outside. I'm done wrestling my kids into their car seats with their big, fat coats. I'm done with the crappy, scary driving. I am done.
But there is a problem with being done with winter, and it seems to be a big one.
I can't be. Being done is not a choice. So while limping through Walgreens over to the photo lab I decided not to entertain those thoughts. I can't be done with winter, so I won't be. I'll keep telling myself that it really is beautiful out there. And that the remembrance of all this snow will be etched in Ivar's childhood memories forever. And I'll start wearing my sorrels again, every day. I'll go buy more warm socks at Target. The twelve dollar kind. And I'll start shopping for a new winter coat. The kind that goes to my knees like a sleeping bag.
I'll make pot roast and lots of soups. I'll take naps in the sun and take my vitamin d. I'll wear long underwear if I have to.
Because I'm not going down.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Well, it's not really a zoo. It's the real deal. We were parked on the road, watching the cows when we saw the farmer, a friend of ours now, come out of the barn. And he invited us in to see the babies and mama's. Ivar loved it and Elsie screamed bloody murder the whole time. When the calves saw the farmer they thought he was bringing their bottles, so it got very noisy. And the louder the calves cried, the louder Elsie cried.
Friday, February 21, 2014
It's 1:15 and Ivar just walked into the kitchen, shuffling his feet, looking at the floor and said, "It's been a long day."
Oh baby has it ever. It has been quite the long week, too.
I've had almost a full week of isolation here at the grovestead. Rory was in San Diego the first part of the week while we stayed put because of Ivar's pink eye, and now the weather has cancelled everything the second half of the week. Yesterday when I found out my morning Bible study was cancelled (my first social outing all week!) I had to come up with a Plan B fast. So I drove myself to Menards, got a gallon of paint and nail putty and decided to paint the livingroom. A good project that is keeping me sane.
The snow is beautiful. The wind has blown the field so that it looks like white caps rolling on the hills. And that is Rory walking out to his office. Not to go and work there, but to get the step ladder for my sudden livingroom painting project. He's a good man. At one point while wading through the snow he yelled back, "It's up to my belly button!" And it was. The drifts back there are amazing.
And now we're trying to make something of this day. I called my dad mid morning and he said, "I'm sitting here under the palm trees talking to your cousin Karen." So I got to talk to Karen for a long time, which was awesome. Then she handed the phone back to dad and he said, "did you call for something?" And I replied, "Just basic human interaction."
But we're gonna make it. And we're gonna have a really nice living room at the end of all this!
+Elsie is extreme. Her joy is so joyful. Her happy is delightful. Her frustrated is furious. Her anger is hot. Her nose always has a booger and her chin is always wet. But her sweetness is tender. Her determination is powerful. Her love is palpable. And her laugh will slay you. She is the best.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I used to love playing in forts once they were built. But now I find a good magazine inside a fort is the perfect combination.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The weather these past two days was cause for celebration. Ivar has pink eye and so we're home bound. But with weather like today and yesterday, we were able to get outside and it was awesome. We did lots of stuff...
...like shovel snow from one pile into another.
And Elsie gave stroller rides to a very willing Velma, the cat.
Each kid spent a whole lot of time in the baby swing, dragging their feet on the snow.
And then we had a picnic lunch with ham, cheese and apples. It was Ivar's idea and I was thrilled. Picnics are my favorite and now I know they are Ivar's too.
And finally, when it was time to come back inside after two hours of play and a picnic, Elsie had a canary. She was livid. She did not want to come in, even though her hands were red and raw. She kept shoving her boots into my belly yelling, "Boo! Boo!" Which meant, put these back on you fun killer. I actually had thought while we were outside that parenting outdoors feels like cheating. The kids were so busy doing their own things, I was so happy to be out in the sun. But when we came back in and Elsie was so furious and Ivar was crying because his socks got wet, then I knew I wasn't cheating. I was still the mom, working hard.
And now I will leave you with a video I like to call "The one where Ivar asks the cats if he can play."
winter cats from Becca Groves on Vimeo.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
And my funny Valentine, while eating his pizza, kept telling me how he couldn't quite figure out how a place like Papa Murphy's broke on to the scene. Rory said, "Just think about it. After delivery was invented, why would anyone open up a pizza shop with unbaked pizza's? It seems backwards."
And those are the sort of sweet nothings my Valentine discusses over a romantic dinner with our children. :)
Thursday, February 13, 2014
A few weeks ago we were walking through World Market with the kids. I saw this painting and was in love. For a while we had it in the living room, but it loses something when you look at it from afar. I love it up close. So I brought it up to our bedroom where, due to it's size, everything is up close...
World Market art seems to fit us well in this season of life. We have three big paintings in our house that add color and break up our bare walls. Obviously they're not originals. But that's why we can afford them. One day, when we are collecting large pieces of expensive art for our estate (I kid!) I will purchase lots of paintings from that gallery just outside of the Barnes and Noble in the Galleria. Anyone ever been in there?!! Have you seen the magical birch forests that look like blobs of rainbow paint up close, but when you step back you can see birch trees?!! Oh they're awesome. This painting from World Market sort of reminded me of that, but for thousands less.
(And just because I thought it was noteworthy... As I took the pictures of this new painting over our dresser, I also took a shot of all the clean clothes I washed on Monday that each evening we put back on the floor and each morning put back on the bed. If only someone would put it away!)
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Rory and I have gone on two dates this week (gasp!) and on both dates we spent most of our time talking about our 2014 garden. I even brought a seed catalog and a notebook in to the chinese restaurant last night and we sketched our game plan for the garden ahead while eating pot stickers.
Our 2013 garden was a pretty great success. We started with a lawn and ended up with awesome BLT's, lots of potatoes, sweet peas, eggplants, beans, onions, peppers and sweet corn. I'd consider that a success.
Here's my greatest gardening take away point (I think I've said it before...I'll probably say it again): gardening is all about trial and error. You try things. And some seeds, plants or methods of gardening work great, and others don't. So the next year you course correct and try something different. Sometimes you know why a crop didn't produce well, sometimes you don't. I remember feeling pressure while planting our first garden to "do it right." And though there are rules in planting seeds that you should follow, there is also a whole lot of wait-and-see in gardening. So a girl like me needs to just relax. And then enjoy how amazing it is that we are planting teeny seeds that have life in them and will grow to produce food for us to eat!
Our garden in 2013 was basically strips on lawn that Rory rototilled up. Then he painstakingly went up and down each strip with a pitchfork and scooped the sod into the wheelbarrow. It took a long time. With each pitchfork he had to loosen the grass, shake the dirt off and dump it into the wheelbarrow. But he kept at it.
We planted berries in the front of the garden, in two patches running horizontally. We prepped one patch for blueberries, getting the soil to the right acidity level so we can plant blueberries this year.
Our only water spigot is way up on the side of the house. Which would be a pretty long way to drag a hose. So one Friday afternoon Rory ran an errand and come home with a trencher and proceeded to put down hose that would reach a second spigot out near the garden.
When he was done with that he built his own drip irrigation system out of pvc piping. Because in his words, "I'm not going to go out there every thirty minutes and move a sprinkler around. This is way easier." And of course in the long run it was easier. But watching him diligently drill holes every few inches down his pvc pipes didn't look super easy...
He used extra pvc to built a trellis for the sweet peas and for a while we protected our baby tomato plants with cement cylinders.
The potatoes were heaped with hay and for a while our garden was looking pretty impressive.
So much so that we had to put some fencing up to deter the animals. But my budget-happy husband only spent enough money to fence three sides of the garden. The plan was that we'd buy more fencing the next month when we had more money back in the "lawn-and-garden" category of the budget. But that never happened, so we had a three sided fence all season. And actually not a lot of critters either. I think the animals haven't found us yet...
We were gone much of July and came back to a very overgrown, but wildly producing garden. This is the joy of gardening! Our first tomato was celebrated with much enthusiasm. Until Ivar tried a bite and threw it "far, far away."
And even better than the first red tomato, are the first fried green tomatoes. My absolute favorite. One of the biggest reasons I enjoy a vegetable garden. I think I made fried green tomatoes six or seven times last August and September.
This 2013 garden was largely Rory's venture. I wasn't really interested in helping out. But something has changed in me for 2014. I have been looking at canning books and working backwards: if I want to can this many quarts of tomato sauce, how many plants do we need this year? I have a sketch of our garden all figured out after our date tonight and I'm excited. And Rory is thrilled that I'm joining in.
And if I loose motivation, I will just look at this lovely picture and remind me: it is totally worth it. Because this BLT killed me. It was so good.
And now, if you'd like some seed catalogs to come to your mailbox, click on these links and fill out your address. It makes for happy, happy mail and makes for much easier garden planning. Burpee Catalog, Johnny's Catalog and Rare Seeds Catalog are my three favorite. And this site has links to 68 other free seed catalogs! (In case winter has got you down and you're needing A LOT of happy mail.)