Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer fun

We had a very wet spring/early summer. It rained almost every day. It has since become warm and sunny, however it isn't hot and humid like it usually is this time of year. All the early precipitation makes me nervous that my tomato harvest will not be good; tomatoes love lots of sunshine and warmth. I don't want my plants developing nasty diseases because of too-wet foliage. So far there only a few plants have some yellow bottom leaves. I'm hoping it is not a disease and just normal aging. We have lots of beautiful green tomatoes... they just need to ripen. We've had a few cherry tomatoes ripen already and even though Kiefer wants to eat them, he immediately spits them out once he gets a taste. I'm not sure if he thinks because they're red, the tomatoes are going to be sweet like strawberries.

The zucchini, yellow summer squash and snow peas apparently thrive in wet conditions. I cannot believe that I have been harvesting zucchini and summer squash for over a month now. I started to ask myself, "What am I going to do with all this squash" earlier than I anticipated. We've also been enjoying carrots and cucumbers. Unfortunately, our watermelon plant didn't make it. I think it developed root rot... no surprise given the wet weather. Kiefer used to visit the little watermelons every day and say, "Baby watermelon! Cute!" He was sad when we noticed they were gone and asked me where the baby watermelons were. The pumpkin doesn't look too healthy now either. We have 4-5 good sized pumpkins on the plant and should the plant die, we'll try to get them to ripen by keeping them dry and in the sun.

Kiefer enjoys spending some time in the garden. A few weeks ago, we harvested peas... lots and lots of peas. Kiefer helped by eating lots of peas. He also helped me prepare the ground after I had taken out the earliest peas that were completely harvested. We dug in some bone meal and organic slow release fertilizer and planted a second batch of beans. It is nice to have a little helper. Our first planting of green beans were ready earlier this week. We've enjoyed them with dinner a couple nights this week and I even blanched and froze some to enjoy later.

At the end of June, we took advantage of a break in the rain to pick strawberries at Upinngil Farm in Gill, MA. Kiefer was very excited to be on the farm and see the cows and tractors. He was pretty good while we were picking the strawberries, too! He did help pick and put some in the basket, but he mostly picked and ate. He's a smart little boy! About halfway through filling our basket, Kiefer decided he had had enough. So Roel pushed him around on his tricycle for a while while I picked and then I pushed Kiefer around on his tricycle while Roel picked. In the end, we ended up with 14 pounds of "aardbaaien," which is Dutch for strawberries. That's what Kiefer calls them. That afternoon I made strawberry freezer jam, strawberry ice cream and prepared lots of whole strawberries for freezing. I felt that I earned a strawberry margarita after all that hard work! That night (and for many subsequent nights), I prepared strawberries with angelfood cake and whipped cream. Delicious. Next weekend, we're going to go blueberry picking!

During the summer, Kiefer's Friday playgroup has been meeting at parks or lakes rather than people's houses. This past week we went to Ruggles Pond at Wendell State Forest. He and his friends enjoyed the water and I even caught a big tadpole and minnow for the kids to check out up close. A couple of weeks ago we went to the nearby Greenfield Energy Park. Kiefer had great fun playing on the big wooden train there. About an hour after we arrived, a group of 10 children from a local preschool arrived for a little playtime. Kiefer immediately went over to the slightly older kids and was very pleased. He always gravitates to older kids. He thinks he is one!

Instead of going to the weekly playgroup a few weeks ago, we went to visit one of my UMass friends and her two sons, Liam (2 years, 4 months) and Emmett (6 months). Kiefer and Liam got along very well. Liam has a little motorized quad, which was given to him as a gift. He's a little scared of it, and Karen, Liam's mom got it out so Kiefer could show Liam how it works and that it is not scary. Well, Kiefer was in heaven. He rode all over the house. I thought I would have to pry him off it, but he did eventually get off to have some lunch. It was a good time and we plan on getting together with them more often. Karen came to our house last weekend to take Kiefer's 2 year photos. She did such a great job with his 1 year photos, I can't wait to see the 2 year photos.

Holly (Kiefer's daycare provider) took a week off around the 4th of July, so I took off and had lots of fun with Kiefer. We went to Lake Wyola with his friends from playgroup and we went to the Eric Carle Museum. He had great fun doing an art project there and exporing the amazing children's book collection in the library. Kiefer carefully perused the shelves and selected two books about fire fighters and fire trucks. I was surprised he did that since there were a lot of books and they were shelved alphabetically by the authors' last name.

We've been visiting a lot of lakes lately. Last weekend, we went to Hartland Lake in Vermont where we met up with Cindy, Steve and Catherine. Kiefer enjoyed playing in the sand with Catherine and after a busy day of swimming and playing, we got some ice cream. It took about 20 minutes to get from the beach to the ice cream parlor, and both Catherine and Kiefer fell asleep. But if there is one thing you can wake those two up for, it is ice cream!

As much as we would like Kiefer to potty train this summer, we don't think he's quite ready. He really doesn't care if his diaper is wet and Kiefer wears cloth diapers, which can get very wet! He sometimes lets us know before he's going to poop, but most of the time, he either tells us after the fact or doesn't tell us at all. In fact, we know he's pooped because of the awful odor, but when we ask him, "Did you poop?" he'll deny that he did by vigorously shaking his head and saying "No!" Last weekend he marched into the bathroom, closed the door and sat on his little potty. When we stuck our heads in to see what he was up to, he was sitting on his potty and said, "Out!" He was in there about 10 minutes and then we heard the toilet flush. Kiefer had indeed pooped, but since he wouldn't let us take his shorts or diaper off, we still had to clean him up. Oh well.

On Friday evening, we went to the Green River Festival here in Greenfield. It is a music and hot air balloon festival. Friends of ours had extra tickets for Friday night and I was excited because a singer/songwriter I really like (Kris Delmhorst) was on the schedule for Friday. It was raining a little when we first got there, but we had our umbrellas and still had fun. We found friends from playgroup there with their son, Nate. Kiefer and Nate had a great time playing and although Kiefer thought the music was too loud at first (he put his hands over his ears), he was dancing and all smiles when Kris Delmhorst was playing. We left well before it ended, but it was past Kiefer's bedtime!