It’s a wrap…

It’s a wrap, folks! School is over and this little guy could not be happier to call it done!

  
Leah, on the other hand, is among the 0.00001% of children heartbroken to step off the bus on the last day of school because she loved 4th grade and Miss W so much!!! (Thus no photo.)

Last week, my parents and I attended special program in Michael’s class. The kids have been studying American history all year and wrapped up by researching and presenting interesting facts on famous American landmarks. Michael got the Smithsonian which was perfect since he’s visited the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and could share his own photos.  

  

Michael and his buddy Wyatt…

  

And Michael with his teacher who retired after 35 years in the classroom. It’s amazing how much Michael learned in one semester in her class. We are proud of his hard work — and her hard work, too!

  

Michael’s buddies Ben and Alex.

  

It’s always reassuring to know adults in our community can complete 1st grade assignments with such competence <insert eye roll> but I was proud of Michael for doing the work. I have a theory that kids are as competent as they are allowed to be — call me in 20 years to discuss this further.

  

 

The kids sang several patriotic songs for the parents and grandparents. It was sweet. I was impressed that Ms. O had this group of 23 little people completely wrangled. 

   

Both kids wrapped up another year of German…

       

Mrs. Gabi taught them so much this year!!

  
We wrapped to the school year with a German dinner together with classmates and their parents last night.

Summer may now begin!!!

Living outside…

The weather has been A M A Z I N G this Spring – sunny and warm on the heels of a really cold winter! We are loving it! Bryan and I keep kicking the kids out of the house so they don’t miss it.

I love it when Bryan joins us for a bike/scooter ride.

This is the perfect time of year to eat outside. Bryan likes the new side porch – and I like having lunch on the back patio. I cooked an Indian yellow curry with chicken and peas that was so spicy but really good!

So, basically life is pretty slow right now – just the way I like it. Our weekends have been freed up for gardening and just playing. Our afternoons are suddenly wide open now that guitar lessons, theater and German classes have all ended.

I am sitting out here on the patio to blog this evening – sweet bliss!!! All I can hear is birds chirping and the neighbors’ air conditioning unit. Ha! Life is never perfect, but I’ll take it.

Yard Crashing at Mom and Dad’s

Mrs. Betty, this post is for you!

My parents have been busy bees this Spring getting their flowerbeds and vegetable garden ready. I have been helping with the flowerbeds and my brothers and sister-in-law helped Dad get a vegetable garden started. Here are a few pictures…

Welcome!

Here’s Mom telling me everything she is growing.

We added Lantana this Spring. It’s an annual here in Zone 7.

These cute Daisies are from last Summer.

Mom picked out lots of Bearded Irises this Spring!

I made them this wreath last year.

Here’s Mom flowering the Daffodils (bulbs) that are peeking out the edges of the bed.

She “accidentally” sprayed Dad. Haha!!!

This is a Redbud that was trained to ‘weep’, It has grown on all of us. Mom has a lot of hydrangeas growing – her favorites!

Dad has his flag out, of course.

Here’s the new vegetable garden! Dad bought this cedar raised garden bed on amazon.com.

Dad has two large tomato plants and a few more small ones.

He is also growing okra, onions and peppers.

That’s the tour, folks! I’ll post an update later in the summer.

Whistle while you work…

Work has been fun lately. I really, really like my new client – a global manufacturing company with headquarters in Atlanta. I’ve made a few quick trips down to look at the team there face to face; and the rest of the time we use WebEx to videoconference. A couple weeks ago, the team flew in from all corners of the earth to meet up for a two-day strategy session (led by me – yikes) at a winery in north Georgia called Château Élan.

I was cracked up that the statue kinda looked like me.

This is the cutest boxwood hedge ever in the history of ever!

The Inn at Château Élan.

The next week, I made another trip… this time to Nashville to start an executive development program offered through Vanderbilt University. I got accepted into the MBA program 20+ years ago, but opted to go to school in Europe instead since I was interested in international business. I always wished I could do both, because I knew Vanderbilt would have been amazing. So I’m finally getting a taste of Vandy. My first class was awesome!!!

Owen, Vanderbilt’s Business School, is housed in a building from 1888 that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Me.

My little corner of the campus.

This is Vandy’s Law School – it’s right next to the Business School.

It was so nice to be a student again! I miss school. If I won the lottery, I’d have to be a full time student or a professor. I love the world of academia – maybe because I grew up in that world in Auburn, and maybe because I just loved loved loved college and grad school!!!

This Month in the Yard: May

I’m sharing a lot of pictures for this installment of This Month in the Yard because I finally feel like everything is ‘ready’ for Spring and Summer. We have fresh mulch and I’m done planting – now all I have to do is watch it grow! Here’s a tour…

My Hostas come back loyally every year and are sitting under a big, new Burning Bush to replace one that I killed last year by trying to move it after it was nicely established. Lesson learned.

I tucked in a little Lantana in front for color and it’s doing well.

I love this photo and this spot in the flowerbeds because it captures what I have tried for years to work towards – a balance of color, texture and scale. This is one of those spots where it’s all coming together the way I like it.

The flowerbed at the entry is a work in progress that will [hopefully] continue to improve year upon year. The Crepe Myrtle tree needs to grow. I am so over waiting for that. I gave some giant Hosta Lillies to my mom and replaced them with Cleyera (evergreen shrub) and an Oak Leaf Hydrangea. I also tucked some Firepower Nandina among the Azaleas for more color. The new configuration is more balanced and should look good next year when it all fills in.

The Day Lillies are holding out, but the Asiatic Lillies are on the brink of adding some real color!

This Crepe Myrtle (tree) and Purple Wintercreeper (ground cover) are doing great and the various Loropetulum (purple shurbs) are so cute. All good here. This bed is almost zero maintenance.

The Cardinal Dogwood shrub is new.

You know I love Southern Living magazine. Well, recently they mentioned Heuchera ‘Sweet Tea Foamy Bells’ as a colorful shade-loving plant. I’d never heard of it so when I saw some in the cart of discounted half-dead plants at Lowes, I decided to give it a try.

Petunias are hit or miss for me. This year is a hit. They have been gorgeous since I planted them in this pot in March!

The goofy people who owned our house first actually cut down trees… to improve their view of the neighbor’s AC unit, I guess. So weird. Anyway, we have planted about 10 trees along the creek to bolster our privacy. We are right in the middle of a neighborhood on a lot that is slightly more than half an acre, so a ‘treeline’ feels like a luxury. My little Redbud tree has rallied from near death its first year. It’s a transplant from my father-in-law’s land in Tennessee. #freetrees

This flowerbed is not nice to me. It likes to kill the shrubs I plant here. So this year, I decided to tuck some Day Lilly bulbs between the Hostas and see if they make it and I planted a little Lantana for the kids to enjoy as they swing.

I am loving our new side porch!!! <3

I need to add plants to my bare little pots, but basically I am done!

The pergola is made from cedar and smells really good!! This side of the house is shaded in the afternoon anyway, but the pergola provides nice shade in the mornings, too.

I already had these chairs and pots. The rug is new from target.com.

This little Hosta survived the winter in this pot! So happy!

This pot needs a big Boston Fern! I love the crazy pop of color in these throw pillows – from Target, of course.

The one photo I don’t have is of the vine I planted by the playset… but it’s not growing yet at all, so nothing to see.

The hammock has a new home under the oak tree out back.

The back patio looks much better without the hammock.

This center section is unplanted for now because the Nutsedge (also known as ‘nut grass’) was really prolific through here and is hopefully dying as I type now that it’s been treated with three chemicals (*) and deprived of sunlight. Someday, I’d like to add a mini-vegetable garden here by the Blueberry bushes.

(*) I tried Ortho Nutsedge Killer, Sledgehammer, and Roundup (staggered a week apart each time). No verdict yet. It appeared the Nutsedge slurped it back like a milkshake and asked for more. I put down a layer of cardboard over most of it to block the sunlight and then we covered it with mulch.

I have enjoyed having lunch out here lately – so peaceful!

Remember last year when I had visions of creating a lush Southern Living flower garden – and how pathetic it turned out? Well, this year is better. Everything came back in a bit fuller. The May Night Salvia and Purple Coneflower look really healthy. I planted some Daffodil bulbs right by the patio – and I have Cana Lillies just beginning to sprout in the pots!

OK, that’s our tour for May! I am really hopeful it’s going to be a beautiful Spring and Summer here… Check out my Pinterest board “Gardening: What’s in our yard” for more information on the plants we’re growing.

A sneak peek at May…

I am soooooo ready to show you the progress on our yard, but I want the fresh mulch in the beds first. Nothing makes your landscaping pop like fresh mulch! Fingers crossed that’s going be finished tomorrow…

This shot captures what I am loving most about gardening – colors and textures coming together.

Claire followed me around the yard as I was taking pictures and looking at everything.

This is super exciting… rows of sunflowers from seeds my father-in-law harvested two summers ago! I planted some last year in an odd spot and they didn’t sprout. This year, I gave them prime real estate and planted 4-5 rows!!! They’re already popping up!

Happy Mothers Day this weekend!!!

Quick organization: The kitchen desk

Having the desk in the kitchen as a “family command center” was someone’s idea of a great idea. In truth, it seems to be everyone’s official junk pile. If you don’t know where it goes, just stick it here. You can tell by the photo below, that these cabinets were once organized. There are remnants of labels and boxes… circa 2008.

The “MOM ONLY” shelf was all of our family portraits and school/sports pictures from Michael’s arrival in 2007 to now. A tippy-top shelf was packed with some of the kids’ schoolwork that I’ve saved – and get this – a huge collection of pregnancy and infant-care books! Ha!!!

I filled four Target bags with garbage from two tall cabinets and then regrouped everything…

My goal to organize our entire house in 2015 is proving “aspirational” but I will keep trying. I was finally ready to photograph our newly renovated and organized bedroom closets when the pipe burst last week and flooded them. They don’t look great at the moment… I am trying to be cool about the flood mess but it’s getting to me. Reminding myself this is a “first world problem” worked for about 4 days. Now I just reeeeally want to sleep in my own bed and hear my own thoughts over the incessant roar of the dehumidifiers. I am cracking up.

  

James-the-plumber and I just had a fascinating chat about thermodynamics. #shootme Leaving the garden hose attached to the outside faucet prevents the pipe from draining. Isn’t it amazing that (1) it’s this cold in northern Alabama in the winters, and (2) ice can break copper? 

I think I’m going to make some coffee and go stare at that one really organized cabinet until I feel better. Ha!!!

Soooo….

A pipe burst in an exterior wall and flooded the side yard – and our master bedroom, closets and bathroom. <sigh> We have 5-6 industrial fans running 24 hours/day to help dry everything inside and they. are. so. loud.

It’s a mess but, you know, more of a hassle than anything.

Green thumbs up!

We have been busy bees! This month, I have planted all kinds of things with a little help from Uncle Stevie:

  • Shrubs: a Burning Bush, several Nandinas and Cleyera, an Oak Leaf Hydrangea and a Cardinal Red Dogwood
  • Flowers: Bearded Irises, Pansies, Begonias, Lantana
  • Bulbs: Day Lillies, Caladiums, Canna Lillies, a Trumpet Vine and Gladiolus
  • Other: three tomato plants

Although I promised myself I wouldn’t buy annuals ever again, I caved. The Canna Lillies, Caladiums and Lantana are easy to grow and add a punch of color – and Steve gave me his leftover Pansies and Begonias so they’re in the mix, too. All the bulbs are experimental for me. It’s hard to imagine something that looks like a clove of garlic is going to turn into anything, but I am hopeful. It will be fun to see the shoots pop up out of the ground! I love that!

My new Bearded Irises.

Michael is growing cantaloupe and watermelon vines from seeds to transplant alongside his daddy’s blueberry bushes…

PTA Arts Night

Last week, the kids both participated in their school’s PTA Arts Night. I was so proud of their hard work!

First, the art teacher had displayed work by each of the classes as well as featuring a few exceptional pieces…

Here’s Michael showing his work.

Leah’s self portrait

Leah began taking guitar lessons in January and performed a solo in April! I was amazed and so so so proud of her for getting up there in front of the parents and students. She played The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby.

Next, Leah performed with the Drama Club…

Michael and I watched all the performances.

Here is Leah acting out having a broken leg in the Drama Club’s performance of “How to Care for a Broken Leg”.

Lastly, Leah performed with the 4th and 5th grade choir. They sang a medley of Earth Day themed songs. One song, “Don’t Forget the Little Children” brought tears to Michael’s eyes. It was precious. (He is sitting here with me telling me to erase that sentence!)