baseball-ing

Spring is here.  Sun and rain combined, many times at the same time.

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We’ve had Picture Day, we’ve had home games, away games and a tournament. I think I can say we are in full baseball season.

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With the correspondent amount of laundry and practicing my stain removing skills, we are immerse in all that baseball brings.

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And even with all those people around, no one cares that there are baseballs flying in the sky, and that there are more kids than not with big metal bats moving around.

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There were little ones, there were pink and sparkly shoes.  Everyone waiting for their turn to get pictures done.

DSC_0004 That day it felt that Lucas was one of those big kids this year.  Until of course I saw the high schoolers.  Yeah… is he going to grow up that much?  Can I stop time just for a little while?

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With the same jersey and some of our friends from last year’s team, but mostly with a whole new team and coaches, we headed a new season of baseball.  We’ll see what this year brings.  But no matter what, I know this little guy of ours is in heaven, playing what he likes the most.  These two guys of mine are in such a happy place, I love watching them.

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Happy basbeball-ing, Lucas.  I am ready to keep learning the game.

The Dogwood

When we bought our house 20 years ago, it was this beautiful Dogwood a big draw.  We liked how large it was, and how beautiful turned out to light up our home of pink light when full in bloom in the spring.

In my opinion, the flowers don’t bloom not long enough, but I’ll take what we get, because it is just beautiful.

IMG_0963 IMG_1289 With weeks, if not months, of anticipation of what’s tom come.

IMG_1292 Carefully opening up to the sky.

IMG_1802 IMG_1803 And soon enough, quietly falling down.

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What a treat.  Thank you Mother Nature.

Being aware because of the hoop

Last month or so we Mark, changed the basketball hoop we’ve had in our backyard, for a long time.

I remember when we bought that first basketball hoop when we bought our house (20 years ago) and decided it was an expense we wanted to spend, even when our pay checks were not that big, and after buying a house, it felt that the $20 was overspending.  But we did it, and looking back, I think it has been the most used $20 we’ve ever spent.

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The hoop was completely broken.  There was a hole on the side of the garage wall, from all the bouncing and use of the hoop all these years.  The hoop was crooked, falling off the wall, loose almost dangerous some might say.  The net couldn’t be held because the metal hooks were broken as well, and it could have probably been better not to have a net.

Lucas never said anything, and kept on playing, shooting hoops every single day, time and time again.  By himself and with friends.  One friend, two, three or eight.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s always fun and he’s always out there.  More in the recent years, but he’s been always playing.

Changing that hoop, made me think about the past and how much we’ve changed as person, as a couple and now lately, as a family.  Changing that basketball hoop after 20 years of playing and bouncing balls off the rim, made me realize how different my life is after 20 years…. of adulthood.  (Or when did I become an adult?  Is it really at 21? or 18?  Not sure I know when that was, but for me, my life changed drastically when I got married and moved to the States.)

I was 25, and we had just bought this house, our first house.  We had lived in rented apartments, but this house… this is ours and this is home.  And it was in that first month of home ownership that we bought that one basketball hoop.

Back then, it was just Mark and I playing basketball, with no dream of having a family just yet, actually scared of the thought of it.  We had other plans and other dreams.  We were doing what we loved to do, and whatever we wanted to do. We traveled and went out to dinner as often as we wanted.  We didn’t have to be back home at any given time, except when we were tired.  We were in that sense free of those responsibilities.

Today, I still can say I am doing what I want to do, and what I love to do.  It is just different but it is exactly what I want for right now and love.  I want different things and it makes me happy to know that I can do them.  It is my choice, and I feel so very lucky to be able to do that.  Yes, I am doing my dream job.  I do have to say, that like any job, there are  those hard days.  But for the most part, I think I’ve won the lottery.  I live with my best friend and these two amazing kids that I love so much.  I can’t think of a better way to spend my days.

I would have never guessed that having bought that basketball hoop was going to be something special for me and for my family.  Not that I am attached to it, but I am thankful for what it has given me, us.  I am thankful for all the times Mark and I played basketball out there (him making more baskets than me, but who cares.)  I am thankful for the times we had friends over and we’d end up throwing the ball.  When we’d have our neighbors for dinner, and end up shooting a ball or two.  Or someone would stop by to say hello and would be enticed by that basketball laying on the ground to try once or twice.  Or now, with kids, when they too feel the need to bounce the basketball and shoot at the hoop.  And their friends, and our friends.  And today, all those invitations specifically to play basketball in our back yard.

It is not a full court by any means, not even a half court.  The dogwood covers much of the area that can be used for shooting the ball, especially beginning spring.  The branches have been trimmed many times in these 20 years, and we’ve had to decide what is healthy for the tree and what we can live with.  Which shots are worth having clear and which ones will have to live with a branch crossing over.  It is a compromise.

I am thankful for what it has made me realize and think over, because it reminds me of the fleeting moments that sometimes I don’t take the time to savour.  It is just a thing, I know, but a thing that has made me feel lucky once again.  A reminder.  A reminder of how lucky I am in so many ways, in so many levels.

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Lucas is the one mostly using this basketball hoop these days, and you should see in his face the excitement of having this new metal orange round hoop.  One that works.  One that is not sideways, almost falling off the wall, threatening them to fall on your head. One with springs that make the ball bounce off its rim.  Really.  It is a pretty simple luxury, that is well worth the $30 (inflation).  And who knows.  Maybe we won’t have to change it until we are in our sixties. Wouldn’t that be a treat!  Twenty dollars for twenty years of basketball fun.  I’d pay a $1 a year any time!

In the kitchen

IMG_1882 copy IMG_1885 copyThe other day I made this new recipe of Peach Pecan Crisp.  It was really good warm.  The kids and Mark had it with ice cream (I don’t like mixing it like that.)

IMG_1890 And then Mark finished it off for breakfast I think, because it was gone just like that.  So I think  at least one of us really liked it and gave it a 10 (in our food scoring system.)

And talking about food, I found this video about food.  A good reminder.

IMG_1518 IMG_1511 IMG_1513 Another day I made this Crackly Banana Bread from the Smitten Kitchen, and I must admit it was the best banana bread I’ve had in a while. I liked the crackly part… I gave it a 10, and I am not sure what everyone else did, but I am making it again. (Since I am the one asking for scores and manage the whole food scoring system, if I like something, it’s in the repeat binder.  Fair, right?)

Siena made these Cake Pops. They look so pretty!

IMG_2015 IMG_2147 Siena had a Swim-A-Thon last week, where the kids had to swim laps for 1 hour and 20 minutes.   As many laps as they could. So we set up a table of snacks for them, because we know how hungry these swimmers get.  We made these really good Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Cookies that I had printed the recipe from many years ago (10 maybe?)  The funny thing is that we had to make a lot of cookies, and I debated.  But we went ahead and made a triple batch of first-time cookies… but anything with chocolate can’t go wrong, right?

I changed it a little for mixing 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat.  They were good.

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And another found recipe from my pile, but newer (Cooking Light, May 2015) was this Marshmallow Popcorn Treats (with dark chocolate drizzle.) Also a keeper and liked by the kids.

It takes time to go through my too many pieces of magazine clips and printings from online recipes, but I do enjoy getting the new ideas and new recipes to try.  From dinners to desserts, to snacks and breads.  They are all a go and then are either discarded or kept.  This system is actually working for me right now.  But the pile of recipes to go through and try are too many.  There is no way we’ll make all these recipes in a year, or two, or even 5!  Besides, I have all those books in the kitchen too… but it’s working, and it’s very inspiring.  And a real plus if we find a meal that everyone enjoys.  That is a 10 in my books!

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These two helpers I am really enjoying having around the kitchen.  They are a keeper as well.

Portland Thorns

Few weeks ago some friends invited Lucas and Siena to go see a Portland Thorns Game.  Siena came back home that night with a plan.  Her friend mentioned she really wanted to buy one of the stuffed bear with the Thorns t-shirt, but I guess she has lots of teddy bears, and wasn’t sure if she wanted to spend her money on that.

So the next day, Siena asked secretly to her mom for one of her friend’s special teddy bears, so she could “Thorn-ize it.”  Our friend’s mom (also a friend), brought two of her special stuffies, a Thorns buff, and Siena got to work.

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She knew exactly what she wanted to do.  She is so good at that.  She has a vision and can bring it to reality.  I love watching her do that.

IMG_1457 She used an old t-shirt and cut it and sewed it to make it fit to this dog (I think it is.)

IMG_1458 She glued and sewed the Thorns logo from the buff.

IMG_1461 After much thought and some trials, this other stuffy friend got a scarf and a flag.  Siena tried to make him a t-shirt, but was harder because it is a hand puppet.  So then she tried a vest.  I think this was the best idea.

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That same day, Siena took them to her friend and I guess she was surprised and really liked them.  Now they are also ready to cheer the team.  Go Thorns! 

Barking again

IMG_1375 Every couple of years we put new bark in our backyard, where the chairs and picnic tables are.  It makes it look so nice and clean and neat again.

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But we have to dig out the old bark so it doesn’t get too high and go over the edges too much.   This year, all that hard work, was mostly done by Siena and Lucas.

IMG_1414 They did so good and worked really hard to make it happen.  Because there were only few hours in between swimming or baseball.  The rain was coming.  And the bark chips had been delivered to our friends’ from yard and couldn’t leave them there for too long.  The job had to be done.

IMG_1415 And they did it all.  Dug it all out.  Placed it in the backyard.  Wheelbarrows after wheelbarrows of cedar chips brought from few houses down.  Almost 4 cubic yards of bark.

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I helped with the hydration, of our first lemonade-rhubarb drink over ice.  At the end, sore hands and muscles, with few blisters, and tired arms they saw their hard work look so beautiful, and for what they say, smelling so good too.  Thanks to the youngest two in our family, we have a beautiful backyard sitting area, ready to be enjoyed many, many times by us and our friends.  We are ready for spending our time out there.   Thank you you two.

Making : new pillows

IMG_1492 After making the quilt with the indigo dyed fabrics from last year, I’ve been thinking and planning on making a few other things.  I really like the blue…

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So I decided to make a pillow for Siena.  She had asked me if she could keep the quilt in her room, and I thought it looked nice in the living room, to have for those moments someone needs something warm (I know we are not short on blankets, we have lots of other quilts handy as well, but I guess it is fun to see it laying around, since I just made it.)

So I made a (modern) log cabin block for the front and just added the back, with a fold over.  Easy to change the cover (to that Paris cover I made them last year.)  IMG_1505 I thought this fabric for the back matched the blue tone in the front, and I knew Siena would like that.

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(Having it outside in that blue chair, might be a little too much blue but I liked the light outside.)IMG_1499 IMG_1522

So for a day or so the pillow was in the living room, and looked really good with the indigo quilt.

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Siena likes blues.  She really does.  I think it might a connection to the water (and pool and swimming) she loves so much.  She did take her pillow to her room soon.  And after I looked around for the quilt, I knew exactly where I would find it. IMG_1874

It does look cute in her room.  And I like it that she likes keeping it organized and matchy.  And what else can I ask for, right?  Sneaking Mama-made things to her room, to make it look nice is a real compliment.  I’ll take it!

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So then I made a new pillow cover for Lucas.  I’ve had these baseball fabrics for years, and it is baseball season after all!

IMG_1871 It jumped from outside. To inside.

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To Lucas’s bedroom.  He does have few things red and polka dots, but not everything.  It is just when he chooses this comforter, everything seem really dotted and red. IMG_1879

I’ll keep sewing if I’ll get this model to show me how good it works, right?

My Mother’s Day Clematis

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I’ve written before about this beautiful corner in our garden.  The entrance to our vegetable garden.

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It is in full bloom, and I love watching it and taking photos.  As if each flower is different and each year as well… I know they are, and at the same time, they are so similar and identical in beauty. IMG_1438 IMG_1834 IMG_1846 IMG_1836 IMG_1848 IMG_1835IMG_1847

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend to all the mom’s out there and especially to My Mamá.  Feliz Día Mamá.

Last few weeks…

… Lucas lost a half a tooth and then 5 days later he lost the other half.  Does that mean the Tooth Fairy comes half way and then the whole way? Does she leave half the coins?  How does he have to deal with this situation?

… there’s been more playing out of doors.

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… we went to the beach and spent just a short hour on the beach (itself) and many hours inside an indoor pool.  This time, I wouldn’t take it any other way.  We are so proud of our big fish.  She did great in that swim meet.

… I played a few games of Mahjong.

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… I went to the store and then came home to this on his window.

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(Please don’t look at the rotting, and paint chipping windows… it’s in our list of things to do around the house, together with the roof, the chimney, the rotting porch, and oh yes, windows.)

… the two boys in our house got a hair cut.

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… have been cleaning a little here and there.  There always seems to be piles anywhere you look.

DSC_0097(And yes, we need to already put the Easter decorations away.)