Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 2013

June has been a big month.  Ben turned 7, lost his first teeth, got a kitty, and we had lots of special visitors!

I love that my mom flew in to visit just for Ben’s birthday.  While Ben and I were picking her up from the Austin airport, Jon and Caleb were secretly hunting the town for a kitten for Ben’s surprise birthday gift.  I’m so happy with the cute little guy they found.  He’s a red tabby from the animal shelter, which is nice because the $5 adoption fee also covered a few shots, microchipping, and the neutering costs.  He was 2 ½ months old.

When we arrived home we gave Ben his early birthday gift in a Happy Birthday gift bag.  Ben was so surprised.  He grinned so big, for so long.  Ben asked repeatedly why we put kitty in a gift bag.  That detail was very disconcerting to Ben.  Kitty was pretty nervous the first day, but started settling down quickly.  He slept and snuggled for the whole first week.  Then he started getting bigger and more adventurous.  Ben named him Billy Fuzzy Hartshorn and he's completely in love!

Kitty will be an outside kitty, but he has to stay inside until the cold he caught at the shelter is better and he gets fixed.  Kitty lives in our bathroom for now, unless we're snuggling him.  Caleb and Jon are both allergic to cats.  Caleb has to take allergy medicine anyway, so he's doing okay.  Jon is doing mostly okay.  I think kittens aren't as bad on the allergies as adult cats.  Jon and I are counting down the days until the kitty can stop living in our house.  He quickly learned to jump the barrier we made between our bathroom and bedroom.  Kitty thinks it’s totally fine to hang out in my bedroom.  He also meows non-stop at us if we walk by, go to bed, or go to the bathroom without spending every second petting him.  His baby kitty meows are pretty cute, but after enough of them, they become tiresome.

I'm loving our little kitty as much as the kids.  He's uber snuggly.  I'm kind of shocked at how much Jon and Caleb are enjoying kitty.  I’m really surprised!  I thought Jon would totally shun kitty and I thought Caleb would be indifferent.  I sure hope kitty lives a long happy life because we're all getting attached.  Outdoor kitties in a rural area often don't make it into adulthood.  Getting him fixed will help a lot with him not running away at least.  Jon and Ben made Billy an outdoor shelter and we’re trying to teach him that shelter is his home.  We even put a covered porch on it so we can put his food and water up there, out of reach to the neighborhood dogs that always wander into our yard.  It has an entrance and an exit so kitty can’t get cornered in there by wild animals. 

After two weeks of medicine from the vet for his cold, we took Billy back to the vet.  The vet said he looks really healthy now.  He got neutered and got his rabies shot.  After a week of recovery, we started the transition to Billy living outside.  He seems to like it so far.  We found that we couldn’t put his food or water outside because it drew hordes of ants, so we decided to just call Billy inside for meal times.  He found an access hole under our back porch to open space under our house.  He spends his hot summer afternoons there.  When he wants back in the house, he sits on the ledge outside our living room window meowing at us.  We sometimes take pity, let him in, and snuggle him.  He’s learning to come running when we call him for breakfast and dinner.  Xena and Billy are really enjoying playing with each other now too.  It’s very cute and entertaining to watch.  Billy bats at Xena’s fluffy ears and tail and Xena tries to play bite Billy’s ears and legs.  It’s adorable to watch Billy sneak around a corner to pounce on Xena.  Both animals love having a playmate.  It’s so sweet to see Xena’s happy dog smile after a good tussle.  All in all, he’s turning out to be an awesome addition to our family!

Ben had a super fun 7th birthday party!  We're very thankful for our Texas friendships!  All the kids had a blast playing water balloon games.  We did rounds of hot potato and played egg toss with the water balloons.  Then I had a kit for each child to build their own marshmallow guns and to decorate their own shields.  They each had a bag of ammo to wear around their necks.  They spent a lot of time running around the park attacking each other.  It was so fun!

On Ben’s actual birthday, we went swimming!  It was the first swim of the summer.  The boys had been counting down until the city pools were open.  They had a super fun day swimming and Ben especially loved swimming with his new birthday flippers, goggles, and snorkel he bought with birthday money from Auntie Dar & Uncle Darrel.  Thanks!!!  We topped the day off with breakfast for dinner with homemade cinnamon rolls and presents.

I love that my mom has gotten to be here with us when big changes have happened in our family.  This time it was getting a kitty!  Both boys love special time with Grandma Cheryl.  They did a lot of crafts and puzzles together.  Ben knows she’ll almost always say yes to reading a book to him.  She even came swimming with us one time.  Caleb loves solving Grandma’s puzzle books.  That’s something special they do together.  Jon and I loved getting a night off for a double date when Grandma blessed us with watching our kiddos and our friend’s four kiddos.  We all love Grandma so much!  Thanks for everything!

Ben finally got his first loose tooth!  It was a bit unsettling to him and he mentioned quite a few times that it hurt.  He had the shortest turnaround from loose to lost that I’ve ever seen.  His first tooth got loose on the 6th and he lost it on the 11th.  We were checking out a fabric store in Austin after dropping Grandma Cheryl off at the airport when he lost his first tooth.  It was quite bloody, but all the young hipster ladies working at the store congratulated him and found me a tiny bag to put it in.  He then lost his second tooth a few days later, on Father’s Day.  He noticed it was lost at the end of the movie we went to see.  He didn’t feel it come out, so we don’t know when he actually lost it.  We didn’t see it anywhere in the theatre.  I love his toothless grin!  He is one adorable boy!

We had a great day celebrating Jon for Father’s Day. He's an amazing father to our boys!  We took the day off from working on our projects and relaxed.  He caught up some on his favorite show, The Deadliest Catch, we went out to see the movie Epic, and we ate out at our favorite local burger and ice cream restaurant.  Oh, and he spent the morning with Ben building the cat house for Billy’s outdoor shelter.  Even on his day off, he still got something we needed done.  He’s amazing!

I'm excited about the fabric I bought in Austin and the time for summer projects!  The 2 school years I've been here, homeschooling took most of my time.  Last summer I babysat my neighbor's 4 young kids, which took all my physical and mental energy.  This summer is the first time since I've lived in Texas that I can call bigger chunks of time my own!  I haven’t bought fabric in the 2 years since I moved to Texas, and that is a big deal.  I’ve sketched out a design I like for a purse.  So far it’s very tricky trying to turn a sketch into a pattern when I’ve added so many complicated details, like pleats on curves, into the design.  Hopefully I can pull off making the fabric into the awesome purse I’m imagining.

It’s been really nice not having to water my garden now that I’ve got the automatic watering system.  There is lots of good growth, but I have encountered quite a few new problems that I’ve never dealt with.  It’s a big learning curve and I’m definitely learning!  So far I’ve learned how awesome diatomaceous earth is.  It saved my squash, green beans, and cucumbers from the destruction of hundreds of pill bugs/rolly pollies.  They had reduced the plants to almost nothing.  Now that I’ve dealt with the pests, the plants are finally getting a chance to grow and they’re looking good so far.

I was getting blossom end rot (BER) on some of my tomatoes, so I sprayed a lime/water mix and we’ll see if that helps.  BER is caused by a calcium deficiency.  It was probably due to too much rain.  My green beans are turning yellow and I thought it was from too much water also, but more recently I noticed a whole bunch of brown bean bugs.  I saw ants on the plant and thought they were harmless.  I’ve since learned that the brown bean bug nymphs look like ants, which have now matured.  Some other pest destroyed one of my blueberry plants.  Powdery mildew appeared and quickly took over my zucchini.  I’m using a homemade insecticide/fungicide to solve these problems.  The main ingredient is neem oil and it seems to be doing the trick.  I love that it is a safe and organic solution.  Hopefully the plants can recover from the destruction.  On a different tomato plant I found and hand picked off some potato beetle nymphs.  That seems to have fixed that problem.  One pepper plant got infested with leaf footed bugs.  I hand picked those off over a couple weeks and haven’t seen any for a few days.  It’s so gross having to identify and solve these pest problems.  Hopefully my hard work will pay off and we’ll get lots of delicious produce.

The month ended with a visit from my cousin Kara and her little guy, Jude.  We love having them here and are so thankful they drove out for a visit all the way from Missouri.  I love our new tradition of 4th of July in Texas with Kara and Jude!

Blessings on you and yours!

The Hartshorns