Wednesday, June 19, 2013

There's still some stuff growing

The weather got hot and my arugula and cilantro went to seed, the spinach following soon after.  My lettuces are beginning to wilt and wither, and my broccoli seems to have stopped growing (and the leaves are turning purple - anyone know what that is about?)

But I got a lovely surprise on Monday afternoon.  My spaghetti squash is blooming!  There are lots of blossoms, but only one female (which are the kind that turn into actual squash).  Here she is (sorry about the blur, I'm still figuring out the manual setting on my camera):

These blossoms need to be pollinated with pollen from the male blossoms.  I haven't seen any bees flying around the garden, so I decided to try hand-pollinating using directions I found online.

Also, we've been eating a very sparse crop of sugar snap peas for a few days now.  I will plant more in the fall, and next spring I'll plant earlier, which I think will help.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

First day of school, sort of

So Natasha will be turning 4 this year, and has yet to attend any sort of school.  Initially, I was pretty opposed to any sort of preschool.  Then I started to think that a 4-hours-a-day-2-days-a-week sort of a set up would be pretty nice.  When we arrived in Georgia I was dismayed to find that such an option didn't exist.  Not only that, but it seems that the overwhelming majority of expat 3-year-olds (and quite a few 2-year-olds as well) go to preschool.  So our first few months here were pretty lonely until we found the stragglers whose parents were still keeping them home.

Finally it became clear to me that, due to the environment we are in and my daughter's very social nature, it was time to send her to school.  We settled on a Russian-language school a distance away, and took her there yesterday for the first time.  She loves it.  She's going part-time for the next week and a half before they close for the summer.

So here's my big little girl on her first kind-of-but-not-really day of school.

Her little sister is having some trouble with it.  Z yelled "Ever!"* repeatedly at N at the breakfast table on Monday morning.  But having N gone for a few hours a day has given Z and G time to bond.  They play and she "reads" to him.  It is very cute.

Time is just flying.

*"Ever" is the girls' new "curse" word.  They learned it from Tangled, the scene in which Gothel tells Rapunzel, "You are never leaving this tower!  EVER!"  And now when they are angry, they yell "EVER!" at each other.  I feel as though I should reprimand them when they do it, since the intention is so bad.  But it is just so funny I can't help but laugh.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


We spent the beginning of the week in Batumi.  We went last fall, as sort of a last roadtrip hurrah before Gabriel's birth.  We didn't think we'd be up to a 6-hour drive with three kids in the car.  But as it turned out, that wasn't so bad.  Jeremy had some business in the area so we decided to make a trip of it.

On Tuesday he left at 9:30 a.m. and I was on my own with the kids until he returned 11 hours later.  We spent a good chunk of time, both in the morning and in the afternoon, sitting on the beach throwing rocks into the water.  Though Batumi's beach is not nearly as comfortable as my favorite sandy coast , it is still beach and there is something about those rocks.  Last time we went, we collected enough beach pebbles to filled a tall glass jar that now resides on our mantel.  We weren't in the market for more stones, but I can't resist collecting them and jumbling them around in my hand.  It reminds me of that rock tumbler I used to stare at in the Sears Christmas catalog (anyone remember that?) that we got in the mail growing up overseas.  I never did get the tumbler, but I always used to think how cool it was that it could turn an ordinary rock into something pretty.

Like the sea.

This kid could toss rocks into the water for hours.

In the afternoon the sun came out and Gabriel took a nap on the stones (major miracle, by the way).

Unfortunately, the baby and both his sisters were actually sick with a nasty cold the whole time, so we didn't have as much fun as we could have.  And since I got the plague the last time we were there, I feel  like we haven't quite gotten our money's worth from Batumi yet.  I'm hoping to return at the end of the summer.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Big and yellow

The pool in our neighborhood is open now, and the weather has gotten warm enough to go a few times a week.  Now that I have three kids, two of whom are in diapers, in tow, even a 90-minute trip to the pool requires a lot of stuff.  And I didn't have a bag big enough.

So I made this.  The yellow fabric is a remnant bought on a whim at IKEA.  The denim is also a remnant, from Joann's.  I think the yellow fabric is home dec, so I don't know how well it will hold up to a wash, and it is already stained from rubbing against the stroller wheel.  But that's ok - it hold everything we could possibly need with room to spare.  Love it.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Garden update ... ssssssss

We've had seeds in the ground for nigh on eight weeks now.  We've been enjoying garden salads for three weeks or so.  I go out and pick every day or two, and the girls help wash it - leaf by leaf because there are always caterpillars or eggs on the undersides.  A few days ago this guy rode in on the romaine.

We've got a few more weeks of salads ahead, though they will be slightly less peppery as the heat has turned my arugula too bitter to eat.  No problem - I'll plant more in the fall!

In very exciting news, I spotted my first pea flower today.  I've read that this means that actual peas are in the offing (squee!).  I would have taken a photo for you, except when I was inspecting my pea bed, I found this guy lurking under the mulch.  Can you spot him?

That would be a snake.  His snout and beady eyes are peeping out from beneath the mulch at the center of the photo, just below the weed at the base of the pea plants.  It was a hot afternoon and I guess he wanted some shade. (Also, no, I did not get that close to the snake.  I took this with my telephoto lens - I was at least 10 feet away from that sucker).

I saw him and involuntarily shuddered.  By the time Jeremy got home, the sun had gone behind the clouds and he had slithered out.  We decided to de-mulch the garden to make it less inviting for snakes.  I will just have to get in there and weed every day, I guess.

It seems to be a summer for snakes around the neighborhood, though.  One was spotted earlier this week on the playground and I've heard at least one more report of a snake in the grass.  Our neighbors say they didn't see any the previous year.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Red and orange and yellow and green ...

... blue and purple too.

The weather has been a-changin' around here.  Yesterday we drove to playgroup in hot sunny weather, but when we came home it was spitting rain.  As we walked up the steps to our house, Natasha cried out, "Mama, look!"

Her first rainbow.

Monday, June 3, 2013

New summer dresses

Over the last week I managed to sew two new dresses for the girls.  Each picked fabric out of my stash; I chose the sewing pattern.  I'm quite pleased with the results, though very sad that we are reaching the top of the size range of my first crop of Oliver and S patterns!  Soon it will be time to buy the next size up.

This is the Seashore Sundress.  It is made of a light cotton shirting with textured stripes and metallic silver threads running through it.  I made a size 4 but had to take in 2" around the chest so that it would fit my skinny minnie properly.

This is the Bubble Dress.  The fabric is from Joann!  I love it and I really enjoyed sewing the dress.  This pattern only goes to a size 5 so I plan to make several more for the girls before they outgrow it.  Zoia's is a size 3 with a little length added to the skirt.

And of course, I have to give a big thanks to my wonderful husband for giving me the time necessary to sew these.  I'm lucky.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bathing beauty

When we arrived in Tbilisi at the end of last summer, Natasha's eczema was in full flare.  The Georgian nannies around the neighborhood all felt very sorry for her.  One suggested we take her to the sanitorium at Nunisi, whose hot springs are supposed to be therapeutic for eczema sufferers.  By the time I got in touch with the people there, though, the sanitorium was closed for the summer.

Then a few weeks ago, the idea occurred to me - why not take Natasha to the baths in Tbilisi?  According to the guide book they are also supposed to be helpful in the treatment of eczema and psoriasis.  Unlike the baths that Jeremy went to in Moscow, the focus of which was a sauna or steam room followed by a brisk dip in a cold indoor pool, these baths are built over sulphur springs, which supply them generously with very hot water.

So today, we went to the Royal Bath.

The lounge is pretty snazzy, in a post-Soviet-furniture-meets-Turkish-tiles sort of a way.

We paid $25 for an hour's use of a small private room with a deep, HOT bath.

I mentioned that these are sulphur springs, right?

Rotten-egg smell notwithstanding, we spent about half an hour dipping in the water and then cooling off in the adjacent sitting room.

All clean, we headed across the street to a cafe with cool mist to enjoy a drink.  I ordered iced tea.  What I got was two-tone concoction on the left, which I think was actually grenadine and OJ.  Too sweet for me but Natasha enjoyed it.

Did it help her skin?  I don't know.  We will try to hit the baths about once a week for the next couple months.  I cling to the hope that it will ultimately soothe her eczema.  If not, at least it will be a fun mother-daughter date.