Monthly Archives: March 2012

Ode to a boring life

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Eigen werk

Eigen werk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have two siblings.  We all live in different cities and lead busy lives.  We are more likely to exchange a quick email than to talk on the phone.  But by coincidence, I have spoken to both my brothers in the last week – one had a birthday and one had an accident and hurt his foot. 

In the course of our conversations, both my brothers asked after M.  While I don’t send tend to share all his adventures, they have both spent time with M.  While they may not know the details, they know M has challenges.  But when each brother asked what M was up to, I realized I didn’t have much to say.  He goes to school and daycare every day.  Some days are better than others but that’s the way it is for everyone.  My youngest brother has three children so he understands full well that every child has his or her ups and downs.

Beyond the normal routine, M got his blue belt in karate a couple of weeks ago.  He went over to a friend’s house one day last weekend and another friend came over for a few hours the next day.  We all went to see a group who performed Beatles’ songs and had a good time.  M did have some trouble at Cubs last week, but he went in and spoke to the leaders this week – there will be some consequences but he has accepted them without any real fuss. 

The fact of the matter is that there is no real drama around M right now.  He did struggle in the early part of last week, but it was short-lived.  He said he would have a good day one morning and he did.  Last year,  a couple of difficult days usually meant a couple of difficult weeks, interspersed by at least one call from the school.  M’s intentions were always good and he had some of the tools he needed to make good choices, but he couldn’t always pull it off.   This year, he can decide to have a good day and follow through.

Careening from crisis to crisis with your child is highly stressful.  Not just for your child, but also for the parent.  M’s dad and I have always been upfront with M – when there’s a problem, we discuss it.  M would often rather we didn’t but we aren’t doing him any favours to gloss over the reality.  But we did hide our anxiety as much as we could.  So M didn’t know when my husband and I would sit in front of the tv at night like zombies, totally worn out from the challenge du jour.  M didn’t know that the reason I occasionally came home from work and crawled into bed with a book is because I felt so discouraged about what was happening at school that hiding in bed was all I could do.  On these nights, I would usually tell M I had a migraine.  Since I regularly get severe headaches, M never questioned my story.

Compared to past years, our home life is almost tranquil.  Yes, it can be a bit of a race against time to get M out the door in the morning.  And we still have to give him multiple reminders when his media time is over.  But he sets the table almost every night and clears his own dishes.  He gets dressed in the morning before he comes downstairs.  He goes to bed when asked.  Most nights, he will ask for a few extra minutes of reading time, but when he’s finished his chapter,  he will go to sleep.  On the nights when I go to bed early it’s because I am tired from working full-time and having a family.  My husband, who also has a full-time job,  does a huge amount of the daily work around the house – he’s also often tired.  For that matter, this is a common  complaint among most of my friends who have kids. 

I know that M will continue to have challenges in the months and years to come.  At times, he will probably struggle.  On occasion, I may even retreat to my bed with a good book in order to regroup.   But I am going to live in the moment and revel in my ordinary, boring life.

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Adventures in sewing – beaded scarf

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Beaded scarf

I learned to sew as a child, but I didn’t have a lot of patience for it.  Besides, my mother sewed beautifully and would make nearly anything I wanted.  I hadn’t touched a sewing machine in 25 years until two years ago when I made M an Obi-Wan Kenobi costume for Hallowe’en out of a piece of brown corduroy, complete with a hood.

Since then, I have bought a few pieces of material, but I haven’t actually done anything with them.  I have made a few birds from fabric scraps.  A couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted to make a scarf for a young friend of mine for her birthday.  I was at the fabric store checking out ribbon to make ribbon flowers when I came across bolts of a gauzy/chiffon fabric in bright colours.  It was on sale – my favourite kind of material.  I recalled that on a previous trip to this same fabric store, I had seen some beaded drapery trim in the same colours that I thought might work.  So I bought a metre (1 yard) of each, plus coordinating thread.  It was under $10 and I figured I would have material and beaded trim left over.

For anyone who knows how to sew or sews more than 2x in a couple of decades, this would have been an easy project.  Sew a couple of straight seams, add the trim, top stitch and voila.  An hour – 2 at the most, even for someone with my limited skills.

How not to sew a scarf

Before I even got out my scissors, I washed the fabric – that’s what my mother always advised.  Since it was polyester, I knew it wouldn’t shrink.  But after coming out of the dryer, the fabric was about half the size as the piece I started with.  Clearly, hanging it to dry would have been a better idea.

I figured I could iron the piece of material out.  It more or less worked, but some parts remained crinkly.  I had planned on cutting the fabric into 2 sections and sewing them together to make it long enough.  The material seemed to have a fair amount of give in it, especially after ironing it, so lining up the edges evenly was a challenge.  I ended up ripping it since I had no idea at this point where the grain was and I knew this was the best way to get a straight edge – another piece of wisdom from my mother.

My pieces didn’t turn out exactly the same size – one was about an inch wider than the other.  I pieced them together and managed to make a french seam (or a close facsimile). 

My version of a french seam

The next step was to put in the seam along the long side  – I folded the seamed pieces in half length-wise, to minimize the number of seams I needed to sew.

Since my two pieces of fabric weren’t the same size, I couldn’t just match up the edges and sew.  I tried pinning it together, but the material was so light that the pins just fell out on the floor.  I have no idea how long it took me to figure out where to put seam but I was well past the 2 hour mark before I got it in. 

Sewing the side seam - measure first

I sewed a second seam right on top of it, to ensure it wouldn’t come apart.  I knew enough to sew it inside out, with right sides facing.  I left a small section open so I could turn it right sides out once I had the trim on. 

Once I had the side seam in, it was time to tackle the short edges.  I was trying to smooth the fabric out and figure out whether or not it was even (it wasn’t), when I made another important discovery – polyester melts if the heat on your iron is too high.  Luckily, the tube of fabric was much longer than I needed so I cut off the melted section.   Small problem – the seam joining the 2 pieces of fabric wasn’t no longer in the centre of the scarf.

The middle seam - not exactly in the "middle"

A lesser (or wiser) person would have thrown in the towel at this point.  But I figured I was already in for a penny.  I turned over the edges of both ends and turned them again and basted them in place – no way was I trusting the iron at this stage and I kept having to pick up pins on the floor. 

I have read enough books about sewing and watched my mother often enough to know correct way to attach trim – with right sides facing, with the trim facing inward towards the scarf.  When you turn the scarf so the right sides face out, the trim will be at the bottom – hence the small open section.

I got the trim pinned in correctly, then I sewed the 2 edges together – theoretically, the trim would be caught in the seam and then I could top stitch it down.  Except when I turned the scarf so the right sides were facing, the trim was wonky. Plus the seam was bulky.

So I put the scarf aside for a week or so.  Yesterday, I pulled it out again.  I started on the end without the trim.  Instead of sewing the 2 ends together, I decided to follow the basting stitches and sew around the hem.  I figured it might be easier to insert the trim on the right side, rather than the wrong side.  Turns out I was right.  I had to baste the edges together about 2 inches in from the edge – otherwise, the fabric kept slipping.  I tucked the beaded trim in between the 2 edges and basted again.  I had already figured out that I needed to tie the last bead in the trim so it wouldn’t come apart.

Sewing down the edges with the beaded trim was a little challenging, as the needle kept hitting the beads.  I would raise the needle, wiggle the bead out of the way and gone on with my seam until it happened again.  The seam wasn’t as close to the edge of the scarf as I would have liked, but it looked pretty good. 

I had already sewn up the open section, so the only thing left was to top stitch the long sides of the scarf.  I had cut the fabric as close to the inside seam as I could before I turned the scarf so the right sides faced out, so the top stitching caught the excess material and made it less visible – good thing, because i had butchered the fabric trying to trim along the seam and it looked terrible.  But once I put the row of top stitching in, my poor scissor skills wer hardly in evidence.

Top stich edging

The second top stitching team went in fairly quickly and easily.  Scarf was done.  And it looked pretty good.

I don’t actually know how long it took me to actually make the scarf – 5 to 6 hours all told.  Given my limited sewing experience, I would have been better with a heavier fabric that wasn’t quite so slippery.   Fortunately my seams were relatively straight because ripping out the seams was hard – a couple of times I found myself pulling at the fabric itself.

But if I had known that the fabric would be hard to sew on, I wouldn’t  have chosen it.  And I wouldn’t have mastered the project.  The birthday girl seemed to like it – what’s not to like about a hot pink beaded scarf?

Beaded scarf

Now I need to find another sewing project and start using up all the material I’ve been collecting.

have linked up to the following: Think Pink Sundays at Flamingo Toes ; Making Monday Marvelous at C.R.A.F.T. ; Made by You Mondays at Skip to My Lou ; Get Your Craft on Tuesday at Today”s Creative Blog; Take-a-Look Tuesdays at Sugar Bee Crafts;  Sow Me What You’ve Got on Not Just a Housewife; Wednesday Wowzers at oopsy daisy; Flaunt it Friday at Dotted Line Crafts

Dominos

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A example of dominos

A example of dominos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

M has trouble with transitions.  This is pretty typical for a child with ADHD.  So we expected he would have a few challenges going back to school after the break.  We talked to him on the weekend about how he was feeling about returning to school.  He indicated he was a bit nervous – perfectly normal we explained.  Hard to get back into the routine – for everyone.  School starts at 8am, which means everyone has to be up no later than 7:30.  Break week means less rushing to get out of the house.

Although we know we need to help Matt prepare for a transition, we can’t always anticipate everything.  We could not have known that one of the Educational Assistants at M’s school would pass away last weekend.  The principal sent out an email on Sunday, indicating the students would be advised on Monday am.  The school is relatively small and the staff and teachers do their best to know as many of the students as possible.  We weren’t sure how well M knew this EA, but we decided to tell him ourselves, rather than having him find out on Monday.

It turns out M did know her and was upset.  He knew she had children and was worried about who was looking after them.  On Monday morning, the teacher talked to all the children in the class.  The teachers were all going to the funeral in the afternoon.  There was likely a sense of heightened anxiety amongst both the staff and the students.  Given that it was the first day back and M finds school relatively stressful at the best of times, it was probably a tough environment for him. 

He had finished his book report that was due on Monday, but apparently there was a second, project that he didn`t complete.  Apparently he was in good company – 2/3s of the class hadn`t finished the assignment either.  Even though the teacher gave them an extension until Friday, M would have been fretting about the unfinished project.

The other thing we could not prepare M for was the weather.  It was gorgeous.  We skipped spring and went straight to summer.  A week before we were in jackets and boots and suddenly we are wearing shorts and sandals.  The sunshine and warm temperatures made everyone in the city absolutely giddy. 

To top it all off, M didn`t eat his lunch on Monday.  Not a bug surprise then that M got into a bit of a skirmish with another child at daycare.  I`m not totally certain of all the details but M did hit another child by accident, although he admitted he hit her harder than he thought.  The other child also goes to M`s school and I wondered if perhaps they were  both a little worked up about events at the school.

On Tuesday, I sent an email to the principal to let her know about the issue at the daycare the day before and about the older boys who had bullied M on Monday night.  I have gotten into the habit of letting the principal know whenever M encounters a conflict outside school.  Sometimes it involves another child at the school.  Not only does M have trouble not bringing external conflicts to school, if he`s anxious about a situation, it inevitably shows up in his behaviour at school.   While the school may sometimes view M`s extreme behaviour as irrational or unprovoked, there is usually a root cause.  Not always easy after the fact to figure out the catalyst.  It can be like trying to find a trail of breadcrumbs in the forest.   So I send emails to the principal on a regular basis – makes it easier for everyone to follow the path when something does happen.

I have learned that with M, things happen.  When I came home late on Tuesday night after  getting my hair cut (I looked fabulous btw), I could tell from the set of my husband`s shoulder that something had transpired.  Turns out M had the mother of all meltdowns – yelling, hitting, swearing, wrecking his room – the whole enchilada.  I gather it started over M`s homework, but it blew up big and bad.  When I went upstairs, M was barricaded in his room by his mattress and bean bag chair.  His bed was completely torn apart, right down to the slats. 

M was in a state.  He had obviously been crying for a while.  He told me that he didn`t feel anyone wanted him around. 

Me:  I do.

M:  You`re the only one.

Me:  Your dad wants you around.

M:  Doubtful.  

Me:  What about your Grammy?  Your cousins?

M:  They don`t want me around either.

We went through a list of a few more people, but M wasn`t having any of it.  The pity party was in full swing.

It turns out he was anxious about his homework.  He had started doing it verbally with his dad the night before but according to M, “it was hard to put it into writing.“  He started resisting, his dad started pushing back and boom!  They are both yelling at each other.

Eventually, I got M calmed down.  I helped him put his room back together.  We re-made his bed with fresh sheets and then he helped me put the linens back on our bed – in his fury, he pulled it apart too.  He and his dad apologized to each other.  M was in much better spirits by the time he got into bed.

On Wednesday, M had a minor scuffle with another child at school who was cheating at a game of Four Square.  I have never been able to figure out the rules to this game but I gather it is a source of ongoing conflict on more than one playground.  Kids typically change the rules during the game.  This drives M crazy.  When I mentioned to a couple of other friends with kids M`s age that he had run into trouble playing Four square, they just shook their heads and nodded.  The principal at M`s school is planning on painting a set of squares on the playground to designate a rules-only space for the game.  Clearly M is not the only child at the school having trouble with the rules-optional version.

By Wednesday, we had already exchanged several emails with the principal and spoken to the counsellors at the daycare at least twice.  Then on Wednesday night, M kicked another child at Cubs.  According to M, he was trying to get the other child to go to the meeting point; the child refused and was climbing up the slide he was trying to go down and refused to get out of his way; and the other child kicked him first.  The leader who dealt with him told him he could be kicked out of the troop or perhaps demoted from his position as sixer.  This approach rarely works with M – he probably dug in his heels.

Despite an extremely challenging start to the week, M was able to pull himself together in the latter part of the week.  He woke up on Thursday in a good mood.  He told his dad he was going to have a good day, at school and at daycare.  And he did.  Friday was a good day too. 

On the positive side, M was able to talk to the responsible adult about the various incidents and in most cases, he calmed down relatively quickly.  On the not-so-positive side, he had a series of conflicts in different settings.  When M is having difficulties, it is often limited to one environment.  This week, he had trouble at home, school, daycare and Cubs.

If I follow the trail of bread crumbs backwards, I can see that the events at school threw M for a loop.  He probably wasn`t the only one, which would have only served to increase his general sense of anxiety.  He is learning to manage his behaviour – he didn`t spiral down completely or escalate as the week went on.  Although he is making progress, it doesn`t take a lot to get him off track.  Nest step is to try to keep the dominoes standing up.

Adventures with purple carrots

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Carrot diversity

Carrot diversity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every Friday afternoon, we get a delivery of organic vegetables.  We never know what we’re going to get – the element of surprise is what makes it interesting.  In the winter months, we tend to get a lot of root vegetables – carrots, potatoes, beets, etc.  And kale.  Lots of kale, which it turns out, is very tasty cooked in a little bit of oil and garlic.

We try to eat what we get each week, but sometimes we end up with a surplus of one kind of vegetable or another.  I have a couple of colleagues who are willing to accept donations of fingerling potatoes and turnips.  Sometimes, I just have to come up with a recipe that uses large amounts of vegetables just so we have room in our fridge. 

Last week, we had a big bag of carrots in the fridge.  I take carrot sticks for lunch most days, but I wasn’t eating them fast enough.  So I decided to make carrot and sweet potato soup (we also had a few extra sweet potatoes – even after sharing them with my colleagues.)

The carrots we get every week aren’t your ordinary garden-variety orange carrots.  They are usually every colour but orange – yellow, white, pale orange with yellow streaks, red and purple.  They are much sweeter than the carrots we get at the grocery store, likely in part because they are organic, but also because they are heirloom varieties.

So I cut up most of the carrots – about 5 cups in a variety of colours – and threw them in my soup pot with some sautéed onion and garlic.  I added an equivalent amount of potato – 4 cups of sweet potato and 1 medium white potato, plus water, grated ginger and a few assorted spices.  Cooked everything until the vegetables were tender.

It turns out that if you cook with purple carrots, even a small quantity, you will get purple soup.  Dark purple, almost the colour of eggplant.   The colour doesn’t affect the taste – it tastes like a big bowl of carrots.  But while purple is a good colour for many things, I’ m not sure soup is one of them.

I’m not sure why I was so surprised that the carrots turned the whole soup purple. Probably because we get purple beans in the summer, but they turn green when they are cooked.  Apparently purple carrots stay purple.

So this week, I’ve been eating purple soup.  I think next time I have extra purple carrots, I will add them to a stir fry.  Or I could boil a couple and  dye some ribbon – tea works, why wouldn’t carrots.

Here’s the recipe – orange carrots will work just fine. 

1 tsp olive oil

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic. minced

2 tablespoons grated ginger

5 cups  carrots, cut in half and sliced thin (I don’t bother peeling organic carrots)

4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 lg regular potato, peeled and cubed

8 cups water

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp each of cumin and garam masala

1/4 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and garlic until soft; add remaining vegetables, water, spices and seasonings.  Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to low.  Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are soft.  Puree until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In his own words – justifying bullying

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this is my own version of what bullying looks like

this is my own version of what bullying looks like (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

M was upset when he came home from playing across the street.  In the past, he wouldn’t tell his dad or I what had transpired and would just act out.  Tonight, he asked me to wait until we got into the house before we discussed what happened.

Turns out, the two older boys (11 and 13) and found a small toy and proceeded to smash it, while saying it was M.  This hurt his feelings and probably scared him a bit, although he would never admit that to me.

This is not the first time these children have picked on M.  Individually they are ok kids, but there is a Lord of the Flies dynamic in effect when they get together.  Mis definitely on the lowest rung of the ladder.  He’s one of youngest, definitely the smallest and probably the mouthiest.  I’m his mother; I know he can be highly annoying.  Because I know he doesn’t back away and can give as good as he gets, I rarely intervene when there is an issue. 

But tonight, I was visiting with a neighbour not far from where M was and the other boys were hanging out.  He didn’t appear to be doing anything to get up their noses.  Their tonight actions seemed to be just plain mean.

So when M told me what the boys had done and said, I went across the street to talk to them.  Since I know M can sometimes be flexible with the truth, I told them what M said they were doing and asked them what had happened.  The older boy admitted to destroying the toy, but denied that it represented M.  The younger boy, however, confirmed that they were pretending to smash M.

When I asked the boys how they justified bullying a younger and smaller child, the older boy said that M was often annoying.  When I asked what M had done tonight to bug them, he replied “nothing,” but he had been bothering them last week some time.  He doesn’t hit them, he just hangs around them.  But since they don’t want him around

It was a frustrating conversation.  The boy felt strongly that he was justified in bullying M because he annoyed them.  He wouldn’t stop when they asked.  I asked the boy repeatedly to explain how M’s behaviour justified their actions.  And each time, he would repeat the same argument. – M was annoying.  

We didn’t end up resolving the issue.  In the end, I reiterated my view that what they had done was unacceptable – there is no excuse for bullying another child, especially someone who is younger and significantly smaller in size.  I also told him that if it happened again, I would speak directly to his family. 

I know that both the boys have been taught in school that bullying is wrong.  But somehow, the older boy has decided that in some cases, hurting another child’s feelings and deliberately being mean is ok, unless they do what you say – e.g., go away.  I know he is only 14 and teenagers are not always capable of accepting responsibility for their actions.  This child probably understands that it would not be right to hit a girl, even if she did something he didn’t like.  But it is a slippery slope. 

I grew up with an abusive father, who constantly justified his actions by blaming others.  When I was 11 years old, he kicked me hard enough in the leg to leave a visible bruise – he told me it was my fault for stepping on his sore toe.  I was well into my 20s before I realized that I was not to blame for my father’s behaviour.  I was a kid and didn’t know he had a sore toe.  But since that’s the environment I lived in, I thought it was normal.

I don’t want M to think he deserves to be bullied.  He knows these kids aren’t nice to him, but he’s having a hard time letting go.  While there are lots of kids in the neighbourhood, they don’t live on our block.  This makes it hard just to go our and play.

But since M is having trouble protecting himself, his dad and I will have to take action.  It’s one thing to get teased in the context of a game but this type of behaviour occurs almost every time M gets together with this group of kids.  We’ve told him that from now on, he can’t go over and play with the boys.  No exceptions.  If the younger boy’s sister is around, then he can hang out.   But if it is just the older kids, he will have to come home. 

I know banning M from playing with these kids isn’t fair to him, but I honestly think the alternative is worse.  I don’t want him to think that he deserves to be bullied.  His behaviour isn’t perfect but that doesn’t mean he has to accept being treated like crap by another child.  And I am going to do everything I can to help him understand that real friends don’t bully each other.

Random acts of craftiness – easy ribbon flower pin

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Easy ribbon flower pin

The only thing I like more than clothes are accessories – scarves, bracelets, necklaces, pins, earrings – the more the better.  I have 1 drawer in my closet dedicated just to jewelery and another to scarves and belts.   But as much as I like to update my accessories when the seasons change, I do not like to pay full price.  I don’t even like to pay half price.  And if I can make it myself, all the better.

I decided to try my hand at making a flower pin.  There are lots of tutorials on the web, but most of the ones I found involved a glue gun.  Since I am more of a hazard than handy with a glue gun, I turned to a tried and true method – needle and thread.

The pink one is for one of my favourite little girls.  She has a birthday coming up and I found her an adorable brown sweater.  I already bought her a pair of pink and brown plaid pants and the sweater will go perfectly.  But it needed a little something.  Hence the pin.

I started with about 18 inches or 1/2 metre of 1 inch pink ribbon and pink thread.  I made a little knot at one end of the ribbon and started twisting the ribbon in a circle, using the thread to tack the edges of the ribbon down.  I found it easiest to run the thread back and forth from the centre, as I twisted the ribbon.  This helped reinforce the back of the pin.  When I reached the end of the ribbon, I turned the end under and tacked it down.  I finished it off by adding a little pink pearl in the centre and gluing a small felt circle on the back.  For the time being, the pin attached with a safety pin, but I may add a proper pin back before I send it off to the birthday girl.  It looks so sweet on the sweater.  Pretty good for 68 cents worth of ribbon and about 30 minutes (I already had the pearl and the felt).

Back of the pin and felt circle

Flower pin

The black pin was a bit more expensive – $1.43 worth of ribbon and .50 for the button.  But l really like how it turned out. 

Black ribbon flower pin

One thing I learned from making the black flower is that if you are right-handed, like me, it is much easier to twist and sew in that direction, rather than trying to do it from the left side.  Going counter-clockwise (left) was a bit more time-consuming for me.   I was able to shape the “flower” by pulling the thread a little tighter on some of the stitches. A couple of times, I didn’t twist the ribbon tightly enough and it gapped a bit – I just put in a couple more stitches to hold the ribbon down.

Shaping the flower

The button has a shank on it and I passed the needle and thread back and forth through the hole in back so it didn’t wiggle too much.  I secured it  further by pulling the needle to the back of the flower and going back and forth a few more times.  I found it much easier to work with shorter lengths of thread and re-threading several times, so the thread didn’t get tangled.  It doesn’t really matter what the back looks like – it will be covered up with a felt circle (I used purple again, so this it the only piece of felt I could find). 

I found heavy satin ribbon worked best for me, but I expect organza ribbon or grosgrain would work just as well.  Since my stitches weren’t visible, I didn’t care what they looked like.  You would probably need to take a bit more care with stitching organza ribbon, so they don’t show.  I am going to experiment making a flower out of some vintage lace I bought recently at a church sale recently. 

The flower itself could be used for anything – a necklace, headband.  Easy to make, easy on the pocketbook.  And no scary glue gun accidents.

I have linked up to the following: Think Pink Sundays at Flamingo Toes ; Making Monday Marvelous at C.R.A.F.T. ; Made by You Mondays at Skip to My Lou ; Get Your Craft on Tuesday at Today”s Creative Blog; Take-a-Look Tuesdays at Sugar Bee Crafts; Wednesday Wowzers at oopsy daisy

Spring has sprung!

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The last patch of snow

Although the calendar says it’s March, it felt more like late May or early June today.  Everyone in our neighbourhood was outside  – walking, biking or sitting outside having coffee.  As the day wore  on, people started shedding their jackets and wearing sandals.  Normally, we would still be in our ski-jackets and boots.

It is still too early to do much work outside – we still have a small piles of snow in shadier parts of the yard and driveway.  Some people were out in their gardens, but it still too wet in the backyard to do very much.  Plus, it is just too risky.  It is not outside the realm of possibility to have a snow storm between now and mid-April.  While the layer of dead, wet leaves covering my garden isn’t attractive, in the event that it does snow, it will protect any plants that are poking out of the ground

And despite the fact that the snow has barely melted, I do have a few plants coming up.  I was wandering round the backyard yesterday afternoon and was totally surprised to find a few crocus in bloom and a single snow-drop.  Today, as if by magic, more crocus and snow-drops had appeared.

Spring 2012 - the first crocus

Snow drop

National Geographic will not be knocking on my door any time soon asking me to take pictures for them, but I had a good time getting down on my hands and knees to find new shoots and then take a few shots. I planted close to 150 bulbs last fall – crocus, daffodils and tulips (early, mid-season and late). Sometimes the bulbs grow, sometimes they don’t.  It will be like a treasure hunt over the next few weeks, to see what blooms.

Sedum - just beginning