Autumn sonata

So, we had pretty much the most perfect October Wednesday of all time for M's day off this week. M doesn't have a lot of free time at the moment, between work and midterms. We knew long before leaving for China that this year was going to be a tough one for us, in terms of juggling. M had a year left of business school to finish after QQ came home. Thankfully, we've had help - both from my mother and from M's, and that has really made it possible for us to handle all this, what with the surgery, the DNC, the elections, and M's various rounds of tests. Nevertheless, it hasn't been easy, and it's been a real juggling act for us to balance work, school, and family time. I think we've done a really good job of it so far. But I can see him feeling the stress. For me, having finished my last big job just a day or two prior to QQ's first surgery, I am able to devote all the time she needs to her during her recuperation. It's a combination of her discomfort from the surgery, and her phase of attachment that makes her so needy. But this is no time to deny her every second of attention that she requires.

It's very, very rare these days that we have the greater part of even a single day per week to spend as a family. That isn't much. Since M's longest work days are the weekends, and since he needs to study and attend classes even on his mid-week "days off", our time as a family of three is very limited, and very precious. This Wednesday, in spite of impending presentations for class and the impending election which he'll have to cover at work, M was able to take some time with us. As it happened, the heavens cooperated and we had a gorgeous, undeserved 80-degree day of broad sunshine, yeilding soil and the rustle of autumn leaves.

It was my day to plant the bulbs that my mother had sent us from the East Coast. We have a beautiful late-summer and autumn garden that was planted by the previous owners of our house (they really did a beautiful job, timing, color scheme and all), and we have done pretty well with the vegetable and herb gardens since moving in. What we were really missing was the first spring flowers. We have been given a lovely selection of tulips, but there are not nearly enough of them to fill the early summer flowerbeds. My mother sent us more tulips, and a large selection of crocuses for the really early bloom.

I can't wait for QQ to experience that first spring bloom, long before the trees have begun to bud, because it's such a special, miraculous and ethereal time. I planted a dense border of crocuses around Lucky the Lion, and I hope I did it right. I'm still a very, very novice gardener and my research is spotty at best. I'm sure my cousin Sophie in England could give me a few tips....

Here are my pointy little crocus buds, waiting to be covered with fertilizer to protect them through the cold, hard winter.

Flynn QQ's first experience with gardening soil.

She is getting less and less shy of the outdoors and the sunlight (you'd be shy, too, if you'd spent eleven months indoors in an row of orphanage cribs) and is finally starting to really enjoy herself and stretch her wings out of doors.

Mike gave her one of our many gourds to play with. We were hoping some would dry into hollow vessels that we could play with over the winter, but those blasted squirrels, having eaten everyting more appealing in the garden, have gone on to decimate our gourd collection as well.

A ladybug perusing the last of the fall flowers.

QQ offering daddy a bloom.

I like this picture because we both have the same attitude and tilt of head. There's something beautifully-orchestrated about this shot.

After our late-season gardening session, we took to the road with our bikes for a good, blood-churning three-hour ride around the bikepaths of North Denver. I love the cottonwoods of the plains, both in summer and in fall. This was a particularly majestic one.

M and QQ taking a rest stop beside some giant chama bushes.

A lovely segment of the path in Arvada.

The majestic proscenium of the Rocky Mountains across a local golf course.

Clad in autumn finery.

By happy coincidence, we happened upon a pumpkin patch still rich with pumpkins.

Far from intimidated by the Halloween display, QQ wanted to touch.

I should have known that, rather than striking fear in her heart, the spooky scarecrow would inspire in QQ's heart only the desire to pluck its eyes out.

That's my Danger Mouse.

She was not happy with me for preventing her from ripping out the creature's orbs.

Nor was she particularly thrilled with the pumpkin patch, to tell you the truth. To be fair, we had subjected her to an unusually long and tortuous ride in the bike trailer, and she was bored, sweaty, and ready for a nap.

Yeah, not her most animated look. Oh well.

M and QQ crossing under the railroad bridge.

Starved and worn out after our long ride, we stopped for tacos al pastor and cool drinks in glass bottles at our favorite local Mexican joint before heading home. They were playing some awesome cumbia music, and QQ was ready to DANCE DANCE DANCE with daddy!

There was also an awesome mirror corner, and if there's one thing the QQ loves, it's her own image...particularly in triplicate!!

Our bikes through the window in the waning sunlight.

Hey, I just saw MOMMY in the mirror!

On the way home, we came across a construction site with a really good backhoe at work. QQ had to stop and take a look-see. She's particularly into her heavy machinery since...

We got her her very own dump truck at C@stco the other day.

It came at an affordable price, and daddy and I cottoned to it right away. We weren't sure if she'd go for it, so we gave her a good try in the store first. She perked up right away to the sounds of the starting engine (shades of her Speed Racer car) so we brought it home. Best investment we've made yet. She LOVES the dump truck!

...and can spend hours playing on it.

The other thing she really enjoys? Helping daddy with the electric drill.

Here they are installing childproof locks together on the kitchen cabinets. How sweet is that? I love the way she leans on his shoulder.

Note: At the end of this beautiful day, I have to write a brief note about my friend Carrie Anne, and her daughter MJ who passed away a few days ago. I can't even begin to know what Carrie has been going through for the past week. But every time I hold my daughter close this week, it touches me more deeply than ever. This is so precious, the gift we are given in these children. It's impossible to quantify, so precious and so fragile. Please think of Carrie and MJ, and treasure life while we have it. Treasure the miracle of the love we share with our children. Never take a moment for granted. I really have no words to describe what I feel for Carrie, MJ and their family, so I will leave it at this. Carrie, my heart is with you.


monica said...

Thanks for another beautiful post. I read your blog daily and your daughter is so close in age to our little Jasmine (also cl/cp). I followed your journey to China shortly before we departed and felt so hopeful and inspired. My heart is heavy thinking that someone close to you has lost a precious child. Blessings, Monica

Yoli said...

I think all of us are holding our children a little tighter since Carrie's loss. My heart and thoughts are with her. No one should have to go through what that sweet family is going through.

Vivian M said...

I could not have said it any better Yoli. Carrie and her family are in our thoughts and prayers.

operationtigerlily said...

Al Pastor + Horchata = crazy delicious!

Sounds like a perfect day off for M.

I love your new look by the way.

The loss the family is experiencing right now is unfathomable. My heart just breaks for them.

Heidi said...

I've been touched by your blog. Very nice to read the love story that is now your family.
I have 3 children from Russia. I know the love you have in your heart for your daughter. And am happy to see you enjoy it so very much.
My question to you: Your art work is breath-takingly beautiful. Do you still paint? Are any of your works for sale?
I would be grateful to hear more about it from you.
And, of course, my heart goes out to your friend.
Thank you,

M@rgriet said...

Never EVER take 'm for granted... I wish Carrie strength and will be thinking of her *sigh*