Now that we've inched past the summer solstice the hot weather has finally arrived here in Wisconsin. We've had a prolonged and generally cold spring which has meant that many plants are a week or two behind usual. Our basil is doing poorly and some of our other heat-loving plants are struggling as well. On the other hand, my old nemesis, lettuce, is doing just fine this year.

We had a large silver maple taken out over the past couple of weeks, which has radically changed our yard. The tree had a trunk with a diameter of four feet or more, so it was a very sizable tree. However, it was planted almost directly underneath the power lines that run through our back yard, so when the electric utility contractors came through to trim it, they tended to lop off all the limbs on that side of the tree making it uneven. In addition, apparently silver maples don't heal, they just rot. So everywhere that a limb fell off or was cut off, the tree just started rotting backwards. Finally, the tree was reaching the end of its life cycle. We've had several good sized limbs fall off in weather events over the past couple of years, so it seemed like we could watch and wait with our fingers crossed while the tree slowly fell apart (and hope that it didn't fall on anyone or any structures) or we could take it out all at once in a controlled fashion. In the end it wasn't an easy decision but we decided to take the whole thing out this year. It will be interesting to see how our yard changes over the next few years with the additional sunlight in that corner of the yard.

Garrison has been having a blast in the area where the stump was ground out. He takes out his spade, fills his Tonka dump truck, and runs around the yard making engine noises depositing ground up stump on the various garden beds. He usually goes out with shoes on, but is barefoot within minutes. He seems completely unfazed by any sort of summer weather. Hot or cold, he always wants to be in motion.

He's also been playing more with one of the neighbor boys who was born within weeks of when Garrison was. The two boys live one house apart, so they yell across the yard to each other to set up impromptu play dates. Generally speaking, they play very well together with minimal supervision.

Garrison also started playing T-ball this year. He's had one game so far with another scheduled for tomorrow night. He's a bit mystified by the rules (like all kids his age) so there is lots of coaching on the field and during the game. They don't play with outs and every hit is a single so everyone gets to bat on the team and then the teams switch between hitting and fielding. When the ball is hit, kids rush the ball and it looks like an NFL fumble drill. There is usually a brief scrum between the fielders and one comes up with the ball. The coaches then remind them to throw to first where the first baseman (or basegirl?) usually drops the throw if it is on target or chases it down if the throw is errant. Garrison has a great throwing arm for a kid his age, and is working on batting. We bought him an aluminum T-ball bat recently and he's been eagerly practicing hitting live pitching (from an adult). Regardless, his favorite part of the game are the fielding scrums, probably because that's where the action is.

Dinah continues to grow and mature, as well. She seems to learn multiple new words every day and is staring to put together simple sentences ("Dry it," was one she used tonight). She sometimes has trouble pronouncing a word (common for kids her age) and her mis-pronunciations are often incredibly endearing. My favorite recently was "pockey" (pronounced like "hockey", but with a p); that was her pronunciation of "pocket". She also struggles with "cookie" which Sarah hears as "dookie". However these pronunciations are often short-lived so if you don't get it tape shortly after it starts you may never do so. I'm afraid that I never got "pockey" on tape, much to my chagrin. She still calls Garrison "Ba-Ba" and only rarely makes an attempt at her name. Usually, she just calls herself, "Me." If she wants to get out of the car she'll say, "Me out; me out". And if there is any possibility of wearing out the word "mine" she is going to give it an honest try. We must hear "mine" a couple of hundred times a day.

She's still pretty much on the bear diet (meat, fruit, carbs, junk food when she can get it). She will occasionally eat a bit of carrot or a green bean but that's not common. She enjoys ketchup, and Annie's Natural Goddess dressing. She likes to "dippa-dippa" which is how she describes dipping food in some sort of condiment.

Dinah is getting taller by the day it seems. Garrison is still noticeably bigger, but Dinah is a tall girl for her age. She sometimes towers over kids a full year older than her. She's getting more coordinated as well. She's been running more of late, often for extended stretches. She is starting swimming lessons at the YMCA this Saturday with either Sarah or I joining her in the pool. She loves the pool so that shouldn't be a problem.

We got back last weekend from a trip to the Cleveland area to visit Sarah's family. It was a really long drive in both directions (particularly on the way back), but the kids were troopers in both directions and there was little to no complaining. In fact, I probably complained more about the length of the drive than they did. They both enjoyed seeing their family in Ohio and Garrison really enjoyed playing with his cousin, Kyle.