April 23, 2014

Garden 2014 - Post 01

I've had a container garden of some form or another for most of my adult life.  Gardening is something that feels like an extension of myself.  On occasion it feels like a chore, but for the most part it is something I constantly itch to do.  One of the bonuses of owning a house with a yard is the prospect of having a legit garden where I can grow my own vegetables.  Not just a tomato here or there and a few herbs, but a serious crop that could help feed us throughout the summer.

In pursuit of that goal, I spent quite a lot of time last week researching raised beds, where to find good dirt that will deliver, and sorting out which vegetables to grow and how to arrange them.  I had a very elaborate plan made within two days, thanks in large part to the site Smart Gardener, which is amazing.  Then I compared the projected cost of materials to what was available in the bank and became disheartened.  I thought I would have to wait a whole year again, and I had been so excited about all the plants that were going to fit into the little space I had planned.

DS was in full support of this garden, and so he helped me come up with a solution for this year that was easier on the wallet.  Last summer I had attempted to put a couple of green bean plants in the yard, and they were quickly eaten by bunnies.  So I knew whatever I did would need to be protected.  Our solution this year is some very cheap chicken fencing.  It was just big enough with two rolls, with enough left over to have a removable bit on bamboo poles that acts as a "gate".  I think I'll still need to use some tent stakes or something to pin down the bottom, because a determined critter could probably weasel its way underneath, but it seems pretty sturdy otherwise.

The start of one of the new garden beds

We also picked up a 2-sided garden tool for hoeing and cultivating.  I've spent my limited free time this week painstakingly removing the grass from what will be my beds.  For now I'm just scattering this around the areas of the yard that dip and flood during heavy rains.  I should probably get some grass seed at some point.  This is some serious labor right here.  As of today, I have one 12x4' bed done, and one more to go.  I've laid them out exactly where I had planned to build the raised beds, so hopefully next summer those will be easy to install.  After the grass is gone, I'll work in some compost and good gardening soil just to beef up the yard nutrients a bit, and then hope for the best.  I haven't seen any evidence of moles or anything that would come up from below to eat the plants, but I guess we'll find out.  For now, I have seeds sprouting in little containers, just waiting for their new home.  I'm planning to grow a lot of plants that are new to me.  We'll see how it works out.

Today was a bit chillier than the last few days, but here are some of the things we've been up to with the boys.

Practicing some stair skills.

First day it was warm enough for the water table.

Curled up on the couch playing with the LeapPad.

The boys' new bird feeder.  Monkey has already learned how to sign "bird".  It's very exciting.

April 16, 2014

Out of the House!

We've been struggling with Monkey wanting to climb every single thing in the house.  Some things I don't mind.  The couch? Go for it buddy.  Climbing to the top of the couch and then using it as a boost to climb on top of the window sill? PLEASE DON'T DO THAT!  Ugh.  Their antics are getting crazier and crazier, and I worry it won't be long before we're dealing with cracked skulls.  Bear doesn't seem to realize how rough and heavy he is, and prefers to show his love to Monkey by standing on sensitive areas like his face and stomach.

Brotherly love.

But it's not all bad.  They can be so incredibly cute or sweet, sometimes both.  Bear is my little scavenger, and he's constantly looking around for food scraps.  He'll eat anything he finds on the floor (which is usually something he threw there himself during lunch).  Tonight I found a couple of cookies that had been tossed off the high chair, and I placed them on the coffee table.  He noticed 30 minutes later, and his little dance of joy was spectacular to behold.

A dangerous game of hide and seek

We spent last weekend in SC for a wedding.  It was our second time flying with the boys, and they were great.  DS's mom met us there and watched the kids.  I'm pretty sure this was the first time we've had a whole evening away from them together.  It was so lovely, almost 8 hours!  Not to mention all of his "snowboarding" friends were there.  Such a nice reunion.

Honorary cousins of the boys!
Bride & Groom

On Sunday, his sister and her kids came up too, and the whole family went to the zoo there.  It was hot, and very crowded.  I'd been there before, but I honestly didn't remember a single thing about it.  We rented one of the zoo double strollers since we hadn't flown with ours.  There wasn't anywhere to put our diaper bag, and attaching it to the bar immediately made the whole thing tip, even with the kids in it.  So that was a pain, and there was only one "belt" for the both of them.  It was challenging.  Even still, hanging out with the four of the kids together was really fun.

Checking out an ostrich from the stroller.

Not long before that, Bri and I took them to our zoo.  It was our first time visiting with the new KidZooU open, which was actually really cool.  There was a farm section just for littles like mine that can be gated off so they don't get lost.  It has large wooden cutouts of animals with little buttons the kids can push so the animals make their sound.  Monkey thought it was the coolest.  They also got to pet some goats and sheep.  Some of the doors at the zoo are spectacularly lovely.

Smaller than an ant!

Petting some goats
Dragonfly wing doors
Now that the weather is (sometimes) nice, we've been playing on the deck more.  Lots of bubbles and running around.  They don't exactly listen when I ask them to come back yet, so the deck is an easy place to contain them for now while letting them get some fresh air.

This guy was "helping" clean the deck. Spoiler: He's the one that put that dirt there.


We also had some friends visit.  They wanted to visit this local sculpture park that was built by one guy over years and is a sort of architectural mosaic.  I had never been before, only walked past, so it was neat to run around inside it a bit.  We were holding the boys most of the time, but there was a section that was fairly open and empty of crowds, so we let them run a little bit.  Bear was completely fascinated with the floor tiling.  He looked at every step he took and kept bending over to touch the different textures.


The inside was also used as an art gallery that caters to mosaic artists, and there were some really lovely pieces that used maps and weather patterns and galaxies to great effect.

Art by Yulia Hanansen | http://www.mosaicsphere.com
Detail of The Center of the Universe by Rachel Sager | http://www.rachelsagermosaics.com/

So if you get a chance, check out Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, because it's fairly inexpensive and pretty cool.  Better than I expected, if I'm being honest.

We also went hiking at a small local park.  It was our first time with the kids, which was exciting because DS and I have been longing to get back outside.  I don't think we'd really done anything together beyond neighborhood walks since I watched him climb when I was pregnant.

The remains of a formal garden, but no signage to clarify.
Under a train bridge.

It's actually kind of nuts how busy we've been lately.  How exciting!