The Bed

I told you we were going to try a little gardening this year, and since Las Vegas soil sucks, we decided to go with the “above ground planter box” route.  Russell built the box (thanks to some plans from Sunset magazine) out of redwood last week, and this week we finally selected a spot and filled it with some nice organic soil specifically for growing vegetables.

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Wyatt in the before picture

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The girls helped move the rocks

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It’s important to stay hydrated!

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Sorry for anyone dealing with those extreme winter temperatures. But this is when it is nice to live in Las Vegas! 65 and sunny in January!

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Who else thinks this should be an ad for Carhartts?

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filling the box with soil

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It was very exciting

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We took a minute to learn about compost and the cycle of our food. The parts we couldn’t eat become food and nutrients for our plants, which we will then get to eat.

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Mixing it all up! They had so much fun trying to pick out what foods they saw in the compost.

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The girls showing off the bed in the after picture.

Published in: on January 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

A New Sprout

No, we’re not pregnant again if anyone wondered that. For any new followers, we called Wyatt “Sprout” while I was pregnant with him since we didn’t find out his gender until delivery. The sprout I am talking about is the more traditional sense of the word. We decided we are going to try out our green thumbs and see if we can grow some of the food we eat. I like it because we will be able to control more what goes into the kids’ bodies and Russell likes it because we become less dependent on others to provide for our family. The only trouble is that I stink at keeping things alive, especially in plant form. I think I both under-water, and over-water so not matter what I try I end up killing everything. I just can’t seem to find that middle ground between dehydration and drowning. Nevertheless our journey has begun. Russell is building an above ground planter bed (just one for now but hopefully many more in the future) and we started some seeds inside in egg cartons. We have had a few little guys poke through already. Currently we have one cherry tomato sprout and 3 1/2 cauliflower. I am calling one a half because it may already be on the verge of me killing it. It just isn’t as perky as the others. We also have started seeds for carrots, green beans, peas, lettuce, zucchini, and squash. I’m all about honesty over here so I will definitely try to post about our successes and failures along the way.

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If anyone has experience with this please send some tips my way. I think I’ll need all the help I can get!

Published in: on January 15, 2014 at 1:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Our Next Step

If you are my friend on Facebook, you may have already figured this out, but we have decided to home school our kids. This is not a forever decision and we may change our minds in the future as circumstances change, but for right now this is what we think is the best thing for our family.

There are many factors in our decision, but the greatest one is that we truly feel like home schooling will give them the most positive experience to nurture their own inquisitive desires. We want them to grow up with a love of learning, rather than the ability to memorize facts for a single test, only to forget it quickly after.

I grew up in the public school system all my life and while I don’t think I ever had a truly negative experience, there wasn’t much I can say was overwhelmingly positive either. I was fortunate enough to be in an Art Academy in high school that let me focus on the more creative side to many things, but I will confess that is wasn’t until I was in college that I really learned some things that I now consider to basic foundations. I did have some really great and passionate teachers along the way, and I am sure I had my moments that I was less than receptive to what they had to teach me, so I am not trying to blame anyone for my situation. I do feel that practicing some principles like unschooling and child-led learning I will be able to encourage and show our kids just how much cool stuff there is out there to learn.

If you are trying to make a decision about what school option is best for your family, I’d like to recommend the book Many Voices, Many Choices: Choosing Your Child’s Education by Yvonna Graham. She discuses the many options out there and the pros and cons of each.

 

Published in: on January 13, 2014 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Post I Never Thought I’d Write

I killed seriously the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life last night.

Like many people out there I am terrified of spiders. I grew up in a house that backed up to a forest. We had large tree spiders around the whole time I was a kid. One lived outside my window for a while that my family called “Goliath.”

We’ve been cleaning out the garage and luckily I’ve managed to stay spider free. Until last night. I picked up some old burlap coffee bags Russell had gotten years ago in Colorado. We’d been using them as mats on the floor in front of the washing machine. That is until our cat starting using them as a litter box. Time to go. So I gave those a little shake and threw them out. Then I picked up the trash can by the dryer that we use mostly for the lint. It doesn’t get full really fast, or stinky at all so it doesn’t get emptied very often. Well, that’s when I saw him.

The beast.

At first I wasn’t sure if he was alive, or even really a spider. He was surrounded by webs, but was so big I almost didn’t believe it. Now, Russell was on his way home at this point and I could have left the spider for him to deal with, but after I had unearthed him from his hiding place I didn’t trust him to stay out in the open. Our deep freezer was only about two inches away, and the washing machine and dryer were not far either. The fact was, doing nothing and possibly losing track of this spider was more terrifying to me than dealing with it myself. I searched around for any spider killer spray that I could use from a safe distance, but found none. He was on the edge of a little ledge, so trying to hit him with something or step on him was out of the question. I ended up poking around him with the broom enough that he climbed on board. Once on the broom there was no doubt he was alive, and his size startled me even more. I kid you not, he was roughly 2/3 the length of the bristles on the broom. I carried him (as outstretched as possible) to the street before whacking him. Literally.

I took a picture, but it is a little hard to see. On the right there is one of those things that go in men’s dress shirts to straighten the collar. You can use that for size reference. He was about the same size. Also, in the foreground you can see the carcass of some other spider or creature that he killed.

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Published in: on September 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Put Them To Work

Today was house cleaning day around here. We have family and friends starting to arrive tomorrow, and into next weekend also so it was time to tidy up the place a bit. I actually don’t care much about impressing our visitors, it is just an easy way for me to remember the last time it was that I cleaned if I do it right before someone visits. It’s a good thing we have guests every month or so or my house would just be filthy.  A good friend, and fellow twin mom, and I were talking yesterday and she mentioned that someone had said to her: “At least your house is always clean because you stay home with your kids. ” In what world does that person think she lives in. Hasn’t everyone seen this before?

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It is a little counterproductive having kids around while you clean because they can make messes WAY faster than I can clean them up… especially left with less supervision. That’s why I make my kids work too! Isn’t that one of the reasons everyone had like ten kids 150 years ago? They needed help managing the farm, running the house, etc. I say, why should now be any different?

They sweep:

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They mop:

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Kylie

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Alyssa

And they do windows:

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My kids actually love to help and always ask the participate. At 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 they obviously can’t really do these chores all by themselves, but I can’t say no to letting them help. I would be crazy to do anything to turn them off of their desire to help clean!  Hopefully they will take the same pride when I ask them to do chores for years to come!

And check out this special moment I caught after we were all done.

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I love them.

Published in: on August 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Growing

We are starting to get a few fruits ready to eat off our new trees. It is a learning experience as far as how long to let them sit. I want to leave them long enough to ripen just right, but it seems that the birds don’t mind so much and start to pick at them before they are ready. :/ I can’t wait until we have more than we can eat and don’t mind sharing with our winged friends, but with only a dozen apricots on each tree I am not feeling in a generous mood.

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The plum tree will not be giving us any fruit this year I believe and that is alright with me for now. These things take time. Our figs however are going to be super producers! There are already so many baby figs growing. Each branch is just popping with fruit.

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We have also had an unexpected growth in our front yard. Russell transplanted a rose bush from the back and when he put it out front he added some of our compost we have been working on for a few years. Almost immediately something started growing next to it. I assumed it was a weed because it grew so quickly, but when we were told it looked like a member of the squash family we decided to let it grow and see what happened. We eat lots of zucchini and yellow squash so parts are constantly thrown into the compost. We’d love to have some home grown veggies, especially with so little effort put in. I have not found it very easy to identify our plant by the leaves or flowers, but man alive this thing is out of control.

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I am guessing it is actually a pumpkin based on it’s size and the size of the leaves.

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Look at how it has taken over the poor rose bush!

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I guess time will tell what, if anything, will grow for us.

Our New Backyard

A while ago I posted that we were doing some work in our backyard. Rather, after four years we paid someone else to finally do something to our backyard. Now, it isn’t completely finished how we want it yet. Later in the year we will be adding some flagstone step stones and a few other small plants. When Russell gets home he and I will move the kids’ sandbox and we still need to get our pool set up in a week or so, but for today our landscaping project is complete. I absolutely love it. It is clean, we have our trees, smaller rock, and a small grass play area for the kids. It feels like there is some purpose back there!

Here is a before and after panorama. (Click on them to see them full size)

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I think you’ll agree it is already a drastic change. I’ll post again after a few more things come along. Until then, we’ll be outside!

Published in: on May 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Backyard Project- Part 1

I mentioned yesterday that we were having some work done in our backyard. It started with wanting a pool. We’ve been talking since last summer that we would like an above ground pool. Vegas gets so hot in the summer, it is already in the 80’s and it is only the first week of April) and with three little ones getting out, even with family helping, can be a big production. We didn’t want a house with a pool when we were shopping around because of safety reasons, but above ground pools are much easier to childproof. We have a small yard so we need the space to do double duty, so the pool will be taken down during the winter months and we are going to get a portable fire pit to put in its place. All of this is to say we needed a landscaper to come out and level the area for the pool to go. We also have hated the rocks back there since we bought the house. They are too big for Rusty and too big for the little feet and knees that hit them too often. We are going with a much smaller, kid friendly rock. We decided to add some trees, which evolved into fruit trees (yay!) and a small patch of artificial grass to add another play area on the side. I am so excited and can’t wait to see our plans actually come to fruition. The first issue was getting rid of the old rocks. It is almost as expensive to remove rock as it is to buy new rock, and I didn’t want to spend our entire budget simply hauling away rock. I listed it on craigslist and we were able to get rid of 8-10 tons of it. That is easily $1000 worth of work for free. Here are some pictures of our project so far.

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step one: removal of rock

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of course the girls wanted to sit in the little truck

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Kylie being shy

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step two: let the girls play with the old irrigation lines

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step three: put those kids to work!

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step four: attempt to transplant the big rose bush to the front yard

I’ll keep updating as the progress goes on. The landscapers will be working around the end of the month and things should go really quickly at that point. I can’t wait to see our new backyard. The first night I get to put the kids in bed and head out to the pool with my husband and a nice cold beer… ya. That’ll be nice.

Published in: on April 7, 2013 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Oh What A Night

I might have mentioned it, but many of you know we were gone this past week. Russell was gifted 6 consecutive days off for Independence Day, and so we packed up and took off to southern California where we have lots of family. It was our first road trip with all three, and overall went really great. We had at least one hour in the car where the girls cried, fought over books, screamed, and kicked each other pretty much the whole time. It was also the very first hour of the trip. Luckily things did get better over time.

Fast forward to yesterday. We got up, ate breakfast, packed the car and headed home. We arrived just about 4pm, did a little unpacking and then made our weekly trip to Cici’s. It worked out perfect since there is practically no food in the house since we were gone for a week. After dinner we went by our friend’s house to pick up Rusty. By this time is about 6:40. Time to start getting ready for bed (for the kids…) We are ALL ready for it since we have been traveling and skipping naps left and right. Little Man was also getting pretty hungry himself since he isn’t quite old enough to enjoy Cici’s yet. 🙂 We had not even pulled into the driveway yet and we notice our neighbor at our front door.

The power is out, he said.

For some, that might not seem so bad, but when it is 115 out and only cools down to about 95 at night, no power is not a good thing. No AC, no fans circulating air. Just HOT. And it is not just our houses, our street, or even our neighborhood. It is a whole big section of town. We sat on hold with the power company until after the girls’ bedtime, but then decided we couldn’t hold bed time any longer, and we definitely couldn’t ask them to sleep in the heat.

Long story short, we packed two adults, three kids and four pets into the cars and heading to a nearby hotel. It was a long drive with very tired (and one hungry) little ones in the backseat, especially since the streetlights were not working and drivers seemed to have no idea how to take turns at the intersections. Finally, we got checked in, kids upstairs and I began feeding Wyatt and reading a bedtime story to the girls. Just as Russell was bringing the last of the pets upstairs our neighbor called to say the power was back on.

Seriously?!

Well, since by this time it was almost an hour after bedtime and we had already paid for the room we decided to just stay at the hotel that night. Either way it was just a perfect thing to come home to after a long trip. (Insert sarcasm here)

Tank checking things out

Leila supervising

snuggled up

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And what did Wyatt think about his first time in a hotel??

Works for me!

Published in: on July 10, 2012 at 9:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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No Thank You

A while back after I got my DAR certificate in the mail, I wanted to get a frame for it. We planned on putting it a wall next to Russell’s diploma and Eagle Scout plaque. His diploma has a really nice green and gold matting (the school’s colors) and since the DAR insignia is navy blue and gold we thought getting matching matting would be perfect. Since I was looking for something specific I went to a big chain frame store (which I won’t name but I am sure you could guess) to look around. I was really disappointed in their “selection”. In the 8×10 size they only has 3 colors for matting: white, black and cream. I asked the girl working there if other colors could be ordered since they carried many more colors in the smaller sizes. She told me no, that they couldn’t do that and I should just get it custom framed. Russell and had talked about making it look really nice, so I was willing to get an estimate.

Ha!

I was shocked. All I wanted was a simple frame with a blue and gold matting. I never would have imagined that this request would be estimated to cost more than half of a mortgage payment! I said I would need some time (code for “Heck No!”) to think and left. I went Across the street to Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts and found exactly what I was looking for. I knew they did custom framing as well, and I always get coupons for them in the mail so I figured it couldn’t hurt. Turns out I didn’t need to even have a custom frame made. They had tons of different colored mattes and a good selection of frames. I did have to buy two matte sets, one white with gold, and one blue with white, to achieve my blue/gold set, but all in all I found everything I was looking for. I walked out the door $25 later and love the way it turned out.

It isn’t the best picture, but you get the idea. I love the simple but old fashioned look of the frame, and the blue and gold match the insignia perfectly.

(Personal info removed for privacy.)

The best part of the story is that yesterday someone from unmentioned frame store called to see if I was still interested in having a custom frame made. No thank you! It was so satisfying to be able to tell him that I found exactly what I wanted right across the street from them for about 1/17 the price.

Published in: on May 23, 2012 at 9:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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