Thursday, April 30, 2009

Change is in the air

* Most of the changes are good...
*grass is turning green,
*flowers are coming up,
*Julia is able to go out in public wearing undies
*Sam is only napping 1 or 2 times a week - but playing quietly in his room the other days
*Photo shoots are picking up and my blog to book business is hopping

BUT....a few changes are going to be harder to swallow...

The campground opens NEXT WEEKEND.
We will have to be home by 4pm every weekday and not go anywhere other than church on the weekends (or at least not together as a family)for the next SIX MONTHS

Also, I have decided that as of tomorrow I am going to eliminate dairy from my diet as well as as much processed foods as possible. I LOVE milk so this is going to be VERY VERY hard for me BUT if I can give up pop (it'll be a year in June) I can do this...I NEED to do body has been begging for this for months.

Now if only I can get my taste buds on board.............


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Alphabitty Moments - the letter J

Welcome to Alphabitty Moments! Ten weeks into the project and the pages are piling up. This week for the letter J, I waited the longest I ever have to come up with a J word. Some might say I cheated Sam out of pages for his book, but I decided that since he's the one who gave Julia her nickname the day she was born, I figured JoJo was just as much his word as his little sister's.

We were debating between the names Grace, Lydia, and Julia. We asked Sam to say each of the names and when he said JoJo - we just knew. His vocabulary changed from 5 words to 6 that day. Little did he know that wasn't the only thing that was about to change!

Within a year, he wasn't calling her JoJo anymore. Ironically, it's only adults who call her that now. Sam sticks to JUUU-lia. There will come a day when I'm guessing she won't want to be called by this special nickname, but for now we'll continue to think of her as our little JoJo.

What sliver in time do you want to remember this week? Mr. Linky will be up until next week. Feel free to add your link throughout the week.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Straw Bale Gardening 101.1

On April 27 we set up our small straw bale garden.

I have no idea if it will work, but I'm using organic fertilizers in place of conventional fertilizers. The tricky part is that nobody can tell me for sure if I have made the correct adjustments. You see, if I did it the conventional way, I would use 1/2 cup of 32-0-0 per bale every other day for 6 days and then every day for 3 more days. The last day the recipe calls for 1 cup per bale of 10-10-10. Instead, I am using 4 different organic fertilizers in the hopes that between the 4 of them I can gain the high Nitrogen levels needed to condition the bales for growing vegetables.

Here's my recipe....

Every day for 14 days I the kids water the bales thoroughly.

Scratch that....SAM waters the bales - he's the perfect height and love having a job of his own.

Every day I sprinkle 4 cups of cow manure over the bales

Every other day 8 days I combine:

1 1/3 cups of 5-7-8 (Dr. Earth's)

1/2 cup 6-2-0 (Milogamite)

1/2 cup 10-10-10

I put all of these in a container, shake it up, and then sprinkle over the bales.

Days 9-14...1 cup of 10-10-10 per bale

What am I trying to accomplish with all this conditioning? Good question!

Adapted from my class handouts:

* process starts nitrogen "sink" reversal - hyper-decay

* begins by adding food (nitrogen)

* Bacterium and microorganisms

* Powered by nitrogen and moisture

* nitrogen and water, spark consumption of straw

* once started and going, the straw provides food

* decay process produces heat

* worms will thrive (worm castings are VERY good for growing)

* results are lovely nitrogen rich 'soil'

3 days down - 11 more to go!

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Firsts and Lasts

Julia wore training pants in public for the first time today. She stayed dry the rest of the day!

She also learned to jump with both feet at the same time. She'd been practicing for a long time so it was great to see her finally be able to do it.

There aren't any pictures, but it's still just as exciting - she can now climb up the last level of the play structure at our local McDonald's. No more climbing in there to help her. Wahoo!!!!


I think today is going to have to be the last day of ice cream cones as a reward for Julia p**ping in the p*tty. She's gone every day for almost a week and twice today. We're going to gain 10 pounds if we keep this up!

She painted her last picture at ECFE today.
This year went way too fast!

Oh how I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the Minnesota Early Childhood Ed Program!!!

What is it about using a self timer that make people look straight into the camera?!?! Would you believe this is the only picture I took!?!!?

You might be a redneck ParkCaretaker if... spend your weekends doing this and your weeknights doing this.

Friday marks our 1 year anniversary of becoming the caretakers of this park. What a year it's been!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Play ball!

PapaBear in a phone call to me last week: Quick! Get your camera! Sam and I are playing our first game of catch!

I wiped the tears from my eyes and dashed upstairs to grab my camera. This is what I caught when I went out to the side yard...

...the first of many many games of catch between father & son (& daughter too!) The image should be bigger if you double click on it - it's worth it to see Sam's little tongue sticking out while he concentrates :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Too smart for his own good

After a rough couple of days of the kids whining and fighting, it was great to come home from a a photo shoot to find them in good spirits. We snuggled, we sang, we prayed, and we read stories. But what made everything all better was the conversation PapaBear shared about their dinner at the pizza joint -

PapaBear to Sam when he's half way through eating his dessert pizza -
Uh-oh. We forgot to have a veggie!
What kind would you like?

Sam - "Sorry. Too late."


Too smart for his own good

After a rough couple of days of the kids whining and fighting, it was great to come home from a a photo shoot to find them in good spirits. We snuggled, we sang, we prayed, and we read stories. But what made everything all better was the conversation PapaBear shared about their dinner at the pizza joint -

PapaBear to Sam when he's half way through eating his dessert pizza -
Uh-oh. We forgot to have a veggie!
What kind would you like?

Sam - "Sorry. Too late."


"You're going to use what to make a garden?"

Straw Bale Gardening is not a new concept, but it sure is new to me. I took a three hour class through my local community education program last month and was sold on the idea. Not only do I get out of the physical labor of tilling, hoeing, and weeding, but I will create a more hospitable environment for growing food. I'm not going to go into much of the detail of how to make a garden - there are other websites out there for that, but I will document the steps I'll be taking in my particular garden...with pictures of course.

I purchased 10 bales of straw from a neighbor across the lake.

I doubt they are organic, but my fertilizers all are. The kind and patient manager of a nearby garden center was so helpful in helping me locate just the right combination to put the needed amount of nitrogen into my bales.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

First we set up the garden:

Bales go on their sides, cut end up (so the hollow shafts of straw can absorb water and nutrients easier).

Staking the ends serves two purposes - 1) the bales are forced to stay together and 2) the stakes provide a way for me to create a trellis for peas and beans to grow up.

There was an extra bale of straw sitting around the park so I added it to my garden. The guy who taught our class uses a minimum of 50 bales in his garden. I had to agree to grow wave petunias out of the side of my bales (the bales will get brown and decompose - making them rather unattractive) in order to get approval for my 10 bales so 50 is out of the question, not to mention out of my price range. Fertilizing 11 bales organically costs $60. Sound high? Remember, I'm using organic products and even if I was using a traditional garden, I'd need to get fertilizer. I'll admit, paying money for manure is a bit strange after growing up on a horse farm.

I find comfort in the fact that I'm using a tested "recipe" for my fertilizers so God-willing, this will be a sound investment. Time will tell.

Speaking of time...It will take at least 2 weeks to condition the bales for planting. The recipe calls for fertilizing on certain days and watering every day.

Once that process is complete I should be able to feel the heat coming out of the bales - (up to 150 degrees!) and then it is time to transplant my veggie plants. I will do some direct seeding as well which will require an inch or two of top soil placed on top of the bales.

So there you have it, straw bale gardening 101 - or at least the first edition of it. I will explain how the plants are planted into the bales in a later post.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Garage sale goodies reveled

Being the visual person that I am, I took pictures of all the great bargains we found at garage sales yesterday. Within the first three sales and 15 minutes into our excursion, I'd bought 30 items. Gap for 15 cents a piece...and lots of it...

PapaBear was rewarded for driving me around for4 hours with three seasons of The Simpsons for only 3 dollars. I bought myself a few movies and 4 glass jars for canning and that was it. The rest was for the kids. (I could care less though. I'm thrilled with the quality and cuteness of all the things we got for Sam and Julia)

L.L. Bean pink coat and snow pants: $12
unknown brand red and white winter coat: $2
Gap red winter coat: $5
Fleece lined wool hat: 50 cents
2 pair of mittens: $1
Cute fall jacket for Julia: 50 cents

Then there's the clothes that will last Julia at least 2 years:
14 long sleeve shirts
8 pairs of shorts
17 pants/capris
9 pj's
22 short sleeved shirts
2 pairs of crocs (50 cents a piece!)
3 dresses
2 sweatshirts

These are Sam's. He's set for the next 2 years as well. (I picked up a Boston t-shirt in honor of Stellan since Sam doesn't have any orange shirts that would fit him this year.)

6 pj's
13 T shirts
11 longsleeved shirts
6 pairs shorts
7 pants
1 robe
4 sweatshirts/sweaters

Sam could care less about his new wardrobe, but he sure was excited about his new ($1.50) airplane!

There will be new sales tomorrow -about a 100 of the rain. I'm leaving home at 7am with hopes of finding swim suits, more crocs, & size 6 pants for Sam.

What's your favorite/best value garage sale find?

Oh, and did I mention we got all of these clothes for just under $100?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It only takes 10 seconds to help homeless animals

Jen had this posted on her blog today. It was so easy to do and can help make a difference - especially if we ALL take 10 seconds to do it.

The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily so they can meet their quota of getting free food donated every day to abused and neglected animals.
All you have to do is to go to their site and click on the purple box 'fund food for animals for free'. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site!

Thank you!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Alphabitty Moments - the letter I

Welcome to Alphabitty Moments! It is Thursday already - a very busy day for me this week so I am publishing this post at midnight and getting a little rest before The Big Garage Sale. PapaBear and I will browse our way through 50 sales before the day is over and then hit a whole new batch of 50 on Saturday. But first, the letter I...

Our 4 1/2 year old son has spent countless hours using his imagination to come up with ways to play/create/crash/bash toys like the ones in these pictures. I will treasure the stories he's come up with - especially the role playing he creates for him and Daddy.

(To see the pages better simply right click on them and PC users can hold the ctrl key down while pressing the + sign until you can see the page well enough.)

Ice cream cones are starting to become a daily event around here with the progress that Julia has made with potty training. She doesn't get a treat for p**, but p**p means a trip to "Old MacDonald's". I don't mind - I'm the one who gets to lick the edges of the cone when it melts too much. :)

You should see her face light up when she earns her reward. It's priceless and something I won't soon forget. I also love that the little finger dimples are part of these pictures - they are fading and I've been trying to capture as many of them as a I can before that sad day arrives.

What moments do you want to remember?

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Wordless Wednesday - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

(Want to see more farm pictures? click here for last year and here for the year before that)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It was a good day

because Julia and I enjoyed a rare lunch date.
because Julia p**ped in the p*tty.
because I was able to go to the chiropractor again after a year.
because PapaBear was able to see a chiropractor for the first time.
because five minutes after saying I really should learn PowerPoint, I discovered that our local library does (free) one-on-one computer tutoring.
because it was 60 degrees and sunny out.
because we could decide at the last second to attend a baseball game being played across the street from the library.
because the camping season hasn't started yet so we could be out as family past 4pm.
because despite missing her nap & dinner, Julia was well behaved at the grocery store.
because we had lemon poppyseed muffins, bananas, & strawberries and called it dinner.
because we had good old fashioned fun at home - tag, twirling, races...

but most of all it was a good day because Stellan made it through his risky heart procedure that so many prayed through.


Monday, April 20, 2009

This is what we think of SVT....

Stellan is scheduled to have heart surgery in the morning to take care of the SVT* he's been hospitalized for and recently flew to Boston to treat. Please join us in prayer for this special little boy.

*Supraventricular Tachycardia


For the Love of Family (Portraits) part2

I didn't mean for this post to be such a tease. So without further adu, here are some of the photographs from a very special session I did the day before Easter. Enjoy!


School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...