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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

30 weeks

Yesterday marked 30 weeks of being pregnant. I celebrated with a medium french fry and my OB appointment. I also wandered Target for over an hour just because I could. It was SO cold and rainy but I wasn't going to stop me from getting out of the house. My blood pressure is normal, I've gained 4 pounds since my last appointment, my doc answered some questions I had about how newborn care is handled at the hospital, and we heard babe's heartbeat chugging along at 154 bpm. I go every two weeks now which will help make the time go faster - not that it needs to. I have plenty to keep me busy for the next 10 weeks. Six of those weeks I'll still be working and taking care of the kids/house/pets/garden.

Tomorrow is the big.garage.sale.run where I stock up for the year on the clothes and other great deals. Julia and I found quite a few bargains today already, but tomorrow I'm on my own (thanks Grandma!) for the morning and early afternoon hours. Even though I know we're having a girl I don't think it's wise to buy very many clothes. I'll wait for the September sales before stocking up.

No belly picture this week - but if I had taken one it would have shown my belly button popping out (much earlier than my previous two pregnancies). According to Julia my belly has "gotten really big!"

So THAT'S why I can't bend down and pick anything up anymore!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I made cloth wipes today



I already had a stash of cloth wipes from when Julia was in diapers. The nice folks at Kissaluvs sent them to me as a thank you for a photo of Julia they used in a Mothering Magazine ad, but over the years they've taken a beating and I wanted some new ones.

I turned to Google and read how to make my own cloth wipes from pieces of flannel. I found four receiving blankets at a garage sale for 50 cents a piece and cut up part of an old flannel sheet we had to make the patterned pieces stretch further. (One receiving blanket will only make four 8x8 wipes).

The first version I made is the one on the left - I sewed a piece of flannel to the back of an existing terrycloth wipe. Then I zigzagged the edge to cut down on the fraying.

The center wipe is two pieces of the same receiving blanket sewn wrong sides together, turned and then top stitched.

The wipe on the right with the adorable animal print is the one I stretched further with an old cream flannel sheet. It was fun to use a bolder color of thread for the top stitching. I think they look more finished.

I have one blanket that I haven't used yet because I want to see the wipes in action before I commit to a style for that blanket. I'm guessing the terrycloth/flannel combo is going to be my favorite - they are THICK and I can see them working really well with two textures in the same wipe.

If I do end up making more of that kind I won't be adding any additional wipes to the stash, only enhancing what I already have, but that's OK. I spent $2 on this little project and have 21 'new' wipes to show for it!

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Organic Straw Bale Garden Conditioning Recipe

How's that for a mouthful of a title? I've written about this topic before and why it's important to condition straw bales before planting. For a refresher check out this post. (You'll also get a glimpse of what last year's garden layout was.) I'm using 15 new bales again this year, but I also left a couple of old bales in the formation for growing carrots and pumpkins.

This is our new layout that takes into account a few things I learned from our first two years using this method:

1) I need more room between the rows so we put two bales at the top of the formation.

2) Extending one side gives vines some extra room and I can still get into the middle of the garden.

3) Using bales from the previous year for growing carrots will give them a 'softer' place to grow. Carrots don't like dense soil so it makes sense they wouldn't like the dense bales. Also, too much nitrogen reduces the number of female flowers on pumpkins. I'm going to try a pumpkin plant in the old straw to see if that helps produce more pumpkins.

4) potatoes can be grown by placing the the seed potatoes directly on the surface and then covering them with straw. That inner row of old bales is my supply of straw to cover the potatoes as they grow in the space I labeled 'potatoes'.

(That white stuff on the bales? Snow. I don't want to talk about it.)

Ok, so lets get down to business. The traditional method of conditioning bales is as follows:

Day 1) 1/2 cup of 34-0-0 per bale and then water the bales
Day 2) water
Day 3) 1/2 cup of 34-0-0 per bale and more water
Day 4) water
Day 5) 1/2 cup of 34-0-0 per bale and water
Day 6) water
Day 7,8,9) 1/4 cup 34-0-0 and water
Day 10) 1 cup 10-10-10 per bale and water

You can plant any day after that if you can feel heat in the bales. Don't forget you'll need a couple inches of potting soil for seeds. Seedlings can be placed directly into the bales.

To condition organically this is what works for me:

Follow the same game plan as above but substitute the following recipe for the 34-0-0 conventional fertilizer above.... Updated to answer the question asked by Summer Jo in the comments - the three numbers stand for the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium in the fertilizer. This site gives a very detailed explanation if you want to read more about what these numbers mean.

In a bucket combine,
2.5T of Bloodmeal 12-0-0
1.77 cups of Dr. Earth's 5-7-3
1.25 cups of Milorganite 5-2-0
.68 cups of Milorganite 6-2-0

To reach the 10-10-10 ratio I use:
1.77 cups of Dr. Earth's 4-4-4
1.77 cups of Dr. Earth's 5-7-3

Using organic nitrogen sources means it might take a few extra days for the bales to be 100% ready for planting. Use your best judgement - if it's been cool, you probably want to condition a few extra days - it can't hurt! We set our bales out over a week ago so mother nature could give a few extra soakings before we officially start conditioning. The trellis system is installed and will be the topic of my next gardening post. Gotta do something to keep me busy 'in' the garden until the weather warms up!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What is an Alphabitty Moment?

I'm sure we all agree that the big events of childhood - the firsts we all photograph and document are important, but Alphabitty Moments are about the ordinary moments that fill in the gaps. They are the little things that might go unnoticed if it weren't for the discipline of highlighting one of them each week. 

It all started with a post I wrote here called The Little Things and has snowballed into a book I won the grand prize for in Blurb.com's Best Blurb Book contest. My little 64 page book filled with 26 words (one for each letter of the alphabet) is the first in a series I plan to make for my kids.

I invited others to join me in recording their own children's Alphabitty Moments on Thursdays. So far we have cycled through the alphabet four times. I'd love to have you join us in this unique memory recording exercise.  If you need some inspiration you can always read through my other posts on the topic here.

***Note**** 
The Thursday carnival is on hold right now. I hope to start it up again soon!

Neighborly

We have the greatest neighbors. They technically are our only neighbors seeing that we live in the country and the houses aren't close together. They are across the road from us and have lived on their farm since the 70's. J and J are so kind to us - sharing their surplus of garden goodies and letting the kids catch frogs in their pond. We fed their chickens for them last Fall and have plans to do it again this year when they are out traveling the country. It's a win-win. We don't go anywhere anyway so it's easy for us to walk over and feed, water, and collect eggs. They reap the benefits of having fresh eggs and meat, but don't have to be tied to home.

Today we went over to meet the new 'crop' of chicks. There are 18 fuzz balls staying warm in the garage. Soon they will move to their nice digs in the chicken coop. I've never seen such a NICE chicken coop before! I had no problem doing chores in my CHURCH shoes last fall - it's THAT clean! We also able to view J's extensive model train set. The kids would still be over there if we hadn't dragged them home. Before we left J showed us a project he's been working on. A huge workbench FULL of wooden crosses. Some from wood on the farm, others from his place of employment. They were beautiful!

He wanted us to have one. We picked one that was made from wood on the farm - seemed fitting. On the bottom are a series of Bible references about salvation. What a legacy! And what a keepsake! We brought ours home and placed it front and center on our fireplace mantel. It matches the woodwork beautifully.

Barely five minutes after we walked back into our house Jo and Howard's camper pulled in. Our camp hosts from the past two years are back again and we couldn't be happier. Julia exclaimed in excitement, "Can they stay for a while?" Her jaw dropped when I said, "Yes, SIX MONTHS!" Don't get me wrong, we enjoy the quiet of the off season, but it's worth the craziness of the camping season to have our friends back for the summer/fall!

Side note: When we went down to greet Jo and Howard we stopped over at the office for a minute first. I heard something in the upstairs storage area and had to laugh. So that's where the cat disappeared to! At least she was warm and I'm guessing had plenty of mice to eat - though she was mighty glad to return to our basement and her kitty food so maybe there weren't very many mice after all?!

The rain started coming down about 5:30 - (just in time for soccer practice) so I'm glad we were able to visit with our neighbors before the weather turned icky. 39 degrees and raining. Yuck! The kids toughed it out on the field for about 15 minutes and then an adult pulled the plug. Must have been one who didn't bring an umbrella. Me? I bought a Sport Umbrella at Sam's Club and am so glad I did! Between the wind last week and the rain this week. I've already gotten my $40 worth and I haven't even taken it to the beach yet!

Come on nice weather!!!! We're ready for you!

Two Weeks Ago

Our family welcomed Josie into the family with open arms.


But I think she looks pretty content in her daddy's arms don't you?

Sharon and Jamey you are great parents! We are so happy for you!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Park Life

Our park, otherwise known as BearCountry, has been our home since May of 2008. In our backyard you will find 200+ acres of ponds, woods, playgrounds, trails, a lake, a boardwalk, and a whole bunch of campsites.  Our home sits at the entrance of the park so we are set apart from the actual campground, but we are close enough to not miss any of the action. 

Six months out of the year we help run the campground. It is a seven day a week job so by the end of the season we are ready for some quiet time. The length of that break depends on when the snow flies because we rent cross country skis and snowshoes in the winter months. When we aren't renting skis or snowshoes we spend the winter hibernating in our 80 year old farm house waiting for the first signs of Spring.

Click here to read all the entries I've written about our busy (but blessed!) life in the park.

Shabby Apple Winner!

We have a winner folks -

LambAround will receive the beautiful Azure Coast dress from Shabby Apple.

Congrats!

The winner has been notified and has 48 hours to reply to my email otherwise I will pick a new winner.

Watch for more fun giveaways in the weeks and months to come as part of my unveiling of my BRAND NEW BLOG. Yes, after two years of looking at my outdated (yet still undeniably adorable!) header, I am having my site revamped. It will be even easier to navigate, is fun, fresh, and I'm excited to highlight some products I love! Stay tuned!

Monday, April 18, 2011

How do you garden in straw?

I wondered the same thing in 2009 when saw a Straw Bale Gardening class in my local community education booklet!  I knew nothing about growing veggies or preparing the soil so figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain!  Boy was I right!  The instructor walked us through the whole process from beginning to end and by the end of the three hour session I had the motivation and knowledge to start my own straw bale garden.



In 2009 I started with 11 bales:
 In 2010 I increased my garden to 15 bales:

 In 2011 I am trying a mix of old bales and new bales for a total bale count of 17.5.


I've shared many posts about what I've learned that can be read here.  I would love to answer any questions you might have about gardening in straw and invite you to join me in this successful and EASY gardening method!  If I can do it, anyone can!

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Dragon

Julia comes home with artwork in her backpack most days. It's always fun to see what she's created at school. It usually involves a sun and lately the outline of the drawing has been trimmed with scissors. She certainly isn't lacking in the fine motor skills department!

Today's artwork is making it on the blog today because of how it made my jaw drop when I saw it hanging on the wall. She asked for tape the second she walked in the door. OK, fine. I gave her the roll and she went about posting her drawing on the wall where all the other artwork is displayed. When I got the all clear to come see I couldn't believe my eyes!

She drew from memory an almost exact replica of an art project that Sam brought home a month ago.

See?


Seriously? How does she remember this stuff? It reinforces my idea of filling her Easter basket with art supplies that's for sure! Plus, I have already commissioned her to fill four frames with her art for BabyBear's room. I can't wait to see what she comes up with!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shabby Apple Giveaway!

Spring is in the air and that means it's time to start thinking about changing over our closets from Winter to Spring. I don't know about you, but that also means it's time to look for a few new pieces to bring new life to what I wear year after year. Today I can make that job a little more fun for you because Shabby Apple is sponsoring a giveaway on my blog! Yeah!!!!

I had so much fun looking through their collection of women's dresses and don't even get me started on their adorable line of little girl's dresses! It's a whole new ballgame for me now that I'm going to have TWO girls to dress.

In the end I decided to pick this beauty called Azure Coast to giveaway to one lucky reader because us mom's are always buying things for our kids before ourselves. I just might have to pick up one for myself in time to wear for BabyBear's baptism this summer. It's perfect for nursing moms!



Want to win one for yourself? See below, but if you don't want to wait for the contest to end, you can get 10% of your purchase by using the code: 4theloveoffamily10off

MANDATORY ENTRY: Become a public follower of my blog and leave me a comment telling me you are.

OPTIONAL ENTRIES:

1. visit Shabby Apple and come back and leave me a comment telling me what YOUR favorite item is on their site - they have the greatest names for their dresses!

2. Like Shabby Apple on Facebook by following this link. (A great way to get sale notices and coupons!)

3. Tweet about the giveaway and link to this post. (one tweet per person please)

4. Blog about the giveaway and link to this post.

Don't forget to leave me a comment for each additional entry!

Contest closes at 9pm central time on Wednesday, April 13th. Winner will be emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. Open to U.S. Residents only.

Disclaimer: Shabby Apple is providing the prize for the giveaway. I was in no way compensated for writing about their company.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Snapshots

I did in fact take quite a few photographs this weekend, but won't be posting any of them tonight. They are on my phone and on my CF card which requires way more effort that I'm willing to make right now. Sorry, but I'm BEAT! I walked and was on my feet more this weekend than I have in a month of Sundays. Ouch! Before I crash I wanted to jot down some snapshots of our weekend. It was a special weekend, yet ordinary at the same time. Let me explain...

*Saturday - Julia's half birthday. We celebrated with half a cake and 4 1/2 candles, but we did it on Friday night because PapaBear and I had rescheduled our date day for Saturday. I was bummed to miss out on celebrating with Julia, but she didn't seem to mind. Going to Grandma and Grandpa's house was celebrating for her! PapaBear and I enjoyed a few hours wandering IKEA and the Mall of America and then we went home so I could get ready for my girl's night out with fellow bloggers. Fun times!!!!

I talked to the kids on the phone before bed. What is it about a child's voice on the phone that makes them sound like cherubs? Melt my heart! I was able to make it home by 10:30pm thanks a whole mess of green lights. I will be glad when the river isn't flooded anymore and crossing the river isn't so difficult!

*Sunday - Sunday school for the kids and breakfast at McDonalds for PapaBear and I. I really relish that hour he and I spend together over sausage biscuits. We read the paper and more often than not I have some project to discuss with him. It's peaceful and unrushed. We sat in front of my BIL and SIL at church this morning. It's always a treat to see them! Before we left the house this morning we prepped the kids on our expectations. What a difference it makes in their behavior during church! They both whispered when they needed something and for the most part entertained themselves and then watched the skit with almost their full attention. It was so nice to not be stressed out about their behavior!

Back at home we ate a quick lunch and then headed outside for Julia's 1/2 birthday portraits (complete with birthday girl hat per her request) Sam and Daddy joined us and after Julia changed clothes we wandered through the campground picking up walnuts, exploring the woods, observing snakes (there were a BUNCH!), and climbing on huge slices of trees that had been cut down last week. There was some damage done to the road by running water and the kids were very intrigued by the four foot hole in the middle of the park road.

Eventually we made our way home and did some work in the garden space. I'm leaving a few bales from last year in hopes of growing potatoes in the loose straw. The kids dug for worms, played baseball, soccer, hunted for more walnuts, and demolished our gingerbread house as is our traditional way of celebrating when the snow is (mostly) gone. We still have dirty piles here and there, but for the most part it's GONE!!!!! (Until tomorrow when it's suppose to snow again) But today The temps had to be in the 60's - it was SO warm!

By 4pm we were all tired and hungry so we came in for our simple Sunday dinner which this time consisted of chips & salsa - nobody wanted popcorn so we went straight to ice cream sundaes. During the original version of The Shaggy Dog there is a part where the characters are at a formal dance. Julia hopped down off the couch and asked Daddy to dance. So there in her panda bear pj's father and daughter danced in the middle of the living room. It was precious!

The Bible story tonight happened to be part of the same scripture the skit at church was based on and it was really nice to hear Sam make the connection just based on me reading the title "Son of Laughter". It took them less than 5 minutes to fall asleep once we tucked them in. I'm guessing it will take me all of 5 seconds! Goodnight!

What did you do this weekend?

Canoe camping with kids

I've been sharing highlights from our recent trip to the BWCA on Instagram . The spot we go is perfect for families with young kids beca...