Friday, March 23, 2012

The View From Here - Vol. 5

About a month ago I started this meme as a way to combine all the photos I take of our every day life and share them in one post. I know that I will treasure looking back at these every day moments of motherhood and the memories of spending so much time with my littles. I feel like this winter was a turning point for Sam and Julia. They aren't as dependent on me any more. It has been a slow transition that has caught me off guard. I knew this day would come and I know that there is still a long way to go but there has definitely been a shift. I can feel it. It tugs at my heart. Did this happen to you too? At what age?

Here are some of the photos from this past week:

More beautiful weather - Sunday the kids were wore out from all our outside time that I had to beg them to come outside with me. Once we did they didn't want to come in. Of course.

Monday was windy but nice enough for a picnic and three different parks!

I've been reading this book and it has really helped deepen my bond with Julia. Can't recommend it enough! This is my view as we chatted at the park on Monday morning.

Tuesday I took a rare morning nap. Very Rare. Julia snuggled with me and read a book before we went to sleep.

I've been making lots and lots of smoothies lately. It took me a while to figure out just the right recipe so they would appeal to both kids but I've finally found a winner. The best part is that they now know there is two cups of raw spinach in them and they don't mind.

Julia read Elsa a story while I vacuumed. She's such a good big sister!

When she got home from school on Wednesday we ate lunch in the living room.

Our seedlings are starting to spout! Yea!!

A new game I came up with one rainy afternoon. I start drawing a picture and Julia has to finish the scene. Then we switch and she starts the picture and I have to finish it. This is a mama bird sitting on her eggs in her next.

Backwards night at Awanas! Julis is so adventurous. She doesn't worry about what others think - if she thinks it's a good idea that's enough for her. I love her confidence!
While the older two are at Awanas I get some one on one time with this little cutie. Those top teeth are SO CLOSE to popping through!

Today we took Conor with when we went for a walk/picnic. The 200 yards we walked to the park about did him in. Poor guy. It's hard to get old!

Someone was ready for a nap but I try to get her to hold off until Sam gets home from school so I don't have to wake her up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Swinging into Spring

We got a head start with temps in the 60's and upper 70's as early as two weeks before the official start of Spring today. As long as that doesn't mean Summer is going to come early and extra hot I'm OK with this mild weather. 

You can never have too many nice nights for swinging in the hammock with your big brother!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Organic Straw Bale Gardening Just Got Better

Over the years as I've slowly been learning more about straw bale gardening I've always wondered about how the wheat is grown that my bales are made of. This year we will be using a new source for straw so I took the initiative to find out if anything is applied while the wheat is growing. I'm so glad I asked because it turns out that wheat that is grown in a field where alfalfa was just grown does not need any chemical treatments. I didn't question why this is the case since I was already asking the gentleman twenty other questions about the straw/hay auction coming up. I'm just glad to know that the effort we make to grow using organic fertilizers isn't in vain.

In addition to the good news about the straw, I called our source of plants and learned that they do not use any chemicals either. I thought I remember them saying that years ago but I wanted to double check now that I'll be growing food that will be eaten by Elsa. I wouldn't want my other children eating from pesticide laden plants either but their bodies are bigger and I'm not as vigilant when they are past two years of age. 

We'll be getting 15 bales in a couple of weeks (to add to the two I hold over from the previous year for planting carrots and sweet potatoes - similar to this set up) and while I had really wanted to grow my own seedlings this year it doesn't work with us being gone on vacation in March. Instead, we'll purchase nice big seedlings in May, harden them off over the course of a couple of weeks, and plant them in the bales around Mother's Day.

This unseasonably warm weather is making me wonder if it's safe to plant earlier this year but I don't know that it's worth the risk. I would love to hear from you if you decide to plant your garden in straw this year or even if you don't, are you considering altering your planting schedule due to the mild weather?

** This photo is from our 2010 garden when I grew zuchinni out the side of the bales. It worked so well that I don't have to grow zuchini for at least one more year since our freezer is FULL of zuchini.

***If you are looking for a source of good seedlings - let me know and I can email you a link to the local place we've been buying plants from since we started our straw bale garden. ***

75 in March

We had some down time between appointments today and thanks to really warm temps for March we were able to play at two different parks this morning/afternoon. It was a lovely way to spend the day with my girls! Then when Sam was done with school we went to yet another park to play with our neighbors. I don't remember a Spring this nice since 2001 when PapaBear and I were wearing shorts to play tennis in February!

It's not easy being green

Somehow I don't think Elsa got that memo.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ready for Kindergarten?

I have put off doing Kindergarten screening for so long, it's gotten to the point that it's hardly worth doing anymore. Julia is almost five and a half. Normally they want to see kids around three and a half. More of of curiosity than anything I finally signed her up to be tested and tomorrow is the big day. I did some research online to double check to make sure we had covered all our bases and from the looks of things we have. I hope the same can be said down the road when it's time for her to take the SAT. I'm sure the day we start the hunt for a SAT practice test will be here before we know it! 

As you can see she loves to learn. (No this is not a staged photo.)

This was taken this afternoon while Sam and I played "extreme hammocking" with the other hammock (read: swing him really high and let him jump off the hammock). She's already ready some of Elsa's baby books and gets so excited when she spots a sight word that she's learned. I'm excited to see how she blossoms under the guidance of her kindergarten teacher! Mrs. Y did such a great job teaching Sam to read last year. I have visions of the kids and I curled up under the willow trees with our noses in our own books this summer. I have always loved to read and it makes me so happy that my kids do too!

Do you have any favorite websites for encouraging* children to read? I'd love to hear about them!

* I realize that all children learn at their own pace. We aren't pushing Julia to read before Kindergarten but simply meeting her where she is at and offering activities and opportunities to build her reading readiness.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Blue Matter Marketing. All opinions and ideas are my own.

What Every St. Patrick's Day Party Needs

Julia had more up her sleeve though when she invited Grandma and Grandpa over on Saturday. She welcomed them with a sign: WELCOME TO OUR ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARTY

She served rainbow sprinkle pretzels, rainbow cupcakes
 Irish beef stew, St. Patrick's Day Punch, rainbow goldfish, sour cream & onion potato chips, ham & cheese sandwiches, & I picked up some Irish Amber & some Guinness earlier in the day. Grandma brought a yummy fruit platter to round out our meal.

She just eats up this party planning stuff and she's only five! 

We played hot potato using a Youtube video of Irish Music on my phone. The kids loved this game and it was as simple as heating a potato in the oven for a few minutes and searching for music on youtube.

Then it was time for the scavenger hunt.

The purple shamrock led them to Sam's backpack where they found the pot of gold. I was so proud of Sam for sharing the candy without being prompted. 

By the time the sun set we'd had a wonderful party. Most of the decorations Julia made were indoors but the weather was so warm we ended up spending the evening outside.

I may only have a pinch of Irish blood in me but I sure felt like the luckiest girl in the world by the end of the night!

How did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year?

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Elsa Louise at 37 Weeks

Elsa's first winter can hardly be called Winter considering how mild it's been. Many years we still have lots of snow in the middle of March but this year it's been in the 70's already!Now that it's warmer we have stopped using the infant car seat. Elsa's first day in her Evenflo Triumph was Monday the 12th. She loves her baby Lazy Boy as I like to refer to the Triumph. On Wednesday the 14th I was able to put a bow in her hair that actually stayed put. I promptly took 20 pictures (none of which are uploaded to my computer yet).  I love how this photo captures her constant chatter and that she's always always grabbing her feet.

After a short break from taking basket photos outdoors we were able to return to our porch for our Friday Photo Shoot. I found this green hat on clearance and decided to make it work in honor of St. Patrick's Day. 

That was until I came across this hat via Etsy. 
Caren Watson of Always Autumn was kind enough to give Elsa a hat for St. Patrick's Day. It is so soft and beautifully made. The detail of shimmer in the hat is perfect for St. Patrick's Day and the ruffle of the brim is what made me fall in love with this particular hat over all the other options on Etsy.  
Watch Caren's shop for more photos of Elsa in her new hat in the weeks to come!

*Cloth Diaper Details: In the first photos Elsa is wearing the Bum Genius AIO that I've used in other basket photos. The bottom photo is a Kissaluvs Fitted (size 2). Julia wore these diapers as did Sam for a little while. This diaper needs a cover but it works for quick photo shoots. It's my go to diaper for overnights. The elastic wore out a while ago but that doesn't really matter because the cover keeps everything contained. If I had air dried them the first time around I'm sure the elastic would have held up better.


Elsa Louise at 36 Weeks

Playing catch up again...thank goodness for the notes I write on our calendar and in my planner or I'd never remember all the details of Elsa's development! Week 36 was a fun one for our family! We celebrated my brother-in-law's 40th birthday on the 3rd, the same day that Elsa's second tooth popped through (other middle bottom one). She loved being surrounded by other babies at the birthday party. Another thing she gets very excited about (read: flaps her arms and screeches wildly) is our cat, Allie. Just the sight of her sends Elsa into a frenzy.

We finally gave up the swaddle blanket for good this week. She sleeps on her belly exclusively now. It makes me so nervous because I find her with her face in the mattress all too often. Other milestones for this week include clicking her tongue, and mimicking us when we do it first.

I was able to capture some of her clapping during her basket shoot this week. All it takes is saying "Yea Elsa!" and she starts clapping.

* Cloth Diaper Details: Elsa is wearing a Flip Diaper Cover by Cotton Babies. The Flip Cover is my current favorite cover. I have it in a few different colors, most of which are snap closure. As much as I love the perfect fit of velcro, I don't like the velcro catching on clothes. I never have leaks with the Flip and there are two flaps for holding the insert in place. I wish I had hemp inserts, but for now the microfiber ones I have work just fine. When I want added absorbancy I add a Polar Babies doubler. They aren't cheap considering they are a doubler and not a stand alone insert, but I used them with Julia so I've gotten my money's worth. The combo of the microfiber insert and doubler is the trimmest diaper combo I have that provide as much as 5 hours between changes. For a heavy wetter like Elsa, that's really good.  With the right stuffing I can use a Flip Cover for overnights which for us means 12 hours in the same diaper. She has yet to wake up with wet sheets using this cover. I buy them used off off Craigslist or when Cotton Babies has a seconds sale. I've never paid more than $10 for one.

Friday, March 16, 2012

the view from here - vol. 4

With the beautiful weather i've had lots of views like this. bike rides, picnic baskets, garage sales, sunbonnets, lemonade, hammocks, and disc golf....

Welcome Spring!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Alphabitty Moments - the letter L is for....


When Sam turned six we felt he was old enough to watch Star Wars again. We had let him watch them earlier and he started having nightmares so we held off on watching them again until he was older. The day he turned six the first thing he wanted to do was watch Star Wars. No surprise there! The boy loves shooting spaceships and good guys/bad guys. His favorite thing to do is to have light saber battles with daddy. These $8 ones have held up really well surprisingly!

It's usually the cheapest toys that hold their interest the longest.Wish I would remember this fact when I'm buying them gifts!  Do you have an Alphabitty Moment you want to remember this week?

Beginner Knit Hat Pattern

I've been asked so many times if there is a pattern for the hats I make,  but I was too busy filling Christmas orders...