Friday, July 22, 2011

Garden Time

We finally got around to setting up our garden this week. I know it's late to be doing this, but this summer it's more just for the boys to get a feel for what growing a garden is like. If we actually manage to harvest something or see some flowers, it'll be a bonus.

Have I mentioned that we're on a bit of a tight budget? You might have noticed the... um... rustic look our garden bed has going on there. We didn't want to dig a garden (because we don't own the house), and actually buying lumber to build raised beds wasn't quite within our reach, so old campfire logs from the shed got put to use as our walls. There's plenty of earth there, so we'll just see how things go. Er, grow.
Putting the dirt in was the best part for the boys, because it meant digging and spreading and generally making a big mess. There's nothing Ike likes better than a chance to use his shovels.

We planted sunflowers, snow peas and radishes, because those were the seeds we had on hand. Since the tomato plants haven't grown at all since the dog dug them up, I guess there's not much hope for a major harvest of anything this year. Still, we saw some tiny radish leaves peeking out of the soil this morning, which was exciting for the boys. Maybe at our next house we'll have space and resources for a major planting initiative (assuming the boys haven't inherited my brown thumb, of course).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lazy Day (Warning: possible potty talk ahead)

It's a gorgeous day outside- mostly sunny, breezy, and cool. So why am I sitting here at home rather than being out and about with my boys? Two words: Potty Training.

Ike's doing so well with it, and much earlier than Simon did (I'm definitely a "why bother before they're ready" kind of mom). It's just pooping that's the problem right now, really- namely that he refuses to do it in the toilet. He sees nothing gross about doing it in his underpants, or if he happens to be going commando, letting it fall where it may in the back yard. Or the neighbor's front yard, as the case may be. I know. Gross.

Anyway, he hasn't gone for a few days, so we're not going out anywhere until he does- I don't want to see him making that face when we're half-way to the playground. I'm trying to catch him when he tries to go, but odds are he'll wait until I'm making lunch, and then come over and say, "Mommy, I pooped, need WIPE!" *sigh*

That leaves us here, enjoying the back yard. There are definitely worse places to be. Simon's flaked out on the back deck with his toy guitar and KISS on the CD player, rocking out as much as one can in a mostly-horizontal position. Ike's putzing around with his bike thing on the driveway, and I'm working on crocheting the dog's Christmas present- a blanket to keep the couch a bit cleaner when he's lying on it. It's easy- entirely half-double crochet in two colours- but so freaking time-consuming. It takes me 20 minutes to do a row, so I'm estimating 12 hours total by the time it's done. That should teach me to be ambitious. The upside of it is that I can't snack while I'm working on it, so maybe I'll lose a pound or two while I'm working. :)

In other crafty news, I'm having fun making things out of old wool sweaters that have been felted in the dryer. Lots of Christmas presents coming that way, and Simon has already claimed the mittens I made for myself.

As for awesome summer stuff, I wish I could show you pictures of the planets Simon is painting. He got a few books about space from the library (as well as a random book about giant squids), and we found the styrofoam balls at Value Village. It's hard to find time to do major projects when Ike's not around to get creative all over the table, the walls, and especially Simon's stuff, o the painting part is being done at nap time.So far the sun is looking patchy, Earth is quite abstract, and I'm trying not to make jokes about Uranus being full of gas. It's good fun.

Oh, and FYI for the week: making homemade bread is fun and it tastes delicious... unless you're forced to use margarine instead of butter in the recipe. I see a lot of grilled cheese and french toast in our immediate future.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Um... yeah, that up there is my first recent attempt at crochet. I can't say it's my first attempt ever, but it's been a while since I tried to learn, and preveius attempts were... well, they didn't go very well. As much as I love artsy stuff like drawing and painting, I have a lot of trouble with things that require the use of a pattern . Or hooks. Or needles- I'm trying to knit, too, but I'm going to need outside help on that one. The crochet is starting to look better, though:

That double crochet square is now a blanket for Ike's toy duck- he's been pushing the duck around in a baby buggy with its "bwoo bwankit" for a few days now. Good to know nothing's being wasted.

...and here's the latest attempt, the half double crochet. See? I'm getting better! I'm going to have more crocheted squares in the house than I know what to do with (anyone need something to set hot dishes on?), and the thought of actually trying to make something using a pattern still terrifies me, but I'm getting there.

Next lesson: Treble crochet. That, I can do. Kind of concerned about what comes after, but we'll get there when we get there, right?

So, here's the start of the list of stuff I want to learn to do in the near future (the start of it, anyway):

-sew clothes for the kids
-make braided rag rug

I think that's pretty ambitious, actually. Some day I'll be able to add "chicken-keeping" to that list, as well as basic carpentry, but not for a while- at least until after we move. Major gardening will have to wait, too, but we can at least start on that this summer, even if it's a complete failure- er, learning experience.

And what do all of these things have in common that makes them hard for me to learn? There's next to no "I meant to do that" factor in them. If I'm painting something and I make a mistake, I can either paint over it or change other things so it will look like I meant to do it that way. Not so much with crochet or knitting, where dropping a stitch and not noticing right away can set you back several hours. If I forget to water the garden or don't give the soil enough drainage, all of that work can be ruined, too. What can you do, though? They're all good things to learn how to do, and the only way to learn (other than procrastinating about the housework by reading extensively on these topics) is to get in there and do them, mistakes be damned.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Our first little project of the summer is getting interesting! I let the boys collect a few fuzzy caterpillars last month to keep in a (well-ventilated) jar for a while. We kept them well-supplied with fresh grass and have them some sticks to climb on, and it wasn't too long before our little fuzzy-wuzzies started pulling out their own fur* to build their cocoons. I didn't even know they did that! It was amazing to watch, and I wish I had a camera that could have taken better pictures than this. I got to watch the entire (8 hour-long) process with the first one. AJ laughed at me because I kept going back to watch, but it was fascinating! It reached back to pull out hairs with its mouth, then attached the hairs to the stick, and then to the other hairs to make sort of a little boat around itself, turning around half-way through to get the back end done, then managed to build the cocoon right around itself. Amazing.

Fuzzy boat phase of cocoon building ^

Anyway, this was a few weeks ago. Last night, just before the fireworks, I noticed a big black spot inside the jar- a moth! I'd never seen this type before- I think it's called Ctenucha virginica, and it's so pretty. Again, my camera does it no justice- it's black with iridescent blue on its thorax and a bright orange head, with gorgeous feathery black antennae:

It got out of the jar last night- moths are harder to contain in a well-ventilated jar than caterpillars are. As of this morning it's chilling on the top part of the stove- not great camouflage, but I figure the little critter deserves to have a quiet spot to rest for a while, so we're just going to leave it for now.

*I don't know whether they have fur or hair or what. They're furry. I say fur.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not Promising Anything

Well. it's happened. After a beautiful afternoon at the beach, our camera is broken. I guess the good news is that, while it served us well, it wasn't a particularly expensive one (I'm still kicking myself for getting that one and not the slightly more expensive one that would have given me a macro setting- why wasn't that written on the box?!). When I get my good camera, she's not going anywhere near sand. Not unless I buy her at the place that will replace your camera if you get sand in it, anyway.

So I can't promise any pictures in the near future, unless they're the ones I've already got on the computer (and the pics from yesterday, if I'm really lucky and the camera will at least let me do that). We won't be rushing out to buy a new camera any time soon- it's pay day, but there are bills to pay, food to buy, and the car needs to get something fixed (hopefully something that's under warranty, but that's not usually how our car luck runs).

Can you tell I'm feeling a bit down today? Much as I look forward to pay day, it's depressing when you sit down to budget and realize that there's nothing extra (and nothing to put into savings) for at least another two weeks- no summer craft supplies, no meals from the lunch bus, no extra gas for road trips. I know I shouldn't complain- we have so much more than we did when AJ and I worked in retail, we've got a nice home that we're paying very reasonable rent for, we can put food on the table and keep clothes on the kids' backs.*

I need to keep reminding myself of that while we're waiting to be able to buy a hose and sprinkler for the yard. :/

I also need to follow this advice: "If you can't get out of it, get into it!" As of right now, I can't get out of doing housework, planning meals, or cooking, all things I really don't enjoy doing. If I can't get out of doing them, I need to find a way to get "into" them- to take an interest and enjoy doing them. I'm not feeling very optimistic about ever thinking that a clean kitchen is really worth all the work it takes to get it that way, but I have to try.

EDIT: AJ managed to get the camera working again, so that's one thing we don't have to worry about right now. And this has helped me realize that as much as I want a good camera (like one where I can actually adjust the focus, maybe), a half-decent and working camera is far better than no camera at all, and I should be thankful for what I have. :)

*Except when Ike refuses to wear clothes, but that's a separate issue.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rainy Day, Sick Day

It's been a long, wet "Spring." I'm not even sure it deserves to be called Spring, which sounds so cheerful. It took forever for the leaves to come out (and who could blame them?) and sunny days have generally been few and far between. We've taken advantage of the ones we've had- the Easter weekend hike, trips to the beach- but the clouds and rain in between have been rather depressing. I'm hoping for more sun in the coming months, even if it means going through a ridiculous amount of sunscreen and probably a few lost hats.

Today wasn't one of those days. Today was cloudy and cold, and you can feel the air gearing up for rain. Ike picked out a couple of wooden cars yesterday for the boys to paint on a rainy day. Simon was VERY excited. In fact, he had his car painted and set to dry by 10:00 this morning. It was a brief but glorious project.

Such concentration! ^

Ike didn't get to participate in the painting bonanza. He was a sick little guy today- not only did he get Simon's cold (which seems to be on the way out, thank God!), he also started throwing up this morning. Repeatedly. His friend (the blue hippo in the picture) is in serious need of a bath, but what can you do when a sick kid needs his friend for comfort? Surface wash and live with the smell is what I've come up with.

All tuckered out. Poor kid. ^

I painted Ike's car yellow for him, and he'll draw or pain on it when he's ready. AJ took Simon to the fair this afternoon to a) get him out of the house, and b) let me and Ike rest a bit. And that was our rainy day. Not exciting, but there were crafts and lots of cuddles for everyone, so it wasn't a complete waste.

Tonight: watching "Enchanted" with the boys while AJ is at work. I love Amy Adams. Also, my rat clearly needs to get of her ass and help me clean the toilet.

Nature Table

The Nature Table- the first week ^

The boys like to bring things home. Some of them, like the bugs Ike brings in to show me ("Look, Mommy! He's so CUUUUUTE!") have to go right back outside. Others are kind of nice or downright decorative, but they have a habit of getting scattered all over the house and making a big mess. In an attempt to make the boys collections look somewhat purposeful, we're making a nature table. Actually, a nature shelf. Ike's finally old enough to not break everything we put on it- at least, not right away- so we can actually have things at kid-height. What a novelty!

Yes, I know what the red thing is, it's just not labelled yet^

I've seen some people's nature tables that have little scenes on them with felt characters and fairies and magic dust- I think they're awesome, but that's not us right now. The boys are most interested in learning what things are, who the shells belonged to, and why they can't bring that centipede into the house. If they want to add to it later, great! If not, I'm happy with helping them put names to what they find and letting them arrange stuff however they want.

Ike likes to collect pretty flowers. :) ^