Monday, June 28, 2010

In the Jungle...

Here are some of the latest pictures of our jungle. I'm not even going to call it a garden anymore. I can only imagine what it will be like in a few more weeks. Our cucumber plants have already reached the top of our trellis, and have given us a fridge full of cucumbers. We'll be making pickles very soon!






As you can see, the kids can walk between the trellises, giving them a good place to hide. They love coming out to the garden and walking between the rows. It scares me sometimes because I can't see them!



I've never grown spinach before, as I read that it can be a more difficult plant. I really love spinach, either raw or cooked, so that tempted me to give it a try this year. I found this red climbing variety which is supposed to do well in the summer heat. It found its way up the trellis all by itself and is almost to the top.



Another new thing I'm trying this year is leeks. I found that I love leeks! I haven't had much luck growing onions, shallots, or green onions, but I'm hoping for the best.



We planted green beans in two areas of our garden this year. We love them and we get beans for most of the summer with this variety - I believe they are Top Crop.



Look at this huge dill growing in the middle of our other patch of beans! There is a reason they call it dill weed.



We decided a couple years back to put our zucchini plants in another location because they take up so much room! So we made another little area just for zucchini, but we added in some basil too this year because I had about 50 basil plants. They are being overtaken of course, but we've had pesto pasta several times already from this basil.



If you've never had broccoli out of a garden you are missing out. It is so so good. I can't even tell you how wonderful it is, you'd just have to try it. We usually plant around 4 plants, and if you have the right variety of broccoli, after you cut it off it will grow more! We end up with broccoli for the entire summer too. You don't want to let it get as big as you see it at the grocery store. It is much much better when it is smaller. This is just about ready to eat.



Also really really good, and not pictured, is brussel sprouts. They get a bad name I know, but if you plant them in your garden at home, and wait until the fall after a couple good frosts, they are delicious. Faye has already been asking for them. I remember we were eating them at Thanksgiving last year!

I planted these flowers in our garden about 3 years ago, and every year they come back. I just love them!



We also have lots and lots of tomatoes, about 20 plants of different varieties, although none of them are turning red yet. We also have carrots, beets, strawberries, mustard greens, arugula - too many to show!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gymnastics camp - lots of videos and pictures!

On Monday Drew and Faye started Gymnastics camp at the YMCA. I was a little worried about dropping them off in the morning and leaving them until noon, but since we've been members for quite some time now they know a lot of the people that work there and know their way around.





When I returned at noon on Monday, they were just finishing up and then came running over to me. They were thrilled! There were 3 other boys in Drew's class, and a boy teacher who was playing rough with them, throwing the boys in the pit and chasing them around. This was perfect for Drew!! There were only 2 other girls in Faye's class, and they spent a lot of time working on cartwheels. I heard about cartwheels all day long after the 1st day. Faye kept telling me, "I love cartwheels!"

They also had T-ball in the evening this week, so the kids have been so tired all week long. Faye fell asleep in the van once, and Drew kept falling asleep on the couch last night. We basically had to drag the kids out of bed this morning. Today was their last day this week(they are also signed up for next week), and they put on a little show for the parents. It was so cute!

Faye went first for her floor routine. I asked her after we were at home if she was nervous about going first, and she acted like that was the silliest thing I've ever asked her. She told me it was just some people and babies watching - no big deal.

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Drew was a little more nervous about performing, but he did really well. He did his forward rolls and was going to stop, but the teacher got him to do one cartwheel. Yay!

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They also performed routines on the double trampoline and the trampoline, and then had an awards ceremony.

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The kids were so excited about getting the medals! They are excited to start next week's classes now. They're going to be so so tired after another week of gymnastics and T-Ball!

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's a jungle out there...

Our garden could only be described as a jungle. We put compost over our whole garden this spring, at least 2 inches deep if not more. That combined with the 7+ inches of rain this month and really hot and sunny weather, has created a small jungle in our garden.

It looked like it was ready to storm again this afternoon, so Drew and I headed out to the garden to see what we could find. I actually couldn't see Drew at one point, and figured he decided to go back in the house. I called his name and out he popped from between our peas and tomatoes. It really is getting wild out there(but the only wild thing I've seen has been a baby bunny)!



We found a ton of green beans. Yum!! I only picked what I thought we would eat for dinner, but there are so many more. I know what we're going to be eating the next few days! We also found lots of cucumbers, including one that should have been picked a few days ago but got overlooked in the jungle, three zucchinis, and two strawberries! I don't know why the zucchini are light green colored, they are a new variety I am trying this year, so we'll see how they taste. They're marinating in the fridge for later. We still have lots of strawberries on the plants, but they are having a difficult time turning red since they are being overtaken by our green beans. They may have to be moved to their own spot next summer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Terrible 2's!!

This is how I found Alex this afternoon -



bathing himself in our kitchen sink. I was upstairs for about 5 minutes, but that was long enough for him to climb onto our counter and hop in the sink. He used about half the container of soap and had the cold water running. I guess he thought he was dirty.

He is really really starting to cause trouble around here, throwing tantrums and getting into everything!! Makes our day interesting.

It was so hot yesterday afternoon, we decided to turn our AC on. We almost never use it, as I love summer and wait all year to get hot, so what is the point in being cold in the summer too? But I had a headache and after spending almost all day for two days in the sun, I needed it. Our AC just doesn't cool off the upstairs well, so we had the kids sleep in their sleeping bags downstairs. They were so excited!!





And surprisingly enough they went right to sleep... even Alex who never goes to sleep! He didn't have a sleeping bag, so he used Drew's comforter. We picked up a sleeping bag for him today since it seems like its going to be hot for the next few days! We may even try taking them camping later this summer... we'll see about that.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Busy week!

When Faye and Drew were babies, we were crazy busy taking care of them. I always assumed as they got older, we'd have more time. Things seem so hectic when you have babies. Well, I was WRONG! I think as the kids grow, you get busier and busier!

The kids had T-ball this week and played their first 'real' game. They split the 10 kids into teams of 5, Team Purple and Team Tree this week. They always change the names and the kids get a kick out of that. They each had a few turns at bat and loved it! Faye actually got passed by the runner behind her, which was really funny. She is still confused, but is doing much better.

We also went bowling with a friend from preschool this week. The kids love bowling and had a great time, but bowling is really expensive! I spent $18 for Drew and Faye to bowl 2 games. Only 2! After the fact, I saw that you can sign your kids up to bowl for free for the summer, until August 30th. Here is the link if you want to check for a bowling alley near you.

http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/

We are now signed up and ready to bowl! Each week you get coupons emailed to you - you can bowl up to 2 games per kid per day! We still have to rent the shoes, but that actually makes this affordable! I also purchased the family pass, so up to 4 adults can also bowl 2 games per day for the rest of the summer. It was $24.95, but I found an online coupon code (bowling5), that took off $5, making the pass $19.95. I'm ready to go bowling!! Anyone have size 8 or 9 bowling shoes they want to loan me for the summer?




We went shopping for Father's Day presents for Andy this week. We didn't have much luck, but he is really hard to buy presents for. He only wants electronics, and unfortunately I just don't know that much about that stuff. But we picked out a few things - one of which Drew already showed Andy the instructions. He is terrible at keeping secrets! We had to stop at the mall to play for a little while. It is one of the kids favorite places!



We decided to stop and have lunch, since we were so hungry and had more places to stop. I felt so brave, taking them out to lunch all by myself! OK, so I was a little worried, but Faye and Drew are awesome when Andy and I take them out now. If anyone else is with us of course they act up, but with just us they are great! Alex, he's a different story, but he can be good sometimes. We ate at McAllisters, a place that does have PB&J's for the kids. They are huge, and they cut the sandwiches into little towers for the kids. The kids loved this so much and renamed them Volcano Sandwiches. We just had to make them at home.

So this is actually a picture of my sandwich - I don't give the kids that many chips. Who says a mom can't have a Volcano Sandwich too?



I found the kids some squirt guns at Michael's - 3 for $1. So they are little and will probably break soon, but they are having a blast. Yesterday I could hear the kids plotting - they were going to hide and get Andy when he came home from work. They were outside over an hour just waiting and plotting. Faye finally realized that if she got daddy, he'd probably do something to her, so she told Drew he was on his own. He seemed OK with that - and Andy did retaliate! He's trying to dunk Drew in the pool - and Faye is trying to help Drew!



We spent the rest of our time this week eating peas in the garden and getting ready for our yard sale. The kids did really well helping find toys to sell. We woke up this morning to pouring rain, and after all that hard work(not to mention mess in our house) I was about to cry! But then the sun came out and we were ready! We made over $100 today, and I think tomorrow will be busier since it is a Saturday! Faye was the money helper today.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The cutest videos!

We've been cleaning out our house getting ready for a garage sale this week. Andy came across a box of VHS tapes in our basement. Why we still have them nobody knows - but probably just laziness on our part. Most were old movies that we probably have on DVD now, but a few were home videos. He decided to figure out how to copy the home videos to our computer, so we've been watching those all week. One video was an old CAIT(Andy's employer in Macomb) softball highlight tape. They were terrible - they had to be one of the worst softball teams ever put together, but they did have fun. A bunch of computer dorks playing softball. On the highlight video they were down 33-0 in the 4th inning. I think they did win at least one game the 2nd year.

That led to Andy finding our camcorder and also putting those videos on our computer. We found some really cute ones of the kids when they were babies and when we first moved to this house in Champaign. I stayed up almost all night watching the videos! Now I only wish we had more!

Here are Faye and Drew being cute, singing the ABC's and Itsy Bitsy Spider.

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And another one of Faye being cute - not to mention the stylish Drew! I believe these were taken in February 2007, so the kids would have been almost 2 1/2 years old.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

2nd week chaos

This was the 2nd full week the kids were out of school, and it was a little chaotic. And not really in a good way. I am having trouble keeping up with the kids and the house and everything. I have been spoiled the past 9 months or so with them in preschool. They only went 3 days a week, for 3 hours a day, but that is 9 hours a week with them out of the house. 9 hours! I still had one kid at home with me, but since he never slept at night, as soon as I put him in the van he was asleep, leaving me with at least 4 or 5 hours every week to get things done. That is a ton of time, and I could do all the shopping and errands, and usually clean the house a little. Now, I have to find the time while they are at home. It is impossible (I'm ready to give up). As soon as I go upstairs, the kids get everything out downstairs. EVERYTHING. Alex even found the play dough and had that out, all over the floor. Another day he was writing on the floor with markers. Chaos! I think our house will be a mess all summer - unless there is some miracle (like a housekeeper).

All this chaos wore Alex out!



Andy started school this week too. Finally!! I've been bugging him for years to get his masters degree. One of the benefits of his job is free tuition. Free! Why wouldn't you take advantage of that? He is getting his masters degree in Management Information Systems at UIS (University of Illinois Springfield). It's not completely free - he still has to pay for books and they are still a rip off! One of his accounting books was around $120. He was able to find the International edition for $40. He's enrolled in 2 summer classes right now, so he is keeping busy!

We finally have peas ready in our garden, which are the kids favorite. They ask me all day long, "can we go find some peas?" I don't blame them, they are really really good. Even Velvet has got in on that action. Usually she just eats the empty shells the kids have thrown on the ground, but I saw her bite a pea pod off the plant yesterday and eat it.



I had to order some things from Amazon, and in order to qualify for free shipping, I needed to spend a few more dollars. I found this Volcano making kit for $7, and knew the kids would love it. They have a book about volcanoes, and were just watching a show about them too. It arrived this week and they couldn't wait to get started on this. They asked me about every 5 minutes, "can we do the volcano?" That went on for a whole day!






First thing Friday morning, we decided to get started. The kit comes with a plastic mold and some plaster, so you have to make the volcano and let it dry. My kids asked every minute if it was dry, they were so ready to erupt that volcano! The plaster gets really hot as it dries (it only takes about 30 minutes), which the kids found really exciting. "Ooh, its going to erupt soon!" the kids were yelling and giggling. Next we had to paint the volcano and let that dry. Finally, when Andy got home from work, we were ready.





It really wasn't that exciting, but they had a great time with it. The great thing is we can use this volcano over and over, or we can use the mold and make new ones, so it was a great buy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

My projects

I have a lot of projects I've been working on lately, and with the kids being out of school all last week, not very much time to work on them. The kids spent the weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's house - so I was able to get a lot done, and spend a lot of time relaxing!!

It truly is amazing how much you can get done without the kids around. I often wonder what I did with all that free time before I had kids. My pre-kid life - I have no memory of it really and I can't even imagine what it would be like now, nor do I want that.

Andy and I went out to our favorite restaurant, or one of them anyways, Dos Reales, on Friday night. I'm sure I've mentioned it before. It is a Mexican restaurant and I always get a margarita, and Andy always gets a humongous beer, along with the exact same food every time. The service is so fast, even when they are busy, which they usually are. After we ate, we took Velvet for a walk, and Andy commented, "See how relaxing it would be if we didn't have kids. We could do whatever we want, whenever we want!" Yes, we could I guess, but would we enjoy it as much? I think we truly enjoy and appreciate our time to ourselves more now.

My 1st weekend project - I've been anxious to get started for a few days on this one!

As I was watching TV the other night, I saw a guy crocheting a basket. It was weird, to me anyways, because I never think of crochet as something a guy would do, but he was really great. I've been interested in crocheting with alternative materials, like T-shirts, etc, because we have so much stuff and I'd like to recycle some of it, and this gave me a chance to practice and get an idea of how to get started. I did buy some material to make this basket, and it turned out OK I think, although I needed almost a yard more than estimated. (That could be because I never follow directions exactly and I did end up making my basket a little taller.)

I threw some apples in there, as it was suggested it could be a fruit bowl. Not sure about that, but overall I like the idea of it.







My 2nd project - a booster seat for Alex


Alex has been out of his high chair for a long long time now, but he has a hard time reaching the table when he sits in his chair. We actually just got new chairs a little while back, and he has decided it would be a good place to jab his fork into while sitting there. We freaked out a little about that one - our new chair completely covered in fork marks! I looked through one of my sewing books, One Yard Wonders, and saw a bean bag booster seat, so I've been planning on making this for some time, I just needed to find the time! I'm not a big fan of vinyl or any plastic, but this needed to be something I could just wipe off. I decided to add some ties in the back, because I know my kids, and this would definitely not stay put otherwise.





My 3rd project - I started this about a month ago!

I also had time to work on this afghan I've been crocheting for about the past month. It was going really quickly and then I just didn't have time. I still don't know if I even like it, so some days I give up, and other days I decide, well, I might as well finish it. The colors were what really appealed to me, but I just don't know if I like the big 'rose' in the middle. It still is unfinished, but it is closer to being done.



My last project of the weekend - and probably the best(although not the prettiest)!

As I was reading some blogs recently, I came across a recipe for vegan Ice Cream Balls! Anything interesting about dessert will stick in my head, although I could forget everything else I think. When I woke up Sunday morning, I decided to clean out the refrigerator. I noticed some coconut milk leftover from another recipe earlier in the week, and it all came together right then! Ice Cream Balls!



Using coconut milk adds a really nice flavor to ice cream - definitely something to try, even if you are not vegan. I used a combination of coconut milk, vanilla soy milk, and silken tofu, blended it all and popped it in our ice cream maker. The ice cream turned out really good, but was really soft. I froze it for about 30 minutes, before rolling in ground pecans. I refroze them again until we were ready for dessert. We melted semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips with a bit of vanilla soy milk for our chocolate dip. It was a huge hit with the kids and something I'll be making again and again, and there are endless possibilities. I am definitely going to look for an ice cream scoop or melon baller or something to shape these a little better. I'm thinking bite sized would be great for the kids! I might try making banana ice cream next time, or using soy yogurt instead of the tofu! Thanks to Your Vegan Mom for this recipe and inspiration!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

T-Ball!!

T-Ball!!! Is there anything cuter than watching little kids play T-ball? I don't think so. Faye and Drew have never played ball before, so today was definitely a first for them. I wanted to sign them up last year with the Champaign Park District, but the age for the class said 5-7 years old and they weren't quite 5, and based on their performance tonight they were almost certainly not ready last year.

We picked out some T-ball gloves at the store a few days ago (purple for Faye of course) and the kids tried them on. They were a little worried about the gloves - and had a lot of trouble getting them on by themselves. Faye was asking me questions all day about T-Ball and the gloves. Would they have to wear them to the park? What if they couldn't get the gloves on quickly enough? Etc. Etc.

We arrived and they got their official T-Ball shirts. They put them on, and in a few minutes started their class. The kids ran the bases and did stretches, and then had to stand in a circle and yell out their name when it was their turn. Faye and Drew both had trouble with this one, as they are just a tad shy(OK, really shy). But I was still so proud of them, they went out there on their own and did their best and listened to their instructor, which I know they would not have done a year or two before. Next they separated into groups to work on some T-ball skills. I counted 12 kids, and 6 instructors, which was wonderful! Each instructor worked with 2 kids at a time, which was really what they needed.

Here the kids are running the bases(I realize now I should have moved to a different spot to take the picture).



From what we could tell, they were all at about the same skill level, which was no skill whatsoever, but really fun to watch! Next the instructors went over the bases and where to run, then put the kids in positions and 'played' a little. Drew was up almost first as a runner while Faye was in the outfield. She was standing with her knees bent and glove ready - she was being so serious about it! When it was Drew's turn to run, he didn't actually run. They had to tell him about 3 times to run to first base. Same with running to 2nd base and 3rd base and home. The other kids were just as confused. At one time there were about 3 or 4 kids all on 3rd base. The instructors were all great with the kids and very patient!

Faye somehow ended up on the pitchers mound after Drew made it to 1st. She's so cute.



Faye told me after her class was over, "T-ball is hard." They both had a great time and asked if they could play every day. It is about a 6 or 7 week class, meeting twice a week, so hopefully their skills will improve by the end.