Keeping Up With The Kids

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.

And not because there’s been nothing going on. There’s been a lot happening. The Civee and I have been trying to keep up with a three-year-old and an almost-one-year-old who are growing every day.

Not only are Hope and Luke growing, but they’re also doing new things all the time. In the past few weeks, Luke has started walking. Just like with Hope, when he knows the cameras are on, he won’t walk. So this is the best I could do, a video of Luke pushing a bike all the way across Little Kids Space at COSI:

Hope is also going through all sorts of new things. She’s starting to like music other than Weezer (okay, she’s always liked songs by musicians other than Weezer). Ever since my guest DJ stint for CD 102.5 last month, she’s been really into Steve Burns’ Mighty Little Man. Here she is with her rendition of the tune:

We’ve been spending a lot of time outside this spring, especially now that the mosquito defense system is active. Hope has been helping out in the garden and has been a great help with our strawberries. Last year, I thought we had a lot of strawberries. But this year, there were a few days in a row where we picked more than a hundred each day. It got to be so much that we just stopped counting.

I should mention that Hope picked most of those. She’s getting to be very helpful. But probably the best thing about her and Luke growing is they’re growing together. Now that Luke has a personality and can move around and react, they’re starting to have a lot of fun with each other.

Sure they’re cute together, but I think they’re going to be trouble.



Hope the Garden Gnome

After last year’s failed artichoke growing experiment, I decided to get serious and start a box garden. Right now, we have peppers, green beans, broccoli, spinach and beets growing.

Hope likes the garden. She was good a few weeks ago with planting all the seeds. The biggest challenge, though is trying to keep her out of the garden. She likes pill bugs and worms and will go digging for them if I’m not watching her close enough.

It’s nice that she has an interest in bugs. She found a lightning bug today and let it crawl on her arm for a few seconds (she’s still learning that if she wants the bug to stay, she can’t wave her arm around). I told her about what lightning bugs can do and I’m looking forward to a few weeks from now when she can stay up a bit later and see them in action.

A Home Improvement Tip From the King

I can’t say I’m much of a handyman. I don’t think anybody has ever asked me for advice on how to fix something around the house. Still, if there’s one bit of wisdom I’d like to pass on, it’s this:

Never, ever use clear silicone caulk in your bathroom.

It may look real nice. The label may say it’s anti-microbial or anti-mildew. You may promise yourself that you’ll clean it every day.

But trust me, you’ll be googling “how to remove caulk” 16 months later.

That’s the one thing I’ve learned. Do with it what you will.

The Awesometown Strawberry Farm

Two summers ago, when we first moved into our new house, I planted three strawberry plants. They didn’t grow much, so by the end of the summer, I moved one. The one I moved grew, taking over our herb garden. So last year, I clipped a bunch of the runners and moved them to our side yard, where they established themselves quickly.

This spring, our strawberry plants have been growing like crazy. How crazy? Well, here’s today’s haul:

That’s been an average haul over the past week (plus a few days). One thing we’ve learned is that we have to eat them pretty quickly- these don’t last as long as the store-bought ones. But that’s not a problem for The Civee, Hope and myself (especially Hope). The most surprising thing is that Hope can be patient with the strawberries- she won’t pick them unless The Civee or I says she can and (even though she constantly asks) she waits until they’ve been washed off before eating them.

This year, I also started a box garden and planted peppers, green beans, broccoli, spinach and beets. But those won’t be ready for harvest for another few months. I’m glad our strawberries are working out. It’s rewarding to eat something you’ve grown yourself.

The other day, I was reading all about how to grow strawberries. The experts recommended doing a bunch of things that I haven’t done, like thinning the plants out, mowing the plants in the fall and putting mulch over them in the winter. I’m inspired to try some of that out later this year. Who knows? All that extra work could make what we picked today look like nothing.

Work Around the House

The Civee and I have now been living in our house for two years (Hope has a few weeks to go before catching up to us). The house is older and we’ve put some work into it. We have gotten a new roof, a new fence and done a number of other projects (with the assistance of family and friends) around the house.

We wrote a list recently of things to do over the next few months. Not just the typical spring cleaning-type work, but other things we would like to finish before baby number two arrives.

I actually got a good start on the list last weekend. I finished painting/staining a bannister we added so Hope wouldn’t fall off the stairs. I replaced a malfunctioning screen door mechanism. And I removed a few kitchen cabinets, flipped them around and they now open in a direction that makes sense to The Civee and I.

But these were just a few items from the beginning of the list. I still have a long way to go. And this does not make me a handyman. It doesn’t even make me used to my own house at times.

While the screen door closes now, it does so with a snap that it didn’t have before. I can’t store things on the shelf we used to have on the stairs. And while the kitchen cabinets now open in a way that makes sense, I guess I got used to the other way, as this weekend, I kept trying to open them the wrong way.

Still, it does feel good to get things done around the house and checked off the list.

The Failed Artichoke Farm

Earlier this year, I planted some artichoke saplings that I had started from seeds in the backyard, hoping that I could grow artichokes in the garden.

Well, growing season is over and my dreams of growing artichokes didn’t work out.  Of the five saplings I planted, only one made it through to November. A few weekends ago (before the first frost), I dug it up and brought it inside. It’s still alive, but I wouldn’t quite say it’s thriving.

I think there are a few reasons the artichokes didn’t work out. Actually, between the artichokes, beets and peppers I planted back in April, I only got one small pepper. The soil in the garden was really dry this summer. Also, when the contractors put in the fence I have a feeling they trampled everything, which didn’t help out the growing plants.

So I’ll try and get this little artichoke plant to grow throughout the winter. And if it lives or dies, I’ll be trying artichokes again next year.

The Hope Containment System is Complete

The Civee and I finally have a fence, and we’re glad. We need all the help we can get to keep Hope in one place.

A few days ago, the guys finished the backyard fence and overall, The Civee and I (and Hope) are happy with it.  It really does feel like we have more room in the backyard.  I was surprised by the amount of grass that was wiped out by the fence and its construction.  Although, I am glad that I waited until after the fence was finished to mow.  Last week, the lawn was looking a little overgrown.  But now that we have the fence, it’s not so bad.

The fence is somewhat L-shaped so we have a parking spot in the back.  There’s more than enough room for the grill, the artichoke and beet garden, the herb garden and for Hope to run around.  She was a bit confused by the fence at first, but has been enjoying walking around and collecting rocks.

As for The Civee and I, we like the feeling of having our backyard to ourselves.  And the strong smell of cedar makes it feel like we’re away at a cabin or something, rather than in the middle of Awesometown.

Mister King Tom, Put Up This Wall

This was the backyard this afternoon:

No, I’m not trying to build the Dharmaville Security System in my backyard.  We’re getting a fence (thanks to King Classic) and the first step (well, for the installers) was putting in the posts.  They showed up early this morning (at 7:15) and worked through a pretty rough thunderstorm (and this was after they told us they wouldn’t be able to make it yesterday because of some rain we never got).  They’ll be back sometime Thursday to install the walls.

I don’t know if you can tell, but the fence is  going to be L-shaped to give us a parking spot.  I was standing in the middle of the yard, and surprisingly, it feels like we have more room in the backyard than before the posts were installed. I hope it still feels that way once the walls are up.

The professionals started today, but work on the fence has been going on for a while.  Along the west side and the back, the fence hugs the property line.  We had to remove a lot of weeds and some small trees from the back.  And sadly, my outdoor workshop is no more.  The two stumps between us and the house to the west were just within the property line.    Despite my best efforts with an axe and a small chainsaw, I could not remove the stumps (un-stump? de-stump?) by myself.  But thankfully, The Civee’s father and brother, who actually has a chainsaw (and knows how to use it) were able to help us de-stump.

The Civee and I are looking forward to Thursday.  It will be nice to have a more private backyard and a place where we can just let Hope run wild.  As long as she doesn’t run over the beets or artichokes.

My Outdoor Workshop

This afternoon, I was painting a few spots here and there outside.  I had some paint left over and The Civee suggested I use it to paint one of a set of tables we’ve had for a while.  The tables are very functional, but we’ve been talking since almost the day we got them about painting them white.

So I took one of the tables into our side yard and painted it on the grass.  There was a problem when I got to the bottom of the table legs: I wouldn’t be able to paint them.  Fortunately, we have some old stumps (that I believe are on our property) that I put to good use:

(and that’s the first time I’ve ever used the word “fortunately” when referring to one of those stumps).  Not only did the stump help with the painting, but it also helped the table dry out (or so I think).

All three of us spent a lot of time outside this weekend.  Most of the time was spent doing work (like painting and gardening), but we also had some fun- last night, we ate dinner outside with The Civee’s parents.  As an added bonus, we’re about a mile away from Crew Stadium, which was hosting a music festival this weekend (Rock on the Range-  not exactly my definition of rock), and we could hear some of the songs and the crowds throughout the weekend.

Despite the concert, it was great to spend time outside in the sun.  We’re getting a fence soon, which is something The Civee and I are looking forward to.  But Hope’s looking forward to something different.  All she wants is for these strawberries to ripen: