Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gardening in the Backyard

I have greatly enjoyed the gardening this year. I love being outdoors, I love having the children outdoors, and even better is the fresh food. We started with a fairly small garden area this year, I crammed in basil, stevia, chives, cilantro, parsley, 7 zucchini plants, 4 tomatoes plants, and several cucumber plants. See Garden Area #1 picture below. (also you can see our new compost area built out of old pallets right past the garden)

Garden Area #1

But I ran out of room. So we had to expand. So we started with just a small area next to the pool. This is where I planted 9 squash plants and watermelon. You will see these below. But once again we weren't happy and wanted to plant more. After all, we have great weather for near year-round gardening. So we expanded below again. This was last Tuesday that we cleared off the rest of this, tilled and planted more. This time we planted seeds. Which honestly scared me to death. I like to have little plants to start with, it is much easier. With seeds I just throw them in the ground and pray that they come to life.

Garden area #2

And the seeds started to grow. Six days after planting green bean seeds, they were looking lovely. The fresh row was a beautiful sight.

Green beans (6 days after planting)

But not all the seeds have sprouted yet ... Its been about 12 days, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We are still waiting on a lot of corn, carrots, and cantaloupe to sprout. And the sunflower seeds I planted next to the fence I am thinking may have been stolen by the squirrels.

But we have several watermelon growing now also.

And while we work in the garden (which we don't nearly enough) ... the children get to spend time playing outside. Here is Jasper in front of the zucchini plants.

And Petra spent some time playing with the water hose.

And today we had more fresh veggies. I picked this right after lunch to freeze for later. If it is too mushy for food, there is always puree that I hide in some foods, baby puree, and stew that we can use it for. (yes, I obviously forgot about the zucchini on the far right)

And then this afternoon, I went outside for a few more for dinner. Today was the first day we had cucumber - and you will see I picked 3 today!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Raising a Happy, Unspoiled Child

I just finished reading a book that I checked our from our local library and was very surprised with the practical, loving and firm approach suggested on raising babies and young toddlers. The author, who worked with a government program (Parents as Teachers) in the 60s and 70s, was much more old-school in child-rearing practices than I expected. Honestly, because he worked on a specific government program I expected him to be a little more lenient on children's behavioral issues. Instead, I felt like I was getting practical advice from my parents and grandparent's generations.I found the tone completely different than what is seen today in many books and magazines that you see shelf.

What the author promises in the book is what got my attention at first ... he promises a loving and wonderful two-year old child. A child that skips the terrible twos all together. I think anyone can be firm with a one-year old if they know if will lead to years of enjoyment, rather than years of terrible behavior.

The chapters in the book are divided by age and range from birth to three years. In each chapter the author discusses what the child is learning and doing at that age, and it coincided perfectly with Petra's development thus far. If all continues in this same manner, and we do our part as loving but firm parents, she should be done testing us by 22-months and enter into a wonderful age. I think we can definitely follow the advice in this book for a few months and see what happens. Most of it, I beleive we already adhere to. But sometimes, I know I overindulge her some, and that needs to stop.

Jasper has just entered into the "testing" stage and he is very often telling us he is unhappy (usually when I want him to eat or sleep). He loves to be held when he sleeps, and he loves his bottle and not much else. I think the advice in this book will be much more handy as we try to raise him.

We will be buying ourselves a copy of this book, and also sharing with the nanny. And today, I'm heading to the library to get another book by this author titled The first three years of life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Please Daddy

Petra hit a first milestone yesterday. It was her first time that she found something she wanted in a big box store and asked for it ... and lets just say she didn't start small. I want to preface this story by first saying Petra never really wants anything from a store. We can take her down the toy aisles at any store and pretty much leave without her ever really wanting anything. Sometimes she wants to hold on to something for a little while, but we don't buy it or don't let her keep it, its no big deal.

Yesterday we headed out to Home Depot to buy some seeds and plants for the garden. Thomas has tilled up about 300 sq ft more over the last 2 days and it needs to be planted. I have a huge garden now, that is on a slope ... should be interesting. Our squash is currently growing great on this same slope ... I digress.

Back to my story. Petra had a blast yesterday at Home Depot. She found dirt to play in at the garden center, she found rolls of screen she could twirl like a flag girl, she found lots of little odds and ends, and she pushed Jasper around in the cart. And then she spotted it. I saw her gazing at a large box on the floor in wonderment. On the front was a picture of a massive swing set and 4-5 children playing. I walked over to her and said to her "do you see the slide, do you see the swing?" Yes, she nodded. "This is a swing set I added." She stood there gazing. And about this time, Thomas came over and started looking at the swings on the shelf above it. Once she spotted these it was all over, all she wanted was this swing set, and especially a swing. And I said to her (which in hindsight wasn't the best idea), "Petra, do you like this swing set?" Yes, she replied. "Do you want a swing set?" And with the gravest nod up and down in affirmation I could see her anticipation. "well, if you want this, you are going to have to ask daddy nicely and say please," ... she turned her head up to Thomas and said "Please" while she signed "more" --- which is her best and most polite way of asking for anything.

Of course we couldn't walk out of the store with that swing set, and I don't know what I was thinking prodding her like that. She was sobbing and starting to wail for a swing, I took it down off the shelve and showed her that it wasn't in working condition at the moment. She proceeded to climb in it and wait for us to push her. And when Thomas picked up the ropes on the swing with her in it, and began to swing her back and forth, I about jumped out of my pants in fear. Fear that she was going to fall flat on her face on the hard concrete. But she squealed and giggled with glea. And then it was over, and we walked away with no swing, with no swing set, and a very upset, sobbing little girl.

And I know you must be wondering, her fever broke on Friday last week. The very same day her bottom molar came through. I know most people say children do not get a high fever from teething, but it seems too coincidental to be unrelated.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Around the house

First, let me start by saying that it is very frightening to have a sick child - and I'm only dealing with a high fever. I can not imagine anything worse.

Petra has been laid out since Sunday afternoon with a fever that keeps topping over 104 degrees. She is absolutely miserable and it is scary. Her fever gets very high when she is sleeping and medicine seems to work some, but not completely. If she doesn't have meds every 4 hours on the dot, her fever rapidly gets out of control and it seems to take forever to reduce it. Even with meds she has a fever easily over 102 a lot of the time. I took her yesterday to the doctor, he said it was probably the flu and sent us home. There seemed to be nothing else wrong with her besides a cold. Her breathing keeps scaring me, and I'm worried about her asthma. I plan on taking her back to the doctor in the morning if things don't improve between now and then.

Jasper is doing great and is just days away from crawling. He is moving around so well on the floor, up on his hands and knees, rolling, and turning around in any direction he wants. At this age Petra would just look at us as if to say, I'm a princess I don't roll on the floor. But Jasper is all boy and is on the move. Here are some photos from Sunday morning. I took out the camera so you could see how well Jasper's face has cleared up.

But most importantly, I wanted to post tonight so I could share this photo of Jasper dancing, or should I say "swaying" to the Praise Baby video. I'm not sure I've ever seen a 7 month old dance ... is this normal? He started doing this a few weeks ago, and I figured I better get it on camera. And yes, that is Petra on the sofa behind him moaning. She was pretty miserable this afternoon.

In the midst of this crazy week ... with a very sick child, with us up all hours of the night, with us pulling the children out of day care and hiring a part-time nanny...we got a phone call to take another baby boy. Thomas said there was a reason he got the phone call this time and not me, and quickly said "No, thank you, maybe next time." He didn't even ask for details. I'm just praying the little found a home. There are never enough foster care homes in town.

And on a completely different note, I picked my first squash of the season this morning. Now that the children are home instead of in daycare, I'm hoping they will start eating healthier, home-made snacks. Tonight, if I can gather the energy (b/c I've been up at all hours of the night with Petra), I hope to make some carrot muffins. Of course, Jasper won't be eating them. Let me mention, Jasper does not want to eat. I just put the food in his mouth, and he lets it sit there. Doesn't swallow, and then spits it out!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In bed earlier these days

And still up later each morning. We are both just tired this week.

We went to a local KidsFest this weekend at the fair grounds ... there were activities for the children, booths of information for the parents, pony rides, etc. Petra held a 1 minute long point on the horses; I guess she must have been amazed by them. I got some great photos of Petra that I wanted to share.

Both of the children are fantastic. They went to the doctor for shots and checkups today. (they were both cranky tonight, which is to be expected after a day of shots and day care) Jasper got some cream for his face!!! YEAH! We are suppose to use as needed, which is exactly what I wanted. Ideally we need to solve the problem and prevent it from happening. But at least we have something now to help when he does break out. Today, Petra weighed 22.5 lbs and was 31 inches tall. Jasper weighed 18.5 lbs and was 27 inches tall. This puts Jasper right around the 50% for both height and weight. And Petra at the 50% for height and 25% for weight. She has really thinned out the last few months. We measured her a week or so ago and noticed she had grown 2-3 inches since Christmas!

You like Jasper's new necktie shirt? I decided he needed to dress up for church this week and added this little thing to his onesie real fast. =)

We have also hired a part-time nanny. She will start coming to our home each morning starting next Wednesday. We have known her and her parents for the last 3 years, so we feel comfortable with her. And we are super excited to have both the children at home and out of a day care setting.

I was a little busy this week getting all the cleaners out of my house I am not going to use anymore. I gave them all away. And I am just plum happy about it. I have so much more room under my kitchen sink that I added an extra trash can for recycling items.

Thomas also found out yesterday he got an A on his practicum, and a A in one of his classes. The other class he is taking right now he hasn't finished. Outstanding! especially considering how busy he was taking care of everything while I worked so much during session.

And my garden is growing. I have about 30 squash currently growing on my 9 squash plants! I also planted some 9 zucchini plants - so we will have a ton of squash this summer.