fiddling on the roof

Hello! [echo… echo… echo…]

I don’t know if anyone is out there anymore; maybe this is tantamount of me writing a letter and throwing it out to sea in a bottle.

Quickie Update

We are all well. I’ve been meaning to write for months upon months.

Since I last posted, Milo turned 3, I turned 38, and Josh turned 44… for all of us, our unit of measure is ‘years young.’

Milo transitioned to a new preschool classroom that he loves. He continues to be amazing in everyway. In addition to becoming more ‘book smart’ (knowing his letters and numbers, etc.) I’ve recently noticed that he’s developing an ability to sit still and focus on something (like coloring or tracing) for a more extended amount of time (10 – 20 minutes). Sitting still and focusing on something has never been a strong point and I’ve honestly wondered if he is a little ADHD, but suddenly all of his own volition, he will sit down and color or play with play dough or read books by himself and appear to be very content.

Big Changes Ahead

Our family is currently on the cusp of a huge change. In two weeks, we are moving to Arkansas so that we can be closer to family. It has always been a challenge being parents and not having any family around, but now that Milo is older I have been feeling so guilty that Milo doesn’t have any other family relationships. Growing up, I had my grandparents around and that was a very special relationship for me. Two months ago, as Josh and I were in the throws of this decision about whether to move to Arkansas or not, we took a semi-spontaneous trip to Arkansas to do some reconnaissance (we didn’t tell anyone in his family except for his brother & sister-in-law what we were thinking). And Milo had such an amazing time playing with his many many cousins and it was so wonderful watching him with his grandparents.

So yea… we’re moving to Arkansas. I’m definitely heartbroken about leaving Idaho and our friends here, but I believe this is best for our family.

The last few weeks, since we officially made the decision, has been stressful as we’re getting ready to move and put our house on the market. I hate having the house in such a state of disarray as moving creates and trying to do all of this with a 3 year old is not the most tranquil experience.

Logistically, there are several things that make this move particularly feasible for us. One is that the housing market in Boise is a seller’s dream and we seem to have a ridiculous amount of equity built up. Conversely, the housing market in Arkansas is a buyer’s dream and it’s looking like we’ll be able to very nicely upgrade our house AND have significantly more cash flow. Honestly, we’re moving because we want to be closer to family, but the idea of upgrading our house is so exciting. Our current house is really not ideal for our family – – by way of just one example, the house only has one toilet and now that there are three of us who use the toilet, it’s just really not ideal.

The other logistical thing that makes this particularly feasible for us is that Josh’s dad has about 5 acres with a second house that we can stay at until we sell our house and buy a new one.

Hopefully, additional changes

The other big thing going on is that we’re hoping to expand our family. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that we’ve all continued to get older as time goes on. Even though we’re all still young, I do feel that time is ticking.

Over and out.

 

Harvest Monday – June 4, 2018

The harvests have started pouring in and we’re having a hard time keeping up! We’ve got an ABUNDANCE of peas, strawberries, and broccoli.

Milo has been very enthusiastic about helping me to pick peas and strawberries, and also about sampling both. I’ve been so proud to be able to include home grown items in his school lunches.

Here are the totals. I think I might have to start freezing the peas because we have bowls full of them in the fridge and the plants are bursting with peas ready to be picked. Definitely a problem I don’t mind having. 🙂

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We’ve been having some bananas weather. Several times a week for the past few months, we’ve been getting these torrential thunderstorms. I have barely had to water anything at all, which is amazing because this is very much high desert climate and we usually get no rain from May to September.

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Along with the rain, thunder, and lightning, Milo has been learning all about hail. In the below photo, Josh collected some hail in a colander for Milo to touch. He thought it was pretty neat.

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And here’s a gratuitous photo of my sweet boy.

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Harvest Monday – 5/21/18

FINALLY. We have snap peas.

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I honestly thought it wasn’t going to happen this year. Normally, peas are an April or early May harvest for me. And normally, I have all the plants pulled by mid May to make room for my summer garden. Last week, blossoms finally began appearing on the pea stalks, which compelled me to give them a bit more time. They are occupying PRIME real estate in my garden and have been seriously dilly dallying this year. Those blossoms really sealed the deal last week and I found alternative space for my summer crops.

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I’ve been excitedly watching the peas form and grow. Yesterday evening, I picked a pea for Milo and he actually ATE it and said YUM! Regardless of how delicious sweet peas are, they are GREEN and Milo DOES.NOT.EAT.GREEN.THINGS. But these, he loved! I was so happy. Trying to get this child to eat a vegetable is one of the most challenging things about being his mama. Anyway, after I gave him a tutorial about how to pick peas (he has to use both hands – one to hold the connecting vine, and the other to pull the pea – – sadly, he forgot a few times which hand he needed to pull with and we lost a portion of the plant – – ahh… toddler coordination!). Once he figured out how to pick peas, he had such a great time picking them and eating them. And he didn’t really want to stop!  All evening, he kept asking me if we should go look for more peas.

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I finally got my garden harvest spreadsheet up and running. The unit of measure is grams. I have not been very diligent about harvesting when I should.

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In other news, we’ve been having some epic rain storms and Milo has been having a blast wading in the flooded street. Above is after the rain had gone down the storm drain but he still wanted to see where all the water had gone.

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In the past week, the sweet peas have finally produced blossoms…

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… broccoli heads have emerged…

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… the tomatoes have been caged…

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… the beans have popped up… and the pests have feasted…

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… and all the curcurbits have a home.

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Garden – May Update

The weather is finally consistently warmed up and the garden is coming alive. Everything seemed to take so long this year to wake up. Here is our new Hawthorne tree that we planted two years ago, almost fully leafed out.

I’ve gotten most everything planted. In the flowerbed in the photo below, I planted my pepper plants because the peas aren’t ready to vacate their space.

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Here’s the other end of the backyard, in a bit of disarray. It’s finally warm enough to bring out the pool and have some serious backyard water fun!

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And here are Milo and Josh enjoying yesterday’s warm evening. In the background, you can see that the lilac finally blossomed.

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The grapes also have buds on them. We have five grape vines and they’ve never produced grapes. Maybe this will finally be the year.

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And the plum trees are LOADED with plums. I’ve started the process of thinning them out.

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Veggie garden. The asparagus continues to come in strong. I don’t have any pictures of the harvests, but I am bringing in about 200-300 grams per week. Thusfar, I’ve harvested 1204 grams of asparagus. My garden harvest spreadsheet isn’t setup for the year yet, so I don’t have a fancy way to display that yet.

I’ve planted my tomatoes and still need to cage them.

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Of course, my tomato cages are currently supporting the sweet peas that normally would have done their thing and been completely pulled by now. At present, I have yet to see a single blossom and am not sure if we’ll see any peas form before the insanity of the summer heat kicks in.

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Along the garden fence, I’ve planted beans and am using some old lilac branches for the vines to climb up.

The only thing left to plant/sow are all of the squash & cucumbers. I’m not sure where they should be, since the peas are taking their sweet time.

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Here is the blackberry zone, completely overrun by grass and poppies. I’ve been meaning to smother the grass and try to dig up the poppies for years, but always prioritize other projects. Good thing blackberries are hardy and resilient because they get pretty neglected.

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Also, I just LOVE these poppies but they are in the worst place. This is the side of the house where the gas meter and air conditioning unit are hidden, and the poppies get no visibility. It’s such a travesty.

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And here is my sweet boy. This weekend, he went with me to vote in the primary elections during the early voting period at City Hall.

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My heart melts so much, he is such a sweetheart.

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Garden – April Update

Despite our relatively mild winter, everything seems to be coming up a bit later this spring. This past week, I’ve finally been able to harvest asparagus. For over a month, I’ve been anxiously checking on the asparagus bed, wondering if they had died. Last year, I was first harvesting asparagus in March. Late indeed.

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I’ve had two harvestings similar to the above photo, and it seems like what started as a trickle might become a more steady stream. The photo above was from yesterday, and below there are already more spears that I can harvest today (as evidenced by the photo below).

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Unfortunately, most of what is growing in my asparagus bed is an invasive weed, Whitetop, that seems to be everywhere in my neighborhood. It’s one of those weeds that, if you pick one, 5 million more pop up in its place. My neighbors across the fence have tried smothering it with thick layers of cardboard and wood chips, and the Whitetop seems to be flourishing in their yard more than ever. In the ornamental areas I am actually applying a weed killer – – very systematically cutting off the top of the plant and applying the weed killer directly to the cut portion of the plant. I feel so guilty about this because I don’t like to use chemicals but I don’t know what else to do.

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Anyway, I’ve got two beds of snap peas coming up. I direct sowed these in February, which is what I normally do, and they have taken a really long time to come up. If I were more organized, I’d be testing the temperature of the soil rather than just doing the same thing from year to year. Oh well.

There’s also some overwintered carrots in this bed that I haven’t pulled yet. We have a bearded dragon who likes to eat the greenery from carrots, so I’m growing these for her.

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Here is my overwintered chard and garlic chives. I’ve been feeding the bearded dragon (named Lizzy) all winter from our garden. She loves chard.

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I planted the broccoli several weeks ago and the plants seem very happy. I’ve also been feeding Lizzy broccoli leaves. There is also some oregano that has spread to this bed.

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The raspberry plants I planted last year are coming up and already are sending out suckers.

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So, this is interesting, last year’s rosemary is still growing strong. Typically rosemary is an annual here so I’m impressed that this one made it through the winter. I don’t remember what variety I bought last year but I wonder if it was a cold hardy variety.

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An overall view of the main veggie area. I’ve been doing a lot of weeding, but still there are weeds everywhere.

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Oh gosh, I forgot to mention that I put tomato cages around each of the asparagus crowns because Milo likes to play with his construction vehicles in my beds and has crushed a good number of asparagus spears. I’m hoping the cages will somehow prevent this. Of course, I’ve asked him not crush the spears and then have asked him to play in a different place in the garden, and this is basically like giving him a double dog dare to do the exact thing I want him not to do.

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Here are my tomato plants that I started from seed.

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And speaking of the care and feeding of bearded dragons, I’ve got a nice selection of ‘dragon salad’ plants that I started from seed. These plants I actually place in her enclosure and she eats directly from the plants. I rotate them out every few days to give them a break. But in addition to the chard, carrot greens, and broccoli she eats from the veggie garden, she also enjoys mustard greens, collards, basil, mint, cilantro, and some variety of lettuce.

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Oh, and out of the 20 or so flats of peppers I tried to start, here are the two that germinated. I guess next year I’ll be investing in new pepper seed. And this year, I’ll be buying plants from the nursery.

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Onto the ornamental areas. Below is my newest flower bed in the backyard that I started last year and have continued to work on this spring. I’ve added more soil, moved the plants around, scattered flower seeds (many of which have already germinated!), and have added some compost. In the foreground of the below photo shows a pile of compost that I dumped right on the lawn. Our city has a great new compost program where it collects unlimited compostable materials from residents, and then we get to pick up a few yards of compost for ‘free.’ Because it’s a city program and there’s no way to regulate what people put into their compost bins, I’m only putting this compost on the ornamental areas. Just in spreading around this batch of compost, I’ve discovered a decent amount of trash (mostly remnants from plastic bags). So that reinforces that I don’t want to put this on anything that I’m going to eat.

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Here’s my other main flower bed in the back. Nothing new to report here, just that the existing plants are coming up nicely. In the background, the lilac still hasn’t blossomed. And you can see my sad excuse for a forsythia which I think has actually gotten smaller since I got it about 5 years ago. It was actually just about this size when I first planted it. Each year, it has grown a bit during the warm months and died back a bit over the winter. Forsythia’s are ubiquitous here and I assumed that one couldn’t go wrong with them. Kind of like with Black Eyed Susans. But maybe I got a lemon.

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And here is my main ornamental area in the backyard. I’ve been working to pull the neverending weeds, freshen mulch, and clean up the rock scapes. I procured a new trellis because I wanted to transplant the clematis that’s in the front yard to this space (because I think it would do better back here) but I wasn’t able to make that happen soon enough while it was still dormant.

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Front yard. I love our walkway that Josh installed last month (lower right). And all of the plants that I planted last year are doing well. I’ve placed rocks around some small and tender ones that I want to discourage Milo from crushing with his bulldozer. He really is an amiable kid with such a positive and funny personality, and I’m so happy that he loves playing outside in the dirt. But when it comes to dissuading him from doing something, it’s much better to modify the environment to create physical barriers and inconveniences rather than asking him not to do something. So, rocks around plants I don’t want him to crush.

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And here’s just the other side of the front yard. This past weekend, Milo helped me spread our compost on the ornamental areas and he did a great job. He helped me shovel the compost into the wheel barrow and then helped scatter compost. It was so cute because he kept saying things like, “This is hard work!” “There’s so much work to do!” and “I’m working hard!”

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I’ll leave you with a photo of the two of us at the local ‘March for our Lives’ last month.

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Garden – March 2018 Update

Overall, we’ve had a nice winter this year. It’s been warmer than usual and relatively dry, both of which have been conducive to spending a good amount of time working in the yard and garden. We have had different batches of snow come through as well as cold snaps, but in general Milo and I have been able to spend many many more weekends than normal puttering outside.

So, Milo is at the most fun age right now. The past couple of years, he hasn’t been old enough to really play in the garden or help me with the work, so my gardening efforts were limited and fairly unsuccessful. Now, he loves being in the garden with me, whether he is playing in the dirt doing his own thing or actually helping me.

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Arguably, Milo truly has been helpful in the garden. Yes, as evidenced above and below, he does enjoy playing in the dirt in which I am growing plants, but he has been mindful about not destroying my plants. But even more than that, he is a good helper.

Several weeks ago, he helped me dig up the potatoes that I didn’t have time to dig last fall. And that was the perfect example to contrast last year’s lack of success in the garden with this year’s productivity. He honestly was very helpful in digging up the potatoes and we were able to get the project completely done. He has also been helping me to clean up the debris on all of my garden beds.

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Above, here is Milo playing with his construction vehicles in my asparagus bed. Probably not the best idea to let him do this, but I would prefer to encourage a love of digging in the dirt over retaining an intact asparagus bed. I’m sure many gardeners would be shocked at this perspective, but asparagus I can replant. Right now, fostering a love of gardening in my son I feel is so much more worthwhile.

Other gardening tasks I have accomplished include:

  • Direct sowing to beds of sugar snap peas
  • Cleaning up the overwintered beets and chard – – I’ve even been harvesting some chard the last several months
  • Caught up on so much garden clean up – trimmed back perennials, raked leaves, etc.

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Above, this is a random silly picture – – Milo thought he’d be able to crawl through my tomato cages.

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I do have a good start on my seed starting. Milo has been helping me with these as well. Initially, he helped me to fill the different containers with dirt and gently add seeds and then water. Then we’ve been watching the seedlings grow and he’s been helping to water them. It’s a cool science project to share with him.

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We’ve also been working on a lot of landscaping and ornamental gardening projects. Above, this is our dirt mound in the front yard that Milo loves rolling his trucks on. I managed to bring out a haul of landscaping rocks that we found buried in our back yard several years ago. I’m still trying to figure out where to place them.

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Another project that Josh has been working on has been installing a walkway next to our driveway. It’s about 90% complete.

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In the backyard, I’ve continued to work on this flower bed that I started last year. I also laid several layers of cardboard on an area that I want to get rid of grass.

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Front yard again, our lovely neighbor across the street gave me a ton of ornamental plants that I’ve added to the front yard. For example, that bit of ornamental grass in the foreground of the above picture (obviously, is dormant for the winter). I’ve bought oodles and oodles of flower seeds that I’m going to scatter over all of our dirt areas in the front yard and I’m so excited for this to become a colorful wonderland.

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The weather is predicted to be in the mid 50’s this weekend and I’m looking forward to spending many many hours working in the dirt.