31 August 2012

Football

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It's football fever around here.  Both boys are playing football this season - Christopher plays full pads with the school's "Little Gridiron" program and PeterXavier is playing flag football.  PeterXavier had a game last night and made a pretty good run.

28 August 2012

Busy Times

School is in full swing here and we are finding our new normal.  It's more than a little wild though.  PeterXavier started Kindergarten this year.  He loves it.  Everyday he comes home and says school was "awesome" and when asked what he learned says "nothing".  My mother wisely pointed out that this means he's having so much fun he doesn't realize he is learning.  I like that explanation.

As wonderful as kindergarten is, it has added one more schedule to the mix.  We are basically running on Christopher's traditional school schedule, Grace's home school schedule, and PeterXavier's kindergarten schedule.  Throw in naps (not really happening, but a girl can pretend), big kid football, and flag football and you have a bit of a wild ride.

Oh, and did I mention that we got rid of one of our cars?  Andrew's car died and we were left wondering what to do.  Buying a truck was strongly considered, but that's expensive so many levels - initial cost, registration, taxes, insurance, and then gas to make the thing run.  Yikes!

So we bought a bike.*

Best. Decision. Ever.

Ask me again in January, but right now, I am loving this set up.  We are blessed to live very close to everything as well as in a town with great public transportation.  Also, biking is becoming much more prominent in our area, making it that much safer.  Andrew tries to bike or bus to work each day and the kids and I are biking all over.


It's great to chat as we ride, share in the challenge of a tough hill climb, and listen to screeches and screams as we glide down a hill.  It's also fun for us to stop and chat with people as we pass by, talk to each other as we stop for a water break, or cheer each other on when the going gets tough.

(*My beloved Ute was purchase used from our local bike shop - I certainly didn't pay sticker price.  I don't want anyone to follow that link and think I'd lost my marbles)
**Also, Avila does not ride on the deck as pictured above!  Andrew built me a stoker bar and Avi was pretending to test it out.

19 July 2012

Seven Quick Takes

I realize quick takes are usually on Friday, but if I don't seize the moment, it won't ever happen.

I.
This has been a super busy week of errand running and general craziness.  Christopher had football camp every morning, which was actually quite the blessing.  He loved every minute of it and had a great time.  Bonus: it got us up and out of the house early so we could get our busy-ness out of the way early in the day.

II.
School shopping is d.o.n.e.  The boys have all of their supplies, shoes, and uniforms.  PeterXavier is super excited to start school like his big brother. Early completion of school supply shopping short of a miracle, as I am not usually finished with a task a month in advance!  But it had to be finished before . . .

III.
Christopher leaves for Italy on Monday!  Ahh!  And returns about six hours before school starts for the year.  So I pretty much had to be ready for the beginning of school half way through the summer!

IV.

  It turns out that there is a lot more to shipping your child over seas without you than just getting a passport.  I ended up printing numerous "Permission to Travel" documents and having them notarized.  Hopefully no one thinks my parents are trying to steal him.

V.
My sweet little niece is being baptized tomorrow.  Along with that celebration, we are throwing in about four birthdays to celebrate as well.  I have to laugh that my family can never have a celebration for just one thing.  We always find so much more to celebrate!  Since Christopher and my dad will be in Rome for their birthdays, we'll eat our cake with them tomorrow :)

VI.
Are all four year olds this whiney??  Oh boy.

VII.
I feel like we've been trapped inside by heat for weeks!  On this afternoons agenda - pizza and a movie!  I think everyone deserves a treat after this busy week.

12 July 2012

A Slightly Disjointed Crazy Summer ReCap

We're half way through summer and I'm still trying to find those "lazy days"!  We've been so busy, but all in a good way.  This week and last we've had swimming lessons every morning.  It makes for a busy morning, but the kids are having fun (finally!  it started out a little rough) and it forces us to get moving on our day.



Yesterday, the kids wanted to practice their new skills at my uncles pool.  Turns out, we weren't the only ones!  Lots of cousins showed up and it turned into a fantastically fun afternoon!  Not only do I have a great family, but they all have great spouses and their kids are friends with mine, so it works very well.




I've been wanting a wicker basket for my bike for a while now, but who wants to shell out $50??  Last night I had a genius idea to make my own!  So this morning I biked to the nearby thrift store and got this basket for $1... a little ribbon and some buckles from me stash and easy - peasy basket!


Oh!  Back to my cousins . . . the youngest cousin was married last Friday and Grace was one of her flowergirls.  It was a beautiful wedding and Hope was, hands down, the CUTEST bride ever.

10 June 2012

Happy Birthday, Avila!

Our sweet Avi turned two today! 

How did she grow so fast?  She went so quickly from a bright eyed babe to a running, climbing-everything-in-sight, giggling little girl!

She's such a cheerful little girl, bringing sunshine to our family everyday!
Happy Second Birthday, Avila Josephine!

(Photo #2 credit goes to Uncle Morton and his fancy-dancy new iPhone!)

06 June 2012

Where'd she go?

I know I've been MIA around the blog lately.  Today, I'm over at Tailor Made Mama talking all about babywearing!

Our busy summer is charging along at full force already.  Four kids have a track meet tonight - fun times!

22 May 2012

Urban Farming - Looking UP

In our urban garden, we are definitely lacking space.  We have taken out all of our grass to make room for productive plants, but we still need to utilize whatever we can.  Growing UP can be a huge benefit for the urban farmer who is short on space, but long on ambition.


Posts have been dropped into some of the cinder blocks which are not home to strawberries.  There are four posts, standing about seven feet high.  I will criss-cross wire between the posts to make a screen on which various plants can grow.


The plan is to trellis the grapes, blackberries, and raspberries across the post and wires.  I love this concept and that will certainly be the plan for the long run.  But berries and grapes will take their time growing across that ten foot expanse.

(My little gardener, tending some seedlings)

So, for this year, I planted 14 green bean plants (Kentucky Wonder and Burpees Stringless) in the cinder blocks flanking each post.  My hope is that the fast growing beans will create the desired screen for this summer.  Of course, I'll be happy to have all of those beans to eat, freeze, and can as well!

18 May 2012

Seven Quick Takes - Random and Unconnected

I.
I know school isn't out yet, but it sure feels like it should be!  I am having a tough time trudging through these last few weeks with Grace and finishing up projects with Christopher.  Only about two more weeks!  We have a lot of summer fun looming on the horizon, so I am really excited.

II.
Earlier this week, we went strawberry picking with Annie and her girls.  It was the perfect day - warm and sunny, with a cool breeze.  Much better than the sweltering conditions of years past.  We have been feasting on strawberries and I really need to freeze the rest.  

III.
May Crowning was a couple weeks ago.  Really, it's one of my favorites.  It is so beautiful!  And look at that handsome server!




IV.
Christopher's school had their "Fine Arts Festival" the other night.  It pleases me greatly that they put such an emphasis on the fine arts, as they seem to be cut from the systems so frequently these days.   The school also has an amazing religious art study, but this was more music and your typical art class.  This mama was proud, though, when her son created a "Purple People Eater" sculpture.  It was amazingly awesome.  One eyed, one horned, and flying (ok, not really, but it had wings!), it was!


V.  
Mother's Day made me the proud owner of this beauty:


True love.  I'm not sure how I live so long without a Big Shot!

VI.


 PeterXavier turned SIX this week!  He is so proud to be such a big boy.  Life was crazy on his actual birthday, so we'll be officially celebrating on Sunday.  Andrew got a great deal on a really nice bike for him. It is the size up from his current bike, which was definitely too small.  He loves to ride with his daddy, so this is the perfect gift.  And now that he's learned to stop before flying into streets, I won't worry too much.


VII. 
I got Christopher a passport the other week.  To save money, I thought I'd just snap the photo myself (find a great editing tool here, and save $15 at the post office!  For some reason, my dad HATED my first shot and made me retake it!  But I admit, the second one is a little better - less like a mug shot!

16 May 2012

Urban Farming - Involving the Children

The kids and I set about creating a tiered herb garden yesterday afternoon.  This project was inspired by one in the book The Ultimate Step-by-Step Kid's First Gardening Book.  The book is fabulous and brimming with wonderful, kid friendly gardening ideas.

This project is perfect for kids of all ages.  I had an 8 year old, 5 year old, and 4 year old helping, plus a 2 year old watching on.  We modified the plans a bit to accomidate our meager budget!  Instead of pretty terra cotta pots of varying sizes, I found some plastic and metal pots in the dollar bins at Target (small, medium, and large.  Make sure they'll nest).  They aren't as pretty, but they'll serve our purpose well.  I am also banking on the herbs growing large and hiding the pots a bit.

First things first, make sure you have the right tools gathered.  We had our three nesting pots, a bag of soil, a trowel, some seeds, and a few small herbs.  We chose basil, thyme, lemon balm, chamomile, and curly parsley.  There is a bit room for more, but that's what we had.  Steer clear of mint, as it grows rampant and will take over your pots!  Have fun choosing your favorite herbs or try new varieties.  There are so many to choose from.



After we gathered our tools, we set the medium sized pot inside the largest pot and filled in all around with potting soil.  We had a few herbs that were already a bit large, but mostly we had seeds (trying to be economical!!).  We planted a couple types of seeds and a couple larger plants in this bottom tier. 



We filled in a bit more and then set the smallest pot into the middle one and filled in around it.  We planted a few more herbs in our middle pot.


We then filled the top pot with soil and planted a lovely bit of curly parsley to crown our herb garden.


This fun project was quick and easy!  It was perfect for including all of the children and gave them a real sense of ownership in our garden.


Try this project with your own little ones!  Keep it in a sunny place and let them water it each day.  Very soon, their own herbs will be gracing the kitchen!

I am really enjoying this "Urban Farming" series.  I would LOVE to have you join in, either with comments or links to your own posts in the combox, so that we can all see other peoples adventures in Urban Farming!

14 May 2012

Urban Farming - Cinder Block Strawberries

 The kids and I went strawberry picking with cousins this morning.  We went to our favorite local orchard and had a great time.  My kids always pick tons of strawberries!

As fun as it was and as much as I love supporting local small farms, I can't wait until we have our own productive strawberry patch!  I am sure we will always go to the orchard for large quantities to put up for the winter, but we look forward to our little patch producing.


We have a total of 12 strawberry plants right now (I only had six, but last night when I came home from our Mother's Day picnic, there were six more on my backyard table!  Thanks to my wonderful neighbors for plants AND garden planning!).  I planted a few in the sunny front yard, but the remaining are in the "Cinder Block Strawberry Patch" in our side yard.  Our driveway is separated from the neighboring  apartments by a beat up row of cinder blocks.  In an effort to beautify and produce, we are planting strawberries in the hole of the cinder blocks.  I am setting plants in about every third hole and filling the remaining holes with soil and compost.  Strawberries send out shoots and grow new plants, so we are hoping that the blocks will one day be filled in with many beautiful strawberry plants!


08 May 2012

Urban Farming - Hugelkultur

After letting our house sit on the market for well over a year with nary a nibble, we decided to bring the farm to the city.  Urban farming, if you will.  But, lack of soil makes that difficult!  My neighbor suggested something called Hugelkultur and then this weekend, he started collecting this and that and before we knew it, Andrew's empty planting box was a Hugelkultur system!


This creation is an amazing display of scavenging, reusing, and making do.  Andrew created the planter from old doors destined for the landfill.  It's quite large and when we moved it to the end of the driveway, it now gets tons of sun.


Rotten logs were scavenged from the abandoned house down the street and used as the bottom layer.  The logs will hold moisture, create air pockets, and eventually decompose to create rich soil.  



The logs were lined up to create the bottom layer.



The box is on a slope, so a tarp was positioned to help prevent run-off.  Since this was a free project, it was a pretty sad looking tarp!



Rotting leaves and other plant-stuff was scooped up from the alley to fill in around the logs.


  Then compost soil was placed on top of that.


We had a great deal of child slave labor.  Always a good thing.


This corner is at the alley where the telephone pole is.  Tons of leaves had gathered there over the years and started to decompose.  With a little ingenuity, now it houses a grape vine to grow up the telephone pole and a blackberry bush which will vine across the driveway.


One more layer of soil is needed and then I get the fun job of planting!  I can't wait to see how well this garden produces.


03 May 2012

Needle and ThREAD

I am joining in on Elizabeth Foss' Needle and ThREAD link up this week.  I am doing so in order to TOTALLY SHOW OFF.


But not me.  These are the quilts made by the amazing kids I had at the homeschool co-op this year.  These kids were great - so eager to learn and so hard working.  They did a great job!

As for my reading, it's the same as earlier this week!  We love Kid's First Gardening Book!

02 May 2012

Yarnin' Along, Garden Style


My knitting has slowed lately!  So sad!  I finally started on a sweater for Andrew with yarn I purchased last summer at a fiber fest.  It's a hand dyed, one ply wool and it is seriously delicious.  It's wonderful to knit.  I am using the Jones & Vandermeer Nathan Vest pattern.  It's super easy, but turns out a classy sweater vest.



My mom bought the kids a fabulous gardening book:  Kids First Gardening Book  This is definitely our new favorite book!  As I write, the kids are making a "wormery" with Andrew.  This afternoon, the kids and I made a fun herb planter.  This book is chocked full of wonderful gardening ideas!  So fun.

We've been gardening like crazy people here on our tenth of an acres urban plot.  If you want an eight year olds perspective, Grace is blogging it at www.graceblog03.blogspot.com

(Yarning Along with Ginny!  Go check out the other great entries!)

01 May 2012

Milestones!

It seems that, at the ripe old age of 22 months, Avila is potty trained.  My kids have been all over the board with potty training, but she is definitely the youngest.  I credit this to cloth diapers, cheering older siblings, and ample doses of naked time.

With the youngest two kids, we have approached this different.y  Not that we ever went about potty training with rewards and punishment or any other crazy games.  We've always been really lax, but with these two girls, (the two earliest to ditch the dipes) we have been even more lax.  How can you get upset when a 22 month old has an accident??  So basically, she ran around in the buff, we praised her when she went, said "oops" when she didn't, and in no time, she pretty much got it.  Easy peasy!

For the first time, I think ever, we have no one in diapers!  Crazy!  Avi can hand down her basket of diapers to her new little to-be-born cousin!

This evening, I ran out and bought her some new tiny undies (size 2T - so cute!!).  She was so proud of them that she insisted on wearing every single pair at the same time!

30 April 2012

A Beautiful First Holy Communion


Is there anything sweeter than a First Holy Communion?  Grace celebrated hers this weekend and it was wonderful!



Grace at the grotto before Mass.




Grace with Father after Mass


This family picture was the best we could do . . . not great!  Bella was mad and PX had so much energy, he was threatening to explode.


I loved that all of the severs were the big brothers of the First Communicants.  It was so sweet to see!

16 April 2012

Busy as Bees this Weekend

We had a busy,but fun-filled weekend.  Grace was thrilled to be invited to her new friends roller skating birthday party.  She had never been roller skating before, so it was quite an adventure.



Sunday we went to the annual "Bug Bowl" at Purdue.  There are many educational and cultural benefits to living next to a University and Bug Bowl is one of them!  We all learned so much and had a really great time.  Bella was even chosen to be a Cockroach Jockey at the Cockroach Races!  She was too shy to go up on her own, so I had to join her.


Andrew discovered the PU Butcher Shop and bought a stash of beef jerky.  Avila approved :)

We also learned all about beekeeping, something we have been pining over for a while now.  It just might be time to jump on the bandwagon.  Purdue offers wealth of information to the aspiring beekeeper as well!

M exciting score of the day was when I convinced Andrew to attend the sheep shearing demo and ask if he could have the wool (for his crazy wife).  We smelled like barn for the rest of the day as we hauled our enormous stash of wool around, but it was totally worth it!

Sunday evening we attended a fundraiser dinner for the Wabash Valley Youth Symphony.  It's an annual dinner held at a locally owned Indian restaurant.  The food is amazingly yummy AND they do free henna!  Annie and Martin went with us and we had so much fun.  The henna girl had to yell at me once for laughing too much and thus shaking and making her job a little more difficult.  


10 April 2012

Easter Baskets


 I mentioned before that I participated in an Easter craft swap over at This Cosy Life.  It was great fun!  I made knitted wool eggs and peg gnomeys.  When I went to take pictures, my batteries died after one shot.  So this pretty crummy shot is all I have!


 In return, I got a great stash of handmade creations.  They were used to fill the Easter "baskets" for the kids.


 Actually, in lieu of baskets this year, I used potted plants.  It was a fantastic comprimise!  I despise Easter grass, so I have been trying to come up with a viable alternative.


 I love the idea of growing pots of real grass, but I seriously lack the organization and forethought to make something like that a reality.


 Pretty purple potted pansies was the perfect solution!  I think this will be out new tradition.  The kids loved getting their very own flowers.  It was so fun and sweet to tuck gnomes and felt eggs under the flower leaves!


 Of course, when you pot them at 10:30 the night before, some kids get coffee cans or plastic cups instead of really pots!  Hopefully next year I'll do a better job!


 The kids looked lovely at Mass.  The girls wore their dresses from my brother in laws wedding last spring.  Thankfully, Christopher served Mass and it didn't matter so much when we discovered that his dress shirt was way too small . . . about 15 minutes before he had to be at the church.


 After Mass, we headed to my parent's for food and an egg hunt.  The cousins all had fun romping around in search of eggs!


Easter was also Izzy's fourth birthday!  Grace made special ice cream sundaes for everyone to celebrate.