Cary’s Second Week in (Mostly) Pictures

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Two weeks old!

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It’s hard to believe she’s 11 days old already. It’s even harder to believe that I was pregnant just two weeks ago. She’s such a quiet baby. The past two days she’s started “saying” a bit more, but she’s a sweet girl. So alert and observant!

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She is so peaceful! thumb_img_1775_1024

How we do most of our sleeping at night. thumb_img_1835_1024

And how we do the second leg of sleeping at night. So thankful for a Daddy who helps out in so many ways!

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We finally made it over to Nannie and Pop’s for a visit. thumb_img_1779_1024

They were so happy to finally meet her!

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We had plans of all three “boys” wearing their Super Man shirts for a photo shirt, but umm… well, the new Super MAN never arrived. thumb_img_1807_1024

So, Grammy fixed her shirt and we had a fun little photo shoot to document it. thumb_img_1814_1024

The best moments in the world!

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One of the greatest comforts for all of us during this transition was books. Lots of books! We did a lot of reading together and this was our favorite in those first few weeks.

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Sweet Miss at the end of two weeks!

Family Time with Pepaw and Nonnie

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Pepaw came to see me and I was so excited!

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We took a trip to the Virginia Living Museum after being cooped up for weeks and weeks. Nonnie and Pepaw joined us and the weather could not have been more perfect.

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The boys love having Pepaw in town because he’s not afraid to get on the floor and play with them. Legoes were the activity of choice most of our days together!

Party Like You Just Had a Baby

In those first few weeks after Cary’s birth, I was stir crazy. To say we had cabin fever would have been an understatement of the century. Not only were we cooped up for weeks waiting on her to get here, but afterward I had to heal and give my body time to do recuperate which meant MORE at home time. But we kept busy, and we tried to be creative while creating special moments and memories together.

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I tried to set a beautiful table at least once a day. It wasn’t always fancy or even all that “beautiful” but it was to us. We discovered German Pancakes and it changed our lives! 😉 Breakfast became the highlight of the day when the boys were able to watch the crazy shapes our pancake would take while baking in the oven. Because no two pancakes turn out the same, it was delightful, and memorable, and … even comfortable.

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The boys had a grand time setting up forts and barricades and playing “Army” together. Timmy was thankful for his helmet because he got caught in the line of fire.

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Stabbing a box with an oversized pencil was also the play of choice one day. Boys. That’s all I’m gonna say.

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Before Cary was born, I gathered the stuff for a Caribbean party. We dug out the decorations, glued some sequence and googly eyes on some foam hearts to make fish, and ate dinner outside one night. thumb_img_1705_1024

Nonnie and Pepaw were with us, so it was a nice family affair! thumb_img_1695_1024

Then, of course, we enjoyed snow cones together.

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And all the while, little girl continued to be practically perfect. We nicknamed her Mary Poppins!

A Walk Outside with the Boys (A Mini Garden Update)

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Considering the fact that Cary arrived right in the middle of Spring harvest time, we enjoyed our garden immensely. It’s easy to think that this year was “a failure” again because I wasn’t able to really work or tend to the garden. It was sort of left to itself aside from the enormous amount of work my mom put into it while she was here.

However, the boys loved going out to see what was growing, we all enjoyed endless salads filled with broccoli and cherry tomatoes, and it was encouraging to know we did, in fact, grow food for ourselves again. Even if we aren’t completely self-sufficient. 😛

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This was a disaster. A complete and total disaster. ha! Our peas and green beans above were a little overcrowded, don’t ya’ think?thumb_img_1604_1024 thumb_img_1609_1024

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I look forward to watching these boys grow, and for their SISTER to join them out here next year!

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Cary’s First Week in (Mostly) Pictures

Susannah Cary

Thanks to Nonnie for rushing out to buy little miss some pink clothes! So adorable!

Susannah Cary and Samuel

This little boy was over the moon! This picture was snagged as the overflow of love and joy exploded. He didn’t know I had a camera. This is sheer delight of a five year old boy whose dream for a sister came true today. He looked at her after this and whispered, “A sister and she is ours!”

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The Dutton girls were glad to add another girl to our mix!

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We made it through the first night!

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The snores and snuggles of the first few days are just precious. Slowing down can be hard, but these are moments I will never get back. Soaking them all in right now as we heal and recoup from baby girl’s big entry. This is amazing grace!
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Someone just won’t let me put her down. Shame isn’t it? I tried so hard too. Eh, rest time for everyone this afternoon.

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I think it’s safe to say that her big brothers are over the moon about her!

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I never thought I would be snuggling my own pink. I was content with my occasional snuggles with nieces throughout the years. I was convinced being a boy mom was what I was made to do. But this. Just this. It’s something altogether sweet. It helps that she’s an incredible baby. I know she will eventually “wake up,” but in the meantime, this sweetness is more than I can handle.
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And this right here is what kept labor stalled … That little arm right there. I love the first week or two after babies are born because you get to see all their little womb positions. I cannot count how many times we tried to check her head position only to be confused by that little arm. Ohhh, but she is here now.
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This little girl right is my easiest post partum baby yet (by way of sleep and care, NOT as easy on my body though)! The last few days she’s found a rhythm, and I’ve actually been able to get more sleep than I ever dreamed possible. No, it’s not easy. Yes, I still squeeze in naps and nurse groggy eyed at night, but this girl deserves to be bragged on. I want to remember that she might have taken her merry time getting here, but she came out ready to be a blessing. I think I was wrong about the thumb vs. pacifier. She uses neither to self soothe so far. She loves sleeping in her basket at night swaddled in a thin blanket with a thicker blanket over her feet. She sleeps on her back which has NEVER happened for me. During the day, she still prefers to be held and really sleeps well when I use the Sleepy Wrap and wear her. Last night we went to bed around 11 and woke twice in the night to nurse, every few hours just like she should. Tomorrow she will be one week old, and I have to say, it’s been the best first week yet and it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with that little unique person, fashioned by God, right there.
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I think I finally got a baby who looks like me. I think she’s going to have her Daddy’s hair color though, and if so, I am so jealous. So very, very jealous. I see more red tints everyday, especially if she wears pink.

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A Garden Update {May 2016}

The month of May was filled with gardening, gardening, and more gardening. There was a lot of work to be done on the property, and though most of my time was NOT spent in the actual vegetable garden, I’ve spent enough time there to begin reaping a harvest which is very exciting.

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The oregano, lemon thyme, and chives really took off. They just look pretty out there. I replanted Swiss chard several time in the front bed and back bed to TRY to get something going. I’m still waiting to see what they do. This varmint of ours is quite the beast. He has dug up every single bed several times, but thankfully most of the food has survived him. My Swiss chard is the only thing that can’t seem to withstand him. We’ve just about determined it must be a raccoon.

Anyway, the Rocky Mountain Lettuce Mix in this bed continued to be dismal, but that’s okay. Lesson learned.

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Our trellis did not work like we thought it would and because of all the rain I wasn’t able to really guide my peas the way I wanted to. So it could have been the rain. It could have been the trellis. I do not know, but I do know that I will do a different trellis for my peas next year. Either way we’ve been unclumping peas all month and hoping they do okay. thumb_IMG_1295_1024

The beans have sprouted up nicely as well and are reaching for the trellis. I can’t wait to see what either of these crops produce.

The four spinach plants I got from Walmart ended up doing okay and we had several meals of spinach. I don’t have a picture because they’ve bolted now that the weather has turned blazing hot. They took some serious attention when they went into the bed, but they were worth the effort. I would grow spinach again.

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In the above bed, the front right is a squash plant sprouted. There were supposed to be two but the raccoon demolished the one on the left. I didn’t replant because I was sick and then put on bed rest later for pregnancy stuff. I figured we’d just see what our one plant does this year.

The Parris Island Lettuce, however, has done beautifully. We’ve been harvesting and enjoying salads all month long. Since it was doing so well, we planted some more with our garlic. We figured the garlic would grow a bit larger giving the lettuce a little shade in the month of June when we hope to harvest it.

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Speaking of garlic, it seems to be doing okay too. I cannot figure out if it has scapes yet or not … It’s a bit confusing and I’m tired (still pregnant … ) so I’m just going with it.

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The carrots are bushing up a bit and I’ve been working to keep them thinned. I’ve never been great at thinning my vegetables, but I’m trying really hard this year. It’s such a simple concept, but I often feel like I’m doing it all wrong. ha!

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The broccoli plants are like whoa! They have THOROUGHLY impressed me. I got the plants from Home Depot and we’ve been enjoying baby broccoli in our salads every time I harvest lettuce. I would definitely grow these again! The beets are still growing under there, but I don’t know if they need more sun … time will tell. I didn’t expect the broccoli plants to grow so huge. The above picture was taken with one week left to go in the month and more rain made them grow to almost double the above size. Wow!

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We managed to get four tomato plants in this month. We got them from a local nursery and they are doing fabulous. Again, this was taken before another big rain and all the plants have doubled in size. We will be staking them this month as the fruit begins to grow. Almost all of them have some green tomatoes on them.

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We planted four pepper plants (from Home Depot) and four pickling cucumber plants (bush variety from local nursery).

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The peppers are growing and we’re waiting to see what the cucumbers do. They went in around the first of the month.

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The spearmint is thriving in its little pot.

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The peppermint invites us into the garden nicely. thumb_IMG_1267_1024

And the chocolate mint is equally as inviting and I’m hopeful that in the next year or so it will take over this pot. thumb_IMG_1271_1024

The pineapple sage and cilantro grew out of control – again thank you rain.

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This is a hot mess. I don’t even know what all is in here still. I had to let it all come up this year just to see how it works, but after these flowers bloom I’m getting a hold of this forest. There has been something blooming in here since mid-April but we’ve not enjoyed any of it because it all comes up in big clumps. So this needs some sorting out. My lemon balm and oregano is under there somewhere. Phew!

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And once these day lillies have their moment of glory this summer, I will be thinning this out too. This is SNAKE-VILLE. They may be pretty, but there is just too much of a good thing going on in here. We’ve seen several snakes running to hide here. No thank you. Not this close to where I spend most of my time. 😛

So the month of May brought with it a lot of salads and fresh tea. We’ll see what June brings!

A Garden Update {April 2016}

I forgot to update about the garden in April. We had a lot going on and though my intentions were very, very good, I … well, I just forgot.

But I do have some pictures that I hope will be helpful to my future self when I begin planting again next year. At least I remembered to keep my notebook with dates and seed name and brands, right?

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The herb bed continues to look a bit sparse, but you can see lettuce starting to pop up as well as some Swiss chard (planted in the front closest to us). The lettuce did not all sprout and I won’t buy Rocky Mountain Lettuce again. It has done pretty poorly compared to the other variety of lettuce I planted.

In the containers, I planted lettuce, but we’ve harvest very little from them. I won’t even bother with container gardening next year. I thought it would give visual variety, but the rain and birds destroyed them. Not worth the effort.

The back bed in the above picture – you can see the peas sprouted along with our make shift trellis. Another thing that didn’t really go all that well. The trellis looks great in this picture, but … well, I’ll update in May how it’s doing.

We also had a varmint get into our garden to chase a skink around and ended up digging up several of my peas and the Swiss chard along the right hand side of the back bed. I replanted in the hopes that we’d have the amount of peas we wanted and I really wanted to try my hand at Swiss chard.

The spinach on the left of this bed looks a little sad but I added some fertilizer and bone meal to the soil and I think we might get some spinach after all.

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Our Parris Island lettuce is coming up very, very nicely! It’s doing much better than the Rocky Mountain lettuce mix. This is exciting because I’ve never had a great harvest of lettuce. Fingers crossed.

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It’s hard to see, but there are SPROUTS for our carrots. With all the rain, I was worried my seeds were just washed away, but it looks like most all of them took. I look forward to thinning them in a few weeks.

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Our broccoli plants that I put in for an experiment looks great. They have really grown!

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Broccoli is even starting fruit. Exciting!

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The beets have sprouted and almost ready for me to come through to thin. I planted them in with the broccoli so we’ll see how they do.

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The garlic continues to grow and the base is looking much more sturdy this month.

We built our other two beds, but I don’t have a picture. You’ll see them next month though!

 

Gardening 2016 {March}

Gardening is something I discovered a deep love for in Colorado. I’ve always loved fields of wildflowers, streams of water with lush vegetation growing alongside it, botanical gardens, and fruit trees, but I never thought I would ever be able to create this sort of beauty myself.

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Then God moved us to Virginia and nestled us on a hill of two acres of land previously owned by a master gardener. What a joy that we get to invest deeply into this land – weeding, raking, mulching, and watering to cultivate beauty all around us.

Our bones ache (especially my 8 months pregnant ones), but every night I turn into bed with a deep satisfaction that I did something today that truly mattered. Mattered to my family and mattered to the beautiful creation God has given us. There is just something primal and rooted in partaking and contributing to the first work ever started on this land.

Nature is a place that I feel most alive and I don’t know if it has to do with simply how God created me uniquely or just simply the way we’re all created, but there is a worship of Him and an awe of Him that happens nowhere else for me than when my hands are in soil or observing a bee pulling nectar or listening to the birds sing a simple song of thanksgiving.

Mark and I started our first ever garden when we lived in a two-story town home nestled in the woods of Tennessee.

Our first attempt at vegetable and herb gardens

I will never forget that initial investment into learning the ropes of container gardening – actually mostly learning just how hard it is to grow vegetables and herbs! They say it’s easy, but God says it’s work. You can’t expect it to be anything short of hard work to reap a harvest of food for your family. The watering alone can wear your bones thin and leave you panting in the heat of summer. We learned this truth the hard way. Never again will I expect to reap a harvest without blood, sweat, and tears to boot.

We learned a lot from our over-ambitious container garden, and took those lessons with us to Colorado where we attempted to grow our own food in the summer of 2013.

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Sam wasn’t much older than Timmy is now when we tried our hand at a raised bed garden. We observed our neighbors the year before pulling in a harvest of lettuce and rhubarb and peas and we thought, “Why can’t we do this?”

So, the next Memorial Day weekend, I made a plan for a new garden (you can see what we planted here). Again, I found myself more frustrated than successful, but again I learned more about growing vegetables and made hasty notes here and there throughout the summer.

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We very successfully grew garlic and peas that year. As a matter of fact, we had the biggest, most voluptuous peas on the block (several families in our neighborhood had small garden beds, so we all shared notes and stories all summer long!).

We ate a few strawberries fresh off the vine and even enjoyed several salads complete with a radish or two. We enjoyed a butterfly garden and herbs, and added another small bed to cultivate the next year. We planted a grape vine and apple trees, and boy did we enjoy the beautiful flowers native to the area that we were able to snag from discount bins and occasionally the full price splurge.

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Of course, God moved us and we never got to enjoy the additions to our small postage stamp piece of land, but that’s neither here nor there. We continued to work and invest and learn. A lot. We learned a lot.

Now, here we are – planting time again in a new town, a new zone (7b to be exact), and a beautiful kitchen garden just waiting for us to give vegetable gardening another go!

This is our first year in our new home and we look forward to developing this land into our simple vision of sustainable living. There is no shortage of ideas, but first … the vegetable garden.

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This is what the kitchen garden looked like when we moved it. It was a whole lot of growth … overgrowth! And weeds … and overgrowth. Did I say that already?

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But I knew that a little lot weeding, tending, and hard work, it would give us a chance at growing our own food the next year! the entire area is fenced in and apart from a few repairs, I think we should be able to keep out the rabbits and other critters that like to eat from our garden. This reminds me, we do need to add a scarecrow.

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With the help of the boys (big and small), we’ve done a lot of work to clear the beds, fertilize, weed, rearrange, and manage.

On the right hand side, I added edging fence to help us know where to keep the plants contained. Growing on the far right of the fence are various bee and butterfly attracting flowers along with oregano and lemon balm. To be honest, I don’t know what all is in there … we’ll have to wait and see. In the containers, I’ve planted cool weather lettuce and will be adding Swiss chard to the middle pot tomorrow.

There are currently five raised beds left from the previous owners. Three in the middle and two along the backside.

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The first one (on the right) is an herb bed. The previous owners left some healthy oregano and chives. I did split off the oregano and added it to the edging for cover last fall, but it still crept back into this bed which is fine. It’s smaller and more manageable! There is a sad sprout of rosemary thinking about coming up along with lemon thyme growing in the far back right corner. I added lettuce to the bed just today, and will be adding some Swiss chard tomorrow.

The second bed currently has something growing that smells like mosquito repellent which was left from the previous owners. I need to make a positive identification on this one. I’ve added carrots and lettuce, and will add pole beans after the threat of frost has passed. I’m hoping the timing of the lettuce and beans will work out the way I want it to giving me room to plant more beans after we harvest the lettuce.

The bed along the backside is waiting on peas to go in (seeds are soaking) and I’m experimenting with some spinach. I’ve never successfully grown spinach, so I got a few plants to see if I can’t toy with them this year and maybe get one successful plant at least! I’ve already discovered the soil is nitrogen deficient, and I’ve treated the area in hopes of saving my poor little seedlings. Thankfully peas will replenish nitrogen in the soil so that will help the bed for future planting!

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The third center bed grew a few nice tomatoes last year. This year I wanted to try broccoli so I added it to this bed. Broccoli and spinach are my two experimental plants. I’ve never successfully grown either, so we’ll see. I was very intentional about only allowing myself two plants that I’ve never tried before or had success with. I’ve learned my lesson about taking on too many new plants at one time.

So there are nine broccoli plants that were already started for me in this bed and I will be adding beets tomorrow. I did some reading about companion planting and the two are supposed to grow well together. We shall see! Beets were my borderline plant … I’ve planted them before and had zero luck. But looking back at pictures, I realize now that I didn’t thin them properly or feed them enough. Since we LOVE beets, I want to figure this one out, so I went ahead and got the seeds. Mark gave me the look when I told him … I thought you were only going with two experimental plants? *ahem*

The back bed currently has garlic growing. I used some organic garlic from Trader Joe’s which might be a no-no. I don’t know. They weren’t “planting” bulbs, but they’re growing so … maybe it worked?

The container there on the left has chocolate mint growing in it. I’m not sure this will stay. We love chocolate mint, but I might find a smaller pot for it, or let it be ground cover somewhere else. I’m not sure yet. I might need the pot for rhubarb. Decisions, decisions …

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This section was filled with purple cone-flower last year. Which I have to admit was very pretty and attracted loads of butterflies. You can see it in the background in the first picture of the kitchen garden (the one that screams OVERGROWTH!).

But look at all that space that could be used for food! We’ve decided to relocate as much of the cone-flower as we can to other areas of our home (we have 2 acres to play with), and add a couple more raised beds. We have a blackberry bush that might work along the fence line (this is likely wishful thinking, but we’re going to try), and the additional bed will allow us to plant some tomatoes and peppers.

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There are so many beautiful flowers growing along the fence line (both sides) and I plan to pepper a few more throughout the garden in containers that I don’t think eliminating the cone-flower overgrowth will matter too much for pollination. I imagine this section will take us a couple of years to get right though.

Side note: The above picture was just last summer. How have the boys already grown so much? I can’t wait to snag a picture this June of them standing in this exact spot! Sam was 4 and Timmy wasn’t quite 2 yet.

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In Colorado I had quite the herb selection going. I’ve been collecting plants here and there as my grocery budget allows and right now I have parsley and basil. I’m watching the temperature religiously to protect my basil …

To recap (for personal inventory), the herbs I currently have growing:

  • Sweet Basil
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Lemon Balm ( my favorite so please Lord let this one grow!)
  • Oregano
  • Onion chives
  • Garlic chives
  • Rosemary (trying really hard to live)
  • Chocolate mint
  • Echinacea (need to figure out how to harvest and use)
  • Something that smells like mosquito repellent

Herbs I want to add to the garden:

  • Pineapple sage
  • Peppermint
  • Catnip
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary (a healthy plant)
  • Thyme (not lemon)
  • Chamomile

I suspect that we might have an elderberry bush growing wild, but I don’t trust my judgment just yet. If so I want to take care of it and hopefully harvest some of the berries for next cold and flu season.

The blue and red pots in the picture above are strawberries that came back from a random planting last year when we lived with the in-loves. I would love to get a nice row of strawberries growing somewhere on the property, but first I have to figure out how to keep birds and other animals away. Or at least know how many I need to plant to ensure enough fruit for all of us. There’s still too much I don’t know about strawberry growing to waste the few strawberries the boys might enjoy from these little babies. The joy on their faces when they get to pluck a strawberry is worth waiting to learn more.

That’s what we have growing food-wise right now. That I know of. Ha! There’s still so much of this property yet to be discovered. We are still identifying trees, bushes, and flowers.

I smell something like peppermint growing in one of the back side yards, but I can’t seem to pinpoint where or what. I’ll try to get a full tour of the property soon, but I needed to make sure I recorded our kitchen garden for now. I’ll be using this blog to keep track of all the changes we make in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Like I said, we have big dreams for the property that include fruit trees, more food, and even chickens … But the kitchen garden first. That’s all we’re taking on this year. It’s not like I’ll be adding another little boy to the mix in about 6-8 weeks or anything. I know one thing – at the very least all this work has my body strong and ready for labor. 🙂

American Symbols Book

I just realized I never finished this post. I started it but got busy and forgot to come back … So, it’s a little late and Presidents Day was actually last month, but oh well!

We just finished a small project that we’ve been working on for a couple of weeks.

With Presidents Day being last week, I thought it would be fun to focus on some of the American symbols.

It was a fun introduction to U.S. History for Sam, and Timmy just enjoyed being a part of it all.

I created the worksheets for us with the idea that we’d compile it all into a book at the end. I thought they turned out really cute, and we are all very proud of them.

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So, each day we read a non-fiction book, or we just did a search on the Internet for some basic facts if our library didn’t have any books on the symbol. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find a book for each symbol, but it was a hidden gift because it was also a good introduction to the Internet and doing research. Silver lining, right?

American Symbols

We started out defining what a symbol means as well as the definition of American Symbol.

American Symbols

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Then each of them colored a picture of the United States of America. I helped Timmy colors his because he asked me to.

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Then we talked about the state we live in within the United States and pasted it underneath our United States Map.

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Sam has been asking a lot of questions about the Statue of Liberty lately. I don’t remember where he saw her picture first, but ever since noticing her, he’s been asking about her. This has led to a fun discussion about New York City and our dream of going some day. We live close enough to be able to make a weekend of it sometime, but we need to save some money first. I look forward to visiting one day though!

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I think learning about the American Flag was most fascinating to them and quickly applicable for them. Both boys spot American Flags everywhere now, and it’s been especially fun to hear Timmy yelling, “FLAG!” from the back of the car when we’re riding down the road.

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Timmy drew another Eagle on his piece of paper when I was helping Sam fill in his facts sheet one day. I was thoroughly impressed and he was thoroughly pleased with himself when I discovered what he had done!

Also, another thing to note here is that the majority of our reading time about Bald Eagles was done in the bathroom. Sam and I sat on the edge of the tub while Timmy sat on the potty … oh, potty training and homeschooling …

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This was one of the symbols that I couldn’t find a single fact book on. So, we did some internet searching and learned what we could.

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I hope to take the boys to see the White House soon. We live too close not to go! But first, we need to get little brother out into the world. This pregnant mama isn’t walking around D.C. right now.

mount rushmore

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This was the last American Symbol that we did. We talked about landmarks and we recalled our trip to South Dakota a couple of years ago. Mount Rushmore completely fascinates both boys. It also allowed us to talk about the Presidents.

I had plans to do another series on the Presidents, but I didn’t want to exhaust the boys. So, I saved it all for next year.

We had so much fun and learned so much together. It was a fun discussion on symbolism and what America stands for.

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Helpful Websites for Homeschool

I find things that I want to save often, but never remember where I saved them to. So, I’m going to use this page to keep track of those helpful websites that I want to refer back to!

Note: I will update this as I find resources.

Curriculum

Ambleside Online – A great resource for a Charlotte Mason Education. There are book lists, suggested course of study, and more!

Math

Math Drills – Free math worksheets that make reviewing math facts much easier!

Math-U-See – Free online drills for math. You can choose the facts you want to review and it’s timed so you can practice beating your score.

Math-U-See Worksheets – Free worksheets you can generate for each level of math.

More Math-U-See Resources – More facts sheets and additional worksheets to go along with activity book.

Arithmetic Games – Speed game that gives you two minutes to get as many facts correct as possible.

Literacy

Daily Literacy Bundle – These are great for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. We already own these and have been using the set 1 with much success. Going to save the other ones for a new school year after we’ve done more focused handwriting practice with Sam.

Organization

How to Organize Your Homeschool Curriculum – 5-Step System that is simple and works with the way I think. Good reference as the boys grow older.

How to Create a Homeschool Course of Study – Another good reference when doing yearly planning.