Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Gardening Update



While walking up and down the aisles at the home improvement store for treehouse supplies, I decided it was time to start on our garden boxes as well. With some online help, I head out by myself one morning to get the supplies. I originally intended to make just three boxes, but Dave convinced me to make six. In our climate, raised beds are not preferred, but rather many recommend sunken garden plots. Since we were not confident in our soil (nothing was growing in the yard and didn't look like it had for years), we decided to start with raised beds until our soil has been amended well.

With a drill, measuring tape, level, and screws I built the six boxes. Eamon helped a bit with the construction, holding pieces as I drilled. Once built I checked our local permaculture group for help finding a good soil mix. It was delivered the next day. I shoveled until I had filled the beds. The kiddos each helped with this part. Jasmine just helped dig and roll in the dirt. I have a plan for planting, but first we need to run a bit of irrigation to the boxes. I am excited for this next growing season. My winter garden in pots did not do so well.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Tree-less Treehouse













Before moving into this house, the kiddos made a list of things they wanted in their next home. The number one request was animals. Their desires ranged from snake to rabbit to cat to dog. Now that we have Jasmine in our home and no plans to add any more animals any time soon, it was time to move down the list. The next must-have was a treehouse. In December we began working on this request in earnest.

The first issue with our plan was our backyard. Our current backyard has no trees suitable for a swing let alone a treehouse. Dave started making some sketches and came up with an idea. He conferred with the kiddos, watched a lot of youtube videos and drew several iterations before arriving at the best design. Armed with his plan, we hit the home improvement store. Our first job was to dig six holes with an auger. The machine was very powerful, but at times the caliche in our soil was stronger. With Dave and me on the handles, we were jostled and spun around by the machine. Finally we had the holes. The kiddos helped Dave set the six poles for our platform. Soon we had cross beams and floor joists. The past few weekends, Dave has worked on the walls, sketching his design, heading to the store and putting them up with help from the the rest of us. In between our other commitments, the tree-less treehouse has taken form. We now have four walls. Dave is now researching the roof. In the meantime, we plan on building the railing and putting up planking on the outside of the walls. We are very excited, because soon it will be finished!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Busy Weekends

The past few weeks have been busy. It seems as if the momentum of the year end rolls right through the beginning of the next. Each week as well as weekend in January was filled this year. We had a baby shower, several birthday parties, hiking, visitors, garden box making with Grandma, musical performances, dog obedience classes, lunch dates, and Eamon's last gardening class. This weekend was no exception.

The weekend began with a trip to The Farm at South Mountain. This farm nestled in a pecan grove provided the perfect setting for a few families from our homeschool group to gather. Some ate breakfast  while others arrived later. The kiddos ran through the groves and then gathered at the picnic benches to draw, paint and color. They each crafted some artist trading cards to share. When it came time to trade, Aine decided she loved her design so much, she would keep it. Benton chose to skip much of the artwork and build fairy houses instead complete with pecan hull beds. We then collected a few nuts to take home before heading to another event.


Saturday came very early for Eamon and me. We headed out of town for Eamon's first dog show with 4-H. He currently borrows a leader's dog for class, so he could not compete for ribbons. Although he is eager to start training with our new dog, Jasmine, she is still young. She will start attending 4-H classes this month to get a jump-start on training (she and Eamon go to obedience classes already; this will just be more in depth). For the show, Eamon and I were stewards. Eamon volunteered at the Showmanship and Obedience rings. He called the participants, helped explain the process, showed them the heel course, and helped the judges. I mostly stood to the side and helped when an additional body was needed. My major contribution was standing still acting as a post during the figure 8 exercise. We also helped tally the scores for each member according to the Danish system and watched for any errant dogs during the leash free exercises. Eamon loved it. He cannot wait to participate with his own dog. I think attending this show really helped clarify what he needs to do for 4-H. It took out a lot of the mystery from the process.

Once we returned home, Eamon left with Dave for his date day. They went to dinner and a late movie. Eamon loved the movie. They saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 at the discount theater. His favorite parts included leeks and funny jokes involving leak versus leek. The other kiddos and I had a quick dinner and settled down to watch Aine's movie pick, Babes in Toyland. She and Benton loved it. I must admit that I read a bit of my book during the show. Although I often had to stop and look at the dancing and costumes based on Aine's directions.

Sunday came early again as we set out for the Amazing Arizona Comic convention. Dave and the kiddos loved the displays. Eamon found his favorite Marvel character, and Dave was able to see the creator of The Walking Dead as well as one of the cast members. Once home, Dave and Benton set out for their date day (a few days early). Based on Eamon's stellar reviews, Benton wanted to see the same movie. He also wanted the same dinner. The only difference was a request for donuts too. The rest of us took a quick walk and had a yummy dinner of roast lamb leg, sweet potatoes and salad followed up by some snuggling on the couch. This week looks a little less hectic, but then we move into our birthday season beginning with Aine's in just eight days!

Friday, January 24, 2014

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

R O O T E D

Strawberry starts for our yard
Just like the past few years, I chose a word to represent my intentions for 2014 (previous years: bloom and stretch). Bloom was perfect for 2013, which entailed flourishing wherever I landed. Last year I made sure I enjoyed the here and now. Our second time in Washington D.C. was full of more adventures and fun. I chose to focus on enjoying the time instead of worrying what would happen when we returned to Arizona. Once we did return, I tried to enjoy our extended stay with my parents while searching for a new home. I am glad we had that time and I know my kiddos very much enjoyed the time with their grandparents. In 2013 Dave and I worked to find a great house for us in Arizona, knowing we wouldn't be leaving the state any time in the near future. We found one and have begun transforming it into our home. Again blooming where we are planted. Creatively I tried something new. I wrote and submitted a few creative non-fiction pieces throughout the year. My work was even included in a couple issues of Kindred magazine as well as our local neighborhood mailer. My father's death later in the year was difficult, but it further reminded me to enjoy today. It was a great reminder to bloom, create and make everyday.

My choice for 2014 continues on the same theme as the past two years. Originally I thought my word for the year was immerse. I wanted to really focus on my surroundings - my family and my community.  However immerse sounded a bit off. As I thought more about it and even helped a friend with her word, I came upon a better word. This year my word is
R O O T E D
I want to continue to root myself in my community. I want to continue making this house our home by working on our backyard-building garden boxes, getting laying hens, planting fruit trees, and building a treehouse. I want to make our home a place we love to be. I want to lay down our roots here. I want to keep focused on my family and children. I really want to do more with them everyday at home by utilizing morning and evening hours even when we are busy, and I am tired. I want to write more and create more. I want to root myself in my loves and continue to bloom.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Just like Last Year


Heather's house
Eamon's house


Aine's house

Benton's house




Our annual gingerbread house decorating went off without a hitch. This year we assembled all sorts of candies and returned to using graham crackers. The kiddos really prefer the open-ended quality of graham crackers. They each requested that we skip the kit this year. Each of us decorated our own house. I went with the traditional look, while each of the kiddos did their own thing. The houses lasted a few more days than last time. This year each of the kiddos ate their own house and they split mine. No more Benton-zilla this time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Best Gift Ever









Yesterday morning when checking the mail slot to see if their wishlists had disappeared, Eamon and Aine discovered a sealed envelope. There was no writing on the front. With a bit of parental prodding, they decided to open it. Inside was a letter from Santa. The letter mentioned the gift last year and how it was a bit late (a cabin weekend in the snow after New Year's). Santa apologized for the crazy schedule and said this year their gift would be early. He provided GPS coordinates, a meeting time and instructions to ask for Jasmine. They would receive their Santa gift today!

With a new afternoon plan, the kiddos and I set out for our scheduled field trip and park day. Theories abounded throughout the morning and early afternoon. They had no idea what the gift could be, but they were excited. Dave arranged to leave work early and meet us at the designated spot. Eamon was concerned that we may not be there right at 4pm due to traffic. He worried about what would happen if we were a minute too late or too early. His worries were not realized, since we pulled up exactly on time with Dave right behind us. Immediately Eamon shouted that we were getting a dog after reading the sign along the street. Aine began jumping with excitement about a dog named "Jasmine." Only Benton was worried, because he has been wanting a yellow dog (lab or golden retriever), which he would call Butterscotch. I finally convinced him to get out of the car, so we could even see what Santa had in store. Dave and I were still not convinced a dog was in the cards for our family!

When we entered the shelter, there was quite a line. As we stood waiting, a tech brought out a puppy with red leash and collar, adorned with a bow and candy cane bandana. She asked if anyone was waiting for this puppy. Aine hurriedly asked what the dog's name was, only to be bowled over when the tech replied, "Jasmine." The rest of the visit was a blur of snuggles and love. Jasmine was quite subdued, still a bit sedated from her earlier spaying. She snuggled up with each of the kiddos enjoying the attention. We signed a few forms, thanked the staff and gave a nod to Santa before heading out the door. All of us were still a bit shocked as we headed home. The kiddos could not believe WE had a dog. They declared her the best Santa gift ever.
Once home, we discovered that Santa had visited again bringing a crate, dog food and bowls. Jasmine was set. Friends came over to meet our new family member. She snuggled with everyone. Each of the kiddos keep holding her proclaiming her the best dog or the cutest. I think I even heard one of them call her "adorbs."
The love fest has continued into today. I think our whole family is glad Santa decided we were ready for a dog. This little 12 week old lab mix puppy is perfect for us.