Sunday, March 28, 2010

Distractions

Well, still no baby yet, but I have been successfully distracting myself for the past few days, so that's good news!

On Wednesday, AnnaMarie and I took the kids to the free zoo and had a great time, despite the downright frigid morning windchill. At least a lot of it is inside! Calvin loved seeing all the animals and is now in love with giraffes, Ryan was completely obsessed with all of the toys hanging in the animals' cages (milk jugs, stuffed animal hangers, basketballs) and spent the entire time asking the same questions over and over about each new object, so that was fun! Seriously, he never stops talking. Maybe you think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. Also funny was when we were over near the lion and tiger exhibit and a zoo worker lady was showing the kids a display with tiger skin, a lion paw, and lots of informational stuff about the animals. Ryan listened intently for a few seconds and then stepped around to her side of the display cart and very seriously said, "But what I really want to know is, WHAT ARE THOSE FOR???!!!" He was referring to a clipboard holding a chart and a pencil that was on a shelf. I think it was her time sheet or something. What a strange kid.

On Thursday, AnnaMarie came over and helped me make some freezer meals so that I'll be stocked up (at least as much as possible with our freezer space...), so that was great! We made yummy lasagna and cooked and shredded a whole bunch of chicken. I had planned more meals to make but forgot to buy a few things, so I guess I'll have to finish that up later :) Anyways, the kids played well together and it was just nice to hang out in a quiet house while they all ran around the back yard! Thanks for coming, AnnaMarie!

On Friday I headed down to Eagan to hang out with Kelly, Ken, Luke, Evie and Lily. We had a lovely time, mostly just relaxing while the kids ran wild in the basement. Excellent! I am dreaming of the day when ours will be finished and I can send the kids down there to make messes :) Anyways, they all had a fabulous time. And Lily is getting so big and so darn cute. I wish I had taken some pictures. Anyways, then Ken and Kelly took me and the boys out to eat at a Mongolian barbecue place, which was sooo good. Thanks guys! You're the best. Later Friday Katie and Jane came to play for a while so Tyler and AnnaMarie could go out to eat (but I don't feel like it really counted because they only stayed out for an hour...) and the kids were so good! It was fun to just sit and play with Jane (I had the other kids watching a movie, so it wasn't too tough). Anyways, Michael had a scout campout on Friday night so at 9:00 I dragged my kids over to my friend's house and temporarily put them to bed there so we could watch New Moon while the kids all slept. It worked great, and we had lots of fun!

On Saturday we had a great big pile of super special black dirt delivered and dumped out on our driveway! It's for our garden and berry plants, so we got to start moving it all over on Saturday, which was just plain FUN! Ok, Michael did all the shoveling, but I was on rake duty, so I got to rake it all into place once it got dumped. Ryan had his own little shovel and just had way too much fun picking up tiny shovels of dirt and putting them in the wheelbarrow, making grunting sounds all the while. He loves to do whatever Michael's doing, so he was really really happy all day. Calvin loved climbing up the dirt "mountains", also making grunting sounds all the while, and tried to slide down them. I think he was reminiscing about the big snow pile we had this winter. These piles were less slippery...and way more messy. But he had fun! Then on Saturday night we dropped the kids off at our date night group (3 families in our ward rotate with one couple watching all the kids while the other two go out on a date) and got some pizza, did some yard work, and played games and had a great time just talking. It was a really fun day!

Today was a little less fun, since Calvin was throwing up all morning, but it did make me very very grateful for my laundry machines. He's feeling better now, and we ended up having a nice walk around the neighborhood this evening. I love being outside together, and the kids are just so happy to run free :)

So, it's been a successful, distracting few days. Tomorrow I go in for my last doctor's appointment before my scheduled c-section. I'm really hoping to go into labor before the c-section day, so hopefully I hear good news tomorrow! Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the last few days:

The other day, the boys were begging for pancakes for breakfast, so I made some. And of course they started clamoring for powdered sugar on their pancakes. This picture doesn't do it justice, but when I came back into the kitchen, Calvin was licking all the powdered sugar right off his plate and had a powdered sugar goatee (he had licked most of it off by the time I got the camera out). Nice. He sure was happy, though!


Calvin loved the fishies at the zoo:



Katie having fun by the penguin exhibit:


Jane was mesmerized by the fish. What a sweetie!


I love Jane's adorable, chubby smile in this picture:


Katie and Ryan checking out an orangutan up close:


AnnaMarie and the kids at a monkey exhibit. See Ryan pointing and appearing to talk? That's him asking question #42 about the hanging stuffed animal holders in the monkey cages.


Here's Ryan, looking pretty excited about that huge pile of dirt!


And, Ryan helping Michael shovel. He was very effective, as you can see.


Calvin, climbing the dirt mountain, mid-grunt:


Attempting to slide down the dirt mountain:


And the boys just having fun in the dirt:



Calvin on our walk this evening in his Stormy Kromer from Janny :)


Michael helping Calvin learn how to roll down a hill. He was really excited at first, then lost interest once he discovered that it actually took a little effort:


Sophie and me kicking it on a park bench:


Michael and the boys taking a little break:


Our family:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Spring Spring!



It's been so nice to finally get outside this last couple of weeks, we are LOVING the 50 degree weather! Especially since this baby is not here yet, and I am really really needing some distractions. We thought maybe Saturday was going to be the day, since I was having contractions 2 to 3 minutes apart for a couple of hours, but wouldn't you know, they disappeared as soon as they strapped on the monitors in the hospital. How embarrassing. So they sent us home, with no baby. And at my appointment yesterday, my doctor said she really didn't think this baby was coming any time soon. So, I'm coming to terms with having to wait it out. Which is why the trip to 2 parks today by AnnaMarie's house was such a welcome escape! The kids had a great time, especially Calvin, who lives to run free without interference from me :) He is never happier than when he gets to take off without holding my hand or being strapped into a stroller, so he was in heaven. The kids love playing with Katie, even though Calvin and Katie have a love/hate relationship (ok, more of a love/push relationship). They both dish it out and take it, but it seems like Calvin is more prone to hollering about it and getting sympathy, so I kind of feel for Katie, because she gets in trouble way more than he does. But they still love playing together. Hooray for cousins!

Anyways, here are some pictures from our outing today:

Calvin, checking out an airplane. I swear, when it comes to airplanes, squirrels or birds, he is the most observant kid I have even met.


After seeing Ryan and Katie "smell the flowers", Calvin insisted on sniffing practically every dead plant we came across. Nice.


Ryan being cute:


I love these pictures! They're such good little buddies!



Katie and Calvin on the teeter-totter:


Calvin loving the rocking horse:


Ryan kept jumping on this thing saying "Mom, this is here for me to exercise! And this is how I exercise! Like this! See?"


Calvin, having rocking duck envy:


Ryan and me getting in on the teeter-totter action:


See my hopeful maybe-this-will-get-this-baby-out face?


There were 2 digging toys like this. After Ryan manned this one he said, "Hey mom! Go and sit on that other one, and start digging, and then we will just STARE at each other! Okay?" So I did. And we stared at each other. And Ryan was positively tickled.


The boys giving Sophie a hug:



Anyways, I hope this weather keeps up! I need 2 more weeks of distractions!

Stuporglue.org & The Fridley Farmer

If anyone is interested, I'm going to be posting all our garden and yard stuff over at The Fridley Farmer, a new section of my newly revamped website, stuporglue.org.

I'll probably be more inclined to post over there since I know everyone here is mostly just here for Caroline and kid updates :-).

Anyways, if anyone wants to link to http://stuporglue.org from their blog or website, that'd be pretty cool since it would help me get more visitors.

Thanks!
Michael Moore

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts on Seed Saving and Hybrids

Growing up, I always thought that if you planted the seeds of a tomato, you would grow the same kind of tomato plant. It turns out that that's not always the case.

The seeds in a fruit or vegetable usually have the genes of a mother and father plant. Whatever type of plant polinated the fruiting plant will determine what happens genetically. So the first reason the seeds might not do what you want is because they're from two different kinds of plants. As an example, crab apple trees are frequently used to polinate other apple trees. A crab apple Honeycrisp mix is probably not going to be that tasty.

So let's say you're careful. You hand polinate a plant so you know that the pollen came from the same type of plant. It's all good, right?

Maybe, but probably not. Unless the seeds say "Open Pollination" or "Heirloom" the plants you grow will probably be sterile. Seeds that say Hybrid on them will likely be sterile or produce a different type of offspring.

The solution to seeds that don't sprout is to use Open Pollinated or Heirloom seeds. You can save the seeds from those plants, and replant them the next year. I have noted previously that we spent over $160 on seeds this year. If I had seeds from a previous  garden, I wouldn't have to buy seeds again.

By now you're probably thinking "cool, he's going to start saving seeds this fall then". Well, maybe. Here's the thing. Some seeds need to be fermented before they can be saved. Others need to get a cold treatment to simulate being left out over winter. Then they have to be dried and stored propperly. Keeping track of what needs to be done to what kind of plant is starting to sound like real work! I am not 100% convinced that it's worth it.

The issue of making sure that the seeds I am saving aren't crossbreeds is also a concern. My garden is small and diverse enough that the brandywine tomato could be pollinated by the roma tomato. Making sure that isn't the case would require me to either plant only one kind of tomato or to manually polinate the seed tomatoes. Again, more work.

The other issue I have with seed saving is that gardening to me is about the food I get out of it. Many of the hybrids are more productive or disease resistant than their heirloom counterparts. Besides, I intend to eat every last one of my tomatoes -- I don't think I'll be able to save any if I wanted to.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chard vs. Rhubarb

What's the difference between these two images?



If you said "Why, it's the same image, the first one is just zoomed in a little bit!", then you'd be right. So why did I insult your intelligence with such an obvious question?

Because Burpee is using the same image both for chard and for rhubarb! And because I accidentally bought Chard which I didn't want.

Granted,the name "Chard Burpee's Rhubarb" does include the word Chard in the name. In my defense though, I had just finished buying "Banana Legs Tomatoes" (which are neither banana, nor leg) and I can't think of anyone who has ever said "hey, I'm growing chard this year!".

I ended up buying rhubarb elsewhere (Burpee doesn't carry rhubarb seeds, just transplant roots) and I guess we're going to have some chard this year.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Final Garden Order List and Schedule

Here's our final garden/yard order list for the year. So far we're at $290 plus some shipping in plants and seeds alone. $133 of that are one time costs -- plants that should keep growing year after year (the blueberries, strawberries, grapes, lingonberries and rhubarb).



This list has the actual catalog numbers of where we bought stuff, the recommended planting dates (if given) and days to maturity for the specific seeds we bought. I'm keeping track so that at the end of the summer we can decide what we liked and didn't like. Usually we lose the little seed envelopes and then we're like "um, it's some kind of tomato, and it tastes good". Not this year!

Before the garden is set up, we're going to have a few other garden setup costs to take care of too. We need to get materials for a rabbit proof fence, rent a tiller, get and apply fertilizer, get some seed starter trays and get at least two more 4 foot fluorescent lights.

We're going to start the seeds in our basement under the fluorescents. I have two 4 foot lights in the garage which aren't being used and I think four of them will give me enough coverage.

For fertilizer, I am e-mailing some local alpaca farms to see if I can get some alpaca manure. Apparently horse, cow, chicken and pig manure have too high of concentrations of nitrogen to be applied directly to a garden. You have to compost those types, or apply in the fall so they can break down over the winter. Alpaca manure is supposed to be gentle enough to mix right in, is supposed to stink a lot less, and is supposed to have fewer weed seeds in it than horse or cow manure. Anyways, hopefully I can find some free alpaca manure somewhere close by.

For the rabbit proof fence, we're going to get 3 foot tall chicken wire, bend an bury the bottom 10-12 inches of it, and hope for the best. We have tons of squirrels in our yard too, but I'm hoping they'll be more merciful to us than the rabbits. I'm not sure what we're going to do for the strawberry plants yet. They're going to be in the front yard where chicken wire fencing would be undesirable. If anyone has a good idea for that, let me know.

A visit from friends!

Last weekend we had some old friends, the Whitings, come to visit us from Chicago. We hadn't seen then since just after Calvin was born, so it was great to catch up. Their daughter Susie is just about Ryan's age, and their son Lennon is a few months younger than Calvin, so the kids had a really great time playing together. On Saturday we ended up going to a kids' museum in Edina, which ended up being a lot of fun! It was big enough to keep the kids occupied for an hour or two, but small enough that we could see the whole thing and be done by the time everyone was ready for lunch and a nap. Perfect! So, thanks for coming, Dave and April! We loved having you guys! We'll have to make it down to Chicago some time!

Here are some pictures from the science museum:

Ryan was VERY proud of himself for being able to lift up Dave all by himself!


Here's Calvin working hard on a different rope:


Programming bee robots:


Ryan and Susie in the silly mirrors:


And checking out some gears:


Michael and the boys in the silly mirrors:


Calvin checking out his multi-colored shadows:


Ryan taking a little breather in the giant-block-building room:


Calvin and Lennon checking out some buttons:


Michael helping Calvin with a giant zipper:


Also, I am now 35 weeks and am ready ready ready to get this baby out! Personally, I think she'll be early, but that might just be wishful thinking. Hopefully she won't be too early, since we're driving up to Ironwood for the weekend...Anyways, here are a couple of just-about-ready-to-pop pictures:



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Garden Schedule

Here's our gardening calendar for this summer! It might be useful if you want to accidentally stop by when tomatoes are the ripest, or if you're trying to avoid zucchinni or peas.

Fridley, Minnesota Gardening Calendar


All of the plantings and transplantings should be on there now, and I'll add more harvest/picking dates as I read the seed packets. Basically we'll kick things off starting the weekend of April 2nd, and have something to do every weekend through October 8th, depending on the weather.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Getting ready for Sophie

Well, I've been a terrible blogger lately (at least Michael's been picking up the slack), so sorry. But I've just felt way too exhausted to do much of anything after the kids go to bed, so blogging just didn't make the cut. But today I was determined to get a lot done, so despite my head cold and severe sleepiness, I got the house all cleaned, some random things organized, and Sophie's room--or more appropriately, Sophie's corner--organized, which was fun! On Saturday a really sweet girl from my ward threw me a baby shower, which was so nice of her, and ended up being a lot of fun. Kelly and AnnaMarie and some friends from my ward all came and we played games, ate seriously awesome food, and just hung out and talked. Thanks to everyone for coming! I felt really loved, and scored some ridiculously cute things for Sophie (case in point, check out this 100% adorable album AnnaMarie made for me). Unfortunately, I didn't really get many pictures, except for the adorable cake that my visiting teacher and friend, Janell, made for me. Look how cute!





It was really cute and really tasty, so it was a win-win. Actually it was a win-win-win since Michael wasn't in the mood for it when I brought home leftovers...Anyways, so here are some pictures of the corner of the office that I organized for Sophie. Someday we'll finish our basement, and someday the office will be down there, and I will actually be able to fulfill my girly room dreams :) For now, here is my best nesting effort:

Her pack and play with cute teeny diapers and going-home-from-the-hospital outfit all set out. It's nestled pretty snugly between the door and the bookshelf--you can just barely open the door all the way, but it works!


A closeup of her going home outfit:



Sophie's closet! With girl clothes!


Anyways, in addition, I thought I'd finally post some pictures from a really fun family home evening we did a few weeks ago. We had some friends from our ward over, and they have an 11 year old son, so I tried to think of an activity that would be fun for him and for our boys. What I came up with was, if I may say so myself, perfect! And messy! But I think we all had a lot of fun. We did the ol' armor of God lesson and had the typical cardboard-wrapped-in-foil armor, etc., but with a twist! I made flour balls out of flour and nylons and we had a competition to see who could dodge the most flour balls with the armor while the rest of us simultaneously attacked. Everyone got a turn, and the person with the fewest flour-splotches on their person at the end won. Man, did the boys have SO MUCH FUN. Calvin especially, who lives to throw balls. I definitely lost, but in my defense, I do currently have more surface area to try to shield... Anyways, we had to cover our furniture with sheets beforehand, and I still had a doosie of a time getting it all cleaned up later, but it was so worth it! I would highly recommend it! Here are some pictures of the boys:

Ryan did surprisingly well! Note the big flour splotch on his face, however. We were pretty merciless:


Wielding the shield of faith...


Calvin with flourball in hand, ready for some retaliation:


Yeah, Ryan had a lot of fun pelting him. But he loved it, too. And just look at that floor!


Anyways, it was a great activity, and we all had a blast.

So, I am now 34 weeks. I went to a checkup yesterday and the doctor said these magical words, "So, basically, if you went into labor now, we really wouldn't do much to stop you..." Hooray! I'm almost there! I can't wait to meet my little Sophie and I also can't wait to say goodbye to heartburn, the way tums always make my breath smell weird, and completely restless and uncomfortable sleep. So basically, Sophie, if you are listening, I'd prefer you to wait 3 weeks, until you are technically no longer a preemie, and then hustle on out of there!