Sunday, May 27, 2012

Growing things

The birthday party is done and I am 30 weeks pregnant tomorrow with no nursery set up (although we've had an epiphany about that, but that's for another post.) so what am I going to occupy my time with?

My very first garden not including the one when I was a wee child and let my Mother and brother do all the work and then just raked it and said how much work I did. I am not completely insane, so I'm starting small. We bought one (and then two) of those 4x4 raised bed gardens from the Depot:

And decided to put it here, outside of our fenced yard. It might make more sense to put it IN a fenced yard, but I'm pretty sure Haze would help herself and the fence doesn't keep rabbits out anyway and Vader chose this spot and I wasn't going to argue because I have better arguments coming up (painting the boys' room!). 

I bought my plants from Yonder Farms and Hewitts. When I first started planning the garden I had imagined growing all the vegetables we eat and had a huge list. And then remembered my huge abdomen and that if I go too crazy and it all fails I will say screw it and never try again. So, I cut way back and decided to stick with just 4 different types of vegetables: grape tomatoes, red peppers, green beans and cucumbers. I got the bush variety of both the green beans and the cucumbers because I didn't want to have to deal with trellises and things of that nature. The one cup by itself is the tomato plant that SkyWalker brought home from school for mother's day. I wish I knew what kind of tomato plant it is... the rest I have are grape tomatoes because that's what we eat more often, but it would be nice to have a "regular" tomato plant as well. 

Although it was completely unnecessary because of the size of the garden and the limited number of plants I chose, I had the girls decorate some wooden spoons to use as garden markers. Mostly so that they were involved and because they were bugging me about something and I needed to distract them. The Princess drew the pictures, I wrote the words:

While I was food shopping, Vader and the girls set the raised beds up. Yes, the girls, no boy because he was far too sweaty and hot and blah blah complain. Although we originally bought one bed many moons ago, Vader decided to buy another one to stack them. This way the soil is deeper, I may not have to worry as much about weeds coming up, we can hopefully keep those damn bunnies away, and I won't have to bend/kneel as much. Occasionally he does think of my well being. He burned a square patch (he has a propane um, burner thingy to burn up weeds along the fence), then used sand to level everything because our yard is anything but level. 

After I got home we set everything up:

I did all planting with the Princess and Chewie "assisting". The Princess actually did do a fair amount of it. SkyWalker helped put his plant in, but then had Chewie actually place it in the soil. Which was nice of him to share, but also a way for him to get out of actually doing anything. Apples, trees. We found tomato cages in the lean-to in our backyard. I bought little fences to keep the cucumbers separate because that's what I was told to do. We planted marigolds around to keep the bunnies away. After all the planting was done Vader decided to mulch around it as well because he has an obsession with mulch. 

If I manage to not kill anything and get actual vegetables we'll get another set next year and go crazy! Lettuce and kale and carrots oh my! I hope it all works out because I'd like to be able to freeze some of the green beans to use this winter as purees for Quattro. That would be awesome. I would also like to expand to fruits too and grow strawberries and blueberries and other dirty dozens... 

Monday, May 21, 2012

The final result: The Superhero Party!

The Superhero Party is done.

I made the masks, and the capes, and the last part was the city buildings for the Superhero Training Ground Obstacle Course. I gathered all the shoe boxes we save for no reason, Vader and I taped some together, he spray painted them black and I added windows with some oversized thick graph paper I had. 

The kids started the party decorating the capes and then headed to the yard.

The Obstacle Course was relatively simple, but I think it was fun. I had two separate courses, one for the under 4s and one for the over 4s. The littlest kids jumped on the mini trampoline, climbed up the toddler climber, slid down, jumped over tiny buildings and then went in the Tent of Balls to retrieve a special "token" (a laminated Wonder Woman or Superhero logo): 

The older kids started out on the trampoline, jumped over the set of 3 bigger boxes, swung over a box with the rings on our playset, climbed up the climbing wall, slid down the slide, jumped over more boxes: 

Then they had to get around Lex Luthor throwing kryptonite (cut up chunks of a green pool noodle):

Vader's face has been blurred to protect his identity.
Which is a shame because it was the funniest face ever.
After evading Lex Luthor they too went into the Tent of Balls to get the token. When they found one, they brought it to me and were awarded with the Superhero Mask. Then they could do it all over again.

We had cupcakes made by the bestest friend ever: 

They brought home their capes, masks, and either a Wonder Woman or Superman plastic ring (the one bit of plastic junk I couldn't resist). All in all it was pretty damn awesome. 

Now I will rest (until next weekend when we put the raised bed garden together).

Oh yeah, I was in costume for a little while. Catwoman (Target pleather pants from a decade ago, newly purchased Bee Band to cover the unzipped part, and a really snug mask from the internets. It was 80 degrees. I didn't wear this long.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Superhero Party Part B

(Yes, I know the first part was 1, so this should be 2 and not B. Sadly the person I always make that joke for probably doesn't read this blog anymore!)

The Capes. Capes, capes, capes. Oy. First I let a salesman talk me into buying felt instead of the polyester knit fabric I wanted (because they didn't have enough of the red). So then I had to take it back to a different store and got red knit and blue knit and figured I'd do half and half. I got 7 yards of each.

I cut the fabric into manageable sizes, specifically 24"x 28", a task made immensely easier when I bought a new 24"x 36" mat for my rotary cutter.
This is the best purchase I've made recently, aside from my Ice Tea Maker. 

Then I worked on shaping the fabric into capes and not rectangles. Of course I checked the interwebs first and this website: It was a tremendous help. I did the blue ones first--14 of them--and totally screwed them up. Well, not totally, but I made the neck "holes" way too big so it wound up being more like a shawl than a cape. Ugh. I made the red ones without messing up and attempted to fix the blue ones. I quickly realized that the only way to fix the blue ones was to cut off the necks and start all over--losing 5 inches of length. Eek. BUT I had leftover fabric since I bought 7 yards of it. So I cut up the rest of the red fabric. It wasn't enough for all the kids, but miraculously worked out to be the number of big kids I have (4 & up). I decided that instead of half and half I would have all the big kids in red and the younger, smaller siblings could have the blue capes. Losing 5 inches wouldn't be quite so noticeable on them and 2-3 year olds probably wouldn't care anyway...
The smaller cape

The bigger cape
After finally getting it right, I ironed on my Velcro (that's right, ironed, no sewing involved!). That wasn't difficult, just time consuming. And then, the highlight of the capes, I ironed on the t-shirt transfer images I printed up of names and the Justice League picture I used for the invitations (I did not ask for copyright permission, sorry). My part of the capes is FINALLY done. I will now watch 23 kids put stickers and write all over them and try not to cry inside since that was the point of this whole thing!

The next thing I have to do is prepare city buildings as part of our Superhero Training Ground Obstacle Course and then it's just setting up everything the day of the party (and praying for no rain!!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A year

It's a year today since that horrible day when Isaac suddenly died.

I am glad that he did not suffer (any more than he already was with his allergies). I'm glad I didn't have to watch him deteriorate and not be able to go out on his own and pee. But I can't help but feel robbed. It's not like he died peacefully in his sleep. He had a heart attack (we assume, no autopsy), in the middle of playing, and we frantically and hopelessly tried to revive him. It sucked.

In many ways life is easier without him. But there is still a sadness. And now, the closer I get to completing our family, the knowledge that this is the first baby I will bring home to just one dog waiting at the door. The first baby who will not get Isaac's sniff of approval. The first baby who will only know of him through pictures and our memories. It is hard to explain to people who do not have pets, do not have dogs, do not understand how they become such a large part of your family, but this knowledge fills me with a deep sadness.
Isaac resting on my pregnant belly, 8 years ago.