Thursday, April 29, 2010

Facebook is killing my blog.

Okay, so that may be a very broad generalization, but I do find that lately, it's much easier to post a few simple lines and a picture or two on facebook than to come here and actually try to formulate coherent thoughts and sentences. I'm still "blaming" the new baby for that, except he's four months old now and I'm not sure how much longer that will work. ;)

At any rate, stealing from facebook and my photo organizer, here are a few more of my recent favorite pics, because I promised my mom some and if I wait until I'm ready to share nice little stories about each one then she'll be waiting forever. :)

 Sleepy sweetheart

A recently found photo of Dylan, taken by Caitlyn in the backyard

Homeschooling at it's best!

My little laundry helpers

Sweet morning snuggles

Art: In which Dylan combines a few of his favorite things

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hello, blog. I've missed you.

We made it to 8:30 Mass again this morning for the second time this month, which, really, is nothing short of a miracle for us. Honestly, I don't know how families who send their children to "regular" school do this every morning! I had everything ready last night, too: diaper bag packed, car seat brought in, baths done, clothes laid out...and I still ended up having to do my make-up in the car! Maybe we need a few practice drills; I'm sure we can improve our time. :)

Anyway, I realized this afternoon that it's been way too long since I've posted anything new here, so I'm sharing two of my favorite recent pictures of Austin, who turned four months old on the 19th. I can't believe how fast he's growing! There is so much I could say about how awesome he is and how in love with him we all are but it's already nearly ten o'clock and if I got started now I'd be here all night. I'm really tired so I'm going to bed instead. ;) Hope to be back to "chat" more soon, though. I'm happy and loving life right now!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Backyard Map

Wow, I just wasted so much time but had so much fun creating a clip art map of our backyard!   Jill, this is for you!  :)  I realized I had no good way to show my back yard in it's entirety, but figured I could probably draw a rough approximation.  I just scanned it in, saved it as a JPEG file, and filled the rest in with clip art and photoshop!  And, just so you know, I'm sure the proportions are all wrong but it looks right to me, so this is what you're getting.  ;)

I'm sure it's all pretty much self explanatory, but, starting at the back porch and moving clockwise around the yard, this is what we've got:
  • First of all, I feel the need to clarify that we actually have a covered porch with a patio table and chairs, but this was the closest clip art I could find.
  • Our Mary garden is on the west side of the porch, and is bordered by...
  • A large area that will become our pumpkin (and watermelon, and squash) patch, which is lined with desert plants, and includes a winding pinkish gravel trail that will hopefully (someday) be adorned by outdoor stations of the cross, ending with...
  • Our cactus "island" and picnic nook!
  • Continuing along the back wall, we have three new raised garden beds (our first attempt at these, which have yet to be filled...)  I want to name them according to their contents and help the children make hand painted signs for them.  I know for sure that one of them will be the "Salsa Garden", for example, and will contain tomatoes, green chiles, jalapeƱos, and a few onions.  And I totally want to try a "Pickle Patch"!  Dylan and I are so excited about trying our hand at pickling this year.  I have never even considered pickling anything on my own but think it would be so fun to learn.  I have no idea if it will even work, but we're hoping to grow cucumbers, beets, and okra, all of which we really enjoy as "pickles"!
  • Our Sunflower House is in the corner nearest our house, and I still just can't stress enough how happy this makes me!  I seriously think a little gate like this would be a super cute detail at it's entrance, but that might just be my overly enthusiastic nature...I get that way about projects that really excite me.  :)  Oh, and as a note to myself for future reference, I'd still really like to find (or order) copies of Sunflower HouseSunflower House: A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups, and Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children.
  •  Against our east wall is a small butterfly garden, with two butterfly bushes and a few other plants we've added specifically to attract butterflies.  It might also include some herbs later in the summer...
  • Continuing along (we're almost done!) is our original vegetable garden, which we started two (Oops!   Make that three!) years ago.  (Awww, my kids were so little back then!)  Darren has been doing a lot of trimming, pulling, and planting out there lately and honestly, I'm not even sure anymore what's growing.  Guess I'll be surprised.  ;)
  • Moving back up onto the porch, we've got the flower bed which represents our first attempt at growing anything when we first moved into this house.  (You can see some of it in this post...and many others, I'm sure, if you really want to take the time to search.  I tell myself all the time that I should go back and label all my posts, but that seems like such an overwhelming task!  Oh, wait, I just remembered that I have another super cute picture that shows our wild flower garden...let's see...ah, here it is!  Way at the bottom of a post about my Grandpa's birthday, which is actually coming up again this weekend!  How funny!)
I think that's everything! Whew, I feel like a need a drink now! What a tour!  Hope you enjoyed it.  :)

Our Spring Gardens: The Cactus Garden

This happens every Spring. I just can't seem to stop myself from photographing our gardens! I was outside with Darren yesterday at a particularly lovely time of evening, the sun hanging low in the sky before it's finally descent below the horizon, warm but not unbearably so. The light was just beautiful and our blooms were so very pretty that I just had to run back inside for the camera. (Thanks for fetching my shoes for me, honey! I only had to pluck one splinter from my toe this morning!) I think they're a much more intimate illustration of our cactus garden, anyway, more perfectly capturing the beauty and essence of what is quicky becoming my favorite area of our yard. And, since he checks my blog multiple times throughout the day at work, I'm posting these photos for my sweetie. I know he'll love seeing them, and if I don't do it now while they're fresh on my mind, I'll probably forget entirely. ;) Enjoy the tour!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our Spring Gardens: The Picnic Garden

Darren and I had, on many occasions in the past, discussed the possibility of relocating a majority of his cacti in order to free up more space in the backyard for our children to play. He had collected so many plants in the years we've lived here that they occupied a large portion of our yard, and we no longer felt safe just letting the children run around and play out there. (Especially Kristen, who, quicker than lightning, has already had a few run-ins with them.) So the cactus garden, too, underwent an exciting renovation and has now become a lovely little picnic nook!

We kept the large main "island" with many of our taller or bushier native plants, and moved many of the taller cacti to the border against both walls. (They meet in the corner of the desert garden.) All the plants from the center of the native area were relocated, to clear an area which will become a pumpkin patch, and then Darren painstakingly moved the many, many little cacti from below the big Mexican Elder and tucked them in wherever there was room among the other plants.

We pulled weeds, raked leaves and twigs, moved more rocks and gravel, and have finally created the neatest little picnic area beside his handsome cactus garden! And it will be so neat when that large center area is full of pumpkins.  :)  Here are a couple pictures I took recently at different times of day. The picnic table is completely shaded by late afternoon, perfect for dinners outside this summer! We hung a wind chime up within the branches of the tree, and there is the sweetest little nest we've been watching expectantly these past few days. I love our new picnic garden!  Eventually I'd like to line the walkway with these beautiful outdoor Stations of the Cross, so we can have our own little winding "prayer path", through the desert garden, but those can come at a later date.  I think what we have right now is perfectly lovely, and I can't wait to spend many  happy evenings out there this summer!  

Our Spring Gardens: A Mary Garden

Our gardens are still very much a work in progress, but while Darren was home all last week we were able to accomplish SO much towards the gardens we envision! A quiet, contemplative Mary garden has been another dream of mine for quite a while now, and I actually started working on one beneath our bedroom window last year but just never did get it finished. This year, Darren and the children were a HUGE help and together, we were able to create a beautiful Mary garden! (Noticeably absent at this point is a statue of Mary, but I'm working on that! I found a really pretty statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe at one of our local garden centers, but I'd really like Our Lady of Grace to grace our garden. I LOVE the look of this one, but would like to shop around locally a little more first.) Anyway, I found many wonderful ideas of how to plant a Mary garden while searching around online, and finally decided to print out this wonderful article to keep as a reference. Ideally, we'd love to continue adding to our garden over time, but here's what we've planted to get us started:
  • Rosemary (Mary's nosegay), which was already planted along one edge of the garden
  • Honeysuckle (Lady's stick), which was also already growing up the trellis
  • Several Roses (these have different symbolic meanings depending on color); I was SO EXCITED to find a Pope John Paul II rosebush at our garden center!!! We also planted one called "Blue Girl", which caught my eye because that's the name of a super-hero character created by Caitlyn, but which also works because, you know..."Lovely Lady dressed in Blue" works, right? :)
  • Carnations (Mary's Love of God. "These flowers are said to have bloomed at Christ's Nativity, according to a German legend.")
  • Marigold (Mary's gold)
  • Scabiosa (Mary's pincushion)
  • Snapdragon (Infant Jesus' shoes)
  • Salvia (Mary's shawl)
  • Bachelor's Buttons (Mary's crown)
I'd also like to add a small bench or two, although I'm not exactly sure where, and this garden certainly won't be "quiet" or "contemplative"! It will actually overlook the playground we plan to build later this summer, but I'm equally happy with that, too. I love the idea of Our Lady watching over my children while they play!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Our Spring Gardens: The Sunflower House!

I've been dreaming of a Sunflower House for our children for the past two years and this year, we finally decided to create one in a corner of our back yard! You have no idea how happy this makes me! We had to relocate several plants in order to clear a large enough area, and I am hoping and praying that they'll survive the move. Even if they don't, though, I think the sacrifice will have been worth it! I can't wait for our sunflowers to start growing! We bought several varieties so they'll grow at different heights. :)