Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Garden Time

Most of you might not know but we have an interest in having a green thumb. Like that distinction? We had a small garden a while back when we lived in Oregon but apartment life in Utah kept us away from growing much. We played with the notion of a community garden plot but with school and life being so busy we busted on that idea. Last year when we moved into our house we were already set with a preexisting garden on the side of the house. Luckily Denise (Lajuana's sister whom we share the house with) has two green thumbs and got us going. She also is leading the way this year and we benefit from all her work but we also have been learning and helping along the way to get our thumbs in the mix. Below is a picture of what it looked like.

You might notice the plastic green fence around it. That was put up in an attempt to keep those darn bunnies out from eating our strawberries. It worked a bit but in places the bunnies eat holes through it. We started imagining these viscous hungry rabbits as brilliant foes who always were one step in front of us. They eat our strawberries so then we put up the green fence. Then they started eating our blackberries so we put up chicken wire around that. So then the rabbits eat a hole in our green fence and eat stuff anyway. By the end of last summer came we had a grip on keeping them out.

This year I have a plan to beat them! I installed a retaining wall with a chicken wire fence that goes over a 18 inches underground. I also expanded the garden from 10'X10' to 10'X22'. It now encompasses the blackberries. We planted last weekend some corn, strawberries, squash, green beans, tomatoes, and the existing blackberries. We also planted in another location pumpkins and zucchini without a fence because we've heard bunnies won't eat them but I'm afraid ours might just to spite me! Below are the pictures of the new garden.

With any hope we'll have some good veggies this summer! If the bunnies do manage to hop the fence and eat the food maybe they'll get to fat to hop out and in the end we'll have a bunny pin rather than a garden! Either way I'm going to out smart those persistent bunnies!

--- John

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm it, I guess

Well, I've never been tagged before and I've been trying to ignore it. But since it was my old boss who tagged me, I've had a nagging feeling that I better do it soon or she'll fire me for handing in late reports. Hee hee. Love you Jan!

3 Joys:
1. Being with my family, whether it’s chatting with John while he builds a retaining wall, helping Garrett with homework, reading with Hannah, or playing cars with Kevin, I enjoy my family. This extends of course to my siblings and parents, I especially love playing games with my siblings or just sitting around talking because they are hilarious.
2. Good chocolate. Preferably with nuts and/or caramel. Most of you know I’m a chocolate snob. For Mother’s Day, the primary had each of their children give their mom a huge Hershey bar. So now I have two huge waxy “chocolate” bars that I plan on using for my cub scouts to make s’mores. THEY are NOT chocolate snobs.
3. Reading a good book straight through with minimal interruptions. When I had the flu, I read two books and barely saw my family while John took two days off work and took care of everyone and everything. It was kind of nice, even though I felt horrible. All I did was read and sleep--better than a vacation.

3 Fears:
1. Melanoma returning. It was pretty scary, though I tried to not think about how bad it could have been.
2. My kids getting seriously injured or seriously ill.
3. Being misunderstood. Things I say come out wrong all the time, and I’m sure I’ve offended a million people. I am also very oblivious to things around me and might do things to make people mad. A young female driver got right in front of me, slowed way down, and when I passed her, she gave me the finger! I have no idea why, but I must have done something to annoy her as I was driving, mentally making a grocery list, handing out snacks, and finding a toy that fell under the seat. She totally misunderstood my cluelessness as malice toward her. This was a simple example, but in general I hate that feeling of knowing I did/said something wrong, and may have hurt someone’s feelings (of course in this case she hurt MY feelings by giving me the finger!)

3 Goals:
1. Teach my kids a little Spanish this summer. I have been putting it off long enough, and John has been bugging me to do it since Garrett was an infant.
2. Lose some weight. Isn’t that always my goal? In conjunction with that, I would like to be able to ride my bike up around the “prairie preserve” and back without dying. I did it last summer, but am woefully out of shape again.
3. Keep sane during all our planned road trips this summer. Yes, even with gas at $4/gallon, John is insisting on fulfilling all our travel plans.

3 Current Obsessions:
1. Lost. I love it, but try not to get too crazy about it. It’s the only tv show I watch, so I feel I’m entitled to obsess a little.
2. Reading. I’ve been seeing what everyone else is reading on Goodreads, and go read it myself. I hardly ever post what I'm reading though.
3. Healthier (but tasty) cooking. Just to remind everyone, I have to cook several specialty meals for dinner because everyone’s dietary needs usually cannot coexist harmoniously: vegetarian (John), dairy-free (Kevin), diabetic (my sister), and that EVERYONE likes or at least tolerates. I know many of you are saying “I wouldn’t do that, I would make one thing and they would have to eat it.” So think of five staple meals in your home and try to tweak them to keep everyone in MY house healthy. Pasta? Has to be whole grain (for Denise) and that can’t be her main dish, so I have to also have a meat on the side. Pizza? No cheese for Kevin. Indian food? My kids and Denise don’t like it. Tacos? With beans and cheese for John, beans, meat and cheese for G&H, beans and meat for Kevin, and as a salad for me (I don’t really like tortillas) and Denise. Do you see what I’m getting at? I can rarely make one thing and put it on the table for everyone, and even if I do find something, someONE won’t like it very much (i.e. Stir fry with tofu--Denise and kids hate it and I don’t like it much either).

3 Random/Surprising Facts about Myself:
1. I am the ninth of ten children, and yes my mom is an angel. My sister that we live with is the second. We have very different personalities, but sound almost exactly alike on the phone.
2. I’m not a good housekeeper. I love cooking, baking, and of course eating what I make, but I absolutely hate every other household chore (except laundry, strangely enough). Dirty dishes are my arch-enemy. Bathroom cleaning is my nightmare.
3. I love to be alone. Maybe it’s from trying to escape my big family, maybe it’s just my inborn personality, but I love being on my own with only me to take care of. When I went to college, I chafed under the constant presence of my roommate. I loved it when she had to leave for class before me and I had the room to myself. When I was on my mission, having a constant companion was something I struggled with for the first few months (I did eventually come to terms with it and actually enjoyed my companions). I was excited and happy to be on my own when I started teaching, I had a little apartment that was mine, all mine and I loved it, even though I didn’t have any furniture or a tv. I was never too scared or nervous about being alone. Now, of course, I’m used to sharing a room, a bed, a house, and I miss John if he is gone. But I sure do love my alone time.

Well, there you have it. Does anything surprise anyone? I'm a pretty open book, so I think everyone knows all this about me. Let's hear the comments. . .anyone just like me or opposite from me? What do you think about all this John? Are you sad that I secretly like you to be gone? Just kidding, you know I love you near me.

I tag specifically: Ardis, Andrea, and those who have not answered Jan's tag yet. And generally, whoever wants to answer these questions. It was kind of fun.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spring in Wisconsin

Our great friends in WI come and visit us...well lets be and the Chicago LDS Temple, often and we have not made the journey up there until last weekend. Our visit was great and we had a blast playing the Wii and talking. One of the highlights was going to a marsh land area. We went on a trail and saw all kinds of wild life preparing for the spring. It was a bit cool, low 60 and cloudy, but great for walking around.

We really enjoyed our vacation. WI is very pretty if you have never been there; rolling hills, tons of green farm land but broken up with large trees and rivers, wind mills, cows, and great natural parks. I'd recommend you check it out if you never have! And if you need some great friends that are so nice and welcoming...we know the perfect couple!

--- John

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spring time is here!

Spring time brings about many wonderful changes. After the horrid winter, this spring is nothing less than a miracle! Last fall we planted some bulbs in the hope that spring would come again and this time with flowers. Another fear we had is the bunnies! I did not know this but the Chicagoland area is plagued with a huge overpopulation of wild bunny rabbits. Last year we found a family living under our wood deck. They are everywhere! The eat flowers and young bushes, and as we found out last year... our blackberries, strawberries, and pretty much any new or budding flower.

This year we had a plan of attack against the bunnies, chicken wire! We fenced off the garden and put a fence underground so they would not eat the bulbs we planted. A few weeks ago the tulips started to come up and the bunnies kept eating them down to the ground. We have heard all of the advice possible, including putting human hair on the ground. Eventually the bunnies got full, I can only imagine, and left our flowers alone and they came up in power.

To top off the flower burst is our flowering trees! Our two front trees are a wonderful pink and our side tree is white! The smells are powerful and so sweet! Our house is not the only, the whole city and area is just popping colors and flowering smells. The only thing close to this is when we lived in Oregon and the spring was just awesome too. To say the least I'm very surprised at how nice it is here and how spring just makes everything new again!

To add to the spring time fun we had two visitors come by on Saturday morning. The kids loved watching them for a long time. A boy and a girl duck. They ended up walking off to some other houses and then most likely to one of the two nearby ponds in our development. I hope you guys all have a wonderful spring and take time to smell the flowers!!!