Sunday, May 31, 2009

Scarecrows in the garden



Yesterday we made scarecrows for the garden.  Several years ago I saw this idea in a magazine and thought it would be a fun addition to the garden, not to mention perhaps discouraging to a deer or two.  

This project does require some set up time in the beginning because the body parts are pieces of wood cut and screwed together.  It's really worth the extra effort though because the children love painting their faces, dressing themselves and it cheers up the garden.  

Each spring when I go through the children's clothes I pull out an outfit that they can no longer wear.  I try to use denim because it holds up the best in the elements.

Here's a shot of what the scarecrows look like naked!

We used paint specifically made for terra cotta.  This year I got the paint pens for terra cotta as well and Grace definitely preferred them to the paint and paintbrushes.  It can be difficult to paint on the rounded service!  


I love that Grace added her freckles!

Harris went for a lot of color!



P.S.  If anyone is interested in the specifics of how to make the scarecrow bodies just let me know and I can get them to you.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Strawberries!


We made our first trip to the farm this week and were super excited to pick strawberries.  They did not disappoint!  It's unbelievable to me how much better they are than the ones that you can get in the store (in December no less!).  With our abundance of strawberries the children and I made strawberry shortcakes.  

Cutting in the butter.


Kneading the dough (or just making a mound out of it!).

Goodness

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Children's gardening tools



Over the past few weeks the children and I have been working on cleaning up the children's garden.  We have done a lot of cleaning and prepping for new plants and seedlings.  We have seeded the soil with nasturtiums, basil, zinnias, sunflowers, marigolds and strawflowers and are waiting to see what will come up and what won't.  

Over the years we have accumulated some great gardening tools for the children.  I think that it is really important to have appropriately sized tools for them to use in their gardening.  This site has a plethora of tools and ideas for gardening with children.  Here are some of the tools that we have found to be invaluable.

We have had this set of tools ever since we started the garden and they are still growing strong!  I honestly wouldn't bother with the plastic versions because they break easily and can't do the work.  I will say that we have been careful to teach the children what each tool is used for, how to care for them and that they are not play toys.  

This wheelbarrow is new to us this year, and I honestly don't know what we've done without it! Harris has already hauled mulch, weeded with it and used it to put dirt in from holes we have dug.  I found the best price to be from Amazon (it's the free shipping that puts it over the edge).

One of the children's chores this summer will be to water the garden. We use the hose a lot, but this watering can makes it easy to water just a few things.

Harris really likes to wear gloves like his Dad.  These gloves actually fit his hand and stay on!  They are also machine washable which is a big plus.  Their website says that the gloves are $20, but we found them for $12 at our local nursery.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Birthday Bash


A couple of weeks ago Bryce and I attended a birthday celebration for our friends Rachel and Gretchen.  We were honored to be included, and I was delighted that they asked me to make the birthday cakes.  They are both amazing women who do a lot for our community and their families!  I love how happy they look in this picture!

Coldplay

One of the really great things about having cool friends is that Bryce and I occasionally get to tag along with them when they do fun, interesting things!  Last night was one such occasion.  We went with our friends, Sonja and Ryan, to a Coldplay concert.  It was fantastic!  

We met up with Cathy, Tucker and Tim (not pictured) and some of their friends.

I loved the part in the concert where they had giant yellow balloons bouncing around the audience!  

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hello Summer!

Happy Memorial Day everyone!  We kicked off the summer by going to an old fashioned parade and attending a cook out at Gretchen and Ron's house.  They have a pool so it definitely was a great way to usher in summer.

Grace and Grace at the parade

I love the old fashioned firetrucks!

Lounging in the pool.  He had a great time until he tipped over and got trapped under the gater!  He's really got to learn to swim!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dining alfresco

Now that nice weather is here I have been working on getting our front porch scrubbed clean (however, the pollen seems to have other ideas!) and ready for use again.  One of the projects that Al and Bryce tackled together was hanging my strawberry chandelier!  I love how sweet it looks and tonight we ate our first meal of the season on the porch.  

Last summer I purchased a metal dining set at a local antique shop that was not really my style but the price was!  I needed a smallish table and everything new was both too big and too pricey so when I found this table and four chairs I decided to go for it.  I wanted all of the furniture on the porch to be the same color and I was fortunate enough to find the exact shade of sage in the Rust-Oleum line of paints.  It was a fairly easy job to spray paint them, and I think it made a pretty big difference.  My only complaint is that the paint does chip off fairly easily.

Before

After

P.S.  While we were eating dinner we were joined by this little bird.  She has made a nest on one of our columns and I must say that it makes us happy that a bird has made a home on our porch.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

French doors


One of our projects is finally completed!  Several years ago, when we did the kitchen renovation, we really wanted to replace a window in our dining room with french doors to the backyard.  However, our budget just would not allow for it.  This spring we decided to go ahead and put them in and I am delighted that we did.  I absolutely love them!  The single window always was a bit awkard but the doors look like they have always been there.




Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boys Trip



Bryce and Harris have been on a boys trip to Iowa and just got back tonight.  Grace and I had a lovely time together, but we are glad they have come home.  As Grace said this afternoon, "it just doesn't feel like our family without them."  

They had a great time visiting with family and spending some one on one time with each other.  I will post more pictures after we have had a chance to go through them... all 215 of them!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chickin Feed

We have been trying something new. A couple of weeks ago I found these tracking boards for charting what your children are eating everyday. Basically, it's the food pyramid done cute! All your chicks start off on the left each day and progress to the right as they eat the alloted food group. It has really helped the children to understand what it means to eat nutritionally balanced meals and has been a bit of a game to them. They have even clamored to eat more of whatever group they are missing for that day! I have found it helpful to me when packing their lunches and planning our menus for the week.

I will admit that it has been difficult to make sure they eat all the recommended vegetables! We eat at least on vegetable with dinner but lunch and snacks are a different story. I haven't really figured out how to regularly send vegetables in their lunch (besides carrot sticks and soups). Any suggestions you have would be appreciated!

P.S. I thought the tracking boards were a bit expensive so I emailed Leslie (the mother hen) and asked if she had any specials. I ended up getting 30% off and free shipping!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Just because


This is a just because post.  Just because I want to remember Harris and his friend Matthew and this sweet moment.

photo by Cathy

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Children's Garden



One of the best things we have ever done for the children was put in a garden just for them.  When we lived in Atlanta I loved taking the children to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, especially the Children's Garden.  Years ago I cut a children's garden plan out of a magazine in hopes that we would one day install one.  The summer after we moved here we did!  I love this garden so much and so do the children.  It has become a destination in our own yard!  We play, create, picnic, learn and read in the garden.  

We have had to change some of the plantings because we have more shade than some of the plants in the plan could tolerate.  We add to the garden every year and change things that don't work. As the children get older they help more and more in the garden and it is clear they know more about gardening now than I did when we first began!  I should be really clear that I know very little about gardening and this has been a true learning experience for us all.

  I thought I would share some of the pictures from when we first installed the garden. 


We put the garden in the very back corner of our yard.  It was all grass so we had to rent a sod cutter and shape the garden.  
In the middle of the garden is a gigantic sandbox.  Bryce built it using a plan from a Martha Stewart Baby magazine.

What's nice about the sandbox is that lots of children can comfortably fit in it and because it is high it doesn't get really dirty.  We do keep it covered though, when it's not in use.

The first year.

P.S.  I'm really excited to share the garden and I want to document as much as I can of the garden, so I'm sure there will be lots more gardening related posts. Wow, I just used the word garden three times in one sentence.  I guess I am excited!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wellie Holder

We have been getting a lot of wear out of our Wellies this spring!  There is something about these boots that I love (especially when worn with a dress!).  I saw a wellie holder/stand on a website and thought it was such a genius idea that I just knew we needed one.  Bryce finished making it last week and it's really just as great as I thought it would be!  

P.S.  Lest you think this is an advertisement for Hunter Wellies I should explain that I have had mine for years, and I got tired of buying rainboots for the children that fell apart (the children wear them alot).  It didn't hurt that Smith and Hawken was offering 30% off either.  

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vanity

I'm one lucky gal because my husband got me a Mother's Day gift that I will always have and love! 

I think a little back story is in order.  A few weeks ago Bryce and I went to a nearby town that has great antique stores.  We were looking for a piece to go in our dining room.  As luck would have it, we found nothing that would work but, as we were looking, we did find a lovely vanity.  I loved it right away.  I thought about it all week and even called to get the dimensions.  Bryce never really seemed that interested in it.

Fast forward to Mother's Day.  Bryce suggested that we take the children (and my Mom) to continue to look for a dining room piece.  Frankly, I thought he was crazy!  Why, oh why would we take the children antiquing?  But we went and we once again went in the same store from our last trip.  I told my Mom I wanted to show her the vanity but as we approached I realized it had a SOLD sign on it.  I sadly told the family that it was sold and then Harris looked up at me and said, "But you're taking it home."  I was thrilled!

We were told the vanity is probably from the 30's and it is marked as made in France (that in of itself makes it seem glamourous to me!).  It is made of Fruitwood, has all wooden peg construction and is still in really good shape.  The middle piece unfolds to reveal a mirror and the two sides open up to a shallow compartment and a deeper one.  There is also a pull out tray under the mirror and it has two small drawers. 


My favorite part about the whole piece is the lining inside the two compartments.  It's like a little secret surprise!  The paper that was used is so sweet and feminine.  

The vanity fits perfectly under our bedroom window and it's a relief to not be in the bathroom to put on my makeup.  It also feels very old fashioned and feminine to have a pretty vanity.  I love it and I thank Bryce for recognizing that it was a special piece!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day 2009


I would like to say Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, mother-in-law, sister and dear friends!  I am so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful examples of motherhood and all that it means.  Thank you for the inspiration and support.  

I had a really lovely day!  It included:

Breakfast in bed and...

a trip to the spa.  
 
We also did a little antiquing but that deserves its very own post!




Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mud

What is one to do when it has rained for days and days and it finally stops?

play in the mud

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Poetry


April was National Poetry month and I fully intended to write some poetry with the children. We had several fun poetry books in our book basket and we did manage to read some of them, but we never got to the point of writing any. Truth be told, anytime I mentioned it to the children they sort of got blank looks on their faces and asked if we could do it later!

Yesterday, we were stuck inside and had just checked out a new book that had short, fun poems in it. The pictures were large and silly and one of the poems only had two words. After we had read through the book I suggested that we write a poem . At first I met with resistance from Grace who proclaimed she had no good ideas for poems. No less than one minute later she had written out a poem about a butterfly.
Butterfly
Yesterday it was a caterpillar
Now it is a beautiful site!

They wrote a few more and laughed at their poems. The whole writing session was over in no more than 10 minutes but at least they have explored a different genre of writing. Maybe next time it will last 11 minutes!
This is the book we read. Harris especially loved how silly some of the poems and pictures were.
 
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