Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Winter Days: Garden Planning

It is hard to believe that spring is just around the corner! I've already begun our countdown (29 days, in case you were wondering). Spring is an enjoyable time for us. Our family loves to go outdoors and enjoy nature, especially while the weather is still cool enough to be comfortable. We also like to stay busy while we are outside. The children ride their bikes for a spell, but if they see me working, they're eager to join in. 


As our first spring came around at our new house, we were so excited to get started on a garden. We staked out the desired location of our garden and tilled it with a used tiller my husband had purchased. As he tilled the soil, we noticed a couple of problems areas. One section of our garden was turning out to be very thick clay. We decided to try planting root vegetables there, hoping that it would break up the clay. (It didn't work.)

The other section of our garden was loose soil, but quite sandy. We bought a few bags of manure to add to it and made our garden beds. We planted 4 rows of corn, beds of squash, cucumber, watermelon, okra, bell peppers, and tomatoes. In between, we also planted basil and marigolds. Some things did well, others didn't. Some did well at first, then stopped growing. There was also a mishap with my husbands truck as he was hauling supplies to the backyard for the children's playset, and then a little thing called a three-year old-happened. He picked all of our baby watermelons and put them in his tricycle as if they were his rock collection.

Overall, the experience was not the greatest. We did enjoy quite a bit of okra, tomatoes, and basil. We managed to get a couple of bell peppers as well. The boys enjoyed their time in the dirt and Bridget was a great help picking vegetables and helping to prepare them in the kitchen.


We learned that our builder had removed and sold all of our precious top soil and imported sandy soil to replace it. Fortunately, when we were landscaping our yard, my husband had an entire truck full of top soil delivered and we had a bit leftover for a garden. He got it all in its place in the fall, ready for planting this spring. Unfortunately, our property slopes, and we've noticed that patches of top soil have washed off from the garden bed with the rainwater, and that the water tends to pool in certain areas.

With this in mind, we have decided that we're going to have to do a raised bed garden.


The children and I have begun planning the garden beds. We've looked at pictures of raised bed gardens on the computer and George insists that we must have paths, so we're working on a layout that is functional yet pleasing to the eye.

We've also discussed what vegetables they want to grow. 

Bridget, my 8 year old, loves just about every vegetable except for mushrooms (only she doesn't realize that she actually loves them and I have been sneaking them into her food). She wants to grow carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, and sunflowers.

George, my 6 year old, likes only a handful of vegetables, but really loves mushrooms, asparagus, and eggplant the most. He begged me to grow mushrooms but I told him I don't feel comfortable with that yet and that they're not grown like other garden vegetables. He then requested eggplant, tomatoes, squash, and asparagus.

Liam, my 3 year old mentioned above, wants to grow more watermelons. He also wants apples, strawberries, and blueberries. I told him that we could try again with the watermelons and plant strawberries, but that apples grow on trees and we don't have enough room for an orchard.

I have a lot of other vegetables I'd like to grow, because we do eat them a lot, such as broccoli, lettuce, peas, green beans, and many more. I'll have to see just how much room we end up having. The garden seems to be getting bigger and bigger the more we talk about it.


Planting season for early crops is already upon us. As soon as we're able to put our garden beds together, it'll be time to plant things like asparagus, peas, carrots, radishes, cabbage, and lettuce. It'll be nice to have some fresh and tasty vegetables grown in our own backyard! 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Winter Days: George's 6th Birthday

Today has been a special day for our dear George. We celebrated his 6th birthday! 


The celebration began yesterday afternoon with a birthday cake and visit from Granny and Papa. Daddy works long hours during the week, so we felt it best to get a good chunk of celebrating in over the weekend. I was able to bake and decorate a fun cake for George. He loves all things outdoors, with camping being one of his most favorite activities. Our church owns a campground about an hour away that  we've been to a number of times, so George wanted me to base the design on that. He reminded me that we needed a lake and a boat dock. I think it turned out quite well and George was so impressed. He most loved the campfire and the mini-marshmallows on toothpicks. The fire from the birthday candles really did roast those marshmallows!

The celebration continued on into  today (his actual birthday) with a visit from Grandma and Granddaddy. They took us out to lunch at one of George's favorite restaurants and Daddy was able to meet us there on his lunch break. We all then came home (Daddy surprised us by taking an extended lunch to come home with us) and enjoyed more cake! George got to blow out his campfire candles again and this time, the children each ate a "tree" with their piece of cake.


George loves Thai food so we went to our favorite Thai restaurant and ordered sweet and sour tofu and ginger tofu for all three children to share. I enjoyed a warm bowl of vegetable curry.

We were all still quite stuffed from lunch and cake when dinner time came, so instead of preparing what was on the menu (mushroom tetrazzini), we enjoyed leftovers and sandwiches. 


We re-read chapters 10 and 11 in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I had read it to Bridget on Friday as we waited in the doctors office but the boys weren't with us so I had to catch them up. We took a few days off from reading, as Bridget was still sick and I didn't want us all snuggled together until she got better. Chapter 10 is an exciting chapter, because the snow in Narnia begins to melt and Christmas finally comes. Father Christmas gives each of the remaining children (remember, Edmund ran off to be with the White Witch) a special gift to help them in the upcoming battle. Sooo exciting. I told the children we're going to watch the movie after we finish the book. I think they'll love it. 


(1) George, of course! We all had a fun day celebrating his milestone. Each of our children are so precious to us and we really like to make them feel special on a day meant just for them. We've been minimizing the toy aspect of the celebration and focusing more on quality time (and necessities... George did get new size 6 Justice League underwear this morning and he couldn't have been more excited). George is a healthy boy and getting so tall. His health is important to me, as George has open-heart surgery when he was 20 months old. As he grows, we have even joked that he's becoming a man and growing a mustache (I proved this to him by giving the peach fuzz above his lip a little tug). He feels so proud. He calls himself the "man of the house" when Daddy is at work. 

(2) I am also grateful for the rain. While it makes the day gloomy, I know that it is doing good things for our earth. I have to always think of days during the summer where it's so hot and dry and the wells in our surrounding rural communities are running low (fortunately we're on city water and don't have this problem), and when I do, I am able to be thankful for any rain we get.  

(3) I am grateful that my children have two sets of grandparents still living, and living well. My husband and I both grew up knowing only one set of grandparents, and so it is nice to see how blessed our children are to have both sets. I know the children enjoyed the time they spent with their grandparents over the past couple of days.


With all of the rain we had yesterday and today, we've noticed our yard is still holding water, particularly in the location of our garden, and has been washing away our top soil. It looks like we'll have to do a raised bed garden after all. I asked the children what sorts of things they would like to grow in our garden this year and they had many ideas. They are getting very excited about it, and I am too. I am ready for spring and summer to return so that we may enjoy the outdoors again. I'm not a fan of the freezing cold. 


I'm going to be blogging a bit differently now, and we'll see how this works out. I will also be doing some backtracking, because I have so much to record but haven't had an abundance of time to do so. I sometimes forget that I started this blog to keep a record of our family happenings and have easily gotten sidetracked.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

January 2018 Meal Plan

I realize that we're already a week into January, but we've been so busy having fun in the snow that I never got around to posting our menu for this month. I used to post my menu often, whether it was a weekly menu or a monthly one, and I really like how it held me accountable to make sure I prepared what was scheduled (rather than being lazy and handing PB&J's to everybody). With it being a new year, now is as good of a time as any to start posting it again.

By having a menu, I'm also able to better stick to a grocery list and budget. There is no impulse buying of extras that I might be able to use for a meal because it has already been decided. 

Note: You can click on the menu to enlarge it.

I kept it simple with only lunch and dinner, as I am taking baby steps back into the blogging world. The gray shaded area shows our vacation from homeschooling, with lunch being "whatever we have or I feel like preparing". When school is in session, I do try to have a nutritious lunch for the children, similar to what I had growing up (I think I'm one of the few people who actually loved school lunch). The children each have a special divided lunch plate for their "school lunch". It's always been exciting for them.

If you are wondering about the spelling of some of the menu items (turk'y, chik'n, etc.), we are vegan and avoid eating any animal products.  Our "meat" products are made from vegetable protein (I like brands like Gardein, Tofurky, and Boca) and the "cheese" is either Daiya or Follow Your Heart brands.

So there you have it!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy New Year!

It always feels good to start with a clean slate each new year. I am trying to do better by living one day at a time, but I was still able to make a few goals that will hopefully make life a little easier.

Scriptures as History

This year, we are reading the scriptures from the beginning as a family. When I was thinking of this goal, I decided to overhaul our homeschool history curriculum. We will now be incorporating the scriptures as part of our history studies. We will still be using Story of the World, but out of sequence. We started with Genesis 1 last night, so I'd say we're off to a good start.

Books, Books, Books

I met my goal of reading 100 books in 2017 and have made the same goal for 2018. As part of my reading, I'll be including books pertaining to the topics we're studying in history. I'm going to keep it light and fun by sticking with historical fiction books rather than non-fiction. I do most of my reading at night while in bed and don't want to have to think too hard about what I'm reading. We'll also be doing more read-alouds this year. The children enjoy them but it's not always easy to find the time during the day when everyone is willing to play quietly and listen.

What's for Dinner?

I need to get back to planning our menu. January is a difficult time to menu plan because half way through the month, my husband will no longer be joining us for dinner. However, I am making the effort and will do my best to follow through with the plan.

Those are my starter goals for 2018. I've always been a work in progress, so I will be adding more goals as the year moves forward.
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