My New Garden

For Mother's Day I asked for a garden.

We had a little tiny garden when we lived in California because we had a little tiny backyard. Now that we live in Iowa, we have a big backyard that backs up against an empty field and I really wanted to take advantage of our space. And I love tomatoes and I hate paying so much for them at the store. And I want to be like Michelle Obama. I kind of love her. Except for the fact that she has beehives because I find that ridiculously reckless and scary. *shiver*

We got the materials and the plants and James started clearing some space in our yard. Then it started to rain. It rained every day he was off work for two weeks. Here's my garden on Day One:

And here's my garden Two Weeks Later:

Isn't it so cute? I thought it was until James mentioned that it looked like a little backyard cemetery. Now that's what I see when I look in my backyard. I was planning on making a little wooden plaque for it. You know, something cheesy like "Our Garden," but now I may just call it "Our Garden: Feel Free to Bury Your Beloved Pets Here As Long As You Don't Disrupt My Tomatoes." Sooner or later I'm going to paint the fence white, and I'm hoping that will change my view of it.

The kids were in charge of hauling away small clumps of grass from the garden area. Here's my little 3-year-old girl pushing her own kid-sized wheelbarrow to the work site.

We have about a zillion bunnies around here, so this was not an easy process. If we just threw some plants in the ground, they would feed the bunnies for one night and that would be the end of it. I would have been happy just putting up some bunny wire, but James wanted me to have something special - you know, like our own family burial plot. I think he said something like, "It's Mother's Day. You pushed two huge babies out of your vagina, you deserve a pretty garden." And you know, he's right!

And guess how much soil we had to buy for our little garden? None! More proof that I live in farm land - the soil in my backyard is this beautiful, dark, rich wonderfulness. It's pretty amazing.

We planted all sorts of peppers and tomatoes and herbs. And see that little strip of grass? James made a little walking / hanging out area for the kids. Really it's for Ella, as she's not a big fan of walking in dirt.

And I got some cute little wood sticks to label everything:

Peyton and Ella love watering our vegetables and herbs with their little watering cans. I love watching them running around with bare feet getting all dirty.

I've now had my tomatoes in the ground for 4 days. Look! Look! Look! 4 days! This is what happens when you live in Iowa! Do you see the tomato? Do you?!? I'm so excited!

Thank you, sweet husband, for my wonderful Mother's Day gift. It was totally worth pushing out those kids of yours.

Make a Fabric-Covered Bulletin Board

Cork board (mine is 24 x 36 inches) 
Fabric (the width and length of the cork board plus 2 or 3 inches)
Open-backed frame (the same size opening as the cork board)
Duct tape
Frame hanging hardware (if the frame doesn't already have it)
Pretty Ribbon
Tacky Glue

Here's the front of my cork board.

Here's a close-up of my pretty white fabric.

Lay out your fabric (face down) on the floor and center the cork board on top. Wrap the sides of the fabric around to the back of the cork board, make sure the fabric is pulled tight, and staple like crazy. (I tried it with a staple gun first, because I was trying to act all tough, but the staples were too long and went all the way through the cork board. I ended up using a regular stapler instead. It jammed about a hundred times during the process, but it worked!)

Lay your frame on the floor (face down) and fit your covered cork board inside. Duct tape your cork board to your frame. (I wanted some of those little slider things that hold the picture in the frame, but I couldn't find them anywhere. Really, it doesn't matter. Duct tape might not be the prettiest, but who cares? It's the back for crying out loud.)

Attach the hanging hardware to your frame. Turn your board over so it's face up. Cut your ribbon to size and glue it on.

I framed complimentary blue paper with dark brown cardstock and tacked them up. I write the things I need to do on individual little Post-Its and stick them on. I like that my lists look organized instead of tacked up all over the board. On the bottom right you'll see cute little drawings from my kids and a sweet card from my husband. And I totally admit that sometimes I just enjoy looking at it because it looks so organized!

Fish Aquarium Kid Kit

Every once in a while I decide that a certain kid kit needs to be revamped. This week's winner was my Fish Aquarium Kit. It still has the same basic materials: sand, shells, seaweed, etc., but I wanted this version to include some more of the supplies that were needed. So now, you only need to supply scissors and a crayon (if your child wants to draw a fish mouth). 

We all know that kids need lots of scissor practice, so my new version comes with pre-printed scrapbook paper for easy cutting. Your child will just need to follow the lines to cut out the fish parts. The shapes are relatively simple: ovals, triangles, and trapezoids, and I just think it adds extra charm when you can tell that a child did the cutting. But for the younger children who haven't quite learned to use scissors, I also offer pre-cut shapes because I'm super nice like that. And I even include a little cheat sheet so you can teach your child the proper names of the fins without having to look them up on Google, like I did. See that? I do ALL the hard work! :)

I love this craft because it incorporates lots of child-crafting techniques: painting, gluing, cutting, and arranging. And the end result is bright and colorful and so darn cute! 

Even though Ella had made a Fish Aquarium the first time around, when she saw the materials out again she wanted to make another "Fishy Quarium." Here's her new one:

She's so proud of her little fishies! 

Sure, They Look Sweet...

Two times we have let Ella pick out her own doll from the toy section at Target. Both times she fell in love with motion sensitive dolls that make some sort of noise and movement. Watching my little girl in her car seat on the way home cuddling a new baby and saying, "Thank you so much for my baby, Mommy, I love her!" is one of the best feelings ever in the entire world. The first one she named Purple Baby. The second one she named Crawling Baby. Because she's totally original like that.

Since the babies make noise, we insist that they are turned off at bedtime, otherwise Ella would play with them all night. She's usually pretty good about accepting this. But on more than one occasion I have gone into her room in the morning to have a purple doll unexpectedly babble and scare the freakin' crap out of me. It's more of a maniacal laughter than a babble, but whatever, Ella loves them so much. So I'm trying to get over the fact that the other day, when I was alone with Purple Baby, she moved suddenly and and I jumped about 4 feet in the air. And when I went to turn her off she said, "Mama," but I know what she really meant was, "My name is Talky Tina, and you'd better be nice to me."

And then, late one night, I walked in to check on my sweet baby girl. What do you see?

Do you see my sweet little girl cuddling with a sweet little purple baby? Because I'll tell you what I see. I see Talky Freakin' Tina from The Twilight Zone attacking my daughter! And I would have taken that doll out and put it in the trash, but I've seen the Living Doll episode enough times to know better. So instead I snapped a picture for proof (in case Purple Baby decides that she doesn't think she likes me) and slowly backed out of the room.

And that, my internet friends, is just one of the ways The Twilight Zone has scarred me.

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I dedicate this post to my Mom, who I'm pretty sure forced me to watch The Twilight Zone as punishment when I was a child. I guess that's one way to parent. Thanks, Mom.

The Dinosaurs Are Here!

Reiman Gardens continues to impress me. Last week they started to set up a traveling dinosaur exhibit which will end up including over 25 realistic, life-size dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. I knew this would be a huge hit with Peyton, so we packed a picnic lunch and headed over there during James' lunch break to see what kind of dinos they had so far.

I had really been looking forward to exploring the dinos with my kids, so even though it was predicted that we'd have thunderstorms off and on all week, we took a chance and went anyway.

Here's how the day went:
Peyton's at school - no rain, no rain, no rain
I pack us a picnic lunch - no rain
We arrive at Reiman Gardens - POURING RAIN
The rest of the day - no rain.

I'm totally not complaining, I just find it amusing.

And here are the cutest kids in the world with their cute umbrellas.

Ella is just now learning how to control her umbrella in the wind and rain - it's tough work for a 3-year-old! See how hard she's concentrating?

I don't think I can even describe how excited and amazed Peyton was to stand THIS CLOSE to a T-Rex skull. And when have you ever seen a freaky-scary dinosaur head nestled among beautiful red tulips? Never. And you never will again I tell you! I'm your only link to dinosaur heads in tulips. You are welcome.

Peyton has read a zillion dino books, watched a zillion dino shows, but to see one up close added a whole new level of understanding. When he first walked up to this one, he said to me, so matter-of-factly, "It's so big! But dinosaurs aren't really this big." It's funny, because so many of his books say things like: "Tyrannosaurus Rex was as tall as an elephant." And "The Pteranodon's wings opened as wide as a small airplane." And we talk about the size of dinosaurs, but obviously nothing is as good as seeing them in real life. Which is another reason I think this exhibit is so awesome. I could say to my son, "This is exactly how big they were." His eyes seriously lit up with his new-found knowledge. So cool.

And off the dinosaur topic, we got to see a Canadian Goose family! With baby goslings! The same little babies that used to be in the eggs we saw at the Reiman Garden Spring Fling. Go here to see the nest they used to live in. It was so neat see these little guys start out as eggs. Ah - nature!

The Opposite Side of Parent of the Year

James: "Where are all the scissors?"

Me: "In the pile of magazine stuff on the floor."

James: "Seriously? On the floor? Why do we even bother making the house baby-proof? Why do we have toilet locks...."

Me: "I don't even think we need those things anymore."

I was in the middle of reading about the Jon and Kate plus Eight scandal, so I wasn't really paying attention, but I'm pretty sure the rest went something like this:  "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, irresponsible, blah, blah, blah..." 

And then I hear Ella humming the "Brusha Brusha Brusha" song that we sing sometimes when the kids brush their teeth. I glance up from my laptop to see her smiling and pretend-brushing her front teeth with a closed pair of pink kid scissors. Smiling. And Brushing. Peyton (because he's a fan of lax parenting) and I looked at each other and busted out laughing. Well played, Ella. Well played.

For the record, I know she NEVER would have touched the grown-up scissors. She knows better. But I'm pretty sure she just chose sides and picked her favorite parent. And it's not the one who leaves sharp objects laying around all willy-nilly. 

Point: James