Thursday, June 25, 2009

Baby Love

I know, it's been a while, but in case you hadn't heard, I've been a little busy--in a good way.

I was a quite disappointed that my body didn't go into labor before my induction on the 16th, but once I got to the hospital and got my epidural, that was all forgotten! Dr. Boheen came in to break my water at 8 am and I was already dilated to a 5. Of course, that meant hurry up and send an entire bag of IV fluid rushing through my vein in 3.5 minutes so the epidural could come before the baby did! The epidural itself was the most uncomfortable one of the 6 I've had, but after it was in place, it was the BEST! No weird side pains or need to push the magic button. My legs weren't dead fish attached to my torso, and I could've walked almost immediately after it was removed. I don't know what Dr. Silver did differently than the other Anesthesiologists I've had, but--wow--what a difference it made!
Ok, so onto the exciting stuff. A short 3 hours after my water was broken, I delivered (in one contraction), Dixon Michael Stringham at 7 lbs. 9.5 oz. and 21 inches long.

Wouldn't you know, we forgot to pack the camera, so we missed those first few hours of his life, but Mike went home and picked it up, along with the girls so we got a few good ones later on that day.

Katie and Dixon

Bridget and Dixon

Brooke and Dixon

Maggie and Dixon

As you can imagine, the girls are more than enamored by their new little brother. It's like wasps to a hunk of meat on a picnic table. This poor guy--like it or not--has 4 extra mothers, and I'm sure that will never change.

So far, he's been a pretty good baby. I've only had to get up once or twice a night with him, and I've gotten REALLY good at nursing while sleeping. Heaven knows I've had enough practice! Yeah, I think we'll be keeping this little guy around for a while.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Doe, a Deer...

Last night after the kids were in bed, Mike went out to see how the garden fared with our daily rainstorms this last week. On his way out the door, he was surprised to see a doe standing in the middle of the garden! For those of you who don't know where my house is, I live on a 4-lane highway, with a spectacular view of the freeway just behind the businesses across the street, which then rolls down onto Hill Air Force Base. How in the world a deer managed to get through the AFB, over the freeway, across the highway and into my garden is definitely beyond me! At most, our wildlife consists of ferral cats we see darting throught the field behind the vacant house next door, and we even had a duck take up residence at the mortuary earlier in the spring (until said cats found her, that is...), and of course we have lots of robins and paper wasps, but deer? Not in the 10 years we've been married have we seen one in Roy, let alone our yard.

Anyway, Mike yell-whispered to me that there was a deer in the garden, so I jumped up (I'll let you imagine that for a minute) to find my camera while he ran downstairs to get the kids. By the time we all converged on the deck, the deer had made it's way into the field to the north, and we could only catch glimpses of it from there. It finally jumped back through the neighboring yard and somehow avoided being hit by a car or two on the highway as it crossed the street and disappeared behind the loan store. Katie slept through the whole thing, but after finding out about it this morning said she needed "proof." Sign-seeker. Mike took her out to the garden to show her the hoofprints, which was enough to satisfy her, and Bridget just kept asking if it was a deer or a donkey we saw. A donkey certainly would've been more believeable, but these pictures do prove otherwise.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

On Living my Dreams

Henry David Thoreau once said,
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."

If someone would've asked me in high school, or even college, what I thought I'd be doing in 15-20 years, I confidently (though naiively) would've said I'd be raising my family. Well, here I am, living the life I thought I'd imagined--I only wish that imagination would've been a little more detailed, because I don't think I ever saw myself doing most of what I do now. That imagination has become a bit more detailed over the years, and has surprisingly revealed my love for gardening, and this dream I have to own acres and acres where my kids can run free and we can all pick raspberries and tomatoes together after riding horses through the open fields. I imagine the kids helping Mike build a treehouse in the monstrous oak in the far corner of our backyard, where we spend hours having tea parties, playing pirates, and reading stories until dark that spark even more imagination.

I think the first step toward realizing this dream has been in all the planning and work in the garden this year. I finally waddled out there this morning to document our progress over the last few weeks. This season has certainly been a learning experience for us, as this is really our first go at serious gardening and on such a large scale. There have been a few disappointments already, but I think all that can be put behind us with one bite of a juicy red ripe Paul Robeson (heirloom tomato) sometime in July!

Head Lettuce is looking beautiful right now, though I have yet to see any heads! We'll keep an eye on these over the next few weeks to make sure it doesn't get too hot to send them bolting befor we have a chance to harvest any. It's our first attempt at a head-type lettuce, so we'll see how we do.

The Red Norland potatoes are looking fantastic! One entire bed, with only a handful that didn't come up is pretty great to me. I wasn't sure if they'd actually grow, since they sat around in the open for nearly a month before the bed was ready to plant them in. In fact, some of the shriveled sprouts were a good 6-8 inches long and I thought they'd immediately die when placed in the ground. I'm glad I was wrong--that's not something I say very often...

These are the Russet Potatoes that we planted a couple of weeks after the reds. With the reds taking off the way they did, I was concerned that these wouldn't because of the opposite problem. They had only had a few days to sprout by the time we needed to plant them, so the tiny sprouts were only about 1/4 inch long. Again, I'm glad I was wrong. (For those of you keeping track, that's twice.)

And here are the Leaf Lettuce that we grew last year as well. These beautiful plants are "cut and come again" which means we'll be having lots of salads and sandwich greens until it gets too hot for them and they bolt, then we'll wait for it to cool down and plant some more! Two of these will actually become our lunch today...mmmmm. I've heard that lettuce is sweeter when you harvest it before the sun comes up, but I've yet to be up that early to test the theory.

These are unknown squash plants that are thriving in part of our compost pile. Don't ever let anyone tell you that compost doesn't make a difference because clearly, it does! These are the best looking plants we have in the garden right now & they aren't even in the garden!

This celery was planted earlier this week, but spent several weeks before that in a flat. I've never grown celery before, so we'll keep close track of it. So far, it seems to be surviving pretty well.

The carrots are planted between the peas and the beets. We've only lost a couple of plants, and the rest seems to be making it okay. I definitely want to plant more of these next year, though.

Our cabbage did not fare too well with the transplant, though thankfully we do a have a couple of them that survived.

Same with the broccoli and cauliflower. These definitely needed to be planted deeper, and possibly planted directly into the ground instead of transplanted. I've also noticed that something likes to eat the leaves, though I haven't seen the culprit yet. Hopefully we can still harvest a few stalks of each this year.

Ahhh, my beautiful Cylindra Beets! As opposed to the round, bulbous beets usually grown, these grow more like a carrot--long and thin-ish, so they take up less space in the garden. These should be ready to harvest fairly soon, and I'm very excited since I'm the only one around here who likes them! I want to try to use the greens this year, but I've never had them. Anyone got a good recipe for beet greens?

When my in-laws discovered we were planning such a large garden, they asked us to grow some tomatoes for them. (Apparently Wyoming is not a great gardening state!) These are the plants they brought us from the nursery-- Better Boy, Roma, Super Fantastic (sounds promising, right?), and four cherry tomatoes. So far, they're doing really well. We planted them in a different bed than our heirlooms, just so we could avoid any cross-pollination. May the best tomato win!

This is a shot across the four southern beds. Far bed is peas, carrots, beets, radishes and swiss chard; next is heirloom tomatoes and one lonely basil plant that actually survived (dill, parsely & cilantro were dead the day after we transplanted...sob); red norland potatoes; then onions, lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower & cabbage.

Every one of the asparagus plants came up this year! Yay! While they do look a bit like tumbleweeds, I can assure you they are not! I'm so looking forward to harvesting these next year...
First year with the onions too, but they are growing quite well, despite a few bald spots in the bed, where some didn't take. Next year we'll have garlic to grow along with them.

This may look like a patch of overgrown weeds, but it's actually our peas! The brown spots are where the cat decided to roll around, so I guess it's a good thing we planted so many. They are just now starting to flower and give us little pods, so by the time this baby gets here, we should be starting to harvest them.
Some of the things I've learned so far:
1. Growing in flats is great for some plants, but not necessarily for others. We'll sow lettuce, broccoli, caulifower, cabbage and herbs directly into the ground next year because I think they might do better without all the handling. We'll also directly sow peas and corn because holy cow it took a long time to transplant those peas, as opposed to poking a seed in the ground!!!
2. Be more careful to harden off plants before transplanting. Plants need to get acclimated to the outside weather before throwing them into the ground.
3. Plant immediately after digging the beds to avoid having to pull weeds again. This probably would've been done if Mike had me to help, as opposed to eight little "helping" hands.
4. Plant at the right depth, which is usually much deeper than you think.
All in all, I'm very optomistic about our harvest this year. Even though things haven't always gone as planned, every failure gives me an opportunity to learn more about how to be successful, and I'm pretty determined to be so. Right now I'm left with a feeling that I may not exactly be living the life I've imagined, but growing a garden is the first step in going confidently in that direction.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In the Good Ol' Summertime!

As I was searching for some good ideas to keep the kiddos (and therefore myself) sane this summer, I came across this blog w/ some pretty good ideas that I thought I'd share.

While keeping to a schedule during the summer is unthinkable for some, it's a necessity for our family! I haven't had the chance to sit down and work out my schedule yet, since a lot of that is pending the temperment of the new baby, but there are a few things that are mandatory on a daily basis.

1. Family prayer (am & pm)
2. Family scripture study
3. Exercise
4. Chores
5. Quiet time

On a weekly basis, we'll continue to have Library Day, which in my opinion is totally mandatory! Most local libraries have a kids' program, where they read stories, sing songs, and do a craft. Ours has a summer reading program with weekly prizes. They also have some great computer programs that my kids love to play, and we load up on books for "Quiet Time" for the week. It was by far the biggest success of last summer, and I'm really looking forward to it again.

Like I said, the rest of the schedule is pending, but I look forward to figuring it all out! If anyone else has some other resources, please do share!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

It's the last week of school around here, and I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that I will have a carpool reprieve for a few months. I've turned into such a homebody that the thought of leaving the house some days just makes me want to crawl deeper under the refuge of my comforter. Today was just such a day, but being consigned to my duty, and knowing that enduring just one more week was manageable, I left the house to pick up Brooke from Kindergarten.

As I approached the Layton exit, I noticed that the city tractors were out in full-force, mowing down the weeds on the side of the road. With all the dust and weeds flying, I even thought to myself, "I'm glad that's not my job today..." The last mower we came to had just made a turn and came up by the shoulder of the road, proceeding in my direction. Just as we passed one another, there was a loud POP almost like a gunshot, and then the sound of shattering glass falling into my car. Poor Bridget started screaming and crying hysterically, while Katie just kept saying, "What happened, Mom? What happened?" Apparently, some sort of debris had been kicked up by the mower, hitting the front passenger side window, shattering it into a million pieces. I pulled off to the side of the road, hoping to speak to the mower's operator, but of course, he didn't know anything had happened, and was 1/2 mile down the road by then. Since I decided it was not very smart to get out of my car on the side of the freeway, and since I had no access to necessary phone numbers, I slowly drove to the school, hoping glass didn't fly in the direction of the girls along the way. I contacted the police dept. and waited for an officer to call back, but after waiting around for 30 min., decided to do the legwork myself. I got a hold of the City Parks Superintendent who verified that it was their crew (and not UDOT) mowing there, and gave me direction as to what to do and how to do it, in order to file a claim. He was very helpful for someone who was going to have to pay for my new window! Anyway, here are some pics I took of the damage.