Saturday, May 16, 2015

Spring Yard Work

We've started the first few weeks of May with lots of outdoor time.  We had a long stretch of nice 80 degree temps, and I've used it to do a lot of yard work.  I've cut back all the grasses and trimmed all the bushes, except for the lilacs which are finally in bloom.

As a side note, did you know that when you cut a lilac to use in a vase, you should hammer the end of the stem so that it can absorb more water? That little tip brought to you by my mom via Martha Stewart.

I've also divided the hosta and given away eleven plants to friends.  Here is Jake "helping" me with the hosta.

And here he is five minutes later! 

Seriously,he is actually becoming helpful, when he's in the mood. He's decided to plant basil, a strawberry plant (June maturity), and a cherry tomato plant (July maturity).

Our issue is the bunnies.  I've elevated the pots, so maybe the bunnies won't find these plants.  Say a little prayer!

This year, I decided to switch up the planters on the front steps.  In past years, I've had a tall green plant in the center, but this year, I went with a white geranium for height.  This isn't the best picture, but on either side of the geranium are pink double impatiens and a fuschia.  The middle of the planter has purple mini-petunias (which you totally can't see in this pic), and some white petunias.  There is English ivy on the sides and a sweet potato vine at the front of the planter.  Obviously, my theory on planters is similar to my "More is More" theory on Christmas decorations.   I think these will look great once they fill out a bit.

Last Saturday, we had our mulch delivered. Moving mulch is one of our least favorite chores of the year, but it looks soo good once it's done.  This year, our neighbors let us borrow a wheelbarrow, shovel, and rake, so we had two sets of equipment going at the same time.  This was Frank's pile, and I worked a pile on the driveway.

See what I mean?  Such a pain to do, but such pretty results!

The crazy creatures with whom we share our yard did not agree.  For days, we had mulchy-headed ground squirrels popping up and chattering and bunnies scampering around, confused about the stuff under their feet.

There was even a duck!

Now I plan on sitting back, relaxing and just enjoying the yard for a while. Oh, and watering!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Great Staycationn 2015

Last Tuesday, Frank left work at noon, beginning The Great Staycation 2015. This was the first time Frank has ever taken a few consecutive days off with nothing planned, so it was an epic event.

Tuesday afternoon, we went to the ISU Men's baseball game vs. the University of Illinois Unbeknownst to us, they were holding a pack-the-place event, and the game had a record high attendance of over 1900 people.

The kids liked it, but it's hard to keep their attention at something like that, so we headed out for dinner.  Our choice that night was the Market Grille inside our newly-opened HyVee where kids ate free at a special "Knee-High Buffet."

How weird is is that we were essentially eating inside a grocery store?  And how much weirder is it that we really liked it?!

On Wednesday, Frank took Jacob to school and picked him up.  That's one of those things that I've been doing several times a week for two years now, so I don't think it's exciting, but both Frank and Jacob thought it was pretty cool for dad to go through the drop off lane this time.

Thursday afternoon brought awesome weather, so we were outside playing, biking, and gardening for hours.  Around 4:30, our neighbor texted and asked us to come hang out.  They were outside as well, and within an hour, we had added more adults and kids to the mix.  The kids had a great time riding bikes and rollerbades and playing with sidewalk chalk.  We were able  to meet one of our newer neighbors, and thoroughly enjoyed talking, sipping wine, and watching the kids play.  Before we all disbanded, we decided that "Driveway Sitting" should be a weekly Friday evening event in our neighborhood!

Friday was the day we had planned to go to Scovill Children's Zoo in Decatur.  The weather was perfection in the high 70s/low 80's by the time we arrived in the late morning.

This zoo had a children's area where the kids could pet goats, chickens, and sheep.  They just had some new baby goats born, and they were adorable!  Neither of my kids wanted to pet them, though.

We continued looking at (and posing with) the animals.  That dang white peacock dive-bombed me about two seconds after that picture was taken!

The highlight of the zoo was definitely the train ride.

Who doesn't love a train ride?!

Cartie looooves train rides!

We then spent a while playing at the park attached to the zoo. Different parks are always a hit.

That evening, in keeping with the "Food Frank Likes" theme for the week (We also had homemade pizza and Chinese), I we had grilled steak, mac and cheese, and kale salad.  Oh, and ice cream sandwiches.

Can't forget the ice cream sandwiches.

Our Saturday was also spent outside.  Running, walking, biking, gardening.  Lots of dirt-digging. The adults didn't even shower until late afternoon!

The Great Staycation 2015 was a roaring success! We soaked up every bit of sunshine and had a great time doing everything and nothing all at once.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring Things

Kindergarten Registration 

Mama is simultaneously thrilled and saddened by this one.  Jacob is all thrilled, :)

Our First Outdoor Lunch of the Season

Because everything is better when you can eat outside!

A Zoo Trip

Carter refused to take off his sunglasses that day, even indoors.  He wasn't so sure about the meerkat, either.

The Return of Shadow's Little Friends

And by "little friends," I mean her arch nemesis, the bunnies, whom she follows all around the backyard, moving from window to window.  Quite the hunter she is.  (Except she would have no idea what to do if she caught one!)

Celebrating an Early Easter

The kids were choosing some treats with Grandma!

Lunch at Giant City Lodge

It was a fun time, but it would have been more fun if a certain two-year old wasn't acting like a... well, like a two-year old.  (As I was typing this, he looked at the picture, gave me a big smile and said, "I know that day. I wasn't behavin'!)

A Little Shirtless Guitar-Playing

(In his Paw Patrol pj bottoms, no less!))

Laughing at My Sad-Faced Shark

So this headband with a shark fin came in a kids meal, and Frank put it on Carter.  Apparently, he didn't want it on because his bottom lip came out in his trademark "sad face." He does "sad face" when he wants sympathy.  Poor little shark...

Beautiful, Chilly Sunsets

I can't wait to see the first shoots of green corn popping up in that field.  I love the fall here, but I love the spring, too.

Random Acts of Kindness

I went to college with a girl named Amber, who passed away a few months ago from triple-negative breast cancer.  Her husband maintains a Facebook site where people are encouraged to do random acts of kindness in her memory.  April 1 would have been her birthday, so on that day, the kids and I filled treat bags with balloons, along with a tag explaining Amber's website, and passed them out to the kids in our neighborhood.

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Road Trip!

A couple of weeks ago, I loaded up the kids, and we took a little road trip to Champaign.  We originally planned to go to the Indoor Playground at the First Christian Church, which is a-mazing. Unfortunately, their hours have changed a bit since the last time we were there, and they're no longer open on Fridays.  Of course, it  was a Friday... so we decided to check out a new play area at Windsor Road Christian Church.  (What's with chuirches opening play areas?  Is that a "thing" now?)

Anyway, I knew this play area was much smaller, but we're all pretty easily entertained, especially during the last days of winter.

I used to attend Windsor Road (albiet infrequently) when I lived in Champaign, and it was such an odd feeling going in the door now as a married lady with two kids; one of those moments where you realize how much your life has changed in such a short time.

The playground done in a Road Rally theme, and the space is small but well-allocated.  There is one big slide.

Haha, everybody decided to be tough guys, going down backwards and hanging on the bars.

There is also a smaller structure, which unsurprisingly, Carter was more interested in than Jacob.

Then we realized that there were tons of Legos under the hood of this "truck." My kids aren't really into Legos, but I can imagine some kids would have a blast just sitting here and building.

I made some Lego cars for them, and being able to race cars down the slide gave it a whole new use.

Another thing we really liked was this climbing structure.

Such a monkey!

The other really cool area was a huge traffic cone with pillows and a furry rug.  To me, it looks like a great area to read books, but since we didn't bring any books, the kids crawled through it and they were done.

There was a nice, new coffee bar area off the play area, so we went out there and had a snack.  They also had a complimentary coffee bar set up, which was awesome.  By the time we finished our snack, approximately 45 billion kids had taken over the play area.  Seriously.  So the kids even agreed it was time to be done.

Overall, I give the space an A for effort.  In the middle of winter, it's great to have somewhere indoors to take your kid that isn't McDonald's, so props to Windsor Road for allowing this space for community use.  I would say the play area is best suited for kids who are preschool-age and younger. Would we come here again?  Although I probably wouldn't make the drive specifically to go to this play area, it would be a fun place to stop if we were already in town for another reason.  My kids always enjoy playing somewhere new!