Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gardening 2012; Louis-style

[WARNING: This post has very little to do with the children, though it is something that was a big part of our summer.  I really think they enjoyed the gardening and I hope we can  continue/expand things next year.  I apologize in advance that I don't have any pics of the kids with my plants.  I will work on that in the coming days.  I took these and worked on the post while they napped earlier today.]

Troy and I had discussed starting a small (think Square-foot Gardening) garden this year in order to save money on produce, teach the kiddos about where fruits, veggies and herbs come from and also to be sure that we knew that the foods we were feeding them were organic.  I attended a great one-day event here in Knoxville, called Eat, Play Live Knox, which inspired me even more to try to grow more things at home and also buy produce grown locally.  Well, in came my date with the infamous breast cancer beast and that sort of threw a kink in it.

Some amazing people from Westlake, where the kids attend preschool, came while I had my surgery and again when I was recovering to clean up the yard, flowerbeds and also plant some things that I got with a gift card and a half off certificate at Stanley's Greenhouse.  My idea when looking for plants was that I wanted things that would attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other birds.  I intention was to plant these goodies near the front bay window next to a bird feeder and bird bath (which ended up in the trash recently because it was falling apart).  Anyway, the kids and I can watch the birds and butterflies near the window even on days when I don't feel like getting outdoors because of the heat.  I also wanted plants that had different textures and purposes (herbs, vs ornamentals) so that we could talk about this as they grew and as the kids helped me water them.  They enjoyed helping out with the planting and watering this summer.  They have also been good at working on pulling weeds, though sometimes they might mistake a perfectly good plant for a weed.  Oops.

Today I realized that some are annuals and some are perennials and I have no idea what to do with them once we have cooler temps, etc.  Plus we have had great success with a few plants and have had some issues with others and I wanted to document.  I've made a few notes in the captions.  If you are a gardener and are able to offer any advice, especially regarding the first two pictures and also the look of the mint, please kindly leave a comment.  I am very open to advice, suggestions and ideas.  Below are pics that I took today.  I made notes to myself and created a Garden 2012 file in my email folders but I thought I'd just share the pics and some personal notes here:

I cannot locate the tag and have been unable to remember what this is, though I believe I got it because it attracts butterflies.  It has continued to bloom all summer and shows no signs of stopping yet.  I'm taking input if anyone knows what this one is!

AKA "Shrimp Flower": This one didn't survive due to a weed-whacker incident. We had another plant that I called my "Dr. Seuss plant" because it was tall and lanky and had these round flowers that made me think of the plants and trees that appear in his book.  Unfortunately, this one didn't survive the weeding and we also lost the tag from the nursery.  Hopefully I can locate it again next year, though I might choose to skip it because it was pretty delicate.

Basil, though I can't remember if it is "sweet" basil or something else. It has done VERY well!

The mint is still alive, but doesn't look too good. Taking any advice.....

Lavender because it smells good and I love the color.

Salvia Evolution.  One of my favorites and it has done really well to the point where we had to tie it up so it doesn't fall over.

Cape Town Blue/Blue Felicia Daisy has also done well, but I wish it was still blooming. Love the colors.

Bee balm is fragrant and attracts birds and butterflies. I had quite a few nice blooms but then I missed watering it. Not sure if more blooms will appear as the card indicated it blooms mid- to late-summer.

A gift from Tom and Karen - my absolute favorite addition! - a weeping cherry near the front window, but not too close. I can't wait to see it grow.

Russian sage which I purchased and had placed near the front porch because it is fragrant and wispy and also has the silvery-light-green colored leaves.  

The Balloon Flower blooms all summer as long as you remember to remove the dead flowers. It has pretty green leaves and the beautiful purple/violet flowers.  Definitely a keeper!

Flambé yellow
Chrysocephalum apiculture
This one did so-so as it didn't get quite enough water, though I'm told it does fine in drought conditions. But it continues to bloom, which makes me happy.

Pixie Twinkle/Tall Garden Phlox- We have had great success with the creeping phlox variety and this one was really pretty at the nursery.  It has actually done well, though I neglected to pull off dead flowers and it looks a little messy at the moment.

Mexican Heather has been a favorite of mine for many, many years, but I have never planted it. It seems to be SO easy to maintain and it has the beautiful green leaves and purple flowers that have continued to bloom all summer.

Wormwood/silver brocade has done so well for us and grown into a much larger plant that what we purchased in  May.  I love the soft leaves which provided interesting textures for the kids and the color is nice when mixed in with the other greener plants.
**I should also mention that my all-time favorite plant/flower is the Hydrangea and I received TWO plants back in May.  They have survived, barely, but I didn't get to photograph them because I was being attacked by mosquitoes and just couldn't take it any longer.  I dream of having rows and rows of hydrangeas lining my fence area sort of like my Great Aunt had in Cape Cod.  They were just beautiful and there were hundreds of them.  Here is a stock photo of some that I love:

This is NOT my image.
Southern Living online

Friday, August 24, 2012

4 Year Old Stats...Running a Little Behind This Time

Clark started Pre-K at his school (on a stagger start schedule) last week.  I was on the phone with the administration the week prior getting final paperwork together and didn't believe it when they said records indicated he hadn't been to the doctor since Feb 2011 (for a physical).  I called the doctor's office myself and yes, it was true and I was that mom.  You see, I had them booked for physicals around their birthday, but someone was sick and we needed to reschedule.  It is just easier to keep them on the same schedule, so when one cancels, we cancel all three.  Well, then this whole breast cancer thing came up and I just completely forgot to ever get it scheduled again.  Seriously, I am that mom.  I hate taking perfectly healthy children into an office where there are sick kids wandering around and spreading germs anyway, so you won't see me jumping at the chance to go to the office, despite the fact that we love the doctor and nurses and nurse practitioners.  And then I just had so many other things going on that I completely forgot.

Fast forward a few days and now I had a deadline to meet and the office managed to fit Clark in last week and the girls in this week.  I felt it necessary to post the stats all together, so I've been waiting with Clark's numbers until the girls had their appointment as well.  Drum roll please............

Official age: 4 years and almost 7 months

Kendall 39lbs (61%) and 42.2in (70%)

Emma 33lbs (17%) and 40.2in (29%)

Clark 36lbs (31%) and 42.5in (68%)

As our doctor predicted at age two, it still appears that Emma is built like a gymnast - petite and strong with long torso and short legs (AKA low center of gravity) and she will be lucky to hit 5 ft - 5 ft 2 in.  We are going to have to keep her focused on growing just a little bit taller before we can plan a family trip to Disney because the height requirements for some rides is 42 inches.  She is almost there.

It looks like there is a good chance Kendall will be taller at 5 ft 8-10in or so.  I knew she had sprouted and was growing quickly because dresses were suddenly too short at the beginning of the summer.  She is so muscular as well and even showed off her abs when the doctor checked out her belly.  She was very interested in what was going on around her.

Clark is growing like a weed.  Originally he was the smallest one of the bunch and now he is the tallest, though not by much.  He will have to keep eating those vegetables to stay ahead of his sister.  He was very chatty during both visits and was so pleasant with the staff when it was just the two of us for his appointment.  It made my heart smile to see him communicate with other adults and have conversations that were completely appropriate.  Of course, he asked about their vehicles and what color truck/car that they own, but that is just Clark.

They all handled their shots (just one for each child) as well as could be expected, but it did help that they got a sticker, a "treasure box" prize, a lollipop and then a trip to Wendy's for a Frosty.  Unfortunately, when two go at the same time, one gets the shot first and the other one has to witness it before actually experiencing it for themselves and that was not good for Kendall.  Poor thing.  She was asking for her shot as soon as we arrived and then Emma got hers first and it went downhill very fast as both girls got pretty upset.  Last year, Kendall actually watched them give her the shot and barely made a peep, so I was a little surprised by her reaction, but can't blame her since I've never been a fan of shots myself.

It is pretty late and I've got a long day ahead of me, so I'm going to stop here and plan to post another update tomorrow or sometime this weekend.

Happy Friday, friends!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Olympics 2012 Coverage at the Louis House

We chose to cancel cable last year and just subscribe to Hulu Plus and Netflix for a grand total of about $17 per month plus internet of $51 vs our prior cable/internet bill of approximately $125-$150/month. We just don't watch TV enough to justify such an expense and we were trying to find ways to cut back. Yes, there are some things that I miss, like A&E, Discovery Channel, Lifetime, HGTV and the Food Network. But there are so many options to watch current programming on various websites, Hulu or Netflix, that I don't miss too much. Well, except for the fact that I really don't even keep up with what is on TV lately, so I do miss a lot but I'm not even aware of it.

All of that lead to me stating that yesterday was the first time we turned on coverage of the Olympics. The kids have been pretty run down, not napping and sleeping very well and are fighting runny noses and coughs, presumably from allergy issues. Since there is always so much to get done around the house, it was a good time to have "family day" (Emma's declaration) around the house. The kids were content playing on their Leapsters, opening their restaurant and even watching some of the Olympics.

When I first mentioned turning it on, they asked "What is the Olympics?" and I had to Google what to discuss with preschoolers, especially since I didn't have a great explanation prepared. I mean I "know" what the whole idea is, sort of, but didn't exactly know how to put it into terms that the kids would understand. And then I wasn't even sure I knew what they REALLY were. Sporting events that are competitive between countries all over the world. These athletes are the best of the best. But I just don't really think about exactly what they mean.

And then, when I first turned it on, it was coverage of tennis. I don't know that they had ever watched tennis, but they were pretty interested and asked all sorts of questions, mostly about the people on either side in the very tall chairs. And some thoughts about the sweat band worn by one player.

Later, there was a story on the 1972 gymnast, Olga Korbut, who won a number of gold medals for Russia. She also was the reason behind a huge interest in the United States for girls to start taking gymnastics. It became quite a big industry here as a result of witnessing her amazing performances. They played back some of her routines on the uneven bars, the floor and one other event (balance beam?). Again, the kids were all pretty interested, especially the girls. What I didn't plan for was their interest in imitating the floor routine. Kendall decided to do all sorts of jumping and diving onto the floor and rolling into a somersault along with rolling over on her side and doing dance moves at the same time. They also tried their hand at the uneven bars by using their plastic Angelina Ballerina ballet bar. Um, no. I don't think so. That was a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, Kendall fell over with it on top of her as I was walking out of the room. She didn't get hurt, but didn't come running to me either since she knew she had been warned. I just kept walking and started praying that we weren't headed to the ER.

Daddy sat down with them for lunch and watched the Equestrian event. What an interesting, albeit it a little slow, event to watch with them. They were simply fascinated watching a rider get the horse to jump over fences, small ponds and other items that were London-inspired, such as a double-decker bus replica (I think it was just the ends of a fence that were decorated this way, but I didn't get a good look). They would make the "aaawww" sound, as did other spectators, when a horse would accidentally knock over a rail of the fence or dip a hoof in the water.

During dessert that evening (homemade peach cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream...way to go Daddy!) we watched the women's diving event. We did let them know ahead of time that these women practiced a lot in pools that are very deep in order to dive off of the board. They loved watching the women jump into the air (spring board diving) and then come down doing all sorts of twists, flips and turns just before splashing (and sometimes not splashing very much at all) into the water.

All in all, I felt really good about the TV time for once. Troy and I remember when were were growing up, everything else sort of took a time out for the television coverage of the Olympics. We, of course, didn't have over 100 channels to watch to distract anyone's attention, but even the regular channels just didn't have much that competed as they typically played re-runs of shows. The whole family would usually get together and watch some events. It was certainly nostalgic to hear the theme song played yesterday and I hope to keep them interested during many more Olympic gatherings in the future. There were definitely a lot of ideas related to celebrating and having parties or outside games inspired by the Olympics which will be lots of fun as they get older.

Will watching the games move them to try tennis, water polo, horseback riding, gymnastics or diving? Who knows. But it was certainly time well spent and that was good enough for me.