Sidewalk chalk fun + learning

I'm sure I'm not the first person who has ever thought of this, but my mom thought it was really great and wasn't something she'd done before (and I have 5 siblings), so I'd thought I'd put it up here.

Mim is big into hopping these days, as well as shapes and colors.  So now when we go outside to do sidewalk chalk, it turns into a learning game where I draw a bunch of different shapes on the patio and then ask her to jump (or stomp, or stand on one leg on) the shape I name.  It's really fun.  We've tried it with letters and numbers before, as well (she didn't like that as much as just the shapes or colors).

Here's what I mean:

In this variation, I only drew circles (her favorite shape- "Mo kirkle, pees?") and then had her find all the ones of the same color.  Anyway, there's about a million ways you could adapt or modify this and if you're looking for something to do with your little kids this summer, give it a try!


Fun fabric flip flops

Sigh.  Now the whole blogging world (because I assume everyone reads this blog) knows that my feet are totally shaped like flippers.  Seriously.  I have a skinny little heel, but by the time you get to my toes, my feet are overflowing a normal sandal.  Ahwell. 

I found the tutorial here.  So awesome and comfy.  I'm going to make more pairs, too.  For $2.50 (I got the flip flops at Old Navy), why wouldn't I?

Vegetable garden!

Here's the best advice ever for vegetable gardening:  find someone who's a very experienced gardener and then have them plan and pretty much plant your entire garden.

That's what my dad did for me this year, bless his heart forever.  Now I have onions, radishes, carrots, peppers (which I'm incredibly excited for- they've been a big craving all pregnancy), yukon gold potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, butter crunch lettuce, cucumbers, acorn squash, yellow zucchini (another craving), peas, tomatoes, watermelon, crenshaw melon (Mike is sooo excited for those), and pumpkins, all in various states of growing. 

Like I said, my dad planned and mostly planted everything, but I've learned a ton.  For example, I didn't even know before that to harvest lettuce you just pull up the whole plant.  At least that's how it works for butter crunch. 

And now I just have to share some pictures because I'm so proud. (Don't mind the weeds- they die tonight.)
{One of the tomato plants}

{Lettuce!  We'll probably eat this one tonight.}

{Brocolli!  We're definitely having some of this tonight.}

{The crenshaw melon.}

{The acorn squash.  It hadn't even sprouted on Saturday.}

{Two rows of potatoes.  I love potatoes.}

{The onions.  We have a bunch of these, too.}
Something kind of cool- my dad grows almost everything vertically.  Tomatoes, melons, winter squash, and cucumbers (although it might be normal to grow those up in cages, I don't know).  It's because he had really limited space in the first garden he grew and he wanted to get in as much yield as he could.  Anyway, even though we have a lot of space that we could devote to a garden, I just think it's convenient to grow things vertically- it makes finding and picking the veggies really easy.  That's why my tomatoes are planted next to stakes; we're training them to grow up. 

Hooray for fresh veggies this summer!

Yard metamorphosis

So the reason I've been MIA so long- the yard.  We've tried to get some major work done this year, and with the help of a lot of family, it's coming together.  I was going to wait to post about this until it was all grown in and perfect, but I just can't wait anymore.  

Our house when we first moved in:
{Summer 2008}

A little red house, so so cute, but with some things that we wanted to change.

Goodbye huge tree that was wonderful in many ways but too close to the house and hello new windows:
{Spring 2009}

Goodbye to the curb that bisected the property:
{Spring 2010}

Goodbye grass (we had to take it out so we could level the yard and give the entire property a nice grade):
{Early summer 2010}

Not pictured: the ugliest non-lawn ever.  There's a gap in between these two pictures of about 4 months.  We spent the rest of our lawn budget on getting an air conditioning unit for the summer (so worth it), and so after the grass was removed, the weeds came up like crazy and everything was bumpy and awful.  It was the crappiest lawn ever.

It's flat!  (It mostly was, at least.  We still had to work on the grade in several places.  Oh, and we still have to fix the back.)
{Fall 2010}

A new sprinkler system as of this spring (this is where the process started feeling more constructive and less destructive):
{Spring 2011}

The last of the stump gone, a final grade, and grass seed!
{Spring 2011}

My picket fence.  I adore it.  Also, you can't tell in this picture, but there's a green tint on the dirt now that is actually the grass sprouting:
{Early summer 2011}
And finally, grass:

Coming in late summer 2011.

Still a lot to do.  The back has definitely suffered with all the focus on the front, but hopefully we'll be able to make some progress on it before winter.  Hopefully.  The biggest lesson I've learned from this is that everything yard-wise takes at least twice as long and costs twice as much. 

Other yard progress includes a vegetable garden, which I'm going to post about now.