Thursday, January 31, 2013

That's What Solana Said - January

I  usually clean the kitchen after putting the girls to bed but felt like taking the night off so I left it a mess. Apparently, I was still feeling lazy the next morning because I hadn't cleaned it before Solana wandered in. I was sitting on the couch when Solana comes running out of the kitchen, "Mommy! Why aren't you cleaning the kitchen!?!?  It's a mess!!!" Sigh.

That's what Chloe said – January

We were playing pretend game that included a pack of crazy squirrels that were chasing us. Suddenly, the squirrels caught up to us and we had to run fast. Chloe: Hurry Mommy! Slide!!!!
Me: Why?
Chloe: Cubuz! I said so!
Me: Touché

Fairness. Chloe seems to be learning a lot from me lately:
Me: Alright, climb up into your chair, Chloe.
Chloe: That's NOT how you ask nicely.
Me: Yes, well, that's true. But I'm the Mommy so I get to tell you what to do. ;-)
Chloe: <silence stare> I don't think she liked my answer.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Vegetable Garden 2012

It's actually 2013 but I just realized that I never posted about my vegetable garden last year. Dave delivered a huge gift to me for Mother's Day. After two years of whining about my sunless garden spot in the back corner of our lot he decided to build me a new one. I was so excited!!!

He first built four square gardens. I don't know if you can see but he even drilled holes in the boxes and laced twine back and forth through the garden to make them Square Foot Gardens. I first borrowed Mel Bartholemew's Square Foot Garden book from the library a couple of years ago and I'm definitely converted to his method of gardening. The idea is to produce a large variety of vegetables for a family in a small space. Instead of growing rows of vegetables you grow small blocks of vegetables. Each square garden contains 16 - 1x1' squares and each square can potentially hold a different type of vegetable.

In these pictures Dave already built the garden boxes. Together we mixed the soil and filled the boxes. It's a mixture of vermiculite, peat moss, homemade compost, and horse manure.

 You can barely see my little plants in the garden. They were all started from seeds indoors or sewn directly into the soil. The cardboard is covering the newly planted seeds to keep them from drying out.

In these four small gardens I grew: 5 types tomato, cucumber, tomatillo, ground cherries, basil, cilantro, parsley, catnip, oregano, nasturtium, dwarf sunflower, marigold, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, carrots, bell pepper, serrano pepper, radishes. All from seed. 

By July the garden had really taken off. Here you can see how he finished the frame of the fence, covered the grass with garden cover and pebbles, added a gate, and entry stones. It's a beautiful garden. 
We saw many firsts. First tiny tomato
First tiny cucumber
First harvest: lettuce and radishes. This was actually earlier. I'm thinking late May.
First flower

By the end of the growing season I was definitely appreciating Dave's hard work. And my hard work tending the garden was really paying off!

I grew tons of veggies. We'd never eaten fresh veggies in such large quantities. It felt good! Dave picked up this basket at a garage sale for $1 and this $1 basket worked hard. I can't even say how many times we filled it.

As we came closer to the fall the big tomatoes really started ripening. I par boiled, peeled, seeded, and froze lots. We're now well into January and still using frozen tomatoes in recipes. I've made tomato sauce, meat sauce, enchilada sauce, tomato/kale/barley soup, you name it. I also froze a huge stash of bell peppers and made a yummy bell pepper soup. It was sort of like goulash.
As the Spring approaches I anxiously await the start of gardening season. I save my unused seeds from the previous year and use them again. (I keep them in an airtight tin with plenty of those little dry packs that keep moisture out of foods.) I didn't buy any seeds last year. But I have bought a few new ones to add to the mix for this year. They arrived in the mail last week. I can't wait to get them started!

Eye Update and Second Opinion

We've had two appointments since my last eye update.

1. Visit to Chloe's Ophthomologist. Her pressures were fine. She did much better with the pressure test, too. I was incredibly impressed because I don't think there are many kids who would easily let a tech pry their eye open and touch their eyeball with a metal instrument. I informed her doctor that I'd made an appointment with a glaucoma specialist in Cincinnati. This was contrary to our previous agreement where he had suggested his friend/colleague in Columbus. He expressed great pleasure in my choice of doctors and said he likes this doctor a lot. Then he prescribed Chloe's patching be increased to 4 hours a day. I was less than thrilled with his new order but we definitely don't want Chloe's right eye to take over nor do we want her left eye to 'give up.' Chloe now wears her patch at school twice a week. I was apprehensive about that at first but, being the trooper she is, she's handling it well. Chloe never takes her patch off. That wasn't a concern. I was mainly worried about her ability to navigate and participate. I know it's more difficult for her but she never complains. Every once in a while she suggests that I cover the eye instead. She knows she can see better with her right eye. Little stinker. I feel badly when she tells me that she doesn't like her patch but I just tell her that's it's important to wear her patch so her eyes can get stronger. She accepts that and dutifully wears it four hours a day.

2. Visit to the Cincinnati Eye Institute. The facility is beautiful. The doctor was wonderful. Chloe had an eye exam like a big kid and looked through the instruments. She had to stand on the chair in order to rest her chin and forehead and look through the big instrument that we all look through at our eye exams but I sat behind her and held her by the waist. She took her dilating drops like a pro - impressing everyone as usual. The doctor was satisfied with Chloe's pressures but did note a slight elevation in her left eye. That was to be expected. She was also happy with Chloe's current coarse of treatment. Her only suggestion was to make sure the pediatrician and pulmonologist are aware that she's on Cosopt because it's a beta blocker and could have a negative affect on her is she still has pulmonary issues like asthma. She also suggested we try different drops. Cosopt has two meds in it and we might consider a drop that has only one medicine. Maybe we could try it for a week before her next examination under anesthesia? Then we can check to see if it's good enough to keep her pressures down. If we can get away with medicating her less that would be good.

That was it. I'm glad to have gotten a second opinion and this new doctor said to feel free and contact her if we have any questions in the future. We won't be following up with her. I only wanted a second opinion. Her current Optho treats for everything that the Cincinnati doctor could treat but it's awfully nice to have the peace of mind that we did it. And also to have made a connection if we ever want to seek out advice again.

Winter Activities

The winter has set in and the girls haven't been able to play outside for a while. After our Christmas-time snow melted the backyard turned into a swamp. We took a LONG walk to the park last weekend to take advantage of some favorable weather but otherwise the girls have been stuck inside for a couple of weeks now. 

The slide has made its annual appearance indoors. I think this is its third winter indoors. I swear, this slide sees more action during the winter than the summer! I'm so grateful for it! The girls' form of play this year, though,  has been sending chills up Dave's spine. They're a little more...daring, shall we say?

While they spend lots of time on the slide they've also spent loads of time in their new rice bin. I made this a couple of weeks ago and I swear that this rice has seen more play time than all their Christmas toys combined. I got the idea from a blog that was pinned on Pinterest but didn't follow her instructions. I gathered suggestions from the comments and put together this recipe:
4 cups rice per batch (I bought the 15lb bag for $9 at Sam's Club)
5Tbsp Rubbing alcohol
10-12 drops food coloring
-Pour alcohol and food coloring into a gallon ziplock. 
-Swish around a bit to mix.
-Pour in rice.
-Seal bag and mix well.
-Bake at 250degF for 12 minutes to dry out
This bin consists of 10 batches. It took a long time but was a lot of inactive time. It was totally worth it.
And this is what the rice looks like after it's all mixed up. This color is less striking but it also looks better in person than in the picture. They play with it every single day.

Later on today I'm going to teach Solana the hand game, Say Say My Playmate. My sisters and I loved them when we were kids. I'm surprised she hasn't learned any from her friends at school. I can't wait to teach her!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


The girls decided last weekend that they wanted to have a sleepover in Solana's room. Chloe woke up crying a couple of hours later and went to her own bed. Regardless, they asked to do it again the next day. We agreed to once a week sleepovers and figured they'd forget all about it. Well, they didn't. And they look pretty content. This may very well become a weekly event.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bubble Bath

Because every kid needs one of these pictures in their family photo album.