Monday, July 28, 2014

And Then I Stole a Tree--Scratch That, a Weed!

OK, it was a seedling. I'm still kind of sorry (but kind of not). To the city of Des Moines, I'm sorry! Sort of. 

We decided to take the kids to the park. As usual, Oliver got distracted picking up acorn caps and "planting" them. Andrew dubbed him "Johnny Acorn" (like "Johnny Appleseed," get it? Ha). 

Oliver does this kind of thing all the time. At home, he planted an acorn cap and watered it every single day. I didn't have the heart to tell him an acorn cap can't grow, so I ordered a little sapling from Ebay. It was like $3 but shipping was like $9. It took over a week to arrive and was delivered in sorry shape. All the leaves but four fell off in the mail. I soaked the roots in a bowl of water for a bit to try to keep it alive, and then I planted it. After that, I told Oliver to come outside to see his tree that grew! He helped mulch it and water it. He has been so excited and has watered it every day. It lost two more leaves right away, and the last two leaves fell off yesterday. Unless I see some new buds soon, I think we can write it off as dead :(

Anyway, back to the park! We spent part of the afternoon playing at Witmer Park yesterday. It was a gorgeous day, 75 degrees in the afternoon and a bit breezy. 



Oliver played a bit and then got busy in nature. He found bark from what I think is a London plane tree. The trees at this park are beautiful! Here he is sharing some bark with Andrew:


...and then he started planting more acorn pieces, telling me where different trees were going to grow. He just planted and planted and planted!


A whole acorn! He saved that one "for Eli" (his neighbor friend):

 When he was planting, I got a closer look at some of the weeds growing at the edge of the playground. They sure look like little oak seedlings, don't they?


With all of those oak trees around, what else could they be?

So, I pulled one out of the sand.

I brought it home, and I planted it. Who needs a $12 dead oak seedling from Ebay when you can pull one out of the sand at the park? Jackpot! 

...and that's the story of our new oak tree. On the one hand, it was growing in the sand in a playground and wasn't going to survive or mature. On the other hand, I feel a little guilty because I know it wasn't ours for the taking. Still, it looks pretty nice in the yard, doesn't it?

Here's the one we got in the mail. Not looking so good...

And here is one of our volunteer maple seedlings! Most of the weeds at our house have been maple seedlings. I just keep pulling them out by the dozens, but I decided to let this one stay. I'm hoping either it or the oak seedling I just planted will survive the winter, but we'll see!


Edit: ...and I've just been informed that it's a weed. Darn, I was so excited, too. I guess I should get outside and pull it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What Happened?

The answer is: Jo. 





Saturday, July 5, 2014

Eating Our Garden

Earlier this week, a storm creamed our garden. The cherry tomato cage fell over onto one of the raised beds, wiping out some cucumbers and collard greens. I had to tear off many damaged green onions and replant some onion bulbs. I also just picked & kept some of the damaged onions.



Things are starting to ripen in the back yard! It's so fun going to the back yard to pick veggies for lunch. My quinoa burger is topped with lettuce, onion, and tomato from the garden. The sweet peas are from our garden, too. Colorful & delicious! I'm feeling a little proud,

My brother and sister-in-law gave me some kale from their garden. It's so colorful!

I made kale chips with some of it.

Here's half of our raspberry bounty from today. The black raspberries are starting to finish up, but the red raspberries are just getting started!

We made some raspberry ice cream by blending vanilla ice cream with our raspberries.

Another surprise from today: a golden raspberry! It's the first ripe berry from that plant.

I love having a garden! It was a lot of work setting up, but now we're having a blast starting to harvest it.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July, 2014!

This year, Oliver asked me what we are watching fireworks for. I told him a little story:
A long time ago, our country was ruled by a king who lived far away. This king made rules and laws for us, but they weren't good laws. So, one day, we decided that we would make our own laws. That day was our first Independence Day. Now, we celebrate that day every year.

That seemed to do the trick! We went to the supermarket and got snakes & sparklers. It's been a long time since we've gotten to purchase things like that. In Colorado, it's usually too hot and dry to even allow sparklers for fear of wildfires.

Jo took a late nap so she could stay up for the fireworks show, and Andrew and Oliver lit some of the snakes. Oliver was afraid of them at first and ran away.



Then, went it got close to dark, we packed up and set out for Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines. For whatever reason, most of the major fireworks displays in Des Moines happened on July 3. Maybe it's to give city workers the Fourth of July off, but that's just speculation. Anyway, we set out for the suburbs. We barely entered the park before we decided to just pull over and set up our chairs there. I'm glad we did because it looked like a lot of traffic to get further into the park. In future years, maybe we'll wait and see the fireworks over the lake.

Here are the kiddos, patiently waiting for fireworks with their Fourth of July popsicles.

Here's Oliver with some sparklers! He's actually really good with them.

Here's a video of Oliver with his sparklers:

                   

...and Andrew helped Jo hold her sparkler, which she called a "rainbow."

At least, it was fireworks time! Oliver and Jo both loved them, and Oliver would guess which color the next one would be.

Jo wanted to wear the shades, even though it was pitch black.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Raspberry-Covered Chocolate Chips

The raspberries keep coming! Now, there are a few, ripe, red raspberries starting on one of our other raspberry bushes.

It's a good thing previous owners planted all of these raspberry plants because I never would have put them in myself. I don't really like raspberries, but I've discovered that black raspberries are pretty good! 

Here was our bounty yesterday afternoon. Mind you, this is after picking all of the ripe ones the evening before. I keep picking them, and the kids gobble them up!


I had a bit of a craving for some chocolate after lunch, so I decided to make a quick dessert snack with the kids. My mother-in-law showed us this, and it's the perfect "recipe" for kids to help with. All you do is take a chocolate chip (we used dark chocolate) and stick it in the opening of the berry. It's super easy & quick, sweet & delicious.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Ripe Raspberries


The last owner of our house must have loved raspberries. There are three different raspberry bushes planted along the fence, and they have gone crazy! The one in the middle has ripened first and seems to be some sort of black raspberry. The kids love eating them. No joke, Joanna has probably eaten close to a 1/2 cup of raspberries each day for the last few days. I keep telling her she's going to turn into a raspberry.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Andrew has been in Texas for a couple of days for his cousin's wedding. We're so excited for him to get home today! I asked Oliver questions all about Dad, and I think it's clear he's missing him so much! Once again, Oliver surprised me by getting Andrew's age correct. This year, he also signed his own name! I've seen more surveys like these going around Pinterest and Facebook. Some even overlay the questions & answers over a photo of the kids with their dad. Pretty cute! I'm sticking to the same survey that we did last year because I think it will be cute to track the same questions over the years.

2014:


2013:





Monday, May 19, 2014

We "Camped" in a Yurt!

We took the kids yurt camping! Camping is a loose term here.

Yurts are semi-permanent structures, and they kind of remind me of a circus tent. They're becoming a little common in state parks throughout the country, and I thought it would be a good way to stay overnight at a state park with the kids. The yurts have bunk beds, a futon that folds out into a full bed, and electricity. There's also a facility located there with a flushing toilet, running water, and a shower. It was a perfect weekend getaway with two little kids.

The only public yurts in Iowa are these two at McIntosh Woods State Park, which is in the northern part of Iowa (about halfway between Des Moines and Minneapolis). The state park itself is pretty small, but it's located on Clear Lake, which is large & beautiful. We could see the lake from our yurt! I wrote about our yurt camping adventures on my travel blog, here.



Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pella Tulip Time!

Spring is here, and we decided to enjoy the day down in Pella for their annual Dutch festival called Pella Tulip Time. If you're ever in Iowa in early May, be sure to check out this fun & inexpensive event. I blogged about the day trip here, but here is our day in pictures: