Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gardening, my hobby

When we first moved into this house, it was March. So we just sat back and watched what was already planted bloom in our yard. There were a handful of daffodils, a star gazer plant, and that was it. Much of the yard was seriously overgrown and it took us that whole first growing season to learn what grows where, how fast, and cleaning up all the overgrowth. It was a lot of work but so worth it to change the yard into some I'm proud of. We don't have a ton of space to work with but I love what we have and the opportunity and learn about growing flowers!

As you can see from above, it was pretty bare but it was much a an improvement from the year prior. (Just wish I had a before shot!)

All these plants were added by me except the orange start gazers. That was an original- I just moved it. The daffodils used to be in the pots (in the ground) but I moved those to the border of the garden. 

I realized I needed a lot to fill this space. So in 2017, I bought 3 azalea plants and placed them in the back of the garden.I bought ground cover plants in hopes of filling the blank spaces more easily and moved some plants around. 

I was hopeful that everything would fill out! 

And it did, beautifully!

This planter box was one thing I discovered in all the over growth of the back yard. I painted it and added fresh soil. Now it sits on our front porch, filled with beautiful flowers. 

Just bursting with beauty!!!

So much growth. In the summer my garden really fills in. I can't help but stare at it as I drive up. I spend lots of time weeding, watering and thinking of what I need to add next year. 

I wanted this garden to be easy to maintain, so much of what I plant is perennial. I do have from annuals, like the vincas, but I don't want to spend a lot of money each year on buying plants that I will have to replace fully the next year.

That alyssum came back all on its own, even though the package said it was an annual. I got the seeds in a white elephant gift and thought, "Why not plant them!?" Glad they keep coming back to fill my garden with beauty each year. 

This looks SOOOOOO much better than when we first moved in. 

Now our backyard had two planter boxes, then a giant drop off, and an empty plot we manage. 

I've experimented with wild flowers one year. And it didn't love what I received after water and waiting. Most was just greens, not so pleasing to the eye. 

I got a few lovely little guys....

The starting of our tomatoes

And a whole lot of veggies. I've planted carrots, sweet peas, parsley, cilantro, tomatoes and more. You can see this box has a lot of grass growth but we did have so many cherry tomatoes from our plants. They kept coming until early November. 

And in the other planter box, I planted Zinnias. 
By the way, rubber snakes do wonders at keeping birds from eating your tomatoes and squirrels & chipmunks from eating everything in sight. 

The zinnias were amazing. I loved them!!!

And look at those beautiful tomatoes. I made spaghetti sauce from them!

Our zinnias attracted a lot of butterflies, just as the package said they would. 

Taryn loved to help pick the tomatoes. This was her little job and she was great at it! 

And there's Tyson, that tiny little speck mowing the great empty plot. I wish that yard was ours in the left corner. Our neighbors have been our inspiration. They take such a great care of their lawn and plants. We're learning a lot from them.

Those beautiful summer days are full of color. I love how green Virginia is. 

We took our girls with us to the Hume school up the street to do yard work as a community service event. Because Taryn and Haddie have worked with us so much in the garden, they were expert weed pickers. They also still love to play with every worm we find. So they got a bit distracted at times. 
I have so many memories of planting flowers with my family growing up. I hope my girls can learn the lesson of hard work through a good days yard work. 
Few things make me prouder than a long day of weed pulling, tree trimming and flower planting. I love seeing the fruits of my labor. Though it takes time and hard work, it's always worth it. 

Family outings and date nights

One night for Family Home Evening, Tyson had us all draw a picture of the D.C. temple, to go along with our lesson on temple. Haddie asked me to help her with the outline but then she did the color. I love how each one is the same temple but they all look different. 

After getting LOTS of shots- 3 in each arm, we took the next day easy and I promised Haddie a treat (the way to her heart.) She picked Duck donuts, where the donuts are made hot a fresh. It's a family favorite for sure but we keep it for special occasions. Haddie got to pick out her donut and what I love is that she never wants Taryn or Daddy to feel left out, so she always asks if we can get them a treat too. I LOVE that about Haddie. 

For Tyson's love of YouTuber John and Hank Green, we reserved tickets to his show in D.C. and made it a date night. I have never met nicer people in D.C. Nerd fighters are the best people. We had so much fun listening to John and Hank Green and hearing about John's book, Turtles All the Way Down, which we got a copy of from our ticket package. I love date nights but most of all, I love seeing that happy face on Tyson. 

After Family Photos we always get donuts, mainly as a bribe to the girls for smiling. Our amazing and talented photographer, Caitlin Sheffer, told us about this cute donut shop called Paul's Bakery in her town of Fredricksberg, VA. Everyone leaves family photos with a happy face, knowing that donuts are in the near future. These were yummy!!!!!

Friday, January 19, 2018

First Day of School and the start of Fall activities

Taryn was so excited to start school again! She was nervous about her new teacher but that didn't let long. Once she got to know her new teacher, Taryn was set to go. She makes friends so quickly so meeting her new classmates wasn't hard for her. She is so friendly to everyone and loves to play. 

Haddie started Preschool again as well. It's a co-op we have with a few of our friends. We rotate who teaches each week and Haddie loves it. Her favorite part of starting school this year was picking out a new lunch box. 

We walk Taryn to school in the morning if it's not raining and as long as it's not below 35 degrees. Taryn does so much better throughout the day if she is able to get out early and walk. I love the time I get with my girls and the exercise it provides for all of us. Starting our 2nd year of walking and no sign of stopping :)

So to start out the new school year, I took each girl on a special date. Haddie has a big sweet tooth so I took her to a bakery and she picked out a treat. Then we headed to the library where we checked out some princess movies an books. 

For Taryn, her special date was clothes shopping- her pick! I honestly thought she would hate it and grow tired of it within the first 10 minutes because she has never shown much interest in clothes shopping.
Boy was I wrong! 
She is hilarious and made the shopping experience super fun! She knows exactly what she likes and didn't mind trying on clothes this time. I really like this new tradition of one on one dates with the girls. 

With the start of school, Haddie and I have time in the day for adventures. One of our favorite places to go when the humidity isn't out of control is the National Zoo. I thought I had found the perfect hack of tackling the giant hill in the Zoo with kids- scooters!! 

We were loving life with our friends, enjoying the zoo with the kids zooming along. Until we got in trouble and I was told scooters weren't allowed. Hubby what????!!!! I fought back. I was not happy. But in the end I had to carry the scooters around the zoo- UGH! 

Good thing these kids are so cute and worth it! They had fun and the scooters weren't that heavy.... :)

Teaching preschool is fun and keeps me on my toes. I love these little kids! Haddie looks forward to preschool each week and playing with her friends. 

A benefit of Tyson working so close to home is he can walk home for lunch and still have time to play with Haddie. This is there special time together and I LOVE it. 

More adventures for Haddie include visits to various museums in D.C. I love that there are no longer big crowds because the summer tourists are gone so parking is a lot easier. 

And Dance! I thought Haddie, whose been talking about dance since she could speak, would LOVE dance. But after a few classes she declared she didn't like dance. I really think it was the teacher, to be honest. Taryn had an amazing teacher and though Taryn is not one for ballet, I think Haddie would have loved having Taryn's teacher. But unfortunately when you take classes through the county, there is no way of making sure you have a certain teacher (Believe me- I've tried!)

One day after practice, I helped Haddie take off her tights. Haddie bent down and kissed her knees saying, "Hello again knees!" I think she must have missed looking right at them :)

Though she might not like dance, she LOVES dressing in her leotards with ballet shoes and skirts. She almost becomes a different person once it's on. She delicately moves her hands and starts to flutter around the home. It is the cutest!

The best thing to do after ballet is playing with your great friend in the sand. 

Then there is soccer. A true love for Taryn. She has been on the same team, The Tough Puppies, since the beginning and that has been fun! This year we focused on "Little touches" for Taryn. She loved to whack that ball as hard as she could with her foot, making it go out of control. But she's learning skills and still loving the game. 

Haddie always wanted to dress up in her "soccer clothes" for Taryn's practices. Which meant wearing Taryn's uniform. She look adorable in her big sister's clothes! I loved that practice was right down the street so we got to walk to and from practice. Haddie loved playing with the little siblings at the park and having me throw her in the air (it's a great workout!)

Always happy to "kick it in." 

And Haddie was happy to help with making sure the gatorade was finished by the end of the game :)

Maybe one of my favorite things about soccer- the snuggles Tyson and Haddie got. 
Tyson and I are big sideline parents. To me, that means we talk about the girls and marvel at their strengths and giggle as quietly as possible with their blunders. We make great sideline parents ;)

Look at that kid! 

Another great season of soccer done! Taryn loves her trophies from each season and this season they added a team photo in those amazing magnet plastic "frames." Sign ups for the Spring start soon, which is crazy how fast that has come up.