"Christmas Card" 2013

Well, it's mid January, and I think I can finally admit that I am most definitely not going to get around to a "Christmas Card" this year. Bother. Here's my attempt: We here in the Baxter household have had a full and fabulous year. In an attempt to keep it short and sweet, here's the run down:

Hood:

  • Hood turned 3 this year, and is quickly closing in on the big number 4.
  • He loves Thomas the Train, Monster Trucks, Disney Pixar's Planes and Cars, and LEGOs!
  • Hood has a frighteningly good memory. On the 2nd or 3rd viewing of a movie or reading of a book, he can quote along, and he notices if a **certain someone** attempts to skip pages in an attempt to bump up bedtime.
  • He likes to tell jokes, but most of his jokes are 95% sound effects. However, he is at his funniest when he is simply himself and is offering his perspective on life.
  • Hood has an EXTREMELY sensitive gag reflex. And a certain pregnant Mom has been requested to "not toot around [him]" lest he throw up...again.

Nick:

  • Nick knocked out 5 out of 7 Architecture tests this last year...passing them on his first attempt (that's a big deal). The last two will hopefully be done in time for next year's Christmas card.
  • He finally sold his beloved Suzuki SV650 motorcycle, and upgraded to a brand spanking new Yamaha Star Bolt. He gets stopped regularly as guys admire his bike. So, if you're keeping track Ladies, riding an awesome bike like a Bolt stops men in their tracks.
  • Nick filled his year with constructing several outbuildings around our property. We built a shed to house the riding lawnmower, but promptly bumped the lawnmower out, and instead parked the Bolt and Amy's Vespa in it. Also, Hood was the proud recipient of a playhouse built by Daddy, complete with a heater and a sleeping porch.
  • Nick is taking online cooking classes from Rouxbe. He is working towards his first certificate. His "homework" is always delicious, and we don't let any dogs eat it.
  • At the beginning of this last year, Nick started leading our Bible Study at church. He has been challenged and stretched in new and exciting ways, and has seen immense personal growth as a result. Who said being busy was bad?!

Amy:

  • I am closing in on my final year of school in this seemingly endless pursuit of my bachelor's degree. I will be graduating in June with a Bachelors of Design in Interaction Design from the University of Washington.
  • I enjoyed a wonderfully productive garden again this last summer. We had so many potatoes, lettuce, fruit, peas, beans, berries, beets and carrots that we were able to share with friends, family and neighbors. I'm looking forward to (and actively planning) the garden for this next spring.
  • This last year also included a job change for me.. I ended my time at Artitudes Design, a Graphic Design firm that had me doing lots of awesome Book Trailers and Illustration work, and in June started working at Amazon as a User Experience Design Intern. My internship was extended part time into the school year, and it will be up in March. Hopefully next year will hold news of new and exciting career fronts for me and my freshly minted degree.
  • We were very delighted and (somewhat) surprised to find out that we will be expecting a new family member this next year. Baxter baby #2 is due May 24th. The timing is not perfect...seeing as that my graduation date is June 14th, but I just wanted to really Ace my senior project by "designing" Human Life. I hope my professors take note. My sister and her husband are expecting kiddo #2 as well, and they are only 3 weeks behind me! So excited for the close cousins.
  • Nick and I enjoyed participating in the Tour de Tucson in Arizona this last November for the second time in a row. Last year we did the 65 mile bike ride, and this year we decided to up the ante and ride the 85 miles. Then I got pregnant. And then, day of, Tucson received the highest record rainfall in 200 years. Forty miles in, after fording two washed out roads, Nick lovingly (and understandably) told me that he "loved me, but his legs were numb (from cold) and if he had to keep on waiting for me at the top of every hill, he probably wouldn't be able to make it the whole distance." I was able to keep on chugging along, and managed to make it the entire way, surprising myself and finishing over an hour and a half after Nick.

It's been a wonderful year, and we have so many things to be thankful for as a family. Thank you all for your love and support. We love you and thank you for being in our lives.

Love,

Nick, Amy, Hoodie and #2

Christmas Card

I've said it before!

And I'll say it again. Nothing beats sitting here in the garden with a glass of wine after a long couple days of work/life.

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My raspberries are still going strong, and I have more lettuce, beets and green beans than I know what to do with. That STILL doesn't make it okay for my nightly deer visitors to eat their fill.

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Now I need to get started eating green beans, cucumber and zucchini, because they are growing...FAST!

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One of our summer projects is building a little garden shed to house the riding lawn mower and Nick's new motorcycle (he'll be getting it in a few months). Nick has been working hard every evening digging post holes, mixing concrete and more. I think he's just happy to be done with his Architecture tests so that he can get back to his favorite activities: PROJECTS!

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You can kind of see the footprint of the shed. It won't have a poured foundation. After we build the addition in a few years (and with that will come a real honest to goodness garage), we will turn this shed into half chicken coop/half garden shed. Yay chickens! I've finally persuaded Nick to let me get some!!

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The End is Near

I am almost ALMOST done with the school year. One more week until my last final is turned in, and I can start my new job as a User Experience Design Intern on the Universal Shopping Experience Team at Amazon. So excited! The last few weeks of any quarter are difficult, but I feel like the final quarter of a school year presents even more challenges. I've been struggling to stay motivated lately. It is especially difficult to put in 10+ hours a day on my butt in front of a computer when is gorgeous and sunny outside. Perhaps it is better for my grades that it rains so much the rest of the year... I have been enjoying the stolen moments over the last few weeks when I could sneak out to my garden and soak in all the new life happening around me. The bees have been busy pollinating the berries, and in a few weeks, we will have more strawberries, raspberries and blueberries than we can eat. Hood helps me check on them every day to see if they are ready yet.

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In addition to berries, I am growing four different types of tomatoes (the fourth is a sneaky re-seed from last year), beets (I lost count at around a million...on that note, beets anyone?), carrots, potatoes, wall walla sweet onions, three different types of lettuce, sugar snap peas, shelling peas, green beans, spinach, rhubarb, cilantro, flat leaf parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, corn, mint and lots of flowers.

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I'm definitely seeing a need for more garden space, so I have begun planning a new raised bed for next year. Eventually I'd like to eat out of the garden year-round, or as close to it as possible!

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Here's to lots of awesome salads and other noms this summer!

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Holy Cow!

Holstein_Cow So this morning I went out to my garden to check on things and discovered that BOTH of my potato towers got knocked over! After doing some sleuthing (aka seeing hair rubbed into the wire frames, and stepping in a cow pie the size of Montana), I deduced that my neighbor's cows got out and went barreling straight for my garden.

In the end, they weren't TOO destructive, aside from nibbling a few choice raspberry tips, knocking over (but not completely ruining) by potato towers, and dropping deuces like they had been stopped up for weeks, my garden is relatively unscathed.

I'm still bummed though. I think I will eat a big steak dinner tonight and make eye contact with the cows over the fence while I eat it.

 

Looking forward to May's flowers...

   

It's exciting when little plants actually start coming out of the soil. There's always that moment when I doubt nature and think to myself, "Surely this tiny little speck can't really produce a whole plant?!" And then God says, "Yes it can, and don't call me Shirley." And boom. Plants start to grow. At least that's how I am going to describe the process to Hood if he ever asks.

Baby green beans:growth-10

 

Baby Peas:growth-9

 

Tiny rogue raspberries. I knew raspberries had the tendency of spreading, but I was surprised at how far away from the Momma plant the babies chose to grow. They are barely within the confines of the raspberry patch, so I will let them be. But their buddies better not try to go any farther outside of that border, or I WILL cut them. (Garden violence.)growth-6

 

My succulent rock garden is doing quite nicely. The bright green guys were planted only a few weeks ago, and they already have like a million babies. Note to self: Be thankful I'm not a succulent. That's got to be a pain in the butt to have to keep track of that many babies.growth-5

 

I planted a big bed full of wildflowers. I'm most excited about the sweet peas, nasturtiums, dahlias, peonies, and daisies. I really appreciate our gorgeous rain, and I remind myself of the old adage: "April Showers bring May flowers." These baby nasturtiums definitely agree.growth-4

 

The Clematis that is growing up our trellis is dripping with buds. I think they are just waiting for a few sunny days in a row to finally open up. I think next week will be the week!

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Hoodie helped me paint 4 little bird houses to hang in our crabapple tree. I thought this one was especially adorable. Once the succulents I am propagating in my studio get bigger, I am going to transplant some of them into the tiny front "yard" of this one.growth-2

 

And last but not least, our apple "orchard" aka three baby semi-dwarf Ozarks are chugging along and putting out tons of little leaves and future blossoms. So fun to see life unfolding daily in my yard!growth-1

Hoopin' It Up in the Northwest!

As a continuation of my last blog, I wanted to talk a little bit more about my raised beds, specifically the "Hoop Houses" that help extend my growing season and take away some of the guess work in my garden.

My usage of the term "Hoop House" is slightly incorrect. A true Hoop House is more house-like than my three-foot high covers. However, the name "Hoop House" is significantly easier to type/say than "PVC Hoop Cover Thingy I Don't Know The Name For," so I'll just stick with calling them Hoop Houses.
A Real Hoop House: littlehouseontheurbanprairie_hoop house
My Version (Last Season):
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My primary raised beds were a gift to me from my parents for my birthday a year ago, so I can't speak to the ease of building them. My generalization and exaggeration skills extend to my measuring abilities, so chances are, were I to have constructed them, they would have been slightly less exacting than my Engineer-Dad's final product. (You will notice I didn't post any close up pictures of the wood joints in the raised beds I built myself last week.) That being said, if an old fart like my Dad can make them, you should be fine. (That was a test to see if my parents read my "Blob," as my mom refers to it. They just recently started gardening, and this post is actually a result of a prompt from my Dad. This'll teach him to never ask his rotten ingrate of a child for help!)
If I had been left to my own devices when constructing a raised bed, I would have followed Sunset Magazine's instructions (Found Here)
One of the neatest part about Sunset's plans (a feature which my Dad included on my beds) is the built-in PVC-pipe holders for the hoops. I can't tell you how awesome this small detail is. The hoops are a cinch to put on and take off, and they make life SO MUCH BETTER! I used 6 mil translucent painter's plastic to cover my beds (available in rolls from Lowe's). The biggest problem I had was trying to keep the plastic from blowing off. Last season, I stapled the ends of the plastic to long 1"x6"s, but the staples would always rip out and the cover would blow off. I did some research this last winter and got the best tip! I wish I could give credit where credit's due, but for the life of me, I can't remember the blog I saw this on: Binder Clips!
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I bought a couple bags of large Binder Clips from Staples, and was able to use them to clip the plastic around the PVC Pipe hoops. So far I haven't had any issues with the hoops blowing off. I will keep you updated, though.
Okay, so once you have your raised beds, and hoop-houses in place, what's next? The primary benefit of any row covers is that they protect plants from cooler weather by creating a miniature green-house, allowing for the gardener to plant earlier than without the covers. I have noticed that they also protect my plants from munchers like slugs, deer and rabbits (although that may be my cats and the  neighborhood dogs), as well as shielding the beds from any air-born seeds. Those last two may be my imagination, as I haven't noticed anyone else mentioning them. A few things to be aware of, however, are that you need to be aware of the weather and check on your plants fairly regularly. Although it isn't much of a problem where I live, there is the potential for cooking your plants on a particularly sunny or hot day. If I see the forecast reach into the high 60s or 70s, I will vent the covers (raise a side or two) in the morning and replace them before night falls. When checking the beds, if you ever notice steam come out when you raise the side (it often fogs up my sunglasses), that is also an indication that you will want to vent the beds. You don't want to keep the beds too steamy, or that excess moisture in the air could potentially cause your baby plants to mildew or be prone to diseases.
Vented (Last Season):
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The covers do create a terrarium-effect within the beds making them require less water. When I find myself needing to vent the beds regularly, that indicates that I can take them down. At this point, I will typically start my soaker hose timer (more on that later, but I have soaker hoses for each bed hooked up to a garden timer that will turn on for a period of time at set intervals). Last year, I pulled the hoops down in May and kept them off all summer. Had I been more on top of my game, I would have replaced them at the end of summer to extend my growing season. I didn't do that because I kind of forgot. Maybe I'll remember this year, maybe I won't. (See gardening rules from the last post: Take it easy on yourself.)
Well, that's all for now. Feel free to ask me whatever garden questions you have. Chances are, I won't know the answer, but I am pretty creative and can make up some weird stuff, so you never know!

Beginning a Garden? Learn From My Mistakes

gaden post 11 So I have quickly become known as a garden nerd among my friends. Little do they realize that I actually am making this stuff up as I go. Regardless, I have been asked by a bunch of people how I got started gardening and if I have any advice for them. Boy do I.

I've always been the girl who had to learn things the hard way (just ask my parents), so I often end up making (and learning from) mistakes. My way of justifying that is that lessons learned from mistakes are often the best learned lessons. Try not to read into the grammar of that sentence too much.

Anyway.

I started gardening three years ago when I asked my husband to build me a cold frame (basically a mini raised bed with an old window attached to the top). I filled half of it with strawberries and planted the other side with carrots, lettuce and two tomato plants. Needless to say, three inches of soil on top of hard-packed gravel were not the ideal conditions to grow carrots, lettuce and tomatoes. They promptly died.

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This brings me to Lesson #1: Garden Location and Soil Preparation are KEY

Pick a sunny spot in your yard (preferably south facing), and get your hands dirty. As with most things in life, 90% of your effort should go into preparation. Dig your soil. Dig it some more. Add compost and/or manure and dig it some more. I love my raised beds (a gift from my Dad a year ago), they are great because you can plant in them sooner (soil warms up more quickly), they never get stepped on (so the soil doesn't get compacted), and they're easier on your back (you'll spend a lot of time hunched over them).

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This last fall, I covered my beds with maple leaves from my yard. In early February I dug the leaves into the soil and covered both beds with a 50/50 blend of manure and compost. I let that rot into the soil for a month, and then I dug it in. When I say I "dug it in" I basically dug up all the dirt from the beds with the intention of loosening the soil that had settled and clumped, and mixing the leaf rot, manure and compost into the existing soil. It was time-intensive, but I anticipate it paying off this next summer. I'll let you know how that goes.

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Last summer was my first real season gardening because I don't really count my ill-fated cold frame (it is now my strawberry patch). I planted my garden like I read books: left to right, first one, then the other. Although the garden did okay, some plants suffered because I didn't design the garden. I planted my carrots north of my potatoes, and they ended up being under the towering potato plants. They grew slowly because of the lack of sunlight, and I didn't get any carrots until the very end of the summer.

Lesson #2: Plan Your Plants

What I should have done was do some quick research on the height of the mature plants, the nutrient needs, and the space necessary for optimal growing conditions. I'm still working on understanding and implementing crop rotation, but that should be a consideration too. Basically different plants have different needs. Some plants (like beets) take a lot of nutrients out of the soil, whereas others (i.e. carrots) have less of an impact. By rotating your crops, you can reduce the drain of nutrients from your soil, and also protect your plants for soil-dwelling pests that tend to winter over under their favorite veggies.

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Lesson #3: Try, Fail, and Research (Ideally: Research, Try, No Fail)

In addition to having issues  with my carrots being planted too closely in the shadow of my potatoes, I noticed the carrots I was pulling up were stubby and crooked/spiraling. I did some research and realized that I had planted my carrots to close together and in soil that was too firmly packed down. I knew I had sown them too close together, but I was too lazy to thin the seedlings. My grandma suggested that I sow my carrot seeds mixed with sand to avoid that problem, so that's what I do now. To solve the stubby carrot problem, I realized I needed to make sure my soil was well-tilled. This is where the above obsessive digging, digging again, and digging once more just-in-case came from.

Lesson #4: Start Small. This is supposed to be fun.

I'm glad my first cold frame was a bust. I like having a tiny 3'x3' strawberry patch in the corner of my garden that reminds me where I started. I've added things to my garden little by little throughout the year. If I had done everything that first season, I would have ran out of money, made even more mistakes than I did, and I would have gotten overwhelmed and quit. Instead, now I can leisurely garden for the joy of it, and it doesn't feel like work. I love seeing my son eat his snacks off the vine in the garden every evening in the summer, and learn about the difference between manure and compost in the spring. I can just sit on the bench in my garden and watch life unfurling at my feet. Start slow and pace yourself. Ask questions. And be patient. Everyone kills plants sooner or later, you're just trying to keep the ratio of alive things to dead things in the positive.

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Rule #5: Always have coffee, beer or wine within arms reach when gardening.

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Gardening should be fun for the whole family. Especially when using child labor (see above picture), use rewards like a cozy "garden bed", hot cocoas, and kiddo-sized tools to keep the little ones interested and invested in the garden.

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In Issaquah, Washington, where I live, the Farmer's Almanac says the last expected frost falls around March 19th, so I typically use my spring break from school to get the garden up and running. It figures we would have a freak snow on March 22nd, but raised beds and hoop-houses will give you flexibility over the outside temperature.

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Pinterest was my friend this winter. I pinned lots of different projects to try my own twist with. The above picture is my vertical potato garden. It saved me tons of space in the raised beds, and (hopefully) will make harvest time significantly easier. (The idea is that you just tip them over and knock the potatoes and dirt out.)

And wine corks + shish kabob skewers = garden labels.

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In my over-achieving craftiness, I planned on making a tutorial on how to build this harvest basket out of half of an old pallet (put your potatoes, carrots, beets, etc. in a simply hose down). It ended up being a huge pain in the butt, primarily because I was using dull wire cutters, and I couldn't find the stapler in my husband's shop. So I ended up meticulously prying the staples apart from the strip one at a time, and individually hammering them in to attach the chicken wire. I now understand the definition of "painstaking" both literally and figuratively.

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These raised beds are my newest addition to my garden. Last year, my arbor for my peas/beans was too short, and I didn't have enough space to grow the quantity I wanted. So now I have 14 feet of green beans, peas and sugar snap peas that can grow 7 feet in the air. The intention is to have a sort of "living wall" between my garden and my neighbor's yard.

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Best Day Ever!!

garden8 Leading up to today, I was kinda bummed about how my schedule was working out. Two of my big final presentation/projects are due tomorrow, and the birthday (mine) was looking like it would be more of a non-event. Fortunately, thanks to some planning ahead and an awesome flexible partner (Willie!) I was able to finish the majority of my homework by 10am this morning! That left  me alone for the majority of the day to do whatever I wanted to do.

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(In case you were curious, this is what I look like when I am super relaxed.)

Now for those of you who don't have small children, that might not seem like such a special moment. Enjoy your ignorance. I love Hood, but I honestly cannot remember the last time I was alone AND didn't have some sort of obligation or responsibility I needed to be paying attention to. So I made the most of the day.

I'll spare you the details (free drink at Starbucks, and some shopping at the nursery), but basically my day was filled with hard work, dirty hands, and lots of plants. I feel happier and more relaxed than I have felt in months!

I spent the afternoon double digging one of my raised beds to mix in the manure/compost I top coated it with a month ago. It was hard work, but it will pay off in a few months when I have amazing vegetables growing!

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(The soil was teeming with worms! It is so great to see so many of these guys. They are certainly enjoying the rotting leaves I covered the beds with this last winter.)

I filled "planters" (old ceramic chimney inserts) with crocosmia that I transplanted from  an overgrown flower bed closer to the house. I also planted a succulent garden in amongst the rocks at the base of my potting shed. I have fallen in love with succulents ever since my mother-in-law introduced me to them last summer (more on them later). I planted the old barrel flower pot with dahlias, daisies, sweet peas, and nasturtiums. For now it looks like a big barrel of dirt, though.

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When I was at the nursery this afternoon, I bought some Perlite to mix with potting soil for my succulents. Previously, I had planted them in a soil/wood chip mix, but when it dried out, it would get rock-hard, and the little pink succulent roots wouldn't be able to penetrate the clumps. I spent my afternoon transplanting all of my succulents into the lighter soil. Hopefully they will reward my efforts with better root production.

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(My art studio is quickly looking more like a green house and less like an office. Below you can see the succulent leaves I am propogating.)

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While I was working in the yard, a lady came by and delivered a huge basket full of beautiful indoor plants from my parents. I drooled over it for a few hours, then transplanted all of the beauties into some of the ceramic pots I had lying around. There were three african violets, a dwarf rose, some spiky plant, and a big peach flowered plant. (If anyone can help me identify the spiky plant and the peach plant, I would really appreciate it!!)

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The spiky plant (to the right).

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The peach-flowered plant.

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(And my African violets. I'm nervous about these bad boys. They are finicky, from what I hear. I will do my best to not piss them off!)

And then when I thought the day couldn't get any better, Nick came home from work early. AND he had a stainless steel bucket filled with garden goodies for me like a kneeling pad, really nice gardening gloves, some hose-menders, and a couple of my favorite ground cover plants (Periwinkles). I know not every girl gets excited about plants and hose trappings, but I DO!

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I am so thankful to all my amazing family and friends for making this the best birthday a girl could hope for. I appreciate all the well-wishes and messages. Thank you all so much. Today was absolutely perfect (and it's not even OVER yet)!

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(This is my little early-spring front yard. This arbor is the one Nick and I got married under. Nick built it with his Grandpa, and we got married in Grandpa and Grandma's back yard. When we bought our house, we moved it here. Now we get to walk under it every single day.)

Remember Me?

Well, this will be short because I am officially in the crazy part of my quarter. (And I am taking a mental break from frantically editing video.) The last few weeks have been full of excitement for me: School, sick kiddo, school, sick me, school, sick Nick, school, taught Hood how to ski, work, Olive Crest Auction (work-related), visit to my Grandma's farm, school, nap and work. I think I hit most of the bases.olive crest

We are quickly closing in on Hood's and my Birthday. All he wants for his birthday is a nap and I just really want a Thomas the Train themed party. Maybe I got that backwards. We'll see how much I can pull together to make him feel special. My final presentations line up almost perfectly with his big day, so chances are his birthday will be low key and involve some form of me drinking wine.

Wish me luck! I am looking forward to working in the garden this spring break!

Toddlers, Snow and Snoqualmie Pass

So between working on the weekends, low funds, pregnancy and small babies...it has been 6 years (eek!) since Nick and I have last been up snowboarding. We spent the majority of our time dating on the slopes of Silver Mountain in Idaho. Nick is an accomplished snowboarder and skier, and I thought he was hot, so it was a match made in heaven. Nick taught me how to carve, and I fell in love with him for his patience with me. I think he fell in love with me for my ability to land head first every single time I fell down. photo 1-2

For Christmas, Nick's Mom Jill, and her boyfriend BK, gave us a gift certificate to Snoqualmie Pass. We have been excitedly planning our reintroduction to the world of snowboarding. Hood has been getting so excited about going up with us. We stayed up late last night watching YouTube videos. So this morning when we hauled our two-year-old up the mountain, we were excited. The moment we arrived, Hood asked, "Where are the jumps, Mommy? Where is the Terrain Park?" (Yes!) Clearly I did a good job of preparing him for the joys of the day--namely a lot of falling down and getting snow down your neck.

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The boys were going to be on skis (much easier for the kiddo to learn on), and it would be perfect...right? Well, for being a massive toddler (he weighs over 40 pounds, and is the size of an average 5 year old), his skis were long, and his boots were hard to walk in. He is still getting better about expressing himself (that will be a life-long challenge), so whenever he says something is "Too Big," that could mean it is too big, too small, or he just doesn't like them.

So we exit the rental place with a big kid walking like a drunk, whining about how his boots were "too big". Nick strapped the skis on the little man, and I followed behind carrying my board, helmet, Nick's skis and poles. (There will be a noticeable lack of photos of Hood in his ski gear.) Long story short, there was some screaming and crying, and not very much skiing. After a short time of snuggles and kisses and calming down, Hoodie decided that he would rather go home.

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We made a few quick calls, the first one being to our wonderful friends the Andersons. They very lovingly said they could watch Hood so we could actually use our lift tickets we had already purchased. Around that time, we remembered that my parents were out playing in the snow at their cabin in CleEllum, so we opted to send him their way instead. (Hood genuinely DID want to play in the snow, and he was very concerned that we hadn't found Papa at Snoqualmie--I think he must think that my Dad is anywhere there is snow.) I hauled the kiddo out to the car, and in the 30 minute drive to Suncadia he passed out. I made the quick drop off with my Dad, and Hood very contentedly blew kisses and waved goodbye to me from his new perch in the front seat of my Dad's Snowcat.

When I met back up with Nick he had thoroughly been reminded why he preferred snowboarding over skis, but we at least felt like we got enough use out of the rental to justify the money spent. I was impressed with his skills, especially since he hasn't skied for over 15 years. We went down a couple runs, and immediately noticed how much older I felt this time. I used to be relatively fearless. (Remember how Nick loves me for my head-smashing talents and fabulous good looks? Well, he'll just have to settle for my good looks now.) This time, I was painfully aware of how out-of-shape I am, how stiff my muscles are, and how freakishly terrifying it is to have your board pointed directly down the mountain when you are learning to carve.

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Slowly, slooooowly, I picked it back up. Nick was such a stud, encouraging me when I needed it, and mocking me when he knew I needed to be fired up. We had the best time. I felt the years get peeled back, and before I knew it, I was just a 19-year-old girl boarding with the man of her dreams.

We have absolutely fallen in love with Snoqualmie Pass. When I was a kid, I was a devoted Stevens Pass goer, and (like many people) I thought Snoqualmie was the worst. I was wrong. Part of it's allure is that it is only 30 minutes from our front door, but there were barely any lines, lots of well-groomed runs, an amazing terrain park (seriously...it was huge), and the friendliest staff ever.

All-in-all it was a wonderful day. My parents will be dropping off Hoodie in a few minutes, and I am excited to hear about all the fun he had with them. I am so thankful for my parents, the Andersons, and Nick's mother-in-law Jill and her boyfriend, BK for making this the best Saturday I've had in a long time.

Kid Time!

Life is beginning to get really crazy this quarter in school. There always seems to be a 2-3 week lull at the beginning of each quarter where I can still see my family, go grocery shopping and occasionally do the laundry. It's so amazing to always have clean socks and underwear in our bureaus. Then, almost like magic, the fourth week rolls around and BAM! I need to get really serious about my time management skills so I can still balance work, school, family, and (occasionally) sleep. photo 2-1

On Saturday, Nick took Test #1 of his Architectural Tests. Hood and I had the day, so we went over to Seattle to play with our friends Justin, Suzanne and Amelia. We went down to Golden Gardens and ran, biked, played and got sandy. We succeeded in completely wiping out both kiddos (Hoodie and Amelia), and all the adults had fun. In general, it was a very successful day. Thankfully, Nick was super sweet and took Hoodie to the Children's Museum on Sunday so I could get a solid chunk of time to knock out some design.

I even got to watch my friends' baby, Sophia on Friday evening! It was so nice to get baby snuggles.

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All that to say, life is crazy, but it was wonderful to take a few moments out of my weekend to engage with some friends and kids. Life is way too short!

Snow Day 2013

Well, we had the annual Snow Day at my parents cabin again this year. We missed the original day due to the outbreak of the plague at our house (see last post), so my parents were gracious enough to host a second "Make-Up Snow Day." There actually was a pretty good turn out, with the addition of our good friends Tina, Eli and their 3-month old daughter, Sophia, my parents (and now they're mine too!) friends the Gisles, and my Dad's coworker Sean (and his two kiddos). There was an unexpected hiccup when the Snowcat didn't work at first. But due to my Dad's manly working-on-cars skills and a well timed trip into town, the Cat was back up and running by the time the rest of us arrived. It was definitely nice to skip a snowshoe in so that I could spend my energy hauling Hood's 40 pound-ness up the big hill a million times.snow_1

Tina and Eli brought their dog, Penny. Hood ADORES this dog, and it was fun to have a dog running around the family again.

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I cannot emphasize enough how much Hood loved going sledding. He went with parents; he went by himself; he went down on his tummy; he went down backwards; he went down on the inner-tube; he went down on the fast sled. This kid could not get enough.

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There still is nothing quite like getting really cold and exhausted, then coming into a toasty warm cabin to eat some warm soup. It doesn't have to be fancy, or even have electricity/toilets, it's just enough that it's WARM.

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It was sooo nice to have some baby snuggles. Sophia did so well. She went sledding with Mum and Dad, and even took a nap! Such a sweetheart!snow_9

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Hand, Foot and Mouth

There is little worse in life than watching your kiddo suffer or be miserable, so basically the last few weeks have been rough in the Baxter household. Hood came down with a funky eczema outbreak/flu the weekend before Christmas. It threw a wrench in our pre-Christmas plans, but  thankfully he recovered enough to happily tear into presents and cookies on the actual holiday.

Then, in keeping with our new tradition, he got another rip-roaring rash just in time for New Year's. It was different, and more angry than his typical skin-issues. We went to the doctor and were told it could be Fifth's Disease, but Hood hadn't had the tell-tale fever.

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Almost as if his body had picked up on the Doctor's suggestion, Hood came down with a fever the following afternoon. By the time I took him to Group Health's Urgent Care Clinic on Friday night, his temperature was just short of 104 degrees. The wonderful Group Health doctors discovered that Hood had open sores all over the inside of his mouth. (Ooops, I just thought he had been whiny for the past few days every time we sat down to eat.) The sores, rash an fever pointed to the childhood viral illness called Hand, Foot and Mouth.

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Yay. Now we have a name for it. What does this mean for us? It means that for the foreseeable future, we have a little boy who has sores all over his entire body, who cannot eat and can barely drink, who is itchy and in pain all of the time, who sleeps sporadically and wakes up often crying, but who has, for the most part, maintained a loving and gentle disposition throughout the entire ordeal.

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(I thought about putting the more gnarly images of Hood's skin here, but I figured that was a little too much for the internet)

I feel extremely lucky to have a sweet little man who, despite obvious discomfort, still wants to snuggle, tell me he loves me, and ask me "Where's the matter, Mommy??" whenever I am having a hard time.

This is a hard life, but even in the midst of it, it is a good life.

Starting the Year Off Right

It was nice to spend January 1st doing all the things I love with my little family. Nick made us a killer breakfast of creamed spinach Eggs Benedict (holy WOW, so delicious), followed by homemade lattes, mochas and hot cocoas. (Thank you to Aunt Maggie for giving us an awesome milk-make-hotter appliance!) We went for a three mile walk in the freezing but sunny January weather, spending a solid 15 minutes throwing rocks into a frozen over ditch to see who could break the ice on the surface. Eventually the walk turned into a ride/push for Hood, and in proper Hood-Family style, he passed out.

20130101-171048.jpg We ended the walk at a park by our house where we played soccer (no joke, that kid is a NATURAL), explored the woods, ate oranges, climbed on the play equipment, and played more soccer.

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20130101-171116.jpg All in all, it was a wonderful start to a new and promising year.

Here's to 2013 and all that it brings! ( **Chugs cocoa**

Life and Times of a Toddler Peeing

This evening I scampered straight over to a friends house from school. The boys met me there. It was a full house (~20 people? Thank you to the Matthews for hosting us in their beautiful new house!). Hoodie told me he needed to go potty, but he mostly just wanted to check out the cool toilet. He had never seen a bidet before, and before I noticed what he was doing, he flipped a knob and water came pouring out of the toilet. Eeek!

Thankfully the lid was closed. So Hood helped me clean up the mess. Next he told me he really had to go pee, but he wanted to do it like a big boy...aka standing. Unfortunately, his parts barely lined up, so he ended up having his wiener laying across the rim of the toilet seat. Not really thinking, I had just haphazardly flipped the toilet seat lid up, and lined him up...

Unfortunately the lid didn't STAY open and bounced right back down...towards my contentedly piddling little boy's special bits. THANKFULLY mommy reflexes saved me from having to do any sort of explaining to my husband or to adult Hoodie.

Nothing quite like potty-related stress!

Regardless of narrowly being the next Lorena Bobbit, it is good to be a mommy!

The Importance of Sowing

 

I'm learning things. Slowly, but I AM learning. If it has not been evident up to this point, I have been enjoying gardening this summer. I honestly can think of only a handful of things that I enjoy more. I check on my garden every day, and I enjoy just standing in the sunshine and looking down fondly at all the vegetables. Maybe they feel all the love because they have been growing like CRAZY!

The primary gardening lesson I will take away from this summer will be the importance of garden planning. By "planning" I mean, you shouldn't plant tall potatoes next to short carrots. Oh, and you should sow your carrot seeds mixed with sand (thanks for the idea Grandma Hood!) so that your carrots don't wrap around each other in pretty little spirals. (See picture below.) It's actually kinda pretty for being an accident.

And my new favorite vegetable:

Beets!!

Ferry Skateboard- $50

Image Ferry Skateboard- $50

This is an acrylic piece on a skateboard measuring 2' 7" x 7.75".

Payment: I can take cash, credit, or check. I can ship it within the United States for an additional $15, and you can pick it up, or within a reasonable distance, I can meet you.

Feel free to re-share this post if you think your friends would be interested!

Social Media Art Sale!

Continuation of the Social Media Art Sale Game!

I'm going to come into a little more spare time in the next few weeks and want to do a little more painting. Unfortunately two problems stand in my way: 1. I have no space, and 2. I have no money (and need supplies). So here's the deal: I am selling almost all my art for a LOT less that I should (from a business standpoint). If you're interested, first come first serve. I will be posting a new piece every day until I run out of stuff to post

These are spray paint pieces on a skateboards measuring 2' 7" x 7.75".

Payment: I can take cash, credit, or check. I can ship it within the United States for an additional $15, and you can pick it up, or within a reasonable distance, I can meet you.

Feel free to re-share this post if you think your friends would be interested!

 

Escape Skateboard- $75

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Owl Skateboard- $50

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Count the Rings-Skateboards $100

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Umbrella Skateboard- &75Image

 

Thanks for checking it out!

 

Girl Before a Mirror $75

Girl Before a Mirror $75 (originally $400) Alright folks, let's play the Social Media Art Sale Game! I'm going to come into a little more spare time in the next few weeks and want to do a little more painting. Unfortunately two problems stand in my way: 1. I have no space, and 2. I have no money (and need supplies).

So here's the deal: I am selling almost all my art for a LOT less that I should (from a business standpoint). If you're interested, first come first serve. I will be posting a new piece every day until I run out of stuff to post.

Details: This is a recreation of a Picasso (gotta give the guy some credit). It measures 32"X48" and is painted with acrylic on fabric stretched over plywood.

Payment: I can take cash, credit, or check. Unfortunately due to the size of this item, I won't be able to ship it. You can pick it up, or I can meet you halfway.

Feel free to re-share this post if you think your friends would be interested!

THANK YOU GUYS!!

Just A Girl Gardening...

I cam home from work on friday to find this little present in my garden. The boys made me this little garden shed out of an old roof panel they replaced on the shop, some scrap lumber, and a cut up rain gutter (for the corner wraps). Nick even built in a little shelf for me to do my potting on. (Thanks to Jill for the awesome idea.) I have a beautiful little garden bench made out of an old solid core door. The bike tires will be where my sweet peas grow next summer.