Saturday, April 10, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: Gardening!

The good news is, my children do NOT hate gardening.

I decided that we were going to take an extra week of spring break to get some gardening done. I envisioned this time as a happy, wholesome, family bonding time. In the middle of Monday morning, after an hour or so cleaning up the dead material left through the winter, I realized the only thing I was accomplishing was to instill a lifelong dread of gardening in my children.

So, I broke the tasks up into smaller chunks, and made sure the kids got lots of breaks to play on the swingset. Everyone's mood was much improved. We got the garden cleaned up, weeded, and some of the soil turned over before lunch. After an afternoon of some housework and some free time, I made hearty hamburgers, fries, and zucchini chips for dinner. (If anyone has a great recipe for zucchini, I'd love to have it. Toa of Boy and I love zucchini, but I'm still looking for the perfect way to prepare it.)

Tuesday, we took a break from gardening and went to my women's small group. We also spent a couple hours working in our church's food pantry. We followed that up with a treat of lunch from Wendy's before hitting the library. That afternoon, a box of plants, which had been ordered back in February arrived. This spurred on my garden fever. (That evening, I smashed out the taillights in the van backing into a pole in the walmart parking lot. I also denting the bumper. The Jedi fixed the big smash in the bumper as soon as I got home. The next day he bought a new housing for the tail lights and replace that in less than ten minutes before our Wednesday night church activities. Today he's going to buy touch up paint to coverup the scratches I made all over the corner of the rear bumper.)

Wednesday it was back to the garden. But, as I told the kids, today was going to be much more fun. We did the hard work on Monday, so now we were ready to put the plants in. The kids had each picked out the plants they wanted when we placed our orders, so that helped them care more about the process. Toa of Boy is especially excited about his blueberry bush. (He was less thrilled to learn that it would be a couple  before the 8 inch twig actually produced any blueberries.) Again, lots of swingset breaks happened.

The access path through the strawberry patch had been covered with weeds. So, after having the kids help me pull off the stepping stones to be piled on the side, I covered the path with cardboard, since I had a stack of boxes ready to be broken down in the garage. I put a layer of pine bark nuggets over the cardboard, and then placed my stepping stones back along the path. It looks really great and it should be a weed free solution for this year. The area on the right is where the strawberries are going, the wall along the garage has some tomato cages, and the corner on the left has some perennials (sedum autumn joy, purple coneflower, and hibiscus). In that corner I also planted five asparagus plants, and filled the front of that area in with a few more spinach plants.

I did the same thing for the corner that cuts from the patio to the mulched swingset area. (My daffodils are past their bloom already, boo hoo.)

After a lunch of noodles and stirfry veggies, Sweetling and I went back out to plant our square-foot vegetable garden. We don't have a lot of sun in our yard, so our veggie garden is a two foot deep strip underneath my bedroom window. In that tiny space, we have three zucchini bush plants, two cucumber vines, 16 carrots, 9 spinach plants, and 12 or 16 lettuce plants. We've used logs to edge the raised bed, and straight sticks to mark off our grid, cause both those materials were free from windfall from all the tress we have on our wooded slope. I did move the tomato cages to the side of the garage wall, cause they were too tall to fit nicely under my bedroom window, and last year I got tired of the view out my bedroom window being the top of ugly tomato cages. Before we put the seeds in, I dug in some leaf mulch, some peat moss, some compost, and a couple handfuls of bonemeal. Sweetling did a great job of measuring out how many seeds should go in each square and planting them to the correct depth. We left a little space near the edge of the vegetable garden for some marigolds in every square. I'm hoping the marigolds deter the snacking critters who were the primary beneficiaries of our vegetable garden last year.

Thursday, Tia smurf was over. We made a delicious lunch of rice, son-in-law eggs, and stirfry chicken and asparagus in a brown shallot sauce. And when I say "we", I mostly mean the smurf. I did the complicated tasks of chopping asparagus, defrosting chicken, and peeling the hardboiled eggs (with help from Toa of Boy.)

After our wonderful meal, we had an art day. We all painted paver stones, which will be used in our sundial we'll be making in the front yard in June. I'll post about that when we do it, so that I can include pictures of the process. We need 12 pavers all together, to mark the 12 hours of the day. We decided to paint each paver with something that would correspond with the 12 months of the year as well....even though our sundial will only roughly mark the time through the day, and has nothing to do with the calendar year. But it looks cool, and that's what's important.

We took Tia Smurf home, doing some measurements in her front yard for a planting design I promised her at Christmas. We had dinner, and then while Sweetling was at Tae Kwon Do, Toa and I engaged in another art project. We each got our sketchbooks, and I got my oil pastels and Toa got his crayons. Then we set a timer (we buy our timers at the dollar store). For 6 minutes, we each drew in our own sketchbook. At the end of 6 minutes, when the timer went off, we traded sketchbooks and each of us worked on the drawing the other person had started. Toa decided ahead of time that we would each be drawing gardens. So, after many many trades, we each had a bright colorful, fantastical garden in our sketchbooks. Each garden drawing was a combination of mediums and artists, so they each turned out really cool and unique.

On Friday, we had our friends the Incredibles over, so that Mrs. Incredible could go to the Cincinnati Home School Convention. Sweetling was an AWESOME babysitter for the boys. I sat at my computer downstairs and got us caught up on logging OHVA attendance, which hadn't been done since February. (Sweetling said, "that has nothing to do with you being you or anything.") Sweetling was the Queen of the Wii, and kept the boys entertained and monitored and under control. At one point, while the Equestrian was trying to get Sweetling past some big boss in a Mario game, I heard Sweetling tell the audience of little boys, "Ok, we're going to play the quiet game now....and whoever wins gets a Hershey kiss!"

The one instruction Mrs Incredible (aka Mango) gave me before leaving was to make sure Jack-Jack, who was not in a pull-up, stayed dry. I failed at that three times. But, I have access to a washer and dryer, so Mango never need know. No one tell her. It will be our little secret. (Really, I only failed once...the second time he just had trouble wiping himself and the underwear needed changed as a result. I also, cleaning him up, realized that friendship often means wiping the poopy bottom of your friend's child while he tells you all about the two lazers he has in his garage, one on each side of his garage, in fact. The third accident was just an aiming accident while he was at or on the toilett. See, I'm not completely irresponsible.)

That afternoon, we loaded the car seats into the van and went to Blockbuster. Before we left I gave a nice talk about how the democratic process and majority rule was going to come into play when it came time to select a movie. This talk proved usless, because there, bold as life, in the Blockbuster window, was a poster for the second Chipmunks movie. Consequently, we burst into Blockbuster with a whirlwind of five excited children who were all squealing "The Squeakquel!!!" Mercifully, the Squeakquel was close to the front door, so we were in and out of there before the employees could truly hate me.

Friday night, the Jedi decided we needed a family activity. It turns out that the family activity was taking the last of the gift cards the Jedi had received for Christmas and making the half hour drive to the nearest Cold Stone for ice cream. If we ever were in a position to buy a franchise, I'd want a Cold Stone Creamery. We tried to get Vaya to get a job at ColdStone, back when they were in a nearby mall, but Vaya knew we were just trying to take advantage of her for free ice cream, and she wasn't having any of it. I'm still scarred by her refusal.

After we got home, I finished up my awesome, awesome week by getting a school schedule together that I hope will be a decent hybrid of the k-12 curriculum we need to finish up this year and the new approach to schooling I want to initiate next year.  I am as happy as I can be with the hybrid. (Thursdays are our co-op days, so they didn't need to go on the schedule. Tuesday morning we're at church for my women's group. Toa watches a movie and plays, and Sweetling can use the time as a study hall to do co-op work, or she can take her netbook and be online, or she can watch a movie with the other kids.)

Check out what others have done this week on Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


AFwife99 said...

It's hard to remember to gear things to the kids but breaking up activities is one of the best ways to do it. Can't wait to see how the garden progresses. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Ritsumei said...

Looks like a lovely week! It's still too cold to be playing in the garden much, but I'm so excited to do it. Self-control is winning so far, but I'm soooo ready!

Cheryl said...

LOL yard work is definitely not a joy around here so I try to do what you do and break it up to make it more enjoyable. You accomplished so much! So organized!