Friday, May 24, 2013

How to fill your Garden Tower with soil

Last night we finally added the soil and worms to our Garden Tower.  Blue Rock loved helping!  He told my husband several times how he loves working with him and was having lots of fun mixing the soil and separating the worms.  I think one of his favorite things was adding the worms.  I'm so glad the worms are out of my house and into our garden tower where they belong! :) 

We used a combination of three types of soils in our Garden Tower: 3 bags of organic potting soil, 1 bag of organic mushroom compost, and 1 bag of organic compost.

My husband poured the first bag of potting soil in the tower.  Then he and my son started mixing the mushroom compost and regular compost with the potting soil in a pot and then would pour it in.  After the tower was full of soil, I added a gallon size zip-lock bag of compost I started in my kitchen about a week ago.  It had potato peels, banana peels, cabbage, egg shells, and carrot peels.  I poured that down the middle compost tube.  Last we added the earth worms.  Blue Rock loved playing with the worms and finding them to put in the compost part of the tower.  Now I just need to look at what will grow during the hot Texas summer in our Garden Tower.  I'll probably start with some kind of leafy greens and beans.

Get your own Garden Tower here!

Empty tower on wheels

Inside the tower and compost tube

We let Blue Rock put the first scoop of soil in the tower

Kinds of soils we used

Mixing and filling the tower

The tower has soil and Blue Rock is mowing the lost soil

Blue Rock loves playing in soil
Bag of compost and earth worms

I'm adding the compost

The guys are adding the worms

Look at this worm!

Our Garden Tower is ready for seeds!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Preschool Program

Last night Blue Rock's preschool had their end of the year preschool program and pre-K graduation. If Blue Rock's class had superlatives, he would get Most Independent. He is strong-willed and not afraid to do his own thing or challenge someone who thinks differently to him. There are positives to having an independent spirit but it can also being challenging at times.
The program consisted of mostly slide shows and all the kids sang several songs together. The program ended with the pre-K students coming down the isle wearing caps and gowns as they celebrated leaving pre-K and going off to kindergarten next year.  All the kids were so cute on the stage!

Blue Rock's school decorated the stage with beautiful balloon displays. They were nice but a huge distraction to my balloon obsessed child. Blue Rock stood there and starred at the big balloons the for pretty much the whole time except when they handed out eggs to shake for one of the songs. He shook his egg and enjoyed that. I wish they would have put him more in the middle next to some of his buddies. I think he would not have starred at the balloons as much. Sadly, they put him on the end where he could easily look at the balloons and be tempted to try and touch them, which he did attempt to do twice. Thankfully this was just a preschool performance and the unexpected is always expected. :) 
It's always fun to watch young kids perform. I really thought Blue Rock would have sang really loudly because he always wants to go up front and sing at church and loves singing at home. However, he is one focused child and he really wanted one of the beautiful balloons. You just never know how kids are going to be.

There are really big balloons over there!

He asked us during the songs if he could have a balloon.

He attempted to get one.

Now he's back singing and shaking the egg.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Our New Trees!

One of the few downsides to buying a new house is the lack of trees.  On the positive, it allows the homeowner to plant what ever they want. When we bought our house a year ago, the builder had planted 2 trees. Several weeks ago we planted 4 more trees. We had wanted to plant trees last Fall but could not decide what kind of trees to buy and where to plant them. We have decided what we wanted and bought three shade trees and one fruit tree. Currently we have two oak trees, one in the fruit and one in the backyard.  We planted three more trees in our backyard and one on our side yard.  The shade trees are all drought tolerant once established, which is good in Texas. The Chinese Pistache and Shumardi Red Oak are fast growing trees. The Chinquapin Oak is a slow growing tree. I have always wanted a peach tree so we bought a White Princess Peach tree which is supposed to have super sweet peaches. The White Princess Peach tree is self pollinating. However, we may purchase another peach tree in the future because most fruit trees do better with a partner. Our peach tree already has some fruit on it. I hope it produces lots of delicious fruit in the future. I'm also looking forward to our shade trees providing nice shade in the future.  We planted them so we could still allow plenty of free space to run and play in our backyard and sunny area for a nice garden.
Chinquapin Oak
White Princess Peach
Shumardi Red Oak
Chinese Pistache

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why I Cancelled my Gym Membership

The past few months my gym membership has become an unnecessary expense.  When I joined in January I had every intention of going and working out there at least 2 times a week.  I started off pretty good but then about 2 months ago I stopped going.  I have come to realize I am not a gym person.

Growing up I was very athletic.  I loved playing sports.  I even enjoyed lifting weights.  However, I never really liked lifting weighs at the school gym.  I had a few at home and I would use those instead.

I don't think not having a gym membership means you're lazy.  If it works for your family and helps you get in shape that is fabulous!  For my family it's just not working.  We'd rather take walks and ride our bikes in our neighborhood.  I love jumping on my big trampoline with my son.  I'd rather be physically doing something with someone than watching the clock on a machine.  I will miss the climbing wall at our gym which had limited hours and long lines.  I will also miss the fabulous outdoor water park.  However, we do have a pool in our neighborhood and for the price we're paying for the gym membership we could visit all of our local water parks this summer and still come out spending less. Also our gym was always crowded and loud when I went. 

I also decided I would rather spend my time cooking healthy foods than visiting a stinky gym.  I know we should do both, but like I said, my family does take walks, play outside, ride bikes, and try and stay active on a regular basis.  I also lift my son on a regular basis while we play. That counts as weight lifting, right?  I also enjoy gardening and working in the yard.

Please don't get me wrong.  Physical activity is very important.  PE and athletics were always my two favorite subjects in school.  However, staying in shape doesn't always happen at a gym. Having an expensive gym membership will not help you live longer or keep you healthy.  Living an active lifestyle will help you stay healthy.  I think it's important for our kids to get the physical activity they need as well.  Blue Rock has been taking swimming lessons and love it.  Well, for $20 more a month, he can continue and I will save myself $51.

Ultimately, I just couldn't get into working out at my gym and paying $71 a month for membership.  If it was $20, I'd probably keep it and use it a little more.  Do you have a membership to a gym?  How do you stay in shape?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

We got our Garden Tower!

We have really gotten into gardening this year.  I have always wanted a garden and love the idea of fresh organic produce right from my backyard.  So far this year we have harvested broccoli and some strawberries.  We are growing lots of blueberries which are not quite ready yet.  However, that has not stopped Blue Rock from picking them from time to time.  He would honestly sit there all day and eat them if we let him.  He's been very good about not picking the green tomatoes until this past week.  He picked a green tomato and then ate it.  We still have to remind him that our crops are not ready yet.  He's dying to pick a tiny peach from our peach tree. 
We have really gotten into gardening.  I have always wanted a garden and love fresh organic produce right from my backyard.  So far this year we have harvested broccoli and some strawberries.  We are growing lots of blueberries which are not quite ready yet.  However, that has not stopped Caden from picking them from time to time.  He would honestly sit there all day and eat them if we let him.  He's been very good about not picking the green tomatoes but I still have to watch him.
In March we ordered a Garden Tower from Kick Starter.  It finally arrived yesterday.  I'm so excited!  We can garden organically vertically.  With the garden tower we can basically grow up to 50 different plants that would take up land of about 25 sq. ft. in a 4x4 space.  Since I've only done container gardening so far this year (except for our lovely peach tree we planted), I felt that this was something I could do.  I considered buying a Tower Garden from Juice Plus but this was more economical and seemed easier to me.
This weekend we hope to put it together.  I'll write some posts to share with you as we try this out.  I'm also planning on prepping some soil for a garden in the ground but have not decided where to put it yet.  The method I'm going to use is called Back to Eden. There's a great film about organic gardening on this website with some wonderful tips on how to do it. 
Right now we are growing: aloe vera, corn, okra, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, kale, and peaches which we should be able to eat pretty soon.  We also have blackberries, raspberries, and grapes growing but I'm doubting they will be ready this year.  They are still sticks.
In my tower I'm planning to grow all my greens: a variety of lettuce, kale, and spinach.  Also some beans and what ever else is in season and can grow up and out.  In the ground I hope to grow onions, peppers, garlic, carrots, and potatoes.  A friend just shared with me how to grow potatoes in reusable grocery bags, so I may try that as a learning experience for Caden.
Some of my garden
I did not grow up gardening so this is all new to me.  After living overseas and living around farms where local food was grow I became inspired to grow my own food as well.  Also I do not like GMOs and have found that organic foods in the U.S. are extremely expensive.  Growing food the way God intended I don't think has to be this high.  Our soil is depleted of all the minerals we need to be healthy which is why they started injected our crops with bacteria so they would survive poor soil conditions and pesticides.  I don't want to give that to my family.  I also want Caden to grow up learning how to garden.  When you know where your food comes from and you see how long it can take to grow I think we have more of an appreciation for it.  Also eating fresh organic food that is freshly harvested locally is a lot more healthy.  Might as well get as many nutrients as we can when we can. 
Wish me luck with my new Garden Tower!  I'm so excited!!  Meanwhile, check out the rest of my garden.
Watch my corn pop up in rows...or a pot!
Planting 1 of 4 trees that are all now in the ground

Roatan, Honduras

Maya Key Island, Honduras
Honduras was our first stop on our cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas and probably my favorite place we went.  The country was beautiful.  You could tell there was a lot of poverty, sadly.  However, the people were very kind and friendly.  I'm always amazed with the generosity and spirits of some people who have so little.  We booked an excursion through our cruise ship to visit Maya Key, a private island that was just 3 minutes away by boat.  However, it didn't leave until later in the morning so we had some time to see the port city.

After breakfast we asked Blue Rock if he wanted to go with us on land or play with the kids for a little bit before we went to the beach.  He said he wanted to play with the kids.  So we dropped him off at the kids club and went on land.  It would be very easy to do your own excursion on Roatan.Honduras.  There are lots of taxis and plenty of people offering tours for about half the price as on the ship.  Of course there are always risks when you do your own thing.  We did a lot of our own things on our cruises in Europe but since having Blue Rock and not being as familiar with things over here we wanted to keep it as safe as we could while he was with us.  We did see a guy with a sign of some fun things, including zip lining.  We inquired about it and it was literally a few minutes walk away.  For $40 a person we went up a mountain and down 18 zip lines, 24 plat forms, and 2 bridges.  He said our 3-year year old could go and they've had children as young as 2 go.  However, I could see the potential confusion Blue Rock would get from jumping off a high platform attached to a zip line verses jumping off of anything without a zip line.  Also there was quite a bit of walking and hiking up the mountain and the ladders were pretty steep and not very safe for someone with small feet.  Not to mention we dropped from very high places. Thankfully he was having a blast with the other kids on the ship and my husband and I went for our 45 minute zip lining tour.  We spent the most time in this country due to the fact that we ended up doing two separate excursions, the beach and zip lining.  We loved it, though, and are so glad we got to go zip lining.
After zip lining we went around back and saw their little zoo.  They had monkey's, deer, and birds. Blue Rock would have loved the little zoo.  After that we returned to the ship to get Blue Rock and head to the private island.
Maya Key Island was gorgeous.  The water was clear and calm.  We brought our snorkel gear so we snorkeled some, swam, and built sand castles.  There were also some Mayan Ruins and some endangered animals on the island as well.  A BBQ lunch was included (the food was good, especially the fish) and we had a wonderful and relaxing time.  We all agreed that we would go back to Honduras.  Honduras was Blue Rock's 20th country to visit.  Here are some pictures from our time there.

The zip lines were awesome!

Collin zip lining

This monkey was so sweet.

Blue Rock practicing his snorkel breathing

Cool picture Collin took while snorkeling

Mayan Ruins

Blue Rock LOVED the beach!

Little Island we went to

Roatan where we zip lined
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