Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our New Garden

Karen thought 13 pictures was too many. I kind of agree with her...but you gardeners, landscapers, horticulterers, etc. out there will appreciate the pictures. :) We bought our home from the builder...and the typical variety of box woods with one holly graced the front of our house. Neither of us are fans of box woods. Here's a picture to the right of our front door (I always forget to take "before" pictures). This area will have a similar makeover next spring. That's how it looked on the left side of our front door as well--only throw in a few 4-foot tall was a lovely weed garden. After twelve hours of intense labor (with a quick run to a couple stores and lunch) this is our first flower garden in our Virginia home.
I learned a lot from our several flower gardens in Illinois. Our first home was our practice home in many regards. We took a couple months to plan this garden...and when it came to shopping, I got less rather than more. This is the view from our front porch.

The theme is mostly summer. But it's well-balanced with some evergreens and perennials that bloom in spring, summer and fall. We'll have something to enjoy throughout the year. And the kids absolutely love the walking path.
I love this frog...
And our little turtle...
Here's some Tickseed--it's a very grassy perennial with a wildflower look.
Not our favorite, but the Black-eyed Susan is a natural fit to a summer garden.
The last two flowers are a new favorite for me. The blooms are clusters of tiny little flowers. And the combination of yellow and wine-colored blooms compliment each other nicely. The Yarrow has fern-like foliage and adds to the summer feel.

Other plants not highlighted were our Blue Star Junipers, Silver Mound, Snow-in-Summer, and Autumn Joy Sedum. I've learned to enjoy the hard physical labor of establishing a flower garden (anyone have a tiller I can borrow next time...the clay soil in Virginia is not my friend). And at some point throughout the day, all 5 kids came out to help and enjoy the experience. Even Karen, with her cute 7-month belly, came out to help with plant placement and mulch spreading. We love our new garden!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Midsummer Night

It really is magical!

Although Summer Solstice was Sunday, today is officially Midsummer. And Midsummer means fairies. The tradition is to leave a feast for the fairies since "they" are having a celebration tonight. And if you provide the feast, "they" provide gifts. Anya has read in all of her fairy books that fairies particularly like jelly beans (seriously) and specifically lemon ones. And the kids decided to get miniature muffins...because what fairy doesn't like a bite-size blueberry muffin? The kids also provided little cups of juice.

Anya even left the fairies a little note. She was especially excited for mid-summer night festivities.
And at the end of her note, she included a P.S.: I love your books! How cute is that?!?

In traditional form, James and Peter had to make a silly face for the picture. Now here's the really cool part...
All of these make-believe traditions (i.e.: Santa, tooth fairy, fairies in general, etc.) come from some sort of truth...some sort of reality. Tonight after the kids had gone to bed, Peter burst into our room...eyes wide and mouth open. "I saw a fairy!" Karen and I were encouraging but thought nothing of it. Then, a few minutes later, Anya and Peter burst into the room again and they were both adamant that there were fairies outside. And they shine a bright yellow.
Yes, fireflies have solidified the actuality of fairies in the minds of our young children. You should have felt the excitement in the room. I walked into Anya's room and they were all huddled around the window...Anya, James, and Peter...watching "fairies" fly around the yard. Anya was amazed--"I didn't think fairies were actually real," she said in wonder. She had opened the windows so she could try and hear them talk to each other. Even when Mark came in and said, "I think those are fireflies," Anya quickly proclaimed they were not fireflies...but fairies. I told them that the fairies were checking the homes to see who was asleep. I think they all fell asleep within 10 minutes.
Seriously--the excitement in the room was tangible. That kind of feeling doesn't happen very often. It was fun to be a part of that. Kids are awesome!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our Librarian

It's amazing the difference glasses can make. Anya and Daddy went on a date to LensCrafters and picked out her very first pair. She was so excited about the new world she discovered and chatted the whole way home about how clear everything was. It was a lot of fun to hear her excitement.

If you can't tell...she really likes her new glasses. And she doesn't care if her brothers make fun of her (although they all liked the glasses too so she doesn't need to worry about that anymore). The style has just enough attitude to fit Anya's personality.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crabtree Falls

Could you have asked for a more picturesque fire pit location?!? It was incredible. Although, Karen said it was too loud to sleep during the night. She sacrifices so much for the family! :) This weekend we went to Crabtree Falls for our first ever family campout. It was a short drive south of Charlottesville. Mark was a HUGE helper watching Luke as Mom and Dad set up camp and got everything situated. We had to move fast because we were worried it would rain on us. Fortunately, there was nothing more than a sprinkle in the evening.
Anya knows how to relax on a campout.

After we set up camp, the kids begged to go exploring. Next time we'll be a little more prepared and bring swim suits and sandals so they can explore more without Mom and Dad to constantly ask them to get out of the river. Luke was content to just go to the bank.

Mark had to push the limit and go as far as the rocks would let him. His younger siblings were quick to follow. It was a great area to explore.

What is a campout without S'mores. Surprisingly, Peter and James had already gone inside the tent and weren't interested in getting their shoes back on to enjoy the campfire. Mark helped me make this campfire. What a cubscout!

Anya learned the hard way how NOT to roast a marshmallow. :)

We can't even believe this is James. This is the same James who fought Karen vehemenently when she tried teaching him to read. Now he can't seem to get enough of it.

And if you need proof that these are Knutti's--here it is! Karen bought them all a new book for the trip. Mark didn't care much for his book (so James was happy to take it). It really is fun to watch them all reading.

And we're trying to figure out what gang Peter has joined. He has a smile on his face...but we all know it's just a ploy. Anyone know the sign he's making?
The next day, we hiked Crabtree falls (or half of it). It was a two mile trek to the top...and as you can see in the picture below, Karen is a little over 6 months pregnant. She set our pace and told us when it was time to turn around. She's a trooper...and a wise one at that.

Crabtree falls is the largest vertical drop waterfall east of the Mississippi. (Hey, if you describe anything with enough detail you can make it whatever you want!) But it is pretty cool. It's a hikers paradise and we tried our best to fit in. There were lots of people to talk to while we enjoyed the hike.

The kids were really on one with their poses during the hike. I love hanging out with these little people!

Karen recently purchased "Condorman" on DVD. It's one of those Disney classics that sticks with you when you watch it as a child. The kids LOVE it and were attempting to be their own version of "Condorman" at the edge of a rock.

Do you see the Appalachian three-headed man below? On our way back down, Peter insisted on being carried. It was kind of nice because it balanced out the weight on my back. Luke had fallen asleep (hence the reason his head is off to the side) and the dead weight added about 20 pounds!

Overall, it was a great trip. We'll do it again in about 18 months when Eliza is a year old. We can't wait!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog . . .

There are a couple of reasons that David's great hair week has been interrupted.

1. Today's color was black, which is so close to his natural color it doesn't really show up in pictures.

2. We saw something really cool and had to share.

3. Tomorrow's hair will be well worth the wait.

Being that our backyard was recently divested of a number of trees we currently are the proud owners of a very large dirt patch. In light of that it is very easy to see when something is moving out there, being that tree stumps are happy to stay put. I glanced outside this morning to see something moving and after staring for a minute I realized it was a turtle.
I am sure some of you are saying so what! at this point, but it was cool for us so I like any good homeschooling mom hollered at the kids to come quick so we could go outside and see it up close. It has been a slow morning so we were all still in pjs, and Luke had no pants on, but we went anyway. We got close enough to see it well, but not too close in case it was a snapping type of turtle.
The kids named it Speed since he seemed to be moving rather fast for a turtle. (Except for Luke who wanted to name him Woo woowoo woo wooo).

After some investigation online I firmly believe that he is an Eastern Box Turtle, very common to this area, and probably got displaced during one of the recent storms.

He had the cutest hind legs. His foot looks a lot like a baby foot, you just want to squeeze it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Committed part II, he turns blue

Our saga continues, this time with a hail to all the smurf lovers out there. I think he is secretly loving the shock factor of being seen in public with colorful hair.

Monday, June 8, 2009

He's committed, or maybe he should be . . .

We all know what a great guy I married. This is physical proof.

State Farm does a food drive every year for the community. They have giant barrels to fill up with donations. This year they put the barrel near David's desk. So he did what any community minded Team Manager would do. He challenged his team to fill not one but two barrels. If they did it, he promised to dye his hair different colors for a week.

They did it.

So did he.