Gardening

gardening-spring full bloom

Gardening has been something that I have loved as far back as I can remember. I love to be outside. I love to see new life sprouting from their unique places – ground, trees, flowers, etc. I could go on and on about all that I have learned and plan to learn. I’ll start with what I have planted so far and what we are in the process of planting. I’m so excited!

The USDA has divided the United States into gardening zones. We live in what is considered zone 6 according to the plant hardiness zone map. We experience all four seasons – spring, summer, fall, and winter. We also have what is considered extreme weather conditions. In the winter, we can drop down to single digit temperatures and during the warmer months, we can have temperatures hovering around 100 degrees. In addition to extreme temperatures, we also have a constant wind. I like a 20-30 mile an hour breeze because it helps cool you off in the summer but it’s bitter cold in the winter. So finding plants and flowers that will withstand these crazy conditions is very challenging but some how we’ve managed to find a few.

 

gardening-fruitless bradford pear tree blooms2

Twelve years ago we planted five fruitless bradford pear trees. We had one die because of unwanted carpenter ants. The four we have now are enormous and shade most of our yard with these beautiful flowers in the spring and bud out with full leaves within a few weeks of blooming. They grow between 30-50 feet and are hardy in zones 5-9. Their real name is Pyrus Calleryana. We’ve only had one problem with them and it really wasn’t their fault. A few years a go, we had baseball size hail and the leaves were half gone after the storm. It took about two years for them to completely recover. These are definitely one of my favorites in my yard.

 

 

gardening-creeping phlox2

Next we have a ground cover called creeping plox. It’s real name is Phlox Subalata. It comes in several different colors and we planted the purple. It has tiny spikes when you touch it and is a taproot. It blooms only in the spring and is semi-evergreen in the winter. It is a great animal deterrent. I planted it about four years ago, but it has taken about three years to establish itself. I hardly have to water it because it is drought tolerant. We are currently in the process of relocating it to a new flowerbed. More on the new flowerbed later. I’ve never had a problem with it and it is very low maintenance.

 

 

 

gardening-redtip photinia shrub blooms3

On a whim, we planted these beauties called Redtip Photinia Shrub. The new leaves are red while the older leaves are green. The interesting thing is they are rated for zone 7-9. Half of the shrubs are slightly shaded and they are growing faster than the shrubs in full sun. However, they are all looking really good. We even have a few blooms. The hedge lines the back of our house and pops against our light colored brick. They need to be soaked about once a week. I love the color!

 

gardening-worm2

 

I get excited when I see worms in my soil. For worms to survive, the soil must be full of nutrients. Worms also aerate the soil keeping it loose so the roots of the plants can easily grow. This picture is one out of my garden. I probably dug up over 50 worms while digging in the dirt.

 

 

 

gardening-lilac bloom2

 

When we moved to our house fourteen years ago, this lilac bush was covered in big purple blooms. It was beautiful! Today it still blooms like this every spring. They love the warm dry climate. After they bloom in the spring, it becomes a pretty bush. Sometimes in the fall, if the weather is just right, the lilac bush will produce a few more blooms.

 

 

 

Stay tuned for more blooms!

College and Family

College and Family

For those mommas who want to go back to school, I’m here to tell you that it can be done. Here is a little bit about my story on continuing my college education.

Growing up, my parents didn’t push for us to pursue a higher education. My dad dropped out of high school, and towards my middle and high schools years, my mom went back to school. After eleven years, she finished with her Master’s in Psychology as a Licensed Professional Counselor. She was the first in her family to go to college and graduate. I am so proud of her. She is a great example to follow.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I’ve never known what kind of teacher; I just knew I wanted to teach. So after high school, I tried to pursue college and hated it. My heart was not in it. Around that time in my life, I was planning a wedding and buying a house. So life was turning in a different direction and college was not on the priority list.

Fast forward a few years and my desire to go to become a teacher surfaced again. I tried one class while working full-time and that was all that happened. After I had Booger, I had the privilege of staying home with her. During that time, I dove back in to school full-time. I was then offered a position as a Teacher’s Assistant at Junior’s school so I’ve again put college on hold. To finish college has and will be a deep desire of mine. One day I will walk down that aisle, even if it takes me another 25 years.

Here are some steps for you to take to start and/or continue college.

  1. Go to FAFSA to see if I was eligible for student grants then fill it out. A little is better than nothing.
  2. Check out the local college and/or university. Studying at a local college will help you receive more college for the money. A university is typically more expensive than a local college. Go with what is available. Fill out all necessary forms.
  3. Find scholarship money. Scholarships are free money. Most colleges and universities have a list of available scholarships. Fill out as many as you can that apply to you.
  4. Online classes vs on-campus classes. I opted for online classes because they fit better into my schedule. But I also took a few on-campus classes too. Both were great for me.

Words of Wisdom: If you are thinking of pursuing a college degree, finish it before you get married and have your beautiful children. It is really difficult but not impossible to find time to focus on both.

How to Pack Kids Clothes for Vacation

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After you figure out the numbers, put together each outfit including undergarments and socks. Also include girl hair accessories if needed. Set aside the outfits. Remove one outfit for travel so you will know what to wear the first day.

What you will need:

  • One gallon bags
  • Permanent marker

Grab the gallon bags and label them with a permanent marker with the day of the week the child will need to wear them. Label one bag “pjs”. These will be reusable if you only write the day of the week on the bag like this.kidsclothing2-2

 

 

After ink is dry on the bags, load each bag with the whole outfit according to the activity they will be involved in. Bag the pjs together or separate. Example: If the child will be swimming, then make sure to include a cover up and swimsuit and a change of clothes. One outfit down and many more to go.

 

 

This way of packing can also be used for camping trips, beach trips, or anywhere that is sandy and dirty. Bagging clothes will help keep your organized and the clothes clean.

How to Pack Adult Clothes for Vacation

After you figure out the numbers, put together each outfit including undergarments and socks. Set aside the outfits. Remove one outfit for travel so you will know what to wear the first day.

There are a couple of options for packing adult clothes.adultclothing2

  • gallon bags
  • rolling the clothes

 

Now for packing. We are going to roll each set together. For example: fold pants in half then in half again. Then place a half-folded shirt on top of the pants. Then place all undergarments on top of the shirt towards one end. Starting at the undergarment end, roll until you can’t roll anymore. adultclothing3Now place in a gallon bag or leave them rolled. One outfit down and many more to go. Roll the pjs together or separate.

 

This way of packing can also be used for camping trips, beach trips, or anywhere that is sandy and dirty. Bagging clothes will help keep your organized and the clothes clean.

 

Top 10 Evening Routines

Top 10 Evening Routines

The best way to daily organization is to simplify the morning craziness. In my house, Earl and I both work full-time jobs so it is critical we stay organized. Here is what we do every night before we go to bed. Free printable here!

  1. After school, craziness!! Junior and Booger both have compartments for their backpacks. Thanks to IKEA for this organizational white Kallax shelving unit and white Lekman boxes . If its winter, they hang their jackets and coats on the provided hooks. Then they place their school papers on my desk and their lunch boxes on the kitchen counter.
  1. Prepare dinner while children start homework.
  1. After dinner, lunches are made and placed in lunch boxes and put in the refrigerator, if necessary. Think about the next day’s breakfast and dinner. Ask yourself – do you need to defrost anything for dinner? Clean up kitchen including washing the dishes and sweeping the floor.
  1. Bathtub time! After everyone is squeaking clean, wipe down the bathroom, hang towels, and put dirty clothes in the basket.
  1. Start a load of laundry.
  1. Set clothes out for the next day including under-garments and shoes. Words of wisdom: finding shoes the night before will save a headache and a few tears from trying to find them during the mad rush in the mornings.
  1. Spend intentional time reading to your kids. According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, reading 20 minutes a day with your kids creates a proficient reader by the third grade. All the more reason to read, read, read! This is a good time to help them study and go over the papers from school. (link to Children’s Reading Found)
  1. Pick up hotspots. These are places where items collect over time and pile up making your house look cluttered.
  1. Switch laundry from washer to dryer. Fold as soon as it comes out of dryer.
  1. Relax by taking a long hot bath or reading before bed. Jump in bed at a reasonable hour.

Bonus: Always! Always! Take the opportunity to hug and kiss your loved-ones. You will miss them when they are gone from this world.

 

Reading! Why some love it and some hate it!

apple with text

I’m not sure how some kids like to read and others do not. I’ve just now started to like reading, but only on my electronic device. And mostly because no one is making me do it. I don’t have to take a test later and if I miss something, I can go back and reread without someone hounding me about why I didn’t understand it the first time. I honestly hate to read real books, except for a few crazy vampire books. I’m weird like that! Junior loves to read but I’m not sure where she gets it because Earl and I do not like to sit and read. My mom told me that she used to love to read. After she returned to college, her love of reading was suppressed and had no time for leisure reading.  She told me the other day that she is just now getting to where she was slightly interested in reading a book again. It’s taken her years because she read so much in college. Do you enjoy reading? Do your kids like to read?

Everyone is different! Questions to ask your kids if they’re struggling with reading are… Do they like to read and why? If not why? Honest answers. Did someone make fun of them while they read because they were having a hard time with a word or sentence like friends at school, teachers, or maybe you have laughed at their pronunciation and didn’t realize it? Do they like to read easy books? Hard books? Do they comprehend what they’re reading? Do they sit still for any length of time? Maybe they could get an activity book that shows them how to do stuff but they have to read the instructions to do it. Do they struggle with pronunciation so therefore it’s a struggle with the desire to read? Read to them at night or at breakfast. Short easy books. Ask them questions about the book and let them tell you whatever they got out of it. Even if its far fetched. Ask them why that’s their answer. Try not to laugh because some of them are really funny! I used to have a problem with sitting still to read. I still only read a few sentences and/or page then go do something. I come back and read a little more and repeat the process. Visit with their teachers to see what they might suggest. These are my thoughts. Yes they learn from our example but sometimes there are other issues involved that need to be addressed. And some will never like to read.

Here are a few websites that may be beneficial to you and your understanding of why reading is so important in a child’s life.

Importance of Reading Aloud

Facts about Children’s Literacy