Author Archives: Kirsten

Dakota: Three Years Old!

Okay, I love these kid interview things, so I wanted to give Dakota one… Here are her responses, no prompting/suggesting answers on my part. But a few answers warranted a follow-up question, and I’ve clarified a few of the answers for posterity as well. πŸ™‚

What is your favorite color? Blue
What is your favorite animal? Tigers
What is your favorite book? Sadness [From “Inside Out Box of Mixed Emotions”]
What is your favorite TV show? Diego [“Go, Diego, Go!”]
What is your favorite movie? Finding Nemo [disclosure: I listed out the movies she’s seen because she doesn’t know the difference between a movie and a TV show]
What is your favorite song? Twinkle Twinkle
What is your favorite food? Broccoli [disclosure: we smother her broccoli in butter, which probably helps. :)]
What is your favorite drink? Milk
What is your favorite clothes? Shirts [Which shirt? My white one]
What is your favorite game? Toca Blocks [an app on the smart phone]
What is your favorite toy? Dinosaurs
Who is your best friend? Kimberly
What is your favorite thing to do? Spinning [I think she means twirling in a circle?]
What is your favorite thing to do outside? Sliding
What is your favorite holiday? Dance class [she starts dance class next week]
Where is your favorite place to go? The playground
What do you want to be when you grow up? A big person [But what job do you want to do? Helping Alaska (our dog)]
What did you do on your birthday? Blew out candles

3 years

Past years:

2 year

1 year

Mal: One Month Old

Mal is a month old, hurray!

mal 1 month

He’s not quite as big as Dakota was at one month, but he’s certainly trying to look it with that double chin. πŸ™‚

I’m still taking pictures in the living room, but I laid the (awesome handmade gift) blanket in the middle of the floor instead of on the couch, in the hopes of somewhat more even light. And while the legwarmers were fun for Dakota, I figure there’s enough going on with this new blanket so I’ll keep the clothing super simple this time.

I do have a stuffed animal for his pictures, but I completely forgot about it until I went back and looked at Dakota’s one month photo. Curses! But I’m not going for perfection here, and I’m happy with the shot I got, so I’m not going to drive myself crazy trying over and over. I’ll just have to remember for next month. πŸ™‚

February Gardening

It’s been quite a while, so I have way more than a month’s worth of changes to the back yard to talk about.

First off, two of my neighbors got motivated about replacing our shared fence line, so we took the opportunity to remove the overgrown yuccas that were pushing the fences over and threatening the power lines. The back yard is really almost too sunny in the summer now, but the removal of the yuccas did reveal some pretty birch(?) trees that I didn’t even know existed in my neighbor’s yard. We’re vaguely discussing possible replacement trees, but it’s not a high priority. Here’s how that corner looks now, though the neighbor’s trees are boring and leafless at the moment:

No more yuccas

My raised veggie garden beds were over on the opposite side of the house from the chicken coop, but we’ve been slowly moving them over, along with the compost pile. It allows more flexibility in moving the temporary chicken fence so I can let them in and around the beds if I want, and also means less walking to toss the old chicken bedding in the compost. Also, this side of the house is much more visible from the kitchen and dining room windows, so the garden is less likely to suffer from my “out of sight, out of mind” forgetfulness.

New garden box location

So far I’ve just started planting in the 6’x3′ box, (spinach, cilantro, carrots, bunching onions) and also put in some bare root strawberry plants in the long skinny box. I’m hoping to make two 3’x3′ boxes for tomatoes and basil, we’ll see how that goes. The oregano plant I got last year survived my neglect, so I moved it to a big pot that I had available. The parsley that I put in the ground last year (near the rosemary) limped along all summer then went crazy once it started raining. I’m going to plant some more next month, but I’m hoping after that it’ll just self-seed.


The dwarf citrus trees that I got last March (one each of navel orange, lemon, and lime) are doing okay. Β They’re still in their original tubs… the pots I had procured are still too big I think. I guess I should revisit the pots this year, maybe I can buy an in-between size and hopefully not kill them off.

Potted Citrus

The front yard is still in a holding pattern. I’ve done my best to let the grass die, but it doesn’t make sense to do anything fancy until our theoretical renovation to the house actually happens. It looks like we got a bunch of volunteer poppies that presumably blew in from the neighbor’s yard, so maybe I’ll weed around them and try to encourage them along.


Dakota: 2 years, 9 months

So I’m almost 3 weeks behind on taking this photo, but at least I got it done! Dakota really likes these photo sessions, which gives me a pretty good incentive to try and keep them going. Yay!

2 years 9 months

Past months:

2 years 6 months

2 years 3 months

2 year

Dakota: 2 years, 6 months

Whew, A bit late on this one. I’ve been trying to crop the progress photos to the same size by counting the bricks on the fireplace, but I’m going to have to start cropping wider if I keep going… She keeps getting taller, surprise surprise. πŸ™‚

2 years 6 monthsAnd past months:

2 years 3 months

2 year

Dakota: 2 years, 3 months

Whew, 2+ weeks late, but I got ‘er done!

2 years 3 months

And previous picture for comparison:

2 year

Her hands are behind her back for the current picture because she refused to put down her very own special camera:

With Camera

I negotiated the photo session by agreeing to take turns having my picture taken with her new camera. Here was her best attempt:

Toddler camera skills

Not bad. Sadly her camera doesn’t have a flash so non-blurry indoor shots are probably going to be tough for her. I actually originally set Dakota up with my 10-year-old point-and-shoot, but it’s so small that her fingers ended up blocking the lens at least 90% of the time. She liked it enough that I decided a camera more designed for her current dexterity level would be worthwhile. Really the old iPhone that we set up to be “her” phone with games and such has a much better camera, but it just doesn’t look sufficiently camera-like. I wonder if there exists an iPhone case that bulks it up and makes it look like a “real” camera with a “lens” centered on the back and such. I’d buy that. πŸ™‚


Dakota: Two! Years! Old!

Another year, another pack of white undershirts for me to paint. I like how it matters less and less if I’m a bit late taking the progress photos, I only just got this one taken today. Even though I’m perpetually tardy, I want to keep these going, and I’m think for her third year I can do a new one every three months. And then maybe in her fourth year I can do them every four months! Craziness. And undoubtedly in her fifth year I will just give up. πŸ˜‰

But seriously though, look at this kid!

2 year

1 year

one month

March Gardening

Probably the biggest thing that’s been happening this month in the garden and the yard is weeding. Boring. The weeds have been growing like crazy, but since I have a pretty thick layer of mulch nearly everywhere that isn’t grass, most of the weeds have really shallow roots. So I’ve been able to pull a few square feet almost every day whenever I have a few spare minutes. I think this is the first year where I’ve managed to deal with most of the weeds before they went to seed. Maybe that means there will be fewer weeds next year? Haha I can dream.

I haven’t done anything other than weed control in the front yard, since we have hopes of tearing up and re-landscaping this year sometime. But even with my neglect, the alyssum and lavender went ahead and did their thing:

Alyssum and lavender

I’m trying out leaving weeds where I pulled them if they haven’t gone to seed, as a little free mulch. You can see them strewn about in the photo above. We’ll see how that goes.

Also in the front yard, my neighbor has awesome poppies growing like crazy in the patch of earth between the sidewalk and the curb. And a few volunteers have taken hold in my patch! I don’t quite have the energy to pull up the grass completely, but I’m keeping it short and trying to give the poppies an advantage. My section is in the foreground, my neighbor’s is in the background:


The rest of the front yard is… green for now.


But over half of it is just weeds, since we didn’t water at all last summer and a lot of the grass died. The weeds are still mow-able, but at the moment they’re growing faster than grass, so I have to mow a lot to keep things under control. Once things heat up this summer it should all turn brown and dead again. We haven’t replaced it yet because we’re hoping to hire some folks to do a big renovation on the house soon that probably involves construction equipment. And that equipment will presumably need to drive over the front yard. So for now I’m just trying to keep the house visible behind the weeds. πŸ™‚

Moving on to the back yard, please notice the lack of weeds:

garden sans weeds

For comparison, in past years this has looked a bit like a field of mature wheat by the time I get around to hacking it all down. Progress! The fabric over the bigger garden box is there because I just transplanted my broccoli seedlings, and I read a suggestion to use a floating row cover for a few days after transplanting, so we’ll see how this goes. The smaller garden box has almost everything transplanted now, though they’re all still pretty small:

garden box

I haven’t actually used mulch in the boxes before, but it seems like an obvious way to conserve a little water. We’ll see how this straw works out.

Oh! And I bought some dwarf fruit trees! I’m going to grow them in containers. Or possibly they’ll all die. Hopefully if they do they’ll die within a year so I can return them and try again. πŸ™‚ I got one each of orange, lemon, lime, and avocado:

Fruit trees

And I bought those big plastic containers, got home, and read that you shouldn’t put small citrus trees in big containers. Sigh. So for now I’m keeping them in their original black containers that they came in. I did pot up the avocado (the one on the top left by itself in the picture) because it’s a bit bigger and was looking kinda sad after a week in its original container. I’ve been checking the soil regularly with a cheap moisture meter to hopefully not overwater these guys. I’m probably damaging the roots because I’m checking the moisture level so often, but I’m hoping it’s worth it to get a feel for this sort of thing as a newbie, even if I kill a few plants off. πŸ™‚

one last picture, I made an outdoor mini greenhouse/cold frame thing:

cold frame

My seedlings are all doing pretty well in there, so now I’m back to just starting seeds in the garage, then moving them out here. I’ll do a separate post on how I put this together.

Picture Book Shelves

Dakota’s books have been haphazardly piled on the TV console in the living room. It was nice to have them out in the middle of everything, but they were pretty messy, and since Dakota could only see the spines, they didn’t really grab her attention.

So Dave built some shelves. It was so quick and easy that I didn’t even take any progress pictures. Here’s the finished product:

Display Shelves

We used these plans, and it was basically the simplest construction project ever. I measured the space and figured I wanted three ~32″ wide shelves. So we made them 31 7/8 inches so we cut them out of 8-foot boards. I’m pretty sure it took longer to paint them than it took to cut and assemble the pieces! It’s so nice when an “easy” project actually is as quick and easy as it’s supposed to be.

I wanted to hang them pretty low so Dakota could access them easily:

Kid shelves

The top shelf is still a little high for her, but we were able to screw straight through the backs into the wall studs, so at worst she’ll probably just crack them if she tries to hang off them. And since these are actually in our bedroom instead of the living room, she likes to bring her stool over from the bathroom so she can use it to reach the top shelf.

I was a little indecisive about moving the books out of the living room since we do a lot of reading in there. But there’s not a really a good place to display the books so prominently there, and we’re in and out of the bedroom enough that Dakota notices the books and will often pull a few off the shelf and carry them out. Here they are with a little more of the room visible:

Low display shelves

I like how they’re close to the door. The bookshelf unit thing to the left of them is our current cloth diaper storage/access setup, since we do diaper changes right on the bed. The three big picture canvasses above the shelves make it look less weird that the shelves are so low. Looking at this photo reminds me that someday I really want to make cool bedside tables with built in wall lamps, but in the mean time what we have works. πŸ™‚

Breathing New Life into an Old Swing Set

I started contemplating fixing up the dilapidated swing set over a year ago, and now I can finally (finally!) declare success! As a refresher, here’s the swing set the way it’s looked since we inherited it with the house:

Swing Set

And here’s how it looks now:

Finished Swing Set

Really just a fresh coat of spray paint in one of my favorite colors took the frame from ugly to awesome:

spray paint before and after

And I ordered the swings/chains, “rings”, and rope online. It was a bit of a gamble to get them all the same shade of yellow since I got them from different sources, but I think I got it pretty close! The painting and ordering actually happened months ago, and Dakota was loving it even before we got all the elements set up.

In progress

The reason why it took so long for me to declare victory was the slide.

Slide detail

I spray painted the plastic part of the slide a while back, and though the bright yellow started to chip off a little, (shoulda used primer!) it still looks pretty good. What took me forever was that I wanted to build the ladder out of steel pipe. After a few false starts I ordered the T connectors and custom length pieces of pipe (for the rungs, since I wanted to use the existing holes in the plastic slide) online. The shipping was a bit high, and I’m sure I could have found someone local to cut pipe for me if I had tried. But it’s hard to beat the ease of ordering exactly what you need from your computer, while wearing your PJs. πŸ™‚

Once I had everything, it was pretty easy to connect all the pieces of pipe and slide them into the existing holes. And then I spray painted them to match and declared victory! The slide is pretty solid and doesn’t need support from the rest of the structure at all.

Swing Set Done

Sadly Dakota will probably be outgrowing this thing pretty soon. Since we aren’t cementing it into the ground or anything she can’t swing very high before the whole thing starts rocking. On the plus side we can always reuse all of the elements on a larger (wooden?) frame if we want to keep the DIY fun going.