Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Yard Updates, Winter 2017

In the fall we just didn't have the time or money to do much to our yard, so we got around to it in late February/early March.  We had an unusually warm winter here in Missouri, and I think a lot of the country experienced it.  Because of that, our yard never really went dormant all winter.  It was actually kind of a bummer for us because we wanted some weeds to die.  You guys know our yard was in rough shape last winter when we moved in.  In the last year we've learned that rehabbing your lawn is a multi-year process.  There aren't instant results, and you just have to stick with it.  Last winter/spring we took care of raking years' worth of lives, de-thatching, removing a stump, removing gravel and replacing it with mulch, and getting rid of the gravel around our river birch tree in the back yard.  We were pleased with all of the results except for the gravel removal around the tree.

So here's what our yard looked like a year ago:

And here's what our yard looked like at the same time this year.  It's nowhere near perfect, but it really does look better than last year.

So in late February we rented an aerator and a tiller.  This was our first aerator experience, and it was kind of comical.  I had anticipated helping Robert, but after that machine nearly took him down it became obvious that I wouldn't be helping.  It was very powerful!  Robert when through the yard horizontally and vertically.  We hope to aerate again in the fall.

Since grass still wasn't growing around the river birch tree where we dug out gravel we decided that there must still be more gravel there.  Last year Robert dug out as much as he could, but this year he rented a tiller that went down 10", and it got out so much more gravel.  It was still reaching gravel down at 10" so who knows how deep it actually goes.  We're just hoping that going down 10" is enough to grow some grass.  The tiller loosened up the soil and gravel, and then it was time to sift out the gravel from the good soil.  This was another difficult task.  Robert and I agree that we won't be volunteering to sift dirt for anyone any time soon.  Robert built his own soil sifter based on Home Depot's tutorial, and it held up for our project and could be used again.  Basically, we put the sifter over the wheel barrow, shoveled dirt into it, shook it back and forth to sift out the dirt from the gravel, dumped the gravel in a pile, and dumped the wheel barrow when it got full.  When we were finally finished we raked out the soil to level it some.  Robert planted shade-friendly grass and has been watering it every day.  We know the grass won't be perfect since it's under a tree, but if we don't get at least some grass Robert says he will cry, and I say we should just plant ivy or turn it into a concrete slab with a patio or a shed.

After tilling and aerating we wanted to put down a fertilizer and a pre-emergent.  It's kind of frustrating because since we didn't have a cold winter we already had weeds, so I don't know how much the pre-emergent will do.  We've gained most of our knowledge through The Lawn Care Nut and his YouTube videos.  He's entertaining, and he's full of good information, but I also just wanted a spreadsheet that told me what to do and when to do it, so I just made my own.

Like I said, this winter was super warm so we bumped up the tasks that would usually be done in early April to early March, and then we mowed for the first time two weeks later in mid March.  As The Lawn Care Nut suggests, we used Lesco Starter Fertilizer.  We really couldn't find it anywhere locally so we ordered it on Amazon with free shipping.  This fert is kind of expensive, but thankfully our 8,000 square foot yard only needed half a bag, and we will be able to use the other half of the bag in late August.  The LCN wants you to put down the fert with sharp angular sand.  We found a big bag at Home Depot for about $4 which is great, but it was sold outside at Home Depot, and it had rained recently so it was wet and couldn't flick out of the spreader, so I ended up putting it out by hand which was miserable, and I'm not sure how effective it was.  Oh well.  Then we put down a liquid pre-emergent called Prodiamine which is the generic form of Barricade.  Again, we bought this on Amazon because it wasn't sold locally.

Within two weeks our yard was much greener and thicker.  Now, it's still about 50% weeds, but I'm trusting the process and believe that this fall when we spot spray the weeds, aerate, and seed it'll give us great results next spring.  Robert mowed at 2.75" in mid March, and now the rest of the season we will mow at 3.75".  I think this is going to be really hard for me because our yard is going to look really weedy.  To the eye, the yard would look less full of weeds if we cut it shorter, but by cutting it longer the root system will get longer, deeper, and stronger.  The root length is directly proportionate to the grass length, so by cutting the grass longer our roots will get stronger and give us better grass next year.

We got one random day of some flurries over spring break.  Go figure.

Around Easter we will do our next treatment.  That time we will use Prodiamine again, but our fertilizer will be Ringer Lawn Restore.  We aren't going to spot spray for weeds because that would kill half of our yard.  We will spot spray in the fall when things are about to go dormant.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Alabama Visitors

Several months ago Robert was talking to his dad, and we learned that his wife, Terri, would be going to Honduras on a mission trip in March.  We invited Ray up to visit while she was out of town.  Shortly before the trip was to occur, his two sisters, Leah and Tammy, decided they'd like to come, so it became a big sibling trip.  Leah is about to move to Singapore for a few years, so it was an extra special trip before her big move.  This was also Leah and Tammy's first trip back to Missouri since our wedding five years ago.

Sarah was super jazzed the night they arrived and stayed up late to see them.  She got a bedtime story from Papa.

We did a Branson day with them and enjoyed lunch at Hook and Ladder Pizza in Hollister and the Ralph Foster Museum at College of the Ozarks.

It worked out perfectly that they were here over spring break, so Robert got to preach while pastor John was out for a family vacation.

Sarah soaked up all the extra attention, and was so sad when they left!

We spent plenty of time just doing our normal thing around the house, but it's always fun to have company there to make the day more exciting.  We got to eat good food, play Trivial Pursuit, and go shopping.  We enjoyed lots of chatting and time together.  I'm glad we could host them!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sarah at 18 Months

Sarah turned 18 months old on February 5, and she had her 18 month check-up today.

  • Height = 32.5" (up 1.75" since 15 months), 65%
  • Weight = 23lb 9.5oz (up 12oz since 15 months), 60%
  • Head circumference = 18.5" (up 1" since 15 months), 50%
  • 16 teeth, just waiting on her second molars

The last few months have been all about language for Sarah.  She's started putting together word phrases like Mittsy.  Touch.  Soft.  Hug!  (So cute) and sentences like:
  • Touch it
  • Hold this
  • See you later
  • Thank you
  • I sorry
  • I love you
  • Love you, too
  • Hi, DaDa/MaMa/friend/etc.
  • More colors (while coloring)
  • No more diaper
  • All done
  • Happy birthday to Taylor (for her aunt's birthday)
  • Let's go!
  • Peekaboo!  I see you!
  • Sarah, no touch (referring to the litter box)
  • Pick up
Some other new and exciting words have been:
  • CoCo - Somewhere along the way Mittens got nicknamed Mittsy CoCo by our family, and now Sarah has just turned it into CoCo.  It's adorable!  She like to feed CoCo her cookies (dental treats) and brings CoCo her own favorite  toys like dolls and Crayons.  
  • She's started saying South Gate which is obviously a hit with our students.  
  • Pink - Her favorite color, and she loves identifying pink things like Crayons and clothing.
  • Amen - Said at the end of every prayer and another big hit!
  • Amy - This is what Sarah calls me if she's frustrated with me like "No, Amy!" while getting a diaper change.  Good grief, girl!

Sarah's physical ability improves by the week, too.  She enjoys walking backwards, marching, jumping, walking on her tip toes, and walking with her legs spread apart really far.  She's learning how to zip and unzip things like jackets.  She likes to twist lids to open things.

I would say Sarah's two favorite activities are coloring and going outside.  She has a little table with two chairs, and she will color and put stickers on her papers.  She also likes using her easel to play with magnets and write with the dry erase marker.  The other weeks Sarah said "Jacket" (I put it on her), "Socks" (I put them on her), "Shoes" (I put them on her), "Outside!"  She knew!  So I obliged and we went outside.  She's really starting to enjoy swinging and sliding.  She also likes exploring with dirt, rocks, and sticks.

Her imagination is really blossoming.  She likes to lay her head down and say "night night."  She enjoys playing peekabo, and she also likes having pretend tea parties and feeding her stuffed animals.

Random noteworthy things since 15 months - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and lots of sicknesses (double ear infection, sinus infection, stomach virus, and another ear infection).  You'll recall that we went to Colorado back when Sarah was 16 months old.

One really big thing is that we've had some potty success.  I got a little pink Minnie Mouse potty, and she was pumped.  She loves saying, "Potty, wipe, flush, wash," so she definitely understands the steps of a bathroom experience.  Robert and I got her to sit on the potty by giving her some Crayons and a piece of paper.  After a few minutes she went pee pee!  Half an hour later or so she was sitting on the potty with a book and went pee pee/poo poo!  This week she was walking around naked, and later in the day I found pee pee in her potty.  She'd gone without me even being there!  I know potty training won't happen overnight, but it's very exciting to know that she's making progress toward it.

The sweetest moments have been her saying, "I love you."  It melts me every time.  I've waited to hear that since she was born, and I'm pretty sure it'll never get old.  We love you, Sarah!


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