The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


Garden Attempts by Novices - Take 20

June 27, 2007 - 2:35 PM

After 6 inches of rain, I thought for sure our garden would be washed away! At least the onions, anyway. In fact, the onions are there and do need some extra soil, which I will go them today, but otherwise it was looking good!

The most exciting thing? This progression of photos...

Lot Neighbor

This is our garden a few weeks ago. See where #1 arrow is pointing? That is our lot neighbor to the south. In fact, there is no lot neighbor there. No one has ever touched the site. Can you see all the tall grasses in their lot? The height of their tall grasses was up to 4', #2 arrow, just a couple days ago. Needless to say, it was heavily shading our crops on the south side of out lot.

Lot neighbor now

This is the very much welcomed sight we got once we came to the garden on Monday after our 6 inches of rain. Hooray! It was amazing the difference it made on our plants! The bummer part was where the arrow is pointing, they did not chop down the grasses and weeds growing directly next to the fence (making it so you still can't even see our lot!). Thankfully though, when we put in our fencing we put it 6" inside the lot markers so the kids and I all took liberties and walked in the neighbor's lot (generally a no-no but this was a special case and it had not been prepped yet.) and yanked out all the grasses next to our fence. It was quite the chore but since the weeds were so big and huge we were able to rip the whole root out easily.

Lot neighbor with emphasis on our beans

This shows you our hard labors. Yes, there are still some grasses in "their" lot that were outside our 6" buffer that I did not feel right about pulling, but the ones that were inside our boundary lines are g-o-n-e gone! And look at those happy beans and edamame! They doubled in size since the rains!

Other happy news...

lil toms lil pepper

Our cherry tomatoes are really going for red and lo and behold a green pepper! Hooray! He's as small as the cherry tomatoes, but how exciting! I fed our tomato plants a helping of Epsom today, just for good measure. We'll see how that works to ripen up all the green ones just sitting around, doing nothing!

Random things to note...

1.) Watering is still boring BUT being as hot as it is, it is a welcome wetness that the kids are now liking a lot more. Yes, still no wagon, but we are managing since we are getting lots of rain these days. I must admit, I like the rain but hate the storms. Storms mean friends' basements flood and lightning striking work towers, extra work for a lot of people which is no fun. Just rain means happy plants and less work for us.

Jeremiah and Miriam watering

2.) Yummy peas! We have about harvested all our peas. My were they yummy! I made them in just about every fashion and they were so good. My favorite was putting them in this simple shrimp stir fry, yummy! I will so do the same kind of peas next year, hands down!

How would you phrase this?

June 26, 2007 - 3:43 PM

We went to the Iowa Children's Museum today. We haven't been in a few months and it was nice to go back for sure! We have really missed it! We love the ICM! One of the neat things was since we hadn't been in a while we got to experience their "new" exhibit about Indonesia. It is very informational and teaches a lot about Indonesian culture and it also teaches a lot about Islam. They did an absolutely wonderful job on the whole installation!

On one minaret installation it had a description of all the major world's religions on it. Christianity was one of them. Here is what it said about Christianity...

Christian description 1

Christian description 2

For some reason this description seems off? Is it just me? All the paragraphs read a bit funny and seems to read that Jesus was just a prophet and that even though one line touches on Jesus rising from the dead, all other comments really point to the whole "good works" equals heaven line of thinking.

To me, it reads funny (like leaving out sin "for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" and leaving out the Trinity, and the fact that it says at least 6 ways to enter the Kingdom of heaven, and really, 33% practice Christianity?, etc) and the third paragraph in particular keeps making me think of Ephesians 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

I really want to write a letter to the ICM asking them to change their description and actually, I probably will do so this week. Any extra thoughts on how to sum it up nicely are welcome!

So, how would you sum up Christianity in 4 short paragraphs?

Garden Attempts by Novices - Take 19

June 20, 2007 - 11:10 PM

The verdict is in... a glimmer of red that was not there yesterday...

Red Tomato!!

This is on our cherry tomato plant, his name is "Tom."  Ezekiel's plant "Bobby" is producing another nice orange one too.  I don't know if it is the potion I gave them on Tuesday or not, but either way, it is exciting!  I know sun really helps tomatoes turn red and they are definitely getting a lot of that.  I am starting to wonder about the type of tomatoes I choose.  I was recommended to get Champion and that they would produce a big yield.  I am starting to think I may try a Big Boy in one of my spring crop beds just for comparison.  We'll see though if it is the type or me.

Also, I am still trying to track the progress of the zucchini too.  I think they are finally starting to look the nice darker green they are supposed to be... what do you think?  We are supposed to get more rain the next two days sometime. 

A. Zuc Before

B. Zuc After

And, as I mentioned before, our cabbage are monsters, with or without magic potion!  Here is Ezekiel next to the biggest one, and it is finally starting to make it's head in the center!  Crazy!  (What a handsome looking boy Ezekiel is too!)  This photo made Josh exclaim, "Now I can see why they made Little Shop of Horrors!"

BIG Cabbage!

(FYI: Directly behind him is the row of edamame, then 2 close rows of beans, then 2 spread out rows of peppers, then a patch of eggplant and cucumbers and then the tomatoes.  The crazy bushy thing in the first row of peppers is our cilantro.  This plant looks like anything but cilantro, I am interested to see just what it turns in to.) 

This is Ezekiel's seed patch...

1. Celery               2. Carrots                    3. Parsley & Sage 

Zeke's celery  Zeke's Carrots  Parsley Sage

Even though the celery seeds started where the marker starts, they are growing very sparse.  There are actually a bunch of carrots in the celery row at the end.  I didn't think Ezekiel got that crazy while planting these, but maybe.  The carrots are growing up nice and getting bigger since yesterday and their magic potion.  The parsley and sage are growing really well, I forgot to plant rosemary and time, but the oregano and basil are really tiny and working hard to fight the grass weeds.  I think we may try and plant some more of our seeds of those 2 and of the celery.

More proof that the kids prefer the play to work. I still am going to get you a grumpy photo of the boys, honest.  There are some great kids sized climbing trees a stone's throw from our garden site.  (If you look close you can see that Ezekiel<

Garden Attempts by Novices - Take 18

June 20, 2007 - 8:13 AM

(I accidentally did 2 16's, so this is 18, enjoy!)

10 pieces of random news this day! 

1.) Maybe you are like me, but you are probably not, and you think, "My those kids do enjoy gardening!"  Truth is, they enjoy some of gardening but not all and what they really like about going to the garden these days is the park next door. 

Play then work

One of these days I should take a photo of the kids in their grumpy states, that is just about as priceless as their joyful states.  This whole, water, water and more water is definitely boring for me as an adult, and compounding boring for kids, as it takes a long time and is very repetitive day after day.  Either way, trying to spice things up we played first today then worked, it went surprisingly well. 

2.)  Harvest definitely brightens their spirits and attitudes!  They got to pick the plump sweet edible pea pods today, yum, yum, yum!  

Pea pickers!

3.) Miriam got to harvest her huge broccoli plant!  Yeah Miriam!  Definitely the biggest one of all!

Miriam's broccoli

4.) This is from Sunday but here is a plate of our peas and our first head of cabbage!  The kids do love eating the peas raw, it is amazing!  I made the cabbage with a rue and almond slices, it was yummy!  Strange at first, but yummy!  Jeremiah liked just eating the cabbage raw, definitely something I never thought I would see.

Cabbage & peas

5.)  Now, do you remember my sick zucchini plants?

Sick zucs

Well, I have been watering them deep, giving them liquid calcium supplements and they have gotten lots of sun and a nice rain from God and...

Happier zucs

They are way happier!  (The darker green one is one we planted from a seed and the yellower green one is a seedling we bought.)  The dark green one has doubled in size, though it is still small compared to others it's age, and the light green one is no longer yellow and is turning back to green.  They are also both perking up!  Hooray!  Maybe in a few weeks they will be as big as Leslie's are today!

6.) We did pick our first red tomato yesterday too but I forgot to take a picture fast enough.  It was one on Ezekiel's tomato plant so he was soo excited I couldn't move fast enough!  The rest of our tomatoes are green still, and there are a lot of green ones that is for sure!  I went to get Epsom Salt today but couldn't find any so ended up with this specific tomato plant food.  It said it showed immediate results and that you could use it on other plants too.  I went ahead and used it yesterday so when I show up today I expect HUGE tomatoes the size of cantaloupes!  Well... probably not, but a little color other than green would be nice.

7.) I also finally found some liquid fish emulsion as a fertilizer.  I will try that later this week.  My bible of gardening suggested it

"Home is where the heart is..." corny but true.

June 18, 2007 - 10:19 AM

I think the standard in today's society is that people don't live in the same place for long. Whether it is moving into a new home in the same city or changing cities all together, people move a lot.

In previous generations, it was not so. Long ago, most people grew up on the family farm that their parents grew up on. They worked the land their grandparents did, and took it on as their own to raise their families on. Or, if they were in the city, parents bought a good house and kept it for their child's entire lifetime.

I think part of this is tied into today's job styles as well. In the past people would get that solid job with a good pension and work there for life, work hard for the gold watch. The job market is changed in 2007. Thanks to our global economy, people can switch jobs quickly and often until they find their niche. And this involves not only moving jobs but also locations as is necessary, making the changing of homes a frequent thing as well. I must say, not that there is anything wrong with that, just point of information.

But even with the logic of old of keeping a farm / house for a long time, there always come a point when people move. Sometimes it is straight into the nursing home, sometimes it is to a warmer climate, sometimes it is to a moving home on wheels. At some point they all move.

Today, my parents are moving from my childhood home. They have lived there 27 years. That is a lot of years. My emotions over this are high. I am excited to no end for my parents and their brand new home at the conservation park, what an amazing opportunity! But, I am an attachment kid of girl about some thing, I have definitely grown in this area (I no longer keep trash for mementos) but this is my childhood home, I can't help but feel saddened.

So many memories...

Like how the day we moved in we had to kill a plethora of snakes that had made their home in our backyard. Like how my parents gave us three girls the master bedroom and they took a smaller bedroom. Like how it had blue shag carpet. Like how the laundry chute was always a perfect place to play. Like how the basement always flooded when it rained. Like how the crickets would hide under the basement wall base. Like how we would all fight over the basement bedroom. Like how dad built us a tire-swing and tree fort in the big weeping willow tree. Like how we all had built in friends our own age on our block. Like how Dad kept building onto the back deck. Like how we were never allowed to use the front door. Like how you always had to bend to look under the cabinets in the kitchen. Like how tall people would always hit their head on the vent above the back door. Like how we used to play in the shed with Dad's old lumber scrapes. Like how we would walk to the creek and play all summer day long. Like how the neighbor dog up the street scratched my sister's back. Like how Laverne would give us each 3 pieces of candy whenever we stopped by. Like how we found stray kittens with nasty eye fungus and wanted to keep them as pets. Like how the night Mr. Moon died and the ambulance came. Like how Mr. Kulbeta(sp) would let us swim in his pool. Like how we would play outside saying in our loudest voices, "It is SO hot out here! I wish there was some way to cool off!" as a way to get him to invite us over. Like how Mr. McDougal had skunks living under his deck. Like how the Border's daughter in law died at a young age of breast cancer. Like how the driveway always took forever to shovel. Like how the trees always took forever to rake. Like how we could never eat in the living room. Like how we could roller skate and skateboard in the basement. Like how the playroom had orange shag carpet. Like how the day the old weeping willow fell over in the storm. Like how the day we all built the new shed. Like how Dad started slowly doing the things

Garden Attempts by Novices - Take 16

June 14, 2007 - 5:48 PM

In exciting news...

Our peas are growing! 

Happy peas!

Our cabbage is getting oh so close!

Our onions are getting bigger and bigger!

Our broccoli plants are still producing little plants!

Our sunflowers are tough as nails! 

Happy sunflowers!

Our lettuce is producing a huge bounty!

Our pepper plants are starting to take firm root!

Our tomato plants are all producing some fruit, small, but fruit!

Our beans and edamame are growing strong and healthy!

Happy edamame!

In sadness...

Our zucchini plants are looking mighty sorry. I am trying to find out their beef but can't figure yet. There is some nutrient they are lacking. Online I found squat(sh, HA! I kill me!) and I am going to ask my local gardener what they think. My best guess what happened was too little water but I am not ruling out nutrients in the soil either.  If you have any thoughts please pass them my way!

Here is Leslie's beautiful plant...

Leslie's Happy Zuc!

Here is our sick plant...

Sick zuc!


In other exciting news!

Borrowed Wagon!

1. No, it's not ours.  Our fellow gardener, whom I will call Mrs. Moon, let us borrow her wagon for 15 minutes and boy-oh-boy was that sure the fastest we have ever watered our garden! I must find one of these things, especially as this garden keeps getting bigger and bigger.

2. How and when to use chemicals. Like I said, for our tomatoes I am using a calcium supplement and other things for bugs, etc. All in all, using anything but water with kids is not good. I have realized that I need once every week and a half to do some fertilizer, pest, mgmt without the kids. This is the tricky part but definitely helpful I have found.

3. Weeding through straw is not as hard as wood chips. I did wood chips in the kids garden earlier in May and I must say, weeding through straw is so much easier! Plus, weeding after being watered is way easier too! So far the straw is helping us stay more on top of our weeds.

4. I still don't know what to plant where our broccoli is/was. I may just leave it since our cabbage is still growing as big as an ottoman and may just use the space.  18" was definitely not enough space in there for these monster cabbages!

It's all fun and games...

June 13, 2007 - 3:12 PM

Until someone gets cryptosporidium.

That's what I kept thinking all day today.

Today we went to our first beach outing of the season. We haven't been since last year when one of the kids picked up some nasty from the water. We braved it today because it was beautiful outside, the kids were dying for it, it is free and I need to work on this gardener's tan of mine! (Yikes!)

3 cuties... can you see them all?

I realized something else today... You know you are getting old when your younger friends are getting old. A younger friend of mine mentioned to me her age today and I was taken aback, "How can she be older than 23?" I asked myself, "I know she just had a birthday but that would only make her 24?!" (Which she didn't turn 24 either, it is just the number I have stuck in my head for all my friends I guess...) My how time flies and people age. Sadly, me included.

Garden Attempts by Novices - Take 16

June 11, 2007 - 5:27 PM

or How much straw is too much straw?

I just read that some people do 3-4" worth of straw or more... I think our boys did about that today.

Straw is cheap so we got a bale today because our tomatoes needed more straw and I thought, might as well do the paths now with straw. Straw is cheap... and messy and heavy too. Since I was on mission for a toddler bed this weekend at the garage sales (which I found, yeah!) I did not get a wagon yet. Hence, our old stand-by transportation method still works...

Straw Bale

The kids had a lot of fun with it, but it did make quite the mess.

Hauling Straw

And as I said, I think we may have gone overboard because once they started, the kids didn't stop. This is only half a bales worth. Wow! And I hear that it is still not the best weed deterrent, and I heard that there is a difference between clean straw and dirty straw... so hopefully before we laid the straw we got up a good portion of the culprits and hopefully the store sold us clean straw. Oh my!

Half done.

However, it is definitely helping our tomatoes grow! That is exciting. Though as well, I am now told by another gardener (who confirmed Leslie's earlier idea) to use Epson salt in my water to help them ripen. He said his tomatoes never got red until he used Epson Salt. Where do people get these ideas from? I don't know... but if they work...

Champion Roma Tom Thumb

And Miriam's broccoli plant is the only one we have yet to harvest. It is growing, slowly but surely...

Miriam's Broccoli

In other news... weeds are-a-growin! And growing and growing and growing! They are strong too and very deep. They seem to come out of nowhere. We used Preen to keep down our weed population but it is not doing a 100% job. I'd say 75%. The weeds that get through in that 25% are tough as nails.

This is our new foe for sure. The added straw will not keep them all out but hopefully do what the remainder 25% can't. The biggest bummer is weeding through mulch of any sort. That is tricky and not fun. Makes a person not want to do mulch but I think I am more concerned about our plants getting sick than weeds right now.  Once they are healthy and growing we will work on their sins, I mean, weeds.  Baby steps to a healthy garden.

Garden Attempts by Novices - Take 15

June 7, 2007 - 1:57 PM

or I knew it was too good to be true.

or 10 to 1 the tomatoes die.

If you would have seriously asked me back in April what vegetable I thought would be the hardest of all, I would have told you hands down tomatoes.


But doesn't everyone do tomatoes? And haven't you successfully done onions and broccoli and lettuce? What makes tomatoes so hard?


Growing tomatoes has always been a scary thing for me. I do not know what it is about them that makes them so intimidating. I think it is... partially their size... Partially their bugs... Partially their long list of ailments. And I foreknew they would all happen to me.

Needless to say, our tomato plants are not doing so hot but hopefully are now on the mend. With all this wonderful rain, our garden has been so happy both veggies and weeds alike. So one would think, "Hey, the tomatoes must be getting huge?" Nope. I go to them the other day and they have these huge brown, rotten spots on the bottom of them and some of their leaves are getting dark brown/black. Ew! Ew! Ew! and Bummer to boot!

Issue #1: I started surfing for rotten tomato plants but kept getting movie links so I switched to brown spots on bottom and found out that my tomatoes are suffering from "Blossom End Rot" which means they have a calcium deficiency which makes the brown spots. Bummer!

Rotten Tomatoes

Solution: Super Cal! Some calcium supplement I have to water with that has been ranked one of the best solutions for Blossom End Rot. The gardener said that hope is not lost!

Issue #2: Tomato Blight! What? All I know is that is what it is called. Sick looking leaves from too much fungus er something or other?

Straw & Dust!

Solution: Turns out I need to mulch my tomato bed so that the water and dirt from watering doesn't splash up on the plants and that I need to prune off sick branches and that I shouldn't water overhead. The gardener also said that I needed to give it some extra nutrients for good measure. We picked up a few handfuls of free straw from the garden shop and am doing a whole bale for the rest of the garden just for good measure. I think that all our plants could seriously take a break after the days and days of rain they have been getting.

Either way, I knew these tomatoes were going to stretch my gardening skills. If I based my success on tomatoes alone I would never do this again.

But the positive results so far are huge!! Do you know what I heard the other day? Well, first I heard, "Mom, can I have a bigger portion of broccoli?" Then I heard, "Mom, can I have seconds of broccoli?" Amazing! They said it would happen in the books and they are right! Kids will eat what they plant! (Now, I have friends whose kids will eat Brussels sprouts with huge grins on their faces and ask for seconds, but not my kids. They eat veggies because they have to, but they are never asked for more of them, let alone seconds!)

Next coming to harvest is our cabbage! They are looking great! Ezekiel is the most excited about these guys for sure and can't wait to try them!

Our purple cabbage is huge! I am assuming that they too will form heads like the green ones. I honestly, don't know. I should ask someone. I have no clue what it is up to or how we got them so big, but I think next year we will try and grow the biggest one for the county fair. These ones are huge but not big enough!

Huge Cabbage!

by Dana

When it rains, it pours or I get by with a lotta help from my friends

June 4, 2007 - 2:35 PM

I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors... but I think that God has a good* sense of humor.

Over a year ago our house was hit by the IC tornado. Two months ago we arranged for a group of friends from Ames to come and help us re-roof our house for Jun 1st and 2nd. A few weeks ago, we found out this is the same weekend as the Arts Fest. Then, at the beginning of the week we found out that rain was expected the whole weekend. We waited until Friday morning to make the final call... yes, we'd give it a try and roof our house.

As the kids were waiting to be picked up by Shirley, Ezekiel was telling me about his prayers last night. He said, "Mom, I prayed that God would not let it rain for two days so you can get the roof done." I told him that was incredibly sweet and nice but then I also mentioned how it could still rain and it would be ok because God was in control. "But I prayed for no rain?" he asks. I then explained to him how sometimes God says "no." And it is not that He is saying "no" to be mean-hearted, but that He may have something better for us, or some other reason, or maybe it is not the right time, there is something we are ultimately being protected from, or maybe we need to ask more, etc. It doesn't mean we shouldn't ask for specific things either, we should always ask and often. God's ways are not our ways and we need to trust in His plan.

Nevertheless, work started off great at 8AM, cloudy, yes, but great. Tearing off shingles is really fun, I quickly learned why leather gloves are so great! Joe, Pat, Josh and I are there for a while, then Jonathan, Luke, Abra, Josh and Becky came. The whole time I am pulling stuff up I just keep praying, "Please God protect us, please hold off the rain as long as You see fit, and when it does rain, I will assume it was to save someone from getting hurt or some other better purpose and help myself and the rest of the crew to remain in good spirits."

Around 10:30 I left for the Sok's to pick up some stuff. After loading everything into the RAV at their house, I go to start it back up and it is dead. Won't drive. And it is parked right in front of their garage. I put the RAV in neutral and start to push it out of the way when thunder starts and light rain. Abra comes to rescue me, helps me push the RAV the remainder of the way, in the rain, meanwhile the team at the house scrambles to cover the roof with tarps.

By the time we get back, the tarps are on and they are about to start a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit and get lunch started since it is lunch time (Thanks Rachel for lunch!) when I am standing in my dining room and I start getting rained on. Since our roof is not covered in plywood sheets but 1x8's it made for more places for rain to come in. Jonathan then scampers up to the attic and starts to soak up the wet spots. Soon the leaks stop and lunch is served.

After lunch it looks fine and sunny outside and we begin again. The Colorado team of 3 leave but in their place Chad comes to work. An hour or so into it, light rain starts to fall. We start to slowly put on tarps thinking it will stop by the time we get them all on.

It does not stop.

It gets worse.

Much worse.

Then the winds pick up.

Everyone is scrambling to either hold down tarps with their bodies or scrambling around nailing down the tarps. Joe is walking around as sure footed as a deer. Luke, Chad, Jonathan and Josh are showing no fear and laughing almost as they hold and nail down tarps. I have this perfect photograph in my mind of Jonathan standing on the top ridge of the roof and this huge gust of wind blowing him from behind and him having this look of utter joy. It was crazy!

And me? I was dandy until this gust of wind almost blew me down one of the tarps. Thank

Fare thee well or Am I ready for real furniture?

June 1, 2007 - 6:36 AM

Months ago, we "sold" our beautiful beast, the Lincoln, and tonight, I made the way to say goodbye to another of our long friends... our 9' 6" couch... (the white one on the right... look at her in her hay day!)

The 9 foot couch in its hayday


This is the couch we picked up at an auction a few blocks away from our home. The couch seemed made for our house AND it was only $25. I am guessing that the people who owned it had it covered in plastic since the year it was bought. A white couch staying white all those years? Unheard of!

The tricky part for this couch was getting it to our house. We borrowed a friend's minivan and it only fit in half way. The other half precariously hung out the back of the van. I was the "weight" to balance our cantilever and our kids were in for a ride. Needless to say, it made it home in one piece.

My how we have loved this couch...

Cramer Family Circa 2003

Zeke 3 & Max 1 They grow up so fast!

sick boys watching cartoons GBob & Elaine visit

Goldilocks Miriam and the 3 bears The Perfect Laundry Couch

Internationsl Cooking CLub with room to spare Little Miriam

Sadly though, its life has come to an end. The fabric has literally deteriorated away. At first, I sewed it up. Then the fabric kept disappearing, leaving me nothing to grab onto and sew. Then I covered it with a blanket, the short way. It kept getting bigger and I rotated the blanket the long way. Now, the deteriorated fabric is wider than my blanket. The couch has to go.

There is something to be said for having inexpensive furniture. The kids can build forts with the cushions and hide under the cushions and stack the cushions and it is tough enough to hold out and you don't have to fear about the hundreds of dollars put into it. This couch, even though it was upstairs, was the one couch we let our kids play with.

I will miss it as our favorite place to fold laundry. And the kids favorite makeshift fort walls. And the only couch long enough for my husband to fully stretch out on. I suppose we should act our age and buy a real couch? No... not yet. Just like I am not ready to live in a house with carpet, I don't think I am ready to invest in matching furniture.



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About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
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