Friday, July 31, 2015

Landscaping project: Front of house

Since we moved into our house four years ago, we've been dreaming about re-doing the landscaping. Although there was some hardscape in (retaining walls and bullets in the front), the vinyl edging around the sides and back was starting to fall apart, and the 5 plants looked sickly and haphazard. We were not fans of the white rock and debated back and forth about whether to keep or replace it.  After saving up for a while, we finally decided this was the year to strike on some outdoor projects.

The first thing we needed to do was get rid of the rock. ALL.THE.ROCK.  That turned out to be a bigger task than anticipated. The white rock was about 8" thick in most places and the retaining walls were FILLED TO THE BRIM! No wonder no plants could grow in them! We had a friend who wanted the rock for his acreage and could bring a skid loader and dump trailer to haul it. (We totally won on that deal.) We also hired three football guys to come scoop rock. (You're welcome, family members that we did not ask to help with this rotten task).  It took 5 guys a total of about 5 hours and that was after Adam had already done much of the prep/back yard work.
Scooping rock.
All the rock is out!
We hired a babysitter for a Saturday morning so Adam and I could go to Ground Effects to pick out all the plants. We had a list made of ones we'd like but they helped us cross a few off that wouldn't work in the sun/shade. Adam and the boys went and picked up all the selections later in the week and set them out to make sure we liked the placement.

Ryan helped plant the big topiary.

Adam got everything planted and mulched, then one evening we stuck Avonlea in the exersaucer outside while I helped cut plastic while Adam tacked with rock.  Here is the rock we got from Aalbers Excavating:
The boys were around, running between the front and backyards and only after investigating a lengthy absence, did I discover this:
Swimming fully clothed.
Adam finished the rest of the rock around the house and we finally could tie a bow around this project!  Here are the plants we picked:

As you can tell, I'm a big fan of the flowering plants, but we hope the blooming periods spread out throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

Landscaping project: the backyard

Basketball Court/Cement Pad
First, we took advantage of a March Madness offer through Blueprint Basketball and purchased a Goalsetter system. Our goal was to have an adjustable in-ground hoop that our kids could play on from age 5-20 and would also withstand being a meeting place for (older) neighborhood kids. It's an investment for sure, but so far we've been really happy with it. Since the promotion came with free NCAA pole pads, we have some UNI Panther Pride going on as well.

We had a 20'x30' pad of cement poured behind our garage in early June. The goal for this piece was to have a place for kids to not only play basketball, but also ride their little toys, set up a kiddie pool, do side-walk chalk, drive remote-control cars, etc. that was in the backyard and not on or near the street.
Boys loved watching the skidloader work.
The dirt piles was the favorite hangout of the neighborhood for more than a week.
Ready for cement. They had to use cement buggies to fill it, but the grass grew back eventually.

Adam and his dad installed the Goalsetter (and it was HEAVY!)
Inaugural shot.
 Because of the grade of the lawn, we needed a retaining wall built at one end and decided to go ahead and finish it off with some landscaping around it. This is when it's handy to have 4 summers of landscaping experience from college. Adam was able to do the entire wall and surrounding landscape himself.

We did bullets around the outside and decided on rock on the lower level with mulch on the upper level.

Placing plants
 Here are the plants we chose, all purchased from Ground Effects:

Finished landscape
The dirt area behind the wall is currently seeded and growing grass nicely, although the boys, frankly, preferred the dirt pile.  It's a nice view from our kitchen window, has provided days of play in various forms, and has even seen a few neighborhood basketball game (even when our kids were in bed). Success!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sioux Falls Skyzone and Zoo

I took a day off work to spend the day in Sioux Falls with our family and my sister's family. We'd been wanting to check out SkyZone for a while and I liked the idea of going during "Toddler Time" which is for kids 6 and under.
SkyZone socks

I'm glad we went during Toddler Time since it took Cohen a while to warm up to the idea and it was nice to not be so crowded/intimidated. Ryan liked jumping in the foam pit the best. I would recommend this as a fun 1-hour activity to do with kids!

We picked up Happy Meals for the kids and headed to the mall to eat, then we headed to the zoo. It was pretty hot out but the kids enjoyed the animals that were out. Ryan acted as our map-reader and we were quite the crew with 5 kids in 4 strollers.

After a few hours at the zoo, we decided to stop at Dairy Queen. We were kind of aware it was CMN Miracle Treat Day but probably weren't prepared for how busy it was. There were people in line with huge coolers picking up 2 dozen blizzards at a time! We waited it out and all enjoyed our ice cream before the sleepy drive home.
A selfie and a side-eye

Collyns loves her blizzard (and other people's)
Messy boy.

We really had a fun day and hope our kids made some great summer memories!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tooth Fairy Demands

After our 5-year-old received a $1 bill from the tooth fairy in exchange for his first tooth, he apparently had high expectations demands when the second one came out.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Old Friends

We had two fun opportunities this month to meet up with some of my old high school friends. Two different friends were back in the area visiting parents and it happened to be two different groups that could make the schedules work.

It's so fun to catch up with people that you don't see often, even if they do live in the area. We all have kids around similar ages, so it was great to see them play together and so fun to see how much many of them resemble their parents!

Catching fireflies

Moms (Heather Stef, Deanne, me, Becca) and kids

Silly kids! (and yes I am supporting Avonlea's head!!)

Snapchat from Aftin, me, Carissa, and Dorinda

Rides from Arvin

Enjoying the heat

Scavenger hunt
Walter was the "reader" on our team and he and Ryan figured out the clues. Cohen was the designated tag-a-long

Getting photo-bombed by one of the kids