Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Como Zoo!

Over Memorial Weekend, Josh and I decided it would be fun to head over to Como Zoo to introduce Callie to some REAL LIVE GIRAFFES! We had talked about inviting others to come along; however, the week flew by much more quickly than we anticipated!

Before we knew it, we were getting ready to head to the cities! I quickly sent out an email to our family and some friends inviting anyone to join us in a fun filled day at the Como Zoo!

Heather, Claire, Andrew, Grandpa Don & Sharon were very excited to join us for a fun filled day! Our first stop was the monkeys and boy were they fun :) I seriously could have sat and watched them all day!

The baby monkey kept grabbing boxes, carrying them up to this little pedestal and wearing it on his head :) He was so funny to watch!
Grandpa Don & Sharon sure loved spending time with their granddaughter! Callie was lucky enough that she lasted in her stroller all about the walk INTO the zoo! Grandpa wouldn't have it and he and Sharon traded off carrying Callie and holding her hand :) They really enjoyed showing Callie the monkeys!! I like this cute little picture of them...the monkey wanted in on the action :) Monkey see, monkey do!

I love this flamingo shot that Josh captured! I'll be honest, they are beautiful birds, but man do they smell!

I'm not 100% sure what Sharon is showing Callie here, but I think it was some sloths :) Regardless of the animal, Callie was sure observing him :) She looks like such a big girl!

I just love this picture! This was the three of them the whole trip! SO CUTE!

Checking out the ginormous tortoise! I think she is looking back at those fun, crazy monkeys!

Callie and I were watching the seal show :) It was cute, but I was hoping there would have been more water tricks! Maybe there were more, but we got bored watching him play with the instructor!
Time to move on...
Callie and Grandpa before lunch!

THE GIRAFFES! However, Josh wasn't too sure that Callie carries her love of giraffes anymore. She just watched them the way she did any other animal :) That and they are HUGE and hard to take in at first :)

Family photo with the giraffe (inside). I think Callie is saying "WHOA! He's bigger than my giraffes!"

Photo with Heather and Callie's cousins before they headed out! It was so much fun hanging out with you guys! Glad you could make it :)

Callie as a Polar Bear :) Hey, do you know how much a baby polar bear weighs???

Only 1 pound...that's it! I love that Callie is growling in this picture as if she is a polar bear :) Haha!!


Family picture :) I seriously love us! It was such a fun day-and we got to see giraffes!

Grandpa wanted us to play some games, so Josh suggested basketball...I won Callie the ball...Josh did not! Looks like Callie will have to get her shooting abilities from her mommy!!

Callie and mommy on a train ride ! I love this picture because it captures exactly how much she enjoyed it!

I LOVE HER! She's my everything! Very fun train ride! I loved listening to her giggles the whole way :)

Callie and daddy sitting so nicely for Callie's FIRST EVER Caricature :) It turned out just like her and couldn't be any cuter! Thank you Grandpa Don & Sharon for this fun gift! We will cherish it forever (now to just find a frame that will fit it!)

It was a very fun, busy day, and Callie zonked out before we were out of the parking lot! Thank you so much Heather, Don & Sharon for joining us and making out trip to the Como Zoo even more memorable because you were there to enjoy the day :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Green Thumb...Yup, I've got one :)

So here's the deal! I love vegetables, and I have always admired those who have these huge gardens and they are able to have fresh salads and fresh salsa!

Growing up, I don't remember my mom ever having one (no offense mom, I think I was too little to remember it-but this woman can keep ANYTHING alive - and bring anything back from the dead-she has single handedly brought back to life several plants that I have killed!)

Now that I am living in my own house with MY family and cooking for our family, I decided this is the year :) The deal with Josh was, if I could keep tomato plants alive on our deck last summer that I could start a garden THIS summer! Well, I DID IT!

After a lot of planning and talking with my friend Deb Nelson (we work together and she is a genius when it comes to gardening), and talking with Ron at Stiver's Nursery! I was ready to begin the process of creating the PERFECT garden!

Here is my biggest challenge: Keeping it all alive and actually growing vegetables!

My original plan did not include sweet corn; however, my wonderful neighbor Carrie came over one day with two mailing envelopes filled with two different kinds of sweet corn! She informed me that she works with a farmer, and he gave her a bunch of seeds! Knowing I was going to start a garden this year, she gave me her leftovers :) SO NICE! So my plans changed...I was now going to grow sweet corn!

What I'm feeling: NERVOUS! Our first summer that we moved into our house, I had a ton of flowers for our deck-I killed everyone of them...What if I plant this huge garden (6' X 12') in our backyard, and I ruin the whole thing...FAIL!

I DO NOT LIKE TO FAIL...I will do this - and if I'm going to do this - I have to do it the RIGHT way! Time to turn to the experts :)

Measuring out my garden!!

All ready to CUT UP!

Ron (I don't know his last name) and his wonderful wife have been SO HELPFUL and supportive of my new venture in life :) They are the owners of Stiver's Nursery in Austin, MN (located down the road from us!) Ron wanted me to do it right from the start!

He was telling me that I needed to tear up my grass, but had to get the roots out! Sure, I'll just shovel it out...NO, that would take too long! So he lent me this sod cutting thing must have been used WAY back in the day...but hey - it works! And let me tell you, I cut the whole thing! And holy cats was it hard :)
This is SO much harder than it looks!

I kept pushing through!


...and still not done!

The beginning of my new compost pile!

I had to measure out my garden and cut all the sod! I made several trips with our wheel barrel to our new compost site in our yard! I got down and dirty and right to work! After my garden had been cut, I had to get compost!
Sure thing...hmmm...where from! After doing some research, I borrowed my friend Katie's truck to go to a local farmer to BUY compost...crazy, never thought I'd be doing that! He used his fork lift thing and dumped 2 HUGE loads in the bed of her truck! Really, do you think I need that much for a 6'x12' garden?
That is some serious compost!

Convinced daddy to help move compost around :) Callie even got in on the action!

She was ready to get dirty!

Helping mommy drive the truck around the backyard!

Compost pile in my garden!

Unloading this compost SUCKED! I had to have Josh come help me, because I was EXHAUSTED! We had so much left over too...didn't really know what to do with it, so we added it to our "new compost pile" in our backyard! Great!


Next on the list - Till the dirt! Sure thing! I talked to our neighbors about borrowing their tiller - how hard could this really be!? Sure, after looking at the thing, I am SO HAPPY that Steve came over and tilled my garden for me! When he was finished, he stuck his hand in the dirt and it just sank! It looked like the ground was eating his hand ;)
It's been Tilled!

This was perfect conditions for planting! After heading BACK to Stiver's Nursery, Mrs. Stivers (that's what I'm going to call her), was so helpful, patient and knowledgeable about picking out the "perfect" plants and seeds for planting! She took time to teach me about different aspects of having a successful garden-which I really appreciate!

Ready for planting!

After I got home, I got right to planting! In my 6'x12' garden - from left to right - I have:
2 rows of sweet corn, 4 tomato plants (2 big juicy red tomato plants and 2 roma tomato plants), green beans (seeds), peas (seeds), 6 plants of green peppers, 4 jalapeƱo plants, and 2 cucumber hills!


Green Beans!


Everything! Posts are in and ready for the chicken wire!

Finishing touches!


It all looks so delicious already!

Cucumbers :)

Super Fantastic Tomatoes

YUMMY - JalapeƱos!

Because I am fortunate enough to have such a big yard AND a very supportive husband, he showed me an area in our yard that would be GREAT for a pumpkin patch! I wanted to have one so Callie could watch them grow all summer into the fall, but knew they take up a TON of space! So I also planted 2 hills! 1 hill has 2 pumpkin plants and the other hill has 2 watermelon plants! I have no idea if these will grow, but it will be fun to find out :)

My not so fancy pumpkin/watermelon patch!
This clearly did not get as much attention! If they grow they grow!

After Callie went to bed one night, Josh and I went out and set up the chicken wire around my garden to protect it from the rabbits, squirrels & deer that roam in our yard :) Josh was such a HUGE help in getting this in!

So far - my corn has broken through the dirt! I planted it a little close, but I can thin it out now that I know I did it too close! It's been a couple weeks and everything is STILL ALIVE!

Now it's just the waiting game, but I am SO excited to watch my VERY FIRST GARDEN GROW!!!

Mama Marla's Fun Run

On May 14th, Josh and I headed up to Long Prairie, MN to participate in the annual "Mama Marla's Fun Run". One of Josh's best friends, Grant Schnell's mom-Marla, has been organizing this fun run for the past 10 years. She has captured the hearts of over 100 participants to give back. The proceeds go to provide Christmas presents for children who otherwise probably wouldn't receive any.
Here is some more information on her GREAT Race!!

This year, Callie was able to participate! Early Saturday morning, we all woke up nice and early to head to Long Prairie! Lynn drove, so Josh and I were able to take a little snooze in the back :) Lynn & Larry were going to bike the 15 mile bike ride; however, decided to do the 5K walk instead-you see, it had been raining ALL MORNING! I don't blame them :)

Josh and I decided to run the 5K again this year -but I was pushing the jogging stroller. For any of you mommies out there who have ever run while pushing a jogging stroller-you know it is a workout in itself! Now imagine doing that in the cold, windy, rain! But, I finished the whole thing :)
Callie filling up on her fluids before she ventures out for her 5K run :)

The McRae Family Pre-Run!

Lynn & Larry Pre-Walk!

Parents of the year - I THINK SO! She was set and ready to venture out in the rain!

The volunteers who were directing the runners sent the 5K runners down the 10K trails...figuring MAYBE Marla changed routes this year, we all turned down the dirt path! Before you knew it, we were passing the Schnell's house-which was 1 mile down the road...meaning that we had run way further than we needed to! Once Josh and his little crew he was running with (cough cough-13/14 year olds cough cough) passed the "10K 2 mile mark", they realized they had gone WAY further than they needed to! They all turned around running at total of 4 miles (supposed to only run 3.1 miles). I turned around a little before them, so I ran a total of 3.5 miles.
Callie Post-Run! She did GREAT!

McRae Family Post-Run!
(Sorry Josh, the two pictures we have - your eyes are closed in both of them!)

Lynn & Larry Post-Walk!

Callie enjoying the Spaghetti Feed! She devoured it :) Little girls work up a big appetite when running 3.5 miles :)

Not a big deal you may say! Well, Josh and I weren't prepared for this! We hadn't been running, meaning our bodies were not ready for this! We figured-"Ah, we're athletic and we're always on the go, we'll be fine!" Well, I was fine...the next day was another story for Josh! Talk about feeling old :) Love you sweetie!!!

Lynn, Callie & Marla (The Brains behind this Organization!)

Josh and Grant - times apart and yet you're still so crazy together :)

It was another successful event, and if you are interested in participating next year, please visit the web address above for more information :) SO MUCH FUN! And the spaghetti dinner afterwards is DELICIOUS! (Hint hint - Mom & Dad - you two should consider doing it next year...you could go on the bike ride!!!)