June Garden Tour {a link-up}

30 June 2015

30 June 2015
So, I've always been an admirer of Cari's ability to a) have beautiful gardens, b) name bodies of water after Doctor Who characters, and c) find ways to blog about gardening that doesn't bore me to tears but inspires me to be more creative with outdoor spaces.

I'm not much a gardener, but we've done a lot of landscaping to our house this year -- so I thought, why not join in? I didn't take any before pictures so you'll just have to take my word for how bad everything looked prior to our upheaval.

Let's get started, shall we?

First up are the two pots of plants we have on the porch right now. About two weeks ago they were looking MUCH better than this - no brown to be seen, finally growing over the edge, etc. etc. but now they look really sad. We've finally had a streak of hot days with no rain to interrupt them so everything's gone to pot (haha, I'm hilarious with my puns). And the sad thing is, every time I think to water our things, it's during the middle of the day when I go out to get the mail, which is the worst time to water things around here because half the water just ends up evaporating.

I'm resolving to water at least once this week, hopefully tonight to stop some of the dead-ness.

These two side flower beds were the areas of most improvement we worked on this spring. Before they were overrun with random vines, hostas out of control, and some really prickly bushes that had no discernible purpose to them. Over one long weekend we dug everything up (ahem, David did most of the digging) and replanted everything.

I'm not known for having a green thumb, so I've been really excited in the last few weeks to see some of the plants actually start growing! We had a ton (and I mean a ton) of rain this year, so I'm pretty sure their collective success is from that more than my or David's hard work, but still. I'm happy with it.

Now if we'd just get around to finishing the basement windows...

Another view of the same side. You can see the vines by the brick column starting to grow again, and the lattice board still angled even though we've dug it in twice now, but it's a heck of a lot better than it was before.

I wish I could tell you what we've planted, but my criteria when going to Menards to buy plants was: does this survive in the shade? and do I hate it or is it passable? So that's all I really know about them. The ones in the far left of this picture are lavendar, and that's all I know.

Here's the opposite side of the house, still in the front. Obviously we did some mulching but the plants are repeats of the opposite side, so nothing fancy there. Again, finishing the windows would help the appearance a lot but...you know.

Another thing we've worked on this year is filling in our grass. Although this picture of the front of our house is pretty awesome and makes me feel all happy, it doesn't really show how much time and energy David has put into making the lawn look amazing.

I think our previous owner didn't much care for her lawn, although it wasn't in terrible shape when we got it - but there were random empty patches everywhere, and it kind of drove us crazy. So this is the second time we've seeded in the bare patches, watering dilligently until it came in, and it's finally paying off.

You can't see it well in the picture, but on the right side of the picture where the indent in the grass is? It's a path of stones that were surrounded previously by a bunch of butt-ugly lava rocks until we dug them out last year and seeded. It was still straggly-looking until the second round of seeding this year, and now looks amazing in comparison.

This plant/bush is the only thing we kept from the previous iteration of the front area - and I have no idea what it is. It used to be a lot taller until David haphazardly pruned it (without my knowledge, by the way) so it's a little wonky right now, shape-wise. It puts out pretty little white and yellow flowers in the spring, and it was the only thing we didn't hate so we decided to keep it.

On to the back yard, yes?

This is the back edge of the house, with our infamous glass-block window in the bathroom there in the middle. This is one of our big complaints about the house. We have no patio or deck space in the back, and we really can't put one in until we spend tons of money and move our stupid air conditioning unit! Which is just a pain in the butt to even think about.

So for now, we've basically done nothing with this whole space. David re-mulched it because we were having a few parties, and kind of cleaned up some of the random rocks the previous owner left, but other than that it's kind of a dead space.

He also spent time killing a bunch of weeds right by our back door (which is on the left-hand side of this picture right out of frame) and planting grass there, which flourished way more than we expected, so at least that looks better.

The space to the right of this bush was my garden last year. I realized that it was, for one, a terrible place for a garden because there was no access, and two, I don't cook well enough to take advantage of planting real food-things, so the garden was nixed this year. Instead David spent more time (he's a champ) planting grass and tending to it carefully, so now it looks like it's always been part of our lawn.

That bush is a beautiful lilac bush, which I absolutely adore, but it's also in a super awkward place so we're thinking of moving it. I'm nervous about replanting it but it is just not a convenient place for it.

And finally,

The back part of the yard!

Complete with a tree that grows like crazy (and that we've pruned majorly twice, but keeps growing sideways -- I know, I don't get it either) and a mulched area of absolutely nothing else... yeah, a very exciting end.

Eventually we'd like to get a privacy fence installed around our whole backyard, and like I mentioned early, build either a patio or a deck off the back of the house, but those are far in the future budget-wise so we're making do with what we have now.

Oh, and look what David bought me for our anniversary!

Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?

I am worried a little about my gray thumb, because I killed the last miniature orchid he bought me, but I'm determined to be vigilant about this one and really make an effort to keep it alive. Wish me tons of luck because I'm going to need it.

Thanks for hosting such a fun link-up, Cari!! Head over to Clan Donaldson to see some more beautiful gardens.

2 whole years

29 June 2015

29 June 2015

As of today, David and I have been living the sacrament of marriage for two whole years. Amazing, right?

Some days, it feels like the time has flown by - and other days it seems like it's been a lifetime we've been together, just because it feels so right. Of course, there are good times and bad times, as there are in any relationship. There are days where we fight, and times when we giggle at night for hours instead of falling asleep at a normal time.

Usually, I'm okay with the words - but sometimes, words fail me. So suffice it to say: honey, you're my most devoted blog reader, my unflinching co-parent in the face of many a stinky diaper, the one who challenges me and makes me grow, and the love of my life. I'm so lucky to get to love you, and I can't wait to live the next years together with you.

I love you!

Parenting wins and losses

25 June 2015

25 June 2015
good job camera, everything in focus but the girl

We've successfully completed weaning from nursing - Kate is officially like, what, a grownup who doesn't have to depend on me and only me to get to sleep. Isn't that crazy? It seems like just yesterday she was a few days old and we were struggling hardcore to get the swing of breastfeeding.

She has taken to throwing all the rest of her normal human food onto the floor whenever she gets full.


Guess what? Remember last time when I said that we had weaned her off the pacifier? 6+ months ago?
Ha. ha. ha.
Anyway, this time we were successful! No more pacifier whatsoever. Cold turkey and all that jazz.

Full disclaimer: it's been harder on us (the parents) than Kate. We really really really miss the pacifier 20 minutes into Mass every Sunday morning, when she's tired of the two or three toys we brought with us and expresses her discomfort with loud, unrelenting screeching until we take her out. C'est la vie, right?


Kate has taken to collecting things and bringing them to either one of us, making a cute "ohhh" with her mouth and voice until we accept said item and express our mutual delight in the randomness of her choices AND said thank you. She's got manners, that one.

There are random piles of toys and trash all over the house, and one of her most favorite treasures she's acquired in the last few weeks? A tampon.

(Thank the Lord, unopened and all. But still.)


Parenting is fun, isn't it?


23 June 2015

23 June 2015
Goodness gracious, my baby turned ONE YEAR OLD AND I DIDN'T BLOG ABOUT IT YET?

I'm a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mother.
Especially bloggy-mother.

Forgive me?

Anywho, Kateri Amelia Gokie turned one whole year old on May 30, and almost a full month later I'm finally getting around to writing about it.

We celebrated her birthday a week early (with friends & family documented here) and then spent her actual birthday volunteering with David's brother in Philadelphia at an event he was helping to sponsor. Partayyy.

I can't believe it's been over a year since she entered our lives. Sometimes it feels like a blink of an eye from her delivery to this moment - and other days it seems like she's always been a part of our lives, as if we weren't us until she came.

Motherhood so far hasn't been a walk in the park (or even a piece of cake, although that sounds delicious right now). It's been heart-warming, and sleep-deprived, and thought-provoking, and basically the hardest thing I've ever done in my whole life.

But Kate? you're worth it. Every single moment of it.

Sweet girl, your dada and I love you so so much. Thanks for coming into our lives and showing us how much we can love someone.
your Mama

P.S. Eventually I'll get around to taking better pictures of her with my real camera for her "one year" photos. Eventually.

Answer Me This -- it's baaaack

16 June 2015

16 June 2015
Yay! One of my favorite link-ups is back - Kendra's reinstalling Answer Me This for the summer. Shall we just jump right in?

1. Any big plans for the summer?

Well, yes and no. We already took our big trip to Philadelphia, which I think will be our only real vacation this year. I'm headed to Denver this weekend to visit Caitlin (yay!) while my mom attends a work conference, so that's gonna be super fun.

Reading Terminal Market for lunch one day in Philly
Otherwise, this summer I'm concentrating on trying to lose weight, reading as many books as I can, buying and consuming a ton of watermelon, and enjoying a little less heavy work load. Luckily for me, the university Press that I build ebooks for has a somewhat relaxed publishing schedule in the summer, so I get a little more freedom and flexibility.

Also, I'm itching to start another home improvement project, or a big sewing project of some sort. I miss having something to do in the evenings that's not only collapsing on the couch in exhaustion and binge-watching TV shows like there's no tomorrow.

2. What was the strangest thing you believed as a child?

Gosh, I tell David the weird things I believed as a kid all the time - and now that I'm pressed for an answer to this question, I can't remember a single one of them! Come on, brain.

This is not really the same answer, but I used to bounce my head up and down when we were in the car, while looking at the tail end of the windshield wiper, making it go down every time there was a break in the street - a sidewalk, a driveway, an intersection, etc. I think I thought it would be good luck for any event we were going to if I got every single one on a drive.

I also went through a phase where I imaginarily-typed out every single thing everyone said in the car (when I was learning to type really quickly...I still have a pretty high WPM count, even though I've slowed down in my old age). It was as time-consuming and weird as it sounds when I type it out.

3. What is your favorite amusement park ride?

Umm, can I be really lame and say NO ride whatsoever? I hate carnival/amusement park rides. I don't get motion sick in the car or airplane or anything, but rides are just not for me. I don't know what it is about them, but the merry-go-round is about as far as I can go.

I'd much rather spend the money for rides on...funnel cakes, or deep-fried Oreos, or something like that. You know, Ron Swanson-style. Food over everything else.

4. What's on your summer reading list?

Oooo great question! I just finished my first one on the list - Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. She's a Nebraska writer and I'd already read Eleanor & Park, so I've been waiting for this one for awhile. I highly recommend all her books.

So not to bore you with the extensive list, I'll give you the quick rundown otherwise...

The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Creepy, suspenseful, mind-wrenching? Sounds right up my alley.

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin

I love sociological non-fiction (Malcolm Gladwell, remember?) and this one sounds so so so so good.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

And finally, this one because everyone and their mom has been talking about it and I'm a bandwagon-er.

Follow me on Goodreads if you want to see how I do! Also, I'm still reading Anne of Green Gables, don't you worry.

5. Have you ever fallen asleep in public?

Umm, I can't remember how many times I've fallen asleep in public...that's a resounding YES. In class during college, on airplanes, on a bus a few times, sitting outside a classroom waiting for class to start in college, during Mass,...

me sleeping on one of our many family vacations
I'm a really excellent sleeper.

6. What is your favorite smell?

Freshly-mown green grass. Hands down the best smell in all of eternity. I look like a crazy person whenever we drive by someone mowing, because I'll roll down the window, stick my head out of it, and sniff deeply as long as I can before we've past it too far. I'm basically part dog.

It doesn't hurt that it's also one of Hermione Granger's favorite smells. (I don't agree with the rest of her smells, though.)

A close second and third would be old books (I used to work in the Archives of UNL's library, and it smelled like heaven) and new shoes (going into Famous Footwear or someplace similar is wonderful).

Thanks for reinstating this, Kendra! So much fun.

7QT #36: nap struggles, Anne, and weight loss

12 June 2015

12 June 2015
I wasn't going to blog this morning, but currently Kate is fighting a nap like her little life depends on it, so I'm blogging to avoid feeling all the feels and just going in to cuddle her for the 100th time this morning.

As a fix, I put on Ed Sheeran (my favorite calming voice right now) and my best noise-canceling headphones, and started typing this post. 

And said a quick prayer for all the intercession in the heavenly above for us both to get through this. (Thanks to my friend Marilyn for the suggestions of intercessors - St. Rita, St. Jude, & St. Gianna, to name a few.)

I'm hoping when the song's over I'll take my headphones off to find she's stopped crying??


Right now I'm rereading Anne of Green Gables, because two reasons: great escapist/throwback literature from my childhood, and it's been about 3 years since my last re-read so I was due.

It also seems to be a theme of my reading goals for this year to re-read series I've loved. First I reread Harry Potter, and now Anne of Green Gables. As those are my all-time favorite series, I don't know which one I'll reread after this.

Oh, also, I'm 8 books ahead of "schedule" for my reading goals for the year. I thought 25 books was a hefty goal back in January, but I've already read 19 so...I think I'm going for 50 now as an unofficial goal? We'll see how far I get!

Just took my headphones off to listen. NO CRYING BABY! HOORAY!

Thanks for sticking with this riveting play-by-play. It's the best kind of blog-reading, isn't it?

Have I mentioned on the blog yet that Kate is walking? AND cut her first two teeth in the last week?

Here's a video of her walking, but you can't see the teeth in it. Sorry, 50% was all I could get on short notice.

Come to think of it, I shouldn't blame her for napping so poorly...she started walking, cut two teeth, and we took the pacifier away all within a week. Poor girlie. Lots of changes for such a small person.

David and I might go see Jurassic World this weekend. It'll be the third? fourth? time we've been to a movie together as a married couple. (IF we go. David would like me to insert that, I'm sure.)

I LOVE going to movies, but David thinks it's a superfluous waste of money when we could just wait 6-10 months and watch it from the comfort of our living room. We only went to one movie the entire time we were dating, and one when we were engaged, so for now we're on his side of the scale. I feel like this is one thing we'll perpetually disagree on...but, I will always concede that movies are expensive to go to.

But -- the movie theaters in our city have this new thing where two of the screens have recliners in the theater instead of regular movie seats, which is just absolutely amazing and makes me feel like a millionaire every time (okay, the one time) we see a movie there.

Also, I've never seen any of the Jurassic movies (I know, I know) but I will totally watch this just for Chris Pratt. (His explanation for losing weight on Parks & Rec for his movie roles is still the best thing ever.)

Bonnie wrote a great post this week about losing weight in the internet age. I completely agree with her points about the moral good of taking care of our bodies, so this post really hit home.

I'll be honest with y'all and come right out and say that I've been struggling majorly to lose the baby weight...for now 12 months. The first chunk came off all right, but I think I'm one of those people who, while breastfeeding, just cannot lose weight to save her life. So much for all of those claims that "breastfeeding is the best weight loss plan ever! ever!" claims I heard during pregnancy. Ahh, well, I'm sure it's true for some people. Not for me.

For a remedy, and because I'm a sucker and love Tony Horton, I bought P90X3 as a birthday present for myself. It should be here this weekend or Monday, and I'm really stoked to get into it.

Last time I started P90X, I got pregnant. Soooo we will see what happens this time. :)


David and I looked around last night at the entirely enormous pile of toys that were strewn around our living room after Kate went to bed, and swore to ourselves that we will never buy her a toy again.

How does that happen in just one measly year? Yikes. At least we've got a few months before Christmas hits...a purge might be in our future around then.

Linking up with Kelly, who this week has a very similar thought process to my own for when husbands-leave-town. Too funny.
Til next week, y'all.

What we've been up to (aka our trip to Philly)

09 June 2015

09 June 2015
So, I'm obviously behind on blogging...again.
I should just save a template in my Blogger that starts every post out like that because it's just so darn true every time I sit down to write a post.

We just got back home from our awesome vacation to Philadelphia to visit David's brother Michael, and I've got a lot of heavily edited phone pictures to prove it.

Ready for a photo dump?

Since I'm a really mean/strict mom, I hardly ever get to see Kate sleeping. Once we put her to bed, for the last year I've resisted the temptation to sneak into her room to see her sleep, even though her sleeping is just freaking a.dor.a.ble.

On the trip, we stayed in a suite-type hotel room so we moved her pack n' play from one room to the other when it was time for the rest of us to go to bed. So my SIL Jenn and I took a picture of Kate adorably sleeping every single night.

It was theeeee best.

Kate took her first dip in a pool during the trip! She was a little nervous originally but soon warmed up...to a luckily pretty warm pool.

We took a tour of the Philadelphia Art Museum, which was my favorite part of the trip. (Insert sarcastic comment by the Gokie clan about me being too cultured for the rest of them.) It was absolutely incredible - I could have spent days in a row in there.

One of the other days we took a tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary. It was the first actual "penitentiary" in the world - a prison designed to reform prisoners rather than just punish them (and/or execute them, you know).

David says this was his favorite part of the trip and it was admittedly really cool. Al Capone was there for awhile, and the audio tour was narrated by Steve Buscemi. It was neat!

More pictures of Kate sleeping. Poor girl was so unused to the weird schedule and the lack of quiet, restful nap places that she fell asleep pretty much anywhere and everywhere. It was pretty awesome.

We took a quick stop to tour the Cathedral and I remembered how much I love this image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from a side chapel there. The whole cathedral is absolutely incredible.

We spent half a day at the Franklin Institute, which, if I'm being honest, was pretty much a let-down. None of us knew going in what to expect, but it was definitely a children's museum - hands-on exhibits, tons (and I mean TONS) of kids running around, messes everywhere...not exactly what we had pictured.

But if you have kids and you don't go on a crazy busy day like we did, I would totally recommend it! It was huge and pretty impressive for a kids' museum.

One of the few pictures we took together!

We took a day walking in the Wissahickon park near Philadelphia, and I made this awesome tower of stones (what's the technical term for these things? I have no idea). And five minutes later some group of hooligan 12-year-olds knocked it down.

Stupid kids.

Kate, slathered with sunscreen visible on her forehead, enjoying her millionth stroller ride (right before it broke...luckily at the end of our trip, thank the Lord!) with her new favorite toy.


All in all it was a really great trip. I will say that I don't think I need to take another vacation to a big city, unless we go somewhere in Europe. Philadelphia was a nice place and all but I'd rather see mountains or oceans when I spent time away rather than in a crowded, smelly city. (Obviously we had a good reason to go there since David's brother lives there so that was totally valid!)

Til later, y'all. Hopefully a little sooner next time.

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