Now that the weather is warmer and The Ramos School for Boys is officially out for the summer (- big congrats to Manu for graduating from the first grade with honors!), we’ve had more time to work on yard projects. My parents have also been coming on Sundays to help us. None of this would be possible without them! They are the most hardest working people I know! Plus, they find anything/everything we need for the yard on Craigslist for cheap or free. It’s so crazy!
Of course, our blueberries were/are our major priority. Once the weather got warmer, we aggressively pruned and made clear rows on both acres. The flowers bloomed, the bees came to pollinate, and now the blueberries are growing. We’re looking forward to opening Grace’s Blueberries U-Pick towards the end of July. We are also pleased to announce that Grace’s Blueberries has decided to be a Team Revolution race sponsor! A portion of our proceeds will go to help the people living along the Amazon river. We are praying for a plentiful harvest.
We also decided to expand our vegetable and herb garden. This year, we’re growing tomatoes, Korean corn, Korean pepper, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, beets, and different herbs. We tried planting Korean pumpkins, but some animal came and ate every last one. Not cool. We planted them out in front so the small plants had no defense. Anyhow, the boys plan to set up a vegetable stand to sell our produce to raise money for a mission offering. This is how Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories impact lives. We’ll see how that turns out.
The newly added garden (-we expanded the old strawberry patch).
A smaller project that Israel and the boys worked on was to give our fire pit an upgrade. We bought bags of pea gravel and used old concrete pieces that we got from a friend to create a “mow-free zone”. As you will see in a little bit, that has become the theme of all our yard work.
The before…kinda. The real “before” had green grass growing ridiculously everywhere.
I sprayed grass killer so you can see the grass was turning yellow in that area.
The after! No more super-long extension cords to trim with the weed-whacker!
And finally, we’ve been working on an on-going project that we hope to complete on Sunday. Our backyard patio area has been such a pain to maintain since our mower can’t fit in the narrower spaces. So, to avoid so much technical mowing and trimming, we decided to mulch a large portion of the area around the patio and herb garden. Israel is also working on a space where he hopes to have an outdoor kitchen area. With all of the mulching we’ve been doing, we bought a used John Deere tractor with a front loader. It’s been a huge help. Manu knows how to run it better than me.
Even when we got married, I never, EVER, imagined I’d be the type of girl who lets her kids run around the yard barefoot and shirtless, who runs a blueberry U-pick (-what in the world?!?), and who dreams of owning a $10,000 John Deere. Yet that has become a very real part of my life. God is using it to add a new dimension to who I am and I cannot help but count it a blessing.
This was definitely a labor of love from a grandfather to his grandkids. You’re the best, Dad!
My dad found all of the materials including 2 play sets and lots of extra lumber on Craig’s List over the course of a few months. We picked up the first play set way back in December while my sister was home. My dad, my sister, my little brother, and Israel went to the house and had to first disassemble it before fitting it into our cars and driving it here. The second play set and other materials were gathered last month on different trips with my dad and Israel. But it wasn’t until last week that it was finally completed. It was assembled with some changes and adjustments to the original, and my dad finished it off with a fresh coat of paint. The boys love it! For them, it’s even better than brand new. 🙂 Special thanks to my awesome siblings for all your help over Christmas. We owe you!
The boys new play set!
And my dad made a swing for me too. 🙂
Total cost for this as well as supplies for a tree house Israel is working on: $100. We’re working our way towards self-sufficiency. 😉
A few months back, Dad found an ad on craig’s list for a few hundred patio bricks for $40. The owner no longer lived on the property and he was looking to completely strip the home, so he gave us permission to take whatever bricks we could pull up. We made a few trips over there with various members of my family and we ended up hauling nearly a thousand bricks…all for $40. To give you an idea of how crazy this is, if you were to buy these brand new, each brick would normally cost $1 per brick.
This past Wednesday, I ordered a few yards of 2NS sand to use for our patio renovation and some extra for the boys to play with. The truck came within half an hour to drop it off and we got right to work. Israel was at work, but my parents were there to help me. We started by leveling sand over our existing concrete patio, and then we began laying the first bricks. Yesterday and this morning, I finished laying the brick and brushing sand to fill in the gaps. It definitely isn’t professional quality, but for using materials that cost approximately $60, I think it was worth it. It was a lot of work, but I learned a lot throughout the process and it was rewarding to see the final product. I now have a seriously legit farmer’s tan.
The before shot. You can’t see it very well, but the concrete has some major cracks in it.
Dad leveling the sand with his ingenious homemade contraption
After filling in the gaps with sand…the final product!
Our first meal on our newly renovated patio. It was extra delicious.
Israel has wanted a fire pit since we first moved to the UP, but unfortunately, that never happened up there. So, since the weather has warmed up, this was one of our first projects that we wanted to work on. This past Tuesday, we chose a location and dug up the area where we wanted the fire pit to be. We uprooted the old stones that were surrounding our gazebo, cleaned off the debris, and then transported them to create the border of the fire pit. I love projects that cost us nothing but some ingenuity and a little elbow grease.
Using the fire pit for the first time…to roast Big Franks with my parents!
Looking forward to many more memories around the fire…
If you don’t understand the title, read The Great Controversy, people.
Several weeks ago, I was invited to speak at an event in GA. Since the trip overlapped with my birthday, we spent some time with our friends, the Chung Family. It was there that my life changed forever. I read parts of a book called The Self Sufficient Life: How to Live It. The next week, as Justin Kim and I debriefed at a Barnes and Noble about CAMPUS, he purchased the book for me along with another one.
Since then, we’ve been even more intentional about reusing, reducing, and recycling and trying to live off the land more than we have in the past. As a way of educating our boys on these things, we decided to start a worm farm to help our garden out and to make composting easier.
At first, I was about to purchase 1k worms online. You can’t just go to Walmart or the gas station to purchase the legit ones. Thankfully, we had a hard rain that made some worms surface to our patio. That and the necessary digging required when we made our fire pit in the backyard gave us enough to start our first Ramos Worm Farm.
Other friends we are hoping to attract and house: toads and frogs when we make a pond [right, Judy :)], and loaner bees. We’ll see if we get around to doing this.
For the Ramos Family, this is Eye Are (or IR AKA Israel Ramos).
Today was such a beautiful day. We spent nearly the entire morning and most of the afternoon outside with the boys playing, cleaning out Bonnie, and organizing the garage and pole barn. And then, as we were scoping out our land, we came across a bonanza. Underneath a bunch of brush, Israel spotted what looked like a raised garden box. Upon further inspection, we discovered that he was right!
While Israel worked on other things, the boys and I tackled the garden box. At the same time, we tried to get a head start on our worm farm. (This will be another post.) As we cut and removed more and more brush, we uncovered a bunch of tomato cages that were hidden in there!
Finally, we got enough dirt out of the box to where the two boys and I were able to lift it out and then drag it closer to the house. I found some left-over white paint and brushes in the basement and we decided to give it some new life. They loved this part the most.
Here is the final product! It took Manu, Micah, and me a total of about 2 hours from start to finish. Thankfully Ty napped the entire time.
Later in the evening, Israel helped me transport this closer to our house and we decided it will soon be transformed into a raised herb garden – if we can get our seeds to grow, that is…haha!
Since we’ve moved in to our new house, we haven’t had much time to design or decorate our home. I guess this is the final phase of moving. So, the last couple of days, the boys and I decided to make-over their bedroom. When we moved in, we didn’t assemble the boys’ bunk beds because we were just so tired. We just pushed both beds together and all three boys slept together in the make-shift king bed. And, there was nothing else in the room except for a space heater. This has all changed the past couple of days!
We assembled the bunks and put Ty’s toddler bed in the room and then it was time to decorate. We had a limited budget, so we mainly used what we already had. The only purchases were the large area rug we found on sale for $20 and some cork that we bought for about $10. We had a great time doing this and now they absolutely love their room!
They wanted a calendar and they chose what they wanted on the side table.
Ty’s side of the room with 3 squares of cork we attached to the wall.
The older boys’ side of the room. They wanted to hang up their own pictures and memorabilia so we measured and cut out strips of cork and attached them to the wall. Micah has his strip by his bed and Manu has his on the top bunk.
They love their Guam map and also the caricatured map of Houghton/Hancock. It has all of our favorite hang-out spots from when we lived in the U.P.
Since we set up their room, they now faithfully make their beds and have kept it very clean. It’s amazing how much pride and care they now have for their own space. We put two baskets of toys – one for stuffed animals and one for their cars/trains/planes. We made a rule that they can only play with these toys in their room, and that they must put them away after playing. Just having 2 baskets has made clean up very simple and easy and it has made their play room much neater as well.
And now we’re on to the rest of the house…