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Vacation Recap, Part 3

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We left off entering Montana on vacation day 3. One of the things I enjoyed about this trip was seeing the landscape change as we traveled. Near Mt. St. Helens everything was green and rolling with individual mountain peaks in the distance. Then Eastern Washington went golden with its shining summer grasses. Idaho was more green but very rocky and we could tell the altitude had increased a bit. Then going into Montana some of the rockiness softened a bit and the hills were a mix between Washington’s absolute yellow and Idaho’s evergreen.

We went to Missoula to see friends. These folks were friends of ours from the day we moved to the Pacific Northwest. They just happened to move into the place next door to us on the same day we were moving in. Our sons are the same age so of course they went to elementary school together. They moved out of that building and into a different school district a few years later, then they moved on to Montana and have been there for a year. Their son had come our to see us for a few days the week before, so now we were back seeing the whole family!

It was very hot in Montana. Idaho had been slightly cooler than Washington but Montana wasn’t following that lead. We sat around for the afternoon catching up, then took off to explore a weekly downtown event in shady places. There is a park near the river that hosts the event with a couple dozen food vendors and even beer that you can walk around with! But first we visited the park’s carousel for a quick spin.

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Happy!

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Trying a solo “ride” after the music stopped

Then we were off to check out the food carts and take photos in front of this large bulb of garlic.

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Kiddo1, still not 100% amused

We sat on a little hill and ate tacos and pizza while watching all the folks who came downtown for the evening. Near the event is the river that runs through town. It run pretty fast and over some rocks at just the right angles for surfing. It’s almost like that thing you see on commercials for cruises where people are surfing on the boat, except there’s no “surfing machine” to pump the water here, it’s just controlled by the river. We should have taken a picture! Kiddo1 probably has one on his camera…

We attempted to hang out more with our friends by taking them to our hotel to swim, but we hadn’t noticed the time had gotten late and the pool was already closed! The only other thing the kids wanted to do was jump on the hotel beds, so we decided to call it a night. It was so nice to see friends again; if only we had more days to spend in each town!

In the morning I enjoyed one of the attractions on our list all by myself! I got up a little early and wondered of to the Good Food Store which was conveniently located a couple minutes from our hotel.

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Good food is here!

The Good Food Store is one of those locally-based grocery stores that I prefer to do my shopping with. They source a good bit, if not all, of their produce locally and they carry a lot of organic foods that aren’t produce as well. I had planned on stopping by a cool store like this or farmer’s market every few days to stock up on supplies again. This store did not disappoint! I was able to score all the goods we needed to keep making most of our meals.

Back with the fam we enjoyed the free breakfast our hotel had to offer:

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Baby2 enjoys some hotel-provided scrambled eggs while I cut her up some strawberries and prepared my daily lemon water

And we headed out to see more of Southwestern Montana! I’ll pick up on the rest of day 4 next time!

Vacation Recap, Part 2

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When we left off yesterday we had just finished packing up our campsite in The Inferno Pasco, Washington and were back on the road for day 2. We were sweaty, but on the road.

Day 2 was a short car day. I liked to plan a few short car days to make up for the few long car days we had. We had still packed up the snack cooler that morning with a few things for the peanut gallery to munch on. If they had some snacks we found that they were much more quiet and easy-going. Imagine that! It pays to keep their mouths busy.

Our weird road stop for the day was the milk bottle buildings of Spokane, Washington. They are two buildings in two different parts of town. I’m not sure why they’re milk bottles but they did make for a nice photo opportunity.

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Milk Bottle Buildings!

The neighborhood that the bottle on the right was in was super adorable. Spokane is a pretty cool town. I had no idea it was one of the bigger towns in the area. Even folks from Coeur d’Alene (our next destination) have to go to Spokane for some things.

From Spokane it is a less than an hour to Coeur d’Alene. We were staying with Mr. Handsome’s friends from college who he hadn’t seen for a really long time. They were all so happy to get together! Apparently Mr. Handsome was responsible for his two friends falling in love, so that was a nice story to hear! When we got into town we had lunch at a cool new burger establishment called Crafted.

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Hanging at our lunch table

Then we did a little walk around the very cute downtown Coeur d’Alene. Mr. Handsome’s friends gave Kiddo1 a book about CDA’s own Millie the Moose and Mudgie the Mouse so we went to see a one of the moose sculptures of downtown. Kiddo1 was not into it at the time, hence he is not pictured…

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With Millie the Moose

But he perked up when it came time to peruse the candy shop. Still no photographs allowed of him, though, so I got Baby2 again instead.

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Sugarrrrrrrr!

We hung out at Mr. Handsome’s friends’ house in the evening and had dinner, then a trip on the boat!

Baby2 had never been on a boat before! Our hosts actually had to get a life jacket that was small enough for her. They were so sweet. Kiddo1 did have a blast swimming in the lake. He now thinks lake swimming is super fun. Baby2 was a little timid at first…

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She’s not so sure about this boat

But she warmed up to the idea of aquatic travel eventually.

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Happy!

We ended our evening with ice cream, everyone’s favorite way to end the evening.

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Kiddo1 with Mr. Handsome’s friends’ kids

Although Mr. Handsome and I really ended our day with diaper laundry and an upset little lady. Baby2 was having a hard time falling asleep when we stayed at someone’s house or in a hotel. She did great going to sleep when we were camping though! Luckily our hosts weren’t disturbed (at least they claimed to have not been disturbed). And she did settle down after a bit of snuggling and reassurance.

I mentioned diaper laundry – yes, we still cloth diaper when we travel! It is easy, as long as we can do laundry every other day or so. We keep the soiled diapers in our best wetbag (best at containing the diaper aromas, that is) and we have one backpack dedicated to clean diapers, wipes, covers, and our diaper pad for changes. We’re good at changing a diaper in the car (the minivan provides lots of flat surfaces). I think we have our system down pretty well! I can tell you I’d much rather carry around one cute wetbag with diapers that I know I’ll wash and get all fluffy soft and clean again than to carry around even a few used disposables, or have to stop at a store periodically to buy diapers. Honestly, diapers are no fun either way, but this is my way of dealing with it!

Once all the diapers were cleaned and we were somewhat rested, it was time to start our travels for day 3. We said goodbye to our very gracious hosts and snapped a quick pic of Lake Coeur d’Alene on our way out of town.

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Morning at the lake

We stopped at some of the unique attractions of Northern Idaho! In Wallace, the home of the last stoplight on I-90, we visited a small spaceship!

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Still a spaceship

Kiddo1 says it shouldn’t count as a spaceship because it won’t actually go into space, but what does he know? We grabbed some lunch fixin’s from the trunk and headed over to Kellog, Idaho to see some scrap metal sculptures:

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Scrap metal airplane

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Scrap metal dragon fight

Next step, Montana! And that is where we’ll pick up tomorrow!

Vacation Recap, Part 1

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Hi blog! Vacation is over. And has been for awhile now! It is well past time to get back into the swing of regular life again.

There’s so much to post, it is hard to begin. I want to recap as much as I can from what we did, plus I have posts I’d like to finish about how we managed to eat on the road. For now I’ll just jump in and write as much as I can for this part 1!

We started off really well – all packed up the night before except for the coolers and some last-minute items like chargers and soap. We got about a block down the road when Mr. Handsome quickly remembered the only item we all forgot (Baby2’s milk – how could we possibly forget after doing so much prep work for it?) which resulted in a slight diversion to re-position things in the cooler but after a few minutes we were off (again).

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Getting out of town

Our first stop was Mt. St. Helens. We have always wanted to get up there and see all the volcano stuff. It was a foggy day, though, so we didn’t drive up the mountain like we had planned. Instead we hung out at the Visitor’s Center just off the interstate. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was packed full of information! We spent awhile reading about the 1980 eruption, the recovery, and how the mountain has been crazy growing ever since.

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He enjoyed taking pictures of the exhibits

Once Mr. Handsome and Kiddo1 picked up their souvenirs (we have lots of new magnets now) we were off to our second stop: the World’s Largest Egg in Winlock, Washington! It was a big egg in a tiny park nice to very active railroad tracks and a gas station. So of course it sounded like the perfect place to stop and eat lunch. At least three trains went by in the 20 or so minutes that we were there. But we added a “World’s Largest” something to our list of things we saw! And it was a nice day for a picnic: really sunny, light breeze, not too warm. The fog had lifted by then so I bet it was shaping up to be a beautiful day at the mountain! Luckily we live close enough to try another visit later.

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A glimpse of the World’s Largest Egg

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Cute lil park by the railroad tracks

After our two morning stops it was road time for a couple hours. The children adjusted to being in the car really nicely. Baby2 doesn’t really like the car too much but she was pacified by food at first, then toys, then a screen. A little preview of the packing post: we packed a bag of snacks for each day and kept them in a little cooler. Kiddo1 was in charge of distributing snacks (and he did a great job!). For toys I packed  several small bags for Baby2 with random toys in them. She could pull out the toys one by one so she had fun not only with the toy but pulling it out of the bag and discovering what it was. That strategy worked well when used sporadically. When all else failed, though, we had the portable DVD player to fall back on. We only had to use it a couple times, which I found very encouraging!

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Comfy

We passed through Yakima, Washington, where I read there was a new soda fountain just added to the history museum. Of course I had to check that out. We didn’t stop at the museum because we wanted to get to our campsite early, but we made time for a little ice cream.

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Chocolate is our favorite

That night we camped along the Snake River outside Pasco, Washington. The mild conditions at the World’s Largest Egg did not prepare us for the heat of Eastern Washington! Fruit tree country is not all spring days, apparently. It was a balmy 99 degrees when we set up the tent and started cooking dinner. One of the unfortunate aspects of planning a trip to parts unknown is not knowing which campsite to pick: ours was in full sun, which did not make anything better! Beautiful views of the river, though. And the river was literally at the end of our campsite so we could go over and dip our feet in when we needed to.

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Getting the dinner fire going

Kiddo1 did lots of feet dipping while Baby2 watched cautiously. She has been very wary of water lately… we think this might be tied to a similar apprehension to uneven surfaces, like rock or grass. She’s better with grass now but when she has to walk off a nice concrete path she’s very trepidatious.  But that’s okay with me for now! Especially when we were busy getting the campsite set up.

We had our classic camping dinner – sausages and hot dogs cooked over campfire with s’mores for dessert. It was very yummy after a long first day. We broke lots of our food “rules” by having white bread buns and graham crackers (and store bought marshmallows because I never got around to making my own) but it was yummy nonetheless. Plus we did good for lunch – I had packed wraps with spelt flour tortillas, ham, cheese, and homegrown romaine (little did I know how much I would soon miss my awesome homegrown romaine) with watermelon slices.

The campsite was great… but our sleep was interrupted around 2:30 (and 4:30?) AM by what we think was a warning alarm from the nearby dam. A solid tone sounded for about a second and repeated every few seconds for several minutes. The children slept right through it but Mr. Handsome and I were woken immediately. Luckily we’re on the move for this trip so we only had to get through one night near the dam. Live and learn! It was a beautiful site but we will probably choose to camp away from the dam if we were to return to the area for camping.

The next morning Mr. Handsome and I were a bit weary from the sleep interruption (Baby2 slept great, btw, right through everything) but we were excited to start day 2! Unfortunately the environment had yet another blow for us, as it was about 95 degrees at 8 or 9 in the morning when we were again attempting to cook over heat (scrambled eggs and reheated bacon – always cook your bacon before you go camping! So much easier!). Plus we were trying to break down camp. It was so hot! But, we got it all done and managed to get going to our next destination (although we were a bit more sweaty than we expected).

That’s where I need to stop for now. Tomorrow – day 2!

Vacation!

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The flurry of blog activity yesterday will be in stark contrast to the next couples weeks in which I don’t think I’ll be posting at all. I will try to keep going on Instagram if cell service allows. I do have more to post about how I’ve packed foods for the trip, but it will have to wait until I get back. Woot!

Redecorating Adventures

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Another home project down! Sneaking this one in before vacation. Part of me is really, really happy about this project and another part is disappointed. I’ll break it down: I love the paint, love the wall stuffs rearranging and love that we finished (the bulk of) it before vacation. I’m disappointed that I rushed a bit (therefore didn’t stick to my “non-consumer” values) and bought some crappy rush materials. But did I mention the bathroom is beautiful and (99%) functional for us both right before and upon return from our vacation? Cause that really is the best part.

Our sad little bathroom has been in need of an update. It’s our only bathroom and it was so boring – all white with no excitement. The previous owner had updated this bathroom in 2001 (we have the receipts – she kept great records!) and added a great vanity and the cute white wall cabinet, but the room needs our own personality added to it. Plus it lacks a bit of function. The vanity is great for storing toilet paper and small appliances, but the wall cabinets, while cute, don’t give us tall enough shelves for what we need.

Here are some before pictures of our tiny white bathroom:

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Before

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Before!

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Before

We got colorful towels when we moved in to try to give something interesting to the room, but this weekend I finally reached my breaking point and decided it was time to get it a makeover. Redecorating presents an unique set of challenges now that I’m trying to reduce consumption. When it comes to supplies needed and accessories wanted to finish the room, I can’t just go out and get everything I want if I’m going to stay true to my new mantra. But this bathroom really needed new paint and something to make it feel more functional in the small space. There’s got to be a happy medium between consumption and doing nothing!

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Still needs a little “styling” but at least it is functional!

There is a happy medium and I think it is just called being more resourceful. Here’s how I approached all the things I needed in order to pull off this “new” room:

    • Wall Paint: Did you know you can remix paint? You can take paint back to the store and have them mix it into another color for you! There are limitations, though. I didn’t know about the limits before this project, so I didn’t get to recycle my old paint, but I know the limits now so I can next time! The color you are remixing has to be similar to the color you want, both in terms of hue and saturation. I think this would be really helpful if you had a whole lot of different “beige” tones and you combined them into one consistent color with the help of a little new tint and the mixing machine. I tried to take one gallon of leftover blue paint from a project and turn it into one gallon of dark purple paint for this project. You can’t go that far apparently! The guy at the store said he’s not a magician. BUT he did give me a discount on a new gallon of a paint! I hate having leftover paint because I do get the no-VOC line of whatever I can. My go-to brand is Yolo Colorhouse (local to the Pacific NW!) but they have limited colors, so I have used Benjamin Moore’s Natura line in our master (Paladian blue) and now our bathroom (Fire and Ice purple).
      • Total cost: $48 and a contribution to a corporate paint company who may have questionable morals.
      • Score on this one: consumed.
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Still space for some future projects!

  • Ceiling Paint: reused from another project. I really wanted a high gloss finish for the bathroom ceiling, but we already had white flat paint so… I’m probably the only one who notices anyway!
    • Total cost: $0
    • Score: balanced.
  • Paint supplies: I had all the supplies I needed to paint the room since we had painted almost the whole house already. I had rollers, brushes, etc. I didn’t have a paint tray, though. I substituted a pieces of aluminum foil for the tray. It worked out pretty well! I had to add more paint every half dozen rolls or so, since it didn’t have much capacity, but at least I could use my roller!
    • Total cost: $6 (I did buy a new roller and paint tape)
    • Score: balanced.
  • Mirror: Reused from another place in the house (was stored in the garage).
    • Total cost: $0
    • Score: not consumed!
  • Mirror frame (phase 2): I’ll make a frame out of pieces of lath or model wood, we’ll see when we get to phase two (probably later in July). For now, no cost or score.
  • Shelves: Ugh, here’s my mega disappointment.So, I was all set to make some shelves out of scrap wood. I have a miter saw to cut the wood and I even bought a new blade with more teeth for better cuts. But then I totally broke the saw in the process of changing the blade. I’m sure it is fine, but someone with better expertise than mine is going to have to put that thing back together if the safety guard is ever going to work properly again. Bummer. This was right before July 4th and we were having friends over, plus we’re about to leave for vacation and this is the last thing I want lingering (why did I start this again?). So I gave in – I ordered crappy shelves from Home Depot and installed them quickly. Now they totally suck and I’m going to have to buy shelf brackets to make them functional (they’re floating shelves but gravity is making an attempt at shaming their namesake). Sigh. At least they do hold minimal supplies for now, so the upgrade can wait until our return. Double sigh.
    • Total cost: $46 and a bit of my dignity, plus whatever the cost is going to be for brackets to hold up these sad, cheap Home Depot shelves (why do I keep buying stuff from there?!?)
    • Score: consumed
  • Towel Hooks: cheap single hooks from Amazon. ‘Course we already had the colorful towels. Part of me wants to go back to all white towels now, but I kind of like all the color against the purple walls!
    • Total cost: $12
    • Score: consumed (but I bought them a couple months ago so that counts for a middle ground somehow, right?)
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Hooks and frames – purchased months ago so they don’t count…. right?

  • Picture frames: frames I had impulse purchased a couple months ago from IKEA. I had to print the pictures.
    • Total cost: I don’t remember… $10 a frame? IKEA prices, you know.
    • Score: ugh, yes, I consumed again! But again, I bought these a few months ago too so they don’t count, right?
  • Jars: I’ve been keeping the glass jars that some of our food comes in – tomato sauce, honey, applesauce, etc. I used extra paint from another project to paint the inside of some of the jars. Other jars I collected from around the house. I put some paint in a couple jars to make them look Pinterest cool. An old honey jar now stores our toothbrushes. And I still have so many random jars to use!
    • Total cost: Free, with the purchase of food
    • Score: not consumed!

 

That’s two solid consumes, two balanced, two sorta forced balanced because I bought things months ago and abandoned them but eventually used them, and two not consumed. Hey, that’s not as bad as I thought! I’m now going to call this a quasi-success in my first attempt to redecorate without consumption. I bet I’ll get a lot better at this as time goes on!

Today

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Everything goes wrong the day before vacation, right? So far today:

  • Realized I don’t have everything I need to make some things I MUST freeze this morning, so I need to go to the store again.
  • The car battery died 40 minutes before my son’s doctor’s appointment (with a new doctor, who I really wanted to see before vacation).
  • The computer charger stopped working, so our only personal computer is out of commission.
  • The meat for the stew I want to make is still frozen (ironic, considering I need to half cook it and get it frozen solid again before we leave).
  • There was a shooting across the street from my son’s school (where he’s in a morning “hang out” camp) and he was on “lock down” for two hours.

Due to that last one it’s now mid-afternoon and I am super behind! (The kids in the school are okay. There was an incident in a house across the street from the school so the building went into lock down. I was following the details in order to gauge when the authorities might let us have our children, but once I found out they were evacuating I stopped caring about the story. I grabbed my child and got out of there! I’m sure Mr. Handsome will keep me posted on any details of the event, should they be released.)

But, I think, maybe, I need to slow down a bit. I’m trying to be super prepared for this vacation so everyone is happy and nothing goes wrong… but I have to remind myself that things will probably go wrong, and there will probably be times of “emergency” like if we don’t have buns for hot dogs or something. I have to remind myself along the way that these are not true emergencies.

If I don’t finish making these last couple things, there will always be food along the way. It may not be perfect food, but it will not be the end of the world. I’m going to try to scale back these last few hours of prep time and remember why we do these family vacations in the first place: to be with our family and have fun.

 

Garden Update: Hail Recovery and Pest Control

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More on the adventures in our garden! Things have been recovering nicely since the wicked hail storm a couple weeks ago.

Seeds that I had planted before the storm are sprouting nicely. These pictures I took are awful but I’m out of light now! Anyway, lots of alfalfa:

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Looks ready to eat!

Onions:

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They’re tiny but they’re there!

Carrots:

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Not as many seeds survived, but carrots do germinate slowly so maybe we’ll get more?

The tomatoes are flowering and there are tons of little green tomatoes coming out! I see the speckled trucks, though, and I wonder if they’re lacking nutrients. Last week I sprinkled crushed egg shells into the soil all around the garden (although I’ve read that it takes a really long time – a season? – for the shells to get much calcium into the soil) and today I gave them some epsom salts. Hopefully that will nutrient them up.

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Future tomato sauce

The broccoli is also flowering, unfortunately. We’ve had a couple hot days and of course I planted it too late in the season so it is bolting. I want some of it to bolt because I really want to get into seed saving… but I’m not sure if I’m ready! I need to do more research on it but when is there time? I’m trying to do too much right now as it is!

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Purple broccoli!

Other things going on in the garden…. the green caterpillars who were eating my kale, romaine, and chard that I wrote about last time haven’t been spotted in awhile. Although today I was watering the chard and spotted a dead white moth. It didn’t look like it was green caterpillar because I didn’t see a green body, but it still freaked me out a little. I haven’t been as diligent with my daily inspections for bugs, so I need to stop rushing through the morning garden chores!

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So pretty!

We’ve had other bugs – red shouldered or box elder bugs. Apparently they are harmless but they love to annoy us when we’re outside. I have looked for ways to move them along without killing them, but I didn’t have much luck. Mr. Handsome just got a play structure for the kiddos, which the bugs seem to love, so we really don’t have much choice but to spray these guys out of our yard.

Of course I don’t want to use chemicals, though, because we use the yard a lot! I found a solution – water and a bit of dish soap (I use Seventh Generation right now, but I thought about using Castille soap). Yesterday I sprayed their favorite spots a few times throughout the day, and today their numbers are vastly reduced. Apparently these guys are suseptable to drowning, so you have to get them pretty wet. If the water doesn’t kill them, the soap will deteriorate their exoskeleton and get them eventually. Poor little guys. Just move out of my yard!

Baby2 enjoyed helping in the garden last night while I pulled weeds and took pictures. Such a good helper!

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My helper

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