Tuesday, May 31, 2011

20 Weeks-Halfway Mark!

Well, here I am at the midpoint of my pregnancy. I cannot believe I am halfway there already. I guess technically those first four weeks are a freebie, so I really hope the next 20 don't fly by quite so quickly. I haven't been doing my weekly updates like I planned, so I wanted to record some key moments from the last 11 weeks so that I don't forget them.

After telling my mom at 9 weeks, we didn't tell anyone else until 12 weeks when I told my sister, her husband, and my nephews. Then we told my mother-in-law and her husband the next weekend. We opted to have the optional NT scan at 13 weeks and then we went public. The NT scan was really fun. The baby was a total lazy bones. It just laid there on its back with its hand across its forehead, all dramatic-like. The technician was having a hard time getting the NT measurement, so she would have me cough hard. The baby would just float up and then settle back down, putting its hand across its forehead again. What a stinker! Finally I coughed hard enough for it to slightly turn onto its side and she got the measurements she needed. It was amazing to see how much it had grown since the 6-week ultrasound when it was just a blob with a flashing heart. Now we could see its fingers and toes and its scary skeletal face. It looked like an alien! But a really cute alien. We were happy with the results of the NT scan and blood work and opted to not do the next set of screening for Down Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities.

We went to Mexico with Jason's co-workers as I transitioned from first to second trimester. He hadn't told anyone at work, so I had to share the news. Neither of us likes bringing attention to ourselves, so it always feels weird to tell people, like you are attention whoring yourself. So, while I understand why he didn't tell people, I didn't exactly relish telling his co-workers. But, they were all really excited for us, which was nice, because some people at school were not very pleased. But I can't really get into all that here.

Once I hit week 14-15, I felt like a completely new person. While I had a relatively easy first trimester, the fatigue was killer. But I did get that energy burst people talk about when I hit my second trimester. I wasn't tired during the day and as long as I didn't stay up too late, I felt great the next day. These days, I feel pretty darn amazing. I was able to work out more often and started running again. I'm going to do a whole post about exercise and pregnancy, but I wanted to mention here that I have really been happy to get out there and pound the pavement again, even if my pace is glacial.

My bump slowly grew over these weeks, but I really feel like I popped after week 17-18. For so long, you feel like you just look fat and not pregnant. In fact, I wanted to wear a t-shirt saying "PREGNANT, NOT FAT." By 20 weeks, your uterus is all the way up to your belly button and the baby is the size of a cantaloupe! I still don't know if strangers can tell if I'm pregnant. I've been going to the zoo to do my sperm research and a girl I know there that I've been talking to the past month came in today to congratulate me, but only because someone else told her. I have been wearing more maternity clothes and I think that helps with the pregnant, not fat thing. Then again, most people wouldn't say anything to a woman unless they practically saw a crowning baby, so that might be part of it.

Week 17 was also very monumental because I started to feel the baby move. Some people say they feel a sensation like bubbles bursting or flutters. Either I didn't feel that or attributed it to gas because I wasn't sure I felt the baby until it actually kicked or punched me. It feels just like how you would imagine-a little foot kicking you from the inside. I can't believe how strong it is already. If I am working at my desk, it is usually active at the same times- a little before noon and before 5:00. Then I usually feel it when I get in bed. Jason felt the baby move for the first time during week 19. He felt one good kick and that's it. He has felt the random kick now and then, but it does take a lot of patience to sit there and wait for the baby to move again. Sometimes I am startled by how hard those movements are. I swear I can feel an actual body part. It is such an indescribable experience.

We go in Friday for our anatomy scan, but are still remaining Team Green. I don't have any intuition about the sex, but admit I would be a little afraid to have a girl! Friday will be a pretty special day because it is my oldest nephew's ninth birthday. In addition, my sister is scheduled to be induced with her fourth baby on Thursday night, which means her baby will probably come on Friday. I can't wait to meet my new little niece or nephew. So, I hope all goes well for all of us on Friday and that Jason and I have a healthy baby in there and that my sister's baby is also healthy. I'm so excited that our baby will have a cousin so close in age.

So, here are my 20 week belly shots. I took the outdoor one yesterday and the bare belly one this morning. My hot pink sports bra had to be retired because it was working way too hard. Onto the gray/neon yellow sports bra, which I really hope will fit for the rest of my pregnancy!

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How far along are you?: 20w

How big is baby?: cantaloupe

Weight gain/loss?: +6lb at my 17 week appointment

Stretch marks?: Not yet

Maternity clothes?: Mostly for pants, some shirts

Sleep?: I'm sleeping pretty well and only getting up once/night to go to the bathroom.

Best moment this week?: Jason feeling the baby move

Food cravings?: Ice cream

Gender?: It's a surprise

Movement?: Yup, feeling it most days unless I'm really active all day

Belly button?: Yes, still an innie.

Symptoms?: I think I felt round ligament pain yesterday for the first time, but not much other than that

What do I miss?: My cute summer clothes that I won't even get to pull out of storage

What I'm looking forward to this week? Seeing the baby on Friday at the anatomy scan

Milestones?: Making it halfway through this pregnancy!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Levi Bobs for Treats

Levi is the most water-averse dog. He won't even step in puddles or go out when it is raining. But, one day I was walking Neptune and he actually laid down in a very shallow creek. So, with the temperature rising, I thought I'd get Neptune a little pool to play in this summer. PetSmart sells these plastic pools for about $9. After a hot walk, I filled it up for Neptune, but he wanted nothing to do with it. I tried to lure him with treats, but he was not interested. Just when I thought the pool would only be used to cool my swollen feet all summer, we tried Levi out. Levi apparently loves food more than he hates water because I got him to step into the pool. And when we dropped treats into the water, he would actually stick his nose underwater and blow bubbles. It was totally worth the price of the pool to see that. I took some video of him doing it yesterday. And pardon our dirty patio-we just had our gutters cleaned and then had a series of crazy storms, and we hadn't had the chance to clean yet.


How do your dogs feel about water?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Botanical Garden Progression

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[5w5d, 2/2/11]

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[8w5d, 3/12/11]

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[10w,5d, 3/27/11]

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[14w,5d, 4/26/11]

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[18w5d, 5/22/11]

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Choosing Baby Stuff Hurts My Brain: Nursery Edition

Did you know that babies need a lot of stuff? And for all the stuff they need, there are about a zillion different choices? It is enough to make your head spin, really. Luckily, I invested in the Bible of baby stuff, aka Baby Bargains, which is helping this mom-to-be navigate the world of infant seat vs. convertible seat, travel system vs. snap-n-go vs. jogging vs. umbrella, and don't get me started on the multitude of choices for a single brand's model of infant car seat. 22lb? 30lb? 35? I don't freaking know! Baby Bargains is helping me sort it all out though and I'm not sure it's a good thing.

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For instance, the crib dilemma. I am drawn to modern cribs that have simple, clean lines and are not traditional-looking. Like this Oeuf Sparrow crib. It's gorgeous.

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It's also $730. Okay, so I start looking for other modern cribs that aren't out of our budget. The problem is, modern cribs seem to be more costly than regular cribs, leaving me with few affordable choices. But, I found one I liked. The Eden Madison crib.

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Pretty, right? Still expensive at around $450, but not as bad. Okay, time to see what Baby Bargains has to say about Eden cribs. Annnnnnnnd, it's not good. I think they gave it a C or C+. Baby Bargains tells me I should buy a crib that is solid wood and not MDF material, which unfortunately a lot of modern cribs are constructed of. At this point, I'm hating Baby Bargains. So, we went to Babies R Us to see if there were any cribs I liked. And I didn't. They were all too traditional for my taste.

Then I came across this Ikea Gulliver crib. It's not modern per se, but it's not traditional looking either. It's just simple, which I like, and comes in white, which I want for the nursery. Is it the fanciest crib in the world? No. But, the Baby Bargains book gave Ikea cribs an A grade. And did I mention this crib costs a mere $99?

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So, I think this is the one we're going with. The problem is that we don't have an Ikea in St. Louis and we'd have to take a day trip to Chicago to look at it since they don't ship this item. The alternative is using a local company that makes frequent Ikea trips and will pick up the item and deliver it for a small fee. I personally think that sounds better than spending 10 hours in a car. Part of me feels like I'm being a cheapskate because I'm buying a $100 crib, but I like it, it's safe, it has great reviews, and the all-important book told me it's an A. Why spend more, right?

I was also a little stressed when choosing bedding. Again, I wanted something modern without any characters or animals on it. And of course, gender neutral. And something that was rated highly by the book. I actually lucked out on this one because the bedding I liked the best, made by Carousel, was given an A by the book. That was easier than I thought it would be. Here's what we chose.

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Since you're not supposed to use bumpers or comforters anymore, we can just get a few sets of sheets, maybe the crib skirt and call it a day. Except for the mattress and mattress cover, but I won't bore you with those details. Next we have to choose a dresser and a glider, but that should be about it for the nursery, furniture-wise. Then it's the fun stuff like art and other decor.

Speaking of art, we did pick up our first item for the nursery this weekend. We now have two onesies, three cloth diapers, and and one piece of art. I'd say we're about ready for the baby, right? Anyway, we purchased this adorable print at Artcrank, a "poster party for bike people" over the weekend. The artist is Monica Heitz. Jason and I are arguing over doing monsters or bicycles (guess who wants what) for the nursery, but this print nicely combines both.

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So, does anyone reading have the Ikea Gulliver crib or know someone who does? Or just an Ikea crib in general? I'm eager to hear any reviews, good or bad, if you do!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oprah, how big is my baby today?

I know I'm not caught up yet, but I'm 18 weeks today and have counting the days until I can show this clip that illustrates just how big the baby is this week. Thank you, The Soup, for the hilarious clip.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Forest Park Starring NEPTUNE

Two Fridays ago, I played the dutiful wife and dropped Jason off at a beer festival in our old park, Forest Park. And I even stayed up until 10:00 to pick up his drunken ass and that of his friend and drove everyone home. It's the least I could do for all the things he's done for me the past few months when I've been too tired to move. Since we were going to the park anyway, I suggested we take the boys with us on their long lines and then I would leave him at the event and take the boys home. And then I realized how few times Neptune has been to Forest Park!

If you're new to my blog, we used to live within walking distance to Forest Park, which is one of the largest urban parks in the US. We LOVED living so close but unfortunately could not afford a house in the same area. Forest Park was where we walked Levi every day and we have hundreds of photos to prove it. I wanted to take this visit to focus on photographing Neptune in our favorite park. And believe me, walking there just made me so sad that we no longer live so close:(

I love that I took the camera along because we really captured Neptune's carefree personality. There is something about his face that makes him look so sad a lot of the time. I don't know if it's his patch around his already dark and kind of droopy eyes, or just the fact that he's a bulldog. Normally, he looks kind of like this:

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Kind of sad, huh? But that is not his personality at all! The slightest pet or gesture or kind word sets off that tail of his. You can see on this walk what a happy boy he is. Incidentally, you can also see how terrible his teeth are and how his lower lip hangs as a result. He only has little nubs in front which happen to be razor-sharp for such minute nubs.

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I've been taking Neptune to obedience training and here we are making use of his "tap" command.

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A behavior new to us is rolling in the grass. Neptune will often just drop down in the grass and kick those legs up in the air, acting like nothing could be better in the world at that moment.

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Another one of those stop and smell the grass moments.

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This series of photos really illustrates the difference between Levi and Neptune. Hopefully no one will think I'm knocking Levi here because if you read regularly, you know he means the absolute world to me. But Levi is REALLY stubborn and is not a people-pleasing kind of dog. I wanted to get a picture of Jason sitting with the two of them. Neptune is tail-wagging, complete focus on Jason and Levi is ready to move on from the spot, ears a-blowin' in the wind.

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Levi begrudgingly sits and poses for a photo.

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So different, they are. Could Levi look more annoyed and Neptune happier?


Maybe Levi is just annoyed because we are photographing him with a giant eye boogie.

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Ah, this face! I can't stand it!

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I love when Neptune lays like this-frog legs out in back and feet tucked under in front.

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Finally, a few of Neptune in front of the beautiful World's Fair Pavilion. He just plopped down right there and made my job easy.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Weekly Updates: Week 9

Week 9 (green olive)

Today the baby is the size of a green olive! We’ve come so far from that poppyseed just a few weeks ago. This past week has been more of the same: fatigue and very sore boobs. I did have a few days where I felt pretty great, almost normal even. Even though I have continued to go to the gym, my stamina just isn’t the same. I get tired much more easily and my heart rate rises faster than it used to. The few times I have tried running with my bum knee, my pace has been closer to a 9:30 or 9:45 minute/mile, about a minute slower than what I’m used to. But when I went to spinning on Saturday, I felt awesome! It was like I wasn’t even pregnant at all. I was able to keep up pretty well and still feel good after the class.

The best part about this week was that we told my mom that I am pregnant. I have been planning this moment in my head since we started trying to conceive. It all worked out perfectly, just as I planned. She even invited us over for dinner on Sunday night and I decided that it was time. I thought about waiting until 2nd tri to tell my mom, but I knew that if I did have a miscarriage, I would need her support. So, I carried out the plan I’ve had for awhile and it involved a calendar. I decided to make her a 2011 calendar featuring a picture of Levi or Neptune each month. Then for October, I put a picture of the ultrasound with the caption, “Baby M., 6w2d.” I realize it is March, but I just told her I didn’t know if she had a calendar to put up in her kitchen for this year.

So, I gave her the calendar and she is sloooooowly flipping through it, admiring every picture of the dogs. My heart is completely pounding and I start tearing up before she gets to October. She finally flips the page to October and doesn’t really have a reaction. The conversation went something like this:

Mom: Now, what is this? [she is turning the calendar trying to figure it out]

Mary: What does it look like?

Mom: It looks like an ultrasound [still no clue]

Mary: Yeah…

Then the light bulb went off in her head and she grabbed the table and gasped. She was so surprised! She even said, “I’m floored!” Oh, it was such an awesome moment. I totally got her. I caught her up on the pregnancy so far. She told me she never had any morning sickness with her four pregnancies, which definitely eased my nerves about my symptoms. She did have horrible headaches, so I am extremely grateful I haven’t had any of those so far. I swore her up and down to secrecy, so we shall see if she is able to keep the big news to herself. Obviously there was one extremely important person missing during this exchange, which makes everything a little bittersweet. I can only imagine how thrilled my dad would be to learn he was going to have another grandchild.

I feel so relieved to have someone in the family to talk to about everything. Poor Jason is probably getting tired of me saying, “I’m so tired. When can I go to bed?” Sometimes sleeping is all I can think about. It’s pretty pathetic!

How far along are you?: 9w

How big is baby?: green olive (yuck!)

Weight gain/loss?: +2lb

Stretch marks?: No, but I’m sure they’re coming

Maternity clothes?: Not yet. Some bloat, but I’m used to that and have a lot of flowy tops to accommodate.

Sleep?: It’s the greatest thing in my life.

Best moment this week?: Telling my mom I’m pregnant!

Food cravings?: SUGAR!

Gender?: Probably won’t find out until October

Movement?: Not yet.

Belly button?: Yes, still an innie.

Symptoms?: Still big boobs, fatigue.

What do I miss?: Having energy

What I'm looking forward to this week? Nothing in particular

Milestones?: Telling another person the big news

Week 9

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Weekly Updates: 6-8

[EEEK! I am never going to catch up! I have only one formal write-up after this one, so I'll just round out that first trimester and the start of the second all in one, I guess!]

Weeks 6-8 (sweet pea, blueberry, raspberry)

I obviously haven’t been keeping up with writing weekly updates, so here’s the lowdown on the last three weeks.

The main event of week 5 was finding out that I am indeed heterozygous for the MTHFR mutation. I was pretty calm about it, but as the day wore on, I started feeling completely sick with worry until I left work. I felt like I needed to get to Walgreens immediately to start taking the baby aspirin. Once I took one and my Folgard, I felt so much better about everything. There was nothing else to do at this point, so I just had to wait it out like everyone else in those first 13 weeks.

At 6w2d, Jason and I went in for our first ultrasound and doctor’s appointment. I was really nervous about the ultrasound. The technician first did an abdominal ultrasound, but there wasn’t much to see since I was so early. She did say she saw “something going on over there,” which was encouraging. Then it was time for the vaginal ultrasound. She found the baby and we saw the flickering of the heartbeat. There aren’t words for how relieved I felt. It was such a beautiful sight. She saw a pocket of fluid outside my uterus, but said that’s probably where the baby implanted and it should go away on its own. She looked at my ovaries and could tell by the blood flow which one I ovulated from. It was really interesting.

We had about an hour before our doctor’s appointment, so we just sat in the waiting room. I liked seeing all the pregnant women going in and out of the office. Hopefully one day I’ll have a big bump to show off too! The doctor’s appointment went fine. She answered all of my questions, took my medical history, etc. We discussed the blood work and she reassured me that it’s very common and some doctors wouldn’t even prescribe the aspirin/Folgard regimen. And then she gave me a pap smear, which I’m only mentioning because Jason probably never thought in his life that he’d be watching that. It’s not like he was down at the end of the table, but he was in the room. I set up my appointment for four weeks away and that was it! We celebrated our little blob by going out to lunch together. It was such a nice day.

It was also during week 6 that something amazing happened: I grew boobs! Seriously, I am obsessed with my boobs. I can’t stop touching them (ouch!) or looking at them, or noticing how they fill out my shirts so much better. I’m sure the average person just thinks I have mosquito bite boobs still, but I know that they are porn star quality. I was happy to finally have a symptom, any symptom. And then in weeks 6-7, the fatigue hit me. Wow. There were days at school when I wondered how I would even walk to my car. That 7-minute walk seemed akin to climbing Mt. Everest. I was lucky if I made it to 10:30 on Saturday nights. I am proud to say I still made it to the gym for spinning and yoga, but definitely not as often as I would have liked.

During this time, I kept waiting for the other symptoms to hit. Where was the nausea? The barfing? The heartburn? The headaches? Well, I know I am one lucky girl because I didn’t have any of those things. Other than fatigue and sore (and amazing) boobs, I don’t feel any differently. I am not bragging, as I truly do feel very grateful to have had such an easy pregnancy so far. And it’s not like I’m special because I’m doing all the right things, I’m sure it just comes down to genetics. Don’t worry, morning sickness pregnant ladies; while I may have won the first trimester genetic lottery, I will most likely be losing the genetic lottery in just a few months when permanent stretch marks will be covering my stomach and likely, most everything else.

With all this fatigue, I don’t really have the energy to do the usual things, like walk the dogs or do my own dishes or clean the bird cages when it’s my turn. That is where my wonderful husband steps in and just takes care of things. He is the best! And it’s not like I am fun on the weekend to make up for it. Weekends are for napping and going to bed early. Poor Jason.

Although we haven’t told our families yet, we each broke the news to our best friends which made things seem a little more real. I’m not super anxious to tell, so it’s not killing me. I’m just very cautious about everything so far.

So, let's see those belly shots.

Week 6

Week 6

Week 7

Week 7

Week 8

Week 8

How far along are you?: 8w

How big is baby?: Raspberry

Weight gain/loss?: +2lb

Stretch marks?: No, but I’m sure they’re coming

Maternity clothes?: Not yet. Some bloat, but I’m used to that and have a lot of flowy tops to accommodate.

Sleep?: All the time if I could.

Best moment this week?: Seeing the baby and the baby’s heart beating!

Food cravings?: Not really.

Gender?: Probably won’t find out until October

Movement?: Not yet.

Belly button?: Yes, still an innie.

Symptoms?: Porn star boobs, fatigue.

What do I miss?: Diet Coke with lime! Beer.

What I'm looking forward to this week? I’m thinking of telling my mom this week.

Milestones?: Can’t believe I’m 8 weeks already!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Check Out Our Beautiful Yard

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What's that, you say? Looks like a nice lush swath of green? Yup, green weeds. Let's take a closer look.

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Not only is the yard full of no vegetation other than weeds, it is also full of construction waste. Little bits of rock, cement, and gravel are everywhere. See all the little rocks?

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But, the yard looks better than it did than when it was on the market. Here is one of the listing photos.

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All of those giant rocks were big and heavy. Jason moved them out of the way.

Needless to say, our yard needs a major renovation and it will get a total makeover in the coming weeks. First, a landscaper is coming to rip up the tree stump in the middle of the yard, get rid of all the horrible weeds, and will lay sod. Real grass! That alone will provide a much needed facelift. But that's not all!

Jason took Friday off work and spent the day building a raised vegetable bed, something he has been planning for a long time. He had already dug up the back corner of the yard where the bed will go. You can see the dogs love laying on the hot black tarp.

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I have planted a bunch of seedlings, which have all germinated in a sunny southern exposure bedroom upstairs. When the landscaper comes, he will bring us quality soil and compost to fill the vegetable bed. Here is a sneak-peek of Jason's work, but I will go into more detail when I do the final reveal of the yard.

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Do you see how there is still so much dirt dug up around the bed? That is because Jason is going to build a 2' patio all the way around to make the whole area look nicer. It will also be easier to tend to with a nice level patio. Jason has been quite the handyman!

Other plans include getting two rain collectors, patio furniture, planting flowers, and adding other decorative touches. I'd love to redo the patio, which is just basic concrete, but it's just too expensive to do all these makeovers at once. Just having grass will be a HUGE improvement and the dogs will love it. Right now they'd rather just snooze on their dog beds than get in the yucky grass.

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On the bright side, our front yard looks great! I convinced Jason to get an old-fashioned push-reel mower and he purchased this one:

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Pretty much everyone has made fun of Jason for this mower and people stop on the street and watch when he is using it. But it works so great! It's silly, in my opinion, to have a noisy, polluting gas mower for such a small yard. I'm so happy our lawnmower is eco-friendly and we will never have to buy gas for it. You have to sharpen the blades periodically, but that's the only upkeep. I highly recommend getting one if you have only a small yard to tend! The brand is Fiskar, in case you are in the market for a push reel mower.

Last but not least, I'm going to start a worm composing bin inside so that we have nice compost to use for our vegetable garden. I bought everything I need over the winter, but just haven't gotten around to getting the worms since the weather has warmed up. I'll be sure to post a how-to when I get around to do that.

So, stay tuned to see how our jungle is transformed into an urban oasis!