Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Weekend

This past weekend we were able to spend some time with some of Kevin's family who came down to Florida to visit.  On Saturday we had dinner at Grandma and Poppie's home.  It was nice spending time visiting and enjoying a wonderful meal.

Grandma got the girls some Barbie hair styling models and Aunt Jen went to work to tame the manes into pretty styles
Steven, (upper left), Poppie and Kevin and Patrick in the bottom photo.

Janice with her "baby boy" Shane.  Think he's outgrown moms lap : )

Early Easter morning the kids inspected the baskets we had set out for them, and then later
Sunday morning we joined our church family at their traditional Easter in the Park service.  It sprinkled on us a bit at the beginning, but fortunately the skies cleared and the rest of the day was really nice.

The girls joined the others from their dance class to perform their dance to the song by Matt Maher, Christ is Risen.  They did a beautiful job and we thoroughly enjoyed watching them.


Lauren and Hannah with their group

Pastor Mike's message

Kid's looking for Easter Eggs

After the service it was home to relax and do nothing but enjoy the remainder of our weekend.
Hope you had a wonderful one as well.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Garden Inspiration

This week was the last week our annual passes for Disney were valid, so we headed out on Wednesday to spend the day at Epcot park the place we started almost a year ago and have been able to enjoy many days of being entertained over the past year, in the wonderful world of Disney.  The Flower and Garden show is still going on and Kevin had managed to do fastpasses online so we had times to go on some rides we really wanted to do before we take some time off from our Disney visits.  We began at Soaring Over California, then stood in line for a half hour to go on the boat ride through The Land.  Next, we headed to the Nemo ride where I took some really terrible pictures of us, but since I failed to take more of the family on this day they are the only ones I really have to share.  OOPS!!!!

Later in the day we did the Mission Space ride, then after lunch had to treat ourselves to some funnel cake for dessert!!!

Funnel cake, Yummy!!!
This was a photo Cameron was able to capture of the sun and the corona around it that was in the sky as we toured the park for a good part of the day.

We walked and enjoyed the absolutely beautiful day that was pleasantly cooler due to a nice breeze blowing.  I took a lot of pictures of the creative gardening ideas that were on display.  These were creative, pretty and really produced some wonderful food as well.  So I thought I'd try many of these in our landscape and garden projects, especially as I'm finding there to be lots of challenges in my landscape and garden projects I've started already.

Here the gardens are planted in wheel barrow or the one in the wagon is done in pots and planting bags. These show a lot of plants in small spaces.  The benefit of this too would be the ability to move your garden if light or weather became an issue.

The picture on the left is a garden in the mini hay bales.  Love that full size corn can grow in this environment.  The garden on the right is a open style garden wagon that has moss used as a liner to hold the dirt then is filled with vegetable and edible flowers.  Pretty and practical.
These gardens show intensive plantings in large pots, stock tanks and the lower right is a collection of more warm weather plants and small trees in multiple pots pushed together to make a nice collection.  There's banana, pineapple, strawberries and again edible flowers in the collection of the warmer weather plants.
Love the extra large teacup planter with tea mixes growing and surrounded by these gorgeous amaryllis flowers.

Our goal is to produce as much as possible in more intensive growing environments, so these will work not only for us, but as ideas for others as well.  So I was really interested in the many displays and the beautiful presentations we found at the park.

We also made a point of visiting the booth with the compact aquaculture system.  The company that put this together is a local one and in visiting their website I found several places that feature these systems that are close by.  This was exciting and definitely inspiring to us to keep moving forward with the plans we have to include this on our property.

The tank of tilapia is connected to several tanks that filter out more solid waste and run the nutrient rich water through the planting beds then run the cleaned water back to the fish tank creating a looped system that benefits both fish and food production.

Website for the company that created this display, a closeup from the sign they had up.

So after another wonderful day spent in Disney's World called Epcot, it was time to head home and take a break for awhile before we renew our annual passes.  Will use these next few months to explore other Florida destinations and learn more about this State that we call home.

Hannah was walking with me and we were behind Cameron, Lauren and Kevin as we headed out of the park.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Aero Garden Seed Starter

To help get our seedlings started Kevin took advantage of a special he found online and ordered the Miracle Grow Aero Garden Seed Starter.  It uses a wicking hydroponic system with a small grow light to get seeds started quicker or grow bulbs.  Some advertisements showed this being used for small apartments to have a small hydroponic garden.  Our purpose for this is to get seeds started for transferring to our tower gardens.

The setup was very simple with all the pieces snapping together quickly.

Kevin then placed the unit on the old trunk in the sun room where we planned to have it set up and he added the water and nutrients as well as the prepackaged seeds that came with this unit.  We plugged it in, turned the light on and there it was ready to start growing the herb seeds.

Seed starters in place and grow light on.

It's now been a week and here is the progress so far.  Once these get a little bigger I'll transfer them to our tower gardens and start some other seeds.  This has proven effective in jump starting the seedlings for us.

As a side note here's a quick Bea update.  We had her to the specialist 3 times following her laser surgery last Monday.  They took extra fluid out of her eye on each visit and with the medicine and drops she has shown improvement and still has sight in both eyes.  So we keep praying for her healing and doing all we can to see her get the best results possible given the dangers that glaucoma presents.

Bea this morning out for a walk.  She's definitely been taking advantage of and enjoying the extra attention.

I'll show the amazing growth we've had in our tower gardens and vertical hydroponic units in my next post.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Saving Bea's Sight

I've been behind on my posts as we've had a bit going on lately.  First and foremost has been working to help our dog Bea.  On Saturday morning Hannah was petting her and said "there's something wrong with Bea's left eye".  I took a look and it was very inflamed and had a cloudy area in the center.  I went online and everything I read told me to get her to a vet immediately.  So I called our local veterinary office and they only had one vet in that day and were booked solid.  I was given an appointment for the following day and took that, but decided I'd call other clinics to see if I could get in faster.  As I was completing the call the receptionist asked again what the trouble was and I explained about the condition of her eye and all I'd read warning to get her in right away.  She asked me to hold and went to talk to the vet.  When she came back on the phone she asked if I could come in right away and they'd fit me in as soon as possible.  So Kevin and I headed over and after waiting a little while Dr. Ed Dworkin came in to see Bea.  He's had serious eye problems himself and was very sympathetic with her.  He used a tonometer designed to give the pressure reading on the eye.  Normal should be in the range of 12, and can even go into the 20's without real concern.  Danger zones were in the 40's and if the eye remained in the upper 40's for more than 48 hours irreversible permanent damage was certain.

Bea at the vet and not happy to be here.  This eye is quite enlarged and cloudy.

Dr. Dworkin, D.V.M.

Bea's left eye was 70 and right eye was 22!!!   He said she definitely had glaucoma and gave us the phone number for a group of specialists.  He then went out to try to call and get her in.  Unfortunately they are closed for the weekend, so he prescribed some drops to help relieve pressure and said to call them right away on Monday.

On Sunday both eyes were swelled and partially closed. We began using the drops in both and gave her a little aspirin to help with the pain .  Poor baby, you just feel so helpless.
First thing Monday morning Kevin got the Animal Eye Associates group on the phone and after explaining Bea's diagnosis was told to come on in and though they had a full list of appointments they would squeeze her in.  After waiting a bit she was taken in and her eye pressure in the left eye was at 57 (better than the 70 on Saturday) and the right eye was 12.  We were given a few choices that were available for treatment.  After having already spent a lot of time looking for answers and treatments over the weekend we decided to have Laser Cycloablation Surgery done that afternoon to help control the glaucoma and try to save her sight.  Unbeknown to us glaucoma is a disease that is very prevalent in Basset Hounds and can come on quickly as hers had between the ages of 4-6 years of age.  She's just over 6 years old.  There is no known cure so it's something that becomes a life long treatment for management.  Needless to say I have been doing a lot of research to try and find out ways  that can help in this with diet changes, especially since we've recently been dealing with yeast infections on all the dogs skin.  We thought it was external contributors we've encountered since our move and this is probably part of the problem, but I've been reading too about food allergies and changes in the formula of our long used food products that have caused allergic reactions in dogs.  GREAT!!!

Bea after surgery, eye is clearer, but swollen.

She hated having to wear this cone!!!
Dr, Noelle McNabb D.V.M. , her surgeon

Out of it on the ride home

We will head back again to the vet today to have them check her eye pressure.  They had to remove a little fluid yesterday, and we're hoping the pressure results will have improved today.  The surgery is not inexpensive, it ran $1700.00 and that included the surgery, meds and all follow up visits and treatments that pertain to this surgery.  The alternatives were using meds only and this has a much slower rate of eliminating pressure or traditional surgery that has a lot of complications.  If pressure can't be relieved then blindness occurs and in most cases surgical eye removal is recommended to relieve pressure.  To maintain eye appearance prosthetic eyes can be inserted, needless to say this costs about 3 times what the laser surgery runs.  Bea is still not back to her old self, but she's definitely better than she was last weekend.  Will give updates as she continues treatment and makes progress.

Eyes are clearing and reacting to the unwanted flash from the camera.  That's actually a good sign.

Just let me sleep please!  Her appetite is still off, though she's always been a picky eater.

That's it for now, will bring updates on all our projects as well as news on Bea.  The kids are definitely happier and relieved as they were really worried about her.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hannah's Celebration

As promised yesterday, I have pictures of our celebrations for Hannah's 10th birthday.  She chose the Animal Kingdom as her favorite park to go to so that was our destination.  What a beautiful day to go there too.  It was a nice sunny day, yet not too hot.  The park wasn't that crowded and with Kevin having used Disney's new online program to link Fast passes to your annual pass, we were able to go on the Safari ride shortly after arriving in the morning while it was still cool enough for the animals to be out and about.  That made it a really nice ride!!

We walked and really got our exercise as we experienced the beauty of this park, all the amazing animals and the various activities like the fascinating ability of the wood carver I have pictured as he nimbly used the hatchet to carve a branch into a beautiful walking stick.  This is a park of music, and rich atmosphere with all the incredibly intricate detail of plants, buildings and their ability to create buildings that replicate their originals from various locations in Africa and Asia. It is a sensory rich experience.

Asian peacock sunning himself.

Girls on safari ride, the wood carver and in "Asia"  one of several monkey exhibits.

Disney's Mt. Everest

Girls by Tree of Life sign, and us on the Hannah's favorite Dinosaur ride

Girls waiting for lunch

Bird on her nest and the male rushing in as I was photographing to put himself between she and I.

After several hours spent at the Animal Kingdom our feet were ready for a break, so we headed to the truck and home. I looked back to check on the kids as we drove and the girls were busy playing with leap pads and an iTouch and Cameron was using the time to catch a few ZZZZZ's  .

Once home we had Hannah open presents, then after dinner it was time for some birthday cake. Baba and Grandpa called after we had dinner to wish a "happy birthday", then we sat and watched her new video of the movie Frozen, before it was finally time for bed and an end to the birthday celebrations.   Hannah said it was "a great day and a great 10th birthday!!!".    Love to hear that.