Friday, July 31, 2009

Vacation Notes: Day 2

We awoke to rain on Saturday. It was just a mild drizzle, so we headed a couple miles down the road to Silver Dollar City. It turned out to be a perfect day to go. It was overcast all day and cool. Nick's family was going to skip SDC in pursuit of other things and Brendan's family hadn't gotten tickets yet (the rest of us had already bought some 2 day tickets in a special deal). However, as we were standing in the parking lot preparing to leave, an older lady walked up to my sister and handed her 4 tickets to SDC that they hadn't used. What a blessing. So all 21 of us enjoyed the fun theme park. The picture above was of Braedon and Devin watching the Blacksmith work. They all enjoyed watching them pound the red hot iron! T and G immediately spent some of their hard earned (:-) money at the blacksmith shop!

Next we watched the women make peanut brittle. That was an interesting process. When they were done they said they needed a volunteer to taste test. Out of the 30 people in there, they picked Dev! He was pretty shy, but answered their questions and then deemed the brittle great. In fact, he had to go back later and spend some of his souvenier money on a bag of it for himself!

The little kids got some ride action in the mild ride section. Even C rode some stuff. She enjoyed the butterfly ride much more than the hopping frog ride--you can tell by her face!

butterfly ride. . . (she's saying "cheese")

Hoppin frogs! OOPS--what a mean mom! She wasn't screaming so much at the end--but she didn't like it any better either!

Papa has always been a ride fanatic. My sister and I were remembering that anytime we ever went to an amusement park, she and I would ride together and he always had to ride with someone else because our mom HATES stuff like that!
So we got the riders together and rode the big water innertube thing where you ride through some rapids. Papa was sure that since he outweighs everyone else, he would not get wet (what kind of thinking is that?) And he didn't. . .until the ride was nearly over. BEEP. Guess he was wrong :-) None of us were too wet on the front and it's hard to see in the picture, but our butts were SOAKED!

We also enjoyed the roller coasters. We did the Thunderation many times. There weren't too many people in the line. Even Dev and Brady rode. J said that Dev was pretty concerned for a bit, but he ended up really liking it. It didn't turn loops or do 60 miles an hour. Tristan has historically been the one that hated that rush, but he even rode the PowderKeg coaster and enjoyed it. That ride literally SHOOTs the buggy off at the launch! They said it goes from 0 mph to 60-some mph in 2.8 seconds. And it did!! my short hair was sticking straight back off my head and the g-force glues your eyes shut! It rocked though. J rode that one with me. We ended up with no waiting in line because it had shut down for a period of time due to the drizzle. We were still hanging around while Dev was shopping when they opened it back up--so we were first in line!

Later that night most of the crew went to play laser tag and ride the go-carts. They played for a couple of hours and enjoyed it. Apparently Brendan lost his phone there. He retrieved it but Nick was still looking for it--and everyone left. His wife called him to let him know that they were stopping to bring the babysitters (Me and Tina) some ice cream, so his car would know where they went. The conversation went down like this: When he asked where she was she replied "Behind you" ; "Behind me where??" ; "Behind you and Jeremy (she thought he was with J in our suburban)"; "I'M STILL IN THE *BEEPING* PARKING LOT" Screeeeeech went the car brakes. Oops. I am still laughing about that! Poor Nick!

The melted ice cream sundae was delicious (really!) I decided that the way to do an amusement park is with multiple people. That allowed everyone who loves rides to ride and provided a sitter for the kids and company for the non-riders. We split up our babysitting and it really worked out well! I have some family pictures that will post next with the happenings of the last day!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oh My!! Where DOES the Time Go

Does it amaze anyone else how fast the time gets away from you?? It seems like just yesterday that we were posing for the photos below. It was 15 years ago today that we were shined up, smiling big, and looking forward to walking down that aisle and saying "I do." Oh the places we have been and the things we have seen.

We went from 2 snot nosed little kids at the age of 21 to grown people raising 4 kids. Had anyone told Jeremy (me too for that matter) that we would be raising FOUR kids, we would have been running fast and furiously to anywhere but here!

I had one year of nursing school left when we got married. So I drove home every weekend and finished school in Hays during the week. I also worked full time at a nursing home in Hays and part time in our local nursing home. I wasn't dreaming of getting my master's degree back then!!

Don't we look so YOUNG?? (I thought I still looked like that, till I saw the pictures on screen that we took a couple weeks ago--I asked Jeremy when it was that we got so OLD!! He's bald and we're both wrinkling! EEK!)

He was working for his grandparents on the farm and ranching business. Not long after we got married he started picking up more mechanic business and he worked out of the garage in the evenings and on weekends.

In 1998, with a 20 month old and a 2 week old, we moved into our first home! That same year found me back in school pursuing my degree as a nurse practitioner. Within the year J quit his full time job on the family farm/ranch and started his own business doing mechanic work.
Now, 15 years later we find ourselves busy, busy, BUSY with full time careers, 4 children, and our multiple hobbies and interests. I certainly couldn't have predicted our future--but I don't believe that I would have traded or changed anything either!
July 2009
We have both changed tremendously since we first met. . . and I think that is good! We certainly don't always agree on everything, but we rarely fight--and that usually never amounts to more than a few cross words. We like doing things together and as a family, but there are also certain things that we do by ourselves or with our friends that we know the other one wouldn't enjoy (like car racing, swap meets, flea markets, and girl's shopping adventures)!
Our preacher and his wife (and good family friends) Doug and Sally offered to keep the kids while we went on a date. So we chose our anniversary to do so. Instead of going out, we decided to stay in and grill some scallops (our favorites!!) and watch a movie. The scallops were great and we cracked a bottle of the Spumante. However, NO movies that looked good. Bummer!! So we watched a recorded episode of Deadliest Catch and, to make it fair, an episode of Gardening by the Yard! LAME?? But realistic. That's how we spent our 15th anniversary. At home, with peace and quiet, and relaxing. Does it get any better?? Thanks Doug and Sally!
The last 15 years were gone in the blink of an eye--I know the next 15 years will go as fast or faster! I hope we are as blessed with our time in the future as we were in the past! Love to everyone who has helped and supported us along the way!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vacation Notes: Day 1

Well we have returned from our big family fun-cation to Table Rock lake near Branson. I had a ton of pictures to share, so these blogs will be in a series of 3 days. We are moving D to the upstairs bedroom with T (OOOH, the two sloppiest kids living in one room). So I uploaded all of my pictures between trips to the trash and between bedrooms. Now just need to journal a little! Thurs night found everyone trickling in the late afternoon. We had left on Wed to do some eye appointments and school shopping, so we were around Branson around lunch time. Mom and Dad and Kristi's family arrived mid afternoon, so we took a tour of Stone Hill Winery before supper. The kids got to sample some of their grape juice, which is excellent! J and I went to Branson on our honeymoon 15 years ago this week, and Stone Hill was one of the places we went then. We sampled about 13 different wines, and we bought several bottles of our favorites. My pick was a Spumante Blush--I sure like the bubbles.

Colton had a butterfly land on his shoulder!

Friday was our first day together. We really didn't have much planned so several of us took off and went to the Butterfly Palace. My boys wanted to hit the pool, so just C and I went with my Mom, Kristi and Nick's families, and Tina and her girls. What a fun place. It took C a little bit to catch on to what we were looking for.

They let the kids release the butterflies by dumping them out of little plastic containers. C caught on to that right away and she made sure that she got her turn! Kadon was not too impressed with the whole dumping out thing.

Colton caught one off of his arm and shared with Grandma and the girls. C wasn't sure what to think of having one on her fingers!

Haley, Cami, Taryn and Colton are checking out Grandma's butterfly

Taryn's smile says it all doesn't it!! The kids had a blast
and it was fun to watch them all

The kids were waiting with Uncle Nick to release the butterflies

The afternoon found several little girls and boys napping. Dad happened to know some people that were out there with boats, so they graciously came and picked up Jeremy, Nick, Brendan, and Dad and took them out on the lake for some skiing. I believe it was a LITTLE rough, but they enjoyed it anyway. (Oh, except maybe for Brendan, who put his back out and was a LITTLE sore!)
Dad rented a pontoon boat for the evening hours and so everyone took turns cruising the lake with Papa. The first trip was quite uneventful. But the second trip after dinner was memorable, at least for the kids! There get to be some tremendous wakes (or big ole waves for you non-lakers) on that lake. Apparently as they went across one and came down onto the lake, a large amount of water crashed onto the front of the boat, knocking the front gate open, threatening to swallow the cooler of beverages (I must say however, that no one was drinking alcoholic beverages). The adults on board who were in the front of the boat promptly returned to the back of the boat (you know who you are!) leaving the children to drown first. Tristan, being the quick thinker he is, saved the cooler, which was loaded with capri sun and beer, from dropping nearly 200 feet onto the bottom of Table Rock Lake, thanks son! Then my sister, being the quick thinker she is, thought to yell to the children in the front of the sinking ship to run to the back of the boat. By then the drama was over--no sunken ship, no one injured--just a little paranoid after that. From a bystander viewpoint--the children were hilarious. They came back up to the condo's a one to a few at a time. Each time one of them entered, they would sigh and roll their eyes and say something to indict PAPA. Like Grant "You will NEVER guess what happened to us!" Colton "Papa nearly killed us." Kristi "- - - " Oh yeah, Kris didn't have anything to say, because she was laughing so hard she could bearly speak!

So the first day ended well, we had lots of fun visiting. No major kid fights. The boys were pestering throughout the first 2 days about going to play laser tag. Plans for Saturday included Silver Dollar City. More on that later.

Papa is saying "Look Grandma--No Hands!!" (really, he was using his hands to steer during the aforementioned boating incident!!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time for a Change

The last 6 months have left me feeling like it was time for a change in my life--now don't freak out, I'm not divorcing my husband or having another baby. After much contemplating, praying, dreaming, and realistically figuring, I found myself in the office of my administrator--handing in my resignation. I graduated in August of 2000, and have been walking (and periodically running) through these halls for 9 years. I love LOVE my job, so this has been a hard decision. The issues that I am having right now are time and priorities.

The 9-5 part of the job is not a problem. I appreciate the days that I know I can go home and fix supper without work interruptions, do some laundry, help everyone get their homework done and keep them on task, get the kids to bed and enjoy some quiet time. We take a 1 in 3 call schedule--52 weeks a year--for the last nine years. That means that 2-3 days/evenings/nights are not my own, nor do they belong to my family. . .They are devoted to my job. If the phone rings, I must answer it; if problems come up, I must solve them; if someone needs me I MUST GO--no matter what. It doesn't matter if I have a cake in the oven to supply for a funeral dinner, or if I am in the middle of a board game with the kids, or even if I have a vomiting 1 year old--My job HAS to be the priority. Someone's life might depend on me! Excuse my quote from the first Spiderman movie--but the first time I heard it, it struck a chord so mighty in my heart that I have never forgotten it. Peter's uncle said to him "Pete, with great power comes great responsibility." That SO explains my job. That quote has carried me a long time.

However, the kids are getting older and 2 of them will be involved in many activities over the next few years. This last year I missed a lot of events because of my on-call responsibilities. With the age difference between the oldest and the younger two, there will be a lot of individual and unique needs going on in my household for the next several years. That made me stop and ponder my life. I have come to the conclusion that, while I can help so many people through my work, if I screw up my own kids, they can be more detrimental to themselves and to society that my efforts with the public will be in vain. Which leads me back to my resignation.

I am hoping to continue to see patients in the clinic 1-2 days a week. The Board of Directors has already offered this opportunity back to me. And I was thrilled. They will be making decisions regarding how they will fill my vacancy from full time call and clinic time. I will also continue my job at the family planning clinics in Oklahoma. I have come to view this job as a mission field (that deserves it's own blog in the future). For now I will just say that I have had an incredible opportunity to teach, listen, parent, and advise many women--some that needed more help than others. I have seen a huge number of girls age 13-17 with more partners than any one person should be allowed to have and I truly think that I am making a difference in their lives. I feel that the Lord is directing my words and teaching to be individualized to what each of those young women need to hear to change their lives. I don't have a canned speech that goes across the board. Each conversation I have is unique and different. It has been an exceptional experience! Now don't get me wrong--there are still women that I just want to smack 'em when I leave, but most are receptive and concerned! (Oh my, see how easy it is for me to climb on the soapbox??)

Anyway my resignation is effective Dec 31. And in the fall, I will cut the family planning days down until after the holidays. The actual point of this blog was to highlight some of the things that have been heavy on my heart the last few weeks--THE LIST--things that I will not miss about my ER/call job, and things that I will miss!! Enjoy!!

Things I will NOT miss about being on call:

--Blood. I hate blood, and I truly hate LOTS of blood in one place at one time. It's gross--plain and simple.

--Dislocated appendages. Double ick--almost worse than blood. I am becoming quite good at re-locating fingers-but it is gross--makes a grind/pop noise and the sensation I get under my fingers from their fingers is GROSS--plain and simple!

--Full moons. I'll bet I will never again know when the moon is full unless I see it myself. For instance, several weeks ago I received a call from the hospital at 11:00 at night regarding a mental health patient who was quite delusional. I thought as I walked to the back door to go out to my car "wonder what the moon is like?" Guess what? It was FULL. HMMM. People that is NOT a myth--ask anyone who works in childcare or a nursing home! They'll tell ya!

--Blatant disrespect for my time. People will never cease to amaze me. Unless you have worked in a hospital, you would not believe the people that will come to the ER instead of the clinic as a convenience issue for themselves (example--couldn't get off work to come, have to work today at 6 am, so I come in at 4 am so you can write me a note, etc etc). People with no insurance also present to the ER because they have to be treated whether they can pay or not, whereas a clinic can refuse to see you unless you pay your bills. These people usually come at supper time.

--Living in fear of my phone ringing!

Things I will TOTALLY miss about being on call:

--intriguing experiences like delivering a baby, working with lost mental health patients in the middle of the night, and removing a bug from someones ear canal only to discover that the bug is actually over an 1 inch in diameter with HUGE wings and the beadiest eyes ever!

--heart to heart visiting with the staff at 3 am because I know I won't be able to sleep when I get home anyway!

--being in the right place at the right time to be able to make a difference in the life of someone, especially when they are sick or injured. That difference has sometimes been the difference between life and death! Some of my most rewarding experiences took place in that ER!

--I am a teacher at heart. I love to teach--school children and adolescents, patients, and my staff. I usually cannot refrain from teaching anyone that will listen to me about cool new things I have seen or how I reached a conclusion about a more difficult case. Consistently my best audience is the nurses I work with!

--I will totally miss the excitement of the unknown. For the most part, I am NOT an adrenaline junkie. In fact, I don't really like the stomach butterflies, the heart racing or the dry mouth I get in response to the sound of the ambulance call over the radio. However, there is an incredible rush of emotion and feeling after conquering a huge challenge--that is the feeling that I will miss!

--And lastly, with my sheepish guilt--I will miss the days where my kids are misbehaving HORRIBLY, and I am glad for the excuse to say "OH, gotta go, see ya later-don't kill each other or tear the house down before I get home!"

So there it is, though certainly not all-inclusive! There are many more things that I will and will NOT miss about my ER duties. I think that this will be a good change for now, and my family and I are excited about it!

Tomorrow we are headed out on the family adventure. We have been looking forward to this for months and plan to meet up with my whole family--21 of us in all--to hang out for a long weekend in the Branson area. Praying for a safe trip for all!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

4-H Fair cooking

Well, we survived the day. It is a good feeling to have made it through. I started this blog the other day when I typed out their recipes, and uploaded their pictures last night--so here is the quick 2 minute run down of the results. T got a state fair blue on the chocolate mallow drops and a red on the poppy seed bread because he overmixed it a little. G got a state fair blue on both of his recipes, which are shown below. The photography went well--they got 3 blues apeice, and both will be able to take to the state fair--I hope to post their pictures later this week. T gets to take his geology box to the state fair as well, and G got a blue on his geology display too. Both boys got a red on their chairs, which we fully expected (though they were still hoping for a better ribbon). D and I, however got blues on our chairs--and so far the boys have had at least 1/2 dozen people tell them how cool they were and ask if they took orders! They were proud of that! I am not sure how I will herd 3 kids through this process next year! EEK! Well, off to pizza and the old movies! By the way, it is only 92 degrees today and my friend Kayla and I were discussing how cool it felt today while we sat watching kids at the pool! And that's no joke--felt like a cold front for sure! We're praying for a little rain tonight!

Chocolate Mallow Drops
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups flour
½ cup baking cocoa
½ tsp soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup chopped pecans
18-22 large marshmallows, halved
¼ cup butter
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or 2 squares chocolate bar (1 oz each)
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips or 1 sqaure chocolate bar(1 oz)
2 cups powdered sugar
3-6 Tbsp brewed coffee

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in pecans.
Drop by rounded Tbsp 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 6 minutes. Press a marshmallow half, cut side down, onto each cookie. Bake 2 minutes longer or until marshmallows are softened. Remove to wire rack to cool. In microwave, melt butter and chocolate, stir until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar. Add enough coffee to achieve spreading consistency. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag or ziplock; cut a small hole in one corner of the bag. Pipe over cookies in a zigzag design. Yield: about 3 dozen

Poppy Seed Bread
2 ¼ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp almond flavor
1 ½ tsp butter flavor
3 cups flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ Tbsp poppy seed
1 ½ cup milk

Beat first 5 ingredients together. Add dry ingredients to the first mixture alternating with milk. Bake at 350 for 1 hour in 2 greased loaf pans. May frost with the following mixture: ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup orange juice, ½ tsp almond flavor, ½ tsp butter flavor, and ½ tsp vanilla.

Peanut Butter Blondies
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter chips
¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup baking cocoa
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter chips

Cream peanut butter, butter, and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in chips. Spread into greased 13 X 9 inch pan. Bake at 325 for 35-40 minutes or until a pick comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool on wire rack For frosting, mix butter, cocoa, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla in a small bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with chips. Cut into bars. Yield: 2 dozen

Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread
4 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ c vegetable oil
2 ½ c sugar, divided
2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tbsp cinnamon

In large mixing bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt. In a small bowl, combine oil and 1 ½ cups sugar. Add buttermilk and eggs; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill 2 greased 8 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pan about 1/3 full. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar. Sprinkle ½ over batter. Top with remaining batter and then cinnamon sugar. Swirl batter with a knife. May sprinkle with a couple Tbsp nuts if desired. Bake at 350 for 45-55 min, until tests done. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tristan is a Teenager!

Well, the big day came and went. I am finding it hard to believe that my "baby" is 13!! I wonder where the time really goes! Seems like almost yesterday that I was nursing him CONSTANTLY and learning how to do the macarena with Regis and Kathi Lee (while nursing him constantly!)! By the way, I still can't do the macarena!

His birthday was actually yesterday, but we celebrated it on Sunday with the family. We did what we usually do for the summer party--grilled burgers and dogs. I was hungry for homemade ice cream too. T always wants brown sugar peach-but I had convinced him that I hadn't seen any ripe peaches yet this year. So I got the stuff to make a very complicated but YUMMY vanilla ice cream. I did find some peaches at Walmart and then felt guilty, so I bought them and made 2 kinds. I know, you're thinking Martha Stewart, right Bambi?? They were good! Grandma always makes the cakes. She put on a pyrite (fools gold rock), drew a 4-H clover, and put on pictures of a football and a basketball--with a jersey and the number 13. How clever! He loved it! He asked for money for his birthday, and recieved plenty! He was pretty excited and can't wait to shop next week when we head out on vacation. Grandma also has a habit of getting little gifts for all the kids not having a birthday. You'll notice the kids tearing into their sacks. They love the little trinkets everytime. J's brother has been here from Houston with his family and we have been enjoying their company. We went over to Granny's after the party to light off her fireworks. She has been having her brother bring an assortment of crackers for the last few years. It has become the routine to enjoy those everytime Joe and Lisa come!

Grandma gave Tristan this photo above--it is called "The last ride" He had seen in her stash of stuff when they were hunting some reloading supplies for J. He asked her if he could have it and she told him he couldn't--you can imagine his delight at opening that up! We'll need to find the perfect place on his wall for it when we finish with the fair stuff.

Speaking of fair stuff. Holy cow--Are we ready for this to end. Today we did the baking. OH MY! For the last few months when the boys cook, I just do kitchen stuff and they mind themselves and do fine. This morning was AWFUL. Not only did they need to fight most of it, they weren't paying attention--and neither was I--and we ended up making both bread recipes twice. I actually didn't pay much more attention the second time around, but they did! 8 loaves of quick bread later, they had something. One of J's good clients came up this evening to drop off a pickup--and a sack full of garden goods, so we sent HIM home with 2 loaves of bread and a plate full of cookies. Now we are ready for the fair. We take everything tomorrow, so hope to be able to blog tomorrow evening about the results. We are also headed back to Granny's tomorrow night to watch some old movies that Grandma had made YEARS ago--that even have grandpa Ed's folks in them--so that will be fun to see.

It's been over 105 every day for a week now. Am watering the soup out of everything I can. Wow--did I mention that I love summer?? Am ready for fall and pumpkins though any day!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Drum Roll Please. . .

And now, the moment I know you ALL have been waiting on the edges of your CHAIRS to see!! Oh, did someone mention CHAIRS?? They are done!! WHOO HOO!! They took way longer than I ever dreamed they would have--After all, the Lowes class said in 4 classes it could be done. We started in April, and now it is July. At least it wasn't all the week before the fair this year. We got them painted last Saturday, and moved them to their new position on the deck on Sunday. I love them, love them! I will be trying to coax the boys into looking them over once more to fix a couple minor paint issues. . . but the main stuff is done. We have a huge (like 12 foot long) wooden bench that is on our deck now. I think that some club must have made a million of them and sold them 40 years ago--there are several people around here that have them. . . we inherited it with the house. Many people have sat on it since then! But all the paint is peeling off of it. I moved it to run across the deck from east to west (for those of you who know our deck). Now it faces the four chairs and I rather like that too, can get lots of people to visit there. . . And because it only leaves a 2-3 foot area to walk through to get from one part of the deck to the other, it slows the skateboard traffic WAY down. (Got 2 birds with one stone there!) So now it needs to be painted too. I think that I will paint it the same color green and then move the colored chairs around a little. T and G's chairs are up against the house-to protect them a little more from mother nature until fair time. G's is the orange color and T's is the red. HMMM, maybe this fall we need to make a cute little coffee table to fit there??

Right behind me and D's chairs is the orange honeysuckle climbing up the deck. I have secured it up the posts and hope it keeps on climbing up there--a little shade would be nice! Maybe someday we will even see a hummingbird there!

The weekend was busy--I had quite a busy weekend at work, but managed to make it to most of the 4th party we were invited to. We had a great smoked meal with lots of good sides and several of the kids that were in 4-H had made some of their entries for the fair to try out on everyone! T made some cookies to take that were a winner in our eyes. I will post the recipe next week with their fair stuff so you can all try it. It was a chocolate cookie with 1/2 marshmallow stuck on the top and baked again for a few minutes. Then you drizzled it with a fudgy frosting made with a little taste of mocha. They were unusual! G had already practiced his entries last week for a food fair he attended while T was at camp. We have been enjoying the 4th for the last 12 years with the same group so we have the schedule down! It always includes a firework display of our own. Some years we head towards the lake to watch the big fireworks from a side road--this year we just did our own. J is usually the "official" fire master (a job he inherited many years ago when we were hosting the party)--now we just expect him to do it. The kids are always right beside him, our kids and everybody elses, handing him fireworks and hoping for a chance he might let them light one! Every family usually throws some fireworks in the pile and we usually have enough to watch for 30-45 minutes (occassionally longer!) The 4th rates right up there with Christmas for me--I adore it! I was glad to see the fireworks, which were finished for about 10 minutes before I had to go to work! The kids were all dragging Sunday, but they slept in a little, and rested after church!

Yesterday the boys labeled their geology specimens. It wasn't hard, as we have a field guide from the trip that has all the info, and we had identified most of them that weekend. But my, oh my, did it take them ALL day! Fussing and fighting. . . ALL. . .DAY. . . LONG! Wow--I was ready to sell them, or even give them away! Now all they have to do is glue their speci's down and stick the computer label that I typed using the information they wrote down, and put them in the box! Hope to finish that tomorrow night. We have a big weekend again. A church fish fry Friday night, the wedding of some good friend's kids (whom we also love!) J's brother and his family from Houston will be trucking in Saturday evening too, they will be here for a week. T turns 13 on Monday (THIRTEEN?? Somebody slap me!) So we are doing a family birthday supper for him on Sunday night. All he wants is money. How simple is that!?! We're planning on homemade ice cream--it has sounded SO good! BTW, Mom, you are invited too--Just didn't expect you would want to make the LONG trip when you will see us in another week! Next week is the county fair around here--so lots of activities going on! Then we are on the downhill slide to a VACATION--I can hardly stand it! (I need one, I am getting grouchy AND cynical!) Temps upwards of 100 for the next several days. . . I LOVE SUMMER!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

July Blooms

Well, here it is July already! Before we know it, the kids will be back to school (too bad:-) Swimming lessons came to a close this week. Tristan will be back from church camp later today. And we are all fire-cracker-ed up for tomorrow. I finally got out to my garden to catch some of the blooms we are enjoying. Looks like a couple of my new shasta's are not going to make it--not sure if it was not enough water or bad location--but the ones that are blooming are fantastic! The two varieties here are Sante and Old court variety. The old court was my favorite in the catalog, and I am still loving it the best!

Aren't those wild petals cool??
We picked our first pepper this week. HA! I ususally don't get a single pepper until September, so I am thrilled! I started some sweet peppers in the basement. They were in a mix of colors, and the one we picked happened to be purple. G came to me earlier this week and said--Hey mom, are green peppers supposed to be purple?? I nearly flew to the garden to check it out. I have some jalepenos that will be ready soon, and am pleased to see that the hot lemon variety has got blooms and some very tiny fruits started. The flavor of that is supposed to be a mild smoky hot flavor. Sounded good for salsa!

The cucumbers are setting fruit and the tomato plants are loaded! We tried a bush watermelon seed which is a smaller vine with 6 pound fruits, it is just getting ready to flower. I had one regular watermelon seed come up among the second planting of cukes and I left it there--since the big boys mulched in the watermelon plants I had in the back of the garden. Come on, they were shown where they were, AND I put a tomato cage around it to remind them. They moved the cage and mulched it all. ARG!

The orange cosmo is a variety I tried last year. They reseeded themselves this year thickly, and are just starting to bloom now. You can easily see why I love that!! They look so delicate, but have no wind protection and stand up to that very well--and they were about 4 feet tall last year, a little shorter so far this year, but I haven't really watered them either.

I bought this grass a couple years ago. It is called Karly Rose. This clump has really done well, one clump died, and the other two are coming along. They add a nice effect to the border of the rocked area between our south and west porches.

Remember what that Russian garden looked like in April?

Here it now, the end of June. Big difference. I have been really impressed with it! The colors are going to be real eye candy!

The Russian sage (hence the name of the garden) seems to have tripled in size just over the last 2 weeks. It will reach about 4-5 feet tall at maturity. (that's the purple stuff)

The achillea (yarrow) in the background are called Coronation Gold. I wasn't so sure about the gold yarrow, but it is so vivid--I love it! The gaillardia is a variety called Arizona Sun. WOW! It has gotten huge and I don't think you will see any gapping between plants by the end of the summer. They will make good cut flowers. G has a great close up of a bloom that we will blow up for the fair. I will be sure to post their photos later.
This picture is of the Agastache or Hummingbird mint. The foreground mint is a bright pink called Rosita. My pictures aren't very good, will try to get some closer views in the future. The back two plants are called licorice mint. You can just barely see the buds on them as a light pink. They are more of a two toned salmon color. Very interesting flowers, like none that I had ever seen before. The little yellow flowers to the left are the sundancer daisies. They are OK, wouldn't have them by themselves, but I think they will lend nicely to the overall view.
The caryopteris (blue mist spirea) just started blooming yesterday. My daylilies are starting to bloom as well. They were new last year, so only had a bloom or two--don't even remember what colors they are-there are lots of buds though. The hollyhocks are gorgeous. They had really seeded themselves this year--and I was sure I was going to need to pull a bunch of them out. But I find myself really enjoying the effect, so I guess I will be leaving them! I have started watering the grass this week. Welcome summer! Hope everyone has a safe and happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Sidewalk is Complete!

They put our sidewalks in the day we left for our geology trip a few weeks ago. I am just now finding time to blog about it! We are absolutely loving them! They are much easier to walk on than the little pea gravel stuff we had down.
There are some red-twigged dogwoods along the border of the driveway, and I put some new ones in this spring, with some goldenrod plants--they are all still living! There is also a multi-stemmed redbud bush? I got it from the lawn and garden show about 3 years ago. It was pruned by Dev last summer, but is looking good this season. Was all set to bloom right before the blizzard. Bummer! The fork to the left goes straight into my garage

The guys got my curves (or the curves of my sidewalk, to be a little more specific!) EXACTLY the way I had envisioned them in my mind. . .and I had been so discouraged with my outline of the borders I made with my garden hose.

The fork to the right follows the "dog run" path that Jeremy had made walking out to his shop!! The path that used to go straight out the door to the driveway is gone. We will have to look at the brown earth all summer, but I can see beautiful green grass there come fall, or maybe some flowering shrubs, or maybe a bed of ornamental grasses, or perennials. . . the possibilities are endless! But I have to several months to mull them ALL over in my little curled head and make up my mind!

But this is what is all about, right?? We FINALLY got to use the sidewalk chalk the Easter bunny brought! J had a brainstorm idea to completely seal his huge concrete shop floor with that industrial gray paint with the little flaky things in it. Something about better maintance, easier for him, good investment...blah! NOT good for sidewalk chalk. The Easter bunny neglected to recall that little detail when she left the chalk. ERRR!

So we have been patiently waiting!

And waiting!!

And waiting!!!!

What's this???

Someone call CSI!!!
I think it may have been the Easter Bunny!