Monday, May 31, 2010

Inspiration Point

Inspiration can strike in the strangest of ways, at the strangest of times!! For instance, on my walk this morning. It started out routine enough. But on my second to last lap, this junkyard haven caught my attention. And by the time I was on my last lap, I had a plan formulated in my curled head! This was the scene that inspired my latest project. Do you see it??
THE inspiration?? Look a little closer. . .

That antiquated slipper slide!?!
I've passed it a million times on my walks around our property over the last 12 years. I've looked at it half a million times, thinking it was such a cute old thing. But this morning, it caught me off guard!! The story starts a little like this. I brought home a couple (OK, 3) of honeysuckle plants two years ago from a clearance sale (you know, if it's on sale, we should buy 2, at least!). I planted them and they insist on growing (which was the original plan). However, I have been perplexed as to what to use to trellis them. I have thought and thought. I have drawn Jeremy picture after picture, trying to design EXACTLY what I need. He wanted plastic trellis leftover from our deck--I wanted cedar posts from the pasture. Finally, last weekend we compromised on pine 2 X 4's that he had leftover from some project. I scratched out a couple designs on some cardboard box in his shop, and we came to a conclusion. We were all but ready to put something together, when a customer showed up and then the moon came up.
Why did that happen?? Because today I was hit with a blessed idea from above.
I ran the idea across J, who was finishing with his race car repair. His reply was "fantastic" (maybe a little sarcastic--but I didn't listen well enough to discern that--I was excited!)
Grant and I got the tractor and J helped us pick the old slipper slide up--it was staked down to survive a tornado!
I told you!! That thing was clamped to a post and staked into the ground 2 1/2 feet!

We hauled it to the shop, where Grant got his first lesson in torch cutting and welding. (so tonight he told me he plans on being a welder when he grows up--but that's another story!)
Quick check on how these two were doing with dessert (not too well, the child refuses to read, so the marble brownies actually turned out all one color, since all the ingredients went in at the same time--you can lead a horse to water, right??)

Then back to the project, Grant had hauled the slide out to my south garden, right next to the driveway.
Look at that ancient wood step and the old green paint!!
I'm still so excited about this that I'm beside myself--take a deep smell of that yummy little blossom!! A little jute twine to hold everything up. . .And. . .
I think it worked out perfectly!!
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
He's pretty amazing like that!!
And to think, He was interested in some silly little thing like a trellis??
Hope you can find some time today to count ALL your blessings. .big and little!!
It does a heart good!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rest, Relaxation, and Racing

We had a great day yesterday in Great Bend for the drag races. The last time that I actually went was 3-4 years ago. It felt like 110 degrees, with straight line winds blowing you all day. There wasn't a bit of shade. And I had 3 small children running amuck everywhere. We were hot, dirty, and bored. Hmmm. But, I didn't have a lot of things needing to be done here, and D was really wanting to go, but both the older boys had other plans. So I signed us up. I was pleasantly surprised at how things went. Since the last time that I went, J invested in an enclosed racing trailer. In that includes a small air conditioner, a sleeping bunk big enough for a queen size mattress, electical outlets, and a microwave.
So we cooked our own lunch when we got there. The two little guys layed in the bunk after lunch and watched Nemo. Getting Cami to nap was a little difficult with all the loud motors roaring by outside and the novelty of being in a new place. But she was able to sleep for about an hour. J had brought his shop laptop with us and I spent that quiet time working on a powerpoint on bird ID'ing for our 4-H day camp coming up in a few weeks. D rode his bike all over, watching everything. Cami found it entertaining to chase after him when he was riding in circles, just giggling all the way.

We lounged around

D helped C learn to ride her trike, but she still found it easier to push it than ride it for very long!Grilled hot dogs for supper on the little propane griddle.

J enjoyed catching up with his buddies who had saved him a camping spot by setting a gas can in the middle of it?! HA! He came and checked in on us frequently. After it cooled off a little, we enjoyed the great outdoors and the smell of burning rubber and grape smelling alcohol fuel. The guys each get 3-4 timed trials in the afternoon and then the actual race starts around 6 or 7 in the evening. J was pleased with how his car ran. He was even more excited to take 3rd place and bring home a check!! Though he was disappointed because his car actually broke right after that last race started, which he states, is why he lost! He has been working on that this afternoon and is finishing it up as we speak. Actually, the rear bumper broke loose, so he may be lucky that he didn't have a wipe out!

The kids finally gave it up around 10:30, and we didn't head for home till after 12:30 this morning. We were whipped, so I worked really hard to stay awake too! Pulled into the yard around 2:20 am, and decided that we are getting much too old to play with the big kids!! We weren't sure that we were going to be able to stay awake through church this morning, but we made it--and C was even pretty well behaved--one never knows how that will go if she is short on sleep!

The resting pace was great. I found it refreshing to catch up on a magazine and enjoy the kids without being reminded of all the laundry that needs done, or things that need to be cleaned that I would have found to do at home. The only thing that I found that needed to be cleaned were these :-) and a wet wipe or 5 took care of that pretty easily!

After some naps and that homemade Butter Pecan ice cream this afternoon, all is well again here!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Journey In Nature

What a fantastic week of nature we have had around these parts!! The mornings are divine, the days bordering on hot, and the evenings are still and temperate. I have enjoyed being able to be outside for my workouts now. It is light enough at 6 a.m. to see good, and I have loved the heavy air and beautiful sunrises. That being said--I HATE getting out of bed in the mornings, but I love it once I argue myself there 3-4 days each week!

School ended for the kids on Tuesday, and so we spent the majority of the day outside watching the play day games and races. We always enjoy the picnic lunches that we take along. We ended up with 3 extra kids that afternoon. They had a blast, exploring outside, shooting guns with Jeremy, riding go-karts, and playing on the zip line and trampoline. I know they all slept well that night!! And I did too, after all that cookin'! The big boys have a summer job of mowing the yard down the road for an out of state hunter. They went over and worked on his yard Wednesday and are dreaming big dreams about how to spend all that money. . .right after they split it out to God and the bank. The possibilities are endless!! Thursday we took the boat out to the lake in the afternoon. I know, I know you are all wondering if anyone around here works!! I assure you, we do!! I don't think we have ever had the boat to the lake in May. .EVER. We're usually lucky to be there by August. The boys can all wakeboard--even Devin. And Miss Cami loved the water as much as the rest of them--she wanted her dad to dip her in, but not TOO far. . .you know, just enough :-) We certainly won't go close to our lake this weekend. It will be packed with wild little jet ski drivers and lots of boats too. Seems there is not enough room there for everyone!! The boys are already wanting to know when we are going again!!
sea of larkspur
That night we enjoyed the beautiful weather and walked door to door gathering food for the county food bank. The kids had a great time, and the donors were very generous--we collected a ton of food!! Topping that off, was an ice cream sundae party at the park afterwards. I am looking forward to making some homemade ice cream this weekend too. It just sounds GOOD!! (and whipping cream and half and half were on sale at the grocery store!!)
butterfly weed, asclepsia
We have eaten swiss chard from the garden this week. The okra seedlings are looking like they will survive. The tomatos and pepper plants are great. I had 5 corn seeds sprout, so looks as if I may try to throw a few more seeds in the ground next week--I used last years leftover seeds--wonder if that contributed to their overall failure?! The sea of larkspur in my south garden is striking. I love them because they re-seed themselves readily!! The butterfly weed is ready to pop open. The butterflies are busy in the yard (if you look close you will see a tiny butterfly lunching on the open butterfly weed blooms) Mom got me a butterfly ID book for Christmas. Those little devils are, so far, difficult for me to identify!! They move quickly and aside from a monarch, I know what none of them are!!

This fragrant honeysuckle, along with the red variety are in full bloom. I tell you, it is one my favorite scents!! I was doing laundry late one evening and was intoxicated by the scent coming in through the open window! There's just nothing like it at all!! This one is on the north side of the house, next to the bathroom window on the big porch. I also have one in the west front flower bed and another one blooming on the south side of the house, in front of the kitchen window. It was bought at half price somewhere and hasn't done much so far! But it is looking good now. We need to fix some trellises for a couple of them, before they get so big that it will be too hard!! So, hopefully in a few years, the scent will be everywhere you go during its bloom time!! I am trying to plant a few more things with scents (mostly lavender this year) to capture all senses when people wander through my gardens!

I have moved the houseplants outside. Also got my pumpkin seedlings planted and mulched in a couple nights ago. I am waiting on the clearance sales this next week to see what kind of bargains I can find (I have gotten some of my best plants on clearance!!)

The big boys both have plans for today, so I decided that D and C and I will go with Jeremy to the races today. I haven't been since before Cami was born. He is always talking about people he meets up there, and I am excited to meet them. D will feel big because he can be in charge of looking out for Cami and I since he has been there several times and we haven't.

I am looking forward to finishing this cup of coffee on my deck right now (I would have been there already, had my internet server crashed last night and not saved the rest of my post. . grrr), lounging on the deck with the kids in the evenings and eating some homemade ice cream later this weekend!! But for now it's "off to the races" for us!! Happy Memorial Day to everyone!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sights From San Diego

I have never been to San Diego before. I am also very geo- graph- ically chal- lenged, so I wasn't even sure where it was until a few weeks ago when I showed the kids on the map. The trip there was gratefully uneventful. Aside from leaving at 4:30 in the morning and driving in the rain for two hours before having to drag my luggage through the ocean in the airport parking lot in sandals, I had no troubles checking in or finding planes. I took some pictures out of the plane to show the kids when I got home (can you say T-O-U-R-I-S-T??) I am always just amazed by the sights from the plane windows. We flew over the beautiful Rocky Mountains, as well as desert lands and canyons. San Diego had the most bizarre topography and vegetation that I have seen with my own eyes! But I sure fell in love with it while there!

When I arrived safely in my hotel I texted my friends and family to let them know, stating that I was sure we were not in Kansas anymore. Then I called Jeremy telling him that I couldn't believe that he let me go by myself to a place this big where I didn't know a SOUL!! He laughed and I regained control quickly! Sometime my naive-ness gets the best of my rational self! This was one of them!!
Actually, one of my dearest friends from high school lives there, and came up to meet me a couple of nights. She had me on her calender for the next week, so I was doubly glad that she made the effort to come and get me the first night. We went to the ocean and ate at a nice little restaurant right on the water. We could hear the ocean waves as we ate (the biggest sea scallops I have ever seen, and fresh calamari fixed in a sweet, chile sauce that makes my mouth water just thinking about it), and watched the surfers try to get upright on their boards. We also walked along the beach after dinner and found some seashells for me to wash up and bring home to the kids.
We haven't changed a bit in 19 years have we?? :-)

The conferences were GREAT!! I learned a ton of updated information and lots of new guidelines, tips, and techniques to add to my practice. The entire content was focused on caring for women over age 40 (sorry Mike, I know that counts you out--but we did have a lecture on skin cancers--which was a great refresher--so just in case :-0) I now need to spend some focused time going back over notes and calling several patients for whom I found new ideas for their treatment plans.

Not only were the classes full of great speakers with great content and ideas, but it is SO exciting to be able to network with people who do the same thing I do; to find out how they practice and learn from their complex encounters, while sharing my own experiences!! Friday night the conference coordinators had set up an open air trolley tour of San Diego. It was just awesome!! For two hours we trolled (is that a word?) around getting great views and fun facts. It was a little difficult to take good pictures because the trolley didn't necessarily stop to see the cool stuff, he just talked about it on the way by. So many of my photos were snapped with my hand stuck out the bus! I was particularly impressed with the plantings (no surprise there) and thanks to Paul James and his gardening shows, I even knew what some of them were (and that WAS surprising!) The orange flower is a bird of paradise. I've seen them in lots of tropical plant catalogs, but have never been terribly impressed by them. . .until now!! They were EVERYWHERE!! And they were absolutely striking! I was telling Nicki how entralled by them I was when she came to get me Saturday night (because I had just walked up and snapped some pictures of them). She advised me that they were everywhere in the front of her house. . so many that they have been talking about removing them!! She offered to send me some; an offer I couldn't refuse!! I sure hope she does send me a root one of these days!
Check out these very cool naked trees (umm, that's what the driver told us their names were, not naked trees, but Naked trees). There were lots of these around the city. Their trunks were very intriguing, all twisted up like that!

There are over 100 types of palm trees there (says the trolley master). And some very cool types to boot. That was the main type of planting I saw.

There were also tons of succulent gardens. Instead of grass on the hills down from the overpasses and around the freeways, there seemed to grow some type of succulent that reminded me of hardy ice plant here. Never could get close enough to see it well!

Paul James grows agave in pots at his Oklahoma home, which never really thrilled me either. They are great, huge succulents that resemble what most of us know as aloe vera. The ones I saw were quite magnificent! Hmmmm. These Jacaranda trees caught my eyes even as we were landing in the airplane. The man sitting next to me on the plane told me what they were, and I promptly forgot until I saw them from the trolley again. They seem to be much like our flowering red bud trees--many yards contain them and they are a spectacular site! After the tour, we were dropped off in downtown San Diego for supper and shopping. We had some pretty authentic Mexican food which was fantastic!

Saturday evening, Nicki and her two daughters came after me again and we hauled some pizza to the beach. Tessa played in the water, running from the huge waves. We watched a beautiful sunset across the Pacific as well! The beach is a tremedous and stunning wonder!! As Nicki put it, "even though I see the ocean often, I just forget about how mighty it is to see it in person." All wonderful things aside, I FROZE my hoo-hoo off while there. The highs were in the high 50's to mid 60's while I was there (which I knew before going), but it just seemed so chilly there, even with a jacket. I told the shuttle driver Sunday morning that I was sure glad to be getting back to Kansas where the high that day was slated to be in the high 80's!! He just chuckled. Here's the souvenier I got for myself. . right out of Lowes in Wichita, Kansas!! I had looked at that small palm tree months ago while cruising Lowes and found myself sure hoping that there would still be one left when I returned from my trip!! As I admired the many different palm trees on our tour, I decided that the perfect thing to get myself would be some palms that I could grow in pots and bring in during the winter!! GENIUS!

Overall, my trip was a lot of fun and certainly memorable. I took away lots of knowledge and experiences to continue building myself both as a practitioner and as a person. The most important, life-changing thing I learned while there you ask?? Never, ever, EVER gulp a mountain dew with a late supper (just because you NEVER get to drink them at home, EVEN THOUGH your dear friend orders one, AND you think it sounds yummy) and expect that you will be able to sleep when you are done. . .even if you CLEARLY know that you must get up at 3:45 A. M. to catch your flight home. . .zzzzzzzzzzz

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Did You Miss Me?

My first thought when I walked out of San Diego airport and looked around was "Tot0, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!!" It was totally like being in a different world. The city is beautiful. The conference was better than fabulous. The experience was surreal. But this morning I found myself clicking my ruby red slippers and saying "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home." Poof--here I am!! Very weary and short on sleep. Hope to get some pictures and stories online soon--just wanted to let everyone know that I am home--safe and sound--and my family was glad to see me (although, everyone has grown an inch)--and my house was still standing, and looking no worse for the wear! Thanks everyone for your prayers of safe keeping!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name

The roses have been especially beautiful the last couple weeks. I strolled out a few mornings ago to capture some photos, and decided that I had a few more roses than I realized, though still probably way fewer than other people!! Thought that I would share them!! The rose above is called Tropicana, and was given to me by my mother in law a few years ago. It is an incredible bright reddish orange hue that lightens to tangerine when opened. Not much smell, but it's bright color TOTALLY makes up for it!!
This lavender beauty has the most wonderful scent ever!! Not like a rose, but something a little indescribable! It was living (existing, rather) in the raised bed next to my backdoor. It didn't really thrive there, so last fall, I dug it up and planted it next to my inferno strip garden right out the back door, next to the new sidewalk. It already has had more blooms on it in the last 2 weeks than it has had in the last 5 years! I guess it likes it! The miniature rose bushes are starting to bloom. This one is loaded!! And the other mini rose bush is beginning to bloom. It is probably 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall now and about that wide. Gorgeous blooms right outside of my kitchen window!
A bridal pink rose that my mother gave to me on one of my first mother's days After we moved to this place. It was also transplanted once to go next to our deck on the west side of the house. These double knock out roses are in FULL bloom and are astonishing!! What a brilliant punch of color that everyone notices the minute they drive into our lane. Right now they contrast the multitudes of peach irises, the dwarf blue spruce, the pink mini-rose and the light pink peonies. (oh yeah, and the weeds and bermuda grass trying to find a home!)
I have both the double knock out and the single knock out roses, and definitely prefer the doubles. Their blooms look more like the hybrid blooms, which I just think are prettier. This hot pink bloom is a double knock out close up.
I have one yellow rose-not sure what variety--but it has a little peach tinge to the outer petal when it opens up fully. It may be a Chicago Peace, but I wouldn't swear to it. It holds up great in a vase and has provided me with many joyful blooms!!This morning's drive to Oklahoma was a beautiful one. The rains and heavy mist were persistent all the way, but I loved every minute of it. We are sure needing rain in our parts, and the next two days look promising! That being said, I am heading out of Wichita in the morning for San Diego. I will be attending a women's health conference there until Sunday. So I am SURE hoping not to be delayed because of weather. My bags are nearly packed, the laundry is done, and life is lined out for the rest of the crew. I am a little nervous, because I have never left J home alone with this many kids for this long of time period. Please keep us ALL in your prayers this week!!
I hope to be able to take J's laptop with me for evening entertainment (I am geographically challenged, so won't be going out much for sightseeing, lest I become lost and never make it home!) But even if I take it with me, there's still a good chance that I won't ever be able to figure out how to hook it to the net (I'm also a computer RETARD!) Wishing eveyone a great week!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Zip Line Overhaul

I grew up the oldest of four children. I have one younger sister and 2 brothers. I was used to the estrogenic components of having to get along with another girl, but I haven't much recollection of dealing with the testosterone of those brothers. Apparently, I either stifled them or I ignored them. The boys were 4 years and 7 years younger than I. We made them play house and church. My sister and I tag teamed them and tied their tube socks together. And they danced with us to Perry Como's rendition of "the twelve days of Christmas" while making peppernuts every year. But I don't recall doing any "boy" kind of games.
Needless to say, all this testosterone at my house has been a learning experience. I have had people call me to ask if I knew that my children (the boys of course) were out on my roof (yes, the one on my house--to which they easily access by climbing out the upstairs windows--any of them). I have had people mention that, while they were driving by, they noticed the boys jumping out of the tree tops onto their trampoline. They race their go-karts as fast as they can. They can often be witnessed stalking rabbits with their BB guns. Boys, all the way around!
Their dad, truly, isn't any better. He shows them how to blow up nasty zucchini from the neighbors with black cat fire crackers. He races cars and shooting predators is a sport. He tried to tune up the go kart he was assigned at the playground on our honeymoon, for heaven's sake--and proceeded to race an 8 year old that didn't even know they were racing!!
So I shouldn't have been a bit surprised the weekend a few years ago that they (THEY???)decided they needed a zip line. A zip line, you ask?? A zip line is a wire strung between 2 trees, approximately 8-10 feet off the earth. Attached to the wire is a bicycle handle balanced on the wire by a bicycle wheel.
You climb the tree, grab onto the handles and jump. Yes, jump--out of the tree--holding on to an upside down unicycle! Sound like fun? They certainly think so. . .and all the kids who come to the 4th of July party!! It's been a total hit for any child weighing less than about 210 pounds that appears at our home!
Somehow, the zip line became disengaged from it's tree a few weeks ago. And that became a project for the afternoon!! The big wheel got replaced by a smaller wheel, that will hopefully stay on the cable better after they "dismantel" from the handles, or fall off, whichever may occur first. This has been the object of much critique and complaining since the original line went up several years ago. If you didn't get off slowly (SLOWLY??), the wheel flipped to the side of the wire, and it was hard for the kids to get it back on the track from 8 feet under!

So, the line is again, fully operational. See what you missed by going home early Grandma??? They would have let you try it!!