Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rock Haulers Anonymous

Hi. .my name is Melanie. . and I am addicted to limestone!
I wish I could say that I was recovering. . but I'm afraid that day will never come!
Around here, we have a strange notion of entertainment.  On the one day off from the craziness of this June, Grant and I found ourselves overhauling the north side of the deck while C slept and the other two boys worked on 4-H projects.
Now, you can see for yourselves how absolutely horrible it was. (this was BEFORE any work was done by G and I)  The plastic lattice that was supposed to live a lifetime, has been crumbling away slowly. This last huge hunk falling to the ground, got my brain to rolling. 
YIKES!!  What a disaster!!
We took the pickup to mom and dad's last weekend, and I lifted these monsters from the ground UP onto that pickup bed, while my 14 year old gave directions (to the tune of "You said only 10, that's like 12" and "Are you about done yet?" and  "I CAN'T lift that" to finally "MOOOOOOMMMMM, that's enough already, the pickup won't move").  I have long ago decided that I may someday be confined to a wheel chair secondary to arthritis from overuse. .but by golly, I will AT LEAST have something decent and lovely to look at!!  So the loading of the rocks, to me, is a work-out. .not WORK.
However, I won't lie to you--Grant was snapping these pictures. .and I had to laugh out loud when I got to this one--seriously, in the picture above, I was standing in 98 degree heat at 3 in the afternoon, by myself thinking. . ."whose STUPID idea was this anyway???  But being the type A OCD gal that I am, I pushed on to the grueling end! 
I unloaded rock and formed the raised planter.  Grant and Dev hauled in fill dirt, Tristan played with Cami when she woke up, and
J finally showed up with his saw to work on the steps.  I was pretty proud of myself, because, not only had I gotten this WHOLE load of rock myself, I also shopped in Lowes like a big girl--and gathered supplies for the steps and railing ALL BY MYSELF!! We hadn't even talked about it yet--I must be growing up!  The only thing I didn't get was the actual wood for the steps (because that's where I got confused), which he picked up today.  But the best fun of the whole weekend, was the part where we stopped at my aunt and uncles' to wander their gardens and say hello.  I was asking them the location of Hongs nursery in Wichita (primarily because they were open late enough Sat, that there was a little hope that I could get a spruce of some sort to put in the planter.)  My aunt came back out with a sale card for Harvest Greenhouse in Newton.  The sale started 30 minutes after she handed me the card, and she called ahead and they advised her that they had several different types of blue spruces.  JACKPOT!! Their shrubs and perennials were 51% off.  HEE HAW!! It was a fabulous place with beautiful stuff. .and I came out with a little more than I intended, but it worked fabulously!!  The spruce (which I adore) is a dwarf blue globe spruce.  It will get 3-5 feet tall and about 5 feet wide--perfect for the spot.  They also had a couple other varieties of smaller blue spruce trees that will someday HAVE to find a way to my yard!
And check this out!! A rudbeckia called Cherry Brandy.  I have only tasted cherry brandy once in a jello shot at our family Christmas (don't all families have jello shots for Christmas dinner???)  But if it tasted as yummy as this plant looks, I'd drink it often.  I have NEVER seen such a vibrant chocolate/red velvety bloom such as this.  WOW--I hope it lives--I bought two. .just in case (always planning ahead!)
And these--Denver daisies (gloriosa daisy)  The picture truly doesn't even do them justice.  I got a couple of 6 packs of those and placed them in several different beds.  This one is up against that globe spruce.  By the time the spruce gets big enough, I will be able to transplant these beauties somewhere else, maybe to Becky's yard.  I also picked up 3 new coneflowers--Tomato soup, Meriengue, and Sunrise, and some creeping Jenny.  Grant helped me transplant some of my sedums into some of the holes in the rock.  And Voila. . 
A new Sweet Spot!!
J will finish the steps this week.  Grant's new table will replace the octagon one after the fair--and I will post a complete finished picture then--hope the flowers are still alive!!

Today was my last day in the health department in Oklahoma--next week I will start in a different county, one clinic each week.  The big boys were deposited at church camp yesterday.  I thought Grant was going to do ok this time (We had to go get him on day 2, two years ago--and didn't make him go back last year, I made him go this year), however, his good friend was so homesick that his parents already picked him up last night.  Grant called sobbing right after that.  HOWEVER, it is after 10 right now, and I haven't heard from him yet.  God is teaching me the meaning of "fervent prayer"--as I have prayed more for this situation over the last two days than I have prayed for any other outcome thus far in my life.  I sure hope that the hand of God is with him right now.  Tomorrow, might be another story--as I told him he could call me again Wednesday if he just COULDN'T stand it--and we'd talk! Homesickness is such a heartbreaking affliction!! We look forward to picking them up Friday and heading into one of my favorite holidays. . July 4!!
We'll be busy cooking and putting finishing touches on projects for the upcoming fair!
Where has the summer gone???

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Russian Garden 2010

We had a super busy weekend!! The kids (yes, all of them) and I took the 3 hour trek to the folks to pick up Tristan and wish my mom a happy birthday!  (J skated and went to Great Bend to the races) We did some shopping, visiting, playing with cousins, swimming, some more shopping, a little more visiting of relatives, some garden wandering, and yes. .I confess. .I picked up some more rocks.  J is pretty excited by the different pickup we purchased months ago--it is a diesel, with an automatic tranny--that his wife can drive--and he no longer has to be involved in all of the rock hunts!!  I needed enough rock to build a raised bed.  The north side of our deck and flower bed has been in dire need of a makeover--which we took care of this afternoon.  I don't have all the pictures uploaded yet--but you won't want to miss it!!  I am all sorts of sore, but very pleased with the outcome.  In the meantime, I had some shots of the Russian garden taken from a week or so ago--and wanted you to see how it had changed in a year's time.
You might recall that the garden started out looking a little like this. . .LITTLE!
By the end of June last summer, the plants were growing well.  This was a pre-planned garden from High Country Gardens.  It was named Russian garden because it's feature plant is Russian sage--a plant that gets about 5 feet tall with blue spires of flowers on it.  It also contains Coronation Gold yarrow, which was stunning this year.  The flower heads are turning a deep golden brown as they dry--and I decided tonight that it may be time to deadhead the plants--there are some new blooms opening too, and I think it should continue to flower some throughout the summer, at least it seemed to last year.
The garden has Arizona Sun gaillardia plants, which were prettier last year than they have been so far this season, but most of them lived and I am feeding them a little more water, thinking they are just a little thirsty yet.  This is a water-wise xeric garden--meaning, once established, it won't need much more water than the meager amount it may get from western Kansas water patterns!!  And that means less work for your's truly!
The little yellow bloomers are hymenoxys (or thrift leaf perky sue).  There are also some very small red Texas yucca, and two types of agastache (which I had never even heard of, but I am loving them!) They have a yummy minty smell when you brush the leaves.  The flowers are all along the stalks and very dainty and tubular--a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies.
Here's that lovely little garden a week ago during one of the many BEAUTIFUL Kansas sunsets that we have enjoyed over the last couple weeks!
Amazing what can happen in just one little 'ole year??
Have a bright and beautiful week!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's Bloomin' Around Here

The gardens are just a total gift from heaven right now.  Many, many things are in bloom and bring me joy daily!  The Swiss chard "Bright Lights" was a new veggie tried this year.  Might you believe that we haven't even TRIED eating chard until now??  I just grew it because it was beautiful.  Isn't it?? There are red, yellow, orange, and white stalks--all topped by HUGE green leaves that resemble spinach or beet tops.  We have tried eating them several different ways--but have found that we really like them plain, as a salad.  It tastes much like fresh spinach; and J prefers to top his with Feta cheese and a little olive oil and vinegar.  We just harvest the outer leaves, leaving the inner ones to mature.  I read that you may repeat this cycle all summer.  If it gets bitter with the heat, they suggest just pruning off the edge leaves throughout the summer until the weather cools again.  It was worth it's $2 price tag a hundred times over.  I also like it on a sandwich for roughage! It has a huge stalk, much like celery--the first recipe I tried called for sauteing the stalk, which was just OK, but I wonder if there is some other way that people eat that--it seems wasteful to chunk it all out--but the compost pile likes it! Sounds like this will be a plant sown in the greenhouse for winter consumption!!

The tomatos are growing well, though it will be weeks yet before we eat them.  Surprisingly, the pumpkin patch has survived thus far, and looks promising for something fun in the fall!  Fingers crossed and prayers up!  I am TOTALLY going to turn Jeremy into a gardener yet!! He has actually been the one to monitor the watering of the veggies, and I am just lettin' him!!  Soon we should have several pepper varieties, tomatoes, onions, okra, cucumbers, and watermelon.  The corn is PATHETIC, but we have a few stalks.  The chard will continue, and the strawberry plants have lived--most of 'em anyway, as have the rhubarb plants given to me by a friend who LOVES my rhubarb pie!
So, on to a quick tour of my favorites. .the pretty stuff!! My butterfly weed, all started by seed last year, with some scrawny ones started by seed this year-survived the winter and were spectacular--I expect next summer's show to be even better! I first discovered this in Indianapolis. My mom and I were wandering through some public garden area while I was conferencing a few years ago.  It caught my eye. .but I had no idea it grew in Kansas until I spotted some on our geology trip 3 years ago.  I love the vibrant orange!! And so do the butterflies.  It was especially striking in contrast to the purple larkspur self-seeding behind it.
This was my first day lily to bloom.  No idea now what variety it is--but it came in some collection that I bought (have you guessed that I am a sucker for "collections?") This was taken last week, and since then, several other varieties have bloomed, but none quite as vividly colored as this!  My neighbor has some different kinds of daylilies that we are planning on swapping around this fall!
The white lily came from Brecks.  It is a lily tree.  I had never heard of such a plant--but they looked cool.  It came as part of a. . .collection!  They are to get 8 feet tall (probably in some place where rain isn't an issue) and be just LOADED with blooms.  The three of the 5 bulbs that have bloomed are magnificent--better than I imagined.  I do have them labeled, so I will know which is which.  I was thinking about doing some photo logging in a journal to remember!  The first of the cosmos are starting to bloom as well.  One of my favorite plants!  They were all self-seeded this year. Hee-haw!! No fuss!
This is a new-to-me coneflower "Rubinstern" from High Country Gardens.  I got a free one with my purchase last fall, and I ordered an extra. . .just because!  I'm in LOVE with the richness of the color! And it's tall--which I like--lots of stem--just right for a bouquet.
And to complete today's flowering tour, my hollyhocks.  I planted one--years ago--go figure how I ended up with all these colors!!  They are on the north side of my house, in the garden that desperately needs worked on!!  They will never go away completely--if I decide they have to go from here, I hope to replant some of them along the tree row, visible from the kitchen window!
But for now, they are old fashioned, space fillers, and just downright heart-warming to me!
So, enough for right now!! Hoping everyone has a warmish, summer weekend--don't forget your sunscreen!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bittersweet Moments!

I had the notion that my post tonight would show some of the beautiful blooms in my garden right now!  However, I have had a hard blow of reality this week that I feel I must get off my chest!  It started out with this. . .
THAT. . .is my baby!! He will be 14 in a couple of weeks. 
THIS. . .is his first "real"job, where he has had to work for someone other than us
Even though it is just my dad!
He has been at my folk's helping with harvest since last Thursday.  He is helping to haul hay and has been driving the grain cart (and single-handedly emptying out Grandma's refrigerator--brings back memories, eh??).  He told me last Friday night "Mom, you would be proud of me if you saw me. .I have to drive along side the combine and they don't even STOP when they unload the grain."  Gulp, gulp, SNIFF!
When I talked to Grandma this morning, our conversation went a little like this:
"Has he broke anything yet?"   "Nope"
"Has he pissed anybody off yet??"   "Nope"
"Ok good, I'll just send you child support."    "Uh, nope!"
Dev sure misses him!!  And Grant thinks he should stay another week or maybe a month.  Cami is just indifferent!  We'll go pick him up this weekend, and hang with the cousins for a couple days--I'm sure he will be anxious to go to the pool as I imagine all this work hasn't been good for checkin' out chicks!!  At least any chicks that he isn't related to!

So with T out of the house, the other two have been doing lots of 4-H work in preparation of the fair.
Dev and I worked on his geology display Saturday--the quietest geology work EVER!! (helps that it was just him and I).  Here he is looking all grown up (with his wristwatch--not sure where he got it, and haven't seen it on since, and shades aka: goggles-so we can be safe :-)) chipping off a piece of hematite for his box (a mineral, for all those non-geolgist people wonderin' "what-up?")
Grant and his dad started, and completed his woodworking project last weekend (to be aired in a future post!)  Our idea was that he would build a couple small side tables for the chair sets on my decks.  However, while eating supper al fresca a couple weeks ago we came up with another idea (or as J would put it--what's this WE crap).  The lattice on the north side of our deck is falling off, and the flower bed there is HORRIFIC!  We have been discussing how to remedy the problems.  Our patio set has a large hexagon table and 6 chairs.  It takes up the whole end of the deck and no one could get through to the other side if they wanted to. .say go down a new set of stairs hooking the deck on to the back gardens.  Hmmmm. .At that moment, the light bulb flashed on, and Grant had a new 4-H project. . .a long dining table.  He was pumped about it.  We chose cedar, just to have something different. .and because he didn't want to paint--he wanted to stain something.  So they planned in their heads how to build, and then built, an 8 foot long cedar dining table and one bench to go with it (we will recycle my chairs to use on one side as well).  And, as any proud mama might say "It ROCKS!!" Can't wait to show it off!  He really seems to like working with wood, and that is exciting to me!  But, alas, more evidence of growing children, sigh.
Sunday, Grant made this poppy seed all by his lonesome little self, while Dev helped me make a jello salad for a church friend who broke her leg last week.  I really need them to learn the value of giving of their personal selves and their personal time to reach out to help others--and I am trying hard to help them find those opportunites in life--yes, the kitchen would have been much cleaner and quieter, and the job done much faster had I done it myself--but I would have robbed them of an incredible experience in the meantime!
But this, THIS was the last straw this week. . .when I got home from work today, Grant had tried one of the recipes flagged by me as fair entry possibilities.  He even staged and took the pictures (for this blog, no doubt!) Pass the kleenex please. . .For the last 14 years, I have been waiting--even begging at times to hurry up and move out of my life in the ant den, and into a life where my kids were more self-sufficient and not so much work, trouble, hassle, irritating--you know--all those bad things that lots of children will make you feel at times.  But the closer that I get to that stage in life, the more anxious I become.  I'm NOT old enough for this!!  I'm NOT ready for this (today).  They grow; that is what they were designed to do, and that is what they do, like it or not!  So it has come to be, and so it IS!! We continue our toils day after day because we are called to!!  Here is the verse that brought me comfort tonight!! 
                                                             Ecclesiastes 3: 1-14
 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,  a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,  a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.  What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

And yes, it IS a blessing that they grow and fly!

Uh, gardening pictures in a few days :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Crazy Daizies

One of my favorite flowers is the daisy--hands down.  Last spring, I found a daisy collection in Roots and Rhizomes and I knew that I had to have it!! My favorite kind of shasta daisy are the funky petaled ones!!  This collection specialized in them!! Two varieties didn't make it, but my favorite varieties did!!  They are all in full bloom now and I am loving them.  This variety is Sante. It ended up in a great location, as the pink hollyhock is blooming behind it, and the Karly Rose grass is blooming next to it!  There is also a pink achillea (yarrow) and a little mugo pine, backgrounded by some variegated tall grass in view.  It is a spot in my garden that finally looks finished, lots going on, and few bare spaces.
Close up of Sante
This shasta is "Aglaia."  It has pure white petals with fringed tips like shaved coconut. Very pretty!
Below is the oldest daisy I have.  This is a shorter variety--only about 12-18 inches tall.  I think the name was "Becky." 
This taller version I found on clearance a few years ago.  Variety Marconi.  There are a couple clumps in my front flower bed.  I like it best because it is so tall.  I divided the clump and moved some to my new flower bed when I was flower shopping through my yard--they are getting ready to bloom too, so it must not have shocked them too much!  This one is peeking out around the bottom of the new "old" slipper slide we put in.
And, so far, my favorite variety is Old Court.  It has the craziest petals.  It looks great in a vase with lavender blooms too.  The plants are looking quite healthy, and should be ready for me to take small clumps out of them to move or give away next summer.  I can't wait!
It was nice to have some time to wander through the gardens.  The veggies are coming along well, though the only thing we have eaten has been chard, which we actually liked quite well, the pickled beets and a handful of strawberries.  The flowers are really blooming up a storm, and I have tons of bloom pictures coming this week.  We got some rain last weekend, not as much as some of you, but around 3 inches--which is plentiful around these parts.  And, with the rain, comes weeds. Ick!!  Have a great Father's Day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reflections from Camp Lakeside-Take 2

We've returned from another year at 4-H camp. It went well!! The weather couldn't have been any better. Most of the activities are outside, and the temps were in the low 80's with a nice, small breeze. I got the opportunity to help more with the activities this year because of a shortage of adults (several agents were chaperoning kids at a camp in Manhattan that happened to be overlapping this year!) My business as "camp nurse" was much busier than last year (with mild injuries and medication dispensing) so my relaxation time was much more limited than last year. I found that my favorite part of camp again was just sitting on the shaded bench outside the nurse office just waiting, watching, and listening to the kids. They are interesting and intriguing little creatures and I find them so fun to observe--watching how they interact with each other in the scale of a large group of kids when there is the least amount of adult intervention (aka--their "free" time) It's like being a mouse in a corner, being able to watch the operation of camp from afar. I certainly appreciated this opportunity, since I am usually so busy managing kids during an event, that my mind is constantly focused on keeping things running smoothly and the next task at hand. Generally, I miss the "undercurrents" and the interactions of the kids when they aren't taking part in the activity. This year we had 80 some kids attend from 6 counties. Last year after camp, my post was entitled Reflections from Camp Lakeside. It was an accumulation of my observations as an outsider; some serious, some comical. If you would like an account or re-count of last year's experience read here. I took a little of my free time each day to reflect on things that I had seen and heard. .and thought to myself. .and wrote them down so I could share these observations from the inside! This post will add some more perspective on what actually happens when your children or grandchildren go off to camp. Enjoy!

Day 1:

--I may, possibly, be getting too old to get enough sustenance from a 12 hour lay-over between two major events to function at my best. There is NOT enough coffee available to correct this.

--There are a LOT of different kinds of music available to enjoy on the XM satellite radio I have in the car. . .and a lot of music that just shouldn't be available!

--3 or 4 hip-hop songs are invigorating and fun; 3 or 4 hours of hip-hop songs can make your eyes cross and cause you to develop a tic.

--children have such a high level of energy that someone truly should discover how to use it to generate power to light the world!

--There are STILL always children that are worse than your own!

--It's a powerful feeling to relax in a serene and majestic place of nature and observe from afar, our future leaders stand united, hats off, hands over their hearts, pledging their allegience to this great nation!

--homesickness is such a heart-breaking affliction.

Day 2:

--Who knew there were so many ways to use swim noodles and tennis balls?

--Being able to say "I'm the nurse today, not your mom, so go put your things in your OWN cabin" is truly an empowering feeling!

--Camp food is not always bad--even for the kids.

--It's funny to watch kids act like little adults at camp; making their own choices, plans, and dates with friends.

--It's rewarding to be able to coach kids on handling a difficult situation and then watch them go put that coaching into action immediately.

--The agents commented this morning about how "piggy" the girls' bathroom looked--cluttered up with panties, hair supplies, make-up, shorts and towels scattered everywhere, while the boys' bathroom was so clean. My theory?? The boys don't actually go INTO the bathroom. I cannot prove this.

--Female campers are appalled if they were not informed about the annual dance before they get to camp (like, informed that there is a dance). Apparently, THEY pack accordingly. .and, that amounts to something more than throwing clothes that they have picked up off their bedroom floors into a bag.

--It seemed to be a big deal to have a "date" to the dance. I heard kids asking kids out for their friends; heard kids advising their friends how they asked other kids out; heard kids explain to another kid WHY they should go to the dance with their friend; and lots of other general information regarding who was going with who and why. Late in the afternoon, Grant and Jacob stopped by my resting bench to sit a bit. I jokingly asked them if they had dates to the dance. J didn't even think, just replied yes. G replied that he wasn't sure that he was going to go with anyone. Smiling, I asked them if the "date" meant that they walk up to the cabins and retrieve their dates and walk them down to the dance. In true 12 year old male fashion Grant replied (with a totally straight face and seriousness) "Nah, we just pretty much wait down there (at the dance) for them until they show up." me "so that's your date huh?" G "yup."

--I couldn't really tell which kid was dating which. The girls all stood in one part of the dance floor and the boys stood in another, or played hoops on the other side of the dance.

--small male, not older than 8, 3' 6", 50 pounds maybe-running by--"I'm headed over there to that girl" me "what are you going to do when you catch her?" small male "Try to get me a date!!"

--I was asked out--to the movie--by a very petitie cowboy ;-) whoot, whoot!!

--I did NOT dance the John Travolta to "Stayin' alive" this year out of respect for my mortified 13 year old. . but I just couldn't resist the chicken dance!!

--My 7 year old came out before the dance wearing cologne. .and he doesn't even like girls. .OR dancing!!

--Girls wear as much perfume as guys wear cologne. .maybe more. .I must not have noticed this last year in my overwhelming astonishment at the amount of cologne sprayed on by the boys before the dance!

Day 3:

--5 nights of too little sleep is kind of hard on a 7 year old.

--The bright, bushy tails are pretty dull and saggy by the 3rd day--I think we adults could completly wear 'em down, given one more day! If we could even SURVIVE one more day!

--Any leftover money from camp, quickly disappears at the gas station when we stop to fuel up or pee.

--Someone always forgets SOMETHING!

--Everyone is always a little sad to leave all the new friends, but most of them are excited to return next year and take up where they left off!!

I loved camp as a child, but it truly is a wonderful opportunity for me to get to experience camp life again, as an adult!! Maybe I won't ever grow up! Enjoy your weekend!! I know I will enjoy mine. . .quietly. .at home!!  My real home!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Coffee Break in Life

Just a quick line to let everyone know that we got home safely last night.  Fortunate to avert a very dangerous storm about 20 minutes after we left for home.  Drove through very powerful rain/hail. Had a great weekend overall.  Chugging strong coffee as quick as possible.  Got free car wash on the way home, and a full tank of gas still from Wichita.  Came home to happy girl and no electricity.  Went to bed without doing laundry or packing clothes.  Hot shower today felt great, shaving over 800 chigger bites, my souvenier from the weekend, did not!!  Waiting to wake up the tired beasts.  Soon will be time to put on happy face and reload car with 6 new shining faces!!  Heading for northwest Kansas in more rain.  Pray for me! Have a great week!!  Be back end of week to share LOOOOTTS of stories!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Amber Waves of Grain

Wheat harvest 2010 is upon us.  Papa and his compadres started cutting yesterday afternoon.  The wheat thus far is just fair, which is always a little disappointing, but on the bright side, it is better than "poor" and we have wheat to cut!!  So, per our usual harvest tradition, we listened to Dev whine until we couldn't stand it anymore. .and went out to the field to check on papa and the gang.  It turned out to be a most interesting evening, so I thought you might enjoy our, ummm, eventful evening!
First thing we accomplished, was locking the baby in the pickup.  (in my poor attempt to roll down the windows and then giving up, slammed the last door)
Cami soon grew weary of the game "hey, push the button. . .no the OTHER button."  She pushed it a million times. .and then pushed it a million more with a dazed gaze wondering why the heck someone wouldn't just let her out!!  So, to pass the time. .she located a tube of sunscreen and decided she liked the flavor.  As I pleaded with her, and then threatened her to STOP EATING THAT LOTION RIIIIIGGGGHHHTT, NOOOOOWWW, J lipped off and said "what are ya gonna do, break the window and beat her a(well, you know). Then he laughed like he had said something funny!
Natives are getting restless, and we are waiting for papa to bring us some stronger wire!! I think by this time, J might agree that teasing a weinie dog to unlock a pickup in the middle of winter, was easier than teasing a 2 year old!! Finally, he tried to teach her to turn the key (smart??) so she could roll down the window.  She started punching buttons on the keyless entry. .and D was the first one to get the door open!  Yikes!
Round after round after round they go!
This is the part that they wait for every year--playing in the wheat truck full of the precious golden kernels!

New experience for sis, and she thought it was great fun!! And this is the part that I wait for every year. .cleaning wheat off my floors and out of my washing machine, as the kernels fall out of pockets, underwear, socks, shoes, caps--you name it and the wheat comes out of it!
Only in the midwest can a small child be found making "wheat angels!!"

Searched and searched the field for the little squeaking noise that we kept hearing. .hoping to find a ground nest of doves or something.  But no, found a nest of baby rats instead. EEWWWW!

This is how Cami felt about leaving the wheat playground behind and returning home!!
This is a fun time of the year around this place!!  Tomorrow we (at least part of us) are headed off on the great rock hunt!! Unfortunately, all of J's parts didn't come in for the harvest truck he must have fixed, and won't be here until tomorrow afternoon-so he and Cami will stay behind and wish that they could see Big Brutus too!!  Wishing everyone a great summertime weekend!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Birds, Blooms, Bugs, and Beasts

Today was our annual 4-H day camp.  We have been preparing for months, and I must admit that it was the strangest one I have helped with yet.  We were expecting it to be a little over 90 degrees today--which was not unusual.  But with no rain in the forecast, I awoke at 4:00 this morning to thunder and lightening.  We received about 6/10 of desperately needed moisture at our place, and around an inch in town at the fairgrounds, where day camp was being held.  We arrived and found the concrete area that our first speaker would be using to be under water.  After trying to sweep much of it off, with more coming down, we changed gears and moved that lesson inside.  We had around 55 kids (aged 1st-5th grade) with another 15 or so junior high and high school kids coming to be counselors. The day went pretty smoothly with only a few last minute changes in our plan.  The first activity of the day was dividing the group into 2 smaller groups.  They split and got the opportunity to hear a very smart lady show them LOTS of wildflowers that we see in our area--she picked them all last night--and she found lots more blooming than I have noticed! 
The second speaker was a snake expert.  He had a bullsnake that he messed with while talking to the kids.  But the ultimate highlight of the day was this. . .He fed the snake for each group.  He brought dead mice. .and the kids (and adults) were hooked!! The above picture shows the snake just starting in on the mouse.  But notice the expressions on the faces of those campers as they watch the snake finish the mouse off!! ICK!!
Then we divided the groups into 4 small groups--the Songbirds, Sunflowers, Lizards, and Grasshoppers--and sent them to different activities. 
The "blooms" class had a cool little discussion on the different parts of a plant and how food is categorized according to each part.  Then they made topsy-turvy tomato planters using 2 liter pop bottles.  Very clever idea found by one of the planners.  She cut off the bottom 1/3 of the bottle and punched holes in it. After putting the tomato into the bottle, with the plant poking out of the bottle neck, they put the bottom of the bottle in, backwards, to seal it up and provide a place for the kids to water it.  Can't wait to see if Dev can keep his alive.
The "beast" class was an archery class--simply because the kids LOVE that and and look forward to it every year! (I was tied down and wasn't able to get pictures of that!)
The "bug" class enjoyed looking at different bug specimens in an entomology box.
Then they made "ants on a log" (they always love messing with food and making snacks).  Finally, they played a game that had them blindfolded.  They were given straws to use as "antenae" and had to try to guess what different objects were, just like a bug. They thought that was a little hard.

The "bird" class was my "baby" and has kept me busy for the last few weeks.  I taught myself how to use powerpoint as I fixed slides on 15 birds that we see here frequently.  We looked at their pictures, learned how to identify them and then talked about some "cool-bird" facts that related to each one.  They were particularly impressed to learn that some bird species throw up and feed their babies puke (not exactly . .PUKE, but you know!!)
Next, we made pinecone bird feeders by slathering pinecones with peanut butter and rolling them in bird seed.  It was messy, but they all enjoyed it.  D's are hung up in the little spruce trees waiting on some hungry little guy to find them!  Finally, we used binoculars to check out a poster that D helped me make last night, with pictures of birds, flowers, insects, and scenery.  I was tickled at the number of kids who got the binoculars and walked across the room to stand right in front of the poster to try them out, not realizing that the whole point was to be able to see things FAR AWAY!!
The rain didn't seem to dampen our enthusiasm too much, and at least it was cooler that way!!  We had upheavel at lunch as a huge cloud came rapidly and from nowhere bringing along a ferocious wind.  So we found ourselves RAPIDLY moving kids 100 yards from the lunch line into the protection of the school. Thankfully, that dissapated quickly and we were able to resume lunch and our day camp on schedule!  Both the big boys helped as junior counselors. I had to smile as they both talked about how rotten some of the kids acted--Know it all, won't listen, rude, blah. .blah. .blah!! I think it was a great lesson for all the older kids too!! 

So as another year of day camp closes out, I find myself counting down from one activity until the next, in rapid-fire succession, until about August!!  I will now make it through one project, before I can get on with the next.  Next project here. .State geology field trip this weekend.  We will travel to Altamont in southeast Kansas Friday.  Hunt rocks all day Saturday and Sunday, only to return home Sunday evening and repack our bags.  Monday morning the boys and I will head off to the western part of the state for 4-H camp, not returning until Wednesday.  I am looking forward to being the camp "nurse" again this year--and hope to continue the posting on my "Reflections from Camp Lakeside" that I started last year!  

We were SOOOOO glad to get rain last night. The blooms around here have been beautiful!! The Russian garden is about to be in full bloom, and I can't wait to snap a picture and show you how much it has grown in the short year that it has been here!!  The daisies are also making a spectacular display.  Wheat harvest will likely begin here this week--so we are certainly praying for great weather and safety for all the harvesters!! Wishing you all a great week!