Thursday, June 30, 2011

Michelle's Birthday Trip

This year Michelle is 16. We were supposed to go when she was 13, but I, her Mom, am a procrastinator. So I planned the trip for this year. We had a grand time. She knew that we were going on a trip, but the activities were a surprise. This is what we did.....

We headed to Cincinnati to the most amazing grocery store I have ever seen. It is called Jungle Jim's. It is a 'destination' grocery store! It is about the size of three Walmarts. They import food, from about every country on the globe. We had visited here last year and Michelle has been hankering for a return trip.

THis is heading toward the entrance. If you want more details, check out their website . We spent about 3 hours traipsing up and down their aisles on Monday afternoon. My poor feet!

They also have a cooking school on the premises. Michelle and I took a cooking class on Monday and Tuesday night. They did a nice job and were quite accommodating about her gluten intolerance situation. This is their main entrance. They do have big fish tanks so you can have fresh fish, but that is not where we went to see fish.

We went to the Newport Aquarium in Newport KY. It was very well done and the nicest aquarium I have ever been to. I took lots of pictures with my old camera.

These are the worms that implant themselves in the sea bottom and look like asparagus.

These are Japanese crabs. Can you see the face on the bottom of his belly? I didn't notice it there, when he was jumping around, but when I came home and looked at the picture, it almost weirded me out. When it is enlarged, it looks EXACTLY like a face!

This is a very large alligator snapping turtle. I wouldn't want him swimming in a pond near where I was swimming. That head is about six inches across!

These are the largest toads I have ever seen! Isn't God's creation marvelous? It is just so unique and fascinating. No way it could have just happened by chance!

The aquarium has a number of tunnels through different fish tanks. It is really neat to stay dry, yet have so any fish swimming right near you and even above you!

For lunch we walked down the hill to the River Boat cruises. It was a very clean boat and we had a lovely two hour trip up and down the Ohio River. This is the boat we went on, The River Queen.

This was my favorite bridge on the river. Why? you ask. It was the first bridge built anywhere across the Ohio River. It was built as a model for the Brooklyn Bridge and it is really beautiful in form. It is the most elegant bridge I have ever seen.

We also saw a big barge being pushed up the river. Our boat had to move over to the side to let it by. This was a lunch cruise, but we were spectators only. We brought our own GF lunch on board. We had cheese and olives, blueberries(fresh) and fresh lychees that we picked up at Jungle Jim's. They are a favorite with Michelle.

We then headed up a bunch of stairs to see the rest of the aquarium.

We watched them feed the penguins. They have a large exhibit of them.

Then more time watching the sharks in their walk-through tank.

We spent quite a bit of time petting and watching the smaller sharks in their petting tank. We even saw some shark eggs.

Well, if you were wondering how tall Michelle has gotten, the answer is, pretty tall! She did have crocs on, and she's still growing!

We left the aquarium and headed back to Jungle Jim's for round two. We only had to walk around and shop for another two hours, before and after class. The second class was on main dish salads. This is a modern interpretation of a Cobb Salad. I think it was my favorite. If you want the yummy details, ask.

This was a Caesar salad, made into a main dish by the addition of a grilled beef skewer. Also, yummy. We headed back to our friends house where we spent our overnights. It was a really nice time away and we each enjoyed it and our time together. I have a very special daughter and I love her very much!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Memorial Day, Our Town's Style

This year was the first year that Dallas was ready for attending a parade and public event. The children have sort of trained him to ignore other dogs and to not try to eat the little ones for a snack. They are not big chipmunks.
Last year we were visiting some of Roger's family up in Wisconsin.

Our family tradition is to eat breakfast at the park. We used to try and get the charcoal going and cook it over the coals, but we found that it took too long and was too stressful. We all seem to enjoy it more when it is cooked at home and brought along.

DH bought and brought the OJ. He knows that otherwise we don't have it unless it's a birthday or holiday. He likes to get the children treats.

Michelle and JoAn were big helps in preparing the food.

It was really delicious. Scrambled eggs, grits, sausage, and GF coffee cake that was made in muffin pans instead of a 9x13. They cooked quicker that way. Easier to handle also.

Then we walked down to the big road to see the parade.

Michelle used Dallas as a back rest. He didn't seem to mind.

The ground was so wet and muddy, that it was hard to find a place to perch.

Recognize these faces? Any long term blog readers will see that they are Chance and Ulysses. The two little guys that joined us for homeschooling last year. They are doing well. Chance is going to a Christian School and Ulysses is home with his mom.

Our parade is pretty basic. The marching band, Brownies and Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Softball teams and some old cars and fire engines.
There are plenty of politicians throwing candy and dog bones too. It is a real dog friendly event.

The gentleman in the light blue coat is Al Smith my principal from Junior High. He was a nice guy, but very strict, an ex-marine I believe. He swung a big paddle when students misbehaved. It was displayed prominently in his office. Such things were legal back then. Every year I am sort of anxious to see if he is still around. His traditional job is to read the names of all the soldiers who died in the military from our town. They go back to the civil war.

This year the speech by the honored guest was a little strange. The Pentagon wrote the speech and ordered everybody giving a speech on Memorial Day to use theirs. I'm not crazy about that idea. It is not very personal and I kinda feel like it's a little 'Big Brotherish'. (You think?!!!)

This was definitely the wettest Memorial Day in the park that I remember, and it didn't even rain. There was standing water everywhere. The mud splashed up to our knees as we walked. I think the local farmers might be better off planting rice than corn.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gardening Update

Spring is fast winding up and summer is coming quickly. The garden is coming around! Looking good and growing!

The peas now have a fence for support and our growing up it. Most are about 12-18" high.

This tire was rescued off the neighbors dump pile. It is for a tractor. We placed it in the now sunny, side yard and have trimmed off the inside rim, filled it with dirt and have planted pole beans. If it works out, we will show you more pictures as it grows.

The weather has been so wet that we decided to plant the first opportunity we had. We had actually hit the average amount of rain for the month by May 5th. We had many big storms after that, so we have just about completed the wettest spring on record. After 1.5 days of sunshine and much rain in the forecast, we decided to get things in the ground. Of course it started sprinkling while we were working. Paul was busy turning over the soil, mixing in the sand into the root bed, and the manure into the other beds. That young man is a hard worker.

This year we had a friend who bought an old horse boarding stable. It had lots of well aged manure and he brought us a truck load full. It is great stuff. We are using it on all the beds and plants on the place, except the blueberries. They don't like manure, too alkaline.

These are the new beds in the side yard. It doesn't get totally full sun, so Michelle did a little research and found which veggies can handle less than full sun. Most of them are int he cruciferous family. We planted lots of broccoli, some brussel sprouts and kale. We put some onions in and some lettuce also. We are hoping to get a third bed in here soon. We just need the wood. We have ever bearing strawberries in the baskets. The children enjoy those more than flowers.
JoAn was planting the cukes and yellow cherry tomatoes in the 1x6 bed.

Michelle was helping Paul with the root bed. This was definitely a family project.

Elizabeth worked the umbrella and brought cold drinks out to whoever wanted them.

T-Bob spaded up the center beds.

Thomas ran the manure wagon. 'More poo for you' was the saying as we filled up the beds. Dallas loved the manure, He also liked to watch us work out front.

About the time we finished with all the gardening the sun came out and the rain stopped. Of course it came down again later, but if we had waited a little bit, we could have worked in the sunshine. Oh well. One never knows.

Does anyone know What Kind of Plant This is?

This bush grows in out front yard. I don't remember planting it. Yet, it is growing where it must have been planted. I have never seen a bush like this. It has these reddish brown flowers with yellowish tips on the petals that almost look like they are carved out of wood.

The flowers bloom all summer. It sends these branches up and they stay there all winter, but in the spring it starts up all new foliage.

Here is a close-up of the flower and leaf. If you are the first person who can tell me about my plant, or at least tell me the name, I will send you a prize.

Cedarville Speech and Debate Tournament Memories

The weekend of May 20,and 21 was the final tournament of the 2011 season. It was held at Cedarville University. It is a beautiful campus, and they ensure that their students get LOTS of exercise by having a lake in the middle of the campus buildings. There is no bridge across, you just gotta walk around it.

The children liked watching the fish. They have a huge carp in their, maybe 40 pounds, that swims with its fin out of the water most of the time. It looks like a shark fin.

This was the infamous weekend where the end of the world was predicted by Harold Camping. The youth all went outside by the lake to countdown to the appointed hour.

It was a beautiful day! After the appointed time, they all went in for the more earthly award ceremonies for the tournament.

Both boys met their personal goals for the tournament. Paul's goal was to win all his affirmative rounds, he did. He and his partner ended up 5-2. they did excellent, especially for their novice season. Thomas's goal was to make it to one final round for the tournament. He made it to TWO. This was really great.

Thomas placed in Prose Interpretation and Rhetorical Criticism. He got to spend quite a bit of time on stage.

Elizabeth did her Junior prose interpretation again. All Juniors get called up on stage to get their bag of candy and certificate.

Thomas completed the sweepstakes. All sweepstakes competitors get called on stage to receive their certificate and bag of candy. They have to complete three speeches all in different categories. It is not for the fainthearted.

Some old friends of Roger came to visit us at the tournament. Sandy taught a youth Bible Study while DH was in high school. They have kept in touch over the years. She brought her son along with her. We hadn't seen him since he was a teenager.

The highlight for the kids was playing in the pool after a long day of working hard at speech and debate.

Friday night, we didn't get back to the hotel until after 10 PM. The time the pool should close. Management was kind and let the kids use the pool an additional hour or so. That was a blessing as they all really needed to unwind.

Speech and Debate Tournament has been a real blessing to our family. The wonderful friends they have made and the experiences they have had has really resulted in a lot of growth in their lives, both spiritual and intellectual. We are looking forward to all getting to do it again next year. Thank goodness for January birthdays.