Thursday, August 25, 2016

July, pt.2: The Leonardo, Splash Pad, Cecret Lake

Collin and Sammy had such a great time at The Leonardo museum that we got the family membership and went together one weekend.  The place was nearly empty, and every activity was the kind of thing you want to spend a good half hour doing.  I tried building an arched bridge with just straight wooden sticks (it collapsed on the second to last piece!), Sammy and I worked on a short stop-motion animation, we did green screen shenanigans, Daisy played with giant legos while the others worked on a giant marble run on a wall, and we hung out in a room made entirely of mirrors. 

My Aunt Lisa and Uncle Sing stopped for a visit en route from Zion's to Yellowstone.  It was lovely to see them, and they brought us some homegrown passionfruit(!!) and the juiciest oranges I have ever eaten - also homegrown.

We took Isaac's best friend Gage to the new Lehi splash pad one fine summer's day.  The kids had a blast racing their flip flops down the river and other fun things.  Daisy got in on the action, too.

Collin and I went on date to Wasabi in Draper for their happy hour sushi.  It wasn't anything too spectacular, but their TNT roll arrived at the table in flames and was smoky-delicious.  We love sushi!!

Collin installed a storm door, and it's wonderful and awesome and perfect!  Daisy likes to hang out at the door watching the world go by.

Baking for the latter half of the month: Fresh strawberry pie!

We went on a hike to Cecret (AKA Secret) Lake at the top of little Cottonwood Canyon.  It was easily the most beautiful hike we've been on.  The whole time we kept exclaiming over the beauty that surrounded us: the vast meadows of wildflowers (the boys counted 26 different types), the massive rocky boulders, the meandering streams, the majestic panoramas, and the serene lake at the end.  There were multiple side trails which made for some fun exploring - we found a big rock imprinted all over with fossil shells on one of these side trails.  It was an uphill hike with some switchbacks at the very end, but the kids did great.  And we were rewarded at the very end with tons of salamanders in the lake.  We met another boy who was catching them and let us see one up close.  I think we were on the hike for about 4 hours, including the picnic lunch we had at the lake. 


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August: Singles ward reunion, kung fu, school starts, gardening

For years I've been talking about having a reunion party with our singles' ward friends who have since moved to Utah, which is a fair number.  This year I finally decided to just do it.  We had a taco bar (I made carnitas!), a s'mores bar (coconut marshmallow + Ghirardelli raspberry-filled dark chocolate square + graham cracker = heaven, but the regular mallow + salted caramel dark chocolate + graham combo was also stellar), and lots plenty of people.  It was fun.  And now I never want to be social ever again. Just kidding.  Sort of.

The boys started taking kung fu lessons twice a week when we got back from CA.  They love it and are having a great time learning new moves.  They've surprised us with their agility and strength - they're the only kids in the class who can climb a pole on their own.  They've only been taking the class for a few weeks and already they've improved and have gained more confidence. 

Farm Country with Ellie is always a fun (and cute) time.  She loves those pony rides!

The boys started school on the 15th.  Isaac is in 3rd grade and Sammy in 1st grade.  Isaac was dreading it and Sammy was looking forward to it, but has since decided that it's too long.  No one likes waking up with the sun, but at least the view is pretty.  It's weird having them both gone for so long during the day, but it's nice having some time with the girls. 

Summer isn't over yet, and now that Daisy is walking most of the time we took advantage of the warm evening with some bike riding and Daisy car pushing. 
The other day Sammy randomly brought the bin of Duplos up from the basement and all four kids sat around playing Duplos together.  They built towers and cities for Daisy to knock down.  It was so cute!

Other random pics (spot the one[s] where Ellie's being a Peace Puppy!):

I keep meaning to document my adventures in gardening a little more so I can have some reference to look back on each year.  Our berry patch is getting more established.  Only one blackberry plant out of the 7 has started producing well, but it's really giving us something to look forward to for the rest of the plants!  Out of just one plant we've been getting several HUGE blackberries (roughly 1.5x the size of grocery store berries) every couple of days, and they are sweeter than any I've ever tasted before.  We've had to put a net over it because the birds also think they're delicious, and they wake up much earlier than I do.  The raspberries are doing great too, though the red raspberries are a little slower to establish than the golden ones, which are starting to send up canes all over the patch.  The kids descend upon our daily harvest like they've never tasted anything so good before (and let's be honest, they really haven't - these are amazing!). 

We lucked out this year with the squash bugs and only had a few that I took care of right away, all on the zucchini plants.  The only other pests this year (besides those cursed leaf miners in my chard and aphids in the brassicas) were grasshoppers, but they managed to slightly cripple half of my golden raspberry canes.  This is the first year I've gotten a decent tomato, zucchini, and eggplant harvest.  I'm even getting some peppers, though I think there's room for improvement for these and the eggplant.  I dug out half of the potatoes (red and yukon gold) earlier in the season when the tops died down, but the other half (russet and some other kind) just kept growing and are only just starting to flower.  Fingers crossed for a bigger harvest this year.  My green beans all died during the 100-degree heat wave, though the pole beans (Good Mother Stallard, for dry beans) soldiered through.  The Swiss chard is going crazy and I've been giving away tons.  This year we planted some field pumpkins for the kids and pie pumpkins for me, and they're almost done turning orange.  I only wish I got more than one pumpkin per plant.  Our watermelon, cantaloupe, and butternut squash have all finally set fruit too, though they were really slow to get going so it's looking like they'll be pretty small melons.  Our humble load of peaches, apples, and pears are coming along nicely, though I should have fertilized and thinned a little more aggressively for larger fruit.  The cherry, almond, and apricot tress are sort of limping along.  Not enough water or good soil, I think.  I love gardening, but I always peter out by this time each year, right when all the summer fruits and veggies are in full swing.  Ha!  Here's some ratatouille made almost entirely from our garden: