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:

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