Monday, June 29, 2009

Gardens, Hillbillies and Cellos

What do gardens, hillbillies and cellos have in common, you ask?  Well, nothing I guess except that these three subjects have been highlights at the Lodi's lately! I've wanted to write about all three so why not put them all in one post!

First, let's talk about my garden.  This is where I spend some of my time (hopefully not too much) these days since it's hot and I'm trying to keep things going.  Many diseases and bugs have attacked my precious plants but I'm staying faithful to growing our food organically.

This is what it looked like a few months ago.  Now the tomatoes in front are taller than me and the squash in back has climbed up and over our 8 foot fence!  The peas on the side are finished so they aren't there anymore but I've planted cucumbers in there place.  I went ahead and ripped out my bell peppers plants because either the aphids were doing them in or they just weren't producing.  Plus, as you can see, it's a little crowded.  I've got an eggplant plant and some basil in there too.

Ahhh, I've got tomatoes!  Many years of no success with tomatoes or very little hasn't squelched my gardening addiction.  Past years I've been discouraged at the end of the season and vowed I would not get so involved again.  But then spring rolls around and I get the fever to try again.

This has been my most successful year but not without it's challenges.  I will not take any credit for this windowsill full of tomatoes.  They are truly a gift from the Lord.  I planted 3 kinds of tomatoes this year.  Of course, cherry tomatoes because I know they are easiest for me to grow, Roma tomatoes, and then the famous vine ripe tomatoes.  

Ok, for those who don't know what these are, you need to be educated about the best squash around.  This is spaghetti squash and we absolutely love it.  In the store they sell for $1.59 per pound!  If you buy a 3-4 pound squash, you'll pay $5 or $6 per squash!  Ok, one squash will not feed my whole family so then I need two!  So . . . I've always wanted to grow them.  Well, here you go, a whole basket full and I've still got 5 or so ripening on the vine.

When you bake a spaghetti squash, it comes out stringy just like spaghetti.  If you don't over cook it, it will taste just perfect and you can even top it with sauce and whala!  You've got carb free spaghetti!  

Well, I hope this looks good to you because it sure tasted great.  I used my tomatoes to make a summer tomato sauce with fresh basil also from the garden and then cooked up some chicken sausage to go on the side.  Throw in a salad (too bad my lettuce didn't make it this year) and top it with parmesan and it was fabulous!  What rewards for my labor.

Ok, on to the next topic around here.  This is Hillbilly Reece!  

He finally lost his front tooth.  The other one is just sitting there as big as life!  It's a little loose but not enough to pull it yet.  His smile is pretty interesting looking. When we tease him, he just winks and smiles big.  

On to cellos!  Olivia has been wanting a cello for a few months now.  A couple of the youth at church play them and she thinks they are pretty cool sounding.  Olivia, AJ and Julia put all their money together to buy one.  Why Aj and Julia?  Well, the deal was a cello and a violin.  Olivia already has a violin and AJ and Julia have been wanting to learn too so they got their violin in the deal.

Olivia is very excited about her new toy.  She is teaching herself how to play right now.  In some ways it's very similar to the violin and yet it is also very different.  She has picked out a few songs on it.  It has a very deep, beautiful sound.  She wanted me to blog about it so that some of her friends who read this could see it.  So there you go.  

Maybe some day I'll post a video of her playing it!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Slip-n-Slide fun!

A few weeks ago we went to lunch at our friend's house on a very hot summer Saturday.  Our friend, Rich Hume, had bought a slip-n-slide for the kids to play around on and cool off.  Actually I think it was more for him.

Rich (again this is not my husband, Rich, but our friend) is a big kid at heart.  Our kids love to be with him because he is just a fun-loving kind of guy!  Here he is letting Reece spray him down.  It was really hot and he had just got done barbecuing our lunch!  Not an easy task when it's already 100 degrees outside!

This is how we Texans get cool in the summer.  Especially us older folks.  
This is Rich and Renee's house on wheels.  They live in a 5th wheel with maybe about 300 square feet to work with.  It has worked out great for them the past few years but recently they had a baby.  Little Jesse has been added to the picture and so in a few months they are planning to settle down a little more and do something else.

This is Jesse's room.  Some of you might be thinking, "wow, no way could I do live like that" but there is a whole group of people out there who wish they could live like this.  Talk about living simply!  You really can't acquire "stuff" you don't need.  Sometimes, nothing but the basics, is really a lot easier to manage.  And. . . there is no mortgage not to mention a lot less to clean!

So let me explain there situation a little more.  Rich works for a roofing company and gets business by following the storms.  So since Texas is notorious for hail storms, they have been sent here for a few months.  When the storms move north, they will follow. We've known them for about 8 years.  We used to go to church together when we both lived in Colorado.

This was before Micah decided to climb on top of Jesse and try to sit with him.

Jesse just objected by crying instead of fighting back.  What a good baby!
I would have bopped him one if someone my size decided to sit on me!

This is Rich Hume trying to be a kid again.  He bruised a rib doing this. He was great entertainment, anyway. He said he was ok, it only hurt when he breathed.

Jesse was not as gung-ho about all the water like his Dad was.

Us moms knew better and we stayed in the shade. This is Renee with Jesse.

Micah cruised right down the slide and stuck his face in the sprinkles of water.

Proud dads introducing their sons.

Silly kids drinking the water.

Julia voted this day with a "thumbs up"!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Grandparent's visit

Rich's parents came for a visit again this year.  We were so excited and blessed to have them travel all the way from California to spend a week with us!  It took them 5 years to put on their traveling shoes and board the plane but now that they've tasted a bit of Texas, they are making up for lost time!  No really, it's not Texas that is the draw but their incredible love for their "grandbabies", as Rose would say!

Rich's dad, Ed, is a math teacher at the local Jr. College in San Jose. Ed and Rose have lived in San Jose for over 50 years and if I'm correct, Ed has been a math teacher for almost the entire time they've lived there!  He loves numbers and he loves to teach!  Whenever there were teachable math moments with the kids, he was on top of it.  Who says we didn't do school while they were visiting!

One subject we had time for along with Math, was P.E. or physical education.  I had been wanting to figure out how to incorporate this a little more in our school day and leave it to Rich's Dad to motivate us in this area. 

He does aerobics to a video every morning (even on vacation) and he got us all hooked.  It didn't take the kids long to join him in their pajamas and pretty soon we were all huffing and puffing!

Even Micah got in on the action one day.
He was a little more fun to watch than the girl teaching aerobics on the T.V.

I had to throw this one in too to prove that Olivia did join in eventually.  She sat and watched the first day thinking we were all crazy.  Ed left us the CD so that we can continue our P.E. class.  We did make it to the gym at home 3 times this week.  

I do have to say that it is amazing how quickly children memorize with enough repetition.  They know this whole routine by heart and many time say in unison what the gal leading the class is teaching.  She talks the whole time trying to motivate you to keep going and make healthy choices.  Before the words leave her mouth, they preach what she preaches.  Children are sponges, it is true!

This is Rose Marie with Julia and Reece.  She loves to read to the kids.  And I'm not just talking about picture books, we are talking about chapter books!  She remembers reading the Boxcar series and so she loves reading them to the kids.

And even though they have heard them many times before, there is nothing like Grandma taking time to sit down and read, out loud to them.  Hey, I didn't think about this until now, but I guess we got some literature in also.  Even though, the Boxcar series isn't the best literature we could come up with, it's not bad.  Next time I think I'll get out one of our classics that we are making our way through and have her read that!  Right now we are working on Where the North Wind Blows.

Ok, this was a highlight of their week.  We had a tornado scare blow through while they were here!  It was perfect timing because Rose loves weather extremes!  The picture above is of all the rain we got after the sirens stopped and the wind died down.  This is our shed out back and I was trying to get a picture of the rain pelting the roof.  Can you see the few shingles we lost on the corner of the roof and the tree limb laying in front of it?  I actually got to see the tree limb fly off the tree and hit the ground.  That's when we decided we better take cover!

Ever try and take a picture of rain?  It's kind of hard to capture.  This is looking out the front of our house and you can see the rain pouring from our eves.  

We were making dinner when the sirens began.  It wasn't even raining when they sounded so it was hard to take it seriously.  We flipped on the news immediately and saw that a tornado was headed in our direction and was predicted to hit our city in 20 minutes.  Ed said, " well, we have 20 minutes, let's eat!"  

He dished up his plate and ate while the rest of us watched the storm.  When the wind picked up to about 80 mph we all crowded into our bathroom.  It's the only room in the middle of the house with no windows besides the other bathroom.

Rose was so excited, she could hardly stand it.  She loves her radio and ran to get it.  Our power was flickering so it would be a good idea for us to invest in one of these battery operated radios for the future.

We all finally ate after the worst of the storm had past.  Or I should say, those of us who had an appetite left.   It was an exceptional roast dinner complete with mashed potatoes and cooked carrots.  Thank you Grandma Rose!

It proceeded to rain all night long with a lot of lightening and thunder.  We had a little boy sleeping with us that night.  Around 5 a.m. we gave up trying to sleep through it all.  It was pouring!  Rose joined us with her radio and made sure to brew a cup of coffee just in case we lost power!  We did find out later that over 250,000 people did loose power but thankfully we were not one of them.  My girlfriend and her family lost their electricity for 3 days and had to go live with another friend.

This is us standing out in our front yard looking at the sky.  It turned a funny gold color and made everything kind of glow. This was the day after the storm.  Once again, Rose was enthralled with the beauty of God's nature.

Cool, huh.

This is the front of our house.

We had fun with a variety of activities.  A highlight, of course, was Micah. He is 10 months old now and this was his Grandparents first time to meet him.  They are so natural with babies, after all they had 6 babies of their own.  This is Micah being squirmy but Ed really didn't mind.

By the end of their visit, Micah was very used to them.  He loved to grab his Grandpa's glasses and of course, his nose.  He loves everyones nose!

This picture is classic!  I'm not sure who is goofier!  Micah loves to do the "motorboat" thing with his lips.  He was the teacher this time and Grandpa the student!

Grandma babysat several times so that we could run various errands.  I was very grateful for her flexibility but I'm afraid all Micah gave her was a few poopy diapers!  He expressed his gratitude in his own way.

We look forward to seeing Grandma and Grandpa again, hopefully soon.  We made many wonderful memories with them during this week.  I couldn't blog about it all but I'll list what I can remember:
Aerobic's classes, story time with Grandma, too much good food, a live piano and violin recital, severe weather experience, Fiddler on the roof evening, and let's not forget Blueberry picking (see previous post)!  

Thanks for coming!  Come again soon, we miss you already!