Saturday, August 30, 2014

Edible Gardens

I joined a book club a few years ago but mostly attended for the companionship and less for the book selected. As the girls have gotten older and my reading is not based on which parenting tome might keep me one step ahead of them, I've enjoyed reading and contributing more than just wine and whine at our monthly meetings.

My next book club read is From the Ground Up by Jeanne Nolan. I finished reading it several months ago and was excited to learn that she was willing to come speak to us so I've volunteered to host September's club at my house.

One of the things that I miss most about having a yard with lots of sun is my garden. When we lived in DC I had put in a raised bed garden just off our kitchen. I loved coming home from work and getting down in the dirt to harvest what I had grown. It took a lot of work to turn what used to be a gravel driveway into a garden but we ate quite well all summer from our small plot. Our garden used to be at the very back of our yard but as more and more of our neighbor's bamboo encroached, we decided to move it altogether and re-sod.
I really wanted it more accessible to the kitchen so we started to tackle what had been an eyesore for several years.
Newly planted and brimming with lots of good things to eat including carrots, radishes, arugula, tomatoes, herbs, green beans, and flowers.

By August, it was in full bloom. This sunflower grew over the top of the fence and would greet me every afternoon when I came home from work.

 This was an interesting visitor to our tomato vine.
While I was excited to move to Chicago, leaving that garden behind still smarts. The fact that I cannot garden with my girls on a regular basis has been disappointing so I had put visiting the Edible Gardens at the Farm in the Zoo on our summer to-do list and today we finally got in a visit!

I love the juxtaposition of the garden with the city behind.
 Okra ready to harvest.
 The girls helped helped harvest a red pepper.

Kate loved the okra and ate several right off the vine.
Next up were carrots and beets.

The tomatoes were a hit with Lucy.
Kate took one bite and handed the rest to me.

With the addition of some kale, we had the makings of a nice salad for tonight.
These tiny cucumbers are used to make gherkins.
More okra...we couldn't keep her away from that and the basil.
The bell pepper didn't make it home either as both girls munched happily.
We learned a bit about composting.
 An okra flower.

What a wonderful day to spend a morning. We were still hungry after our veggie appetizers so we ended up across the street at the Green City Market for some lunch
and local peaches for the trip home.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

He knows if you've been bad or good....

Len took the girls out to ride their bikes yesterday when they passed a yard sale. Kate started badgering Len to buy something....anything. He finally got them away from the sale and to the front gate of our yard when she started in again:

Len: We’re not going to go back to buy anything.

Kate, throwing her bike to the ground: I don’t like daddy!

Len, unlocking the front gate: Okay, let’s grab our bikes and bring them in so we can put them away.

Lucy grabs hers and starts wheeling it in.

Kate: NO! I’m not doing that!

Len: Kate, you have a choice, you can pick up your bike and bring it in so we can put it away, or you can leave it out on the sidewalk…your choice. Either way, I’m not bringing it in, so it could be stolen out here.

Kate: I DON’T CARE! I’ll just ask Santa for a new pedal bike for Christmas.

Len, walking away: Okay, you can leave it there then.
Kate continues yelling and complaining.

Lucy: But Kate…Santa’s not going to bring you a bike if you act like that.


Len, resisting the overwhelming urge high five Lucy, doesn't look back or comment, but continues walking to the storage shed.

Kate falls silent but about 10 seconds later quietly wheels her bike down the sidewalk to the shed.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

FL Vacation: Part 4, Daytona Beach Shores

Our last week was spent in a condo so that we could all join in the fun and have direct access to the pool and beach. Aunt Sherry, Drake and Lainey joined Meme and Papa in their room for a few nights and Nana drove over every day to join in the fun.

Although we didn't really do any exploring beyond the confines of the pool and beach, the kids didn't seem to mind at all. The only arguments arose over whether we would be at the pool or at the beach. Our days fell into a rhythm though: start with a little pool time, move down to the beach for the late morning/lunch and then back to the pool before the afternoon thundershowers. Dinner, more swimming and/or an evening walk on the beach.


Lucy and Kate took over someone else's sand castle...and completely destroyed it.
Lucy was so triumphant!

Nana taught Kate how to do a roll-in dive.

Kate and Lainey had a rather lengthy underwater conversation...she said they were making faces and talking to each other.

Dinner at Boondocks kicked off in the bar with Shirley Temples for the kids. It was Lucy and Kate's first taste of soda. Sigh.
Taking a break from kids at the bar with Sherry while the kids fed the catfish. I always enjoy spending time with her every year.

Waiting for supper!
Meme was cracking us all up...but she tickled herself most of all!

More catfish feeding after dinner.

The next day brought thunderstorms so Lucy and Lainey settled in for some videos while Kate actually took a 2 1/2 hour nap.
When the weather cleared, Lainey loaned Lucy a swimsuit since Kate was still asleep. When they couldn't decide which suit to wear, Lucy suggested they each wear a half. Problem solved.
Later in the evening, a walk on the beach was in order. Kate wanted to join in the bathing suit switcharoo so she ended up with Lainey's top and traded with Lucy. It was all very complicated.

Supporting the claim of shark bite capital of Florida, we came upon a fisherman who had just hooked a baby shark.
Breakfast at Crabby Joe's to send off Drake and Lainey back to Ocala.
Practicing balancing on the boogie boards.

As you can probably tell by now, Lucy's arm was doing much better. We took the splint off after 2 weeks of wear. Honestly though, all of the swimming and digging in the sand was the best rehabilitation we could have done to get her arm back in use.
 Trying to do handstands.

Another evening walk.

I don't think I have mentioned it but boy, did they sleep well! Most nights they were in bed around 8-9pm (one night was 10pm but that was a special occasion as we let them swim in the pool on their cousins last night). They would both sleep completely through to 8-9am the next morning. It helped that the bedroom had no windows, just a door to the outside, so it was completely dark.

The next day, the girls decided they were done with splashing around in the tidal pools and shallow waves. They wanted to ride the waves on the boogie boards. And boy howdy, they did it with gusto! I was so proud! After only a few times of Len, Nana and me helping them catch the waves, they were ready to drag their boards out themselves to catch the waves.

I made the girls take a quick break for more sunblock and SOMEONE was decidedly not happy about it. She has a pretty fierce death stare. Lordy, I can't wait until she's 15....

 Two surfer girls in the making, heading out for more waves.
 Finally sated from almost an hour of riding the waves, they settled down to play with a new friend.
By late afternoon, Len's sister Kathy and our nephews Stefan and Joey had arrived. Lucy was quite happy to have someone else to entertain!
Kate, meanwhile, had not been feeling well and was complaining about her ears. It finally came to a head on Thursday and I took her to a local clinic to confirm what I suspected: swimmer's ear. No more swimming. She was so bummed and I was just thankful that we only had 1+ day of vacation left.
Fresh from her doctor visit, we met up with the rest of the family at Aunt Catfish's for supper.

The next morning we settled on a dry activity with their cousins Stefan and Joey: the Daytona Beach boardwalk which is a mixture of Old Florida and new.
First stop, the sling shot, which basically throws you 300 feet into the air. I was very thankful that my kids did not meet the height requirement.

Next up, the arcades! This was Lucy's favorite.
After this ride, Kate pretty much spent the rest of her time finding quarters. I lost count after 5.

Kate was still not feeling well so we stood off in the shade as Lucy and the boys rode the go karts.

Storms were rolling in again and it was lunchtime so we headed out to the pier for more seafood!

Len and I finally got a date night on our last night. Nana stayed over and made sure the girls got to bed while Len and I headed back to Ponce Inlet to eat on the Intracoastal at Down the Hatch.

 We need to work on our selfies...
The sunset was spectacular!
Our last morning found us back at Crabby Joe's.

Kate spent a great deal of time building a wall of creamers.
 One last photo with my dad.
Kathy's boyfriend, Glen, joined us for the goodbye feast.
Back at Nana's for kisses and hugs before heading to Orlando.
Waiting to board.
And that wraps up another Florida vacation! I miss it already. It is just so much easier to entertain kids when you can open the door and hit the pool and the beach. We returned to this as a high on Sunday.


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