Friday, August 22, 2014

A Sunflower Forest

I believe this is the 5th year of my garden, though it expands every year.  Three years ago I planted some sunflowers and the last two years, I haven't planted any, but they keep multiplying and multiplying 
(thank you, birds).  
This year, they popped up everywhere and I'm too sentimental to pull them out or transplant them into nice neat rows.   I ended up calling my garden "the forest".  Matt called it ugly.

The sunflowers ended up 10-12' tall.  Their roots spread quickly through the top few layers of mulch but that meant they weren't anchored very well in the soil.  A few strong storms and some started to lean pretty badly.

Look closely to see all those lovely pollinators!

They grew in single stalks and with multiple branches containing multiple heads.

 This is all from one stalk!

One main stalk with multiple branches

Some were not so pretty, but this was an enormous head, which meant lots of seeds for the chickens (free food!) as long as I could harvest it before the finches got to it.

The chickens love it when a hang a few stalks on their fence.

The sunflowers really provided too much shade for the vegetable garden so as soon as each stalk died off, we pulled them out.  The root balls were so massive that we ended up just chopping them off.  I threw them into the chickens so they can scratch off the dirt and bugs.  I'll burn them once they dry out.  

She did it!

Some were as big as my head!

And of course they offered wonderful embellishments for our girls' swords!
Essie even tried to glue it on.

AJ mulched up the stalks and the chickens had a ball scratching threw their new bedding.
p.s. The wonder of using power tools has worn off on this boy (dang it!) & now he just complains about working (typical American tween!)

There are multiple reasons I love sunflowers.
                                                 1) They attract pollinators
                                                 2) Free food for the chickens
                                                 3) They are beautiful!
                                                 4) I didn't plant a single one

Thursday, August 14, 2014

AJ's 4 Year Anniversary

We celebrated this kid tonight as he has now been home 4 years.  Of course every Ethiopian American family celebrates with Chinese food, right?  =)  Can't help it, the kid loves the stuff.

When I was putting AJ to bed tonight, I was reminiscing about when he first came home and how little he was.  He said, "I wasn't little. I was 8. Little is like 3 or 5."  I just said, "ok, buddy." and then thought back to how little he really was when he first came home.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Little Beach Vacation

Mom is a great sport when we do our typical family vacation of a state park and hiking, but it's not really her favorite.  For a while now, she has been longing to go to a beach just so she could put her feet in the water.  So Dad googled "what is the closest ocean to Kentucky" and found that it was Charleston, South Carolina.  After finding a good deal on a hotel room and a few days where we could get away, we headed southeast after church on Sunday for a couple of days in Charleston.

We are wired up and ready for the 500-mile drive.

A little supper break along I-40 in Tennessee.
We nearly canceled our trip due to a storm system that was supposed to park over Charleston for the two days we were there, but we went ahead.  When we finally got to the beach on Sullivan's Island on Monday morning, it was overcast, but the 84-degree water made it lovely.

Mom has her feet in the water!  Success!

Geared up and ready to go!

Dad and kids getting their feet wet

Essie heads right in

And is met by a wave

Keeping your feet under you takes some getting used to

AJ and Chloe are in search of shells

Chloe shows off her finds.


Some awesome beach houses on Sullivan's Island 

AJ and Essie (This was AJ's first time at the ocean.)

Chloe takes a break from the waves to play in the sand.

Mom & Chloe

Chloe contemplates returning to the water.

 Heading in

You've gotta be careful posing in the ocean...

 ...because the waves keep coming.

"I'm okay!"

Essie is a wader extraordinaire.

AJ takes a hit

Happy kids

Heading over the bridge into Charleston

After lunch we went back to the hotel to get cleaned up before going out exploring.  I think the beach tired us out a bit.

Walking around historic Charleston

Of course, Charleston is a city full of history.

If you asked the girls what they did in Charleston, it is probable that the first thing they'd tell you is that they sat in a really huge chair (at Paige's Okra Grill in Mt. Pleasant).

D. & Corrie, two friends of ours from college, happened to be vacationing in Charleston at the same time as us!  So fun to be able to meet up with them for supper.

All our kids

A ladies' selfie with baby Phoebe 

Two reasonably intelligent gentlemen

The next day we started out seeing more of Charleston.  Here we are at the Waterfront Park.

A view of the bridge we crossed the day before

The U.S.S. Yorktown aircraft carrier in Charleston Harbor

Mom & Dad

Looking up the row of mansions along the bay

Statue memorializing Revolutionary War hero William Moultrie

Dad enjoying his vacation

Essie and Chloe were amazed by this long tree limb.

Cannonballs at the Battery

AJ looking to see if it's loaded.

AJ checks out the monument to the Confederate defenders of Charleston.

Essie was very concerned that fighting naked "would NOT be comfortable."

We loved the cool windows in this old livery stable

An ugly blemish on an otherwise beautiful culture - the slave quarters

The ladies enjoying a pleasant stroll through the Charleston streets 

A quick selfie while waiting for lunch at the Mellow Mushroom

Photo opportunity at the Moon Pie Store

For our second day, we spent the afternoon on the beach at Isle of Palms.  It was much sunnier, and the waves were much stronger.

Look what we found not far from our hotel!

While waiting for our food to be prepared, the kids were mesmerized by the Ethiopian music videos on the television.

Starting with the yellow food on top and going clockwise, we have cabbage, green beans, grilled beef, doro wat (spicy chicken), lamb, tibbs (spicy beef), and collard greens on a bed of injera.

Chloe & AJ

Dad & Essie

Didn't take long to put that away!

Of course, we had to grab some milkshakes to cleanse the palate.

Mom's other wish (other than putting her feet in the water) was to get some fresh South Carolina peaces.  So on the way home, we stopped and bought a peck.

Enjoying some peaches during a bathroom break in North Carolina.

1244 miles in 4 days!  Phew!  A crazy, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants trip, but we made it, and made some great memories along the way.