Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gardens, flowers and sun tea

So much for having a "real" garden this year. The extensive rains we had in early June turned our nice brown square of ground into a grassy mess. Dan dug trenches around the garden to keep it from flooding, but after the rain stopped, those trenches managed to grow foot-tall grass! We missed the best opportunity to get it weeded a couple of weeks ago when mom and dad were here; I had kind of forgotten about it since it wasn't really my project. But when I went out to look at it early last week, I decided we just couldn't just let the grass win, so I attacked.
Step One - Weed whacking the foot tall grass around the perimeter of the garden.
Step Two -- Removing the plastic fence we had surrounded the garden area with -- not much to be eaten by wildlife anyway!
Step Three -- Removing the pieces of sod that had been dug out of ditches, since they were growing grass like crazy. These worked well to fill in holes all over the yard made by moles/dogs digging. I had fun driving the mower, pulling the wagon. Breaking up the clods to fill holes was not as fun, and very hot work. I actually am praying for a hard rain to help finish the job.
Step Four -- Watering overnight to soften the soil so that it would be workable.
Step Five -- Hoeing, hoeing, and more hoeing.
Step six-- On hands and knees, pulling out the weeds/grass growing right around the plants I did find -- lots of carrots and vining plants -- not sure what kind.
Step Seven-- Removing clumps of grass and weeds that hoeing dug up.
Repeat Steps 5, 6 and 7
I'm still far from done...

Why I decided to tackle this project this week, I'm not sure. It has been HOT! But tackle it I did. I didn't take a before picture, but in this first picture, you can get an idea of what the garden looked like -- notice the lone corn plant in the background. The next two pictures show the areas I've hoed and somewhat cleared of grass... there is still a lot of work to do!

Among the projects we worked on while my parents were here was starting the transformation of an empty rock beds into a kitchen garden. I decided to buy already started tomato plants, cilantro, and yellow peppers. So far so good!

The annuals I planted a few weeks ago are surviving the heat, though I've put them in the middle of the deck to save them from too much direct sunlight. The heat has been wonderful for sun tea, and we've been brewing some every day, and drinking it up!

Renegade Baseball

Andy is playing summer baseball with the Rolla Renegades, a team made up of players from all-over, actually. It's a nice bunch of guys that generally have fun together and usually play pretty well. Today they fell apart, unfortunately. But I did get a picture of Andy's one hit.

Piranha Baseball

What else does summer means for the Halls besides baseball? Zeke is playing on the Rolla Piranhas again, for his 4th year. We spent last weekend in the Kansas City area at a State Tournament. Last year, our family wasn't able to go, and the team placed 2nd. This year, the tournament had 54 teams in it, and we were seeded 54th! Mostly, that means that the other teams all played in a bunch of qualifying tournaments; we only played in one. But I think it discouraged the boys from the outset, and they just didn't play as well as they usually do.

Their first game, they made several errors in the first inning, and by the time they got their hitting going, had dug themselves quite a large hole. They did the same thing in their second game, making errors and giving up 4 runs in the first inning.

Zeke, however, had a very good game. He game in to pitch in the 2nd inning, with one out and runners at first and third. The runner at third scored, but he retired the side and came back to strike out the side. He finished the game on the mound, giving up 2 more runs, but only due to a throwing error on his part... but he also got a 2-run RBI single to score the only two runs of the game for us. By the time we got to our third game, the boys knew they had no chance to advance, and we were playing the number 1 seed. Needless to say, we lost handily. For us, that meant we got to go to Joplin to watch Andy play baseball! What a weekend :)

Elizabeth found the trash truck and wanted to help.

Warm up time.

Zeke on the mound

Swimming Lessons

Not being a huge fan of the swimming pool myself, helping my kids learn how to swim has not been one of my strengths. This year, Isaac had 4 weeks of swimming at the Centre during homeschool PE, and loved it, so I figured it was the summer to do swimming lessons. I signed Elizabeth up for a Toddler/Parent class at the same time, so the three of us have been pool rats for the past two weeks. The first week it was rainy and almost cold, but this past week we have been glad to be in the water, with 90 degree weather.

Isaac passed Elementary Level 1. This is his teacher, Aimee Warnke.
She's a sort of local celebrity because she does triathlons (and does pretty well in them).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

24th Anniversary

Last year, we went to Newburg to celebrate our anniversary. We took a step up this year, going all the way to Steelville, a much bigger town. We arrived in Steelville in the afternoon and then headed to Cuba to the world famous Missouri Hick BBQ. You haven't heard of it? Obviously, you don't live in Central Missouri, because we're told it's the best BBQ place in this area, and it was very good! After a delicious meal, we headed back to Steelville, and before settling into our home for the evening, the Frisco Street Bed and Breakfast, we took a walk around town, which took about 5 min :) Actually, we just walked around the block, but far enough to see quite a few large old homes, many of which need restoration. We also saw a Edsel parked right up the street -- imagine, a 60 year old car without rust in Missouri! Steelville actually has quite a bit of charm and character for such a small town!
We started our actual anniversary (June 1st) with a delicious breakfast followed by a walk down a city trail to the park, where we've spent many hours at Zeke's baseball games -never knew there was a trail! It was a bit warm for a walk, but there was a pleasant breeze and plenty of shade, as well as some interesting sights along the way.

After picking up a sandwich from Subway, we started on a driving adventure, which eventually led us to the metropolis of Cook Station ...which has about 7 buildings, 3 of which are pictured below. We found out later that the railroad used to run through here. The Meramec River is not very far away, so we saw lots of canoes in the town as well.
The general store and train station
The bank
We thought this looked like an old school, but it now appears to be a home.

A few miles down a gravel road, we found the Missouri University farm that is run by the parents of one of Andy's teammates. We dropped in to say hi and enjoyed our lunch by the spring just 1/4 mile from their home. It has quite an entrance considering it is on a gravel road!

At the spring
The view from our picnic bench

Then we wandered back to Maramec Springs Park, a privately owned park that emcompasses the ruins of the first iron furnace in Missouri. It is a beautiful place, and we enjoyed finally getting to visit after 4 years in Missouri!