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Yay for Ellie!

Well, I’m actually impressed. Ellie was determined to finish her math book Thursday, so she did 13 lessons in one day. She would get a little tired and I’d ask her if she’d like to stop, but No! She was going to do it! She’s done with kindergarten math now and on to Book 1! And of course it was all worth it to get her reward: a sparkly new dress. Which she has not taken off since then. (Well, I mean, for bed and swimming, but that’s all.)

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Tidbits

1. Our friend Leslie let us catch some polliwogs from her pond, and then helped the kids find some water plants to feed them. They’re all doing well in a jar in the kitchen windowsill, and we’re looking forward to watching them grow arms and legs.
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2. Our deck chairs and living room are waiting to be filled with guests! Looking forward to a visit with Grandma and Grandpa Bob and Karen (and Mel and Judy) later this summer. And…?
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3. See how good the chairs look filled with friends? We really enjoyed having our new neighbors, Dan and Amber and their girls, next door for the last month-and-a-half. Many good conversations, shared dreams, and games played.
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4. We’ve done a little fishing this summer and the boys are hooked. Don’t tell them, but Kerry got them fishing poles and tackle for their birthdays. Now I need to learn how to fry fish really well.
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5. Our meter-reader, Jean, is the best.
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6. It’s really neat to watch storms from our place. One night recently there was a big one going on east of us and another one going on north of us at the same time. While we watched under blue skies, we could see lightning coming out of the clouds in these pictures, and the people in those areas were getting hail the size of quarters. We got a storm at our place a few days later and I captured one of the lightning flashes, which lit up the yard almost like daytime.
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7. Josh got the worst of it in this dirt fight. Ethan and Sam are sympathetic?
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8. I really enjoyed the end-of-year dinner hosted by the leaders of the homeschool moms group that meets out here every month. It’s a lovely group of ladies!
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9. The kids had a great time swimming in the river at the bottom of Mingo Mountain.
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10. Amber and Dan, you won’t believe how much water has come into that area since we were there last week! Check out last week vs. today. These are taken from the same spot up above.
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Beginning to look like food …

I really didn’t enjoy the garden last year. We’d just moved in and the house was still in some chaos, and it felt like one thing too many to add on top. We also threw everything in pretty quickly, so we never managed to get on top of the weeds. And I just really don’t enjoy digging through piles of weeds to try to find the edible stuff. But this year we got an earlier start and took the time to prepare each section as we went. We also started a bunch of stuff in the greenhouse, so we had time to get the outside plots ready while the food was already growing. There are plenty of weeds, but it doesn’t feel like they have the upper hand this year, which makes working out there much more fun.
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Raspberries are about to explode!
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We just ate our first strawberry today (split six ways), but mostly we’ve been pinching off the buds this year to encourage the plants to get bigger so they can produce bigger fruit the next several years. We bought 125 plants from Johnny’s Seed Company back east and every single one of them is thriving!
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We also have blueberries and blackberries, though the blackberries are still getting established.
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We planted a bunch of mammoth sunflowers again this year to give shade and snacks to the chickens, and we’ll also dry some of the seeds.
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The chickens are great weed-eaters.
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Also sweet peas, green beans, basil, dill, cilantro, oregano, lemon mint, green onions, rainbow bell peppers, pickling and regular cucumbers, yellow squash, watermelon, cantelope, pumpkins, lettuce, onions, carrots (orange, purple and white), asparagus, radishes, and corn.
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Kerry’s special project this year is grafted tomatoes. He took several kinds of tomatoes (beefsteak, roma, cherry) and grafted them onto a different kind of tomato with a very hardy rootstock. Supposedly the hardy root combined with the tasty tomato types will produce a lot more fruit on one plant. We’ll find out. He planted both grafted and non-grafted to compare, and they’re all doing very well.
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By the way, remember the greenhouse we put together using the frame of the old garden shed? It’s working out great. Here’s the “before” shot.
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Not sure if everything we’ve planted will thrive and make it to harvest, but so far so good!

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Working Hard

The boys have been doing some good yard work this summer, and of course I just can’t get enough photos. I don’t mind mowing the lawn, but there’s something kind of wonderful about watching your kids do it. And it’s a big yard! They’ve also done a lot of the rototilling in the garden this year. Hard work!!

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The Kids

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Josh finished his math book!

Josh worked really hard a couple weeks ago and finished the last 17 math lessons in record time to complete his book. Here the kids are watching with baited breath as he finishes the very last problem:
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And then … an explosion of excitement and celebration!
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He loved his prize — an amphibious remote-control car.
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Schemes

Ethan made a check-off calendar to count the years until he turns 18. Only ten more years to go, Buddy!
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Yard sale! Something for everyone!
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Things Ethan wants.
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Only a penny for a cool idea!
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Here’s a permission slip Ethan wants us to sign.
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Sam’s plan and check-off calendar.
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