Saturday, June 30, 2007

Our First Harvest

This morning we picked the first "fruits of our labor" from the garden. Tonight we will be having squash and zucchini for sure, and some fresh green peppers as well !!

We are VERY excited !!

Progress In Our Garden

So far everything in our garden is growing very well, except the carrots. We have heard carrots are not very productive in our area, but we tried anyway. We have a few sprouts but thats it for the whole row. Oh well. Everything else seems to be doing well.

PHOTO 1: Overview of garden.

PHOTO 2: Tomato and sunflower patches.

PHOTO 3: Cucumber patch and pepper plants.

PHOTO 4: Squash and zucchini. Also pumpkins at far back edge.

PHOTO 5: Green beans, melon patch, and corn.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Swim Meet Photos

The children participated in their very first Swim Meet on Tuesday evening at the YMCA. Everyone had a lot of fun, and everyone swam as best they could. And after it was all over, they each admitted (quietly) to being "very tired".
Photo 1: Cherub 3 finishing his 50 Freestyle race.
Photo 2: Cherub 4 at the halfway point of his 25 Freestyle race.
Photo 3: Cherub 1 swam a race doing the backstroke, which he had just learned to do correctly during warm-up. He also raced with 16-18yo boys as there were no other 13/14yo boys - and he held his own quite well.
Photo 4: Cherub 2 finishing the first part of her 50 Freestyle race.
Photo 5: Cherub 5 finishing her last of 4 events doing something that looked to be a combination of the Freestyle and the Breaststroke, with a little "frog swim" thrown in to help her get to the wall. HA !!
We will find out today at practice the actual race results, their times, and winning placement ... and some might even be awarded ribbons if they "placed".
The important part was the THEY DID IT despite being exhausted and despite this being their very first Swim Meet after only 3 practices, and despite being some of the smallest, youngest, and newest members. They displayed excellent sportsmanship - and smiled no matter what the outcome. Each of the children did their best, and enjoyed the event. They did not give up even though they were overwhelmed, and at the end were utterly exhausted. Their coaches were very pleased with their attitudes and their dedication - each coach complimented them several times throughout the race. HOORAY !!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Riding Out The Storm

A storm came earlier this evening .... and 1/2" plus of rain fell. YAHOOO !! The yucky part was the large amount of lightening and high winds - those storms are always scary. We have no damage though, and our flowers and veggies are singing Praise to God (as are we) for the rain.

During the storm, our pets were all snuggled up .... 2 cats outside Bella's house (on the grill cover - DadToCherubs was grilling at the time), and 2 cats INSIDE Bella's house with her. How sweet !! Bella loves her "Meow" friends dearly.
The storm has passed, the air is cool ... and we are off to the children's first Swim Meet.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Eeeekkkk !!

Photo 1: The Beetle I found, captured in a Mason Jar. Note domino outside of jar for size comparison.
Photo 2: Photo found online after identifying this beetle.

I went into my room to turn down the covers, fluffing pillows, turning on the AC ... preparing for bedtime ... when I found one of THESE (photo above) crawling on DadToCherubs' night table. It is every bit of 2" long. YIKES !!

And since I will likely have trouble getting to sleep now, I thought it might be fun to look it up. Plus I dragged 13yo Cherub 1 out of bed to SAVE dear ole' Mom ... so why not embrace an educational moment at midnight, right ?? HA !!
So .... this is what we know about HER:

"This is a female Eastern Hercules beetle, (Dynastes tityus; Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae), probably one of the heaviest insects in the United States. The males have ‘horns’ protruding from their head and prothorax, and the larvae develop in punky rotting wood of dead trees, particularly deciduous hardwood species. Ed Saugstad, retired Entomologist; Sinks Grove, WV." (quoted directly from message board for Canadian Entomology Resources)

UPDATE: We figured out how this lady got inside ... one of the children thought it would be kind to open all of our bedroom windows so the room would be cool when we went to bed .... they even opened the one without a screen. YIKES !! (Atleast now we know how she came in - that might make it a little easier to sleep. HA !)

Starting A Very Busy Week

We have an extremely busy week ahead.

Monday through Friday this week - we have swimming lessons from 9-10am and then again from 1130a-1230p.

Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week - we have swim team practice from 6-7p.

Monday afternoon we have to go to the Library to return our books and check out some more.

Tuesday at 8am our dog, Daisy, has an appointment with the groomer for a bath and a summer haircut.

Tuesday at 7p (to ??) we have our first Swim Meet.

Wednesday at 530p Cherub 6 has swimming lessons (private instruction).

And to top it all off, we have to get the house & yard in order and get packed for a trip to the lake.

Busy busy busy. I have not yet figured out how to COOK meals in the car, but I will have to figure out something as it seems we will be nearly living in the car this week. HA !!

First Swim Team Practice

Last week Cherub 1, Cherub 2, Cherub 3, Cherub 4, and Cherub 5 joined the local Summer Swim Team. This is a photo (1) taken during their first practice.

Cherub 6 does not mind attending Swim Team practice because there is a wading pool

that he is allowed to play in while we wait. Here (photo 2) he was practicing his kicking and arm strokes - and he practiced blowing bubbles in the water too.

Youth Group Picnic

We attended a picnic for the Youth Ministry children and their families yesterday, held at the home of some friends. They built an incredible water slide on their huge hill - WOW it was awesome !! We picked blackberries, went swimming in the pool, played games, had balloon races ... and we even visited with the horses. Good food, good friends, fun - God is so good !!

Around 930p Father Michael came to have Mass with us. This is the last weekend he will be Pastor of our parish. Cherub 1 did the First Reading. We will definately miss Father Michael !! We we will continue to pray for his work within the Spanish community, for his work as he leads the Deaf community, and as he takes on more leadership in the area of Vocations.

Photo 1: The waterslide - the children ZOOMED down the hill and had a grand time !
Photo 2: One of the Porterfield's Labs enjoying a good scratch - see the smile ??
Photo 3: Mass - and Cherub 1 doing the First Reading.

Children Being Children

We have swimming lessons from 9-10am and then again from 1130a-1230p. So in between the classes, we have been going to a local playground to play.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Swim Team Adventure

Today 5 of our Cherubs had swimming lessons from 9a-10a and then from 1130a-1230p. And we have good news to report: today Cherub 3, Cherub 4, and Cherub 5 moved up to Advanced Beginner class, so they will be in the same class as Cherub 1 and Cherub 2 now. HOORAY !! They have each made an enormous amount of progress in just 4 days - it is nearly unbelievable.

This evening they had their very first Swim Team practice from 6p-7p. They swam probably 15+ laps of the pool (mostly structured relays), and are now officially exhausted. The good news is that despite their fatigue, they all LOVED swim team practice and are looking forward to going again.

Practice is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6p-7p. This is quite a commitment, but who could deny them the opportunity to participate in something so beneficial physically ?? They will have 6 Swim Meets throughout the summer too.

So - this is yet another new adventure for us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


We had more rain last night ... and a whole inch fell according to our rain catcher. YIPPEEE !!

And just look at the gorgeous sunset that followed. Absolutely spectacular !!

Swimming Lessons

The Red Cross is having swimming lessons for 2 weeks. All of the children are signed up, except Cherub 6 who is too tiny and too young by their rules.

Our older 5 children already know how to swim, so their lessons focus on improving their swimming. They are learning to dive correctly, various floating methods, and several strokes. They are also learning breathing techniques and kicking styles.

Everyone passed Beginner levels 1-4 on the second day of class. They each worked hard and were very proud of this accomplishment. And then during the testing time, Cherub 1 and Cherub 2 moved from Beginner 5 into the Advanced Beginner level. Cherub 3, Cherub 4, and Cherub 5 were doing well but need to be a bit stronger before moving up.

So this is our daily agenda right now .... Cherub 1 and Cherub 2 go to their Advanced Beginner class from 9am-10am each day (M-F). And then Cherub 3, Cherub 4, and Cherub 5 go to their Beginner Level 5 class from 1130am-1230p each day (M-F). We go to the community school in between to play on the playground, so that is fun too ! This makes for a very LONG morning, but the effort has already been well worth it. Everyone is improving quite a bit, and we still have a week and a half of lessons left. Since we are around the water "a lot" in the summer monthes, swimming is essential in our family. And there is always room for improvement.

There was one very disappointed little boy (Cherub 6) when the Red Cross instructors said he was too tiny and too young - he is SOOOO close to swimming solo and he really wanted to take the class too. So we have arranged for private lessons for him with one of the lifeguards named Holly. She is very sweet, and we will go to her house two or three evenings a week (they have a pool). Tonight was his first lesson - Cherub 6 was grinning form ear to ear - he was so pleased to be there. He is a great listener and worked very hard, and we believe in just a few weeks he will be swimming like a fish WITHOUT SWIMMIES !!

The plan is that each of our children will go through the complete Red Cross course, which will take a few years. And then they will each take the Junior Lifesaving Class (lifeguard training) through UT or the YMCA. We think this is great training for them as children just for the skills and knowledge. It is also a great potential summer job if they so desire. And lastly, we feel this will also be well worth the effort when they are near the water, and eventually when they have children of their own someday.

So, if we do not blog for a while .... it is beacause we are very busy with swimming lessons. Or perhaps we are "practicing" at the City's pool.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Trampoline Has Arrived

DadToCherubs used his only day off in several weeks to go to the old house to retrieve the trampoline. Under threatening skies (thunder rolling and very dark clouds, and rain at the end), he took it completely apart and loaded it onto the trailer. It is not just a plain trampoline, but also has the net enclosure - and a lot of pieces.

After a few stops along the way, we arrived at home and DadToCherubs reassembled it. Grandpa stopped by for a visit and offered to help as well. And of course the children all helped too. The children are THRILLED and have been jumping ever since. What a Dad !!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Cherub 2 Being Crazy

Cherub 2 spent much of the afternoon being a shutterbug, taking photos of friends and pets and birds flying and such .... but apparently for a while she ran out of things to photograph, so she turned the lens on herself. What a ham !! HA !!

Visiting With The H Family

While Mr. H was powerwashing the house, his wife and children came to visit and play. We had a nice dinner together and played hard.

And for the Cherubs (and Parent Cherubs too) - we had a grand time !!

Thanks again H Family for a fun-filled afternoon AND our sparkling house.

House Cleaning ... Literally

A dear friend, Mr. H, came today with his pressure washer and his chainsaw.

With the chainsaw, DadToCherubs and I managed to trim some limbs that were tearing the screen on the second-story windows.

And with the pressure washer, Mr. H cleaned years of dirt, grime, and cobwebs from the outside of the house. It looks BEAUTIFUL - so white and clean - just an amazing difference.

We still have to clean the carport and 1 short-sided wall outside because we ran out of daylight.

In the mean while ... it looks AWESOME !! Thank you Mr. H.
Photo 1: Mr. H cleaning the front of the house.
Photo 2: On the long side of the house, it was easy to see the BEFORE and AFTER.
Photo 3: Mr. H cleaning the long side of the house - while saying THIS IS A HUGE HOUSE.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

About Billy & Ruth Graham

Billy Graham, the evangelist, made a public statement Wednesday after his wife (Ruth) slipped into a coma following an illness, and was reported to be near death. She passed away today (Thursday), and as I read the news I was struck by the words he spoke just yesterday ....

"I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we've had in the mountains together. We've rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."

"Ruth is my soul mate and best friend, and I cannot imagine living a single day without her by my side," the 88-year-old Graham said. "I am more in love with her today than when we first met over 65 years ago as students at Wheaton College."

He is 88 years old, and she was 87. They have been married for 65 years. And the true love he spoke of, the dedication, the friendship, the romance, and their shared strong faith in God and in Heaven .... it is not often anymore we hear publicly such sentiments. These words Billy Graham said about his wife touched my heart deeply.

Rain ??

Absolutely !! The storm came this time - with 60mph gusts according to our local news, and we saw hail, and LOTS of thunder & lightening. It was awful ... except the RAIN which was wonderful.

And I suppose the question is WHY IS THIS FAMILY SO FOCUSED ON RAIN LATELY ?? Well, because our area is in a severe / extreme drought and we have had minus 13" of rain so far this year (compared to annual averages). So all rain is precious, and a reason to celebrate. We have a garden and flowers, but even our animals seems to be a bit "off" with things being so dry. And we are living on a dairy farm, and we KNOW they need rain for the hay to grow and the corn ... and to keep the wells full too.

The children are cheering - WOO HOO !!! THANK YOU JESUS FOR THE RAIN !!
UPDATE: In 15 minutes we received 1 full inch (and a smidge more) of rain. Also the temperature dropped from 85 degrees to 65 degrees. So our land and well are thankful AND there will be a nice cool night's sleep to look forward to as well !!

Today In History

And it was on this day in 1951 that the world's first commercially produced electronic digital computer was unveiled, known as the UNIVAC. It weighed eight tons, used 5,000 vacuum tubes and cost a quarter-million dollars. But it could perform a thousand calculations per second, the fastest rate in the world at the time. The first one was bought by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The president of IBM thought that computers were far too complex and would never sell, but with the invention of the microchip in 1971, all the processing power of those thousands of vacuum tubes could be crammed into a tiny space.

In 1975, an engineer named Ed Roberts was one of the first people to try to market a computer to ordinary people. It didn't sell very well. You had to know how to turn hundreds of little switches. But it was an inspiration to Stephen Wozniak – who went on to found Apple – and also to a young Harvard student named Bill Gates.

** Quoted directly from Writers Almanac daily email newsletter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A New Place To Swim

We used to go up into the mountains to Chilhowee Lake to swim many times each summer. But now it is a much longer drive - approximately 1 1/2 hour each way.

So we set out today in search of a new place to swim. And that adventure took us to Fort Loudoun.

The lake itself is gorgeous !! And the park is extremely clean - almost too nice to believe !! There is a nice simming area that is close to parking, close to restrooms, and is grassy nearly right up to the waters edge.

So - someday soon we will try it out and we'll let you know how it turns out.

Photos above of Fort Loudoun swimming area and the children wading in the water this afternoon (to TEST it, of course - HA !). And as always, no "trip" is complete without photos of the wildlife we encountered along the way too.

A Visit To Fort Loudoun

We visited Fort Loudoun State Park this afternoon, just to see what there is to see. There is a nice visitor center (it closed at 430p so we did not get to go in) and a whole Fort Loudoun replica.

The Fort site dates back to the Seven Years War (French & Indian War).

Apparently they do Living History weekends throughout the year, and also host several "presentations" nearly every day.

We explored a little on our own, and definately intend to return. This will make a nice addition to our American History and Local History studies too !!