Sunday, October 16, 2011

The volunteer pumpkin!

If you follow us on FB, you know we've had an ongoing story about a crazy pumpkin. Here's the whole story!

This spring I was determined to finally have a garden! I have never been successful in doing so and figured since I finally had carpel tunnel surgery in February, I should be able to garden this year without the wrist pain. For FHE one night we planted a large variety of seeds into a little starter tray and left it on the counter to sprout indoors. Sprout they did and we were quite excited as the little garden began to grow.

Spring was very wet and I was busier than usual with the kids and we had trouble getting around to preparing the garden area. It was overgrown with weeds that continued to grow with each rain storm and no one was anxious to get out there and till it. But I wasn't ready to give up yet. We started having warmer days, but the nights were still cold, so I put our little garden tray of sprouts on the back step to get some sunshine. Then at night I would bring it back inside so the sprouts wouldn't freeze. We were doing good so far!

I have two cats that think they rule the world and everything belongs to them. Friday, our black cat, decided to use my tray of sprouts as a bed. He's a very large cat and he pretty much took up the whole tray. I think he must have liked the idea of sunbathing on the soft dirt and plants. Grrr, that darn cat. Of course the sprouts died and I was ticked that my garden was ruined.

The next day or so we had another spring storm with a lot of wind and that tray blew over to the other side of the stairs and the little dirt clods the seeds had been planted in were everywhere. I threw away the tray but never cleaned up the dirt. I was very frustrated with the whole situation and feeling quite like a failure as once I again, I would not have a successful garden.

Spring forward to summer. July arrives and suddenly a plant grows up from in between the concrete and the window well. It started growing very fast, several feet a day in fact. We had no idea what it was but guessed that it was a larger plant, considering it's rate of growth, maybe cucumbers, zucchini, squash, watermelon, or pumpkin. We had in fact planted some of each of these in our tray so this plant could be pretty much anything.

The plant started to take over the patio and even in front of the stairs. It had fruit growing on it that was round and buttercream yellow. One day, Zack and I sat on the back steps and just watched the plant. We were amazed by the little tendrels that were curled up on the branches. I told Zack, "If this were a movie, that plant would wrap it's tendrels around you, drag you in and eat you alive!" We both laughed.

The fruit started growing at an alarming rate. We had two large somethings and I decided it was time to figure out what they were. Thinking maybe they were spaghetti squash and we should be harvesting and eating them before they get this large, I cut one off the vine, took it into the house and chopped it in half. It produced a sticky sweat and Matt licked it and declared it to be pumpkin. Darn it! Then I was bummed that I had cut it off the vine. Oh well. There's one more out there bigger than that one had been. Now that it was the only fruit growing, it started growing faster every day. It was so crazy. We'd look at it in the morning and then look at it that night and be able to see that the pumpkin had grown an inch or two.

The coolest part about this style of gardening was that we didn't have to weed the garden! The sprinklers and summer storms gave it all the water it needed and it took over a huge section of the patio and part of the lawn. We decided to cut the pumpkin off the vine on October 1st in order to display our surprise prize on the front porch. After loading it into the wheel barrel, Matt got the scale and we weighed the pumpkin in at 110 lbs! Compared to prize winning pumpkins at the fair this pumpkin is very small, but compared to the pumpkins I normally buy, it's huge! Imagine how much bigger it would have been if it had started to grow three months earlier when most people initially plant their garden. It could have been at least twice that big. Amazing.

A couple weeks ago I was able to talk with my cousin on the phone for awhile and we discussed this crazy volunteer pumpkin. She reminded me that the volunteer pumpkin is a representation of hope. Planting a seed that seems so insignificant and then taking the steps of faith by living the way the Lord has asked us nourishes that seed and it grows. Once it starts to grow and we recognize it as hope and the Lord's love, it becomes easier to nourish it and it grows like wildfire. So does our love of the gospel and the blessings the Lord provides us as we follow His guidance. Our trials may be huge, but the weeds of discouragement can be kept at bay as long as we have hope. What a beautiful comparison that was for me!

You may be aware that we live on an acre of land (much to our chagrin). An acre is a lot of land to have to take care of. While we'd much rather live in a neighborhood and have more people around us than farm animals, we're currently stuck trying to make the best of it. After seeing how little effort it took to grow this huge pumpkin, Matt and I have decided it would be a lot of fun to use our back third of an acre grow literally tons of these pumpkins next year. When fall comes we will sell them and then use our pumpkin money to pay for Christmas! It would be a family business adventure. Matt loves to research and has learned a lot on how to grow these pumpkins to be huge. Come spring I think we'll be more anxious to get the garden and the back third of an acre under control so that we can begin our first pumpkin patch! I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

Sunday vacation: Day 2

One thing I forgot to mention last night was that Elijah is so excited to have neighbors. On our way to the elevator, Elijah says, "When can we meet our neighbors?" He wanted to start knocking on doors to see who's here on vacation. It seemed odd explaining to him this is not appropriate behavior when on vacation.

This morning we got up to go to church. Matt helped me look up the times at the church house closest to us. I had figured we'd go at 9am, not knowing wether or not there was a second meeting or what time it might start. Matt found the meeting times, and it's a good thing! We would have ended up going to the Samoan ward at 9am and listened to the meeting in their language. It would have felt like we had gone to a foreign country on vacation. As it turned out, we went to sacrament meeting at 11am. After we sat down, a family with six kids filed in and sat in front of us. I noticed their boy Joshua'a age looked familiar, so I looked over at the parents and found that I recognized the dad. Turns out it was Joshua's soccer coach and his son who is on the team! Talk about a small world. There were several other families visiting from Utah who came to the ward we attended today.

It's so nice to have a day of rest while on vacation. Matt gave me a back massage to help my aching back and the kids watched a lot of TV. There's a TV in the living room and the master bedroom. The kids found Myth Busters on TV and started watching it in both rooms, which cracked me up. While I napped, Matt and the boys went down to the pool to play for awhile. I brought one of our freezer meals for dinner so we didn't have to spend much time cooking! We baked some potatoes and had continental beef on top of the potatoes. YUM!

After dinner I took some time to read my scriptures and have a few quiet minutes, then went down to the hot tub to relax my aching back. The hot tub helped a ton. I'm thinking I might need to hit the hot tub every night after Disneyland. Tomorrow is the real deal! Wohoo! I have missed Nanna immensely. I hope she's doing okay.

Family Vacation 2011

It's been awhile since we've taken a family vacation. Six months ago I needed to book a resort so as not to lose our points with our resort membership and Matt said, "Book something fun." No pressure, right? Like the other resorts we've stayed in hasn't been fun. Fun. Okay, so I got online and looked up Disneyland. The last time I did this they were booked solid. This time, expecting they would be booked solid, I was overjoyed and practically bouncing on the bed with excitement as I discovered there was one room that sleeps 6. I booked it as fast as I possibly could, then texted Matt, "We're going to Disneyland!!!"

I'm pretty good at keeping secrets, but this secret I could not keep. That night at the dinner table, we announced to the kids that we're taking the family to Disneyland. A chorus of "Hurray!" sprung from their seats and then the loaded question, "When are we going?" "In six months," was my response. "Ohhhhh. I thought we were going this Saturday." So sad.

For Family Home Evening (FHE) a couple days later, we each decorated a container for personal Disneyland savings! The kids and Matt and I diligently fed the containers as much money as we could sacrifice out of our allowance. This was particularly hard on the younger boys since they love to spend their money right away. I'm happy to say they each saved over $50!

After a week of great preparations, including vehicle maintenance and tons of laundry, the blessed day arrived. Our sweet dog, Nanna, was safely tucked away at the neighbor’s house with their dog in the kennel in the backyard so that Nanna had a friend to hang out with, and we all went to bed. At 3:30 in the morning, Matt and I arose, took a quick shower, and awoke the kids. We have found that nighttime driving helps the hours go faster for the kids since they sleep for about half the time we're in the car. But if we leave too early in the night, we arrive long before we can check in and we're too tired to do anything while we have to wait.

It took us awhile to get settled in, but we finally left the house. Matt takes the first shift and the kids and I are supposed to go back to sleep. Since I was up 'til midnight finishing the packing and some house cleaning, I was very anxious to go back to sleep; however, the kids and Matt are awake and excited and begin visiting. This I can handle, but then matt requests a song, one that is a family favorite when traveling, titled, "Are we there yet." You've got to be kidding me. One of the lines in the song says, "We can still see the house!" So funny. Somehow I talked Matt into waiting 'til later to enjoy the song so that I could go to sleep.

As I fell asleep, I start remembering everything we have forgotten to pack: Matt's pillow, my extra tennis shoes.... and the list goes on. We will have to live without those things for a week. And if we can't, I bet CA has a Walmart. We can always make a purchase for whomever's toothbrush got left behind. Somehow I think we managed to get everyone's toothbrush packed. There's a small miracle! I slept all the way through Utah. When I awoke, we were nearly to Vegas. Wow!

After passing Vegas, we decided to stop for an early lunch. Matt requested we have our picnic on a grassy area that's not at a gas station. We pull off the interstate, take a potty break and fill the gas tank, then head across the street to the last casino around in hopes to find a patch of grass. Luckily there was one, and it included large trees providing nice shady spots! After carefully unloading the trunk to unbury our cooler, we dig out all the lunch items and snack items and spread out on the grass to make sandwiches. While sandwiches are being made, the kids were picking car snacks for later so that I could be left alone to my driving while Matt napped. Then all of a sudden, “Spwesh,” and “Oh, you’re kidding me,” with a response from Matt, “No, not kidding.” The sprinklers were coming on full force. Matt thought quickly on his feet and covered up the sprinkler head with his foot so it wouldn’t pop up while the kids and I frantically grab all the picnic fixings off the lawn. So much for a relaxing lunch. Everyone takes their seat in the van to eat their sandwich or wait their turn to make their sandwich. Then instead of a lunch in the shade of the big tree, we hit the road and off we went.

Minutes later, Matt was fast asleep in the passenger seat and the kids were involved in a movie as we approached Baker, CA. I noticed a sign that said, “The largest… the world.“ I missed something. I managed to read the next sign, “The largest temperature gauge in the world.” So I pointed it out to the kids. Elijah says, “Why did you want me to see that?” My response, “Well, just in case you wanted to see the largest temperature gauge in the world.” Silly boy. Or maybe, silly me.

Once the movie ended, we kicked on some Bill Cosby to listen to. He is a great storyteller! The boys went back to sleep and time flew. We pulled into Anaheim much earlier than expected and realized we hadn’t figured in the time change to our travel plans. Needing to wait an hour and a half, we decided to find the nearest Walmart to begin our purchases of Disney paraphernalia.

Upon returning to the resort to check in, we piled all our belongings onto a cart and headed to our room. Normally we get a room that sleeps 8 so that no one has to sleep in the TV room, which typically has a murphy bed. But, as previously mentioned, this room sleeps six, so the kids weren’t sure how to divvy the space available. Then the concern was, “There’s no murphy bed.” Right, this room has a hide-a-bed. That is a new concept to my children who lead sheltered lives and they were quite impressed. Zack said, “I’ve got to get one of these for my bedroom!” I thought to myself, “Wait ‘til after you’ve slept on it to make a decision like that.”

So here we are, on vacation! Everyone has unpacked their bags and settled in. The kids turn on the TV and start flipping channels, which is lots of fun because there’s cable TV, which we don’t have at home. First thing I do is log into Matt’s wifi and check out my FaceBook! Ah, just like home. LOL!

Even though we brought lots of food, Matt and I were pretty worn out from the trip and decided to order Chinese. YUM! An hour later, dinner was delivered and we even have leftovers. After a nice shower to wash away the travel yuckiness, the little boys and I headed down to the pool. Knowing it was windy, I chose to sit at the side of the pool and not get wet. The boys probably only swam for half an hour and we headed back to the room. After changing clothes and bundling up a bit, we headed up to the roof to watch the Disneyland fireworks display!

One travel day down and everyone gladly hits the hay. Luckily there is no hay in my bed, otherwise I wouldn’t sleep very good.