On July 1st, the month began with a lot of rain and significant thunderstorms. The excavated area that leads to the basement (for the new walls and steps due to flooding and a mud slide), flooded with water and had to be pumped out. Olivia went into the excavated area to rescue a frog that had fallen into the hole and was struggling to get out.
She managed to get the frog and out of the clay (which held tight to her boot), and release the frog on drier land.
On July 2nd, Sophia headed to Arizona to participate in a leadership camp. Forty teens from all over the United States and Canada attended the camp. Below, she is saying "goodbye" to Danny and Olivia.
On July 3rd, the tigerlilies were in full bloom along the ditches in front of the house as well as in the backyard (pictured below).
We had a quiet 4th of July with Sophia gone to Take Action Camp in Arizona and it raining off and on throughout the day. I made barbecued ribs on the pellet grill - smoking them for two hours followed by one hour of baking. They tasted great. In the evening, we went to Dairy Queen.
On Monday, July 9th, the girls - along with a friend Sophia attended camp with for two years - went to the Science Museum of Minnesota after a stop at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to drop off four baby squirrels that fell out of their nest in our backyard. (They were there for quite a while and the mother was not getting them and bringing them back to the nest, so we brought them in.)
There was a special exhibit at the Science Museum about engineering and tall structures throughout the world. The models of the buildings were constructed from thousands of LEGO bricks.
After going through the exhibit, we watched a movie in the Omni Theater. Again, the theme was engineering. There was one section that we all felt was quite moving about the impact that engineering and bridges can have on people and a community.
There was a woman who helped impoverished communities build bridges. In one place, a mother had drown trying to cross a river. Her children had to cross at that same dangerous spot each day to go to school.
After the team of engineers from the U.S. and local construction workers created the bridge, the children no longer had to walk through the river where their mother died to get to school....they could now safely cross the river on the bridge.
The girls had fun on the musical steps at the Science Museum.
There was a little play area at the Science Museum. The girls and I remember it being there when they were young. They were good sports and had a lot of fun encouraging Emily to pick up one of the stuffed animals for a picture.
I love this photo because it captures pure joy...complete happiness. Olivia laughing and not being able to stop...and Sophia with her head back laughing hysterically. I hope when they get older they look back upon memories like these and smile yet again.
On July 10th, we headed to the Mall of America for some shopping. The girls also went on a couple of rides - including the log ride which is their favorite one.
They also went on a roller coaster and clearly had a fun time!
On Wednesday, July 11th, we had a play system delivered and installed. The fire back in May burned down the playhouse and our swings no longer were functional. So, we invested in a play system with two swings, a little rock wall, ladder, playhouse/fort, and slide.
Although the girls are teens, they still like to swing - especially Olivia. The slide is a fast-moving, bumpy one. Olivia took Scooby (who is about 11 years old) on his first ride down the slide; and Sophia took Danny (who is about 6 years old) on his first ride.
That afternoon, we hosted a blood drive and mini-One Stop Donation Drop at the local community center and farmers market.
The girls made no-sew, fleece tied hats for children who have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy.
Sophia donated blood again. She's been donating blood and platelets since she turned 16 years old (the youngest you can donate blood).
She is happy knowing that for each unit of blood she donates, she is saving up to three lives!
While there was a short lull in blood donors, I decided to see if I could donate blood. With rolling and small veins, it always has been a challenge to get blood or do IVs when I've needed them for surgeries.
After passing the screening test, I went over to one of the beds. The phlebotomist did a fantastic job and I was able to donate my first unit of blood!!
On July 12th, we went back to the airport to send Emily back to her parents out East, and to pick up Paige who was out of town on business. We were able to see another therapy dog at the airport. This one was all decked out in with a tie.
On Saturday, July 14th, my sister and I went on a farm tour sponsored by the local co-op. We visited several organic farms; and enjoyed eating at a new restaurant that focuses on using only locally-raised and made organic food. It was delicious!
On July 15th, more work was being done on the excavated area in our backyard. Rocks were brought in and the drain tiling was completed in the entry way to the basement (there is no access to the basement through the interior of the home).
Wednesday, July 18th was a busy day for us. First, the girls were doing judging with their 4-H projects at the county fair. Olivia entered four photographs and received a reserve champion on one of them. She will be taking that one to the Minnesota State Fair in late-August.
Sophia won a grand champion award for her beaded necklace. She will be taking that one to the State Fair also in late-August.
To celebrate how well the girls did on their 20+ projects, we went to dinner at Dairy Queen (Olivia's request since it was her 15 1/2 year old birthday). Normally, we don't get out of judging so early, but with not having to show club projects this year, we were happy to be done around dinner time.
On our way home, we saw two spotted fawns by the side of the road.
We came home to a newly-graded backyard and one that didn't have the high ragweed and itch weed growing in the firepit.
The doors for the barn were completed and installed.
We celebrated Olivia's half birthday that evening by opening some presents. She had a great day.
On Thursday, July 19th, we enjoyed having our friend, Ed, visit us from California. Ed and Paige are business partners; and Ed is the son-in-law of Don Rickles (who passed away last year). We went to Don's funeral last year, so it was nice to see Ed under happier circumstances.
We had bratwurst, fresh vegetables from the CSA, potato salad, tossed salad, berry/rhubarb pie, and homemade ice cream.
On Sunday, July 29th, we went to the Polk County Fair. We enjoyed seeing the huge rabbits, projects, and entries from youth and adults.
Sophia was a good sport and had her photo taken by one of the cut-out-face displays. She was wearing a hat and didn't want to take it off, so that's why her face isn't closer to the hole.
On the final day of July, the 31st, the concrete guys came to put in the floor of the garage. It's been a long month trying to get a variance with the permit (due to the garage being 61' instead of 75' feet from the wetland...even though it is the same distance as the shed was that burned down) and then doing all the prep work for the garage.
There were 14 loads of fill that were brought in just to support where the garage will be placed; another 3 loads of fill that were used to grade the backyard, and cement trucks for the excavation project and garage. So, lots of construction vehicles during July.
With the 15 trees that were burned in the fire now taken down and chipped, the view to the west is quite open. Of course, this will blocked by the garage once it goes up, but - for the time being - we can enjoy this open and beautiful view.
One of the construction guys did recommend planting some trees along the fence line so that the garage wouldn't be so hot - that there would be shade during the summer.
We do want to plant trees at some point...though a wider variety than the boxelders that had taken over that area. It would be nice to invest in all at least a half dozen different trees to benefit the wildlife; and to have different leaf colors and shapes. Something to think about during the summer and hopefully plant in the Fall or next Spring.