The theme for primary this year is " I know the scriptures are true" and when I did sharing time in the beginning of January I challenged the children to read their scriptures every week. If they read or were read to during the week that they write their names on slips of paper and we'd make it into a chain and see how long we could make the chain in a month. I wasn't sure how much participation we'd get but was encouraged to see a bunch of little slips filled with names the next week.

On the third week of January Derek came in to give the bishopric message and said that he'd heard of this challenge and wanted to encourage them on in this goal He said that if they got the chain the length of the hall that they'd be able to cut his tie and that he'd wear it that way the rest of the day.

The next week the amount of children reading and writing their names on slips exploded!! For weeks and months they filled out their slips looking forward to the week when Bro Tangren would come back to primary. In the halls children would see him and ask each other if they'd read. Some times they would try to write slips for every day that they read. We had to insist that they only write one slip per week and make stars for every day that they read. Can't blame them for trying.

Then July came and they announced that they would be calling a new bishop meaning that the former bishopric would be disbanded. They were a month out from completing their goal and we didn't know if they'd get to cut any ties. Derek was determined that regardless he would have a cut tie.

As "luck" would have it Derek was called back into the bishopric. I thought it would be a fun way for the kids to connect with the new bishopric to have the new councilor be involved with it as well. The day he was called I mentioned the challenge which he was aware of having three kids in primary.

Today was the day. I'd gone to church last night before and hung the chain up around the room to create a festive atmosphere. It was fun to see their faces as they entered the primary room and realized that today was the day.

You can imagine their further surprise and excitement when they found that they were cutting TWO ties.

There had been some debate on who would cut the tie and how we'd decide who would do it. We'd toyed with a raffle of names put in a jar of those who'd read during a given week but I never put out a jar. Then there was talk of having the former bishop cut the ties but he didn't seem to excited about the prospect. Instead we had the bishopric members walk along the chain with their eyes closed and pick a link. That person would cut the ties.

Here's how it went in Junior primary ( ages 3-7 )

I didn't anticipate the scissors not cutting the tie well. But we eventually got it done. (Sorry about the shakiness I was so nervous and excited.)

It went a little faster in Senior primary (ages 8-11)

After the ties were cut a new challenge was issued. To make the chain that reached the bishops office by the end of the year ( half the time and a little longer) and if they did it they could cut the BISHOP'S tie.

These men have endeared themselves to these kids. They were such good sports but I think they had a great time too though.

And true to his word Derek wore his cut tie all day long. Even to a missionary farewell and a stake priesthood meeting. He got a lot of questions and got a chance to tell everyone what the children were doing in primary. Can't wait for the next tie cutting day. I really think they will do it.

With peppers galore, zucchinis and more. And PRETTY corn all in a row!!

With putting the retaining wall in and finishing the backyard, we didn't get our garden in when we usually did. We were going to put a ton of good rich dirt up in the garden area so we'd finally have plants that did well. The logistics of getting a bunch of compost to our house became a problem and so we just got some bagged Nutrimulch and planted our seedlings and seeds in a mixture of our dirt and the Nurtimulch. This is how it looked the day we planted it on May 21.

This is where I planted my corn. I'd read that corn and pumpkins,melons and cucumber were good companion plants sharing space well so I decided to give it a try. If you look closely in between the corn rows every other space there is something planted. I put the pumpkins towards the fence and the melons and cucumbers towards the wall since I knew I wouldn't be harvesting them until the end of the season while the cucumbers and melons would be along the way.

This is the upper half of the garden with the peppers and tomatoes. I planted two peppers in a row but stagger planted the tomatoes because I wanted to give them enough space. I planted them on the closer side to the range they give you but planted one in front and the other in back thinking that would give them plenty of space. I also planted a summer squash and a zucchini in between my peppers and different varieties of tomatoes.

This is over by the house. I planted broccoli and then I finally planted a strawberry pot with strawberries. Hyrum has been SOOOO excited for this. The tomatoes on the porch are the tomatoes I started from seed back in April. I started them late and they just stopped growing at around three inches and two sets of leaves It took me until July to plant these babies outside because I was sure I was sending them to their deaths.

Can you see them? As it turned out five of them survived. I was rather surprised.

This is what the garden looked like at the beginning of July. Towards the corn end

I had to replant one of the varieties three times. I did three rows each of three different varieties. (Humm there seems to be a thing with three going on here.)

This is towards the corn and peppers end

Pretty good I thought. I was getting excited for how it would look when it was all filled in. This is what it looked like at the end of July

I've never had zucchini do well here. The first two years we were here we maybe got 2 or 3. This year it is going CRAZY! It's so fun. I think zucchini needs to be grown every two or three houses and spread far and wide though. Our neighbors on both sides didn't have much success with their gardens this year and we are keeping them stocked in zucchini and tomatoes.

Hyrum helped me plant some of the seeds and the plant that he has been most excited about and has done the best is this.

The 'Casper' Pumpkin. Can you see his shadow in the picture. He LOVES to look at it. He checks on it every day.

Most notable difference this year has been our corn success. Sadly I was too eager on our first ear of corn and picked it before the kernels had fully formed

But look at those kernels ALL of them are there. And it's a FULL ear of corn.

This year I've just noticed the beauty of the garden. Maybe because it is such a focal point of our backyard now but I've just realized how magnificent nature is

This is what our garden looked like at the beginning of this month.

I LOVE it! I think it looks so amazing. Better than I ever imagined it would be. I love the way the vines dangle over the edge of the wall too. I thought I gave every thing enough space but it has been tough harvesting because things have grown into each other. It's going to look so bare when we rip it out after the harvest is over.

And my tiny little tomato plants are thriving and even have little flowers on them and tiny little fruit.
It's been a GOOD garden year. Much better than our first attempt. Wonder what next year will bring. Hopefully more of the same.

I don't know how I lived for 30 plus years, being a gardening gal and not known about the dreaded squash bug. I've been waging war for three years and only this year am I seeing results in my struggle. Because I don't want any one to suffer my defeats I want to share.

Have you ever gone out to to your garden to find your squash, zucchini, or pumpkin leaves looking like this

or worse yet...this

Then you'd better start looking closer because let me assure you ...You are fighting the squash bugs.

Since I can't stand to be that close to one of them without snatching it up that's the best picture I'm able to offer but there's a better picture on this link

You might think. Oh it's just one little bug or just two little bugs ( and you'll most likely find them closer to the center of the plant on the stem or underside of the leaves ) but where there's one there's bound to be two and where there's two there will soon be this

Those are their eggs. The darker they are the closer they are to hatching and then your in trouble.

These little sap suckers will spread like crazy sucking your plant dry.

The first year I tried using Sevin a pesticide but because of their armor you have to get it onto their soft underside to have any hope of it working. I didn't see much success from that they always seemed to get their eggs out there before they died. So I tried another tactic. Drowning. Brutal I know. It was horrible to watch them try to swim for so long then ultimately die. It seemed inhumane. So the next year I placed bricks next to each plant and when I saw them I picked them up (with a leaf...I'm girly like that) and smashed them between the bricks. I started to see some success but this year I've gotten to most of them before they lay eggs or before the eggs hatch and my plants are actually bearing fruit.

We'll be drowning in zucchini this year.