21 December 2008

Christmas Happenings

I was able to help in Katie's kindergarten class Friday. It was a partial day, and they had lots of fun activities to do. They had a rotation of 4 activities. They cut out antler hats and had red put on their noses, so they could look like Rudolph. I got to help them with their snack, frosting sugar cookies and applying sprinkles, and lots of other things. I read stories to them as they ate. One of the stories was quite memorable. It was about a little pine tree who wanted to be a Christmas tree, but he was crooked so nobody chose him as their Christmas tree. Instead, a family chose him to plant in their backyard where their little boy would play around him, but he still wanted to be a Christmas tree. He was sad that the family chose a different tree to put in their house and decorate for Christmas. The story ended with nature adorning the little tree as a Christmas tree. As I read, I wanted to say that it was dumb that he wanted to be a Christmas tree. If he had been chosen, he would have been dead! It would have been much more fitting for him to have seen the chosen Christmas tree being dragged from the home after Christmas with the needles gone. Bare. Brown. And dead. Then realize how blessed he was for having a family who loved him and cared for him, and chose him to live in their yard to bless their lives a lot longer than the few days around Christmas.

So maybe that isn't such a cheery Christmasy thought, but I just watched the recorded episode of Dr. Who from last night, which was a pretty nightmarey Christmas Day.

Anywho, yesterday was our ward's Christmas Dinner where Santa Clause came, and my children got to sit on Santa's lap.




10 December 2008

Cooking Club

I joined with a few other ladies in our ward to spend a day together about every other week to cook. I hosted this week, meaning we used my kitchen. It was a pumpkin theme (because I have a shelf of winter squashes I wanted to use in the girls' closet). We made cranberry pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, and no bake cream cheese pumpkin pie. All the recipes tasted really good. I was particularly surprised about the pumpkin soup, because my imagination did not prepare me for what I tasted. It was really, really good.

I don't have anybody else's email addresses but I do have a couple blog addresses, so I'm posting the recipes here where they can copy them off freely.




Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
this is my original recipe

1 Cup whole Wheat Flour
3/4 Cup white flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 Cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup orange juice
1 egg
1/2 cup honey
1 cup Chopped cranberries
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9 x 2.75-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and spices in a medium mixing bowl. Mix in the pumpkin. Separately mix orange juice, egg, and honey. Mix both combinations of ingredients together until there are no dry spots left. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan.

Bake for one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (keep in mind the cranberries add moisture, so the toothpick may never really come out totally "clean"). Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Makes 1 loaf (16 slices).

Suggestions for substitutes:
Flour: Of course you can use all white flour, or use up to 3/4 cup other kinds of flours.
Pumpkin: Any winter squash will do.
Orange juice: Any other juice or even water. Whatever you use will subtly change the flavor.
Honey: You can use any sweetener in place of the honey- maple syrup, agave syrup, sugar, or brown sugar. For a darker flavor, you could even use molasses.


Pumpkin Soup

1 large onion, diced
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
2 cans chicken broth (about 14 oz)
1 small can pumpkin (we used 2 cups puree)
4oz evaporated milk

Cook onion in butter until clear. Add flour. Cook one minute. Add broth and pumpkin. Simmer 30 minutes. Add milk and serve warm.

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie
originally from kraftffoods.com

1 graham cracker crumb crust or baked pie crust
4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. cold milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 cups thawed whipped topping
1 cup cold milk
1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
2 pkg. (4-serving size each)vanilla instant pudding mix (can use sugar-free)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Beat cream cheese, 1 Tbsp. milk and sugar in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Stir in whipped topping. Spread onto bottom of crust.

Pour 1 cup milk into medium bowl. Add pumpkin, pudding mix and spices. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. (Mixture will be thick.) Spread over cream cheese layer.

Refrigerate 4 hours or until set. Garnish with additional whipped topping, if desired. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.

26 November 2008

Halloween, one holiday late

I don't know what it is about getting pictures off my camera, but it seems a colossal chore. So, here it is Thanksgiving Day in a few hours and I'm finally showing you my kids costumed up for Halloween.

First off, there's Katie and Tiffany by their respective carved pumpkins. Katie's was a witch. Tiffany's was a haunted house. Emily was napping when we took this picture, so we had to get one of her later. We made a circle trick or treating around our block, and the girls came home with heavy bags. They ate candy for a few days, then I asked Corwin to take the rest to work to share, so it wasn't laying about the house tempting us (especially me) any more.



27 October 2008

Just a few things

Emily is pretty much potty trained now. She's been wearing panties all week and has very few accidents. She tells me when she needs to go, and makes me come along. Well, that is until today. She's actually gone to the toilet a couple times by herself. It is sooo nice not to deal with diapers anymore.

We spent some time a few days ago going to a corn maze. Even though Emily got tired almost off the bat and had to be carried, it really was a fun time. Wonder of wonders, we got through the evening with no whining! That was the best treat of all, family time without the whine. We also enjoyed hot chocolate and mini donuts from the shop at the corn maze. I figured (with the diet), that once in a while it's ok to splurge. The next day, I had sugar withdrawals again (a headache), so maybe it wasn't such a good idea for me after all. I need to be a lot more careful with sugar.

Speaking of dieting, I have lost a little over 20 pounds now, putting me back within my normal range on the BMI. So, I'm not looking so much at weightloss now, but more at focusing on eating healthy (in case anybody is curious). The focus for me is whole foods, without a lot of added fat and sugar. I'm still not going to eat meat, and very little dairy. Though, for the sake of peace in my household, my baked goods will mostly have to be half white and half whole wheat flour. Corwin just doesn't like heavy breads, so he compromises with me.

We had our trunk or treat at the church last Friday. I dug out our Halloween box to see what costumes had been put away. There was the winged unicorn that Emily wore last year (that really, she was already too big for at the time because it was for an infant, but we let her feet hang out the end instead of snapping it under her feet). I don't really know why I saved it, except it was so cute. Sigh. Of course it fits none of my girls this year. There were two costumes that fit Emily this year. There was a jack-o-lantern shirt thing, and there was a baby Simba (Lion King) costume. She chose to wear the lion. Next we had a firefighter costume that fit Katie quite well. Lastly, I had placed my cap and gown from my highschool graduation in the box. Tiffany was so excited that she could wear it this year, as it didn't drag on the ground like it did when shetried it on last year. Yep, I admit it, I save things. I'm working on that habit, and I am getting better about letting go. The Simba costume is going to the thrift store soon after Halloween (I'll let them store it for a year) since it won't fit any of my girls after this. But the other two will go back in the box, even if it takes Emily two or three years to grow into the firefighter outfit. And I'll save the cap and gown, after all I had to pay for them. I have to get my money's worth. Ok, maybe I'm a little crazy. I mean isn't it easier to buy new costumes every year than to store the ones you got? But then again, I've seen what the stores want for a costume that will only be worn for a few hours. Even the thrift stores want quite a bit for one. So, I guess I'll save the two that have a chance of being worn in my family at least one more time.

I'll let the girls dress up and go out one more time on Halloween. Then I'll get a few pictures.

07 October 2008

Update

It's been a while since the last post, so I thought I should give an update as to what we've been up to. Let's see. My dad gave me a bunch of grapes, and I made raisins. His neighbor gave me a bunch of peaches, and I made fruit leather and smoothie popsicles. I've had a birthday. Tiffany and I have been getting a workout everyday riding our bikes to and from school. She averages 2 1/2 miles a day, and I get about 7 1/2 with my three times a day trip.

In other news. Well, I don't know how to put this, but I've changed to a mostly vegan diet. I'm eating much better, and I feel great. I say "mostly" because, I'm still adjusting to how I can eat when away from home. When I'm home, I have no problems sticking to the diet. Unfortunately for me, I've got to find new "family favorite" recipes. Besides animal products, I've also cut out sugar, processed grains and added fat.

You're probably wondering what Corwin thinks of all this. Well, perhaps he'll write and tell you. From my view, he's been very tolerant and supportive of me thus far. He insists on cheese and milk for him, so sometimes I make part of a dish a little different, and he takes care of his own breakfast. So, there's only friction when I run out of dinner ideas.

I've also created a separate food blog for experimenting with new foods and sharing my experiences. It is located here.

Other than that, things have been plodding along. Things get done slowly, and we haven't really started anything new. We're just working on the same old projects.

13 September 2008

Air Show

We went to the Mountain Home Air Force Base Air Show today. It was quite windy, but we had fun together looking at airplanes, watching the show, and touring airplanes close up.

The first pictures are from the search and rescue plane.


The girls sitting on the fold down bench seats along the wall:


Emily sitting on the floor of the cargo area:


Tiffany in a seat at the front of the cargo area:


Corwin in a seat behind the copilot:


Tiffany as copilot:


Katie flipping switches and pushing buttons:


The Blue Angels flying in formation:


Katie standing on the wing of a Diamond Star:

12 September 2008

Tiffany's baptism

Our oldest daughter was baptized last Saturday. Here are a few pictures from that day:




Corwin and Tiffany:



My three girls:



This is what the children did after the baptism:

02 September 2008

Heart transplant begins

Well, I did it: I removed the gas engine from the Jetta. I foolishly forgot to unhook a few things before renting the engine hoist; a 2-hour rental turned out to be a 4-hour rental and I ended up just cutting an exhaust clamp off because I got sick of fighting with it with the clock ticking. But, out she came, so now I can continue disassembly of the brakes, steering, subframe and suspension. I'm not going to just replace everything with new parts, but I am going to disassemble and inspect everything and replace as necessary and upgrade where I feel like it. I've already got a list of electrical improvements to make; stock Jettas of this year won't warn you if you leave the lights on, but this one will by the time I'm done with it. :)

Here's the engine on the hoist, the transmission is on the floor. Transmissions always seem small to me once they're out of the car, for some reason. They're pretty light, too, easily liftable by one person. Uh, don't try that with a pickup truck trans though.

Lawn mower update

A while ago I blogged about a lawn mower left out for the garbage men. It had a bit of rust so I decided to paint the deck. I didn't really do it to increase the selling price of the mower, though I'm sure that helped -- mainly I wanted to practice a technique used to paint cars for about $50.

Normally, a cheap paint job for a car costs $200 and looks terrible. A good paint job costs $2,000 and up, but some clever (or frugal) chap realized that enamel or polyurethane boat paint can actually be rolled onto a car if properly thinned so it becomes self-leveling. Of course, it can take upwards of 10 coats to get full color density, but if you have cheap labor (yourself) you can get results that rival more expensive professional spray jobs. Since I like cheap, and I have three cars that need painted, I decided to experiment on the mower before tackling a bigger project.

It turned out ok. At first I was a perfectionist and it went well but was going to take a really long time; I won't say it's necessarily difficult to get good results painting metal, but your prep work and technique (and patience) are critical. My final result did have a few imperfections as a result of my haste, but I wanted to get this mower out of here so I could work on the Jetta (see previous blogs) so I didn't go back and start over so it could be done perfectly. Still, I ended up with a good four-foot paint job: looks fantastic from four feet away, but you can see a couple of high and low spots if you look more closely.

I ended up accomplishing two things: a better looking mower, and valuable experience for when I take on a car paint job.

I sold the mower today. I was afraid it wouldn't sell at the end of the mowing season, but I got three bites on the Craigslist ad and the first person to show up started it with one pull and they took it.

I still keep an eye out for mowers pushed to the curb before garbage day... there are worse hobbies, I suppose.

What's up with the specs?

Thanks to Spectacular Six for pointing out that I haven't said anything about the girls getting glasses. Here's the story.

Tiffany and Katie had been asking me if they could get glasses. They don't need glasses, but Corwin & I both wear them (or contacts), and recently Tiffany's best cousin had to get them, so they wanted them, too. We've tried explaining what a pain it is to have to wear glasses and to take care of glasses, but they were not to be dissuaded (yes, of course we could just say no, but there's really no harm in it). So I thought I could just ask at the optometrist's office if I could buy the old demo frames when they were done with them. Well, when Katie's birthday came, we were at walmart picking up supplies, and the girls saw the optometrist's office there was open, so I went in and asked. Of course, they just send the demo frames back to the company. But the lady there told me I could just buy the frames right off the rack. The name brand letters come right off with a little fingernail polish remover. And they sell kids frames for as little as $10! So, I bought the two girls demo frames with demo lenses, and they were so happy. Surprising for me, Katie has taken really good care of hers, and she loves to wear them.

29 August 2008

10 tips to beat clutter in less than five minutes

I just saw this on unclutterer.com. It is too good not to share:

10 tips to beat clutter in less than five minutes
  1. Make your bed each morning.
  2. Throw away the newspaper each night, even if you haven’t read it yet.
  3. Follow the “one-minute rule” – push yourself to do any chore that takes less than one minute. Throw away the junk mail, close the cabinet door, put your dirty socks in the hamper, hang up your wet towel.
  4. Identify an organization or person to whom you can give things you no longer need – it’s much easier to get rid of unneeded stuff if you can envision someone else getting good use from them. Also, figure out a place to store those things until you hand them over. We have a special shelf for books that we’re taking to the Housing Works thrift store. When the shelf is full, we drop off the books.
  5. Pause for a moment before you “store” something. Storing something means you don’t intend to use it much. Other than holiday decorations and seasonal clothes, you should strive to “store” as little as possible.
  6. Beware of freebies. Never accept anything free, unless you’re thrilled with it. A mug, a tote bag, a hand-me-down toy, the lamp from your mother-in-law—if you don’t need it, don’t take it.
  7. Get rid of things if they break. When I went through our apartment, I was astonished by how many things I’d kept even though they didn’t work.
  8. Don’t keep any piece of paper unless you know that you actually need it. I have a friend who, for years, carefully filed away the stubs when she paid her gas bill. “Why?” I asked, mystified. “I have no idea,” she said. Along the same lines, don’t keep anything that would quickly become dated—like travel information. Remember the internet! If you can easily find information online, you don’t need to keep a hard copy.
  9. Hang up your coat.
  10. Before you go to bed, take five minutes to do an “evening tidy-up.” Don’t tackle anything ambitious, but just stack up the magazines, put your shoes away, shove the chairs into place, etc. Just a few minutes of tidying can make your house look a lot better, and it’s a calming thing to do before going to sleep. Plus it makes the morning nicer.

Birthdays and Misc.

Katie got her staples taken out yesterday. Even though they said it wouldn't hurt, it did. Poor girl!

I know I am such a slacker. There have been so many things that have happened, but I didn't want to post without pictures, so I put it off. I finally got the pictures downloaded, so brace yourself for the longest post in history. Ok, not really. I think I'll just post a few things now, then come back later for a few more.

Two of my children recently had birthdays. Tiffany turned 8 on August 12, and Katie turned 5 on August 20. First off, Tiffany's birthday. We had watermelon at the park with some of her friends. She loves reading mystery novels, so we had a "clue" scavenger hunt. It may have been a little advanced for them, but they had fun.



Then there was Katie's birthday. Again, we used our local park. It's so much easier than cleaning a house after a party! Katie wanted cupcakes. We found cute little party toothpick candles from the dollar store to use. Here are a few pictures from that:




21 August 2008

Ever Wonder How Much It Costs to Go to the Fair?

The answer is about $420. That may seem like a lot of money for some of you. Well, it really does to me, too. Sometimes things don't go as we planned.

Corwin took the day off work so we could go to the fair during the day when it was less crowded. We showed up about noon, when the carnival opened. We paid admission and Corwin and the older two girls got wristbands for unlimited rides.

I took Emily through the exhibits while the others were off to the carnival. They had a blast. Later, Katie joined me, while Corwin and Tiffany rode rides that Katie wasn't tall enough for. We also bought a little food there. I had brought apples, bananas, and nuts, but apparently, that wasn't quite enough for everybody, so we bought fries and a burrito to share.

We heard about this great show called Splash Dogs. We tried to find it, but to no avail. Instead, we passed this tent where they were doing a CSI show. I thought it sounded interesting. Corwin didn't, so he and Tiffany took off for more rides. Katie, Emily, and I sat on the bleachers at the back of the tent to watch the show. It was kind of interesting, but also hard to follow because for me, it's hard to listen to those funky echoing microphones. The girls didn't sit real still, but they weren't loud. Emily got up a couple times to get her backpack off the stroller and to put it back for her snack (nuts). Katie adjusted herself on the bleachers, then slipped down to where her bottom hit the foot area and her head hit the seat. Of course, she let out a cry. I took her in my arms, and Emily by the hand out of the tent, so she could calm down. Then I noticed blood on her shirt collar. I looked through her hair, and sure enough, there was a gash about 3/4" long. It looked fairly deep, too. I went back in the tent for the stroller, put Emily in it, and took Katie by the hand across the fairgrounds to the first aid station. They looked at it, put a bandage on, and told us to take her to a clinic for stitches. I texted Corwin. He met us at the first aid station, and carried Katie to the car.

Now, how hard should it be to find a quick care clinic open in the evening? All of them I knew of in our town closed by 6. And guess what? It was 5:55. So, the only thing we could come up with was to drive to the next town over to get her in. She got two staples put in the back of her head, and a pair of nitrile gloves to calm her. Oh yeah, and stickers and popsicles for herself and her sisters.

So, for a little more than $420, we got a fun afternoon at the fair with a little food, three staples, a pair of gloves, a few stickers, and three popsicles.

10 August 2008

Going through the pictures on my camera, I found this video of the girls playing in the rain a couple weeks ago.

25 July 2008

Free lawn mower

As I was on my way home from work yesterday, I noticed a lawn mower pushed to the curb for the garbage man. I asked permission to take it and got my first free lawn mower!

It had obviously sat for a few years, so I disassembled it to clean the carburetor and free up the frozen butterflies and linkages. (Lemontree lent a hand too.) One of the throttle shaft seals disintegrated when I attempted to clean it, so I cut some foam from Tiffany's "eggcrate" mattress pad and made a new one. Sharpened the blade, put in some fresh oil and gas and... it started up on the first pull! Not bad for free garbage.

There is a broken throttle control lever, so I'm going to hit up some local lawn mower junkyards and see if I can get a better one. Other than slapping some paint on the rust, this "garbage" is ready to cut a few more lawns for somebody. If I value my labor, I'll be selling it at a loss, but it's still fun to divert something from the landfill. The best form of recycling, in my opinion. :)

18 July 2008

Painting!

This is what we've been up to just about every Saturday for the last month or so, and every day during the whole week Corwin had off work. Painting our house! It didn't quite work out as planned. For one, the prep work takes some time. We had some peeling paint, so we did some scraping and applied primer. We thought we could do a side of the house each weekend. We also thought our spraygun worked. But apparently it is broken, so we did it the old fashioned way, which in a way is probably better, because we can get into the crevices better than I think a sprayer would have done. Also, we didn't count on it getting so hot so soon, so every day we've been able to work on it, it's only been a few hours.



I wish I could show you a finished picture, but alas, we are destined to work at it for a while longer. Most of the main color is finally applied, and I've started on the trim (a reddey-orangey color). For your enjoyment, I attach a photo of Corwin painting where I couldn't reach. The color on the slat below where he is painting is the dried finish color. I know it's not a huge difference from the original color, but now I can say our house is light gray, and not some tannish wierd color.

11 July 2008

What's That Bug?

We were spending the evening watering our various plants in the backyard. I checked my compost bin and saw that it was very dry. While I was doing this, the girls joined me. Tiffany looked in and saw several little bugs running around. Of course, you know that compost bins are full of bugs of all sorts. I know this, too. Lately, I've seen a lot of ants, but it's not uncommon to see pill bugs and earwigs, so that's what I expected when she asked, "What's that bug?" Well, it obviously wasn't any of those afore mentioned bugs, but it was really hard to get a good look at. They liked the dark, so if I moved a piece of compost, I saw maybe a hundred of them, but they scattered and disappeared deeper into the compost, that it was so hard to get a good look at them. Finally one of them got caught in an eggshell. Despite their speed, it couldn't climb up the smooth sides of the shell, so I caught one!


It's really dusty. The picture really doesn't look like I remember it looking. Funny thing about pictures. I remember it being blacker and skinnier. Of course it was moving really fast. It was tough to get it to sit still for a picture.

Anyhow, I went searching on the web for this strange creature. I knew it was some sort of larvae, so that helped. But what really helped was running into a wonderful website called What's That Bug? I'm not sure I've figured out what it is, but I think it is the larvae of a carpet beetle. I sent the picture to the administrator of that site to ask, so I may yet find out definitively what the bugs are. I then spent 2 hours looking at bugs on the website. It was way cool.

06 July 2008

Teardown begins

Our VW Fox has served faithfully as the family car for several years, but it's a little on the small side for a growing family and the paint... well, Volkswagen picked a bad formulation for their red paint in 1988 and the result is not pretty. The VW Jetta is larger than the Fox both in legroom as well as trunk space, so we purchased one a while ago and it's been sleeping in the garage until I had time to get to it. Last week, I finally had time.

I've removed most of the front end to expose the now nearly naked gasoline engine. The gas engine will be replaced with a turbodiesel engine from a local junkyard that has been bored out and will be rebuilt with new pistons and bearings, so we will essentially have a new engine ready to go 300,000 miles or more (VWs and diesels both last a very long time -- some VW diesels have passed 500,000 miles without a rebuild). Yes, yes, diesel fuel is currently more expensive than gasoline, but at 45 to 50MPG, it still ends up being cheaper per mile than a 30MPG gasoline car. Plus, you have the option of burning waste vegetable oil in a diesel engine... free fuel!

I'm also going to be replacing all of the wear items. Once the Jetta is done, we will sell the Fox so the Jetta has to be reliable enough to go on interstate trips -- any part that might leave us stranded is going to be replaced now while it's all in pieces anyway. The cost of replacing the engine and various parts will be high up front, but will still be less than new car payments over the long term... and because it is an older car, it will be cheaper to insure and less likely to be stolen. Plus, it's kind of cool to build your own car... kind of the ultimate Lego toy.

26 June 2008

Fishing

I finally gave in, after much youth persuasion, to buy a fishing license. My girls wanted to go fishing. It probably had nothing to do with the fact that fish and game officials were at the park teaching kids how to tie knots and giving them a chance at casting. Or the fact that my brothers and parents regularly go fishing. I'm kind of a cheap skate. I didn't really want to fork over $25 for a license when I know for a fact I probably won't catch anything. What can I say? I'm a bad fisherman. Or maybe I'm not dedicated enough. Nah. I'm just lousy at it. I could go fishing with a group of people and be the only one who didn't catch anything. This is probably the reason I haven't had a fishing license in the past ten years.

I couldn't find any of my old poles. It seems I most likely left them at my parents' house where they got commandeered by my brothers. For some strange reason, I couldn't find my tackle box either. I don't really think I would have given it away. I'm sure it's around here somewhere. Happily my family had given my two oldest each a pole, which they have never used. These were old poles, so I looked at them, and found the reel on one was actually broken, so I had to throw that one out. The other was in great condition. That is, until somebody stepped on it and broke the reel. So, we went to Walmart, where we bought new poles, and a few essential tackle supplies. I even got a little pole for Emily. She was so happy about it, she carried it through the store, gave it up only to check out and allow the checker to cut it off the packaging, then she proudly marched out of the store, carrying her new pole over her shoulder (it was a small teaching moment for her to no longer drag it on the ground).

For our first attempt, we went to fish in the river. We parked, then walked through the brush (Emily proudly carrying her pole all the way) and sat under a tree in a nice shady spot, because I'm crazy I didn't want a sunburn. Emily wanted to get in the water, so I kept pulling her back. I helped Tiffany get her pole ready first. Then I let her cast. She stood and threw her line out. She promptly caught the tree overhead. I showed her how to pull the line from the tree without breaking her pole. It took a while, but I finally got Katie set up, and helped her cast her line. Meanwhile, Tiffany reeled hers back in and cast again. This girl caught the tree at least half a dozen times. Not to mention that Katie and Tiffany tangled their lines together several times. All this before I even got Emily's line set up. Emily was very possessive of her pole. She didn't want me to touch it. She let me cast the line once for her, and I think she even got a bite. She wanted to hold her own pole, by herself. And practice swordplay with it. After I helped her reel it in, she didn't want the line back in the water. It took me a while to realize I needed to remove the hook from her line. After she impaled Katie's pantleg. Katie was really good and sat still most of the time. Tiffany learned to sit down to cast, so eventually she (mostly) avoided the tree. We only stayed about 45 minutes, but it was an exercise in frustration patience.

Next time, I think I'll choose a nice, quiet pond with no trees.

Tiffany asked if we could go fishing every day.

14 June 2008

How I spent my Saturday

Today I made a bike-cam mounting bracket out of an M5 x 0.8 screw and nut, a random chunk of spare metal drilled, heated, bent, and ground, and a 1/4"-20 bolt and nut. The little screw goes where the front reflector threads on, and the bigger bolt fits the tripod mount for a camera. Here it is mounted below my left turn signal (click for a slightly bigger view):



The metal was left over from a failed attempt to build a tool to work on my VW Rabbit so it was nearly free.

I was a little worried that the spot-welded nut that the reflector threads into would snap off the first bump I went over due to the weight of the bracket and camera, but the 'Yamaha' sheet metal badge it's attached to has some give to it for shock and vibration absorption. It also means the video ends up being a little wiggly but not too bad (you can just barely see my fender at the bottom right of the below video as a reference point for the wiggle). If you want to watch it, you may want to skip ahead to 15 seconds in as the first bit is really boring:

Clicky: http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=21j3y4z&s=3

I don't have a really cool video yet, unfortunately... this was just a proof of concept. :)

The project turned out ok, and really, half of my desire to make it was just to give me a reason to play with power tools, torches, and a sledgehammer... and it succeeded in that respect. The other half is, I thought it would be a cool thing to do after I watched a bunch of motorcycle videos on YouTube. One thing that you really notice on videos like that is that motorcycles are like airplanes when turning -- they really bank or lean. The interesting thing is that the lean seems much more radical on video than in real life. In the video, the corner was taken a fair bit faster than the recommended 10MPH (but still within the posted speed limit, I promise!), but it looks like I'm practically dragging a footpeg.

07 June 2008

Variation on an old theme

I don't know about the extended Thueson clan, but we all love "Yummy Potatoes" or "Funeral Potatoes" or "Wedding Potatoes" or any of the other dozen names it's known by. The other week we tried something a little bit different: "Easy Cheesy Salsa Potatoes", and they actually turned out quite good. No, this isn't a food blog but since Yummy Potatoes is a popular dish with just about everyone I know, I thought it wouldn't hurt to kick things up a notch.

Here's where we got the recipe: http://www.bettycrocker.com/Recipes/Recipe.aspx?recipeId=18970

06 June 2008

Rainbow Clouds

This was yesterday. There was a circle rainbow around the sun, and a second upside down rainbow in the clouds underneath. Unfortunately, I don't have a wide enough angle on my camera to get the circle, but I think I still got some pretty good pictures.


30 May 2008

Tuesday

Corwin's birthday was Tuesday. I made a cake and wrapped his gifts (just what he asked for, a twirl a tie and a few new ties). The girls lost the birthday cards we bought for him, so they each took a sheet of printer paper and colored their own cards for him.

Tiffany set up the play room table in the living room and put his gifts on it. It looked very nice. Emily then opened the gifts about three times, and spilled a glass of water on the table, completely soaking one of them.

I started making a cake. I borrowed my mom's old McCall's cookbook for a few recipes (wonderful cookbook, by the way). So, I found a white cake recipe and proceeded to start making the cake. I got the shortening out and found that it was rancid. The girls wanted to smell it, so I let them. They were sitting at the counter. I mistakenly left it on the counter in front of them. I went to get a new can out of the linen closet (yep, I keep food in the linen closet). When I returned, I saw that they each had handfuls of shortening. I told them to clean it off themselves. I even gave them some paper towels. So, I start mixing up the cake. Understand, I am not 2 feet from them. I am standing at the same counter even. Well, I glance over, and they now have shortening up to their armpits! The paper towels I gave them were unrecognizable shortening blobs. I had to actually, physically clean each child myself (not just hand them a paper towel) and take the shortening out to the outside garbage. What amazes me the most is what a one track mind I have.

To finish the cake (a layer cake with strawberry jelly between the layers), I had to make some frosting. While I think it's kind of fun to decorate cakes, I hate making frosting. So, I looked through the frosting recipes in the book, most of which were to be cooked on a double boiler. I found a wonderfully simple frosting, I just hoped it would taste ok on a cake. Actually, it is called "sour cream topping." The recipe calls for 1 cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, a one tablespoon grated orange peel. I put 1 cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla flavor and a drop or two of almond flavor in a bowl, and Katie mixed them (I guess I just have a hard time following a recipe). I put it on the cake, it didn't cover very well, so we mixed up another recipe of it, and it covered the cake well. The girls enjoyed licking out the containers. They thought it tasted great. And actually the frosted cake tasted great as well. It was much more refreshing than the usual gag-me shortening & powdered sugar frosting. The downside, of course, is that you can't do real decorating with it. I bet it would taste really good with strawberries.

One birthday card was found before Corwin came home, the one from the girls. The card from me wasn't found until the next day.

16 May 2008

Life and Death Ramblings

It's been a lot longer since my last post than I've wanted it to be. So much has happened and so much on my mind, but I didn't know how to put any of it down in words.

First off, there have been a couple of deaths of people I know. My sister-in-law's step-dad died a few weeks ago. I remember Vern as a kind and happy man who always had a smile for me. He accepted myself and my siblings as his own family, even when he went through rough times of his own.

Another of my sister-in-laws lost her step-dad just the following week. Her mom and step-dad were riding a motorcycle, which was struck by a car turning onto their path. Her step-dad died at the scene of the crash. Her mom has been in the hospital since, with very serious injuries. It's been a couple of days since I talked to my brother, but I believe she has finally left the ICU, but due to her injuries and operations needed to repair some of the damage, she will be in and out of the ICU a few times.

Corwin has been excited to have his motorcycle running and has been riding it to work. Some people would say that in light of my sister-in-law's family, I should forbid my husband from riding. Of course, that would be my gut reaction, but if I did so, where would it stop? He could then forbid me from riding my bicycle, or walking along a busy street, because of there is a chance an inattentive motorist hit me. The only thing I can do is remind people to watch out for each other. Motorcycles are everywhere on the road, especially during the summer, as are bicyclists, and to a lesser extent, pedestrians. Just remember to look for all those who share the road with us.

A celebration is in order for my cousin, Patti Jo. She has been fighting cancer with chemo treatments, and the last scan showed no remaining sign of the cancer! Heavenly Father has given her a great blessing and answered our many prayers in her behalf.

With all these events, and more I have been thinking about, I have been pondering life a bit more. When so many people I know have been affected because of the fragility of the human body, I can't help but think of my own existence. I've been pondering what preparations I should make if something were to happen to me tomorrow. I'm thinking more of the value of a will, living will, and the power of attorney.

On a brighter note, the girls and I visited a local greenhouse yesterday and purchased some plants for our gardens. I planted some onions in Emily's garden. Katie planted tomatoes. Tiffany planted bell peppers and onions around her rose. I put in a few petunias and other flowers on the side of the house and a sandwort in the front where I had moved the rose from earlier this year.

28 April 2008

We're really good at...


We're really good at procrastination. We bought a bunch of wood about two months ago and only now got around to putting together Lemontree's compost bins (she found some plans online that used 4x4s with slots in them, to allow the slats on the side to be slid out when it was time to empty the bin).

To be fair, the weather was really bad on some of the Saturdays we might have built it. And then when we got around to our first attempt to cut the slots for the slats, the guide on our cheap little router was too wimpy and every time I'd hit a knot in the wood, the router would jump out, bend the guide, and make a mess of the slot I was cutting.

Plan B was to use the table saw to cut dadoes, but the fence was broken so we put in an order for a new one. That took another two weeks to arrive, and then it was off to the store to buy a dado blade. Oops, the arbor on our cheap table saw is too short for a dado!

Plan C was to cut a few slots in the wood and Lemontree, never afraid of a little mindless tedium, would chip out the rest with a chisel. This finally worked and soon we had assembled the front and the back. Hilarity ensued as we tried to get the kids to help us stand them up so we could connect the front and the back to each other. Suddenly, they all had to go potty, or were hot, or tired, or thirsty... huh.

I'm not going to post a close-up of the thing, because with our workmanship, we wouldn't last 5 minutes on Hometime (unless it was an episode that used us as an example of how not to build things), but from 20 feet it looks ok. There are three compartments so two can be composting while the third is being filled. A couple of slats are missing from the middle so the girls know which compartment is to be filled (and so they can reach to put things in).

25 April 2008

Emily's Birthday

Emily is two years old, now. Her birthday is today. Tiffany and Katie wanted to buy her a gift. They each took a few dollars to the dollar store. Katie gave her the stick horse. Tiffany, a very cute snow globe. They each bought a birthday card for her, too. Tiffany and Katie made such a big deal out of Emily's birthday. They were so nice to her, and generally made it a really great day for her. Here's the picture of her posing with her gifts. Grandma (Corwin's mom) made her the very cute jumper, which Emily absolutely loves. It has sheep and duck buttons on the front. Grandma and Grandpa also gave her the book, which I must say is very cute. Our neighbor gave her the teddy bear. We gave her the sunglasses (which she really did want). And then there's the comb in the picture. Well, Katie wrapped it up for Emily. I don't know why. Maybe she was just excited. Emily really loved all the attention she got.

23 April 2008

Squirrels

When I looked out my window yesterday morning, I saw a squirrel in my back yard. I watched it as it leaped through the grass straight to my compost heap. It took a piece of hotdog bun I had thrown there the night before. It took it across the lawn, then up to the top of the fence, where I watched it nibble it, turning the bread round and round.

Later, I took the kids on a bike ride. We stopped at a park for lunch. We had a picnic of some wonderful French Morbier cheese, crusty bread, apples, and cumquats. The girls ate some, then went to play. I moved to a park bench to watch them. Apparently, we left a couple apples on the picnic table. I glanced over just as a squirrel picked a whole apple up in its mouth and went bounding away with it. There was another squirrel attempting to do the same with the other apple. I scared the squirrel as I advanced on the apple. There were a couple squirrel bites out of it, so I tossed it at the squirrel, who ran after it like a dog playing fetch. It grabbed the apple and kept running.

I've never seen a squirrel eat anything other than nuts, so this was interesting to me.

As a side note, cumquats are my new favorite fruit. I'd never had them before, but they are sooo good. The first one was surprising, as I didn't expect the acute sourness of the fruit. Being an orange colored fruit, I expected the sweet flavor of an orange. Instead, I was surprised by the sour flavor of a lemon or lime, which I like, too. I like the bitterness of the skin, mixed with the sour flavor. I think, because of the skin, it doesn't affect my teeth as much as eating a lemon or lime does.

Emily's language progression

Emily has finally learned to say the "eye" sound. Now, instead of saying ha and bah, she actually says hi and bye. She's even putting it to use in other words and names. It's exciting to see her language developing.

It's interesting to me that each of my children learned to speak differently. I think Tiffany learned a word at a time. Katie talked in complete sentences. One of the very first things she said (before she was even 2) was, "I want some cookie dough." Now, Emily is learning one sound at a time. She can say several different sounds, but hasn't gotten the knack of putting the sounds together.

19 April 2008

It's alive!

The last couple weeks have been exciting. I (Corwin) have been getting my motorcycle running. I tried last year this time but failed to figure out this ancient 1981 technology called "carburetors". I usually drive a diesel VW Rabbit that averages 42MPG but diesel fuel prices have proved to be an effective incentive to get the bike running this year (motorcycles typically get 40 to 60MPG).

It took a few new parts and some cool new tools to get it all working. Tuning the air/fuel mixture (a critical adjustment now done by computer on modern engines) was performed with a glass spark plug, so I could actually see the color of the flame in the cylinder as the gasoline burns - yellow is too rich, white is too lean, blue is just right. Computers are great and all (they're how I make my living) but it's kind of cool to see the inside of an engine while it's running in a low-tech caveman sort of way.

When I was a kid, someone gave me a ride on their motorcycle and it scared me silly. So I was a little cautious when Tiffany wanted a ride on daddy's motorcycle. I went really slow at first and she was surprisingly calm, so we went up to about 20mph around our block with no screaming or hysterics at all, it was kind of anti-climatic. In fact, the next day she eagerly jumped at the chance to ride a couple blocks to the auto parts store to pick up yet another tool to work on the motorcycle. 30mph was no problem and in fact she made idle conversation like we were in a car. I guess nobody told her to be scared, so she wasn't. The only scary parts were the slow speed sharp turns where I had to lean the bike way over; and to be fair, I can't blame her as it is scary if you're not the one in control.

Of course I don't plan on taking any of the kids for rides very often, or indeed at all on busy streets. Motorcycling in and of itself is not dangerous (unless you ride like an idiot), but cellphone-blabbing SUV drivers tend to be motorcycle-seeking missiles. So don't worry that I'm recklessly endangering a minor. ;)

15 April 2008

Spring again! Well- Almost, I Think.

Well, spring is decidedly the strangest season. It gets really warm, then it snows. It's cold a few days, then it's warm again. It was above 70 degrees the past few days. Now it's really cold outside. Yesterday we roasted hotdogs in our fire pit. I didn't have to work as hard as I thought I would to keep the kids away from the fire. They thought it was fun to gather twigs for the fire. It was fun. There is a downside, however. We all smelled like we'd been camping for a week.

09 April 2008

Sewing projects

A while ago, I made some quilted throw pillow covers for the throw pillows on the sofa. They were boats. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of them. Corwin liked them. They were getting kind of dingy, so I threw them in the washer. They fell apart. So, we didn't use the throw pillows for a while. Well, Corwin got tired of not having pillows on the sofa, so he prodded me into making more covers. There are four pillows in all. I went quite easy on myself, and using leftover material, made some new ones. I double stitched the seams this time, so the material shouldn't unravel. I plan to make another, different, set so I can wash them every so often.

Corwin snapped the pictures. He thought I might like to blog about it. How could I disappoint him?



A few days later, I did this next project. To explain, the girls were complaining of cold feet while we were ice skating. I thought some skate covers might help, so while at walmart, the girls each picked a color of fleece. I bought twelve inches of each of their chosen colors. Then, I made covers for their skates. It was kind of a guess as to how much material to cut for them and the exact shapes. I think I did much better with Katie's (yellow) than Tiffany's. I also made blade covers, which were super easy, to protect the blades in storage, so they don't hit against each other. I thought I would have to use elastic, but I didn't after all. I think the covers helped warm their feet. Instead of complaints after 20 minutes of skating, they went about 45 without complaining. In case your wondering how they get the covers on the skates, they put the covers on their legs first, put on the skates, then slide the covers down. The covers stay on while skating pretty well, but do come off the toes every once in a while. I thought about putting a strap underneath with velcro, but I'm afraid it might come off while skating, so I don't think I will do anything else to them.

07 April 2008

Emily's trying to grow up too fast!

I dedicate this post to my almost-two-year-old, Emily. Emily thinks she can do whatever anybody else can do. I can't seem to convince her otherwise.

This morning, I was rousted out of bed by Corwin shouting, "Emily's trying to burn down the house!" It seems our dear little Emily was trying to make herself some toast. She can get the step stool out by herself and unfold it (it's a two step thingy that I keep folded up, slipped in beside the fridge). She then drags it to the counter, climbs up onto the counter, gets the bread out of the breadbox, puts a slice in the toaster, and pushes the plunger. She probably would have done a fine job had her daddy not stopped her. I find his melodramatics a little amusing, but even though Emily can do it, she needs supervision for quite some time still. Just try to get her to believe that.

Emily has also tried to use the microwave. Lucky for us there is a child safety lock on it.

A couple days ago, I found her in my bedroom putting my deodorant on her armpits.

A few minutes ago, I heard her in her bedroom saying, "down." I went in thinking she had climbed to the top bunk again. Instead, she was standing on the stack of two plastic totes I keep in the closet (for clothes the kids grow out of). She was trying to get a shirt off a hanger. She already had the pants down (I try to keep matching (or semi-matching) outfits on a hanger together. Of course this doesn't work for Katie who mixes them up anyway). I helped Emily get her shirt down, then I lifted her down. I gave her the clothes, because she likes to dress herself.

Emily still doesn't understand why she doesn't have her own ice skates, but she loves it when I get her a pair of rentals. She carries them herself to the benches to have me put them on her. She actually does better on the ice than Katie does. Mostly because she doesn't exhibit those fear tendencies so much yet.

Yesterday, I went out with the girls so they could ride their bikes. My brother brought one for Katie a week or so ago. She has been too scared to try it, so a couple days ago, he brought some training wheels for her. She's still really timid with it. They put their helmets on, and Tiffany rode around the court. Katie timidly tried her bike, but seemed much more content to just get off and push it. Not to be left out, Emily went and got her helmet out of the bike trailer, and got me to fasten it on her. Then she found an extra bike of Tiffany's and tried to pick it up. She wanted so bad to get on it and ride. So, I picked up the bike and put her on the seat. She held the handlebars. I put my hands on hers and pushed her around on it.

30 March 2008

Two Little Cousins Sittin' in a Tree

My sister came to visit. This was just before her youngest had surgery (which, by the way, he is doing quite well). Anyway, her oldest and my oldest went outside, and I went to check on them. This is where I found them. They looked so cute, I just had to snap a photo.

I just noticed, he's wearing a coat, and she's not even wearing so much as a jacket. It was a pretty chilly day, but that's my daughter for you. She gets to playing and immediately sheds any outer coverings.

Easter

I'm about a week late, but I just got around to downloading the pictures off my camera. We had an Easter breakfast the Saturday before Easter at the church, then a ward member talked to the children (specifically to the children, but we were all sitting there) about the meaning of Easter. He included some symbolism about new life and the resurrection. I thought he did quite well. After that, they had an Easter egg hunt. For the youngest kids, the eggs were filled with cereal, animal crackers, and fish crackers instead of candy. I thought that was pretty clever. I got a couple pictures of Emily picking up eggs.
In this one below, Emily saw an egg under the shrubbery, but she couldn't get it without getting poked in the face by the branches, so I got it for her.

28 March 2008

Kiwi

I know the last time I said anything about kiwi, I was talking about the bird. Well this time, I'm going to say something about the plant. For many, many years now, I have wanted to plant kiwi in my yard. You're probably familiar with the fuzzy kiwi you can buy in the store? You would also be correct that you can't grow that kind without a hothouse in Idaho. Fortunately, there are other varieties of kiwi, and some of them are quite hardy, though the fruit isn't near as big. I chose this kind to grow. Not only should it have good fruit, but the male vine is often sold as an ornamental because of it's leaf variegation. It is actually quite difficult to find the female plant, but I finally did, and now both vines are planted in my backyard. I still need to build a trellis, so they are in a temporary spot (Emily's little garden plot).

Makeup Clowns

This was a while back, right after Katie got her hair cut. I thought you might enjoy my little makeup clowns. At least they got the lipstick around their lips and the mascara around their eyes. Notice Emily's hands? She dug all the lipstick out of the tube with her fingers.



21 March 2008

It's Spring!

As of yesterday, it is officially spring! Yeah! I was beginning to think it would never come. We celebrated by going ice skating. Ok, not really celebrating spring there, but we went and had fun. We bought skates and an annual pass, so we can go anytime we want. I'm not really very good on skates, but maybe with practice, it will come, even with me. I even fell down once (with my skates doing really weird things under me), and hurt my leg. I don't think it is serious, but it does ache. I spent most of the time there supporting Emily. She's trying really hard to do it by herself, and she's doing quite well. She takes a few steps, starts to lose balance, corrects her balance, and starts again. She can now do that 3 or 4 times without falling, so she's definitely making some progress.

We did spend a little time outside as well. It was quite nice outside until about 5:30 when clouds rolled in and it sprinkled a little. Tiffany rode her bike a little. I pumped up the rear tire on Katie's bike that was recently given to us. She doesn't know how to ride yet, and I think she's afraid to learn. She used to not be afraid of anything, so this fear thing is pretty new (the last few months). I'm not really sure what to make of it. She does really well when she doesn't let her fear take control.

18 March 2008

School Registration n Stuff

I had thought about writing several times this past week, but I wasn't feeling real well, and I didn't want to sit down and do it. I think the time change has gotten to me. My body clock is still trying to catch up.

Speaking of sleeping. My sister's youngest son has been having some problems. She had him tested last January, and he has been experiencing sleep apnea. So, the poor kid isn't sleeping very well, which has been wreaking all sorts of havoc with his moods and behavior and stuff. He went in for surgery today to have his tonsils removed. This is supposed to cure the problem. All seems to have gone well. He is on a jello diet right now.

Kindergarten registration was this last week. Katie is so excited to go to school. Unfortunately, she has to wait until fall. I think it is a little hard on these children to register them, let them meet the teachers, play in the classrooms, then tell them to come back 6 months later.

Tiffany is also registered for 3rd grade in the fall. She's been doing 3rd grade work all this year, so I'm a little concerned about her being bored "learning" what she already has a grasp on. I talked to the principal about it. In this school they do accelerated reading, which I believe is pretty common. They take a test to determine their reading level, then read books at that level or above, they take short multiple choice tests for comprehension and earn points for what they read. I'm not sure if there's anything more to it than that. The principal said they also do accelerated math. I don't know what that entails, but he said she should still be challenged with it.

03 March 2008

The Kiwi

Tiffany wrote her first report. She did research and learned to sort her information by topic and in an outline. Here's the final draft:

Kiwis

Did you know that kiwis are on stamps in New Zealand? Because people live there too, you know. They have legs for running, burrowing and..... fighting!!! Pam! Pow! You're dead .....just kidding!!! Did you know a kiwi's egg is six (6) times larger than a hens egg even though they're the same size?! If you read ahead you will definitely learn some interesting facts about kiwis!


If you are looking for kiwis, New Zealand's the place for you! The brown kiwi lives in the North Island forests. The Great Spotted Kiwi lives in the South Island mountains. If you ever are going through Kapiti Island, you might see The Little Spotted Kiwi. If you ever go to New Zealand, keep your eyes open to look for kiwis of course!


The kiwi looks very friendly and soft. When you first look at a kiwi, you will probably see it's pear shaped and is the size of a chicken. Its bill is long and flexible with whiskers at the base, to see in the dark (because it's nocturnal!). Its neck and legs are short,but it can still run very fast! A kiwi is very nice to look at!


The kiwi eats a lot of things but they sure are small! They eat yummy things such as: berries, fruit, crayfish, fish and gross things like spiders, worms, and insects. They eat seeds, too! They eat so much you'd think they would never starve!


So far, you can see kiwis are fascinating creatures! They all live in New Zealand in forests on mountains, every were! They are gray and brown and fascinating animals! Like I said before. I hope you had a good time learning. Bye!!!

Picture Update

I added some pictures to some older posts. Here's the list and the links:

Playing Catch Up

Library Grand Opening

Reading With Idaho's First Lady

02 March 2008

Spring Weather

The weather has been wonderful the last week (Saturday was a different story, but I'll get to that). We've taken advantage of that some. We still haven't been to the park, but it's on our list of to do in the near future. We all have cabin fever. The spring weather has been doing us a lot of good.

I pumped up the bike (and trailer) tires, and we rode to the library. I never realized how out of shape I am until I tried riding a bike again. Anyway, we spent some time at the library. It was nice to get out and ride a bicycle again. I know I could have done it even in cold weather, but I'm afraid of the cold. ;)

The girls want to plant their gardens. They each have a little plot to do whatever they want in. Part of the reason we did that was to discourage them from digging little holes in the lawn. We still haven't broken them of that habit. Most of what they want to plant, we will have to wait a while on, yet. If we had some pea seeds, I would have let them plant those. As it was, I found some bulbs I somehow forgot to get in the ground last spring, and let them plant them. I helped Tiffany transplant a rose into her garden. I needed the space for a hardy fuchsia I mail ordered. I also ordered two Kolomikta kiwi vines, which is a hardy variety of kiwi I've been wanting to try for forever.

Saturday, a cold front came in. It rained quite a bit, I heard it snowed some, and we got a little hail. I was hoping for another sunny (or mostly sunny) day so we could finally get our compost bin built, but alas, it wasn't to be that day. Instead we spent the day culling a few more things from the kitchen cabinets. Isn't it funny how odd things seem to multiply? We must have gotten rid of a dozen mugs, that our family couldn't possibly ever use, even with guests. So, we made a trip to Deseret Industries to get rid of them, and filled up the rest of the day with odd and end running around. Though, we probably needed to do all that (ok, we really did need to), I would have been much happier to finally get the compost bin made. Maybe next week. Sigh.

26 February 2008

Last Lesson

Today was the last ice skating lesson for the girls. Honestly, I didn't watch any of it this time. Instead, I was brave and went out on the ice myself. That wasn't really the brave part. I asked for the smallest skates they had, and took Emily out on the ice. She was so excited! She also had a horrible time standing up right. I alternated by holding her hands or under her arms. She alternated by supporting her own weight or making me hold her up. My back and legs got tired really fast. She finally figured out how to march in the skates and started pulling me around. She'd take a few steps and then slip, but I supported her, so we got around for a while that way. After about an hour, she let go of me and tried marching off all on her own. She actually did pretty good. She'd take about ten steps or so before falling. Unfortunately, she started to get tired by that time and became a little cranky. I took her off the ice, which only made her more upset. She twisted out of my arms and marched back to the ice! Eventually, I did have to take her off and make her stay off. She was just too tired and cranky.

23 February 2008

Personalities and Color Groups

What color is your personality? Ok, I don't know a whole lot about this. I was talking to a friend the other day, and she asked me. She supposed I was a white. Try to keep peace. Stubborn. Things like that. So, I googled it, and what do you know? Apparently I am a white. Though I still don't know a lot about it. My friend and I got to talking a few days later. She said that whites adapt to other personalities. It was a revelation to me. That is so totally me. I knew I did it, but to hear somebody else say that, makes it seem more like it is an ok thing. I used to get so frustrated that I didn't have my own strong personality, but I enjoy doing what others around me like doing. What the revelation did for me was to put my quirks in better perspective. When I meet somebody new, it is usually very hard for me to talk to them, especially to be the first to talk. Instead I tend to watch people until I feel comfortable. I think this has the unintended effect of making other people uneasy. But I think what I am doing is feeling out their personality so that I know how to act around them. I love to socialize in very small groups. It is very difficult for me, it wears me out very quickly to be in large groups, and especially to mingle. I think this is because there are too many personalities at once to be able to know how to act. Now, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but for me, right now, it really does explain these weird eccentricities and give some validation to them. I don't know how to change them, or even if I should. I do try to talk to new people first, and I think I'm getting better at it, but I still have to fight the urge to just sit, listen, and watch.

Reading With Idaho's First Lady

IDVA gave the children the opportunity to gather at the library to hear Lori Otter, Governor Butch Otter's wife, read a book to them. The book was That's Good, That's Bad. It was an interesting session. She was very good at engaging the children's attention. I think it is a good opportunity for the children to have more of an awareness of government. Although Mrs. Otter herself is not a politician, she is representative of the governorship by virtue of her husband. So, it raises an awareness of the importance of his position to our state. Plus, I believe, it was pretty fun for the kids. The reading was recorded and shown live via the internet to the IDVA children who could not make it to the live reading. It also snowed pretty good that day, making the live turnout a little less than it would have otherwise been.

Sorry, the pictures aren't that great. In case you can't tell, Tiffany is the one in green. Katie didn't want to sit on the floor, and Emily was a very clingy momma's girl that day.


Library Grand Opening

I took the children to the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new library. They were able to get right up in front to see everything (there weren't many kids there). So, they got to see the mayor cut the ribbon and listen to the speeches. They thought it was pretty cool. Then they had donuts and orange juice. Baskin Robbins gave away coupons for free kids cones. They got metal bookmarks with the Library Grand Opening written on them and "I Love to Read" bracelets. We spent two hours there with the girls looking at books and playing with puzzles.

The cutting of the ribbon (the girls each got a piece of this ribbon for their scrapbooks):


The girls beside the 3 foot scissors:


Katie is enjoying a donut:

18 February 2008

Clogging and Potties

The girls enjoyed watching a clogging competition that their cousin was in on Saturday. You wouldn't think so, as much as they wouldn't sit still, but they are still talking about it. It wasn't really what I expected, having never seen one. Mostly, the children in the competition danced for about 20 seconds each. It wasn't really enough for me to get a feel for it, but I guess it was enough for the judges, and that was what they were there for. I mostly enjoyed watching the team competitions, where they danced together for an entire song. I also liked to watch the a Capella routines because it was interesting to hear their shoes make the music.

In other news, Emily likes to use the potty. If somebody else says they need to go, she starts pulling down her pants, saying "bah, bah." however, it is not always evident that's what she wants to do as she does the same thing for "bath," and if she wants to change "pants." So, after a bit of interpreting, I figure out she wants to sit on the toilet. I usually try to discourage this, because she's never done anything on it, and she wants to sit for a really long time with me right beside her. I'm not really very patient. Of course, I want her to potty train, but really, I don't want it to be any work for me. And she's not even two yet. She has plenty of time. So, she did it again today. Several times. I usually try to pull her off after a few minutes of no results. Of course she protests my efforts. I just want to say that this evening she actually peed in the toilet. She was so proud of herself. But she wanted to poop, too. So, I still had to pull her off, though she didn't protest quite as much. I let her wipe and flush, so she was more satisfied. Later this evening, she did it again. I think she is finally figuring out how to make herself pee. Yeah! At least I won't be quite so impatient with her toilet sitting efforts in the future. And, who knows? Maybe she will potty train herself very soon.

12 February 2008

More Skating

The illness has pretty much left the house. We are still experiencing a cough in its wake. So, we're all feeling much better, and things are getting back to normal.

The girls had another skating lesson today. Katie is finally skating without a glider during the lesson. She traded it in for a helmet. I guess she feels she needs some sort of security. She's getting better, finally starting to pick up a little speed without the glider. Tiffany went longer on one foot than she had previously. Basically, they both just need a lot more practice with what they learned in class.

06 February 2008

We've been sick and...

For the past several days, most of us have been pretty sick. Corwin's doing all right, though. I'm really glad he hasn't gotten sick yet. He's been great at taking care of me through it. The worst was Sunday, and he let me sleep most of the day while he took care of the kids. It's Wednesday, and I'm still not feeling quite myself.

So, on to today. I was getting tired of the house going to pot. I got a little energy back, and decided to clean up a bit. I did some laundry. I did the dishes. Katie and Emily then come in to show me some white pasty substance in their hair. I smelled it. Toothpaste. They put toothpaste in their hair. Normally, I'd wonder where this idea came from, but last week Emily put toothpaste in her hair. It seems as Corwin gets ready for work in the morning, he often gives Emily a little hair gel which she rubs in her hair like Daddy. She obviously thought toothpaste looked similar. Now, as to why Katie would do it- and I had no doubt that it was she who instigated this incident- she loves baths and thought I would give her a bath to wash it out. Well, instead of a bath, I had them stand in the tub, where I sprayed their hair with the hand held shower. They didn't like it much, but it got the job done much faster than a bath would have. As we were getting further on in the day, it became obvious that the kids were making messes faster than I could clean. I ordered them to their rooms, so I could clean up in peace. it wasn't long after this that I saw Katie again, insisting that her hair "just fell out." It was obvious that she had given herself a haircut. Later, as I was explaining how I'd have to cut her hair to make it look presentable, Tiffany sat back and snickered. I lost my cool. I don't think I would have so much if I was feeling completely myself, but I was so tired of Tiffany screaming every time I combed her hair. Anyway- to the end of the story. Both girls got haircuts. Tiffany's is now shoulder length. Katie's is "boy short." There was a lot of weeping and wailing going on at our house this evening. Oh, Emily wasn't happy either- she wanted her hair cut.

04 February 2008

Playing Catch Up

Sometimes I think I concentrate too much on what I think has to get done, that I forget about more important things. On Friday, I took some time to do those things that I feel are very important, but I have been neglecting. I took the time to shovel my elderly neighbors' sidewalks. Then the girls and I went and visited them. I haven't taken the time to do this in a while, because I was too busy making sure Tiffany had school from 9 til 3, then I had to clean house and get dinner ready. They are all things I need to do, but in some ways it is more important to teach children to be aware of people who need our help and take the time to help them.

Another neighbor came out and assisted the girls in making a snowman. We found some little oranges in our refrigerator to use for eyes, Rick (the neighbor) retrieved a carrot from his pantry for a nose. We used pea gravel for the mouth. Rick got an old hat, and we donated a scarf. As you can see, it was a collaborative effort.


Here's Emily eating snow:



In other news, Corwin and I decided to send Tiffany back into the public school system this fall. She'll be in third grade, and Katie will be in kindergarten. That means I'll be home for a few hours of the day with just Emily. I've really enjoyed having all the girls at home. It's been challenging at times, but I think, well worth it.