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


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.