Saturday, December 30, 2006

Painting a Bird House

There's nothing like a good project that they both can work on to keep me happy :-). They both helped me assemble the bird house and then they both agreed as to which sides they would paint.

Kyle was in a red mood that day and wanted to paint his two sides completely red. This annoyed Reeve slightly, but he was concentrating on making his two sides colorful.
Now we have to find a place to hang it outside and hope that the Eastern Bluebirds will nest in it.

They are my very favorite bird around here, and a very close second is the Rose Breasted Grosbeak.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Kyle loves to do what we're doing

Tom has been taking an internet course and Kyle wanted to listen and take notes too. There are words on the screen that Kyle was copying, and he did a darn good job. I could read where he wrote "buyers" and "sellers" and then there was some confusion in between.

Notice Tom's new shaven look?

Kyle also likes to do what Mom's doing... counted cross-stitch.

When I ask him what he wants to do when he grows up he says he wants to be a superhero or he turns the question on me and says, "What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing that now? Did Papa want to be what he does at work?" After that I just told him it's okay to change your mind.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jolly Kid Christmas

We had a very lovely relaxing Christmas at home this year. Reeve and Kyle were thrilled with everything they received.

Reeve wrapped about 10 presents on his own this year. A lot of the gifts he wrapped were hand made creations (he loves to make things out of scraps... like tp rolls) that he made for Kyle. After Kyle opened several of them he told Reeve that they were the best presents he'd received and that Reeve was the best brother. We were all touched, especially Reeve.

It's difficult in a consumerism age to emphasize the importance of giving, but I think overall we're doing the best we can.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Eve Day

As per tradition we always let the kids open one present Christmas Eve. Typically we wait until evening, but these guys couldn't stand it :-) and we let them open one present each mid-morning.

Reeve immediately set to work constructing Fort Timberland and then he put together the Safari Express for Kyle. We were all suprised that Reeve didn't even ask for help! He followed the given directions step-by-step.

They were thrilled with both gifts and it kept their minds occupied and patient waiting for the big day.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

First Loose Tooth!

It was just 6 years ago when Reeve started to grow his first tooth, and now that tooth is loose! Reeve has been waiting for this day since April when he turned 6 and learned that's when kids start to loose their baby teeth. He hasn't lost it yet, but he's in total bliss that it's loose. At first he thought something was wrong with his tooth. He told me it hurt him, and I looked in his mouth and saw him wiggle it with his tongue. When I smiled and told him this was his first loose tooth the biggest smile came over his face and I haven't heard a word about the "pain" since!
It's his lower left front tooth that is loose.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas a little early

We were all a little excited to see what the new tent would look like, so we opened this one present a little early. We love it! I think it will suit our needs just fine. It was very easy to set up and even has a room divider in the center... Yay! :-). We can hardly wait to put it to the real test this summmer.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Over 500 miles!

Tommy has logged over 500 miles on his commuter bike, and he's pumped to go another 500! I think even he is suprised at how much he loves to ride his bike to work. With no snow on the ground he's been down about not being able to snowboard. I liken it to how surfers get with no waves. Biking to work takes his mind off the lack of snow.

A good bike headlight can be priced at around $400-$500. Tom found some do-it-yourself instructions on the web, and made himself a pretty powerfull front headlight and rear-red light. We also just recently found his safety reflective vest, so he will be very visible to the other morning communters (deer included!).

One thing he was able to do with the warm weather was to clean all the road salt of his bike. Now if we could get some snow that will stick we will all be tickled :-).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hay Day!

See the huge haystack the kids are sitting on? We moved it ALL to the muddy spots in our yard. We're having such a warm December with temps in the mid30'sF to low 40'sF and no snow that we're left with soggy soil and a few muddy spots.

Reeve and Kyle had a blast helping us move the hay. We made a nice path for the electric meter reader, path to the front garage door for the mail carriers, a path to the compost pile, and a path down to the southside of the house. We used all the hay! Now we need to get another huge round so we can mulch in the garden. We have a large portion of the garden done, but we need more :-). It really helps when we want to get started planting spinach in the very muddy spring.

These kids have a seemingly endless supply of energy! After we moved hay they wore themselves out on their 3-wheelers.

Despite my constant requests to keep a safe distance, their favorite thing to do is to race around in circles rubbing front-wheel to back-wheel. Afterwards we all went inside and calmed down by doing some yoga. It felt really good to give our muscles a yoga massage after moving all that hay!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Making Goat Feta

My friend Brenda has 3 goats, two girls and a boy, and she gave me a gallon of goat milk to make cheese. I looked up some feta recipes on the internet and found a couple that I used.

The first step is the curding process. I used a liquid vegetable rennet, BUT my first mistake was overheating the milk! I was supposed to keep it at a constant 86F and I accidently heated to 110F. I also used a dehydrated then reconstituted buttermilk for the live enzyme cultures. Next time I'll use a different vegetarian live enzyme and won't heat it past 86F.

After the vegetable rennet curded the milk I hung the curds to extract the whey. In one recipe it stated to let the curds hang for 6-8hrs... in another it suggested they hang for 24hrs.

I let them hang for 7.5hrs. Next time I think I'll let them hang out awhile longer. After the whey has been extracted I covered the cheese with coarse salt and let it rest for 24hrs. Well the end result was a very salty very bland tasting feta. Next time I'll either marinate the cheese in herbed olive oil or I'll do the salt brine process which takes 4-6 months and will most likely result in a better tasting cheese.

I also made 4 loaves of whole wheat bread that day, and I'm happy to say they turned out deliciously! Yum! Nothing beats hot-out-of-the-oven fresh baked bread with a little cultured butter :-).

Frozen Jeans

The temperature here has actually been really warm this past week, but this picture was taken on December 3rd.
Tom wanted to do a laundry experiment... He washed some clothes and then weighed them before hanging them out to dry on a cloudy 30F day. Fun, eh? The clothes did freeze fairly quickly and when he took them in to weigh them at the end of the day they had lost a couple of pounds. They weren't completely dry so he did have to put them in the dryer for about 1/2 the time.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thanksgiving at the Sullivan's

Thank you Terri & Dan!
We had a delicious Thanksgiving in Atlanta!
These were the two best group pictures. Too bad I couldn't figure that self-timer out on the camera.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Georgia Aquarium...World's Largest Aquarium

We had a lot of fun at the Georgia Aquarium despite the large crowd there.

I really wanted to see the whale sharks. They were incredible to watch, and the aquarium had four of them. We started off at the ray touch tank, but it was very crowded and the kids could barely squeeze in to touch a ray. They didn't seem too upset by it.

I was fascinated by the beluga whales. I'd never seen them move under water before. I was taken back by how graceful they are under water.

We spent a lot of time in the world's largest underwater viewing theatre. There were so many fish to look at. Sydney, Reeve, and Kyle got to sit right up next to the glass and they had a grouper that was fascinated with them. That grouper stared directly at them and was motionless for over 5 minutes. I'd like to go back just to hang out in that room some more. It was very peaceful and didn't feel crowded.

MartaRail in Atlanta

We (Joyce, Grant, Chloe, Sydney, Tommy, Reeve, Kyle, and me) started our Atlanta vacation off by riding on Atlanta's MartaRail. The kids were pretty excited to board the rail system and travel into downtown Atlanta.

Grant wanted to make sure Kyle new NOT to go near the edge. We were constantly reminding the kids to stay away from the edge.

Can you see the pure joy in Kyle's face?
Later when we asked Reeve and Kyle what they liked best Reeve replied, "Seeing the rats on the tracks, riding underground, and riding the escalators." We saw a few large mice scurrying around on the tracks, but I don't think they were rats.
Jessica did a great job guiding us through the Marta Rail system and downtown Atlanta.

We walked right past the CNN building and arrived at the Georgia Aquarium right on time.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Winter Garden Prep

Before we left for our Thanksgiving trip (many pictures to post...hopefully soon) we set up some winter preparation for our garden. We still have delicious Red Russian Kale and some young spinach in the garden. I put straw mulch around the plants, but we really wanted to give them some extra protection in the hopes that we can still eat fresh greens after the snow falls.

It was pretty easy to make once we figured out how we were going to make it. We have a ton of old wire fence that we cut and shapped over the plants. Ideally we need to get some special garden row cover cloth, but we're using some clear plastic that we were going to use for the green house. The plastic didn't work for the green house because the wind ripped it to shreds... which could happen to the row cover, but we can repair if fairly easily. I hope :-). The plants seem happy under there.

This a picture of one of our 5 apple trees that were tortured by deer while we were in Georgia. The picture was take pre-deer mauling. Our next project will be to put up some electric fencing. They must have just jumped over the existing fence. They only do this when we're away. How do they know? Ugh!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Goodbye Dear Friend

It's hard to believe a whole week has past since our cat Jasmine passed away. She was a dear sweet cat that we had for 15 years. She was very smart and gentle and loved attention. She was very good around the kids when they were babies and she let Reeve carry her everywhere. She will be dearly missed. For the last year she suffered from diabetes and we were giving her insulin twice a day. She passed away peacefully and the kids and I were comforting her as she passed.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Happy about the Snow

Unfortunately the snow is already melting, and it will be all gone soon. I figured I'd better post the last of the snow pictures. Reeve and Kyle had so much fun out there! They were just so tickled that it snowed... Kyle thought it was Christmas.

Reeve skis and Family Pic

When we went to Baraboo to get Kyle's cast off we ventured over to their St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store and found some great cross-country skiis for the kids. We still have some binding adjustments to make for Kyle's set, but Reeve couldn't wait to try his out. In the store he was pretty adamant that he'd rather downhill than cross-country, and he'd rather snowboard above all. Well there wasn't quite enough snow for snowboarding. He decided cross-country wasn't so bad afterall.

After everyone had some nice rosy cheeks from playing out in the snow we decided it would be a really good time to take the Family Portrait. It took many pictures for us to get the right one. It was a fun thing to do.

These two pic were among the many discarded takes before we got the right one. Everyone that knows me knows that I can't keep a secret to save my life. Let's just say you'll see the keeper portrait in about 5 weeks :-). Oh and if you let me know early what size you'd prefer... that'd be great!