Friday, April 30, 2010

Long Time No Bloggy

There is a limited amount of nap time around here, folks! Until I find a way to get more of it, or to keep my kids from graffiti-ing on bananas while I am not looking, I have to make the most of my nap times. This week, I have been back on a sewing kick and it feels so good! I am nearly finished with a shirt for myself (!!) and am working on a backpack for Katie. We are going to Florida at the end of next month and we are going for NOVELTY to keep them entertained and happy. So, hopefully the 'owl' backpack will be just big enough for her sippy cup, a few small toys and some snacks. I bought a mini-magnadoodle thingy and some fun toys this morning, and stashed them away for the trip too. Now, back to my long list o' projects. I'll try to post pictures soon of a few of the things I have been finishing up!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dictating from the Throne

James has a habit that drives me absolutely crazy. While he sits on the toilet taking care of business, he continues talking and talking and talking. He talks to me mostly, sometimes to Katie. He expects us to hear every word whether the door is closed, we are upstairs, the furnace is running, whatever. He barks out commands like 'Mom, there's a bug in here. Come get it!' or 'Mom, I can hear the trash man coming. You need to put out the trash.' (Seriously!!) He'll tell me stories, then yell 'Did you hear that?' or 'Do you remember that?' When I tell him to tell me when he gets out, he just keeps right on going. He just turns up the volume. He's quite a goofy kid!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Saturday Adventures

We came home with a jar of tadpoles and a couple of dirty kids. (And no poison ivy!)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Stills

A friend of mine told me about a photography blog that I could participate in, so this is the first time I've joined in. The challenge was to take Barn photos. I thought I'd have to wait til next week to start, due to the lack of barns around here. Yesterday when we went to the park, I saw this bridge and figured that I could use it as a 'substitute' subject for a barn.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Apparently Skunks Like Strawberries

....and I need a nap.

Below is the long and dramatic saga of my morning escapades. You really can't make this stuff up, folks. Better grab a cup of coffee and settle in.....

This morning started like any other morning, but quickly turned out to be the most ridiculous drama-filled ordeal. If you've read the blog for a while, you probably know that I have a shed that I like to refer to as the 'Groundhog Love Shack.' We have trapped them, relocated them, and a new one always moves in. I don't want them taking up residence in my yard for two reasons: A) They can be mean and I have three little kids who like to play in the yard, and B) They eat whatever they please in my garden. This year, I thought we were home free, until I put the ducks out in the backyard. Two hours later, the groundhog made his first appearance. I have been setting the trap out for him the last week or so with no luck. Last night I set it again. This morning, I looked out the window to see something in the trap. But alas, it was too small to be a groundhog. I walked out the backdoor and walked a few feet toward the cage. It turned to me and at first I thought it was a possum, but quickly ruled that out. It was a skunk, but without the stripe. I made a beeline back into the house and told Jeff. His kind response went something like this: 'Well, what are you going to do? How are you going to get it out? If you shoot it (with an air gun) it will spray. You better call Animal Control or something.' And as he walked out the door to work, he generously said 'Call me if I need to bail you out of jail.' Thanks, honey, thanks. I tried calling Animal Control, though I was pretty sure they would tell me I was out of luck. They only do cats and dogs. I could never get a hold of them, so I tried the Department of Fish and Game. The conversation went as follows:

Me: Hi, I managed to trap myself a skunk. What should I do?
F&G Guy: What'd you trap a skunk for?
Me: Well, I was trying to catch a groundhog, but I caught a skunk instead.
F&G Guy: Well, groundhogs don't come out at night, but skunks do. You shouldn't set the trap at night.
Me: Well, yes, that may be my problem but how am I going to get the skunk out of my yard?!?
F&G Guy: Well, we don't help with that. Here's what you do: get an old sheet, and hold it in front of you. Approach the skunk very slowly. Slowly and gently lay the sheet over the skunk, and then, very slowly reach down and release it from the cage.
Me: So is it going to spray me?
F&G Guy: Well, if you go real slow it **shouldn't** spray you. (emphasis mine)
Me: OK, thanks.

In the meantime, I am calling my sister back and forth, lamenting over my predicament. Mostly, I was doing the lamenting and she was laughing hysterically at me. What should I do? I mean, there seem to be so few options. All the while, I watched from my kitchen window as the skunk ran back and forth in the cage, madly scratching and digging, trying to get out. Clearly Pepe Le Peu was a little peeved at this point. At some point, the conversation landed on actually paying someone to come out and take care of it. Well, there are several reasons I was opposed to that. First of all, if you know Jeff and I, you know that we are DIY sort of people. Jeff's motto is 'why pay someone to do something you can do yourself,' even if it means spending 453 hours repairing a lawn mower you found for free only to see it explode in flames in the middle of the yard. Not that I'm saying that's happened to us. The second reason I didn't feel like paying someone is that we all know it would cost an arm and a leg. Who wants to remove a skunk? Not me, that's who. But, at Rachel's insistence (and her joking that if I got sprayed Tyler would be weaned in a hurry and that they wouldn't get anywhere near me til I got done stinking), I called a wildlife removal agency. $229!!!!!!! TWO HUNDRED TWENTY NINE AMERICAN DOLLARS!!! But, as Rachel said, can you really put a price on not smelling like skunk for two months. But still. I couldn't do it. And even if I could, Jeff would have a myocardial infarction and that would cost a whole lot more than $229. Yet the option of me taking care of the skunk removal didnt' seem too thrilling either, though I could've charged Rachel and Phil admission to come over and watch the show. Did I mention that the trap is borrowed? Another reason I don't want the skunk to spray all over it. The trap is an $80 trap. So, the saga went on. Call a professional??? Try the sheet method??? Shoot the darn thing with a pellet gun and hope it works? That I was not too keen on for a multitude of reasons: first, we live in a neighborhood, second, a pellet gun is not made for that and I didn't want to end up injuring it, and third, while I used to be a pretty good shot, I haven't shot a gun in ages especially at a moving target. And thanks to my online research (what did we do before the internet?) I found that skunks usually spray when shot, unless you can get them in a certain spot. And then we would be paying $80 for a trap anyway. Not to mention I would be shooting into a cage with 1/2" openings in the cage. And it was in the shade, hard to see. Annie Oakley I am not. I called a few more places. Some people won't even mess with skunks. One cantankerous guy told me 'Well, we won't touch 'em. Call the township.' I told him the township won't do it. He said, in a heavy Jersey accent, 'Here's whatcha do! You cawl the township, tell 'em you gotta heart condition. Tell 'em you're real scared. (pause) And tell 'em you not gonna pay ya taxes til they come and get rid of it for ya. That'll get 'em out there!' Well, thank you kind sir for the information, but somehow I just don't think so. I called a few more places and finally got a quote of $100. Still seems like a hundred bucks I don't want to spend, but I scheduled the appointment anyway. Jeff still did not want to pay to get it removed when we could do it ourselves, but as I watched the skunk run back and forth inside the cage I felt that there was no stinkin' way (ha, ha) that I'd be able to get it. In the meantime, the phone rang and lo and behold it was another wildlife control place calling me back. He told me he'd do it for $75 and that he could be over pronto. So, I called the other place and canceled the appointment. About ten minutes later a guy who looks like Dog the Bounty Hunter's BFF shows up, sans mullet. Before I could even get to the door, my animal-loving neighbor shows up on my lawn and asks the guy what's going on. Poor guy. I explained to her that I was trying to catch the groundhog to relocate him and accidentally got a skunk. I got the evil eye, along with 'well, that's where they live!' She told me groundhogs weren't mean, but fortunately the skunk wrangler told her that, yes, they can be mean, they can sometimes go after humans. I got the whole 'That's their natural habitat and how can you even think about moving them somewhere else speech, about three times. I was nice, and I told her that I am not trying to kill the groundhog, just move him. I know that we humans keep encroaching on animals' natural habitats and it is reasonable to expect that there will be problems. I just don't want the groundhog in my yard. To end the conversation I asked the guy if he wanted me to show him where the skunk was. Once around the corner I apologized to him about the neighbor and he said as soon as she started walking across the lawn he knew what was coming. As soon as I came back around she came back and kept telling me how I just need to leave them be and how she hopes I've learned my lesson. I should have told her that I learned my lesson alright, that next time I'll use the 3-S treatment. Anyway, it was interesting to say the least. She was not happy, all because the poor skunk walked into the trap instead of the groundhog. After fending her off, I went back into the kitchen to watch the Bounty Hunter capture the skunk. He took a couple sheets and two long poles with pinchers on the end. He snuck around the shed and covered the trap with the sheets using his extendo-arm pinchers. Then he carefully carried the trap out to his truck. He'll do whatever he does with it, and bring the trap back. I can tell you one thing, I am not going to be trapping anymore groundhogs. Now I must come up with a new plan to keep them from multiplying under my shed. And the saga continues....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Big Day for James

Do y'all know what day it is? It is 'Take Your Kid To Work' Day! James has been anxiously awaiting this day for a while now. When Jeff told him, James was very excited because he could 'go to work and provide for our family.' So sweet. So today, they are off. Jeff and I were quite amused this morning when he hopped out of bed, got dressed and came down....dressed in his red plaid shirt, well-worn overalls and cowboy boots. And a pair of my stripey socks, with the heals of the socks half way up his skinny little legs, because they are 'grown up socks.' Cute, but not exactly 'desk jockey' attire. He was happy to put on his new outfit, though, because he was 'matching' Daddy. (He kept the cowboy boots...his trademark after all.) So off they went, James with his bag of books to keep him entertained. Oh, and I sent him some change so that he can get a snack out of the snack machine. I don't even think he even knows what a snack machine is so he'll be very impressed. Yes, a machine that spits out the kind of snacks Mommy never buys sounds like it will make a little boy very excited!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rude Awakening

Sometime during the middle of the night, I was brought out of a deep sleep by blood-curdling, but very muffled screams. As my brain pulled itself out of sleep-fog, I quickly determined that a) it was James, b) it was very muffled (strange...) and c) something must be really wrong. I freaked out, jumped up out of bed and ran up the stairs, not sure of what was going on. I couldn't see him at first, but he was still screaming, still muffled. Then I saw his legs sticking out from under the bed. He has been sleeping on the floor lately, and apparently managed to get himself over half way under his bed. I pulled him out by the ankles and held him as our collective blood pressure slowly lowered back to normal.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Two Recipes

Both are good. One is good for you.

Stevie’s Peanut Butter Crunch Cake

(From a friend in CO)

1 pkg. Yellow cake mix

1 C. peanut butter

½ C. packed brown sugar

1 C. water

3 eggs

¼ C. vegetable oil

½ to ¾ C. EACH, chocolate and peanut butter chips

½ C. peanuts, chopped

In a mixing bowl, beat cake mix, peanut butter and brown sugar till crumbly. Set aside ½ C. for topping. Add water, eggs and oil and mix on low till moist. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Add ½ C. each, chocolate and peanut butter chips. Combine remaining chips with crumb mix and peanuts. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. (I think its even better the next day)

Serious Whole Wheat Bread

1 1/2 Cups whole wheat flour
2 Cups unbleached white flour (Or you can use more WW flour, or part oat or spelt flour)
1 1/2 Cups old fashioned oatmeal - NOT quick cooking oats
2 heaping tsp. dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 heaping TBlsp. wheat gluten
3 TBlsp. wheat germ
2 TBlsp. oat bran
1 TBlsp. sesame seeds
1 TBlsp. poppy seeds
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/3 Cup sweetener (Honey or Molasses, or a combination)
1/3 Cup olive oil
1 2/3 Cup warm water

Put water, sweetener and yeast in a bowl. Let sit til foamy. Add everything but 1 or 2 cups of flour. Stir well and knead remaining flour as needed. Knead for about 10 minutes. Put in a greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Let rise til doubled, about an hour. Punch down, put into two greased bread pans, cover and let rise again.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes til it starts to brown and sounds hollow when you tap on it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Crazy Weather

Here are a few pictures from last week. It got up to 90 + degrees. Now it is back in the 50's and 60's. The weather was so warm we were able to break out the swimming pool! I like this backyard weather.

(Note the beginnings of my garden in the background....the rhubarb is growing good and my spinach is up too!) Unfortunately the nice weather has brought out the groundhog too. Yes, the groundhog. I believe he is the fourth one. Hopefully he falls for the strawberry I put in the trap and I can relocate him far enough away that he won't come back. I have heard they can be mean, and I know they eat whatever they want in my garden if they find a way through the fence. And although they are vegetarians, I don't know if it would go after my ducks. I am seriously tempted to put concrete or something under the shed! What is it that is so inviting to them??

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Escape Artists

Last night I was up with Tyler and heard the ducks quacking away. I wondered what they were doing, but was tired enough that I didn't really pay too much attention. After a minute or two, I could have sworn I heard a strange thunk noise, but I wasn't sure. Again, I heard the noise. After laying Tyler back down I went out to find Webby and Parker had escaped their box and were standing their innocently next to it looking at me. So, I had to rummage through the garage for a more suitable box at 4:45 am. Crazy ducks.

In other news, I failed one of the tests of parenthood yet again. The test where your kid says something that you really shouldn't laugh at, but you do. Rach and Phil were over and we were sitting in the living room. An (overweight) couple were walking past and James runs up to the window, and yells 'That guy's really fat!' 'James!' I said, and before I could say more he said 'He's so fat and big and.......SQUISHY!' It was the squishy part threw me over the edge. Of course it didn't help that Rach and Phil were laughing too. After stifling my laugh, I had to try and explain to a 4 year old that, yes, some people are heavy, but that you just don't point it out. I am glad that the window was closed, because I would have felt really bad if the poor guy had heard him.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Like Jalapenos, But....

For the last few days I have been noticing a strange smell in my kitchen. I thought it was something in the trash, but that was ruled out quickly. Perhaps it was in the sink? After doing the dishes, running the garbage disposal and wiping out the sink (for the 9,825 time) I still thought I could smell the smell. (Sorry if you get that bad 80's song in your head) I figured maybe I was just being a spaz, and pushed it on the back burner. But alas, the smell continued. I finally put my finger on what it was! Pickles! That would explain why it seemed that the smell was emanating from the fridge (which I determined using my basic rocket science skills). I found the jar of pickles, thinking for sure that it had cracked or tipped over or something. But no. Mystery was not solved. So, today, ladies and gentlemen, guess what I found?! A jar of pickled jalapenos spilled in the back of the fridge, dripping down all three drawers to make a nice pool of vinegar-jalapeno-garlic smelling mess. Nice. And we had company today. I wonder if they noticed the smell. I wonder if the smell is going to come out??? We shall see.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Few Orders of Business

  • Tyler is crawling in earnest! I have to put everything up all over again. He really can get around. I set him down, turn around and he is gone!
  • We planted strawberries this weekend. The kids are officially NOT ALLOWED in the garden anymore. They have a hard time understanding the concept of 'Don't step on the plants!'
  • Speaking of not being allowed in the garden, Katie and James were foraging for dandelions for me when they apparently decided that it would be extra special to enthusiastically pick the two beautiful stems of Texas Bleeding Heart that just bloomed in the side yard. We will be enjoying them in a vase now, and I hope they come back. Katie ripped hers out of the ground complete with partial roots, so we'll see.
  • The ducks are doing great! They have grown already and James enjoys finding grubs for them to eat. Katie likes to put leaves and sticks and anything they might like, or not, in their pen. I pray they survive her 'mothering' them. I think everyone thinks I am crazy for having them. Ha, ha, wait til I have chickens!
  • Rachel is helping me paint and reorganize my upstairs family room/craft area/laundry room. I can't wait to see it finished! And speaking of that, I'm off to tape off the trim. Enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, April 09, 2010

I Love These People

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Guess What???

Alternative Title: What Did I Get Myself Into?

So, long story, but if you remember last year, we had fun duck-sitting for a friend. I have long aspired to having a duck. I always thought it would be fun to have two, actually, and name them Webster and Bill. Then, in the last few years, I have really been thinking about having chickens. If you have never had a fresh farm egg, well, you should try one. And I don't mean fresh from the store. I mean fresh, like they still have a piece of straw stuck to them. We used to pick up this wonderful lady, Mildred Hubbard, on our way to church. She was about 80 years old and had lived quite a life. She was married at 16, moved out to a remote cattle ranch in the Gateway Canyon area, and had to learn fast how to cook for a bunch of cowhands and the five children she soon had. At 80 years old, she still kept chickens. At one point, she was getting pretty irritated that the magpies were stealing her eggs. Magpies are pretty annoying birds, being scavengers, but are illegal to shoot. But Mildred had had enough. She told us one day that if they kept it up she was going to put a silencer on her gun and shoot 'em dead. :) Anyway, she would give us as many eggs as we wanted. These eggs tasted way better then store eggs. The yolks were so dark they were more orange than yellow. They are really a lot different then store eggs. Because I have inherited some sort of recessive, wannabe farmer gene, I have been wanting to get my own chickens. I have been looking into suburban chicken-keeping for a while, but still feel unprepared for full-fledged chicken wrangling. So when, you wonder, am I ever going to get to the point? And why do I feel that I am any more qualified to raise ducks? The point is, I got two ducks because a) I have always wanted a pet duck and b) Peking ducks lay eggs (news flash!) and it will be a good trial run for me. There is a lady at church who buys ducks every year and releases them at a local park to get eaten by predators because they have no street smarts. Really, she wants to populate the white duck community at the park, though I am skeptical of the effectiveness of it all. Anyway, if nothing else, you can walk away today knowing that I am really good at rabbit trails. And before I run off on anther one, here's the deal:
  • I have two ducks in my backyard, which I have done a fair amount of research about but still feel a little skeptical (any pointers would be very appreciated!!!)
  • I do not know the gender of said ducks
  • I worked out a deal with the duck lady so that if mine turn out to be of the male persuasion I can trade them in for some females (as we will hopefully be able to tell by the tail feather)
  • I hope Katie doesn't love one of them to death
PS. James named the ducks Webby and Fence Parker, Parker for short

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

**Extreme Cuteness Warning**

Its That Time of Year Again...

The weather has warmed up quite a bit, and I have been spending lots of time dreaming about and working in my garden. This year I am expanding it in size quite a bit, and trying some new things. The rhubarb I put in a few weeks ago is already up, and I put in asparagus, spinach and beets this week. I plan to add strawberries and a blueberry bush this week. Despite the fact that I am expanding the size of my garden, I still don't know where I am going to put everything. I did add another section solely for cut flowers, herbs and strawberries. Here are a few things I am planting this year, in no particular order:
  • Cabbage
  • Mexican Sour Gherkins
  • Titan Sunflowers (for the kids)
  • Pasillo, Anaheim, Jalapeno and Tobasco Chiles
  • Radishes (James' request)
  • Violet Jasper, Brandywine, Jersey Giant, and Green Zebra tomatoes
  • Yellow and Red Pear tomatoes
  • Ground Cherries and Tomatillos
Jeff does not mind me taking over the yard for my garden, as he does not care for mowing! I am seriously interested in some chickens, but I have to figure out the logistics of that first. Hmm....

Oh, and so far I have not spotted the groundhog, but I am not holding my breath. I am just waiting for him to show up right when the beet greens are up. We shall see!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Weekend Festivities

We had a nice weekend enjoying Easter celebrations, and for Jeff, writing a paper on things such as creep testing and sheer strength. Church went by in a flurry for me, as I am teaching the first and second graders this month. I'd like to say they were excited to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, but I think they were pretty hopped up on jelly beans too. I only had 12 kids, which isn't too bad, but there are only 2 girls in that bunch. We got together with the family for a nice meal together and Easter eggs for the kids.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Always Fun

While my sister and bro-in-law are living off my parents (ha, ha :), we have made ourselves a Friday night tradition. They come over, Rach and I make something delicious for dinner and somehow it always ends up in an impromptu dance party. I do not know who has the best moves. Its a toss up between James and Uncle Phil. While the boys practice their booty-shakin' (and I use that term loosely), Katie usually talks Rachel into painting her 'toenails.' (Universal for toenails and fingernails) And really, there is no talking into. Katie asks and Auntie Rachel says OK!!! I even got little fingernail decals for her and they look so cute! Having a girl is so much fun. Tyler sat and smiled at everyone and just looked plain delicious. I think I can say that fun was had by all.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I've kind of been slacking lately in the blog department, which can be blamed on a variety of reasons such as malfunctioning internet, lack of time, lack of inspiration, and trying to work out during the kids naps. If anyone finds a way to get more time, especially of the nap-time-variety, I would appreciate it.

A few days ago, Rachel and Phil got back from Texas, after a loooong month away. Seriously, I don't know what I am going to do when they move. Sniff, sniff. Anyway, they came back from Texas bearing gifts for the kids. Tyler got a stuffed armadillo who we called 'Tex,' Katie got an adorable little rhinoceros comb and stinkin' cute purple leopard print cat-eye sunglasses (which totally match her personality!), and James got....drumroll, please....a cork gun!! You see, a long time ago they got one for Jeff. When James came of age, he adopted it as his own. He loved that thing. And then he broke it. Ever since, he has diligently been nagging his poor Uncle Phil about getting him a new one. After searching Texas high and low for another cork gun, we thought it wasn't going to happen. But alas! They found one, making James a very happy boy. He sleeps with it right next to his bed, and carries it with him a good deal of the day. Yesterday, he informed me that he was going to shoot the groundhog with it. I asked him if he had yet pondered the logistics of that. After getting the blank stare, I explained to him that since the trajectory of the cork lasts for roughly 6 inches, he would have to stand incredibly close to the beady-eyed, tomato-eating beast. That whole speech was lost on him, and he still thinks he is going to be able to do it. Good luck with that, James!