Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Silly Girls

Annie and Maddie continue to keep life interesting.  This is Maddie getting out of her shower to use the toilet.  Because even when Mom reminds you to go potty before your shower, sometimes you still forget.  Maddie was well covered from the coldness of the bathroom.
 Annie lost another tooth.  This is the face she made when I told her smile for the camera.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fair Fun

One of the changes that have come with Ryan's slight change of occupation is no free tickets to the fair.  There was a window of two hours that was free admission to the fair on the first day, so Ryan left work (it was a teacher in-service day so the kids were off anyway) a little early and we went to the fair.  Judging from the line of people also entering the fair, we were not alone trying to be frugal.  

We stopped by the Ag barn first, so Ryan could check to see how the new FFA teacher did on her display.  He just shook his head, and wished the new lady would have accepted his help and expertise.  Then we walked over to the bee keepers, and Ryan had a nice loooonnngg discussion with the fellow.  
We stayed a long time in the STEAM building.  STEAM is a lot like STEM, but with "arts" thrown in too.  They had a lot of the Snap Circuits available to play with, and as we have some at our house and know how to use them, we snapped away.

 We admired the small animals barn, and the girls think we need to adopt a bunny now too.  (They are so soft mom!)

 Had some Elephant Ears.
 Rode the "Sundola."

Watched a wool demonstration.

 Rode the Sundola again.  Like my view?  We listened to the Aerosmith tribute band playing as we rode along.  It was loud even as far away as we were.
 We watched the races for a little while before we left.  Ryan thought the rainbow ending over the track was an omen and so we needed to watch.  It reminded me of one of our first dates- watching car races on a dirt track.  The girls were not impressed and thought it was too loud to be enjoyable.  We didn't stay long.

Friday, September 25, 2015

What Thursday Looks Like

Thursday afternoons and evenings are a little crazy this fall.  I start with picking up the younger three girls up from school, then we drive over to the middle school to watch Emma's volleyball games.  I bring snacks for the kids to eat after school.  If they are munching, there is less complaining about how "bored" they are.
 (And take potty breaks between games.)
 After volleyball ends, Annie and Maddie change into their soccer uniforms, and Ryan gets ready for soccer.  Ryan sort of unofficially became the assistant coach because our coach doesn't come for our games.  Ryan is the ref, another parent brings the balls and cones, and another parent bring the coach's daughter for the game.  It's an interesting set up.  At least the coach leads the practices and seems to have some soccer experience and knowledge.
 The rest of us eat the picnic dinner I brought and watch the game.
Then we go home for homework and bedtime.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sugar and Frosting and Sprinkles, Oh My

Last night's mutual activity for the Beehives was cupcake decorating.  Emma and I brought a couple dozen cupcakes and my Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl full of frosting.  We turned all 9 girls loose with pastry bags full of frosting, and watched the colorful explosion happen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Did Someone Lose Their Marbles?

This is just one of those pictures of things that make me laugh.  I thought it was an interesting place to keep marbles.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Middle School Volleyball

Emma decided to branch out a little and do volleyball this year.  The 7th grade year is when school sports finally start.  So she has been staying after school everyday for practices, and this afternoon games for her team finally started.  I picked Elizabeth and the twins up after school and we drove over to watch Emma's game.  

I packed some snacks for the kids to make the game a little more interesting for them.  Ryan even managed to come for the 2nd half of the game.
Even though Emma is perhaps not the most athletic of kids, there are enough other girls like her to make up their own team, and teams of similar kids at the other surrounding middle schools.  Emma's team won 2 of the 3 games today.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Laugh, then sigh

This about sums up my day.
This was one of those "cook on the oven rack" pizzas, but it's a family size pizza so it touches both the front and back of the oven.  The cheese melted to the oven door, and this is what happened when I tried to check on the pizza..

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fancy New Wheels

Our minivan had seen better days.  It's seen us through 6.5 years and some hard lovin'.  Things were starting to wear out.  The sliding doors weren't sliding as nicely as they used to, the check engine light was always on, and sometimes I would push on the accelerator and we would... not go... lurch... then go... lurch... go again, for reals this time.  And let's not forget my favorite thing- the button release thingy on the shifter (the one that goes from park to reverse to drive) would get stuck, and I could be stuck in park and not be able to leave the house, or I would be unable to shift back into park.  One time the shifter was in park, but the button was stuck "in" and so we could not turn off the car.  The key refused to turn.  That was awesome.  Ryan ended up disconnecting the battery.  We have a mechanic friend from church, and after taking it for a spin himself and doing a quick (and free) check under the hood, he estimated we could sink anywhere from $3-4,000+ and he wasn't sure that would even get us another year out of it before something else would go. 


Then he asked if we had considered buying again.  

Well, as a matter of fact, yes we had.  We were just hoping for that other year first.  Oh well.

So last Monday afternoon we took some test drives.  Unexpectedly, the Toyota was the favorite.  We were originally thinking another Kia, for price reasons.  Another unexpected wrench in our plans was the fact that gently used minivans were not as cheap as they were last time around.  It was only going to save us maybe 4-ish grand, and the mileage was a bit higher than we preferred.  The car salesman pointed out the Labor Day sale, model year end clearance, 0% financing deal that was going on.  After their version of a "quick" check of what they could do for us, we thanked him and said we wanted to go home and look over our budget before buying.  He was not excited for this idea.  Getting us into the showroom is almost a guaranteed sale, and we were not fitting into his plans.  The natives were getting restless and wanted dinner at that point.  The girls had been quite good.  We thanked him and said we would likely be back.

Yesterday, we cleaned a bunch of crap (yes, that's totally what it was- paper scraps, pencils, pens, used kleenex, coins, dolls, earrings, stale bread crusts, baggies, fruit snack wrappers, receipts, old parking permits for state land, books, and more crumbs than you can possibly imagine) out of the minivan.  We made the kids help, all the while getting more and more upset at what filthy pack rats our children are.  Then Ryan and I told the kids to say goodbye to our car.

We came home with this pretty, brand spankin' new Toyota Sienna.
We left the kids to babysit themselves at home, which worked out well.  When we bought the Kia Emma was 5 and Elizabeth was barely 3.  This time was easier.  Although it was probably faster last time, since the car was not new and they weren't trying to convince us to buy every extra feature possible.  (Thanks, but no, we don't need the special Rain-X coating on our windshield...)

When the last paper was signed, and it was time to go home, I felt a little sentimental leaving our Kia sitting there surrounded by a sea of shiny cars.  I'd swear that poor, 9 year old, dirty, chipped piece of our memories was looking at me reproachfully as we left in our new set of wheels.  Ryan asked if I was going to cry before we left to go buy the Sienna.  Seeing how I was pregnant BOTH times we've traded in our cars, and cried over diaper and Hallmark card commercials, yes I did cry last time.  (We brought our baby/s home from the hospital, gone on trips, and I've spent countless hours in the car and it's been a big part of our life....  I can't help being a little sentimental.  So sue me.)  I would like to state for the record I shed no tears leaving the Kia behind, just felt a little sad.

That lasted about 10 minutes.

Our new minivan is so cool.  I haven't been actually excited to drive since I was a teenager.  I have to remind myself to actually pay attention to the road.  I have a rear back-up camera (Best. Feature. Ever.), bluetooth calling/audio from my phone, gas consumption, power open and close doors (second best feature), power adjust seat (forward, back, up, down, lumbar support), automatic night adjusting rear-view mirror, and a host of other nifty features.  I had my pick between grey and tan minivans, and I chose the grey.  I think the only thing I miss about the old car is the red color- it was easier to spot in a parking lot.  I'm still getting used to how this one looks.  Oh, and this car also has driver and passenger temperature controls, with a 3rd zone for the back seats.  This is a marriage-saving feature for us.  I'm so glad the Kia had that too.  Don't get me wrong- we bought the base model for the Sienna, it just happens to be as fancy as a more expensive version of the Kia.  (Our mechanic friend thinks we will be pleased with how this one lasts.  It should do better than the Kia.)
Ryan's mom wanted a picture of us next to our new car for her scrapbook page she's doing of all the new cars in her family this year.  Ryan's sister Brynne was first, followed by Caitlin (x2- suburban and regular commuter car), the Rick and Kim with their Toyota Hybrid, then Michael, and lastly us.  I guess we caved to the peer pressure to buy a new car.  (hehehe)

Update a week later- the dealership called and said they found more stuff in the car (broken necklace chain and .38 cents in change, a magnet, etc.) and did we want to pick the stuff up?  Ryan said to give the change to the guy who had to clean out our old car.  He deserves it.  And to just throw away the rest.  It was nice of them to call though.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Have Some Honey

Ryan has been wanting to harvest honey from his beehives for a while now.  He likes to go check on his bees and admire how busy they've been.  He finally got around to asking to borrow the equipment needed for harvesting honey.  His friend Jason hooked him up.  

First you bring in the frames you are going to harvest from into your now heated garage, after you've knocked off a bunch of angry bees.  Later (once those angry bees leave you alone) you take a hot electric knife to cut off the wax caps.

 It looks like a gross mess.  There is a grate in the bottom of this bin to collect honey, too.
 Then the frames go into the extractor.
 Turn the centrifuge on, and wait.
The honey will start oozing out.  You need a filter to collect bees and wax and stuff.  There were a surprising number of bees gathered during this whole process.  There's only so much "swimming" they can do in the honey.  No bees survived that.
Once the honey is pretty well flung out of the beehive frames, Ryan took a spatula and scraped down the sides of the extractor.  We left the space heater in the garage all night and waited for the honey to all drip into the 5 gallon bucket.  We filled that 5 gallon bucket with honey.  
Ryan collected all of that bees wax into a bucket, and put the bucket next to the beehives.  The goal is to let the bees take the left over honey back, and then we will be left with the bees wax and then we can do.... something with it?  Along with 5 gallons of honey.  That's a lot of honey.  I'd say we could put it into our food storage, but then we will be getting more honey next year with any luck, and the following year, and the year after that, etc.  Oh boy.

After the honey harvest, we went on a double date with Ryan's friend Jason and his wife Lydia for some ice cream and deep friend asparagus.

September 11th

Emma is in the choir this year at her middle school.  It's a "select" choir, for kids who auditioned at the end of the last school year.  They were part of the program/assembly the middle school put on for 9/11.

The assembly was pretty early in the morning (before younger sisters started school), and I wasn't able to make it.  So, I borrowed these pictures from the school district's Facebook page.  Emma is in the front row, in the middle-ish.

Friday, September 11, 2015

School Photos

It doesn't seem to matter how hard we try.  I can send a child to school, looking cute...
 And somehow, this is as good as we get for school photos.

This Studio C skit has explained the mystery of why school photos look like they do.

(I think this is one of my favorite sketches ever.)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Soccer Season Begins

Annie and Maddie are playing soccer this year, and the fall season has begun.  Our team did not have a coach until early this week, and then the teams had some switching around last minute...  Anyway, Annie and Maddie had zero practice before heading to our first game.
 You can't really tell, but Annie is way more excited for soccer than Maddie.

Meeting the coach:
 Annie is wearing friend Sean's soccer jersey.  The jerseys cost $30, and I couldn't justify that x2.  Actually, I didn't even buy one.  We borrowed Sean's jersey (he wasn't a fan of soccer last year) and I bought a plain black shirt, and called it good.  I don't know how enthusiastic the girls are going to be about soccer, and I am cheap.  Perhaps if we do this more than one year, I may even buy the girls soccer shoes.  Maybe.
 We played the other team from our town, and so we got the yellow shirts today.
This is how Maddie played her game- sort of trailing behind the other girls.  Maybe she'll get more into it with some practice.  These are my children we are talking about though.  I make it a habit to stay away from moving balls out of fear, and Ryan isn't exactly extra skilled in sports.  But I want the girls to have more exposure to sports than I did when I was younger, and team sports isn't a bad way to go.

Raspberries, round two

Our raspberry plants are at it again!  The fall crop is never a big one, but it's pretty steady until the frost comes.  I'll take fresh raspberries when I can get them.