Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Little Things They Say (5) - Quotes from 2008/2009

Sometimes it's time to stop collecting all the little things the kids say and actually post them. Actually, when I went to do that, the post was so huge, I took out half of it for another post. It's still pretty big, but this is what I had unposted from 2008 and 2009.

(June of 2008 - Dolly, PC and Emma with Grandma and Tina's boys.)

From at least July of 2008:

- We pulled into a parking spot at Michael's and Dolly piped up, "I don't have my shoes on!".
Me: "Why did you take your shoes off, Dolly?"
Dolly: "Because my feet needed fresh air!"

- Right after we drove out of a McDonald's drive through where the only thing purchased was an ice cream for me, Dolly said, "Mommy, can I have a bite of your ice cream?" Sir was surprised that she had even seen what we ordered. I gave her a bite and upon retrieving my spoon again we heard very clearly and wistfully from the back seat, "I wish I had my own."

- Dolly came into my room while I was making my bed and said, "Nobody came to PC's birthday party." "That's because we haven't had it yet." I replied. Then with much implication that the day in question was very near at hand she announced, "My birthday is not in January now."

"I didn't make this mess." Dolly explained tracing the arc of food crumbs on the table that matched her reach. "PC made a mess all the way over here." Uh huh, Right.

- After seeing a wedding picture on Sir's computer screen saver Dolly asked, "Is that when you got married?" "Um hm." Sir replied. After thinking about it for a few seconds, she summarized, "You married Mommy - and she married you back! Right?"

Spring/Summer - 2009:

(March of 2009 - Dolly, PC and Emma with all the cousins on Sir's side.)

- At the breakfast table bible reading when it was time to pray.
Dolly: "...And please take care of Daddy so it's not noisy at his work..."
PC: "...Please help us with our verses. Please help Mommy and me go shopping..."
Emma: "...Thank you for PC. And saying our verse..."

July - 2009:

(July of 2009 - PC and Emma at the park.)

- I carried a load of stuff up the outside stairs, but my hands were too full to open the door. The kids were playing in the kitchen and I know they saw me walk by the open window, so I knocked on the door with my foot. No answer. I knocked again, but still no on opened the door. "Dolly," I said through the window screen, "can you open the door please?" She ran the three strides to the door and laughing an embarrased little laugh as she opened the door for me, she said, "Ha! I thought you were the Judgement!"

- We were going to Chasm and HisLady's house for dinner one evening and when we reached their driveway we discovered it was already full of cars, so we kept on driving in order to circle around and park in one of the visitor spots. As we drove past their house Dolly announced, "You missed!"

August - 2009:

(August of 2009 - First family outing via Transit. Waiting for the bus with Daddy!)

- PC was camping out in the bathroom on business one day when I called him. He protested that he couldn't come because he was going potty. "Ok," I conceeded, but hurry up." "K," he replied "but it's gonna be a couple whiles."

November - 2009:

(November of 2009 - Meeting Butler for the first time.) ...And... (Still November of 2009 - Four kids on the couch!)

- Dolly brought me a stuffed toy lion with hair accessories all over it's mane. "Mommy, this lion is a girl." she explained, "I named her Sprinkle-Smartie-Flower!"

December - 2009:

(December of 2009 - The older three and the Water Fountains with Lights at the Bloedel Floral Conservatory)

- PC, calling into a play phone: "Hello? Hi, Mom?"
Dolly, from the next room: "Hi!"
PC: "Can you get me a present for my birthday? Can you get me a boat? That will be my present."
Dolly: "Ok, Goodbye!"
PC: Hello? Hi Love,"
Dolly: "Hello,"
PC: "Oh, and I need a DRUM. That can be my present too, ok? Ok! Good bye - Bye Love."
Dolly, (hanging up): "Bye."
PC, dialing: "beep beep beep..."
Dolly: "I'm not answering the phone."
PC 'redials' until she finally picks up: Grandma! And I want you to get my cars ok?"
Dolly: Ok, bye Love - Sir."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hide and Seek - in real life.

Early one morning not very long ago (as in yesterday), the Mommy's alarm rudely went off. Depressingly, it does this nearly every single day, but on this particular morning, the Mommy turned it off, and managed to roll over her giant tummy where she propped herself up on her elbows in preparation for the next step of getting up (the getting out of bed part). Anyway, once she was propped up on her elbows, she promptly fell back asleep with her chin in her two hands. (According to the Daddy, she spends quite a lot of time sleeping like this, but that isn't part of the story.) When she woke up again, she was 25 minutes behind schedule and so the day began in a frantic rush.

While the Mommy hurriedly filled breakfast orders, and packed school lunches, she was hollering at her brood of slow-moving, half-awake children to pick up the pace in order to get back on track. First Dolly emerged into the blinding light of the living room and without hesitation took up residence on the couch with the nearest blanket. Then PC joined her (at least out of his pajamas, but not quite in his clothes for the day). Next Ricka announced she had been abandoned and Dolly was assigned 'rescue duty' (which is really just getting Ricka out of her crib). So Ricka and her 'blan-keet' (that must accompany her everywhere) joined the crew on the couch.

This is about when Emma snugly rolled over on the top bunk bed and pulled the blankets up a little higher and Butler staggered out of his room and to the (now getting crowded) couch. Some bickering and squealing ensued, but the mommy had some breakfasts ready by this time and called various ones to come and eat. At this house, there is only time for school children to eat breakfast before it's time to race to school. Still no sign of Emma in spite of the repetitive summons. She is nearly dragged out of bed with much scolding and marched to the dining room table amid constant protesting. "I don't want to go to school! I don't want to eat breakfast. Can I stay home today? I'm cold! Can I got get a sweater? I'm tired. Can I go back to bed?" etc. etc. The protests are ignored. Breakfast was supposed to be over 3 minutes ago which means time had been made up, but they were still 15 minutes behind schedule.

Breakfast is rushed through, the children are sent to get into school uniforms while the Mommy works on packing the last of the lunches, pausing every few seconds to holler at someone to leave someone else alone, or to hurry up, meanwhile she forgot to include a fork for PC. (He reminded her when he got home from school and explained his untouched lunch - but that isn't part of the story either). Finally the lunches are finished, the backpacks are filled and the Mommy dashes to her room to get dressed in the few seconds everyone seems to be possibly cooperating.

Ricka screams at someone. Emma laughs (which means Ricka was screaming at Emma). The Mommy sticks her head out of her room and calls the girls to the hair-doing counter in her bathroom. They need to be called again. At last! The children are fed, dressed, packed and groomed. The older three rush to the car where half of them fight over who unlocks the door, who gets in the car first last or in some other place order and who is or isn't the boss and has the final say meanwhile, while the rest of them scatter about the house. The Mommy finds Ricka in nothing but her diaper. After throwing some clothes on Ricka, and digging Butler out of the toy box, she loads them into the car. By this time the other three have figured out how to get into the van. They race off to school still nearly 10 minutes behind schedule, but make it through the doors without needing to sign in at the school office.

Back home again to pick up the Daddy. The Mommy runs inside to get his lunch and look for Ricka's blanket - somehow they'd made the trip to school without it and Ricka is letting this tragedy be known. The blanket isn't in sight and there's no time to turn the house upside down to find it. Besides, the Daddy was ready and they shuttle him to the skytrain. Home again and able to stop and breathe, the Mommy and the littles, build the fire, look for the 'blan-keet' (to no avail) and then stop to eat breakfast after diapers are changed and pajamas are traded for regular clothes.

All during chore time/ play time the blanket is forgotten. It isn't remembered until almost lunch time when Ricka was getting very very fussy. The Mommy thought the fussiness was mostly because it was lunch time and little people get hungry and fussy just before meals are ready to eat. She made lunch and then looked again for the blanket while Butler and Ricka ate.

Now the missing blanket problem was starting to get serious. Soon they would have to go pick the older children up from school, and the afternoon trip to school is when Ricka always begins her afternoon nap. The Mommy started looking everywhere. At first mostly in the obvious places like underneath the couch that the blanket was last seen on, in the beds or on the bedroom floors. But then, when the blanket was not turning up, she started looking elsewhere. In all Ricka's favorite play areas like the Mommy's bed (maybe it fell underneath the headboard? No.), or the big cupboard in the empty old dining hutch, and of course she checked the big cardboard play boxes that came home from Costco with last month's groceries. But no blanket in sight and time was running out. Each sweep through the house got more and more detailed, but the blanket wasn't in the dryer, or the bathtubs or the library book laundry basket. It wasn't in the doghouse, or under the Mommy's bed and it was not in any of the bathroom cupboards or drawers (one of Ricka's favorite forbidden places to play).

They had to leave for school without the blanket and Ricka cried inconsolably all the way. She fell asleep just a couple minutes away from the school and there was peace until school was out and the older children noisily piled into the van. The trip home was more bearable - there were more distractions, but when they got home and it was time for Butler and Ricka to go for naps, the wailing resumed. Nobody seemed to know where the blanket had gone. PC and Dolly helped look, but it wasn't in the pantry, or the bird room it wasn't underneath the school desk. There was no blanket under the other beds, no blanket behind the couches, it wasn't in the kitchen cupboards or even in the refrigerator. Ricka would have to nap without her blanket. Instead, she wailed.

Butler went to sleep, PC went down for a nap, Dolly rested on the couch and Emma went down for her nap (in the same room with weeping Ricka). Emma wasn't planning on napping. She found it much more entertaining to converse with Ricka and eventually the Mommy joined them to enforce the rules. As long as the Mommy stroked Ricka's shoulder, Ricka would quiet down - she really was exhausted. And Ricka slept. Fitfully, and with little whimpers, but she slept. Eventually Emma fell asleep too, and the Mommy tip-toed out of the room just 10 minutes before 'nap time' was officially over.

The search resumed once all the children were up from naps, but there were chores to be done, homework to be done, and dinner to be made. Still no blanket turned up and it was still missing by the time they left to pick the Daddy up from the skytrain. While the children were supposed to be getting ready for bed the Daddy and Mommy searched for the blanket and then in a last hopeless attempt, the mommy emptied the shoe box. She'd looked underneath it and behind it earlier in the day, and even glanced inside a few times, but other than noting that it looked like the shoes were where they belonged for a change (in the box instead of in front of the box) that was as far as she'd gotten.

The blanket was in the shoe box. Carefully and completely out of sight close to the bottom, deep inside. The Mommy was relieved, Ricka was ecstatic, and eventually all of the children were finally ready for bed. Then the Mommy asked the children who had put Ricka's blanket in the shoe box, for Ricka wouldn't have buried it like that, and she most definitely would have known where to retrieve it from. Dolly didn't know. Butler didn't know. PC had no idea. And Emma matter-of-factly admitted to confiscating and hiding the blanket before leaving for school that morning. The reason? Because Ricka had been mad at her (remember the screaming the Mommy heard while she got dressed that morning?). Yeah. And apparently, Emma 'just forgot' about it while everyone else was frantically searching for the blanket all afternoon.

So the children were sent to bed (Ricka with her 'blan-keet' and a huge, adoring grin) and the bedtime circus began. But at least it didn't include a wailing 18mo. old suffering from a blanket addiction withdrawal.

The End.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Making Yogurt

There's not much in the way of an ingredient list or cooking times when it comes to making yogurt this way, but I still need some sort of reference post to go to when I forget the numbers or ranges involved in the process. Here's my yogurt tale.

My kids love yogurt, and before I realized we could make it at home, it was only a once in a long time treat. Those little 1 qt tubs for $3 that are gone in one meal after everyone got one serving each, just weren't all that affordable. And besides... they were always runny. Sloupy. Not to mention, the flavored ones were more like candy (with all the sugar and food coloring you have no control over) and the flavor options were limited.

One evening when were were at Chasm's house way back in May, Chasm's Lady offered me some yogurt that she'd made. It was plain yogurt - I usually avoided plain yogurt because it always seemed bitter to me. But I tried her yogurt, and it was good! Really good, even though it was plain. I could perfectly picture sweetening it just a tiny bit with honey and having an absolutely delicious desert. I asked about how she'd made it and got a few vague approximate values. She'd followed some advice/recipe online using a crockpot, but it wasn't a picky process, so she didn't have exact information for me, but she did send me home with a small tub of it.

So, I looked online and found as many recipes/instruction methods using a crock pot as I could, and compared the likenesses and differences and tried it myself. My first try turned out perfectly, and that was the end of store-bought yogurt for us.

Anyway, as long as I made a batch of yogurt every week, the information was fresh enough in my mind that I didn't have to go looking up details, but toward the end of September we went on a trip and when we got home the last of the leftover yogurt in the fridge had spoiled which meant I didn't have a starter to work with. By the time I got around to finding some, I couldn't remember all the particulars in my process. So I had to start over finding all the online information to compare and after that I decided to write down my own version for reference. Finally I got around to taking some pictures during the process to go with my post.

Crock Pot Yogurt

The tools and ingredients.

  • Milk - Any kind is supposed to work, but the closer to whole milk makes for the best results. So far I've only tried whole milk, so I don't know what kind of changes would need to be made for other types yet.
  • Yogurt with live/active cultures for a starter. I've only used plain yogurt for a starter. I don't know if you can use a flavored yogurt or how it would turn out if you did. The ratio of yogurt to milk is 1 cup to a gallon.
  • A Thermometer. It has to be able to register as low as 110° and as high as 180° F. I have a digital meat thermometer and a dial candy thermometer, and I still can't decide which I like best.
  • A Crock Pot. It just needs to have a 'low' setting and must be big enough to hold the amount of milk you're turning into yogurt.
  • Thick bath towel. For extra insulation.
  • Small mixing bowl, Whisk, Stirring spoon & Mesh colander or fine seive.

    The Directions: (more or less)

    1. The first step is just putting the milk in the crock pot, making sure the lid in on and setting it to 'low'. I stir and check the temperature every hour or so and usually coming straight from the fridge, it takes my crock pot approximately 3 or 4 hours to reach 180° which is what you need it to reach before going on to the next step.

    2. Once the milk has reached 180°, turn the crock pot off, stir the milk, and leave the lid off. Now the milk has to cool to 110° so that you can add the starter. Again, I stir and check the temperature every so often. This is when you take the 'starter' yogurt out of the fridge to start coming to room temperature. If it's too cold, it will cool the milk down too much and the yogurt turns out sloupy. Hm, I think I like that word.

    3. When the milk has cooled down to the 110°-115° range (for me this takes another hour or two depending on how often I stir it), scoop out twice the amount of starter you will use into the mixing bowl and add the starter to it. For example, if you're making a gallon of yogurt, you'll be using a cup of starter, so you're going to take out 2 cups of warm milk to mix the starter into.

    4. This step is probably still part of the last one, but I'm going to separate it, to emphasize my point. Make sure to mix the 'starter' and warm milk well. Then once you add it back into the crock pot of milk, make sure to mix it well there too. But once it's mixed into the warm milk, DO NOT MIX IT ANY MORE. This is when the yogurt cultures need to 'incubate' and do their work. Stirring it disturbs the process and alters the final outcome. You want to do this step quickly, because the more you stir, and the longer you take, the faster you'll lose your target temperature of 110°.

    5. As soon as your starter mix is stirred into the crock pot, put the lid back on, check your temperature and then completely wrap the crock pot (which is still OFF at this point) with the bath towel. The idea here is to try to keep the temperature at 110° for 7 to 8 HOURS. I check the temperature every couple of hours (unless it's sitting overnight).

    If the temperature drops too quickly, I'll turn the crock pot back on for 10 minutes, but REMEMBER TO TURN IT OFF AGAIN!!! I completely cooked my last batch of yogurt because we got sidetracked doing a puzzle before the kids had to go to bed and by the time I remembered my yogurt it was back up to 165°. Anything over 120° will kill the yogurt culture and I haven't figured out what to do with a ruined gallon of milk/yogurt stuff. It has to be usable some how, but it'll need some experimentation.

    After 8 hours, the yogurt starter/culture will have done it's trick, and you'll be almost done. This is when you can stir it up, and stick the whole batch in the refrigerator to stop the process completely. The longer you leave the yogurt un-stirred and not chilled, the tangier the plain yogurt will be. So the amount of disturbance you choose, is up to you. I usually just give it a quick stir, and put it in the fridge for a few hours at least because there's one more step I like to go through to avoid sloupiness.

    6. Finally, I drain the yogurt. Some people put the whole batch in a cheesecloth and let it drain from 2 or 3 hours to overnight, but I like to drain it in smaller amounts. One reason is that I don't usually have cheesecloth floating around, and the other reason, is that I need to get my giant crock pot out of the refrigerator since it takes up way more space than is really practical. Plastic containers with flat lids stack so much nicer than a 5 qt crock pot with a dome lid on it. I fill my little strainer and place it over a container on the counter to catch the whey. After 45 min to an hour, I dump the drained yogurt into an empty container, put it in the fridge and then repeat the process until the whole batch is drained. If I use more than one strainer, the time to drain the whole batch is even less. I make sure to stir each strainer-worth into the rest of the drained yogurt when I add it, and the result is a thick, creamy, delicious yogurt.

    You can eat it plain, or add almost anything to it. We've tried mint jelly, orange marmalade, cinnamon, vanilla, chopped peaches and blueberries among a handful of other ideas. It's the breakfast AND snack of choice around here - especially with a spoonful of homemade strawberry jam or a swirl or two of honey stirred in. The only drawback is that a batch never lasts more than a week even when I ration it out. Apparantly, you can store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks, but I haven't had a chance to test that since ours is always gone long before that estimate.

    Just make sure to take enough out to save for your next batch's starter. Also, the starter yogurt can be frozen! This is especially nice if you're not going to get to making another batch right away. Or when you accidently let someone eat the last of the yogurt before you remembered to take some out for a starter. Or when you cook your yogurt to death like my last batch.

  • Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    When Ricka Came

    Another of my Draft Posts. I think it was just waiting for me to pick some cute pictures of Ricka and re-size them. But if this post is going up before the next baby comes, I should get on with it!

    July 28th, 2011....

    We just didn't know that Ricka was going to come a whole week early.

    It's funny how when you think you have everything under control nothing goes according to plan. I was NOT ready for Ricka to come when she did. I had the whole last week before she was due completely booked. We did not have a baby name chosen, I did not have my hospital bag packed. After Grandma C. got hurt we alternated between going up to the hospital to see her and having Grandpa C. and Dee over for dinner and hockey.

    Thursday (June 9th), we'd gone up to see Grandma and the next evening Grace and her kids joined us for dinner too. I was almost one week away from my due date. It's kind of interesting that just as Grace was leaving that evening she said, "Thanks again for dinner, and I hope you have that baby soon!" I laughed and agreed as I closed the door behind her and then started to tidy up since everyone had gone and Sir was finishing the screen door project he'd been working on for a couple days.

    A couple hours later after discovering I still hadn't finished packing a hospital bag, Sir insisted I do that before I went to bed that night. "I don't care if you just have one pair of underwear in the bag. I just want to have a bag somewhere that I can grab!". Of course he knew I'd never settle for just partially packing my bag. After all, that was why it wasn't even packed. I had piles of stuff all over the place that I'd been collecting for my bag, but I just hadn't put it all together yet. So, at 11 pm, I finally dug out a duffle bag and put all my piles of collected stuff into it, and with that I had a hospital bag packed. Then we started talking about more baby name options sometime around midnight and when we'd finally settled on something, it was time to call it a night.

    I woke up at 4:30 because my water had broken. That had never happened on its own before so at first there was quite a bit of confusion as we realized it was actually labor. Then we had to figure out who to wake up at 5am and ask if they could come watch the older kids while we headed to the hospital. The PLAN was, for my mom to come up from CA on the 13th (a whole 6 days before my due date), and we'd have someone already here when the baby finally decided to arrive. Ricka had her own plans, and thankfully, Chasm's Lady graciously took on this task in all it's short-notice and arrived in good time. I felt terrible asking her to come over when my contractions during the first half hour - 45 minutes weren't even worthy of being called contractions, but they were steadily increasing in intensity, so by the time we left our house to make the 5 minute drive to the hospital I was very glad the ride wasn't any longer.

    At first I kept thinking, 'We can't go into labor now! The mattress guys are supposed to call between 7 and 8am to schedule a delivery time for later in the day and we have to be home.' We had decided that since my mom was going to be staying with us for a couple weeks after the baby came, we'd finally upgrade our double bed to a queen which would also give us a decent guest bed. I'd figured I'd have a whole week before the baby came, to set up a guest room for my mom once we got our new mattress.

    Anyway, we finally called Chasm's Lady and she got to our house around 5:30. I felt terrible interrupting her day so early - especially when my contractions weren't that strong by the time she arrived, but it was a bit frightening to see how quickly and consistenly they were intensifying. By the time we got to the hospital less than 10 minutes later, I had to stop and really work through a contraction every 2 minutes.

    We got checked in, settled into a delivery room and resigned ourselves to this being the 'real thing'. And then there was the hour that seems to take forever. I remember looking at the clock at 7:15 and thinking, 'If this was Butler, he'd be born already!'. To me, it seemed like my most dificult labour, but I was exhausted before it even started. All I wanted was a little break, so I could rest before we got down to the business of having a baby, but Ricka was on her way whether I was ready or not. Just a note: Do not go into labour after less than 4 hours of sleep!

    And so, Ricka was born on Saturday, June 11th at 7:43 - just over 3 hours after I had woken up. She came out screaming mad and healthy as a horse! She took center stage size-wise compared to her other siblings weighing in at 8lbs, 13 oz and 21 inches long.

    And that, is the story of when Ricka came.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    Savors of Summertime

    The Ingredients

    Here's my most recent, past, draft post. Sometimes there's nothing quite like a current post either. :) Oh well, if I don't dig through my drafts once in a while, I won't be able to appreciate the more timely-posted posts. Besides, I want to have this recipe where I can find it easily, so old or not, it's going up now.

    July 14th...

    There's nothing like fresh salsa. And there's nothing to describe how a mama feels when her little people fall in love with it!
    Yesterday I made a batch of salsa thinking that we'd have a little last night, and I'd take the rest with us for lunch on Sunday. But I felt like having some for a snack/lunch today and served up a cereal bowl full. Then PC walked by. "What's that?" he asked (probably because he was hungry as a result of me not serving lunch yet) "It's salsa, but you might not like it... 'cause it might be spicy." I told him. He wanted to try it, and was hooked. He needed his own bowl. It wasn't long before Butler wandered in. I offered him some, but added a dab of sour cream. He was sold too. Before I knew it, both boys were feeding salsa by the chipful to Ricka. She wanted nothing to do with the chips....

    Grandpa Dan's Salsa Makes 1 gallon!
    • 1qt canned Tomato Juice
    • 5 Anaheim peppers
    • 7 - 10 Roma tomatoes (any kind will work though)
    • 2 Onions
    • 2 Green Bell peppers
    • 1 bunch Cilantro
    • 1-2 Jalapeno peppers (minced)
    • 5-7 cloves Garlic (crushed)
    • Salt to taste (1-2 Tbs)
    • Pepper to taste (½ - 1tsp)
    • Lemon Juice (2-3 splashes)
      Dice vegetables, add seasonings and tomato juice. Stir well, and enjoy! It's best the next day once all the flavors have melded together. Just don't over do it on the jalapinos - they don't seem so hot in the just-made batch, but can really pack some heat the next day!

    I think what I was leading up to (four months ago), was Dolly discovery of the salsa. When she saw Butler's doctored salsa, she made her own version of it (where she crushed her corn chips and mixed them into her bowl of salsa and sour cream), and then wrote down her own recipe so she could duplicate it later. I should post her little culinary treasure, but I'm falling asleep just sitting here right now, so perhaps another day. Perhaps.


    Wednesday, October 31, 2012


    There's been so much to blog about that its intimidating just thinking about it sometimes. Then you have to figure out where to start especially when it's been forever since anyone heard a peep out of you. After that... there's just finding the time to get to it and making sure you'll have enough time to finish because one little thing leads to another and pretty soon, you're neck-deep in a post/project/pretty much anything, and somehow you've got to wrap it up. At least that's how it is for me, and so I procrastinate and never even get started. See? All that and I haven't even started!

    And I decided to tackle the whole month. Here's most of what we've been up to - mostly in pictures with a bit of explanation:

    October 1st - Our last day in California.
    As I was packing up the van for our trip home, Auntie V. dressed Dolly and PC up in her firefighting outfits. It was late morning and the temp was already in the high 80's. I was pretty impressed at how well my kids held up underneath all that gear!

    Getting a look at each other.

    PC - He got to wear the radio/pager thingy. :)

    Dolly - She got the mask and water weights.

    It wasn't too much later that Emma and PC showed the first signs of the local flu that was going around. They both lost their breakfast just minutes before we hit the road. We left at 1pm Monday afternoon, and by the time we reached the CA/OR border (usually about a 3 hr. drive), it was already after 7pm. Dolly had joined the ranks emptying their stomachs every few minutes and we were making 'dumping stops' very very frequently. It was awful. The only pictures of the whole trip home were what Sir took on his phone while we were stopped at a rest area.

    He only got a mild case of the flu, and it wasn't until we'd been home for a couple days.

    She never got sick at all.

    And Emma.
    She made it out of the van and spent the whole rest area stop on the nearest patch of grass.

    The trip home was long and exhausting. Instead of trying to drive straight through, we stopped for the night somewhere in Oregon. We figured it'd give the kids a chance to recover and us a chance to sleep. We got home at 2am Wednesday morning and Sir woke up at 5 sick. The kids had started feeling better by Tuesday morning, but I kept them home from school while we regrouped the first day. Sir Stayed home from work for a couple days to recover and thankfully, I never got sick thus being spared the most horrible job of caring for the sick while sick and pregnant. :)

    October 6th - Canadian Thanksgiving.
    Everyone was soundly on the mend by the weekend which was when we celebrated Thanksgiving. I didn't get very many pictures this year, but we stuck with tradition and went Chestnut picking in the park first thing in the morning before heading to Grandpa and Grandma C's house for breakfast.

    Ricka's first Chestnut.

    Emma - Proud collector of Chestnuts. :)

    Butler's Trophy.

    Dolly and Daddy stepping on chestnut cases.

    After breakfast we hung out at Grandpa and Grandma C's house. There were walks in the park, puzzles to do, snacks to munch on, and I brought a pumpkin project for the kids to do during the day while everyone waited for dinner to be ready. Finally it was time to eat and I did remember to get a pictures of the tables before the feast was fallen upon.

    The Cousins Table

    Most of the rest of us.

    A few of the finished pumpkin projects.

    After Thanksgiving, the kids and I harvested most of our garden produce. We went bowling with Grandpa & Grandma and Uncle A., and PC found a Wooly Caterpillar.

    About ⅔ of the main crop. We'd been harvesting various things all summer, but it was getting colder, and I didn't think the garden would last much longer. Clockwise from top left: Green tomatoes, Russet potatoes, Tomatoes, Cherry tomatoes, and Zucchini. The kids ate all the strawberries before they came in the house that day.


    The 'Toss' by Dolly

    The 'Slide' by PC

    The 'Slowest Ball Ever' by Emma

    The 'Patient Wait' by Butler

    The Kid's Final Score.

    PC and His Caterpillar

    A close up when we let it go.

    October 14th - Roasting Chestnuts
    A week after Thanksgiving, Grandpa and Grandma C. invited us over to roast the chestnuts. The kids got to participate in almost all the steps involved in getting the chestnuts from the forest to in a snack bowl. Everyone helped out in the first peeling stage. Once that was done and Grandpa was roasting the chestnuts in the popcorn maker, most of the kids scattered throughout the house to play, but a few stuck around to watch. After they were toasted, Grandma brushed off the inner papery peel, and when they were cool enough to eat, everyone got a taste. Butler especially liked them, and stuck around until all the batches were done.

    The Peeling Party



    Butler helping Grandpa

    Ready to eat!

    October 15th - 31st
    For 2nd half of the month, I just have random pictures here and there. Butler, Ricka and I 'put the garden away for the winter' on the 22nd, which means we picked every last thing weather it was ripe or not. Our mystery plant this year turned out to be a pumpkin and it was still mostly green when we finally picked it, but I wanted to beat the frost. The older three kids had a school field trip on the 26th - in the pouring, very cold rain. Other than that, there's just random life pictures, but some of them are worth posting. :)

    A pretty tree next to the Dr.'s Office.


    Up close

    Ricka's newest trick - Balancing on a Drum

    Baby.Basket.Books. AKA: Ricka

    A different basket, different book, same baby.

    Our garden pumpkin. I knew the older kids would each get a pumpkin on their field trip, so this one was officially Butler and Ricka's pumpkin.

    Still green. We didn't know if it would finish turning color after it was picked.

    Matching Sisters!

    The Field Trip

    Group Shot.

    Emma with her pumpkin on the Hay Wagon.

    Dolly and a barn kitten. She's wanted one like this since we sold Olive's white kitten two years ago.


    Teeny tiny piglets! They were only 2 weeks old.

    PC and the goats. They loved him.

    Butler and Ricka's pumpkin. It turned color beautifully! The kids are anxiously waiting for me to tell them we can cook it up.

    And that's it for October. We'll see what November brings. :)