Friday, December 18, 2009

This sewing machine...

...has been running nonstop these days.

And Mitch has taken over all household tasks.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Like Father Like Daughter

This morning Mitch spent some time cleaning his bike and doing some work on it before he took off on a bike ride this afternoon. After she watched him leave Anna wanted to go for her own bike ride around our building, but first she had to clean her bike: And Ruthie watched, from behind the safety of our 'baby gate':

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Done!

by Mitch
All of the semesters since I have been back in school have been tough, but this one topped them all. Now it is finished! That is definitely reason to celebrate in our household. There were times when we were not quite sure how we would make it to the end of this semester, but now we have made it. I'm not sure who is more relieved, me or Katie.

Katie likes to post pictures of different projects she is working on from time to time, so I have to post my own version of my projects. This is basically what the largest portion of the semester distilled down to, construction drawings for our Senior Design Project:



Okay, I know Katie's projects are probably of a lot more interest to most people who read this blog regularly except for Hashim, but this project has consumed so much of the last three months that it seemed like it had to make its way into the blog somehow. And yes, the design project entailed a lot more than just those two drawings, but I figured I might be pushing it a bit already. (Sorry, Hashim, the structural drawings didn't make it in. I am a hydraulics guy afterall.)
The last final was over at 10:30 last night. So now how to celebrate?

First, just relaxing.



This picture is actually from last Tuesday. Hashim is reading to Ruthie while we were relaxing after our final Senior Design presentation.

Then today I got to spend the entire morning with Anna, Josie and Ruthie just playing and going for a walk/bike ride (Anna on the bike). Katie actually had a chance to work on some of her projects and have some time alone.


Later during nap time it was a chance to get out on the road again and get a nice thirty miles in.


Tonight it will be a chance to get together with some fellow students to celebrate the end of the semester together over dinner.
The part of celebrating that Katie and I are looking forward to the most, though, is just having some evenings together for a few weeks where I don't have to do schoolwork, and we can just sit and talk.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A High of 13?

That's not a high. 13 degrees is pretty darn low in my book, and that was the high today, if it even got that high. Right now the thermometer is reading 1 degree, and it feels about like that inside. What do you do with three active little girls when the high is 13 degrees? Yesterday we went sledding. The only people on the hill. Was that because it was a weekday and everyone else was at school or work, or because it was so darn cold out? I don't know, but we had fun. Didn't take the camera, but you can picture us: Pushing off from the top of the hill, Anna first on the sled, on her tummy, legs in the air, going down the hill head first. Behind her on the sled was Mommy holding little Ruthie, whose grin got bigger the faster we went. In her own separate little blue sled attached to the back of the big one was Eskimo Josie. Their favorite part? Later they told Daddy "We even went over the jump, Dad! I was going head first, so fast!"

Yeah, I think we're crazy. But Anna had been begging me to go sledding at Scott Carpenter Park for a while now, and we'd been housebound for too long with this crazy cold weather. My favorite part? (Besides the fact that we got outside for a while and watching the girls laughing down the hill) Mocha afterwards. I love how special occasions have their own special food that go with them. Hot cocoa and a mocha for Mom that we made when we got home after a cold morning sledding. There's so much comfort in food.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Did the Grinch Come?

Only a few books left on the once full toy shelves?
Where have all the toys gone?
No, it was not a visit by the Grinch, even though it may look like it. Rather, it was an idea fully initiated by my eldest daughter, all of 4 years old, and supported with equal excitement by her 2 year old sister. I don't get it. I don't think I would have been excited about this when I was 4 or 2, or if you did it to me at 32 with the stuff that I like. But the other night Anna told me "Laura and Mary's house wasn't like our house, was it, Mom?" (This is Laura and Mary of the Little House Series of books, as in Laura Ingalls Wilder, in case you were wondering.) I replied "Nope," wondering where this train of thought was going. You never know when it is a 4 year old making the statement. "Our house is not like Laura and Mary's house because they didn't have any toys, and we have lots of toys. I don't want to have any toys, either, Mom. I want our house to be like Laura and Mary's house." Okay! Not exactly what I was expecting. I think I was expecting something about the size or construction or location of our house. But to Anna it all had to do with the toys. Anyway, the long and short of it is that I spent the rest of the evening putting all their toys up high in their closet in boxes. (No, I couldn't quite bring myself to actually get rid of it all. Maybe I will next week.) They were so excited! And still are! This happened a few days ago and they haven't missed a beat. They have kept playing normally, just using whatever objects they do find around them in their play, like blankets and pillows off the beds or pots and pans out of the cupboards. I must say, bedtime has been easier without the hassle of cleaning up the toys. The house is easier to move through and feels more peaceful and big and open without the clutter of all the toys. Life is so much simpler without all the stuff we like to hold onto. I could learn a few things from my girls. We did keep down one doll and the 3 handmade stuffed animals that they have, along with the books you saw in the picture, but other than that all their toys are where they can't get them. Makes me wonder what stuff of mine I need to get out of my life. Stuff I want but would be better off without.
What would it be for you?
I don't know if I have the strength to do it, but I'm going to think about it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

We Have a One Year Old in the House!

She was read her favorite stories (by Anna, here):

Given pictures that have been drawn for her for weeks in preparation for this special day to celebrate our special girl:


Loved the banging game when we got out a bunch of metal bowls and pots and wooden spoons and mimicked everything that she did:


Liked that frosting! (Cute dress by Mema!)

Ate up her carrot cake:


Opened her gifts (this is a bag of rocks that her sisters collected and washed for her, all large enough that she can't choke on them):



The birthday queen, banging her rocks together:

You are one very much loved and celebrated little girl, Ruthie. Thank you for all the laughter and love that you add to our little family.
I love watching you crawl/walk as fast as you can to your Daddy'O when he comes home each evening and your laughter as he swoops you high into the air.
I love how your face breaks into the biggest grin and you laugh with your whole body when you see either of your sisters coming towards you.
I love your hugs when you wrap your arms and legs around me as if you'll never let go.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mama's Projects

For my birthday this year Grandma Judy gave me the book "Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures" by Amanda Blake Soule. I have been having a lot of fun with different projects from the book. Here are two of them.

Towel Rug:

The bottom is made from an old red towel that we had, the top is some froggy material that I had from my Grandma Ginya and strips cut from a towel that we didn't use anymore because half of it had been discolored. It adds a little funky color to our bathroom to step out onto when you are done in the bath.


The second project is the Art and Hooks Rack. Here the girls are doing the artwork for the rack:
Anna wrote each girls name on a piece of paper, drew a picture of that girl, and added some other colorful artwork to the paper. Josie did some little pictures as well to go in between Anna's on the board. Next we painted the board (dark purple, of course), glued on the pictures, added ribbon, and screwed in two hooks for each girl below the picture with their name on it. Then Daddy mounted it to the wall where it was promptly filled with coats and hats and sweaters:
I like it! If you come over for a visit you can look more closely at the artwork and we'll tell you exactly what is in each picture. The girls are pretty proud of their work and like having a place of their own to hang their winter layers.

With a birthday in the house less than a week away and Christmas just around the corner there is a lot more crafting going on in this house, but we're not going to show you all of it because some of it might be coming your way! What crafting have you been doing lately as the weather turns colder and the days grow shorter? I'd love to know what has been keeping your hands busy as you go through your day, what materials you're using, what colors you like lately. What are the handmade parts of your home?

In the Snow

These are all pictures I took last week of the girls playing in the snow. The snow is gone from all the sunny spots now, but still lingering in the shade.
Josie making a snow angel with an icicle in her hand: Eating the Snow:

Peeking at us through the milk door:

Playing with Ruthie through the milk door:


Anna, on our walk through the woods:

Those Two are Inseparable

Here's a couple of fun pictures of Ruthie and Mama that I took myself.
Ruthie is so engaging, you can't help but smile at her!


Almost one year old, and definitely walking now. I'll have to get a video of her in motion to show you sometime soon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Show

'The Show' had no name and I don't remember the plot, only plenty of laughter on the part of both the audience and the actors, so in the future it will only be referred to as 'The Show'. My favorite part of The Show was when granny first appeared and Ruthie's chin dropped, her mouth hung open and her eyes stared big and round, unmoving, for quite a long time. Until I grinned at her. Then she moved, laughed, wiggled, walked over to me and wanted up immediately so she could grab this granny's spectacles and hat with both hands all at the same time and just eat them up.

The Show:

The Dance, part of said Show by the granny, red pajama clad baby, rip-scrunch eating giraffe and pink dog:

More of The Dance (do you know how hard it is to dance in size 16 men's hiking boots?):


The Dramatic Moment:


The end of The Show involved a puppet show:


The Audience:
I think The Audience fell asleep sometime during the puppet show, maybe The Audience hasn't been getting enough sleep lately(but don't worry, we had The Audience rolling in the aisles in laughter for most of The Show, which was good to see)


After The Show there was Apple Pie for dessert:
And pie crust chocolate chip cookies that the girls made:
Mmm Mmm Mmm.

And finally, a snuggly cozy time reading with Daddy'O and Raggedy Anne Doll on the couch before bed:

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Mom, Here's Your Recipe!"

That's what Anna said as she handed me this slip of paper the other night while I was cooking:
(front) (back)
(That's an I love you, in reverse, the heart is 'love', and is made into a silly heart person with eyes, nose, mouth, hat, and hands, I think)
I asked her to read it to me and this is what she said:
Chocolate Sausage Biscuits -by Anna
Brown and white sugar
Chocolate (this is what makes it, not yeast or sourdough, they're not yeast or sourdough biscuits, they're chocolate)
Flour
Water
Cheese
More Sugar
More Water
Sauce- Salsa sauce
Meatballs (sausage)
Mix them all together. Put it in a pan. Let it fry, cook it, saute it, put steam on it, steam it, put water in the pan, put chocolate in the water. Pour it into another pan and it makes into soup. Biscuit soup. The soup has biscuits in it. Add some beans, rice, pour chocolate on them and more water. Pieces of tortilla in it. Then it's done.
By golly, I think I'm going to try it sometime, with the master chef's help who created the recipe, of course! I'm loving this little one's creativity. She wasn't pleased with what I'd told her I was cooking for dinner, so she took matters into her own hands.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

You Little Stinker!

Ruthie, you are a little stinker! Watch this video for a good laugh: video
I love how she crawls so fast to get where she's going, then stops and looks back at her Dad and giggles.
What is making you smile today?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Windsor Dairy

Yesterday we got to visit Windsor Dairy, the dairy where we get our milk. We had a tour of the milking parlour and watched them milking the cows:
We saw lots of goats and got to go inside the goat pen and pet three one week old kids:

The cows on this dairy are 100% grass fed. We got to see the pasture where they live. I love this picture of Mitch with his girls walking out towards the pasture:

We said hi to some of the cows as they came out of the milking parlour. This is Cupcake:

Right now, with the weather what it is, the cows are mostly fed hay in the barn. There's not much grass in the pasture. The owner, Meg, took us into the barn so we could see the cows some more. Ruthie was fascinated by the cows and not intimidated at all. It was actually Ruthie that Meg wanted to take to see the rest of the cows. Here we are with Cupcake again in the barn:
They have 150 cows in their herd. I don't know if this number includes all the calves we saw and the few bulls or not. They rotate through which cows are being milked at any given time in the year based on when they had their calf, if they're pregnant or if they're soon to be pregnant. They have 70 cows that are actually being milked right now. So amazing to actually see where our milk comes from, and to see all the other life on the dairy that we don't usually get to see around us everyday: chickens, goats, kids, calves, bulls, cows, the whole operation that happens so that we can drink milk. Thank you, Meg, for all the work you do to bring us good, fresh milk.

Milk Door

We discovered the milk door that leads from my kitchen/dining room straight into the girls' playhouse! Back in the 50's this is where the milkman left the milk every morning, now it is where Mama collects mail from her two little girls:) This is my favorite piece of mail yet. Drawn on the front and back of some of Mitch's scratch paper from school, on the front of it Anna wrote her own name and then "I love you" (I-heart-U):On the back she wrote 'Mom':I love it. That just warms my little mama heart. I love that as Anna and Josie put mail for me in the box they're yelling at me to come get my mail. As soon as I get it they both run inside to read/show me what it says in a flurry of excitement, hand gestures and giggles. Then they run to the drawer for more paper, then they're off back outside composing more mail for mama. The mail box only makes it more fun, it doesn't really save them any time in the delivery. That's all part of the fun.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Playhouse

This was my work of creativity yesterday, I made the girls a playhouse outside. It is on the warmer south side side of our building, which is where we play in the wintertime, and is completely constructed out of materials that we had or things we found in nature.
This is the shell of it, wire mesh for the roof, connected to the railing on one side and some T-posts I drove into the ground on the other side. They were putting in new carpet on the upstairs walkways of our building and the workers gave us the carpet scraps they were about to toss in the dumpster. Josie wanted me to take a picture of her 'sleeping' on the carpet inside the frame of the playhouse:

Then we went for a walk and filled our wagon with willow branches we found on the ground. When we got home the girls helped me weave these through the mesh frame of the roof to complete the roof:
Then the dolls and tea set were brought outside, along with chairs, little pots and pans and other 'house' things, and playing commenced. Needless to say, they liked it!

Today I wanted to make walls for the house. Anybody have any good ideas of how? We just used fabric scraps and blankets we had, but that won't last long. It kept them shaded and cool while they played today, though. The blue panel in the middle is the door. That, at least, can stay. Behind the other material are a few widely spaced pieces of wood/poles, the beginnings of a wall.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that I constructed a counter for their house, a 'craft counter' as Anna promptly named it. Since it is at little girl standing height it is definitely a counter, not a table that you could sit at. Once that was finished they promptly brought out their crayons, scissors and paper and started crafting in their little house. I showed them how they could hand their scissors from a stick in the roof so Ruthie couldn't get them and we found a bucket they could put their crayons in and hang from the roof in the same way, out of Ruthie's reach. You can see all of that in some of the following pictures. Their pictures we also hung from some sticks on the roof, so now their house is decorated.
Then we went inside and made some playdough. The girls were enthralled that we could actually make playdough! Anna kept laughing and dancing a little jig in her excitement as they helped me measure ingredients and stir the concoction, saying "That's so silly! Mommy's making playdough! That's so silly!" I loved her enthusiasm and excitement. They were also excited that this would be edible playdough, they could try it if they wanted, although I warned them it wouldn't taste very good because it was really salty.
When it was ready, we took the playdough out to the playhouse:

They had a lot of fun with their rolling pins, cookie cutters, pots and pans, slatted spatulas and other kitchen utensils as they made food for their house.


Poor Ruthie. She just wanted to destroy what the girls were making. So she and I hung out on the stoop where she could participate a little bit, see everything the girls were making, but couldn't quite reach it through the railing. I did give her her own piece of playdough to play with and squish around in her hands. She liked that. After one little bite I let her have she didn't want to eat it anymore but was so intrigued by it that she kept licking it.
When she started to get antsy and frustrated that she couldn't get to where the girls were at I took her down on the grass and gave her a pot of water to play with.
What kid can stay away from a pot of water? Not Anna and Josie!
They decided they were done playing with their playdough and it was time to wash all the utensils and the counter with water.







Then Anna ran inside, grabbed her hat, dipped it in the water and started running around all over the place laughing with her wet hat dripping water all over her face.

And Josie followed suite:
Lots of fun, inspired by a playhouse the girls go from one activity to the next. I loved that they had a playhouse to play in that was outside and I didn't care that water was going everywhere.
I'm sure there are many more posts to come of fun we will have in this playhouse. But any ideas for the walls?