Friday, March 16, 2007

Digging the Old Garden

One of our neighbors brought Sam and Awyn a new tractor today. They'd outgrown it and thought it ought to be played with, so the girls decided to give it to Sam. Both Sam and Awyn were excited to have a new digging toy, and Eric suggested the remains of the old garden. This turned out to be a marvelous suggestion. I found the sandbox toys and brought them out too. Awyn spent most of the afternoon digging, even after Sam got tired of it. Awyn even came back out to it after her nap and again after supper. This pile of dirt is in a good spot; I can stretch a blanket or something to give them some shade over the corner of the fence and over to the laundry line, although honestly, it did spend all afternoon in partial shade from the fence. (this was part of why I moved the garden)

The new garden is in a spot to provide sun most of the day, but a little shade here and there to keep the heat down. I want to put another raised bed by the back porch, but that might be a project for a later date. I might also put a sand pile next to the house between the porch and fence, and stretch some shade fabric between them. I don't know. I do know that we have a nice backyard, and I enjoy sitting in it scheming about what I want to do next. The kids are enjoying the new garden, mostly leaving it alone, at least until today, when Awyn decided to pull up half of my cilantro and a few carrots. Luckily they needed to be thinned anyway, and I was able to replant a few of the 'culls' in other places.
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Ice Cream Girl

Yesterday I took a few birthday party invitations around, and on the way home stopped at the gas station for batteries for Awyn's light-up music thing (it's a night light projector). Sam and Awyn have decided that stopping at the gas station means ice cream. Because the batteries were much less expensive than I'd expected, I caved and bought ice creams for them for lunch. I think this picture shows how much fun both kids had. Awyn wallowed in her ice cream.

Some days it's fun to be bad!
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Awyn points at Daddy and scowls. She has a cute little trick of saying, "Scowl!" and scowling. You can see some of the chocolate from her chocolate chip cookie. I made cookies for the rangers in the zoo that day, with oat flour, whole wheat flour, soy flour, and milled flax seed. They were a little dry, but fairly tasty.
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Video fun

Here's a little video of the kids watching the 'baby cricket'. Awyn is suddenly very quiet, but they were both very excited.

Baby Cricket

Sam and Awyn became obsessed with a tiny little grasshopper. If you blow up this picture, you can see a tiny white thing next to Sam's finger. They kept talking about the baby cricket for quite a while.
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Monday, March 12, 2007

Last Time We Traveled in Style

We're headed back to Washington soon for a visit. Last time we traveled on Amtrak, from Alpine all the way to Seattle. It was a fabulous trip, very relaxing. Unfortunately, Amtrak had a big budget cut, again, and they now charge three times what we paid the last time, making airfare 1/4 the cost of travel by train, even purchasing tickets for all four of us on the plane.

This picture was taken in the lounge car, Sam is entertaining strangers, and I'm watching from a nearby seat. I remember the free food and beverages. It was a hassle-free, stress-free way to travel. Even though we wound up being more than 24 hours late getting in to Seattle, there was nothing to be done but enjoy the hospitality. I would love to do this again someday. Sam two years older now! Awyn hadn't been born yet.

I'm planning a birthday part for Sam before we head North. Then I think I'm going to try to have another in Washington so we can get most of his cousins together. We'll be spending time in Bothell, Port Angeles, and Pullman, with a brief side trip to Whidbey Island. We have a rough schedule outlined, so let me know how you want to be included!
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Saturday, March 10, 2007


Or is it Handi-land? I know I'm being incredibly insensitive and politically incorrect, but that green gingerbread man has some issues. He's headless and armless, and his feet are a little warped too. We opened this game for the first time, and it did take me about 30 seconds to figure out what was different about the green gingerbread man. They're all ugly - maybe headless is an improvement. Sam didn't pick him to play. Sam put him back in the box. We've been teaching Sam some classic little kids' board games to work on his language skills. I'm pulling all my SLP tricks out of the closet. I'm now seriously regretting having passed up the travel version of this game, which came with Chutes&Ladders printed on the backside and had a nice case - I saw it in a Wal-mart in Dumas AR. Last night we played Chutes&Ladders. I think he had an easier time with Candyland. We'll alternate them. If I run into some used cheap versions, I'll send them down to Lily's so she can work with him too. His therapy time is pretty limited at school, more like monitoring than therapy, really. So we're all working hard on language skills. He's really come a long way - but little sister is right behind him, and nearly catches him. We can't play these games with her yet, so we wait until Awyn has gone to bed or is napping.
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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Pickle Dance

I'm having issues lately with pictures disappearing. This photo was fine last night. I'll check back, and if it reappears where it's supposed to, I'll get rid of this post.
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Saturday, March 03, 2007

We Love Pickles

We have a fun pickle story to share. It all starts out with Sam's love of the show, "Magic School Bus". I check them out from the school's library. He will sit through the entire episode, and then want to watch it again. One of the episodes teaches about bacteria, using pickles. Sam decided he wanted to eat a pickle. I happened to have a cucumber in the fridge that wasn't doing so well, so I looked up an easy refrigerator pickle recipe. What I made turned out rather dreadfully, but Sam gamely ate a few. I think he and Eric finished the entire cucumber, actually. Still, this called for real pickles, as Sam still wanted to eat pickles. We went to the grocery store in Alpine and bought a jar of pickles, chosen for the size of the baby cukes, the price, and the funny little face on the jar. Sam says she's happy, and Awyn agrees. The jar didn't last very long, certainly not for an entire two weeks between shopping expeditions. When we went back to Alpine, we bought two jars. These are very good pickles. I'm not a pickle person, and I like them too. They remind both Eric and I of Kathy's Spicy Dills - although they don't seem to be dill pickles. When we got home, I discovered that the lid of one of the jars was loose, and some pickle juice had leaked. Normally I'd take such a jar back to the place we'd purchased it and ask to exchange it. Since we live so very far from the grocery store, that wasn't an option. Also, normally I'd throw any opened jar away, but these are pickles. Pickling should keep them safe, even if the jar has been opened, possibly. I just wasn't sure. I noticed on the jar that there was a website for the company that makes the pickles. I looked them up to ask if the pickles might be safe, or if I should follow my instinct to throw them away. I told them how much we liked the pickles, and how disappointed we were that we weren't going to be able to eat them.

The next day, I received a phone call from the company. The very nice lady offered to send us a case of four jars to replace the opened jar. It shipped on a Friday, and we had them the following Monday. Now, this is Customer Service! I would have been satisfied with a returned e-mail, any kind of response, and I expected it to be brief. A case of pickles! We decided that Best Maid is our brand of pickles from now on. I e-mailed them again to let them know how positive our experience has been, and to say thank you for being so responsive and doing far more than I'd expected. I truly hadn't been fishing for free services or a replacement. They responded to our compliments and sent us a generous handful of coupons for some more jars of pickles.

Best Maid is also Del-Dixie. Here's their website - They are a Texas company that makes a superior pickle. I have no problem shamelessly plugging the brand. They've created some serious customer loyalty here.
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