December 17, 2009

It's Really Cold Now

If anyone was wondering, 11 degrees Fahrenheit is really cold. As in your ungloved hands hurt after the one minute walk from the grocery store to your car.

Thank goodness for our south facing storm windows. They trap in the heat from the sun and have us at a toasty 68 degrees inside.

And now I brave the outdoors once again to get those last Christmas presents.

December 15, 2009

Christmas help

Here's a question for my 20 or so readers. What are your best stocking stuffer ideas? I haven't gotten anything for the kiddies yet.

And here's another question. What are some good games for the kids? They had fun playing uno and cadoo with their cousins, I'd like to add to the arsenal.

December 14, 2009

J's new camera

Jesse has deemed himself worthy of a DSLR. We had some fun subjects come up for the weekend to test out the camera. T-Man was an especially willing model. Can I say how fun it is to have family relatively close by? We've counted ourselves lucky to see these guys once a year previously. Now they can't get rid of us! We went sledding on Saturday. The perfect kid hill is just a block down the street in a civil war cemetery. The $5 snowboard goes the fastest and you can load the most people on it. The kids and E played some vicious Clifford Uno during their downtime and had to settle it with paper, rock, scissors. Thanks for coming up E and kids.

As he's the subject, can you tell who has been doing most of the camera testing? And who is going to install Lightroom (thanks Tony) after this post is up? Not really his fault. Within an hour or so of getting the call that his dissertation was approved he was fielding calls from the stake president's secretary. Meet the newest member of the bishopric:You can laugh uproariously, smile slyly and wish him good luck, or just tell how uncomfortable he looks on the stand. Those have been my favorite reactions thus far. And of course, condolences to his wife are welcome as well.

December 8, 2009

Classic Japan


Going through photos and came across this gem. M's graduation from kindergarten, April 2008. Feeling the nationalistic pride.

December 6, 2009

Snow Day

We got our first snow last night and this morning. It was pretty magical. Then I had to shovel the driveway. Poof. Magic gone. It's supposed to snow tomorrow night as well. I am so glad we got snow gear for the kids already.

December 4, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

We're getting ready for Christmas with a couple of advent calendars. The first one I picked up at Goodwill for 2.99 a month or so ago. It had a creepy snowman climbing up the side of the house, so I had to do a little renovation and repainting. The house has the bones of the old houses around here, so I tried to be true to those. I need to repaint the drawers, but that will have to come next year as I have no stencil I like for the numbers.

Though I'm happy with it, there's not very much room for more than the slips of paper with scriptures on them. So, I made this. I saw something in Good Housekeeping magazine when I was at the dentist last week. Inside are treats and toys to add to the theology the children were so unimpressed by. I simply sewed bags from fabric I had and some more holiday fabric from Mardens. The tags are from a free pdf online. The clothespins are from off the line outside, and the ribbon from the dollar store. I'll probably make some changes in the years to come, but it's ok for this year.

December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Our Thanksgiving was AWESOME!! It started with our drive down to New Haven. On the way we got a phone call from Jesse's adviser telling him that his dissertation passed! He's a doctor! A very unuseful doctor, but who cares! I'm still giddy when I think about it.
We had a super yummy lunch in New Haven, played and played, and slept a little.
I swear I talked non-stop the first 3 days of that vacation. Three months in Maine without my awesome friends and family will do that to me. Sorry Brooke. Sorry Amy.

J, E, and Ben took the kids on a long walk in Manhattan that included a few stray floats. Better luck next year, guys. E and A were kind enough to host a beautiful dinner. It was so fun to have so much family and so many friends in one house. It was also fun to see Ez and Miles playing, Ben sleeping on the couch, and Kaylynn reconnecting with her Brooklyn buddies.
Friday we went to the Botanical Gardens. FUN. Can't wait to go again!Saturday we went into the city and saw the Samurai exhibit at the Met. So cool. They are changing 1/3 of the exhibit on the 7th, so we're going to go again at Christmas. The preying mantis helmet was amazing(seriously, click on the link)! We saw Ben and Yuki's cool place on the water. Very cool. No pictures of course. Well, that was a pretty boring post, but hope the pictures make up for it!

November 23, 2009

Getting Crafty for Christmas


My friend had a baby shower on Friday, so I decided to make this little sweater. But I didn't finish it until today, so she got diapers instead. This is my first sweater. It was super beginner, and obviously doesn't lay very straight. Jesse was giving me a hard time because the pieces are square and rectangular. He has no imagination. I got a whole bunch of yarn at Goodwill for $12. I'm excited to try to make some sweaters for the kids since we actually wear them here. This one will end up as a Christmas present for one of the quads, I guess.

In other news, Jesse got his dissertation in last week. We find out tomorrow what the committee decides. And we got church callings. Who wants to take a guess?

November 16, 2009

Reading For Pleasure

This weekend Jesse and I did a little job swap. He watched the kids and I worked on his dissertation. It was surprisingly relaxing. J got to some sewing he's been wanting me to do, and I proofread all 295 pages, including footnotes. It was fun to use my little red pen crossing out superfluous articles and inserting missing prepositions. It took me back to my Reading Writing Center days in college when I had the MLA handbook memorized. Unfortunately, Jesse used Chicago, so I was of little citing help. But I am now able to say that I have read Jesse's dissertation from start to finish. And I've learned a lot about Ennin, the Hui Chang persecution, the history of journals in Japan, and what the heck my husband has been doing the last three years or so.

November 11, 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of the Year

I was looking at the Halloween post and realizing that it's now November and then comes December which is always CRAZY (and that's not counting the great flood of 2008).

Because lest you forget there's:
Christmas, Dec 25
Monkey's B-day (5), Dec 29
Jesse's B-day, Jan 1
Mermaid's B-day (8), Jan 31
Mermaid's Baptism, Feb sometime.
Valentine's Day, Feb 14.

And to make things exciting this year, we have:

Dissertation sent to advisers, Nov 16,
Thanksgiving, Nov 26,
Dissertation filed, Dec 5,
MLA Conference, Dec 27-29,
Job interviews, Feb.

I know that tons of people are way busier than I am, but for two months I feel like a CPA at tax time. CRAZY!

Unemployment

Check out this graph on the NY Times. It's the unemployment rate according to race, sex, age, and education. A pretty awesome visual reminder why getting a college education is a really good idea. It's also a pretty embarrassing visual of racial, sex, and age inequality.

November 10, 2009

You Rock!


I want to give a special shout out to whoever is using dial up to access my blog (they've accessed the blog 9 times this month). That is dedication.

November 9, 2009

Classic Mermaid and Cousin Ez

Jesse has me organizing the photos and I'm coming across some classic gems like this one. These two are now 7 and 8.

November 8, 2009

Sunday Hikes

Jesse first remembered me as the girl in mission prep class who said that Sacred Falls was a Sunday hike. We're continuing the tradition here in Maine. Short jaunts close to home.
Our Sundays are pretty quiet now. The weather has been nice, so we've been exploring our new home. Last week, we went to the bird sanctuary. And this week, we took a stroll along the river and the graveyard. This is the mighty Androscoggin River. The graveyard had these old trees interspersed throughout.

Halloween

I made the kids' Halloween costumes for the first time ever. I love that my mom has done this all the years previous. She's pretty awesome. So here's my handiwork.

November 4, 2009

Cook Books I've Read This Week

I don't really think of myself as a foodie. I'm the type of person who watches the Food Network while eating a tv dinner. I do like food. I like to cook. I like to try new things. And I really like cook books.
I'm also liking that our library has been putting cookbooks on display right next to the checkout so I can grab them without having to haul my kid to nonfiction on the 2nd floor.

So here are my two latest finds:
Lobel's Meat Bible by the Lobel family of butchers in Manhattan. First of all, I plan on making a trip to their shop this Christmas time. They are a multigenerational butchering family and they take it very seriously. I'm not much of a meat eater. And ironically, I'll probably be eating it less since I've read this book. Most definitely, I will never buy ground meat again unless it's been ground fresh while I wait from one piece of meat. The recipes look amazing in the meat bible, but I really liked learning all the different cuts, and types of meat are available. I've been afraid of beef in the past, but no longer. The recipes look amazing, but I don't have any meat in my fridge right now, so I didn't try any.

The other book I read was Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone. Oooh La! I am so inspired! I want a canner, and a pressure cooker, and I want to can my own artichoke hearts! Her recipes are for small batches, which is brilliant for small spaces or trying out a new fruit or veg. I really want to try smoking my own bacon. How cool would that be? I love that Bone gives directions for canning w/ a water bath, pressure cooker, smoking, preserving in oil, and freezing. The information is empowering. I've done jams and jellies, but not a lot of vegetable canning, and no meat. As soon as we settle down a bit, I'm going canning crazy. If only we were still in California where the produce is amazing.

November 2, 2009

Jesse said we needed to figure out a way to earn more money. So I'm monetizing my blog. I think I'll get a dime a month or so. Oh yeah.

Saving Time

It's 8:13 here on the east coast. And our kids are in bed. One is definitely asleep. I'm not too sure about the other, but she's very, very quiet.

We've decided to embrace daylight savings. Instead of moan and groan about getting used to the time change, we're changing with the time. We pushed bedtime back to 7:30 for the kids, and we were asleep by 10 last night. Everyone gets up around 6:30. J is out the door at 7, and Mermaid practices the piano before school.

My one complaint, I really don't like that the sun sets at 4:30 (living so far north does have some MAJOR disadvantages). But at least I'm up when the sun is, for now.

So, we got a new computer, but it doesn't have internet hooked up yet. So when it does, I'll get some cool pics up of Halloween and our talent show. I know, the anticipation is killing you.

October 30, 2009

Halloween Fun


Every time I pull out my super concentrated food coloring from Japan, I'm stoked. We made some wicked fun Halloween cookies last week. I found the cookie mold at Marden's (a post of its own someday) as well as the sprinkles and orange icing. The rest of the colors came courtesy of my powdered food coloring from Japan and store bought icing. Now I just have to work on my food photography.

October 29, 2009

PScouts

Girl Scouts would be fun, but I'd have to be a leader, which I'm not up to right now. So J has started PScouts. We recruited our neighbor on our last tree naming expedition. The kids are now familiar with birch, beech, white pine, oak, and maple. And, they are learning their knots. J taught them square knots and sneakily taught M how to tie her shoes. Awesome! Our PScouts are excited to camp, kayak, cook, and tramp through the forest. And when the snow comes...oh yeah!
video

You Crafty Kittens


I got the idea from one of my cool Japanese craft books, Oyako de Hand-Made by Kimidori Inoue. Make a template of your hand in the shape of a mitten with a little seam allowance. You take an old sweater, and from the hem, cut out two mittens. From the sleeves, cut out kid's size mittens. Hem them on the machine, 1/2 inch or so. The velvet flowers are from Valhalla, I mean Walmart. I used a fab cashmere cowl neck sweater that was too short and too cowly. I got it at Salvation Army or Goodwill. From the picture, I can tell Kimidori also used an old sweatshirt and fleece to make mittens. What if I made fleece lined sweatshirt mittens? Fun. I'm pretty sure that we can't have too many pairs floating around here this winter.

October 27, 2009

Work

I know this may sound odd, but I just want you all to know that Jesse works (maybe this is just in case his advisers read my blog). Until the diss is done, he's working Saturdays. He works nights. He reads evenings. We get him from 6-8, most days. I get him an hour more than the kids because he comes home for lunch. Most Tuesdays we have a lunch date from 12-1. He's contemplating leaving earlier in the morning.

Weirdly enough, this is working. He's so awesome from 6-8. Dinner is a blast. PScouts is a hit (more on that to come). And he still washes dishes and puts the kids to bed. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Apples



It was awhile ago, but the kids and I went apple picking for our Columbus day holiday. Have you ever eaten a crisp apple right off the tree? Oh yum! I've had the experience with mangos, oranges, pears, nectarines, but never apples. Jesse and I were gushing over the taste, the crispness, and the variety we got.

So here's what you really want to see, the kiddies.

We've made apple butter, apple sauce, and apple crisp. And we still have a bag left. The kids went crazy and picked around 40 pounds of apples. Which is a lot of apples, if you were wondering. I did my civic duty and also bought the farm's locally made apple cider and apple doughnuts. Super yum. Now we also have a bag of pears to deal with we got off a neighbor's tree. I wish I had everything to start canning the bounty.

October 17, 2009

Blue Skies


Mermaid is still daddy's little hiker/rockhopper/adventurer. She's also becoming a super helper at home. She can cook eggs, clean her room, and entertain her little sister. Love her!

October 16, 2009

Acadia National Park w/ Friends

Acadia Sunset

We took advantage of the 4 day weekend school offered and went north to Acadia National Park. It was gorgeous! And we were lucky enough to be able to spend time with the Barretts, friends from our first stint in college oh so many years ago. Their kids are awesome. One 4 year old is a joy. Three of them are absolutely delightful. Their accents, their inquisitiveness, their joi de vivre. It's why I love sunbeams so much. The baby is scrumptious. And Jason even gave the kids duck anatomy lessons after his successful duck hunt.Lighthouse on Desert Mountain Island

All of the kids in front of the enormous rock in the forest.

October 15, 2009

It's a little coldy outside

We had our week of Autumn, and we're moving on up here. We've shut the storm windows, pulled out the down comforters, and received our order of long johns just in time. Lows in the 30's, highs in the 40's for the rest of the week. Brrr. And the snow hasn't even started. I'm scared.

But I have been busy working on my domestic arts. Today I sewed Mermaid's Halloween costume and started the cushions for the couch. Midway through staystiching I remembered how much I dislike sewing. Besides hormone surges, it's the only other time I swear.

I've also been crocheting hats for the kids. The first was supposed to be for me, but I forgot what size hook I needed and used one a touch too small. Yay for Monkey. You get a new hat! I started another pattern, but I messed up and had to take it apart. Oh well. I am learning. And unlike sewing, I enjoy crocheting.

I'm supposed to finish the couch cushions tomorrow because we're having J's class over for sushi. I should be more worried about how bad my Japanese food usually turns out than how my couch looks. One has more potential than the other.

In other news, I've volunteered myself as PTO lackey of the year. My mantra: "I've got time."
They're starting to catch on. I really do have time. I also volunteer in the kids' classes once a week. The kids are awesome. They are spontaneous huggers and one of M's classmates came up to me and said "Who are you? You're pretty." Then walked away. Gotta love that.

More awesome posts on the way. Acadia and the Barretts, including dead duck. Apple picking. The first snow (hopefully that's not for months).

October 2, 2009

Richardson's Island

Don't you love this shot of Mermaid? She finally lost both front teeth. She lisps now.
Last weekend we went on a little kayak trip off of Cape Elizabeth near Portland. Richardson's island is just a quick paddle from the coast. The island is actually quite large. It would probably take an hour to walk around the perimeter. We hiked, played on the beach, and kayaked. And, it didn't take the whole day. Yay!

October 1, 2009

Freeport

Monkey and I had a field trip to Freeport, the LL Bean flagship store, and the outlets that grace the downtown area. I bought some silk long johns which I hear will make me very happy this winter. I also ate my first lobster roll. One of Jesse's colleagues suggested making a sport of trying to find the best lobster roll in Maine. I think we're a little too cheap for that. But...it was delicious. Cold steamed lobster in a bun seasoned with butter and dill. A little salad dressing at the bottom. Yum! Monkey had a hot dog and Oakhurst chocolate milk.

The drive to Freeport was gorgeous. You follow the river on a small highway. The trees are starting to change color, so it's really breathtaking.

September 21, 2009

Grafton Notch State Park

screw auger falls
This weekend we camped just outside of Grafton Notch State Park. We drove in to do day hikes on Saturday and then Sunday we found a hike close to the site.

Maine is beautiful. On Saturday, we all hiked to Table Rock. Mermaid and Extraordinary Views
According to the signage, the views were extraordinary. We thought they were pretty good as well. Only a few trees have changed color, so the full Fall Effect is missing. Monkey and I hiked down while Mermaid and Jesse hiked another 3 hours. At the Lean-to on the Appalachian Trail
I'm so glad that she likes to hike. J said that she was pretty fast and barely complained. Love that kid.

The next day we found Step Falls. Absolutely amazing. Pictures? Nope. Sorry. And best of all, the sun was shining, the wind wasn't blowing, and you could almost imagine what it would be like in summer. Glorious.
rare photo of me
My favorite part of the trip was hanging out with the kids with nowhere to go and nothing to do but play. It was some serious family time. FUN!

September 14, 2009

My brother Pete doesn't have any kids of his own. If he never does, I'd like him to rest assured that some of his genetics will be passed down by her:

video

And just to re-emphasize:

video

This morning, her alarm clock woke up Jesse, two rooms away.

September 13, 2009

Losing It and Getting Lost. But I Expect to be Found on Thursday.

I'm not sure where my temper keeps going. I'm also not sure why the kids can't sit on their chairs at church, obey certain safety rules, or eat their dinner without screaming. I might find out. Maybe on Thursday.

We had our first adventure on Labor Day. We drove to the beach and stopped at two old forts. Have you read One Morning in Maine? You should. Maine looks exactly like the illustrations.

What you don't see in the pictures are the enormous, slow, and potent mosquitoes. Yikes. It's taken me a week to mostly get over them.

We almost stopped at Popham Beach. I'm sure it was beautiful. We just couldn't get ourselves to pay since we have no proof of residency just yet. We are trying to not be so cheap, but it's hard.

On the way back, Jesse guided us with one of his newer acquisitions. The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer. Which found us on some crazy dirt roads in the middle of nowhere. It was crazy but kind of fun. (I think Jesse hasn't come to terms with his 4WD lifestyle but hypermiling desires.) So we bumped along in our Fit. (This was reminiscent of some 4WD-ing we did in Oregon on logging roads he found in a map, but that was scary, not crazy.) We ended up where we meant to be, but it was mostly gut navigation.

But come Thursday, those who once were lost will now be found. Our GPS should be delivered on Thursday. Our next adventure might lose some of the thrill, but now we can blame the gps if we get lost or on some funky logging road. And Boston won't seem so overwhelming if I know I can depend on my Navi to get me from Ikea to Trader Joe's, to the church cannery and back to the Ames'.

If only it could show me where my temper is.

August 31, 2009

First Day of Pre-K


We were lucky enough to win the pre-k lottery. Monkey had her first day where she painted and made a new friend. She was a little disappointed with all the rules: no going up the slide, can't use the swings until they take out the baby swings, no holding hands with your new friend when you're in line. She and her new friend almost switched moms because they traded nametags on the bus ride home. They wanted to be able to remember their new friend's name (they can't read), but the driver doesn't know them yet, so he almost dropped Monkey off somewhere else. Glad we got her home safely.

Do you love the shoes? 2.98 at Goodwill. Sweet.
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