Wednesday, November 16, 2016

And Then There Was One

I have figured out how to get photo that Micah uloads from his iphone. Yay! Here's some old ones mixed in with recent ones...

Them critters are everywhere



 
Our first fully successful character meet and greets when we visited Epcot with my Dad. Now, the girls are not longer scared (though they occasioally just freeze and stare awkwardly) and are working on their autograph books now each time we go to disney.
Here's from last Friday. Iphone camera is officially inferior in low-light or colored-light situations.
Sweet kids. This is Angela with a friend from church- I got to hang out with the little ones while Daddys took the big kids to splash mountain.





They have a Christmas program going on now where Elsa lights up the castle with her magic ice powers. Silly Natalie was not really asleep.

And these are from our hurrication in Lakeland. We found this family fun center to kill time and the girls had so much fun.

Finally, some grisly news about the chickens. Our neighbor's cat got into their pen out back and killed two of the new chicks. We're working now on integrating Cauliflower, our 7-week-old leghorn, who survived. It's much easier now in our brand new coop! Micah did so much work last weekend to make this suitable for the chickens and so far they seem to be taking to it quite well. The kids, too.



 I'm pretty bummed and will still be looking around for a buff orpington and a barred rock chicken to add to the flock. We'll see when the opportunity arrives! Speck and Red have figured out where to lay eggs in the new coop- yay!- but blondie seems to be molting still. It's been a solid 2 months of no eggs from her, and before that she had only been laying for a few weeks after taking a break due to the heat for all of July and August! Freeloading punk. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Animal Kingdom and Haloween

Okay, we'll start off with the mundane...

Safety is always the #1 priority with these girls... NOT.

This continues to crack me up.

Our baby chicks are now 6 weeks old. They're feathered enough to live outside but still a bit young to be integrated with the other chickens, as grown chickens will peck and, in extreme cases, can injure, maim or kill new chicks to preserve their own rank in the pecking order. I set up a little cage in the yard for the chicks to spend their days but will plan on putting them in a box in the shed at night for a little while still. That way, they can see one another and get used to each other before I throw them all in the same coop. 


Many of my tomato seedlings are doing well in the garden. I just planted the rest of the seedlings, here's hoping they make it! I've planted a bit of everything with the hopes that at least a few crops will survive the pests, the weather, and the poor soil! At least the beans are doing well. If tomatoes and beans are all I can grow here, I'll become a tomato and bean master.
 Natalie loves learning about letters and writing so much that she came home from preschool the other day and asked me to give her the takeout menu off the fridge so that she could copy some words from it.

Our yard waste from hurricane Matthew finally got picked up. They are still working 7 days a week from sun up to sun down and many folks still haven't had their stuff picked up, so we're grateful that ours is finally gone. The pile was so big it limited the view of the road when pulling out of the driveway. I'm hugely relieved that I don't have to cross my fingers and lay on the gas and hope I don't die every time I leave the house now.


 Watching the claw truck provided some great afternoon entertainment!

My first week teaching Zumba at Rev It Up Nutrition was a huge success. Lots of interested folks came out for the class, many of whom had never done Zumba before. They had a great time and I'm excited to go back. He's paying me well, comparable to what I'd make at a major gym, and it's so close to home. I'm glad this opportunity came about.

Now, to the exciting...

 We got to see my sister and her family the other week. They vacationed in Orlando for several days and we got to hook up with them to play at their resort and then visit Animal Kingdom.





Halloween was awesome. Angela decided last minute that she wanted to be Elsa instead of Minnie Mouse. Whatever, at least it was a costume we had!

 Natalie experienced the joy of sorting candy.

And then last weekend we had a murder mystery dinner. We had trouble coming up with 3 couples from church to invite who didn't have a breastfeeding infant. The friends who came were perfect and we all had a great time. We ate assorted cheeses, olives, bread and balsamic, zuppa toscana, eggplant parmesanm, sweet ricotta and raspberries and it was all delicious.



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Costumes

Over the weekend, we went to our first Halloween activity- a family festival at Natalie's preschool. It was super crowded, but we got free hot dogs, went on a few inflatable slides and obstacle courses and did a little trunk-or-treating. I was stealing the children's' good chocolate AS we went through the line of cars and Micah was totally embarrassed.


 They love their costumes! Angela is now the third user of this Minnie costume made by my sister and Natalie still doesn't quite realize that Darth Vader is a bad guy. All she knows is that he has a red lightsaber and red is her favorite color!

The kids bravely flying down this slide on a potato sack. I was pretty impressed by even Angela's ability to climb the ladders to get to the top.

The chickens have taken to patrolling our breakfast nook window more and more, with no special encouragement from us. It's kind of fun having them eat with us or watch our craft time. They're wisely scared of Sammy, though, who is also spending more time at this window. 

These girls are sweet and little. They are almost a month old. I must have learned a few good tricks on how to setup a successful brooder after our last round of raising chicks, because these ones don't stink nearly as much. 


When we have downtime, we like going out for snacks or hitting the beach, which is still pretty messy with garbage and seaweed blown up from the hurricane. The boardwalk is a site of major Pokemon Go activity, so Micah and Natalie like catching exciting pokemon while Angela and I visit the water.



I haven't done a ton of cooking lately, but I did have an opportunity to try out my new cookie cutters for a relief society activity (Christmas crafts in October)

I also adapted my mom's stroganoff recipe to a crockpot for those days when we're busy right befoe dinnertime. It was amazing.


We've had to start our garden over after the hurricane destroyed all but a couple of bush bean plants and one sad, little tomato seedling that's fading fast. 


I'm beginning to appreciate the importance of letting kids be bored. It's hard with so many things to offer to entertain them. But, occasionally, when we have downtime, the kids just sit around.

I am going to start teaching a zumba class on Thursday evenings. The class is at a storefront that sells nutritional supplements/cleanses/meal replacements/diet coaching where they offer various fit camps and exercise classes to their clients. I'm cautiously optimistic. If we can get a good-sized crowd coming, it will be a blast and a good way to pay to keep my license up. But I'm a little nervous that the owner will want me to start independently selling his products and services. I'm happy to promote his stuff while I'm there, but I'm not that into it myself. They're all about clean eating and I'm over here binge eating sugar cookies. But I respect what they're doing and feel like the owner is a respectable guy. Hopefully it goes well! I start next week.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

Just a quick recap of our last week as we experienced our first hurricane. Last Tuesday night, we began preparing the house. It took several hours and a trip to the store (where it was absolute bedlam) to board up three windows, so we decided that instead of trying to board up the other 22 windows in our house without the proper supplies or a ladder to reach our second story we would adjust our stretegy from damage prevention to damage mitigation. We figured replacing the windows was on our eventual 'to do' list anyway. We spent Wednesday morning pulling everything we owned away from windows to limit water damage to our furniture and such in case windows did break. 

We cleared out the fridge so that we could disconnect the power. We shut off the water. We packed some changes of clothes and some things to keep the kids entertained. We set up a pen in the garage for the chickens and managed to catch two of them to stick in there. Then, we left.

We headed out in the late afternoon while the weather was still nice, though the clouds were moving quickly. Beachside islands and low-lying areas were already given mandatory evacuations, so traffic was heavy. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to Lakeland, about twice the normal time. We checked into our hotel, which was very full. Everybody seemed to be from Brevard County. The girls were stoked to eat fast food for dinner. We spent Thursday hanging around Lakeland, playing at Chic-fil-a and walking around the mall playing pokemon go. It rained on and off that evening. Forecasts has worsened and were predicting a near-to-direct hit from the eye of the hurricane right where we live. Micah and I were awake most of the night on and off, watching the weather channel. The eyewall  was rotating just miles from our home. Towards morning, our neighbor texted us to let us know a tree had fallen. Then, later, another neighbor texted us a photo of our house to let us know it was okay. No big structural damage visible. We breathed a sigh of relief, took a nap, and then took the kids out to play miniature golf and explore an indoor gymnasium place. We celebrated by eating dinner at Longhorn. We tried to get a good nights' sleep to recover from several very sleepless nights and to prepare for the work ahead. Saturday morning we drove back, with sunny skies and minimal traffic. Many utility trucks heading towards the coast, though.


All of our chickens were fine, even Speck, who we found huddling in the coop, reluctant to come out. Ironically, Speck has continued laying eggs through this whole ordeal and the days since while Blondie and Red are both taking a break. Sheesh! 


We still had electricity and water, though there was a precautionary water boil for a short time.


A 60 foot tree in our front yard (which I have conclusively ID'ed as an American Sycamore) miraculously fell right between our house and our neighbors' without causing any major damage to either. It did put a ping in our fence and destroyed the gate on his fence. We felt very responsible for the damage, but he has insisted on us not paying for its repair. It also fell on our neighbor's power line and yanked it off the pole. He fortunately still had power, though, which was fortunate as they took several days to repair it. 

"Back up! Live wire on the ground here!"

 The roots looked perfectly healthy, no major rot or anything. The ground just got saturated enough from rain and the top of the tree caught so much wind that it got pulled right up.


The backyard was littered with small and medium debris everywhere. 



We have one other rather large Sycamore right off the back of our house that lost a branch, but we are lucky it didn't meet the same fate as the one out front. Now we may consider removing this one before next fall.



We haven't found much damage inside, though we haven't checked in ever nook and cranny. We do have a couple of spots like this where the trim has separated from the wall a bit. Our house has a wood frame, so it bends slightly with high winds. Nothing big to be concerned about.

We are still trying to get back to normal. Our fridge is still a bit empty and we have a lot of laundry to do. I'm really sore from cleaning up Saturday and Sunday, but grateful that we got help cleaning up our tree and had a chance to help a few others along our street.

Altogether, we didn't far too badly. Definietly want to look into storm shutters and tree removal before next storm season, but grateful that the storm didn't hit us harder. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

To Infinity and Beyond!

Someone (lookin' at you, Angela!!!) scribbled all over my calendar in pen on the very first of the month. Great. Thirty more days til I can flip to a clean page. If I miss anything in the coming weeks, I am 100% blaming this.


Saturday we had a lovely day at the Kennedy Space Center. The kids were a little wild and quickly got tired of all of the educational presentations that we adults were enjoying, but there were still some kid-friendly things that kept them happy.

The space station! Crawling through a clear tube suspended over a second story. Yikes! Angela wasn't scared at all, while Micah was worried about the weight limit of the tube...



We had so much fun having Grandpa visit last week. Natalie cried when she learned Saturday night that he would be leaving in the morning. So sad.
Now things are back to normal, with this being about as much fun as we have...


We are in the last week of the girls' swim lessons. They may have to add on another extra make-up class next week, though. We have had a lot of cancellations because of lightning. So far, out of 8 scheduled classes, 4 have been cancelled and one stopped 10 minutes early because of storms. Girls have loved it and learned a ton. 


video
Natalie working on kicking off from the wall, swimming out and then flipping over onto her back to breathe. She's the pink underwater blur in front of the big guy (her teacher, "Mr. Awesome")


video
Angela has been working on more basic but important maneuvers, such as not freaking out and squirming while an adult holds you up in the water and playing fetch with little floating rubber animal toys.

Hurricane Matthew is the talk of the town right now. We're under a hurricane watch, expected to become a warning by tomorrow morning. We're stocked on food, water and batteries. We'll bring loose items from the yard inside, fill up on gas for the cars and fill tubs with extra water as get closer to Thursday night. We don't have hurricane shutters or a generator, the only things we sort of regret at this point. The forecast has the eye of the storm staying off the coast to the east, so hopefully things won't be that bad, but of course, projections could change quickly. I don't expect anything catastrophic, though the slim possibility is always there. There is potential for a broken window or other minor damage, but we can survive annoying inconveniences. The most probably scenario will be sitting around bored in a hot house if we lose electricity. So all we can really do now is crank down the a/c and watch plenty of television while we still can! And repent, of course. Just in case :)

I may have a pretty neat opportunity coming up in a few months. There is a second ward that meets in our chapel and they asked me to come and lead a zumba class for their monthly activity in September. A few of the ladies enjoyed it enough to start joining us on Monday mornings when I lead a class at the church while all of our kids run around and play in the back of the gym. One of the girls is married to a guy who got his BFA at BYU. They are opening up a Painting with a Twist franchise and invited me to be a teacher. Painting with a Twist is a fun studio where you can go with a group of friends or a date and all make the same painting with a teacher walking you through the basic steps. It would be awesome! Right up my alley and perfect because they will be busiest and need people most on weekends when Micah could be home to watch the kids. It would be up in Cocoa, a little far away, but each class is 2-3 hours plus an hour of prep and cleanup, so I wouldn't be driving just to be there for 45 minutes then drive back home. They aren't opening until November, but I'm pretty jazzed. Also, last week a zumba instructor at LA Fitness asked if I might be interested in taking one of her classes- on Friday evening. Unfortunately, if I'm going to be doing this, it would really limit our family time to also teach zumba every Friday, so I may have to decline. Hopefully something else will come up! Teaching zumba has been so much fun so far. I was asked to participate in a fundraiser a few weeks ago and it was a blast leading a few songs in a gymnasium full of people!