Friday, December 16, 2016

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Okay, I realize none of the photos from my last post that came from Micah's phone worked. I shall now resume busting out my archaic single-use camera so I can dependably have content to post.

I took the girls to Disney twice by myself and once with Micah in the last month, since we've got black-out dates over the holidays. Micah's not sure about renewing our passes next year. To that, I say: Look at this happiness.

We took photos for the holidays. I'm mailing the final shot out for Christmas cards, but here are a few of my favorite rejects:

Natalie does not do natural-looking smiles on demand. Angela kept picking her nose and eating it.

Sammy was pretty sure he was invited out back to chase the chickens

Several poses into the photoshoot, Micah begins to look a bit irked. 

Angela wants a turn to hold the dog.

Why?! Why would you stick your tongue out when we say "smile"?!

Now Angela wants a turn holding the chicken. Just... no

I saw a cute pattern online to turn old button-up shirts into a tunic-dress for little girls. Then I was like- hey, I'm lazy. Why don't I just roll up the sleeves and my child can wear the shirt as is?

It is hard to capture this girl's cuteness these days. Mostly because she doesn't sit still.

The girls had a great time getting the Christmas supplies out. I'll have to photograph our tree and outdoor lights this year. The process went a lot smoother thanks to the ladder from the Agles- Micah didn't have to climb the roof and precariously dangle over the dormer windows to put up lights this year!

Natalie enjoyed making gingerbread houses so much, she keeps asking if we can do them again. 

Angela didn't really get it. But thoroughly enjoyed sitting and eating all the candy. 

 Our easter egger Blondie is finally done molting and has returned to laying, just in time for our Rhode Island Red to slow down. She still lays, but her eggs are smaller, lighter in color and less frequent. We had some hiccups getting companions for our small white chick. We were able to get one from the same seller that was around the same age but she only lasted a week before dying inexplicably- likely from a pre-existing illness or because she was just a sickly runt. But it worked out because the day she died we found a local family selling some interesting breeds and we ended up scoring some pretty awesome new birds- 3 or them- a dominique (white and black striped with a rose comb), an australorp, (black iridescent feathers, Australian breed that lays well in the heat) and a Welsummer (brown bird that lays dark, dark chocolate-brown eggs). They won't be laying for another 2 months or so, but we've already integrated them with our older birds and are letting them free range and they all seem to be doing great.

It's citrus season! Our grapefruit tree drops another fruit every few days and a friend from church gave me a giant bucket of key limes to juice. This time next year, I hope to have enough excess eggs to make some yummy citrus curd! 

Lots more that I could share, but no time- it's been a fun season of doing stuff together and enjoying festive activities and kids hanging on me, wanting continuous, undivided attention.

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.