Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Boo Hiss

We were planning on going to Baskin Robbins tonight for their 31 cent special. It was only for a small scoop, but you could get multiple scoops - up to 10! 10 scoops - who would eat that many? It was even going to be rather celebratory since the kids finished their spring testing today.* BR's website said the special was good from 5-10 pm. We even have a new BR near our house - all seemed perfect.

But then.... we headed out of the house a little before 8, only to discover the doors were locked when we got there. HUH? I looked at the sign on the door and they close at 8 pm. That just seems crazy! Maybe these are just their non-summer hours, but that seems way too early to stop serving ice cream.

*While its nice to celebrate the end of testing, the kids are actually a little sorry to see it end - because testing means no homework. A was lamenting the fact that he would have homework again next week after none last week or this week. On the other hand, since there are only 3.5 weeks of school left and they can't have homework the last week since the books are being collected, there are really only 2 weeks of homework left. Aiyeee - I'm not sure I'm ready for summer yet and its lack of schedules.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Strawberry Time!

Yay, it's strawberry time again. We went this afternoon before picking M up from school. The berries are so beautiful and luscious. And A has become an expert picker! Last year, I think I filled my bucket while his was 1/3 to 1/2 full. This year - different story! He showed me his bucket and it was as much or more than mine! Blew me away!

In 15 minutes, A, my mom, and I managed to fill 2 buckets of strawberries. We could have picked more quite easily, but a gallon of strawberries is a lot to go through. I'd rather have these now and go pick another bucket next week.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quilted bags

I took a class last week to learn how to make a quilted bag. My machine was acting up at times, so it was rather frustrating, but I'm quite pleased with how the bag came out.

I'm still thinking of maybe trying to put a pocket in the inside, but that would probably have to be done by hand. We'll see...

In the meantime, though, the bag worked out well enough, that I decided to make another one. Smaller this time. The first one is HUGE - its meant to be able to carry a bed-size quilt. This second one I was going to make for my mom, in, guess what?? A Braves theme!

Here's one side:

The large Braves insignia is from a t-shirt the kids grew out of a while back.

The other side is just stripes of Braves and baseball fabric.

D thinks its rather busy. It is busy, but I still like it and I think my mom will too. This is a belated birthday present for her. I had promised to make her a "Braves something" - and this is what we agreed on.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Turn off the TV Week

It's that time of the year again - time for no TV.

In the past, the kids would groan a bit, but never too much, even when they were regularly watching TV (a few hours a week).

This year, though, I can't remember the last time any of us watched actual TV - not a video or DVD. Maybe sometime in February? The kids do watch an occasional movie (or something recorded off TV long ago), but not too often. Don't go thinking that we are all anti-screen though - they have way too much screen time with the computer, Wii and Nintendo DS.

Anyway, since the kids haven't been watching TV, they didn't really care when I told them it was Turn off the TV Week. Less predictably, they said "Oh, OK" when I told them that it meant no Wii this week either (since the Wii needs the TV).

I'm rather pleasantly surprised when they react so calmly when it is an outside authority telling them what to do (or not do). Unfortunately I don't think that would work for me to provide an expert to tell M to try all food with an open mind...

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

It feels like Spring

Hopefully it will continue to feel like Spring - rather than reverting to winter or jumping precipitously forward into summer (please no, I'm not ready for summer).

It's a pleasant low 70's kind of day - a bit rainy this morning and then mostly sunny this afternoon. D just fired up the grill for hamburgers. The first hamburgers of the season... and I have tomatoes (that look all nice and red - we'll see about the taste later) and onions (ready to be grilled) and lettuce and pickles and nice onion buns. Oooh, and corn on the cob - again, it looks good, but I know the corn will be much better come summer. And cantaloupe and asparagus to round out the meal. We'll all be getting our 5 a day today!

After dinner report:
tomato was better than I expected, quite tasty actually
corn - OK, but not great
cantaloupe - good, but could have been 1 day riper

We went for a walk after dinner and thoroughly enjoyed the weather!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Crazy weather!

First its cold, then hot, then cold again. I really wish the weather would make up its mind. and hopefully decide on Spring! Last week it was warm enough that I had to dig out my shorts. Tonight, though, we have a freeze warning! Freeze warning on April 15th?? That's ridiculous! I guess its good that I haven't planted the basil plant I got last week - I brought it inside for the night. Oh, and then tomorrow's high is supposed to be in the 60's.

As I said, crazy weather!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

GA Nature Center

Part of the reason to go camping this past week was that D had seen a reference to the Georgia Nature Center. It looked quite interesting - solar power, carnivorous plants and a "next generation home".

This is the guy who founded the nature preserve, in front of his solar panel array.

He's holding a carnivorous pitcher plant. He cut a dead one open for us so we could see the remains of the bugs it ate last season. cool. I managed to win us a tiny Venus flytrap plant. I hope we can keep it living. M tried to feed it already but the ant managed to escape.

Those 2 solar panels basically power the whole place (along with a small wind turbine that was down for repairs while we were there). They are "off the grid", so I guess if they get a bunch of rainy days they know to cut way back on power consumption.

He showed us his organic garden. They had a really pretty apple tree with light and dark pink blossoms - and red flesh! We didn't get to see the apples this time of year, of course, but D looked them up and WOW. Sometimes the apple flesh is really red!

He asked for some volunteers to "act like a deer". M and one of the high school seniors on the tour with us got picked. The 2 of them ambled towards the garden, and then squirt came the water. M got soaked!

He wanted to go change shirts then, but we were in the middle of the tour and a ways from the car. By the time we got back to the car, he was basically dry again.

Most of the organic garden was currently planted in a cover crop, but at the edge he had a bunch of blueberry bushes just loaded with blooms. And in front of them was some purple asparagus. I'd never seen purple asparagus before. He picked some and offered it for us to try it - yes, raw. It was actually quite good. It tasted a bit like baby pea pods. I wish I had a sunny spot for an asparagus bed!

Next up was the "next generation home". It looks really cool. I didn't get a good photo of it myself, so I borrowed one from their website:

The house is 1000 square feet - the top floor is all glass and the bottom floor is mostly underground - you can see that there are windows into the basement so its not all cave-like down there, though. It has all energy-efficient appliances, propane where applicable. No A/C, instead there is a geothermal earth tube to help heat and cool the house.

We were lucky that our tour group was quite small, so we were able to go inside the house. You couldn't have fit many more than the 15 of us on our tour inside comfortably and still been able to see things.

The kids got a little bored at times, but really overall they were quite interested, as were D and I. We spent about 2.5 hours on the tour and got to see lots of stuff. As usual, I could have spent more time, but it didn't feel too rushed. We all enjoyed the tour.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

More camping photos

I always find it amazing how quickly it cools down when we're camping. We got back from our hike around 6pm and it just seemed way too hot to think about a campfire. 20 minutes later, though, it started sounding pretty good. And by the time we got the fire going, it did feel good (and so did my sweatshirt).

We had tried to come up with a meal we could cook in the dutch oven, but didn't manage to find one that met all our criteria, namely:

1. M would like it
2. It would make enough for one dinner, but not much leftover (too hard to store leftovers when camping).
3. Not too fussy or time-consuming in camp.

Since it turned out that we couldn't get a second night at the campground, maybe its just as well we didn't find a dutch oven dinner. The kids really like to cook hot dogs over an open fire (truth to tell, so do I - but only for one night's dinner).

After dinner, we read for as long as there was light, then it was time for smores. After we'd all had our fill of smores, the kids decided that they were still hungry, but not for marshmallows. What to do? Why not toast apples over the fire?

They didn't leave the apples on there very long, mostly just enough to heat up the skin a little. They enjoyed it, though. M said it was neat to have the skin warm and the inside of the apple cool.

After that it was time to check out the bathhouse. And the stars on the way up and back. When we got back to camp, I was surprised that A took himself off to the tent to get ready for bed. Maybe all that hiking wore him out more than I realized.... I'm not one to complain when kids are getting ready for bed on their own initiative! They brushed their teeth at the spigot at the campsite and headed in to the tent. We heard talking for 10 minutes or so, punctuated every so often by M's "I'm trying to go to sleep" - and then quiet. Ahhh. Blessed quiet.

D and I had a nice quiet hour or so at the campfire before we too hit the tent. Unfortunately every time I woke during the night my legs were cold. I'm not sure why since I have camped in this same tent and sleeping bag in much colder weather and been fine. and I even remembered to put on clean socks.

In the morning we got the word that no, there hadn't been any no-shows or cancellations and that we wouldn't be able to extend our stay. So we got busy packing up the campsite.

Taking the tent down, M crawled under it. I called him the "wicked warlock of the east" - see those feet sticking out...

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Camping Excursion

We finally got to go on our camping trip (delayed from Monday's not so nice weather).  It was beautiful weather. We left here early afternoon on Wednesday and made a pleasant stop at the next county's library (thank you, thank you, thank you for connected libraries and library cards good in multiple counties!) Armed with 3 bags full of books, we were ready to head on.

When we got to the park, we registered and started looking for a space. The rangers confirmed that we had a registration and said to just find an empty space. So, we start driving around. First loop, all the spots are full or have a little tag on the post. Same thing with the second loop. and the third. and the fourth and final loop. Umm, we do have a reservation and checkout is supposed to be at 1pm, and it is now 4pm, so where is our space??? We went back to the ranger office and ask for assistance. One guy finally goes off to do a reconnaissance. When he comes back, he has to confer with the other ranger for a bit before deciding that space 4, which says someone is still there until the next day, is really empty (the guy checked out a day early). So, finally we can go get set up.

Luckily, by now the kids are old enough to be of genuine help in setting up a tent. They may grumble a bit about helping rather than reading a book, chasing a lizard, poking each other with imaginary swords - but they can and did help. And in no time, we had the tent up, air mattress inflated, and sleeping bags and pillows in the tent.

Next stop - nature trail. Again, maybe not their first choice, but we all had a good time.

We found a cool tree where we all took a rest:

M decides to get silly with camera angles:

M is probably plotting how to get A!

As we continued on around the trail, the kids would race to touch the blazes on the trees. or cross a bridge first or whatever. A climbed under one bridge to be a troll. I guess that made the rest of us the 3 billy goats gruff?

A found a cool hole where a tree had been uprooted:

Here A is "king of the hill"

Every time there was a fallen log (and believe me, there were a LOT of fallen logs), A wanted to walk the log. Sometimes the log was too small, and there was one log that was cracked and broke while A was on it, but mostly the walks were just fun. A little out of the way, but what's a little extra log-walking, then running to catch up when you're 9?

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Friday, April 04, 2008


We were planning to go camping today. We'd been watching the weather to see when it looked auspicious. Yesterday afternoon, we checked and it all looked good, so we reserved a site for tonight. Then this morning, it didn't quite look so good. Chilly, misty and the outlook had changed from mostly sunny to all cloudy. Plus, the nature center we wanted to go to didn't have any tours today or tomorrow. So, change of plans. Now we're set to go out later in the week, when the weather might be more cooperative and when we know we can get a tour of the nature center.

If the weather had been better OR the nature center open, I think we would have gone anyway. But the thought of hanging out in camp in a drizzle didn't sound so appealing.

We're still trying to come up with a camp dinner that will appeal to us all. and that isn't hotdogs. Part of the problem is that most of the recipes I find for dutch oven cooking make way too much food for the 4 of us.

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Wishing for Hail?!

Yep, that's my mom - she's currently wishing for HAIL!

Why, you might ask? Well, because she's buying a new house* and is hoping for the roof to get hail damaged. Making sense yet? No? Well, the house is 19 years old, with the original roof (probably with 20 year shingles), so likely needing replacing soon. If there was hail damage, she could get the current owners to replace the roof for little to no out of pocket expense (for them, none for her).

There is actually a chance of hail tonight along with the thunderstorms and possible tornadoes. Looks like a lovely day to start Spring break tomorrow. 100% chance of rain. lovely. (Though I wouldn't mind a good gullywasher overnight to wash the pine pollen out of the trees!)

But do you think I could convince kids to go ahead and get their homework done and over with? Fat chance! If I'm lucky and nag them a lot, I might get 15 or 20 minutes work out of each of them. A has 15 questions about a book they're reading for Challenge (it was supposed to be classwork, but he was still finishing up last weeks classwork). M has a project due the day he gets back from break, but he's known about it for over a week already and has done next to nothing on it.

*My mom saw a house for sale on the next street over from us that has everything she wanted in a house.
A separate dining room
Master BR, garage and main living area all on one level
Space for an office and still space for both kids to sleep over
the kids can walk to her house without crossing major roads (almost forgot that one)

It also has a sunny part of the backyard where she could have a small garden. And comes complete with a swingset and playhouse that A finds quite intriguing.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Almost Spring Break

Tomorrow is the last day of school before spring break. I'm ready for a week of sleeping in! I'm sure D is too, and maybe even M. M has been harder to get up the last few weeks - maybe his body is moving towards teenage sleep patterns. Or maybe he's just staying up too late and being lazy in the morning, because some weekend mornings he still tends to be up and moving plenty early.

We have some potential plans for being away during break, but they're very weather related. So its hard to know when we might go away. The weather forcasters don't seem to be able to agree day to day when it will rain or not. Plus its still the awful pine pollen season - everything is coated in yellow. Even the rain hasn't helped much. We had a downpour a few days ago which helped wash away the pollen for a few hours, but its back in force. Today's drizzle just accentuated the yellow mess. I hope we get another downpour and wash it all out - the pollen has a very annoying habit of getting in my eyes and under my contacts - ouch!

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

M's Biopoem

M had to write a biopoem for school - a bio of a living creature. He first thought to do himself, but couldn't decide what to say (maybe too revealing?), so he "interviewed" our cat.

Who is soft, sweet, and furry
Who is brother of Pounce
Who loves crinkly balls, lizards, and his family
Who is happy when he gets petted, happy when he gets a lizard, and mad when someone steps on his tail
Who fears the vacuum cleaner and that cat across the street
Who has caught more lizards than I can count
Who wants to have a bowlful of treats
Who lives in Georgia

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