Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Extremely frustrated

A year and a half ago, I took this cutie petutie's picture in January when she turned 2 out in the snow by the river.  When she turned 3 six months ago, I said enough's enough, I've got to start her portrait!  My cousin showed me a new technique that I may love by the end of this, but when he scanned the picture, it didn't get the right dimensions.  This may not have fazed my talented cousin, but it's put me in a tailspin!  I've worked on the drawing part of her portrait, ever so slowly and it's all done, but the face, which was horrible.  So I measured it all to figure out the whole scale is off!!!  There is no way that I'm drawing the whole thing over and I'm trying even to not redraw her whole face.  Most of her face was pretty accurate, (I think- I'm still trying to figure out what all is skewed on it).  For sure one eye is all wrong and I'll tell you what, have one eye the wrong size or too high or tilted a little wrong and it makes her look like a space alien...  at the same time, maybe she does look a bit off at times. 

I should have done this picture, you would have never noticed a deformed eye!  I told Brian that's why Picasso drew crazy faces!  Faces stink!  They are so fabulous to look at and so expressive that it's about impossible (for me) to capture it.  My goal is to finish her portrait before school starts.  Preferably before I go to Stoon in Aug.  But that may be pushing it.  At this point, I'd be glad to just get to the paint part.  I think it'll be fun then again.  So there.  I've let you have all my frustrations... I'm going to go pray over the canvas again and tell it to get in line!

Now that we are well, we were able to finish up swim lessons.  I'm proud of the dynamic duo.  They did good.  It was a bit of a fight with Ivan, but he picked up and improved a lot (plus he really was sick- I just never know!)  Dominique is a fish and has been begging me for more lessons and to swim everyday.  Today it was cold and windy and she was the only one in the lake (shivering too!)  But then, I was the only one who did laps, so I understand her.  Lucky for Dominique, the teacher forgot their badges today and asked us to come get them with a free class Fri.  Dominique is thrilled.  Ivan not so much, but he actually did only get 4 classes, since at two of them, he skipped out half way through feeling sick.  So now I need to come up with another way to bribe him out there Fri.  Hopefully it'll be warm again and maybe I can convince some cousins out ;)

This one is so strong willed- I am usually quite amazed at how strong she is!
This was when Ivan had his other front tooth.  He has a huge gap now on top and a third loose up there too.

How is your summer going?  Do you have a favorite thing yet?

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Dominique had a specific design that she wanted for her cake.  I did learn that the icing is WAY easier to manage when it is cold.  The brown icing was in the fridge and was fabulous.  The pink and purple I had out at room temp and melted all over the place.  Live and learn.

She also wanted an ALL GIRL party.  So we had a total of 10- several water fairies, a butterfly and a couple of trendy princesses.  I had more time to do Dominique's face paint since I did her's as the party was starting.  Suddenly I realized that it could take a significant amount of time to get everyone painted, so I had to hurry it up and resorted to assembly line painting.

I tried to get them to all lay in the room with their faces in the middle, but my room was not big enough!  I think 10 kids is our maximum.  We were trying to do lots outside, but it was just way too hot, so we resorted to indoor races, which was not as great as it could have been!

But they liked all the games- that took me 2 days to organize!  Every time I do a birthday, I think it'll be easy, just plan a couple of games and then I spend 2 or 3 days getting ready for it all to be over in a few hours!  Ah well, Dominique and all the kids loved it.

We had pizza, chips, carrots, cucumbers, water, juice, cake and ice cream.  At least we could do that outside- I love picnics, then when the cake falls on the ground or the juice gets knocked over it's no big deal, just go grab some more!

I also realized that there is very little shade in our yard at 12 noon!  I'm thinking water play is a better idea for a July birthday!

Ivan suggested we use his guitar game from his birthday.  We'd kept it, because the boy just can't throw out anything, but in this case, it was a great transition game and zero prep for me.  Thanks Ivan!

We also played "costume, freeze, act".  They put on a costume and danced while the music played, then when I stopped the music, they froze.  When I tapped their shoulder, they acted out their character.

Tea pot relay race.  They were spilling a lot of water and not getting far, so half way through I gave them a big cup each!  It only took me 13 cups to fill the kettle, but I'd forgotten that kids will spill more than half that on the way!

The candles didn't stay lit with the little breeze, but there was no complaints over the cake and ice cream!  I did manage to save some for our boys too- and there was plenty of left over pizza and food for an easy supper.

I don't know if I'm getting old or what, but I was exhausted when they all left- had to have a nap and drink coffee.  Good thing I only have 3 and not 10 kids.  Our big enough house also felt very small with all these energetic little ladies filling it with laughter and a bit of chaos.  I remember with Ivan's party, we had more than 10, but it was nice out and we had all the party outside.  I remember thinking we would not have been able to manage it inside.  Now I remember!  But it's also so great to have a fun gathering of people who have been a blessing in our lives and who add joy, fun and laughter to our kids lives.  It's great to make memories together and celebrate together.
One of the 3 sister duos who joined us today.  Ivan had the day with daddy and used what was left of his birthday money for a hero factory character.  Dominique got a new barbie amongst other gifts, so now my trio are playing hero barbies.  The dialogue is something like "my guy shot the bad guy and I'm freeing your giant dog" (Ivan), while Emora has her barbie making toilet noises in a corner of their house and Dominique is saying "Emora, where is your girl's boyfriend?"  Emora's reply:  "pfffftttt".  Gotta love them!

Returning to the land of the living

My aunt and uncle got to visit us briefly on Dominique's actual birthday, so that was fun. They made it a joy with fresh donuts and coffee! This was a real treat, because Ivan was just starting to feel really terrible and we at least had a bit of celebration before we became housebound.

Tomorrow is our rescheduled party.  We are having 10 girls including the birthday girl and little miss cranky pants- who has promised me she will be amazingly good.  It's a bit of a gamble, because I'm sending the reinforcements (the guys) out and they will be in the city, so if Emora decides to be upset, it could get ugly.  But she was so disturbed that she would miss the party, that it was breaking my heart a bit.  Ivan is pretty upset about missing out too, but he will have a blast with Brian and for all the times he torments them, I can see why Dominique would want some JUST GIRL time- with no teasing and harassing.

We've been happy seeing everything grow in the garden.  Tried our first beets the other night and what do you know, the girls will eat beans if they are straight off the plant.  Ivan won't, but he loves to pick them.  They like to walk in the garden and see what is coming up.

Dominique took these too pictures of Brian (and my arm) and me- sitting out in the yard.  We are really loving summers here!  It's hot, but not unbearable.  Brian's coworkers act like they are dying in the heat and we are sitting out in the sun (me) and in the shade (Brian) thinking how awesome it is!

This is my new favorite picture.  I have it as my screen saver.  This was while they were sick.  We made muffins- only I forgot to put in the sugar- yep, that's what happens with 3 fine helpers all wanting to get their paws in the middle of it and have an important job.  You would have thought they would have reminded me of the sugar!  They are always begging for sugar.  But we were a little distracted by the raisins and chocolate chips.  So although the muffins are not as stellar as they usually are, they are actually quite edible and a part of me snickers when they ask for one knowing they are eating a vegetable (pumpkin) and little sugar!

I really can't complain about our confinement.  It was not the best way to start our summer, but they were not miserable.  Ivan was in serious pain only a few days and the rest was spent watching movies or in our backyard.

This little turkey wants to be so grown up and running all over with the big siblings.

But she's still got a lot of little in her yet.  I stole this picture from my sister who took it.  It cracks me up.  This is how she would always smile for pictures and yeah- I've seen this look quite a few times in her short life already.  I expect it won't be the last time either!  She's a strong one I tell you.  She got a splinter like scrape in her palm tonight with little miniscule rock chunks logged in for good measure, but trying to get her to let me get them out was so impossible!  I was afraid she'd rip her arm out of the socket.  We tried everything- tweezers, needle, nail clippers, ice cube, sibling distraction, reading book, showing her party prizes... But she did not want me to get at it.  I told her there was a flap of skin and if she let me cut it off with the nail clippers we could see what all is under it to get it out.  She would not let me cut it, but instead ripped the skin off with her own fingers!  I told her- "wow- you're a strong one huh?  And she said "yeah, I'm strong"- and determined and immovable- let's not forget those.

and while I'm showing off stollen pictures, this one is from dad's blog.  We all posed for a group shot and were promised that we'd get a copy.  I'm not sure if this was the best shot.  On the good side, we are all in there (apart from some that were feeling ill in tents).  On the other side, was anyone ready for this pic to be taken just then?  This is called O Naturel!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Family birthday party

This was most likely the occasion when unknownst to us we shared hand, foot and mouth disease with the Muirhead kids. It was a fun party none the less- I just wish we had known we were carriers of said illness. Dominique and Moira are July babies, so they get to celebrate together.

Birthdays are pretty awesome, especially with so many of us here as a family (3 households so far in town and some that can come in from not too far).  With that every couple of months, there is a great reason to get together, eat a lot of food, sing, play, hang...  Moira was also blowing candles, if you look closely you can see her face behind Dominique.

Moira died her hair.  Now we call her Marilyn (for Marilyn Monroe).

This is my uncle Bill and Aunt Betty.  Aunt Betty is my aunt Mary's sister.  I told her to get with her husband for a picture, but he was busy on his phone, so she borrowed her sister's husband instead.  I'd never seen them laugh so hard and Sheena informed me the smiles and laughs were typical and they are kooks!

OK, so here's aunt Betty and her husband Robert.

The girls so cute in the red chair.

Add a brother and well- you can imagine.  He asked me tonight what a peace maker was.  I started to explain what peace was and how a person can stop people from fighting... it's a tough concept when it's so counter nature!
Neve is always so cute!  Sorry for sharing our yucky illness with you Neve!

Ivan's blisters are dried up, so I checked online to make sure they are not infectious anymore and it says they can carry it for 3 more weeks even with no symptoms.  But I give up really!  There is no way I can keep them in for another 3 weeks and miss all of summer.  So I'm making them wash their hands before we go somewhere public and will clorox my house and get on with life already!  If you can be infectious and not show symptoms, that means that every kid on the planet could be carrying this thing and we'd not know it.  We did check with several friends we were around and no one else got it from us... so I'm hoping we don't bring it to anyone else.  If so, I'm sorry Fort Qu'Appelle!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's raining!!

After over a decade living in a hot and desert like location (Abilene, Texas). It's so bizarre for us to see it rain and also surprising to see how well things grow. We planted seeds and they all came up and seem to flourish with little work on our part. Brian made a rain barrel, so a few times when it wasn't raining and the temps were intense, I carried water to the plants and I did a bit of weeding and thinning. We tried and tried in Texas, but were not ever successful, so now we are quite amazed. I am constantly asking "now what?" and looking up on the computer. How do I harvest and cook the beets? When is this or that ready? We are learning and it's quite fun. I'm looking forward to all the food I'll be able to put in the freezer and am enjoying the salads from our lettuce, spinach and radishes. I'll give you a tour of where we were at last week...

We bought tomato plants. I had seeds, but didn't start them indoor (maybe next year!.  Tomatoes was one of the items we tried at nauseum in Texas and never ate a single tomatoe.  Now there are many blooms and green tomatoes coming along!  So fun.  I remember one year in Abilene we had tomatoes starting to grow and the squirrels ate it.
Here is a shot of about half the space.  At the back are the raspberry canes.  The kids ate one already.  From left to right- tomatoes, green beans, okra (not doing well- but we'd expected that- I'm hoping we will get to see a flower, even though I don't think we'll get an okra from it), green peppers and rutabaga, then broccoli.
Green beans are blooming lots.  I wouldn't have planted these, because my kids don't eat green beans, but Ian found the seeds in the trash and I got them for free, so I tried them and they were not only the first thing up and prospering, which was exciting, but they look very productive.  Then dad suggested I let the kids eat some beans fresh off the plant.  They may develop a taste for them when they realize how delicious they are!  I am finding that the kids are eating salads better when it's from our garden.  It really does taste better and fresher, but also there is the novelty and joy in the fact that it grew in our yard and that we had a part in it's growth.
Here is a cabbage plant.  I'm not sure how these grow, but I think they make a head.  Do I need to wrap the leaves together some, or just let it be?
Here is kohl rabi.  I first tried this plant last year.  A lady was selling it at the farmer's market (that I still haven't been to yet this year- shame on me!!!).  It was delicious, although I honestly can't remember how all I ate it.  I think it can be sauteed or eaten raw with some salt and vinegar.
We love carrots and I tried it in three different locations.  I think this spot is doing the best.  Next year, I think I'll make little trenches to put the seeds in so that the water will pool down to the plants and I could pour water at the head of the line and just let it pool down.
I'm probably going to pick a beet today.  Several are popping out of the ground.  I'm also going to look up how to cook it.  Janet told me a couple of times, but I keep forgetting the instructions.  I guess I should have been writing it down.  This is where the garden is so nice for us.  Brian had to get the groceries for us this last run and it's hard for me to tell him what veggies to get or for him to know what to pick up when I'm not there- so we are really short on vegetables right now.  Then I realized that I could just go get a beet from the garden!

Our hills had some problems, so this is either cucumber, squash or zucchini.  We will see once the plants get big enough to identify.  Plus there are some volunteer squash looking plants amongst the okra.  Since I'm not holding out much hope on the okra, I left the volunteers to grow and we'll see if we get anything.
We put a few stepping stones, but it would be nice to have more.  It gets really muddy at times.  I'm not sure if we need to rotate items or add to the dirt each year to keep it productive, but we are super happy with it so far this year.  I'm guessing we will have to invest in a rottor tiller at some point.  We've been super thankful for our neighbor and cousin for helping us with that for this year.
Another dream of ours is to have a canoe (and I really want to try out kayaking).  My cousins have a canoe, but weren't able to locate the life jackets.  But we live by 4 lakes, so I thought it shouldn't be too hard to find some, and I did after only one call!  Another thing we should invest in some day.  Brian and I lent our kids to cousins and got out on the lake.  It was so nice!
We are still newbies at steering, but getting better with practice.  This time I steered.
The sun was setting by the time we made it back.  I was surprised at how much my legs had also gotten a work out.  I thought it would just be my arms that felt it after.
And yipee!  With all the rain, Brian got half the day off today- just in time to help clean the house!  ha,ha.  That should mean that we can get it whipped into shape faster and have time for a family game or movie or both.  Ivan is a bit addicted to Settlers of Catan right now and it's one of Brian and my favorites too.  It's a bit long for the girls, but they like rearranging their little houses and last through a shorter game.

I'm on the count down for us being all well and able to get out to see friends.  Dominique's blisters are all dried up, so it's just Ivan left to be well.  Maybe 2 more days!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Healing slowly

This morning I was thinking their blisters definitely look smaller and that they are drying up, so I was guessing 1 or 2 more days, but tonight Ivan still has some on his hands that look very full of liquid so I'm really not sure. But he can eat fine and their energy is sure not affected! Maybe I will take them out for a walk anyways and just tell them not to touch anyone! I found out that we did share our illness with some of our favorite cousins- sorry Janet! And her littlest one, Neve got the brunt of it. I did see an article about hand, foot and mouth disease wrecking havoc in China and was thinking that if that strand makes it over here, maybe my kids will have built up some immunity to it- gotta look on the positive.

So I was asked what an inukshuk was. It's supposed to look like this. The Inukshuk Gallery explained: "They are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival. The traditional meaning of the inukshuk is "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path."  However, ours is not quite so graceful.  I've likened ours to a pregnant, amputee inukshuk.  Also, when it rains, water comes between it's legs out the drain I hid, so I guess that means her water broke.  I found the round rock with stripes at a beach and liked it and I haven't found a long arm piece yet, so we may be changing it around.  Then my friend told me that when they made them, they shaped the rocks!  So I may try to rub them some to make them a bit sturdier.  My original idea was to cover the ugly drain, but then when I saw it resembled the bottom of an inukshuk, I started to play with my little person creation.
The kids ate our first raspberry today. This picture was a few days ago. We just planted the canes this year, so we are fortunate to get anything on them. There are a few more growing, so I'm calling dibs for Brian and I on the next ripe one! The kids oohed and aahed at how good it was, so I'm looking forward to having several of them ripen as the plants mature and reproduce.
We've been eating lettuce, spinach and radishes from the garden, as well as cilantro, basil, parsley,rosemary & chives. My herbs keep trying to go to seed and I'm thinking I may just let them and try to plant the seeds. I prefer the herbs in the winter anyways and had them growing in pots in the kitchen, so we'll see if I can get that figured out. We are such newbies at the garden thing. I have to look up how to do everything. But the internet is very helpful as well as friends.