Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat! Thank You! Part II

Halloween is one of my favorite evenings of the year, as it is our chance to go door to door of all 20 houses in our neighborhood and see neighbors.  It takes us up to a couple of hours to get back home. 

Kyla went from queen to witch for her costume.  Since I’m currently obsessed with Once Upon a Time, I was okay with this.



I like where Piper’s attention is, even posing with her favorite babysitter.



I do like taking this guy’s picture. 



This is how we welcomed the (half-dozen) trick-or-treaters to our place.



Bad camera can take some fun pictures!


Trick or Treat! Thank You! Part I

[Did any other parents have to say, “What do you say?” a lot tonight?]

I love our little town. A few of the prominent businesses organized a downtown trick-or-treating event, with cookies, cider and face-paint.

This is my good friend, Susanne.  Our oldest kids are “best friends”.  We took our kids to the Monster Walk together, because we’re a good team for 5 kids with candy.  And I got to spend time with another adult.



Kyla is dressed as a queen, not a princess.  This is her day costume.



Do you need a fires started?  Look for him on a calendar in 20 years!



“Woof, Woof” means….well, anything this puppy wants it to be.



Quick!  More candy this way!



Friends with candy.


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Girls Get to Play!

My parents took Wes for a few days, so I got time with just Kyla and Piper.  We went to a play at Molbak’s and the zoo the next day. What a difference spending an afternoon without a toddler who needs a nap but won’t take one!022




Never Smile at a Crocodile…

…because he may smile back. 


He’s really smiling because the keeper is about to feed him a thawed out partially-skinned rat.  Yum.  (C0nfession:  It was SO COOL!)


Next to the crocodiles is an exhibit that always seems empty.  Going late enough in the day means getting there when tortoises, iguanas and a dinky little armadillo where all quite frisky…and visible. 


The little armadillo is definitely the alpha here, with the large iguana giving him obeisance at the food dish. Except for that time when Iggy walked by and his tail knocked over Armon and Armon curled into a ball and rolled out of the food dish.  I still giggle.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

He’s 70!

My dad turned the big 7-0 today and the whole family got together to celebrate!  Julie got some good shots of the evening, but my camera battery died after a few fuzzy pictures.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Witch, witch…..goose!

We got out our autumn décor today and Kyla found the witch’s hat and Piper found a cornucopia she thought looked like a hat.




If you know me well enough, you will remember the cozy, quite unsexy duck Halloween costume I made myself years and years ago.  Piper found it under the witch’s hat and called herself a goose for the next few hours.  022

Wesley joined in the fun by wearing the duck bottoms (think of this as a bad take on the two-person cow costumes) and called himself a baby goose until much later when he realized the lack of armholes in the pants.  You just can’t reason with a toddler…


Wesley as….Hairstylist?

This morning, I gave Piper’s bangs a trim, in front of Wesley.  He IS my third child, so I was very, very, very clear that hair is ONLY a job for grown ups.  Mama can cut hair, Daddy can cut hair, but kids cannot cut hair.  You, dear reader, understand this, right?

Six hours later, Piper is sitting down at her table coloring, when Wesley walks by with kids scissors, using the two-handed cut preferred by delinquent toddlers who walk by and cut a chunk out of their sister’s hair!



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Worm Bin—More Pets

Being a Northwest native, I am constantly evolving into a more and more “green” person (please discount the mini-van and inefficient, large-ish house).  We’ve been able to put our food scraps into the yard waste bin for years now and we recycle anything we can.  But lately I’ve been wishing that instead of having all the yard waste taken away every week and buying yards of compost every summer, I should just be making my own.   And as the cheesy video about vermicomposting says, turn your garbage into gold.  Okay, fertile worm castings isn’t anything you would wear as a necklace, but I’ve got more use for good dirt than more jewelry. 027



This should have been a 30-minute job, burying the bin and putting bricks down (to keep the worm-eating moles out).  But once one runs into a rock and has to shift the hole over a foot, move a rhody that has been growing there for decades, take care of a few kids, level and relevel (and relevel) bricks, it could take more than than three hours. 



But  look!  At last, a mole-resistant cedar worm bin!  I’ve got the first batch of garbage and peat moss down—I just need the worms. 



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cleaning Gutters. Not Recommended.

Dwayne stole this shot of me trying to reach the gutters by standing a chair on top of an end table.  I needed about six more inches and smaller hands.  I think I’ll hire this job out. 


Castle Park

There are at least three area parks we call “Castle Park” but the one outside of Langley might be the kids’ favorite.  They like the skate park that they can slide down and pretend they are tigers caught in a pit.   And the tire swing that goes high.  And that they can climb across the whole play area without touching the ground.  I like that they can entertain themselves there for hours.
Wesley’s newest accomplishment is mastering this rope climb.047

Piper uses the bars as a tight rope.


Kyla climbs around and over the perimeter fence.050
When I get around to making our Family Favorites notebook for the cabin, this spot will make the front page!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Meerkerk Gardens

One the way to the cabin lately, I’ve been picking up Whidbey Island brochures on the ferry.  This time, I picked up one about Freeland, a really cute town on the north side of South Whidbey.  Listed as an attraction was Meerkerk Gardens, a 43-acre site with lots of NW gardens and 4 miles of trails through forest preserves. We didn’t get  too far on the trails , but we had a great time wandering through the secret garden and looking for fairy houses under cedar trees. 
Dwayne and I are working on how to steal this and bring it back to our house.  Dwayne would actually like to build this himself, but I like my plan better.

If we took this, we’d satisfy Dwayne’s arch-lust for the rest of his life.  I think.
Piper was our official photographer this trip. That means I erased approximately 150 pictures of her shoes and my rear.

We loved the dahlias and Piper loved taking pictures of our favorites.

Since the park’s middle name is Rhododendron, there are hundreds here.  044
And we finally found the fairy houses.  I promised the girls we’ll go next summer on fairy day to build our own.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Pumpkins

The car needed a quick service today, so we wandered over to our famous nursery to see the autumn décor and flora.  What a fun place to wander!  Wesley is smiling on the inside.

10-17 3 pumpkins


This was one of our best afternoons in my deficient memory.  After snapping this picture, we unintentionally walked into the Christmas displays.  I know, I know, it’s too early for Christmas trees.  But all four of us love holiday displays—at Costco, the hardware store, but especially at Molbak’s.  We turned on the music boxes and got lost in the Christmas towns.  Wesley even looked, mostly, with his eyes and not his hands. 

The Bikes Stand Because of the Bike Stand

Very little embarrasses me, but I am going to publicly humiliate myself by showing you a picture I took of our garage this morning.

Bike stand 001

And another one for good measure.

Bike stand 002


There are many things wrong with the above, but I identified the biggest problem (besides having children in the first place) was the kids’ bikes.  I must have a dozen children, because there are almost that many bikes in here.  And everything without training wheels is just lying wherever it was dropped.   Messy.  Sloppy.  Not particularly usable. 

When I began researching making my own bike stand, I found a few good sites.  I finally chose this design (for the four-bike option) and then drastically altered it to work best for us.  My changes are listed at the end.

This is what I got when I followed the directions:

Bike stand 010

Unnecessarily tall.  My kids will grow and their bikes will get bigger, but they will never have front wheels large enough to make this design necessary.  And this just holds four bikes.


So I went out again and got more T-connectors and altered it to this:

Bike stand 012

It has room for six bikes, and although the vertical height didn’t really take up extra room in the garage, I like it better cut down to 2/3rds its original height. 


Did a 10-minute clean up of the garage, made a pile of get-rid-ofs, swept up a year of dirt, and now have a reasonable path through the garage.

Bike stand 017


I got two bonuses out of this.  1) Now that the bikes are upright, the helmets can be hung on the handlebars instead of being thrown on the ground. 2) The back of the rack is also a rack.  I put a few rarely-used scooters there.

Bike stand 016


Total cost:  About $34 with tax.  Probably could have done it a little cheaper had I planned for the final product, not the first attempt.  McLendons didn’t carry the contractor-size bags of connectors, so I overpaid about $5 than had I gotten them all at Home Depot (but don’t buy them individually there—very expensive!)

What I would do differently:  Definitely not make it so tall, like the original directions called for.  The originals also called for different cuts—several 9 3/8” pieces and also 9 1/2” pieces.  I would make the six long pieces that make up the tire holder all the same length; somewhere between 9” and 10” work great.  This would have saved a lot of time. The three long pieces in between each tire holder could also be cut the same length as the tire holder, but I used 8.5” because that’s what I cut for the original design. Then a bunch of 1 3/4” and T-connectors, and six 90-degree elbow connectors, and you’ve got yourself a sturdy bike stand in less than an hour.  Well, if you don’t have to cut the pieces by hand.  I used our chop saw, a power tool I have a powerful crush on. 

Want to make one?  Come over and we can cut the pieces together and I’ll give you all my leftover materials, saving you approximately $5.