Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crazy Days

I have been running around so busy that I'm actually a little surprised that I'm sitting down to blog. The odds are excellent that I won't even finish this post before I'm off and running around.

I have three active buyers and one listing right now. One of the buyers will close (hopefully) next week. Another will hopefully close mid-January (though they texted today that they're thinking about backing out of this deal), and my listing hopefully by the end of January. I was hoping for end of December, but feeling less optimistic about that.

I'm also busy volunteering in my kids' classes, sitting on the boy scout committee, being a girl scout leader, and working on Christmas gifts. I was up late last night baking cookies for K to take to school for some school party.

Today is a great example of how things have been.

7:30am: Door knocks. M's carpool is here, but he overslept and isn't ready, so they leave without him.  I rush to get everyone ready, and we run M to school.

Then, I ran over to my listing- it's a vacant house, and the bank never winterized the house. It's been in the teens at night, so I'm worried about the pipes freezing. I have a space heater in there that I'm running occasionally to keep it warmer.

8:45: take the little kids to school.

9:45: eye doctor appointment for me. They dilate my eyes, which I hate.  It also means that I can't read at all.

11:30: get Z from school. Ask him about his day, which sounds uneventful. Run to the grocery store to get stuff for lasagna for dinner.

12:10: Take S to the dentist- her remaining lateral incisor chipped and started bleeding, so we needed to pull the tooth. She was very brave, considering how long that root was.

12:45: Check S back into school. While in the office, the principal stops me and asks how Z is feeling. Ummm, what? Why are you asking that way? He then tells me that two boys got into a little bit of a scuffle today, and Zac ended up getting knocked over, and then they fell on top of him. Well. Ok then. This is very interesting considering he'd told me earlier that the day was uneventful.

1:30 Take Z to my MIL's so that I can go volunteer in S's class.

2:00-3:30: Volunteer in S's class. This is somewhat difficult, given that I still can't read, and I look like a morphine addict with my dilated eyes and sunglasses. Then we pick up Z from Grandma's.

4:10: Go for allergy shots. With the way my day was going, I expected one of us to have a systemic reaction, but all went smoothly.

4:15: Get a phone call from J that he'll be home from work late, and "the civic will be in tow." Uh oh. Turns out the skid plate fell off the car ahead of him, and he didn't have time to swerve to miss it. It sheared through the front bumper, and destroyed the radiator and the fans. Excellent.

4:50: Vision returns to normal. Yay!

5:00: Stop at the store to buy a Christmas gift with two kids acting like crazy people.

6:30: make waffles for dinner. Lasagna plan didn't work out. Maybe Saturday?

7:30: go to a quick birthday party for a friend's daughter.

8:45: wrestle all kids off to bed.

9:45: bake brownies to take to the teachers tomorrow.

10:30: work on quilt that's a birthday gift.


I am ready for Christmas break!




Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving

Normally, we try to go to both J's family and my family for Thanksgiving. We don't necessarily eat at both houses. But, each year, one side has priority, and we just try to fit the other side in. We've always been able to get it to work out until this year.

This year, both feasts were set to begin at the exact same time, and my inlaws had "custody". My food assignment was all of the pies and the rolls. So, I didn't want to bake all of those pies and then not be around to eat them.  We made the difficult decision to not see my family for Thanksgiving this year, which was really sad. However, I really like my inlaws a lot, and enjoy their company, so it was a very fun day, which was exactly what I expected. My mother in law got out her (actual SILVER SILVER) silverware, which was awesome for me. I now desperately want actual silver silverware. Guess I better get working on being fabulously wealthy, since my SIL and I had a quick battle over who got the silverware when MIL dies (yeah, I'm super polite), and I admitted that the daughter definitely gets precedence.  Oh well.







Pies this year included homemade pumpkin (including pumpking that I had baked and pureed), cherry, apple, and razzleberry. The girls helped cut out the stars for the cherry pie.




Then, I did an old fashioned apple pie (J's favorite).






The kids were really wanting to help, so I made a bit of extra filling, and let S & Z make their own "mini" apple pies.





The kids were nearly out of their minds with excitement, and Z was trying to decide what to wear. I told him that it's a nice idea to try and dress up a little for Thanksgiving. He thinks for a moment, and then declares that he'll wear his Darth Vader costume, because it's his best outfit, in his opinion. I managed to keep a straight face. Sort of.

After dinner was over, we had a little fun with Z's outfit and his light saber, and had him pose like he was going to carve the turkey. He is such a fun kid to have around.










I have to admit that although I was sad not to see my family, it was nice to not be rushing from place to place, stressing over whether we spent enough time with each side of the family.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dead Meat

We agreed to let KC, the guy who sold us our calves, pasture some of his cows in our field. It's worked out beautifully for us because he helped us find a great deal on our hay for the year. Even better, because of the deal he's worked out with my neighbor, he's providing the water for the whole herd for the winter. Considering this was one of my top worries in keeping a couple steers, I'm thrilled. He's also been keeping everyone fed. I've offered to help, but for now, he's liking doing it on his own, and says he'll just pull from our haystack when the time comes. Yes, folks, I have a haystack now.

One of the steers KC introduced to the herd freaked me out more than a little. I think he came a bit sick, and his left side seemed a bit distended. KC put a valve INTO THE SIDE OF THE CALF and that helped reduce the bloat. Which was good. On the bad side, this cow had poo oozing out of the valve and running down his side at all times. As a novice cow raiser, this freaked me right out. Here was yet another thing I didn't realize I had to worry about. I guess this is called "bloat" and isn't completely unheard of. Great.

Let me interject here by saying that KC is one of the biggest animal lovers I've met- he's realistic about what happens in livestock, but he seems to love taking on the tricky cases, and bringing animals back from the brink of death.

So, Oozy (as I privately called him) was actually a fairly friendly guy, and knew I had treats and would always come when I came to give my cows a little something. I felt guilty because his gut was really gross and scary.

Yesterday, I went out to feed my chickens the leftover cereal (dangit kids, why can't you pour JUST ENOUGH?!) and I saw Oozy laying on the ground, kicking up his legs rather frantically. I've seen horses do this to scratch their backs, but not cows. In my limited experience, this seemed very, very bad.

I jumped the pool ladder that I have going over the fence and went out there. Oozy looked very, very bad. I noticed the valve was gone out of his side, and his side looked awfully big.  I hurried to call KC, but as I was leaving the voice mail, the steer stopped breathing.

KC was to the field within 5 minutes. He told me that the valve had fallen out a couple days ago. He'd been watching the steer closely, but so far, had been doing really well. A valve is kind of a last ditch effort because it really increases odds for infection, so he was hoping the calf had worked through whatever was causing the bloat and could be done with it. He'd fed him the night before, and had seemed fine then. When I was consulting with Dr. Google, DVM, it sounds like bloat can kill within 15 minutes, so it can come on awfully fast.


I felt so terrible! It's sad to see an animal die regardless. But, to see an expensive animal die, especially one in which the owner has put so much time, effort and emotion into fixing was even worse. Also, the hassle involved has got to be tough too- I'd guess Oozy was over 500 lbs. That's not exactly a simple disposal, like a goldfish.

Anyone who says animals don't understand death or have feelings just needs to be around when an animal die. Oozy was definitely scared and in pain. After he died, Tbone came over to see what was going on, and he definitely seemed upset by the fact that his big buddy was down and not acting right.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Children in France, or one of the ways I lie to my children

J was on a business trip in France this week.  He promised the kids presents upon his return.  In Z's mind, it turns out that "presents"= toys.

He was out of his mind waiting for his daddy to get home. I wanted to think that he just missed J, but I suspected it was the present.

This afternoon, J got home from his trip.  He got each of the little kids a tshirt from Paris.

Z tried really hard to hold it together, but he absolutely crushed that he didn't get a toy. He was trying really hard not to cry.  In an attempt to cheer him up, S says, "I'm really sad that I didn't get a toy too, but I'm not crying about it." Ouch.  Poor J.

He asked J why he didn't bring toys.

Me, in a fit of deceitful imagination, burst out, "Because the children in France don't have toys!" This stops both kids cold, and their eyes got very big.  "Why not?!"

"I guess they just don't believe in toys for children."


They've done nothing but talk about the poor children in France who don't have toys, and are contemplating sending some of their toys over there.


So, if my kids say something about toyless children in France, I have no idea where they heard that idea.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Tough Mudder

In a fit of insanity (I am prone to those), I decided to do The Tough Mudder. I committed to it months and months ago with a whole bunch of my friends.  I've been doing my best to train for it for quite a long time- kickboxing a couple times a week, weight lifting a couple times a week, and running several times a week (still hate running, for anyone curious).

I was also desperate to lose weight prior to the event because I knew it'd be much more difficult with the spare pounds on. Much to my dismay, nothing I did worked. Looking back, I'm wondering if it was because I was training too hard.  In July, I took drastic measures and quit drinking Mountain Dew, swearing I wouldn't have a single sip until the Mudder was over. I did it, too. I didn't cheat even once!  Race day came though, and I was the usual weight. -sigh-

For those who haven't heard of the Tough Mudder, here's a quick video that shows an overview of the event.


The morning of the event, we filled our car with teammates and got out to Tooele at the Miller Motor Sports park. Temperatures were in the 50s and I was sooooo cold!

To get into the starting pen, we had to jump a wall.


From there, we had the MC talk to us for a bit. He did such an amazing job of pumping us all up, getting us revved up and excited to go.

Our race was right around 12 miles, and there was 21 obstacles. Most sounded pretty intimidating, but the three that had me the most worried were the Arctic Enema (jumping in a huge pool of ice and water), The Electric Eel (crawling through muddy water and getting shocked while you're at it), and Electroshock Therapy (more electrocution). It turns out my concern was not misplaced.  Arctic Enema was just as horrible as I suspected it would be. I was really nervous about it, especially given how cold I was. Mike, an ironman teammate of mine told me that every time he's done an ice bath like that, within 30 seconds of getting out, he would have this rush of heat and felt pretty good. I threatened to beat him up if I didn't get said rush. I did get that heat rush, and it was wonderful! My toes and fingers were still cold, but otherwise, I felt warmer afterwards than I'd felt all morning.


Electric Eel
The Electric Eel was deeply unpleasant, but since I've accidentally tangled with the electric fence in our back yard, it wasn't too bad. It didn't seem to affect me as much as others on our team- several reported having the sensation of waking up and being disoriented after each shock. One team member even had to have EMTs look at her afterwards because she felt so horrible.






We plugged on, going through the obstacles. Some people had a lot of trouble with heights on some, others preyed on people's claustrophobia. I made mental notes to work my upper body strength more in preparation for the next event because I definitely wasn't as strong as I needed to be. I was incredibly lucky in that I had awesome, amazing teammates who were willing to give us short people boosts on the obstacles.

One obstacle that I didn't have time to fret about was Walk The Plank. You climb up a 15' tower, and then jump into water and swim to the other end. If I'd really thought it through, I would've been more nervous. I'd simply not had enough time to worry about it after the other biggies for me! It wasn't a big deal though.

Finally up Everest!


After that came Everest, (see video for example) which I hadn't worried too much about because it was simply unattainable for me without a lot of help. I figured the tall boys would help me out. To make it even tougher, they actually lubricate the wall to make it even more slick!! It took me several tries to get high enough up the ramp to get caught though, so it was equal parts mortifying and exhausting. They finally were able to catch me and hoist me up.


At that point, we were more than 11.5 miles in, and only had one more obstacle left- Electroshock Therapy. Yay! More electrocution.  I managed to get through it without losing consciousness or otherwise embarrassing myself.

Done!
Once you finish that, you're done! You go through the finish line, and people are waiting there with the famous orange headband that they stick on your head for you.  The sense of accomplishment was exhilarating!

Our team is missing two people in this photo- one of our teammates was just exhausted and freezing, so she opted to skip the last few obstacles and just finish the race. Her boyfriend went with her. Once they got past the finish line, they just left- she was too cold and tired to wait for the group.




After that, we got to get our participant shirts. You didn't get the shirt or the headband unless you actually completed the event. I've always loved my race shirts, so I was really excited.  Then I got to the table. In ladies' sizes, they had a junior's size small and medium. They were cut small for size too- I'm not sure that my daughter could've worn the medium without it being awfully tight. Since I have a bit of a belly and broad shoulders, I KNEW that ladies' medium wouldn't fit. The next size available was a men's large. I got that, and it turned out to be quite large- it fits my husband perfectly, and he's 10" and 70 lbs heavier. I know it's a stupid, minor thing, but it absolutely crushed me. Instead of feeling like superwoman, I felt like a fatass. If I hadn't been so tired, I would've cried. I know I shouldn't let a stupid thing like that get to me, but it did. I'd tried so hard to lose weight in the months leading up to the event that it was a very sensitive point for me.

I'd planned to buy a couple stickers to put on our cars, but at that point, I was feeling so humiliated and exhausted that I forgot.  I went the next day to buy them online, and they were charging EIGHT DOLLARS SHIPPING. For two stickers.  Seriously?! I decided that I would just have to live without the stickers at that price. I'm trying to find someone running in an upcoming race who will pick them up for me, but so far, no dice.

The next couple of days brought a gorgeous array of bruises and scrapes all over my teammates and I. My upper body was absolutely trashed, but the rest of me felt pretty good.

Next June, our group is contemplating either running another Tough Mudder, or trying the Spartan Beast. I'm leaning towards the Spartan for two reasons. First, I think it would be interesting to compare the two events, and secondly (silly, emotional me), I have kind of a bad taste in my mouth for the Mudder, and it's not the mud.

Overall, the experience was positive, and a lot of fun. I had such amazing teammates, and I felt so lucky that they let me be a part of their group.


Post Script:  A friend of mine ended up volunteering at a Tough Mudder event and picked up a couple stickers for me.

And, more exciting: At the urging of my friends, I ended up emailing Tough Mudder and told them how I felt. They wrote back within a couple of days and promised to send me a new shirt.  I got it today!! It fits perfectly.  I am thrilled.   The only sad thing is that Utah has been taken off their map for 2013.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Romance in Burritos

I think that I've done a pretty good job of establishing the fact that in the traditional sense of the word, my husband is not the most romantic guy. He's never been much for love letters, flowers, poetry, etc. I have to admit I love that stuff, but most of the time, when he tries to be romantic in the traditional sense, it feels strange and awkward to me because it doesn't seem natural.

He shows his love in other ways though, and though it seems so simple and basic, it's very, very sweet.

For example: today.  I have been running around like a mad woman all day. I have a brief 10 minutes at home, but had to gather up some fruits and veggies in that time. He made me a bean burrito. Grilled it even! And wrapped it in a paper towel so that I could eat it as I drove (I know, that's frowned upon, but I swear I was really careful and attentive to the road).

I didn't ask him to do that, and it was a very sweet, surprising gesture.

I love that guy.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cow Drama

"Get a cow," they said. "It'll be fun and easy," they said. "Heck, may as well get two!" they said. Hah.


I didn't expect it to be easy, but I have to admit it has been more difficult than I anticipated. My first trouble was with T-Bone, the smaller calf. I followed the instructions I was given on him, except for one part- it was recommended I give him some calf starter grain each day. I went to my favorite feed store, and they'd never heard of such a thing, and they had a lot of cow people come through. So, I figured it probably wasn't that important and didn't do that. Otherwise, I fed them bottles at the intervals suggested. The seller gave me a roundabout idea as to when he would be ready to wean. Within a couple days of that, I saw him out in the field, chewing his cud, which is a sign of readiness to wean. I wanted to be sure, so I watched the next day, and saw it again. I mentioned to the seller what I saw, and that I was planning on beginning to wean him. I cut back from two bottles a day to one bottle a day, and followed that for nine or so days, which was longer than the week I was advised.


A couple weeks after he weaned, I noticed he was looking skinny, and was worried, but figured the seller would mention it to me if it wasn't normal. Turns out it wasn't normal, and he was in bad shape. So, I'm back to feeding him two bottles a day. I went to another feed store and bought the calf starter, though so far, he hasn't expressed much interest, though Casanova LOOOOOOOVES it (he gets a little treat each night too). Most days I don't mind; it's like having a 200 lb puppy. I did feel hurt because I got the distinct impression that people felt like I was neglecting the calf, or being lazy. I was just trying to follow instructions, and felt hurt that they'd see me that way.


So, it's been a little over a week since I started Tbone back on bottles, and he's doing really great (other than a cold, which seems to be clearing up ok).  But then yesterday, I notice that Casanova's right eye seemed wrong. It was very runny, and just looked off.  I got a better look at it, and it looks exactly like the pictures of pinkeye in cows look. Awesome. I hate pinkeye.  I call the seller to see if he'll take a look or offer insight. After hearing my description, he felt like I should call a vet.  Great. I feel way out of my depth, so I'd like to get a real professional involved.


I call the recommended vet, and describe what I'm seeing. They say that it is either pinkeye, or a foreign object that has caused an infection. Either way, I'd want to treat it with LA 200 injection, and that runs $.30 a cc. How much does my cow weigh and do I want to come pick it up?  


You're just going to trust me?


Don't you know who I am?  I don't know a thing about cows! I mean, I'm calling my calves "cows" and they're steers. That's an obvious newbie mistake!


I don't even know how much he weighs!


So, I went outside, tried to take a fully body picture so they could get an idea of size, and attempted to get a couple of eye pictures.


I walk out of the vet's office with two giant syringes and instructions to inject them into the muscle, 48 hours apart. I also should use a water bottle to attempt to cleanse the eye. If he'll let me, try to sweep my fingers between the eyeball and eyelid to see if I feel anything.

oooookay. This'll be easy, right?
 I take a few minutes to collect myself (ok, an hour), and I head out there armed with my pink mucking boots, a squirting water bottle, and a syringe.

TBone sees me and comes running. The fact that I'm holding a water bottle compounds the problem. He's convinced this bottle is for him and keeps trying to drink from it. Meanwhile, Casanova thinks me squirting water in his eye is a terrible idea, and he doesn't like the look of that needle either, so he's trying to make a run for it.


All this commotion got the attention of the other cows (steers) so they moseyed on over to watch everything.


This all ended with a cleansed eye (no sweeping under the eyelid though) and a cracked syringe, and no shot given. I decided it was insane to think I could do this alone. Even the smallest of the cows steers weighs more than me.


When J got home, I asked him to help me. I got the bright idea that I should bring some of the calf grain into the field as a peace offering to Casinova.  


Well, the grain got the attention of Baby, the horse. She wanted some of that. Badly. So she's chasing me around the field, trying to get her nose in the bucket. I know she's on a very strict diet, and I'm fairly certain that diet doesn't involve calf starter, but it was looking like she was going to win that battle.  I sneakily gave the bucket to J, and Baby continued to follow me. When J was mostly to the "time out corral", she noticed HE had the bucket, and took off at a gallop to get to him. He got there first and was home free! I felt very lucky that only TBone and Casanova had noticed I was back with the white bottle.


Eventually, I was able to give the injection, and I irrigated the eye a bit more. I brought a rubber glove so I could try to sweep under the eyelid, but I lost my nerve. I did try to peek and didn't see anything though. After that syringe was empty, I put the contents of the cracked syringe in the intact one, so that dose is ready to go.


We get to repeat the antibiotics shot on Saturday. Whee!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trip To Zion

We actually have been on two trips to Zion recently. We took the whole family in the RV at the end of July. The kids absolutely loved it. I was really impressed at their mad hiking skills. We were going into the Narrows, and figured we'd go in a bit, and then turn around. We made it all the way to Orderville Canyon, and then walked to the waterfall at Orderville before turning around. All told, we walked almost 8 miles that day, and the kids didn't complain once. When we were about 100 feet from camp, Z did ask to be carried. I was so impressed with them.

Then, J and I decided to go back to celebrate our 17th anniversary. This time, we decided to tent it. I have to admit that I haven't gone tent camping in 6 years, so I was a little apprehensive. It was nice to sleep under the stars (we kept the rain fly off, so we could see them), and it really was fun. For a long time, it's been on J's bucket list to hike The Subway from the top down. We managed to win the last minute lottery, and got a permit for Friday.

The Subway is a 9.5 mile hike that has a 2000 foot elevation change, three rappels, bouldering, and some required swimming. It's rated as 3B III.

The problem with the Subway is that there's two parking lots, 7 miles and 2000' elevation difference between them. People have two options: they can hitchhike, or they can pay for a shuttle. The shuttle cost $30/person, which offended me. We decided to take our chances and hitchhike.  The night before, we found a group that also was planning on going, and we got them to agree to give us a ride from the bottom lot to the top lot.


They ended up being a really fun group of people, and we did the entire hike with them. It came in handy for them because nobody in their group brought gloves, which are really, really, really nice when rappelling. Also, their rope was only 50', and for the first rappel, you really need a 60' rope.

I didn't bring my fancy camera, and 95% of the time, I was so relieved I hadn't. This hike was definitely the most intense, most technical hike I've ever done. That would've been tricky to have along. But, there were a couple shots I'd really wished I'd had it. Instead, I brought my little point and shoot in its' waterproof bag.

I was nervous about the rappelling, or downclimbing, whatever the experts would call it, but it ended up not being a big deal at all. My upper body strength was better than I thought, and the "obstacles" were kind of fun. The weather was hot, so the water wasn't too terribly cold. I brought 3 liters of water, and ran out about 1/2 mile from the trailhead. We had purification tablets, so if there had been an emergency, we would've been fine.

The views were utterly amazing.


We got through the narrows part, and still had a couple miles to go. There was a lot of hopping around over rocks, which got pretty exhausting. Then, we had to climb about 400' through switchbacks to get out of the canyon. That was rough at the end of the day, and with sun. It was getting a bit cloudy though. In fact, once we got out of the narrows, we started to hear thunder, which made us quite nervous, and we picked up the pace.

Once we completed the hike, we got in the car and started to drive back to camp. Within 15 minutes of getting in the car, a flash flood warning was issued, and rain started to pour. J and I have always wanted to see the main canyon in the rain, so we hopped the shuttle to go check it out. We saw several new waterfalls, some of which were quite large. It was amazing to see.

The next day, we were both very, very sore in our quads. So, we decided to hike some more!!  We wanted to check out some family friendly hikes we'd heard about, but were unable to find when we had the kids. We found several great ones this time around though.  We ended up checking out the Many Pools hike, as well as the Hidden Gardens and Weeping Rocks hikes.  We also wandered around town a bit.

Sunday morning, we decided to go for a little bicycle ride, so we went on the Pa'Rus Trail. I was a little unsure about this, as I was really, really hurting at this point, but J convinced me, and I'm glad he did. It was a lovely, scenic trail, and it was still fairly early, so it wasn't too hot.

All in all, we had a marvelous time, and are excited to go back next year.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We bought a cow!

Our neighbor has been leasing barn space to a guy who buys day old calves, bottle feeds them, and then sells them or takes them out to his acreage a few miles away.  After a few weeks of watching all the cute calves, and even being able to feed some of them, we made a crazy decision.

We'd buy one. He'd gotten some beef shorthorns in, and they are supposed to be great for meat.

We'd raise it up for 14 months or so, and then hire a butcher to come process him for us.

However, we would never be able to store an entire cow, so we started asking around to see who wanted to split it with us.  We had so many volunteers that we ended up buying TWO.

T-Bone/Chuck laying in the grass
When we talked to KC, the seller, we had two options: we could buy a (mostly) weaned calf of about 8-9 weeks old for $450, or we could buy a 6 week old for $350. We thought it was worth the extra money to buy the weaned calves.  However, when we tried to commit to that, KC didn't have any left.  The next day, one of his buyers backed out, so we bought one weaned, one not weaned.

I went to the feed store and bought a bottle and calf milk replacer and a bale of alfalfa (J was THRILLED when he realized I'd taken the civic for this errand. Really. I have a giant SUV AND a pickup truck, and I end up in the car for that errant?).

We've set up a dog kennel in the back field because all of the calves will mob you if they see the bottle. We get the calf into the kennel and feed him in relative peace there.



The bigger calf only needs one bottle a night, and tonight is his last bottle.  The younger calf needs two bottles a day. Each bottle is two quarts of this milk replacer (which bears a rather disturbing resemblence in smell and texture to my protein shake.  ugh)



The older calf, Casanova, has a heart on his right flank, and another on his forehead.





The younger one is mostly brown, with a little white on his forehead.














Both are very sweet, very friendly, and I really hope they aren't quite as wonderful by the time they're grown or I'm going to have a really tough time when it comes time to process them.












This is a picture I took of the younger one (name not totally decided, but T-Bone and Chuck are front runners) this morning while I was feeding him.





As a fun side note, we took this video a couple weeks ago in the field. J was trying to secure the netting on top of our new chicken enclosure, but the calves were making it impossible. So, he had us come out and distract them. S did a fantastic job, and I caught it on video. We'd wanted to buy the calf chasing her, but we were too slow to commit, and he was sold before we could buy him.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Advice from a fire survivor

A friend of mine recently posted some advice that she learned the hard way, after her house nearly burned down a year ago.  It was so sensible that I wanted to repost it. She gave me permission, expressing the hope that it would help someone.


Dear Friends and Family,

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of our fire. I cannot even tell you how happy I am that this year is over. I remember right after our fire someone asked me if I had any advice for them on how to prepare. I didn't at the time, but I do now and I thought you might all appreciate knowing what I have learned.

1) If possible, store your 72-hour kits somewhere other than your house. If you have a shed, detached garage, or other similar building then put them there. I always thought that we would grab them on our way out if there was an emergency, but I never thought that the emergency would happen when we weren't home. Our 72-hour kits were wrecked right along with our house. Had they been in the shed and the shed had the fire, we still would have been OK since we would still have had the house. 



2) Make sure you have full replacement coverage on your belongings and home (belongings only if your are a renter). There are two kinds of coverage: full replacement and depreciated value. Full replacement means you go buy a new one, submit the receipt, and they reimburse you however much the item cost. Depreciated value means they look at how much that item cost and how old it is and then give you less money based on how old it is. Our big TV cost us around $1500 9 months before the fire and they would have given us $200 for it. Unless you have the cash on hand to replace your whole house, it is worth the extra bit for the extra insurance.

3) Make sure you have enough insurance. We lost 90% of the possessions on our top floor and maybe a few hundred dollars worth in the basement and we maxed out our policy. Had our house burned to the ground and we had lost the basement items, too, we would have been in trouble. Remember, even if you get a great deal on something, you will likely be replacing it with something new and not on sale, so either plan to have your disaster right before Black Friday or plan to have enough coverage.


4) Keep your data backed up somewhere other than your house. Our hard drive melted, but so did the back-up. I recommend using on-line back up services, or putting a portable drive in your shed, relative's house, etc.

5) If the unthinkable does happen, I strongly recommend purchasing one of those receipt scanners that they sell on TV ASAP. I think they are pretty cheap and I wish we would have bought one. We lost a few receipts along the way waiting to scan them in with the big scanner. It would have been so much easier to just scan them along the way. We could have even been scanning receipts when we were living in the hotel, before we replaced our scanner.

6) Keep your vital documents in a fire-proof safe and then retrieve them immediately after the fire is over.

7) Keep as many of your belongings in plastic containers with snap-on lids as you can. The restoration lady said that not only are they smoke proof, but they are also water proof if you have a water disaster. Our actual fire was contained to the kitchen, but we still lost almost everything we owned to smoke. My sweaters, however, were all just fine because they were in a plastic container with a snap-on lid.

 Last but not least, when you leave your house, make darn sure your stove is turned off 

Love you all,

Debbie




This was her facebook status today: 

1=years to the day since our fire
3=weeks living in a hotel trying to manage 18 food allergies and 5 energetic children
5=months in a rental house worrying that it would sell and leave us homeless again
50+=hours spent doing fire related paperwork
250,000=total dollar amount of damage to our home and posessions
Millions=Blessings and tender mercies we received along the way, both through friends and strangers and directly from the Lord.

Decorated Cast, part 2

Ironically enough, the dolphin cast did not survive swimming and baths. The dolphins fell off, leaving pristine, clean marks on the cast, leaving the rest looking pretty grungy.  We decided we'd paint with craft paint, giving it an entirely new look.


I just used basic craft paint for this. I first did a coat of black, and once it dried, added the hearts and the stylized S shapes for S's name.  It's been a couple weeks, and it's started to rub off a bit in the most highly used areas, but it's held up really nicely.


She gets her cast off tomorrow, and is very excited.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The dolphin cast

The only thing that seemed to cheer S up when she broke her arm was the promise of me decorating her cast with dolphins.

So, I was terrified that something would happen that would prevent me from doing that. I looked for dolphin fabric, since I suspected that would be easier to mod podge on than stickers/paper, but I didn't have much faith. When I made her kaleidoscope quilt, I'd looked for weeks for dolphin fabric with no luck.  I found some great dolphin stickers at Amazon for $2.43, so I bought those, and they arrived today.

When we got to the sports doctor today for followup, he confirmed that it is in fact broken, and showed me one of the other angles of the xray that I think shows the break a little more easily.






S chose a light blue for her cast color, and they told us they had a water resistant base material for the cast, so swimming, sprinkles, etc are NOT forbidden. We're just supposed to try and dry it a bit afterwards.  S made sure to rush home and tell her sister that HER cast is waterproof. Hah! K admitted to being jealous, even though she hasn't broken an arm in years.



When we got home, S wanted to get the dolphins on it right away. She wants to keep the cast forever, even after it's removed, but I told her she couldn't. Because of that, she got a little stingy with the dolphin stickers. She chose four to go on the cast, and is keeping the remaining eight.  I think it needs at least two more; I may talk her in to adding more tomorrow.













I used mod podge to attach the stickers.  I learned a couple things from the experience.  First, I spread some mod podge around the area where the sticker was to go.  I found it very helpful to get the stickers wet prior to applying- they laid a lot more flat that way.  I think that fabric would go on a lot better than paper, but since dolphin fabric with dolphins of the right size is so scarce, we had to make do.  Once we got the four dolphins on (and I may work on her to put more on there; we'll see), I put a light coat of mod podge everywhere, and shook some fine glitter on it.  Unfortunately, that doesn't show up in this picture, but her reaction to her cast is obvious.



A close up of the cast.


















Sunday, June 17, 2012

Broken!

This week, I've been babysitting a friend's 5 year old while she vacations in Hawaii (lucky girl!). I've had this nagging feeling that *someone* was going to injure themselves, and I was just hoping it wasn't the boy I've been watching.

On Friday, S wore a beautiful long dress and crocs. Of course this is the very best outfit to wear while climbing fences. She fell while doing this. She ran in, crying that she hurt her left arm.  It was not hanging at a funny angle, and she had a very specific spot that hurt the most.

Now, I have to admit that while she's tough compared to the average kid, she's definitely not the toughest of my kids. So her wailing and carrying on is a daily occurrence.  But, it was Friday night, 8:40pm.  My beloved Layton Kidscare closes at 9pm on Friday. So, I decided to take her in.  J felt like I was overreacting, and honestly, I was only about 70% convinced she had genuinely broke her arm.  I am in the "didn't take my kid to the doctor for a broken arm right away" club, and I'd rather not be a multiple entry member, so I decided to err on the safe side.

We got to KidsCare at 8:54pm. Plenty of time!

They got us in right away, and S didn't want to talk to the doctor, even though she was really sweet and nice and being really great with her. I explained what happened.

The doctor did a brief exam, declared her to be a very healthy girl otherwise. She said that S was letting her mash down on her arm pretty hard, but that they'd do xray, just in case.

After the xray, the doctor came back in and said it was a good thing we'd had it xray'd; there was a little buckle fracture.  Upon hearing the news, S dissolved into tears. She was so, so upset to hear that she'd actually broken a bone. It was kind of cute.

They gave us a brace to wear, and we're supposed to go see an orthopedist on Tuesday, where they'll give her a regular cast. I assume they will, anyway.

We were back in the car by 9:25pm. On the drive back home, it dawned on her that swimming is going to be out for a while. She was even more worked up then.  I have promised that when she gets the regular cast, I will mod podge dolphins onto the cast. That really calmed her down and cheered her up a bit. Because of that, I'm worried that when we go to the doctor to get the regular cast, he'll decide not to, that it's not broken badly enough, and the brace is sufficient.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Daisy Bridging Ceremony

It was planned for a couple months.  We were going to have a lovely ceremony for our Daisy Scouts to Bridge into Brownies.

I found a park with a lovely little creek, complete with a little bridge for the girls to cross over.

Invitations were sent. Time off from work requested.

I made three huge pans of brownies that looked delectable. One had chopped up Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and chocolate chips. One had marshmallow cream and crushed oreos. The last simply had chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

Then, the day of bridging came.  It seemed chilly, but ok.  As the day wore on, the wind increased. A wind advisory was issues. From noon to three, the temperature dropped 25 degrees.  An hour before, it started to rain.

Well crap.


I was just about to call the whole thing off and reschedule for later (mentally sobbing over the brownies and the havoc that much chocolate would do to my diet) when one of the moms called. She had access to a church, and could even get a bridge for us!  Woot!

I made the calls to everyone, and got the venue changed. There was a minor hiccup because one parent wasn't crazy about the denomination of the church where the ceremony would be held, but they had their priorities in the right place, and came anyway.

I was a bit disappointed and rattled over my ideal not happening, but I think things went rather smoothly.  I felt awful because the mom who set the whole thing up is someone I have this ridiculous mental name block with. I know exactly who she is. I like her; she's funny, and nice and smart and really great about volunteering. But for some reason, when I first met her, I mentally stuck her with her daughter's name, and have fairly consistently called her by her daughter's name for well over a year now. Usually, when I get a name to stick in my head, it's there for life. I've been lucky up to this point for them to stick with the correct name. But I can't undo it.

So, I was trying to thank this mom for all the work she did. In my head, I was chanting "Don't say T, don't say T, don't say T".  I didn't.  I called her by my co-leader's name instead.  AW, man, SERIOUSLY?!  So now I've managed to not give props to the proper helper. In so doing, I gave props to one co-leader, and not the other. ACK!

Monday, May 28, 2012

S'mores Brownies

I am planning a fancy bridging ceremony for my daisy scouts to commemorate their bridging into brownies. I am going to serve brownies after the ceremony, and I want them to be kind of special. I am daring, but not daring enough where I'm going to do food experiments when serving a group of 50.  So, my family gets to be my guinea pigs. I think this went well.




I used two brownie mixes and prepared according to the box. I lined a 9x13 pan with wax paper (as a side note, this was a TERRIBLE idea. Someone told me it was easier to get them out, but that was LIES LIES LIES. SO don't do that).  I lined the bottom of the pan with graham crackers.  Then smoothed the brownie mix over the top of the graham crackers. Baked at 350 for about 45 minutes.


I then sprinkled a whole bunch of mini marshmallows over the top, along with some semisweet chocolate chips and crumbled graham crackers. Then, I stuck it under the broiler and watched until the marshmallows were toasted on top.

I think it turned out very yummy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Letter from the teacher

Yesterday, I got a card in the mail from S's teacher. It was such a sweet letter that I just had to share.  I absolutely adored Ms. V, and I'm really, really sad that she is not actually moving up to 2nd grade. In fact, since she's fairly new to teaching, she doesn't even have a contract. She has applied to teach at our elementary school again, but last I heard, she hasn't heard back as to whether or not she'll be back. It's really a shame- she is absolutely amazing, and the school will take a huge loss if she doesn't get to come back. I've been keeping my fingers crossed that she will so that Z will get her when he's old enough.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week

It's that time of year again- time to show our teachers and auxiliary staff just how much we love and appreciate them. I'm not room mom, but at the beginning of the school year, I signed up for teacher appreciation, which thus far has been sending crockpot meals during conference (this time, without incident).

A couple of weeks ago, I get a phone call from a mom, saying she's part of the PTA and would I be willing to do a door hanging for the school librarian. After confirming which school she was referring to, I cheerfully agreed. My kids all have very fond memories of the librarian. In fact, a few years ago, after parent/teacher conferences, we went to the library to buy them a book at the book fair. While there, the librarian came up to us, and said, "Oh, I just HAVE to meet K's parents!! She is just such a wonderful girl!".  Wow! To know her personally like that was really touching to me. A couple years later, she was doing the same for M. She also knows S by name, which is also pretty amazing. So, I think she's a pretty amazing lady, and was thrilled to do a door for her.






I scoured the internet, looking for cute ideas. I wanted to do something neat, but also unique- I'd hate to have someone else do the same door as I did.  Here's what I finally ended up doing.










Three days later, I get a phone call from a different PTA lady. The conversation starts out the exact same way- Teacher appreciation week coming up, blah blah blah, will you do a door for the librarian?  Talk about deja vu!!!!

First, I confirmed that it was for school #2 (yes, it can get confusing having kids at four different schools!), and then happily agreed. My kids have also spoken very highly of this school librarian, and from what I've heard, she also does a fantastic job with the kids.




I'm not quite as thrilled with the second door, but I did think it was fun. I know it appears that I was drunk when I took this photo. I actually had a preschooler swinging from my arm. If the door is still up, I'll attempt to get a better picture.  But, I had all kinds of symbols of good luck, and in small writing by each thing, I wrote where it was considered a symbol of luck. There was even a lucky penny, held firmly in place by tape.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lock Box

One of the smartest things I ever did was buy a mechanical lockbox, like this one, and place it in my yard.

I made a copy of the house key, and put it in the box. After that, if we ever accidentally got locked out, getting in was a snap.

My kids are wild enough that I could see them locking me out as toddlers, with them in. Or, them following me out and shutting the door.

My door locks have a "safety feature" where they always feel unlocked on the inside, and unless the door is deadbolted, you can always turn the knob and open the door. The manufacturer says it's so that people can always get out in a hurry if there's an emergency. Personally, I think the locksmiths bribed them.

I used my handy lockbox just this morning. I ran outside to throw something away. I didn't bother unlocking the door- I figured I'd just leave the door open since I'd be going outside for 25 seconds or so. Unfortunately, Z was right behind me, and he shut the door behind him, as we've been trying to train him to do.

So. I was outside in my pajamas with a 5 year old. Awesome. Lucky for me, I had my lockbox, and I was back inside within a minute.

Can you imagine what a hassle it would've been if we hadn't put a lockbox in place? We haven't given a housekey to anyone, so I would've had to call J (I DID have my phone with me), pull him out of a meeting 45 minutes away to come home and rescue us.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Z's 5 year old Interview

My expecting group posted a list of questions to ask our kids, and we were to videotape their responses.

I got a huge kick out of Z's interview. I'm not sure what to make of his sudden obsession with "boy stuff" that suddenly appears in the interview. And, he said that Chick Fil A was his favorite lunch because he's trying to con me into going there today. His favorite food(s) is chicken and fries though.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Puppy

I love dogs and cats. I really do. I like kittens and puppies even more. Ironic as it seems, I don't feel ready for that kind of commitment at this stage in my life. In addition, the older kids are still quite allergic, as am I.  So, I have to content myself with playing with the family's pets. Since everyone in our family has a dog, this is pretty easy.

My Grandma Jane got a Cocker Spaniel puppy over the weekend. I am giddy with excitement.  They are thinking they'll name her Bella.

My grandma reported that she sleeps most of the time, which is pretty normal for a six week old puppy.

I was DYING to meet her, so I took the younger two kids to go meet Bella on Tuesday.  The puppy woke right up when we came in, and was like a dervish the whole time we were there, acting like a normal, energetic puppy. My grandma looked pretty baffled- she kept saying, "I've never seen her this active before!"

I offered to take pictures of her because a couple of my cousins hadn't seen Bella yet, and because I'm a sucker for baby animals.

And now, may I present Bella.

So ridiculously excited

In junior high and high school, one of my very best friends was Kristen. I adored Kristen. She was (and is) a very fun person. She was also the most girly girl I'd ever met.  We drifted apart after we both got married, as often happens.

We reconnected with facebook (gosh, I love facebook), and got together a few years ago when she was way overdue.  Imagine my shock when my uber girly friend (she even painted her front room LAVENDER and it had a DOLL CABINET in it, folks!) was pregnant with her FIFTH boy. Seriously? I really think that's God giggling at His sense of humor on that one. I drug her kicking and screaming into doing maternity pictures. She was not at all excited about it, even though she makes a beautiful pregnant girl.  She was so pleased with them that when she got pregnant this time around, she told me she wanted me to do maternity pictures again.

The other thing impressive about her is this: She doesn't find out the gender at the ultrasound. So, my will-of-steel friend was expecting her sixth baby after five boys, and she waited until birth to find out the gender. I gave her my official psychic prediction of girl.  I backed up my psychic prediction with statistics: I also have a friend named Kirsten. Kirsten has six boys. What are the odds that I'd have a friend named Kristen, and a friend named Kirsten, and both would have six boys?  Astronomical, that's what the odds would be.

So, Kristen was set to be induced on Wednesday, Z's 5th birthday. I told her that's a fantastic day for a baby to be born. We agreed to a last minute visit and photo session on Tuesday. We did pictures for both a boy baby and a girl baby. I figured we'd just toss the pictures that weren't "appropriate" to the gender, or I could just use them for my portfolio.

Birth day came, and she gave birth to a baby GIRL!!! I don't remember being this excited over a baby's gender, even my own kids. I think having some of each made me content with whatever came along, but for her to finally get a girl has just got me GIDDY.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Art by Z

Z attends preschool, and he has a worksheet that he does each day in Miss Kimmy's classroom. I have seen a huge improvement in his efforts on the worksheets. Last year, he pretty much refused to work on them. This year, he's doing a great job writing his letters, name, and even colors the picture. It appears he finishes early, at which point he draws a picture on the back. Usually these pictures involve Star Wars.

Today, it was slightly different.

Initially, I was a little alarmed. However, I have learned that it's not a good idea to jump to conclusions when it comes the art of a small child. (See Michael's Dog Picture in first grade as evidence).

So, I asked him to tell me about his picture (notice that I kept it completely open and didn't assume anything in my question, just like the child psychology experts suggest).

He told me that the tall black thing is his (i.e. Z's) hair. Z has really, really tall hair in the picture.

Well. Ok then.

Now that I know he's not my budding terrorist, I felt free to admire what a fantastic job he did of drawing a picture, especially since he's not even five years old yet!

Monday, March 12, 2012

House Shopping With a Mule

I bet when you saw the title, you thought I was going to talk about showing a house to some incredibly stubborn people. Actually, that couldn't be further from the truth. I met a couple of lovely people who were interested in buying a home that came with 3 acres of pasture.

They were curious to see if the fence was intact at the back of the property, so we decided to go check it out.

Once we got back to the pasture, we discovered the field was not empty.  There were four mules and horse. (For those who didn't know, a mule is a horse/donkey hybrid). One mule in particular was the sweetest, most friendly and docile animal I've ever met. It was a little intimidating because she was very, very tall. I don't know exactly how tall she was in hands, but at the top of her shoulder, she came to my mouth- so almost 5 feet tall at the back. Wow!

She stuck to me like glue the entire time we were in the pasture. She was so close to me that I was actually concerned that she was going to step on my foot. She had no sense of personal boundaries.

By the end of our tour of the pasture, I was in love. I wanted to take her home.

Isn't she sweet? She's still kind of shaggy with her winter coat, but I thought she was lovely.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Trouble for S

I got the following letter from school today. I suspect that S is quite the "spirited child", but her teacher, Ms. V, doesn't report most of her antics to me.

When I got this letter, I had to text it to my mom. My mother, who everyone acknowledges is "Miss Perfect" and always has been, had a similar incident when she was about the same age. Her teacher wasn't as long suffering, and actually reported the whole thing to the principal. My mom's principal actually pulled her out of class and talked to her about it.

S wasn't all that upset about it until I grounded her from her bike today. Considering she's just barely learned how to ride without training wheels, this is very, very traumatic.








As a side note, how exactly does one climb the walls in the bathroom?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Teeth!

A year and a half ago, we discovered that K was missing her top lateral incisors. We started braces for her back in September, and things have been going well.

Our plan was to move all the teeth in place, then put fake teeth in the missing teeth spots. When she's old enough, we'll then do dental implants.

The downside to this plan was that she had a decidedly buck toothed look for a while, which had her a bit self conscious. Many of her friends have told her she has a beautiful smile, and while she thinks they're crazy, I think it has perked her up a bit to hear the compliments.

I could tell we were getting close to the fake teeth time. She had an appointment 3 weeks ago, and they ordered them that day, and scheduled an appointment for 3 weeks later.

I took her in yesterday, and two hours later, she had new teeth in! If you look closely, you can tell they're not real, but it is a huge improvement to her smile. She is so excited about it, which makes me so happy!

So, here's her teeth BEFORE the appointment yesterday.


























And here's after.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate Cheesecake Ball

This is a fun take on a cheeseball- more of a dessert dip. I am not a huge fan of cheesecake, but I do like this.


Chocolate Cheesecake Ball

1 1/4 c. chocolate chips (I prefer semisweet)
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 8oz container of whipped topping (i.e. koolwhip- I use lite), thawed
8 oz cream cheese (again, I usually use the reduced fat version), softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. miniature chocolate chips
assorted cookies/crackers to dip

To begin, melt the 1 1/4 c. chocolate on the stove until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from heat to allow to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and granulated sugar. Mix until smooth and incorporated. Add the whipped topping and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Add melted chocolate. Mix until totally incorporated.






On a large piece of plastic wrap, spread about 1/3 of the mini chocolate chips.






Scoop the cheesecake filling out of the bowl, and put on top of the chocolate chips, so it forms a big mound.






Carefully sprinkle remaining mini chocolate chips over the ball of cheesecake, trying to completely cover with miniature chocolate chips. Once almost all of the visible surface is covered, gently press into a circle shape.

Wrap plastic wrap around the ball, and secure it fairly tightly. This will help encourage the "ball" shape. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until set.





When ready to serve, put on your serving tray and surround with cookies or sweet crackers. I personally use vanilla wafers, graham crackers, thin mints, and chocolate graham crackers.

As a side note, I bet that using mint extract instead of vanilla would be kind of a good variation, if you like mint in your desserts (I personally feel that mint has no place in desserts, so I won't be doing this).

This makes two softball sized balls, or one cantaloupe sized ball.




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My first "real" quilt

I've made countless ragtime quilts, "Quillows", etc. I think I did make one quilt that could technically be called a pieced quilt, but it was only crib sized, and I gave it away, so I don't count it.

A quilt design that I have been in love with the idea of trying is called "Stack and Whack" quilts. I even bought a couple of instruction books a couple years ago by Bethany Reynolds.
Magic Stack-n-Whack Quilts

I finally actually made a quilt using the book, and I was very pleased with the result. I hired a local woman to machine quilt it, and I think she did a fantastic job.

The quilt is for Z, and he's been so excited about the blanket. I bought fabric today to start one for S. K is really excited for me to make one for her too. M doesn't particularly care (surprise surprise!).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cinnamon Crumb Doughnuts

My friends have been telling me about a local place that makes amazing cinnamon crumb doughnuts. I didn't think they could be better than Banbury Cross' version, but they would be close, so that would be nice. Yesterday we met for breakfast at the local place, and I came expecting to be wowed. I was, but not in a good way. We got there at 10am. They only had glazed and chocolate glazed doughnuts left. They were out of large coffee cups (I shudder to think how big they were- the mediums were 20 oz!). They were out of bacon. It was a bit anticlimatic. Unfortunately, I was now really craving a cinnamon crumb doughnut. I only saw one solution: Make them on my own. Since I'd told K that she could invite 4-6 friends over that afternoon, it was perfect- I'd have guinea pigs to experiment on.  So, here's what I did. It was not the most simple and easy recipe I've ever made, so keep that in mind.



Cinnamon Crumb Doughnuts
Makes 3 dozen


dough:
4 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 c. scalded milk that has been cooled to lukewarm
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 c. shortening
5 c. flour

glaze:
1/3 c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-6 tbl. hot water

cinnamon crumb topping:
1/2 c. butter
1 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 tbl. cinnamon

First, put all of the dough ingredients in the bread maker, and use the dough setting. Now, I should mention this is a lot of dough, so once it was mixed up, I put it in a large greased bowl and let it rise in there. You could probably use a heavy duty mixer and have similar results, but with less dishes. Let the dough rise until it's double in size.

Next, divide the dough in half, and roll out one half to about 1/2" thick. Cut into circles, and then use a smaller cutter to cut the hole out. I used a glass to cut the larger circles, but it was difficult. If you have a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter in a circle shape, that would probably work better.  Set doughnuts and holes on a greased piece of wax paper and let rise until double in size.
doughnuts rising

Fry in oil that's 350 degrees (I have a deep fryer, so this was simple). It will only take 2 minutes or so on each side, possibly a little less. Don't try to cook too many at once- they puff up quite a bit.

Meanwhile, make the glaze and the topping. To make the glaze, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar. It will be a paste-like consistency. Add the vanilla, and then the hot water, one tablespoon at a time. It should be a somewhat runny consistency, but not too runny, or it won't stick to the doughnut.

To make the crumb topping, use a fork to mix all crumb ingredients together with a fork until it is a crumbly texture.

Once doughnuts are cooked, dip them in the glaze, and then sprinkle the cinnamon topping over the top. I found that the crumbs won't stick without the glaze, so you have to do both. I let the top half cool and set, and then I did the same thing to the "bottom" half of the doughnut. I also did some doughnuts that were just plain glazed for the crazies who just wanted glazed. (as a side note, if you plan to do the same, you may want to halve the crumb topping, I only used about half of it)
Glazed and cinnamon doughnuts.
Powdered doughnut holes

They were really good, though next time, I think I'd let the dough raise more. I got impatient and cooked them a little too soon, so they weren't quite as light as I'd wanted.

I'm also sure I don't want to know the calorie counts on these, so if you figure it out, please don't tell me.