Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Foot Surgery

When J was a kid, he broke his right big toe while jumping on a trampoline (a trampoline injury you say? INCONCEIVABLE!!!).  Fast forward 30 or so years, and he's taken up running. That toe has always bothered him a little, but it has gotten much worse since the running thing.

He saw a podiatrist a couple weeks ago, who did some x-rays and said that it looked like there was a minor bone spur. He said J could try orthotics or have a cheilectomy done. J felt like he'd like a more permanent solution, so he opted for the surgery. A cheilectomy is basically just shaving the sharp part off of the joint. The doctor felt like J's case was fairly mild, and didn't see any other complications. We scheduled the surgery for today. Since he'd already planned to take all week off work anyway, it was very convenient. After scheduling the surgery, J noticed a sharp decline in his toe, and was feeling a lot more pain. I noticed he was favoring the foot more. I'm not sure why it suddenly got worse- maybe it was mentally accepting there was something wrong and not blocking the pain as much?

He had the surgery done today. He opted to have the deeper sedation so that he wouldn't wake up partway through the procedure. The doctor said it would take about 45 minutes. It ended up taking a bit longer. It turns out things weren't quite as simple as the x-rays showed. I will now explain in laymen's terms what they found and what they did. I'm totally doing this because all of my many readers (ha ha) would prefer it that way, and NOT because I can't remember the technical terms.

They found he had a flap of cartilage loose, and flapping around. This would cause some trouble. They ended up cutting it off, and drilling around the bone to encourage growth of new cartilage/scar tissue. There was also a minor bunion repair, and the bone spur was significantly larger than originally thought. He also saw some signs of arthritis. The doctor stressed that this wasn't a permanent fix, but it should make for a dramatic improvement for a good long time.

They have a pain pump somehow inserted into the wound (maybe as an IV or something? His foot is all bandaged up, and I've been instructed not to unwrap it, dangit). The pump gives a continuous flow of a local numbing anesthetic. If he starts to feel pain, he can press a button and get a bollus (or extra boost) of the numbing medicine. A home health care nurse will be coming by Friday to remove it.

So far, his recovery has been great. He's just hung out in our room, watching tv. He's threatened to get a bell so he can ring the bell to get my attention/annoy me. He's been a great patient so far, willing to stay down. I guess this means he's in more pain than he's letting on, as inactivity drives him right up the wall. I'm thinking that by Thursday or Friday I'll be having to bungee cord him down.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dear ShopVac

My Dear Shopvac,

I just wanted to write you a letter of appreciation for all of your hard work. I know that I haven't always given you proper appreciation. I know I wasn't happy with you when we discovered that it was you who helped my toddler hide my keys. Having that open hole was just too much temptation for a 2 year old, and she crammed the car keys in there, and you remained silent on the issue.

However, you really, really helped me out on Friday.  Friday morning, I jumped in the shower first thing in the morning, and noticed that we ran out of hot water much sooner than I would have expected. I wondered if the kids had messed with the temperature dial (this happens at least once a month), and made a mental note to go check on it. Unfortunately, the morning was crazy, as we had an extra kid in the house, and I had a 8:45 meeting to get to after I got S dropped off at school.

I went to my meeting, got Z dropped off at Grandma's, and went to a Realtor Christmas lunch. There, I won a month of MLS dues paid for. Yay! I got the kids picked up from school, and got home around 2, about 7 hours after I'd left for the morning.

M goes downstairs because he's starting to go through video game withdrawals, and hollers up that there's water downstairs.


I get down there, and sure enough, there's an inch or so of water pooled by the basement steps. It's only gotten about a foot of the way into K's room. I open the door to the utility storage room. I discover that the pressure relief valve/pipe is POURING water. Fast.

Crap crap crap.

I hurry and turn off water to the house to end it quickly. I call J, upset. Unfortunately, he's now in a carpool at work, so he can't just take off and leave work early anymore.

I grabbed you, dear shopvac, out of the shed. Empty all the crud out into the garbage can, and then haul you downstairs and get to work.

I had to empty you of water at least 10 times. I lost count after that. I was feeling lucky that it seemed that only the utility room seemed to be flooded, except that tiny part at the bottom of the stairs. I'm also feeling lucky that J and I had mostly gotten that room cleaned out around Thanksgiving, so there wasn't much on the floor. I begin to realize that water keeps coming out from under the wall that separates the utility room from the freezer storage room.

Uh oh.

That storage room has NOT been sorted through in a while, and things were getting very bad and out of control there. There was tons and tons of stuff on the floor. I was afraid to go in there, but I eventually got up the courage.

Hooboy. This is where most of the water went. About 3/4 of the room has water on the floor. Luckily the area around the freezer was totally dry.  I got the kids to help me take all of the cardboard boxes out, and I continued to suck up water.

By the time J got home from work, the floors were mainly dry, and I was trying to empty out the cardboard boxes. He looked at the water heater, and declared it to be an easy fix. He ran to the hardware store, and had the water heater fixed within 10 minutes.

We'll lose a lot of books and some papers.  There's also some lost photos, but nothing too valuable or important. A lot of our outgrown kids clothes got slightly damp, but I've sent them through the wash.

Yesterday, J built me a new set of shelves to go in the freezer storage room. I plan to sort through everything and throw away and/or donate a lot of stuff. Anything that will be on the floor will be in a rubbermaid tote so that it'll be safe it we ever have another water incident.

I feel very lucky because we didn't lose anything important or valuable. Plus, we've been married 16.5 years, and this is the first time we've ever had any kind of water/fire/sewer/wind disaster.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Stockings

This is our mantle and our Christmas stockings. I made mine, M's and K's completely from scratch. I had some help with the other three.

I think my very favorite is K's. She thinks it's unfair that hers is soooooo much better than the others.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Persimmon Bread

 Because fall/winter has officially set in, and I no longer have fresh fruits and veggies coming from my garden, I decided to order a Bountiful Basket this week. They also had a great deal on gingerbread house kits, so I was excited to pick up my order.

In my order, there were quite a few fuyu persimmons. I'll admit that I'm not too familiar with the fruit. I saw them growing all over the place in Japan, but I never actually ate one there. I have a friend here with a persimmon tree, and she gives me a couple fruits each year, but we just eat them and move on.  I got so many in the basket that I knew I was going to have to do something different with them.

I found a recipe for Persimmon Bread, and I decided to tweak it a little bit.  I was quite happy with how it tasted- it tasted like a sweet/quick bread with a nice spicy undertaste.

Persimmon Bread

1 c. persimmon pulp (I just cut the stem looking thing off the top and put it in my food processor)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. applesauce
2 eggs
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts

Mix all ingredients together except for walnuts. Pour into a well greased bread pan. This is prone to stick, so putting some parchment paper in the bottom wouldn't be a bad idea.  Sprinkle the walnuts on top.

Bake at 350 for 45 min-1 hour, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
I used walnuts from my tree for this recipe, and so I had to shell them before I could use them. I also made the bread after the kids went to bed, so I had to shell them myself. What a pain! No wonder I usually make them do it!  I did notice if you crack them a certain way, the walnuts make a cute heart shape.  It wasn't enough to completely win me over, but it did make me a little less annoyed.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Failure to hatch

Well, the eggs I set that were my chickens' final eggs were due to hatch on Thursday.

When they were a day overdue, I candled them again, and I could tell that they were not viable.  Since I'm curious, I sealed them in a ziploc bag, and opened them all up.

1 egg stopped developing around day 13-14.

3 eggs stopped developing around day 10.

1 egg stopped developing around day 7

1 egg stopped around day 3-4.

I'll admit that I'm pretty upset about it.  I had an emotional attachment to the idea of hatching MY chickens' eggs. It would've been nice to have a legacy. I didn't cry when I found my chickens dead and had to bury them, though I wanted to.  I did cry a little when I realized the eggs weren't going to hatch.  I think that it was also for the loss of the hens as well- I'd pinned my hopes on these eggs.  Also, to see that they had started developing and died for some reason was difficult. I wonder if I'd done something wrong, and if it could have been prevented.

I mailed my incubator back to Brinsea today. The autoturn feature on it was broken, and they'd given me a return authorization so I could get it repaired. When the chicken tragedy struck, I wanted to try to hatch before I sent it back.  Hopefully I'll get it back in a month or so and I can try again.

Once it comes back, I will do a test incubation at home to make sure it's turning the eggs ok and will hatch successfully. Then, I'll do a couple incubations at my kids' schools. I mentioned it in casual conversation, and I have three teachers at three schools who are really excited at the idea of hatching chicks in class.

I'm embarrassed to admit I'm so broken up over some birds.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Conversations with Z

Conversation with Z today:

Z: Mommy, do you know why motorcycle riders wear black?

Me (sitting back and waiting for an awesome story): No, why?

Z: Because if they wear black, it will hide all the dirt they get on them that they get from driving all over the place.  It protects their skin from the dirt. And when bugs squish on them, it hides that too.

Me: Oh. Interesting. Why do motorcycle guys wear helmets?

Z: Because motorcycles are really loud and it helps keep the sound out. And the bugs from getting in their face.

Me: I thought it was to protect their heads in case they ever tipped over?

Z: No. If they are careful and they ride fast enough, they can't tip over (he then laughs hysterically at the idea of someone tipping over on a motorcycle)


Z: Mommy, I think I really am a superhero.  This (pointing to the green bridge piece he's been carrying around for a couple days) is my special super hero weapon.

(for reasons unknown to me, S wanted to hide behind him)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Great Chicken Tragedy

I've been working to get all caught up on my blog, and I have to admit this was a post that I was dreading.

On Thursday, November 3, my neighbor's daughter came over to my house, deeply upset. She is a senior in high school, and had just arrived home from school. She was going to collect eggs and discovered that 12 of their 18 chickens were dead, and 2-3 more were injured. She wanted to call her mother and share the news. She left her a voicemail. I said I'd come outside and help her.

As we walked outside, I thought I should check on my birds, just in case. I wasn't too worried, as our coop is totally enclosed. Then, I remembered, it's not. When we extended our run, we ran out of the wire fencing we were using over the top. There was a spot at the end on top, about 18" wide that didn't get covered. We'd tossed a big board over the top, but it had been a couple months. It was entirely possible that the board had fallen off.

As I got to my coop, I realized the worst had happened- seven of my hens were dead. The only survivor in the coop was Bow, my gift chicken from the neighbor. We hadn't had her very long, and I still hadn't quite thought of her as "ours".  There was no sign of Sue.  Then, I heard him crow. But, he wasn't in our yard- he was at a neighbor's, two doors down. As it turned out, he had a minor injury on his neck/throat area, but he was doing pretty well, other than being emotionally traumatized.

I went to the neighbor's house and saw 12 of their hens laying in their coop, mutilated. The most upsetting thing about finding them dead was that they just looked played with- they were pretty much intact, just dead. If it had been a starving animal who had eaten them, while upsetting, it would've been at least somewhat understandable. But these were just toyed with. She had a few remaining chickens who had survived, some injured, others ok.  To get into her chicken run, the critter would have had to jump a 6' fence to get into her backyard proper, then jump another 6' fence to get into the chicken run.  Given our somewhat-secure chicken runs, we knew this wasn't the work of a dog.

Our other neighbor, Dan, came over, and helped us bury all of the birds. He asked around, and a family of raccoons has been spotted in the area. We feel this is probably the culprit.

Jennie was very upset about the loss of her chickens. While she does love her chickens more than I do (I know, seems hard to believe, but it's absolutely true), they were also a money source to her- the money she made from selling eggs was paying for her horse AND chicken feed.  I gave her back Bow. I rehomed Sue to a family who has 13 hens. I got an update from the new owner this morning, saying that he is very gentle with his new girls, as well as the owner, and seems to be a very happy rooster.

So, at this point, I have no chickens.

Back in September, I hatched four chicks and gave them to my sister in law and her family. They have had so much fun with their new babies and have really gotten attached to them (at least, that's how it's appeared from the outside looking in). However, when they heard that I'd lost all of mine, they offered to give the chicks back. I was so touched by the gesture that I nearly cried.

The same day of the incident, while I was steeling myself to go clean up the carnage, I took my final dozen eggs out of the fridge.

I picked out the 7 that I thought were the prettiest, and set them to incubate.

After a few days, I decided to candle them. I realized that egg #3 had a small crack in it, and realized it probably wouldn't be able to hatch the chick, so I threw it out and put another egg in its' place. I've since heard success stories of hatching cracked eggs, so I worry that I made a mistake. However, Egg #3.1 is developing great.

At day 5, I candled again. Here's one of the eggs on day 5:

At this point, it is day 10 in the incubation.  It appears that six of the eggs are developing nicely. Egg #5 seems to be a quitter- I think it quit about 2-3 days into it. Eggs #1 and #2 are so dark that it's tough to tell, but I'm pretty sure I saw some veining.

This is egg #7 at day 10 of incubation:

Halloween 2011

I was a terrible mother this year- I was not good about getting a picture of K in her main Halloween costume.  She was supposed to have a role in the "doll room" of the spook alley at her school. We found a wedding dress, veil, and petticoat at a second hand store that fit her perfectly. We applied pale makeup to her skin and then put red lipstick and false eyelashes on. Scary! (especially the 13 year old in the wedding dress part!) However, wearing a wedding dress around isn't particularly comfortable- it's quite cumbersome, so she opted to just borrow a costume I had for a couple of the parties that we went to. S was a princess. I wanted to make her a beautiful dress, but she found that one in a store, and just had to have it. I twitched a little but agreed. Z was "Dark Mater".

After seeing my zombie makeup for the run, M really wanted to be a zombie as well. I made his wounds with liquid latex and toilet paper. This picture is actually my first attempt (I got to do the whole ensemble three times), and was the worst attempt, but I didn't get pictures of the best. So, use your imagination.

As for us, J was a missionary, and I was his constant companion, so long as he behaved. Can you guess who I was? My robe had holes all over it, so I was "hole-y". Got it? I was the Holy Ghost. ha ha ha

We went to a couple halloween parties, and I had fun with the food.  I made an eyeball cake using red velvet cake and cherry pie filling. I thought it looked pretty awesome.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Japan Part II

On Thursday, J took off to go work.  I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. He was going to finish before it was too late, and we had plans to meet with a bunch of his associates to have Yaki Niku for dinner. So, I didn't want to do anything that required hours and hours of train rides.

I finally decided to go to Mino-h or Minoh, which is located in the Osaka prefecture. The train going there was not part of the JR line, so I had to buy my train ticket. The JR ticket machines have a lovely button in the one corner that says "English". When you push it, everything is in English. This other train company had no English button.

After attempting to look lost and confused (wasn't a big challenge), nobody came to my aid. Weird. Having a bewildered look on my face had always prompted strangers stepping in to ask if I needed help in the past. Oh well. I found some schoolboys and asked them to help me buy my ticket. I watched what they did and was able to buy my ticket home without incident. I *think* I did it correctly- the little doors at the ticket station didn't slam shut, so I considered that good news. This was foreshadowing for the day though. Minoh is definitely not geared to the international tourist. Everything was extremely well marked. If you read Japanese. So, I found myself being pretty much illiterate the entire day.

Minoh, Osaka, Japan is known for being a small town with a beautiful wilderness area. The area has thousands of Japanese maple trees along a mountainous walk area.  There's a couple little shrines along the way, as well as a small cemetery.Oh, and guess what else is there?  MONKEYS!  Wild monkeys!  I only saw one, and unfortunately, it dashed off before I got a photo. There were warnings everywhere, telling us not to feed the monkeys. Words to live by, man.

 I think I was there about 3 weeks too early to get the full effect of how gorgeous this place can be. I saw a couple of trees that were starting to turn red, but I bet that early November is an incredible time to go with all of those trees appearing to be on fire.

At the end of the trail, there was a beautiful waterfall. There was quite a few benches for people to sit down and admire the view.

One of the things that Minoh is known for is their fried maple leaves. I had no idea they were edible, but since it wasn't fishy, I was game to try it. I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that it was pretty good. Admittedly, I couldn't actually taste the leaf. It just tasted like crispy, sweet, fried dough with a slight sesame taste.

That night, we went out to dinner with a bunch of people from the ISO group. J and I had gone on and on about how wonderful yaki niku is. When you go to a yakiniku restaurant, they bring you a plate of marinated meat that has been thinly sliced. You cook it at a little grill that is set into your table. It's really, really good. J got recommendations from the hotel.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be bad advice (in my opinion). I found the restaurant to be overpriced and not good. The plate we ordered had rib bones with it. What?! It was a little embarrassing to have all those people with us, and it ended up being the worst yakiniku experience either of us ever had.

The next day, we checked out of our hotel, and took a train to Yokohama. We went to lunch at the Ramen Museum, which was quite close to the hotel. There was an entrance fee, but the ramen was quite discounted, and available in smaller bowls so that you could try a couple different styles. I knew I liked some ramen more than others, but here I learned that the kind I really liked was called shoyu. The area was set up to mimic a portion of Tokyo in 1958. Why 1958? Because that's the year instant ramen was invented and package. There were lots of air raid sirens going off, which confused me a little- I thought it was a fairly peaceful time in Japanese history. I need to research this out.

That evening, we went out for (really excellent) yakiniku with one of my close friends- Tsubasa and her husband, Jun.

Saturday found J at a convention for prosthetics, and Tsubasa's husband giving a presentation. I also realized I had procrastinated enough, and I really HAD to pick up some souvineers. Tsubasa had thoroughly spoiled our children and bought them a ton of candy and treats, so that did take some pressure off.  She and I did a bit of shopping and girl talk, and generally had a wonderful time. I really wish I could see her more often.

Saturday night, J and I took the train to go meet an old friend of mine from school. His wife had a baby a couple days earlier, and I was dying to meet the newborn, as well as their toddler. We had a lovely evening visiting with their family.

Sunday we took our time getting to the airport. We had a final Japanese lunch at the airport, and I had an awesome bowl of shoyu ramen along with some gyoza (potstickers). It was so good, and I already miss it terribly.

It was a wonderful week. I had an amazing time, even if I was going through iPhone withdrawals. We didn't want to pay for international calling or web browsing, so we only had access to our phones in wifi hotspots (which I never did find any) or at our hotel, where we did have wifi. We were able to call home from our hotel using TextFree, our free texting app. They have a phone calling section, and it was a wonderful, very cheap way of calling home.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trip To Japan

J and I had the opportunity to go to Japan a couple weeks ago. Quite a few people from several companies in several countries have been working to establish some international standards with testing and prosthetics for a while, and they meet occasionally to work on that. The latest meeting was scheduled to be in Osaka, Japan. When I heard that, I was thrilled. I've been saving airline miles, hoping for an opportunity to return to Japan. I wasn't sure if I'd ever go back, and I have to admit I got a little teary when I got there.

We traveled there with Lonnie from OH and Mike from MI.  They were both a LOT of fun, and I was glad for extra company. They flew into Salt Lake on Friday, Oct 14. We all went out to dinner that evening. Saturday I did the zombie run, while they all slaved away at the lab (this became a common theme for the trip... well, them working, me playing. The zombie thing not so much).

Sunday morning, we got to the airport before it was even light. The flight over was very uneventful. The plane we were on had on demand movies, music and games for free, which was really, really nice. I'd been concerned I'd be bored on the plane, and I was thoroughly entertained.

We arrived in Japan in the late afternoon on Monday. (whoooa) We got everyone through customs and luggage claimed, then picked up our JR Rail Passes. If you are going to be traveling to Japan, I can't recommend these high enough. Because we flew into Narita, Osaka was a good 3 hours away by bullet train, and we didn't want to do that long of a train ride when we were that tired, so we just took the train to Ueno, where we had hotel reservations waiting for us at the Sutton Place Hotel. It was very small, but clean. Poor Lonnie had some sort of mistake made by hotels.com, and they'd reserved 4 rooms for him instead of one. Not exactly the kind of issue you want to work out when you're bone tired and the other participant in the conversation speaks almost no English.

The next morning, J and the guys all hopped on a bullet train to Osaka so they could work. I headed north to Tsukuba, the town where we lived. I was going to meet my friend Shaney. Shaney is the principal at Tsukuba International School. TIS has grown SO much since K attended school there. When she went there, they had grades 1-6 and there was 18 students total. When I visited, they'd moved to a larger, nicer location, and have expanded significantly. They have a preschool program for ages 3-5, and then their school has grades 1-9.  85+ students now, but class sizes were very small. WOW!!

Our hotel in Osaka was a good 10-15 minute walk from the train station, and J was worried about me finding my way to the hotel in the dark. I told him which train I'd be on, and he said he'd find me.  I had never been to the Osaka station, so I wasn't sure if this was reasonable or not. I suspected it wasn't. As it turns out, the Osaka station is the third largest train station IN THE WORLD. Yeah, super easy to find someone "at the train station". After looking for him for a half hour or so (dragging my luggage, incidentally), I gave up and walked to the ANA Crowne Plaza, which was MUCH easier to find! This is the view out our hotel window:
The next day, the guys all hopped on a train to go work all day. I got on a train and went to Kyoto. Kyoto is an absolutely amazing, beautiful city. I spent one day there with J, but that was almost 10 years ago. I didn't have any particular plans there, other than to see the Golden Pavilion (aka Kinkakuji). I got a map from the tourist booth at the train station. Unfortunately, they didn't mention there is an awesome deal on a day pass for the bus. I really could've used that, so I would highly recommend that to other people.  So, I left the train station and walked to Kinkakuji (which is approximately 3-4 miles). I stopped a couple times at other shrines along the way, and had a lovely time looking at them.

Kinkakuji was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. It was stunningly beautiful, and didn't even look real.

The upper two levels are actually covered in gold leaf. It was amazing to look at.

After that visual feast, I decided that I MUST go see the Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion). It was all the way across the city. I got a couple miles in and was really tired. I finally started paying attention to the buses, and hopped a bus for a couple hundred yen. Boy, did I feel incredibly foolish! A very nice lady who spoke no English at all told me a couple temples I should definitely go see. She actually felt they were better to see than my planned destination.  Nobody bothered telling me that The Silver Pavilion wasn't ACTUALLY covered in silver, like the golden pavilion. I'm sure Mrs. Nice Japanese lady was trying to tell me that, but oh well.  It was still really beautiful to see, and the designs they made with sand were really pretty.
I explored the city a bit more, but I was pretty tired, and I was planning to meet up with the ISO standards group for dinner, so I got back on a bullet train and went back to Osaka.

That night, we had an extremely fancy, extremely traditional Japanese meal. It was served in a Tatami room, and had so many courses that I lost track. Here is just one:

(to be continued)

The Dirty Dash

Another fun race I recently did was The Dirty Dash. It was a 10k through lots of mud and water, and included a lot of obstacles. Costumes are encouraged. I can honestly say that it was one of the funnest Saturdays that I have ever spent.

Here's a picture of our group BEFORE.

And, our group after:

I am not sure what our finish time was. Frankly, I don't care. We had to cross some railroad tracks before and after going through about a quarter mile of waist deep water. Well, on the way back, there was a train stopped on the tracks, and it stayed there for a good 15 minutes. We had to wait until it moved on before we could go on.

Then, the very end of the race with this enormous inflatable slip and slide. By that time, our group had kind of separated into 2-3 groups. Those of us who were a little faster decided to go back and find the rest of the group. The up side to that was that we got to go down the slide again. Woohoo!!

We had an absolute ball with this "race". There will be another one in the Spring of 2012, as well as fall of 2012. I plan to do both.  If you want to join me, be sure to let me know.

Zombie Run

When I first heard about Night of the Running Dead, I was immediately intrigued. While I still hate running, I have noticed that it's a lot more palatable if there's a fun twist, like playing in mud, dressing in costume, etc. etc. Even better, the run benefited the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

I asked around, hoping to get a lot of friends to run with me. J had associates in town because we were leaving the next day for Japan, and they were traveling with us. He was busy in the lab doing some tests with them, so he wasn't available. My friend Alia was the only one available and willing. She was one of my very top picks, as she's an AMAZING makeup artist, and I knew I could hire her to do my zombie makeup. She absolutely lived up to all expectations I had of her- I thought my makeup looked INCREDIBLE.

We decided it would be fun to do a doctor/patient theme. I wore a hospital johnny, and she wore scrubs. We ended up placing in the top five for the costume contest that the race producers hosted.
We had agreed ahead of time that we didn't have to run with the other, so that way, if one of us was faster, we wouldn't hold the other person back. Imagine my shock when *I* was the quick one! Well, not QUICK, but not horribly slow.

When the official results came in, I finished the 5k in 30.11.  I was a little disappointed; my goal was to finish in under 30 minutes. But, it was a big improvement from the race I did over Memorial Day weekend.

I do plan to do it next year, so if you want to join in the fun, let me know.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A conversation with Z

Z has been so much fun lately. He is getting to be very articulate, and it's very interesting to have conversations with him. He's also a very affectionate four year old, and is constantly hugging and kissing me and telling me I'm beautiful.

Yesterday, we were in the car, and he asked why I turned the radio down. Not being in the mood to explain I thought it was too loud, because that would extend the questions even further, I replied, "Because I'm weird."

"Yes.  That's why I love you. Because you're weird."

My grandma was in the car with us, and we both about passed out from trying to not laugh out loud.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My minivan aversion

The official car of motherhood is the minivan.  It's obvious to see why- they get great fuel economy, fit tons of people, aren't very big, have lots of storage, and the back doors slide open, preventing kids from making door dings, and they have great safety records. It totally makes sense to drive one.  All (ok, most) of my friends drive minivans.

But I don't.  I can't help it.  I see a minivan, and I think matronly and old.  Ironically, I don't see my minivan driving moms as anything but hip. I still can't bring myself to bite the bullet and get the minivan.  J thinks I'm out of my mind.

So, I drive this huge behemoth, getting 33% or more less fuel efficiency than I would if I would just be sensible. I just can't. I can't do it.  I'm generally really sensible, but I refuse to grow up in this part of my life.  When my kids move out, I'll probably get a zippy little sports car, but for now, I really like my huge urban assault vehicle.

It can be handy- I've been able to fit five kids AND two enormous bass violins. The owner of one of the basses was in awe about my car, and actually told her parents, "You have to go see K's mom's car.  It fit FIVE kids, two basses AND her mom.  It is so cool!!"

And, it has a dvd player.  I love it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hatching Chicks

My daughter has been teasing me that all I ever blog about is chickens, and could I POSSIBLY be any more boring?  So, I've been thinking about making an effort not to post so much about them.  However, I did have something exciting happen this week, and I've had several people express interest in this post, so here goes.

I had my hen go broody a few weeks ago, but the first batch of eggs didn't hatch.  My SIL wanted chickens, and I thought I'd try to hatch eggs one more time for her. I put a total of 7 eggs under Lucy.  All were fathered by my Black Copper Marans cockerel.  6 were from my Easter Egger hens, and the 7th was from my white leghorn.


I candled at 8 days along, and found that the white leghorn egg was not developing at all, so I threw it out.  Two of the eggs were too dark too see anything, but I was pretty sure I was seeing something in the remaining four.

I tried to not obsess too much, and only candle every few days.  Considering how busy we were, this wasn't too hard.

On Saturday, I noticed the broody hen was out and about in the coop, which had me very worried.  She stayed out for several hours, so I got the incubator going, just in case.  Since it was so hot outside, I figured the eggs were probably ok.

On Sunday, I went to check on the eggs, and found that one had pipped!  For those who don't know, a "pip" is when the chick manages to break a tiny hole in the egg. Since I wanted to properly watch everything, and I didn't trust the hen to stay in place since she'd been getting a bit fidgety. Plus, I was worried that the other chickens would kill a chick. So, I brought five of the eggs inside.  The one I left outside was another one that I was pretty sure hadn't developed.

Here's a picture of my incubator with the pipped egg:

I was just sure that it was going to hatch any second, and was glued to the incubator.  In a couple hours, it looked like this:
I could actually see a tiny chicken beak, and see a tiny chick breathing.  Wow!! I managed to talk myself into going to bed around 11pm, after watching pretty consistently for 4 hours.  I have to confess I got up several times in the night to check on it, but other than the hole getting a tiny bit bigger, nothing. During the middle of this, a second egg pipped.  Wahoo!  TWO chicks trying to hatch!

So, the next morning about 7:30, I check again. The hole is a bit bigger now, maybe as long as a dime.  I texted my SIL to tell her that the hole was bigger (she'd come over the evening before to check it out).  Then, the chick really goes to work.  After I finished texting her, I look up and see the hole is twice as big:
Photobucket (this was around 7:34)

Then, at 7:36:


I'm sending her these pictures, and she's freaking out, trying to hurry and get her girls ready for school so they can stop by and see.

Then, at 7:39:

She got there a couple minutes later, and we oooh'd and ahhh'd over the baby.  Meanwhile, the other egg, not wanting to be outdone starting doing the same thing.  By 7:55 am, a second chick was hatched, and my nieces and younger kids got to watch.

Within an hour of those two hatching, two more eggs pipped.   That evening, my SIL, BIL and their kids came over.  The third chick hatched obligingly for them.  Still nothing from the last egg.

The fourth chick hatched around 5:30am. I know it was at 5:30 because about that time, I was woken from a deep sleep to "CHEEEEEP CHEEEEEP CHEEEEP CHEEEEP" and I was just sure one of the existing three chicks (whom we'd moved to a brooder box) was in deep trouble.  I stagger out to see what's going on, and it registers that the cheeping is coming from the wrong direction.  Yep- we've got a fourth chick!
I let the final two eggs incubate for another day, but then decided they were duds.  I sealed each in a ziploc bag (just in case they were really smelly or exploded) and cracked them open.  The egg under the hen had never developed, like I thought.  The one in the incubator had started to develop, but died around day 10 or so.

Here's two of the chicks:

That evening, SIL and BIL took their babies home.  I went over to their house last night, when they were 2-3 days old, and took a picture of J holding all four.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anniversary Trip

This year, J and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. Since we almost never do anything special to celebrate beyond a dinner out, we decided it would be fun to do a little mini vacation.

Something on my bucket list is to hike the Narrows at Zion National Park. Since the entire length is 16 miles, and most of that is in shin-armpit deep water, it's not a very child friendly hike. We decided to visit Zion as our little get away.

Initially, we thought we'd camp, and we'd tent it and everything. However, we found it was difficult to find a place nearby that either didn't demand reservations or actually had openings. As we got talking further, we realized we were too old and lazy to tent it. So, we got a hotel in St George so we'd have full amenities.

We got there around dinnertime on the evening of our anniversary. Our first full day there, we did the Zion hike. We knew we wouldn't be able to do the full 16 miles- most people will backpack in and spend the night out on the trail. That didn't sound fun to us, so we decided we'd hike until we wanted to turn around. We bought Keen sandals for the hike, as we'd heard that open toed sandals were 1- going to break and 2- not protect ones' toes from the rocks. Several people reported losing multiple toenails on the hike, and that sounded extremely unpleasant.
The scenery on the hike was amazing. The Narrows rightly deserved its' place on my bucket list.

We hiked for about four hours, and decided we were getting tired. Hiking in the water on large, hard to see rocks was really quite exhausting. We turned around and came back, spending about 7 hours total on the hike, and going a little over 12 miles round trip. I'd love to see it again.

We staggered into town, and went to D.U.B's BBQ, arriving just before they closed for the night. The mac & cheese wasn't fabulous, but the rest of the food was AMAZING.

The next day, we were both pretty sore and tired, and decided we wouldn't go *AS* crazy with hiking. We ended up doing the Emerald Pools hike, as well as the Canyon Overlook trail.
A view from the Canyon Overlook.

The Lower Emerald Pools.

That evening, we went to dinner at a place called Buffalo Trails, which is a little outside the park in a little hole in the wall. They raise their own bison for bison burgers, and they were very yummy.

Unfortunately, the next morning brought us to the time that we knew we needed to start heading home. We'd heard good things about the Kannarraville Canyon and decided to check it out. It's not in Zion, it's a few miles outside of it, and it was on our way home. We were NOT impressed with the town. Signs everywhere, not permitting ANY on street parking, which didn't seem very hospitable. Then, at the actual (dirt) parking lot, there were some rather rude signs, demanding $10 to park, or else you'd be booted or towed away. You could park at the city hall for free, but it was a fair bit away. We grudgingly paid our $10. Honestly, if they'd had free parking, and then a donation box, we actually would've donated more, and been happy to do it.
The whole thing felt a bit rude and extortionistic though, and we muttered to ourselves about it for a while.

The first couple miles of the hike is just dirt road, but then you get into the narrow canyon. It is also stunningly beautiful, and we forgot to be annoyed.

All in all, it was so much fun, and incredibly memorable. I think maybe from here on out, we'll try to do more trips like this as a couple. We did buy a National Parks Pass, which will get us into any national park for a calendar year, so we'll take our kids back to Zion before it expires. Some of the hikes are not for kids, but there's plenty for us to see and do.

I have hundreds more pictures, so if you want to see more, let me know and I'll let you watch a slideshow of everything.