Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To Ottawa!

Kate and I are jetting off to Ottawa tomorrow to spend a week with Karen, John, Emily and Hope. Yay! I'll try to post while we're there.

(Kate had her one year check up today and she is perfect - as we all knew. 24 lbs 14 oz, which means she gained slightly more than a pound over the last three months and she grew two inches. Perfect.)

Today's lesson

From the poo files:

There is such a thing as too many blueberry bran muffins.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Boston, the rest of the trip

On Saturday, we started the day with delicious French Toast for breakfast before heading out for a hike with Jeff's dog, Lego. It was beautiful - the forest is the same as in Ontario so it felt like home. After a failed attempt at a nap at the house for Kate, we headed out for a quick errand before going apple picking.

This was very different than the pick-you-own places that we grew up with in Niagara. This was an event. A destination. And it was fun. We tried all the varieties and filled our bag with apples. Yum. There was also a hay ride (which we didn't do) and a petting zoo with goats, rabbits and pigs. Kate loved watching the goats.

On Sunday we had a plan to go to the Institute of Contemporary Art, but didn't get an early enough start to the day, so we ended up going downtown for some lunch and wandering around before making it to our scheduled Duck Tour. I love duck tours and have done them in Austin (twice) and Seattle. The one in Boston didn't disappoint. We went by many of the historic sites downtown and then splashed into the Charles River for a putt around. It was perfect weather, Kate loved being on the water, and it was fun for all of us.

Those are the really brief highlights of the trip. I would definitely like to go back and do more poking around. Boston is a cool city, and I feel like I got a good overview and would know what to go back and spend more time on next time I'm there. Thanks to Rebecca and Jeff for hosting us and showing us around!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some photos from first day in Boston

Rebecca and Kate playing the piano.

Kate looking in the big tank at the aquarium.

Boston day 2 report coming very soon. Our connection to the tubes was blocked for awhile, but seems to be flowing again.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Kate and I got home from Boston about an hour ago. Laundry is in, we have eaten some lunch, and Westley has recovered from his excitement. I'll go through pictures later today and post about the rest of our adventures.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Boston, Friday report

Yesterday was our first full day in Boston and full it was. We started the day with breakfast at Rebecca's house and then headed to the train to go downtown. We got off at Government Center and walked to the aquarium. The aquarium was great. It's a perfect size - not too big. The penguins greet you when you enter, and Kate loved watching them swim around. Kate fell asleep about 1/2 hr in after some serious fussiness and after being scared by a big grouper in the big tank. She managed to sleep for almost 1.5 hours as Rebecca and I slowly wandered the rest of the aquarium.

That was followed by lunch at Legal Seafood where I had chowder and Kate charmed all the tables around us with her waving and french fry showing.

We walked from there to Boston Commons where we sat on the grass and watched the people wandering through. From there we went the Public Garden to feed the ducks. We found out later (when we finally saw a sign) that you're not supposed to feed the ducks. But they have clearly been fed before. It was like a scene out of a horror movie - once we started throwing crackers in, we looked up and from every corner of the pond the ducks were heading for us. Kind of creepy. But Kate loved it.

We finally got back on the train and headed home. We went to their favourite local restaurant, Za, for excellent pizza and delicious beet salad. The day was topped off by a view of fireworks - Kate's first - before heading home to bed.

A tiring, good first day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

In Boston

Kate and I flew to Boston yesterday afternoon. We're about to head out to wander around downtown and go to the aquarium. It's cold (to us) but sunny and lovely.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's cooking Wednesday

At the grocery store last week there was a big bin of pickling cucumbers, and I remembered seeing a recipe for Refrigerator pickles. They are simpler than canned pickles, but they also can't sit on a shelf for a year - they have to be kept in the fridge. That's fine with me, since I don't have space to keep a dozen jars of pickles.

Refrigerator Pickles

6 c water
2 c vinegar
1/2 c canning salt
1/2 tsp alum (optional)
4-5 lbs cucumbers
1 large bunch fresh dill
1 large onion
2 whole cloves
2 tsp. sliced garlic

Bring ingredients to a boil. Wash 4-5 lbs of small cucumbers. Layer whole, unpeeled cucumbers, onion, cloves, garlic and dill. Pour vinegar solution over top and let set on counter for 3 or 4 hours. Refrigerate. They will be ready to eat in 2-4 days.

OK, so I didn't follow this very closely. I only made one jar, so I scaled back the solution, although I kept the ratios the same. I used sea salt instead of canning salt, but I have no idea if that makes a difference. I didn't use onion or cloves, but I put in a few cloves (whole) of garlic and also some celery seed with the dill.

They turned out very yummy. They don't taste like store bought, but they are good. Very fresh tasting, with a nice crunch. I might try a combination of apple cider vinegar with white vinegar next time. One nice thing is that as long as cucumbers are available, I can make a jar at a time. I have another empty jar now, so I'll make another batch next week.

(no photo. it's just a jar of pickles, anyway)

Monday, September 15, 2008

New pastime

Most mornings when Graeme is making his coffee, Kate helps him by doing some of the dishes.

At some point, she wedges herself right into the sink:

I am completely unbiased when I say she is the cutest baby ev-ah.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We don't like Ike

Not. A. Single. Drop.

Friday, September 12, 2008

We sort of like Ike

I feel like my post yesterday minimized the danger of this storm to people on the coast. It's a nasty one, and even though we're hoping for rain and looking forward to a good storm (we're supposed to have thunder storms and gusting up to 50 mph), the people on the coast are facing the loss of their homes. Even though it's just down the road, it's hard for us to really imagine since we've never lived through a hurricane. I hope everyone is safe and if there is a huge amount of damage as they are predicting, that it is handled well and compassionately.

We're still hoping for rain. And electricity.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We like Ike

Perhaps people are wondering what is going on with approaching Hurricane Ike. Well, so are we. A few days ago it looked like it was going to come right through here, and even though we are well inland, it would still be a pretty serious storm when it got here. But now it looks like it's going to the east and Houston is going to get smacked. At this point, we're really just hoping to get some rain. They are saying we will - 100% on Saturday and some good wind forecasted.

I'll be really disappointed if it doesn't rain. Really really. And I'm hoping for some good storm action. And I'm glad we don't live in Houston.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday

Last week I made my first batch of homemade yogurt. I came the realization earlier in the summer how much money we spend on yogurt and I'd heard it was easy to do. The directions are quite simple and involve scalding milk to make sure any bugs in there are dead, and then cooling to incubation temperature, adding live cultures (a few tablespoons of yogurt) and keeping warm until it gets thick and yummy.

Mine turned out well, although too runny. I'll try next time to incubate it at a lower temperature, which is supposed to make it thicker. I'll also try to remove more of the whey when it separates. I removed some, but the rest I just stirred in. I'll try another batch this weekend.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Back in the saddle

Since the weather has gotten a bit cooler (ha! Cooler means 90s instead of 100s. It's still not cool.) Kate and I have been taking the bike to a lot of various engagements around town. To play group at Meredith's, to South Austin, to the pool. Most trips are less than 30 minutes (although Meredith's is about 40). We were doing it really regularly before I got sick about 2 weeks ago. But I hadn't tackled the ride up to the bike shop yet. It's farther, 13 miles each way, and involves crossing three highways. Today was the day.

We had Kindermusik class about half way, so the trip up there was nicely broken up and the second half was timed with Kate's nap. We found some less busy routes (although more hilly) and it was a good ride. I felt more comfortable with the few busy intersections than I expected. I did think that she would get cranky on the return trip since it would be longer than we normally go and I didn't expect her to nap the whole time.

But she was great. She slept for a lot of it, but after waking up she just drank her water, looked at her book and yabbered to me. It took us about 1.5 hours (which included a brief visit with Sheila and Jason) and she was happy the whole time. It's great to know she can be happy for that long in the trailer. And if we ride up there once or twice a week, it will do a lot to get me back into racing shape.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Year of the Rat

It actually is the year of the rat, both by the chinese calendar and the situation in our neighbourhood and others around here. Last year's wet weather produced a bumper crop of pecans, which has produced a bumper crop of rats. Our neighbours had them in the attic, and when they sealed the hole up, some of them decided to take up residence under our deck. Westley pounces around when he hears them scurrying and both Graeme and I had seen them running through the back yard.

Our other neighbours started setting out traps earlier in the week. On the first night they caught 12, including one that was 21" long (including tail). The second night they got five more. I knew that if you have one rat you have 10, but I didn't realize quite the population on our little block. So, Saturday night I baited a few traps with the trusty peanut butter and waited. I got six the first night, mostly quite small, just a bit bigger than mice. And two bigger ones, the body was probably about four inches long. The second night I got three.

Gross. The only consolation in the whole thing is that they aren't in the house at all. But still. Gross.

We'll take a break until the weekend and resume the killing. I might have to try a new bait, since they pretty quickly get wise to the situation. Maybe cream cheese? It needs to be something kind of sticky. Ideas? The reason to wait until the weekend is because garbage pick up is on Mondays. You don't want dead rats sitting around for more than a day in this heat.

That was probably more than you really wanted to know.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happy Birthday, Hope!

Happy Birthday, Hope! You are two today! You are the funniest kid around, a total clown but also very snugly and sweet. You have the most mischievous eyes and laugh about everything. And like you're sister, you are super smart. Quite a combination. I'm looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks. I hate that you are so far away.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Surgery - postponed

Kate's eye surgery is being postponed to some future date. It's not cancelled, since she'll have to have it eventually, but it might not happen for years. As long as her vision isn't being compromised, we can wait. The doctor decided that it wasn't as severe as it first appeared, so we'll go back in three months for another assessment.

Thanks for all the good thoughts. I feel much more relaxed knowing that although she'll have surgery for it at some point, she'll be older when it happens.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Today's excitement

I'm having the same problem as Karen. There are a bunch of things that I need to blog about, but then something new comes up and I think I shouldn't write about that before I write about the other, and so don't write anything.

So, before getting to today's excitement, here are some of the things we've been doing:
- We went to the zoo yesterday. Kate loved petting the goats. Definitely the highlight.
- Surgery is in one week from today, and the pre-op appointment is on Tuesday.
- Sleeping is going well, although the last two nights she's woken up around midnight, which was her old pattern. She's also had a bit of a cold, so I'm not sure if that's what it is. I have a cold too. It sucks.
- Kate and I are going to Boston in a few weeks to visit Rebecca. Yay!
- Kate and I are going to Ottawa in October. Yay again!

Today's excitement was our first Kindermusik class. We are signed up for the fall quarter because Kate has been enjoying music so much lately. As soon as any music comes on she starts dancing and waving her arms. I'm also trying to do more activities outside the house for both of our sakes.

She loved the class. We'll miss next week's class because of the surgery, but we'll listen to the cd and sing the songs between now and then. I think it's going to be really great. We're also doing crawler/toddler yoga, which she really enjoyed the first time we went. We'll go again this Friday.

Phew. I feel a bit more caught up.