Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas tree!

On Sunday, we went with our friends Sheryl, Jonathan and Jack out to the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm. It doesn't open until noon on Sunday, which is a bit crappy since Owen naps about 1:30 and it's a half hour drive. We decided to meet for bbq first, which was great. We went to Meyer's in Elgin, one of two famous bbq places. Best ribs I've ever had. Seriously.

Then, on to the farm. I forgot my camera, but Sheryl used her handy dandy phone to get some pictures. Not much explanation is needed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Days 3, 4, 5, and 6

Ok, so much for regular posting. But we are having a good time. One tricky thing I didn't anticipate with activities this year is the small window to do them. Kate is at school each morning and then we come home for lunch and Owen's nap. That means that activities must be done at home, or they have to occur between the end of nap and dinner. That is a small, cranky window. So, we've been doing things we can mostly do during nap time. Here's what has we've been doing.

Day 3: Decorated the house. This was mostly me putting stuff up, but Kate and I also went to target for some more lights and garland. She loved picking stuff out and she also got some Christmas specific art supplies. That is all she really wants most of the time - art supplies.

Day 4: It was Sunday and it was cold and raining. So Graeme built a fire in our little wood stove and we roasted marshmallows. Definite win. And I took pictures. Win again. Here they are:

Day 5: Library trip for Christmas books. Win.

Day 6 (today): Mail all the christmas cards. Kate got to put the stamps on, which she liked and then we walked to the post office and she dropped them in the slot. She liked it, but pretty lame activity. We will try for something better tomorrow. I think gingerbread man making.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Activity advent calendar

This will be our third year doing an advent activity calendar. The first year, Kate was two and she wasn't that into it. Last year she loved it and this year, even more so. We have done the first two days. Yesterday, the envelope said "open your first present". The first present was a chocolate advent calendar- something she's never had before. Needless to say, it's a hit.

Today, we had a hot chocolate tea party with her friend Felix. There were even fresh homemade scones. Another win.

I'm going to try this year to blog our activities and even (gasp!) take photos. I didn't last year and now I can't remember what all we did. Lt's see if it actually happens, I have not exactly been a bastion of blogging lately. Like, for over a year.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday after nap we went to a pumpkin patch at a nearby church. We went to the same one last year. It isn't the whole farm experience, but it's very nearby, the people are great and the pumpkins are reasonably priced. And the kids love it. It's enough for them. They each picked out some pumpkins and this weekend we'll do some carving.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

20 months

Poor, neglected second child. Kate had frequent blog posts tracking her toddlerhood. Owen? Not so many. Today, our little boy is 20 months old. I don't know where to start. He is both the happiest and most skeptical little boy. He has a stink eye to rival his sister. He gives the best hugs in the world. At bedtime he goes around the whole room for kisses from each person.

He's not talking much, which is weird for us since once K started talking she hasn't stopped. But he's a signing machine. If you show him a sign once, he uses it from then on. Even with very few words, he is very good at letting you know what he wants. What does he want? Books. More books. Pickles. And more pickles. (seriously, the kid likes his pickles). Trucks. Playing with the Flintstone car in the front yard. Sand. Mud. Baths. Doing whatever his sister does. Making enormous messes. Getting into whatever he's not supposed to get into. Pickles.

Monday, September 12, 2011

One of my favourites

This is one of my favourite moments from the summer. Karen and I took the girls to Santa's Village and they all had their first ever roller coaster ride. It was so much fun. Their faces say it all.

Friday, September 9, 2011

First day of school

Kate has started going to a new school this year after nearly three years at our little co-op that we helped to create and build. It is bittersweet to leave that co-op and the amazing community there. Fortunately, although she won't be going there, we're still in the community through food swap, wine nights (well, I'm in for that part, not Kate) and play dates. And a few kids from our little co-op are going to our new school too. The new school is also a co-op, All Austin Co-operative Nursery School, and after two visiting days this week, we already love it.

Here she is on her first day. She was so excited, she started asking a full hour before we had to leave if we could go.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I blinked

...and she's four.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gardens and birds

A garden update: Things are bigger in Texas, at least they are in our vegetable gardens. The tomato plants are nearly taller than me and we've picked a few ripe cherry tomatoes. There are a whole bunch that will be ready tomorrow and then we hsould be getting some each day for awhile. I feel like we are missing some, but it must be the birds since the squirrels seem unable to get the ones I'm missing.

Another garden update: remember in that last blog post where I said that the plants that came up from the compost were eight ball squash? That's how it looked, right? Not anymore. Look at them now:

One more garden note: In the front yard, the raised beds are pretty much abandoned in the summer. We had one potato plant that grew in the spring from a randomly planted red potato. It had an infestation of flat legged leaf cutters last month, and I had kind of written that plant off. Didn't water it, just ignored it. Well, today I thought we'd do a little excavation to see. The plant was completely dead (as of yesterday) and look at what we found! Jackpot!

Two weeks ago we hung two bird feeders in our back yard. My sister has feeders and has said how much she likes it. So, I bought two - a standard tube feeder and a nyger seed feeder. I also started changing the water in the bird bath every day (as well as in a large plant saucer on the ground.) The nyger seed feeder is completely ignored, but the regular feeder? Hoo boy. I have to fill it twice a day. If you open our back door, at least 15 birds take flight. Regular visitors include black capped chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, house finches, sparrows, white winged doves (did you know those doves all over Austin that everyone (well, most) seem to think are mourning doves are actually white winged doves? I've been calling them by the wrong name for seven years.), a pair of long tailed grackles and as of yesterday, some rock doves, usually affectionately known as pigeons. We can see the feeder from the dining room table and it has been so much fun for me and the kids to watch the birds.

And amazingly, the squirrels can't get it. They eat the dropped seeds off the ground.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our gardens

I have had two raised beds in the front yard for four years now. One is herbs and the other is the winter garden. That is because it's under a huge pecan tree and doesn't get enough sun when the leaves are on the tree to produce anything. But in the winter, we get lettuces, chard, spinach, kale. After watching Kate eat chard right out of the garden back in March, I went the next day to the store to get more lumber to build more gardens.

Most of our lot is shaded, but we do get direct sun in the side yard.

We built a 4'x4' bed there and planted beans and peas from seeds (beans doing well, peas not much. We planted them too late. I may just eat the tendrils soon.) I also transplated to that bed two tomato plants and two unidentified members of the squash family. They were all volunteers that came up from the compost. I had no idea how they would do. The tomatoes are both grape tomatoes, it turns out, and they are doing great. Covered in green tomatoes. The unidentified squash (could have been melon, for all I knew) have turned out to be eight ball squash - a variety of zucchini. And they are going gangbusters.

We also built a small bed for the back yard (2'x2') and planted a grape and cherry tomato (purchased), a canteloupe (also purchased) and some basil. The tomatoes are doing great. The canteloupe has had a lot of blossoms but so far not much happening in the fruit department. I'm wondering if it's not getting enough sun. The basil is gorgeous and we are eating it all the time. And Kate loves it. Tonight she went out and picked some leaves for me for dinner.

I'm already planning next year. Cherry/grape tomatoes again, for sure (assuming they ripen. I may be counting my tomatoes before they hatch.) and cucumbers. Maybe we'll try melon again but on the side yard. I'm thinking of digging up some of the soil along the house and planting some squash there, since the beds are pretty full and we want more. MORE!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

45 months

I realize it's not very balanced to do a monthly (as if they are! ha!) update on Owen and neglect to update on sweet Kate. There are always changes for her too, and maybe they don't seem as momentous as learning to walk, but they are equally fascinating for us to watch.

I don't know if I can pinpoint things that happened this past month, but there a lots of things since I last wrote about what's happening with her. If you'll forgive, I'm going to resort to bullet points.

- Her favourite movie/pretend playing is Cars. She pretends to be a race car or she drives her toy cars around or she draws them. Or I am a car, or the dog, or her brother. She played Cars all day today from morning until bedtime. By the end of the day, I'm pretty worn out by Cars.
- In the last two months she is suddenly willing to try new foods. I'm so proud of her. If she tries it and doesn't like it (which is rare), she doesn't have to eat it. Right now, I just want her to be trying things. She has recently tried (usually not for the first time): cucumber, broccoli, zucchini, hot dog, herbed chicken, spinach pie, celery, chard, tomatoes. Clearly there is a veggie trend happening. She has liked all of them.
- She is writing her name (not a recent development. She's been doing it for almost a year) and her friend's names. She asks how to spell things and we figure them out phonetically.
- She is a great sister and plays with Owen. He is in the hitting stage, but she's getting better at dealing with that instead of just screaming.
- She is really excited about our vegetable garden. She may become a tomato eater by the end of the summer.
- She's excited about starting preschool in the fall even though she doesn't really know what it means. I'm less enthusiastic, mostly because I am having trouble letting go and facing the change.
- She can nearly ride a pedal bike without training wheels!

And, as she always has been, she is sweet and funny and affectionate and I love her more than I can believe. She drives me crazy every day but I wouldn't change her at all.

15 months

Owen turned 15 months old last week and it's been a month of serious changes.

About a week ago he went from crawling 90% of the time to walking all the time. Once in awhile if he's in a hurry (to chase his sister, for instance), he will drop down and power crawl, but otherwise it's walking. He's quite pleased with himself. He's also started to use some sign language and it's so nice to have a few instances of clear communication. Otherwise, there is a lot of pointing and yelling which gets frustrating for everyone. He has about six spoken words and three signs (more, all done and milk). His spoken words are Baboo (the dog and by extension any other non-human animal), ball, bye, mama, dada, uh-oh). The time between 15 and 18 months were hard with Kate, and I think the same is true this time. He knows what he wants and he understands us but he has a hard time communicating. At 18 months that got so much better, so I'm hoping the same thing happens again.

Owen is super affectionate and a clown and is still in love with his sister. He can play happily on his own for 20 minutes (second child? Kate could not do this at 15 months) and his favourite toys are castanets and the play pots with wooden food.

Since Graeme has been away so much this spring, Owen has gotten really attached to him. I think Owen is starting to react to G leaving all the time. He now gets upset if Graeme leaves the room - crying for him until he comes back into view. It breaks my heart. Fortunately, there is only one more month and G will be home for 1.5 weeks of it.

Nearly every day I look at this little boy and bigger girl and I'm in awe of them. I don't know how I can love two little people so much, be challenged by them so much and be so lucky to be their mum.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Henry

Happy birthday, chunky monkey. You're a sweet one.

Love Aunt Beth
(psst. Your mum could use some sleep. Maybe you can work on that now that you're 1.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Seven year itch

We've lived in Austin, and our house, for nearly seven years. A lot of the rooms are just as they were when we moved in (except for paint colour). Suddenly, I've got a bee in my bonnet to change things around. The living room especially. It is a long narrow room that doesn't have a lot of furniture arrangement options. I haven't rearranged, but I did get a new chair (we had one that was too big for the room. The new one will eventually be reupholstered.) and I've made a wall of family pictures. I'm especially happy with the wall.

The office has also been reclaimed now that Owen is sharing a room with Kate. We moved Kate's table in and the spare bed/couch is back. I also put up some curtains, which makes it seem more finished. The change table is still in there, but that's a minor thing.

I have rearranged the furniture in our bedroom too, but I'm on the hunt for a new dresser. Until I find one, that room isn't quite done.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

First haircuts

Today both kids got haircuts. Their first official ones. Owen had had a small trim around the ears and back, but it didn't really count. Kate had never had one. Yep, 3.5 years old, never had it cut. She wasn't goign to get one today either, since she declared she wouldn't get one until she was 4. But when she found out her little brother was getting one, she declared that she was getting one too.




Monday, May 2, 2011


We went to California about two weeks ago. G is there most of the spring (mid-March until mid-June) for work. He's staying in Venice Beach one block from the most beautiful sand beach. We were there for five days and went to the beach every day. As evidenced by the photos: