Sunday, August 31, 2008

Water is Kind of Back and Did I Mention About the Puppy?

Late last night, our water seemed to be back, but it still is weird. When you fill a glass of water, it looks cloudy and slowly slowly clears up. It might be TONS of tiny air bubbles, or it might be something more worrisome. I decided against googling it and having to sell the house. For now, we are still drinking bottled water.

So did I mention about the puppy? Dawn and Cees have this brilliant plan of volunteering to raise a puppy who will become a guide dog when he grows up. We would get the puppy around 8 weeks, and keep it till he is 14 to 16 months old, and hopefully can go off to guidedog school. If he passes the exam that is. If not, he can be a career change dog, which means for example a detection dog, search and rescue dog, or a therapy dog.

A few years ago, a homeschooling friend did this, and they had a great experience. Today, we went to visit one of our local puppy raising classes. It was very interesting. Dawn got to handle two of the dogs, and another one of the dogs was sitting on my lap. Don't ask.

We applied to be puppy raisers for one of those dogs, and hope it will all work out. It seems that it would be a positive experience for everyone, for the dog, and for our family. So much socializing goes in naturally in a large family.

There are many puppy raising blogs out there if you want to get some idea of what is involved. We all are very excited about the possibilities!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

You Have No Idea How Many Times I Flushed the Toilet Today!

Saturday morning, Cees has to work at 7am. Yawn! I roll out of bed, wash my hands, and hmmm, why is the water only a trickle? Too early to care!

Waking up Cees, who has same experience I do. Hmmmm, I guess we have no water. Did we pay the bill? Yeah, that should be fine.

Driving down the road, leaving our neighborhood. Finding BIG hole in the street, surrounded by public works trucks. One wonders whether the water main could have been broken.

Searching through basement for bottled water. I know I have it somewhere. I look at many different somewheres, and don't find it till I invoke my PAF option (Phone a Friend). We have two gallons for sure, which is less than I want , but will do for now. At least it saves me a trip to the store. Add Emergency Preparedness to my mental list of 'Things to do: urgent!'

I flush the toilet, figuring that this magically might turn on the water. It goes 'GURGLE, GOBBLE, ZOOBLE, ZORK, SLURP, GURGLE, BLOBBER!' I do the only thing I feel capable of doing, I close the door and hope it will stop sounding like this.

Finally! Water turns back on! Rejoice! Wait. Water????? Last time I checked our water wasn't ... brown. Very brown even. Very yucky and awfully looking brown. We are not amused.

I turn on the faucet and flush the toilets a few times, to prove to myself that it really is brown. Since it is, I flush them again and again, to prove that I must be hallucinating, how else could I explain this. Maybe I shouldn't have had those mushrooms last night?

Decided that brown water was enough of a concern to call public works. Patiently listen to a phone message telling me that it isn't an office day, hoping it will give me a phone number for when you want to talk to someone anyway. Eventually give up and try a different phone number.

Talk to a nice guy, who confirms, yes, the water main broke, and yes, it's fixed, and oh, the brown colour should go away if I just flush out the next 40 gallons, or maybe more if we live more uphill. He also explains to me that I can just run the bath tub. He clearly isn't in charge of cleaning the bath tub in his house, since I can just imagine how nice the tub would look with dark brown rings.

So instead, I flush the toilet. And flush the toilet. And run the faucet in the sink. And after an eternity, things seem to get a bit clearer, but I still tell the kids to use the bottled water.

I decided that going geocaching was the best thing to do now, and I call my friend, and we go out and find SEVEN caches! Not bad for an impromptu trip. We even got a First-To-Find, and we might or might not have had help for that one.

Came home, used the bath room, flush, only to be greeted by ... 'GURGLE, GOBBLE, ZOOBLE, ZORK, SLURP, GURGLE, BLOBBER!' and trickle of brown water. Oh joy! Back to square one!

That is where we still are, early evening. No water, or sometimes we seem to have a bit, which is a lovely brown colour.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blueberry Goodness

A few weeks, an online group of friends kept posting about this awesome blue berry crumble bars recipe they were making. It sounded good, and it looked good, I just had to find time to make it.

My kids went blueberry picking, so I couldn't resist any longer. I found the time, made the bars and was not disappointed. Those bars were excellent and got eaten within hours. I am looking forward to making this recipe many more times!

Thank you, smitten kitchen!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tim in The Netherlands

Did I mention that two weeks ago, we dropped off Tim for a trip to The Netherlands? All by himself! He is visiting grandparents and having a great time. He went to a cyber cafe, to Amsterdam, to Avifauna, to the Blijdorp Zoo, to some amusement parks, and many more. This picture was taken at the airport when we dropped him off.

Tomorrow, he'll fly back and we'll drive down to Boston to get him. Can't wait to have all my kids home again, even if he did have a wonderful time :D

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just Like Old Times

Yesterday, we went geocaching. Now, as y'all know, we have had our share of adventures when geocaching. For some weird reason, we ALWAYS find ourselves in the middle of the woods when daylight runs out.

But yesterday, that wasn't going to happen. This was a nice, relaxed caching day. We did a few caches and were having a great time. One or two more caches, things were going so well.

This cache was new and didn't have much information. Something about a nice hike with great views, it sounded good to us. We had some trouble finding the parking, but eventually located a promising stop. Got ourselves out of the car and prepared for the hike.

Water bottle. Check. Trading items. Check. GPS. Check. Flashlight? Nah, it's so light still and it's not a very long hike (about a kilometer) to the cache, so no reason to carry flashlights all the way up. Not to mention that I hadn't even brought a flashlight. I mean, my go study and my Korean study books were enough, I wasn't going to take an unnecessary flashlight!

We found a trail. Hiked up for a while. Then the trail stopped. And it was going in the wrong direction anyway. Shucks! Let's backtrack and try to find a better trail. Well, at least that wasn't too hard. Apart from half of the trail being washed away after The Summer Without Sun But With Plenty of Rain.

We hiked. And noticed the trail was going up. And up. And up. And more up. And then it went up. We kept ascending. A lot! Way more than I wanted to ascend for a nice relaxed cache hike. Well, at least we were promised a great view. That would make it all worth it, wouldn't it?

The cache wasn't getting closer as fast as we wanted to. Not only that, we were hiking FARTHER away from the cache. Only one way to solve this. Bushwhacking! It wasn't totally dark yet, but the sun was setting fast. Not sure why the sun suddenly was in such a hurry to leave us. I would have liked to see it for a bit longer.

So it was getting dark, we were bushwhacking, we didn't have flashlight, we hadn't found the cache yet, and we were being eaten by mosquitoes. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Much explanations to the cache owners how they hid it all wrong and made the trail too steep too!

But we persevered and found the cache. I might or might not have said 'If you find it just TELL me!' and that is just what happened. It was a small cache too, instead of a huge cache full of wonderful trading items after a long hike. Can you tell that I was a tad annoyed by the fact that we had to work so hard for so little reward? Grown-up about things, I am.

We took a trail back, and found ourselves in a familiar meadow. Ah, there finally was our view which had been promised, but never got delivered. And there was another few miles hike back to the car, since this was not the same way we came in, but both of us did NOT want to go back into the woods in the dark. Maybe next time, I'll bring a flashlight. One day, I'll figure it out, right?

We rewarded ourselves with a Mexican dinner and some booze. We had earned it, darnit!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Simple Pleasures

One day, I bought some ginger root. I used a bit of it for a recipe, and put it back in the fridge. Every time I opened the fridge, I would say 'hmmmm, ginger, I really should use that some day soon!' for like hmmm, six weeks straight.

When I finally actually picked up the ginger root again, it was growing something. Not mold, something plant like. Which is quite a miracle, since hairy, growly mold seems to find a way into my fridge very easily.

I picked it up and looked at it, pondering my options.
  1. Easiest: throwing it out and pretending it had never happened;
  2. More enviromentally friendly: walk outside to throw it into the composter and feel good about it feeding my plants someday;
  3. Creative: plant it in the garden and see what happens.

I am sure by now you have guessed that I chose option 3 and my very own ginger plant is doing quite well. I'll dig it up and move it inside for the winter and see what happens. A friend said I could just harvest some from the root and the rest will keep growing, I guess I'll have to find that out for myself now. Will be fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Good Day, My Friends

Happy Tuesday to all of you. We started our day with a good breakfast.

Followed by lots of bubbles fun.

Life is good!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Learning To Read

Today, my dear Sylvia made me very, very proud. We were sitting on the steps, and Sylvia looked up and pointed at the words in the picture. 'Mama! I can read that!' My mother heart beat proudly as I realized that my 4yo must be a genius and another early reader. She finally must have cracked the phonics code! My Sylvia rocks!

After basking in the 'I am the best and greatest mother' glow for a while, I asked her 'Great! What does it say?' She confidently answered 'Girls Only. No Boys Allowed!'


Zapple Pie!

Well, as Meritt said in my comments: 'When life gives you zucchini's... make Zapple Pie! And Zapple Crisp and uh, can some zapple pie filling for the upcoming winter!'

And boy! Life is giving me zucchinis! They are hiding behind the bushes to ambush my kids. They are invading my house. They are spawning like crazy!

Oh, you don't know what zapple pie is? I had no idea either, but it turns out to be a zucchini pie pretending to be an apple pie. Since zucchinis and apples do look quite alike, don't they?

Jane and Sylvia weren't too sure about the whole concept at first. Jane made a great pantomime of almost eating a bite, but then being too disgusted and scared to actually follow through on it. But, in the end, Jane, Dawn, and Sylvia all enjoyed it. Why, yes, the boys do not touch anything which is remotely vegetable-like. Not even if it pretends to be apple, thank you!

I liked the pie, it was easy to think this was apple pie instead of zucchini pie. The mind is good at playing tricks with us. I could taste zucchini if I focused, but it was very easy to let myself be fooled.

Today, I took leftovers to share with some friends, and they enjoyed it too. Or maybe they did a great job at pretending to enjoy it.

If you want to try it yourself, click here for Meritt's recipe. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Magical Cat

Once upon a time, flyingfisher and I went out for a night time walk in her neighborhood. We were chatting and solving all the universe's problems when we saw The Cat. She was sitting right next to the road, watching us approach. When we came closer, she retreated into the ditch and the shrubbery, and observed us from there.

We came up to her hiding spot and flyingfisher started to talk to her. 'Hello beautiful cat. Isn't it a wonderful night for a walk and for meeting new friends?' The cat stared at her. 'We are not going to hurt you, don't worry' The cat licked her paw and pretended lack of interest.

I had been listening to the somewhat one-sided conversation, and decided to offer an invitation to The Cat. I told her 'You are more than welcome to join us if you want.' and that was what she had been waiting for. She immediately got up, and calmly walked over to us, greeting us by sniffing us and marking us with her scent.

We exchanged stories. We told her about our feline friends and our life, which she reciprocated by stories about far-away times and places. We were enveloped in a magical spell of goodness and love. We stayed with her for a while, before continuing our walk. She joined us till she came to the borders of her territory, where she sat down, and told us to go in peace. We thanked her for the joy of her company and finished our walk feeling much better for having met her.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Soccer Camp

Erik and Sylvia both went to soccer camp. They had a great time.

Erik's favorite was the Toilet Incident. Someone was trying to hide the coach's flip flops, and they threw it into the girl's bathroom. Somehow it ended up landing in the toilet! You have NO idea how many times this story has been told at home and to anyone he meets. I guess they played soccer too, but The Toilet Incident was just so much better than just kicking a ball around.

Sylvia was very happy to have her own camp. The rest of the summer, she spent being driven around to other sibling's camps and now she finally had a camp of her own! Bliss! Even if she wasn't quite sure what to do with the ball and in which direction to run.

The camp would have been even better if it had been sunny instead of raining, but I guess we can't have it all this year.

Eleven Years Ago

Eleven years ago, I was the mom to a 5yo, a 3yo, and a 1yo. And happily pregnant with my beautiful daughter Jane. I remember taking the three kids to Boston and people asking me 'when are you due', only to take a careful step back when I said 'next week!' I remember having to find someone to jumpstart my van in the parking garage because one of the kids must have left on the lights. I remember being pulled over by the police when I went the wrong direction in one-way street because of being so frazzled trying to drive, navigate, and telling the kids to stop bothering each other, all at the same time.

Then one day, when I was back home, I had this 'hmmmm, maybe today?' feeling. I desperately ran around all day, trying to finish all those things I had not finished before (going to Boston was more fun after all), and when night rolled along it was pretty clear that the birth was imminent.

I called my midwife and told her that labor had started, but it was going to be a while. We tried to inflate the kiddie pool which was where I wanted to give birth, and found out it was a lot more work than we thought it would be. We dropped off the boys at a friend's house and hoped Tara would sleep through the commotion.

Finally the pool was set up and filled. I got in, relaxed (as much as one can in labor, that is) and it didn't take long before Jane came out in a very gentle way. About 20 minutes later, the midwives arrived. Yet another birth where they missed the baby, but at least she was in time to catch the placenta ^^

Tara woke up about an hour after her sister was born, so that was perfect timing to meet the baby, but miss the birth. She was only 13mo, and a big sister already!

Jane is eleven now, a great artist and story teller, and very athletic. Every day, she spends hours and hours drawing. She is quite a talented girl. She spends a lot of time together with Dawn, they are very close. Happy birthday, my beloved daughter!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Love is Good Friends

Please bear with me while I go sappy on y'all. Today I want to share how blessed I am with many, many good friends.

Good friends who keep me company on long car rides, and even drive my car, so I can sit and chat and relax.

Good friends who help me clean my house.

Good friends who give my kids rides when I need a break, or when I am yet again overbooked.

Good friends who lend a shoulder and a listening ear, and who feel comfortable talking about their own struggles so I can return the favor to them when they need it.

Good friends who give me chocolate and homemade pickles.

Good friends who walk with me when I need some grounding, and to talk about life, the universe, and everything.

Good friends who support me in my interesting times.

Good friends who remind me that sleep is not only for the weak, but even more so for the strong.

Good friends who teach me how to negotiate.

Good friends who give me tea.

Good friends who call to check in on how I am doing.

My most beautiful compliment of the day 'You set such a fine example of embracing life. Your resiliency is uplifting and inspiring. I'm glad to have you as a friend as you stride through the world.' Wow, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. My friends sure do rock!

Happy Love Thursday!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


This morning, Erik came running into the computer room. 'Mama, mama!!! There is a squirrel on the couch!' For a moment I wondered whether it could be a present left by the kittens, but I decided that Erik would look more disgusted and less excited. Maybe.

Indeed, it was our personal pet squirrel, who likes to eat apples, and peanuts. He decided that if the peanuts don't come to the squirrel, the squirrel should come to the peanuts. So he walked into our house, grabbed peanuts from the table, found himself a comfy spot on the couch, and had his morning snack. Leaving many peanut shells behind. He sure is not a very tidy eater.

Too bad I didn't get squirrel on couch picture, but at least this picture will enable you to identify the villain. Protect your peanuts!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Insert Witty Title Here

Yes, I am still alive, just majorly swamped with summer activities. Off to deal with 5,000 zucchinis!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Saturday, August 02, 2008