Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Stan took this picture of Grandpa Dale, the kids and me at the Annual Trunk or Treat. Grandpa Dale enjoyed the chili, cornbread and homemade ice cream dinner after six weeks in the Phillippines. He flew into LAX and stayed with us for a quick weekend on his way home.

This was Summer's excuse for not wearing a costume.

Rachel was a cowgirl.

Heather was a clown.

Gwen was a cat.

Kelly was a fairy with a baton.

Michael was a pumpkin. The prospect of all that candy made it impossible to hold still for the photographer.

Mo was a chicken. Now that Halloween is over for the year, we can pass the baby costume on.

The San Diego Zoo

We left early on Monday the 22nd, before I listened to the news , to go to the San Diego Zoo. I should have realized there was something wrong when we saw this thick, dark cloud as we headed south on the freeway.

As we drove through the smoky part of San Diego County , this is what the sky looked like...

...and this was the sun.

Thankfully, the air at the zoo was clearer and even though it took us twice as long as usual to get there, we had a fun visit.

Some of my favorite animals are the large reptiles (which I might be seeing more of soon...) and they had some spectacular ones.

This male Indian Gharial was probably 5 or 6 yards long.

Here is a skeleton of a female.

Every time we go, I always have to see the Komodo Dragon!

Naomi really liked this wood duck.

Here's a slide show of the pictures that need no explanations...

...and finally, some piggies and some piggies :)

Michael's 3rd Birthday

He is three!!!

So many sisters to help open presents...

Eating Nerds with a fork?!?

Protecting his Skittles from a persuasive Kelly.

Naomi enjoyed the birthday dinner pasta - her first spaghetti ever :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Just when I thought...

...I had all the jewelry any girl could need, I saw this necklace at the San Diego Zoo (post coming soon) gift shop and just had to buy it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rose the Chicken

Rose started out as everyone's favorite because she was only a day old when we got her and her cute factor was off the charts compared to the other chicks at two weeks old. As they all grew, however, her popularity waned and even plummeted recently when she started vigorously pecking anyone who got near her. Well, now she's staged a major comeback and is a favorite again since she started laying.

Yep, you read right, she's laid an egg. I've been wondering when our chickens would get around to laying. They are weeks behind schedule. The morning it happened (last Tuesday), I was feeling for Rose. I was out back racewalking around our little track and there was obviously something going on. She'd eat a little bit, then make these low clucking sounds while she sat on the ground and tried to get comfortable. She tried all kinds of different parts of the chicken run looking for a spot she liked. She even tried to climb the coop to sit on top of it. I'm glad she didn't get all the up to lay her first egg on the peak of our A-frame chicken coop. Somehow that seems like it would have been a messy disaster.

Finally, I had the presence of mind to bring the nesting box we bought out and put it near the coop. She went right in and tried anew to get comfortable, but finally settled for laying the egg just inside the coop door. I guess there is no place like home.

It really was exciting to see the miracle of our chickens' first egg. I appreciate omelettes more than ever. Here it is, all cleaned up and beautiful.

Late breaking update - Rose has laid two more eggs since Tuesday and likes the nesting box. Hopefully the others will follow her eggs-cellent (Oooo - that was rotten!) example and we will get some green eggs to blog about!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Apple Picking

Yesterday, we all piled into our two cars and headed up the to the mountains near here where it is cool enough for apples to grow. We went to the place that claimed to be the only western orchard of Stayman winesap apple trees. I LOVE winesaps. Ever since I had them in Virgina when we lived there, they had been my favorite apples, so when I found out we could get some here, we were off.

The kids fed the horse carrots, NOT apples. Too many apples make him lame.

There was a light misty rain and the Momi was without a hat, so she borrowed the hood of my hoodie.

Even Michael helped.

We all had fun!

My kids are SO OPPRESSED!!!

Almost every Saturday morning, I get up and make a batch of muffins. I use a recipe that calls for 1-1 1/2 cups fruit or vegetable. I usually use pumpkin or banana, sometimes apple or zucchini.

Okay, flashback to Thursday. I'm at Costco, looking at the spinach, wondering if I should buy some. I pick up a three pound bag of fresh spinach and stare at it for a minute. "No" I think, "we'll never finish this before it goes bad." As I lower it back into the box, I hear a faint ripping sound as the perforated plastic top rips off. I put it in my cart.

So...I've been trying to figure out how to eat this up and muffins came to mind. As I told Stan, "Anything tastes good if you mix enough sugar and oil in with it."

I kept the kids out of the kitchen so that they wouldn't see the blender when it looked like this.

They thought maybe I used the new food coloring I bought at Michael's. I wouldn't tell anyone the truth until after they ate at least half a muffin. Rachel was even more appalled when she found out they were FRESH spinach muffins. She said, horrified, "That is like LETTUCE muffins!"

Stan liked them. I thought they were okay, but a bit bland. Summer was frightened that I would even attempt spinach muffins. Rachel's reaction is noted above. Heather liked them. Gwen didn't. Kelly liked them. Michael liked them. Naomi loved them. I guess they were a semi-success, depending on who you ask, but I think I'll give the spinach a wide berth a Costco from now on!

Weird Science

Rachel needs to do three experiments a quarter for her homeschooling science credit. She scraped some cheek cells out of her mouth, put them under our microscope and took a picture. She'll label it and submit it as a work sample. Nifty, huh?

Sunday Afternoon

Last Sunday, the weather was just so perfect, we had to go outside...well most of us went outside. One of us napped through the whole thing.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Tennis for FHE

Monday evening, we packed a picnic dinner (egg salad sandwiches, apples slices, carrot sticks, Doritos, brownies and milk) threw all eight of our racquets and a new can of balls into the car and headed to a local park with tennis courts for family home evening.

Naomi kept an eye on dinner for us.

Michael chased tennis balls...

...and followed his Dad around.

Here is Kelly enjoying a brownie.

If you are a longtime reader of our blog, you may have noticed that we eat a lot of brownies. We love 'em. We could eat them every day and not get tired of them. Here's the recipe -

Fudgey Brownies

¾ cup cocoa

½ teaspoon baking soda

⅔ cup vegetable oil, divided

½ cup boiling water (measure accurately)

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 ⅓ cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

⅔ cup chocolate chips

⅔ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Stir cocoa and baking soda in mixing bowl. Blend in ⅓ cup of vegetable oil. Add boiling water; stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining ⅓ cup vegetable oil; stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt, blend completely. Add chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into lightly greased 13 x 9'' baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until edges darken and pull away from the pan.

Here is Gwen trying to escape the photographer (Summer).

Heather and Rachel both making contact with the ball.

Summer started out playing tennis, but soon changed activities and took most of these pictures.

Rachel and I played on a doubles team and had fun. We spent most of our time either getting close to beaning each other both trying to hit the ball, or...

...thinking the other one of us would get it and watching the ball go past us both.

Since Summer was taking the pictures, there were actually photos of both Stan and I to blog.

Thursday, October 04, 2007