Friday, December 31, 2010

Odds and Ends

This year a group of mom's organized a Summer Soccer Program for the students of the school. Our girls loved this program, especially Rebecca who is more sports minded then Marietta. While we are not very sports oriented, we do like our kids to partake in some fun sports and have an opportunity to learn the art of cooperation and playing together, as well as how to include everyone and have a good time.

As mentioned in the previous post, Marietta had planted zucchini in her garden and we had zucchini coming out of our ears. Since zucchini is another good low-fructose food this is a good thing, but we still had far too much. Our freezer is loaded with zucchini and I tend to throw it in many different recipes now since it hides very well in foods and gives us the veggie nutrition we are lacking in our limited diet. Marietta spent many days sitting faithfully at the end of the driveway trying to sell her zucchini's, but finally gave up when she had no success. She had another bright idea ... selling zucchini bread and muffins at a garage sale ... that was sure to draw people in and then she'd be able to sell some stuff. So I told her that was fine, I had lots of things to create a garage sale, but she would have to man the sale and do the work. She was eager and went to baking and prepping.
Garage Sale #1 at our house - unsuccessful ... she sold nothing, and I sold close to nothing. What a waste of time.
Garage Sale #2 was a combined garage sale at a different location - pretty much unsuccessful for us. Marietta baked again and this time sold one zucchini loaf, and one muffin (and then ate lots between her and her friends). I sold one raisin bread loaf (I had just baked bread the day before and figured if it sold fine and if not yummy for us), we sold no other items and I took home again all the things I really wanted to get rid of.

I'm not sure what possessed me to try again for Garage Sale #3. I know I debated it for a bit and then thought that #3 would be the best attempt and if it failed I'd really and certainly be able to confirm that garage sales are a waste of time. Now if I started with Garage Sale #3 it wouldn't have been so bad because I wouldn't have been frustrated with the time I had previously wasted and would have just thought it as fun. Garage Sale #3 was a Community Garage Sale. I figured I was going to go anyways to have a look at everything, and since Marietta was so eager to try sell again we'd give it one more shot. Time was a bit limited so Marietta was not able to bake as much as she would like, but she learned that if she's going to do it again she's going to have to bake more. Her zucchini bread was gone in no time. I also baked some raisin bread which quickly disappeared. The regular homemade bread and muffins did not sell, which was fine as then I could just put them in the freezer. As for the other items .... none of my boys clothes sold, even with the price very low. Some of the girls clothes and other items did sell ... garage sales aren't really worth their effort, or I just have really bad luck!

It is when I want to sell things that I miss the city. I miss Kijiji where I sold off the clothes the kids outgrew to buy them new clothes. Where I sold many unused items in the house and had a decent pot of Kijiji cash. All cash made from the items I sold on Kijiji went into a pot and from that pot I could buy things off Kijiji. Moving to the country put an end to this as nobody wants to drive way out for clothes and small items. The last of my Kijiji pot was spent when we purchased our dog and doghouse. I still buy off Kijiji when I need things, since we are regularly in the city at least it is still possible to do that, but I no longer have a pot that I can get my money from.
So, some pictures from Garage Sale #3. Marietta also sold school chocolate bars at the garage sale, she did okay in t his area as well.

Snuggles with Daddy

Matthew loved to crawl up on Daddy and snuggle/snooze with him this way when Rob was having a quick power-nap.

On October 1st Rob turned 35 and I decided to try my hand at a surprise party. It was almost successful, until about the last hour when Rob became a bit suspicious as to why everyone was suddenly so interested in having a game of air hockey downstairs.

Princess Vivian with her handy man hubby, Matthew the Builder :)

OUCH!!! Another one of Muddy's faults (we're trying hard to find some good things about this dog but he's not making it easy). Muddy gets far to hyper and has absolutely no brains. In this case we will say it wasn't completely Muddy's fault since everyone was outside playing and he was included in the play, but again he's so jumpy and energetic that he just bowls things over and this time it was Matthew, from the top of the cement porch stairs down to the bottom, scraping his face along the way. Poor guy, it was sore and swollen and turn an abundance of colours, but it was also amazing how quickly it healed.

The girls still like getting their hair done. This time Marietta managed to convince Rebecca to leave her hair in ringlets after I took the rollers out instead of having it in an updo. This is the morning picture

And here she is at supper time ... the curls gained some length during the day, but stayed in nicely ... actually they stayed in very nicely for several days after that also ... I love those kind of hairdos!

Matthew and Rebecca decided to have some fun one night and sleep in the tent. It being winter outside wasn't really an option and so they set it up in Matthew's room.

Took a bit for Matthew to cooperate and actually go to sleep ... much to Rebecca's frustration as she didn't want to get sent back to her room but couldn't get Matthew to behave. But he finally settled down and they went off to sleep.

And since I got a picture of them sleeping I figured I'd get one of Marietta also. She's always trying something new with her hair. She has been growing out her bangs the past year and here she is trying to see if curling them would make a new creative style ... it wasn't all to successful, but she's always trying new ideas.

Well that pretty much catches me up to the beginning of November when I first started trying to get caught up but never got past the part of uploading the pictures. Now I have to have a peek through my November and December pictures and see if there was anything worthwhile during those months ... but that may just have to wait a few days ... we'll see how energetic I am ... right now I'm off for a nap so I can be alert and awake at midnight tonight seeing as I'm not feeling totally clear headed (head cold/congestion setting in, ears clogged and noises funny sounding). Matthew is also not feeling well (fevers). At least we made it almost all the way through the holidays being relatively healthy (Rebecca had the head congestion/ear thing last week and weekend).


Living in the country with lots of extra space means that the girls could have a garden this year. Unfortunately it was a rather unsuccessful garden ... Rob learned that no-till does not work for gardens ... just for the record, I did not want the no-till garden, but I didn't have a rototiller (or likely the ability to use one) to change his plan. No-till especially doesn't work when you're trying to establish a new garden where the soil has not yet been properly fertilized and had compost added for years on end.

Ok, it's Rob hijacking the blog here for a slight clarification. Let the reader know that my beautiful and lovely wife does have at least one short coming (oh, make that two: just look at who she married). From the get-go, she doomed my ingenuity, and therefore fails (that is a present tense verb with a historic as well as a perpetual future nuance! [oh, and if it was her writing, it would be nuance!!!!!! :) ] ) to take into her scientific account other factors which could tarnish our green thumb. The fact that some things grew well in some parts of the garden and not others cannot be attributed to no-till. Nor the fact that somethings never came up, since they were seeds from when we were still on the farm (HELLO! That would be 6 years ago....... seeds from last year are not recommended, let alone 6 years). An obvious factor she fails to concede to is that anything planted in the vicinity of the tree was ipso facto doomed for two reasons: trees hog water, and pine needles leave the soil too acidic. The fact the our dog pulled out bean and corn plants cannot, of course, be attributed to the method of planting. In another post you can read of the abundance of Zucchini which came from our garden, which were, you guessed it, NO-TILL planted! She also failed to mention the success of weed control with my clever design. But if one leaves that part of gardening solely to the hubby, one would not be conscious of this conquest, would she? (I guess that makes three short comings). That's my rant. I have vented. Hopefully my argumentation makes sense to someone with normal logic :) Over and out. rv

Ah man ... do we have to air these issues online. Let me review here again. While SOME of those seeds were old ones ... and hence I told the girls to go ahead and plant them because otherwise they would be thrown out anyways ... we did indeed purchase NEW seeds and those NEW seeds did not come up, but it was OLD zucchini and pumpkin seeds that did. Let me also point out that the zucchini and pumpkin seeds did not produce well considering how many seeds were planted and how many plants actually came up ... but you only need a couple plants with these fruits to have an over abundant produce. Let me also point out that some item planted in the garden were not seeds but transplanted tomatoes and peppers, which did not do well at all. And when it comes to the beans ... yes indeed that annoying dog did destroy a good amount of the ones that did come up ... that would mean of the 8 plants that actually grew after planting 30+ seeds, the dog destroyed 5 (oh and just to clarify here, those bean seeds were new seeds ... as were the corn seeds, that also did not come up the greatest, altho better then the beans) . As for weed control ... the weeds were not completely controlled, just limited somewhat. If they did grow they weren't so obvious because there was dead grass everywhere anyways ... and the ones that did come up I left to him since it's rather difficult to pull weeds out of grass roots and so I wanted him to see that really, all in all, a rototilled garden would have been much more effective. As you can see ... we are not so much in agreement on this subject :) sv

So anyways, the girls planted a variety of seeds, but in the end each of them only had one of their items take off ... and take off they did, so even if the other items came up the zucchini and pumpkins would have killed them off. We had tons of zucchini and pumpkin and the kids did try to sell them, altho not with much luck. Rebecca is more shy and less energetic about talking to and meeting people, so she didn't put a huge effort into selling her pumpkins ... much to Marietta's disgust. And so we had lots of pumpkins to work with.

The first thing we did with the the pumpkins was carve some of them. While we do not partake in Halloween and the activities of Halloween but celebrate Reformation Day on October 31 we do like carving pumpkins and seeing them glow in the dark. If they were ready earlier we would gladly do it in the summer. Now, these were ready in September but because Rebecca wanted to try sell them we did not carve them earlier ... never mind that it was rather busy.

So we finally found time one day to carve pumpkins. Matthew got right in there and quite enjoyed himself.

While we like carved pumpkins the other reason pumpkins are liked in our house is for the roasted pumpkin seeds. We had a great variety of pumpkins this year as the seeds came out and seperated from the pulp very easily.

Helping Matthew and Rebecca carve their pumpkins

Marietta is our creative child (when she's in the mood) who loves to do something beyond the norm. So we went searching online and found a pattern she could use for carving her pumpkin. She wanted to do it all on her own, but did end up needing a bit of help from mom
First we "marked" the pattern on the pumpkin

Then she went ahead and started carving. She did most of it on her own, but did need some assistance here and there for some of the more difficult curves.

Her finished product:

All three pumpkins

While I don't like the pumpkin seeds Rob and the girls do, and they were quickly inhaled. We had many more pumpkins so I decided this year to attempt to make pumpkin puree for in the freezer since it is a good low-fructose fruit and seeing as our fruit and veggie intake is limited due to our fructose diet I figured it would be best to stock up and work out ways to put this in various foods. And stock up I did (I think it was over 30 containers with 2 cups puree in each, but I can't even remember ... I just remember having a hard time trying to find space in the freezer) ... next year I can just stick to doing 4 or 5 pumpkins ... and I won't start near the end of the day for it took much longer then I expected. Our freezer is overflowing with pumpkin puree and I'm slowing finding different ways to use it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Greenview Aviaries Park and Zoo

On the Friday of our holidays we left Flint, Michigan around noon and headed back to Canada. With no issues getting back into Canada we carried on to our next destination which was Greenview Aviaries Park and Zoo. This was another stop the kids had very much been looking forward to. When the girls were little and we lived in the area we had gone for a day trip to this zoo and they had very fond memories of it and have often talked about this place, many time begging to go back there sometime. Of course they don't remember much about the animals there, it was the fun park that they remembered the most. They will admit that they were a bit disappointed that the park did not meet the expectation of their memories. I had to remind them that they were much younger at the time, I'm guessing Marietta was four and Rebecca was two or somewhere in that general area. A park of this size, when they had never been to an amusement park or zoo or anything of that assort before that would have been quite something for them ... and now at the ages of 10 and 8, when they are getting close to the end of their playground years this isn't quite so big and special anymore. But needless to say it was still fun and they still had a very good time ... I think it was just the disappointment that it wasn't quite what they had hyped it up to be in their heads.

Since we had been in the van for a bit we decided to have a late lunch/snack and let the kids run off some energy before we headed off to see the animals. The mistake we had made the last time we went was that we first went to see the animals and told the kids they could play afterwards. They were not as focused on the animal then since they only wanted to get back to that big huge playground. So the kids (and I) went to check everything out after we ate ... while Rob had a nap (again) ... packing up the hotel room had taken a bit out of him because he couldn't handle turning around within a small room, he had a nap before we left and I made a trip to the store to get him some Gravol (motion sickness medication - seeing as it's not called Gravol in the States) ... which didn't really help ... so another nap was needed.

I wandered around with the camera, following Matthew as he zoomed from one area to the next, trying to see and try everything so he could decide what he liked best. It really is a nice park with so much to do.

This was new since our last visit

There was disappointment for the girls as they remembered the balls being much bigger. I had to remind them that they were much bigger now and to look at how big the balls were in comparison to Matthew

I remember Marietta spending a fair amount of time on the hop balls the last time we went since they were the newest and latest rave at the time. Since then we've had our own at home, so it isn't so thrilling anymore.

Here was another disappointment. The last time we were there they had the balls in a much deeper pit, so when you jumped in you could actually jump in and get buried in the balls. With todays sanitary and safety concerns regarding ball pits I guess they decided to go wider with only a thin layer.

Matthew still did some jumping

and tried to bury himself

A manual treadmill, who needs all that fancy equipment when you can just build yourself something like this

Saucer Swing ... Matthew wasn't so sure of this as it moves and he doesn't have control, so he jumped off as soon as the picture was taken and let the girls do the swinging part.

There were several trampolines with a half-decent bounce ... better then the average homestyle trampoline

The zoo part also carries a large variety of animals, although it did have many duplicate cages along the way ... but if you want to see your basic variety of animals, from lions, to bears, to zebras, to ostriches, to bison, to lemurs, to monkeys, to alligators, lizards, to deer, to goats etc ... you'll find it here. The difference between here and other more commonly known places was mostly the fact that it's a self guided walking tour (I'm not sure if they do anything more special for schools), there are no special shows. The other thing we were disappointed with was the fact that there was no information about the animals ... unless someone forgot to give us a sheet that explained them seeing as there seemed to be a number system to follow.

Albino Racoon

We were there at feeding time. We couldn't believe how many tomatoes and applies they threw in for the handful of tortoises in the pen. Here it would have been nice if they provided some info on the difference between a turtle and tortoise, we sort of guessed the answer that turtles live more in the water and tortoise on land, but it's nice to know because once you leave you forget to look it up ... unless you blog :)

Petting the goats

The girls fed the deer ... thankfully it was on the last nibbles that one of the deer decided to take a small chunk out of Marietta's finger

Elephant Ride

There is a miniture village there also

It was too chilly of a day to use the splash pad, much to Matthew's disappointment, but he found another highlight that kept him very busy - the zip-line . Thankfully Matthew didn't go near it until closer to the end of our stay because once he went on one time there was no getting him to go anywhere else.

The cable was in definite need of some tightening, but the kids figured out how to make a go at it without hitting pebble-bottom. Matthew was still small enough that it was mostly okay if he just bent his knees. The girls had to curl up upside down in order to get past the lowest part ... a bit of a safety hazard I suppose, but they had it figured out and had sooooooo much fun!! Rob found himself full-time employed for quite some time helping Matthew up and down.

We left around 8pm when the park closed and went out for supper before heading off to London to spend a couple days at Ted and Lynda's. We went from scorching hot weather to cool, pants and long sleeve weather that was damp and yukky and not so inviting for park or beach hanging out. So we just hung out at home, the kids played, the adults visited. Sunday we did a bit more visiting with Jason and Carol and Mom and Menno and then headed home to our own beds so that the next day the kids could "recuperate" somewhat before heading back to a new school year. And there ended another summer holidays ... they fly by so fast ... but then, so do the school years!!