Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Days at the Lake

It's enough just to be able to go out to the lake to cool off on hot days.
Boats make it even more fun!
Wyatt got this RC boat for his birthday a couple of years ago.

And even more fun... Grampa Grasshopper brought his boat down and took us all for a ride.
Gunnar is loving it!

Wyatt and Tate, too.

Doesn't he look grown up?

Saw this little paddle-wheeler tied up at a dock.

Gunnar likes tubing, if they don't go too fast.

Tate is more of a wild child.

And Wyatt decided he'd rather do this.

I settled for swimming.
And no one needs a picture of that ;D

Visiting the Tall Ships

We had a couple of Tall ships in port recently -
the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftan.

I'm sure Wyatt wanted to climb in the rigging!

Tate looks very mischievous...

and Gunnar is ready to cast off for new ports.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Almost Hike

Grampa Grasshopper planned a hike last Saturday with a small group from his church and invited Kerry and the boys along.  It was supposed to be somewhere in this area.

But they had a bit of drama along the way.  Apparently the church van wasn't up for North Cascade Forest Service roads and smoke was coming up through the floor boards.  Something to do with transmission fluid and a gasket.  Oops.

What to do while you wait for help to arrive?  You need a project, to keep the boys occupied!  And the youth intern was more than up to the task.

You find a downed tree and a lot of deadfall and build a shelter.  You know.  To survive.

Thankfully someone (me) had packed them a generous lunch, so they didn't have to fall back on anything from the Bear Grylls menu.

And with weather and views like this they weren't exact suffering.
Photo taken by Gunnar

And we won't say too much about how nine people rode home in a smallish pick-up truck.

In spite of missing the hike, it was definitely a testoster-zone day!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Daze

Not blogging much lately.

Because there isn't much to say about daily days, and that's okay.  We work in the yard.  We play in the sun.  We go to the lake to swim.  Nobody had been attacked by Norbert the Nasty Toe Nibbler lately.

So it's all good.

Except a couple of things...

Tate has been coughing incessantly.  I've been told (by a specialist) that it's not allergies, it's mild asthma that gets aggravated when he gets some kind of respiratory gunk going on.  Uh-huh.  He will cough.  And cough.  And cough.  And at night he only kinda, sorta wakes up.  Or not.  So he'll cough until he gags.  Lovely.  Poor kid.

I know he hasn't been sleeping well, with all the coughing, and neither have I.  He seems to go about two hours, and then cough for half an hour.  And I drag myself out of bed, and I drag him out of bed, and try various meds and inhalers.  Ack.

So the boys and I got all ambitious yesterday, and really deep-cleaned their room.  Which isn't that hard, really, since there's no carpet and all the furniture just slides around on the floor.  And we moved it all, and cleaned under it and behind it.  Which it seems like we did not that long ago, but given the amount of dust bunnies (dust hippos?) we collected I may be wrong about that.  Clearly I am out of running for Mother of the Year.

While I was stripping the beds to wash all the sheets and blankets we decided to go ahead and bunk the other set of beds also.  This is a little tricky, since their bedroom is under the eaves, but there was more room than I had thought, and the boys like it. Because even though they've had bunk beds all their lives, the top bunk is still an object of desire.  Go figure.

And funny thing... after cleaning their room yesterday, I didn't hear any coughing at all last night.  either genius doctor is wrong about the no-allergies/yes-asthma thing, or I was just too exhausted to wake up. 50-50, I'd say, but I'm hoping we're over the worst of that.

Buoyed by a good night's sleep, the boys and I attacked a long-neglected part of the yard they call Some-Area, (like Samaria, but not.)  We weed-whacked, we raked, we shoveled, and we moved hundreds of pounds of rocks (no kidding), and now we have the beginning of a little campfire area.

The other thing on the not-so-good list is the constant worry over the no-work=no-money equation.  Because architects aren't exactly in high demand right now, and we long ago moved from being DINKs (Double Income, No Kids), firmly into the SITKOM category, (Single Income, Two Three Kids, Oppressive Mortgage).  And we really love the house we live in, but if we don't get work soon the house we can afford will probably come on wheels.  Okay, I may be exaggerating.  A little.  Looking at depressing real estate online will do that to you.  But thanks to our gracious church and my generous parents our ship hasn't sunk yet.

So your prayers are always appreciated.  We are trying to trust God and not be anxious while we do whatever we can do.  The boys have been presenting all sorts of interesting (and sometimes even realistic) ideas to save money.

But what melted my heart was this.  As they considered the possibility that we might have to move, their biggest concern was that we must be reasonably close to two places:  Grampa and Gramma's house, and our church.  Because they can't contemplate letting go of either one.

And that is very, very sweet.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Our Famous Bug and a Great Resource


Our interesting beetle from Thursday night has been properly identified and posted HERE.

You know, if you want to learn about something, find someone who loves it

We found What's That Bug.

And sometimes Food.

I borrowed this picture of
Giant Mesquite Bug Nymphs
from their site.

Apparently quite tasty.
Personally, I'm giving thanks right now
that I've never been hungry enough to consider that a food source.

Have fun poking around their site!

Christmas in July... Finally Done!

I know, I've mentioned this before.

It's finally finished!
Get a good look, and then I'm packing it away until Christmas ;D


and back.

The fabric is The Caroler, by Mary Engelbreit,
and the border and backing (polka dots!) are from Jo-Ann.

This one took a little longer because for the first time
I actually paid to have it quilted by a Real Quilter -
a friend of mine who makes quilts and does custom quilting,
and about the time she finished with the quilting,
we were having a few hot days and there was 
 I was going to sit around with a heavy quilt on my lap.
I'd probably sweat on it.

She did a great job.
I always love the way washing a quilt brings out
all those happy little wrinkles :D

Here's a close-up.

And with some leftovers, I made this table runner.

And then I put all my sewing stuff AWAY.
But my fingers are itching to make something else...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Boys, Baseball, and Beetle Bugs

This summer, Thursday nights are baseball nights at the chapel.  Apparently there weren't enough players to field a team for the local church league, so we're just getting together to play for fun.  And have a potluck with roasted weenies.  Because we're all about potlucks

I had no idea how many "field of dreams" diamonds are scattered around the county!  Last week we played on a field surround by raspberries.  Juicy, ripe raspberries.

 The major league fields just don't have the scenery of these county fields.

And we just play.  Everybody gets to play that wants to play.  And if your muscles are feeling your age, you can have someone else run for you.  Which worked out great because that got me out of running, and Gunnar on base :D

 Though he tried mightily, Gunnar didn't manage to connect with the ball during the game :o(

Teams?  Last week it was the ethnic Dutch against the rest of us.  (You know, if your name starts with De, Van, Ver, or Vander).

 Tate is willing to play catcher, but he's very, very cautious.
Actually, he's more like a human backstop than a catcher :D

Keeping score?  Only important because when one team reaches ten points, the host goes and warms up the BBQ.

Who won?  The Chapel!  Yay - we all won!

So the boys were in heaven.  Kind of fun and funny to watch them, because they've never actually played baseball.  I know, I know, the "great American pastime" and all, but Kerry dislikes and avoids what he calls "projectile sports" (anything with a ball that might come flinging at you), and they've all gotten thoroughly into soccer.

Oh heavens, we tried T-Ball with Wyatt when he was in kindergarten.  It was a dead loss.  Way too much standing around and waiting for something to happen.  As opposed to soccer, where he could run, nonstop, for hours and hours.  But now that he's older, and has a bit more patience...

 In typical Wyatt fashion, he's a natural at the game.

But I digress... we had a great time with our church friends - both the Dutch and the rest of us - and then got a little bonus on the way home.  Had to stop for gas at the infamous Beer Cave and found this on the pavement.

I've never seen one like it before.  Tate quickly scooped it up and we wrapped in in paper to bring it home -all the while listening to it "scrunchaling around", as Tate described it -  and popped it into a jar for further observation.

Ya gotta love the internet, because this guy wasn't in any of our (many) bug books, but I found him in just a moment.  He's a long haired June beetle - also called a Ten Stripe Beetle, for obvious reasons. And he eats conifer needles, of which we have a gracious plenty.

And while I was poking around, reading about beetles, I was amazed to find that by a conservative estimate, about 350,000 species of beetles have been identified since 1758.  Do the math, people.  That's almost four a day.  That's a lot of bugs.  I also learned that beetles are the largest group of insects, (well, I think I already knew that), and that they make up one fifth of all living organisms, and one fourth of all animals.  Good grief.  That's a lot of beetles!

I was so intrigued by what I read that I put a book on reserve at the library, because it began like this:
Asked what could be inferred about the work of the Creator from a study of His works, the British scientist J. B. S. Haldane is reported to have replied, "an inordinate fondness for beetles."
In that case, I think Tate has something in common with God.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Go Figure Some More...

I've been reading through the comments to the post below and have a few more thoughts to add.

The first thing is that we do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, not because we expect a reward.  Not that any of you were insinuating anything, but it crossed my mind.  I mean, we didn't waltz in there expecting applause.  But neither did I expect such a cold reception.

Second, people DO need the Lord!  We all surely do!  Sadly a large percentage of folks in our area prefer a form of "spirituality" based on nature/environmentalism/new-agey-stuff/etc. to the truth.

I like animals.  I like nature.  I believe in being a good steward of God's creation.  But I don't worship it.  I don't elevate animals to equality with people.

Third, the irony is that while we missed out on learning a bit about the birds, it's the rehabilitation center that really missed an opportunity.  While I'm not in a position to give them a monetary donation right now, as homeschoolers we might have been interested in volunteering occasionally.  That's work experience, learning, and fun all rolled into one!  And we're connected with a lot of other homeschoolers - potentially a large pool of volunteers.  But I'm not likely to offer to come back now.

There's another wildlife rescue/rehab place in our county.  Next time we come across another animal in distress I'll try them first.

Go Figure

So, we took the little barn owl to the rehabilitation place this morning.

Their goal, of course is to rehabilitate and release animals to the wild.  However, they also have several large raptors that can't be released for a variety of reasons, which they keep "for educational purposes".  They'll do programs at schools, for instance.

And they're funded entirely by donation.  (And fees for their shows.)  And they depend heavily on volunteers that care for the animals, do educational shows and tours, and probably a great deal of unpleasant and messy work.

So you'd think they'd be more friendly.

Actually the man that met us was nice enough.  But the woman in charge... well, maybe we caught her on a bad day.  She wanted us out of there as quickly as possible.

No reinforcement to the kids that they'd done the right thing in helping the owl.

No thanks for going out of our way to rescue the bird (according to her instructions) and drive it more than 20 miles to their facility.

No taking the opportunity to educate the kids about what they do there or about any of the animals.

And, no, we may not look around at the captive never-to-be-released animals in plain view, because it wasn't the one half-day a week they're open to the public.

Go figure.

Monday, July 19, 2010

From Boredom to Barn Owl Rescue

It was one of those days.

I think everyone woke up grouchy.

Kerry is stressed about work and money.
They boys were nitpicking at each other.
And me?  Hormones, I suppose.
I wanted to crawl back into bed and hide under the covers.

Kerry went out with a (potential) client to measure a building - a big pole barn - and told us he'd seen an owl, on the floor in the corner of the building.  From his description, I guessed it was probably a common barn owl.  When it was still there hours later he thought it must be hurt and called a raptor rehabilitation center for advice.

Oh, they had advice all right.  

Can you go back and get it, and bring it to us tomorrow?

Really?  Because hurt or not, that beak and those talons look pretty sharp and poky!  But hey, it sounded like a great educational (shhh! don't tell the boys!) adventure, so off we went, with our intrepid assistants.  Because that's what they needed - a mission!

Tate took charge of our improvised bird carrier.

Gunnar and I brought the raw chicken (as advised) and sturdy gloves.

And Wyatt was appointed photographer.
Nice self portrait.

The bird was still in the corner where Kerry had first seen it.

I don't think he is badly hurt, if at all.  Probably fell from the nest, which we could not find and would have been impossible for us to put him back into, at any rate.  He's starting to get his flight feathers, but I don't think is quite old enough to fly yet.  

Since the building was wide open to predators (coyotes, raccoons, cats, etc.) and the little owl had been on the floor for several hours we decided to go ahead and collect him.

He did not appreciate it.
And yes, we're thankful for thick, leather gloves!

There was quite a lot of clicking his beak, hissing very loudly,
and posturing with his wings to look big and scary,
but Kerry was able to gently get him in the box.
He hissed/screeched at us for several minutes, but when it
occurred to me to cover the top of the box
he quieted down nicely.

Here he is, dancing around a bit, to intimidate us.

He's settled for the night in a box in the mudroom, covered again, and quiet.

Things Gunnar Says

When he's messing around -
I'm just fiddle-de-dee-ing.

When something makes him anxious - 
Oooooooo, that makes my feet feel sweaty.

When he wants to change the format of his personal blog -
I'm just doin' some small tweakments to my blog.

When he's describing a recurring dream -
You know, that endlessly-falling-in-the-bottomless-black-pit-of-no-return dream...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fly! Be Free!

I ordered new butterflies for Gunnar's birthday this year.  Well, actually I ordered caterpillars.

All five successfully grew, and made chrysalides, but only four hatched properly.

The boys were interested, but not quite as intrigued as last time.  Still, they all gathered round to release them.  They're Painted Ladies, (vanessa cardui), and are native all over the USA, so releasing them is fine.

When Gunnar opened the lid, two flew out on their own.  Tate got one to climb onto his hand and lifted it out, and Gunnar gently picked up the last one (let it crawl onto his hand).

Here he is, holding it.  But then we realized, it couldn't fly.  One of its wings hadn't developed properly.  We put that one back in the habitat and we'll continue to feed it until it dies.  (Their lifespan is fairly short.)

Can you see the butterfly flying away?

 If you're interested in doing this yourself...

We got our kit from InsectLore, though there are likely other sources.  I bought ours from an educational supply store in town, but they can also be ordered online.  I think the original kit was about $26 (?) and included the butterfly house and a coupon to send in for the caterpillars, which are shipped when the weather is warm enough for the caterpillars to survive the trip in the mail and the butterflies to survive release.  Meaning, if I sent my coupon back in January, I probably wouldn't get caterpillars until April or May.  Depends on your climate.  We've done ours in the summer.  Getting a new batch of caterpillars cost me $15 (for five).

You'll get a plastic container with five tiny caterpillars and a brown clay-like goo that is their food.  They will crawl around and eat this for a week or more, and you can watch them grow rapidly and shed their skins.  You don't need to do a thing for them but keep them warm enough (house temp) and out of direct sunlight.

Then they'll build their chrysalides.  At the top of the plastic cup, the lid is lined with paper to which they attach their chrysalides, usually within a day of each other.  At that point you need to carefully remove the paper from the lid and attach it in the butterfly house.  We taped it to the "roof".

Again, you can watch the chrysalides change.  They start out very dark and eventually become fairly transparent before they hatch, after another week-to-a-week-and-a-half.  The whole process is about three weeks.

We feed ours with moist fruit (orange or peach slices) and a flower sprinkled with sugar water.

The boys like watching them unroll their proboscis (plural?) to eat.

Theoretically, you could keep them in the cage, provide the proper kind of leafy material (mallow plants) and repeat the life-cycle indefinitely, but we just let ours go.

InsectLore guarantees at least three live hatches or they will replace your caterpillars.  Our first time we released all five.  This time, one died at hatching and another apparently has one malformed wing and can't fly, but we released three and will feed 'him' until he dies, probably within a couple of weeks.  Their lifespan is pretty short!

Hope that helps.  It's a fun little project :D

Saturday, July 17, 2010

More Birthday... At the Skate Park

Shopping for a 14 year old isn't always easy.
Too old for toys.
Not interested in clothes.  (Yay!)

But this always works...

... because what he wanted was this...

Pretty cool, yah?

And off we went to the Skate Park so he could show me his stuff.

Scoping it all out.

Dropping in...

...popping out and over... couch cushions?

And so it goes.

Friday, July 16, 2010


In a startling breach of family tradition we actually celebrated someone's birthday
on their actual birthday
(as opposed to the nearest weekend).
Wyatt turned 14 on Tuesday. 

I can hardly believe it.

We had a really fancy party...
... in the backyard, followed by...
... present time...
... Aunty Tami cleverly attached money to one of Wyatt's favorite snacks -
Rice Krusty Krispy Treats...
... while Tate watched from his own chair...
... Gunnar wanted a closer look at Wyatt's RC Helicopter...
... followed by Wyatt's favorite -
raspberry pie.

While it was not quite as breath-taking as last year's party,
when he learned he was going to Disneyland,
we had a fun time celebrating and he was thrilled to receive enough
money and gift certificates to buy a new skateboard he's been wanting.

More pics of that later...

But my oh my, what a year this has been for Wyatt!
Seems like he is changing before my eyes
from a boy to a young man.
Okay, the boy is definitely still there (!) but I see him growing and maturing.
Doing more things independently.
Acting and looking more mature.
(Did you catch the peach fuzz on his upper lip?)

Seems like just yesterday he was
this little monkey!
(Vacation, 2002)

Happy Birthday, Wyatt!