Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Oobleck, Popsicles and Friends

Making a mess is fun, it's the clean up that's terrible. We got a little stir crazy one day and decided to make a mess. A mess that cleans up in no time, so you can enjoy it even more. And because everything is extra fun with a friend, we invited over Carson and Brooklyn to play with us. 

We whipped up a batch of Oobleck and got our mess on. Hailey and Carson were into it. The two other littles preferred to play elsewhere. 

We also made some homemade popsicles, but I didn't completely think through how long it takes for them to freeze. So, instead the kids enjoyed Otter Pops. But, really, there wasn't any complaining. To a kid a popsicle is a popsicle, right?

And of course there was taste testing all around. Gotta try 'em all, right?

Friends, summertime and popsicles make for a great combo! I hope these kiddos stay friends for a long time. They are adorable together.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Curtis the Cheeseman.

I have a long lost brother who lives in North Carolina. 

Ok, he's really not long lost, we just don't get to see him often enough. North Carolina is too far away!

Luckily weddings bring family together. Curtis and Chelsea flew out for Corinne's wedding and stayed a little extra to play and visit. I'm so glad they were able to come! I really miss having them close. 

Curtis is the Cheeseman. For reals. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in food science at North Carolina State University. He is so smart. Just like my dad- so many good brains in those two. His research is dairy and cheese related. So he spends a lot of his time making cheese! Curtis and Chelsea haven't bought cheese in the 3 years since they moved to North Carolina. Curtis makes enough of it at work and brings home the excess he doesn't need for his research. Lucky ducks- cheese can be expensive!

My request while they were here visiting was to make cheese. Curtis recommended we purchase a cheesemaking kit from online because it had all of the necessary tools we would need, besides milk. It takes a whole gallon of milk to make just one pound of cheese. That's so much milk!

One afternoon we busted out the kit and made ourselves a pound of mozzarella. The kit says it has enough ingredients to make 30 one pound batches. That means we can make 29 more pounds of cheese! Yes!

Hailey started us off by dissolving the enzymes and citric acid in water.

Curtis added it to the milk and let it cook on the stove.

It felt like we did a lot of waiting for the milk to reach the proper temperature.

But then magic happened. The curds began pulling away from the pot.

When the curds were firm enough we drained them with cheesecloth. 

And squeezed out all of the excess liquid.

Back to the stove it went, just to heat back up in preparation for pulling and stretching.

Now our cheese is ready to be pulled. 

And stretched.

Just like taffy. But not as sweet. But still so delicious!

Ta-da! One pound of fresh mozzarella cheese. It was warm and delicious. Even a little bit addicting. I love cheese. :)

Now I really don't know the science behind it all. When I see Curtis I tend to pick his brain about all sorts of topics food and cooking related. I know I asked all sorts of questions wanting to understand the science of cheese. And now I've already forgotten it. I guess Curtis and Chelsea need to come back and make some more cheese with us. :)

I'm thinking the next time we make some cheese we should also make some pizza dough. And maybe even some homemade root beer or ice cream (or both!), and have a real homemade pizza night. Yes, sounds like a good idea to me! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Keira: 19 Months

I typically like to post details about Hailey and Keira's growth and achievements at the same age that they have doctor well-checks. Mostly this is just for myself to document and remember what they were like at this age. With how busy life was, I missed the 18 month mark with Keira. So, here is a little bit about Keira at 19 months (close enough, right?)

This little girl is getting so big. She is starting to say more and more new words. She says: mom (ma), dad (da), Hailey (hay-yee), Papa, Rara, baby (day-dee), puppy (pup, or puh-poo), banana (nana), please (eez), thank you (tant-yoo), hot (ha), shoes, duck, up, help, monkey (ah-tee), book (buh)... and I'm sure there's others that I can't think of at the moment. Just recently it seems like she is picking up a new word or two a week.

Besides spoken words she is still really good at motioning for what she wants help with. She pulls my hand and leads me all over the place. She positions my hands right where they should go to do what she wants me to do. She points. And she puppy dog whines. I really don't know what else to call it. She has been doing this since she very first became vocal, since her birthday or before. If she wants anything she makes a high pitched noise over and over that resembles a puppy dog whine. I don't know how else to explain it. Keira is also a master and the no-head-shake. If she doesn't want something she lets me know by whipping that head back and forth. Occasionally I'll get a nod for yes out of her too.

Keira imitates Hailey and the older kids they play with. She wants to be right in the thick of things too and tries hard to keep up. Hailey was playing hide-and-seek with my dad just on Sunday. Keira watched and began covering her eyes hiding behind a wall and said what sounded like 1-2-3. Then she would jump out from the wall screaming and laughing. 

Keira loves to read books- on her terms. We still can't finish a book and tend to skip all over the place. She usually has a favorite page in the book she searches for and likes to spend a long time on. Her favorite books are any with pictures of animals.

We love to do puzzles together. If we're not reading books, Keira and I are down on the floor dumping out puzzles and putting them back together. Keira has a decent amount of patience. She takes her time and turns pieces around and tries again. Eventually she gets frustrated and asks for help. If I hand the piece back to her and encourage her she usually is good to try again. One of my favorite things she says is "I-did-it!" or "I-got-it!" after putting a piece in, or after accomplishing any sort of task. She loves to build with legos and can spend a good amount of time playing with Mr. Potato Head.

Keira also loves her baby and hugs and carries it all over the house. Like any girl, she loves to push the baby in the stroller. Baby never has clothes on though. If she is dressed Keira asks me to undress her. I get in trouble when I put her clothes back on.

Most of our markers and some of the crayons have their tips bitten off. Keira loves to color, but she also loves to put them in her mouth. When they aren't in her mouth, she does love to scribble on paper, usually quickly moving from color to color. She tends to throw a fit when I put them away.

Keira is our trouble maker. That little girl gets into everything. She went through a phase of playing in the toilet. Once I found her holding a cheese stick in one hand and swirling her other hand in the toilet. I just hope the cheese stick didn't get dipped in. I've also seen her stick her hand in right after Hailey used the toilet and before she flushed. So gross! She thinks it's a fun game to rip off toilet paper and drop it in the toilet. And once she submerged my new-to-me ipod in the toilet. Luckily Kyle saved it by sticking it in a bag of rice. 

She is also a climber. Keira has been caught standing on top of the table in the playroom, and jumping on Hailey's bed (which requires her to pull out the drawer under the bed, climb onto the drawer, and then pull herself onto the bed using the bedspread as leverage.) She also likes to climb from either the couch or the Monster Sak onto the small ledge that runs the length of the family room. It is just barely wide enough to fit her body. She gets a kick out of running and jumping on the couches in the living room and climbing all over and sliding down the Monster Saks in the family room. Her latest trick is to hold onto the side of the couch in the living room and to arch her back as far as she can go. One of these days I just know she is going to let go and get hurt. I know kids get into a lot of things, and I know there are kids more active and curious than Keira, but this girl is a whole different child than Hailey. We're still trying to adjust to Keira's antics.

Keira can be a bit wild, but she is also quite clingy. She is outgoing and friendly when I'm near and holding her hand. But if I'm not right next to her (or sometimes when I am!) it is quite the opposite story. I have had people just look at her (usually men) and have her burst into screaming tears. At the park she likes to hold my hand and lead me all over. It can take her a little bit of time to feel comfortable enough to explore on her own. At the same time, Keira is not cuddly. Not. At. All. She has never fallen asleep in our arms. She refuses to cuddle with me. But she often wants to sit in my lap. 

Keira is finally in nursery! Happy day! She cried the first 6 weeks or so. But... this last Sunday was a breakthrough. No crying! I think she is finally adjusting and getting used to the idea. Hooray!

This girl is so fun. She makes us all happy and adds a whole new dynamic to our family. The past six months have been fun seeing her personality come alive.   

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Corinne's Wedding

It is still hard for me to grasp that my little sister is married. In fact all 3 of us kids in my family are now married. We're so old! :)

Corinne's wedding went over great. No major hiccups, no cold feet, and two very happy people.

I spent a lot of time helping my mom and sister prepare for the wedding. It was nice to have a real motivator to get creative. (Click over to my other blog to see the details I helped create.) Sometimes I need that extra push to get going.

Corinne and Taylor chose to have an open house in Washington the weekend before the actual wedding. The timing of that worked out well- Kyle's parents were going to be in Utah that weekend. They were able to watch the girls for me so I could go to Washington with my parents and help with the open house. We swapped houses for the weekend. They stayed at our house in Utah and we stayed at their house in Washington. 

Not only was the open house that weekend, but Corinne also went through the temple for the first time there and was given a bridal shower for friends in Washington as well. We were there just for the weekend, so it was super busy. Busy, but really not stressful, which was nice.


The wedding day was your typical wedding day: long and exhausting. 

I think this picture says it all. Wedding day is looong for little (and big) kids.
 No really, it was good. We sweated. We were tired. But it was all worth it to support and celebrate with Corinne and Taylor. Plus, at the end of the day we were rewarded with Cold Stone ice cream and Italian sodas. (And now we get to reap the benefits of left overs at Papa and Rara's house. :) 

Curtis and Chelsea made the trek from North Carolina. SO good to see them!
Proof I was there, thanks to Curtis. I guess that is my payment for taking a picture of him, he gets one of me.

Who needs a guest book when you can have a quilt?
Cold Stone ice cream! This was definitely a hit.
Italian Sodas- there is still so much left over. Slushie anyone?

A BIG congratulations to Corinne. Welcome to the family Taylor! We're glad you're here to stay. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yard Re-Do, Part 1: Topsoil

When we bought our house two years ago the backyard was over run with weeds. It really was about half weeds, and half grass. The house was rented for a few years before we bought it, and so the yard wasn't kept up like it should have been. Just after we moved in we spent a weekend with Kyle's family just clearing out the junk that had accumulated underneath the deck. The following year we spent a weekend installing a new patio.

I don't think this picture really does justice to the mess of a yard we inherited.
Now, two years later we're really getting down to business. The yard has always been so over run with weeds the girls haven't been able to spend much time playing in the backyard. We really haven't ever sat out in our yard and enjoyed it. We want to turn it into a space that we can all enjoy together. To do that, we chose to completely start over. That meant killing all of the vegetation that was growing back there, tilling up the dirt, bringing in new dirt, and leveling out the ground.

To start, we rented an aerator from Home Depot. Kyle wanted to poke the ground to death before bringing in a tiller, in hopes that it would help the tiller break up the dirt better. The aerator was scary. At least I thought so. Kyle had me try it once. I felt like it was pulling me along for the ride and I panicked and drove it right up the side of the fence! Kyle of course thought it was hilarious. I conceded that if he finished up aerating the yard he could go see a movie with a friend later that week. I wasn't about to try it again!

After the aerator we rented a tiller. A BIG tiller. This thing was a beast. It tore through the ground like nobody's business. It was fantastic!

Kyle made a few passes over the whole backyard and then it was time to bring in the dirt. Check out that pile of topsoil in our driveway! Just for future reference: we ordered 13 cu. ft., and then Kyle had another 4 delivered the next weekend, so 17 cu. ft. in total. We needed a lot of dirt. The yard was pretty uneven, with some big sink spots just before the fence line. The dirt was used to make the soil softer for the new grass we'll bring in (our soil is pretty heavily clay), and also to fill in the gaps and smooth out and level the ground. 

To move the dirt we brought in the big guns: Kyle's sisters and their significant others. :) This Hill family is so fantastic. They are always so willing to come over and help us with the yard work we need done. It is great. It makes things go so much faster! 

Here's a photo dump of the process:

Our yard is riddled with roots. The trees on the other side of our fence line have been around for years, their roots show it- like this one!
Brittany, Clark, and Hailey taking an Otter Pop break.

I love the Otter Pop in Chelsie's mouth while she digs.
Hailey even got in on the raking. She did pretty well, it was actually helpful!

All done! So much better, right? Now the ground is level and free of weeds. We just need some grass. That is for another day.

As a side note: Hailey was funny. Cody laid down in the grass and Hailey ran and grabbed the umbrella from her play kitchen to shade the two of them.

She then used her ice powers to freeze the sun.

Oh to be 4 again...


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