Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ostara Egg Hunt

Last Monday, just before the spring equinox, we had an Ostara Egg Hunt with the tribe at our usual park. Beth brought balloons and made swords, puppy dogs and hats. Conor, Scotty & Sorscha.
We brought balloon pendants to share. Here Emma & Clare are enjoying their bubbles.

Most of the tribe who turned out for the day -- too many to name them all here, but quite a crew!

Sleeping upside down

Not just for bats anymore!
After a long day of hair-coloring, this is how we found Dan moments after he'd asked Gary to snuggle with him in our bed. Upside-down in the rocking chair, with his head hanging off! When Gary ran off to get the camera, I was worried Dan might fall off and hurt himself before Gary got back for the shot.


A rare picture of Dan not in motion. The multi-color hair is the from the color job we did last week. He wanted blue and yellow stripes. I'd told him I didn't think we could get blond in his hair. then only after I'd mixed up the blue (and tested it on my hair -- I have a lovely blue section) he decided we had to run to Walgreens for true-black, so he could have blue & black stripes. By the time we got back from buying the blue-black color, apparently the activator in the one-step blue color had finished up, so the stripes that were supposed to be blue came out yellow, and the black looks kinda midnight blue in the sun.

He ended up with a big blonde streak on top -- split on both sides of his part - and two more blonde patches lower in his hair, and at the nape of his neck.

I was worried when I saw the blue rinse out, but Dan was and is thrilled with the outcome. I see myself buying more hair color in months and years to come. He's recently announced his intention to grow his hair long, so he may end up with a mosaic of colors by the time he's done.

We'll see what he does -- he's not the first of our boys to do some wild hair styles. At four, Will had spikes on top, razor stripes at the temple, and a curly, white blond rattail. He was stylin'! By 10, Will's hair was in a skater cut and starting to curl (happens to all the boys in my family, even
Andy used to have shiny, straight hair). By 15, he was shaving it nearly bald (another hair rite of passage for the boys in my family), then grew it out at 18 into some long, very wild, wavy curls. Now it's shaved again, since he finds the curl too unmanageable for his job as a cook. I miss his hair!

Andy had his hair long -- shoulder-length wet, shorter dry and curly -- but chose a haircut about 6 wks ago. He regretted it the next day, and has been on a mission to grow it back out ever since.

We've done long hair for both the younger boys before, but each chose to cut it when some stranger mistook him for a girl. They've pretty much decided to ignore the people who think they're girls just because their hair is long. What baffles me is they dress very much like boys, and I never assume that long hair = girl.

Park time

This past week, we've twice gone across town to a favorite playground. The boys really love this one for the climber -- they alternately call it the park Spiderman park or Eiffel Tower park.Andy on the swing
Competing the catch a frisbee -- looks like Dan won!

A race to the top! It ended in a tie, so the natural next thing to do is....

Have a race back down!


We're also giving some eggs a try. We got 16 eggs from Jenny & Chris, along with a small brooder, last week. We set up the brooder, got the temperature right and added our eggs late last Friday afternoon.

The numbers are to help me keep track of how often I turn the eggs. They're supposed to be turned twice a day, so in the morning I put them all with the 1 showing; at evening, I turn them to the 2. The t-shirt is to keep them from rolling away and cracking (lost one the first day that way) while I turn them. I'm also hoping it will keep the temperature constant for them.

We've had some small challenges with the brooder -- for about an hour on Saturday the temp in the brooder dropped below 97 (tho the eggs still felt quite warm to the touch) and we worked to warm it up quickly. Now it's been in the 102 - 103 range consistently since then, so we're hoping for the best. Next Monday, after 10 days incubation, we'll be able to candle them to see if we have any baby chicks or just rotten eggs!

The plan is to keep two hens for our own egg production -- having them roost in a pet carrier indoors at night, and out in the garden at least part of each day -- and return any more we get to the farm.

Our Garden is alive!

Last week, we finally got the garden in. Outside, we planted carrots, buttercrunch lettuce, onions, 12 strawberries (Quinnault) and an Elberta peach tree. Indoors, we started seeds for -- marigold, sunflowers (Mammoth & Teddy Bear), tomatoes (Ace & Celebrity), purple sweet peppers, banana peppers, cantaloupe and a container of zucchini.

Yesterday, I planted another variety of carrots, along with some radishes to mark my carrot area. Today, I started our watermelon seeds inside -- we had chosen a seedless, icebox size variety and found we'd need to plant another variety for pollination. I picked up the second variety -- one called Moon & Stars, with very colorful rinds -- on Sunday, and planted them all at the same time today.

Today, we have plants!

This is our peach tree, greening up very nicely. It's the first tree I've ever planted and I was little worried.
The vitex we planted Sunday evening -- the boys fought over who would dig the hole for it. Andy really loves to dig, and hadn't done much gardening yet, so I offered him the job. As it turned out, Andy dug the hole and together they filled the dirt back in around the hole. So far, so good. This plant is one I hope to harvest for an herbal remedy or tea.

Three tiny onions! When I was a girl, in Oklahoma, my grandma always grew this kind of onion. We called them green onions. In recipes, I've seen them called spring onions. I find them much milder than larger onions, and much better suited to our appetites.

Our first strawberry flower -- we are so excited! On checking we found bud clusters on the other 11 plants we put in last week. This past Sunday, I added four more strawberry plants -- of a different variety.

Two zucchini seedlings - I started these in a planter, as an experiment. I've been told you can't plant zucchini here before July 1, or they'll be covered in squash bugs. Two years ago, I planted some zucchini, in April, in the small flower bed in front of our house -- before I 'knew' it was too early -- and had plenty of zucchini, with never a squash bug. Being in a new house, I figured I'd try here with just a few seeds. I'll put the planter outside in the sun during the days -- after last frost -- and bring it in at night, hoping to avoid bugs. I also planted two seeds just today in a seed pot to put in the garden, trying the squash bug temptation round the clock. In any case, I'll be starting several zucchini plants in my garden after July 1, as well. I love zucchini and don't want to wait until late August to have it fresh from my own garden.
Sunflowers -- we have two varieties, the larger-leaf ones are Mammoth (huge yellow flowers) the smaller ones (on the right) are Teddy Bear, which makes a smaller flower with more petals and fewer seeds.
This came up in our carrot patch -- while we're quite sure it's not carrot (only day 8 so too soon) we left it to grow so we can see just what it is. If it's undesirable, we'll pull it by the weekend.
Dan, trying to run away after blocking my shot of the plant that grows near our driveway. I have no idea what it is. When we moved in, it had been run over so many times it was a bedraggled stick. I like a bush to mark the driveway, so I encouraged it to recover. I think it had flowers briefly in early fall, but I've forgotten what color they were.
This is my rose bush, in the front yard. When we bought this house last July, it was looking very neglected, rangy and not very green, but with blooms, most of which were brown and crinkly looking. Obviously it hadn't been watered in a long time. What I found after moving in, is that he in-ground drip watering system doesn't work. Nothing in the front yard was getting any water. Not a problem for the yucca, pinon or sage. but not good for the rose. I watered it all every day -- after our big rainy season ended -- and was rewarded with roses that bloomed until mid-October -- white and fragrant. On March 1, I pruned the rose bush and I've watered it daily since. I hope to have roses by April or May!
Some marigolds we started indoors. These were the first seeds to come up for us.

We also have some tomatoes up indoors -- very tiny, too tiny to get a photo up yet, but I'll post more about the tomatoes soon.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Tent Rocks

Yesterday a group of us went to Tent Rocks National Monument. It's in the Cochiti Pueblo on land managed by the BLM. The Cochiti name for it is Kasha-Katuwe, which means white cliffs.

Here's the only group shot of all the kids -- (l-r) Andy, Judson, Spencer, Dan (trying to escape the shot) and Sorscha. Sorsha in her flip-flops, was the only person more poorly shod for this outing than I was. Even Susan wore 'real' shoes!
Andy, just as we set out. I don't have any posed shots of Dan, given his dislike for photos -- but there is a nice picture of him farther down the blog.

We had two trail choices. I was pretty sure we'd chosen the Cave Loop -- the important part of that name, for me, being that it was supposed to be a loop, so none of the climbing ahead would be repeated. Later I would find I was mistaken. We had chosen the harder climb, up to the top.

The first very cool thing we saw was this tree with the great exposed roots. Perfect for scrambling up. Here you can see Sorsha, Spencer, Dan & Judson.

We hiked thru Slot Canyon, so named because the passage is like a slot. A long, winding, slot, with lots of rocks to climb over. Add in the three water bottles and three sweaters I was carrying and it was quite a climb!

An added bonus was the snow! We had record
snowfall in New Mexico this past winter, and in some places that never see the sun in the canyon, there's still some very tired-looking snow. It's pretty well-packed, but it's also beginning to melt, so small trickles of water were found almost everywhere once we were in Slot Canyon. As we came down later, there was more water, with long rivulets of melted snow. Had we waited until next week to come, it would have been a very muddy climb in many places.

Here's Dan heading thru the canyon. As I caught this shot, he was calling to me over his shoulder to hurry up. I replied that any group of climbers is only as fast as its slowest pack mule!

Here's the whole gang taking a break at about the midway point of the climb up. It was a spectacular day, with the most intensely blue sky, puffy clouds and just the right warm enough to climb comfortably.

A shot of my best hiking shoes.
They carried me the whole way, with plenty of traction, actually and only once or twice did I consider just taking them off and hiking barefoot!

This shot was about 3/4 of the way of our trip up. The sun was just behind the rock formation above us on the trail. It was just too beautiful to overlook.

The view from the top -- well as near to the top as Crystal, Linda & I got. The last step up to the top involved a log/step that was about chest high for me. Getting up was possible, but none of us was too sure about getting down in one piece! By this time, we'd figured out that there wasn't a loop here, we'd be coming back down the way we'd just climbed up. And I was done for by then.
Susan climbed to the top with the kids, because the kids had gone on ahead, and someone had to be there to be sure no one fell off the mountain!
The boys said I missed some great views from the very top and insisted we have to go back again with Gary -- and I have to promise we'll all climb all the way to the top.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

fly wheel ramp

Last night, Dan found a FlyWheel he'd forgotten he had. He remembered seeing the launcher in the carport and wanted me to get it for him. He pointed it out to me, but couldn't reach it himself so I got it for him. This kid notices everything, stores the data for later and then trots it out when it serves him. He's always been our finder of lost things.
The FlyWheel is launched using the zipcord and trigger device. It rolls -- really fast and dangerous-looking -- away from the launcher in a pretty uncontrolled manner. I can just see the grin on the face of the crazy guy who invented this toy! His family probably still tells legendary tales of the time he launched the family cat into space.

We used to have a ramp, but it got broken and thrown out. Dan looked around for ideas. He found his skateboard. He asked me to hold it at an angle while he launched the wheel at me, er I mean at the ramp! No, I'm just a bit too smart for that one -- I am not doing an episode of Jackass in my living room. Certainly not starring in it anyway.

He finds the PowerRangers ball, and it's the perfect angle for his ramp. Now he needs something to jump -- after all what good is a ramp if you're not jumping something?Ah, Dad's briefcase. And Dan's toolbox. A real daredevil needs to jump more than one thing, right?

The wheel did jump the ramp and briefcase/toolbox obstacle a time or two. And it ran off course to the far wall a time or two. Another time or several, it missed the ramp by just a bit, ricocheted off the briefcase and Dan had to duck to avoid being hit a time or two.
By this time snapped this shot, the errant wheel had already flown past Dan's head.

Just another example of why our living room always looks wonderfully strewn.

Doing things Dan's way

Dan & Gary went off Home Depot for the kids' workshop and came home with a butterfly house, made by Dan! Until butterfly season, Dan's using it as a mailbox outside the door to his bedroom. The top slides open so that you can put a treat -- a banana peel or maybe a cut orange -- to attract butterflies to the house, where they'll find your flowers or garden instead. Maybe his butterflies will help out in my herb garden!

Gary related a bit of what happened, and I want to share it here because it brightened my day.

The workshop had several kids, each with a parent. Across the table from Gary & Dan was a Dad with his daughter. Gary described that Dad as the 'Boy Scout Soapbox Derby' kinda Dad - follow all the rules, make sure your kid turns out a project that's 'right' and does it the right way. Lots of unsolicited advice, too.

When they opened up the kit, Dan chose to put his nails in the safety goggles Home Depot provided, so the nails wouldn't roll away while he worked. The Dad across the table said, "You're supposed to wear the goggles -- to protect your eyes." Right, because Gary & Dan might not know what goggles are. Gary replied, "We know they're goggles. Dan decided he'd rather use them to keep his nails from rolling off the table." and went on assisting Dan with his butterfly house.

The table was too tall for most of the kids, so Dan and a few others kids moved to the floor to work. "Rules" Dad and his daughter stayed at the table -- that's where you're supposed to work - even tho it meant the girl was hammering at shoulder-level.

I loved hearing how Gary supported Dan's choice to work with the tools his way. He didn't insist Dan use the safety goggles. If they'd been doing something really dangerous, say drilling, Gary would have encouraged Dan to wear his goggles, and it would have made sense to use them, but for simply nailing into a board, the goggles were more useful -- to Dan -- as a nailpan.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Chinese New Year

In my blogging craze today, I came across the pictures I took at Chinese New Year -- two weeks ago -- so I'll post them now.

Crystal called to invite us to meet her family and Susan's at Chinese New Year in midtown. I spotted them in the crowd, all the way across the square -- much too far to call out -- but when I tried to call Crystal on her cel phone, I got voice mail. Because she left her phone in her van while at the celebration!
There were the usual exhibitions of different Chinese martial-arts styles. This one was popular with the kids, because the fighters staged a silly argument and the 'fight' started with one carelessly hitting the other with a fighting stick slung over his shoulder -- very three stooges style.
This is the butterfly dancer who wakes the lions in the spring.
Right before the monk gets drunk and passes out....Allowing the lions to get drunk and pass out. At which time the evil spirit shows up, makes mischief and is finally chased off by the lions.

And finally, it's time to set off the traditional strand of 50,000 black-cat firecrackers -- no Asian New Year's Day is complete without this step! Andy is so excited! He loves the firecracker part of New Year's.
It starts out already too loud for Dan, who covers his ears even before the noise starts.

By the end, it's even too loud for Andy -- and that's saying a lot!

Spring Soccer!

At long last, it's soccer time again. Dan has been asking when soccer starts back up since his birthday. He was so excited all week, knowing he'd play today!We were the first to arrive, and the boys kicked the ball around off-field. Here they're chasing it back towards the field.
Dan with Gary, just as they spotted the coach arriving.

Kicking the ball around before the game.
Gary & Dan watching the game during the first quarter. With five players, three are on the field and two sit out each quarter.
Dan, at his turn for kick-off at the center line. I've not been to a game since their first one in September. That first day, the boys all played so tentatively, and today they were really putting their all into it. Full contact collisions, kids rolling over as they fell, several collisions where it ended up looking like a dogpile.
Players from both teams, chasing the ball which is off-camera.
I've heard it said that in the early years of soccer, it's basically a group of kids clustered together chasing a ball. Apparently in later years they develop a style that doesn't leave them running over each other the whole game.

It really was a beautiful day, amazing blue sky, snow on the mountains and bright sun, but still just more than a little cold -- as they day went on, the wind kicked up, making us really cold. We're still trying to get warm and we've been home almost an hour!