Monday, September 28, 2009

Moving earth

This week was another week of yard work. We moved about 8 inches of soil from the high point in our yard and pushed it back toward the back fence so there is no longer a hump, more of a level yard. We probably still have to level a bit more, but it's getting close.

I decided that one of the previous owners just didn't care about the yard. As we have been digging things up, we have found all sorts of treasures (garbage) buried beneath the soil. Tons of old rusty nails, bouncy balls, trash, pop can lids, etc. It's just amazing to me that people could do that to their own house/yard. The missionaries came over on Saturday morning to help us dig sprinkler lines. I do have a small blister on my hand as a souvenir from the weekend's work. Saturday night I went back out after it cooled down and hauled some more wheelbarrows of soil. When we were loading gravel, I could only haul about 1/2 wheelbarrow of rocks by myself without dumping it. It was nice to be able to completely fill the wheelbarrow with soil and still be able to move it. Now I know our wheelbarrow is smaller than Dad's green one, but it was still satisyfing that I have some strength in my upper body.

My sort-of neightbor brought over 3 ice cream buckets full of elderberries for me. I think I'm going to make jelly. Ryan and I spent a rainy wednesday afternoon pulling the elderberries off of the stems while watching a movie. It was a long and tedious project. We decided to freeze them while we found the juicer in the basement. We finally are going to get to use the juicer I picked up at the DI 5 years ago.

I started reading Austenland after reading a newspaper article about the author Shannon Hale. I was not that impressed with it. While the girls were here, Audrey was reading Princess Academy also by the same author. I checked that out from the library and I loved the book! Especially when I got to the really good part - remember that Audrey?

Ryan started a new series called Shadow Children. He has been reading them non-stop. Well, only when he is not out in the yard with the tiller. There were 7 books in the series but the longest one was only about 220 pages. For Ryan you can't tell a decent story in under 1000 pages.

A few weeks ago I cut up a bunch of jalapeno peppers to freeze to make salsa later. About 1 hour later, my hands were burning. I thought maybe I burnt my hands in the hot water when I was washing dishes. But it mostly was burning in between my fingers. We were in the car driving to denver when they started burning and there was nothing I could do about it. They had that burning feeling for 4-5 hours before it subsided. So after talking to Mom, I figured out it was not the hot water that burnt me, but the seeds and insides of the jalapeno peppers. So ryan wanted to test it out. I brought home some latex gloves from work to use next time we cut up these peppers, but Ryan didn't want to use them. He wanted to see if he had the same reaction as I did. So we are waiting to see if his hands start burning. I think he is crazy for wanting to test the theory. Why submit yourself to such intense agony?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More about the yard

Lately our lives revolve around the backyard. While the girls were here, we completely massacred the garden. Something was getting in and eating our tomatoes. Not just pecking at them, but eating out the whole tomato and leaving the skin. It was weird. The tomato plants had grown so thick and big that we couldn't get in to pick them. So we ripped out the two cucumber plants that were producing crappy cucumbers. We ripped out 2 mostly dead tomato plants and then we cut back the remaining tomato plants. When I say cut back, I mean huge cuts. We cut off everything that was on the ground. We picked the green tomatoes off the vines we had cut off and brought them inside to ripen. We must have had 100 green tomatoes or more on our desk by the window. We had tons more orange tomatoes on the kitchen counter waiting to ripen. The picture is after I had frozen about 1/2 of what was there. Should have taken a picture before.

Every few days, I take ripe tomatoes and scald them, then skin them and put them in buckets to freeze so I can make salsa later in the winter. I've been cutting up the jalapenos and green peppers and freezing them as well for my salsa. Just the other day we remembered that Ryan is allergic to something in the process of skinning the tomatoes. I've been trying to do it when he is not at home. It makes him all stuffed up with watery eyes.

I taught Ryan how to make pickles so he can do them on his own, but he hasn't had to yet. Our zucchini plant is producing like crazy. I've been shredding and freezing it as well so I can make zucchini bread at some point.

Since out massacre, we haven't had anything bother our tomatoes again and we can finally reach the cherry tomatoes on the plant. One cherry tomato plant had grown over the zucchini plant to the edge of the garden and turned around was heading back to the tomato cage. When we cut the cherry tomato plant, we discovered it had grown over a green pepper cage and there was a green pepper plant we had forgotten about.

We bought a tiller last week and Ryan tilled up the backyard. Every night after work we go outside and Ryan uses the tiller while I pick up rocks or dig up old sprinkler lines until dark, then we come in and eat dinner and then make pickles or scald tomatoes. It's been hard work, but we feel like we are finally getting somewhere with the yard.

This morning we woke up to dogs in our backyard. The neighbor through the back fence has 3 very large dogs and they had broken down some boards on the fence and were running around our yard. They left us lots of piles of dog poop. Of course the dog poop is not in some corner where we don't walk. It's all on the patio or on the garden pathway. I went over and knocked on his door to tell him his dogs were out. He didn't apologize and when I told him the dogs had knocked down part of the fence, his response was "oh I'll try to get to that later". If the dogs show up in our backyard again - animal control just might need to be called. Seriously -It's supposed to rain all week. The only good thing about that is maybe it will wash all the dog diarrhea poop of the patio.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two years ago

Two years ago today was one of the great days of our life. I had taken a home pregnancy test the night before, but I didn't believe it. But I believed it when the doctor congratulated us. I was so happy I cried.

I had a perma grin on my face and I was constantly lost in thought about decorating a baby's room, what colors and fabric to use, the quilts I would make, etc.

I daydreamed about baby names and telling our families and about quitting my job. Despite the nausea, it was one of the happiest times in our lives.

While it didn't end how I hoped it would, that positive pregnancy test gave me hope. Hope that having kiddos just might be in our future. Hope that just maybe we found the solution to our fertility problem. Hope that the meds and procedures would work for us again in a few months.

Two years later I still have hope. But the hope has changed. I've lost hope in becoming pregnant. I've lost hope in the meds and procedures. I've lost hope in having a baby boy with Ryan's red hair and brown eyes. But I do have hope in adoption. I have hope that we'll have a family with kiddos. I have hope that next year I'll be writing about changing diapers and getting up with a baby and car seats and spit up and all the great things to go along with it.

I have hope.

Monday, September 14, 2009

10 days ago

I should have written this post 10 days ago when the girls left. But, we were tired, exhausted, sleepy, worn out and remininsicing about all the fun times we had during this trip.

On their last day, they watched Harry Pothead 3 while Ryan made a big breakfast for them. They got all packed up and started their scrapbooks. Ryan set them up in my craft room and suggested a Harry Pothead marathon (of 1, 2 and 3 only) since I have a TV in my craft room.

The made fabulous scrapbook pages and went home with their scrapbook mostly done. I also introduced them to one of my favorite movies "North Avenue Irregulars".

One of our top secret projects was a levi quilt. I picked up the flannel a few years back thinking it would be perfect for this. The girls helped me put it on the quilt frames and then tie it. It was fun pointing out which squares were from Lindsay, Luke, my Grandpa Beck, my padre, Ryan, and some of my pants. The four big pocket a squares in the center are from mine and Ryan's pants. So we hope the entire Connecticut family enjoys this.

Another one of the projects we did was bags. The girls saw a bag I had made like this and they wanted to make one as well. We went through my scrap boxes and found some fabric that each liked. I made skirts out of both the fabrics that the girls chose. Should have taken a picture of them with their bag and me in my skirt. :) The girls helped me lay it out, then cut it out, pin it and sew it.

Audrey and her green bag

Tessa and her melon colored bag

The next morning Ryan took them to the airport while I headed to work. What a fantastic trip! Thanks for sharing your girls with us and you can send them back anytime you want!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Making a lot of cents

Today was a day of rest...kind of. At 6:30 Ryan, Tessa, and Audrey were off to the Denver mint while I headed off to work for an all day meeting. Some of you may know Ryan's previous opinion of the mint, only two darling nieces could have ended up getting him back there. A few years ago they changed the tour, they made it easier to get a tour and it's not nearly as long or as boring as it used to be. Today happened to be a really good day because they are celebrating 200 years of the Denver mint being in operation and they handed out free pennies (they are the third one in a series of 4 new pennies) and a blank penny coin that was never stamped. When was the last time the government gave you money?

After the tour of the mint Ryan, Tessa and Audrey had a nice day at the house. Ryan suggested to the girls that they should do activities where Ryan could take a nap. Instead, they went on a bike ride to a park, watched Princess Diaries (Ryan did shut an eye or two during the movie), played Master Detective Clue and played with Star Wars toys. After Carrie got home they went off to the batting cages. When Ryan said that both of the girls could hit the ball really well Tessa responded, "Well, I have been playing softball for 3 years and Audrey has been playing for 2 years."

Batting Cages

After dinner the girls did a little TOP SECRET crafting and prepared to scrap tomorrow. I think we might finally be wearing them out. At 10pm tonight, Audrey was yawning and trying to stay awake, but Tessa was still ready to play games.

I can't believe tomorrow is our last day full of plans...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer day in Winter Park

One of our best days yet! We traveled to Winter Park and spent the day at their summer adventure park. We all had tons of fun and we all tried new things. Ryan and I were a little worried after our first ride on the alpine slide. Audrey didn't want to go alone, yet she was too tall to ride with someone else. So I rode on a sled in front of her with one hand on the control and one hand holding onto her sled. About 1/2 way down, my hand was really hurting and my arm was dead. I realized she was pulling the break the entire way so I was basically pulling her with my arm strength (that is pretty weak to begin with). After I got her to let up on the brake we started going a little easier, but very SLOW. Several times she asked me to slow down. I obliged. Next time Ryan went down with her. About 1/2 way down he let go of her sled and they continued down together but with her controlling her own sled. It was slow, but she was on her own. Tessa on the other hand took off and never really slowed down. She loved it and felt no fear or danger in going fast.

After several trips down the slide, we moved onto the Trampoline. They hook bungees onto the unflattering contraption you wear so that you can jump as high as you want and do all kinds of flips and tricks. Tessa and Audrey went and jumped high, but no flips. I tried to do flips. I was anything but graceful and despite wearing one of my longest shirts, I was still desperately trying to maintain my modesty as I was upside down. This activity is not for the out of shape like myself. I was breathing hard at the end of my turn. Tessa committed that if I would go again with her, she would try to do a flip. How can I say no to that? So up I went again. Tessa was able to do some flips and I think her words to describe it were "fabulous, can we do it again?"

After several more trips down the Alpine slide, we made our way back to the car for lunch. After our lunch break, we did a maze together. There was a time clock to punch in and out and prizes for times under 8 minutes. Our fist round we took 15 minutes. Ryan and the girls tried a second time and finished in six minutes and they each won a prize! Green bouncy balls which promptly got confiscated by Ryan until the end of the day.
We did some more alpine slide in which Audrey was progressing. She would now go on her own as long as either Ryan or I was the rider behind her. The first time I went behind her, I think she was too terrified to ever look and see how far behind her I actually was (about 100 yards), However, the next time, she was more comfortable on the slide and kept looking back to see where I was and if I was too far behind, she would slow down for me to catch up.
We went back to the trampoline and Audrey decided to try some flips. She was getting amazing air off each jump! She started doing some flips and then one time, she kept on flipping and did a 1 and 1/2. Once she realized she had plenty of air and time, she started doing double flips - meaning 2 flips off of one bounce. We missed getting that great moment on film.

We decided to give the rock wall a shot. Tessa wanted to go first and she wanted to try it barefoot. I told her there is absolutely no activity that should ever be done barefoot including swimming. She didn't believe me. She made it about 1/2 way up. Audrey went next and also made it 1/2 way up, but she kept her shoes on. I decided to be brave and possibly embarrass myself with my lack of upper body arm strength. I got about 2/3 the way up and the wall felt like it was moving and swaying with the wind. I kept my mouth shut about that fact as I didn't want to freak the girls out. I got stuck at one point. I didn't think I had any strength left to pull myself up. My arms were shaking. I finally got a good grip and pushed up and when I got to the top I pushed the bell you ring and then pushed it again several times for Ryan to record that my out of shape, no muscle body made it to the top. Ryan went last and was most of the way up the wall in about half the time it took anyone else. When he got about 3-4 hand-holds from the top he realized that he was going to have to kind of cross over from the right side to the left. Instead of actually trying to make it and risk the possibility of falling he just said "I'm done" and jumped off the wall. He later said he wished he'd at least tried.
Tessa tried it again, and again and finally decided to try it with shoes on and said it was much easier. See - no activity should ever be done without shoes...she made it further the last time she went.
Audrey gave it another go and about 2/3 of the way up, I realized I better get filming this as she was determined to make it the top. She just kept on going. I have no idea how as it was killing me and my arms and legs are way longer than hers. But she got to the top and rang that bell. (Braden - I got it on video, but it's too big for the blog)
There was a somewhat intriguing miniature golf course, but the girls said they didn't want to waste their time on that. They preferred flipping on the tramp or racing down the slide.
We decided to ride the Alpine slide the rest of the time until the park closed. By now Audrey was out of the slow lane and had moved into the advanced fast lane. I went behind her and I was trying to catch up with her and it took me all the way to the bottom 1/3 of the slide. By the last run of the day, she was cruising down the slide as if she was born doing this. And Tessa - no words can describe the speed at which she flew down the course.

After so many times of being called Mom and Dad by the attendants, we just gave up explaining and played along. It was fun to see the girls try everything and by the end of the day, they were really good at things that petrified them 7 hours earlier.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We are back

For those of you afraid that we had fallen off the earth we only went to the edge and then turned around and came back. On Monday and Tuesday we went to Rocky Mountain National Park. When we were planning this trip we gave the girls the choice between going to Mt. Rushmore and going camping in the Rocky Mountains, incredibly they chose the Rockies. We packed up on Monday and left at about 1:00. During the drive (about an hour long) we were able to hear more from the lives of Coconut the monkey and his friend(??) Sunny Days. We were also serenaded by the theme song of Sunny Days (the theme song to Sesame Street). Once we got there it was lightly raining so we decided to go on our hike before it started raining harder. We drove to the trailhead and hiked the 1.6 mile roundtrip hike to Alberta Falls and back.

The hike to Alberta Falls was pretty easy. There were some stairs at the beginning of the hike but after that it was mostly level or just slightly uphill. Before long we were at the falls. We saw several people up at the top of the falls so we kept on climbing and had the most fun playing on the rocks up above the falls.

One thing I left out was that on the drive to Alberta Falls a couple cars in front of us suddenly stopped and so did we. From the brush on the left side of the road a giant elk stepped out and then crossed the road right in front of us. It was awesome. Later on the drive from the hike back to our campsite we saw an entire group of elk.

When we got back to the campsite we set up the tent and Tessa and Audrey played on the big rocks that surrounded the camp. We started a fire and had roasted hot dogs for dinner. Ryan spent quite a bit of time roasting his 2nd hot dog and when it was finally done, he turned around to grab his bun and the perfectly cooked hot dog fell into the fire. When I opened the ketchup bottle, it exploded all over my pants and I had 1/2 cup of ketchup just sitting in my thigh. For dessert Ryan, Tessa and Audrey had smores while I roasted some delicious marshmallows all by themselves. Once we put out the fire we went into the tent and changed into our pj's. Tessa and Audrey did a little jig for us once they got dressed.

After a mostly restful night we got up and had a breakfast of yogurt and bagels. We then took down our camp and got all packed up to leave. Before we left we stopped by a river to play in it a while. We found a spot that was very rocky and the girls (all the girls, but not Ryan because he did not approve due to he lack of the safety of the activity) jumped around from rock to rock on the river.

We had planned to go to the Denver Children's Museum (the one that denied us entry because we had no kids) but the girls wanted to stay home and craft and we didn't mind staying home either. Tessa helped in the garden as we picked more tomatoes and cucumbers. The girls spent rest of the night crafting. Although Ryan wooed them from the craft room to watch Harry Potter 2 with him.