Monday, September 30, 2013

Enjoying the Fall

Fall is in full swing here, weather to die for. Lounge around on the deck in 75 degree kind of weather. I don't generally love fall, it's a season that just slides into winter way too easily. Winter is not fun. But I'm trying my hardest to enjoy this fall. I enjoyed another nice long walk Sunday. It's an easy way to get 7500 steps on the old pedometer. I speed walk and occasionally do a running spurt here and there to get the old ticker pumping. I tell you what, almost every single time I go walking I see one of these:

It's a wolf spider about the size of a tarantula you'd see in a pet shop. The spider itself is quite awesome and then you realize it's covered in its own offspring. I must have sat there crouched down looking at this thing for 5 minutes. I got a big blade of grass and stroked its abdomen watching the babies climb all over Ma in waves. Mother nature is awesome. They seem to like sunning themselves on the dirt roads along with every grasshopper in the vicinity.

The boys kept themselves busy working on the antique zero turn mower we own. It's ancient (like early 80's) and seems to always have some issue. We played around with the idea of buying a new zero turn mower last month, pricing them out and such. But in the end we don't really need to be spending money on something we already have. It's just the poor old thing seems to limp along every season. For instance at the current moment it needs to be jumped to get it started, hotwired since the starter seems to have died (kind of like a stolen car has to be started), the belt on one of the blades came off so it only mowed with two blades last time and the electric clutch crapped out so only half the lawn got mowed. It has issues. So Sean went and picked up the new electric clutch and installed it this weekend with Rich's help. The belt got fixed, he somehow fixed the starter issue and the blades were sharpened. Oh and he got the hour meter working again. It stopped at 990 hours nine years ago before we bought it from his parents. Should be interesting to see how many more hours we can get on it now that it's working again. Thanks handy husband and father-in-law, you're good to have around.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Goo Be Gone

If you look in the trunk of my little car you won't find a spare tire. You won't even find a jack. What you will find is this:

This is a little air compressor. It has the option of just pumping air or air with the "goo". You know that stuff that they pump into tires to seal leaks? Well I got to figure all this out last week when the side wall on the rear tire blew. Of course it happened when I was taking Wesley to school bright and early. The Volt has a little tire pressure window on the dash that tells you what each tire is aired up to. You'll understand my alarm as I watched the little tire go from 34psi to 8psi in a matter of seconds. I was on blacktop and going 60 mph at the time. The kids got to hear some choice words as I quickly found the location that I knew I'd be stranded at.

I got my little air compressor out and hooked it all up, turned it on and watched as it tried in vain to pump air and "goo" into the tire. Hubby came to my rescue and felt around the inside of the tire, he figured out it was a blow out. All the goo was oozing out of this hole in the side wall. Doh. Luckily Sean is a pro at putting in tire plugs (I think he plugs a tire a month at our house). He was able to plug it enough to drive it slowly home. Thank goodness for him. It would have been a tow truck otherwise.

My message: Shame on you Chevy for not supplying a spare tire! Perhaps it's to get better gas mileage, or battery life or maybe it's just simply a lack of room but that's downright dangerous. Lucky for me it was just a lightly traveled blacktop road but it could have been far worse.

Greta and I spent that afternoon trying to find a matching tire, we were successful.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Will walk for latte

So I've discussed my new found love of pedometers in the past. I purchased one and have been logging as many steps as humanly possible for the past several weeks. Well hubby came home from work last week and told me that his company is offering a promotional deal through FitBit that allows employees to get a FitBit Zip for $10 (they are originally $60). I'm sure right now you are asking yourself "What the heck is a FitBit?" I must admit I was asking the same thing myself. Well apparently they are nifty little devices that track your steps, calories and distance. It has Bluetooth in it so that it will sync wirelessly with your computer and phone to keep track of all your information. I thought for ten bucks lets give it a go. Sean got one too. So yesterday our little FitBits arrived, mine in white and his in grey.

I've been wearing mine around all day and have actually acrued my 10,000+ steps already by 4pm. Score! If you are within 20 feet of your computer it will sync all the information so all you have to do is log into your account to view your progress. I would think if someone had to lose some serious weight this would be an fun way to do it. I'm not trying to lose much of anything, I'm just trying to be more active. And it's working! I find if I reward myself for achieving my goal steps then I'm much more likely to get to my goal. Lately my goal has been this:

Iced vanilla chai latte from Starbucks. Heaven in a cup. Can you believe I hadn't stepped into a Starbucks ever in my entire life up until about a month ago? I received a gift certificate to Starbucks for doing some free sculptures and decided to check it out. I had no idea what to order or how to order for that matter. It was a bit intimidating. All that tall and grande crap. I think I figured it out though. I started out with some awful orange flavored iced coffee, couldn't do it. Was talking to Rich about it and he suggested a chai latte as it's Randi's favored Starbucks drink. Bingo! Delish. It might just make all that walking moot but it's worth it.

I've been thoroughly enjoying my free time during Greta's preschool. It's a whole 2.5 hours to do whatever I want. I savor every minute of it. Sometimes I get my beloved chai latte and head to the park to log a few thousand steps. I love this park, it's virtually deserted and other than trying not to step in goose poo it's quite lovely. I know one lap around it is roughly 1200 steps.

It's been hard not feeling guilty about doing absolutely nothing for 5 hours a week. I look around at all the diligent people hard at work and wonder if I should be doing something productive. Then I think "Gee Mandy, you've been raising or gestating small people for the last six years of your life, I think you are entitled to a five hour break every week." Then I promptly go put my feet up and play some Playstation3. Life is rough.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Shared Birthday

What a lovely relaxing weekend we had. Greta and my father celebrated a shared birthday on Saturday. Greta turned four and my father turned 60-something. We had a little get together with family and friends and had a grand old time. My sister came dow, Jessica and her gang were here along with Papa Rich. Greta was so excited to get mermaids, barbies and clothing.....her favorite things in the world. Thank you all!

It was a memorable birthday as it was the first to be celebrated out on the new deck. We are just loving the new living space. Happy Birthday big girl Greta and Pops!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Friend for Cecil and a Circus Adventure

You know how some weekends are slow and relaxing and others are crazy busy? Well this was yet another crazy busy one. I told the hubby that I'm looking forward to cool weather so everything can slow down. The boys worked on the deck and finished it up (for the most part). The decking is all down, the only thing left to do is the stairs. It is so wonderful to have a deck on the back of the house and have all that usable "living" space. A place to eat or just relax with the kids. When it's all done I'll add pictures. Sean did a beautiful job with it, he should be proud of that accomplishment.

While they were busy deck building, the kids and I went on a little road trip to pick up a new member of the family. The animal family that is. Some friends of the family, that I've known since I was a tiny kid, had leopard tortoises. I always enjoyed going over to their house to see their cats and tortoises. It might be where my fascination with tortoises came from. They had two that they acquired back in 1985. A few weeks ago they contacted me to see if I was interested in adopting their remaining male, as the female had passed away a few years back. Of course I was interested!

Turns out their male is nearly the same size as Cecil, my leopard tortoise. And after a little internet research I've deducted that Cecil is in fact a "Cecilia". So their male might have a little more fun in the company of my female. I went and picked up the new one on Saturday. They are getting along wonderfully together. Where there is one you will always find the other. I think Cecil is just as happy to have another tortoise her size as he is. Thank you Phil and Linda!

"Guy" is the handsome lighter colored one and nearly 30 years old. Cecil is the darker one and 9 years old. Girls are bigger than boys in the tortoise world.
This weekend the circus came to town. I must admit that I am not a circus person. I don't like creepy clowns, hot circus tents and preforming animals. Maybe I'm strange. I was going to let it come and go without taking the kids until I started thinking about it more. I, as a parent, have to expose these kids to things that I don't necessarily like. Things like circuses. So we bought tickets and went to the circus. I'll be the first to admit that it wasn't so bad. In fact it was a nice little circus. Was it hot in that tent? You betcha. But the kids seemed to have a good time and the clowns weren't at all creepy. I'm sure we'll go to the circus again next year if they come back.

Strangest act of the night? The woman dangling from the ceiling by nothing more than her hair. Ouch!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stepping it up

For some reason the end of summer is when I put on a few pounds. I don't know why but it's like this every year. I generally get back on track in the fall and spend the winter inside on the treadmill. This year I'm trying to curtail the "end of summer blubber" by buying a pedometer. I was reading an article that said getting 10,000 steps a day is great for overall health and a great way to get moving every day. 10,000 steps equals out to 5 miles of walking a day. So onto Amazon I went and bought a nice little digital pedometer. It's not one of those clicking kind. You know, the ones that audibly "click" every time you take a step? Apparently those are not very accurate. I bought a Omron HJ-321 and it works great. I like how it tracks 7 days worth of data. How many steps, miles and calories. Oh and it was cheap, under $17.

So I've been wearing this bad boy for over a week now and I gotta say, it is hard to get 10,000 steps a day! I'd say I'm a fairly active person and I get to about eight thousand step every day. This is even with 45 minutes on the treadmill. I find myself just walking around the house to get a few hundred more steps in. Last night after I fed the animals I walked in circles around the back yard to get to my quota. The neighbors must think I'm nuts. In the last seven days I've only reached my quota twice. How sad.

I took the kids to the playground at the school in town over Labor Day. They were playing and I was walking. Then I look up and discover a big lake next to the school that wasn't there before. They had been working on, what I thought, was a big ditch for years. Then one day it turned into a lake. The city had poured a nice sidewalk around it and put a fishing dock in as well. It was awesome and the kids and I walked around it thoroughly enjoying ourselves. It's funny, you can grow up in a town and never know something like a small lake was created right in the middle of it.

Anyways, it's been a fun way to try and become more active. That little pedometer has kick started my activity level after a long, hot summer. So looking forward to getting outside more in the upcoming, cooler months.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Daily Treat

Some days I feel like a zoo keeper. On a daily basis I take a big bowl back to the garden and pile it up with the more questionable tomatoes (you know, the ones with the big holes in them or are getting a bit too shriveled up), along with some bell peppers and squash. I then take a plastic bag out to the walnut grove and fill it up with mulberry leaves from a sapling that is growing alongside a walnut tree. I'll add a few dandelion leaves to the bag. I bring this all in and wash it and then get to work chopping. What I have left is three bowls destined for three very different species.

Today the chickens look forward to their head of lettuce, tomato and cup of day old yogurt. The goats will dine on cut up old cucumbers, tomatoes and a bruised apple.  The tortoises get a bowl of mulberry leaves, dandelions and mixed baby greens. This is just a treat for the chickens and goats, they get their daily rations in the mornings and evenings along with prairie hay. The tortoises get their greens along with timothy hay. I've been trying very hard to make sure nothing goes to waste around here. Before I throw away any food I decide whether it could go to any of the animals. The chickens can take care of almost any scrap food. Lately they have been stuffing themselves on melon rinds from the melons in the garden.

The garden has been giving me enough produce for our family along with a nice daily treat for the animals, it's been nice. I forgot how much the dogs like the garden too. Every day I let Cody and Sophie out to roam the back yard and every day Cody runs back to the garden and plucks the biggest patty pan squash he can find and runs up to the house to devour it in the shade. He is one goofy retriever. Sophie usually joins in at some point.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Wednesday Write-Up

-The first day of preschool went wonderfully. She was a little shy when we got there but after finding the bucket o' Barbies and a playmate she bid me farewell with ease. I asked her in the car at pick-up time how everything was and she said "All the kids were so nice, nobody kicked or punched me like Wesley!". Ha! Don't worry about Miss Greta she punches Wesley far more than he does her. I'm thrilled she's excited to go back.

-The deck progress has stopped due to a rather ill husband. Poor guy got a nasty stomach flu (or maybe West Nile virus?) that had him curled up on the couch in misery. The kids and I tossed Saltines to him from a safe distance (not really) as we really did not want to catch whatever bug he had. Luckily he is feeling better today and on the road to recovery. As much as I've tried he still won't let me go out and put down decking, he really wants to do it himself. I'm ok with that. I'm just happy to be seeing this outside my sliding glass doors:

....rather than this:

-The Volt just turned one year old and turned over 10,000 miles. So far it's been fun, sporty and different. We haven't noticed any difference in our (gigantic) electric bill and it's been lovely not filling the car up much. I've used 57 gallons of gas over 10,000 miles which averages out to 175 mpg (come on, that's cool). That means the 32 mile range is just about perfect for my transportation needs, I don't tend to ever need to use the gas engine except for the occasional trip. The downsides thus far include the low clearance on the front....I scrape anything and everything. I'm an equal opportunity scraper. And the black interior. You mix living on dirt roads, kids and a black interior and you are left with the dirtiest car interior ever. It's dirty right after I clean it. It makes me twitch. Never again will I own a car with a black interior. Mark my words. Fun car though! Happy birthday Mr. Volt.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Conversations with a 3 year old

We have one very excited little girl. Do you know why? She starts preschool tomorrow. You know I was a little worried about how she'd do all by herself in preschool before this summer. She's done some major growing up and I can honestly say I'm not worried about her. She's going to do wonderfully saying bye to me for a few hours. It's going to be strange having a few hours to myself, but I'm sure I'll adjust.

She had to go in for her yearly physical before school started. I knew she was tall for her age but she came in at a whopping 99% for height. Yikes! She's doing great and keeps me laughing, case in point:

I was walking down the driveway with Greta and we were discussing imaginary things.

Greta: "Ghosts aren't real. Dragons aren't real."

Me: "Yep, they aren't real."

Greta: "And zombies!"

Me: "Yep, and unicorns too"

Greta: "And ALLIGATORS!"

Me: "Nope, alligators are real."

Greta: "WHAT?!!"

I think I blew her mind. I'll miss her for those few hours a week.