Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

Great Weather = Lots of backyard play time

Two Year Old Photo Shoot = Untamed Beauty

Papa, the Girls & A Little Elbow Grease = Clean doggies

Kissing Under the Cherry Tree = Sweetness

4-H Entries for Fair = Arts & Craft-a-palooza

Fun with Friends = Chicken Sharing Delight

Summer Fun = Where you least expect it

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Because.... wake up early to watch the chickens march out of their coop in the morning...and run out to watch them march back in at night. are infinitely curious about anything and everything and you foster that love in your children can hang out all afternoon at a chicks-only party with 20 kids running around...and fit right in put up with all my crazy ideas and my constant meetings and classes

...the older gentlemen line up at church to "talk shop" with you

...the older ladies line up at church to "talk gardening" with you and swap recipes family wasn't complete until you came into my life and gave me three wacky kids (who love and admire their Papa more than anything in this world)

Thank You.
We Love You.

Happy Father's Day....stilll

We started the morning out with one of Ross' favorite dishes - Baked Peach French Toast. Okay, truthfully, he has a lot of favorite dishes. He's not hard to please where food is involved, thank goodness. We also had bacon (you can't go wrong with bacon, 'ya know?) and fruit smoothies. Yummy!

Then we went letterboxing at the Redmond Lava Caves. We had never been there and strangely enough it is just right across the road from the fairgrounds (where I happen to spend a LOT of time every month). There were three large caves/caverns that you could explore and two letterboxes to find. Here is Lil Mermaid giving Hotrod a helping hand so that he can find one of the letterboxes.

The kids thought the caverns were sooooo cool. They were not afraid at all, much to my nervousness " are you? I can't see youuuuuuu". We have recently been reading up on volcanoes and the area where we live has a very volcanic history, so the kids were informing us all about how the caves were made and how they were going to handle it if a volcano suddenly appeared under our feet....uh...yeah...that's not making Mama nervous or anything.
Ross was very excited as well, and luckily he had Peelu strapped to his back or I am sure we would still be there exploring the teensiest corner of each cave.

Anyway, it was a very fun day with an adventure, literally, in our own backyard. If you're local, we highly recommend the caves to visit and even if you're not local we highly recommend letterboxing (one of our fave family hobbies which you will surely be hearing more about)!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Father's Day!!

Okay, I did start this post on Father's Day, but I guess, technically, I am a bit late now. Oh well.

I walked by the backdoor and saw Ross laying on the grass with his two big kids on Sunday afternoon and I had to sneak this picture.....sigh... And yes, they are laying there watching the chickens in the coop. Go figure!

We had a great day celebrating Ross. We made him things:

Like these prayer flags...

We got the idea from this cool new website we found Future Craft Collective. We decided to each make these flags for Ross for Father's Day and that we would save them and add to them each year on Father's Day.

We hung them on his garden fence. I thought they turned out pretty stinkin' cute. And Ross loved them!

Hotrod also made this really cool wind chime that sounds like a rainstick. I meant for it to be a nice project that he and I could do together and that it would chew up some afternoon time.

Yeah, what was I thinkin? He's truly his father's son. He put it together in about 4 minutes. And that was looking at the directions I had ripped out of FamilyFun Magazine (my fave magazine, by the way).

It was made from hardware supplies and was super easy and very cheap to make. The washers on it are fun to watch as they slide down and the sound is very sweet. Everyone loves playing with it and Hotrod even made one for Grandpa W. as well.

Lil' Mermaid also gave her Papa a bag of cement because her gift to him is to make a new stepping stone together. They haven't done it yet but stay tuned for pics, I'm sure.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Pleasant Craft-ernoon

Okay, I thought I better get some craft fun in here ASAP. A few weekends ago we had our 4-H Adventurers Club over for some garden/nature crafts. It was a beautiful afternoon and the kids had so much fun. I just love those days.

First project: Mini Gardens
Originally I wanted to use small houseplants but I couldn't find any. So I ended up just getting 6-packs with small plant that looked cool and kinda prehistoric when combined with the other goodies.

This was the fun part, marbles, rocks, pebbles, beach glass, bugs, dinosaurs, frogs....all to create a cool mini garden world.

Don't they look wonderful?

Next up were the birds nest helpers. I'm not sure what else to call them. You stuff them full of good stuff (fibers, yarn, lint, feather, twine, pine needles, mulch, wool) that the birds can use to help build their own nests.

A wonderful family friend crocheted all of the baskets for us. I have seen this idea several times throughout the years but Kleas did a great blog post on it and inspired the crocheted holders for this project.

Lastly, we made painted jar candleholders:

We got the idea from my very crafty sister when we visited CA in April. We used mason jars, glass paint, florists wire and beads.

They are so dang cute.

Peelu turns 2!

Wow, it has flown by so darn quickly! Peelu just recently had her second birthday and we don't know where the time has gone.

It seems like yesterday she was this little:

Then she started walking and talking and she turned one:

Now our big girl thinks she's all that and a bag of chips at the ripe old age of 2!

She's a maniac and definitely has entered (dare we say it - the terrible twos), but it is such a different experience this time around. In some ways it's easier having just one at this age and in same ways she is much more demanding than Lil' Mermaid and Hotrod were. But she makes us laugh daily (and grit our teeth as well) and our family feels complete.

Incidentally, people have wondered what "Peelu" means or where we got that name from. Peelu nicknamed herself on our road trip home from California in April. We don't know why or what it means. But ever since then she has insisted on calling herself Peelu. If you ask her what her name is, she says "Peelu". If you call her by her real name she taps her chest and says "Peelu". If you insist on calling her by her real name she then ignores you. She calls me Mama Peelu, Ross is Papa Peelu and Grandma W is even Granmamama Peelu. She got a monkey balloon for her birthday and named it Peelu-oo-oo-ah-ah. If you piss her off and take something from her she screeches at you "peelupeelupeelupeelu". So of course we all call her Peelu now. It's gotten to the point that people ask if her name is Hawaiian. I've started to say yes, because I am embarrassed to admit that a two year old has us so trained.

On her birthday, Grandpa W got a bit testy with all of us and said, "why do you call her that? That isn't her name!". He is upset to think he will have to remember another child's name since when he talks to her already, he has to mentally run through the names of his three daughters and his six granddaughters before he can even recall her name. So the thought that he has to remember to call her something new is a bit worrisome for him. So he calls her by her given name. And she ignores him. Unless he has candy. Or a book to read.

Sighhh....our Peelu is two...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In case anybody wants a view into my slightly warped mind

Since I'm new to this shindig, here's a little bit more about me. This can either serve as a warning to you to "get out now, while you still can" or make you treasure your sanity all the more.

25 Random Facts About Me

1. I have craft ADHD. Seriously. It’s a problem. Seriously.

2. I never thought I would be able to be a stay-at-home mom for longer than a year. And now I can’t imagine having a full time job while trying to raise three small children. Wait, that IS a full time job.

3. I don’t have a cell phone and hope to never have one that is solely dedicated to myself (meaning we will probably break down and get 2 family phones for family use when the kids get older and yes, Ross pretty much has to have one for work. Yechhh the evil things!)

4. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE walking to school with my children and assorted other little friends on various days (and even sometimes Grandma and Grandpa too!) It’s fun, interesting, good for us, gives us some time to connect, and honestly I think it’s funny to walk past the houses of people who only live a block away from school and drive their child to school ONLY to come right back to their house and park their car and head back in.

5.I have so many ideas in my head during the course of the day that I fear I will have a brain aneurysm some time soon.

6. I always had a thing for a guy in uniform and low and behold I married a guy in uniform, although his uniform now consists of work jeans, a flannel shirt and a ball cap instead of camouflage. Hmmm…he’s still pretty hot though. And now that I think about it, he still wears camouflage. It’s not the same though.

7. If I ever had to live in the Western part of Washington State again, I would probably become one of their suicide statistics.

8. I never thought I would live farther than 30 minutes from the Coast in my lifetime. Until I moved to Central Oregon the closest I lived to the beach was 5 minutes and the farthest was 20 minutes (okay, in WA I am counting the Puget Sound as “the Coast”.) I think I would feel claustrophobic if I had to live in a landlocked state.

9. I have a deep fascination with the ocean but also a deep fear. I think I drowned in a previous lifetime. I think it was a tsunami. Or possibly I was on the Lusitania. I am pretty sure I was attacked by a shark. I still swim in the ocean though.

10. I really want to be a “runner” but I suck at running (I mean really, people walk faster than I “run”) and I have the body of a softball player. This is what happens when you are descended from French grape stompers, German kraut growers and Irish potato farmers. I have the body of a peasant.

11. I think I would die if I became blind and could not read books.

12. I have so much craft crap that I could open a small store.

13. I am curious about everything and LOVE, LOVE to research. But that also prevents me frequently from moving forward with what I need to do.

14. While in college I thought for sure that I would eventually get my PhD.

15. Okay, it’s probably no surprise that I was a History major after reading #13 & #14.

16. I had a boy from Northern Ireland tell me he was in love with me when I was 18. Hee hee.

17. I am the only one in my household that does NOT have brown eyes. Mine are swampy hazel colored.

18. I think most politicians suck.

19. I am pretty sure I was born in the wrong generation.

20. I was 20 years old before I had ever been out of the State of California. But by 24 I had lived in 3 states.

21. While Ross was in the Navy we wrote close to 300 letters to each other.

22. I really, really like to swear.

23. I was on a bowling team for a few years while I was in elementary school. I had a zip up polyester green bowling shirt with all my bowling patches sewn on it (you know, high game, bowled a turkey, high series, etc. – and if you don’t know what any of that means, you are obviously NOT a bowling nerd!)

24. I don’t like pretentious, entitled, mean, rude or irresponsible people.

25. Currently, the woman I think I would most like to meet and have a conversation with is Dolly Parton. She’s cool.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Death, part 2..

Wow, this finding time to blog while having three young maniacs constantly running around and screaming is TOUGH! I suppose I could get up early and attempt it then, but if I get up earlier than the aforementioned maniacs, reading and coffee are the only things on my mind. So, this is definitely a work in progress. Please bear with me.

Ahem...back to death...where was I? Oh yes, Zena was missing. Lil' Mermaid of course heard this and started wailing softly and running around the yard calling for Zena. I looked around in the immediate vicinity and didn't see any tell tale feathers, blood or etc. I have to admit, I got a bit frantic as well, checking in the neighbors yard, looking under brush piles, saying "Here chickie, chickie", when in my heart I knew. I knew....sigh.

Meanwhile, Peelu was walking around the yard barefoot. She has gotten very good at pointing out "doggy poo" and avoiding it. We have two dogs. One of them is quite large. We have a considerable amount of doggy poo to avoid. However this time, when Peelu said "uh-oh doggy poo" and stepped in something squishy..I knew it was more ominous than dog fecal matter. I ran over and then saw the scattered feathers and the ....remains. "Uh, Ross" I called, while scooping up Peelu and trying not to call Lil' Mermaid's attention to me. "I have to go wash off Peelu's foot...she stepped in something that WAS NOT dog poo". I said, giving him the eye across the yard. But of course, Lil' Mermaid heard and ran across the yard screeching "Zena, Zena" is she deeeeeaaaadddddd?" Trying to hold onto an almost two year old with chicken entrails on her foot and trying to stop a charging, grief crazed six year old was not in any job description I signed on for, let me tell you. Damn, chickens.....

I got Peelu in the house and scrubbed but by then Lil' Mermaid had crawled into the house and told her brother that Zena was dead and that the dogs had eaten her. I know that Hotrod is only six years old as well, but really, who knew he could shriek that high? I think blood started bursting from my ears. It sounded like an Irish wake had spontaneously appeared in my home. The older kids were keening and wailing on the floor. Oh my Lord, it was ugly. Damn, chickens....

I kid you not, this went on for at least 20 minutes. I knew I was beaten, all I could do was try to comfort them. Explain to them the "circle of life", "everything dies"..."yes Zena was in heaven with Jesus and Big Grammy"..."no, the dogs are not mean, that's just what dogs do" "yes, Mama had chickens get eaten too".... Peelu wasn't totally sure what was going on, but the sight of her siblings having grief seizures apparently startled her enough that she had a death grip on my neck. So I couldn't even pour myself a LARGE glass of wine. I desperately needed that large glass of wine. Meanwhile, Ross the damn chicken-lover, was thankfully cleaning up the mess but was also noticeably absent from the grief process. I mean it takes 30 seconds to clean-up chicken guts and I was smothered in tears and questions about the hereafter for WAY LONGER THAN THAT!

Finally, I worked myself into a catatonic state, Peelu went off to read a book and the other kids sniffed their way over to some craft supplies. In no time at all they had written notes to Zena, prayers to Jesus, multiple artworks depicting the greatest chicken in the world (Hotrod is still pestering me to make a stamp effigy of Zena for him...)....
Lil Mermaid used a Dora coloring page as a homemade envelope for her memorial of Zena. The outside says: "To Zena, To Jesus". And in between the gut wrenching sobs, she also drew a picture of Zena, Two notes, one of Zena's feathers. The notes say:"I wish we had Zena back"and "I wish dogs never ate chickens". You and me both, kid. Damn chickens.

Hotrod had also started working on his version of the "Zena Legend". "Mama", he sniffed "do you think..sniff,sniff..that maybe since Zena was a warrior princess..sniff,sniff...that she sacrificed herself so that the Bardrock could get away? I bet she distracted Jack and Scully and made them chase after her so that the Bardrock could hide in the garden. I think she was a he..he..hiccup...heroooooo". Yep, Hotrod, I'm sure she was. Damn chickens.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Death in the Family...

It probably seems a bit weird to start a blog off with a death..but that is life around here...a bit weird. And the death...well it kind of sums up these last few weeks around here in a nutshell: utter craziness.

Okay, to get the whole impact of this story you might need a little background. In May, before we left to go camping on the Coast, we bought some chicks from a fellow 4-H leader friend. Ross and the kids (and Grandma W) have been nagging me, (I MEAN NAGGING ME!) to get some chickens. It is quite the fad around here these days, there have been several articles in the local papers about keeping chickens "in the city" and the local feed store sold out of hundreds of the little peeps in record time this Spring. Now, I had chickens for 22 years of my life, they are not my favorite animal but they are okay. I did appreciate having fresh eggs and in fact did not know how to buy eggs from the store when I married Ross, but I do not consider having chickens a necessity, especially since we live in town. We only live on 1/3 of an acre. We also have two dogs. One is a Labrador Retriever. Are you getting a chill? Do you see where this story is going?

So anyway, the chicks had to live in our garage for a while, with their heat lamp, and frequent visits from the children and their friends...waiting for the weather to warm up and for Ross to finish his "amazing, totally innovative, never seen before chicken coop". (Yes, I am rolling my eyes right now.) We had 5 chicks (3 Bard Rocks, 2 Rhode Island Reds for those of you who are chicken afficionados). I did request an Araucana because I wanted blue/green eggs. This is the only chicken I kinda sorta wanted. So the Araucana came a week later than the others. She was distinctly different looking and for some reason, became the only chicken that we named - Zena, the Warrior Princess.

Eventually the stars aligned, Ross finished his coop, the weather warmed up and the chicks were allowed to grow-up and move outside. Oh, what a big day in the Eldridge household. The little maniacs cheered their growing chicks on and let them spread their wings inside their new coop. There was much concern over whether they would know how to go up their chicken ramp to their nesting boxes or whether they would have to be put up each evening and brought down each morning. There was concern over whether they would be too cold (after all Central Oregon's Spring is notoriously fickle). However, I was the only one who voiced concern about the safety of the chicks - "uh, chicken wire will not keep in a 110 lb Labrador Retriever 'ya know?" "ummmm...I think we need more wire, heavier wire...".

For a few days it was bliss....the kids had the chickens out frequently (with the dogs locked in the garage). We noticed a few dents in the chicken wire ("uhhhh...Ross...."), we checked the chickens before we left the house and immediately after we came back. Then one evening, I brought the kids home from choir practice at church. Ross had just gotten home from work. Suddenly I hear from the back yard, "Hey, one of the chickens is out...." I think "uh-oh"....Mermaid rushes outside while Ross opens up his garden fence to get the chicken. "Ummm...see if you can find Zena...she's the only one missing.....".

Okay, my fingers are tired and we got offered free dinner at my parents house so I think I am just going to have to finish this post later. Free food always scores higher than computer time in my book. Man, this blog thing is more involved than I thought.