Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Today, we had even more snow. It's sure to be a white Christmas, and very likely one with actual snow falling. It's been great.

The snow was finally wet enough to build a snowman.

I made dinner for our family, parents, and my aunt's family. I really should've gotten out of the house...
And finally, the boys put out the cookies for Santa...we're ready for you Santa.
But you'd better hurry. The natives are getting restless.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Icebergs in the Nooksack

A few weeks ago, Guyan said he wanted to see the Nooksack River with icebergs floating in it. I chalked it up to childhood innocence, and told him that the Nooksack doesn't get that cold.

It's not the first time I've been wrong.

A few days ago, our friends the McCains posted on their blog pictures of the icy Nooksack This morning, Sean called to tell me that there was snow--non-moving snow!--on the river. Of course, we had to get photos of that. If you're not familiar with the Nooksack, just look for the borders of vegetation--there's supposed to be WATER, not ice, between those borders!

And because this is a blog for family and friends that are far away, I had to include the kids in the picture. Contrary to the story that the photo tells, it was actually Guyan who didn't want to stop, look at the river, and take the picture. Funny, just a couple of weeks ago, he was excited at the thought of icebergs in the Nooksack.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

She's Crafty!

Every year, I like to make at least one gift by hand...this year, I made a lot more than one, and I am really excited by the results. So much so, I couldn't wait to post pictures. But given that many of the gifts are for some of you readers out there, I can't post most of them. But I can post the ones I made for Owen's preschool teachers (they were Guyan's teachers when he was in preschool too), since I already delivered them, and the teachers all opened them. I think they were a hit!

This is Ms. Patty, the assistant teacher. She doesn't run any individual classes; she just runs the whole program, it seems. She also works at the Ferndale Library and goes to Jazzercise--our lives are forever entwined with Ms. Patty's.

This is Mrs. Eggink. She was the boys' Purple Class teacher (the classes are referred to by colors of the rainbow, hence all the rainbow theme in the wall hangings).

And this is Mrs. Johnson, the boys' Blue Class teacher, and Owen's current teacher.

The boys and I delivered them all yesterday, since preschool and the Christmas program were cancelled due to snow. Oh! I should definitely thank mom for the fabric, buttons, brooches, use of the sewing machine, etc., etc. It wouldn't have happened without her stuff and tutelage. Thanks, Mom. :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let It Snow!

Yesterday, it was COLD, but the roads were fine. Barely any snow or ice. The school district started school an hour late.

Today, there was a light dusting of snow when we woke up, and I totally was expecting school to be cancelled. But no, they decided one hour late would be the way to go.

It started snowing heavily at about 10:15--about 10 minutes before Guyan left for school. Now look at it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gingerbread Construction

The Christ Lutheran Preschool kids annually go to a local elementary class and decorate gingerbread houses (graham cracker covered milk cartons, but who's counting?) with a first or second grade buddy. That's about fifty small children in one carpeted room with LOTS of icing and candy. Can you blame me that I just showed up for the last ten minutes of it? Can you blame me that I didn't take pictures (but luckily my friends did!)? I feel for the teacher, and I feel for the custodial staff. You people are other-worldly.

Notice how the girls got all dressed up fancy for the festivities, while Owen just had the sugar-crazed look from the get-go. Sigh.

Owen's buddy was Brett ("like bread," Owen told me). He helped Owen create a masterpiece, and also helped him polish off some of the candy too. I think they were made for each other.

Christmas Music from the Andersons

So I mentioned the Carpenters Christmas album in a previous post--it's my favorite Christmas album. But there's another source of Christmas music that's just as enjoyable--live music from the Anderson kids!

Nathan and Lindsey, my cousins that live in Everson, played in a recital at the Everson library this past weekend. Nathan played Carol of the Bells (if you've ever seen a Christmas commercial, 99% certain you've heard it), and Lindsey played Pat-a-Pat-Pan. They also did a duet, and didn't even fight during it (although that may have provided even more entertainment). All joking aside, they did a great job, and we were all proud of them!

Owen also had some cuddle time with Grandma, and stories from Grandpa. Couldn't resist adding these pictures.

Tree trimming at the Cools

Since I'm on a roll (and I have pictures), we got the tree up in the house and decorated. Sean's always in charge of the lights, with just a bit of input from me ("you missed a spot"). I spent the time making fudge and listening to the Carpenters Christmas album...and the fudge s*cked! I thought fudge was a recipe that couldn't go wrong. Apparently, I can make it go wrong.
Since we didn't have time that first night to get the ornaments on the tree, Guyan and Owen busied themselves with making Zoomorph creatures to hang on the tree. (Zoomorphs are "build and animal" toys that the boys love--but they never make a normal animal. Donkey's body, fins for arms, elephant trunks for legs, and an insect head. Voila! Zoomorph creature.)

And Owen, overcome with either the excitement of a ladder or a Christmas tree in the house, gave final inspection of the lights. It passed inspection, and he didn't fall (phew!).

A-hunting we will go

This year, we decided to venture out to the mountains again in search of our Christmas tree. We did it the first two years we lived in Ferndale, but on the second year our vehicle almost slid off a cliff (with only Sean in it). The thought of raising two boys by myself kept me to tree farms for 2006 and 2007.

But this year, the snow hasn't really started falling in the mountains yet, so we figured we could get up into the mountains pretty high and get that a perfect tree that's tall, au naturel (read: sparse, just how I like 'em) and only $10 (not counting the gas money and full day's work).

The views were great--we could see Mt. Baker and its glaciers between the clouds. This, of course, led to an impromptu lesson from our resident geologist to his budding prodigy. Good thing the boy likes science.

We stopped for a couple posed pictures...

...before the snowfights started. See that snowball in Guyan's hand? And see me telling him he'd "better not"? For the record, he didn't get me...but I pegged him later.

And of course, as mountain tree hunting goes, we *finally* found the tree with only about 20 minutes of daylight left. STRESS. It was about 15 feet tall, and (we think) a Silver Fir. Really nice. And the guy that loads them on your car? Very sweet--his personality makes up for his lack of knot-tying talents.

Giving thanks better late than never

So yeah, I've been a little remiss in my blogging. I've been busy though! Knitting, quilting, cooking, Thansgiving-ing, and reading other people's blogs. So now I must catch up.

So--the beer turned out FABULOUS. Very good color, very good flavor. We're actually getting low, and I've been bugging Sean to start another batch.

We brought it to our Thanksgiving celebration with my side of the family, and had a great time (not all due to the beer, mind you). We had eighteen of the Hill-descendants, from Great Grandma and Grandpa Hill to Dory and her parents. My sister, Elizabeth, and her husband Dustin were there, and brought their fancy camera. They took so many pictures, I figured I didn't need to....but I haven't gotten any copies from them (HINT HINT), so I can't post any here. I also slacked off and didn't take any video of the music that Great Grandpa Hill treated us to on Friday night. He and some of mom's friends played guitar and sang a bunch of country music. That's something Grandpa Hill loves to do, and does very well.

Sooo...without any pictures, I guess that's it for Thanksgiving. Maybe I'll be able to update it later (HINT HINT).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ferm-ent-a-tion, keep the rhythm goin'

So the bubbling started, and it progressed into a nice fermentation. it might look like mud, but it smells great! This past weekend, it was time to move the beer from the primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter... This required a siphon. What fun.

Sean got the siphon going first, and about half the beer moved into the secondary fermenter with no problem. But then an air bubble started, and we had to do it again...Let's just say it took a while to get it right, and the picture below ("Mastering the art of Siphoning") tells the story better than I could...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tiny bubbles...

Seriously, I don't know what Sean and I would do without our hobbies. He's got another one brewing...

Last Sunday, Sean started making beer! I think he's always had an interest in it--most men do, I think--and this summer, started looking into it seriously. His birthday presents all focused on brew-making, and with a neighbor who's been doing it for almost 20 years, he could borrow anything he didn't receive as gifts. Good neighbor, he is!

As you probably kow, beer making requires yeast. Happy, healthy, yeast. To Sean, that meant they should start respiring with gusto ASAP--he may have been expecting instant carbonation. "Biology takes time," his wife says. You'd think a geologist would understand that.
Sean has been checking his water lock on the car boy for bubbles every couple of hours for the past two days. He hasn't had a bubble yet, and was getting disheartened. But the neighbor brewmeister said that it might take days before something happened...

And tonight, something's happening. No bubble yet, but the bubble in the water lock is growing, and will soon be escaping. Probably at around 2:00 a.m. or so--I wouldn't be surprised if Sean is awake and there to see its emergence.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

So what has Melinda been doing?

So, you ask, what have I been doing all summer? (Not a lot of blogging apparently...)

It was Sean and my (mine's?) tenth anniversary on August 29th. For the past year, I'd been working on a quilt for our bed. At the end of September, I finished it! Machine pieced, hand-quilted Kaleidoscope quilt with a pillowtuck allowance (I always mention that because it seemed to make it so much bigger, and that much more work!).

Unfortunately, it wasn't finished in time for the Fair (look for it next year!), or the Moonlight Quilters' Quilt Show (don't get me started--I'm still sore). But it is proudly displayed on our bed, and I must say, it's the perfect weight and warmth. I'm so good. Now I'm thinking about the next project--a wall hanging, I think...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Aftter looong delay--Owen's First Day

Guyan had his first day of school on Wednesday, September 3rd, and Owen's first day was the following Tuesday. Oh, the pain and agony of waiting! Owen was very disappointed that he had to wait.

Owen's best buddy, Sophia, is in Kindergarten this year. While he does miss her, it hasn't been the devestation that I was expecting. He's showing that he too can adapt and make the best of a situation. Kodi is a buddy from last year--most of the time, they get along fine, but both of them are willing to, umm, let their voice be heard if they aren't happy with the situation (and whining is heard, and yelling, but thankfully not hitting, usually).

Owen also has Alice in his class. He and Alice play a little together, but she is a girly-girl, and he's the testosterone super-hero boy. The big deal about them being classmates is that Alice's mom, Michelle, is one of my best buddies. In fact, I could probably find a buddy picture of Michelle and I looking kinda like the one of Kodi and Owen, above...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Guyan's First Day of School

So, um, yeah, Guyan started second grade at his brand new school...two weeks ago. When I saw that my friend Candace, mother of five (the youngest being 4 months old), had posted her children's first day pictures, I figured I'd better get on task.

Ferndale School District built a brand new school, Cascadia Elementary, practically in our front yard, just across Church Road. You can see it just over the burgundy colored bush in this picture taken right before Guyan headed off for his first day.

All of the Grouse Circle contingent can now walk to school. Fabulous! All I have to do is give a nice, good shove after the kiss goodbye, and he's halfway there!

Guyan was quite a sport and let me take pictures ad nauseum. Great kid!Cascadia is still figuring out the rules on what to do before school with the kids. The current idea is to have them like up in their class groups...this works fine on brilliant weather days (like we've had for the past two weeks), but not sure what the plan will be when we get regular Ferndale weather.

And in another couple weeks I'll post the photos of Owen's first day, which was last honestly, I'll try to get to those soon!


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cool Weddings

I am so behind...but if I'm going to catch up so that the back-to-school posts are on time, I have a bit of work to do!

A few weeks ago we went to a wedding in Mattawa, Washington. It was Sean's dad's cousin's daughter (or Rochelle's daughter Katie, if you just want to follow names). It was important for us to go to this wedding, so that we don't lose touch of this side of the family. Just about all the Cool descendants were represented. There was Sean's Aunt Reta & Uncle Bob and their children (Rochelle & Steve, Regina & Gary, Rod & Kathy, Royce & Eva) and grandchildren (so many to name...but the boys especially had a blast with Zane, Royce & Eva's son). Also, his Aunt Sharon and Uncle Kay were there, and their son-in-law Gabe officiated.

The beautiful bride Katie and her dad Steve...

The mother of the bride, Rochelle, and her son Nate...Here's Sean and the boys with Reta (the boys look like they had a hard night partying, huh?)...

And Sean and Sharon...The wedding was held at the groom's parent's property, and kinda reminded me of our wedding, ten years ago (double digits now!). It was outdoors in 100+ degree heat (ours was ~90), with about 200 people or so (ours was ~150), with BBQ (they had beef and real plates, we had pork and paper plates). I wouldn't have done ours any differently, and I'm sure Katie and Chip feel that they wouldn't change anything either. One of the neatest touches at their wedding was the use of antique quilts--they lined the "gift table" with quilts, and put quilts on the hay bales for close family to sit on. So cool.

For the boys, the highlights were the water guns (no pictures--self & camera preservation, thank you very much!), their Zoobs building toys, the creek, and the tractors...

Beautiful day, great wedding, and a fantastic family weekend!