Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ruby, you take the cake!

Can you guess what flavor of cake we made for Ruby's birthday?

ruby alli cake batter 1

The girls "helped" make the cake.  They especially enjoyed licking the chocolate batter off of the beater.

They "helped" with the frosting too.  The lady bug was supposed to be red, Ruby tossed the pot of food dye gel into the sink after I had added about half of the coloring I needed.  Oh well.  Pink ladybugs are very cool too.

ladybug cake

Ruby was so excited to eat her cake... actually, I think she was mostly excited about the butter-cream frosting and candy decorations.  It was too windy for the candles to stay lit, so we just pretended to blow them out.  She didn't mind.

ruby cake 1

Happy Birthday Ruby!  Two years have flown by...


Monday, June 23, 2008

money well spent, Brawny

Tonight Alli turned to me and said in her very best 4-year-old-saleswoman voice,

"Mom, Mom!  I saw a commercial on TV for some paper towels!  You just need one to clean up a mess!  And you can wash it out and use it again and again until the job is done!  It is soft... and very strong!  And just one gets the job done!  So Mom, do you want to buy some of those paper towels?!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

a few more vacation photos

cliff bertha joyce 1 ruby alli lucas liberty park 1 alli jen 1 alli lucas ruby liberty park 2 karyn alli mountain 1

bruce and family 1

We had such a fantastic time with Andy's family in Utah.  We are lucky to have such a wonderful family.

This is how we stroll...

On our vacation, we went for a hike with Andy's sisters, Lucas, and our kids.  On the short walk to the trail head, we needed two little kids to fit in one stroller because we would be leaving the stroller at the trail head. 

This is what we came up with...

stroller lucas ruby 1

stroller lucas ruby 2 stroller ruby 1

My mom always said, "Desperation leads to inspiration."

Nice tri

Here are some of the pictures from the Salem Triathlon taken by Andy.

tri tent 1  tri alli 2

This makeshift tent kept us mostly dry and somewhat warm.  Ruby was not very happy.  Alli wore the Hammer Gel bag as a poncho.  They should have paid us for the excellent advertising.

tri start 1tri swimmers 1

The start of the race is pretty spectacular.  The athletes have to battle it out in the freezing cold water.

tri adam 1 tri betsy 1 tri chris 1

Adam is tough... he did the whole tri... and he can make a Zoolander face.  Jeff had to help Betsy into her wet suit... they aren't really made for pregnant ladies.  Chris photographed the event... and was caught smiling in this picture... very rare.

tri winner

This is the guy who won it all... and he won by a lot.

tri karyn 1 tri joyce 1 tri jen 1

Here I am coming in for a strong finish.  Joyce was right behind me.  Jen also did the whole tri (and Joyce ran to the finish line again with Jen).

tri everyone 1

Just plain awesome... except my hair.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ruby's Guardian Angel

Have you ever had a moment where you know your kid has a guardian angel?

Saturday... a relatively peaceful afternoon... Alli was taking a nap, Ruby was playing quietly. Andy was watching the U.S. Open with his dad and uncle. I was in the kitchen with Andy's mom and my sister.

Have you ever heard the terrifying crash of something big falling and breaking into a thousand pieces?

The noise rang throughout the house and in the split second it took for everyone to run to the commotion, I had thought through every possible accident... except the grandfather clock falling on Ruby.

In the rush to get to Ruby, Andy's dad tripped. Andy scraped his knee as he dived down to her side. My heart was racing.

Andy's parents have a beautiful grandfather clock in the entryway. It is big. It is wooden. It is pretty old... and nice. And there it was laying on top of Ruby.

Andy got it up off of her in an instant. Ruby was crying and laying on the floor. We were afraid to move her if she was hurt. But she sat up quickly and so I scooped her up into my arms. We checked her out inch-by-inch inspecting the damage. To our amazement and shock, Ruby escaped virtually unharmed... she got two small bruises.

When the clock fell, Ruby was positioned in such a way that she ended up in the hollow where the pendulum hangs down. The weights that normally hang there were removed a few days ago because her cousin kept messing with them. The clock fell around her like a box. The weights that would have pummeled her happened to be out.

Yes. I know Ruby has a guardian angel (or perhaps a whole team of angels).

The clock is broken. Lots of pieces. We made Ruby say sorry to Grandma and Grandpa (it took her a long time to say it). Lots of little clock pieces.

During dinner Ruby said, "I climbed the clock." And she said it in such a proud, daring, matter-of-fact way.

Dear Guardian Angel,

I am doing my best, but please keep an extra-close eye on Ruby. She's a busy one, fearless and brave... and she is always reaching for new heights (not figuratively).
Thanks for your hard work and patience.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

R & R

Nothing like a hot summer day and a cool pool.
Only Mommy and Daddy got sunburns... and only on shoulders and ankles. Oops.

City Slickers

A few days ago, we took the kids to a chicken coop. It was unbelievably fun.

Yes, we are city slickers.

Alli and Ruby had a great time checking out the chickens and gathering eggs. Alli found two eggs, a brown one and a green one. It was more exciting than Easter. She had the green egg for breakfast the next day (the insides look like a traditional egg... not green).
Ruby liked climbing in the coop and scratching in the dirt like the chickens... and rubbing the dirt all over her face. Being dirty was her favorite part.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Dramatic Rescue

Andy and I took Alli and Ruby on a short, easy hike the other day. Betsy, Jen and Lucas came too. The trail goes up the mountainside to a beautiful mountain stream where the trail splits, you can climb higher above the falls, or you can hike a little further to a waterfall.

At this point, Andy decided to take Alli up the higher path. I went with Ruby and everyone else to see the waterfall. The hike to the falls was easy. There were lots of people... families and kids checking out the waterfall. We waited and waited to see Andy and Alli on the hill above.

Then a call came on the cell phone. Andy and Alli had climbed pretty high, and Andy needed help getting Alli back down.

I left Ruby with Andy's sisters, and I went up to rescue Andy and Alli. The trail they took was steep. There were huge boulders everywhere with loose gravel in between. They were way up above the waterfall, and Alli had realized how high they were and how slick the trail was, and she was a bit scared. I made it up to Andy and Alli and I started to coach Alli down.

When you are climbing on rocks, up or down, keeping three points on the rocks is a safe way to move (for example keep two feet and one hand on the rocks, or two hands and one foot on the rocks). Alli tried this and was doing great, but moving slow. Andy decided to try holding her hand and walking quickly down. With the slippery gravel, that didn't work out so well. We went back to the three-point crawl.

We made it back down the mountain without too many scrapes and bruises. Next time Andy won't continue up a difficult path with our kids... I'm quite sure. :)

(Check comments for Andy's version of this story.)

The Salem Triathlon 2008

Last Saturday was the triathlon. Last year I did the whole tri. This year, I was planning to do a relay race with Andy's sister Betsy, and his mom Joyce. Andy was going to do a relay with his brother Chris and his dad Jeff. Adam and Jen were doing the whole race. That was the plan. Then Chris got an offer to take pictures at the triathlon, so a friend named Mike took his place.

On Friday, we drove down to Salem to go over the course. Andy, Jen and Joyce practiced the bike part. Jeff and I went over the running course. Betsy tried on her wet suit. The kids played at the park, fed the ducks, and Ruby almost fell in the pond. Fun.

So race day came early... and cold and rainy. We packed up all the gear and drove an hour to Salem. As the bikes were being unloaded and prepared for the race, we discovered that we didn't have the right wheels for the bikes (front wheels and back wheels are not interchangeable). After a few moments of panic, the bike portion of the race was cancelled because of the rain. Whew.

The rain was pouring down and the temperature was hovering around 45-ish. Brrr. We made a lean-to with a tarp, a picnic table, two strollers, and a garbage can. We huddled underneath to keep warm and dry. The kids fared best of all. I was shivering.

The race was delayed for almost an hour. In that time, our relay teams changed a bit. Jeff decided that Joyce could run instead of him (she was going to do the bike part for the girls' relay). The race finally started. Mike was swimming for the boys, and Betsy was swimming for the girls. The water was ice-cold and the relay team swimmers started with the elite and under 25 wave.

Betsy had a rough start and had to drop out. So the girls' team was DQ'd. Joyce had me take her place for the run. Mike is an amazing swimmer; he was one of the first swimmers out of the water. He handed off the timing chip, and I took off with Joyce for the run. Because the relay starts with the first wave of racers, I had a great head start. Unfortunately as other waves of athletes completed the swim, they joined in the run, so people were passing me the whole time. Joyce ran with me most of the way. It was very fun.

Andy and Alli were cheering me on towards the end... and I finished strong.

Andy was disappointed that he didn't get to race. Next year.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Would you like some fries with that?

We got a new fish about a month ago... to replace the one that died. It is a pineapple swordtail fish. It is a freshwater tropical fish. Very hardy and low maintenance. Perfect for us. Alli picked it out and named it "Yellow Lettuce." It is a girl fish. It has been a wonderful, healthy fish.

It lives in our little tank with an algae-eating sucker fish.

This morning as I was getting ready to give the fish some flakes, I thought I saw some flakes already floating around. I took a closer look at the little floaties. I was quite shocked to discover five or six baby fish swimming around the tank! They are tiny-- about 1/4 inch long. This afternoon there were several more. We are up to twenty baby fish now. They are yellowish-orange with clear tails. They have disproportionately huge eyes. Very cute.

These baby fish are called "fry." And we have a lot of fries. If anyone is interested in having a pet fish, I have just the fish for you! Come and get 'em! Free fries!

Some interesting things about pineapple swordtail fish:
- They give birth to live young. Ours must have come to us pregnant... or the sucker fish and the pineapple swordtail are more than just friends.
-Sometimes they eat their babies... when mama fish says, "Oh you are so cute I could just eat you up!" I hope they run (or swim) fast. So please come adopt them soon.
-Male swordtails have a long fin that looks like a sword. Females are a little bigger and don't have long pointy tails.
-They are friendly, peaceful fish in communities... so take a bunch of fries.
-They are easy to take care of... as long as they don't have a million babies!