Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sewing during my vacation

My new year's resolution is to use up some of the fabric and yarn I already own and make some things. It is New Year's eve, and I've already made a small dent.

Here we have brand new flannel jammies pants for Big N. He loves them, and not just because they match the sheets I made him a few years ago.

Instead of using a pattern, I based these off of a pair of pants he loves. I made them narrower, as he is narrower. They are a perfect fit! I left a little growing room in the elastic and the hem can be lowered.

Little N now has a fleece nightgown. I used a pattern for this one. I originally picked up this fleece before she was born intending to make her a baby blanket. I'm very happy with the outcome, even though I stored the fleece for over 4 years. The nightgown is very large on her. She wore it over her clothes until dinner time last night, when she got "too warm!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Girl!

Little N on her first birthday

Little N just turned 4 this month. This birthday, she was slightly less into her cake, but not by much. She had a birthday with friends from her day care room. We had cake as a family the following weekend.

Neva was pretty excited about her birthday party. She really wanted to wear her dress up clothes, but decided she wouldn't want cake all over them.

She had fun decorating cupcakes with her friends.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Big N's recipe

Big N's kindergarten class put together a recipe book full of their favorite recipes for Thanksgiving. I was very proud of Big N for selecting Apple Pie as his favorite.

He really liked being able to pick the apples for his pie. An acquaintance cut this out of the local paper for us.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big N is missing out on Kindergarten

Ever since the city of Ellensburg announced the cut to the kindergarten program it has been apparent that the kids are truly the ones losing in this situation. However, it is surprising just how much they are losing.

If you do not have a kindergartner in Ellensburg, you may not be aware of what the budget cuts have done. The city proposed 1/2 day only kindergarten with no bus service in the middle of the day or alternating full-day kindergarten. With both parents working full-time in our household, the only option was alternating full-day kindergarten.

For the entire month of November, Big N will have attended kindergarten 7 days. 5 fulls days, 1 half day, and a single day that was a gift from his teacher. He loves kindergarten, but he is hardly there and it is of no fault other than the city deciding to leave the kindergartner's behind this year.

The Washington state Legislature has set a minimum number of days that kindergarten should be in school as 180 half days.

WAC 180-16-215
Minimum one hundred eighty school day year.
(1)(a) One hundred eighty school day requirement. Each school district shall conduct a school year of no less than one hundred eighty school days in such grades as are conducted by the school district, and one hundred eighty half-days of instruction, or the equivalent, in kindergarten. If a school district schedules a kindergarten program other than one hundred eighty half-days, the district shall attach an explanation of its kindergarten schedule when providing compliance documentation to the state board of education staff.

I was curious if the math would work out. I sat down with Big N's school calendar and counted the days he will attend. The count worked out to 77 full days and 8 half-days. If we count each full day as 2 half days, the actual count is (77 * 2) + 8 = 162 half days.

For the entire school year, he will only get to go to school 85 times.

How on earth is this a 180 day equivalent? And why would the school board approve this set-up?

I think the kids are truly losing out this year.

What is even more appalling is kindergarten is totally canceled during conference days, when the rest of the school is still coming for half-days. This accounts for 10 half-day opportunities that the teachers are present and the kindergarten kids are once again, missing out.

Whoever decided that kindergarten doesn't matter should be ashamed of themselves.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Surprise! I'm home!

Big N has recently learned how to take the bus from school to the house. I made a trip to the school office, filled out the paperwork and was assured that he would only do this when a note had been sent from home. Pete was not happy with this decision. He was concerned that Big N would somehow manage to get onto the bus to the house without a note and end up at the house when no one is home. I assured him that he would only be able to do this on the days we sent a note to the school.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Big N surprised me this afternoon. I had the dogs outside and got a little nervous when I could hear both dogs barking very frantically. Just as the dogs began to calm down, the doorbell rang. Through our front window, I saw a short figure standing at the door on our front porch. I opened the door to find big N wearing a huge toothy grin. He was so proud of himself. He had gotten on the correct bus to his home, gotten off at his stop on the side of a busy highway and walked up the long driveway all by himself. He had made it all the way home on his own. He was very proud of himself.

To be honest, I'm proud of him that he wasn't scared, but it scares me. What would he have done if no one was home? What if the neighbor's overly aggressive dogs were out and came out after him?

He informed me that the teacher told him he was supposed to take this bus. Big N has told us with some authority that his teacher told him he is supposed to go to school on his days off. This leads me to believe he told his teacher that he was supposed to take the bus home. However, I'm more nervous that it could be the alternative, that the teacher sent him on the wrong bus or believed him without a note. Either way, this could put him in an unsafe position if we do not set some better guidelines. Even if he did make it home, he can't turn the lock in the door or open the back gate. He would be all alone on our front porch for some time before either of us got home.

Tomorrow we will drive to school and try to make sure he only takes the bus home when he has a note from us. As much as I love for him to come home and spend the day with me, not only do I need to get some work done, but I need for him to be safe on the days I am not here.

Today he got to watch Charlotte's Web in my office. Tomorrow we will have to make sure he ends up at day care.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Eeek! A snake

The dogs were barking like crazy this afternoon, so I walked outside to see what was going on. Lucy is on her front paws just barking and barking at this little guy.

It did occur to me AFTER I took a quick photo and brought the dogs inside that perhaps leaving it in the backyard without knowing what it was, let alone whether it is poisonous, might not have been the smartest thing I've ever done. And, of course, I cannot find it, now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dad and Big N go fishing

They have gone two evenings in a row and Nate is hooked. He likes to play while Pete watches the bobbers, but seems pretty thrilled to get a bite. This evening he caught two!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good dog, bad puppy

I happened to make a comment to a friend of mine that the puppies have not been as destructive on our home now that they are not puppies. We've actually taken to letting them have the run of the house when we aren't there, which is a huge change from last fall.

Most days I find them basking in the sun, leaving my house alone.

However, they puppies haven't completely given up their puppy hood. The only comparison that comes to mind is in the form of biking wisdom. As any cyclist knows, the fateful words from one of your riding buddies that will guarantee a bad ride is, "I've never had a flat tire." Every time someone has said that before a bike ride, the entire group ends up on a shoulder somewhere patching a tube and the humbled rider has a lesson on changing their first flat tire. I have done the doggie equivalent. I made the fateful mistake of bragging about the puppies improvement and even mentioned how well they were doing with the dog bed. I told my friend that the dogs had stopped chewing as much.

About 20 minutes after that conversation, I came downstairs where it had snowed in my living room. There was doggie bed stuffing everywhere.

Lucy was very pleased with herself. This was actually taken after I had cleaned up the bulk of the stuffing. I had no idea how much stuffing that dog bed held!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kittitas County Fair!

A photo montage from the fair over labor day weekend.

Little N didn't bother to wait for daddy or Big N before jetting down the big slide.

Big N LOVED the bumper cars

Both kids LOVED the airplanes.

The hit, the toddler obstacle course ending with a giant slide

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hairy house guests

The kids have been guinea pig sitting for almost a month now. Well, really they get to give the guinea pigs carrots or celery and I get to clean out the cage. Big N surprised me on how well has has done with the animals. He can be very careful with them. Its been nice to see how well he can treat the guinea pigs.

Petting the pigs has almost become a morning ritual. Once both kids figured out that when they get dressed early, they get to hold the guinea pigs before school, it has been easy easier to get them to get dressed in the morning.

The pigs will go back to their home soon. I know both kids will miss the cuddle time they have had with the two fuzzy house guests. I'm pretty sure Big N will ask for the next red-eyed guinea pig that shows up at the pet shop.

Little N does better petting the guinea pig off of her lap.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Big N and Kindergarten

Big N is has started kindergarten. Today was actually his second day of school and his first day on the school bus. He was so excited to take the bus. I'm curious if he actually remained seated on the ride considering his legs were more like little springs as he bubbled over with excitment.

After the bus pulled away, I waited a few minutes before driving towards the elementary school to watch him get off the bus. Upon arrival I inadvertently managed to park right next to the bus drop-off. I had only been aiming for a view of his room door. I apparently did not pay attention to the school bus drop-off when we drove him for his first day.

The bus took approximately 30 minutes to arrive at the school. It was easy to spot Big N as he got off the bus. He spun in circles on the side walk and bounced towards the school. I overheard one of the older kids walking behind him, "He SURE is excited to be here!"

Big N didn't notice me in the parking lot, which made it easier on me. He walked right up to his kindergarten door like he owned the place and went inside. However, the bus driver did see me. She leaned out the window with a laugh to tell me big N did very well.

Where did the time go?

Big N at 13 weeks old

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Muddy Dog

Lucy LOVES puddles.

You can't tell from this photo, but her legs are usually white.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


There is one, solo fact that seems to be omitted from any working-from-home description, you will be in isolation-ville. In my case, here in Ellensburg, it is Isolation-burg.

I am spending my life in silence (since my stereo speakers finally kicked the bucket). It is a deafening silence, without the office clatter of your co-workers or the occasional eruption from my boss in the next cube.

Its hard to connect. Its hard to make isolation-burg a home when all your connections are 2 hours west, over a mountain pass.

There needs to be some balance of personal life vs. work life. But, my personal life is becoming too personal for me.

Our Dahlias

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Meeting up with Davis' mom and dad

Our good friends came home for a visit. They brought baby Davis out to stay with grandma and our happily embracing their new title of Davis' mom and Davis' dad.

We were glad to meet up with them over breakfast at John's childhood home. Big N enjoyed playing with John's childhood cars and plains. Little N was quite happy rocking on the giant Llama. They did not hesitate to make themselves at home.

Kristen was even nice enough to try on my latest knitting project on Davis. I'll have to knit him something else, perhaps with a closure, since he won't be wearing it for long!

Hope to see you soon, Kristen, John and Davis!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That 70's bride

My sister recently came out for a short visit. While she was home, mom pulled out her wedding gown for Jenny to try on. Little N had a blast helping Aunt Jenny with the train as a nightgown-clad bridesmaid.

Little N has decided she is ready to get married.

The blushing bride

Zucchini month

August has a little known distinction. It is the annual give-your-neighbor-giant-zucchini month. This holiday is very well know to anyone with a neighbor, co-worker, friend or somewhat casual acquaintance with a garden full Zucchini.

Giant Zucchini are somewhat intimidating, but we are making a huge effort to use those two ginormous yellow zucchinis our neighbor so kindly bestowed upon us.

We have had the following (all from a single zuchini)
1. Zucchini bread - 2 full size loaves, 2 mini loaves, 12 muffins, 18 mini-muffins. (hubby says add chocolate chips next time)
2. Zucchini fritters -- Major hit with Big N
3. Zucchini Pie -- Very apple pie like.

One Zucchini down, one to go.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Teddy Bear's Birthday

In Teddy Bear years, Teddy is aging very, very well. He seems to have a birthday every week and sometimes twice a week. Big N will announce that today or tomorrow is Teddy's birthday and we need to have a party. Teddy is typically pretty happy with a Lego cake, but I thought Big N might like a real cupcake party.

I came across a fantastic vanilla cupcake recipe and had the bright idea that 9PM on a Tuesday evening was cupcake baking time. Especially since my alarm would go off at 4AM to head to Seattle the next morning. Yes, this was obviously very well thought out.

The cupcake texture was fantastic and the butter cream was very light. I did not have a vanilla bean on hand. To compensate, I increased the vanilla extract added to the batter to 2 teaspoons.

I asked Pete to host Teddy's birthday party since I was on the west side of the mountain. Big N was pretty excited. He did inform me that Teddy is more of a chocolate guy, kind of like him. Funny how that works. Little N made sure I was aware that she truly appreciated the vanilla. She would be very happy to have vanilla cupcakes at her birthday party.

Big N just informed me that Teddy will have ANOTHER birthday tomorrow.

The Grass is always Greener...

They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but in some cases perhaps what they should say is you just need to invest in a good sprinkler and run through it a few times on a sunny day. In that case, you wouldn't have to look over the fence.

Our front yard

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Puppies go swimming

The lake has gone to the dogs. Lucy is much more of a fan of jumping into the water than Max, but Max is not shy about stealing her toy once she does get close to the water's edge.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My family fears voicemail

My entire family fears voice mail, and I will admit that does include me.

Instead of leaving a message, we hang up, usually within seconds of hearing a third ring. When I am the recipient of these calls, 9 times out of 10, I tend to just come across the portable phone in time to hear a dial tone.

It doesn't end here. With the dawn of the cell phone, the caller can go through the entire list of phone numbers and dial the next number in under a few seconds.

Perhaps I could beg my family to count to 30 before they dial the next number so I can find whichever phone they have not called before it starts ringing.

Maybe I just need a third and fourth phone. This way I can get all my cardio exercise in on the mad-dash to find the ringing phone under the downstairs couch cushion after I've crashed down the stairs from my office only to hear the cell phone ring upstairs in my purse. Two more phone numbers could really make this exercise exciting.

Monday, July 27, 2009

How many engineers...

How many engineers does it take to figure out that the GFI plug in the garage flipped the power off to the water filter?

Apparently, two engineers is not the correct answer. It actually only takes one nice technician from the water filter company.

On the plus side, the other problems with the filter will be fixed, soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

One habenero...

I love to cook. Anyone who knows me will agree to that. Whether I cook well or not is debatable, but I do enjoy trying new things.

My latest cooking experimentations have included peppers. In particular, spicier peppers. I've grilled peppers as a side dish and added them to mango salsa over shrimp. My most recent attempt was an oven roasted pepper dip. I've made this before with only sweet peppers, but I thought a little heat might add some depth.

Photo copyright Melany Richmond 2009

I roast the peppers the night before and let them cool so I can peel the skins off. I treated all the peppers the same, including those 2 innocuous looking little orange peppers. Once I got the peppers and onions into the oven to roast, I cleaned up and washed my hands.

Once I had the peppers roasting, I decided to snack on a pluot we had picked up from the farmers market. About 15 minutes later, I noticed that my lips were burning. It took me a second, and I realized that the residue from the habenero must still be on my hands.

I scrubbed my hands like you would see an actor playing a doctor scrub for surgery and they still burned.

In the future, I will use gloves to handle the peppers.

Roasted pepper dip

1 sweet red pepper
1 sweet yellow pepper
1/4 sweet onion
1 or 2 habanero pepper
1 clove garlic
kosher salt
cooking oil
Cream cheese
Sour cream
juice of half a small lemon

The night before you want your dip, preheat your over to 400 degrees.

Lightly coat a large baking sheet with oil. Clean and cut peppers into quarters, throw out the seeds and veins. Lightly toss in oil. Spread out on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the onion into rings (1/4 inch thick or so). Add to sheet, coat in oil and add salt and pepper. Place into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove small habenero pepper from pan and continue to roast larger peppers for 20 minutes longer.

Place onions and peppers into a plastic container and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, peel the skins from the peppers.

Take the garlic clove and crush into a paste with some kosher salt. Add this to the bowl of your food processor. Add the peeled peppers and onions and mix to a coarse paste. Add 1 heaping Tablespoon of cream cheese and sour cream and mix. Add additional Cream cheese and sour cream until desired consistency is reached. Add fresh lemon juice from half of a small lemon.

Serve with chips!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The sound of....

I am fairly certain that whomever said "Silence is golden" did not live with a three year old.

Sometimes silence can mean that mommy will be very busy cleaning in the very near future.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Big N is becoming a big kid

Last Saturday was the day out with Thomas at the Northwest Railroad museum near snoqualmie falls. It was a bit of an early morning trek and the kids really didn't want to get out of bed until we mentioned who they were going to see. We managed to get on the road about 20 minutes late and made a mad dash for the train ride at 9AM.

Big N and little N did fantastic on and off the ride.

We have noticed big change in Big N's behavior lately. Big N has really taken notice of those around him, in particular smaller kids. He is also much more conscience of what we say and seems to listen more. Just like any kid, he has his good days and his bad days. However, Saturday was a great day.

The train starts at the depot at the Museum and heads towards the falls. The ride takes you past the top of the falls and stops with a spectacular view above the falls. The trains stops for about 5 minutes to let everyone enjoy the view. Big N notices a younger boy, perhaps 2, and asks me if he should share his seat with him so he could see the water.

This was one of those proud momma moments, where my son went out of his way to be considerate of another little boy. The boy was shy and did finally come over with his dad to peak out the window.

After the ride, Big N dragged us towards the front of the train. We managed to talk him out of the gift shop for the time being and got towards the front of the train, where Thomas was. At this end of the train was a bounce house. We opted to skip the line to get the photo op with the big number one engine and both kids waited patiently outside the bounce house. It didn't hurt their patience that the man near the door was telling the kids inside that their time was up.

I reminded both kids to be careful around the littler kids in the bounce house and both kids clamored in. Watching the kids, Big N had listened. He slowed down around the littler kids and moved to the other side of the bounce house. He did, of course, do somersaults since it is currently summer. He asked, "Is it still summer?" before tumbling.

Two proud momma moments in one day!

After the bounce house and the ride we found ourselves with both kids inside the tent full of train tables for open play. Even in here, Big N managed to watch out for smaller kids, not grabbing as he would have in the past. It did help that we were at the museum early enough to be part of the smaller crowds.

I'll keep the end of the day description a little shorter. Leaving the gift shop tent did not end as nicely. Big N had some significant crying when we did not buy more trains for our house. However, the good parts of the day out weighed the tantrum.

Both kids did well. They really only had a tough time when we had been there too long after forgetting their water bottles in the car. Both kids had a mood improvement after lunch, as did their parents.

It was really a good day for the kids and their attitude and maturity made it great for us.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Little N's big hair cut

Little N is very particular about her hair. If she has a pony tail in, it will be out in 20 minutes. The hair will also be in her eyes and she will not be happy. It appears that long hair is not something she appreciates all that much.