Tag Archive | photography

Did I mention we got a cat?

I don’t think I did….

Hey, we got a cat!  He is much bigger than our dog.

Back in April, when we spent a lot of time at softball, I was thinking to myself (in my head) “I think we are ready for a cat, maybe for Zoe’s birthday…” and not 10 minutes later one of the softball dads said “hey Kate, want a kitten?”.  That is how cats come into your life – like the mind readers they are.  Apparently, his office cat had kittens and they needed homes and while never having talked about cats and in fact bringing a dog to many softball games – he offered me a kitten.


our first picture of him in June

It worked out nicely.


when Prima was bigger by a hair back in July

We debated names briefly and decided on Sorbet, like the frozen treat.  We usually call him Sur-bee or “cat”.  He is a bit bold, he will jump onto tables and counters but he does know it is bad because if he sees you he jumps down with a guilty look.

He is a bit standoffish.  Absolutely friendly and you can pick him up and hold him and carry him around but he seldom chooses to come to sit on a person.  Prima does get territorial about her people so maybe they have an agreement.


growing growing growing

He loves dog food and given he is 3x the size of the dog we have to defend Prima’s food.  We thought we would need to keep Prima out of his food so we always fed him up on his cat tree.  He still eats there although it is proof that cats can levitate because only about half of him fits up there now.


  we might need a bigger tree

At just over 6 months old he has proven a very good mouse catcher (and bird and vole).  He patrols the garage and the field around the house and drives #1 crazy about not coming home by dark but he does turn up around 8:30 daily if he isn’t in already


look at this giant thing

Overall the pets get along, they play fight and chase and even snuggle but most usually they are just in the general vicinity of each other since they both like to sleep half the day.  He does like to groom Prima and she will stand there and let him lick all her muddy paws clean after romping in the yard



captive grooming

He is a very good cat, he is chill and tolerates the kids picking him up and while he does try to eat our food (and Prima’s) nothing out of the ordinary for a cat.  We just need to be more careful about our bacon.  He is a good addition to our house.


sleeping pets.  Wish they didn’t love MY bed but they are cute

Eket 2 drawer cabinet

First things first, if you came here because you are having trouble with your Eket, ME TOO.  I found ZERO people who had this issue so maybe it was just me, because, every other post was a glowing review about how simple and easy it is.  I agree, the frame is quite easy but this two-drawer cabinet has gliders that are, as standard for Ikea, genius yet inscrutable instructions.  I installed mine in what I thought was an absolute following of the directions but nope, I did it upsidedown and backward.

The key is getting the right and left sorted, so note carefully the grove and then what set of holes is closer to the ‘top’ when the keyholes are oriented correctly per picture.  I suppose that is what the pointing finger is trying to say but seriously Ikea, just use a word or two.73a050e9-1db7-48c9-9c14-3cd2eeb4d367-28320-00000ff69d78f7f4_file

Once that was done it was cake.  As easy as everyone says for sure.

Personally, I had another minor dilemma because originally I was just going to get the drawers and mount them just below the shelf, but, then the 4 cube was in the clearance section for a price that was too good to pass up.  I didn’t pay attention to the fact that it stacked up to exactly the same hight as the shelf.

Decision time, remove the shelf or go back to plan A and find a new home for the cube.  Lars preferred the potential of 4 new cubbies so we broke out the bolt cutters and trimmed out the shelf we no longer needed.  I did actually keep the bit to the left of the drawers, you can’t really see it but all I needed to do was move one support and it was stable so that was worth the effort.

As you can see, the eket is the perfect depth for a closet system.  Everything else is ClosetMaid standard and often other furniture stick out too far or are too far back.  This looks slightly proud because of our floor molding but that is ok by me because I can push the top unit back slightly so it has better balance when the drawers are out.

If you were wondering, Lars required his own drawer for accessories and these are very good because they are shallow so you don’t stack too much in there.  They also have the fun ‘pop open’ hardware so no knobs to worry about.


I think this improves our closet nicely, other then the frustration of putting it together 2x, I like it a lot.


ps. I also like the series because the name reminds me of my friend Ekat.

Halloween House Tour

I’m taking it down and I’m ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas but I wanted to share a few fun bits.

Pro Party tip – put a tablecloth on the wall as a splash guard.  Ask me how I know….  This is the drinks station from the party and to further protect my paint I stuck up the plastic table cloth with wall decals.  Big impact and the best part was no spills on the wall and the white table cloth is still white.


The ‘thing’ of the year this year was the skeleton animals.  I had zero to start and I collected about 7 over the weeks coming up.  They are so creepy but in a classy way, like I’m an eccentric collecter…  The bell jars for my specimens are vases.


This was my really out there creation for the spooky boo-fet at the party.  The original one on Pinterest looks so much better but I did ok.  I searched the internet for ideas of what to put in the middle of the meathead and got zero answers so my meathead is on a cabbage – dense, inexpensive, and isn’t too weird looking when you start eating it.  The one it the pictures uses mini sausages maybe?  I used a giant summer sausage cut up into strips.


This mobile could be its own post.  I was trying to get something to suck up some of our echo in the room.  I think it helped, hard to say.  The family each made a glue and fabric ghost and I strung/balanced them onto 2 6f pieces of metal.  I’m thinking of changing the ghosts for snowflakes soon, we will see.


This is a fun substitution – where the skulls are used to be flower baskets.  They were an impulse buy and gave nice color to this odd corner.  I peeled off the basket and added skulls, for the 22 seconds, it took to actually do it got an admirable amount of attention.


A better shot of both my new picture rail (I’m very excited) and the collection of all our costumes from the last 11 years.  I took them down and the wall looks so empty but I have a plan for Thanksgiving and then this is the future home of all Christmas cards we receive.  We also moved a bench that we use as seating when we have big dinner parties into this room, it really works.  It is also the #1 place for sneak cat attacks, beware what lurks behind the drape….


What do you do with outgrown treat buckets that actually have holes in the bottom because we had them on our porch lights at the old garage?  Well, I put them on top of a cabinet for a cool pop.  I see this as soon as I walk in and it made me happy all season.


I could not take a picture that did justice to this window.  The candles are LED flicker style and I think it is simple, spooky, and elegant.  We don’t have a mantle or a fireplace so this ‘piano window’ is my go-to centerpiece spot.img_2654

Final picture – we did have lots of Halloween shirts but these two are favorites of mine.  I made them 3 years ago and they are still going strong.  Lace, ribbon, and zigzag stitch.  img_2804

Halloween is officially going into the boxes.  I’ve picked my fav’s of the photos to print for next year, and the giant haul of collected candy has been divided 80% to be donated, 20% to be kept.

Anyone else do something cool for Halloween?

Happy Halloween – costume edition

I hope everyone had a great night with their trick or treating or hanging at home being cozy.  For once, we had a day go *as planned* with nearly no issues or problems and it was fun from beginning to end.

Kids went off to school, 1 in costume, 2 bringing costumes, and a bag full of treats to share (if they were allowed).  ::aside:: I’m glad I’m getting this teacher for #3 third so I already know the ropes because there was zero communication on what permutation or combination of holiday fun was happening in her room.  She is the more kind teacher so I asked for her but she isn’t as on top of the note sending.  ::tangent over::  I collected them under bright and not so cold sky and we zipped home to wait for Lars to finish work.

Everyone knows the drill and thankfully they all still love to pose for me.  We did a photo shoot for each costume and then had a meat and cheese tray for early dinner and went off to meet friends and then traveled in a mob house to house.

This year #1 went as Athena.  She is still in deep love with the Greek myths and legends but at least this goddess had some very easy to identify items so at least 3 people could guess who she was.


halloween 2019-006

Medusa head shield, spear, and then general Greek-ish clothing fit for a Goddess.halloween 2019-005 Her shield was drawn by me but colored and contoured by her.  It also has the ‘feed me’ feature where candy went into the mouth and we had a ziplock bag on the back.  We had to empty her fairy regularly into a normal size bag but making Madusa puke out candy was also kinda fun.halloween 2019-007

Her outfit is really quite pretty and while not mundanely reusable it will absolutely go into the garb collection.  Her costume was 100% hand made (except for the laurel leaf hairpiece) and you can’t have a real hand made Halloween without a little tin foil.


#2 As ever, is a little on the wild side.  She is a Pirate Parrot with a pair of Pistols.  It was a fun costume to collect and I’m really happy with how it came together.

halloween 2019-012

I think we hit the blend of Pirate and Parrot nicely.  She told one friend that her mom was a pirate and her dad was a parrot…  well, maybe we work on the reality of genetics some other day.halloween 2019-009

I’m really happy with the mask.  It is all fleece (leftover bits from the wings and tail) and I machine sewed the majority and hand sewed the beak on and into a curve.  This is not actually the best picture ever because usually it fit right up over the silly pirate logo on the hat for a pretty cool look but I wanted to get that smile in the picture.

She had fun with the pistols too although they did get put in their holsters and forgotten about for the rest of the night (thankfully).  I think having hands free to hold a candy bag and ring doorbells is an important trait in a costume.

halloween 2019-013

Hard to say this is a totally hand made costume since she is wearing a red T-shirt and normal pants and a store-bought hat/pistols, however, I made the wings and tail and mask.  So hand made parrot, store-bought pirate?  Regardless this won’t have too much future use other than dress up box but I might remake the fleece into cozy pillowcases.

#3 went a bit classic – she is A devil (not The Devil).  She is certainly impish plenty of the time so pretty suiting persona to put on.halloween 2019-003

She declined wings or a cape or a fluffy skirt in favor of the very classic horns and a tail.

halloween 2019-002

Her costume is possibly the least homemade as it is overall very simple.  I couldn’t resist the sparkle headband horns and it came with the pitchfork.   We found a blouse at goodwill that was the perfect color and I really loved the lace since it would dress up a dull red dress nicely.  I cut the shirt apart and resewed it to fit.  The tail was my only from scratch item – tube with stuffing and a bit of wire attached to a ribbon to tie on.  The tail did end up with some abuse over the last few weeks but 12 gauge wire is pretty flexible stuff.

halloween 2019-001

Her outfit is technically just a dress but I have low expectations of her wearing it not as dress up.  Who knows!  you might see it at Christmas, it is a very festive red.  Hornes were declared too itchy so they might get donated right away so another little devil can have the pleasure next year.  Overall she was comfortable and warm since I made it roomy enough to go completely over her winter coat (and I’m glad I did)

Here are all three, having some fun while we waited for 5:30.  You can see in the background my photo wall of every costume, it is a real fun project and it is so fun to see the costumes every year.

halloween 2019

I had been crossing my fingers the weather would be ok for the outside walk.  It was nearly perfect, clear and crisp and not too cold.  Sure we had to be creative about bundling up and double socks but everyone was warm.  We went to the same neighborhood as last year that really does it up, tons of kids running around and superb decorating and hospitality (fires and warming spots).  We came home at 7:30 and popped in a pizza to eat while watching a Halloween movie.  Everyone was happily asleep by 10 and I wasn’t far behind.  I love having an outlet for creating something fun and helping them become characters they love.


Fur cloak, wings are quite warm plus we had a red sweatshirt to replace the t-shirt and devil dress fits over her coat.  I’ll take credit for planning indoor/outdoor costumes thanks 🙂

Today the decorations come down but I’ll take pictures before I do for a slightly late Halloween House tour tomorrow.


In this summer week

I felt like we got ‘nothing done’ but in reality we did tons, just did not finish any of the big things on the list.

Hot news first; Zoe and her softball team won their division!  They did not have a great record but it was actually a lot like a tv show.  At first the scrappy team of new girls learn to get along.  Then they have some early success but a long string of losses.  Some losses were close, some really not close – there were tears and talks about how they like seeing their friends and being on a team and learning the game.  Games were rained out, rescheduled, and we parents became acquainted with each other as we spent hours sitting together.  Finally, the day of the tournament everyone tried so hard and had practiced and through some really lucky hits and catches we found ourselves in the finals.  They were overjoyed and nervous as all eyes were on them.  Zoe made a fantastic catch for an out.  The pitcher reached deep and struck out a few girls.  Finally, the last girl hit the ball very short and our catcher got it and tagged home base as the runner was coming at her BUT it wasn’t a force situation (meaning nobody was going to 3rd so that runner could have gone back to safety) and in that situation, you have to tag the runner.  Neither girl knew what to do but about 50 adults were screaming at them and they were in a semi-frozen standoff on the 3rd baseline and finally, our catcher ran nearly to 3rd base and tagged the girl.  It was over!  It was exciting!  Nobody cried!  There were trophies!

Softball may never be as exciting at this fresh first year but Zoe is already excited to play next year.  The coach is willing to stay, the girls seem happy, and in my opinion, knowing what we are doing will only help us do better.  We were supposed to be in South Dakota with friends but since they couldn’t make it we choose not to go and I’m really glad we had the opportunity to do this tournament.


the last run of the game for the team, next girl got out, next inning it was over!


National anthem time, 

The other major theme of the week was getting #1 ready to go to her fancy science camp.  It has a dress code so we have been collecting the dullest clothing out there.  I updated her medical to show she has a broken arm, I hope it does not impact her ability to participate.  I’m double glad this year is a science camp since last year was rock climbing!  It is her first sleep-away camp and we are not all that nervous (yet) tomorrow might be different.  It is a little odd that I’ll be bringing her to the University campus, I had felt that was still a few years off, but it is a great choice for an academic camp since it is pretty empty of normal students during the summer.  Tomorrow’s instagram will show us dropping the happy camper for sure.

The other major thing #1 had to accomplish pre-camp was more or less moving out of her room because her boy cousins are coming for a few week visit starting Monday.  She might be bumped from her room but she does get a mom super clean in the deal.  Technically she was ‘helping’ but after enough help she slunk away to play really nicely with her sisters and I just did it my self – much easier actually.  I could throw away trash without discussion and now it looks neat as a pin.  It helps I put most of her ‘stuff’ in a box in the closet to be gone through when she returns.  However, only one bag of trash and one box of stuff is pretty good all things considered.

Did I bury the lead?  Yes, I’m importing 3 extra kids for the next few weeks so their parents can do a few super cool/important things that happened to overlap.  It was stressing my sister out so I just volunteered and now she can do her thing, he can do his and all the cousins can cavort like wild monkies here.  I think these Texans might really like it up here, I looked at the forecast and our temp for the next 15 days is between 60 and 90, and, where they live I saw a 105 on their list… that is super hot.  My mom is also coming to visit the crew at the end of week 1 and we are filling our time up fast so I’m sure it will be super fun.

The other days this week we had lunch with friends to celebrate the end of Ramadan (observed), we achieved passport submission so now we can travel internationally, celebrated our friends birthday with a middle of the day cake, #1 cut a foot of hair (and still has long hair) and the other two were trimmed up and we managed to get to the pool a couple times.  Books have been read, math practice done, food made and consumed, 168 stupid fights started and ended, yard mowed, and, we downloaded the harry potter themed Pokemon/Ingress game.  When I list it out it looks pretty cool, I wish it didn’t feel like a frantic paddle to stay above water half the time.


trying on a new uniform skirt, and, sporting hair.  No, not crying just shy!

Ok, the longest day of the year here, it is nearly 7 and absolutely still bright.  I’ll go chip away a little more at the pagoda project of never-endingness.  Projects like this make me feel like I get nowhere but when they are finally done the impact will be worth it!

All the things

I missed recording a few things in my crazy little life here.

Most importantly; #2 is now 9!  As we say ‘It’s time for 9″.  She claims she had to wait FOREVER for her birthday and all her friends are older, however, given the number of birthday parties we have attended for her friends this month, she was born peak season.  We did another sleepover with a fun painting project to pass the time.  All the girls did great with everything and eventually went to sleep.  The party was on a Friday night to have a prayer of fitting into graduation/recital season and we actually had everyone attend and the bonus was we still had the weekend.  On her real birthday, we had lunch together at school and she skipped jujitsu to hang out with me and then we went for sushi.  It was a full day and I think she enjoyed it.


9 year olds love puppies

Speaking of parties – in the past 2 weeks, we have had 4 kid birthday parties, a house warming, a bridging ceremony, a graduation, and 2 grad parties that we got to.  It has been an intensely social couple of weeks.  Most of these were in succession, going from one to the next to the next.  A few were concurrent where we dropped a kid at a birthday and went to another celebration and back in time to pick up again.  Exhausting but exciting and fun to see so many friends achieving things in their worlds.


On to brownies!

The weather… has been a factor in all things.  Currently, it is raining, again.  Yesterday it was perfect.  That is the way, we get a couple gorgeous days and a couple soggy days.  I have two lists at all times; things to do outside and things to do inside.  It also has been mild to cool here still.  I know other places are melting already but we are still using layers.  I wonder if I can ever put away all the winter?

Remember when I said I was doing a lot of field trips this month?  This past week I went on a 3 day trip ‘up north’ with the 5th grade.  It was thoroughly educational and the staff at the place was incredibly good with kids and making science exciting.  Every activity had a running dialogue of history and science and social interactions that was like sneaking veggies into a cookie.  We spent tons of time in the woods, in the ponds looking at micro-organisms, and even some classroom time.  They have a magic formula going up there I’m glad to have participated in.  It was worth the time, however, three days away still has a price in things NOT done elsewhere and it was also not exactly relaxing keeping track of 130 kids.


on top of a 4 story high observation tower


a view of some of the 6000 archers in the preserve we visited

We also got a new minivan.  This was a process that spanned about 4 months but we finally got it this Saturday.  It is still a little amazing to be in, so new and full of tech to learn.  We decided on the Pacifica – great safety and stats – but we needed one that had 6 seats in the back.  That turned out to be a special order but it was worth the wait because since we were factory ordering we could get or leave out any option we wanted so no compromises because it was ‘on the lot’.  I listed our Oddysey and hope it sells to a nice person.  That will be its own post someday because it truly was a good car.  We have always done a trade in so it is odd to still have our old car too.

Between parties and rain storms, we have gotten more of the play set up, I added monkey bars and then a flip bar that is both fun and helps keep the system stable.  The kids are enjoying it both for its built purpose of swing/monkey bar/flip and also as a centerpiece of imagination games that I can’t even start to describe.  Let’s just say my 3 have no shortage of crazy imagination scenarios that they can play all day. This set lures them out of the house.  There is still a list of building projects not to mention yard work in general.  We did get our yard mowed.  Note I didn’t say grass…. we are waiting on the builders to finish some drainage fixes so we didn’t plant yet, however, plenty of volunteer green items were filling the void and we mowed them to a socially acceptable level.  Next year we might have grass… maybe.


monkey bars and flip bar.  May they never lack for upper body strength

Sports were dominant this month with #1 doing track and #2 doing softball and #3 doing gymnastics and they were all stacked on Monday and Tuesday making them crazy afternoons. We survived though, the last track meet was Monday and #1 did very well.  She was 3rd overall for the 800m and had fun on all her events.  Everyone got t-shirts and ribbons and I got to see parent friends from all over I wasn’t expecting. Now we ‘just’ have softball and gymnastics (and jujitsu) but the schedule is much less crazy.

Last but not least, I looked and there are less 2 weeks of school left.  This year flew by but we did do quite a lot so we earned our summer.  The next 2 weeks are full of end of year things, a final field trip, #2 has a wax museum presentation that parents are invited to, and I need to do one last birthday party.

I’m closing in on 1000 words here so that is plenty to read with your coffee, I will keep ‘blogging’ on my list for inside time and hopefully, I get back to a bit more regular schedule when things click over to summer life.

ps.  while uploading pictures I was reminded that I also went to school for their field day, a 5th-grade concert that was actually really good, we dealt with our first major behavior in school issue, we attended the agriculture fair at the high school and got to pet the baby goats and I helped a friend rehab and stage his house to sell – reminding me I don’t really like packing but packing someone else is more fun.  Now I don’t feel so bad about the basket of towels that just never seems to get folded.