Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Buttermilk Bend Trail

At the first of the month, we hit the trail with some friends to go exploring.  We spent the day at the Buttermilk Bend Trail, which follows the South Fork of the Yuba River. The boys hiked and went swimming in the crystal clear, COLD, water.  Part of the reason this trail was picked was because of the historical Bridgeport Bridge that spans the Yuba River.  The bridge was closed for restoration, so we couldn't walk through it. We did get to look inside, though.  What a fascinating structure!  It was built in 1862, and is the longest-span, wooden-covered bridge still surviving.  If you want to know more, check out this link.

The boys, gazing down at the river...and trying to figure out a way to get down to it.  You can't really tell in the picture, but we were a ways up over the river.

At a beautiful swimming hole.  The boys did swim, though it was a bit chilly.  Our friends that we were with, who were originally from Washington state, thought the water was warm. :) 

My guys, taking a water break!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

To Lake Tahoe and Beyond

This past week the boys and I went to go visit some friends who recently moved to Nevada.  They were some of the first friends that we made when we moved here last spring and we were so sad to see them go.  But we sure had a good time visiting with them.  They lived in Nevada about 45 minutes from Lake Tahoe.  So, on the way home, we HAD to make a stop at Tahoe. :) 
This is actually on the way to Nevada.  The drive was beautiful.  We took the southern route to Nevada.  The mountains were amazing and for a good bit of the way we followed the South Fork of the American River. pics except this one.  I was driving..and if I had stopped every time I had wanted to, we would never have made it!  The aspens were all turning beautiful shades of yellow and gold.  There were so many spots where the trees were breathtaking! 

Here are the boys at our first stop on Lake Tahoe.  This was on the eastern shore.  The wind was blowing up white caps on the water.  And the water...I cannot describe how blue it was.  AMAZING!  There were spots where the color of the water looked like the Caribbean Sea.

Looking back down to the south.  And the boulders...they were HUGE!

We continued around the lake to the northern shores.  We stopped and spent about an hour at King's Beach.  What a fun, amazingly beautiful spot this was.  It was a warm day, and before I knew it, the boys were both soaked from playing in the water.  :)  We got Rox out of the car, as we had her with us, and threw the tennis ball for her and let her romp around. 

The boys ran around like crazy!  Good times...except that I was NOT prepared for wet, sandy boys.  For some reason, I didn't think it would be warm enough for them to get in the water. 
I should know better...

There was a pier at King's Beach.  Here are my guys at the end of it...if there had been salt in the air, I would have thought I was on the coast. :)  I am SO glad we finally were able to see Tahoe.  It exceeded my expectations.  I hope to be able to explore the area more in the future!

Not Your Normal Pumpkin Patch

Last week we went to visit a local pumpkin patch with some friends.  This was not your normal pumpkin patch.  It was crazy big and felt more like being at the fair than at a u-pick pumpkin farm. I thought everything was bigger in Texas...not so with this.  It dwarfed the one we used to go to in north texas.  Ha. Still, it was fun, and the boys had a blast!  The ironic thing is that we did not end up actually going out into the fields to pick our own pumpkin.  It was a very warm day, and in order to get to the pumpkin fields, you had to ride a slow hayride out and back.  The boys did pick their own before we left, but from big bins by the entrance.  Another funny thing..I didn't even think to get a picture with them and their 'pick'.  Oh well, we'll get it when we actually carve them. :) 
There was a pumpkin patch close by that we could walk to, but it was filled with the GIANT pumpkins.  Even if I had wanted to take one home, I don't think they would have fit in my car!

The boys hopped on display tractors and had a good time pretending to drive them.

There was a giant hill with these two slides.  The were fun, but kind-of slow slides.  Have you ever seen anything like this at a pumpkin patch??

M-man attempted to lift this pumpkin...good luck, bud...

One of the activities, and the only one that I actually paid for (kind-of...someone gave me one ticket to it :) was to pan for 'gold', aka marbles.  They really enjoyed that and could have panned all afternoon.   But it was a warm day and there was a quota on 'gold'.

We had to end the afternoon with snowcones, of course!

Friday, August 31, 2012


By the look of my blog, you might think that nothing happened this month. On the contrary, it has been a very full month. The biggies would be that school started...and we harvested honey...and the boys started gymnastics (M-man) and swim (Big J). Those are all pretty big 'things'. But lots of smaller 'things' have been going on in between. Here's a glance at a few of them.
The boys saved up their money and bought Brickmaster sets.  These sets are super, and allow so much more creativity than a regular set.

Big J had a blast building!

M-man can follow the directions and build complicated sets these days.  What a boy!

The boys have had their fun at the expense of our dog, Rox. The Zhu Zhu pet just about drives her (and us) crazy!

The boys have been growing seedlings...these are spaghetti squash. I hope to get them in the ground this weekend. 

Our garden has been very plentiful. We've had lots of zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. I have since completely overhauled the garden.  Everything, with the exception of my best tomatoes and peppers, have been pulled.  It's time for fall planting!  But that's a story for another day.

We have enjoyed more fruit from the trees in our yard.  Here, M-man is eating peach and apple bites.  He requested I take this picture. :)  We haven't gotten a ton of fruit.  We have enough pears, apples, and peaches to satisfy...but not really enough to try canning and such.  Maybe next year.

Some artwork for school...courtesy of Big J.  More on this later. :)

And last but not least...M-man trying his hand at circuit building.  He's becoming quite the builder. 

We have honey!!

So, let's not talk about how I haven't posted all month.  Let's talk about honey.  Our honey. From our bee hive!  How exciting is that!!!  Last week while Neil was home, he decided that it was probably time to harvest honey.  He had another bee guy come out to confirm.  And then it was off to the races...or at least, off  to the beekeeping store to rent an extractor. 
Here is one box (or super) from our hive.  We have a three box hive.  Each box has ten frames in it.  You can only see nine in this picture because one was already pulled out.

The boys were fascinated with the entire process and were very helpful.  It was not an easy job...Neil did most of the hard 'labor'.  But the boys did their part, as did I...I hope...someone had to provide tools (spatulas, pans, containers for the wax and drippings, etc...and help with all things STICKY.  Oh, and make dinner...somebody had to feed all of the workers. :)

First, Neil had to take a hot knife (it actually plugs in) to cut the wax cappings off of the front and back of each frame. This took time and care.

Here is an up close pic of the cappings being cut off.

Side note:  Here is the extractor.  It is a 3 frame, obviously that would mean that 3 of these frames would fit into it after the wax cappings had been removed.

Into the extractor goes each frame.  Then the lid is closed and it  has to be cranked by hand to get the honey to come out. My AWESOME husband did ALL of that work.  Wow!

We had to taste it as we went along...of course. :) Sadly, I did not get any pictures of the guys actually turning the crank on the extractor.  The boys both took turns helping.  I must have been either cooking or cleaning or hunting for 'tools'. :)

After the honey was extracted, then it was poured into this bucket, which was fitted with a fine, mesh filter.  The honey very slowly flowed through the get rid off bee parts and wax parts and such.  That, my friends, is a 5 gallon bucket nearly full of honey.  By the way, it took the better part of two days to get the job done and everything cleaned up. 
And I still have sticky doorknobs. :)

Here is the first jar we filled.  Isn't it beautiful??

Liquid Gold!

We had to celebrate!  The next night we have waffles and bacon with HONEY for dinner.  That honey bear that Big J is holding was nearly empty by the time we got done with dinner.  I even made a double batch of waffles, thinking I could throw some in the freezer for later.  We ate all but TWO waffles.  It was good!

The first official 'Honey Bear' gift, packaged and ready to go.
What an amazing experience!

Monday, August 6, 2012

We have other toys??

The boys got their Lego's taken away last night for not cleaning them up.  Today, they have been breaking out all of the other toys they have but don't really play with that much. The matchbox cars took over much of their bedroom floor this morning!  Nice!  Other toys that have made an appearance this morning...hex bugs, marbles, and lots of other things!

p.s. Today is laundry day for the boys linens.  They are learning how to wash and dry them.  But they still usually get a free pass on making their beds on laundry day, as it's hard to get the fitted sheets on the bunk beds.  Any ideas on how to get past this??  They can easily make their beds when they can get around all sides.  But with having the beds bunked, and Micah being on the top bunk right now, it's kind-of challenging... :)

Lego Whale Shark

 Greaty, the whale shark, is Big J's favorite stuffed animal.  Here is the super cool Lego whale shark he created to look like Greaty.  Doesn't it look awesome?! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

An Early Morning Walk to the Lake

The boys woke up this morning CRAZY.  They were fighting and bouncing off of the walls from the time they got out of bed.  Good grief.  I had to take right after breakfast I had them get ready and we walked the dog to the lake for a quick swim...and of course some exploration time for them. :)  We had a blast.  It was early, maybe just after 8 a.m., but it was already warm and very sunny.  We took off our socks and shoes and waded around in the lake.  The water was super clear and the temperature perfect.  In the second picture, if you look closely, you can see Rox swimming.  She is in the water, back behind M-Man, just at the top of his head in the picture.  She is a funny dog, and will just swim and swim and swim. :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lego's and Squinty Eyes

Oh, how I love this boy!  He brings a smile to my face (and heart) every day!  M-Man is head over heels for Lego's.  He is finally getting to the point where he can build more complex things on his own.  His creativity in this area is super fun to watch and he has a blast coming up with his own sets to build.  Here is one that he insisted I take a picture of.  It includes a guy with a REALLY long neck.

P.S.  Awhile back, he started squinting in all of his pictures.  Slightly frustrating, but it's probably just a phase that will pass.  I hope. :)

Happy Snacks

The other day, after I had set a snack out for the boys, I came back to made me smile, and not just because the fruit and cheese stick were "smiling". :)  Lord, help me to step back often enough to let the creativity and humor of my boys to shine through.  These were Big J 'originals'.  Notice in the background that he had also arranged his brother's snack.  I love those moments when, completely unprompted, one of the boys shows his love for his brother!