Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sam at gymnastics

Sam has a gymnastics class on Monday mornings this semester. He really enjoys it, and has made some new friends.

Here's everyone doing their warm up exercises. (Again, this camera fits in my back pocket, so not the clearest images.)

I was going to take his picture flipping over the bar, but he kept doing it so fast that I couldn't catch him!

Over the top....

Listening to see what's next...

And on to the balance beam. His little classmate is waving at me - she's very friendly!

They finished up on the trampoline, but I didn't get a good shot of him. (I know, the ones above aren't all that great either, but at least it's something!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Relaxing Sunday

I deliberately took some pictures today so I could post them here. Seems we're so into the routine that nothing seems terribly news worthy.

So, Otto had the guitar out this afternoon because he found another version of Guantanamera that he's trying to learn. Andy had coincidentally made a stringed instrument a few minutes earlier out of rubber bands and a box, so he joined in.

Then Sam decided that he wanted in on the pictures.

Later in the day the boys decided to sip on some black currant cider that I bought at the art&craft show yesterday. Most of what I bought was consumable - fruit cake, toffee, ghost-shaped sugar cookies, some other candy, the cider.... This show is a popular place to start your Christmas shopping, and many of the vendors would ask if what I was buying was a gift. Nope, all for me! (Pretty much.) I bought this cider figuring that we would need some warm drinks in the near future. Like today - very cold - high of 1 degree C. But it's supposed to be 20 degrees C again later this week. Crazy weather.

Some time after cider-sipping, and in the ongoing process of trying to stay warm, I decided make caramel apples. I had bought the ingredients earlier in the week, but hadn't made them yet. My initial plan was to make them while Andy was at school and Sam was down for a nap, since most of the time is spent stirring HOT HOT HOT sticky caramel over the stove; a process they couldn't really help with. But, it worked out fine with them around - they were good about keeping their distance.

I had never made caramel before. It was a lot like making a roux, but took longer. This recipe used honey instead of sugar, so the caramel tasted, well, honeyish. And I couldn't find popsicle sticks at the grocery store, so we got creative with bamboo skewers. The first two were picture-perfect, but as the caramel cooled they started looking not so pretty.

Eating them after dinner was... tiring. They took longer to eat than any other dessert we've ever had.

Trying to get the caramel unstuck from behind the teeth.

There was a lot of trying to get the caramel unstuck....

They were fun, and tasty; something different for sure!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Apple Cake

Not much new this past week. The boys are improving in their ice skating. They are on their feet more than not, and shuffling along slowly. Still no snow here yet, but that's okay with me because I know when it gets here, it will be around for a long, long time.

Sam and I made an apple cake a couple weeks ago, so since I haven't taken many pictures this week, here are a few from that activity. We also made some zucchini brownies last week - not such a big hit with the kids, but Otto and I thought they were good.

The cake was from a recipe found on the SmittenKitchen blog in case anyone wants to make their own. It was very tasty, even substituting half of the white flour for wheat. But mine didn't look the same because it appears she has a tube pan with spring release sides (like a cheesecake pan) and mine is just a plain tube pan. So I layered mine differently, hoping that when I flipped it over it would look like hers with the pretty apples on top. It didn't. My apples were on top, but only because I scraped them out of the bottom of the pan and plopped them up there, because when the rest of the cake came out, they did not. Next time I'll either have to just leave it in the pan, or flip it and have a cake layer on top, not the pretty apples.

Oh, here is one picture I took this week. These are my legs (lest you think they belonged to someone else). There are only two areas in our house that get direct sunlight. The office, and this stairway. Sometimes when I'm heading down to the kitchen/living area, which is the chillier side of the house, I stop and sit in the sun here on the stairs for a few minutes to preheat myself. Or, if I'm heading up after being downstairs, I thaw out.

The temperature difference between the office (which this stairway splits and leads to on one side) and the rest of the house is probably ten degrees on a sunny day. So I need to put a sweater on just moving from one area of the house to another. And the basement, naturally, is even chillier. I don't go down there much, which is a pity because that's where my piano is. And that's where the guest room is, but we'll put a portable heater down there if you come to visit! :o)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving, everyone! Otto is out of town, and I was just planning on roasting a couple turkey legs. But a family we know (that moved here from Baton Rouge about a month after we arrived) invited us over for the whole shebang. Turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, rolls, fruit salad, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream and coffee to top it off. Ohhhhhh, I'm so full.... They have two teenage girls and a Wii, so the boys were having about as much fun as they could stand. Thank you, Brandt family!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ice Skating Lessons

Sam and Andy started skating lessons this week. Here's Sam at the before-going-on-the-ice pow-wow (in the green jacket).

Sam and his class have spent much of their time on all fours as they crawl around and attempt every few minutes to stand up.

When the teacher stood him up on his feet this morning, he stood dead still. I've never seen him stand so still for so long. He did shuffle along for a few steps, and then down he went. It's especially amusing when the kids are close together - when one falls they all go down like dominoes.

Andy's first lesson was this evening. Outside of the arena was this pile of snow, presumably scraped off the rink by the Zamboni.

In contrast to Sam's class, I think 99% of the kids this evening had previous skating experience, and Andy's inexperience stood out. He was such a trooper. His first 20 minutes on the ice were spent slipping and getting back on his feet again, non-stop, while everyone else pretty well stayed on their feet. During the final 40 minutes the falling down frequency slowed to maybe once per minute. By the end of the hour-long lesson he did make it from one side of the rink to the other without falling once! Here are a couple shots of him actually staying up (he's the one in the middle below).
But most of the night was spent in this position.

He was so tired when he came off the ice, his hair was COMPLETELY drenched in sweat. That has never happened before - not even in the Texas heat. I was so worried he'd be upset after all the falling down, but this was the face I saw when I pulled off his mask:

We'll see if the sore elbows and keester heal enough by next week that he's actually willing to go back!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jaunt to Jasper

We took a quick trip to the mountains this weekend. On our drive to Jasper we stopped at the Columbia Ice Fields. There is a bus tour that we were going to take, but once we got there Otto decided we should wait and take it next spring. I'm still not clear on why 'we' decided to wait, but okay. These snow coaches leave every thirty minutes to take you up there so you can walk, run, or do whatever on the glacial ice.

So we didn't go on top this time, but we did hike up to the edge, where there were multiple signs about how you shouldn't go past the ropes because of the dangerous conditions at the edge of the glacier. About how the last three rescue attempts were unsuccessful, or how children die from hypothermia much faster than adults, or how this nine year old boy died by falling in one of the crevasses when his family was there for a visit in 2001. Okay, mission accomplished!

The one in this area is the Athabasca Glacier.

As we drove to the foot of the trail there were markers along the road indicating that the glacier was 'here in 1948'.

After we read all the nice signs about death and had our fill of the views, we headed to Jasper. And as we rolled into town we were greeted by some of the locals!

After we got settled into our hotel, including checking out the large chair in the lobby,

we took in some sights. Here is a little fall color from around town.

They had a really neat train station. Maybe we take the train to Jasper next time!

A picture-perfect post office.

More strolling...

Posing with a bear statue in front of where we ate dinner.

And checking out the driers at the coffee shop/laundromat where Otto got an after-dinner cuppa joe.

We finished breakfast this morning and headed for the gondola that takes you to the summit of Whistler's Mountain.
This is the mascot of Jasper. We saw him around town a few times.

There were snow flurries at the top! And it was colder- glad we brought extra jackets.

The town of Jasper below, with Athabasca River flowing alongside.

The trip back down.

On our trip home this afternoon, Otto was playing hangman with the boys as I drove. Andy had chosen the word 'bread' for Otto, but ended up spelling it incorrectly (braed). So after Otto guessed several letters and figured it out, he was explaining how to spell it the correct way, and thus started the Abbott and Costello routine:

Otto: (writes the correct spelling on the Doodle-Pro) B-R-E-A-D, see Andy?
Sam stares in silence at the board, Andy's looking out the window.
: Papi, there's no 'C' in 'BREAD'!
Otto silent trying to figure out what Sam is talking about. Andy still daydreaming.
: What? Ohhhhh! No, I was telling Andy how to spell 'BREAD', and I said "SEE, Andy?" Not telling him that there's a 'C' in bread.
Andy: (just realizing Otto was talking to him) What? Yeah, Papi, I know there isn't a 'C' in bread!

I was laughing so hard I almost had to stop the car!