Jan 29, 2015

Christmas Eve

This post is way past due, but I'm mainly posting it for the memories.

 We had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 2014. Christmas Eve morning I got to sleep in while Cameron took the girls into daycare - yes, they were open until 3 PM that day! And for that I am very grateful. Cameron actually had to work that day which included visiting a customer. 

I had the day off and used the time at home to get ready for the next day - everything from getting presents wrapped and cleaning the house, as well as packing for the evening. We were heading up to Chico for our annual Christmas Eve celebration with our family friends, the Moffetts and my parents. 

We picked the girls up from daycare and headed upstate. We stopped in Marysville to drop off some present to other family friends, the Nagles, but unlike most visits, this visit was kept short due to the flu ravaging their home. 

This gave us a little more time at our next stop, Vicki's, where we dropped off gifts and changed the girls into their Christmas dresses. Then we made it to our last stop - the Moffetts.  I'm sure I've said this in the past, but my parents and I have spent almost every Christmas Eve with them at their house for the past 33 years. It will be completely sad when this tradition comes to an end, which I know it will, some day. They are family to me and while we don't get to see them as often as we once did, it's nice to have Christmas Eve to count on. 

It's also been fun to go from being kids to having kids with them on Christmas Eve. The kids are at those ages where they play and have fun together. I know they are making similar memories to what Emily, Nate and I have from our childhood together. 

My dad played Santa again this year. Growing up, Santa would visit every year, and at some point, Emily, Nate and I realized that Santa wasn't really "the Santa" so we set to figure out who the imposter was each year. One year we made a list of all the men in the house and tried to figure out who was missing when "Santa" arrived. Another year we looked at their shoes to try and match "Santa" to the shoes. It got to the point that Bonnie was actually hiring a college student to play Santa and as we've been told, one year this Santa had been hitting the eggnog a bit before his arrival. 

I think this was my dad's 3rd year playing Santa for our kids. And at 4 1/2 years old London figured it out that "Santa" was Grandpa! We were so shocked. We know we were a bit older before we were making lists and looking at shoes.

And as usual, we left later than we had planned - because, as usual, we were having too much fun. Here are some pictures from the evening:  

Photo bomb!
The Newest Addition to the family: Leora!
Apparently, Emily and I were in the same mindset that night

Here comes Grandpa Santa

Sydney didn't figure out who Santa was - this is as close as we could get her to Grandpa

Jan 27, 2015

The Beginnings of an Orchard

Silence...again. Sorry! But I promise, we've been busy. During the week, Cameron and I have returned to our gym-rat ways. We used to go to the gym all the time when we first started dating. Usually two hours a day, all week long. When we got jobs, the gym time shortened somewhat and became a few days a week. After London, gym time became non-existent, mainly because to get to our gym we would have an hour drive just because of traffic. We went so little, we finally cancelled our memberships. 

And I was doing well running on my own, outside. But since we moved last year, I mainly run on the frontage road out front, and I was using the trail near our home on weekends, but after a mile, I felt the need to carry pepper spray due to the transient population living under bridges, that the stress from fear overruled the stress release running was providing me.   

But, there is also a 24-hour Fitness across the street from the girls daycare. And we have the time from when I get home after work until the time we absolutely have to pick the girls up that we could get a 30-45 minute workout. Then I found out my work provided memberships to 24-hour Fitness. We signed up. And have been going 3 days a week. 

On the weekends we have been trying to spend as much time as possible outside. Outside the thick fog we've been experiencing most mornings, getting outside hasn't been too hard. The girls are always asking to go see Sophie. We released Sophie just over a week ago, and she is doing fantastic. Minus the part where she really wants to come inside with us, she has already caught and delivered two "gifts" for us at our doorstep - one mouse and one vole. And when we're outside, she tends to tag along.

Cameron's done a little work on our chicken coop, and we will definitely need to get that completed soon. But we've been side-tracked with....planting our own little orchard. Costco recently had bareroot trees available. We bought 9! Eight are now in the ground. The ninth is a pomegranate tree, which are ornamental as much as they are productive, so we decided to put that one in the front yard. And this has allowed us to develop an idea for the front yard landscape. We're going to go the English Cottage garden route. Likely not much will happen this year, but maybe next. 

As for the other trees, we purchased & planted: 
  • 2 Red Apple Trees
  • 2 Granny Smith Green Apple Trees
  • 1 Plum
  • 1 Nectarine
  • 2 Peaches
Here are our "trees", yes they look more like sticks and are hard to see. The round mounds of moved Earth are you're clues as to where they are planted.

It's definitely going to be a few years before we get any produce from these trees, but that's why we've focused on trees so much since we moved in. The sooner we get them in, the sooner they will grow and provide shade and food.

Jan 15, 2015

A New Addition

Over the holidays we added another member to our family...We got another cat! That makes 3. Meet Sophia - aka Sophie.

She's got some amazing gold eyes
We adopted Sophie as a Barn cat. After Cameron tilled a bunch of the land around the house this past fall, we began to see an increase in mice in the garage. Luckily, they were dead when we saw them, since Cameron had put out some poison previously for a live mouse that scared the living daylights out of me one morning. Let's just say I don't handle jump-out-and-surprise you situations well.

On top of the dead mice in the garage, the gophers Cameron had worked so hard to get out of the front yard all summer have begun to migrate back. He can only do so much with the smoke bombs.

Just after we moved into the house back in October 2013, I read about Barn cat adoption programs. These are cats that would eventually be euthanized if expected to be adopted out as house cats as they don't necessarily present their best side when behind bars and have an appreciation for the outdoors. Some can be quite feral. Barn cats have been documented to help keep down pest populations as well. Did you know Disneyland employs barn cats to keep mice and rats out of the parks? All barn cats have been spayed or neutered as well as vaccinated so the outdoor cat population doesn't continue to grow having them loose outside.

After the mice increase and gopher encroachment, we decided to look into the possibility. I found that the Yolo County SPCA offered such a program. After discussing our needs and land with the director, she recommended Sophie, a friendly-enough cat who had been picked up off the streets in Woodland. In less than a week, Sophie was set up in a large cage, similar to a cage you would house a parrot in. We have the cage set up in a metal shed on our property that houses our tractor and provides shelter from the wind and rain for Sophie, while also allowing her a nice view of the property.

She's set up with water, food, a litter box, a bed, some blankets and towels, and now a cat condo scratching post. The poor thing is going stir crazy after all most 3 weeks of being caged up for the majority of her time out there, but it is recommended she be confined this long to get to know us, our habits and our property so that she knows that it's home.

We go out and check on her twice daily. We had a cold snap come through, so I put a blanket over the top of the cage to keep the chill out. We put the blanket up in the morning and then take it back down at night, thus waking her up and putting her to bed everyday. But don't worry. Between the shelter and her thick winter coat, not to mention the towel and fleece blanket my parents got her, or the cat condo, this girl is pampered and not freezing. She's actually taken to the cat condo and most cold mornings when I wake her up, she comes out of it stretching.

When we can go out to see her in the afternoons or weekends, we usually let her out so she can walk around, stretch, scratch and eat grass. The girls love her. London named her Sophia, which quickly morphed into Sophie or Soph. Sydney asks almost daily to go see her. And both get quite disappointed when they don't get to see her.

Sohpie is the reason for the other project we have going on outside right now. With her time dwindling down in the cage, Cameron has constructed her a table in the corner of the metal shed, that also acts as a scratching post for her. Before we release her, he's going to build her a little cat house to go on top of the table that we can put her bed and blanket in so she has a place to bundle up and stay warm on cold or rainy days. We will also house her food and water her. Sophie is quite food motivated, so we're hoping she decides to stay on our property once she is released. We've been giving her treats on the table as a way to condition her that this will be where her food & water can be found later.

Sophie is a sweet cat - she definitely isn't feral and keeps somewhat close to us when she is out exploring. She let's the girls pet her, even kiss her, before she romps off for a stretch. And hopefully, she'll be a good hunter for us. One day when she was out, she was very interested in the birds nearby in a tree. 

Of course, now that her time for release is nearing, Cameron and I are growing concerned. We're already attached and realize that life as a barn cat can be short. We have coyotes nearby and can hear them howling at night occasionally. Plus, we have a busy road in front of our house that could be Sophie's downfall as well. Hopefully, she's smart and steers clear of the roads.  I figure when it is time for release, we will do it on a weekend and when we are planning on being outside for a while just so she has us to hang around with for a while. We'll definitely be crossing our fingers we see her often once she is released.

Jan 13, 2015

Happy 2015!

The holidays blew right past us this (past) year! Here we are two weeks into 2015 and I've been quite silent. We haven't even been that busy at home. Just relaxing. Cameron finished putting together his Christmas present last week. 

This and his Elk hunt over New Year's weekend delayed us from even starting our annual tradition of watching all extended versions of the Lord of The Rings Trilogy around New Years. We made sure to get that started this last weekend. We're just over half way through. It's hard now that the girls stay up later - and I swear we go to bed earlier! We opted to not watch the two Hobbit movies since we recently watched them after Desolation of Smaug came out with the extended version. 
 And, while my parents were here, we did sneak away for an afternoon to watch the final Hobbit film in theaters now. It was great, as expected and I'll admit, had me in tears toward the end. We also felt Peter Jackson actually left it open for two possible spin-off movies. One could be around following Legolas as he sets out to find Strider/Aragon. This would fill in some of what went on between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Lord of The Rings. We also felt that Tauriel's story could continue since Peter Jackson made her character up any how.We've also decided that once this movie comes out on DVD we will begin watching all three Hobbit films around Thanksgiving - that way we have a little break between the two sets of trilogies.

Now we're full steam ahead for 2015. The weather has been dry, so we've been taking advantage of it over the weekends to enjoy the sun and get some Vitamin D. This has mostly consisted of my sitting outside reading a magazine while the girls play and get some energy out. But we are soon going to be turning our attention to some outdoor projects as well. Of course, there is the hope more rain comes soon. What we had at the end of November and early December was great but California needs more. And our lake has now dried up. It was actually really nice to look out and see this after all the rain: 

At one point it actually got higher than this. Don't worry, the house and we were fine and never in danger of flooding.
The road to the side of our house flooded as well. Made for great entertainment of people getting stuck attempting to drive through it - it was 3 feet deep or more in some areas. This was the view looking toward our house.
Last week, we went to our local feed store to inquire as to when chicks available for purchase would be arriving - February 5th! Which means we need to get in gear with building our chicken coop. This involves building two coops - one for egg layers and one for broilers. Then we need to build two, side-by-side enclosures to protect the chickens. While they will have plenty of space to roam, we don't want them completely free roaming, for two reasons. One, because I hate the idea of having chicken poop everywhere (it's just not sanitary and dangerous for the girls), and two, because we have coyotes and hawks to worry about eating our chickens. They will only be eaten by us (I hope). 

We also have another outside project in the works, which I will go into more detail soon. And of course, kindergarten registration for London is just around the corner. We completed the paperwork last week and have received our Inter-district transfer request from our current school district, so we have all our ducks in a row for when registration in the new district begins, which opens February 2.

Stay tuned for projects and Christmas celebration recaps.