Another quiet night

*I forgot the post this back at the end of June…Enjoy!*

Last night was the final night of my solitude.  Jesse and the boys came back home today after their long camping weekend.  I’m happy they were able to go camping and be with his family and I’m happy I had a few days to myself.

Last night was spent making penis soaps for a bachelorette party and I actually did some training with Benny as well.  The soap is surprisingly realistic looking, and I thought it was fun trying to come up with different flesh tones.  Hopefully the ladies will like them as well.

With Benny I worked on Sit, Down, Wait, Leave It, Touch, Paw, Find It, and I introduced a new skill of Back.  He picked up Back pretty quickly.  I also tried giving him the idea that anytime the doorbell rang he should head to his mat instead of running to the top of the stairs but I’m having difficulty relaying the message.  When the doorbell rang and he went to his mat I treated him, but then I had to coax him off his mat so he could repeat it.  I’d ring the bell again and he’d just look at me because I had literally just called him over to me.  I’m sure I’m missing a step somewhere.  Will have to look into or ask my training forum folks.

I decided to tackle the backyard the other night after I got home.  We had been letting the grass and weeds grow with the thought that larger weeks would soap up more weed killer, but then we decided it probably didn’t matter much either way and so the grass and weeds kept going.  I started up the mower around 8:30pm and only got about half of it done before I had to call it a night.  I would have stayed out later but the mosquitoes were out in full force.  It appears I only got one bite for my troubles, so that’s good.  Some parts of the lawn are so tall that I had to leverage the mower up above the grass and then come down like a weed wacker, and then I mower back and forth over it.  The part I was able to mow looks really good.  I may attempt the other part of the yard tonight when I get home.

We still have not planted any garden items yet.  Every year I have these big plans and usually they don’t get done.  We may just plant a couple planters and call it good.  We may try to kill off the main garden area by covering the ground for the year and then starting fresh next season.  I’m not sure what we’ll do.

Maternity leave, redux

eBay has done a very cool thing starting this January 2016.  They have really beefed up their maternity leave/family leave policies.  Last year, the policy was you could get up to 12 weeks maternity leave, but only six weeks were paid by short-term disability and it was at 80% of your base pay.  Starting in January, you can now get up to 24 weeks PAID leave (at 100% base pay!), 12 for disability and 12 for bonding time.  I was kind of miffed that I had missed this new policy, being that I had had Leo back in May.  But then! I heard some other girls in a different department talking about how they were taking advantage of the new policy, and one of the women had had her baby last March!

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I asked my manager if it was something I could take advantage of and to my surprise, eBay is allowing the new policy for anyone provided the baby is not yet a year old.  You can believe I snapped up that opportunity!  So starting on Monday, I will have the next 12 weeks off work (I already used my short-term disability when I actually gave birth to Leo)!  How cool is that?!  And eBay gives this benefit to fathers as well.  I told one of my teammates about it and he’s taking off the next 12 weeks as well.  Kind of leaves our team a bit short staffed, but I don’t feel bad about taking up this extended leave time.  Baby months are short, you know?  Leo is already on the cusp of crawling and I want to physically be there to get in on that action.  Sometimes I get irritated having to be on the phone with members who are surly, but I definitely appreciate eBay’s employee benefits.

This past month has had ups and downs.  In December I came down with a cold and had to miss the company holiday party.  I hear it was really good this year, both the food and the entertainment.

Velvet and the girls celebrated the new year with us at our house and we ate tons of junk food and watched silly movies before ringing in the new years with the folks on tv.

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On New Years morning we got the word that Velvet’s husband had passed away early that morning in a car accident.  Talk about a shock.  Not the best way to start the year.  Family and friends have been so generous with their outpouring of support, it’s been amazing.  She has some really solid people in her corner and I’m grateful for that.

Dad and Dani came for about a week after we got the news and helped Velvet with some stuff around the house and filing paperwork, that kind of thing.  It was sad circumstances but great to see them.  Dad hadn’t shaved since his foot surgery last summer so he was rocking a full-on beard, it was great!  And he and Dani had new tattoos they didn’t tell us about.  They are getting to be rebels in their old age.  (Yeah, I said old age, Dad, deal with it!)

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Jesse has started his final semester of school.  It seems like a light at the end of a loooooooong tunnel.  If it seems long to me, it probably feels longer to him.  Hopefully he can get a job straight out of graduation.  We’d like to get a job back in the Pacific NW, but I have a feeling he may get something closer to here.  Just in case, I’ve been looking up acreage in Washington.  You never know.

The whole family was hit with a stomach bug earlier this month.  I called out a couple days for myself and then Ezra was ill and then Jesse.  Leo was sick a couple times but I couldn’t tell if it was the bug or just normal baby pukes.  I’m thinking probably it was the bug because Leo is not one for just randomly spitting up.

In the past month we cleared out the junk room upstairs and moved Ezra into that room then moved Leo into Ezra’s old room.  (For those keeping track, we recently swapped rooms with Ezra, so there has been a LOT of room changing lately).  After Ezra was all moved in it still took us awhile to get the rest of our stuff out of the room.  But, now it’s all his and just has mainly his stuff in it.  It looks like a bedroom again, completely different than from the past four years.

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It’s been a little difficult for me having Leopold in his own room.  I have to check on him at night before I go to bed to make sure he’s still breathing or to rearrange him so he’s covered by blankets.  That kind of thing.

Ezra finished his skating lessons.  Or rather I should say, we went to maybe three lessons and he just didn’t want to go to more.  So that was the end of that.  Maybe he’ll be more interested next year.  However, he did just start swimming lessons and though we’ve only gone the one time, he was VERY excited about it, both before and after.  He got water in his eyes at one point and completely freaked out about that so we need to remember to bring his goggles next time.

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There is this book I’ve read several times, a romance novel if you must know, and in it they talk about chicken marsala a lot and the lead in the books tries her hand at making it.  I’ve always wanted to try it so finally purchased all the ingredients and here is the first result:

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It was good but slightly bland, so the next time I made it I about quadrupled the amount of wine and chicken stock (because the first time I had doubled it) and I also added shallots and garlic.  It was fantastic!  We are going to put this in the rotation for dinners.

I’m still debating between raised garden beds and hay bale gardening.  I think the raised garden beds look more neat but I like that after a season or two we could use the spent hay bales as mulch.  I really want to ramp up our efforts this season.  We are going to do the tomatoes and peppers, but I’d like to also do spaghetti squash again (and actually eat it this time) and maybe a bed for lettuces and one for onions and garlic.

I decided to give up on the milk kefir.  While I do think I was getting good probiotics, I am inherently lazy and I didn’t want to have to tend to something daily.  I’d go a week before switching the grains to new milk and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore so I fed the rest of the kefir, milk grains and all, to Benny and that is the end of that.

We did just start a ginger bug again, though.  Jesse has taken it on because we are both really into ginger ale right now and would like to make our own.  A ginger bug is the basis of this.  Right now it’s happily bubbling away with wild yeast colonizing the jar and eating the sugar.  In about a week we can take some of that liquid and make a ginger ale with it.  Exciting!  Probiotic ginger ale, yeah!

I also purchased a 2.5 gallon dispenser to brew kombucha.  Right now I have a 1-gallon container and it’s a pain trying to bottle up the brew.  This new dispenser has a spigot in it so bottling the drink should be much easier, and I won’t have to remove the scoby when making the new batch.

Over the course of the next 12 weeks I will attempt to be more active and to eat better.  Fingers crossed for me!

8.30.15

It looks like our skunk problem has gone away, for the time being at least.  Jesse has been locking up the hens at night and I think he’s been perhaps feeding them their scraps in the coop at well, making it less enticing for vermin to come into our yard.

Mister kitty is still missing.  Well, missing may not be the right word.  We think another family in the neighborhood took him in.  I was going to put up fliers but I figure if he left us to go to another family nothing will be solved by us forcibly removing him from them because he’d just go back.  So at this point I choose to believe he is living as an indoor cat somewhere in our neighborhood.  Every day I come home from work Joline meets me under the carport and I ask her if she’s seen her brother that day.  She meows back at me but as I’m not fluent in cat I cannot say for sure if she is telling me the truth.

Benny has been flipping his ears frequently again and when I looked in his right ear it was all kinds of cracked up in there.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t mites but I had Jesse take him in to the vet to get it looked at.  Apparently the last time we were in there for Benny they were supposed to give us ear medicine to squirt in his ears but they never did.  They gave it to us for free this time, so that was cool, but the vet didn’t tell Jesse what the problem with the ear was and Jesse didn’t think to ask.  I’m considering checking out a new vet, this place doesn’t really seem on top of things.  We put the meds in Benny’s ears last night and he didn’t love it.  I make sure to give him loves and treats after it but he really resists the procedure and we basically have to force him down to make it happen.

Speaking of not on top of things, we still haven’t received Leo’s official paperwork, like his social security card.  At least, I don’t think we’ve received it yet.  For a few weeks in the beginning, maybe even the first couple months, I may have received it and just spaced it and put it somewhere.  I’ll have to call about it this week.

The dogs have been driving us crazy lately.  They started pulling out towels and sheets from the alcove in the hall and chewing them up and taking them into the backyard.  I was finally motivated to organize the upstairs bathroom closet to clean off some shelves but I haven’t put up all chewables yet.  The pups have also been getting into the clean cloth diapers and the unused disposables and shredding them.  Apparently we cannot leave anything remotely enticing around.  *sigh*

Jesse tells me we have a lot of grapes on the vine but I haven’t been back there yet to pick some.  Last year I was all about the grapes and this year I’ve been slacking.  It looks like the hens love them, though.

We’re still standing still on working on the back yard.  Maybe in the fall we will work on it, get some grass growing or something.  I read a lot of blogs from folks who live in less arid climates and I’m always so envious to see the lush greenery.  Of course, they have to contend with crazy mugginess but I could probably deal with that.

Jesse only has one year left of school before he graduates and we’re tentatively looking at the Pacific NW as a place to relocate.  I really liked my time in Eugene and Corvallis, so maybe around there somewhere?

I’ve been on an Amazon spending spree lately.  Today I purchased a mini stair stepper, a rowing machine, and a gazelle elliptical.  Jesse and I have been talking about trying to work out more and even though we have a rec center membership to a place that’s maybe half a mile away we almost never go there.  Plus, they have a very small cardio area, and they close at 9pm.  I figure if we have some stuff at home, maybe we’ll use it.  I also saw a slide board and those look kind of cool but I don’t know how often I’d use it.  I bet Ezra would love it…

Ezra’s birthday is coming up so I’ve been scouting Amazon for gift ideas and I’ve found a bunch of cooperative games that I want to get him.  Have you heard of cooperative games?  They are kind of neat in that you all work together instead of against one another.  It teaches teamwork.  I bought a game for Velvet for her birthday and it’s freaking awesome!  It’s called Hanabi and it’s most definitely not a drinking game.  Everyone gets four cards and they have to face outward so you don’t see your own, and everyone has to give clues about the cards and you have to try to remember where they are in your hand in order to play them in a correct order.  I really liked it, and that got me interested in more cooperative games, so now my Amazon wish list is filled with them.

I’ve been making us kefir smoothies and have lately started putting in spinach and turmeric and cinnamon.  Mostly it’s made up of kefir and fruit, but I’d like to get it to the point where it’s less fruit and more veg.  Something to strive for, anyway.

Unnaturally warm spring

I know a lot of the country is getting hammered with winter storms, but in our neck of the Utah woods it’s been beautiful.  Our flowers have been coming up the past couple weeks and the weather has reached the mid 60s a few times.  On the one hand I like the warm weather, but on the other hand I think we’re facing a heck of a drought this summer.

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Joline lounging outside

Joline lounging outside

Ezra throwing pinecones in the air

Ezra throwing pinecones in the air

Many times in the morning Ezra goes upstairs and plays before we’re fully up and about.  A few days ago (and this has happened twice now) he opened the fridge and took out the Babybel cheese and fed them to the dogs.

In case you are unaware, they look like this:

Babybel cheese

Babybel cheese

Now, Ezra really likes the Babybel cheese but he also likes to share so most likely he thought he was doing a good deed.  Except he was feeding the cheese to the dogs whole, wax wrapper and all.  I’m grateful they didn’t have any blockages from this.

As an aside, we do have a child lock on the fridge, but Ezra can now drag a chair over to the refrigerator and unlock the sliding lock.  Good times.  We’ve explained to him that he’s not supposed to feed the dogs people food but I don’t know how much really sticks with him.  This morning Jesse went upstairs to find Ezra had been throwing our eggs on the kitchen floor for the dogs to eat.  I told Jess we are quickly running out of elevated spaces to put things.  *sigh*

We are kind of thinking about doing a small hydroponic system for some of our gardening this year.  It’s more of an initial cost but it sounds like it is less work and requires less water overall.  We really don’t like the idea of watering grass which is one of the reasons we’ve left our yard kind of a gardening dirt pit, but having no grass means we get a ton of dirt and dust in the house, mainly dragged in with the dogs.  If we had grass it would really cut down on that.  So we are considering getting some grass growing, but I don’t know if we’d do the whole yard or just part of it, or what.  And then we have to decide to do seed or sod.  Growing a lawn from seed is much less expensive but sounds like more time intensive, whereas getting sod going mainly sounds like a bunch of watering but a higher initial cost.  And if we do go for a lawn we’d kind of like to install a watering system of some sort, so that’s another added expense.

Did you know that a whole cow liver is frickin’ huge?!  We bought the liver and kidneys from a local butcher, Dale T Smith and Sons, to cut up for the dogs’ nightly meals.  We bought about 20 lbs. of each organ and while there were multiple kidneys included in the one bag, there were two bags for the liver, one whole and one to make up the rest of the 20 lbs.  I had to chunk up the whole liver before I could start paring it down into the proper meal size but left whole probably would have taken up one side of my counter.  Huge!  I was actually pretty impressed with the prices at the meat place; they had ribeye steaks for $5.39/lb and we bought a brisket for $3.59/lb.  We may go back just for regular cuts instead of hitting up Costco….

My original plan was to dehydrate some liver to make into dog treats but that didn’t happen.  Maybe next time but I got to thinking and you’re not supposed to overfeed liver to dogs because it make them have cannon butt, so I guess I’ll just stick to non-organ training treats.  I did just buy another order of treats from Best Bully Sticks.  They are a little pricey but have a great selection of nominally processed chews.  Those should be coming in a couple days and then we’ll be stocked up once again.

Ezra cuddling dad

Ezra cuddling dad

Superbowl Sunday (and I couldn’t care less)

Me:  I was going to see if the guys at work wanted to do a potluck for Superbowl Sunday tomorrow, but they weren’t there at work and now it’s too late to set something up.
Jesse:  Can you watch the game at work?
Me:  Nope, but I wanted to do the food thing.
Jesse:  But why would you bring food if you can’t watch the game?  Although, the game doesn’t start until four, so you might get to watch some of it.
Me:   I don’t care about the game, I care about the food!
Jesse:  But…why can’t you just do a potluck some other Sunday, why does it have to be Superbowl Sunday?
Me:  Because it’s an excuse to eat a lot of food!  What aren’t you getting about this?!

Men, I tell you.

So, I recently said we were eating out too much and were going to focus eating more at home, remember that?  Yeah, that night we had Chinese food.  Good times.  To be fair, after that Jesse and I discussed ways to improve our eating and we are going to start having a small mug of homemade bone broth everyday.  We will have to find a way to smuggle it into Ezra because I doubt he’s going to be down for drinking warmed, meat-flavored gelatin water (sounds tasty, right?).  We’ll figure something out.  Also, I’m going to be better about drinking my kefir and kombucha.

Speaking of kefir, I think I’m going to get some kefir milk grains.  We’ve (I’ve) been drinking water kefir, but I was reading a post by another blogger and she lays out some interesting information about milk kefir vs. water kefir.  She also has a post on milk kefir vs. yogurt that seems pretty sound.  Jesse likes a certain brand of honeyed Greek yogurt but reluctantly said he would try a kefir version.  I just need to get some milk kefir grains because you cannot use the water grain variety.

water kefir grains

water kefir grains

milk kefir grains

milk kefir grains

I’ve also been looking into straw bale gardening.  Jesse has pooh-poohed this idea, but I still may want to get a couple bales and see how they do compared to the rest of the garden we’ll be doing this year.

example of straw-bale gardening

example of straw bale gardening

Speaking of the garden, Jesse wants to move the chickens and their coop from their present location to a different area of the yard, so I’m not sure what the garden will look like this year.  He’s tried to explain it to me verbally, but I really need to *see* it to understand it, so one of these days I will need to walk the yard with him to figure out where everything is going to go.

This baby boy has been very active.  Last night he was kicking around and all of a sudden it was like he was having a seizure, kicking and punching in a fury…and then nothing.  Absence.  Totally freaked me out.  I lay there for awhile all anxious before he started kicking again and I felt relieved.  Don’t do that, baby!