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Friday, December 30, 2011

Another V-ball player!

The 5th grader boys completed their volleyball season the last week of classes before Christmas break. It was his first time on the court trying to master this sport and he did AWESOME! Must be genetic.
He is very focused on learning sports, but struggles for acceptance among the other players as he is usually the smallest on his teams. Size is such a big deal to boys!
 He isn't afraid to show off his mad skilz! LOL. He thinks he is setting, but doesn't quite have all the motor skills happening in the right order or combination yet. For those who think volleyball is easy, it actually requires your entire body to be doing the right things in th right order to move the ball. It isn't an easy sport to master.
But, Rikard gives it his all everytime!

We have a few weeks before his basketball season starts up at school. Tatum's club volleyball season starts up the first week of the new year. She was moved up to a U-14 tournament team (she's only 12), so the heat is on.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas memories

Christmas this year was fairly low-key at our house. No visitors. Just us. An an agenda to rip open all the presents we could and eat all the cookies and candy in the kitchen!
After what seemed like hours and hours of getting chores done (can you hear the whiny pre-teen?), throwing the turkey in the oven, attending a quick church service and getting some breakfast, the kids finally got to attack their presents. Rikard wanted to take a few minutes and organize all the gifts into piles for each receiver so it was quicker handing them out later. It was quite comical to watch him compare the sizes and sounds all the boxes made.
Keeli, in true 7-year-old fashion, didn't need much more than the first gift she opened. She has been "arting" (as she calls what she does with an art set) up a storm ever since. We didn't see or hear much from Tatum all day as she found an e-reader under the tree and is now absorbed in an endless supply of books.
Before the morning was over, the kids pitched in and cleaned up the mess. I don't decorate much and the trees will remain up during Rick and the kids' break from school.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cookies

The kids were invited last weekend to a cookie decorating party at Legacy Farms (the Christmas tree farm that neighbors our property). They grabbed their aprons and raced over!
 More than 300 shaped sugar cookies were waiting for the army of kids that arrived on their doorstep. Rikard and Tatum were among the "older" kids who took part, that's why he looks so tall next to the others. If you look closely, each of Rikard's cookies is covered with jelly beans. Sprinkles just weren't enough for him.
Keeli was very methodical. She chose three of each shape, decorated the trees green, the Santas red, the chickens yellow, the stars white, etc. And, showing her frugal side, she made sure she didn't open a full bottle of sprinkles until checking to see if there was a partially used one already on the table somewhere.
There were also craft projects for the kids to create ornaments, picture frames and other holiday decorations. It is amazing how some paper, foam sheets, cut outs, scissors and glue can transform a room filled with crazy kids into a room filled with quiet, busy kids.
In all, 20 kids participated and took home containers filled to the brim with beautiful cookies they took pride in creating.
When we were all done, the all the kids posed outside with Annabelle (the vintage Chevy) and Miss Lisa (in the red apron). Tatum is standing next to Lisa (yes, in shorts), Keeli is in the center front on the truck bed in the purple jacket and Rikard is in the top row on the truck bed straight above Tatum in a black/white sweatshirt.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Santa Claus

Santa paid a visit to Greenbluff so the kids lined up to tell him their wants/needs/desires and get their photo taken. We had a great time at the Greenbluff Grange's Christmas party! They even got to bring home to giant jingle bell necklaces - how lucky was that?!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Trouble with William

Rikard has been pestering us for about two years about wanting to switch his goat business from focusing on raising meat goats to raising fiber goats. Over the summer he met a woman who rescued some pygora goats and arranged to get these two - Trouble and William - at no cost. Maybe he has a future in business!
My friend Francine and I made a road trip over the weekend to bring these guys home. Currently our herd is seperated and these guys are settling in with the babies born last spring quite nicely.

William appears to be a standard angora. He is the biggest goat in our herd other than the billy. He is nearly 2 years old and was recently castrated so hopefully he and his horns stop growing.
He has 6-8 weeks of growth right now and won't be sheered again until early spring. His wool is a nice creamy white color and hangs in lovely ringlet curls.
Meet Trouble. Trouble and William are brothers, but not twins. LOL. Trouble is about the same size as our 2-year-old withers. He has a sweet little face and is a very gentle little guy.
His wool is straigher than a standard angora and grows straight out from his skin. He is like a big black/grey puff ball. He also has about 6-8 weeks of growth, but he doesn't produce as much length as quickly as William.
And, over at the hen house, we welcomed Lucy and Ethel. I found these girls listed on craigslist. They are urban chicks who lived a life of luxury sharing a big house and yard for the past three years. Their lease was up! They are slowly but surely adjusting to country life with a big family on Green Bluff.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gone Visitin'

We spent the weekend on a spur of the moment road trip to the Yakima Valley to visit family and - of course - collect some fantastic fruit.
The kids all got some extra hugs and giggles from Grandma Bert. Bert had ordered us eight 40 lbs boxes of fresh pears. We spent the next several days waiting for them to ripen. Since then we've been canning and baking all sorts of wonderful things.
We made a quick trip out to the farm to visit Papa Charlie. He gave the kids another of his famous tours around the yard and helped them pick apples that were way to green. He taught the kids to use them to play fetch with Girly the dog.
And, what's a visit to the farm without a little bit of time spent giving back to Uncle Joe what he dishes out! Actually, when we arrived he was taking a nap and he was so tired from all the "work" they'd been doing, these three monsters and the overexcited Girly didn't interupt his snores!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Back to School

Today, everyone returned to school for the 2011-2012 year. It was Tatum's first day of middle school - such a "precious" time. She was completely unhappy that I was snapping pictures as she is too old for this. Can you tell?
 Next, it was a race to the bus. You can just see Rikard reaching the bus door and Keeli scrambling to catch up. Not only was it Keeli's first day of 1st grade, but it was her 7th birthday! Happy Birthday to Keeli! The shopping bag is filled with her favorite snacks, cheese and Ritz crackers for everyone.
Rick is teaching 8th grade science this year, specifically physics and earth science. He had to move his classroom down the hall and around the corner at the end of last school year, but on the up-side he now has a window to the outside. A little sunshine never hurt anyone's perspective.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bob vs. Stubby

There is no love lost between these two competitors. When they enter the cage (aka barnyard) IT - IS - ON! Stubby gets her coyote face on, snaps her jaws, yips and darts at Bob. Bob doesn't even flinch. He lets Stubby take a couple of stabs and then he charges her. She takes off running, only to come back for Round 2, and Round 3 and Round 4. If we let them, it would go on from sun up to sun down.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma!

We gathered recently to celebrate Grandma Mary's 90th birthday!
As most of you know, I have a BIG family that can sometimes overwhelm. We are missing a few, but I'm going to attempt to name everyone. Front row (l-r): Tatum Holestine, Keeli Holestine, Manda Moore, Rikard Holestine, Charlie Lyons. Middle row (l-r): Bailey Gilchrist, Kelly Lyons, Tabitha Lopez, Shaney Lyons, BIRTHDAY GIRL MARY LYONS, Jim Lyons, Madison Lyons, Michael Lyons. Back row (l-r): Kate' Lyons-Holestine (that's me), Rick Holestine, Jennifer, Brian Lux, Joyce Lyons, Brett Lyons, Tami Lyons.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Fruity Cordials

I will pick the last of the raspberries from the patch tonight and head out to a local orchard (Cherry Hill) tomorrow for my last batch of fresh picked cherries. I need a few more pie cherries to dry and maybe make a cherry crisp.

After every batch of jam I've made the past few weeks, there has been enough berries to do something with, but not enough for another batch of jam. What to do?! Then, I remembered a good friend saying something about cordial so I searched the internet for recipes. Be careful what you seek, there are nearly as many cordial recipes as there are people who drink cordial.

The raspberry cordial (on the right) is made with 2 lbs. of whole berries, 2 cups of vodka and 1 cup of sugar. It took about 5 days for the sugar to dissolve and the fruit to start breaking down. You can see a layer of seeds at the bottom of the jar.

The cherry cordial is made with a mix of bing and rainier cherries. I had two large bowls full of cherries and am home alone for a few days. It contains 2 lbs. cherries, 2 cups sugar, 3 whole allspice, 1 cup of brandy and 1 cup of rum. Hopefully the bing cherries will add some of their deep red color to the mix. I don't like the dirty look of the rum/brandy mix. The sugar dissolved better in this mixture, but you can still see a thin film of sugar at the bottom of the jar. I'm sure this is going to be one "sweet" drink when it is ready.

I used these wonderful 2 quart Kerr canning jars that I rescued from my aunt's garage. As a kid I remember her making grape juice in them - it was wonderful stuff. I'm hoping these cordial recipes turn out as well.