Saturday, March 28, 2015

Atheist First World Problems

1.  Going to a grocery store on a friday in Lent, hoping to find your toddler some chicken tenders for a quick non McDs lunch.

Nope. Sorry. It's fish friday.



Guess I should have gone to McDonalds.

2. All the adults asking your toddler if they're excited for the easter bunny. And your toddler gives the adults a WTF look and you feel obligated to offer "she doesn't know about that..." and you really wonder if that explanation improved the situation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kinetic Sand

I recently purchased some kinetic sand at a craft store. I've been in need of items for indoor activities since there really isn't much to do indoors with her. She loves this kinetic sand, but, like many other moms, I don't love the price. So like any good crafty mom I went searching for DIY subsitutes. I did find one that was made with cornstarch, but I wasn't really wanting to make it that way. But then I heard that Kinetic Sand is just dimethicone (it sounds scary, but it's the silicone product used in cosmetics to defrizz hair) and playground sand.

 My immediate thought was, well... gosh, I could make that. And then I looked on Etsy and no one is selling kinetic sand on Etsy. MY NICHE! I finally found something no one is selling!

 So I've ordered some dimethicone. I tried Fisher Scientific but they wouldn't let me just online order it, but Amazon had some for cosmetic use. I'll pick up sand once the dimethicone gets here.

I'm looking forward to experimenting to get the formulation just perfect. I'm also going to be keeping track of expenses to see where I'd break even and where I'd make money, still by being cheaper than what you buy in the store. My lab notebook arrived today so I can track it all!

 In more mom specific news, Kaylee is advancing with her potty training! She has been using diapers only at night lately. I'm so proud of her!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Of the house selling and buying

Our listing!!

I'm pretty excited. It finally is on Redfin. It was posted earlier this morning to MLS and our realtor said it would take a few hours to filter out to all the major websites.

My most favorite part that Eric showed me about Redfin is that it tells you how many views there have been of the listing and how many favorites.

41 views, and 7 favorites!!

Derenda (our realtor) is having an open house on Thursday so hopefully we'll get a few good nibbles then. I'm really pleased with how the work turned out. I wasn't able to be there for the carpet to go in or for the back to be powerwashed, so all I can do is go by the listing photos. I'd buy that house ;)

Maybe this is because I picked the colors, but I'm also loving how well the colors are showing in the photos. My stripe looks fantastic, and the green and blue in the living room and kitchen are nice and sharp. Having the painters come in to touch up all that trim was well worth it!

Eric and I are getting a date night on Thursday while Elyse (Aunt) watches Kaylee. We're finally getting back to the Melting Pot, which traditionally is where we discuss a lot of future stuff. It would be awesome to have some offers come in.

We've been getting some pressure to start physically visiting houses. We really don't want to. It was  hard to visit the Bishop Rd house in Dryden only to eventually hear that it had an offer. I don't want that to happen again until we are able to make an offer immediately. It seems that horse ready property is not common (though acreage with an established pole barn, is) and so we'll be working with limited availability.

There is a house I'm tentatively interested in. It's ready for horses in that it has a decent 8-10 stall barn and 20 acres, close to Eric's work and only a half hour from family. But the house is a wreck. It might be worth it. There are other contenders. We are also getting pressure to buy higher than we would be comfortable. Our budget exists for a reason. If we stay within it, I get to have nice toys, like a truck and trailer. I want those things, thankyouverymuch.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Information Filing

We have been trying to conceive for over a year now. There are about three months where the trying effort likely fell short of an actual attempt at conception but regardless, I anticipate being pregnant within the next 2 years. Since I do like to prepare, and research my options well in advance of actually needing the information (i.e. I am not currently pregnant to my knowledge) I've made a list of midwives who do homebirth here in the Detroit area.

This list is one side of the coin for me. I really don't have it in me to discuss what's going on in my headspace to make me compile such a list. Anyway. Listy list. Here we go.

I need to compile an OBGYN list next, and find a good forum to ask a few questions I have. Otherwise I'm likely to be doctor hopping because doctors and I don't... get along well. And I may need to pursue fertility treatments since it's been over a year with no results, not even a miscarriage.

I really miss my WA midwife, Elias, right now.

He rocked.
Taking baby Kaylee's measurements the day she was born while Eric looks on.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Making my Own Maple Syrup

Today I went to a Maple Syrup Festival. If you know me even the littlest bit you'll know that I LOVE maple syrup. I grew up in New England, I settle for nothing less than the real stuff, from a tree. Aunt Jemima doesn't do it for me and I've been known to bring my own maple syrup in to restaurants if I plan to order waffles or pancakes. Eric calls me a syrup snob, but whatever. It's in my blood. My mom grew up in Vermont where she helped with sugaring and tapping the trees on a family friend's farm. So today I got to learn about the whole process of maple sugaring. I learned this as a kid in elementary school. Every March we would traipse out in the mud and sometimes snow to tap the poor lone maple that stood in the front yard. It was a lot of fun and the slightly sweet maple sap was really cool to taste. So imagine my delight when I realized that Michigan makes Maple Syrup too. And that I could make it myself. (Making it myself has become a new hobby, which hadn't really crossed my mind until we moved to WA) So I took notes from the presentations today. It wasn't totally comprehensive, they have separate classes for that, but I think I got enough information to start next year and at least try. Trees that can produce syrup: Sycamore (gives a butterscotch like syrup), Box Alder and Maple trees. Sugar maples have the highest sugar content in their sap at 2%, all others are near 1%. So you need a LOT to make syrup. The ratio is 40 gallons of sap to 1 gallon of final syrup product You tap the trees when you have warm days and cool nights. Tree Diameter to be ready for tapping 10 inches can support one tap +6 inches for each additional tap, but no more than 3 or 4 If you want to be totally natural, use staghorn sumac trees to make the spiles that allow the sap to flow out of the live wood. Thi wood is ideal for spiles because the core is really soft and can be easily drilled out by a small hand drill while the outer wood is hard and stiff. You file one end down to an angle all around so it fits into a drilled hole in the tree trunk and notch the other end to hang a bucket or sap collection device (clean milk jugs work well) When drilling the maple, drill two finger joints into the tree at a slight upward angle, 6 inches away from other holes that might have been drilled. The south side of the tree will have more sap flow because that is on the sun side but big trees can be tapped all around. You can identify a maple by the grey bark that peels up on one lateral side. Not a J peel in a peel from the bottom. You boil the sap down and test doneness using a maple syrup hydrometer. You want 67% density. If you go too far you've just made maple syrup candy, congratulations. Just don't burn the sugar. Now I have a new feature to check when we buy a house. Does it have maples?!?! And possible sycamores. And Staghorn sumac.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The tally so far

I've been keeping a mental tally of how Michigan is shaping up. I suppose it's because I'm skeptical that I will be as happy here as I was in Washington. Either way, here is the score as well as the points I'm judging on.
1. Recycling
Point against Michigan. All recycling facilities are privately owned. If you want to be environmentally conscious, Michigan wants you to work for it and drop your recyclables off yourself. Otherwise, everything goes in the same bin. This is awful, especially when you are a habitual recycler like me.
2. Appreciation of sun
Point against Michigan.  It is a gorgeous day today as I write this. We are the only people at the park. If this were Washington I'd be surrounded by kids grateful to finally have a nice day that's warming! But nope, yesterday was equally barren. It's strange. Where are the stay at home parents?
3. Maple syrup festival
Point for Michigan. I gotta say, this warms my moderately evil heart.  This Saturday I get to revel in delicious, boiled sap sweetness that has a festival devoted to it! Eric thinks that this means that I will no longer be a syrup snob but what he fails to realize is that my snobbery is not a regional thing. It is a fake versus real thing. Aunt Jemima is a fraud and shouldn't exist. My Maple syrup didn't need to be from new England, it just needs to be from an actual maple tree.
4. Board prices
Point to Michigan. It is far cheaper to board a horse here than in Washington, I will grudgingly give them that.
5. Pi Day
Point against Michigan. Only the teenage bagger boy at the grocery store knew it was Pi day. (This might be unfair, no one in Florida or WA state ever knew it was Pi Day either.
6. Meat
Point against Michigan. The Kroger that I rely on currently for groceries (a relative of Fred Meyer, a store I quite enjoyed in WA) has a sorely lacking meat department. I waited for 15 minutes to get service in seafood (with 3 pages in the meantime and I ended up having to go find someone myself) They also don't even have cases of meat, just packaged already waiting to go. This also means that there are no stuffed burger patties made on site, just frozen ones. FWP maybe, but I enjoyed having that luxury.
7. Middle of the week activities for young kids
Point against Michigan. None of the parks or museums have toddler activities during the week. Everything is on the weekend!!  NOOOOOOOO.  Additionally, there is very obviously a lack of stay at home parents in the area. I did find a moms group for stay at home parents but there's yearly dues and they're super organized, which kind of scares me away because the moms that gravitate toward REALLY well organized (like, having an executive board and committees kind of organized) are usually not the type of people I get along well with or feel comfortable around.
8. Maple Syrup
Point to Michigan. I'll be able to make my own!! I'm excited. The amount that I'll be able to collect and boil down will probably just about equal what I use through the year, so that's pretty awesome.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

In Michigan

I'm feeling a lot more level headed now that I'm with Eric. I'm housebound, since I'm still waiting on my car to arrive, but that should be in the next day or so. Then I'll be applying for a position at the state park down the road to work in the Stewardship department. I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm also going to be contacting a daycare for Kaylee to attend. I hope they have openings, that would simplify me applying for this job.

Our belongings arrived this morning. The same team that packed up our house unloaded everything. We are spread between the front garage, attached garage and space in the house. Stuff that I will need next month is easily accessible, and all the irreplaceable items (viola, violin, saddle) are accounted for and safe. The one thing that didn't survive seems to be the router, but we bought a new one today and it works beautifully.

Kaylee is adjusting well, though she had a bout of stomach virus that left me frantically doing laundry. The time change (both distance and spring forward) hasn't really imposed on us at all, so that's nice.

It was frigid the first couple of days and by yesterday, warmed up to the 40s F. The St. Clair River in the backyard was completely frozen over and now, today, it's free flowing again. Spring is clawing its way into Michigan. It makes me happy. The sun makes me happy too.

But people are still crazy and are driving out onto the ice of the lakes. I really hope someone is monitoring the thickness because the moment I start to see slush, I really don't think it's safe anymore.

Going somewhat backwards in time
Playing in the snow despite the cold
Worn out sick, asleep in Dad's lap
Cars on the lake ice

Happy to rediscover her trampoline (and the piano!)

Saying goodbye to the Cascades

Alaska provided a coloring book and crayons!

Sunrise over the Cascades as we drove to the airport early wednesday morning

Monday, March 2, 2015

Video blog

Tour of the house in progress: 

I haven't had much downtime, but this is why. I wanted to record the house and how better than with video?
We still have another day of painters, cleaners, carpet install, trash removal and power washing in the back.