Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sly Fox & Kitten in Danger

This is never a welcome sight to a 
chicken keeper.

Most mornings I get a message from Sander that says, Morning love. But today was just Morning, followed by, I have bad news. It felt like I sat there and watched the Justin is typing... animation for an eternity. The first thought that came to my mind was that something has happened to {his} Grandma. She's 99 and has had a few setbacks lately. But no...he wouldn't give really bad news over Facebook messenger.

Instead, he told me that at 6 a.m. this morning, he woke to the sound of the dog barking and a chicken squawking. The dogs sleep with us so if they're out in the yard barking while we're in bed, we know something is wrong. But I sleep through most things that aren't the apocalypse.

So I had no idea he'd jumped out of bed and gone to the backyard, found a bunch of feathers, counted our chickens and realized one was missing, and looked over our neighbors fence just in time to see a fox sprinting away. Then he got ready for work and left us all asleep and unaware of the tragedy in the coop that morning.

So he told me when I was awake, thanks to the kids and their morning energy. Which I do not have any of. Morning energy.

He came home for an early lunch break and upon further inspection we found that the silly chickens--to their own detriment--had pecked through the wire on the automatic hydraulic coop door Sander installed this spring. Instead of remembering to manually close and open the coop door at morning and night, he had installed this automatic door operator, on a timer, with a solar panel to power it. Smart guy. But it didn't close last night since the chickens disarmed their own security system. And our chickens were sitting ducks for any predator.

They will peck at anything that resembles a worm. The door was meant to "lockdown" the coop around sundown, as chickens naturally know to get into the coop as the sun starts to set. Just as they know when it's safe to leave as the sun rises.


The fox had made off with one of our Sicilian buttercups. They are/were the last two of our original flock. They are/were beautiful, and the most flighty {meaning they should have been the hardest for a predator to catch}, but any chicken is vulnerable really. Especially without a fierce rooster to protect them. Thank goodness for our dogs, though, who've done a decent job keeping most predators at bay. The night we came home and discovered raccoons sleeping in our nesting box was the one night we'd been away with our dogs!

Poor Pearl, an Easter egger, also apparently was assaulted by Mr. Fox. We couldn't find any bleeding or brokenness, just a large spot of missing feathers. She is clearly in pain as she's balled up with her head pulled in. Chickens only rest like that when in pain or sleeping. The Sicilian buttercup who survived had to be rescued from the fence by my husband. She'd tried to escape through the wire and had gotten herself stuck, poor thing. They're traumatized. I'll have to spoil them with extra mealworms today.


So, you see, we really haven't had the best day. Sander inspected our neighbors yard but all they found was a bunch of feathers that continued down the driveway. So our poor buttercup is long gone. This is the sort of thing you can expect to happen from time to time with chickens, sadly. Even in the city, coyotes and raccoons and foxes abound. Animal husbandry is never a thing for the faint of heart. I was devastated when we lost our first chicken, Big Betty. But over time we've lost a handful and it's a little less sad every time. I guess that's how farmers get used to it. They must become desensitized? It's still hard and sad, especially when you have to tell the kids.


Doesn't it seem that when you're already having one of these types of days, all the rest of the things follow suit? Yep. As if a million feathers weren't enough to clean up, Paxton decided to color himself a Minecraft skeleton.


Then there's Poe. Our adolescent kitten who's been getting himself into tree trouble. And this isn't the 1950s where you could just call the fire department. {Or so our children's books told us.} We wish our cats wouldn't go outdoors in the first place {with foxes about} but they long ago learned to use the necessary dog door and once they get a taste for the outside...


But he's gotten into tree trouble several times now, and we've always been able to rescue him by getting him far enough down to grab him. Until today. I walked out back to water my sprouts and found the girls ready with a rescue blanket while the cat was, this time, perilously close to the weak ends of the branches. He wanted down, but he couldn't figure out how. So I did what most millenial parents would do, and took a video of the rescue while letting my kids handle things. {heh.}

He's survived the tops of the tree so many times now that I've become desensitized to this as well, and I honestly did not think he'd fall. But he did! And as you can hear in the video, I apparently found it morbidly humorous. I guess after the morning we've had, all I could do was laugh nervously. The girls obviously didn't hold the blanket tight enough, but I think it helped. He's gone up much higher in the tree, but thankfully this time he was only 10 or 12 feet up. Curiosity killed the cat and cats have 9 lives are truly phrases rooted in truth. No worries, he's walking around perfectly fine. And we're going to have to put one of those metal tree things on so he can't get up there again.

This video is ridiculous:

Happy trails to you. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Floating in RiNo

Floating in RiNo

You know how sometimes you mention something you heard about to your spouse and say, "I'd like to try it sometime." But you're not really that serious. So then at Christmas when he gets you a gift certificate for that thing--because of all the hints you dropped for gift ideas throughout the year, this is the one he finds a Groupon for--and so now you're financially obligated to do something outside of your comfort zone? You know how that happens sometimes?

Me too.

But doing things outside of our comfort zone can also be good for us. I know this, because it helps with my anxiety disorder. Push yourself, be brave. It's good therapy.

You know what else is good therapy? Floating.

Floating in RiNo

Maybe you've heard it called sensory deprivation therapy, but in 2017 we call it floating therapy. Yes, that's what I mentioned to Sander only to be presented with a Groupon to do just that. Bless him.

I'd read about it back in October--apparently it was popular in the 50s and 60s, but is making a comeback with its new name and known benefits--and thought it might be something we could do together while in Washington, just the two of us. But we didn't and I forgot about it until Christmas. I'll admit I put it off a bit until Sander reminded me the Groupon expired at the end of March, so I'd better get my float on.

So last Friday--St. Patrick's Day--I left our yard work behind and headed to RiNo. When I got there I thought, I don't know if I can do this. Because RiNo is even more hipster saturated than Highland {aka The Highlands as Colorado noobs call it} and so it was crazy busy and loud on a Friday night. When I was a kid, this area was aka The Ghetto. But alas, Gentrification for the win, it's now River North Art District, or RiNo.

The Denver native that I am is tempted to be irritated at the gentrification of this area, I don't recognize it as classic Denver, with all these new buildings with murals the hipsters with kids make their fantastically dressed little ones pose in front of for Instagram glory. However, I've been there enough to know it's gentrified blessing, having eaten at both Osaka Ramen and Sugarmill {thanks again, Michael!} Which were some of the best meals I've had in Denver. And then there's the art. You can't hate RiNo. It's a legit part of Denver in its own right. Embrace it. It's New Denver. We all knew this was coming.

Floating in RiNo

I was thinking, however, as I made myself 15 minutes late to my 90 minute float looking for parking, Why am I doing this? How can anyone relax in the heart of RiNo?! There are people everywhere! It's loud! They're all Instagramming their food and craft beers!

Also, it wasn't easy to find and their two customer parking spaces were taken. Luckily, I finally figured out Samana Float Center was located in the middle of this building and found a parking space right in front. I didn't know if I'd be able to float for a full 90 minutes either, so I didn't panic at being a little late.

Floating in RiNo

They gave me the upstairs "cabin"--which I would recommend for a first timer for sure over their other option of pods--and explained what to do to enjoy my float.

Floating in RiNo

A cabin is basically a room with a shower.

Floating in RiNo

With a door to a tank. No, this isn't Coraline's door. Nor is it a part of Meow Wolf.

Floating in RiNo

Here's the truth: despite all of my anxiety about floating, when I opened that door and looked in at the water, as soon as I saw it I was eager to get into it. It was definitely inviting.

Floating in RiNo

What's so special about floating? You ask. Why can't I just do this in my awesome bathtub at home? You wonder.

Remember how I said this is sensory deprivation therapy? Floating is not about bathing, it's about experiencing nothing. That's right. The goal is nothing. Except your thoughts, and even then...

So they give you beeswax-like ear plugs to keep noise and water out, and they provide petroleum jelly to cover any cuts or scratches you have {do not skip this step!} and towels.

Floating in RiNo

Then you get in and you can turn off the light if you want {heck no} or leave it on, a subtly color changing spa light. There's also spa music you can turn on or off. I chose to leave it on. And by music I don't so much mean music but more like...spa chimes. Or something.

Floating in RiNo

The water is kept at exactly body temperature, so you're completely comfortable. They put hundreds of pounds of Epsom salt into the water. The result is like that of the Dead Sea, it's so dense with salt that it's buoyant. You can't drown in this even if you fall asleep, and you definitely could fall asleep during your float. I got in and found I couldn't really even sit in it like I would a bath, the water pushed my tush up. So the result is a perfect state of weightless comfort. I would have been here weekly during my pregnancies, if it'd been around back then! You are deprived of all sensory stimulation. You can close your eyes and feel like your body isn't there anymore. Even in RiNo.

There's so many reasons why this is good for you. First, I'm already a big believer in Epsom salts and I regularly bathe with Epsom salt in my tub. It has many known benefits, such as supplying your body with magnesium--which is a crucial need for those of us with depression or anxiety, most of us are deficient--and magnesium is soaked up easily through your skin. It relieves muscle tension and pain. Floating is great for athletes, I'm sure!

But I also think the sensory deprivation was great for me because I'm an HSP. A what? A highly sensitive person. NOT to be confused with hypersensitive, and you can read about the difference here. I have a pretty thick skin and am hard to hurt emotionally, although we all have our emotional Achilles heel, don't we? We do. But no, I'm not hypersensitive, I'm highly sensitive.

Meaning, if I'm watching a movie and my husband is on the other end of the couch bouncing his foot and I can see it from the corner of my eye, it's the same thing as if he were standing by the TV jumping up and down screaming. I cannot concentrate on the movie with him over there screaming. With his foot. Being an HSP has both pros and cons, like most personality traits. It's a very common personality trait, I'm not trying to sound like a Snowflake here. It is not a disorder or anything to be ashamed of:

HSPs have relative difficulty filtering sounds and other sensory inputs. They’re especially sensitive to subtle stimuli that other people don’t notice...High sensitivity is a biological predisposition traceable to brain structures like the reticular activating system. It has little, if anything, to do with emotional sturdiness. 
- Psychology Today (source)

So if you're like me and can easily be overwhelmed by environmental stimuli, this might be a great getaway for you. It's like going to a quiet place, but to the extreme. While I was in the tank, I realized that the last time I have felt this way must have been in utero. 

Toward the end I enjoyed bouncing between one end and the other, and it was a surreal experience. When I got the momentum of the waves going, it created this sensation of being still for a moment, then caught up in the wave of water back and forth--all these bubbles would roll under me like a back massage and suddenly I'd shoot down to the other end and then the same thing would take me back up again after a pause. I don't even know if that makes sense...just try it if you ever float. It takes the tiniest push to get your body drifting. I felt silly. But I was silly relaxed and at peace.

And yes, I did take my phone in with me. It's waterproof. And I wanted a connection to the outside world still. Plus, I wanted to blog about this experience.

Floating in RiNo

Going into this experience, I was curious to find out whether or not I'd come away thinking I'd do it again or never again. I came away thinking I'd definitely do it again. I also decided to get my husband back, because the next day was his 33rd birthday, and I think he'd enjoy this also. So I got him a gift certificate for a 90 minute float.

When you're done with your float you shower again {you do so before getting in} and trust me, you'll want to, because that salt really sticks to you! They have a post-float area where you can make yourself a mug of tea and hang out for a while. There's also a fully stocked bathroom with a hair dryer and other amenities. It's a well thought out business.

Floating in RiNo

If you're wondering about sanitation--and believe me, I did, so I researched in advance--let me share what I know. First, salt water is extremely sanitary to begin with. Organisms don't grow in water this salty, that's why it's called the Dead Sea. But also, at the end of your float you hear the filter turn on, and they filter the water three times. Finally, they use UV lights to sanitize. So...it's pretty clean. And my skin felt amazing after!

I'd definitely recommend Samana in RiNo. And they aren't giving me anything to say that. I'm a creature of comfort, so now that I've had such a nice experience there, it's where I'll return.

So...what do you think? Have you heard of floating before? Would you try it? 


Friday, March 17, 2017

A Brand New Green for St. Patty's Day!


We're not much Irish. More Scottish. But... same thing, right?
{Warning: NEVER say that to a Scot or an Irishman.}
{Seriously. They will punch you.}

St. Patty's Day 2017

This post is an update on our backyard. Remember? We've been "rezoning" it so that now we have a larger chicken run, a fenced and gated garden area, and a yard. I mean, we wanted a LEGIT yard. With grass so healthy, and plush, and beautiful that all summer we'll be barefoot and wandering around our yard. Aimlessly, probably.

St. Patty's Day 2017

The chickens are ingrates. They are not appreciative of our nice new run for them. They did not send a thank you note for their solar powered coop door that keeps them safe from raccoons at night. They give us the stink eye when we're near, because they still think they should have free range of the yard. Also, mealworms daily.

But no, chickens. You'll eat our garden and you'll continue to poop on our deck. Which has already been nicknamed the Poop Deck thanks to your lot. So deal with it.
{I love you so much, my feathered babies.}
Yeah, you heard me. DEAL WITH IT.

St. Patty's Day 2017

We've never laid sod before. But we knew two pallets of it was being dumped on our driveway this A.M. and figured it'd probably be an all day job. So we called in reinforcements who have laid sod beore {my in-laws, because of course. what DIY project haven't they done yet? answer: none.}

By the time I got home from taking the girls to a Leprechaun-hunting, fun-filled day at their enrichment school, they had already unrolled beautiful plush sod out on about half of our new lawn.

St. Patty's Day 2017

{Turns out, it doesn't take that long. Also, it is highly satisfying to roll new grass out like rugs and see your dirt transformed by a new and improved INSTA-LAWN!}

So, you see: we did more than just WEAR green this year for St. Patrick's day. We one-upped you and we installed *A* green this St. Patty's Day. 
*feels smug like a leprechaun*
*realizes no one in this photo is wearing green*

Although...it's still technically winter in Colorado. So by green...I mean...err? Chartreuse?


Ugly yellow?

St. Patty's Day 2017

Oh whatever!!! The point is. The point is this. This year I will step right off by deck into lovely plush sod instead of compacted, lumpy, strange grass from the 1950s. And it was weird! Curly, and short, more like moss. It didn't spread like good [coughcough genetically engineered coughcough] grass should.

Our new turf is a Texas x Kentucky blue grass hybrid that is exactly as a Colorado transplant should be: cool with an arid climate, partial to shade, drought tolerant, and self heals nicely. Please inform your friends who've recently moved to Denver. All 8 billion of them. And their dogs.

St. Patty's Day 2017

The ingrates were, however, thankful for the scraps we tossed them.
And the donut Paxton didn't finish.

St. Patty's Day 2017

And after my husband's do-it-yourself parents had left and we stood, beholding our new, healthy 2017 turf, I said to my husband, "I have wanted this for three years. I now love my yard."

And he said, "Good."

Because he's not long-winded. Like some bloggers I know.    ಠ_ಠ 

St. Patty's Day 2017

So now we need to protect our investment from the kids for a few weeks while this sod takes root to our backyard farmette.

St. Patty's Day 2017St. Patty's Day 2017

But we did have several rolls of earth rug left over. So we decided to take my father-in-law's advice...

St. Patty's Day 2017

And we did away with the eyesore, the wild rose bed in our front. We left room by the brick wall for those bleeding hearts and lily of the valley to still spring up {every year, bless}. And good thing, since we barely had enough sod to do so.

St. Patty's Day 2017

And now: the challenge of keeping these pesky pups off our new turf for a few weeks.
Look at Cocoa, sticking her tongue out at me. They're not happy about it.
{Do you recognize this cornhole game from Eisley's first birthday party that had an Alice in Wonderland theme?! Still have it!}

St. Patty's Day 2017

So there you have it.
We greened chartreused harder than you this St. Patrick's day!
Go pinch yourself. ;-)


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Series of Unnecessary Events

I posted a bit of a sanctimonious rant on Facebook today. I know, I know.

I know. I tend to do that.

Upon further reflection of the issue I recalled an incident from a few years back and thought I'd share the experience. It's part of what has shaped my inner mother bear.

We were living in our little white rental house, which was a picket fence and stone's throw away from the public elementary school. That elementary school noise was the bane of my existence during those three years of renting there. But on weekends it was delightfully quiet and so we'd skip across the road and play on the playground, which we usually had all to ourselves.

Paxton was a fairly new baby which means Violet was about three, and Eisley somewhere around five. We had the playground all to ourselves that morning for just about 15 minutes before a woman arrived with her two sons, who looked about 6 and 8 if I had to guess. It was obvious they attended school there. Mom was engrossed in talking to someone on her cell phone.

Now, there's not judgement there, not yet. I've gotten looks myself in a Chick-Fil-A if I spend 5 minutes looking at my cellphone while my kids eat. I don't judge other parents when I see them do this because I spend 24/7 with my kids. I homeschool them, I'm with them all the time. I always drop my screen to answer questions immediately. But I have no guilt spending minutes on my phone at lunch if my kids are otherwise involved with lunch/playing/talking to each other. I mean, there are 1,440 minutes in a day. How can you judge a parent by watching them for just 20 of those? But I digress.

All was well and the boys took an interest in my girls who'd been playing on the jungle gym happily. I'm not always a hover mom, but when kids I don't know join mine on a playground, I will hover then, to protect my kids and to protect others from my kids. A little while later, another set of brothers joined us. They were black, which I mention only because it comes up later, you'll see. Their mother and her friend left them to play, and then went to the far side of the school yard where the basketball courts were. They plopped down at a picnic table chat and left their boys to play with their friends.

While my girls were mostly disinterested in the boys, the boys did seem to try and play with my girls. They were polite, I thought, and being nice to my girls. But I still hovered because I don't trust people I don't know. Honestly. I don't. For good reason, I think you'll see.

Now after a while, with white mom still very engaged with her cell phone convo about 15 feet away, I was standing directly below Violet and Eisley--making sure they wouldn't tumble off where the fireman's pole was {how their mama broke her arm when she was 5} when I heard the older white boy say something so shocking my jaw dropped open. Right in front of me, to Violet, he said,

"I'm going to take your diaper off and touch your private parts."

Before I could recover from my shock and sort out whether that legit just came out of his mouth right in front of me {was he having a brain fart, or was he an especially unwise kid?} he said it again! Again, as if he was expecting a response,

"I'm going to take your diaper off and touch  your private parts."

To my three year old. White boys were smiling because they found this all very funny, black boys looked as shocked as I was.

I believe in kindness and gentleness and not losing your cool. Patience is something I've had to work on, as well as my temper. I was a different mom even just a few years ago, however. Plus, I am a mother bear at heart. The quickest way to flip my Jekyl/Hyde switch is to mess with my kids.

Switch was flipped.

I yelled at this boy in my roughest, ugliest bark, "HEY! You don't EVER talk to girls that way!!! Do you understand me!!??!? That is SO inappropriate!!! YOU GOT THAT?!"

And then I swung around, prepared to fight the other mama bear. But she was on her cell phone 15 feet away, conversation ongoing. What the heck?! Okay, NOW I was judging that mom. If a stranger was screaming at my kids a few steps away...I'd hang up the dang phone and probably ask her what her damage was. Through her sunglasses, I couldn't tell if she was looking at us or not, but she certainly was facing our direction. In hindsight, it occurs to me that she might have thought I was yelling at my kids that way. But at the time, it didn't occur to me and I was feeling resentful that she hadn't been there to parent her own kid and so here I was doing it. And not so gently. Either way, it ticked me off that she was totally oblivious.

Switch flipped again.

"Excuse me!"

She pulled the phone away from her ear.

"Do you know what your son just said to my toddler?!" 

I told her. Also I told her how repugnant that was to hear come out of a child's mouth and a few other thoughts. I was livid that anyone would threaten my daughter in such a vile, violating way.

"What? I don't think so, not my son. Did you say that? [Boys shook their head.] No. It must have been those boys."

She pointed at the two black brothers. The boys who'd been disinterested in my kids, clearly wanted to play with their friends more than my girls. The boys who were polite enough to be shocked when their friend made a disgusting, pervy comment. The boys who also happened to be black, they were now falsely and unfairly accused of something despicable by an adult. It hurt me to see. I cringed, maybe visibly, but certainly inwardly as well.

And I could not help but think to myself, Why "must" it have been those boys??? Because they're black? 

I can not tell you if race motivated her accusation because I can't read minds and for all I know it might have been her pathetic response if two white girls were standing there instead, but I did feel it was a hugely inappropriate response. Not only was she calling me a liar, she was unfairly accusing two kids who probably have grown up with at least some form of racial prejudice already. I cannot know what it's like, but I can only imagine I'd be sensitive to false accusations if I also grew up experiencing racism.

I honestly did not know whether it would help those boys or hurt them to hear me counter, "Why?! Because they're black?!" So I didn't. But I had their backs, and I told her I was right there when her precious innocent darling verbally sexually assaulted my toddler. That he said it twice. Right in front of me like some little idiot. {Idiotic indeed, but no name-calling took place in real time. I did not call her son an idiot, although I was thinking it.}

White mom was not as combative as I was and so we left quickly after exchanging a few more pathetic words. Hopefully that little dude will think twice before saying something like that to a girl again. And honestly, that sort of speech is a red flag to me. Either there's been sexual inappropriateness in that kid's life OR he's still curious about the opposite sex and his parents aren't the types to, you know, teach them social manners.

People love to tell me how socially awkward my homeschooled children will be. Right. Well, that's a ill-researched stereotype, first of all. But if sending my kids to public school means they'll be exposed to this sort of unwanted talk from kids on the playground--probably when a teacher is NOT right there to hear it--I'm pretty glad I'm sparing my kids that sort of social experience homeschool critics insist is so important. No thanks!

Now, I know there will be some people just as shocked as I, but there are also who take a "boys will be boys" attitude toward this incident. Kids are curious. It's normal. Blah blah blah.

Well. I disagree. Wholeheartedly.

I say this as someone who, as a teenager, had an adult man basically scream the same thing {in so many words} at me and my mother during a road rage incident. It was awful. One of the worst moments of my life, waiting for that red light to change so we could escape hearing about how he was going to take our pants off and...you don't need to hear the rest. But it still to this day is the #1 worst memory of my entire life.

No. I'm sorry some think so little of boys. Boys are perfectly capable of being taught to control themselves and their words. We insult them with this "boys will be boys" attitude. They are capable of learning and employing self control. We do them no favors by rolling our eyes and shrugging our shoulders when they choose to act like little idiots toward girls. Please. I won't have it. Don't defend it. Not my son.

There've been other incidents too, with boys. And my girls are homeschooled. I'm currently trying to decide whether or not a boy at our homeschool enrichment school on Fridays is crossing the line or not. Hard to say, I'm not there. At best, he can't keep his pinching hands or cheek kisses to himself...I can see how some might think it's endearing when he says he is "going to marry" my daughter. At worst, it's teaching my girls how to expect to be treated and I don't like that.

Good thing they have a good daddy who takes them on daddy-daughter dates and proactively shows them how a man should treat women. I was raised being told that aggression from boys on the schoolyard is how we know boys like us. Don't you agree this is dangerous? To teach girls to expect aggression as a form of fondness?

No. That's pretty messed up when you think of it.

So, today I posted this to Facebook:

I'm preemptively teaching Paxton to keep his hands to himself, his lips off girls cheeks, and that being playfully aggressive toward girls isn't how we show we like them. Because I shouldn't have to--but have been forced to--teach my daughters how to handle unwanted kisses, touches, and that they don't have to put up with being repeatedly pinched by boys who also tell them they want to marry them. It's like some parents WANT their sons to have a run-in with a mama bear or something. 😒 You're not doing him any favors if you don't talk to your son about these things, whether you think your darling is capable of such behavior or not.

I would also like to say, that Violet has insisted for months that she doesn't want to marry, and wants to live with us when she grows up. I said the same thing at her age, so I don't expect her to keep that promise. But I can see how being told by a boy she IS going to marry him one day is bothersome.

We talk to our kids. We talk about private parts. We talk about gentle touching with animals and friends. We talk about keeping our hands to ourselves. We talk about talking about inappropriate topics and how to avoid them. We talk about all these things so as to teach our children, so as to protect them and others. AND YOU SHOULD TOO, with your kids. For everyone's sake.

True social awkwardness doesn't come from homeschooling. It comes from inept parenting.
That's that.

Heather aka Fierce Mama Bear

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Cadbury Coop & Koi Pond

Hi. What I'm about to show you isn't all pretty...you were warned.

Project Backyard 2017

It's been almost three years since we moved in and Justin built this cute little coop for our chickens. We've had a lot of home projects since then, such as remodeling our main bathroom, but we've set our sights on a new project for 2017. And that would be: making our backyard less...dumpy.

Project Backyard 2017

Seriously, friends, it needs some TLC, our backyard does. In every way. And we have plans and dreams. Or at least, my husband does. Back by our cherry tree, he wants to do a pond this spring. A POND. Which he's done before, actually. Just not for us.

And he wants KOI. For the POND. I'm a little...I don't know...whelmed at the thought of all this. But at least we agree on this: the coop, raised garden beds, and new sod are all a priority over a pond at the moment.

Project Backyard 2017

So Sander, my husband, placed a big order to be delivered with Home Depot this weekend. And it was really upsetting because they were supposed to deliver at 11 a.m. yesterday, and instead they showed up--after a lot of phone calls--at 4:30 p.m.! Also, they delivered round posts, when Sander ordered square posts. Then the post hole digger he purchased broke the moment he tried to use it so we had to return to Home Depot ourselves for a new one.

Are you drunk, Home Depot? Yeesh.


So we're building a larger run for the chickens. Who barely lay eggs anymore because they're OLD BITTIES! And we've sent for hatching eggs this year so we can hatch our own chickens!! Which means we've also sent away for an incubator. This should be interesting. We're going to have tons of chicks {if they hatch} as we ordered a dozen rare breed hatching eggs and a dozen lavender Orpingtons. We will not keep them all. We'll sell/give away extras or perhaps...send some to a butcher, because in case you don't remember, roosters are sort of hard to get rid of. Which I don't like the idea of, but then our butchered chickens would certainly live better short lives than the ones we buy at King Soopers have, if I'm being honest here. But hopefully by late summer we'll be getting more than an egg a day. Freeloaders...

Project Backyard 2017

It's not just a chicken coop anymore anyway. It's a chicken bunny coop. Maybe we should call it a Cadbury coop? Did you know, it turns out, rabbits can live happily with chickens? They also thrive on chicken feed. A Google showed me that lots of chicken keepers do it. Peter had to be neutered, however, because he considered himself a chicken Casanova. It was...BOCKward! Lel.

Project Backyard 2017

So this weekend was LOVELY weather here in Denver {I hear some folks around the country are getting snow dumps right now?} And so we worked on the ugly yard.

Project Backyard 2017

I even made the kids turn off their Minecraft games and come help. Cheap child labor.

Project Backyard 2017

So while Sander dug post holes and filled them with new posts and cement to create a new, nicer, larger chicken run, the kids and I {mostly just I} built some raised garden beds.

Project Backyard 2017

Because I also spent about $15 on seeds for veg and flora {my British audiobooks have been rubbing off on me} at lame Home Depot and by golly, I plan to get my money's worth this year. In the form of cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce.

Project Backyard 2017

So while it's ugly now, I hope--with some luck, child labor, and stupid Home Depot to supply us--that in a couple months I'll be able to show you a rejuvenated yard. With new green, plush grass because our 1950s yard is compacted, lumpy, and has been obliterated by scratching hens, kids, puppies, and whatnot. With a cleaned up, fixed up little chicken coop. With garden beds teeming with veg and flora, oh ho fancy that, a spiffing proper English garden, yeah? And maybe even...I can't believe I'm saying this but when Sander gets a project in his head he obsesses until it comes to fruition...a KOI POND.

Project Backyard 2017

By jove, but that brown spot could use some jolly good aquatic love now, couldn't it?

Pip pip,

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Visiting Seattle Again

Washington 2016

Washington 2016

We took an early Saturday morning ferry back to Anacortes. There were islands to behold, sailboats, ferries and majestic mountains. Sadly, the one thing I wanted to see, we did not. I had hoped to see an orca, but most pods have left the area by this time of year.

Washington 2016

It's much less unsettling to take a ferry during daylight hours.

Washington 2016

Fascinating stuff to a landlocked state dweller. The sea air does rude things to my hair, but it is good for my body. I can tell.

Washington 2016

My friend, Meghan, said we should stop for a muffin at The Store in Anacortes. Best muffins ever, she said.

Washington 2016

She was right. And I'm not even much of a muffin person. {Always listen to the locals!}

Washington 2016

We were really excited to see Meghan {my college roommate} and her husband, Ryan, later that day. But we stopped at the most touristy place you can find in Seattle besides the Space Needle.

Washington 2016

Pike Place Market is a MUST when you visit Seattle.

Washington 2016

Seattle, do you know how lucky you are to get these floral bouquets for $8-$15 any time you want? In Denver, these would start at $30 and go up from there.

Washington 2016

Since I was last here, I see they've added ornamental lettuce to their arrangements. I love it!

Washington 2016

Let it be known I'm only posting 1% of the dozens of photos I took of these flowers that day.

Washington 2016

Washington 2016

We also stopped at the first ever Starbucks, right there at Pike Place, where there was a line out the door and down the street a bit. I picked up a You Are Here mug for Pike Place.

Washington 2016

This place, called the Harbor Steps, between two skyscrapers, after dinner at McCormick's, is where Sander proposed to me in September 2002. We were babies back then. But we knew what we wanted and what was inevitable too, so why put off a marriage you know is going to happen? Seattle, you see, is a part of our story.

Washington 2016

Washington 2016

How I wished we could have driven another 40 minutes on I-5 down to Tacoma to see our old stomping grounds and other friends who've moved there, but we were already packing a lot into this trip. The fall colors in Seattle were just as beautiful as they were on Orcas Island.

Washington 2016

We drove to Bellevue and headed into the hills where Meghan and Ryan have a stunning home with equally stunning views.

Washington 2016

You can see downtown Seattle, the Puget Sound, and airplanes and clouds at eye level from their amazing view. Breathtaking! And this photo doesn't do it justice, because the human eye is a much better beholder.

Washington 2016

Washington 2016

Meghan and Ryan showed us around their amazing home, popped open a bottle of wine for us, and then took us to Salty's for dinner. From Salty's, you can see downtown Seattle in all of its nighttime glory from across the sound. Can you spot the Space Needle?

Washington 2016

We could hear seals barking.

Washington 2016

Justin and I thought we'd head back and let Meghan and Ryan get back to their lives, but instead they drove us all around Seattle to see some things up close. I had the best time!

Washington 2016

And I finally got to cross the Fremont Troll off my Seattle bucket list. This guy made an appearance in 10 Things I Hate About You {only my favorite teen movie of the 90s} and I'd wanted to see him ever since. His eye is a hubcap, and he is clutching a VW Beetle he just snatched right off the road under the bridge. Extra creepy points for meeting him at night, am I right?

Washington 2016

Meghan and Ryan, it was really good to see your faces again, and to finally see your lovely house!

Washington 2016

Visiting with them and finally getting to see their gorgeous home was a very sweet ending to a really special trip.

In the morning all we had time for was to rush to the airport in the jukebox on wheels of a car, and grabbed breakfast at Beecher's {another places the locals rave about} for a breakfast sandwich. I was sad to leave, but REALLY EXCITED to see my babies!!!!

Next time you're in Seattle, there's a Beecher's at both Pike Place and the SeaTac Airport.
You're welcome.

Washington 2016

Woohoo! I got a window for the flight back.

Washington 2016

Goodbye, Seattle. We love you. We'll be back, next time with the kids.

Washington 2016


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