Sunday, December 30, 2007

Help please

A Better Bathroom

We have removed all the old wallpaper. The previous owners had painted over at least one layer of wallpaper. They had also wallpapered over an old fixture and it looked terrible. Now, I need help deciding what color to paint the bathroom. As you can see there is already a lot of yellow (we are not attempting to remove all the wall tiles) so we need something that will go with the light yellow. keep in mind that the floor is white with little blue square tiles. I am thinking to paint it white since there is already so much color. Daniel is thinking there may be a color that goes with the yellow and will add some warmth to the room (we both think white seems too sterile.) So please post a comment and tell me what you think!!

Friday, December 28, 2007


Santa came to Gail's house in Charlotte on Sunday. It worked out perfectly since that was the day that we were going to be there! We weren't able to see all of Daniel's family since they were all coming in town at different times but we did get to see uncle Dave who came in from Philadelphia. We opened tons of presents, played parcheesi, and as always shared lots of laughs when uncle Dave is around. Gail loves Christmas and does an amazing job picking out the perfect presents for all her kids and grandkids!

We opened presents Christmas morning at our house. This year we decided not to make the drive down to Louisiana and stayed home to enjoy some of our own family Christmas traditions. We had a quiet and peaceful day of opening stockings and presents, playing as a family, eating a huge vegan feast (Tofurky, fresh green beans, vegan sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, breads, and chocolate zuchini bread for dessert). The girls spent most of the day and every day since then riding their new scooters from Nana and Daddy Bill.

Our tree.

Daniel showing off his presents from Ellen.

One of Ellen's favorite presents. . . earings.
Arianna and her new favorite thing. . . horses.
Riding the new scooters in their pajamas.
Christmas breakfast. . . Silk soy eggnog, and cinnamin toast with the angels. (Me with my coffee!)

The stockings I crocheted for the girls. . . aren't they beautiful:)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Family Time

Daniel is pretty much done with his semester. He did an amazing job juggling all the papers he had to write or grade and all the tests he created and graded. It is so nice to have him around again. After several months of very long days and 6 day work weeks we now have about a month to take a little break and enjoy more family time. We also have a list of house projects that we want to start tackling although we are trying to be realistic about how much will actually get done. Daniel finished putting up the crown molding yesterday while I worked on removing old wallpaper in the bathroom. Some other projects we hope to get to are sanding and painting house/deck, removing old carpet and sanding hardwoods underneath, painting bathroom, knocking down walls, etc.

Since he doesn't have to rush off to campus, Daniel is enjoying long walks with Jay and the girls in the mornings, extended imaginary play times in the playroom, gardening, and yesterday he took the girls to their art museum class. Today we spent the first half of the day just playing around in the backyard.
This is a view from Arianna's perspective.
Enjoying the beauty of a fire.
Nutcrackers and bird watching

"The hawks wings were this big."

This broccoli has been growing since september.

Garlic that will be ready in spring. I planted about 30 cloves. Greens coming along behind the garlic. In the picture below they are putting up frames to make it easier to cover the potatoes when it gets too cold.

I have become addicted to crocheting. I learned the basic stitch from my grandmother a long, long time ago. Then I starting knitting a few years ago. A few months ago I started a blanket for Alder but I never could get it to look right. I have a very hard time reading patterns! Sorry to say that I gave up on that and ripped it out and now I'm using the yarn to make shawls for the girls. I'm also making a few little presents for Christmas. I carry around my little bag of yarn everywhere I go these days slowly working my way through these projects.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Friends posing

We love spending time with good friends. Last Sunday the girls and I went to Greenville to see our good friends the Weidenbachs who moved there this year from Indy. Here are the kids Arianna, Lily, Ellen and Cole.

The girls take ballet on Wednesdays. They are in a class with some of their closest friends which makes the class all the more special. Ellen and Arianna were originally in separate classes but they decided to combine the 2 classes due to the low enrollment in the younger class. Arianna was so excited when she found out the news that she would get to be in Ellen's big girl class. You can imagine as a little sister how great it would be to be included with your big sister and the big girls.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fall Field Day

The fall field day is put on by our homeschool association. This was one of the first things that we did last year with our group. It was a lot of fun then but the girls were still so young for most of the activities. This year of course they are still so young :) but they amazingly are old enough and coordinated enough to actually compete. I can't believe how big my little girls are. Wasn't it just yesterday I was carrying both of them on my hips then they got a little older and were too shy to do anything. Not any more--they were so excited about playing with their friends and lots of other kids that they had never met.

We did this relay race where we ( I did this one too since we had an odd number of kids and I made the teams even) had to put on baggy clothes and run around and pass the clothes to the next person.

This is the pie eating contest. Arianna had no interest in this one last year but this year was different. They had to eat it, crust and all, with no hands. The kids had a blast.

Most of the events were divided into age groups but we did play one big game of all ages kick ball. Ellen actually made it all the way around the bases this year and scored a point. It didn't really matter since we weren't keeping score but it was still fun. Here she is as she rounded the bases. She stopped on home plate and just stood there wondering what to do next.

One of my favorite parts of the day was the three legged race. The girls were partners and after I tied them together they spent time practicing on the field like the other teams. Ellen and Arianna did awesome when the race began. I was cheering them on like some proud and obnoxious parent and coaching them to go slow and steady. Others kept running and falling and the girls just smiled and kept on going. They got to cross the finish line first and Ellen's face was priceless. She said to me "Mommy this is the first thing I've ever won!"

Our weeks stay full homeschooling. I don't even blog about most of the wonderful things we get to do on a daily basis. But big things like the fall field day make me really appreciate all the things I get to be a part of in the girls lives. They will be young for such a short time and I'm so thankful that I get to witness their days. We teach each other every day. On this field day I was proud of them for working hard even when they couldn't win and for having fun with a big group of kids. Not just on field day but every day they make me proud.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

click on this to see us elfed

Thanksgiving and Decorating for Christmas

We were in Charlotte for Thanksgiving this year. We had dinner at Mike and Anna's house with a surprise visit from Liz who drove up from Atlanta. While waiting for dinner we played tons of games with the girls and did lots of chalk drawing outside. Since I accidentally turned off the oven while the turkey and tofurky were cooking the dinner was much later than it was supposed to be:) We went shopping on Friday and picked out a tree for Grandmother Gail and helped decorate her apartment. We also went to see the new movie Mr. Magorium's Magical Emporium with grandaddy William. We all really enjoyed the movie as there was great acting, imagination and no inappropriate humor or scenes (which is hard to say about movies for kids these days). We spent the nights at grandaddy William's house and I have to say that it was so nice to have a wonderful assortment of vegan food for every meal not to mention the fresh squeezed orange juice and homemade Belgium waffles every morning. Over the few days that we were in Clt the girls rode their bikes and Arianna got really good at riding her bike without training wheels.

When we got home on Saturday we spent the rest of the evening decorating our own house for Christmas. I have a whole collection of lighted houses and trinkets that I inherited from my grandmother which the girls and I put out around the house. Daniel was very excited about the lights outside. This is the first time we've done them since we lived in Boone. He did a great job. . . the house looks very festive! We also decorated our norfolk island pine tree that we use every year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kruidenier meets Kucinich

How do you succinctly tell this story? This is my brother Stephen with presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Back up about 6 months. Stephen had been working in animal rights activism here in the Carolinas and decided to pursue his work on the West Coast. So, much as we would rather have kept him near we sent him off with hugs and well wishes. Within weeks he was sending reports of encounters with movie stars and other pop-culture elites. He hooked up with Shannon Keith, a prominent animal rights attorney and director of an award winning animal cruelty documentary Behind the Mask, and they began formulating the vision for an activist legal defense fund. Stephen is now involved with a new documentary there and also with promoting the new legal defense fund. He sought out Dennis Kucinich both to interview for the documentary and to see if he would get behind the fund. He was willing to do both. Stephen said Congressman Kucinich was passionate, articulate, intelligent, informed, and gracious. If you are not familiar with his record he is nothing less than courageous and represents one of the only truly DIFFERENT messages for our country's future (the only other truly DIFFERENT message being that of Ron Paul but for different reasons. I digress...). Props to Stephen for pursuing his vision, and finding himself amongst such notable individuals.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

B'ham wedding

We drove to Birmingham on Saturday for the wedding of Daniel's first cousin Shep. It was a great family reunion. We met some cousins for the first time and saw others that we haven't seen in a long time. We got dressed up (yep, that is Daniel in a suit and I was wearing a dress and heals!), had tons of good food, drinks, danced and socialized with family. The girls were AMAZING. They were great in the car (12 hours total), the behaved so nicely at the wedding and looked beautiful in their fancy outfits. This was their first wedding and they loved seeing the beautiful bride and wedding party, elaborate cakes, great live music and fresh flowers everywhere. We were able to spend the night with some longtime friends of mine. They are actually my friend Lesley's parents--amazing hosts and treated us like family while we stayed in their house. THANKS PENFIELDS! We drove back today after a big brunch with the family that were in town for the wedding.

I'm ready for Thanksgiving. We are going to take a break from homeschooling this week. I'm sure we'll continue the reading and do a few projects but I need a break to regroup and reorganize. I also want to spend some time just hanging out with the girls. In all that we are doing this semester it has been easy to fall into a rut of being a drill sergeant like my friend Anna calls it. I will often tell them what to do or after they get their work done I'll stay out of their way while they play so I can do all my little things around the house, all the while I'm not actually spending quality time with them. Anyway, I'm looking forward to a nice vacation and time to really be thankful for what we have!

Here are the photos from our trip to B'ham

All dressed up.
Daniel on the dance floor?? Ellen loved dancing and was out there until she just got too tired to dance anymore. We all loved dancing to this band Liquid Pleasure. You can see them in the background with the matching pink suits. Probably the best party band we've ever seen (besides De Javu of course:).

Arianna literally fell asleep on grandmother Gail's shoulder while they were dancing!

As always, so nice to see Anna and Mike (Daniel's sister)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

science, nature, and service

We started vermicomposting about 6 months ago after I got a small bag of red wiggler worms from a friend of mine. This species of worms prefer the conditions in rotting vegetation, compost and manure piles and are a little different from the earthworms that you might find in your yard. They are perfect for eating through the kitchen scraps of a vegan family! The worms live in a bin on my front porch. I started the bin with layers consisting of a bed of wet newspaper, then the worms on top, then added the food scraps, then a layer of leaves or dirt or something just to keep the flies off. I drilled holes in the bin (which is actually just a plastic bin from the dollar store) to allow for drainage and airflow. They did try to escape after the first day. Apparently, if the conditions are not just right for them they will leave. I put them back in the bin and just tried again, not changing anything. They must really like it in there now because they have multiplied and eaten through so many scraps over these few months. I don't give them much attention. I feed them about once a week or less depending on when I remember to do it. I'm sure I went several weeks at a time without even looking in the bin. The girls really like the project. I have to admit, I'm a little grossed out by the creatures. One worm doesn't really bother me but when I have to look at so many all bunched up together it's different. Then I remember that they are so harmless and move really slowly.

Yesterday, we decided to separate the worms from their castings. This worm poop is what is so good for the soil because it is so rich in nutrients, even more so than regular compost. There are many ways to harvest the castings and I think the way we did it was the most complicated. We just dumped everything out of the bin, put on gloves and started separating the worms from the compost. It was a long process because as I said before there are tons more worms now and, amazingly, no recognizable food in all that rich compost. Then we put the worms back in the bin and I'll be adding the compost to the garden. The girls were very interested in the little guys. They talked to them and would try to get as many worms as they could in their hands.

The girls and I are part of a Roots and Shoots group. This quote from the organization's homepage explains the group best.

( "Roots & Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute, is a powerful, youth-driven, global network of more than 8,000 groups in almost 100 countries. Together, youth of all ages are taking action to improve our world through service learning projects that promote care and concern for animals, the environment and the human community."

Our local group is just starting up. We are still trying to work out some of the details but basically we are just a group of families who want to make a positive impact in our community and the environment. We have lots of ideas and plan on meeting at least once a month. The first meeting we talked about birds and migration and made bird feeders out of orange juice cartons. These last 2 pictures are of our 2nd project doing a trash pick up at a park. It's amazing how much fun kids can have picking up and sorting trash.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Camping in Cedar Creek

For our friend's 30th birthday we all went camping on their family land in Cedar Creek. It was just outside Columbia but it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. There were 3 families with 7 kids total (2 of which were under 6 months old!). We roasted tofu dogs over the fire and had brownies for dessert. Once it got dark the girls (all the kids were girls except the 2 baby boys) played in the tent with flashlights for hours while the adults sat around the campfire. It got quite chilly outside even down to freezing during the night. We all slept nice and cozy in our tents. We woke up and had bagels, packed our tents and took a little hike around the pond. It was a very enjoyable family trip and we will likely do this again. Our friends would like to make it a regular thing once it gets a little warmer:)

Playing by the creek before it got cold. It was beautiful and the girls had a wonderful time exploring the area.

Around the campfire in the very cold morning.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tiger Mania

We surprised my dad for his 60th birthday last weekend. I knew they were having a party for him and I just couldn't stand missing it. We drove down (10 hours)Thursday and spent the night in Jackson with my grandmother, aunt and cousins. We went to my cousin's highschool football game there. Then we woke up early Saturday morning and drove down to Baton Rouge (3 hours). My dad was so shocked. After finally realizing who we were (my new car really threw him off) he said, "have you lost your mind!" He now has 9 grandkids and this was the first time that they've all been together since they were babies. It was so much fun to see everyone playing together and I know it meant soooo much for us to be there. If you've ever been to Baton Rouge on game day you'd know that the whole town shuts down during the LSU game especially when playing Alabama. Of course we had to wait until halftime to open presents and cut the cake. It was crazy in the house as we experienced tiger fanatics scream and shout as the game progressed. Thankfully LSU won.

everyone else had shirts we needed some too:)

Will, Ellen and Arianna visiting Mike the Tiger on Sunday. That's tiger stadium in the background. Neal and Parker

I guess we're supposed to be South Carolina fans now that we live and attend USC . . . not sure if that will really ever happen. I'm not really a football fan at all but it is fun to be apart of the SEC madness every once in a while:)