Saturday, November 21, 2009


Ryan's former bosses from Ancora very sweetly gifted our family with a gift certificate to the Mid-Continent Train Museum in North Freedom, WI.

My brother Noel was in LaCrosse for military training and brought his friend Joe to our house the weekend they had leave. I tried to feed them as well as possible, especially since I thought poor Joe may have got more than he bargained for when he agreed to come.
Saturday dawned gorgeous and warm so after a huge country breakfast, we decided to take in the country side by vintage Wisconsin train.
The boys were wowed by all the amazing trains in the yard.
Felix thought this water tower looked just like the one at home.
Inside the train shed were all sorts of trains, some of which had been set up with scenes of rail road journeys in the past (Victorian coach, 1920's Dining Car, etc.).
After looking around, we waited in the lovely station house.

The horn made Felix very upset, so he spent most of the ride safely encircled in Uncle Noel's arms.
Enjoying our 50 minute round trip ride on a 7 mile stretch of the former branch line of the Chicago & Western Railroad.Sam and Oliver had fun watching the car ahead of us swaying to and fro down the line.

Devil's Lake was 25 minutes away, so we finished the day with a beautiful hike to our favorite look out.
Thank you George and Sue!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Muffin Cookies

We have been gone so much this month that it seems like we haven't had much time to do fun projects, but here was a quick and easy one the boys thoroughly enjoyed.
The part of me who didn't live through the Great Depression, but thinks I did, can't ever just leave crayons at the table of restaurants -you know the ones that come with the kids' menu? So I stash them in my purse, and every six months or so, when I clean out my purse, those poor crayons go into a box with all the other derelict colored wax bits (it's like the Velveteen Rabbit only with even less animate objects. Sad, really). We spent a good half hour peeling and sorting according to color (here's my one and only parenting tip: If you need a 1/2 hour to make dinner, take a shower, paint your toes red, or read a magazine, this is a great way to occupy your kids).
Put the muffin tin in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, (all the while talking about the properties of a solid vs. a liquid if you're an overachieving parent) let them cool on a rack until they solidify (here's where more Science talk can be inserted) and then pop them out! I was impatient and cooled them in the freezer, so they cooled too quickly and most cracked in half...I'm sure there's another Science property in there, but you're on your own for that one.

p.s. Crayola is the best crayon to use for this. I hate to be a brand-name snob, but all the non-Crayola crayons seem to have an excessive amount of oil in them and not enough pigment and did not turn out as well. See bottom right hand muffin round for proof.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where I've Been

In the span of 5 days we logged 2, 227 miles of driving. 4 kids, one ridiculously cute girl, and a crazy Mama with a thermos full of coffee.

Road trip to Virginia.

Ryan left a few days earlier for a training in Nashville and it hit me that the safety of all our children, not to mention Blythe, was in my hands as we drove the approx. 1,114 miles (14 hours) to my brother's wedding in VA.

The trip itself was great. Staying in a hotel with 2 kids, a baby and a toddler late at night was not. Next time, we'll drive straight through. Karen-O's soundtrack for "Where the Wild Things Are" was a pretty appropriate soundtrack for our trip, and the boys wouldn't let us forget it. "I want rumpus song!" was a fairly constant request from the back row, with Blythe patiently reminding Felix to ask nicely before acquiescing.

The drive was spectacular as we hit each state at what seemed like the peak Fall colors. We spent a day exploring Charlottesville, one of my favorite towns to visit when we're in Virginia. The actual wedding was dreamy, on my new sister-n-law's family farm in Zuni. It looked like a scene out of Ang Lee's Sense & Sensibility.

Every once in a while, like when I see a photo like this, it hits me: "I've got 4 boys!!!!"

The reception was held under tents, which was a good thing because it poured buckets about an hour into the dancing.

Noel's wife, Leah, sketched a picture on this canvas and then had guests use the paints provided to paint in a square. The painting now hangs in their first home together.
Felix was very tired by the end of the night and when Ryan leaned over to ask if he wanted to go dance, he responded, "no, I just want Blythe."