Thursday, April 30, 2015

Scottish Games and Festival

On Saturday we went to the Scottish Games and Festival, which was located on some county fairgrounds about 30 minutes away. I saw an ad for this festival in the "Sactown Magazine" and immediately alerted Michael that we were going and that there was a beard contest if he was interested! (I also invited some friends, but a stomach bug kept them from joining on the day-of.)

I was definitely sensory overload when we got there. Music, smells, sights. Swords, bows and arrows, bagpipes. Men in kilts. Women in kilts. Tiny babies in kilts. 

We watched a troupe of dancers do a few traditional Scottish dances.

We watched a group of bagpipers compete. (There were even judges walking around taking notes on everything from their music to the degree of perfection of their outfits!) Not to be a total nerd, but the sound of these musicians just filled up my heart, you know? I got the chills.

June was asking all kinds of questions, and even though we don't have any Scottish lineage, I was so happy to talk to her about a different culture and history.

There were also a bunch of games going on. We saw what I consider to be the most awesome and impressive one - the caber toss. Men and women were challenged to lift a large wooden pole and toss it, ideally getting it to fall end-over-end to get the most points.

There was a kid's area with really rustic versions of carnival games, but the kids just wanted to climb on the hay bales.

We watched the drum majors throw their batons.

And watched the Tug of War.

There was also a section with animals, including cows, horses, sheep and oh-so-many Scottish Deerhounds.

Bennett LOVES dogs and gets so excited when they come in close and give him a lick.

I cannot believe that we didn't get a full family photo, but I did get a shot with this guy:

After Michael took this photo, I walked over and recreated the creepy stroking motion this Viking made on my back while this photo was being taken. We watched this guy with fascination as he walked around taking photos with groups (on demand) and, over-and-over, would fondle women just under the threshold of being obscenely inappropriate.

We decided to stay for this BBQ event they had, but I got a little annoyed that it started much later than they had advertised. Michael was saving our spot in line and I was trying to supervise the kids as they played on the hay. June can hold her own for the most part (and I like to think I'm not a hover parent) but there was this idiotic tribe of young men who were trying to impress a group of girls by doing hardcore tricks over the hay bales. They acted so put-out when one of the several kids would get in the way. A time or two they got really close to hitting one of the children, so I just went over and stood in place next to it as an adult blocker. Listen, I understand the need to engage in uber-cool parkour while shirtless at a family event (actually I don't), but over my dead body will you kick my kid in the face while they play on a structure that was clearly there for kids.

When Bennett saw that June was climbing into the hay structure, he wanted to follow.

I could, of course, end the blog post there on a sweet note. Instead I'll have to end it on a sour note, as in sour milk, as in the spit up that ended up IN MY HAIR because I was giving Bennett a ride on my shoulders. I didn't realize it until we were almost at the car, so who knows how long I was walking around with a puddle on my head. As I washed my hair out with bottled water, I shot the stink eye over at Michael, who was laughing a little too hard about the whole thing. 

Other than that, though, it was a great day and evening! :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 Garden: Then & Now

Here's a Before and After of the garden. A look at when it was first put in and then how it is now, 6 weeks later.

The garden before:

The garden after:


Back left: sugar snap peas (only one is really thriving :( The others got eaten by slugs or just failed to really get going.)
Front left: strawberries
Right: green beans (one of the six didn't make it due to there being only one stalk...which got eaten by the slugs.)



Back left: Dill (We've already used this in cooking!)
Everything else: assorted sweet bell peppers (I'm surprised at how little these appear to have grown. But many of them do have little buds and flowers growing, and one even has a visible pepper growing!)



Back: Zucchini
Front left: Beefsteak tomatoes
Front right: Cherry tomatoes


A side shot to get a look at the 'after' for zucchini. I built a little homemade trellis out of bamboo and twine to allow the zucchini to grow up. This keeps the zucchini out of the dirt and saves a ton of ground space, which allowed me to plant a basil plant in the space that I had been saving for the zucchini!

The harvest so far:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Worm Week

June's so bummed that Worm Week is over at daycare. Her teacher brought in a bunch of earth worms and used them as a teaching device for the kids this past week. This means that we had a lot of worm-related conversations at home, including June asking me to give her banana peels and newspaper to bring in to feed the worms. I suggested we also send coffee grounds and June didn't want them because she thought the worms would get confused between the coffee and the dirt and end up eating the wrong thing. 

When I picked her up one day last week, June showed off the whole worm situation, including her 'worm diary' in which they write notes (or draw pictures of) what the worms are up to. (This is 'the worms going toward the grass.')

They also had a worm race, which apparently got the kids SO HYPED only to find out that the worms do not suddenly increase their general speed just because they are in a race.

These were some fat, good-looking worms! I wanted to steal some for my garden!

June is suddenly very sensitive about worms in the wild. She notices when they are on the sidewalk and sadly laments when they are dry and dead. We have picked up a few and dropped them in the soil to save their little lives a few times.

Which is all to say I'm basically in love with June's teacher, and am so glad she does stuff like this with the kids.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Castello di Amarosa in Napa

On Saturday morning while the guys golfed, the kids, mom and I visited a castle!

I had done a little research into family-friendly wineries that we could visit as a whole family or on the day that mom and I would have the kids. I was seconds away from booking a time at a different place when I came across the Castello di Amarosa and immediately knew that we had to go. I quickly texted (and sent an email containing mostly exclamation points to) my mom with information, asking if she had been there before and if she would please, please consent to go on our day with the kids. She was absolutely in and our day was set.

We enjoyed the scenic drive up to the Castello and got there only 15-or-so minutes after it opened. June had been asking when we would finally get there from about the minute we departed, so it was pretty satisfying to hear her gasp of pleasure when we first set eyes on the place. 

This place lived up to the expectations I had after looking at it online. June couldn't wait to go inside but tolerated me and Vivi taking pictures outside for a while.

There was also a little paddock with some animals inside, which had Bennett enthralled.

Because the kids are under 5, we weren't allowed to go on an organized tour. The tours were two hours long, so I wouldn't have wanted to go on one anyway - take that, Castello! Instead we signed up for a general admission, which included the ability to freely wander and a wine tasting at the end! Mom even upgraded us to a chocolate pairing! June didn't have to pay for her 'juice tasting' but Mom upgraded her for the chocolate too!

I really liked having the freedom to wander and take our time.

This was the "Great Hall," which I particularly loved when I glanced over at June quietly humming to herself while she waltzed around.

This was an old-fashioned grape smasher:

Whenever we had a really great view, we'd stop and describe to June what it would look like to be having a ball in that spot.

The wine tasting occurred down in the cellars. There was one big tasting room, but there was another smaller one (less crowded!) that also had a Kid Table! There was coloring sheets and crayons for the kids to play with, but we used it mostly to eat all the snacks in the world. In this picture you can see June tasting her juice, Bennett tasting his snacks and you might be able to see the people in the background tasting wine at the counter.

A selfie at the wine tasting, with Mom holding one of the little boxes of chocolate:

The kids were really cute at their table.

June was especially good, willing to color and snack and make believe there in 'her' castle.

Bennett, on the other hand, wanted to run off at full speed throughout the tasting room and boutique going "Aaaaahhhh!" in excited exclamation toward every breakable imaginable. 

Which meant that I did some of my tasting with him there on my hip at the counter. Nobody even carded him!

The chocolate was a highlight for June:

We bought a couple of souvenirs and headed outside for another glance at a different set of animals.

So gorgeous. So fun. So happy to have a Mom who is so similar to me, who enjoys stuff like this, who likes to make believe and ask about colors of ball gowns and debate about which princess most looks like each of us.