Monday, October 28, 2013

Let's Chat About Weather

Snow sucks.

Well, actually, it is really pretty. But it's cold, melt-y, hard to walk in, and hard to drive it.

So it sucks.

Unless you are 7 (almost 8!). Then it's pretty cool.

The coolest part for me? I can actually stay inside now and let her play outside till she's ready to come in!

8 o'clock at night 27Oct13
8:00 pm 27Oct13

8 o'clock in the morning 28Oct13
8:00 am 28Oct13

First Snow Day 28Oct13 (1)
10:00 am
Dressed and fully ready all on her own. 

First Snow Day 28Oct13 (3)

First Snow Day 28Oct13 (4)

First Snow Day 28Oct13 (5)

First Snow Day 28Oct13 (7)
Enough snow time.

First Snow Day 28Oct13 (9)
Now it's hot cocoa and t.v. time. 

First Snow Day 28Oct13 (10)
1:30 pm 28Oct13
Where'd the snow angel go?

And it's still snowing...

First Snow day 2 (3)
This was at 4pm

First Snow day 2 (1)
Jared's tracks from lunchtime (around noon) are GONE!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Squirrels and Helena

Things have been a bit squirrelly around here lately.

No, literally.

Emma's Squirral (7)
Photo by Emma the Naturalist

Emma loves the squirrel(s). I'm not sure if we have more than one, or just the one. Either way, she is smitten with them. Always wants to pick up food for them when we are out and about. She asked today if she could put the food (a few random sunflower seeds that she had already spread on the ground) into a container for him. 

I love it. 

I was chatting with Gramma on the phone while Emma was filming this video. 

The entire video is almost 3 minutes, but this is my favorite part. You can tell the squirrel is agitated by how fast his tail is moving, but in this bit, he actually shakes the stick at Emma. 

Even though she is inside watching him through the glass. 

What else. The last two weekends we have made trips down to Helena. We would all be happy to move there and live the rest of our lives. 

They have a bike skills park in progress. The only finished part is the pump track. 

First Trip to Helena, MT 12Oct13 (3)
Jared having fun.

First Trip to Helena, MT 12Oct13 (36)
That was me trying it out after Jared had been riding for a while. 
My form is terrible, but my outfit? Total awesomeness. 

I was wearing a floor length skirt over some black thermals, so I just hiked up my skirt and tied it in place. Such a trendsetter, I know. 

First Trip to Helena, MT 12Oct13 (6)
All three of us. 

Emma, of course, had a blast climbing all over the entire track. 

Why else do we love Helena?

First Trip to Helena, MT 12Oct13 (38)
Just about every street ends in single track (hiking/biking trails)

First Trip to Helena, MT 12Oct13 (44)
They have the Painted Pot

First Trip to Helena, MT 12Oct13 (47)
There is a carousal! 

And that was all discovered on the first trip!

It's also relatively small, the town is bike friendly, and they have a few different organic grocery stores. What did we discover on our second trip?

Well first of all, we found out that Jared has so much more fun when riding with friends.


He and two other guys rode 26 miles in 5 hours, with about 4200' of elevation climb. That's a lot of miles and a lot of hills! Emma and I discovered that the trail he has ridden both times is an uphill battle from the get-go. 

Following the leader

We only hiked for about 30 minutes because we had lots of plans for in town. The first one being, Art

Helena, MT 20Oct13 (1)
Sculpture by Jay Laber at the Holter Museum of Art 

Now, I knew we would be visiting this museum, and I love the idea of sitting in an art museum sketching the art, so I always have the thought in the back of my mind that if we ever visit an art museum we should bring our sketch books. And lucky me, I actually remembered to grab them out of the truck and take them in with us. Good thing because as soon as Emma saw this, she asked, "Can I sketch it?"

Helena, MT 20Oct13 (3)

Helena, MT 20Oct13 (7)

I have to say, I LOVED all the time we spent in that room. I thought about sketching something right along with her, but I was so in love with watching her sketch, that I just sat and watched her the entire time. 

Actually, I felt like maybe she thought I was pressuring her to hurry up, so a few times I got up and walked around to check out the other sculptures. 

Helena, MT 20Oct13 (5)
Creepy but awesome at the same time. 

I know watching their kid sketch a horse made out of junk metal isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for me, it's so worth it. 

Muesum of Art sketching
Emma's sketch of "Granny's Shabby Pony" by Jay Laber

After we finished up at the art museum, we were hungry. So, we stopped at the organic grocery store that we discovered accidentally on our first trip down when I got lost. We had lunch, stocked up on gluten free jerky, then headed back downtown. We stopped, on a whim, at a used book shop, bought a bunch of books for Emma, then got directions to 3 other places that sell used books. 

One happened to be some guy's house. I thought that a bit odd, but we are really wanting to find some of the books in the series that Emma's working through. This is what awaited us...

Helena, MT 20Oct13 (8)
Those were all the kids books.

So, we proceeded to look through all of them. It took a while. And the guy smoked cigars in his house (though I don't think he had while we were there). We made a decent stack of books we wanted to take home with us

Book Hoarders Bookstore
(there are actually 11, one was hidden and I didn't realize it)

but there were no prices. We were prepared to thin out the pile at the "check-out," (a desk hidden behind piles of books) if needed. 

After pretending to do calculations in his head, he charged us... $3. Three. Whole. Dollars. When I tried to give him a five and told him to keep it, he let me know that would screw up his bookkeeping. As he handed back my change, he let me in on his master plan, "It's like being a drug dealer. Get 'em hooked young and you've got a customer for life." 

We have already decided that his place will be a stop we make each time we visit Helena. Yes the books smell like cigar smoke, but a few days spread out in the shed seems to have fixed that problem. 

If only we could do something about the fact that Helena is 90 minutes away on a day with no snow...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

December is Coming: Subtle Hints

While we never expect to receive gifts, when we do, it's always fun when the gifts are something we can/will use all the time.

With that in mind, I have decided to compile a list of items that Emma would love to receive, or that I would love for her to receive.

Random Items

Breyer's Pink Magnum horse model. She is smitten with this horse. Does there need to be a reason?
***She has purchased this guy with her own money***

With the Breyer kid's club she would get a years subscription to the magazine 'Young Rider' as well as a model horse and $5 off another horse. 

We borrowed this series from the library back in Iowa and we really enjoyed it. I would love for us to have a copy of it for a more educational reason now. 

She loves her Barbie movies. 

The DVD Case Front Cover
This DVD looks awesome and educational!

We are trying to get into the habit of playing more games as a family. We like thinking games that take a little bit of time, but not ones that take all day (or night) to finish. If you have a favorite game that you think we might like, that would be cool! If not, here are a few games that I'm pretty sure Emma will like. 

I picked up this companies Bird Bingo game for a steal at the BOW silent auction, and we really like it. The pictures are basic but clear and there is information on the back that tells a bit about each bird (include their scientific name which will help when we start learning about animal classification this year).There are a few other versions they have that we would probably enjoy as well, but none more than this version. 

Pony-opoly is getting a little young for her, so I think she might be ready for this game. That and she keeps asking for it. 

Another game she saw and wants.

More Horse games!

This is a variety of horse card games. 

Books- she wants lots of books!
*Most of the horse books/series we have found are out of print. Some can be bought from, as well as used book stores*

Charming Ponies series (she has A Perfect Pony) or of the horse books by the author, Lois Szymanski.

Horse reference books. She prefers the reference books about horses and horse breeds (as opposed to horseback riding and care of horses), but really, she loves any book with factual information about horses.  This one,

we use to borrow from the Ames Public Library on a regular basis. It's a wonderful resource with lots of great pictures. It's out of print though (and our local library doesn't have it), so if you find it used, picked it up for us please!!!

This series might be a bit old for her, but it's one to keep in mind for a few years down the road. 

This series I feel she might be ready for. I am not sure if these books are still in print though. 

Ok. This is a series about a girl named Emma and her pony named Sheltie. It looks like these books are also no longer in print. 

Really, I could just go on and on with lists of horse books that she would like. Basically, her reading level is at about the 3rd to 5th grade level (based on the fact that she read and understood the American Girl book, Saige). So if you find a horse book (we loved used!) that looks interesting, chances are she'll read it (or I'll read it to her) and we'll love it!

Non-horse books

We have a few birds that visit our yard and we are excited to discover what they are. We'd also like to attract more. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

We're Renting a House!

Finally, we found a house to rent!

Of course the timing could have been better, what with cramming in horse lessons, going on vacation, classes, and Jared working. But hey, it was pretty much the house we were looking for, in the price we wanted to pay.

1 bedroom, 1 bath, with a shed and a yard. We have about 530 square feet (closer to 600 if you count the shed), so we lost almost 300 square feet (if you don't count the shed).

But we have a yard! And we have permission to plant a garden!

I found the place at the end of August, we signed the lease over the holiday weekend. We offered to clean and paint the house instead of paying a security deposit, and so we got to work.

The carpets were NASTY. Jared went over the living room carpet 4 separate times and the water still came out black. We called the landlady and asked if there was any way we could get new carpets. Jared and I were willing to pay for it and have her charge us less rent till they were paid off, that's how nasty the carpets were. She decided to just replace the carpets, but we got to pick what we wanted. Cool.

So, we got some cleaning done, moved some stuff into our shed (because the carpets wouldn't get installed until we were out of town), and did what we could to get ready for our move.

Photos from before we headed to Iowa
The Rental house
Living Room- The old ugly carpet and not-yet-painted walls. 
Emma was drawing plants and bugs out the window.

1117 3rd Ave S (4)
The Bedroom

1117 3rd Ave S (5)
The bedroom looking at the bathroom (on the left) and the laundry room (on the right).

The Rental House(7)
The Kitchen

Photos from when we got back.
3rd Ave S. Sep 27th 2013 (1)
Jared finished vacuuming the new carpets (and don't the walls look pretty?).

3rd Ave S. Sep 27th 2013 (2)
Emma getting her stuff put away. Sort of. 

3rd Ave S. Sep 27th 2013 (7)
We broke the bedroom up into two areas. This is the sleeping area.

3rd Ave S. Sep 27th 2013 (3)
This will be the hallway/crafting area.

We had a moving party on the 28th. A few friends showed up to help us move all the big stuff, as well as a bunch of the small stuff. Not sure what we would have done without them. 

And that is about where we are. The inside of the house still looks like a bomb went off, though we are making progress on a daily basis. 

The outside, however, is all sorts of awesome. 

Settling In  (1)
Emma- "Can I ride my bike?"
Mama (who was going to get out of cooking supper for once)- "Jared, would you like to go ride bikes with Emma or make supper?"
Jared- "Let's go kiddo!"

Settling In  (2)

And after supper,

Settling In  (4)
Putting over-ripe nectarine out for the birdies. 

We still have a ways to go before we are all settled in, but we love it here. We haven't noticed any smokers nearby, the neighbors next door are a sweet older couple (who gave us a crate of apples from their apple trees), and we are closer to the library (and bike shop). 

Once the house is a little more organized, I will update with more pictures. 

We hope you all are having a more relaxing transition to Fall then we are!