Monday, April 30, 2012


One side effect of the extensive front yard landscaping we did last winter was the proliferation of mushrooms emerging from the mulch after all the recent rain.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cleaning helper

Recpie for awesome, chemical-free, kid-friendly all purpose cleaner (thank you, Pinterest)

1. Fill mason jar with citrus peel
2. Cover with white vinegar
3. Steep for 2 weeks
4. Strain and dilute 50/50 with water.
5. Give to 4.5 year old to use at-will

I swear, she spent 1/2 hour cleaning the countertops.  They will never shine as well as they do here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Running Date!

Brian and I got to go on a running date yesterday. Erin was in her preschool, Robin went to her by-appointment preschool.  We both use a GPS-based app on our phones to track and share runs.  So here are the stats from his and my run.

                                              Brian                            Ashleigh
Distance                                4.31 Miles                   3.9 Miles
Time                                      44:31                          42:29         
Pace                                       10:15/mile                  10:53/mile
Calories                                  524                              411

So there you have it, folks.  Proof that when men and women exercise side by side men 1. go further 2. faster, and 3. burn more calories.

Or, I had the "pause when pace slows below 3 MPH" turned on and part of my workout was truncated.

I feel a rematch in our near future.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Knitting project: Front Pocket Sweater

I actually started this project late last June, many moons ago and before I understood things about yarn weight and gauge.  It took a while and more yarn than I anticipated, but it turned out OK.  It's exactly the lumpy, frumpy home knit sweater you'd imagine your little old granny making you.  I did like the pattern and how the pocket was done at the same time as the sweater body.  Erin picked out the yarn.  While it's lumpy and frumpy, it actually is nearly perfectly sized on her. So unless she gains about 75 lbs in the next couple of months, it will remain a lumpy, frumpy sweater until she grows out of it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Goose Egg

We got a goose egg from my parents yesterday.  My brother's boss raises geese, and he gets them from time to time.  

If you've never seen one before, they're big. The top is the goose egg, the bottom a normal chicken egg.

The yolk was big too.  And goopy.  And thick.  Here it is sticking to my fork as I started to beat it. 

But it looked just like a normal scrambled egg when done.  This is the one egg.  It's hard to sense scale here, but it filled one salad plate.

And Erin loved it.  She ate most of it. It was a pretty big meal.  Compare Goose to Chicken.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Potty humor - round "2"

A: (checking in on Robin who has been working on the potty) Did you make a poo-poo, Robin?

R: Yeah.  I made a whole poo-poo family! See?

(points and shows off her work.)


R: Bye bye, poo-poo family!  See you later!

Such is the excitement for a newly potty-trained, highly verbal 26 month old.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Potty humor

The children have somehow synchronized their bowels. When Erin feels the urge, she says, "C'mon Robin!  It's time for a poo-poo party!"

Apologies to the future 16 year old Erin.  This is too funny not to share.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Farmer's Market Dinner

On the menu:
Salmon burger, turkey burger or hot dog
Caprese salad with sweet pea tops
Grilled baby bok choy
Grilled corn

Yum, yum, and yum. 
And all cooked on the BBQ.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

CalDays Adventure

Today was UC Berkeley "Cal Days" - a big open house featuring lots of fun events. We'd gone when Robin was teeny and Erin was about Robin's size.  It was hot and sunny, and the girls and Brian headed for their adventure day.

Riding the BART.

Robin transforms into a Kitty.

Erin explores the creek.  This was one of the highlights.  A entomologist grad student was down there, showing how to find bugs in dry leaves, catch and release water sliders, and other cool bug tricks.  The girls totally loved it. 

Touching a meteorite.  This was another highlight.  Robin told me, "I touched the black rock because it came down from the sky up up up and it was big."

Go Bears! Football season is getting closer! 

Pizza break. 

Daddy adventure days rock. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fashion Friday: Sunglasses

Dress: Gymboree (size 5T - she's already raiding Erin's closet.)

Pants: Tea

Sunglasses: Target

Underwear: Gerber.

That's right folks.  Robin is on day 4 of undies!!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


We went to the drive in movies tonight.  Woot! There are not too many drive-ins left, yet we have on practically in our back yard.  On top of that, it was customer/family appreciation night.  Free entry, rockabilly band, $1 nachos, and a huge inflatable slide.  There also were hot dogs, popcorn, slushies, and a small playground.

We had tons of fun playing as the sun went down.  The plan was to leave once it got to dusk, but the kids were so excited we tried to stay for the movie.  Yeah.  That lasted about 15 minutes, then came the frantic, panic screaming when the onslaught of intense, negative, and stressful scenes began.  Really, these are kids movies?  We high-tailed it out of there and listened to peaceful quiet jazz all the way home.

All in all a good night.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Erin's VIP day

Today Erin had a VIP day at her school.  It's normally supposed to co-incice with a birthday, but were we that put-together in October?  Nope. 

Grandpa, Grammy, Papa, Dad, Me, and Robin showed up.  She introduced us, said our real names, and said what she liked to do with us.  She made a poster and had to explain all the pictures on the poster.  Then she had to do all the helping jobs. 

I've known about the helping jobs for 2 years now.  There's line leader, snack helper, tapper, calendar, weather, and this year there's also song leader.  Line leader leads the children out to the playground.  Snack helper lays out napkins and cups.  Tapper taps each child, asking a question before they can go to snack.  Erin asked each child how to spell their first name.  Calendar is involved.  Erin had to read the day, the month, the year, and say it all in a row.  She had to count from 17 to 30 (the remaining days in the month), and follow a pattern of red-red-yellow-yellow to choose what color should go on the day.  Weather helper looks out of the window and selects two weather descriptions to fit in the sentence, "Today, the weather is ____ and ___. "  Weather helper must then read the entire sentence. Song leader selects a song and leads the class through it.  Erin chose "This Land is Your Land."

Erin performed all her tasks with confidence and eagerness. Before, she expressed concern that she would be sweaty from doing so many helping jobs.  But she was just fine.

All in all it was a 20 minute affair.  I think the first time I had to do a 20 minute presentation was in grad school.

Monday, April 16, 2012

That kinda day

7:30 AM
Brian:  So far, I've had to explain what an acid is, what Hantavirus is, and why it's OK to kill animals sometimes.

9:00 AM
Ashleigh: The dryer is not working!  I checked the fuse box and it seems ok.  I can't figure it out.  Oh... wait.... what's this plug on the floor?

10:45 AM
Robin: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah -aaaah -ahhhhhh -ahhhhhh!  (reaction from getting whacked on the back of her head by the wooden swing seat)

7:45 PM
Erin: Waaaaaaaaaah!  Mooooooooooommmmmy!  Mooooooooooomy!  (up-too-late-had-too-much-sun-got-frustrated-right-before-bed-meltdown)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Taking a zero day

When one is trying to blog daily for a year, there will be some days when there is nothing much to say. 

So here's some cute pictures of sleeping children.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring Rain

We've had a lot of rain recently.  The other morning brought a deluge.  I love the girls' reaction, and how even though Robin really didn't dig on it, the "monkey see, monkey do" in her couldn't resist Erin's glee.

Note: it's a little long.  Sorry, haven't been putting the effort into editing lately.

Friday, April 13, 2012


This started out as a simple paint a wooden butterfly (thank you, dollar bin at Michael's) and of course turned out to be a full-body exploration of paint and color

I just love how they get so into their work. They were very serious about the whole affair. 

I am starting to get smarter about these things.  I put out the paint, already poured (just a little teeny bit) and used cotton swabs as the brushes.  Not that that mattered, within a few minutes they'd discarded the cotton swabs for fingers.  Then hands.  Then whole bodies.  Yes, they made belly-button prints.  And the mess was quite minimal since there was only about 1 tbs of paint in each of 6 egg-carton wells.

Robin and Calliope

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cucumber experiment

The question to test was simple: does the shape effect taste? 

The experimental design: a cucumber cut into different shapes.  Sticks, circles, shredded. 

The investigator. She first diligently observed the differences, noting size, shape, texture.  Some had obvious seeds, some did not. Some  Then the tasting. 

First spears, then the circles, then the shreds.  Apparently they all had the same flavor, but the shreds had the best texture.  Good to know. 

Don't tell Erin she ate 1/4 of a cucumber in the process. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


An update to the lost dog post....

... yesterday as the girls and I were walking to the park, I saw a "Lost Dog" flier.  Guess what?  It was the same dog!!!  I called and the mom was ecstatic!  And since I'd told the emergency vet clinic where I left the dog that we were interested in becoming his care taker, I had his animal control ID number and shelter phone number for her.  She will pick him up today.

Apparently the family was away for the day, the dog had broken through or under their gate and they hadn't realized he had escaped until 11 PM.  We picked him up at about 2:30.  I'm certain he'd either never have survived that long on that busy road or, hopefully, some other pet-loving people would have come to his assistance in that time.  Either way he's going home!!!  And my faith in humanity is restored.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bunny Head Count

And I know there are still two lurking in our unpacked backpacks from yesterday.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

EASTER!!!! (picture and unnecessary detail heavy)

How I love this holiday.  We're not the most pious of households so the day is really about finding eggs and eating chocolate.  Lots and lots of chocolate.

The hunt:

They ate nearly all the candy in their baskets:
3 peeps
2 Cadbury cream eggs
4 eggs filled with Jellybeans and Cadbury's malted eggs
1 - 5oz (the big one) See's Chocolate Easter bunny.

 Good thing first Easter bunny of the day wasn't very generous.

About half an hour later was this:

The Easter Hangover. After a 15 minute freak-out by the eldest, we sat them down for a much needed Bob the Builder/Banana/Potato Patty/cheese stick rest. Note: this is now 8:30 AM.  Erin requested the shades drawn tight, her sunglasses, and a cozy blanket.

Then it was onto the next event: brunch at Grammy and Papa's club.  The girls met the Easter Bunny with much glee.

There was a baby-animal petting zoo too.  The caretaker told Brian a story about co-sleeping with a convelescing cow.  Hard. Core.  One more egg hunt too, but the candy factor was minimal.

I wish we had more pictures of them with their Miller cousins, but we were not taking the pictures.  *ahemDawn* can we get those? The girls ate themselves silly with bacon, berries, and pancakes, Oh, other than the 2+ chocolate bunnies plus loads of chocolate kisses provided by the Miller Easter bunny. We enjoyed the company of Grammy, Papa, Great Granny, Aunt D, Cousin C and K, Uncle Heath and companion Katie , and N&N.  Good times.

Then back across the bay to Grandma and Grandpa's house for another egg hunt, more candy, more cousins, and more fun!  The girls ran these boys ragged, and the UOMcF boys were awesome, as always, with the girls.

A delicious ham dinner with scalloped potatoes, asparagus, and amazing Jello salad was consumed.  Followed by, you guessed it, chocolate cream pie.  Awesome. 

I think the girls were finally worn out.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Looking for a good home (long and wordy again, sorry!) 10

We're 3 miles from home after a medium-serious drive of 4 hours coming back from Tahoe when we see a lollygagging, happy, alone Golden Retriever standing alone on a corner of a busy street in downtown Orinda.  There's N*O*O*N*E nearby.  He has a collar but not a leash.  I quickly pull over, the roady is very, very busy and we lost two cats to it a couple years ago.  Brian hops out and hooks the dog.  No tags.  We hem and haw a bit over what to do, looking around all the while for a search party.  No one emerges, we pile the dog into our car and head home.

I imagine the scenario where the dog escapes from the yard unexpectedly and is wandering about, maybe the family is out, maybe they're not paying attention.  But they're missing him or soon will be and will soon mount an all-force effort to relocate him and bring him home.

The dog is old, with a greying face and a big lump on his back.  On the sage advice of dog owner and all-around-good-guy Uncle Jim, we looked for a vet to take him to. Being Sat, all the vet's offices are closed by now, but I find one emergency clinic, call them and they say to bring him in.  I do.

He's thirsty but otherwise happy and friendly, as all Goldens are.  He's got no microchip.  They take him in, telling me he'll get picked up by animal control and taken to the closest shelter.  After a waiting period, he'll be put up for adoption.

The receptionist says he looks *just* like a dog that was there yesterday, brought in by a family who said they'd take care of him, but then might have changed their heart and dumped him by the side of the road.  My heart sank that this sweet, elderly dog would ever find his people again.  And it sinks even lower that this dog might have been abandoned by a family no longer able to take care of his needs.  Likely having cancer or another virus, his care taking needs have certainly changed since he was a puppy 10 years ago.  And maybe the family'd ability to take care of him has changed too.

I leave, thinking we've done the best we can, saving the dog from the treacherous road, and B and I consider maybe taking in the geriatric dog to give him his last year or two surrounded by adoring little girls. I feel a responsibility for the animal, having plucked him off the road and trying to get hime to safety.  However, introducing an older dog with health conditions.... am I ready to teach the girls such an immediate lesson in loss? Can I just leave the sweet pooch to his fate?

(P.S. this is a backdated post, so if you're on pins and needles check in on 4/10.)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Snow Bunny

Today was a perfect day to enjoy some wintertime activities.  Never mind that it's April. Erin tried out skiing.  B & I learned it's often better to leave it to non-parents to help out with such projects.  Uncle Jim had her confidently shushing down the slopes in no time.  Methinks there is another McFeely skier on our hands. 

Robin didn't get a chance to ski, but she did learn that snow is fun, and especially delicious.  She ate nearly her body weight in snow today.

Then there was saucering.  I was fairly certain Erin would beg out of this, with the icy slopes and rocky landing (see below where the snow ended and the mud began).  Erin had no problem careening down as fast as she could, doing jumps, going sideways, and having a marvelous time.  I had to stop watching after awhile, as I had a hard time suppressing the nervous mother instinct, and I wanted her to have a wild, un"adult"erated time. 

Even an unfortunate collision with her cousin couldn't deter her.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012


We were invited to spend part of Spring Break with 3/5ths of the Upper Orinda McF's. They'd rented a cabin in Tahoe with a pet-friendly policy (they have a dog), a hot-tub, 4 bedrooms, lovely surroundings, and a cozy potbelly stove at a super last-minute bargain. How could we miss this opportunity.

Erin was an old-hat at snow, and quickly got into it.  Robin, not so much.  No good footage but the kiddo wanted to touch it, but hated the cold, wanted to explore then slipped and fell unexpectedly.  It was classic toddler new-experience freak out.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better.  

But, everyone enjoyed the unique pleasure of a hot tub in near freezing temperatures!  So glad we're here!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break: San Francisco Zoo by Robin

Mama says it's spring break.  I don't quite know what this means other than I get to spend more time with Erin. Today we went to the San Francisco zoo with mama and Grammy and Papa.  I've never been there! 

Erin likes taking funny pictures.

And we spent a lot of time in the petting zoo area.  I liked the goats.  They were soft.  I fed them a lot of pellets.  The sheep were not nice.  They were scary.  I cried a bit for mama, but Papa helped me escape them. Erin liked driving the little tractor.

We got to go on a merry-go-round. Grammy said one of her first memories was going around on this very same merry-go-round.

And we got pink popcorn.  Mommy said that was one of her first memories: eating pink popcorn at the San Francisco zoo.

There was a fun playground, and Papa pushed me on the swing for a long time.

I had lots of fun. So much that even two chocolates and watching Sesame Street on Mommy's iPad couldn't keep me awake on the ride home.

I hope we have Spring Break every day!