Monday, September 29, 2008

Doctor! Doctor!

Following hard on the heels of the big birthday bash, our favorite twins had their 12 month doctor visit today, where we discovered that it is possible to fall off the growth chart for boys.

Who knew?!


  • Length: 27.5" <>
  • Weight: 17 lb 8 oz <>
  • Head: 18"50-75th %ile*
  • Length: 27.75" 10-25th %ile
  • Weight: 17 lb 13 oz 5-10th %ile
  • Head: 17.75"50-75th %ile*
Logan still has no teeth, while Emma just has the bottom middle pair fully in and ready to rumble. I think she may be working on the upper middle set, but nothing is currently visible. Both babies were pronounced "Perfect!" yet again by the doctor and that Logan is clearly working on his very own growth curve and that his weight loss is to be expected with all of the high speed crawling.

Emma walks around a lot now, doing her best imitation of a baby zombie: "Ehnnn! Meeeeeyulk!"

I suppose I could have likened her to a penguin or something, but zombie is where my head goes when I watch her toddling around. (Eek! A toddler!)

Logan is still working on the Three Steps and Fall! dance program. He's gonna be awhile, I think.

As for the family visit wrap-up, I'm still processing. Perhaps I'll have something deep and meaningful to write about it tomorrow. See ya then!

* Apparently my huge noggin has been passed on to the children. Itty bitty babies with statistically large heads. Clearly there must be a lotta brains in there!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

And Then They Were One

It's amazing to me how you can go from this:


to this:


and from this:
The Big Day. Woo! Lookit that belly!

back to this:
Grammy & Grampy's Big Day. Woo! I have only one chin!

in the course of a single year.

It was a crazy year and it culminated in a very busy day.

First there was a soccer game, where the whole family came to cheer Caitlin and her team on.
So you think I'm supposed to kick the ball towards the other side's goal? Ohhhh!

There was even a new member of the family to meet. I'm happy to introduce a new Character to our Cast & Crew: Matt! My soon-to-be brother-in-law.
Matt, Emma. Emma, Matt. "How-dee-do?"

"Duuuude! Nice tats!"
"Thanks Little Dude!"

He seems to have a good grasp of the "hanging with the babies" that is required 'round these here parts.

Emma considered joining the Hell's Angels: Baby Division.
"I bet I look really tough now!"

However, she reconsidered when she discovered there would be no cake.

Back at home, there was a lot of cooking to be done. Jamaican patty making by mom.

Conversational assistance by Sara.

Patty eating. Note Logan is in the forefront of the patty eating arena.
"Mmmm! I feel myself becoming more in touch with my Jamaican side every moment! More patties!"

Spaghetti squash cooking by Eric.

Cake baking by moi.
I'm drizzling! I'm drizzling!

Of course there was cake. Two of them, to be exact. I had a bit of trouble with the icing. Well, to tell the truth I had an icing failure. I'm not sure what happened to it, but it didn't set up properly and wound up grainy. Sierra, leaping into the fray, scraped off the majority of it and suggested chocolate would help. She was right and the cakes were saved!

Chocolate, as you may already know, improves any food that garlic doesn't.

White cake with caramel icing and chocolate drizzle.

Music by Matt.

Mentos bombmaking courtesy of Pop-Pop.

Caitlin gives a manic grin in anticipation of blowing up a bottle of Diet Coke. Clearly this is the absolute best thing you can do with a bottle of Coke.

Note that the experiment did not take place in my backyard. My momma didn't raise no dummies! That sort of stuff is what open space is all about!
Click to enlarge.

What? You don't know about Mentos and Coke? The two combine for some bizarre chemistry. See this video.

Emma watches in horror.
"Oh my gosh! What are dey doin'?!"

There was a lot of hanging with grand-dad goin' on. Logan and Dad were bonding.

Visiting with family and friends.

Little Miss H.

Baby K-bug.

Scott and Sierra came to play.

Pop-Pop and Nana Sue look on as the twins demolish their birthday cake.
"That boy can eat!"

The best part for Caitlin, though, was that her cousins were there to play.
Babies, schmabies! Where's the cake?!

Oh, and she got to blow out the candles for the twins.

It was a whirlwind of family, food and fun. I don't think I sat down for more than a few minutes at a time with all of the running around I was doing between the kitchen and the twins.

The twins, however, had a fabulous time and were handed from person to person as the day went on. Turning one was good for them.

But I'm glad it's over! Whew!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Family Occasion

We all went up to the mountains this weekend to watch Grammy and Grampy get hitched.

The lovely, young, happy couple.

Well, turns out, we were actually all there to eat, since the actual gettin' hitched part took place in a county courthouse a few days before the party. That's okay, though. We like to eat. And run around with the cousins. There are quite a few of them now, especially when we include the step-cousins!
Buried under a pile of grandkids.

It was a good time to get some family photos done.
Jenni and her boyz.

It's also when I discovered that I we're going to have to work on our moves when it comes time for Xmas card season!

Caitlin tries to snack on Logan.

Picturesque posers.

Just to prove a point, Eric took a picture of me.
C'est moi. Outstanding in my field. Har-dee-har! Sorry, couldn't resist that one.

Well, nevermind all that. I bet you really want to know is what the twins were doing. They were doing some of this:
All terrain walkin' baby.

And some of that:
Catchin' some air.

And a lot of this (Prepare yourself!):
Prince Charming.

Logan had turn up his Charm setting to 11. He was unstoppable! Women melted into puddles when he staggered by.

We had a great time and were reminded yet again that having a flying car or a teleporter would be really nice for those extra long car trips. The drive is pretty, don't get me wrong, but it's loooong. Especially with three children in the car. Even though all three are very good travelers, they do get sick of being cooped up for a long while with nothing to look at but one another.

Oh and we also discovered that caffeine seems to run through my system and into the twins in 12 hour increments.

The hard way.

Eric made a vanilla latte for me so that I could stay awake on the drive up and keep him company. Neither of us reckoned on Logan's reaction to the caffeine that I drank at 1 pm would drive him buggy at 1 am. He was wired. We were exhausted. Emma, being the champion sleeper that she is, shrugged it right off and slept until the morning. Logan needs to take some notes! On the way home I didn't touch a single drop of caffeine.


You know what? It just struck me that this may be the last wedding I ever go to until the next generation starts getting hitched! I think everyone I know is actually married now.


Does that make me aged?!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pick a Purple Pepper

Tongue twisters, anyone?


How about vegetables?

Since we haven't had a frost yet, the garden is still going gangbusters. I finally got to harvest my first bell peppers. At least, the ones I could find under the mass of tomato plants.

Purple Beauty bell pepper.

The Purple Beauty live up to their name: both very purple and very beautiful. However, they taste just like a green bell pepper.

Caitlin shows off a pepper.

The one that really deserves all the hoopla is the California Wonder. I could have picked some green, but I'm a red bell pepper fan and so I waited. And waited. And waited some more until finally...! Red!

California Wonder bell pepper.

They were the sweetest things ever. So yummy, it was like the ones you buy from the store aren't even in the same family anymore!

Next year: more bell peppers!

We've only eaten two so far and they were yummy. I'm now waiting for the third one on the plant to ripen. They need a better location for next year, but considering they had to beat off a forest of tomato plants, they did pretty well!

A pepper pattern.

The melons continued to do well. Here is a New Orchid watermelon. They're a light orange inside, but still taste like a regular melon. I still think the Sugar Baby is my favorite.

New Orchid watermelon.

Now that it's fall, the squashes are beginning to ripen. I had to do some research to determine when "ripe" was visible on a squash and the answer was very interesting. You have to wait for the stem to get "woody". Sure enough, looking around the yard, I had some woody-stemmed squashes. So I grabbed a pair.

My first buttercup squash!

They are bright orange inside and when cooked, their flesh is a lot less sweet than a butternut or acorn squash or sweet potato. I think they'd probably make a nice savory soup or be great just mixed with a heap of butter, salt and pepper. I tried my first one with wild rice roasted in the center and that didn't work out so well. Fortunately, I have more to play with in the kitchen!

Orange on the inside.

Yes, we still have tomatoes. Not as many as before, but they're still out there! I hope to continue harvesting until the frost kills them all. Hopefully, I'll be able to pull all of the green ones off before the frost liquefies them.

Caspian Pink.

Posting is going to be pretty light this week since my folks are in town. And you know what that means: gardening! I have my dad outside ripping up piles of lamb's ears that have tried to take over the yard, while I weed to his left. This afternoon, Mom and I went down to The Mecca (Val knows what I'm talkin' about!) to go plant shopping.

Well...what else was I supposed to do with all of that new-found space dad just made in the shade of the ash tree?! Clearly I needed to go plant shopping to pick up a few semi-shade plants that would look fabulous there! And...! And...! They were on sale! How could I resist 40% off plants?

I'll take pictures once they're installed.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, they're not edible. Just pretty.

Wheee! Plants!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Walkin' but not yet Talkin'

So the twins decided to show off for my mom and dad (Who came visiting in time for the big birthday party this coming Saturday.) and started really walking. As in more than three weebly-wobbly steps and then falling onto their bums. Now they do 6 to 8 steps and then fall over. Much better! Then, when we went up to the mountains to party with Grammy and Grampy at their wedding reception, they decided to show off for them as well, wowing the whole family.

Hanging out with my folks has been interesting. Both of the twins, but Logan especially, are fascinated with my father. He actively tries to get my dad to pick him up - it's incredibly endearing to watch. I suspect it's because he's very calm and quiet. I've noticed that both twins are immediately attracted to anyone that stays quiet around them. Squealing tends to frighten them a little, but once they've warmed up to you, feel free to squeal. They'll squeal right back.

Or roar.

Emma is a roar-er. It's ridiculously cute, too.

She also beeps.

She was pressing my nose and as is my wont, I was beeping in time to her pressing. Then I beeped her nose. She looked me right in the eye and said, "Beep." Then, just to give me that little extra thrill, she pushed on my nose once more and said it again, "Beep."

The child is clearly brilliant!

Bet you didn't know nose beeping was a clear indicator of intelligence, did you? Well, you heard it here first!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Making Yogurt

The homesteading continues!

After several friends mentioned that making yogurt is easy as pie (Which, personally, I don't consider all that easy. I have a hard time making a nice crust.), I thought I'd give it a whirl.

In the end, Eric became the one giving it a whirl and I was assisting. However, homemade yogurt was created in our house and we've been working on perfecting it ever since. I think we've finally reached a good point in our trials. We now have a thick yogurt, not too tart, that is relatively easy to make and sets up in three hours.

Unfortunately, since both of us have a scientific bent, we like a little precision when it comes to dealing with bacteria laden foods and we like to use things like thermometers and aseptic techniques. Nonetheless, take heart! It turns out fantastic yogurt time after time.

We started with this guy's recipe and then fiddled with it to get a thickness we liked.

For 1/2 gallon of yogurt you will need:
  • 2 quart containers, with lids
  • 1 8 oz container, with lid
  • 2 cup liquid measuring cup
  • a candy thermometer
  • a ladle
  • stirring spoon/fork
  • a small insulated cooler
  • a heavy bottomed pot, with lid
  • 1/2 gallon of milk (We like whole milk.)
  • 1 to 3 tbsp powdered milk (Amount depends on the thickness you like. No powdered milk at all gives you drinkable yogurt. Three gives you a nice, thick yogurt.)
  • 4 to 8 0z of unopened, plain yogurt with live, active cultures (This is your starter culture.)
My additions are in italics below.
  1. Sterilize your jars, ladle, measuring cups, and spoons. If you are unconcerned about aseptic technique, just make sure they are squeaky clean.
  2. If using powdered milk, whisk it into unheated milk until completely dissolved. We like to use 3 tbsp. If skipping powdered milk, your yogurt will be of a drinkable consistency, which is also nice.
  3. Heat milk to 85-90oC in double boiler (185-195 oF). If using a heavy pot, stir frequently to prevent sticking (He's not kidding, that stuff will burn on the bottom. If it does burn, just be careful while ladling the yogurt mixture into your quart jars to not rip up the burnt milk skin. Bleah!). Keep covered.
  4. Remove from fire, place covered pot in pan of clean cool water (We use the kitchen sink. Fill with cold water and stir until you reach the proper temp.) until stirred milk is very close to 55oC (130oF).
  5. Ladle 1 cup warm milk into 2 cup liquid measuring cup.
  6. Stir up yogurt starter with a clean fork, add to 55o C milk (In measuring cup, making a slurry, then add mixture to pot of warmed milk.), stir thoroughly, (temp should drop to 50 oC (122 o F) or just below). Pour still warm mixture into the two bottles, plus the smaller 8 oz jar. Cover immediately with the sterile lids.
  7. Place filled bottles in cooler, add enough 50oC (122 oF) water (We use the hot water left over from sterilizing the bottles. You can add additional cool water to bring it down to the correct temperature.) so that bottles are surrounded, but the water is well below the lid rims. The starter jar will have to be placed on a support to keep its lid above the water. Close the lid on the cooler to keep the heat in.
  8. Do not disturb the yogurt and it will be finished in 3 hrs, provided the temperature does not drop below 40 oC (104 oF).
  9. After 3 hours, remove jars from cooler and place in refrigerator, being careful to not jostle the jars.
  10. Refrigerate until needed.
For more firm yogurt, add 2 Tbl powdered milk to the ½ gallon of milk prior to heating. Either whole or skimmed milk may be used, but whole milk makes richer yogurt.

Note that the 8oz container can be used as the starter culture for your next batch if you sterilized the container first.

The finished product, plus peaches!

It's actually a lot easier to do than it sounds here. However, even if it sounds a lot more complex than you were hoping for, it does give you consistent and repeatable results. And who doesn't like consistent, repeatable results?

And yummy yogurt!

You know who else likes yogurt?


Yogurt 'stache.

I like to add either jam to my plain yogurt or a small amount of sugar and vanilla and chopped fruit. It also makes very nice smoothies, pancakes (Just swap the yogurt for the milk in the recipe and add a splash of milk to thin it as needed.) or whatever recipes where you'd like to use yogurt.

There are several benefits of making your own yogurt.
  1. You get to control the amount of sugar.
  2. You determine the flavorings. You probably won't be adding any dyes or high fructose corn syrup to your yogurt, either.
  3. You get to control the quality of the milk used. Remember: Yummy In, Yummy Out.
  4. If you normally don't like plain yogurt because it's too tart, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how mellow this yogurt is.
  5. No more unrecyclable plastic containers!
  6. More when you need it, plus a few hours.
  7. Breakfast! Lunch! Healthy snacks! Dessert, even!
  8. The price is right. For the cost of one half gallon of milk and some time, you can have a lot of yogurt.
  9. You'll suddenly discover new ways to use yogurt in your baking.
  10. Did I mention that it's yummy?

Try it and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Like Blood and Oil

Do you ever get the feeling certain people just aren't meant to be related? I often do.

Hey! Guess what?! My parents are in town, but I don't know when I'll get to see them since they are under my brother's control (He has a car, they didn't choose to rent one.) and he cavalierly suggested in the background that "We'll see her when we see her." As in, who gives a rat's ass about your schedule. We'll show up when I feel like driving the folks over there.

Oh yeah. This is gonna be a great ten days. We're off to a faaaaabulous start.

Sadly, my kid sister and her family can't make it to the twin's shindig. Cindy, you'll be missed! On the bright side, my older sister will be here next Friday (Just in time for the party.) with her shiny new fiancé, Matt, who I'm dyin' to meet! Vive l'amour!

I'm 39 years old, does the family drama crap ever end? Do brothers ever grow the hell up?

Emma says...

"What iz dis?"

"Wait a minute! Dis is da 21st century an' you people still usin' shovels?!"

Just don't tell her about the flying cars!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Logan's First Kiss and Other Developments

Logan's first kiss is mine! Mine, I say!

A couple of days ago, Logan leaned over and gave me a kiss on the nose, with an actual lip-smacking noise. It was so endearing that I immediately melted into a puddle and didn't revive until yesterday.

At least that's my reason for not posting, and I'm sticking with it!

To make it up to you, I bring you assorted stories and pictures of cuteness.

On 9/10, I was fed up with his comb-over
Mr. Crazy Hair.

and finally broke out a pair of scissors and snipped off the offending locks. He now looks very "boy" in a way that is somehow different from "baby with comb-over".
Seriously cute. Even with a comb-over.

On the walking front, while Logan has taken a few steps here and there, they mostly seem to be of the drunken frat boy variety: stumbling and falling. Until he takes three solid steps on his own, I'm not counting him as "walking". Otherwise, he's happy to crawl
Crawlin' with his new 'do. No, I have no plans of opening a salon. Why do you ask?

or to be helped to "walk" along with his dad.
Lookit that belly! You can practically see the sign saying "Apply Zerbert Here" can't you?

Don't get me wrong, he stands on his own really well, he's just not interested in walking. I figure he's determined that he's just better at crawling and that he has his whole life ahead of him to walk. Right now he can be carried all the time, and who wouldn't like that?

Emma, on the other hand, isn't doing too much more in the walking category other than her original 3 steps. She's happy zipping along in her funny little crawl, furniture and leg cruising.
Furniture cruisin'.

She has also developed her very own "walker" using the little green trash bin I bought to use as a toy cache for the living room. Oh and she growls.

Here she is doing both at the same time.

Wait, here's the full effect.

She's a goofball. Can't imagine where she got it from!

On the language front, the twins seem to have figured out the word "kitty", or something rather like kitty and a variation of "Caitlin". It sounds very like "Kay-in" or "Kayd-in". Either way, they both know how to say her name and went completely bananas when I showed them her picture online yesterday. I think they like her!

Caitlin shows off her roly-polies.

Emma doesn't appear to have any more teeth pushing through and even though Logan has been chewing on his index finger recently, he's decided to set his own record for latest teether in the Hatchet household. Not a single ivory tusk is anywhere to be seen in his jaw. Both of Emma's bottom teeth have come in very nicely and she's been testing them out on assorted foods and me. Ow!

The twins are looking forward to turning one in another 11 days. They hear there are going to be lots of folks there to sing to them and squeal over them. The twins like squealing. Ooh and cake. They especially like cake!
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