Indiana labor day

Ben and Spencer playing in the sandbox
Ben and Spencer playing in the sandbox
For labor day this year we took a trip to visit friends in Indiana. We spent one night in the old house in Spencer, then went on to visit some other friends.

We spent one night with Tim and Phil in Brown County. Highlights there included Spencer getting to ride on the toy tractor Tim had for his son. Tim also tried to give Spencer a ride on the real tractor, but he seemed to be frightened by how loud it was. He did enjoy sitting on it while it was not running though.

We spent Sunday night at Sam and Charlie’s in Nobelsville. We got to meet Alex, who was born in February, and see how big Ben is getting. Spencer particularly enjoyed playing with Ben’s many cars. Sam and Clare even made a special trip for me to get some Indiana sweet corn. It was tasty. Charlie made a scrumptious apple pie for dessert.

It was good to see our Indiana friends again. Thanks for the hospitality!
more pictures follow

New car

Our new family car - a Mazda 5
Our new family car - a Mazda 5
Yesterday we purchased a new car. Since we are expecting another baby in March, we decided that our 2001 Ford Focus 2-door hatchback had to go. After debating the merits of wagons, SUVs, crossovers, and minivans, we got very excited about the Mazda 5. We test drove one last Saturday, and were able to get a pretty good deal, so we bought it. Features we like:

  • Much cheaper than other comparable vehicles
  • Seating for six
  • Good gas mileage (22 city, 28 highway)
  • 5 speed manual transmission with zoom-zoom handling
  • Very highly rated for safety – ABS, traction control, lots of airbags
  • Moonroof (we actually had that added)

Anyone looking to buy a 2001 Ford Focus?

Canning

7 pints of apple butter, and 4 half-pints of hot pepper jelly
7 pints of apple butter, and 4 half-pints of hot pepper jelly
Yesterday we did some canning. Last weekend I picked a little over 1 bushel of apples from the apple tree in our backyard. This was very impressive, since last year we had none. There actually were apples on the tree last year, but we think the squirrels ate them all. It is possible that the chickens scared away the squirrels this year, which makes up for the fact that the chickens have eaten about one quarter of our tomatoes.
more details follow

Reading

Clare and Spencer looking at his trucks book made by Grandpa Dibble
Clare and Spencer looking at his trucks book made by Grandpa Dibble
Spencer has not been a huge fan of books up to this point. When he was in the 3-9 month range, he mostly wanted to chew on them. Then he just wanted to turn the pages, and was usually done within about 2 minutes, and was back to playing with his trucks. However, in the last month or so, he seems to be getting much more interest in books. He still mostly likes looking at the pictures and turning the pages, but his attention span is getting much longer. Here are a couple shots of Clare and Spencer reading together.
Spencer and Clare reading Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Spencer and Clare reading Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

Spencer in Spencer

Clare and Spencer up at the pond
Clare and Spencer up at the pond
Over Labor Day weekend we took a trip to Indiana to visit some friends, and to check on the Twin Springs property. Since Clare and I left in 2008, Tanya and Shane DeFord had been staying there (Tanya is the eldest daughter of Angie and Lewis Fender). They decided to buy a place of their own, so Ellen met us there to see how the place was and to find someone to rent it. Unlike some other occupants, Tanya and Shane left the place in great shape. In fact, they left it even cleaner than they found it. We only stayed there one night, since we had other friends to visit as well. It was very nice to see the place again. I’m looking forward to Ellen and Dave retiring there so we can go visit them.

Spencer had a fun time running around the big house and exploring, and then likewise in the big space outside. We were lucky enough to have warm, not humid weather.
more pictures follow

Harvest

Harvest from the garden - various tomatoes, patty pan squash, hot peppers, and cucumbers
Harvest from the garden - various tomatoes, patty pan squash, hot peppers, and cucumbers
Our garden has been doing pretty well this year. Today I harvested a bunch of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and hot peppers. We have gotten about 2 dozen cucumbers this year, from only two plants. We have been using them in various salads, as well as making cucumber lemon water. We planted a variety of different tomatoes. We have 2 sweet 100 cherry tomato plants, and a sweet chelsea cherry tomato, which are orange. They have been doing quite well. I especially like the sweet chelsea. We also planted 2 early girls, a roma, either a big boy or a better boy, and a couple heirlooms – one cherokee purple, and one Mr. Stripey. I have been disappointed with the heirlooms. They don’t yield that much, and these particular ones are not very flavorful. They are pretty, but I want flavor too! The roma seems to be having a problem with blossom rot. Maybe they need extra water? The early girls are doing pretty well. Another added problem is that our chickens keep eating the tomatoes before I can pick them. Next year I am going to fence in the garden to keep the chickens out.

Our patty pan squash is also doing pretty well, and is quite tasty. I have gotten patty pan at farmer’s markets before, and they were yellow and small. Ours is not turning yellow, and seems to want to be bigger (it does not come off the vine easily when small). I have been removing the seeds and adding it in stir-frys and ratatouille and the like. It is pretty mild, but tasty. We also have some winter squash growing, which is looking pretty nice. I am not sure how to tell when it is ready. The blossoms were very beautiful (and tasty). I took some pictures of them several weeks ago. Eating from the backyard is fun. And around this time every year, I think about how I will do things better next year:

  • putting rows of small things (peppers, basil) in between the rows of tomatoes
  • pruning the tomatoes more aggressively
  • trying out weed block instead of black plastic, and covering the entire garden
  • fencing the garden to keep out the chickens
  • Not planting heirloom tomatoes so I can get enough to can
  • Planting eggplant instead of summer squash, since Clare doesn’t like summer squash


Tricycle and test baby

Spencer on his new tricycle
Spencer on his new tricycle
For at least a month now, every time we go to the park, and Spencer sees a tricycle which some other kid brought, he has to try it out. Frequently this makes the little boy or girl mad, because they don’t want to share, and the parents also get upset, because they want their kid to share. It seemed like it was time to get Spencer a tricycle. I started looking a good month ago, paying attention to other ones I saw around, as well as ones in the store. I decided I wanted one with a push handle, in case he gets tired of peddling. I thought that this radio flyer tricycle looked particularly cool. I decided to try to buy a used one, so I started looking at craigslist. I was surprised to find that most of the tricycles offered on craigslist were more than 50% of the price of a new one. Apparently used stuff is more expensive these days because of the bad economy. Yesterday I decided to go ahead and buy a new one for Spencer. He was immediately very happy. He can’t really pedal yet, so it is good that I can push (and steer as well).

In other news, Spencer took part in a word learning experiment today at CU-Boulder. They had various objects differing in shape and material, and were trying to discover whether he associated likeness via shape or material. Interestingly enough, he seemed to group things by material, not by shape, which I found very surprising. His receptive vocabulary continues to grow rapidly, but his active vocabulary is still fairly small. Tonight in the bath we practiced the word boat, which he pronounced simply as [bo].