February Part III

Click here or on the cute 10 year above for more photos between 14 and 20 February 2021

There was still plenty of snow left on Valentine’s Day. The kids spent a little more time outside and made snowmen. KrisDi got everyone fancy cookies from her friend (mine, including some Scotch chocolates and Chilkoot’s). I had already given her flowers and didn’t really have anything else to give her, since I’m a deadbeat. Our big Valentine’s Day activity is still making lasagna from scratch: Noodles, sauce, sausage, ricotta, and mozzarella all homemade.

However, we had difficulty with the cheese this year. The ricotta did not seem to cooperate, not seeming to coagulate (I don’t know what the right word is), although in the end that turned out OK. The mozzarella requires rennet, and when we started the process we remember that last year we used some of the liquid rennet in the pantry and threw the rest out because it was past its expiration date. So we needed rennet that day, and it’s not an easy thing to find, and Seattle was still more or less snowbound.

We called 12-15 places, most of them not even carrying it, and a couple carrying it but not having it in stock. One local cheese specialty place had it, and when I said I’d be there in a few minutes to pick it up, the response was, “No you won’t! We’re closed, I can’t get to the store with the snow!” She also tried to lead us to a rennet-less mozzarella recipe, but we decided that was a last resort.

We eventually discovered that a market in West Seattle, an 18 mile drive, had it in tablet form (as well as a couple other hard-to-find items we wanted or needed), so I trekked out there through the snow and amongst the Seattle drivers in the SUV and picked it up. So, probably 2.5-3 hours after we tried to start making mozzarella, we got started.

And failed miserably. This cheese barely formed any curds at all, like less than a handful when we were expecting enough to make about two pounds of mozzarella. In desperation, we tried to redo the process with more rennet and got nowhere. So I went back out to the store and, in defeat, just bought some mozzarella.

Noodle-making went fine. We changed the process this year and used the stand mixer to mix the dough instead of doing it by hand. Sausage and sauce making is pretty simple, basically just seasoning ground beef and crushed tomatoes respectively.

We split it into two pans this year, one to cook the day of, and the other to freeze and cook later. It was delicious.

Fat Thursday is the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. It is a traditional day for making paczki (I pronounce it “paunch-key”) in Poland. They’re roughly equivalent to jelly donuts. KrisDi made paczki this year, though not on Fat Thursday, and she didn’t fill some because our weird children don’t like jelly. Chilkoot liked it. They were very good.

Chilkat’s birthday theme was “night at the movies.” KrisDi laboriously built a complicated six-layer chocolate espresso cake which was both beautiful and tasty, and was…nonplussed by the children’s disinterest in actually eating it.

KrisDi put up signs and theme-y stuff, teepees for the kids to sleep in (I think it just sounded cute), Chilkat groggily posed in front of this backdrop, backstage passes were delivered to the two guests.

KrisDi provided everything for the kids to make their own pizzas. The kids played and watched movies. I think they all had fun. They “slept” over (we let them stay up as long as they wanted, and I still heard giggling when I woke up around 2 AM).

Kettleworks auditions are coming up. Chilkat and Chilkoot are undergoing private coaching for the auditions. Chilkat is doing Olaf’s song from Frozen, “In Summer,” because she hopes to be Olaf. This is nice, since she’s interested in taking a more important part, but worrisome in that I’m not sure how she’ll handle the disappointment if she doesn’t get the part she wants. Chilkoot doing “Together Again (Again)” from Muppets Most Wanted

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

2021 February Part II

Click here or on the cold bubble above for more pictures between 7-13 February

We had the False Alarm girls come over to celebrate M’s 10th birthday and pre-celebrate Chilkat’s. It was nice to see them. All three of them (as I understand it) have had Covid-19, though none with any real symptoms. Mom False Alarm has also gotten the vaccine, since she works in health care.

We started sticking some stuff up in our fancy garage storage, and donated some old toys and stuff. It’s nice to have a little more room in our house.

The Super Bowl happened. As far as I’m concerned, it’s an excuse to drink beer and eat food. The fact that Les and D brought me a Cloverdale summer sausage makes the game worthwhile. Add to that the fact that KrisDi made wings and I got an “imperial” version of one of my favorite local IPAs in growler format, and it was a pretty good day.

My neck has continued to be…well…a pain in the neck. ? I set up a series of physical therapy appointments, which seemed like they had been helping, but for the last five days or so I haven’t been able to hold my head up straight or turn it to the right.

The Washington Hop Mob would normally have had their week-long series of events by now, but of course covid19 ruins everything. Happily, several brewers decided to go ahead and brew Hop Mob beers and release them in cans, and I was able to find two mixed four packs, and my friend HB also got the same two mixed four packs. We’ve Zoomed three times now and drank a pair of them each time to talk about them.

Kids went to the dentist. Chilkoot hated it, he says. According to KrisDi, Chilkoot was so-so, and Chilkat was great — not doing her nervous stuff at all, even though she didn’t like it. They now have electric toothbrushes.

They had an online dino thing featuring Sue from the Field Museum. Chilkoot says it was fun learning about dinosaurs, and KrisDi says they both really enjoyed the material.

I got Krisdi flowers for Valentine’s day. I usually do it several days early rather than on the day of because (1) it’s a little bit more of a surprise, (2) doing it late might also be a surprise but would seem like I forgot, (3) usually flower selection is better. She seemed to appreciate them.

Chilkat made a poster for school pleading for people to stop littering. Apparently she has gotten into drawing balloons.

Not exactly a food truck a I understand it…the neighbor(s) who is getting food trucks to visit found a Mexican place that delivers empanadas, but would only deliver as far as our neighborhood if the order was very large, so the neighborhood pooled a giant order. They were good. Each of the shapes is a different filling. I think we got 8 or 12, I can’t remember, so I guess we have some stuffed in the freezer somewhere.

KrisDi continued (or started) to prep for Chilkat’s movie theater themed birthday party.

We got a little snow. It started out slow, but it increased pretty rapidly after that, impacting the following…

Chilkoot’s boy scout troop had a day camp event at Camp Sheppard that Saturday. Since it’s in the mountains and we had forecasts for a lot of snow, we had an exciting preparation the day before: (1) We learned Chilkoot’s boots didn’t fit him any more, (2) we thought we should get Chilkoot a coat with a functioning zipper if he was going to spend a day outside in 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and (3) we thought I should, too, since mine broke last year at Camp Sheppard and it was forgotten because I haven’t needed it since. So Friday, while I was working, KrisDi ran out to the store and bought them. Apparently finding boots in Chilkoot’s size was particularly challenging. No idea why.

We also had an exciting morning of, with all the scout parents texting each other and trying to decide whether to brave the roads out and risk not being able to come back. One parent contacted the camp and reported that plows were plowing; I’m relatively confident in my snow driving, and I figured that if most of the snow was mostly done accumulating and plows were running, I was likely to be successful with KrisDi’s new AWD Subaru SUV. We packed lots of food and water and a pair of sleeping bags, just to be safe. Assuming we made it to the camp, they had cabins.

Most of the roads had been plowed and most of the rest were pretty decent (by my standards). We didn’t have any trouble and there weren’t too many morons out yet (though there were some, and I’m looking at you white Buick tailgating the cautious driver in front of you).

Camp Sheppard had been set up with a series of activities starting at 10 and going until 5.

  • Playing in the snow. Making a snowman, turned into throwing snow and making snow angels.
  • Simple obstacle course — just running around stuff in the snow, basically.
  • BB guns. This was a pretty dismal failure. The combination of cold, masks, and safety glasses resulted in Chilkoot not being able to see anything through the fog. Additionally, I couldn’t fit in the seat next to him to really guide him on even holding and aiming, so he got nowhere with it. A few shots, no hits. Again no photos, because I was helping.
  • Archery. No photos, because I was helping the boy. He only got a few shots off during his turn, and didn’t hit the target, but he did get some power behind one and shoot it right over the target.
  • Lunch. They provided hot dogs, chili, and macaroni and cheese. Chilkoot ate none of this, eating kabanosy and Cheetohs instead.
  • Tubing. Chilkoot decided this was his last activity and he wanted to go home (which was fine with me because I definitely wanted to leave in time to get home while it was still light). He got to go down a fairly steep slope maybe eight or ten times, and about halfway through he switched to a tube that was much faster.

So he missed crafts, scout skills, and something else. Chilkoot came home saying it was the best day ever. The drive home had clearer roads, but more morons.

Meanwhile, KrisDi and Chilkat got to have a mommy-daughter day at home, also with snow. KrisDi made a big fort using tupperware as a brick mold. This was Chilkat’s favorite part. They wandered the neighborhood seeing the snowy sights. Chilkat made a snowman. They also put food dye in some bubble mix, as you can see on the featured photo above.

That sure seems like a lot of stuff for a just a regular week.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 2 comments

February 2021 Part I

Click here or above for the first set of February pictures

A kid I hired in 2019 into his first professional job as a technical writer decided he wanted to try homebrewing. I don’t know if it was a gift or something he decided to buy, but he got a kit to make a brut IPA. He dropped off a bottle in my milk box, and after work one day I Zoomed with him and we tasted it together. It was much better than I expected. Better than a lot of homebrew I’ve had (not all), sadly better than some professional beer I’ve had. He named it Give Me The Brut (despite the plethora of terrible “brut” puns I supplied as possible beer names).

We made the kids clean their rooms. We told them they couldn’t play with their iPads until they were done. They finished Chilkoot’s room in a few hours (with a break to ride bikes around the neighborhood or something similar), but it took them another four days to finish Chilkat’s.

Chilkat’s birthday this year is going to be a small sleepover. She has decided to make it a “going to the movies” theme, which of course requires an exorbitantly priced snack stand.

BeerAdvocate was unable to host their traditional Extreme Beer Fest in person this year for obvious reasons. The decided to do it virtually instead. You pay whatever number of dollars, they ship you a box with eleven extreme beers and give you access to two livestreams over the course of two days with the brewers of each of the beers. We gave our friends in Oregon a ticket for Christmas, and my friend Mr-jj bought his own. We set up a two PC system, one for Zoom and one for the livestream. It was pretty interesting. I enjoyed it.

“Extreme Beer” isn’t intended to mean “extremely strong” — more like “pushing the boundaries of what you can do with beer.” So, there was a fruited sour that was more like a smoothie than a beer, a stout with miso in it, an imperial lager with marshmallow in it, a triple dry hopped black IPA. Nothing was *bad,* but the one that most impressed me was the miso stout (although it wasn’t my favorite beer to drink).

Although, several of these beers were quite strong, several of them topping 10% abv. KrisDi was like, “Three hours for two people to drink five or six beers seems like a long time.” Three hours was a bit of a push, especially on the second day, where the last beer was a 15% abv barleywine from Dogfish Head.

KrisDi had her parents order ceiling-mounted wire storage racks for the garage, two 4’x8′ sections. Les came over Saturday morning and helped me install them. This meant we had to move the adults’ bikes from their old storage space hanging from the ceiling above KrisDi’s car, and that the shelving blocks off both of the light bulbs in the ceiling. Solution to bike storage is only temporarily solved, because the new hanging location is a little too close to my car (and I can’t open my trunk). My ridiculously tight parking spot is now even tighter. The solution to the lighting issue was pretty simple, just getting LED strip lights and plugging them into the light sockets and running extension cords down to them. This is pretty satisfying because they’re so much brighter than the old lights.

Finally, Chilkoot made a video advertising a fictional business:

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

January 2021 Part IV

Click here or on the fort above for more photos

Shortly after the new year, Chilkat and Chilkoot’s cousins came for a sleepover, giving E-Dubs and Pixel Chick a night to themselves. As I understand it, they went wine tasting. The next day, it took them six hours or so to make the 45 minute drive from their house to ours to pick up our kids. They have promised to reciprocate, but we haven’t decided how we should spend a no-kids night yet. We were thinking about getting an AirBnB and staying in Portland for a night.

Our neighborhood started getting food trucks to visit us, which has been exciting. We got Mexicuban, and the kids actually ate some of it. I wonder how long it will last.

Chilkoot’s Pinewood Derby actually raced. We don’t have any pictures, because it was done without any participation with any members of our troop. We asked another troop, which had set up the track and a three camera YouTube streaming system, if we could borrow their set up, and they just offered to run it for us. Chilkoot’s car (Car-antine) was 5th overall, which unfortunately was not first in his pack and didn’t get voted for anything, so he got no awards, even though he did pretty well.

Our bank offered us a re-finance with a rate of 2.625% with no cost out of pocket, so we’re going through that, which isn’t fun but also isn’t that hard. Just do what the bank says. We still expect to pay off our mortgage about the time that Chilkat graduates; with the refinance, maybe slightly sooner.

Chilkat’s birthday party theme is “Movie Night,” so KrisDi has been working to get decorations and everything together. They had a photoshoot in front of a newly acquired backdrop for the purpose of creating invitations, which I think look like movie premiere VIP access cards.

I finally started drinking the bourbon barrel aged coffee our friends gave me for Christmas. I do get a little bourbon flavor in the coffee, but really the grounds just reek of it to me (although KrisDi apparently only detects coffee).

Chilkoot was really tired one morning and fell asleep on the couch as soon as he came downstairs.

My neck pain has not gone away (although it has dissipated), so I went to my doctor and he sent me to physical therapy, so I’ve reunited with my therapist who grew up in South Dakota. My neck has been improving, but not steadily.

Yesterday, since we didn’t have any weekend plans, we went out to buy new bikes for the kids, since they’ve outgrown their old ones. Chilkat’s new bike is, I think, the fanciest bike we’ve ever bought, with disc brakes even. Each of them is more expensive than either mine or KrisDi’s, although we bought ours 17 years ago. Chilkoot took to his right away, but Chilkat is still struggling with starting and stopping, since the seat is high enough she can’t just straddle it while standing (and she’s a melodramatic whiner).

The Playfort has now been transformed into a bike shed. The shaft of the drawbridge’s latch absorbed too much water, expanding and softening to the point where I’m fairly sure it split in half when I forced it to rotate so we could open it again.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment