Saturday, April 25, 2015

Our New Life: Part II (winter, winter, winter, SPRING!)

The toads came out when the weather finally warmed up at the beginning of this month, and shortly after the toads came the eggs: hundreds of small black eggs floating along the shallow end of our mostly empty pool in their jelly-ish sack. Two weeks ago I noticed teeny tiny tadpoles swimming around the egg sacks and began regularly climbing down the stairs into the pool to keep a close watch on the life cycle of the American Toad. Eric is hoping to drain the pool at some point early summer so he can clean it out and see what it will take to get it working. We'll relocate all the toads down to the stream at that time, so I figure this is probably our only opportunity to have such a close-up view. And there are SO MANY toads in there. The kids and Eric have already emptied close to 10 buckets of them into the stream, and still I count 30-40 sitting around the edges on a sunny day. I haven't even tried to count the tadpoles...

I've been eager to share them with friends so we invited friends over last weekend, and as I was walking down the pool stairs to point out the egg sacks, I came down on the side of my foot with all my weight. The crunch was audible; the pain, manageable, but enough to let me know that it was likely broken. I climbed back out with help from my friend and settled on the pool deck to order pizzas for the kids. I spent the evening hopping on one foot. When that got exhausting, I dropped my hands to the floor and got around using a sort-of one-legged hopping mountain climber movement. I bought crutches the next day, which was just as exhausting of a way to get around, but at least I was upright.

On Monday the bone doctor confirmed that I'd fractured my fifth metatarsal. It's commonly referred to as a dancer's fracture. He put me in a boot and instructed me to return in 6 weeks.

I haven't been back out to the pool, but Eric said it's overflowing with tadpoles, and that he's never seen so many. I can put a little weight on my foot now so I'll probably try to sneak back out there later today.

I do have photos of the toads, but they'll be in the next post. I'm way ahead of myself story-wise and need to catch up on January through March first, so here it is: another 3-month photo dump that takes us back to winter....ugh! The trails were still clear at the beginning of January, and Joy could still get down to Bone Island for snack without getting buried in snow on the way there.

Then we got a little snow...that was fun. We found a great sledding hill behind our house. Jacob is not a big fan of cold-weather play, so we usually end up back inside pretty quickly while Hannah and Eric wear themselves out sledding

Then we went to school with Hannah, and she showed us all the number work she's been doing.

That snow mostly melted before more came, so we returned to Bone Island. Eric has since moved the below log; it is now part of a three-log bridge.

Uncle Justin came to visit in mid-January. 

It was chilly, but not too cold for 'smores!

Then the snow started. The first one didn't amount to too much (you can see the ground around  Hannah and her snowman below).

When it wasn't snowing, it was still pretty bitter cold, so we spent a lot of time indoors. Turns out Jacob likes dress-up every bit as much as Hannah. (He also really likes robots.)

Every time the temperature outside rose above 25 or so we took full advantage of the seeming warmth and took to the woods.

Although we don't typically do much of anything for Valentine's Day, we did make some dark chocolate covered strawberries a couple days later. Yum!

Okay, I know this next one seems weird, and I agree, but I wanted to share anyway. Hannah set up this shrine of sorts on the back of the sink with two lucky beans and this little regal kitty that Amy brought back for her from one of her trips to Japan. I love it when I walk into someplace mundane, like, say, the bathroom, and find a Hannah shrine. 

This next one was after one of the medium snows. I think we got about 4 inches. This one never melted though so all the big snows that followed added to this base.

Eric shoveled our super long driveway after this one which saved us from paying $60 to have a guy plow it. We had two more big snows after this, too big for Eric to shovel in a reasonable amount of time and with a reasonable amount of energy. Fortunately, we lucked out again with awesome neighbors, and these neighbors also have a tractor with a snow blower that they generously used to clear our path out of here following both subsequent snows.

Jacob loves helping with outdoor tasks!

Hannah and Eric built a snow fort after the last big snow.  The snow was taller than the dog by this point (not that that takes much) which made it impossible for both her and Jacob to walk through, so it didn't take long for cabin fever to settle in. 

Then the temperatures inched above freezing, and the snow started to melt, and we left our house to see if the fish in the cove had made it (they had).

At the beginning of March we returned to Hannah's classroom to celebrate her half birthday. Her summer birthday (and her mother's laziness) means that she had never had a chance to celebrate at school before, and it's such a beautiful celebration, that I wanted to make sure she didn't miss out completely. Since this is her last year in the children's house, this was our last chance. The children were already gathered in a circle when Jacob and I walked in at 11, and the sun with the months around it was already set up in the middle of the circle with a little candle in the middle of it. Hannah started at August and walked around the sun. After each lap, she paused so I could share her milestones that year with the class and show them a picture. After she'd made her final lap and ended at March, I passed out the chocolate zucchini mini muffins we'd made and an assortment of cut vegetables for the special birthday snack. I left the birthday book I'd made her in the classroom, and she shared it with her friends and teachers over the next few days. The laps around the sun are pretty small and didn't leave me much of a chance to take pics before I had to speak again, so this is the best I could do.

And then it was spring, and the rapidly melting snow was flooding the streets, and the sound of the car tires splashing through it combined with the warm sun streaming in through the car windows felt like freedom! Of course, it took FOREVER to melt at our yard, so we took our freedom to the playground near Hannah's school where we traipsed through the slush that still covered the path in some places and tried to wear out the dog who was losing her mind from lack of fresh air and exercise. We were all going a bit crazy by this point and were happy just feeling the warm sun on our faces. 

As soon as the snow was gone, the strange plant that I referenced in my last post burst through the wet soil adding it's purplish self to the otherwise brown landscape. I sent another picture to my friend Jeanne who managed to identify it as an Eastern Skunk Cabbage. The picture below shows the flower which pops up first, before the stem and leaves. It smells bad to attract the flies that pollinate it...awesome. They are everywhere in the woods, especially in the low parts that are really wet. In spite of their prevalence, I rarely smell it. Every once in a while I get a whiff of the gnarly-ness.


The fog on this particular day made the woods look really magical and mysterious.

Hannah is into drumming lately and asking for drum lessons. In lieu of professional training, she is opting for lots of practice and prefers to practice outdoors on sunny days while perched on the concrete sewer top thingy (likely the only warm spot in the yard at the time the picture was taken).

We finally made it to the zoo during spring break to see the not-so-new-anymore penguin exhibit. It's really nice, but it was pretty cold that day so the penguins weren't terribly active.

Nesting children!

Jacob found this comfy seat and threw a fit when Hannah joined him. He is visibly mad and trying to push her off in most of the pictures I took.

And then it snowed again. Arggghh! It dusted every single branch of every single tree so that I couldn't help admiring it in spite of being totally over winter.

We haven't taken Hannah to the family concerts at the BSO since Jacob was born, and I've been wanting to get back into it and see how he does, so one weekend when Eric was out of town, we joined Kylie and her mom. Remind me not to do that again. Jacob refused to sit still. After running up and down the stairs in our section a few times, he bolted for the door and made it out into the hallway where he took off running. I caught up to him and brought him back, but after the third time, I gave up trying to restrain him. I left Hannah with her friend and let Jacob run around on in the lobby. He's clearly not ready for the symphony.

He did better at Tales &Tails at the Irvine Nature Center where he got to pet a toad after a few stories. This was before our pool was overflowing with toads so it was still a novelty.  Now he catches toads almost daily, and it's all I can do to keep the kids from bringing them indoors.

More on toads to come...April is full of toads, and I'm going to try really hard not to get so far behind that I'm dumping 3-months worth of pictures on you at a time anymore.

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