Thursday, April 14, 2011

For years, whenever we go to the library, I've just picked up whatever books I have on hold and then browsed around the juvenile section with the kids. Yesterday, however, we went there because we had some time to kill and I didn't have any books on hold waiting for me, so I decided to browse around in the cookbook section to see if I could find anything good to read while we were there. I can't believe I don't do that more often! I love cookbooks and, even though they were getting heavy and I knew I would feel kind of silly checking out so many, I kept adding to my pile. Look what I came home with!I've been having fun reading through these since yesterday, and finding all sorts of new delicious-sounding things to make. There was a slight downside to my random browsing, however. Allie was carrying her own bag for her books, and while I was engrossed in the cookbooks, she was close by taking other books off the shelf and adding them to her bag, completely unbeknownst to me. Then when we checked out, I was distracted by Noah's abusing the handicap door button and possibly smashing unsuspecting library patrons in the door, so I didn't pay much attention to the books that we were actually getting. You can imagine my confusion at home when I unloaded the books and discovered some real gems, such as Living with Diabetes and (sure to become a family favorite) Busting Out: Putting Your Best Breasts Forward.
Later in the afternoon, I wanted to make some strawberry preserves. I made a batch of strawberry/cranberry preserves back at Christmas to go in gift baskets and I thought those turned out really well. We have used up the last of that batch and we enjoyed it so much that I wanted to make more, except just a strawberry version this time. I found a recipe that didn't use pectin, which is a plus, and it had lots of good reviews so I decided to go with that one.The mixture was supposed to boil until it reached 220 degrees. In the reviews some people complained that theirs didn't set up and then other people said that was because they probably didn't wait until it reached 220. Because of this, I kept boiling and boiling and boiling mine forever, waiting for it to get hot enough. It was only up to about 200 when I started to get the idea that it was burning. There was the slightest burning smell, and when I stirred it, there was charred black stuff on the bottom. Finally I gave up and just put it all in the jars, hoping for the best. It did set up, but the flavor isn't wonderful. I'm not sure what happened. I did cut back on the sugar by half, so maybe that affected it's ability to get up to 220 degrees. Who knows? It's not great, but still good enough that I think we will go ahead and eat it. Emma used it to make some pb&j sandwiches and, thankfully, there were no complaints from the peanut gallery.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Emma has been asking for a new bike for awhile, and we've told her that as soon as she learns how to ride without training wheels, we will get a new bike for her. Unfortunately for her, there isn't really a good spot to learn because there are no sidewalks in our neighborhood and I won't let them ride in the street. Finally last weekend, we loaded up the bikes and drove to a big, empty parking lot, hoping to teach both Emma and Noah how to ditch the training wheels.

Honestly, I didn't have very high hopes. When Emma first got her bike back in September of 2008, it was a disaster. She was terrified and as we walked along next to her, she kept letting go of the handle bars to grab onto us which, of course, is no way to ride a bike. We were all so frustrated that day that I think we put the bike in the garage and didn't get it back out again until the next spring. Even after that, it took her a long time to feel comfortable with it. I found this picture from her first day with her bike, and I was really hoping that getting rid of the training wheels would go a little more smoothly!Steve had the brilliant idea to stop and buy them protective gloves, elbow, and knee pads. Noah in particular fell down quite a bit and never once got hurt. The whole thing went much better than we expected - in fact, both of them were pedaling around all alone within five minutes! We were so proud of them!

Since then, we've been going to various parking lots and trails so they can practice riding. Emma has it down completely, but Noah has suffered a few mishaps. On Saturday he fell and hit his poor little face on the ground, resulting in bloody scrapes on his forehead and chin. Yesterday they were riding around a little trail loop that had a big mud puddle in the middle. They all loved speeding through the puddle, spraying muddy water into the air behind them, until Noah slipped and fell right in the middle of said puddle. He was a wet and muddy mess, but recovered quickly.Allie has been working on riding her bike with the training wheels, and has made some progress as well. Even with the training wheels, she still manages to fall quite a bit. There is a home video that my mom took of my little brother years ago when he learned how to ride a two-wheeler and at one point in the video he falls on the driveway, and I remember my other brothers and I rewinding that video over and over and laughing every time we saw my brother fall. Maybe someday my own children will look back on our videos and laugh: