Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hiking in Sunol Regional Wilderness

Paul's dad is in town so this morning we took advantage of having grandpa around and went on a hike.  We have heard that Sunol, which is just south of us, has some beautiful hiking so we went to find a trail called "Little Yosemite".  The weather was absolutely perfect for hiking and the best part was that all of the wildflowers were in full bloom.  Everywhere we looked there were blue, purple, yellow, or white flowers, with lots of butterflies flitting to and fro.  Just to the left of the trailhead there was a gorgeous, shaded field of these flowers and I had to stop to take Clara's picture.  It's perhaps my favorite picture of her ever and I just can't believe how grown up and her own person she looks in the photo.  The pose, the facial expression, the choice of outfit - it is all her own doing.  Gosh we love her.
 



The trail is actually a wide gravelly path that we could have pushed a jogging stroller on (big enough even for a maintenance truck to drive on) but we didn't know that when we left so we just brought the hiking backpack to carry Rose and gave Clara as much encouragement as we could.  It turns out Rose is quite the little hiker as she did a lot of the walking on her own for the first mile or so (seriously! she walked far!  and she smiled and squealed and chattered the whole way).  The whole hike is about a mile and a half and ends at a waterfall before you can either go on or turn around and do the mile and a half back out.  We took a few breaks and she got carried maybe 1/3 of the way in spurts before being set down to chase after one of the many dogs we saw on the trail, which really helped keep her motivation up.  Clara, on the other hand, was begging to be held before we even got started and whined much of the way that it was "too hard" and "taking too long" and she was "getting all sweaty".  Sheesh.  We finally broke down and bribed her with fruit snacks to keep her moving.
 


A couple of times we took little detours from the main trail to cut over to a creek and throw rocks in the water.  This baby bonnet barely fits Rose anymore and she didn't leave it on as well as the woven hat that we brought for Clara.  Looks like I need to start searching for more hat options for the girls with summer coming up.






What really got Clara through the hike was the incentive of spotting butterflies.  She was thrilled to find one that kept landing on wildflowers right by the side of the trail and staying put long enough for her to observe without it flying right off again but she was too timid to touch it. 


We aren't positive whether we made it to "the end" of the hike because the trail kept going but I knew there was a waterfall along the way and this small jumble of rocks had sort of a little waterfall thing happening so we called it good.  It was nice and cool and just perfect for a break to eat string cheese, peanuts, and chocolate covered pretzels and the girls were happy to see lots of people stopping there with their dogs. 


 
Rose rode most of the way back on my shoulders even though Paul had carried the hiking pack.  It was just easier to swing her up and down from that position when she wanted to see a dog or walk for a stretch than to deal with all the straps and buckles of the carrier.  And Paul caved and carried Clara for a little bit of the return journey because her whining was turning into tears and a tantrum over having been forced to participate in what she apparently felt was some kind of death march (seriously, any suggestions on how to help this girl appreciate nature and hiking would be appreciated).  Really though it was a lovely outing and such a nice change from spending all day on Saturday working on house projects!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kiss me, I'm Irish (Apparently)

I posted a while back about a program called "Relative Finder" which pulls your ancestry and compares it to other people to find connections.  But there is another one called "Grandma's Pie" that tells you what percentage of different countries your ancestors came from.  I actually never thought I had any Irish heritage but when I did Grandma's Pie it said I was about 2% Irish so I went into my family tree and found all my Irish ancestors.  Here is what I know about my Irish heritage. I have FIVE Irish ancestors that I can trace!



Daniel & Maria Harvey (my 6th great-grandpa through my dad's dad)

On my dad's side, I have an ancestor named Daniel Harvey Sr. who was born in 1741 in Ulster, Ireland and died in 1805 in Adair County, Kentucky.  We know he had a wife named Maria and that she was also from Northern Ireland and that she was born in 1742 (we don't know when she died).  Around 1763, when Daniel would have been about 22 and Maria would have been 21, they had a daughter named Barbara Harvey who was born in Augusta, Virginia.  I googled "Daniel Harvey Sr Ireland" and found a link which had information about him that says he was married to "unknown" on November 17, 1761 in Augusta Co., Virginia (so when Daniel was 20 and Maria was 19). 

Andrew Ferguson (another 6th great-grandpa through my dad's dad)

Also on my dad's side is an ancestor named Andrew Ferguson who was born around 1738 somewhere in Ireland.  He was married in 1764 in Virginia to Catherine Kinder Schmitz who had been born in Virgnia.  Andrew died June 2, 1792 in Montgomery, Virginia.

William Dickey (my 8th great-grandpa through my dad's dad)

He was supposedly born in 1707 in County Antrim, Ireland (although I think this date is wrong and I would guess he was born sometime more like 1685-1690).  I wonder about the accuracy of the records on this line because according to the record on Family Search William Dickey had a son named John Dickey in 1708 (um, when he was 1 year old?) who then had a son (William's grandson) in 1726 (also named John Dickey).  We don't know where William Dickey died or whether John Dickey was born in Ireland or America so I can't say which of them was the original immigrant but I'm thinking that William's year of birth might be wrong because John Dickey's birth year of 1708 makes sense since we know his wife's name and that she was born 9 years after him in 1717. 

Mrs. Richard Flyn (my 8th great-grandmother through my mom's dad's side)

Born 1702 in Ireland, all we know is that she married a Richard Flyn who was born in 1685 (not sure where, but guessing Ireland also) and that they had a son born in Massachusetts in 1723 who they also named Richard and who is my 7th-great-grandfather.

That all totals to about 2% of my ancestry coming from Ireland, so it isn't any sort of substantial chunk, but still, interesting to me.

Paul's Side...unfortunately, I had typed out all of his information and dumb Blogger somehow deleted all of it except for one.  And it took so long to figure it all out the first time...heavy sigh.  Hopefully I can get back to it and update the info again.  I do remember that his closest connection was a 4th great-grandfather named James Geoghegan who changed his name to Gagon when he came to America. 

John Marcy (Paul's 9th great-grandfather through his dad's mom's side)

Born 1662 in County Limerick, Ireland to Jeffery and Blanch Marcy, and died in Connecticut in 1724 when he was about 62 years old.  Here's the problem with this record, though - Jeffery and Blanch were born 1591 and 1595, respectively and I'm pretty sure Blanch couldn't have given birth to John when she was 67 years old, so something is not right with these records.  But my guess is that it is the dates that are confused, not the place of origination.

Anyway, it has been fun learning about all of this and it certainly makes St. Patrick's Day more fun feeling a connection to Ireland.

Dublin St. Patrick's Parade, Pi Day, and Sleepy Girls

St. Patrick's Day is a big deal around here - we live in a town called Dublin, after all.  So every year they do a parade and festival to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (even though it was early so it could be held on Saturday).  Clara and Rose enjoyed meeting Penelope the Goat and Treasure the Shetland Pony while we were waiting for the parade to start.  The girls loved the bands and floats and once the dum-dums started flying from the Dublin fire truck Clara was pretty pumped.  We were pretty decked out with green and gold bead necklaces by the end of the parade.  It was fun going with Paul's cousin's wife, Maren, and her kids. 
 





Best part of the parade - this guy.  I mean, seriously, he's definitely got some kind of Irish pride.


And speaking of St. Patrick's Day, whenever this time of year rolls around I think about our first St. Patrick's Day as a married couple - not because we are so into the holiday as because I thought it would be fun to make corned beef and cabbage, which resulted in the most disgusting, awful dinner I have ever cooked in my life.  We laughed about how hilarious it was, threw it all in the trash, and went out for chicken tikka masala at our favorite indian place for dinner instead.  And since we finally have a functioning kitchen again (as of this past week) I was able to brush off my pots and pans and put them to good use making the most amazing chicken tikka masala EVER as a throwback to that first St. Patrick's Day.  Seriously, it has taken trial and error and a few different recipe combinations but I think I have perfected this dish.  And it really isn't even all that hard, although the amount of ingredients seems a little intimidating.  But I kid you not, I think this is even better than Bombay House, which is our favorite Indian place.  The recipe is on Tastebook (I posted it on the blog a couple years ago the first time I tried making it but have made improvements since then.  I need to go back and edit that post...)



And we tried something new and made Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza on the grill this time, too.  It was mind-blowing.  Masala sauce in place of pizza sauce, topped with chicken tikka, red onions, cilantro and mozzarella.  Amazing. 


Then on Saturday evening we hosted a Pi party for Pi day (March 14, 2015 - 3.1415).  We invited a bunch of friends and it ended up being such a fun time with so many amazing pies.  After tasting all the pies we voted on best crust, best filling, and the pie "most likely to bring about world peace" and then gave out prizes (a mini pie press, a pastry scraper, and a pie crust protector).  I have to say that the blueberry cream with nutty streusel topping pie knocked my socks off but there was a delicious lemon sour cream pie and so many others to choose from.  I made a razzleberry pie and am getting closer to perfecting my recipe.  This was my best attempt yet since in the past my filling has either been too thick or total soup.  Somehow I haven't been able to find just the right balance until this weekend.  Now to tweak flavors a bit.



Rose woke up early on Sunday and by the end of sacrament meeting she was nodding off.  I should have realized right then that something was up with her because Rose never, ever just sits quietly while leaning against somebody and goes to sleep - usually she gets super fussy and angry and refuses to sleep until she is put in her crib.  I transferred Rose to Paul while I taught Sunday School and although she woke up during the transfer she promptly fell back asleep on the couch in the foyer which is where I found them after my class.  When I took Rose from Paul I realized that her little body felt warm but her head didn't feel too hot so we stayed for the third hour as well and Rose just sat on my lap snacking a little but mostly looking zoned out.  When we got home she had a fever of 100.3, so yeah, she wasn't feeling so great, poor thing.  We are just hoping it isn't he brutal 4-day fever that Clara had a couple weeks ago that has been going around to almost every family we know with young children. 

 
And speaking of sleeping, I was in the kitchen working on dinner the other day while Clara was playing dress-ups in her room.  She would put on an outfit then come out front to show me so I could admire it, change, and do it again.  But it had been quiet for a little bit and I realized it had been 5 or 10 minutes since her last costume change so I went back to check on her and found Clara fast asleep in her bed wearing fairy wings.  We have stopped putting Clara down for naps because she has reached the point where if she takes a nap during the day she ends up staying up way too late and pitching a major fit when going down to bed (and basically NOT going to bed until 10:00 p.m. which results in a grumpy Clara the next morning and the cycle worsens).
 
 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Remodeling and Clara at Church

Remodel Progress

Well, we are finally starting to feel like this remodel might get done sometime this decade but man alive it has been a frustrating and exhausting experience.  We decided Paul would do the lighting, texture, painting, electrical, door installations, etc. but that we would hire out installing hardwood floors, cabinet installation, plumbing, and countertop installation.  And with almost every person who has come out there has been issue after issue after issue.  It's not like we don't anticipate problems coming up in a remodel, but these have been particularly bad in terms of quantity and scope.  Our flooring guy took 5 days to lay a handful of rows of flooring because he kept leaving the job early complaining that his knees were killing him. We finally fired him and got a crew of 3 guys to do the job in 1 day.  The plumbing guys installed the wrong valve for the gas line so when the appliance guys went to hook up the new range they couldn't do it and we have to reschedule plumbers to come fix their work.  The cabinets that we ordered from Lowe's came with the wrong drawers in one place, wrong height measurements, crown molding that is too tall for code compliance, missing baseboard to finish the island, and with multiple additional pieces that we didn't need like two different kinds of light rail and 4 lengths of baseboard for a spot where we weren't putting any baseboard. 

Anyway, I will spare details but suffice it to say the process has been a total headache but at least we are nearing the (sort of) end of it.  We actually have counters to prepare food on now and have been able to move all of our food and dishes, etc. out of the make-shift "kitchen" we had set up in the garage.  As of late last night and thanks to Paul's hard work we have running water in the kitchen.  Doing dishes in an actual kitchen sink feels luxurious after 6 or 7 weeks of washing them in the tiny guest bathroom sink.  The fridge also got set in place yesterday and it is so nice to have our living room space back.  Fingers crossed, we will have our range installed tomorrow (although we already know of a couple issues that might delay that and are hoping they can be worked through in the morning when the plumber gets here).  After that we still have backsplash, crown molding, solving some pantry issues with the cabinet manufacturers, installing hardware, putting in new kitchen lighting and so on, plus baseboard, trim, and crown through the rest of the living, dining and family rooms, along with installing the new front door (supposedly arriving late March) and finishing floor installation (sometime after the door goes in) before everything is really truly finished (we are looking at mid to late April at the earliest, is my guess). 







Sigh.  It will all be worth it once it is over.  Right?

In the meantime, here is a sneak preview of how things are coming together.  I actually took this picture just because I wanted to remember how beautiful Clara's hair is.  She honestly has the most stunning hair ever and when she was watching me get ready for church this morning asked me to curl hers just like mine (a first - in the past she has freaked out everytime I have tried to curl her hair so I gave up on it ages ago). 




Clara the Sunbeam

Clara is in the 3-4 year old class in Primary at church called Sunbeams and every week we talk on the car ride home about what Primary was like and what she learned.  Last week's conversation went something like this:

Me: "Clara, how was primary today?"
Clara:  "It was good.  I was good at listening and I was patient.  The boys were not."
Me: "Oh, that's too bad that the boys weren't listening.  Were you setting a good example?"
Clara: "Yep.  I tried setting up a good example and I got a special sticker.  The boys did not." 
Me: "What was your lesson about?"
Clara: "We learned about Jesus.  And that's all I have to tell you."

This wasn't a first abrupt end to her recapping of Sunday events.  The week before it went like this:

Paul: "Clara, how was primary today?"
Clara: "Good."
Paul (not to be deterred): "What did you learn about?"
Clara: "How we can be grateful for the things Heavenly Father created for us?"
Paul: "Oh yeah, what are you grateful for that Heavenly Father created?"
Clara: "Hmm, the world."
Paul: "I'm grateful that Heavenly Father created families for us."
Amy: "And I'm grateful that Heavenly Father created good food for us to eat."
Clara: "Hey guys?"
Both of us: "Yes, Clara?"
Clara: "I'm done with this conversation."

Today Clara gave the opening prayer in Primary and neither Paul or I were there to witness it.  She was supposed to give the prayer next Sunday (they send around a notice a few weeks in advance of assignments like that) so while I was curling her hair this morning we actually talked with her about what that would be like and what she might say.  We were planning on doing FHE on giving prayers in church tomorrow but apparently we were being prompted to give her the cliff notes version this morning.  The primary leader stopped me in the hallway later in the meetings to ask why we weren't there for it because it is traditional for parents to sneak in the back to watch and felt bad when she realized they had asked Clara to pray a week in advance of their schedule and that we hadn't been informed, but she said that Clara did a great job, which isn't much of a surprise to us because Clara loves Primary and participating and has no qualms about talking in front of a crowd. 




I snuck this picture during the opening hymn last week.  I couldn't help myself.  The girls were settled in with Paul and looked so cute in their matching dresses and cardigans (first time I have ever done the matching thing and I kind of loved it) with their fancy necklaces on (our girls are totally into jewelry). 

 
And that's pretty much what our week has been like.  We have had to stick close to home so I could deal with construction workers and supervise so we have spent a lot of time playing in the backyard or going for walks around the block.  Looking forward to more freedom and flexibility (and a clean, organized house!) once everything is done.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Life lately, according to my iPhone...

A few weeks ago I made it to the Farmer's Market in Pleasanton on a Saturday morning while Paul was working on the house.  I miss the weekday afternoon farmer's markets during the summer and am looking forward to their return in just a few more months.  Clara was ecstatic about this purple cauliflower, which is sort of a genius concept because Miss Rose, who has not been at all enticed by white cauliflower, devoured the purple kind.  The herbie curd cheese and the boysenberry pies rock my world, and Clara's too apparently since she snuck all the cheese when I wasn't looking.  The yellowfin rockfish was pretty amazing too, after I rubbed it with salt and stuffed chopped basil and garlic in slits down its sides.


Speaking of the house, the remodel continues, however slowly.  Its been about 5 weeks now since Paul tore out the tile and most of the kitchen.  I wish I had more to report about and show pictures of, but right now things still look pretty rough.  Most of what has been happening has been plumbing (running gas lines and rearranging water lines since we are moving the location of the sink), electrical, framing and drywall, texturing walls, painting, and having the ceiling patched, textured and painted.  So, lots has happened but none of it is the very pretty stuff that makes for good photos.  Floors are going down this week though and next week cabinets and counters are supposed to be installed so hopefully in two weeks we'll have a functioning kitchen again, even though there will be loads of finish work before everything is "officially" done.

 
 



Clara's sense of style is so awesome.  She loves wearing leotards and dress-up skirts and jewelry.  Often the first thing out of her mouth in the mornings is a plan for what she wants to dress-up in for that day. 



We got our new fridge and set it up in the living room.  It really is a pretty sweet appliance and we are loving the space and freezer organization.  And the freezer on the bottom actually works as a fridge if we want, so when we have company and need more fridge space, we could just move things to the freezer in the garage and have way more fridge space.  Its embarrassing to love an appliance so much.


Because of the construction, we've been doing lots of picnics on paper plates.  Thankfully the weather has been A M A Z I N G.  We've also been at the park and on lots of walks, etc.



Our favorite time of day is when daddy gets home from work.  The girls rush him as soon as he gets out of his truck.  Rose lifts her arms up to him and just wants him to scoop her up so she can rest her head on his shoulder and pat his back for a few seconds while she coos contentedly.  It is the sweetest.


We wanted to do a hike on Mt. Diablo but it didn't exactly work out because we only brought the double Bob stroller and the trail was only partially paved.  But the observatory had some nice views and the girls had fun running around the inside of the lighthouse.




Clara loves it when I paint her nails for her.  We got crazy one day last week when she was dealing with a four-day long fever and I gave her a "little mermaid" manicure.  It has been her favorite ever and she has been super proud of it.


The girls have been into coloring lately.  Which is a lovely way to spend quiet time when we are stuck back in Clara's bedroom while work is going on out front.


We definitely don't Skype enough with these girls. 


Turns out when your house is torn apart and your husband is working on house projects most evenings, there is actually time to catch up on reading lists.  "The Martian", "Paper Towns" and "Wonder" have all been really interesting reads that I have plowed through recently. 
 

Our garage, guest bedroom, and master bedroom pretty much look like this.  The clutter everywhere is driving me insane.  I cannot wait to have things organized and put back together again.  On the bright side, Rose has been loving having a drawer full of spice jars to dig through and shake.


And finally, I am in love with this picture of these two girls taking a Sunday night bubble bath.