Thursday, May 29, 2008

Busy Bees

Well, I didn't get to checking the bees right at a week, as were busy and then a couple of rainy days, so I did get them checked at about day 12 or 13. The Italian bees seem to be living up to their reputation. They are known for being good comb producers and quick colony growers. When you first hive the bees, you leave one of the ten frames out of the hive to have a space for the queen cage to hang. When you check them that first time you take the cage out and replace that space with the tenth frame. This can be tricky, because bees make comb where ever there is space. Our bees, since we had given them a few extra days, had built a lot of what is called burr, natural, wild or brace comb--comb they made in the space. I got this all off of the frames and we all got to sample the sweet nectar and the pollen that was on some of it, delicious! It is true for us for some reason, the hardest part of bee keeping this far has been lighting the use the smoker to calm the bees as you approach and open the hive. They either gorge on honey and don't mind you because the smoke makes them think a forest fire is near and they might have to move, or the smoke masks the pheremones they send to communicate danger.....either way it works, once you get it working! Here is Alex blowing smoke rings:).
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I love the fog...

particurally when it is below us:) We get a lot of fog sometimes of year, this was a unique view of some this evening...
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grammie & Papa

Kurt's parents came to visit us for a week at the end of May. We had a fun week. Thank you for your help on the treehouse, you helped Kurt make huge progress, I know he is pleased! The kids made 'battery acid' shakes and 'cat litter' cookies during the visit, yum! We had several fun adventures. One day we went on a 22 mile bike ride down the Greenway off Bailey Cove to Ditto Landing and along the Tennesee River. It was lovely! Emma and I opted out at mile 17 to wait for pickup at the library, as we were tired. I would have never thought.........hmmmm, I'm pregnant, let's go on a 17 mile bike ride, but it was really enjoyable, I just got winded at the end. We also got to go and see the new Saturn V exhibit at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. If you haven't seen that, it is impressive up close, they have done a beautiful job of restoring this bit of history. We also enjoyed one of the first lunch concerts in Big Spring Park that day. Alex and Emma had a fun time sleeping in the motorhome, and Owen is still thinking Grammie and Papa are down the street in the park in the motorhome. He has a hard time grasping that they move around in the motorhome, that they aren't just there waiting still, even though i've shown him! We are glad Grammie and Papa got to see Kurt and Alex at Tae Kwon Do and see the new store while they were here. They also got several lessons on the Wii. We enjoyed celebrating Memorial Day at the pool with yummy potluck food, friends, and music. The pool also opened while they were here, and it's still icy, but the kids didn't mind at all! Thank you for coming to visit us!
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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bees are Here!

After our dissapppointment with the chicken eggs earlier in the month, it was a real excitement to get our package of bees to hive in our beehive in the yard. A huge thank you to Tom Ricks for sharing one of his packages with us, thanks! Here is what the bees look like when they come via the mail. We kept them in the basement for about an hour and then I put them into the hive. The queen comes in a special cage that the other bees free her from after you place her in the hive, they do this by eating throught the 'candy' that plugs the cage entrance. We will leave them alone for a week or so and then check to see that she is laying eggs and all is well. We have been waiting for some bees for over a year now, so either it was the adrenaline from handling 3 lbs (11,000) of bees or it was a long awaited event, either way, we were all really joyous! They are really very peaceful and easy to handle. The kids and I built the hive last year from a kit with my sister maggie, but didn't get it started in time for last season, so a year later, hooray, they are here! Originally we were getting some Gray Caucasian bees ( a russian strain) but that farm didn't work out. These are Italian bees from Rossman Apiaries. The first day the ants found the hive, but a sprinkle of cinnamon around the hive and the top solved that problem. We are excited to watch them work.
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Go Green!

Kurt and Alex both received their Green Belts in Tae Kwon Do this evening. We are so proud of them, Kurt on his leg's recovery especially. The belts will get harder from here. Alex is really enjoying the sparring class that they have added that he takes on Saturdays with Kurt. Go Green Belts!
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pool Almost Ready

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We went to explore the waterfall nearby the other day and discovered that they had started filling the pool. When we first arrived they had had the water on a hour and it was just under the diving board up to your knees. We checked back freqeuntly over the next couple of days watching it be filled. The kids enjoyed this, as they have asked every year how long it takes to fill the pool and what it looks like, etc. So this time we got to watch it in action. It takes about 2 and a half days to fill. This photo is from about five to six hours before filling is complete. Alex, Emma, Owen and a friend Beck also rescued a lot of tadpoles from the baby pool as the rainwater was being drained from it. We brought them back to our pond to hopefully add to the amphibian orchestra at night.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Creatures at Sugar Creek

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Sugar Creek

This was the most wonderful creek adventure by far. This is from when we went to Sugar Creek with the Roamschool friends. While an adventure to find in Southern Tennessee, this is magical spot. My friend hid a letterbox here, so directions to the creek are on her clues here (link in a bit), in case you ever want to visit the creek. It sits right along an old cemetery, and the road crossed the creek in this spot twice below a suspended bridge. We explored all day, floating, finding fish, crayfish, geodes, doing rubbings in the cemetery, playing pretend/dress up with capes and wands and swords in the trees, visiting the cows and horses. The most interesting markers in the cemetary to me were the ones that said "consort of" in lieu of wife, son, daughter, husband, etc. and then the won that simply stated "Born" and then the date and then "Murdered" and then the date. I was taken back to when I studied a lot of the cemeteries in New Orleans when I was little visiting my nana one summer.
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Monday, May 12, 2008

Bubbles Mastered

Alex finally mastered "The Bubble Thing". He has been trying to get those perfect big bubbles for a couple of years now, starting with just clothes hangers. I think we finally found the soap that seems to work the best, either that or the humidity was just perfect here lately to not need any special ingredients. The Blue Dawn soap seems to work the best, 1 cup to 12 cups of water.....
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Sunday, May 11, 2008


The kids have amassed a large stack of paper and plastic cups, this is a favorite game that has been going on since Alex started it at one of the stores in January.
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Emma's Bonsai Is Here!

When asked what she wanted to celebrate way back in December, Emma told her Grandparents she wanted a bonsai tree. She has been fascinated by them for a while, and has checked out all the books at the library on them. They couldn't find a bonsai in December, so she was told to keep her eye out for one that fit the bill, and today she saw it at a store we were at, so it came home with us and now graces our table on the deck. We look forward to learning to care for it, it has already added an element of peace as we sat outside with the candles lit and listened to the frogs next to Emma's little tree. It is a Japanese Juniper and it is 7-9 years old.
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Friday, May 9, 2008

The Baby Hiking...:)

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Treasures in the Park

We found these treasures today in the park...and yes the beetle did hiss and the centipede smelled like cherries!
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HIke at MSSP

Went searching for waterfalls today while Beck was over playing. Went in MSSP and by the waterfall near the pool in the neighborhood.
We went off the trail and just walked down the creek bed. The boys found some neat rocks and had a grand time busting rocks open by throwing them against the large, steep rock walls around us. It was like being in an untravelled part of the woods.
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