Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Year!

Amidst the fog of having a newborn and toddler at home, I remember thinking, "What a difference a year will make!" And what a difference it is. Elliott is walking, babbling, eating all manner of real food, driving his brother crazy by taking toys and knocking things over, and generally making our cups runneth over with his very presence. He is often serious and quiet, but has the funniest little chuckle when amused. He gets excited to see furry creatures: dogs, cows, kittens. He will follow his brother anywhere and protests loudly at being trapped behind baby gates. He likes his nap schedule but is easy-going enough that he isn't a total crank if we are out and about at nap time, though at home even Colter has been known to say, "I think Elliott's ready for a nap." He's a good sleeper and a good eater, though his milk and egg allergies keep us on our toes (fingers crossed for outgrowing them).

It feels like this has been the busiest year of our lives, but it's the year our family became the family we dreamed of, and so it has been the best year. 

Happy birthday, Baby E. We all love you so.

Apparently, it has been a busy year for Elliott as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yo! It's Yogurt!

Sometime in the last couple of years, post-Colter but pre-Elliott, a yogurt maker was passed along to me via my Mom-mom. Making yogurt sounded right up my alley, and I thought I would put it to use. And then it sat, and sat, and sat. I even considered taking it to the electronics recycling because I wasn't using it, but then forgot to send it along with Keith when he took a bunch of stuff over on the scheduled day. 

Then, a month or so ago, my mom told me she found a yogurt maker at a flea market and she was so excited about it. After she told me how simple it was, I got mine out and cleaned it up. By this point, I had lost the hand-written cards that came with it telling me how to use it. If I needed any proof that you can find anything on the internet, it came in the form of being able to find manuals to early 1970s yogurt makers. I was in business.

Really, the process is so simple. Take a quart of milk. Bring it to a boil. Let it cool down a bit. My yogurt maker came with a handy spoon thermometer that actually shows you when it is cool enough, then you stir in starter you can buy at a health food store or a tablespoon of fresh yogurt with live active cultures (ideally, a tablespoon from your previous batch).

Once the starter is mixed in, you pour it into the five glass cups and put the lids on, place them in the yogurt maker, and plug it in. 

The top of the yogurt maker has a little "time out" dial so that you can show what time to take the yogurt out, about 10 hours. It isn't actually a timer, just a marker so you can keep track of what time it  will be done.

My first batch was an experiment. Since Elliott can't have milk, we sometimes buy coconut milk yogurt. At over $4 for 16 ounces, it's a little pricey for me. Coconut milk is more reasonable though, so I thought I would use some of the coconut yogurt we had for the starter, and try a batch using coconut milk. I was really excited about the possibility of making our own, because of both the price and that our local grocery store doesn't carry coconut milk yogurt so it is a special trip to get it. Well, lo and behold, it didn't work. It never thickened up. Maybe the coconut milk yogurt I was using as a starter wasn't fresh enough, maybe there is a totally different process to making yogurt out of a non-dairy milk. Anyway, it was a bust.

But fear not, I carried on. Armed with some packs of yogurt starter, I started a batch using 2% milk we buy at the donut shop in town. It came out perfectly. Nice and thick and smooth, just as it should be. The next batch, I kept just a little yogurt from the first round and used that as my starter and it turned out just as well. I know it is hard to tell, but that's the finished yogurt below.

So, now we are making yogurt using local milk, and it comes out cheaper than buying it if we don't have to use a pack of starter each time. Plus, there is no extra sugar or anything in it to start. And we aren't using yogurt out of plastic tubs all the time so that waste is eliminated as well.

Boy, am I glad I didn't pitch the yogurt maker!

Friday, September 19, 2014

To the Zoo!

For the third year running, we have made a trip to the zoo with my Mom-mom and Grandpop. It was Elliott's first time, and we had perfect weather for it. So perfect, in fact, that the zoo balloon was flying and we got to take trip up in it.


We had some great views of the city...

...and a group photo.

Elliott, I do believe you are wearing the same sweatshirt your brother wore on his first trip to the zoo.

Yes, indeed!

After the balloon, it was onto the animals.

If there was climbing to be done, Colter did it.

Colter was excited about the hands-on exhibits at the kids' area, as well as brushing the goats and feeding the ducks. Next year, I hope he is ready to ride the camel and the carousel. 

Thanks for another great zoo trip, Mom-mom and Grandpop!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who Had a Little Curl?

This is all Keith's doing. Do you see this head of hair, and all those curls?

This kids knows what's coming. And he's not happy about it.

Keith insisted it was time to cut his hair. (To be fair, all the men in the family agreed.) On went the 1" guide on the clippers, off went those lovely curls.

Where did my baby go? Oh, he is growing up too fast.

Haircuts were not a hit on the quarter-acre. And Colter said I needed a trim, but I declined the DIY 'do. Though it has been months since I got a haircut...

The saddest part is that Elliott likes to play with his hair when he gets tired and when he went to do it later that evening, it was barely long enough for him to hold on to. 
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