living with keir

You may have seen the show Living with Ed where she deals with her hubby who Greens their home with solar pannels, rainbarrels, windmills, etc.  Rain barrels- check, rain garden- check, compost bin- check, smart strips- check, CFLs- check. Now my husband just informed me he's going to make a stand for his bike and put a generator on it to power his computer, batteries, etc.    Solar pannels and windmill will have to wait.

2009- we'll remember you

As you can see, I've finished my Christmas crafting... I am back to blogging.  I will show pics and possibly tutorials on what I've made this year (aprons, Matchbox car roll-up, doll roll-ups, tutus, coffee cozies, magnets, and locker clipboards).  For now, let's reflect on 2009.  Only 3 hours left.

What was great about 2009?

We worked on this list today with my family.

Watching our determined daughter accomplish so much and be so proud (standing, walking, talking, feeding herself).

Seeing G skate after loving hockey so long.

Visiting with K's aunt Carol before her battle with cancer ended and seeing the happiness and contentness on her face.

K's mom and dad catching their cancers b4 it caught them.

Having friends and family the kids love so much, they don't mind mom & dad leaving for a couple hours.

Dinner at Dino's

A movie night just the two of us.

Family finishing the mini-triathlon.

Biggest snow for many years on Christmas day.

The simple things: holidays spent with family, a family skate on the ice, playing in the leaves, sledding, sitting around the dinner table with family and friends, birthday parties, vacation, sleeping a whole night through, taking a walk with an adult to talk to, fun at the park, and snowboarding down a hill (even if it's Mt. Kato).

What's on your list... common, I know you're out there!


Christmas Letter 09

Blessings to you this Christmas season!  Keir is in the process of writing our letter to you.  Please check back.  While you're here,  please comment on what's your favorite Christmas tradition.

Some of my favorite traditions are going to see Santa and
taking a car ride through town as a family to see lights.


Our Favorite Things

Here are some of our favorite things in case you need help with ideas for the people on your list this year.  These are tried and true!
The stay-at-home mama: (besides a day at the spa & gift cards to shop for herself)
Books: The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule
I Love Dirt by Jennifer Ward
Smartwool Socks- if i could wear these all winter I would!
babysitting so she can be in the house alone for a few hours or go on a date with her hubby.

The coffee drinker:
Travel Mug, Contigo Stainless Insulated Tumbler
and the name is appropriate because it can tumble in your purse as you are trying to get the kids in the car and it doesn't spill (it has a button you push while you drink) and it stays hot for at least an hour (in case you are busy and forget about it).

The baker:
Artisian Bread in Five Minutes

The little boy (4 and under):
trains (magnetic attaching ones are easy to use), matchbox cars, car ramp,
 books about dinosaurs (and others), musical instruments,
sports equipment, footy pajamas, dress-up clothes, kid roller skates

The little girl (under 4):
play kitchen, table & chairs and cooking/eating supplies
dolls & doll care
dress-up clothes, don't forget about accessories!
books- see some of our favs on the left sidebar
Doll house & accessories
The Laurie Berkner Band DVD

The Daddy-
comfy pants for "relaxing" (esp. these Nike Fleece)
tools, clothing with fav sports team logos, Smart Wool Socks
more tools, things to put tools in, batteries for tools, babysitting so he can play with his tools



Have you heard of it, Movember?  Movember is the month formerly known as November where men start clean shaven and commit to growing a Moustache. That’s right, we are bringing back the Moustache this November to raise funds and awareness for men’s cancers – specifically prostate and testicular cancer.

From Drop Box

Here's Keir's and Griffin's Mos.
 If you'd like to dontate, check out: http://us.movember.com/mospace/383232


Happy Halloween... literally

Click for more Halloween/Fall Pics

Halloween is fun again. We had so much fun getting the kids (and dogs) dressed up. They both enjoyed it too. To bad Eme could say, "Bauk, Bauk," not "Quack." Oh well. We had our neighbors over for a little party and also celebrated the "day of" back at Grandma & Grandpa's. Too bad they both couldn't join us for the City Halloween Party (Mom went to the hospital for the night with Kidney stones & Papa was working). Grandma's feeling better and Papa has celebrated his last night on the job.  

The cousins and Griffin & Emerson had a blast Trick or Treating (although the nursing home was a bit scarier than planned). I suppose it might be for younger kids.. but maybe it was the resident dressed up with a mask on and a plastic leg with a cowboy hat sitting on his knee?  

It also was a great weekend to be outside. Griffin played football with those who were ready for some rough-housing. Lastly we went to see my uncles and got a little farm time in. Picking apples from the tree was also a highlight. Both Griffin & Emerson were big helpers and both couldn't resist snacking... and they will be for some time because we brought two paper bags full home.

The reasons we went down for the weekend was for Keir and Papa. We celebrated their birthdays and the boys went hunting pheasant. So happy birthday & better luck next time on hunting!


Griffin & Grandma

Here's my favorite picture of Griffin and his Grandma Mary. We chuckled as we saw him copy how she was walking. We love you Grandma and we're praying for you as you fight this cancer. Go Grandma Go!
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Google Goods

Google, I love you.  My hubby talked me into using Google to share a calendar. Then he told me about Google Docs, and now I'm praising him for doing so.  A Mac Crash later, I am no longer working on my thesis on my own computer.  Luckily I have been doing all my work on Google Docs.  If you are new to it, do check it out. All you do is sign up for a Google Account (using your current email for a username and a new password).  When you sign in you can do a variety of things (just look in the top corner) including: calendar, documents, reader, gmail, photos, blogs, and more. I also use Google Reader daily. You enter the blogs you want to follow and it will put them all on one page.  You can see the intro and then click to go to the blog or read on.  It's fantastic!
You can share calendars with other googlegans and download their calendars (think of your church, holiday calendar, etc).  Using the Google Photos (Picasa) you are able to share photo albums and your friends can download the pics from there.  I can't say enough, Google.  You are great!


Ah, Fall

The fall weather is here and the tree colors are starting to change. The kids and I headed out to Minneopa State Park for the afternoon. The first two minutes of Griffin at the Park sounded like this, "Whooohoooo!  Wheeeha,  giggle, giggle" Over and over again.  Anyone who heard must have thought I'd kept this boy in the house the last month. 


Pumpkin Picking

The kids and I went to a Mankato farm to pick pumpkins today.  Pumpkins weren't the only highlight.  They were fun to climb around on, look at the amazing colors and textures and pick up, but he cat stole the show.  Griffin was especially gentle with the cat which surprised me since he's pretty rough and tumble most of the time.  I have been a cat-lover my whole life growing up on the farm and all, but Keir's allergic to them, so no cats in this house!

And the last picture is of the sucker-face Emerson (the after-grocery store treat).  Oh, what a mess, but so enjoyable for her. 

Let's get out!

Can I tell you how excited I am to come across a topic for my thesis in Health Education that I am so interested in?! On Tuesday my mom's group talked about Nature Deficit Disorder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_deficit_disorder) which basically says our children are lacking because they are not playing outdoors nearly as much as previous generations. So I've been researching and have come across so many good initiatives to help us: forest kindergartens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_kindergarten), Take a Child Outside Week (this week!), No Child Left Inside Act, etc. Wow, this is eye opening for me and so interesting. If you want to read more, there's a book I'm reading, "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv (http://richardlouv.com/).

What do you think? What are your favorite memories from being outside as a child or with your children?


Hot Pepper Jelly

This Jalapeno Pepper Jelly is a great appetizer served with crackers and cream cheese. It’s spicy hot and sweet. I’ve given them for a little Christmas gift to family and friends. I started making it because my hubby likes to grow peppers in the garden and we just couldn’t use them all.


1 pouch of liquid pectin

2 c. jalapeno peppers

1 ½ c. vinegar

6 ½ c. sugar (this is why you share with your friends)

You also need a blender, large pot, timer, clean jars (6-8 jelly jars) and lids, funnel, ladle and a wet wash cloth.

First, wash the peppers (this recipe uses jalapenos, but I've used a variety of hot peppers). In this picture I've also added Banana Peppers.

Then, cut peppers into blender, leaving seeds in; add vinegar and blend.

Put in large pot (believe me, you DO NOT want this stuff boiling over!) and add sugar (you will think this is ridiculous when you put it in, but yes, 6 1/2 cups).

Bring to a boil.

Set aside for 20 minutes off the heat.

Put back on and boil 2 minutes.

Add and stir in a pouch of liquid pectin, put in jars.

I individually fill each jar, clean off top with wet wash-cloth and screw on top before going on the next jar. If the jelly is still hot enough it'll seal the jar. To check, after 5 minutes, just push your finger on top of jar to see if it pops up. If it pops up, it's not sealed, put it in refrigerator and use in the next couple of months.

And there you go, Hot Pepper Jelly! Serve with crackers and cream cheese. I usually put the block of cheese down and pour some of the jelly over top so they can be scooped on top of crackers.


Thank God for Two Hands

I'm sure every Mama has had those days when they are thankful for two hands. One to hold the baby and one to do what needs to be done. For instance getting ready for company! Emerson just didn't want to be put down that day.


Fruit Flies Go Away!

Do you have fruit flies too? Here's what to do to catch them:

Take a glass or jar & put a tablespoon or two of Apple Cider Vinegar in the bottom. Make a funnel using an old piece of paper or newspaper. Leave a hole about a quarter of an inch in the bottom (this is where the fruit flies fly in). Tape the funnel around the top of the jar/glass so the little buggers can't escape! Set where you are normally swarmed by the fellas and they will be lured in! Ha Ha... got ya! So long fruit flies!


Happy 1st Birthday Emerson!

Our girl is one already. She's been acting like a one year old for a few months now, at least she's not acting like a 15 year old yet. Here's her with her birthday present! A new play kitchen. I can see many plates of birthday cake, toast and cookies to come!

We went to Sibley Park for her birthday. These are the day I especially appreciate being home with the kids. Being able to spend the whole day with them and make it special is lots of fun.

Happy Birthday little girl. We love you!


Summer Days & Parades

Sorry I haven't been so good about posting lately. I've completed the bunting and crown for Emerson's Birthday. Now I am assembling her birthday gift as well as taking care of our 4 and a half year old neighbor. Having a 4 year old here has been a blessing! Her and Griffin love to play, but after 7 days together, the fun wore off a bit and now they are acting like brother and sister. I got a taste of what the tattling and picking on phase will be like for us- "Go tell him how you feel and ask him to stop." "If she asks you to stop, you need to stop." Hum, I'll enjoy the 2 & 1 year old for now.

We also went to visit "Gram" (Griffin's new name for Grandma Janis) and Papa (Grandpa David). We were lucky enough to hit Watermellon Days while we were there and experienced the thrill of carnival rides for the first time. The parade was awesome as well with lots of cool old cars, big and small horses, BIG tractors and some of my old friends! We had a great time and Griffin & Eme collected a gallon of candy... enough to last us well past Halloween.

We also attended my cousin, Mel's wedding. Boy did the kids have fun dancing. Griffin mostly ran (his version of dancing?) while Emerson made her way round and round the dance floor and stopped to "conduct the polka band" every now and then. It was pretty cute. On the photo above you can see her in the background! Of course it was nice to see my mom's side of the family. I have so many fun memories of many family gatherings as a child, but we don't get to see them much more than a time or two a year. In the photo above is my sister, Lora, my aunt, Nancy from TX and my aunt, Sue (one of my faithful blog followers-THANKS!). By the way, please drop a note when you check the blog... I need to know we still have a pulse (and yes, I know it would be stronger if I posted more often!).

sorry it's sideways!


Gratitude Wrap

For my sister-in-law, Megan, I made this Gratitude Wrap. It holds notes, note pad, pen & stamps. The directions you can find at Soule Mama (look at the left column for the pdf). Not too tough, but the binding gets me every time as I'm not a patient sewer and will skip pinning if possible. I think this fabric is something special as it was my Grandmother's (or Great-Grandmother's) table cloth. I love the colors and decided to add the green binding to accentuate the green. Hopefully Megan loves it too!

Other things I'm sewing: Birthday Garland to re-use for birthdays and Birthday Crowns (both inspired by Soule Mama), but this post is what I'm using for the colors and accessories (http://juicy-bits.typepad.com/juicy_bits/2008/09/32-felt-birthday-crown-tutorial.html).

What are you crafting lately? Not crafting? I understand, in the summer, crafting sometimes sits as we play outside! BTW- my family has agreed to do a home-made Christmas this year so we are to draw names in the next week to start the process! I have some ideas for a few people, so we'll see who we draw. I also have been taking notes for the kids as I run across things. If you have ideas for kids, do share!


Team Nickel Enters Lamberton Triathlon

The Nickel family entered 9 people of the 15 in the Lamberton Triathlon today, making up 7 "teams". 6 as individual racers and the three kids on one team The majority of us came in the top ten with a first place (Troy, with a new time record) and third place (Travis)! Way to go all and super way-to-go to the kids team. Derek ran the 2.5 miles, Taylor biked the 9 miles and Hallie swam the 200 yards. So, no it wasn't an Iron Man, but a good place to start for us new to the triathlon circuit and all of us who didn't put many hours of training.
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Little boy, you're such BIG fun

Terrible two's? I don't think their terrible. We do have our terrible moments, but I'd have to say I enjoy this age tremendously. He enjoys so many things and can voice his excitement causing it to be a mutual enjoyment.
He is very curious and loves to try anything... bike, swim, holding a toad, fish, or spider. This curiosity makes riding in the car fun. We look for tractors, skiddies, backhoes, excavators, motorcycles, baseball fields, golf courses, etc.
He gets excited over little things; for instance the other day, we came across the hockey curtains Keir's mom gave to us. He got so excited about these "blankets". I explained they are curtains and we can maybe put them in his big boy room. Who'd have thought a 2 year old would get excited over curtains that are over 20 years old?
His new phrase is, "I will" (thank heavens!) and if I ask him to go put his shoes on so we can go to the park, he replies, "I will!"
He voices concern like asking Daddy to wait until Mama's ready to go so he doesn't leave Mama behind.
He wants to sit on your "yap" while reading books and likes to lay next to you or be held when he's waking up.
If you tell him to stay on the driveway to ride his bike, he does while you clean out the garage (yes, still a work in progress). Really, those of you without kids do NOT understand the hugeness of this one!
The other day he was laying between Keir and I and said, "I yub you guys". We love our sweet and curious boy too.


When we were on vacation we woke one morning to invitations on our doors. How exciting! They were invitations to a Big Splash in the pool. So the 15 of us (Troy out with his appendectomy) lined up at the edge of the pool after much anticipation and excitement by the big kids. The young and old jumped at once... or close to the same time. If you watch carefully it's Griffin that is the last one to jump, equip with his life jacket and a swim noodle (his newest favorite swim toy). Emerson and Grace were both held by Mamas and who tried their best to keep their heads above water. Watch carefully for two people who felt the need to plug their noses. Two people whom felt the need for swim goggles. And one leaper who went for height not splash. We all had a "splash and a good swim" and "drip dried on the sand"... no wait that's One Dog Canoe (oneanoganoe... like Grace says).


Sweet baby

Babies are so sweet. Why can't they stay that way? These little ones steal our hearts by being so happy and cuddly. They love hamming it up and being adored by you.

I remember this feeling when Griffin was 4 months old. Enjoying this moment of babyhood and dreading that it will not last forever. I was surprised that I didn't feel it with Emerson until now. I have said, I am enjoying this baby much more because I'm not a nervous wreck! So I've been watching her close and taking her all in. Enjoying these babbles, slobbery open-mouthed kisses, adorning looks, seeing her waddle over to you, baby laughs, messy meals knowing they will not last forever. So here's to my baby girl... I love watching you love being a baby.

Next to come: The Joys of 2 year olds


Ahh, vacation

We're back from vacation! A week up in Northern Minnesota with two toddlers went well. We all had fun on the beach, in the pool, on the volleyball court, fishing, and hanging out with my family. I recall saying twice that, "I am now sitting down to read." (which I must say is very sparse with these two). However, I did not get a book even started, just a few magazines browsed. Wow, how life has changed in the past two and a half years! Vacation is a different sort of vacation. I'll explain more when I get finished sorting through my people pics, for now I'll show you my artsy-pics!


Around the house

He's earned his tractor! Finally, Griffin poo'd on the potty! Hooray Griffin!
The sibling bond... something I didn't think of when we were expecting our second child. But something I truly enjoy to watch. How boring life would be for one of them with out the other! One night they were doing their normal running about and having fun when Emerson was laughing so hard she could hardly breathe. These are the moments I'm glad my husband is home each night to share.
"Yeah!" Emerson learned to clap quite awhile ago, but now she claps whenever she's excited. The other night we were watching Wheel of Fortune (our nightly ritual) after they announced, "Wheel of Fortune!" the crowd claps and so was Emerson. This show will forever be ingrained in our family memories as Griffin used to shout the word "Fortune!" and giggle.... however it took Keir and I awhile before we could understand what he was yelling and giggling about!
Emerson's new pretty dress made by Grandma Janis. I bought one at the Farmer's Market and mom thought she should try and make more. Here's the link if you'd like one! Juniper Berries

Since I am normally the one behind the camera, I love to get a shot of me and my little ones. Here's me and Em (10 months old).

Father's Day - outdoors

Our Father's Day celebration was fun as always. The "big kids" caught some toads while the little kids and adults fished. Here are some snap shots of the day (Hallie and Derek and their Toad Abode, upside-down Taylor, the 4 ladies with similar hair-dos, the three little girls, Luci & her friend, Toad, ).