Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sugaring! (Without the Sugaring)

I still have lots and lots of pictures from our many trips up to the farm for maple sugaring and general visiting.  The amount of pictures looked a little overwhelming, so I decided to break it down into two sections-- pictures involving actual syrup production, and pictures NOT involving syrup.  The NOT picture are going up tonight.  There may be just a few pictures of cousins...

Crowded around the dollhouse. (Are Orianna and Lily dressed while my kids are still in pajamas because I am a worse mother than Bethaney, or is it because they stayed the night, thus never got into pajamas?  I can't remember, so just pretend it's because the Cotten girls never had pajamas to begin with).

The two little guys.  Gilbert is in his happy place, thumb in mouth.  He is the cutest little thumb sucker I have ever laid eyes on.

Elliott, busily drawing.  This kid will draw for hours on end.  Our Blockbuster closeout haul of cases of paper sure is coming in handy.

 This dude is weirder than a human has a right to be.

 Pretending to be normal, I guess.

Bethaney found incredibly cheap tutus on sale online, so everyone wore tutus, pretty much for a month straight.

 Tutu girls in the morning sun.

 Rilla and Lily are holding the other cool item du jour-- $.50 flashlights Evan bought for all the kids.

 Silly faces on the girls, and happy oblivion on Lincoln's part.

 Elliott used the extra tutus to become a fierce Zulu warrior.

 As usual, Marilla put her own fashionista spin on the trend.  Looking good, girlfriend!

Between books, tutus, blankets, Polly Pockets, and myriad other items, I'm not sure Mom and Dad's house will ever look the same.

 They are happy little birds, though, curled up in their nest!

 We got a tour of the new Vaughan (Jr.) house, too.

A preggers Bethaney, pontificating about something.  The fabulous wood walls of the upstairs hallway are visible behind her.  It is a beautiful space!

 Coyote loves being in the house when Owen and Ashley are working.

 Elliott is not about to get cold!

 Bethaney found a cool, simple craft for the kids.  (On Pinterest, natch.)

 These pictures are horrible, but it's basically a home-made lava lamp in a soda bottle.

Oil, water, food coloring, and Alka-Seltzer tablets were the primary ingredients.  Being the Coupon Queen, Bethaney had lots of extra Alka-Seltzer tablets to play with!

 It did work, but a shortage of oil on hand prevented any real spectacular effects.

 Balaclavas are essential when checking e-mail.

 Cheyenne helped me bread chicken one night.

 Such a good helper.

 Aunt Lindsey, earning stars in her crown by reading Cinderella to the girls.

 Gilbert, grimacing meaningfully at the camera.

Ashley working on her house book!  She keeps paint strips and decorating ideas all together in a notebook.  It's a great idea, plus it's fun to look through!

After the impressive cake Justin decorated for Marilla, Cheyenne was anxious to decorate Evan's birthday cake.

 She had a large audience.

When she was all done, Bethaney had the brilliant idea of incorporating afternoon snack with excess icing disposal, and ta-DA!  Icing on pretzel sticks!

 Elliott approved.

The finished product.  It's a picture of the sugar shack (Cheyenne knows what Daddy likes!), with spring flowers all around.  It's quite prettier than the actual muddy mess around the sugar shack!

 Cheyenne and Elliott, pointing out all the features of the amazing cake.

 Singing "Happy Birthday" to Evan, down in the sugar shack.

This was Evan's birthday present this year-- we left home early in the morning on his birthday (even letting Cheyenne and Elliott play hooky, and Evan ignore the bathroom he was working on!), and headed north for a day of sugaring.  We didn't get home until 1:00 the next morning, so it was an action-packed day!

Despite the fact we weren't planning on spending the night, I did have the brains to pack extra outfits for the kids.  Rilla had already completely destroyed both outfits by the evening, so she was wearing overalls that Bethaney was passing down from Gilbert to Lincoln.  They were a nice capri length on her, so it's good it was a warm day!  I like the juxtaposition of a graphic T-shirt, hidden by overall straps; capri-length overalls; mud-encased rubber boots... and a red tutu.

When you wear boots like this...

Tutus end up looking like this.  Thankfully, a wash on gentle cycle, and the tutus are good for dancing again!

The following three pictures are hilarious in two ways: 1. The smiles Gilbert is giving the camera and 2. the fact that Lincoln is busily pulling out a cassette tape, while Olivia clicks away, oblivious.  (At least, I assume Olivia was manning the camera, because I would never be that oblivious...?)
Gilbert starts to crinkle up his nose to smile, and Lincoln finds the tape...

The squinchy-eyed smile is coming... (as is the tape out of the cassette...)

This smile is such hard work it almost looks like Gilbert is grunting.  Meanwhile, Lincoln is experiencing the extreme satisfaction of unwinding the tape.  (Am I the only one who's ever been a little bit happy when a tape breaks, because you get to unspool the whole thing in great swooping yanks?)


One Saturday when we were up, we went to the playground at the school.  Mom had wanted to take the kids over February break, but between the strep throat and some nasty weather, it never happened.

 All the kids had a great time.

 Constant action!

Elliott is proud of himself for maneuvering through the tires!  He still has delays in things like balance and coordination, so it is quite impressive!


 His response to my injunction to "Smile!"  I love the shoulder shrug.


 I'm sure this was quite the in-depth discussion!

 Driving home from the playground, with our caravan of vans.

 It takes a lot of vans to transport 10 kids, plus minders.

I had handed my camera to Olivia, who was taking a walk with Amy, and asked her to take a picture of the van caravan.  Then I backed the van up to get my camera back.  Apparently, Livie put it on a weird setting then, and I never noticed, so the next bunch of pictures are all a weird hue.  I'm sure Olivia could rescue them, or I could if I had half a brain by this time of night, but Livie isn't here and I'm fried.

 "Gimme the camera, dude."

 Livie was fascinated by my blingy "Guess" glasses, a souvenir from Utah!

Some of the kids, sitting on the bridge to watch the cows being fed.  Cheyenne looks like her last friend died, because she wasn't getting to go with them to feed cows.  The girls and Cody and Owen had been cleaning loose hay out of the haymow, though, and the kind of wagon they were using wasn't safe for the kids to ride in.  Cheyenne thinks that feeding cows is about the best possible activity in the world.

 Little Miss Pleased.

Sad friend.  Although she was being good about it, and I think half of it was just exhaustion.  At least her hair was in a cool hairstyle.  All the nicer looking for the fact her mother had finally got around to doing it after lunchtime.

And then Elliott got his turn at glory, because he got to walk over with Owen, to put gas in the fourwheeler.

 Oh, the excitement!

 These three little guys sure were jealous!  They're the homebound crew, but not from choice.

Lincoln, letting me know that REALLY EXCITING THINGS were happening, RIGHT outside the window.

 Elliott and Marilla, on the newly gassed (and quite muddy) fourwheeler.

 (Memo to self: Try harder to teach Rilla lady-like sitting positions).

Lincoln and Gilbert, faithful at their posts!

And next up?  Some "sweet" pictures of sugaring!  (Ha, ha, get it?  Get it?)