Art in April

Expanded Moment: The boys worked together to choose something to take a silent video of. A picture, but longer. They chose to give the guinea pigs some bits of tomato and then videoed the girls for 2 1/2 minutes.

Exquisite Corpse: The boys had to take turns adding to a picture. Cameron started it and left a clue and then covered what he drew. Fritz went next and then covered his part as well. Adrian drew his giant last.

Imprint: The boys had to select an object, cut it in half, dip it in paint, and press it on paper multiple times to make an imprint. Cameron used a Celtic knot he made a while ago. Fritz used a plastic Easter egg. Adrian used a stick.

Under the Influence: The boys had to look at art by any artist or creator they liked and then create something in that artist’s style. Cameron chose Jeff Agala (Don’t Starve), Fritz chose Vincent Van Gogh, and Adrian chose Toby Fox (Undertale).

Guinea Pig Mansion

For one of his Webelos electives, Fritz had to make blueprints and plans to make something useful. He and Ani worked together and designed a 5×2 plus 1×1 bumpout C&C guinea pig cage (well, really, at that size for two piggies, it’s more like a mansion).

Everyone got involved on New Year’s Eve working on creating the cage from the plans.

We put Hera in the cage to check it out before adding the fleece and special additions on the ends. She seemed to approve.

One end has a double decker area (Adrian calls it their bunk bed). Hera gets the top bunk because she’s the only one who can get up on it. She just hops right up while Demeter tries to pull herself up (and fails every time).

The bumpout has a curtain in front giving it a little more privacy. Like the upper bunk is Hera’s special place, the bumpout is Demeter’s. She likes to hide so it is perfect for her.

She’s a one trick… piggie

The other day Hera was making all sorts of noise and when we looked at her we were surprised to see she was up on their igloo. Fritz gave her a treat because it was pretty cool and she was obviously proud of herself. She did it again another day and Fritz gave her a treat again. Well, then she started climbing up there to get a treat. And now she expects one every time she performs her little trick (and of course we oblige because she’s so darn cute).

Best Christmas Ever

We have five traditions surrounding Christmas. One is that the kids line up by age before coming into the room with the Christmas tree. This year Ani had to stand two steps above Cameron to be taller than him. (The others are watching Holiday in Handcuffs, Santa presents are not wrapped and they get nothing from Jamie and me, they get a book, a cross stitched ornament, and something else, and we always have pickles and olives with our holiday meals.)

Santa brought great presents for the kids. He also brought stuff for Lola (two toys, two bags of her favorite treats, and two cans of special meals), Filli and Kree (three bags of yogurt drops), and Hera and Demeter (wooden chewies, dried corn on the cob, and these crispy treats they love).

As I was setting out the gifts Christmas Eve night, Lola stole one of her toys. It’s got lots of ropes and ropes are her favorite. She was a bit miffed when I took it back from her. She got the idea that she wasn’t allowed to play with it and amazingly left it alone all night. When the kids went to their piles, she went to grab that toy. I laughed and told everyone to look at Lola. She must have thought I meant she couldn’t touch it because she ran away from it. She was so happy when we gave it to her.

I finished the kids’ ornaments on Christmas Eve. I always insist I will get them done early and I always don’t. This is the latest I’ve finished them, though.

Ani got a breadmaker and The Fever Code by James Dashner. She immediately sat down to read it and was quite surprised to discover it is signed by the author. We ordered it from Amazon and had no idea it was signed so that was a nice surprise.

Cameron got a Man Bag and an Audible book. He apparently really likes bags since last year he got a taekwondo bag for Christmas. He promptly put his new book on his phone. He’ll probably finish listening to it within a few days. He’s a voracious listener.

Fritz got a chess set and a book of Mysterious Benedict Society puzzles. He’s been playing the Fritz and Chesster games so now he can try out his Chess skills in real life.

Adrian got a science experiment kit and one of the worst case scenario for kids books. He hugged his science kit and then immediately sat down across the chess set from Fritz to play a game of Chess. They spent about 45 minutes playing right then and played another couple games later on (and did one of the science experiments from his kit).

I got some awesome gifts, too. Jamie gave me a Kindle Oasis. (I gave him part of a computer – the rest of his computer came from my parents and his mom.) My Kindle Keyboard served me well for almost 6 years, but it was time to upgrade. It wasn’t holding a charge very well anymore and the off/on slider button was sticking and becoming stubborn about turning the thing on. It was also just generally slowing down. I am amazed at the difference. It’s obviously so much smaller and lighter, but the font is also crisper and it responds so much faster. I love it. My parents gave me money and I chose to get an Instant Pot. I love that thing possibly more than my new Kindle and that’s saying something. It arrived about a week ago and I have used it at least once a day. Christmas dinner included three things cooked in it (ribs, potato salad, and corn on the cob). I also got purple slippers with the money from my parents. They won’t arrive until Friday. My mother-in-law also sent money and I chose to get a purse. The one I’ve been using is big and was wearing out. This one is small and fits my phone and new Kindle perfectly.

And then there was the gift that has made me laugh the most. It came from Cameron. He gave me Christmas in a Nutshell. It is a little baby Jesus inside a half walnut shell. It’s awesome. My son really gets me.

In addition to gifts and an amazing dinner, Christmas included apple cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast (made in the Instant Pot, of course), a bit of reading, and a PokeWalk with most of the family. Seriously the best Christmas ever.


On Black Friday, Fritz and I went to do our Christmas shopping for Lola at PetSmart. I, of course, let him look at the birds and small animals while we were there and I noticed the guinea pigs were half price. So after talking about it with the kids, Ani and I went back later and came home with two little girls.


Keeping with the Greek god/dess theme we started back when we had Apollo, we named them Hera and Demeter.


These girls have made us realize that Apollo really never was well, right from the moment we got him. He was super quiet and rarely moved much. No wonder he didn’t last very long.


When we first got them, they were pretty quiet like Apollo was.

That didn’t last long, though. Now they can be kind of crazy and make us laugh a lot.

Every day Ani gives them a selection of fresh vegetables (adding fruit a couple times a week). They’ve already learned that Ani’s the one who feeds them and so as soon as they see her they get excited. By the way, Hera likes bell peppers and oranges while Demeter prefers carrots.


Every couple days we add their play yard on to their cage, spread some hay (those girls go through hay like crazy!), toys, and vegetables on the floor, and move their hideout to the play yard and let them play for a few hours. They love it. It gives them some time to get some extra exercise (in a bigger space than crawling around on us) and still have things around to eat.


Lola is a bit terrified of the guinea pigs. She really isn’t sure what to think of them. Part of her seems to want to play with them and part of her seems to just want to run away and hide. The guinea pigs, however, are not scared of Lola at all, especially not Hera.


Hopefully these girls will stay healthy and we’ll get to love on them for a long time. Side note: All of our pets are girls. We now have 4 human males and 7 human and non-human females in our house. We didn’t plan it that way. It just happens the piggies PetSmart had on Black Friday were female.