Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Honey Bee on the Siberian Squill = Spring!

(c) 2014 Ms. Huis Herself at

I know, I know, I've been absolutely AWFUL about posting.  Beyond awful.  But rather than getting bogged down in that and feeling guilty, I'm just going to post right now... because I want to, and because maybe then I'll start to feel like, "Hey, I could post that!" and be better about writing here!
In the spring, usually right around tax day, our backyard is filled with lush green foliage and electric blue-purple flowers that we're pretty sure are Siberian squill.  Seriously, the whole backyard.  It's the best it looks all year, by far.  In fact, a while (man, I GUESS a while!) ago I posted pix of my two gorgeous (and WAY smaller) girls in the squill flowers.  

Well, today I've got a picture of a different one of my "girls" in the squill.  Of course, this one's in the squill because she's busy collecting the pretty blue pollen in the pollen baskets on her back legs as well as the nectar.  :)  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Family Manifesto - In Progress: If you eat, you should cook.

(c) 2014 Ms. Huis Herself at

Quite a while back, on some parenting website or another, I saw a post about a family manifesto.  They had a (pretty, various fonts, color-coordinated) poster of their family rules/important saying/way of living.  I thought it was kinda cool, but way too much work!  

But as time went on, I realized there were a few things that could certainly go on a manifesto for our family, were I to want to create one.  Sayings that have evolved over time, ways we have of living, things that are important to all of us, priorities in our lives. There are only three so far, but seeing as how organically these have manifested, I could definitely see more evolving over time.  

So far, if I were to put together a family manifesto, it would contain the following:

  • You can always snitch vegetables. 
  • There always should be books in your room and usually on your nightstand.
  • If you eat, you need to know how to cook.

I've had the veggie rule for a long time, in part reinforced by Mary P.'s sensible food/eating strategies.  Want to snitch your veggies before the meal? Ok!  Eat 'em all before we sit down?  Well that's just fine! If you're not hungry enough to eat the vegetables offered (upon request) as a between-meal, or even as a pre-meal snack?  Well, then, you're not really hungry & you can wait until the actual meal!

Our family as a whole loves to read.  We need more bookshelves.  In fact, I anticipate that even with Mr. Kluges's plan to build some (gorgeous) bookshelves, we'll never have too many.  Easy access to books is important to us! I rarely end the day without reading at least a few pages.

My kids enjoy cooking, especially when it's baking, particularly when it's cookies!  But hey, once you get out in the real world, on your own, cookies alone aren't gonna cut it.  Penguin in particular has shown a strong interest in cooking, but I figure, hey, if you eat, you need to know how to cook, at least some basics and how to follow a recipe.  So I've been trying to involve them more in real recipes, even if it's just a side to main dish I'm making.  Well, last week I was feeling particularly uninspired and decided, "Hey, it's Saturday.  We've got lots of time.  I'm putting the girls in charge of supper!"  They were so informed, told that supper needed to contain, at a minimum, a protein, a grain and a vegetable.  They ended up with pasta (grain) with chickpeas (protein) and frozen peas (veg) and canned artichoke hearts (veg), with a dessert that was basically a recipe that turned fresh strawberries into frozen strawberry sorbet.  We added pesto for a sauce, and it turned out fine, and this week, due to Pumpkin being away at a sleepover Friday into Saturday, I put Penguin in charge of the menu, promising my help as needed.

Well, for supper tonight we had spaghetti and meatballs, with salad or frozen peas as the vegetable.  The meatballs were made, not with my a-little-of-this-a-little-of-that mental recipe, but with an adapted real recipe from a cookbook Penguin had purchased with her own money at the school book fair.  

It was great.  Pumpkin helped with the meatball formation, but Penguin was really in charge of them.  Of course, I did the actually frying-up, but on the whole, Penguin told me what she needed, how much, that she wanted to skip the chopped onions & some spices, etc.  I recommended adding some splashes of Worchestershire and dashes of powdered onion, but those were okayed by Chef Penguin. In the end, it was decided that less onion powder was needed, maybe a little salt should be added, and that I should add some milk with the bread crumbs when I make my meatballs.  All of the meatballs were eaten, which I consider a total success!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Halloween 2013

(c) 2013 Ms. Huis Herself at

Happy Halloween, everybody! Well, happy day-after-Halloween anyway. I'm so excited to share the girls' costumes with you this year! They had very interesting ideas, and I think their looks turned out great! Without further ado, here you go!

(Click on the picture to see it bigger.)

Can't quite tell what they are, exactly? Not too surprising, since they were both combination costumes. Pumpkin was a ghost-owl*-vampire while Penguin opted for zombie-vampire. Here are some close-ups of their faces.

Fun, huh?!  I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with (and what we accomplish) next year!

*Barn owls are white, so that helped with the ghostiness!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Freaky 5K - Beekeeper edition

(c) 2013 Ms. Huis Herself at

As you probably know, I've been doing this 5K running thing for a few years now - 4 to be precise.  I ran in one my first year, 2 my second, 3 my third, and now I've completed 4 in my 4th year as a runner!  The only one I've done every year is our town's invariable HOT one in July, but I've now completed the Y's Freaky 5K for three different years!

One of my favorite parts about this race is that it's a costume-friendly one.  And I LOVE costumes.  (But I think people who enter the costume contest in outfits they didn't run in are totally cheating.)  

Anyway, presenting my 2013 Freaky 5K costume...

Beekeeper Being Chased by Bees!

I'd been toying with this idea in my head for a while, but last night I decided I really did want to do it, so after the girls went to bed,  I made the bees with some scrap fabric, a really big Sharpie marker, some rubber rings (for their heads/to hold open them in a windsock fashion), and milk carton side wings.  And thread.  A lot of thread.  Fishing line to attach them to my hat/veil combo.

I was worried that the wings would make them top-heavy, so I ended up sewing a largish bead inside each one at the bottom of the last stripe.  I think it helped.  Not that I ran fast enough that they really flew, but still...

The hat was a little more annoying than I thought it would be in that the front kept wanting to slide down lower than I liked, and my earbud cord was pulled on some by the elastic of the veil, so it kept falling out, but overall, not an awful one to run in, for a costume race anyway!  Lots of compliments and smiles, so that was nice.   I figure I'll just detach the bees' string from my hat and throw 'em in my costume tote 'cuz you just never know when this sort of thing will come in handy!  :)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Car Talk, WI Dells to Home edition

(c) 2013 Ms. Huis Herself at

We were enjoying [maybe not the right word!] a long [extra half-hour due to stop-and-go traffic on I-94 for at least 18 miles] drive home from a wonderful weekend at Wisconsin Dells we'd enjoyed [right word!] with most of my side of the family.  Here are a few snippets of our conversations.
Me:  What was your favorite ride this weekend?
Penguin: Hm... the family raft ride!
M: Why?
Penguin, our more extroverted child: I think because you got to go on it with more people.

 The girls, pointing out to me that it was almost October, and since I don't start their Halloween costumes until October, wanting to get those settled.

Me:  Well, then, have you decided what you want to be?
Pumpkin: Yes! You know!  I want to be a ghost-owl-vampire!  
Me:  Um... how are we going to do that?
Penguin, interrupting:  You can guess mine!  "I drink...your BRAINS!"
Me:  Yeah?  You're sure you want to be a vampire-zombie?!

...discussion ensues regarding how to make Penguin a zombie-vampire.  Basic consensus is vampire (already have cape!) + greenish face & sores...

Me: Ok, then, how are we going to do a ghost-owl-vampire?  I don't know if I can make all those three things work.
Pumpkin: Well, the owl is a barn owl so it's white like a ghost.  
Me: Ok... tell me more.
Pumpkin:  So I need a white owl costume, then add FANGS!
Me:  So... like a vampire bat, but a vampire owl?
Pumpkin: YES!

Slightly later, still in a Halloween-related conversation...

Mr. Kluges:  Hey, did you think about being a vampire-fairy?!?!?!
Pumpkin, subtext, that is ridiculous: Nooooo!
Mr. Kluges: Why not?
Pumpkin:  'Cuz that's not real!

It's a good thing I wasn't driving, 'cuz we would've went off the road with my giggling after that last bit.  Vampire-fairy =/= real, but vampire-zombie AND ghost-owl-vampire? Totally possible!


Sunday, September 01, 2013

Chicago aka Stinky Onion Land

(c) 2013 Ms. Huis Herself at

We had our first non-camping, non-relative-visiting family vacation in August... and guess where we went!

That's right - Chicago, IL!

Sure, it was less than 4 hours away, and it's very much still a Midwestern USA city, but it was someplace we'd never been (other than my wonderful 40th birthday fun bash), we were away from home, we stayed at a hotel for 4 (four!) nights, and there were museums and touristy things to do!

Day #1 - we left home, later than I'd planned on because I didn't know Mr. Kluges had as many things on his to-do-before-we-leave list as he did, but we arrived in Chicago late afternoon, checked into our hotel (kitty-corner from the Harold Washington Library with its giant owl corner decorations) and started seeing the sights!

First, we walked to the Buckingham Fountain, hung a left, and continued on to the Bean (aka Cloud Gate - see above for photo... one of about 4 that I was in the entire vacation*).  Following supper at a pizza/pasta joint, I convinced Mr. Kluges that it wasn't too late to walk to the Sears/Willis Tower...where their line management skills (aka hiding lines behind lines behind lines throughout different parts of the "experience"), led us (aka me) to believe we could maybe see the city at sunset from the 103rd floor.  We didn't make sunset, but gosh, the lights were pretty anyway!

Day #2 - The Field Museum!

The one thing the girls kept talking about seeing in Chicago was Sue, the world's largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus skeleton.  So we blocked out all of Saturday to go to the Field Museum.  We have an extended membership at our local kids' museum, which meant we could get in for free... plus paying for any extra shows/exhibits we wanted to add on.  We added on a package of all three extra exhibits (Caves of Lascaux, Bioluminescence, Underground Adventure) and one show - about Sue of course! 

The day was a complete success.  We walked down, arriving just before 10 (the museum opened at 9), and stayed The. Entire. Day.  The museum closes at 6, and our girls were like, "What? We have to leave now? But there's more to see!!!"  We figured they'd last until mid-afternoon at best, but were pleasantly surprised at how engaged they both were (even the 6 year old!) in the exhibits. We saw the show of course, but we managed to get to all three of the extra exhibits as well, plus maybe half? of the regular exhibits.  A day well-spent, and a place we'd definitely visit next time as well!
Our Cicada Girls, emerging from their exoskeletons in the Underground Adventure

Day #3 - Outside in the Heat

So, after a full museum day, I thought it would make sense to do non-museum-y stuff the next day.  So we got tickets for an architectural boat tour for the morning**, with plans to see the (free) Lincoln Park Zoo after, and fit in a little Navy Pier action at the end of the day.  Great plan... except for the heat.  It was HOT. 


Blue snow cones are an awesome way to beat the heat!

Random public art fountain encountered on the way to Navy Pier

Navy Pier's Ferris Wheel - not as big as the one at the World's Fair back in the day!

Day #4 - The Sky and the Sea

When planning, we'd given the girls the choice on the last full day of going to the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, or the Museum of Science and Industry.  The second two especially had been recommended to us, but we decided to let them choose.  They picked the planetarium, which was fun.  We first did a quick walk-through of the very cool public library near our hotel, then did the (really too long) walk down to the Adler and enjoyed much of the day there.  Once again, our local kids' museum membership got us in for the basics, and we paid to add on a couple of shows. Really, this was only a half-day attraction, but we still had fun.

Looking out the windows at lunch, we'd seen a public beach very close to the Adler, and since I'd been carrying around the girls' swimsuits in our daypack, after our time at the Adler, we stopped by for a couple hours of fun playing in the waters of Lake Michigan to finish out our days in Chicago

Day #5 - The Return, with Bonus Friends!

While it's always hard for me to end vacations, we did have an added bonus for our last day - a visit with some very, very dear friends who'd moved away earlier this year.  G, her husband, and their adorable children were just a scant 5 minutes off the highway, as she'd reminded me when hearing about our trip.  How could we NOT stop and see them on their new/in-the-family farm? It was hard to leave, but we hope to visit them again soon (and stay longer next time!)

All in all, a wonderful first family vacation, with a lovely (if not as quiet as desired) hotel, lots of sights seen, relatively patient children, and many memories made and photos taken. The girls have already been talking about what they want to see whenever we go back - the Shedd Aquarium, revisiting the Field Museum, and seeing the Museum of Science and Industry top the list so far.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I did have them dress alike most days to make it easier to find them in a crowd, and yes, we did plan their souvenirs-from-when-I-went-to-the-Field-Museum shirts for that day, and ones about the solar system for the planetarium day, and ones-from-Mr.K's-business-trip-to-Chicago for the first day, 'cuz they (and I) thought that was cool.

* Note: Both of the pix on the first day that I'm in were taken by lovely strangers, after I'd offered to take pix of them (a couple at the Bean, a woman on her own at the SkyDeck) first.  Too often the photographer isn't in the picture, and I'm happy to take a photo for somebody else... and then I'm not shy about asking them if they'd mind doing the same.  Works great!
** Where we learned that Chicago comes from a Native American word Chigagou meaning something along the lines of "field of the stinky onions."   

Friday, August 23, 2013

9 is big stuff!

(c) 2013 Ms. Huis Herself at

Happy 9th Birthday, Pumpkin!


(Turning 9 is exciting!)  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Too Darn Hot, even to the Bees!

(c) 2013 Ms. Huis Herself at

It's hot.  In fact, it's DARN hot, especially for this northern US clime!   We've had a stretch of around 90F days,  with not much cooling down at night, which is rather uncomfortable!  Luckily for us human types, we can escape to the magical land of Air Conditioning!  Fortunately for the Kluges/Huis household, we gave in and purchased window air conditioning units for the 3 bedrooms last summer.  Thank the Lord for those, 'cuz hot = nobody sleeps (well) = grumpy pants family!  

But my poor little bees haven't got none of that air conditioning business!  Instead, they do this:

They hang out on the front porch when it's hot.

Sometimes there's enough of them hanging out outside that they end up just climbing onto & hanging off of each other... then it's called "bearding."

Here's how bearding looks from the side...

...and the back, so you get a sense of just how many bees are hanging off of each other.  Pretty crazy, huh?

This is a view from above(ish) of the landing board.  Notice anything different about some of the bees?

The ones on the left (south) side that are lined up in rows are fanning - standing there, buzzing their wings like nobody's business, to try to move some (hopefully cooler) air into and up through the hive.

And that concludes your beekeeping lesson for the day!  Hope you enjoyed it! 

Friday, July 05, 2013


(c) 2013 Ms. Huis Herself at

So this happened today, on the last day of the first session of swimming lessons... 

That'd be my 8 year old daughter jumping off the low diving board... and my 6 year old daughter leaping from the high board!  Penguin said today, "I want to try the high diving board now!" So she climbed up, looked around briefly, and then just jumped right off!  No hesitation, no "maybe not today; I'm coming back down," just JUMP!  

It was so much fun, she did it again, several times, sometimes even with the two of them trying to coordinate their jump.  Well done, Penguin!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Color Run 5K

(c) 2013 Ms. Huis Herself at

I did my first 5K of this year this morning, and it was a color run!  As in, while you're running along the course, occasionally you run a gauntlet of people throwing colored paint powder on you!  

It was fun for something different, and a fun way to get my first 5K of the year done.  It's been raining lots lately, and the course was SOAKED.  A couple of times the water was deep and sucky enough that I almost lost a shoe.  There were a couple of small hills, and the trail on them was slippery, slippery clay, so I walked for safety on the last uber-slick one.  I was just glad that it wasn't actively raining while we were running, and the temperature was lovely.

Here's how I looked when I got home afterward....


After a LONG and scrubby shower, I'm pretty much back to normal, with the exception of my blue hand.  Apparently that blue's a little more persistent than the rest of the colors, and has taken up residence on all my knuckles and between my fingers.  Oh well. :)  We'll see how the color sets on the shirt - it's already more blendy than I'd've wanted, but it's definitely not white anymore!