Monday, March 29, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays

Rainy days and Mondays....

never get my Chica down....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just Ducky

One morning as I was getting ready to take Chica to school, I looked out the sliders towards the pool and was stunned to see this pair of ducks swimming on top of our pool cover.

I usually see this pair swimming in the wet woods behind the house after a significantly heavy rain storm. I see them all over town in little ponds and swampy areas. With all of the spots to swim around town, I was shocked that they took the time to land on our above ground pool cover. There definitely was a lot of water from the winter thaw but I still wasn't quite sure of the appeal of our pool.

I ran to get my camera and took a bunch of shots of the ducks through our glass sliders before I brought Chica to school....almost 15 minutes late! It was a bright sunny morning, so I knew I had a chance of getting some good shots.

After some swimming the pair made its way off the cover to the pool edge to dry off and catch some rays. Perfect photo op.

From out one of the bedroom windows upstairs.....catching the reflections....

It took a while for Buddy to catch on to the ducks. He was looking desperately out the sliders but his view was blocked by parts of our deck. I took my camera with me as I brought Chica to the car with Buddy following. He tore around the garage after the ducks....

and scared the mama right off the edge back onto the cover.

When I got back home from dropping off Chica the ducks were gone. It sure had been a surprisingly fun photo shoot. I drained a lot of water off the pool cover later that week but the pair has made its way back again for another visit. Hoping that once the cover is off the lovebirds will wait until next spring to visit!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

100 Day Noodle Skateboard

Ahhh, recently it was that time of year again for the good 'ole Kindergarten 100 Day Project. Luke's turn this time. I was trying to think of some ideas for him that were fun and original. He wasn't really interested in anything I had to say. I have seen some of those 100 Day Projects in the hallways and some of them are so cool. Luke decided he wanted to make something out of noodles. I winced at the thought...probably one of the most popular ideas.

It was about a week before and he was starting to get antsy. He would come home from school and say, "Some of the kids have started their projects. I need to start mine NOW! Can we start now??" I was not prepared to start at that immediate moment. The organizer in me knew he had to have a plan. I would ask, "What do you want to make of noodles?". He thought about it for a while and said, "A skateboard. Can we start it now?". Admittedly I did not have a vision for this skateboard made of 100 noodles. I knew we had to wait for the weekend to get at least something to display it on. I told him, "You really need to sketch out what you think it will look like." I did find a little sketch of a skateboard on a notepad later that day. I was very encouraged with his persistence.

Saturday rolled around and I finally made it to Michaels with Luke and Jack. We walked through the store and I was hoping that Luke would see something else and maybe change his mind. It was fruitless. He really wanted to the skateboard of noodles. So I decided to let him go with his idea. I didn't want to force something on him that he wasn't excited about. Plus, he was really into it.

So we left Michaels with a poster board, some paints and some black sand. When we got home I let Luke pick the noodles he wanted to use and he went with some kind of penne. He counted out the 100 noodles and then arranged them on the poster board in the shape of a skateboard. I started to see his vision come alive.

Then the fun started. I let Jack handle the glue gun and he helped Luke glue all of those noodles to the poster board.

Jack was such a big help. I didn't have to do a thing except take a few pictures and watch with enjoyment. Who ever said these school projects were a pain? No chance.

After the glue dried it was time to paint the noodles. I envisioned something totally different from that exercise but Luke decided he wanted to do a multi-color skateboard and randomly painted the noodles different colors.

After that, they traced a sneaker onto the skateboard and colored it in, put in a leg, made a cool textured road with black sand on black paint, gave it a title and signature and boom....done. Although Jack helped him, it was all executed based on Luke's ideas. And frankly, I was so happy to see the interaction between the two.

Luke was so proud of his project and I knew that he was going to confidently say it was his idea and he would be able to describe exactly how the project was done. So it all worked like a charm. We both learned some lessons during the process. I learned to believe in his ideas and help him execute them and he learned how to plan, organize and complete a project. Pretty sweet.

Here he is with his final project.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Snow Ranger

Our last two days at our local ski mountain were picture perfect. The weather was just gorgeous. Actually, every time I skied this winter it was beautiful. On the second to last day Chris went up with the kids and got there in time to put Chica in a 10-2 lesson. She was ready to do the extended lesson, even at three years old. Chris had taken her up and down the mountain so many times with the harness that she was confident and had good balance. What we needed her to do was learn to turn. I knew she could do it, but when she had her Dad around she didn't feel the need to try. She loved just zipping down the mountain with him full force.

So she agreed to take the lesson without any trouble. (Note: Each of her brothers had moaned and groaned about lessons when they were little)

She started off with all of the kids on the magic carpet. After the lunch, the instructors moved her and some others from the group to the rope tow hill. There they practiced making turns in a line behind the instructors. I had arrived at the mountain and was so excited to watch her go down the mountain by herself for the first time. Her Daddy had taught her well. She kept her hands on her knees and was in total control.

After a couple of these runs I watched as an instructor accompanied my baby girl and a couple others toward the chairlift. I walked over and asked if that's where she was going and one instructor said she was in complete control and was ready to head up.

I knew this was an incredible break-through. If we could get Chica off the harness then I could ski with the kids on my own if I needed to, while Dad was in meetings, etc. I saw her come down a hill with her group and head back to the chairlift but missed the photo op. Her second time up I was armed and ready with my camera but they came down another hill and I missed it again. By then, it was the end of the lesson and all of the kids convened at the magic carpet for their 'award ceremony'.

Words cannot express how proud and excited I was to watch Chica standing there after having accomplished what she did. Each of the kids' names was to be announced and each would make there way down to Peppermint Patty for a hug or high five and a treat.

Chica was beyond thrilled to see Peppermint Patty again and went right for the high five.

The head of the ski school looked genuinely proud and told her she had a great day.

My little girl was now officially a Snow Ranger.
One step closer to Daddy's dream of her being the next Lindsey Vonn.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Winter Fun at Camp Jewell

A few weeks back I got a little crazy and took the the kids to a YMCA winter camp for a few days. My friend Deb has blogged about this place called Camp Jewell a couple of times and I always admired it and knew my kids would absolutely love all of the activities there. So when Deb asked if we had any interest I knew it was the time to go. In order to get the costs down I asked a couple other friends and we ended up booking an entire cabin for the first ever Winter Family Camp!! So what we had were 5 moms and 16 kids heading off to stay together!! Who knew how it would go, how the weather would be, if the kids would get sick, how Chica would handle it????? For me, though, it was worth the risk.

So after I made arrangements for the dogs and then packed up my truck to the rim with winter gear, skates, bedding, clothes, medicines, snacks and toiletries....3 of 5 families went off in a convoy to our destination.

Admittedly it was an iffy start. A snowstorm had begun and we were driving right into it.....on curvy, dark, hilly roads. The snow was coming really down and the roads were slick. I was thankful that Chris insisted I got brand new tires before the trip. We made it there safely despite our white knuckles!

The storm left a beautiful 6+ inches of snow and the most perfect of temperatures for our stay at Camp Jewell. After we checked in we lugged all of our stuff into the cabin and made claims on our beds. There were 4 rooms of 6 bunks and Chica and I shared a room with most of the other ladies on the trip and the boys stuck with their buds. After we settled in we were off to some night tubing. I was feeling pretty good about things when I went to bed that night.

The next couple of days was a whirlwind of activity and fun. (Oh, and one of the best parts of the deal was that all the meals were included. And the food was actually REALLY good!!) It felt so good to be outside and enjoying the beautiful weather. The activities were nonstop and we found ourselves separating into different activities based on the kids' interests.

One of the great winter attractions at Camp Jewell is the tubing hill. Chica and the 6-year old crowd really enjoyed the tubing, despite the long walk back up the stairs with the tubes.

The boys were very anxious to do Target: both Archery and BB-guns. I enjoyed that too but did not have very good accuracy.

Jack and Ben went cross-country skiing with a big group and loved it. I regret not joining in but will definitely participate next time!

I took one group out ice fishing on Triangle Lake. There were holes drilled (the ice was 17 inches thick!) and poles with hooks and real worms. The fishing was a nice chance to rest for a bit. Ben had real hopes to catch something but came up empty. We had a long walk back, but it was beautiful when the sun came through the clouds.

Everyone enjoyed some quiet time at Arts and Crafts. The Camp offered Leather Crafts, Shrinky Dinks, Painting and a crowd favorite.....Candle Making. I loved the Candle Making. Aside from the cool candles we created, it was quiet and relaxing.

The Camp had a little farm of animals that the kids (and I) loved to visit and help feed. I about died when Stanley appeared looking for his leftover ort. He popped up on the fence like a dog. It was a sight to see. The turkey had stunning colors but we were a little nervous of him since we were told he was protective of the chickens.

The Camp offered a break-out session by age group where the counselors would take the kids and the adults could hang together for an activity or do something on their own. I chose to get my good camera out and take some photos. I captured some of the big kids in their snow ball fight. They built snow forts and fought against the counselors and another group.

The last morning of our stay the kids all got a chance to do the "Flying Squirrel" where they get hoisted up into the air with a chance to 'fly'. And my baby girl got right up and took a turn. This activity left a lasting impression on the kids and they all said it was a favorite.

There was also Campfire and Smores night......

And a Dutch Auction where groups had to work together and come up with quick skits. (This is not my strength.....or Ben's)

And if this all doesn't sound fun and exhausting enough there was also a competitive Broomball game which I played in for over an hour and 7 a.m. snowshoe hikes that Jack and Ben went on!!!

I'm still not sure how we got it all done. We lived in our ski pants and boots for 3.5 days (except bedtime, of course). But what I DO know is that there was nothing I would have changed. The counselors were awesome,the hot chocolate available around the clock was outstanding, the cabins were comfortable and warm, the food was tasty, the company was fun, my four kids passed out on the way home and we will definitely be back.

Here is our group minus one family who had to leave early.

And here are the kids and I as we were heading out the door toward home.

I can guarantee the kids will forever remember this trip. The fun outweighed the effort 100 fold!