Thursday, December 31, 2009
There is currently a debate about playing Monopoly vs. Risk, or should we watch the movie we got for Christmas or perhaps the one we've had from Netflix for a month? My vote is for a movie so I can keep knitting on the headband for my sister (my plan is to knit a hat, but stop before I start the decreases).
We had a variety of frozen appetizers for dinner (yes, we cooked them first). William tried Ramen noodles for the first time (yes, he liked them). I'm feeling so unambitious it's amazing.
It's not a bad way to start the year, I think. The only way to go is up. And while I appreciate the customs and superstitions that say you should start the new year with a clean house and money around and all the things you want to perpetuate into the new year, I think I'm ok with happy children and full tummies. We'll be cozy and lazy and snuggle with each other. And if that's what the new year holds? That's a good thing.
Happy New Year, everyone.
It's been really really fun. And a little trying at times (good thing we have 3 bathrooms!). The kids got along remarkably well, with a few spats here and there. And so did the adults. And while I'll admit to enjoying being really really lazy today and "cooking" dinner by pulling random leftover appetizers out of the freezer, I miss everybody.
Makes me wish they all lived closer and we could do this more often. But not right away.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I have a definite weakness for unconventional Christmas songs. And a cappella singing.
Holiday cleaning is...coming along. I'm torn between getting it done and waiting until the last minute so it STAYS done. 3 kids? The half-life of bathrooms around here is pretty short.
I'm sort of, not really, almost done with shopping. I'm in the phase where I keep realizing I need a present for so-and-so (including teachers!). I keep thinking I'm almost out of time, because my Mom arrives on Monday and my sister and her family on Tuesday - but really, I can get some shopping done while they're here. Probably. And the knitting for my mom? Not looking like it's going to make it. Maybe. We're going into New York City on Tuesday, and I'm thinking it would be tacky to be knitting her present while with her on the subway. Ya think?
Trying to embrace that "Christmas Spirit" and be mindful of the reason we do all this. It's hard sometimes.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
He was seriously dragging, though, because he didn't get home until midnight last night. Since the marching band won the regional competition, they got invited to play halftime at the Giants-Eagles game last night. So if you watched the game on television, you may have noticed a band standing in a semi-circle for about 2 seconds before they slapped the halftime logo over them. That was us. Everyone was very excited beforehand, however, by the time JC got home, he was cold, tired, and hungry. Giants Stadium lived up to its reputation for being REALLY COLD, and JC was tired enough to be rather unimpressed. The only other comment he made? It was really loud.
JC also had his audition for region band on Saturday. His audition time was set for 1pm, but they were running seriously late and he didn't actually play until after 3. That probably didn't help, but he also said he was really nervous. Regardless, he didn't get in. Could he have practiced his scales and solo more? Well, of course, but he did put in a (somewhat) reasonable effort. And now he has a year to get those scales down before next time. One of his good friends did make it (Yay, Nick!), and another tuba player from the school, who JC did admit is better than he is, just barely squeaked in as 8th out of 8. We knew it would be competetive. But he's clearly a little bummed about it.
Let's end on a high note, shall we? The youth group at our church FINALLY performed the musical they've been practicing for what seems like forever. Other than wishing we had scraped up more of an audience, it went spectacularly well. Rachel, John (in the part of "Dad"), and William performed, and JC ran the sound system and hit all his music cues. Kudos all around, and hooray! No more Sunday evening practices!
And now a quiet week? I wish. Mom arrives Monday, my sister and her family on Tuesday, and, oh yeah, there's this little holiday called "Christmas" that requires shopping, and baking, and cleaning. The good news? John is NOT travelling all week. Hooray!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Huh. Not something that happens every day (at least around here). And wouldn't you know it, today JC actually NEEDS something from school. He's auditioning for the regional High School band tomorrow, and was going to bring home the good tuba from school (the practice one we have at home is kind of on the crappy side). To his credit, when I told him at 6am that he had no school, his first question was about the tuba.
None of the other schools in the district have been closed - but we got the phone alert from all of them letting us know what was going on. I think they were worried about rumour-spread and needed to reassure parents that their kids were safe. Fine, but if I hadn't been up to talk to JC, I would have been annoyed at the phone call at 6:15am. And then for the other school at 6:30.
I did get an email from the band director saying the high school would be open at 6am tomorrow. Auditions are at 8am, so we should be okay- but I would feel better if we could get the tuba today.
What was that about "best-laid plans"?
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Alas, the scanner and dimensional cards don't get along. And I'm too tired to get out my camera. Sorry Dale! Maybe tomorrow. But the fancy border is a punch, and the adorable elf just required a little coloring. The jingle bell that's causing all the trouble was a great touch (although not Post Office friendly).
Linda did NOT torture us by making us cut out the trees. They were die-cuts, just requiring a touch of "snow" for detail. And trimming the deckle edge was also super easy, so this was another easy winner.
I also love Ruth's card. I'm a sucker for monochromatic and I LOVE the combination of Pale Plum and Perfect Plum (Stampin' Up papers). And she had multiple choices for the sentiment, which was fabulous.
Janet's card probably got the most comments for being fun and cute. Also, not too hard or too easy (just like in Goldilocks!). Unfortunately, Janet couldn't join us either because she's sick, but I was able to pick up her shoebox earlier in the week. And yes, we all made extras of our own cards for Janet and Cathie.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I'm totally fascinated with this video (from CRAFT by way of Folding Trees). I would love love love to spend lots of time printing and making books - but I'm intimidated by content. Not the fabrication or technical details, content. But you can only make so many blank books!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Last year we did Marshmallow Shooters. It was awesome, loud, unstructured, and we were finding stale marshmallows for MONTHS afterward. William wanted to do it again, but since there would be some repeat guests, I asked him to come up with something else. Of course all of my ideas were unacceptable - he asked to have a Nerf Gun party. Well, fate seems to smile on 8 year old boys, because ToysRUs had a sale 2 weeks before the party and some of the knockoff Nerf guns were on sale. A 2-pack of six-shooters, 12 bullets per gun, AND a target for $10. Score! And it was even the same guns that he had bought earlier in the year, so I didn't have to buy new guns for all three of my kids. I bought 10 guns (5 2-packs, so $50! Way cheaper than a party place), and we invited 9 friends.
So it was William's "Nerf" Blaster Birthday; everybody got a gun, goggles, and a bucket with 20 bullets in it (we bought extras). And they spent a hour shooting each other, the targets (well, near the targets), the walls, pyramids of empty cans, and anything else in sight. Except the adults, we were mostly unscathed. Then we decorated cupcakes (that's a LOT of sprinkles!), ate ice cream, sang "Happy Birthday" and that was it. Everyone had fun, they all got to take home a gun, a bucket, and 20 bullets, and I have no stale marshmallows in the couch. Foam bullets I can live with.
Except for feeling a little deaf for the next few days, and a LOT of crumbs and sprinkles on the floor, the damage was negligible. It's going to be hard to top this one, but I said the same thing last year, so we'll see!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I have become a news junkie. This was reinforced when my children were very small, and I didn't necessarily want them exposed to the images on TV, but I could listen to the radio. I developed the habit of listening to All Things Considered while I made dinner almost every night. I love the "comedy" shows like Car Talk.
But I think my favorite-est thing on public radio is Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I find this weekly news quiz show just hysterical every week. I rarely catch it when it's broadcast, but through the magic of podcast, and Internet radio, I listen most weeks.
As I was preparing to listen online today, I noted a link at the bottom entitled "Knitter's Revenge." Mo Rocca had made a comment a few weeks ago about hand knit sweaters being "itchy". So, well, the knitting community just couldn't take that lying down...
You just don't find this sort of thing published on other networks, you know?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
William came home from school early on Wednesday, and by Thursday evening was running a mild fever. Rachel was warm on Thursday, and didn't appear to spike much of a fever but has been very run down... but I'm 99% sure it's not the dreaded flu. William had bounced back by Friday afternoon, and except for a lovely hacking cough, has been obnoxiously happy. Rachel is still dragging, so she stayed home from school today, although she went yesterday. JC is now really tired, and I'm waiting for the fever and cough to hit.
I think I've had a touch of it, or at least, I've been exhausted the last two days. Could perhaps be that John had to get up at 5am to catch a plane on Monday, and by the time I got the kitchen cleaned up and the necessary chores done that night, it was 11:30pm. When the alarm went off this morning, it was REALLY hard to get out of bed.
So we are dragging through November so far. All the activities have been hit-or-miss. I'll go to the band parents meeting tonight, but I think JC is going to skip robotics club, poor thing. That's an indication of how he feels - he really wanted to go. But I'm plying everyone with orange juice and vitamin C, and hopefully will get ALL of us to bed early tonight.
Monday, November 2, 2009
So the last competition was in Pennsylvania on Halloween night (who schedules these things?). The performance time was late enough (of course) that Rachel and William went trick-or-treating, THEN we loaded up in the car and drove west. I figured we had the time change, the kids could stay up late.
While we were waiting for the scoring, a university band came out and marched. JC later told me that there were 425 members in this band. They filled the field! They were marching on, and they just kept coming! And they were really good, and did lots of fun stuff. 24 sousaphones. William really enjoyed that, but by that time it was about 11:30pm, so we started to leave before they announced the scores. We could hear the announcer while we were walking down the street, so we walked very slowly, and heard the whole thing.
WE WON! Our band has never won this competition before. John described the director as "beside himself." It was a stunning end to a really surprising season. And now, I won't be blogging about marching band anymore (probably). Until next fall. Unless I can get the video I took to upload.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
John and I were avid Twin Peaks watchers in the early 90's. We saw every episode except one, I think, even taping them if we couldn't watch live. Yes, taping, with a VCR, how quaint! But watching this episode tonight reminded me how complicated and wierd that show was - this was an episode from fairly late into the series, full of odd characters and strange images, some quite disturbing. It was a true series, as well, and if you missed an episode you missed a lot, so watching tonight meant really digging deep to try to remember who was who and what was happening.
It made me think how television has changed, or perhaps I have changed. We hardly watch any network TV anymore, and really don't follow any series. That started when we had kids, and bedtime was an involved process and invariably overlapped the start of a show. But even now, with children who are much more independent about bedtime, I rarely feel compelled to watch a comedy or a drama, usually opting for Home & Garden, Discovery Channel, or something else that I can drop in and out of.
I hear people talking about Lost, and how wierd and compelling that is, or Pushing Daisies, and now I'm thinking that all those "fringe-y" shows owe a debt to David Lynch and Twin Peaks. It was such an "out there" show, even now, and I think it probably did open some doors to what was acceptable. And it definitely did not coddle the viewer, either in storyline or imagery. And I have to say, it really looked like it has aged well. Sometimes you see an old show, and it looks dated. This didn't.
Of course, now I have to go to bed with all this disturbing stuff in my head.
This is referred to as a "company front". Inside, they just play in this formation and the color guard is behind them doing their thing in place as well. JC is the third sousaphone from the right. If you squint.
This was when they came back in and were waiting for the scores. Notice our kids are still in neat rows and at parade rest. Other bands were seated in the stands, and a couple of kids started running around the room trying to get people to do the wave while we waited. Our kids never cracked. It was very impressive, actually.
Friday, October 23, 2009
He has an all-day competition tomorrow. Of course.
It's down near Philadelphia, so we're hoping that either the rain will miss there or will have already moved through by the time they have to compete. They kids have been warned to bring dry underthings, because they WILL be practicing tomorrow morning, even if it's raining.
Sunday is the State Championships. Forecast is for beautiful 60 deg. weather. We can hope, right?
We've been enjoying the Funky Winkerbean comic strip this week about the Battle of the Bands (week of October 19-24). We understand now.
One more week of band practice. Two more weekends of competition. Not that I'm counting down or anything...
Thursday, October 15, 2009
We have suddenly vaulted from mid-October to something much more late November-like. Cold (less than 40 F), rainy (could have sworn it was getting slushy this afternoon, just a bit), and very windy. And this is predicted pretty much for the next 2 days, maybe a little more. A classic Nor'Easter is roaring up the East Coast. For those not in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, a Nor'Easter is a weather system that comes up the East Coast and heads in a North-Easterly direction across New England. Much of our weather comes from the west (over land)and goes pretty much straight east. A Nor'Easter picks up extra energy because of the temperature difference between land and water, so they're usually rather intense.
Of course, joy of joys, this weekend is the USSBA Yamaha Cup - an uber big marching band competition at Giants Stadium. We've been looking forward to it (all except the nearly midnight performance time. !!!) since JC started this whole saga. If it's held during "weather", well, it will still be an experience. However, the band director wouldn't sell me tickets this afternoon, because there is a possibility that it will be postponed due to weather. Given the fact that Giants Stadium is notorious for being a wind tunnel and a good 10 degrees colder than the surrounding area, I can't say that I would be heartbroken. However, if they have to move it to a weekday, well, that's going to be a problem. I'm sure it will run just as late, and I probably can't get a babysitter on a weeknight, and I can't drag my 7 yr old out that late, so I'm not sure what we would do. I guess we'll wait and see.
John is flying home tonight from spending the week in Toronto. Sounds like he's finally on the plane, an hour and a half late so far. Keeping my fingers crossed, it's a nasty night to be out.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I can already see that it will continue to be hard to see my children face adversity as they grow older. When they're small, I can wipe the tears and counsel about friendships and give constructive help. As they get older, I can listen, and facilitate activities, and nag about responsibility. And I'm sure as they leave the nest we'll be torn by the need to support financially versus the character building of making it on your own. I can only hope that we find the right balance. I don't want my children to come back and live in the basement, but on the other hand, I want them to know they will always be loved and we'll catch them if they fall.
I don't think it gets easier as they get older, just different.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
They're not winning.
They're almost winning, which almost feels worse. I was just on the phone with John, who is down in Maryland watching them compete in a regional competition. I happened to call just as they were announcing the winners - we came in 2nd overall in our division. Apparently we won Best Visual Display, but not Best Music. Last weekend we came in 4th overall - and only .7 points behind the winner, so that was a tight grouping.
I just worry that the directors are going to be disappointed and take it out on the kids (not physically, but mentally). JC is working harder at this than I've ever seen him work before. He is trying to be organized, and it's hard for him. For example, he forgot/missed the announcement that they were supposed to show up this morning (6:45am) in uniform - I went by the paper that came home, which said "change after rehearsal". And he forgot his student ID, so he won't be allowed to wander around the National Mall in Washington, DC on his own. (Fortunately, his father and sister are there, but he'll have to go around with them (which isn't horrible, but still).) But he's really trying hard, and taking this seriously, and appears to be keeping up with his classes. And he appears to be at least as good as the other new tuba players, and possibley better - he's done his homework, he knows his music, and he knows where and when he's supposed to be.
And if they don't win one of these major competitions? I hope he doesn't feel like the hard work isn't worth it. If they don't win, well, they're in a more competitive division with a LOT of new people - it's not an excuse, it's true. And they've come a long way since the middle of August. I hope they can be proud of that, because they should be. I hope the directors can recognize that - I assume they must, since they've been at this a long time. I hope they tell the kids that.
And I'm really really hoping they do well at State Championships in two weeks.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
But the worst by far is the Internet. I found the post-it note video from a link about typefaces, which I found in a quiz about Helvetica vs. Ariel (check it out if you're a font geek like me!), which I found in a blog with instructions about making your own bows, which I found on a creative blog I check regularly.
And somehow, my floors never get vacuumed. I wonder why?
(And we're not even counting the time spent putting together the blog post with links!)
Friday, October 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
However, things are actually reasonably organized and (fingers crossed) somewhat advertised, so the main issue now is getting my OWN junk tagged and ready to go. I have remarkably few clothes on hangers, but a large pile of games and books, so I guess that's progress.
But I should go make more progress - since I have a back-to-school event tonight, one tomorrow, and then setup for the sale Thursday afternoon. Time is running out...
Monday, September 21, 2009
It would help if I was sleeping better. Not that THAT has anything to do with consuming caffeinated beverages at dinnertime, or the impending consignment sale at the church that I'm running, or anything like that. No, no, stimulants and stress couldn't POSSIBLY be the problem. I sat down to watch football and knit yesterday afternoon, thinking I'd take a little break and then get to work, but ended up sleeping through most of the 1pm game. It helped a little, but not a lot, which is how I knew I was sick.
So I'm moving in a bit of a fog today. So far I've blown off the grocery store, which really can wait until tomorrow. But I did drag myself to the gym, but unfortunately that apparently has sapped both my energy and my motivation. I have to pick up both boys for a dentist appointment in an hour, but am I going to get anything done in that hour? Not likely.
So I will drink some (more) orange juice, and lots of water, and NO caffeine, and hopefully sleep well tonight. And feel better in the morning.
Monday, September 14, 2009
JC survived his all-day band practice and competition on Saturday - they even placed first, which is pretty impressive considering they'd been practicing since 8am in the rain, ate dinner at the school, then got on the bus to compete at 8:45pm after an hour and a half bus ride. I picked him up about 11:45pm. He was remarkably chipper, happy they won, and very wet and stinky. Hoping it doesn't get much worse than that.
Our weather has done a 180 to bright, sunny, moderate to warm temperatures. Perfect September weather, really. I had thoughts of mowing the lawn but alas, laundry beckons, as do bill paying and other lovely tasks like cleaning the litter boxes. Unfortunately, blogging only delays things, they don't go away, so...
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
I've realized I have a consignment sale in 4 weeks, so I really need to get on the stick for that. I have activities to create for our Sunday School kick-off next Sunday, and of course, all the support activities for everyone else's needs. John will be leaving for Amsterdam on Wednesday, so he'll get a taste of the kids' first half-day, then be gone for almost a week. To his credit, he is upset that he'll miss JC's first performance and competition for marching band. But there will be more!
School starts Wednesday. Tomorrow is our dry run - I've told the kids that I'm waking them at school times tomorrow. But that means I have to go to bed as well. Ugh. I'm looking forward to the school year - except for that waking up thing.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
We are camping in Pennsylvania this weekend. By ourselves. I'm bringing knitting, a book (maybe two), and while I will pack my swimsuit, I have no actual intention of using it. I'm going to eat whatever I feel like (for the most part) and just chill. I have packed cookies.
Tuesday will be a whirlwind of activity, with school open houses, dentists appointments, and more band practice, but on Wednesday? They all go back to school. Just a half day, true, but Thursday will be a regular day and hopefully that calm while they are gone will enable me to handle the after school chaos with equanimity and grace. Mostly.
And the best news? John is making huge strides on the deck. I need to take some pictures, but we've gone from the slow progress of hole digging to the lightning speed of framing. Kazaam! It's awesome!
Monday, August 24, 2009
JC starts Band Camp tomorrow. It's not quite all day, but darn close: 8am-3:30pm, then back for 6-9pm. And yes, it's fully August here, although not quite as hot and humid as it could be. We're actually getting slightly lower temps this week, which will be a blessing. And he's only got three days this week and four next. Falls under the "it could be worse" heading, I think.
We're still waiting for William's teacher letter. However, he's the only one who's received a bus schedule, so I'm kind of chafing at the bit to get everyone settled and know what my days will look like. I think we're at the mercy of the bureaucracy, so we'll get it when we get it.
I actually baked cookies today. Of course, they're for band camp so we don't get to keep all of them, but that's probably a good thing.
Off to bed early - we have to have him there by 7:45. AM. ugh.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Sigh. I knew this might happen. It's summer, it's high season for vacations, and it's a Saturday. A rainy one here, which I thought might help, but still Saturday.
There's still 6 weeks until the sale, and I have some ideas to drum up consignors. Worst case scenario, we cancel the sale. Actually, worst case is to get something like 2/3 our desired number of consignors and have to make a decision. We haven't spent (much) money yet, about $100 on stamps for postcards.
However, the church is raising $10,000 for repaving the parking lot, and a consignment sale would help a lot towards that.
Hello? Hello? Is anyone out there?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
It's interesting sometimes, because we attend church (Methodist) regularly and are active in the church. So are they. But clearly this has raised some questions for A. Although he probably knows more about different religions than my children, clearly that fundamental aspect of faith is hard for him, and his church doesn't have a belief system except to respect others (as best I can tell).
How do you explain faith to an extremely bright and logical 14 year old? How do you reconcile that fundamental difference that I, an (over)educated engineer, a believer in science, believes that evolution is true and also believes that God created the Universe? As far as A is concerned, there is no proof of God's existence, and that leap into faith is incomprehensible. And of course, trying to be truthful with him makes me think about all the aspects of faith that I do struggle with, from the literalness of the Bible (I'm of the inspired camp myself) to the necessity to believe in Jesus for salvation (I have a hard time condemning non-believers outright).
But that's religion, and I think A is really looking for an explanation of faith. And faith, well, I can define faith (my favorite is "Believing without seeing"), but how do you explain faith? How much of my faith is truly believed and how much is learned habit (see how this is hard for me?)? I know part of A's problem is the representations of religious people he sees in the media. Face it, some of the "Christian" rhetoric out there makes me wonder if they ever read the Bible. But I will continue trying to explain, and talking when he wants to listen, and listening when he wants to talk. Because perhaps this is why God has put me here with this child at this time, to teach him at the very least that God is working through some people, and that people of faith can be kind and considerate and smart. It's going to be an interesting road.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
It did make me think back to my days as a Stampin' Up demonstrator. They hold a yearly convention for their demonstrators, and the first two times I went, it was for ALL their demonstrators, so ~7000 of us descended on the Las Vegas Convention Center, then the Orlando Convention Center the next year. I'm sure they didn't know what to make of us. It was equal parts business convention, crafting, and fan-dom. When you have that many women (mostly) there for something that they are both trying to make some money at and also just plain enjoying, it really becomes a very big enthusiastic party. And the company encouraged, or at least didn't discourage, a bit of cult of personality around the founder/owner.
Descriptions of the Sock Summit seemed similar. Many people, passionate about their craft, meeting their idols, learning something as well... Well, it was probably rather overwhelming. But it was probably a lot of fun. There's nothing like being with thousands of other people who share a passion with you. You stop feeling so much like you have to explain what you love to do.
There's a wool convention in New York State this fall. It's just after my birthday, and I've already told John that I'd REALLY like to attend. Haven't quite figured out how it's going to happen, but I'd love to have a little bit of that camaraderie again. Gets you all fired up, you know. I could use a little passion and energy these days.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
This here green and gold glory is a hot pool We saw a lot of them in Yellowstone, and they are really quite beautiful. This colors are from heat-loving algae and bacteria, and from the mineral content of the water. Different colors of algae grow at different temperatures, and often, the center of the pool is too hot for any algae but appears bright blue because of the minerals in the water reflecting sunlight (same reason that sky is blue). This one is green because the center is cool enough for the yellow algae to grow. Yellow + Blue = Green.
This is Grand Geyser, the tallest predictable geyser in the world (that's what the sign said). We got there at 2pm, it was predicted to go off between 2 and 6 pm. We got lucky, it went off about 30 minutes after we got there and it was spectacular. I may post the video I took of it sometime later. It was definitely worth the wait.
It's in the same geyser basin as Old Faithful, which, oddly, was the area of the park we probably spent the least amount of time. It is usually the first place people go, and certainly has the highest concentration of geysers.
And of course, it has Old Faithful. Which is still faithful - every 90 minutes, + or - 10 minutes. We were there in the evening as the sun was setting, which was really annoying because all the good seats were taken. Until the geyser erupted and I got this shot looking into the sun.
One of the things I highly recommend is the Junior Ranger program. For kids between the ages of 5 and 12, $3 gets you a workbook with activities they have to do, everything from coloring to attending a program to finding out certain facts. Rachel really enjoyed it, and you get a special Junior Ranger badge at the end. The rangers will ask for everyone's attention and talk about the accomplishment and the kids eat it up.
But this marks the first time in my life, after MULTIPLE visits to Yellowstone (at least 12-15, having grown up nearby), that I have seen a bear in the wild. The curse is broken.
Like the hats? Yellowstone is ~7000 ft. above sea level, and there's very little shade in geyser areas. We all had hats, and not one of us got a sunburn. Yay!
See? Grandma has a hat too. And me. We're looking at the wildflower guide trying to identify flowers beyond calling them LBF's. You know, little blue flowers?
Looking out over Norris Geyser Basin. This is where we first learned about color-coded algae.
But no shade, see? You walk on these boardwalks out over the thermal areas, so you don't fall through the thin crust into the boiling water. It's a good thing. Most of the hot pools were between 150-200F, which doesn't sound so bad until you realize water boils at 199F at this altitude.
My crew at Artist's Paint Pots. Mud pots. I think they're my favorite thing at the park. They're just so... bloopy.
This was actually before Yellowstone, in Grandma's backyard, playing "fetch" with my sister's dog, Lucy. Lucy loves to play fetch, but she prefers "chase."
This, the most adorable baby in the world (after my own kids, of course), is my sister's baby Matthew. We got to meet him for the first time. It was love at first sight for all of us. John complained after we got home that he didn't get to hold the baby. Grandma and I tried to monopolize him.
The kids would probably say the highlight was go-kart racing, which was a Sunday afternoon spur-of-the-moment.
Our last "hike" in Yellowstone was out to Morning Glory Pool near Old Faithful. It was hot, and as mentioned, no shade. JC took brief pity on William (after much begging) and did give him a ride for a bit. So did I. John was merciless.
See aforementioned tip about not approaching bison. These people were lucky, however, it does make getting to your car interesting sometimes...
At the top of the Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Really, a "on the edge" overlook. The hike to get down to this point is only at third of a mile long - but it has a vertical drop of 600 ft. Going down isn't so bad, as it's a series of switchbacks, but going back up is a challenge. There's a bench at the corner of every switchback. And remember, it's about 7000 ft elevation, so you really will feel the lack of oxygen. But well worth the view.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
School got out on Thursday. Sleep-away camp started Saturday (1 week).
Pick up the kids at camp on Saturday. We went to a renaissance fair on Sunday. We drove to Kutztown PA for a festival on Tuesday. We went camping on Thursday through Sunday.
Now we're home - BREATHE. Sleep. Do laundry. Monday through the following Tuesday.
Wednesday (early) we fly out West to visit my mom for 10 days. It will be wonderful. The trip includes Yellowstone National Park, my sister, her husband, their NEW BABY, and their dog, and may include my brother's family (and possibly my brother). I can't wait.
We arrive home on Saturday. The following Saturday, we have to deliver Rachel and JC back to camp for 2 weeks. With all their stuff. William has one week of day camp during this time, so no sleeping in.
The kids come home on Saturday. Pre-band camp starts on Tuesday, then real band camp the following Monday.
Suffice to say, now that I've stunned everyone with too much detail, there are not too many blocks of unplanned time in our summer. So we've been sleeping a little later every morning, and staying up a little later every night. We've been watching trashy network TV (Wipeout, anyone? America's Got Talent?). I've been reading blogs but not writing mine. Ambitious projects, like clear out the back hall or garage or basement? We're not even doing a good job of keeping the dining table cleared off.
So in the next few days, I have to get a little more motivated or the house will be a dump when we leave (and therefore when we return). But if we want to spend an afternoon reading books and playing video games? We have been.
Friday, June 26, 2009
It was very good, although it's rather an impenetrable piece. I love Bill Irwin, if you don't know who he is, click the link, and of course Nathan Lane is Nathan Lane (!). They were fabulous, and John Goodman was good as Pozzo, but it's a tough character to like.
We found a nice mid-range Italian restaurant around the corner for dinner. I don't remember the name but it's right next to the Dave Letterman theater. And the show was in Studio 54, which didn't look like a nightclub at all - apparently it was previously a theater, and we couldn't figure out HOW you'd have a nightclub there, because it looked like it had always been a theater. Gilt and cherubs and everything. And we walked from Penn Station to 54th street, and I even anticipated walking and carefully chose shoes - which rubbed my heels raw and gave me blisters on my toes. Sigh. But I chose to walk instead of take a cab because I LIKE walking in New York. Watching people is fun.
However, on the way back to the train station, we walked through Times Square which was PACKED at 11pm. I mean, shoulder to shoulder, squeezing along the sidewalk. There were numerous TV broadcasts setting up, I think to report Michael Jackson's death, because where else would you go for crowd reaction than Times Square for news like that? And that may have been why it was so crowded. But I didn't enjoy that - I mean, I like people watching, but not when I'm crushed by a crowd!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Today, so far, has been more boring than fun. And the pool was FREEZING!!! But, we did play Ultimate Frizbe!! The lunch was awsome today. There was gravy, stuffing, and lots of...turkey!! Later, I'm going to do body painting, or knee tag. Yesterday, we played a game called smog. Travis said he was a character in the Hobbit.
- Rachel M
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Yes, I sent my 7-yr old to sleep-away camp for a week. I'm getting two reactions. 1. Are you nuts??? and/or 2. Wow, what are you going to do all week by yourself????
I am feeling slightly nuts that I sent a 7-yr old who's never had a sleepover to camp. Although he has spent a couple of nights at the grandparents' (with his siblings, without parents at night), and when he was a toddler, spent a week at the other grandparents' house sans parents. Not that he remembers that. But he's not a hugely clingy child (mostly), and we've been working on independence in terms of showers and such. Bedtime may be the sticking point, but he's in a cabin with 9 other boys about his age, so there's a lot of thrill to that (but maybe not much sleeping). I'm feeling sorry for the counselors in his cabin, frankly.
As to what I'm going to do, well, I don't know. John is away on a business trip Monday and Tuesday, so I'll be REALLY on my own. Kind of looking forward to it, actually. Eat, sleep, everything totally on my schedule. Wow! And we're loosely planning on going into New York to do ... something. Eat good food, see a show, something.
Yes, of course I miss them. A little. Mostly I'm worrying that they're getting rain and thunder, although it's stopped raining here and there's actually SUNSHINE!!! But of course it's humid. Somehow I think they'll manage to have fun, regardless.
My biggest concern? It's a Quaker camp, so this morning they had a Quaker worship service. An hour, no sermon, no music, no talking. Unless you stand up and share something about your feelings or faith. I have NO IDEA how William sat without talking for an hour. I can't even begin to imagine him doing that, so I'm dying to know what happened.
7-yr old boys. An hour of silence. Really?
Friday, June 12, 2009
And now you can see why it's called a star book. It's meant to be displayed like this or you can close it up and tie it shut.
I didn't realize the end pieces would be so tight to the cover or I wouldn't have spent so much time on them. It's a list of all the Caldecott Medal books, years and illustrators, and the quote is printed on vellum, mounted behind the window cut out of the first layer, and there's a piece of decorative paper glued behind on the second layer.
From the top, you can see how the "window" pages stick out. The book is cut from one square piece of paper, divided into 16 equal squares. You then cut along some of the fold lines to make a long strip of paper that turns, or "meanders". Some people let the book turn, I chose to attach those pages together to make my windows.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Let me tell you, as a parent, there is actually an upside.
Three times now, I've had a child on a field trip, and actually had some idea what they were doing all day. Really! Both kids (Rachel and JC) took their cell phones along (basic safety precaution, plus you never REALLY know when the bus is coming home). Both of them, unasked, sent me pictures and texts during the day. "I'm going to ride that roller coaster" "Look at the Liberty Bell" "Check out this funny t-shirt"
Ok, not a lot of messages, but some every now and then. And it makes me feel connected. So many times they're gone all day someplace cool (yes, I know they're gone all day at school, but I have a pretty good idea what happens there. I think.) and by the time they get home, they're too tired to tell me more than, "yeah, it was fun."
So I get to live vicariously through them, a little. I get to see what they're seeing (at least a bit). I get a talking point to ask questions about. It's just a really nice thing. I hope they keep updating me, at least a little, for a long time. Text messages, emails, phone calls, I'm not picky.
And yes, I have talked to my own mother this week.
Friday, May 29, 2009
The other day I came home and Sheba was by the BACK door (full glass, paned like a French door). You could tell just by her body language that something was very interesting - ears back, body stiff, tip of the tail just twitching. So I very cautiously walked over and peeked out.
There was a chipmunk, not even a foot from the door, sitting, working on an acorn. Completely unconcerned that there was a vicious predator nearby ready to rip his guts out. I don't know if he was unaware of her, or knew that she couldn't get to him. But he was there for a loooong time. "Taunting" came to mind.
The Chipmunk Channel - all prey, all the time. Beats fuzzy mice for keeping indoor cats entertained.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Never Not Knitting Calendar 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
This is NOT a good thing.
I caught him trying to get an end loose from a spool of it last week. It was tightly wound, with the end tucked in, and he was still working hard at it. I always assumed it was the ends that he found enticing, just as cats will go after the moving end of any string.
No, it appears to be the ribbon itself. Which he eats. And then of course either throws up or poops out - until the day he eats too much and gets his insides all messed up. George, you have an itty bitty kitty brain. Not healthy.
Last night, he chewed through the ribbon on the balloon John got for his birthday. Not the free end, tied to the chair. The part between the balloon and the chair. Under tension. Again, no enticing free end, so, clearly, curling ribbon must become a controlled substance in our house, even more than it has been.
George is jonesing for his fix.