Monday, December 27, 2010
Now since I'm sure you are all sitting on pins and needles, filled with anxiety about the happenings of our Christmas adventures, I will relate our entire holiday itinerary for your enjoyment and fullfillment.
Actually, I just have one small bit of interest about our Christmas Eve night. We started Chistmas Eve by going to our 7pm church candlelight service. We really enjoy our church. So much so, that two years ago, when our church needed new hymnals, we bought three of them and donated them to the church in memory of two of my grandfathers and one of Lady Di's grandfathers all of whom had passed in recent years. That was two years ago and we have yet to find one of those hymnals during service. It doesn't help that we always sit in one of two pews at the front of the church. But I still check the inside cover of the hymnals there just in case the ushers, for some reason, decide to rotate the stock every once in a while.
So back to our Christmas Eve service. It was much like past Chrismas Eve services. We sang carols and everyone got to light their little candles while singing Silent Night. This part is the kids' favorite and every year we recite the proper candle lighting procedure. Never tip a lighted candle! Then we view the reason for such a rule, a tiny spot of melted wax on the seat of the pew just in front of where Number One Son stands. This family tradition goes back about five years or so when N1S was less diligent about his flame.
Just as the service was wrapping up, Lady Di noticed that the 9pm service would feature a choir selection and a song by a quartet including a student home from college that we know to have a very good singing voice.
LD then said, "Oh we will have to come back for the 9pm service."
N1S and I both turned simultaneously and whispered with incredulity, "Not two churches in one night!"
Sweet Pea's face lit up because she would get a second chance to play with fire.
So we went home to relax a little before we returned to church. We couldn't even change out of our church clothes! The drive back to the church was a little grumbly from half of us. But N1S and I put on a happy Christmas face and made the best of it. Since we had already heard the sermon, we decided to sit closer to the middle of the congregation. We found a nice couple that we knew to sit with. We enjoyed the choir selection and were quite impressed with the quartet. As we waited for the ushers to start the candle lighting, I noticed the hymnals in front of us. I said, "What the heck.", and opened it. On the inside cover was placed an offical looking sticker stating, This hymnal donated in memory of Emery (Pete) Bell, my paternal grandfather.
I passed the open hymnal to Lady Di, who was so proud of herself for not tearing up during the 7pm candlelighting, and made her immediately well up with emotion and ask for a hanky. Then Sweet Pea saw her name (she is named after this grampa) and passed the hymnal down the pew to show the couple we were sitting next to.
What were the chances that we would attend a second church service, on Christmas Eve, and choose that particular pew to find one of our donated hymnals for the first time?
It made pastor's message about the importance of family even more meaningful.
With all the blessings we have been fortunate enough to enjoy, this warm Christmas message from our loved one will make this year one of our most memorable Christmas Eves.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Distractedly he answered from the couch, "Oh I don't know. They must have been extra."
I thanked him anyway for saving me time and effort this season. We decorated the trees the same way as last year. The only difference being that Sweet Pea did most of the kid tree decorating.If you look closely you'll notice that Mr. Spock must have gotten a puppy from Santa this year to help him at his science station.
As did Dr. McCoy.
So boldly celebrate Christmas, where no one has celebrated before!
Friday, December 17, 2010
The kids also got to make a wilderness lunch. They had to gather their own wood, light their own fire and roast their own hot dogs. I think by the time the sticks got stacked and the birch bark lit, the kids were so hungry they only warmed their hot dogs in the smoke of their fire.
I think they are either waiting for someone to make a decision or for the fire to start itself.
For the last night we were there, the camp hosted a rendezvous. This was to demonstrate how pioneer trappers and traders would get together and celebrate with games like arm wrestling and tug of war standing on stumps. Just when the volume of the room had reached its peak with squealing and shouting sixth graders, the staff introduced leg wrestling. The parents in the room quickly exited to spare themselves the gruesome outcome of such an idea.
Luckily, no one lost a tooth or an eye and the rendezvous was a success in getting the kids all riled up before lights out.
On the last morning of our last day the staff hosted an orienteering race. Kids used a compass to find their way to checkpoints in the woods and race back to base with their card checked.
N1S placed second in his group. You can hum the theme song from 'Chariots Of Fire' if you want to.
Despite the cold weather, I think N1S had a fun time. And despite having to keep one hundred plus sixth graders from doing anything that would get on the local news, I think the parents had a good time too. N1S and I both got to meet and interact with new friends. And I am very proud of N1S for using good judgement and good friendship skills for his first overnight camp.Yo, peace out y'all!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
First thing on the list was to let the kids talk me into going out to the Chinese Buffet for supper. As we sat in our booth enjoying our sweet and sour whatevers, a dad and his son sat in the booth next to us. Number One Son said, "Don't look, but that kid is kinda strange. He goes to my school."
And any parent of an Aspergers kid will know, that the act of N1S calling someone else strange is like Twitter calling Facebook a big waste of time.
So I looked.
"That's not a nice thing to say about someone.", I answered.
"He's always acting like a dinosaur in school, but I guess he's a nice kid.", N1S amended.
Then N1S got up and went over to talk to the kid which was a nice thing to do. It was great to see him use skills he has learned in his friendship groups at school. Aspergers kids usually have difficulty interpreting social cues, which makes initiating and maintaining friendships a challenge. Perhaps a kid who acts like a dinosaur in sixth grade could also use an extra friend to say hi at the buffet.
While N1S was gone, Sweet Pea turned to me and said, "I bet that kid likes to scare people."
"I suppose that's what dinosaurs do, huh.", I concurred.
"He probably hides somewhere and jumps out to scare people.", SP offered.
"Why do you think he does that?", I queried.
"Because he's the ghost of N1S's school.", was SP's answer.
After thinking for a minute, I realized what SP meant. I then explained that N1S said that the kid goes to his school, he's not the ghost of his school.
It seems that social cues aren't the only things that get misinterpreted in our family.
Monday, November 22, 2010
And speaking of crowing, N1S landed the part of Rooster and his little sister earned her role of orphan. While N1S had all of the funny lines, SP got more singing, dancing and stage time than her big brother.
This is N1S's big moment on 'Easy Street'. Make sure your volume is on.And, of course, the big finale, singing 'Tomorrow' with President Roosevelt.
I mentioned before how impressed I was with this production, but it seems I say that about all of them. Well, it's true every time I say it. I'm very thankful to Acting Out (click for more pictures) for providing such a quality opportunity for youths to express themselves in a fun and positive way. We are so proud of our kids and the benefit they are receiving from these experiences truly can't be measured. Especially for N1S. He is not athletic and struggles socially with some of his peers. But the stage has given him a sense of pride and accomplishment that he hasn't gotten anywhere else.
Or a fake mustache.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
This is SP's small gray pumpkin that she named Squidward.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Then the girls got to decorate their own treat bags to be filled later. The markers, stickers and beads entertained them for a while, but they started to get antsy. So we quickly moved on to boo bingo. Which is just like regular bingo except I would randomly sneak up behind a girl and yell boo at them. Number One Son assisted by running the bingo calling. And thank goodness he did. Not only did he buy us some time to sweep up stray beads and clean up wayward stickers, but he really had the girls entertained by building suspense before each call. He got them all cheering and groaning as a group for every call.
Once their desserts were devoured, we needed to cool the girls down. Time to bob for apples! Some girls were clever enough to grab the apple stem.
Thank you Lady Di for putting on such a great event. And thank you for letting me cleanup the leftover pizza.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Lady Di has a killer set of cookie cut outs for every season.
I think another reason I wanted to make cookies was to actually see these bad boys in action instead of just sitting in the cut out tote in the cupboard.
We got all of the Halloween cut outs ready. Frankenstein Head, ghost, pumpkin, bat, cat and skeleton. The skeleton cut out was actually a gingerbread man. But with some creative frosting, bones and skulls appeared.
SP and I teamed up to take on the recipe. I read the ingredients and measurements. SP measured and mixed. She even cracked her own egg. I still have trouble keeping the shells out.
After mixing the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients I put the dough in the fridge to wait of three hours.
"What?!", cried SP.
"You have to let the dough sit to rise or age or just let the ingredients get to know each other well and get their cookie game plan figured out. Or something like that.", I informed her. "It just says so in the cookbook."
It was also a learning experience for me. I have cut out cookies before but I have never actually prepared cookie dough before. I was surprised to find out that the recipe didn't include opening a tube. But using the mixer was quite fun. Did you know that raising the mixer above the bowl while set on high will fling dough quite a ways? I also learned too late that you need to put flour on everything unless you want dough sticking to everything. It stuck to my hands, the roller, the cutting board and the spatula. Luckily, the dough stuck to itself and kept the shape it was cut into and out came Halloween cookies.
We found out that the larger the cut out, the fewer cookies came out of the dough. So once a Frankenstein head and a ghost were cut, the remaining dough got filled up with smaller bat patterns. We ended up with a whole caveful of bats.
The next step was even more fun and more sticky. The frosting.
Lady Di set up the most vivid orange, green and black frosting. We also got out the orange and black sprinkles. The first few cookies received much artistic attention to detail from the kids. Then when they saw the large pile left to frost, many cookies only earned one color of frosting each. Once the pile of cookies dwindled to only a few, the kids were tired of frosting and these cookies got a glob of each color of frosting to empty the bowls and swirled them all together producing an olive green brownish shade befitting the holiday.
Once our desserts were prepared, we all enjoyed one cookie of our choosing. They were so good we treated ourselves to another. The rest found their way to the freezer. For some reason, once the cookies retired to the freezer, the kids completely forgot about them. So just to make sure they didn't spoil, I checked in on them regularly for the past two weeks.
Which necessitates the preparation of a new batch today.
Happy Early Halloween.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
So here are the things that I love about running, along with the things that try to get me to consider ordering a thigh master and working out from the couch instead.
Number one on the list of positive influences to my running is my Ipod. This little miracle has almost single handedly got my butt into running shoes. At first, I just wanted to play with it, but now it's keeping my mind off what I'm doing so well that I don't notice my lungs burning so much. The down side is that I don't think I could run without my Ipod now. I forgot it once and all I had to listen to was the clomp, clomp, wheeze, wheeze cadence of my running. That 30 minutes was the longest 45 minute run I've ever had.
Another fun thing to use while running is my heart monitor. Lady Di got me one early on. It's a belt worn around your chest which communicates your vital information to your sport watch. So it's kind of fun to see your heart rate rise at the beginning of your run and it also keeps track of your minutes and calories burned. It also beeps if your heart rate gets too high which usually happens about 3 minutes into my jog. That's my signal to pull over and sit on the curb or use some stranger's lawn chair that happened to be left out.
One other thing I like about running is going downhill. If you ever think about starting a running plan, go downhill. It's awesome!
But I hate running uphill. So avoid going uphill at all costs.
During warm days I love turning a corner and running into a nice cool breeze to cool off. But running against the wind is awful. It feels like running through a bunch of wet blankets hanging on a clothesline. So always run into a breeze and never against the wind.
The main reason I run though is to remain healthy. At forty-one I'm no longer the athlete I once was. And the athlete I once was, wasn't all that athletic to start with. I also want to be around for my family as long as possible. I see running as adding time to my life account. Every step I take is another ten seconds of extra life that I can use for more running.
So on the whole, the positives still outweigh the negatives so I suppose I'll keep it up. There is only one more negative that I hope doesn't get worse. I'm really bothered by all of the women who check me out while I run. It's getting to be so many that I'm worried that people will start to talk. So if you are one of the hundreds that sit in your driveway on Tuesday and Friday afternoons, please resist. I know if will be difficult, but it's for the good of us all. Remember, try to restrain yourself on Tuesdays and Fridays between 3 and 4pm.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
This year I planted corn, cucumbers and carrots. I decided that pumpkins will not grow in my shady acreage so I chose only vegetables that start with the letter 'c'. The letter 'c' loves the shade. Shade is cool, as are cucumbers. And just like corn, shade can be high as an elephant's eye, if you are standing next to an elephant. And I picked carrots because I wanted something orange to grow in the garden.
So around about the middle of July I had a couple dozen corn stalks about thigh high, three and a half rows of carrots and one cucumber plant starting to bloom. Then we went away for the weekend and in the course of two days, all of my corn stalks were trampled. After falling to my knees and shaking fists toward the sky screaming, I got out the magnifying glass to search for clues. Namely, small tennis shoe tracks. But, alas, we have pretty well behaved kids in our neighborhood, so no incriminating tracks were found. Do squirrels like to trample corn stalks and at the same time stomp on the horticultural dreams of a middle aged man just for kicks?
At least the cucumber and carrots were spared. In August, I picked no less than four six inch cucumbers before the vine dried up. I finally proved that something can grow anyway.
Last week, Number One Son and I dug up the three and a half rows of carrots. And let me tell you this, the size of the carrot showing out of the dirt at the top doesn't necessarily indicate how big the carrot under the ground is. It's somewhat like an iceberg in reverse. Usually, the iceberg under the water is much larger than the tip showing. My carrots had a top showing that was about as big around as a nickel. But when they were dug up I found out that some were about as long as a nickel as well. So quite a few carrots look more like carrot-balls than sticks.
Here is a fair representation of the range of sizes that were unearthed. Unfortunately, the produce at the left side of the picture was the most abundant. But along with the many mini carrots, there were some interesting shapes as well.
I named a few of the most unique vegetables that came out of the dirt. If you can't read the small print, it reads from left to right, Snowman, Hershey Kiss, Xmas Tree,Twister and Love.
Here's a close up of our favorite carrot of the season. I think it signifies all the love and caring I put into the garden this summer. Even though I kind of gave up after the corn stalk massacre and let nature do it's own thing.
These zucchini came from our friends garden but N1S was so impressed that he wanted to take a picture of them. He used the zucchini on the right for a gun since it grew a curved handle on the end.
But this year's zip lock baggie of carrots has encouraged me enough to probably try again next year. I will have to find some other shade loving vegetables or possibly try flowers.
Whichever I choose, you can be sure to see me in my bib overalls and straw hat endlessly toiling in the hot summer air working on my farmer's tan.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
They even had one of them there fancy indoor water parks. Number One Son was showing off for the girls on the Wavy-Surfy thing.
Sweet Pea had fun on it too. Wipeout!!!And as if two water parks weren't enough entertainment, they had an indoor amusement park to siphon some more money from us. N1S is about half way up this rock wall during our race. I was climbing the wall just to the left of him. I was waiting for N1S at the top but unfortunately I was just cut out of the picture.
There we go, that's better. We're getting ready to ferry over to the island with our friends and their family. Now these slides you'll really like. While on the island we camped in our tent for four days. We got to see a lot of nature while there too.
We saw a lot of deer at the campsite and while riding our bikes. Some were tame enough to let us get within 15 feet of them. Isn't this a great shot! If you can't see the deer, it's the tan thing in the middle of all of the gray, brown and tan things.
We also took a long family nature hike though the woods. And this must have been the year for mushrooms because we saw so many different kinds, shapes and colors that we had to take a picture of every one we saw.This slide shows the most brightly colored yellow mushrooms we saw. We literally found mushrooms of every color of the rainbow except blue. Yes, we even found purple.
Hey Honey, where did those other forty slides of mushrooms go? They don't seem to be in the slide carousel anymore. You don't know? Well our guests really wanted to see them.
Oh well, plenty more to see. You havin' trouble with your watch? You seem to be checking it every five minutes.
Anyhoo, we got to see some nice views of the cliffs on our hike too. Here, the kids got in the way of a nice shot of some old rocks.
On the last night of our camping trip, we took a family walk on the beach. We skipped stones, found driftwood and collected interesting rocks. Don't worry, we didn't take a picture of every rock we saw. Who would be dumb enough to want see that? We did, however, happen to have a full moon rising that night so we all lined up for a picture.
SP's dour expression comes from her accidentally losing her most precious and most interesting rock she found on the beach. A rock that she could NEVER EVER find another one like it ever in her whole life ever!!!
Well, I can see that your facial expressions are matching SP's for some reason. I hope it wasn't the coffee cake. So I guess we better just call it a night. I'll look around for those missing mushroom slides for next time. Sorry, we ran short of time for our card game. We'll just have to play two games next week. Haw haw haw!
What do you mean you're busy next week?