Friday, September 29, 2006

Disney, here we come

We're off to see the mouse, the wonderful world of Mickey. The kids are super excited. M has been researching which rides he wants to go on and where he'd like to eat (or where he doesn't want to eat).

We're off tomorrow for a week. We know at least 3 other families who will be there then, but no particular plans to meet up with anyone. I'm sure there are other people we know who will be there since our schools are out next week. The first year we had this fall break there were 4 or 5 kids just in M's class going to Disney, plus his teacher.

My mom is coming with us, so we're getting a suite. It will be nice to have a microwave and fridge - and a bit more room.

Here's hoping we can pace ourselves and not be worn out by half-way through the week!

Fall is arriving

One way to tell its getting cooler out is by watching the cats. They've been spending more time lying on the sofa and just hanging out in the house - not sitting in the window catching the breeze as Pounce was doing. And last night, Pounce spent ALL night with M.

(This picture makes Pounce look bigger than she is - tricks of perspective, I guess.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Barbershop is Open

It's that time again - time for a trim. Since we're heading off to Disney this weekend, for a week, there won't be time for a bit for trims. I didn't want to get into the situation we had on our trip this summer. I ended up giving M an impromptu bang trim in a parking garage with regular scissors. It definitely wasn't the best place or lighting or equipment, but his bangs were in his eyes and bothering him. So, today we preempted that.

First up, though was A. Before, he looked like this:

And then after, like this:

He chose to have his bangs this short. I think I may have gotten the top a bit too short, though - it looks like his cowlick is trying to asset itself.

Then, shortly after I finished with A, D came home, so I trimmed him up. Unfortunately I didn't get photos of him.

Then I tried for a trifecta, and I got it! M agreed to let me do a bit of a trim. I forgot to get a before photo, but here is one from last weekend:

M doesn't like hair in his eyes or ears, so I trimmed up those. He actaully wanted his hair shorter on the forehead and over the ears, but I thought that this would do fine. Then, amazingly enough, he let me trim the back. I was working with the scissors since the clippers would take off to much. M asked if I could use the clippers, though, and I thought - well, why not use them as a blunt cut, like when trimming sideburns. It works. I took a good inch off the back.

So, the results are:

Next haircut will probably be too cold for the shirtless look. It makes cleanup easier, though. After the haircut they like to go use the blowdryer to blow off any reminaing hairs.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Stress relief

Here's a cute site for some stress relief. Enjoy!

Monday, September 25, 2006


We all went camping with the Cub Scout pack at our district Webelos-ree this weekend. The weather had looked very iffy, but we got really lucky. We got a few sprinkles Friday night, but if you stood close to the fire, the water mostly evaporated before it hit you.

The whole event got moved to a the Boy Scout rather than the Cub Scout side of the Scout camp at the last moment, so it was much more spread out than in previous years. But that also meant that they could offer BB shooting and archery. The boys all loved that. Here's A at the rifle range checking to see if he is right or left-eyed. He's a righty in everything.

We tried "skiing" on wooden skis - its a team building exercise.

We didn't do very well as a team, at least not with 8 kids. They did much better when we split them into groups of 4, but it still took FOREVER. We should have cut and run after 10 mintues or so, but the Boy Scouts were determined that we finish their course. We did leave after the first group finished.

After lunch we did some other activities:
Monkey bridge - a 3 rope bridge. The kids all loved this.

A is actually walking on a single rope.

Hang time. A is hanging from a suspended ladder. He made it 40 some seconds. There was one kid in another pack who held on for 4 minutes. Wow.

We also did some memory games and a maze - I got blindfolded and the kids had to lead me through the maze. We actually won a ribbon at this one. They also won at the Spies memory game where they had to observe a mock campsite and then answer questions about it.

My co-leader and the brother of one of my Scouts won at archery and one of my Scouts won at BB, so we have some people with good aim. Not so for our family. A managed to hit the target next to his more often than his own at archery. I tried archery and only managed to hit the target once - the rest of my arrows all went OVER the target.

The end of the afternoon's activities was the chariot races. Each group was supposed to build/bring a 2 wheeled chariot to race. It was very interesting to see all the various different chariots. My co-leader fashioned our chariot out of an old wheelchair.

Here the kids are getting ready to pull me (I'm on my knees).

M's group used a 2-wheeled garden cart.

We saw a kids bike trailer (like you tow little kids behind your bike), a plastic 55 gallon on wheels, various built from scratch chariots, and a cardboard box with painted wheels. No 2 chariots alike. M's group actually won the race with the cardboard box team coming in second. Here are M and the other Webelos crossing the finish line:

A didn't want me taking his picture, so he was being silly, but I took pictures all the same.

I can't resist this shot of A in the tree. He looks so content.

This was Sunday morning after A and I had finished packing up the site and were waiting for M and D to come back from their Webelos breakfast.

We made it home about 10:15 and got the car unloaded and everyone into the shower. I'm still working on the laundry though. It's amazing how much laundry we can generate in less than 48 hours!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thoughts while walking

I've been walking almost every weekday since school started 7 weeks ago. I ran into some friends walking that first day and walked with them for a few weeks until one went back to school and the other started driving her son to school at least part time. We had some interesting discussions and I've been people watching since then.

The middle school students at the bus stops are most interesting (esp since M will be in middle school next year). They seem to be a very social bunch. I saw 2 girls walk past their regular bus stop (and maybe past another) to get to one with their friends - they all were hanging out talking for at least 20 minutes before the bus came. I also noticed that none of them, not those 8 at that bus stop or the dozen or so other middle schoolers I saw, used a rolling back pack. I guess maybe they aren't "cool" for that age group. They are the big thing for elementary, though. Most of the 3rd - 5th graders have them (younger kids aren't supposed to).

The high school students seem to be more loners. Maybe its that their bus comes earlier and they don't want to waste any sleep time hanging out at the bus stop. Or maybe more of them are cajoling a parent for a ride because evidently the bus isn't "cool" in high school. The few HS kids I've seen out are usually on their cell phone - I suppose talking to a friend waiting at a different bus stop?

My kids think the bus is very cool at the moment. I'm SO glad. I don't want to hassle with the carpool line. I don't know what time it starts forming now, but Iast year I saw several cars in line at least 30 minutes before school got out - idling their car with $3.00/gal gas. Amazing. I saw in the paper recently where they interviewed some woman who said she got in the carpool line at 2pm to be the first one in line - and the kids got out at 3 something. Ridiculous. I've got better things to do with my time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Scout meeting tonight

I forgot my camera, so you'll just have to imagine 10 7 year old boys trying to help paint a chariot. My co-leader had helpfully outlined the areas he wanted them to paint. But....7 year olds are not so good about staying in the lines. They are all about slapping paint on something. We wiped up/out the worst of the painting mishaps and chalked the rest up to - its obvious that the boys did this, not the adults.

Then I got them to practice the Cub Scout Promise. 8 of them have it down cold and the other 2 are really close. Honestly, they are close enough already, but I will ask them to do it again next week, just to make sure they really have it. 5 of the 10 had the Law of the Pack memorized. Again, we'll work on it next week. They all have to have both memorized by the end of October, so we have some time.

Then I let them run around and play on the playground for a bit while the parents discussed the upcoming campout this weekend. One mom said they were predicting rain. Not good. I just checked, though, and says it might rain Sat, but shouldn't on Friday night. I'm hoping that the rain will hold off until Sunday. More than once it has started raining just as we finish packing up camp on a Sunday morning.

Last up was practicing our skit. It is still very rough. We will definitely need to practice again this weekend. They will be doing it Sat night in front of the whole camp.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Family Wedding

Friday night was my cousin R's wedding. I had thought ahead and found a pair of khakis that fit A and, discovering that M had none that fit him, taken him out shopping for a nice pair of khakis. I had tried their jackets on them and found that they fit. All should be well. Right?

Well, Friday afternoon came and I remembered that A's tie (clip-on) had come undone at Easter and I needed to sew it back together. So, I did that. Then I got the kids to get dressed.

Pants - check
shirts - a bit small, but ok
ties - check
belts - oops - M's belt will just barely buckle and isn't long enough to tuck into its keeper
shoes - big oops - both kids say their shoes are tight

So, I go hunting for shoes. I know there should be a larger pair for A (dress shoes hold up well for hand-me-downs) and I find them, but not without a bit of panic. For some reason I had put the shoes into the consignment/donate pile rather than the waiting for A pile. Then for M - bigger problem. I pull down the box of "shoes too big for M" and blessedly there is a pair of loafers there that I had picked up somewhere almost new, but still too big for M. Whew. Kids are dressed.

Interesting note - the shoes M just outgrew are in GREAT shape as I bought them just before Easter and then by Memorial Day he was wearing leather sandals to church all summer, so the shoes have probably only been worn 4 times. Kind of like his tennis shoes (I bought them a little big back in Feb so he would have a spare pair for his trip to London, but he never needed them) - he wore them once or twice a week to school for 7 weeks, then said they were too small. I guess his feet really grew over the summer.

I borrowed a dress from my mom, as I had NO luck finding something Friday (or the last few times I've looked for a new dress). It's especially tough this time of year as it is still warm enough for short sleeves, but all the stuff in the stores is long and very fall/winter styles.

D, of course, had no difficulty getting ready. My 3 guys all look very much alike. Here we are at my aunt's house.

Here is M, as he spent much of the evening - reading on the sofa:

I think he has his shoes on here, though, most of the evening he was in stocking feet.

Here is my cousin, her new husband and the minister:

A had a good time playing with his cousin MB. Actually I think we figured out that they are 3rd cousins, but in my extended family, if someone is your age and not a sibling, they are a cousin. Otherwise they are an aunt or uncle if they are old enough to be your parents.

MB is 5, but just about the same size as A. Don't they look so handsome together!

MB decided he was hot, so he stuck his face in the fountain and tried to get A to do the same.

A didn't want their picture being taken.

A had a wonderful time on the dance floor. He danced with my mom til he tired her out. Then she handed him off to me. We danced to several songs. He really liked Prince's 'Party like its 1999' (or whatever the title really is). He thought that was quite special since he was born in 1999.

After we had danced at least 4 or 5 songs, I begged off to get something to drink, but A was still dancing away. At one point he was evidently even sort of dancing with his cousin C.

I think it was more that all the kids were out there dancing away together.

And, last but not least, here are M, A and MB all trying to catch the garter.

I think A at least got his hands on it at one point, but the photographer (who was also a friend of the bride and groom) ended up with it.

All in all, it was a fun evening, but rather late. We didn't leave until after 11pm and then we had an hour drive home. I was surprised that M fell asleep in the car before A.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Plumbing excitement

I came home Friday afternoon and saw a wet spot on the driveway. Huh. It hadn't rained recently. Where was the water coming from? I looked at the other side of the driveway, next to the house. Hmmm... a puddle (that a cat came up to investigate and get a drink from - because of course, puddles are so much tastier than inside water). Look back at the first spot and see a small trickle of running water. Doesn't sound good. I hadn't been home for several hours so I knew we shouldn't be using any water inside. Check the hose to see if it was left running accidently - nope. Check the meter - oops, its spinning happily (or unhappily in my view).

Next step, isolate the problem. Turn off the inside water. Check the meter - still spinning. Turn off the outside faucet - meter still spinning. That means the problem must be outside - in the plumbing part that was fixed. Crud.

My mom showed up in the middle of this (I don't remember exactly why, but I'm sure it was to do with coordinating plans to go to a wedding last night). So she helped me do meter checks and all.

Next step - turn off the water at the street. A pair of pliers - twist the doo-hickey on the water meter and thankfully the meter stops spinning.

Then time to call the guys who fixed the outside piping. I called them about 1:45 and explained the problem. First guy said he'd call the second guy and call me back. Fine. But then I remembered that I was due at the school to pick up kids for an orthodontist apt. Got to dash. My mom kindly agreed to wait at the house for 15 min for the return call from the plumber.

Meantime, I picked up the kids, plucking them out of the bus line, and dashed to the ortho. M got his last braces off and his lower retainer put in (upper was put in last month), then we went to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. By the time I got home just before 4pm, the plumber had been there, fixed the problem, turned the water back on and left me a note. Yes. Life is much better with indoor plumbing!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Great Quilts

It was a rainy, yucky day this morning. I drove the kids down to the bus stop - and realized only moments before the bus came that I probably should have sent a rain jacket with A - he's got Challenge today and would be going back and forth between the building and trailers all day. Oops. Oh, well, he won't melt - and he didn't. Didn't even seem wet when he got home.

I would have just holed up inside today, but I had my Quilt meeting today. So, I packed up my stuff and headed out into the storm. There wasn't really a planned program today, but instead lots of people showing off quilts with a story behind them. I really liked this sand castle. One quilter made it for her son's beach wedding.

Then this one commemorates another quilter's visit to Africa. These are all African prints, with some having come from her trip to Africa.

It's really just a bunch of strips, but the crenellated rows really add something to it. It looks even cooler in person, where you can examine the individual fabrics.

This one is just wild. The Challenge this year is to make a quilt with at least 15 different fabrics with dots or circles. Plus at least one black&white fabric. This makes me think of the challenge.

I don't have nearly that many circle/dot prints. Luckily, they are arranging a fabric swap for next month - bring a yard of circle/dot fabric, cut into 8" squares (20 of them) and you will leave with 20 different 8" blocks. That will be a BIG help - and save a lot of time and money. I don't have the time to head out to a bunch of different stores - the one store that they said had a bunch isn't really near here - or near anywhere I reguarly go.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A's math

A has been coming home with some cutesy little math sheets. Today he brought home one he did in class last week. Addition to 9 or 10. Color all the 9's orange and all the 10's green. Yesterday he brought home a sheet to finish that was subtraction, with coloring - I think it had 4 different colors (one per number). Whoop-de-doo. A was still coloring his sheet (he's slow at coloring because/therefore? he doesn't like it), but he said it was "way easy".

I made up a math sheet for him - first double digit addition and subtraction without borrowing/carrying, then with. Then some triple digit addition. He handled it all easily, even when his answer went into the thousands, like 715 + 715. He said it was all easy.

Obviously I need to talk to his teacher about this. I'm thinking I may wait to talk to her at our conference next week, but it's very tempting to discuss it earlier. If I have an opportunity at the school I probably will. I really hope that she will be willing to find some more challenging work for him (and preferably without coloring).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

M and the ice cream sundae

M had an activity with the youth group at church this afternoon. They ate a sack lunch, made some friendly cards, and visited an assisted living facility. Then they finished off with a trip to Bruster's ice cream. I packed M a lunch and gave him some money for ice cream. Unfortunately, I didn't have ones with me, so I gave him a $5 and told him I expected change. Now M has been to Bruster's before - he knows what he usually gets - a single cone or a kid sundae (both the same price, less than $3). Both PLENTY of ice cream, almost more than he can eat in a sitting. I told the leader that I had given him $5, but that he was supposed to get a single or kid sundae. So when he gets home (my mom picked him up for me), what do I find?? He has ordered a LARGE brownie sundae and spent the entire $5. And still has a big bowl of sundae with him.

I was not happy. I told M that that wasn't what he was supposed to get and that he owed me the rest of the money. I called Bruster's and got the price for a single cone, $2.50, and M handed over the money. Based on his lack of complaints/arguments, I'm quite sure that M knew very well that he had overstepped his bounds. We put the ice cream in the freezer - he had some more of it for snack tonight. But there is still enough for at least 2 more servings of ice cream.

Meanwhile, A had free (to him) ice cream for snack tonight.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Nicely cool

It's starting to cool off here now. Thankfully. M wore jeans to school one day last week. I wore jeans yesterday. The AC hasn't run in several days now - the house has been staying below 78 for the most part (thermostat is set at 80). I even wore my sweats to do my morning walk the last 2 days (and had chilly arms til I warmed up). I guess this means that it is cool enough in the evening that we could do family walks. We need to, to prepare for all the walking we will surely be doing at Disney next month.

I'm really enjoying this fall weather. I hope it sticks around for a while!

Friday, September 08, 2006

How not to run an election

The kids school was having an election for a school council - not a student council, though they've had that recently also - but a council of parents, teachers, community members to help.... um, I'm not quite sure what they do.... provide strategic direction for the school or something. All I really know is that they warned people that it was a time commitment of several hours each month.

Anyway, I went in to the school to vote and was handed a piece of paper saying, "write down the name of the person you are voting for". Umm, I don't remember the names of the people who are running, even though I've gotten 2 or 3 phone tree messages from the principal telling us that they are having this election. I ask if there is a biography of the people. No. Evidently I'm supposed to vote based on hearsay or whether I happen to know the person because their kid has been in my kid's class. I was able to find out what grade each ones kid is in, but that was about it. I didn't feel like a very informed voter. There has got to be a better way.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's a baby Panda!

but all I have is a picture of Mama or Papa.

The pandas at the zoo finally produced a baby. Yeah! You can read about the pandas here. Evidently the third time was the charm. They are supposed to have mama, Lun Lun, and the baby on PandaCam tomorrow. Right now its showing dad (or it should be - when I checked it was showing empty panda perch).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Popcorn time

It's that time of year again.... Cub Scout popcorn sales. The kids got their packets last week and have been out selling popcorn. The "official" day to start selling was Sept 1. A has turned into quite the little salesman. He asked to go out selling on Sat, Sun, and Mon. Plus they both sold at the football game Friday night and church on Sunday. He has sold to 37 people for a total of over $500. Way to go A!

Today was the first day A didn't sell. He did gave a demo of his technique at our Scout meeting tonight.

"Hi, I'm selling popcorn to support the Cub Scouts. Would you like to buy some?" - said all happy and smiley and with a positive attitude (something we discussed in our meeting tonight).

M, OTOH, hasn't been quite as interested in selling. He is just as interested in the prizes, though. Somethings got to give - I don't believe anyone is going to walk up and ask M if they can buy several hundred dollars worth of popcorn. I've told M that if he's not going out selling, I don't want to hear complaining that "A has taken all the good customers" or that "I would have more sales if A wasn't selling".

A has had VERY few people turn him down. Out of the neighborhood, he had one "can we think about it", one "I can't eat popcorn", and two "try back tomorrow when my mom is home" (one we did and mom bought). He did have some people turn him down at church, though, mostly because there were 4 Scouts selling Sunday morning and someone else got to them first.

I expect there will be some more days of selling on both kids parts in the coming weeks.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Pictures of the kids

My mom has requested "more pictures of the kids" (and presumably fewer of dead rodents), so here we go.

After pulling the sofa out to remove said rodent (just had to refer to it again!), the kids wanted to leave the bed out. A decided he could climb back in under the sofa. If you look closely, you can see a bit of A, with his gameboy and the cat's tail back in there.

And here, my mom lured A up and "convinced" him to let me take a picture. He was not interested in having his photo taken.

Neither was M, in this picture - he was trying to jump onto the sofabed and miss the camera. He missed it several times, but I got him here!