Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Winter's finally here - photos added

We're finally getting some wintery weather here. It got cold at the beginning of the week and I thought about having a fire, but it didn't work out until today.

Monday was A's birthday and we went out to eat, then came home and opened presents and had cake.

Tuesday we had a pack meeting at Scouts, so we were out.

Today, Wednesday, its still cold so we had our fire.

M decided he wanted to warm a foot by the fire.

They are predicting possible winter mix tonight. The kids would like snow, but it's not looking likely. We may get some sleet/freezing rain/ice. Yuck. I guess we'll see tomorrow...

(Edited: Nope, no freezing stuff - just rain, rain and more rain - and 33 degrees. Defintitely yuck!)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Happy Birthday A!

We all had a nice day for A's 8th birthday today.

I ate lunch with A and took in Ding Dongs for his classmates. Grrr - I hate the new policy that treats must be storebought and individually packaged - I MUCH prefer homemade cupcakes. The kids seemed to like the Ding Dongs fine, though.

After school, the kids did their homework, then we picked up my mom and headed to the Scholastic Warehouse Sale. My mom and I both help with the book fair at the school, so we had coupons for 2 free books each. We each got a free book and let the kids each get one. We also got some other books. They had a new deal this time - grab bags of books - a plastic grocery sack full of books for $5. It was pot luck - some good, some bad, some just weird. My mom got at least 3 books in Spanish in her sack. M found 2 books he wanted in my sack - books 2 and 3 in a series. Book 1 was available at the sale, but 2 and 3 weren't. Odd.

Then we met D at an Italian restaurant for dinner. Yumm. But we all ate too much.

We came home and opened presents. A seemed quite pleased with his presents. New Heroscape terrain, DVD of Cars, a Webkin tiger (on the advice from several different friends), some Pyrates M*gablocks.

The kids each had a small slice of cake. The adults were too full. (Well, ok, I had a bite. I didn't need it, but it was quite tasty.)


Pictures from A's sleepover

After everyone finally arrived we had pizza. Then they had a scavenger hunt. That was the only request A had for an activity (well, other than a movie). The scavenger hunt took them around the house, finally ending at the cat's "condo".

Next they wanted to try out Speed Stacks, so A demonstrated for them.

Things get a little smoky when you use the re-lighting candles on the cake!

After cake was presents.

Somehow A seemed to be facing the sofa, so I coudn't get a good shot of him or his friends.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

A's Sleepover Party

A decided, last year, that he wanted a sleepover for his birthday this year. OK, fine. So a few weeks ago we started discussing his party. Well, he thought about it, maybe or maybe not, but in the end, yes, a sleepover was what he wanted.

Our rule-of-thumb is that you can invite as many kids as you are old to a regular party and half as many to a sleepover. So, A got to invite 4 friends. All 4 said yes, but then Friday night one called 15 minutes before the party to say he wouldn't be able to come. I don't know why, but I'm guessing he didn't want to spend the night. His mom warned me he probably wouldn't and we had arranged that I would call after the movie was done (10ish) and she would pick him up then - but it didn't happen.

Another friend, B, also didn't want to spend the night - though he kept telling us that his dad wanted him home. At one point he said he had to be home at 8:30, but I told him that we might not be done with cake by then and his dad said he could stay for cake and for the movie. B ended up going home at 10:30. We were surprised he didn't want to spend the night as he has had a sleepover here with A before.

So we ended up with only 2 friends spending the night. The 2 on 1 issue never happened, luckily enough - perhaps because they were all in their sleeping bags and getting drowsy by the time B went home and there were only 3 of them.

M had planned to spend the night with my mom after the cake, but then he decided that he did want to see the video after all. It was fine with A, so M watched the first video with them and then I sent M to his bed and tucked the younger guys into sleeping bags, turned on the 2nd video and turned off the lights. One boy was asleep before the end of the 2nd video and the other fell asleep right after. So, when I checked at 11:30 only A was still awake.

Luckily for me D had gone to bed earlier so he was more rested and could get up with the kids this morning. They were up by 6:30. I, however, slept til 8. I'm not sure why I'm quite so tired, but I'm fading fast now and its only quarter til 10.

I have some photos from the party, but I don't know if there are any that are particularly good. I'll try to look tomorrow and perhaps post photos.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Speed Stacks

Santa brought the whole family Speed Stacks for Christmas. We had seen them back in September at the Webelos-ree and been fascinated. M and D had a chance to try it then, but A and I did not.

Anyway, we got a set for Christmas and finally got around to opening it up and trying it out tonight.

M went first and he did the best of any of us, to start off with.

Here's M getting started on a 3-6-3

Oops, he knocked on of the cups over - this one won't be his best time.

Then A gave it a try.

We all improved with practice. A knocked his time almost in half! M started out much faster, so didn't knock as much time off, but still improved quite a bit. I started off slower than M, but managed to pull ahead and claim the fastest time currently. Still no where near the record time, though. I'm getting close to their "fast" time of 7 seconds.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Rock Climbing

M and D's camping trip went quite well. The weather was cooperative and they both had a good time. M says that his favorite activity was the rock climbing. They had to get all their gear on and have an adult belay them and 2 kids spotting.

M on the climbing wall.

This climbing wall was 3 sides of the inside of this building. It even had hand/footholds in the door in the middle of one side.

If you see the blue line across the climbing wall - that is the line for "bouldering" - where they try to go around the room, instead of up the wall. Also, if their feet don't go above the blue line, then they don't need a belayer.

Here are the Scouts around the campfire Sat night.

I think there were a few more Scouts there for the climbing, but not everyone showed up who had signed up.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Not as cold as predicted

This weekend is actually turning out nicely for the camping duo (M and D). Or at least the weather from here seems nice enough for January. Lows in the upper 30s and highs in the 50s, with some sun even. A was quite comfortable playing outside in a layer of short sleeve shirt over long sleeve shirt.

When the predictions were for below freezing nights, I bought some fleece sleeping bag liners for the trip. Maybe that was overkill... D's bag is rated at 20 and M ended up borrowing a bag from my mom that is probably rated at something less than 20, so they should be fine.

Meanwhile, A went to a birthday party today, where they ran obstacle courses and played with a Nerf Dart gun. A was quite excited to show me that his has a laser sight. Ooooh. Aaaah. I hope M was having as much fun with the climbing walls as A was at the party. I guess we'll find out tomorrow when M and D return home. Hopefully with pictures....

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cold, but no Ice

Luckily for us, the weatherman/ was wrong. Maybe it didn't get quite cold enough, but we didn't have any ice this morning. D described it as more like freezing mist. It was COLD out, especially with the freezing mist coming down (and especially considering that just a few days ago it was 70 degrees here).

There's no more frozen stuff in our immediate forecast, but it is going to stay cold and wintery for a bit. This is appropriate, but maybe not appreciated - esp by D and M, who are going camping this weekend. Brrrr! It's supposed to be freezing overnight and in the 40's in the daytime. Only the Webelos are going, so A can't go. Aw shucks, I guess that means I have to stay home with A. Nope, I'm not disappointed - we'll stay nice and cozy here at home. Plus A has a birthday party to go to, so he has something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, M and D are looking forward to the climbing wall (indoor) they're going to do. I think they're going to get to try out the outdoor rapelling wall too. Sounds like fun.

M's patrol is going to cook breakfast Saturday morning - eggs, bacon, grits and toast. And lots of cocoa/coffee. I'm buying supplies tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snow/Sleet/Freezing Rain

There is a possibility of ice/freezing rain tonight here. This does not produce nearly the excitement that a possibility of snow does. We haven't had snow in... hmm, 3 years maybe. We had a nasty bit of ice almost exactly 2 years ago - on A's birthday. What a day that was. A's birthday, with a party scheduled and slushy icy rain. We thought about it and decided to have the party anyway. 4 of the 6 guests lived within easy walking distance and one other was willing to drive. We moved all the activites inside and proceeded with a successful party.

Anyway, I was wondering what causes it to snow vs sleet, so I checked Wikipedia and found lots of information, including a definition of sleet:

In Britain, rain mixed with snow; in America, ice pellets formed when snowflakes pass through a layer of warm air, thaw, then refreeze on further descent.

So, I guess that means we have a layer of warmer air above us tonight as the forecast is for sleet and freezing rain, not snow. Yuck. I'd rather have snow any day over sleet/freezing rain. Tomorrow is going to be an icky day with a 60% chance of precipitation and 32 degrees until noon (rising only to 35).

Monday, January 15, 2007

Photos with Santa

I don't think I managed to get these photos put up before Christmas, so I'll put them up now. My camera decided to act up that night. I had checked the batteries and had an extra pair, too, but no go, so a friend took these for me and emailed them.

A was first up with Santa.

Then it was M's turn.

At the end after all the kids had visited with Santa, I got both kids up there together.

We didn't go visit Santa at the mall this year. Both kids said that they didn't need to. I tried to get their pictures with Santa at school - its a fund raiser for the school and easy for me, but it didn't work out. Santa was going to be there on Wed and Thur - well, one kid is gone each of those days for enrichment, so I couldn't get a joint photo. Ah, well, it all worked out in the end.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Srevotfel (pronounced shre-vet-vel) was dinner tonight. Wondering what it is? Leftovers, spelled backwards. It's a tradition from my family growing up. In our case, it means dinner is a bit of a pot-luck, with no two dinners the same.

On the menu tonight:
Indian rice with raisins
Red Beans (and Rice)
Italian Sausage/Bratwurst (one of each)
Potato Soup
Baked Yams (or were they Sweet Potatoes?)

We also filled in holes in the menu with other things on hand.

The bits and pieces of leftovers were accumulating faster than I could eat them for lunch, so it was srevotfel for dinner.

M had chicken, half each of both sausages, rice and peas.
A had red beans and rice, half each of both sausages, some yam and naan.
I had some potato soup, red bean and rice, yam and naan.
D had Indian rice and chicken, naan and grapefruit.

I was able to completely empty at least 3 containers and greatly reduce the volume of the rest. I still have plenty for lunch for a few days, though, so that is also nice.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


The kids got Heelys for Christmas. It was one of the big things that they had asked for.

Unfortunately it was rather dreary on Christmas, so they didn't really get a chance to try them out until the next day.

Here they are trying to get the wheels into the shoes.

And here you can see M trying to get the hang of the Heelys.

It takes a lot longer to get the hang of Heelying than either of the kids had guessed. We were talking to one kid last week who said it took him 5 months to really get it. A has been out practicing with our neighbor and has gotten a bit better - he can roll for short distances now. He says that downhill is easier - I can believe it, sort of like riding a bike. Speaking of which, it's really time to get A back on the bike again for some more practice...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ice Skating

Our town has a temporary outdoor ice rink for the holidays and we finally decided to go try it out. It's been a LONG time since D or I had been ice skating - maybe 15 years? M went skating last year in London and A had never been.

M is reasonably good on ice skates - he seemed to pick it up a bit quicker than roller skating.

He's not hanging on to me for stability here - more like we're pulling each other along.

A started off either hanging on to the side or onto me.

When he felt unsteady, he would hang on for dear life.

Note how warm it is here - A is in short sleeves, but with mittens in case he falls. The chillers couldn't quite keep up with the warm weather - there were puddles on the ice! Definitely not good if you fell.

But after 30 min or so of skating, he was getting the hang of it.

Click on the button in the middle to see A skating.

Pretty cool, huh. A made it all the way around the rink without falling.

I'm pretty impressed that I managed to get a video uploaded! Let me know if you can see this or not.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bathtub Woes

It was time for baths and showers. I told A it was his turn to go first.

A: It's not fair. I always have to put in the tub drain. How come I never can take a bath last one time and first the next time?
me: Just take your bath.
(a minute later)me: A, you took your bath second last time. Of course you have to put in the drain - you had to empty the tub last time.
A: Oh... yeah.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


A got several sets of Magnetix for Christmas, pleasing him greatly. So, last night, while M snuggled with Pounce on the sofa,

A and I did some Magnetix building.

This used up every normal Magnetix piece we could find (though not the new ones my mom got A - they're still in a box waiting to be put away). Then A decided to fill up the holes in the pyramid with all the extra balls. That was HEAVY.

Shadow was watching all this building and had to check it out periodically.

Meanwhile, M spent all night on the sofa with Pounce. M has gotten too big for us to hoist into his top bunk and he seemed comfy enough on the sofa. I covered him up and said good night to the two of them.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas Morning

M and A and cousin B on Christmas morning, ready to dive into Santa's gifts.

Santa wraps his gifts in VA, we discovered, so he wrapped the gifts to M and A also. Evidently by the time he gets to GA he's generally too tired as he's never wrapped his gifts here before. Or maybe its that he wraps gifts if they're small enough... This year they were - M and A both got MP3 players. M was a bit disappointed that it wasn't an IPOD, but he got over it quickly. I'm not sure he knows how his is different from an IPOD (tell the truth, other than the name and the price, I'm not sure what the difference is either).

Here's Grampa with his new fleece hat I made.

Evidently his old one got enough use that it wasn't up to snuff for going to market. I was happy to oblige with a new hat.

Over the years everyone in the family has gotten fleece hats from me. M and A have gotten at least 2 hats each (and may be due new ones in the next year or so due to heads growing).

before Christmas at K and I's

We spent a lot of time before Christmas playing games that various people had brought. I think all the ones before Christmas were card games. We played Guillotine , Bohnanza , and maybe another card game.

Here we are playing Guillotine, chopping off the heads of French nobles.

Uncle D and cousin B, playing cards again. B gave lots of good hugs to us all.

B, looking very pretty and serious in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas eve. I can't seem to get the picture to turn around, unfortunately.

M with Sophie. Sophie was VERY excited to meet all the new people.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Polar Bear Plunge

Happy New Year! Our neighborhood Association has decided that they want to have more activities, and one of the things that they decided to do was a polar bear swim. I guess that New Year's Day is the traditional day for it. D and M had said that they would do it. At the last minute M didn't want to, but D wouldn't let him back down. So, down to the pool we went.

Here are all the brave souls waiting to jump in.

Notice we have one guy wearing a Santa hat and Santa shorts (over his swimsuit). And there's another guy wearing long underwear under his swim suit (seems like it would just make your legs colder to have wet fabric against them - but he said it helped).

M and D after they've swum across the pool.

3 members of the Association Board.

D said that he didn't want to know how cold the water was or feel it before going in. In fact, we still don't know how cold the water was - they couldn't find the pool thermometer. They all said it was very cold. It was, however, the best day weatherwise that we were likely to get - it was in the 60's. D said that once he dried off, it really wasn't that bad. The hot chocolate and coffee inside the clubhouse were appreciated by all, however.


Two years ago when we went to visit D's sister and family in VA we drove up in one day. One long exhausting day. And then home in 2 days - much nicer. So this year we planned on a 2 day drive. We made it into VA the first day, stopping in Lynchburg. Then the next morning we headed over to Monticello. I had been there in 7th grade on a class trip, but D and the kids had never been.

It was interesting. Or at least, D and I thought it was interesting. The kids thought bits and pieces were interesting, but not nearly as much as we did. M did like Jefferson's library - they actually have some of the exact books that Jefferson owned, plus many other period books of the same titles as Jefferson. They know this because Jefferson kept an inventory of all his books. I would have loved to get a picture of the library, but no photography allowed in the house.

The conservatory was also very cool. They had lemons growing in there that were as big as oranges. Wow.

M knew the answers to several questions the guide asked, like who died on the same day as Jefferson (answer John Adams). The guide was impressed - me too. I'd heard it, but couldn't come up with it as quickly as M.

We liked the way the beds were in alcoves in the wall - they looked short, but we were assured that they were 6'3" long. You could close them off with curtains for privacy or warmth. Sounds cozy - but not so great if you're stuck back against the wall.

M and D in front of Monticello.

D with the wreath beside the front door. We both liked the wreathes.