Saturday, June 30, 2012

Our Day at the Amusement Park: Part One

I'll admit right now that I have very pictures of the boys; they were often off on their own having a blast.  Plus the water park doesn't lend itself to many photos; the waves are too high.

I'll admit that I'm not a roller coaster girl. Never have been.  Miss M and Miss A are our thrill riders in the family. In fact, Miss M has ridden roller coasters and rides that would have resulted in either my death or losing of my lunch had I been brave enough to try.

However, I'm all for a day adventure, and when some friends asked if we would be interested in joining them for a day trip to a small family friendly amusement park/water park I was fully in.  Miss A could not be more excited as the friends had three girls  (just perfect company) and she's been wanting to go to Adventureland for her "entire life."  Who knew? 

Mr C who tends to be a little more like his mother when it comes to rides brought along a friend who shares our dislike. In fact, Mr A told my husband that some of the rides concerned him that they might result in a "serious brain injury."  A boy after my own heart! 

I'll admit that I was very impressed with the park and its amenities. It was clean, a perfect size for walking, giving kids a little freedom, and the water park was a top ten.  The wave pool was huge and according to Mr C and Mr A the best waves in this part of the country. The boys claimed that the waves were so big they could knock them over; and they are not "little boys" anymore!

We had a great cabana that gave us a little shade, but after a week of 100 degree temps the weather was perfect with temps in the 80's. In fact, after spending the whole morning swimming, we decided to try a few of the rides. After a few little rides (which I stood outside waiting), I finally gave in and decided to try the White Water Rafting.  You know the ride that you get either a little wet or soaked on.  Let's just say that I got soaked; thanks mostly to my friends Mr C and Mr A who took it as a challenge.  Sadly, as we disembarked, the Heavens opened up and it no longer realled mattered if I had been a little bit dry.

However, the little "shower" that drenched us didn't stop our fun.  The kids were dancing in the rain, running down the "river" and enjoying some hot chocolate and fresh donuts.  Gotta partake in some of the carnival food.  Thankfully, since we were wearing our swimsuits under the clothes, we didn't even notice the wet!

We were having a great time and in some ways the fun was just beginning!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

American Flag Wreath: Crafting Bug Hits Again

Just to keep it real-the sample wreath is in the bottom right corner.  My completed project and the flags I used along with the process are all mine.

I sometimes wish that when the Crafting Bug hits me, the skills or talents that I need would be a symptom of the "bug".  Often I'll get a grandiose idea for something to make for the house or a knitting project to make or a door decor item, but I'll lack the knowledge or talent to pull it off.  I'll normally call upon a friend to help me iron out the kinks, my mother in law to talk me down from a knitting disaster, or my mom to sew the item I've foolishly thought I could handle.

Blame it on blogs, pinterest or shopping, but sometimes I'll get an idea in my head and I just have to give it a whirl.  Take for interest the American Flag Wreath made from flag toothpicks. Easy. Right. Wrong.  Everywhere I looked I could not find flag toothpicks, not a Hobby Lobby, Michael's or Target.  Cupcake sticks were a plenty, but nothing to pick your teeth or hold your cheese appetizer.

Finally, I found the right supply at a local party store and purchased what I thought would be more than enough to cover the wreath form.  Did I tell you that I couldn't find a complete set of instructions anywhere on how to make this project.  One blog said they used over 600 toothpicks and I mocked them; while another claimed she did for about $10 and 250 flags.  I decided to split the difference and try out 300 toothpicks.  Plenty.  Yeah right.

Now, I just needed to decide how to place the toothpick in my Styrofoam wreath; straight, angled; should I start with the outside and work my way in or the other way?  Really, where was Martha Stewart's instruction booklet when I needed it?  Thankfully, when I was about 1/3 of the way through my flag allotment I showed it to an Art Teacher/Friend and asked if she thought I was on track.

Nope. Slant the flags and they will look more like one complete flag on the wreath.  Of course, once I started over, I realized that I would need to reconsider the amount of flags I had on hand.  Not enough.  Thankfully, I was able to nab the last four packets of the flags at the store and while I ended up needing only two more, I'm keeping the others in case a few toothpicks break during the winter storage.

Believe me this thing is coming out on Flag Day next summer and staying up until July 4th.  Who knows I might even pull it out for Veterans Day too!

If you want the instructions for the Flag Wreath, leave a comment and I'll post the directions here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Boys Turn at the Series

After the girls had such a fabulous day at the College World Series, it only seemed right that the boys had a chance to have some fun too.  So on Sunday afternoon while the girls and I took in the movie Mirror Mirror, the boys, C's friend and his father, and Nana and Papa went to the Arizona Game.

Of course the boys had to take in a little of Fan Fest too, but I think their hitting contest was a little more competitive and they took the games a little more seriously.  Boys and Baseball; there really isn't anything more American. 

Even the Dads had fun.  Rumor has it that P has even given some kudos to a school that is not Texas. He really liked the Arizona Wildcats and became good friends with one of their fans and their mascot. That is him with Wilbur.  I hope that Bevo is not thinking of getting P the axe now that he's been eyeing a cat. In reality, I think he liked Arizona as much for their play on the field as their attitude off the field.

Miss A who also saw an Arizona game feel in love with one of the players on the team.  His name alone made you think baseball. I mean can you beat the last name Field when you are a ballplayer?  She kept saying Infield / Outfield - Johnny Field because he played both.

I was thrilled to read that the Arizona coach, Andy Lopez is a really strong Christian and when the Wildcats won the Championship that he kept it all in perspective. Pretty impressive for a guy whose won twice with two teams.  Love it when the "good guys" win!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kid Shine: Letting Your Child "Shine"

I think if Miss M had been born in the vaudeville era, she would have been a stage star: singing, dancing, and doing little skits.  I think if we lived in a town with an amusement park, she'd have a summer job dressed up in character costume or performing a little "number" on the stage.There is within her this little bit actress, singer and dancer and when she's given a chance to perform, she will. Just ask the grandparents.  Our family room fireplace has seen many a performance and thankfully, her sister is often willing to be the sidekick.

When you find your child's passion, you do your best to make sure they are afforded every opportunity to shine in that arena.  That's why we are at the dance studio all year long. It's why we sign up Miss M for a little performing arts camp in the summer.  It gives her the chance to use her gifts.  The fact that the camp is only a day camp (meaning no sleeping in tents) is just a bonus.  Well except for all the driving for the mother!

Kid's Shine is the perfect mixture of fun, performing, and creativity. All week, the kids learn parts, practice dances and songs, and get their lines down in just the right way for the audience to catch the humor.  Miss M was thrilled that this year she was both a dancer and a narrator, the perfect blend.  The practice is all geared to having the show ready for a Friday night performance.

Before you think stuffy and boring, you should realize that before the performance, the professional teachers were encouraging us to whoop and holler really loud, to laugh extravagantly, and to really hype it up for the kids.  Since the performance is in the Church Sanctuary, it seems a little odd at first, but you quickly realize how much fun this show is for the audience too! 

This year Miss M was blessed to have not only her family in audience, but Nana and Papa and our fabulous neighbors the C's.  Our entire row was having a great time cheering on our favorite Broadway star.  It really is a treat to see your children find something that brings them such joy!

Of course, we ended the evening with ice cream. Nothing says summer sitting outside in the dark eating a frozen treat; life is too short not to enjoy the moment!

Friday, June 22, 2012

College World Series: Fan Fest and All the Fun!

It seems to me that the "experience" surrounding a sporting event is now becoming an ever bigger thing than the acutal game.  Be it a college football game or a big league baseball or tournament game, it's all about the "fan experience" which is much more than just a hotdog or a bag of peanuts at the game.  My husband has told stories of the one and only NASCAR race he went to and said that there are people who go just for the outside tents, they don't even have tickets for the game

For me, I can't imagine facing a crowd and not even going to see the big game. I'd rather stay at home. However, for the girls, it's all about the "stuff."  Whether that is the treat they will get to eat once inside the gate, the soccer game in the parking lot or what we plan to tailgate with before the game.  Guess you could say they have bought into the hype of the entire fan experience.  They are the marketers delight.

Just ask them.  They even noticed that the Coca-Cola staion at the College World Series wasn't giving out free samples of Coke Zero this year like they had in years past.  Told ya.

On Thursday, when my husband took them to see a great baseball game, they were all in for the entire event, wearing team gear, playing at the FanFest and of course getting the free samples and coupons from the various vendors.  Thank goodness, the Reeses Peanut Company was handing out pb cups and coupons for free ones at the grocery store.

Guess they did enjoy the actual game too.  In fact, Miss A noticed that numerous players on the Arizonia Team had names that started with the letter J.  A few of them were actually pretty cute too. At least she was playing attention to the action on the field.  Her mother used to go to CWS games as a child and bring a book along to read. Unless, of course, the cute Cotten Candy boy walked by.

That must be the difference between my generation and my children's; I brought along my own fan experience in the form of a piece of classic literature (or at least the latest Babysitter's Club book or Judy Blume book I was reading) and my children expect free foods, high tech photo booths, and live action sports they can participate in right outside the game. 

Well at least we all enjoy the 7th innning stretch and singing the Take Me Out to the Ballgame Song!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Funny Things I've Heard: Summer Edition

These first few weeks of summer have been "hectic" at least in summer terms. We've had lots of time together in the car driving to and from the various activities.  It goes without saying that this has allowed me to hear a my kids talk a lot, and of course, many of them have benn funny comments or insight.

Mr C has been taking Drivers Ed for the past two weeks lasting from 7:30 in the morning until 10:00. What was I thinking when I signed up for this class?  In addition, he's had to "drive" with the instrutor a few time each week in the afternoon.  Mr C's driving is improving, but he's complaing that his "Driver" is not getting enough action.  By that he means his golf clubs.  He told me that all this time spent driving the car is interferring with golf and time practing and playing.

In fact, I think the exact phrase he used was " all this drivers ed junk is really ruining my golf time."  Well yes, Mister it is, but since you want to DRIVE a car someday get over it!  His littlest sister put it best when she replied " well once you can drive a car, you go going golfing whenever you want without having to ask Mom for a drive so just be happy!"

Out of the mouth of babes.

Miss M has been at a performing arts day camp all week and she's loving it.  Her only complaint is that she's "dying" of thirst when she gets done at 3:00 p.m.  Guess they must not have running water at the church. (yeah right) so every day she thinks we should bring her some liquid refreshment.  Most days I obliged or at least stop for some lemonade on the way home.

On Wednesday, when I purchased some patio furniture right before picking her up and had the car jammed packed with the boxes, golf clubs, chairs, more golf clubs and a softball bag for good measure, I did not think about bringing her a drink. In fact, there was barely any room for Miss M to sit since we were stuffed to the gills.  Miss M exited the church and said I guess you didn't think about bringing me a drink did you?  Miss A took the response right out of my mouth when she said "be grateful you have a seat Missy, you could be sitting on the roof, you can get a drink at home.!"

Now I realize it was a little sassy, but really spot on , don't you think.

Finally, the comment that made me almost have an "accident."  The girls and I had gone to the pool for an evening swim and were coming home about 8:30 at night. It was a georgeous night, clear and cool after a very hot day.  The sun was slowly setting and I pointed out to the girls just how beautiful Gods' creation was.  Miss A said " oh yeah, the sun is just about to turn into the moon."  What, I asked? "You know, how the sun is on a conveyer belt and the sun goes down and the moon comes up."

Here all along I've thought the moon and sun were two seperate things, and they are just on an celesital escalator of sorts, with one going down and the other going up!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mid Summer Festival: Fun While it Lasts

Sunday was the Mid Summer Festival hosted by the local Scandinavian organizations.  It was fun to have our Norwegian Grandparents in town for the festivities. This years' event was even bigger and better than previous ones with a full stage for the musical talent and flag ceremony.

Sadly, Miss M who is by the far the most "Norwegian" (and the most German and English) was unable to attend because she had a babysitting job lined up. Miss M loves all things multicultural and has learned the most of her heritage.   Thankfully, she was content to hear second hand from us and see the photos.

Miss A was thrilled that she was asked to pass out flowers for the Memorial Remembrance for the Norwegian Tragedy last summer and for the May Day Pole that they hosted for the opening ceremony. While she was a little shy asking if people wanted a flower, once Dad was her partner and he did all the talking, it got easier.   Miss A loved the Trolls and was psyched to see the Vikings fight.
Too bad our summer drought ended just before the party really started.  Really, it had been weeks since the last rainstorm and right as they started the flag procession and May Pole Raising, the heavens opened up.  We braved it out for a little while but when it appeared that the rain was not going to let up we called it an event.
The evening wasn't totally a bust, however, since we did end up going out for Pizza at one of our favorite family run pizza parlors.  It might not have been very Norwegian of us, but according to both Mr C and Miss A it was scrumdeliicious!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Art Festival, Guitar Lessons, Grandparents and Mt Rushmore Oh My!

Who says you actually have to go to South Dakota to see the Presidents on Mt Rushmore?  All we had to go was shop for fresh produce at the Farmer's Market.  Now, we've talked about going to Rapid City in the next few years to see the "faces" upclose, but now I'm thinking the kids will think that we've already done that!

Our downtown adventure with visiting Grandparents also included a trip to an Arts Festival where Mr C got a cartoon of himself in all his high school golfing glory. I think you could say he's pretty pleased with how well the Artist captured him and his bag.  I kept thinking how nice it will look at his graduation party.  Wow! That's scary to think about.  Miss M is already planning what her "dancer" cartoon will look like when she gets on next year.  A girl can dream.

It was a perfect Saturday to wander about, catch a few minutes of shade at a picnic table and enjoy Cowboy food at a Restaurant called the Twisted Fork.  Almost sounds like we were really in South Dakota.    

Finally, in the afternoon Miss A had her first long awaiting Guitar Lesson.  She's taking an intro to guitar class with three others including a second cousin.  She came out of the lesson thrilled that she now knows the scale and could show off her skills to the family.  She reminded us that Taylor Swift started this way too; no promises.

Summer Weekends in the City are the best!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lemonade Stands and Garage Sales the things of Summer

You could say that the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge inspired me to clean out the clutter.  After multiple trips to Goodwill (yes they might have called me by name by Easter) and tons of garbage bags filled to the brim, there were just a few thing that I thought might sell for cash.  In May, I made plans to do the neighborhood sale only to realize it was the last week of school. Hello, I wasn't going to give up my final days of freedom!

Thankfully, my good friend D who lives just one neighborhood away also wanted to have a garage sale and their sale was the first weekend in June. Perfect.  A few extra weeks to determine the right stuff to sell, kids off school who could serve as free labor, and of course Miss A could host a lemonade stand.  Sold.

It was a perfect day for a garage sale. Excellent weather. Great crowd. The kids all came for various amounts of time; Miss A and Miss M made lemonade with our friend B, Mr C arrived just in time for lunch and the girls finished the afternoon running through the sprinkler.  Like I said; perfect.

I was thankful that all the heavy things sold, meaning I only had to take the small stuff to Goodwill after the sale. Goodbye Nursery furniture.  You've served us well for fifteen years and I'm glad you are going to a nice home.  Miss A was disappointed that the American Girl Doll Stroller she was selling didn't go, but thankfully we sold it the next day at a friend's sale.  She was thrilled with the $20 she pocketed from selling it and lemonade!
I'm hoping that after next years' 40 Day challenge, I'll have nothing left to sell.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I'm not really a reunion type of girl.  Blame it on my lack of memory for other's names, the inability to recall events that happened earlier than...yesterday, or the fact that even though I loved high school and college (except for a few events, people, etc.) I haven't done a good job of keeping in touch with my "old" friends.  Except for my dear friend Kath and the lovely "O" girls !

However, when my college friend T and her sister asked if I was attending the 100th Anniversary of my sorority's chapter, it was a no brainier to say yes.  A weekend away, a girls only trip and a walk down memory lane; that's a trifecta of fun.  Even though it's been 25 plus years since I've seen the 3rd floor of the sorority house or the faces of most of my sorority sisters, it was as if no time had passed.  In fact, sharing a room with my friend B at the hotel was similar to the 2 girl room we shared on R Street.  Guess once a roommate always a roommate.  The only difference was this time I made coffee in the room instead of waking up to put sweats on and get a diet Pepsi before class.

It's amazing how much you can recall and how much you have forgotten.  My friends reminded me that I had the reputation of eating the most meals at the Housemother's Table.  I loved this grandmotherly type widow who lived in own little apartment on first floor, and who would talk and talk about old times if given a chance.  I think Maxine reminded me of real life in the midst of the "fake" reality of college life.  I was never afraid to sit at her table and often stop by after class to just chat in the sitting room with her.  If I remember correctly, a few of those conversations involved talking about the latest dish from ""As The World Turns", our favorite Soap Opera!

My friends reminded me of the hours I spent in the basement study room and the library at night. I think the library was mostly for the cute boys and the chance of getting walked home by a fraternity boy; while the study room was serious business. I was scared spitless of my Psych Professor who claimed only 1 in 3 would make it out of college.  We spent hours recalling the crazy days of date parties, finals week and, of course, boyfriend drama.  I so wanted to yell out on the intercom: "Jill you have a Caller on first floor" (codeword for boy visitor.) 

College is where I really blossomed. My faith grew by leaps and bounds, my political convictions were solidified and my knowledge of the world and how it worked were shaped.  Those hours of walking parades for candidates, starting a personal quiet time and studying, studying and studying really paid off. 

There are a lot of great memories I hold from my college days; politics, classes, friends, bible studies and, of course, sorority meetings that I was able to "re-live" in some respect.  While I'm grateful that I had a chance to walk down memory lane I'm content to live in the present.  God has done great things for me in the past 25 years and I'm happy to live this current journey with Him and my family.

Now the big blonde hair and the fresh face I might be willing to "re-live."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dance Recital

April showers bring May Flowers and May Flowers bring June Dance Recitals. At least that's how the saying goes in our house.

Miss M's spring dance recital was Friday, June 1st and for the first time, I missed the actual event.  I had plans to go out of town for a Sorority Reunion . With Miss M's blessing, I went to the Dress Rehearsal the night before and then sent her grandparents, siblings and father to cheer her on for the "real" thing.  Thankfully, I've seen most of Miss M's dances during the competition season and just last week they performed for a community center so I got to see the opener and closer too.

Miss M loved her costumes this year; the shimmer dress, the Baker costume complete with a "M" apron and ,of course, the neon outfit really rocked.  Her favorite costume part of all was the Hair Piece which was a long ponytail that she attached to her bun.  I don't think she was disappointed that she couldn't get the hair off after the "Hair" dance and had to wear it for the rest of the recital.  In fact, she might have plans to wear the "hair" to the first day of school in the fall.

Without a doubt, Miss M's favorite thing to do is to dance.  It's her act of worship, her way to express herself and dancing gives her great joy!  As a parent, I couldn't be more pleased to see her passion come alivet on stage.  We can't wait till the DVD of the recital is available for pickup.  I imagine Miss A Miss M, and I will have a little snuggle time on the couch watching it over and over again!

Now we get a few days off before Summer Try Outs and then Summer practice.  Dance, the sport that has no true season; it's a way of life.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Top Ten Things I Love About Memorial Day Weekend at the Lake

1.  Sunshine, Sand and Surf  (at least that's what the kids call it when we go to Sand Mountain- body surfing)

2. Family Time without distractions.  No phone, No Internet, No reality getting in the way. Just relaxation, giggles and fun.

3. Reconnecting.  With our family, lake neighbors and summer. Friends and family wiffle ball games, paddle boat rides and ladder ball games. No rules just fun.

4. Boat Rides where no one is sleeping, no one cries and the breeze blows through your hair.

5.  Giggles on boat rides.  Watching the joy on the face of teenage boy who has mastered the art of driving the boat. Thank you boat safety training. Praying that Drivers' Education produce similar results in the automobile.

6. Wet Towels and bathing suits.  Reminder that all are healthy and my children can enjoy the sunshine and swim to their hearts content.

7.Trips to the Marina. 

8. Slip n Slides that a kind  brother sets up for the youngest sister despite the windy conditions.  The huge smile and big hug were thanks enough for the effort.

9. Late nights and early mornings. Time to decompress from the week, the winter and just enjoy the blessings.

10. Gratitude for the blessing of living in a country where people are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom.  May God bless our nation and it's leaders.

Ronald Reagan said in a famous Memorial Day speech:

Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It's a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It's a day to be with the family and remember.