It's not that I skipped Christmas… No, though I did read the book but that's not what I mean. I just meant that I haven't written about our Holiday!
It was GREAT!! then it was briefly HORRIBLE! then it was mostly GREAT!
Let's just skip right to the horrible.
Christmas Eve, the girls decided they had to go sledding. We had been sledding once before Christmas at a Hill of Death near our house - we will NEVER go there again. It is extremely steep… there is nowhere flat to put out your sled so you can sit on it. Branches everywhere… Just NOT GOOD.
So in order to erase that unpleasant memory from their brains, the girls decided they wanted to revive a Christmas Tradition we had performed a couple of times in years past and go Sledding in the Avenues! On Christmas Eve! Thing 2 was begging for me to commit to this for days ahead of time, I kept saying I'd be happy to go if we could but it's hard to say exactly what we'll have time for on Christmas Eve. We shuffled things around, Hubby helped, and we ended up able to go. I called a friend from down there and she warned me there might not be much snow, it had been really warm lately. We were undaunted. So we went. It's a 1/2 hour drive from our house.
We were about the only ones there. We took the dog.
I am the dedicated cameraman. I had very little interest in actually sledding. I let the first couple of runs go by. It was actually quite fun, the hill opens onto a baseball diamond and since it was so icy they could really just glide along for a long time after taking the hill. Are there warning bells going off in your head at that last comment? There should be...
Then Thing 2 had a great run except the dog decided for some inexplicable reason to tackle her. He took her out hard!
Then toward the end of the day I decided to make a run. It was fun - really hard and icy, but fun. The last run, the girls are about tuckered, and I thought Hubby would go with them. He didn't. I didn't want to but I did anyway, to be a sport.
This is what happened. Hubby decided to film, he wanted to try out the slow motion feature on my camera. So he captured it all in slo mo.
No, I did not go to the hospital. I could walk. Eventually. But this is how I spent the next couple of days.
Hubby got me the brace from the drug store. It was exceedingly uncomfortable. I didn't wear it for long. My hands were bruised up along the thumb and up into my first finger, and my left wrist has been kind of sprained. It is the first of February and my neck is finally mostly back to normal.
So other than that, it was a great holiday!
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Thing 1 is on a FIRST Lego league team. They called themselves the Doodle Bots. I am one of two coaches.
This has been a bit of a struggle for me because Thing 1 is kind of reticent and hesitant… and often wanders away from the activity and I struggle to get her back to involve herself. There is another girl on the team, who has the personality of a bull dozer. I've struggled with her because she gets angry at being told to get to work, and she barks back at me and the other coach, her mother. Our biggest personality battles have been with her. There is a boy on the team who is very quiet, a really nice kid, he's the real programmer. Just the three kids.
The other mother and I have struggled to get them to produce much. There are four parts to the competition. The most exciting is the lego robot games, in which the robot has to move levers, manipulate legos, and bypass obstacles to get points. The three other parts are presentations the kids give about three topics - their robot design, how well they work as a team, and a research project on the topic of the year. This year it was natural disasters.
The qualifying tournament was January 4th. We spent all of January 3rd practicing for it. The kids each spearheaded one of the three presentation topics, each one of them making a trifold board presentation. Then they doodled all over the black presentation board with metallic sharpie markers.
The kid's boards really looked good. Very clean with just their text printed on white paper, pasted to the black boards, with the silver and gold doodles. We were advised to use black boards by a retired coach of another local team, who won a prize at the world competition last year. It was excellent advice. Our boards really looked good. This is Thing 1's board about the research project.
At the end of the qualifying tournament we ended up with a prize, the championship prize for that qualifier. Apparently the Championship Prize is sort of the overall prize. We had to be in the top 40% of the robot games, and have generally high scores on each of our boards. The kids were so surprised that they won that they were sitting in the auditorium with their faces hanging out… the other coach and I practically had to bodily lift them up out of their chairs to go get their trophy.
The state tournament is next week. I expect us to get slaughtered. But then I expected us to be in last place at the qualifier, so what do I know? It wasn't that we did so great - we only could complete three out of a dozen or so missions, but we did those perfect without any penalties. Other teams were getting tons of penalties and their scores were beat up for it. After the first of three rounds on the games we were in third place. The father of the little boy on our team is one of the most naturally enthusiastic and happy people on the planet, and he was sitting behind me saying "You're in third place! They're in third place!!!" I was thinking "Oh that's you just being charmingly overenthusiastic…" and assuring him it was alphabetical order or something because there was no way we were in third place - but there it was posted on the big screen for all to see - we were in third place! Over the course of the next two rounds two teams bumped ahead of us, but they ended up in fifth overall of the robot games, and our team is moving on to the state event.
I found this video of someone else's super robot performing a bunch of missions, just in case you're interested. Our little robot didn't do hardly any of these things.
The tournament itself was all very exciting. Thing 1 was talking about skipping the whole tournament before we went - she was just tired of it all, but once we got there, it was really fun for the kids. The whole tournament is run very well and everyone did a great job.
This is a quick video I took of the kids on our 2nd of three trys at the game table - Thing 1 on the left, the boy on the team on the right. You can see the game table in between them and the robot failing to knock over the building it's supposed to knock over.
They got their trophies (I had copies made for the other two kids), they got their tee shirts. We won't win the state competition, we're just happy to go.
Monday, December 16, 2013
After the moose munched our trees I'm kind of on the warpath against them. In as much as I've chased them off a couple of times, and bought some "Deer Off" at the recommendation of a neighbor. She gets a lot of moose, and she says this stuff has kept them off her apple tree.
She and I have time to talk while the Thing 1 and two other kids, including the other women's daughter, are at their Lego meeting at her house. We are doing a First Lego League team this year, the other woman and I are the coaches. We're having trouble getting much done at the meetings, mostly because we're trying to let the kids control what happens... even though it's driving the other mom and me crazy because a lot less gets accomplished at each meeting than she and I would like. Sigh.
There are other factors too, like the day the moose showed up in her yard. It started with the mom in front and the two babies on the side yard and the dad at the neighbors.
She was really close to the house, but I felt pretty safe on the porch.
I haven't tried the moose repellant yet, next year when my trees leaf out I will be drenching them.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
I started this on Wednesday but didn't get it published.
I had a little personal crisis on Saturday as I was trying to plan the week. My birthday is this week. It's one of the big ones, with a zero in it. Hubby is in Australia. He was worried that I would be upset... and I wasn't until Saturday (a week ago) when I was trying to figure out which day to get Thing 2 out to the barn...
Monday is Legos, Tuesday and Wednesday were concerts, Thursday is my birthday and the best day to get Thing 2 out to the barn. Friday is playdates and the barn is crowded with lessons.
Even though I know we're celebrating when Hubby gets back, and it rarely works out in my family to do a big celebration on the day of your birthday, I didn't want this day to just be a slam dash of a trip to the barn, pushing the girls through homework, and me slamming together whatever half hearted meal I can. Like usual. I wanted to at least take the girls out for dinner. But the big obstacle there is the riding. It's a three hour trip from here to the barn and back, including tacking up and down and an hour for riding. Which would makes going out to dinner nearly impossible.
I hate disappointing Thing 2 and felt rather horrible myself but it seemed the only way to have my cake was for Thing 2 to not get hers. I agonized over this and spent an hour feeling stupid for wanting something, and then feeling stupid for realizing I'd be martyring myself if I just let it slip by, and feeling guilty and selfish and around we go. But it came down to there was no way I could do both and this birthday comes along once and she rides twice a week... So I told her she couldn't have her practice ride this week. She took it pretty well.
Then on Monday I got a text from the other Lego mom, her daughter was sick. We've been meeting in their home, her mother and I are the coaches. Her mother sent me a text asking when we could reschedule. Not this week! Driving home with Thing 2 her eyes lit up when she heard Legos was cancelled. "Can you take me riding?" OHMIGOSH I think that will work! So I did!
Thing 1 had an orchestra concert last night (Tuesday). It actually turned out pretty well, except it was too long. The majority of the program was the local high school starting with the Chamber orchestra, and symphony and chamber orchestras together, and finally the symphony by itself. Then the 8th graders, then the 7th graders, and finally the largest group of all, the 6th graders. They were very cute, with different colored tinsel attached to the end of all their bows, and some of them wearing santa hats. As one mom commented, for a bunch of 11-12 year olds who just picked up their instruments for the first time two months ago, they did really well!
Tonight (Wednesday) was a Christmas singing thing at the ice arena for Thing 2. It was hard to hear them as they were standing at the far end of the arena across from the bleacher seats. Their music was a little too loud, in fact the only time we could really clearly hear them is when the music cut out in the middle of the "Dreidel" song. They sang, it was fine, and we left in the middle of the skaters doing a little program. The kids didn't get to skate, which was okay because Thing 2 has never been before and wasn't wild about learning in front of all her class mates.
And there I stopped. Today is Saturday.
Thursday I spent my birthday having a very nice massage, and then talking to the nice man from AAA who came out to help me start my car. It's been sitting in the garage since Monday morning when the battery completely died. Luckily since Hubby was going to be gone for so long I drove him to the airport the week before, so we have his car to drive around. I used it to try and jump my car on Tuesday but I must have done something wrong because it didn't work. But the AAA guy came and got it started, so I drove it over to a shop and got a new battery.
Then that night I took the girls to a rather upscale Italian restaurant nearby. We sat in the lounge, on couches by the fire. It was very nice and kind of fun, like eating in a nice living room. It was turning out very lovely but I was missing Hubby, as I don't think I've eaten at a NICE place without him since I met him. I mean, I take the girls to downscale places, pizza joints, but not NICE places. Then just after they cleared the salad plates, Hubby walked in. I cried. We hugged.
Turns out he saw he didn't have much going on at the conference the rest of the week at his conference so he bugged out early. He planned all this on Tuesday without telling me and since the time difference causes so many problems with us being able to talk anyway, him going dark for a day wasn't surprising. He flew home from Australia Thursday afternoon and rented a car and went shopping, and then came up to surprise us during dinner.
I need to insert here that I truly hate my birthday. It falls in the middle of everyone trying to schedule Christmas concerts, and parties, and just basic preparations. Hubby always wants to do something special, take me to a really nice hotel for an evening of unbridled passion. But since he is almost always out of town all the arranging falls to me. And so I'm juggling my schedule, and my parents, and his, trying to find a night when my folks can take the girls and it works for everyone. There are a couple years where it has really been a problem and I get tense just thinking about it. It adds stress to an already stressful time, and while I think it's so sweet of him to try and do this for me, it has become something I really don't look forward to.
Imagine my surprise when Hubby announces over dinner that he has arranged for my brother and sister in law to keep the girls the next night, Friday, and he has made reservations at a swanky hotel. I quickly called the kennel to make a reservation for Kelso. Awwww, he took care of everything and the girls were thrilled out of their minds with joy to have a sleepover with their favorite cousin, without even having to beg for it.
Imagine our disappointment that night when Thing 2 woke me up in the middle of the night with croup. And right there we lost the sleepover, the wild night of passion, and all his hard work of arranging this from the other side of the globe. Another event this spoiled was an art project I had made arrangements for on Friday in Thing 2's class. I had seen this project done by another 5th grade class and I WANT that on my wall!
We get the class once a month for art, and we had arranged to have this cool pear project for that Friday. I went and helped, because it's really a challenging project and the woman who was doing it couldn't do it alone, but I'm going to have to take Thing 2 in another day and have her do it. The funny thing about that is it wasn't working, the woman leading and I were making desperate glances at each other because in the middle it was TERRIBLE. I mean there is no such thing as terrible children's art, but this was NOT WORKING OUT.... then we did the next step... and the next... and things started looking better... and the next step... and suddenly these beautiful pictures were appearing! And we ended up thinking ours looked better than the class's we'd seen in the hall that we got excited about.
So today instead of waking up curled up in Hubby's arms I woke up to Thing 2's barking cough. We'll have breakfast and I'll wrap presents and get stuff done around the house. Hubby may go skiing. My folks had planned on coming down to do some Christmas shopping with the girls, but they had to cancel that plan because colds with my dad turn into pneumonia, and we can't risk that, so that was cancelled as well.
But I had a truly marvelous birthday that we will talk about for years. And I ALMOST got a stress free night out, which is itself a miracle.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Hubby's in Australia.
I came downstairs this morning (late) to hear Hubby Facetiming the girls. I popped in to say hi, but needed to get breakfasts made and lunch for Thing 1, so I wasn't able to do more than listen in from the kitchen. The girls usually get up and play minecraft or something in the morning. I heard Hubby say "Well I should get to sleep and let you girls get back to your computers" which I know means they're ignoring him. He asked Thing 2 if she got the text he sent. Pause. "Did you get my text?" I went into the living room and wasn't too surprised to see she had her headphones on and wasn't paying attention to him at all. I took off her headphones and got in her face and asked if she had seen her daddy's text. I showed it to her. It was a link to a cute video, she watched it, he signed off.
When I called the girls to breakfast I gave them a quick lecture on how it's 3:00 AM for their father on the other side of the world and he misses them and stayed up to talk to them and they can't even get their noses out of their computers to pay attention to him. He loves us and misses us and you guys aren't even paying attention to him. That's about all I said. Thing 2, as always, has an excuse or something and tells me "Well I thought he was talking to Thing 1!" or something and I said No matter who he's talking to you can pay him the consideration of listening. Next thing I know they're both sobbing. Thing 2 says "You don't have to rub it in!" They want to call him back. They miss him and love him so much! No, I say, you don't have time and it's already 3:25 in the morning for him and he's got to get to sleep. Send him a text, he'll see it when he wakes up.
I am such a mean mean mom.
I haven't been grocery shopping since before this long weekend where we went to my mom and dad's. We had one slice of bread left and two heels, the girls don't like heels but that's all I had for breakfast because I needed to save the one slice for Thing 1's lunch. Thing 2 complained.
As I pulled out of the driveway to take Thing 2 to school I saw that sometime during the night the moose came and successfully demolished the rest of our trees. The three aspens were broken off just like the three on the other side of the garage, and the Canada Reds were stripped. Sigh. I should have invested in the Wolf Pee or whatever. $100 in canine urine is cheaper than replacing six trees.
We spent the long UEA (Utah Education Association) weekend at my folks. They are getting on in years, so the girls and I have been going up there for the past couple of years to help pick their apples. Hubby always seems to schedule some big trip for this weekend. It was kind of a working vacation for me. I picked apples (the girls helped really well), made a big vat of applesauce, cut out and made most of Thing 1's Halloween costume, took a couple trips to the store, helped with Thing 1's school project, bought pumpkins, and made several smoothies for my dad to try out. Busier than my normal days. We took the guinea pigs and the dog, so packing up going and coming home was kind of a chore. We made it back in time yesterday for Thing 2 to go riding.
Thing 1's Egyptian styled water clock
Then this morning as we're rushing out the door we realized we left our coats in the closet at my folk's. The only one who's really effected by this is Thing 2, who took her big winter coat and needed it this morning in the 27 degree weather. Thing 1 and I took (and left) lighter weight jackets. Thing 2 was in tears again as she tried on a much too small old coat in the closet, and ended up wearing last year's Sunday coat and feeling very unhappy.
As I was editing this I realized that on my trip to the grocery store after I got the kids to school I forgot to buy bread.
Not our best start to the day.
I don't have any pithy "Tie it all together and make it all right" remarks. It was just a rough morning.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Chased off a whole family of moose tonight. First the mom, who jumped down the rock wall into the street to get away from me. Then as I was standing proudly in my front yard, watching the momma moose munching on the neighbor's trees, a cyclist came cautiously down the street. He was watching Momma Moose... making sure she didn't turn around and bolt at him... when a bull moose with a huge rack came trotting right down the side of my yard. I hollered at the cyclist, who finally looked up from the momma moose to see the bull barreling toward him.. he started backing his bicycle up the street, toward my driveway. He probably would have trundled right into the bull if I hadn't yelled. The bull basically ignored him, and went over to join the lady moose. My neighbor whose yard was now being munched was out mowing her lawn. She hollered at them to get back to my yard, assuring them my trees are much younger and tastier. The bull was unimpressed and came over to see what she was yelling about. She abandoned her lawn mower and went inside for her camera. She sent me these pictures - you can see Thing 1 on the porch with the dog.
Then two baby moose came over and started munching on my trees! The cyclist was still at the edge of my yard, watching to make sure the adult moose were distracted enough to not mind him cutting between them and the babies. I started throwing bark and small branches at the babies. I am such a lousy shot they ignored anything but a direct hit. Thing 1 came out and started huffing and growling at them and one left, I finally landed a piece of bark and the 2nd left. I don't see how my little trees are going to survive.
Thing 2 has been doing really well at her riding. She was in a school show a couple of weekends ago.
She did really great on the dressage part, but she got muddled on the jumping part and missed a couple of jumps, and went around to do them again, and her time was bad. But she had fun and I guess we learn a little more each time she does it.
I am coaching Thing 1's Lego League team. There are only three kids on the team, Thing 1 and two of her friends, I don't know how I'd handle more than that. The 4H group held a coaches meeting to give us some advice, and one of the more veteran coaches said his first year they were just happy to have a robot that could do one or two missions, and that he kept reminding himself "Every hour spent on Legos is an hour not spent on Minecraft." Amen.
This Thing 1 is trying out for yearbook photographer at her school. I think it's absolutely wonderful that she's opening up to new experiences.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Construction has finished!!!
Our two month project was stretched into two years, but it didn't stretch into three and we are DONE. ALMOST!
It's down to me puttering around, moving grass, putting in a few plants.
But it took so long, I had a friend asking me about our new landscaping plans.
She said "A lot of your neighbors have a wagon wheel in their front yards... There's an old rusty mining cart up the street, and I've seen an old plow. But you went a totally different way... that Excavator is a really bold statement..."
I mean the thing as basically been there for TWO YEARS! It would move around on occasion, it left for the winter, but Hubby was suspecting that our Excavator guy didn't really have anywhere to park it, so in order to avoid storage fees over the summer he just gets a job, and lets it sit on those people's property all summer.
It's a pretty bold statement...
But now it's done! The excavator is gone! I need to add a picture of the finished product.
But in the mean time, I would like to call your attention to the trees, pictured just behind the excavator.
We put them in last fall. About a year ago. They leafed out nicely in the summer, but haven't been doing as well as their counterparts on the other side of the yard. These aren't just any old aspen, mind you, I don't like any old aspens. These are special Swedish Aspens. Ya! They don't just turn yellow in the fall, they turn red and orange! And they don't sucker as much. And they're much more expensive, of course.
I was wondering why they were more scrawny, when I saw that the moose and deer follow down the side of the house and just stop right there and munch on our trees!
I thought it was quite charming... so rustic...
So outdoorsy! Yes that is a baby moose in my trees! Awwwwww! No wonder the trees are kind of scrawny on that side... But the moose were here first... they can have a few leaves... it will leaf in next year.
Then this morning... I saw this.
And the stupid moose have earned my ire.
Three for three. They broke off each of the trees right above the tether level.