Thursday, April 25, 2013

Destination Casino!

Last weekend the State finals were held for Destination Imagination at Central Michigan University.  The main purpose in going is so Spencer can participate with his group, but the perk that the kids were looking forward to the most was the pool and the arcade at the casino.
West Michigan was in the thick of some record heavy rainfall and river flooding,  so on the way to Mt. Pleasant we drove by the Croton/Hardy Dam to see the massive amounts of water going through it.  I didn't even know this dam existed, let alone saw it before, so it was a pretty cool experience.

One of the parks near the dam was closed (due to the high water) so we had to drive around the corner until we found another stop.  We saw lots of people heading down a little trail with cameras slung over their shoulders, so we figured there must be another view point.  After a quick trek through the woods and snapping a few shots of the dam and the kids with the high river in the background, we got back into the car and trudged on toward our hotel.
The kids wasted no time getting on their bathing suits and heading for the pool.  We let the kids leave school at eleven, so when we got to the casino, the pool was almost empty.  It was really nice and I am so glad we decided to let them ditch a bit early.


The next morning Spencer had his challenges on the CMU campus.  We lucked out this year due to the fact that his Instant Challenge was the first one of the morning and they were finished with their Central Challenge presentation by noon.  We had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted.

Whatever they wanted turned out to be the arcade followed by more pool time.  Unfortunately, most of the families headed home after the challenge so we were not surrounded by familiar faces like we were last year.

We had the arcade pretty much to ourselves as well.

Hailey became addicted to Fruit Ninja.  She is constantly stealing my ipad to play it now.   Evan cashed in all his tickets for some candy and the eagle stuffie.   Pretty fitting since the Soaring Eagle is the name of the casino - he named him Talon.

The next morning we had to wake up pretty early and head out since Trent had a rehearsal scheduled for later that day.  Spencer offered us an upcoming glimpse of the teenage years.

Evan tried to cruise through some levels of Candy Crush.

And Hailey was just thrilled to run across the hall and fill the ice bucket.  This was her job and she was loving every minute of it.

It was a fun little break from the ordinary.  I don't know if Spencer's DI team will stick together for next year or not.  Middle school is a whole new ball game.  Regardless of the future, going to the State finals for two years in a row is a pretty awesome accomplishment.  I am proud of Spencer for choosing to participate in DI.  I think in the last two years with their Humane Society project and this year making the blankets for sick children in the hospital, he has learned a lot about compassion and how just a small group can band together and help people and accomplish amazing things. 

Let them buy cake!

The boys had their Cub Scout father and son cake bake last week.   The pack does it every two years as a fundraiser.  The boys get to bid on the cakes that are made and then the highest bidder walks away with a fabulous cake and the knowledge that you just did a little bit of good for the pack.  

Two years ago, my boys did a lot of good by purchasing three cakes between them.   I walked out of the school gym sixty dollars poorer.  I told the boys that was not going to happen this year.  At the most we were only going to purchase two cakes and not go over twenty dollars per cake. 

Evan and Dad whipped up this campfire cake that turned out pretty cute.  I think his cake fetched almost thirty dollars in bids. 

Spencer wanted to fashion a Minecraft sword.  Honestly, it looked a little rough.  Fondant would have been a much better option for frosting, but when you are under a time crunch, you do the best with what you've got.  As with most things in his life, he didn't put much effort into it.  I don't remember what Spencer's cake went for, but I know it took a bit to get the bidding going and then it went for pretty cheap.

At the auction, Evan bid a couple of times on different cakes but was always outbid.  Finally he decided he wasn't letting this Phillies cake get away from him. (The Phillies is the baseball team he plays for this year).  He looked to me for permission to go over his twenty dollar limit and snatched it for twenty three dollars.  He was pretty stoked.

Spencer had his eye on the last cake that was auctioned off.  It was a pretty elaborate cake of a camping scene with fondant people and the works.  He was quickly outbid at his twenty five dollar max.   

So this year we got out of the cake bake for only twenty three dollars.  Pretty good in my opinion.  The boys were great.  They knew their limits and stuck to them for the most part.  They didn't get mad or disappointed if they were outbid.  It couldn't have gone better. 

Of course when we got home and cut into the Phillies cake, we discovered it was a strawberry flavored cake and none of the kids wanted to eat it.

Oh well,  at least we can write it off as a contribution.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Out of the backpack

I am feeling extremely overwhelmed these days.  If you could see our calendar you wouldn't need to ask why.  Three kids going three different places at once can do that to you.  I am tired.  Tired of the rain.  Tired of going nonstop.  Tired of adding commitments.  There isn't an end in sight, but I do think seeing the sun would help.  

On crazy days sometimes it just takes pulling a drawing or piece of writing out of the kid backpacks to make me smile.  The past week I have found some gems. 

The teacher gives them the starter phrase...Over spring break ...I goed to my cousins house and my cabin.

"Cabin" or at least the start of it, was on the back of the sheet all by itself.

This was a picture on the back of one of her worksheets.  I love how she is walking Dickens and I love the detail with his claws.  She prides herself in knowing how to spell Evan, but Spencer alludes her - he is always represented with only an "s".

Oh the confusion between a "b" and a "d".   I can ride my bike.  I can ride my scooter.  I love how she spelled "ride" as "rib".  I love how she spelled scooter.

The rest of the drawings were on a sheet that Evan brought home listing core Democratic values.  I love his drawings.  I feel like my kids are really good at sketching and coloring pictures.  Maybe I am just biased and admittedly, I don't see a lot of other work, but I still think they are pretty awesome.

I love the crack in the Liberty Bell.

This one cracked me up.  I don't really know if it is offensive or not.

This one made me laugh as well.  The truth from our government.. I broke it...GRRR.

I don't know what this is all about. It kind of reminds me of the Terminator with the red cyborg eye.

I loved this one with the judge and his powdered wig sitting behind the desk.

I have lots to post about our weekend away and Cub Scout stuff, but I need to get organized around here first.  We have another busy night around here with baseball practice and a parents meeting at the middle school.  GASP!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Writes" and wrongs

After more than a week of total togetherness with my family, which was for the most part blissful, I had a moment last Friday where I went into full blown "bad mom" mode.   Hailey and I were picking up and cleaning out the homework area in our laundry room.  For the past few months it has become a dumping ground for any art project or piece of paper that I didn't know what to do with.  On this morning she was expressing a desire to create and needed somewhere to do it.  We quickly got the desk picked up - old paper thrown away, markers and crayons organized. paint splatters and glue marks off the laminate.   Then began the task of sweeping the floor.  There were bits of glitter and some sequins strewn about and there are always bits of clay from the litter box in there.  Hailey in super helper mode grabbed the broom and started making little piles.  I was turned around starting on the mess sitting on top of the dryer when I heard a loud crash followed by the sound of breaking glass.  I turned around and saw that while she was trying to maneuver the unwieldy and too long broom in that tiny space, the handle had knocked an empty wine bottle off of the sink counter. 
Don't even ask why there were empty wine bottles in the room (thank you Pinterest).  After I saw that she wasn't hurt, my immediate instinct was to curse and then scold her.  I saw the broken glass on the floor and told her to get out before she got cut.  I handled it badly.  I was not mad at her.  I was more mad at myself for letting things get such a mess in there and for having materials that sit around for months for projects I will probably never get to.  I quickly swept up the big pieces of glass and then ran the vacuum to pick up any shards.  All the while I could see Hailey sitting at the table coloring something.  
After a half hour or so when I had almost finished up the rest of the cleaning of the room, Hailey walked in shyly and handed me this card she had been working on.  One side was all balloons and the other side was all hearts.

And inside were the words:  I am sre (sorry).

I quickly grabbed her and hugged her and told her that she had nothing to be sorry about.  I was the one who was sorry.  She was just trying to help and I rewarded her for that by yelling at her.  I told her that I didn't care one bit about the broken wine bottle, that I was mad at myself for leaving it there and that it scared me to think that she could have gotten hurt.  We hugged it out and she forgave me and all was good. 

How she reacted to the situation reminded me a lot of myself.   I can express myself much easier in writing than I can by speaking.  Especially if I am upset, I tend to get too emotional when I speak and those emotions just pour out of me in a blubbering sobbing mess and the point of what I wanted to say in the first place is washed away in the snot bubbles.  Forget about speaking in front of crowds.  It is so ironic to me that I married a man that basically speaks in front of people for a living.  He can get in front of a full auditorium and wing it.  I would be having nervous sweats and stomach aches for weeks before hand.  I hope the kids get at least some of his ability.

Writing about expressing your feelings on paper reminded me of a pretty cool thing we are doing with the boys.  It started as a way to open lines of communication with our preteen boy.  I fear that communication in the form of mumbling and grunts is in the not too distant future. Spencer is a lot like me, when he has to talk about hard stuff, he would rather write it then talk to us directly.   We started a communication journal with Spencer and Evan.  We figured we might as well start with Evan now.   I just took a plain notebook and wrote a little preface in it telling what the purpose of it was.  I ask them questions in it then set it on their beds for them to write back to me at some point. 

When they write back they can just answer or they can reciprocate with a question for mom or dad.  The questions have been pretty ordinary things like "what do you hope we can do over Spring Break"" or "what was your favorite part of the movie we saw last night and why did you like it?".   They have really embraced the concept - Evan especially.  He will even prompt me if it has been a few nights and he hasn't seen the journal on his pillow.  "Mom?  Are you ever going to write back to me?"   It is fun and practices reading and writing skills and most importantly establishes a running dialogue where I hope they feel they can express real fears and problems that might arise.  Things that they might not want to express verbally to our faces.  So that is a good thing. 

Rights and wrongs.

I just have to keep repeating one of my favorite quotes - "The most important thing she had learned over the years was there was no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one."

Friday, April 12, 2013


It was pretty nice outside last weekend.  Compared to the dreary rain we have endured all this week with no end in sight, it was down right gorgeous.  Anyway, I have this pot that I planted full of bulbs last fall that I love. It was an idea I found in a magazine and I thought it would be beautiful on our front steps.  Right now it is still spending a lot of time in our garage since I am worried about temperatures dipping back into freezing overnight and mostly I am worried about the rampant deer that walk around our neighborhood thinking that I am serving them dinner in a sweet little pot.
Over the weeknd I thought I would snap a quick shot of it before the deer manage to get at it.  There is still another type of bulb that has yet to show up.  I know I planted three kinds.  For the life of me I can't remember what the other kind was though.  Maybe tulips?

As I was shooting the flowers, Hailey got out the Batter Batter Baseball and started hitting balls.  I know they are only wiffle balls, but holy cow she was whaling on those things!

I loved the intense facial expressions that I was able to get.

Four balls within a few inches of each other.  Pretty consistent hitting there my little baseball slugger girl!

Unless some miracle occurs this season, her soccer career will come to an end with this season.  I think next spring I may have to sign her up for softball.  I  have a couple of cousins who were great softball players and my grandma was a super awesome player - even part of the women's sofball league during the war.

Everytime she would hit all the balls in the sleeve, she would look at me and blow on her bat like it was on fire.  She is so funny.