Sunday, January 31, 2010

She Blinded Me With Science . . . Party

First of all, I can't believe my girl is ELEVEN!!  Where on earth has the time gone?  Seriously, when she was 3, I thought it would take forever for her to grow up.  But here I am 8 years later buying her size 14 jeans.  They were slims, but still . . . size 14?!  Before I know it, she'll be babysitting (which I am looking forward to) and driving (which I am NOT).  As for dating, well, I just try to avoid thinking about that all together.

On a positive note, K is truly a good girl.  She's responsible, capable, smart and really quite witty.  I am hoping that her teenage years don't bring us TOO much grief.

For her birthday this year, we (OK, I) decided to outsource for the first time.  We've always had birthdays at our house, but I've been feeling rather unmotivated lately and decided it might be nice to just pay someone else to do most of the work.  It was fabulous.  My very favorite part was that I didn't have to clean my house.

K wanted to do weird science, so we booked a party at a local park/natural science center.  An employee there did a fabulous hands on science class which the kids absolutely LOVED.  We may just have to stick with the science theme for S's birthday in March.

Just in case you can't tell, the cake is supposed to be a flask overflowing with a very bubbly science experiment. Some of you might be thinking that you've never seen a flask quite that shape. And you're probably right. But that's what happens when you're too lazy to actually trim the cake, and decide to just slap the frosting on instead. Still, it turned out better than I thought it would when I was making it.

S prepares to blow up a balloon using vinegar and baking soda.  J took the phrase "blow up" a little TOO literally and insisted on covering his ears for the entire balloon experiment.

Glue + water + borax + food coloring = flubber.  Very cool.

This experiment delighted K.  Her chain molecule of flubber grew quite long before it broke.

Dry ice in a flask of blue colored water.  Just look at the faces of all the kids.  Pure delight.  I don't understand why they don't teach more science in the lower elementary grades.  The kids love it.  It's like learning how a magic show works.  And it's SO GOOD for their little brains.

Water + sugar + flavoring + dry ice = soda.  Some of the kids said they liked it.  But, really, it was rather gross.  The recipe needs a little tweaking, in my opinion.  Still cool, though, to watch it get made.

And then there were the grounds to explore.  Here's J off on an expedition in a real space capsule.  Everyone also got to dig for eathworms, explore the maze & cactus gardens, climb trees, play in teepees, dig for dinosaur bones, and just run wild outside.  We could hardly believe how perfect the weather was.  Sunny and 70?  In January?  I'll never get used to the climate here, I think.  I still have this midwest winter mindset which will probably never leave me.

R thoroughly enjoys having two older sisters who dote on her.  Here, she gave me her cheesiest of smiles when she saw me taking her picture.  During the party, thanks to the friends of K & S, little R had about 5 big sisters watching over her.

My beautiful girl, who is growing up too fast.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Best Hair Ever!

This is what J's hair looked like this morning, approximately 15 minutes before it was time to leave for school.  I think it has to go on record as his best morning hair EVER.  I really don't know how this boy sleeps to create this kind of a vortex poofta. 

I had to bribe him with a malt ball in order to take these pictures.  See that little smile on his face in the above photo?  It's because he's enjoying the chocolate malted goodness as I snap away. And since I want this look preserved for posterity, I think it was worth it.  Even the mug shot poses--I had to be able to show the do in all it's hurricane glory.  If I could just get him to let me put gel in, he'd probably look downright trendy.

But I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, we should consider giving him a haircut one of these days.  Because then, though it will still stick up, at least it will stick up UNIFORMLY.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Animal Lover

This girl LOVES animals.  No doubt about it. 

Her fascination with horses led her to a year of horseback riding lessons.  Unfortunately, the place she was going closed down and I have yet to find another ranch.  I suppose I should look a little harder.  She really misses the horses.  And since she tends to be somewhat timid, I think the lessons were really good for her.  They made her assert herself in order to control the horse.

She's always wanted a cat, but unfortunately we've always had a dog, so it just hasn't worked out.  And since Charger goes crazy when he sees a cat, we figured it just wasn't advisable to get a cat.  Seriously, he does go a bit crazy.  If Shaggy is walking him, the entire neighborhood knows when he spots a cat--we can ALL hear his howling.  And since he has such a strong prey drive, I don't think he would stop at just saying hi to the cat.

S has taken more interest in dog care in recent years.  She likes to help Shaggy train Charger and will throw balls for him.  But she will have to get a little bigger and grow a few more muscles before we let her walk him.  Just too many darn cats around.

Last summer she tried very hard to have a pet ant.  But after catching several in a row, all of whom died, she dejectedly told me, "I really wanted a pet ant, but they just won't stay alive."  So we got one of those gel ant farm things.  And watched for weeks while the ants dug tunnels.  And then a wicked mold started growing which killed them all off.  I wasn't really all THAT sad to see them go, but the kids had enjoyed watching them.

We've had some short lived relationships with potato bugs and snails--all of whom stayed in the back yard at my insistance.  S liked to help take care of the fish when we still had them.  And she adores the lizards.  She's always asking to hold them.  But when Shaggy gets one out for her, she tends to say "Daddeeeeee!" a lot because they hop around so much and she's afraid they will climb up her arm.  But that doesn't deter her, she still begs to hold them.  Which she only gets to do when Shaggy's around because I am just not willing to run the risk of a runaway lizard on my watch.  I have no desire to have to mount a lizard search which would likely end in a close examination of Charger's oral cavitiy.

So when we were planning our trip to San Diego and SeaWorld, I came across the dolphin interaction program.  What a perfect fit for S.  But we couldn't just offer it to S and not to K, even though S is clearly the one infatuated with animals.

So we decided we would have them earn it if they wanted to.  We offered both girls the chance to participate, but they would each have to save their allowance for months and months to help pay for it.  S jumped at the chance and K said no thanks.  Worked out beautifully.

S signals the dolphin to spin.  She loved the way the dolphin felt and would happily have stayed in there for hours if she had been allowed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lego Mania!

 They say it took 40 million lego bricks to build this land of legos.  Pretty impresive.  And I know that we didn't see all of it, even in the two days we spent there.  If you ever have the chance to visit Legoland, I would highly recommend it.

Even before walking through the front gate, the kids were delighted by all the lego creations they found.

Our first stop was the fairy tale brook boat ride.  J & I were in the boat in front with the rest of the crew following behind us.  J was a little nervous about all the lego figures we saw--he seemed to think they were about to jump out at us or something.  I had to keep reassuring him that they made the ride for little kids, so they couldn't put anything scary in it.  All the same, I think he was a bit relieved to get off the boat.

We really enjoyed the humor they put into so many of their models.  Like this prince charming with a cell phone.  So that's how he manages to always rescue the maidens!

J was amused by this huge, grinning cop.  He even paused in devouring his hamburger to check him out.  K was seriously impressed with this giant Chewbacca.  I think she would have liked to take him home if she could have carried him.

The girls both earned their lego licenses by zipping around this driving course.  They didn't even hit any curbs!  J bailed on this ride after we had waited for half an hour in line.  Once he got close, he realized that I couldn't ride with him.  I was sort of his security blanket at legoland--especially the first day.  He wouldn't set foot on any ride without me.

Almost lost J & Shaggy forever during the tour of lego-making machines.  They could have stayed in there for days, watching how the machines worked.

25 million of the above mentioned 40 million lego bricks were used to create this place, miniland USA.  It was truly breathtaking!  Of everything we did on our trip, I think this was the place J loved the most.  I think he would happily move here, if he could.  He thought the buildings and people were pretty cool, but it was the moving vehicles, boats, planes & trains that had him entranced.  His ears seemed to stop working when we were in here, so we had to grab him by the arm to propel him forward through the exhibits.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

The Big Apple.


It sort of misted and rained most of our first day at legoland.  After a while we just gave in and stopped saying no to some of the water rides.  But thankfully, we didn't get all that wet on this one.  Everybody loved it, though, so we ended up going again and again and again.

Shaggy doesn't do so well with the motion sickness, so the kids dragged me on this ride.  It was another hit.

Our very first 4D experience.  Some little story about a lego princess who saves the world from some strange skeleton guys.  In one scene, it started snowing and before we knew it, bubbles were raining down on us.  The kids really got a kick out of that.

J about to embark on a safari tour.  I had to assure him that I was really going to get in with him right after I snapped the picture.

Shaggy took the girls on thier very first rollercoaster.  It wasn't this one, it was a much bigger, wilder one.  They both got off thinking they might never get on another coaster ever again.  But they relented and tried this tamer one that even R went on.  This one they liked.  I guess we have to start them out small and THEN work our way up.  R was a little nervous during the ride, but when she got off, she requested to go again.  Which Shaggy was happy to do.  But then she flipped out yelling, "I not ready!" when he tried to sit down with her.  Guess she needs to start out even smaller.

Like with this kiddie train.  That she also protested when I tried to get on with her.  But she was ok with Daddy.  And sort of enjoyed the ride.  I think.  At least she wasn't screaming.

This was more R's pace.  A playground with lots of stairs and slides and windows.  When she wasn't occupied playing here or building with giant legos or sitting in the stroller eating sncks, she was whining about wanting Daddy.  I do think she was a little overwhelmed by the frenzied pace of things.  She felt most secure in Shaggy's arms.  I'm not sure how he held up--he certainly had sore muscles from holding her so much.  I think he deserves a superhero Dad award.  I'm sure R would agree with me.

Our second day at Legoland, we were able to meet up with S&A and cousin E.  Since they live on the other coast, we haven't seen them in a while.  J was made nervous by his uncle and ducked out of the group photo.