Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Maiden voyage

Pouring rain and a couple of chilly nights made us grateful for our new toy. And Ethan was especially grateful because we surprised him by bringing along the TV so he could watch the Indy 500 Sunday morning. (Let's just say that Ryan Briscoe is not the most popular guy in our house after knocking Danica out of the race.) I know, I know, camping with a TV is shameful. But the people in the RV next to us? They had a Two-and-a-Half Men marathon Sunday night that nearly made us lose our minds. Endless repeats of annoying theme song, many many episodes, all played loudly. And OUTside the motorhome.

Note to campers: Two days in advance is not the greatest time to be looking for a campsite for Memorial Day weekend. This is how we ended up in Packwood, site of a huge Memorial Day flea market, instead of closer to Mt. St. Helens.

Note to campers considering buying a tent trailer: When you put it up for the first time, be sure to bring along a marriage counselor. Or perhaps a divorce lawyer.

All this talk of eruptions...

Where else could we go for Memorial Day weekend but to the nearest active volcano? We didn't exactly have first-weekend-of-summer weather (note the sandals in the snow when we tried for a little hike), and the mountain wasn't visible through the clouds, but the visitors' center was a lot of fun.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Science Fair

I know this stuff is really the boy's problem, so why does it stress me out so much? This is one mom who's glad the school year is almost over.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Great volcanic expectations

Perhaps Ethan's 220-centimeter measuring pole was a tad optimistic.

Hydrogen peroxide plus yeast fizzled.
Diet Coke and Mentos failed to live up to the hype.
Hot tub chemicals flopped utterly.
The old reliable vinegar and baking soda turned out to give the best overall bang for the backyard volcano. But at 55 centimeters, even the best eruption fell a little short of our hopes.

By the way, this experiment was conducted on May 18, 2008. If you're mid-30-ish or older, the date May 18, 1980, might mean something to you.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hot dog

Hot family. We thought we'd escape the mid-90s by heading to South Fork, but it was pretty toasty up there too. Woof.

Hummingbird attack!

We all tried to capture this experience on film and all failed to do it justice. I never imagined seeing so many busy little birds all in one place. What a photo could never capture is their chattering, the surprisingly loud buzz they make, and the breeze all these tiny wings manage to kick up. (If you want to visit the Bird Lady, let me know--I'm up for another visit. Next time: Mosquito repellant.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Get me out of here!

Two baby birds were squawking their heads off most of the morning...and then there was one. Later we spotted some flapping under a bush and saw that they had both left the nest.

If I were a bird, I think I'd find a nice quiet tree somewhere instead of a clothesline post in a small boy's backyard, especially when the two posts have that small boy's zip-line running between them. But somehow, our posts remain popular with the winged crowd. We had a nest in each this year.

Making new friends is fun, but....

...it can be hazardous.

We downloaded pics from Cliff's camera and came across these oldies from last winter.

I miss the beach

Seeing these pictures even has me missing Claire's long hair, though she looks adorable with her short do and I'm sure Locks of Love was thrilled to get her long, beautiful red waves. If only they could figure out a way to use our excess doggy waves!

Must figure out a way to get back to the beach, and soon.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The science fiction birthday party

The guest list included Jedi knights (good and evil), Arthur Dent (don't panic, especially if you have a towel ready), and a wild assortment of aliens. The kids enjoyed aiming Nerf darts at Darth Vader and the Dalek, making aliens to hang on the wall, and whacking a celestial piƱata. Somehow, the Dalek cake managed to make it through the night without entirely caving in or collapsing (it was touch and go) and was nearly exterminated by the children. And the Hitchhiker's Guide was right--a towel comes in quite handy, especially with vast quantities of chocolate, punch and children around. Happy birthday, James! (I'm sorry we forgot your present, but it's in the mail!)

P.S. If you found this post looking for instructions for a dalek cake...well, not that ours is much of a role model, but here goes. Stacy baked cake in two bread pans for the body and in a small round ceramic bowl for the head. We set up one loaf of cake straight, and leaned the other against it to make that part of the dalek that kind of sticks out in front. The round piece sat on top. The whole thing was glued together with raspberry jam and loads of chocolate frosting. Most of the shaping of the outside was creative frosting plaster work. We used canned frosting to save work, but homemade would have hardened more and probably been more helpful. (I'd recommend extra-stiff homemade frosting.) Chocolate-covered malt balls are the key ingredient for making the cake look reasonably dalek-like. We also jabbed in bits of licorice for arms, various other candies for the eyepiece and such, and spread around rectangles of chocolate to make the collar/shoulder thing. (I'm not a robot engineer, clearly.) The two bread-shaped cakes did not want to stay vertical, so we also jammed cookies strategically around the sides and underneath. The thing barely escaped disaster--all we had was crossed fingers and a prayer. Plus we wedged it up against the refrigerator for the night.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

My birthday date

Yes, he's handsome and charming, but I really didn't want to spend my birthday at a school banquet event while his father played chaperone. Oh well, this year isn't a bad one to have behind me. I hope the next one will be better!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

How do you compete with caffeinated jelly beans?

We did our best, but the guy in the next booth was definitely more popular than we were--after all, who wants to meet chicks handing out disease brochures?! (He was really nice though--donated a box of beans for our ALS walk in September.)

This sort of thing really brings out the INTROvert in me. My mom was out there waving stuff around and promoting ALS night at the Indians ballpark and the walk, and I just wanted to crawl under the table. But I tried. Maybe next time will be easier.

After standing three hours on the concrete floor, Mom and I both wanted to crawl on a massage table for a couple of hours.

25, still alive

Hard to imagine that 25 years ago this month I was getting ready to graduate. I also had about 55 fewer pounds to carry around, hair that was pretty much solid brown and only one chin. Of course, I wouldn't trade nothin' for what I have now! Just a few of those blessings...the world's best husband, a sweet and wonderful 9-year-old, a great mom and in-laws who spoil me, and knowing who my friends are. And more or less who I am too. Though I kinda miss the feathered bangs. Whoosh.

A highlight of the reunion weekend was going to Spaghetti Factory with some of the old crowd, a few of whom think a really cool Saturday night is gathering around a piano and singing hymns. (I was pushing for karaoke, but have to admit this was pretty fun too.) It was great seeing some old friends, even though I didn't see anyone as much as I wanted!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Project Linus

If you like making kid-sized quilts, here's a good cause! A nearby chapter of Project Linus gives blankets to kids who have lost a close family member to terminal illness. Ethan's quilt has racecars and flames that remind him of Grandpa's racing days...and the flames on his wheelchair.