Sunday, August 24, 2008

CAB 12

Happy Birthday to Wren. Can you believe he is 12 years old? Yeah, me either.

In true Holly fashion, Wren had a most awesome birthday party on Saturday. It was likely the longest birthday party I've attended too! The official theme this year...Road Rally. Basically, it was a road trip through 3 towns to complete several tasks and dramatize a few things.

It was incredibly fun and certainly took a lot of thought and creativity on Holly's part. There were 5 teams that had to find boxes at 6 locations, each leading to the next.

Each destination incorporated things and people important to Wren's life. We ate donuts, bought postcards at the visitor center, left missing you messages for
Amber and we even had the chance the talk to Aunt Terrel in California. Each team was required to creatively document each destination. We were also all tested with dramatizing soccer, newspaper and the Dallas Cowboys. Lastly we all had to search for vanity plates that might represent a birthday or living wonderfully.

My team consisted of 3 boys, none of my own. :) I thought we were so ahead of the curve in creativity but was I wrong. There was a lot of effort put into the challenges and I was truly surprised at the end results.

Some highlights of the day:
Scott, Cassi and Cali's team which also included Gretta, Jodi and her son Andreas interviewed a stranger at the local Saturday market. Check out the littlest newspaper reporter.

Tony, a friend, had Wren, Aidan and Nolan on his team. They found a fabulous STAR to photograph their team standing in front of. Go Dallas Cowboys! An idea that no other team replicated in any way.

The Teenager team of which included Barry, AJ, Casey and Brady had Brady jump a fence to take a photo with horses and cows for the Cowboy dramatization.

Rocky, Cori, Heidi and Bridger's team made the funniest video (Which won first place) that incorporated all 3 dramatizations. (I am working on getting this posted.)

It's a little long (because I didn't know how to shorten it)but it is worth watching for a short time anyway. Listen for Rocky's wonderful accent and several snafu's from the kids. It was pretty funny and Rocky's embarrassment, while showing the video at the party, was classic.

And lastly,Me and my team of Isaac, Baxter and Harabolos chased down a taxi (CAB 12) to take a photo of the tag. No, the cops weren't called but the hungover customer was none too pleased that we were chasing him through the streets of Old Town.

Now can any of you possibly guess why we chose CAB 12 to demonstrate a birthday or living wonderfully? I think, had there been a prize for the Vanity Plate challenge alone, we should have won!

CAB 12= Celebrate A Birthday 12- How great is that!!!

My team also offered some extra credit by taking a photo of the final destination. The clue: This Album-

This is where we ended up.

All of the documentations were judged as well as the dramatizations. Part of what made the whole thing hysterical to me was the effort put forth by all to sell ones team and convince everyone else why it was the best. (We are definitely a competitive bunch!)And even though the judges didn't get to participate in the rally (they came only to judge the end results) they had a great time too! It was evident in the laughter in the room and the grins on all.

Anyway, it was a fantastic day and I can certainly give you more details if any of you are interested in throwing your own Road Rally party. I am hoping to do another one sometime, maybe for no reason at all except that is was fun! There was a wide age group that participated and I am certain everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.

Here is a picture(or 3) of the birthday boy looking fabulously entertaining as every birthday boy should look.

All birthdays should be so fun.


Well, this week's unplug your kids theme was cylinder. We spent a LOT of time unplugged this week but didn't work on a project in the truest traditional sense. We did however have a quickie idea to share.I didn't even have time to take a lot of photos but we have one of our finished product.

Wren's birthday party was Saturday, which I will post about sometime tomorrow. (It was really fun!) We picked out several presents for him and fortunately one fit in our handmade gift container.

We recycled a(cylinder) oatmeal container, wrapped it in some cool skull-and-flame fabric, gave it a rope handle and stuffed in the squishy bike seat.
After opening or emptying, the container will make for fun storage in his new room in the new house.

I started with a practice model for Cali, but the fabric was a little thin and I painted the glue on the outside too thinking it would dry clear. It did however it warped the appearance of the fabric.

She likes it just the same. For hers I used a small canister that once held Doritos. : ) and gave it a braided ribbon handle.

This was really fun to give and we could easily claim the most uniquely wrapped gift!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hi Ho, Hi Ho...It's Off To School We Go

I'm sitting here in front of my computer trying to figure out a way to say happy things about today and I am struggling. There is change in the air and it makes me a little sad.

Amber is leaving for college in the morning. Cori and Cassi started back to school today. Cori wants so much to fit in and be liked by everyone. She is in a 5/6 split class this year and I think it is a little intimidating for her.

Cassi has a male teacher this year. It is the first time she hasn't known her teacher previously. All of the teachers she has had in the past, she knew through Cori first. She is excited but unsure since she doesn't have the prior relationship to fall back on.

Also, my little man (who is now a big guy) Wren has moved to Anchorage and will attend school there. He will come back on weekends and holidays but I am going to miss having him around.

On that note, Cali and I are going to focus on trying new things. I hope to have somewhat of a preschool-like schedule for her at home. I don't really want to enroll her this year since she has two years before she will leave for kindergarten. It was so tough on Cori to have her friends leave her behind for kindergarten that I don't want to repeat that mistake with Cali.

We have high hopes for learning this year however. I think she is a fairly smart little girl and she will likely be way ahead of the game come kindergarten if she keeps going like she is. It will be a challenge to keep her learning this year which is exactly what we both need.

Now, in order to make you smile (and me too!)take a look at these pictures. Cori and Cassi were really excited about their new school clothes. Agonizing time was spent picking out exactly what they should wear for their first day. Finally, everyone made their final decisions.

Last night I spent a couple hours clearing weeds from my pond space so we'd have a backgroud for pictures this morning. I prefer outside pictures as my house is busy. The girls have worked on several outside, pond area projects this summer so it seemed like the perfect place.

They both were quite animated in their picture posing.

Here Cassi reminds me of "That Girl". I think she is the sweetest looking little girl.

Cori reminds me of a mini teenager although she isn't even 11...yet. She also seems to have lost all her baby fat and looks way too skinny.

Cali has grown 3 inches, apparently overnight while I was sleeping. She has been waiting several weeks to wear her first day of school dress and I am thinking we may have waited too long.

If looking at these pictures makes any of you feel a little empty inside, longing for days past, fear not, you aren't alone.

It's cliche'-ish but it is all going by too fast for my liking. I am hanging on as long as I can but the reality is, they are pulling away, leaving me grasping. I am grateful though! They are confident and unafraid. They are greeting the future with anticipation and joy which is all I could ever ask for.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Calling All Feathered Friends

We actually managed to do a leisurely unplugged project this week. Often times I realize late into the weekend (or even early in the week) that we haven't done the great idea I had planned for our unplugged project. We even occasionally do them and don't manage to get them posted before the week is well on its way, so I forgo posting about them. Not so this week. We'd been thinking about it since the TREE theme was posted and for some reason this is what came to me right from the start. I'd told Cori and Cassi to try and think of something but they never mentioned anything.

This afternoon I asked them if they'd like to make bird feeders. Cali was really excited. Cori was on her way out the door to spend the night with Alli so she didn't care much and Cassi kind of went along because Cali really wanted her to.

Once we got started it was really fun. I gave Cali a really long piece of yarn and a bowl of cheerios and let her string to her hearts content.

I gave her a little plastic needle as it made it much easier. In the picture below you can see the trees where we hope to host our new friends.

Every now and then she'd pass the string to me or Cassi and we'd string many at one time.

In fact once Cali figured out how we were doing it, she started doing the same.

I envisioned hanging our homemade bird feeders ( I wasn't originally sure how many different kinds we'd do) out by the koi pond and since we can see it well from the window, we stuck to that plan. We have two trees there about 8 feet apart. Now, I am not certain if the birds can cling to the yarn but in an effort to make it easier I pulled it very taut between the trees.

Because our string was so long, it took a little while but Cali stuck with it fairly well as long as Cassi or I took turns with her occasionally.

We had so much fun making these we decided to also make some peanut butter and birdseed covered pine cones.

Cassi was gone this time so Cori worked with Cali.

It was a little gooey but that just made it more fun.

We smeared peanut butter all over the pine cones. Grandma sent a huge box of these several years ago and we have just a small handful left. Once they were thoroughly covered we rolled them in birdseed. Then we tied a ribbon around the tops and hung them through out the two trees.

Cali was adamant about helping me hang them but after seeing the photos I think she really just wanted her picture taken.

We are looking forward to seeing some feathered friends arrive. I may pull the screen out of the window for the next couple days in hopes we can catch one with the telephoto lens.

For the record, I wouldn't usually hang anything like this with bears still on the prowl however we haven't seen any around this year, nor have we noticed any tracks. Also these are hanging on the side of the yard, right near the neighbor which isn't really where we see the tracks. If they come, they show up on the other side, nearer to the woods. If I notice tracks I will take it down but hopefully that won't happen.
It's a wonderful (Alaska) life!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Cali's most recent drawing.

One of the girls labeled it for her.

Picture Frame

Cali said to me as she walked in the room, "Picture Frame".

Oh, my baby girl, I LOVE your creativity.

The she said, "Lion, in a picture frame".

Cassi joined in.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Charter School Learning-Getting Unplugged Again

Did you know Cori and Cassi attend a charter school? Its curriculum is based on art and science. Everything they do is interconnected with art especially, as well as science.

It is a wonderful place and I believe it is the right place for my girls. Several times a year an 'Artist in Residence' comes to visit. Two years ago the school did a study on creating art from all things natural that can be washed away back into nature safely.

I loved the lessons and they obviously made a huge difference in the girls' lives.

As I mentioned before, we have just this summer, joined the unplugged train. It has been really fun and has really given me reason to think about things and the kids too. I tell them the theme of the week and ideas generally flow like a geyser. In fact there is not a chance we could ever do all they think of.

I hope you all don't get discouraged by my many beach pictures however I had to share these.
It was an unusually warm day on Thursday so I packed up the kids and took the long trek out to the end of the road for an evening at the beach.

It was evident how warm (I mean hot) it was because it was actually crowded. I should have though to take a wide angle shot of all the folks milling about but...well, next time. And for those of you who haven't a clue what the weather is like here in Alaska, it's often cold. Ha. Actually summers can be wonderful but this summer has been a cold one. The weather has been cool and wet so, on hot days we are out of here!

I packed a bit of firewood, some hot dogs, grapes and chips, told the kids to grab their own drink and away we went. Grandpa met us out there for our lazy dinner. It was very relaxing and the kids all spread out to do their own thing. At times they were collecting, then working on "Big Momma's House' and then to my delight, I noticed Cori quietly off away from the other working diligently on something,

I snuck up on her and this is what I found. I want to make a photo collage out of these photos. Maybe she will find a career in her creativity. (OK, maybe my dream for her.) I know the image is simple but her process was wonderful.

She explained that she first made her canvas with the mud. She was certain it had to be smooth.

When I started taking closer photos she quickly urged me to be careful so as not to break her "tools".

Being the best friend that she is, Alli came over and gave her the grape stems and told her she was contributing to her 'masterpiece'.

Lastly, Cori explained that she hadn't forgotten to sign her work.

So, our contribution to getting unplugged was to get away, way away (The end of the road is a good 30 miles out for us) for a quick jaunt that turned into an art filled evening.

Now the other two were unplugged too, lest you be worried. Cassi had Grandpa feeding her grapes like she was a Queen

and Cali, well she stays unplugged most of the time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Better View of the Bears

So it has been a few days since I've last posted. Things here are gearing up for school to begin and are a little unnerving with so much I still want to do this summer.

I do want to share a little bit of your time and tell you of a few things we did while Nana was here although she has since left; about a week ago. I'm going to spend the day catching up.

If you've been watching the blog than you know all about my birthday bear siting. What I didn't mention in that post is that we took a trip back out to the beach the next day with Jim and Bill (Scott's hunting buddies from Montana). We wanted to see if the cubs were still there and Scott thought the guys might enjoy seeing them if they were.

We were there quite some time without seeing them. In fact, the kids set off straight away to tempt themselves with the water.

Cali started collecting things and soon thereafter all of them went about decorating "Big Momma's house" for the umpteenth time in their lives.

For those of you not in the know, "Big Momma's house" is a large piece of driftwood/tree root that never moves and has been made into numerous things like restaurants and shops. There are other large driftwood trees and boulders in the area that are magically transformed into shops and things as well.

Then, add to that all the junk found along the beach and a whole village can be created in one afternoon.

I love this photo of Cori and the rock cell phone she is using.

Anyway, They headed that direction and Scott and the boys starting throwing rocks to see who could go the distance.

I was wondering off collecting rocks like I usually do. After a bit I headed over to Nana who was watching the boys.

She was grinning and telling me that Scott was beating the boys at their rock throwing contest. If you enlarge this photo you can see the quirky smile; doesn't it just make you grin too. :-) That is a very proud mama. I thought, Nana was bragging about her son and I wasn't really sure he was out distancing those younger, stronger guys. Low and behold as I rambled over to watch, he was.

It became rather apparent that this annoyed the one that was having the contest with him. (I can't remember which one it was-Cori says it was Bill) I took lots of pictures of the moment. Scott's grins tell just how much he was gloating at his obvious skill.

As this all started to wear thin, and the boys realized they were never going to get Scott into the ocean, or throw farther than he, things settled down. About that time a couple of gals coming down the hill from the parking lot and asked if we knew there were bears in the area. We mentioned that we were there to see them however they weren't around, to which they snickered at our ignorance. There they were, right behind us and we hadn't realized it.

I think Nana got quite a giggle about the whole situation too. I took this photo of her right about that time and absolutely love it.

She looks so healthy and happy. She seems joyful here; I was so excited about this photo.

Scott and the boys quickly broke out all of the camera's and started clicking away. I won't bore you with the many photos but I can show a few of the closest shots. The 3 of them slowly worked their way to a nearby dark boulder that would serve as a barrier between them and the cubs.

As you see here, a barrier isn't such a bad thing to have. Even though they are young, they can still be quite aggressive. In the end the boys were barely a rocks throw away.

It was still quite a thrill the second day, seeing these creatures of Alaskan nature. It simply doesn't happen often.

We managed to get Nana to sneak in a little closer but not so close as to make them or her uncomfortable.

The bears spent most of their time digging up salmon carcasses and running back and forth between the beach and their apparent den.

Unfortunately, these little guys will likely perish this winter. We know fish and game has been called but these kinds of things happen too often and they simply can not save them all. It makes me sad because they have provided much pleasure to us. I know the likelyhood that they make it just slightly north into a more wooded area are slim and none. I am not sure they would know what to do when they got there. Do bears naturally know to hibernate and eat like crazy before they do? I am not sure. I have hope that somehow they will get the help they need and they survive. What do you think, would you want to take one home?