Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gifted (12/20/11)

One of the lovely friends from our homeschool group had the brilliant idea of having a Secret Santa exchange among the moms this year. Many of us would really like to “do a little something" for each of our friends at this time of year, but have budgetary constraints. And many of us would really like to “craft a little something" for each of our friends, but have time constraints. So, this really helped each of us feel we have gifted something unique and memorable to ONE of our dear friends, without busting the budgetary and temporal budgets, and in a way that was appreciated by the bulk of our lovely group.

And, I have to say, everyone guessing who their Secret Santa was, was one of the best parts of this exchange. There are those of who have known one another for several years, and know exactly what one another’s talents are. And, there are those who are relatively new to the group, or that we don't know every well, and really don't know what their talents are. But in the end, through a process of trial-and-error and "knowing" guesses, we each figured out who our Secret Santa was.

So, apologies in advance to those whose lovely gifts were not appropriately photographed. Not everyone was able to attend our exchange today. And, for those whose gifts were represented, I mostly suck as a photographer, but I did my best.

In general, some of my favorite gifts to give and receive are consumables. This one was a "spa" theme, with a lovely hand-knitted item to make it extra special. The knitted items just “happened” to match the recipient’s bathroom d├ęcor.

Those of us who knit have been mysteriously focused on fingerless gloves. So, one of us made some lovely lavender ones, along with the most fabulous felted bag made from a wool sweater. It kind of says a lot when you can look at a knitted item, recognize the pattern, and figure out who knitted it ;)

Our Master Photographer created a custom calendar which was absolutely spectacular. Not just that the photography was spectacular, but each print was taken from a field trip taken with the recipient's family, or of her absolutely beautiful girls. Every single print was absolutely frame-able. I want a calendar like that!

Please excuse the paltriness of this photo, but this gift was a really fabulous collection of hand-made cards, all of them with the thingy-hoochie-dealy-bobs that scrapbookers are fluent in, and which I have absolutely no clue how to use or assemble. The use to which I would put this collection....really...so lovely...I'm so jealous, because I actually write notes to people! ;)

One of the sweetest, really. Lovely little napkins, just perfect for coffee or tea or a small snack. Mom doesn't sew, but her young daughter does, and put these together. Love, love, LOVE these!

This basket was absolutely OVERFLOWING with wonderful goodness, most especially those "cookie/soup/goodie in a jar" dealies that I have never had the patience to assemble myself, but have loved each time I receive one (and then some!). I know what someone will be having for breakfast on Christmas morning!

This little sun-catcher was crafted by someone whose sun-catchers grace both my home and my vehicle. (It was kind of humorous watching the recipient try to guess the crafter while one of the crafter’s sun-catchers quietly hung from my window just behind the recipient’s head ;) The pendant is a lovely two-sided piece with a dragon on one side and a phoenix on the other. The colors are fabulous!

Finally, my own little stash of goodies, complete with “Mama Bear” coffee mug (how sweet is that?!?). The frozen “hot chocolate balls” I have hidden in the furthest frozen reaches of the full-sized freezer (top shelf in the back corner where the kids won’t find it), just waiting for a night of insomnia. Drop one of those puppies in my Mama Bear mug of hot milk, with just a dash (or two) of Baileys, and I’ll be snoring til dawn. The chocolate biscotti’s I’ve already sampled, and WOW! I might just have to hide those away and ration then throughout the dark winter months as midnight snacks. And just in case you’re wondering, I’m NOT sharing! Unless you’re a special friend (and aren’t you all?) and happen to be in my bedroom at 3:00 am when I’m snagging one ;)

One of the best parts of our little gathering (aside from the wonderful company) was the pile of home-made eatables brought and shared by one of our friends. Lots of yummy goodness!

Thank you, ladies, for a very enjoyable day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Accidental Tradition

You know how, back when you didn't actually have any children, you had these visions of all of the lovely family traditions you would create/discover/carry forward once you had kids? And then you had kids. And, somehow, traditions were born that absolutely did NOT receive the Mother's Stamp Of Approval, but they somehow manage to keep popping up year after year? This is one of those traditions.

I'm not sure exactly how it started. Okay, yes, I do know exactly how it started. It started with me stupidly taking our youngest child to a craft store after all of the Christmas Stuff had been put out on display (probably sometime in July). Said child spotted the Build Your Own Gingerbread House kit prominantly displayed in one of those Stacked Cube O Merchandise that you bump your cart into in the middle of the largest aisle in the store. And, of course, "we" had to buy it.

I say "we" because I, personally, was somewhat horrified by the thought of what, exactly, was in that "gingerbread", and how long it had been sitting in a warehouse. The oh-so-low price of $9.99 did not inspire confidence in the nutritional value of said gingerbread. But, after me saying "no" about 14 times, and running out of viable arguments against taking one of these kits home, said child and I agreed to a compromise whereby he paid for said kit with his allowance.

That was a few years ago, and, somehow, now I am paying for kits (yes, that would be a noun in the plural). And I even allow my children to EAT said kits after they have been assembled.

So, here's what this year's Gingerbread House Project looked like, with SIX kids assembling it.

Phase One: Using copious amounts of icing, assemble the structural elements of said house, preferably letting said icing on each stage solidify before moving on to next stage.

Phase Two: Kids all agree on overall design of house, and who will be implementing each aspect of said design.

Just kidding. Actually, I assigned Thomas (the eldest of six Cubs) the task of applying concrete.....ummmmm, I mean icing....to each bit of candy, as said candy was presented for icing by each child in turn, beginning with the youngest and progressing through the Pack to the oldest, then repeat. Miraculously, this actually worked, with minimal adult supervision.

Thomas weilding icing cone, and offering suggestion as to placement.

The beginnings of a plan.

Okay, at this point I had to run out to take the dog to the vet (whole other, way long story), so I missed the bulk of the Decorating Phase. But, when I returned, the masterpiece had been completed, and no blood had been shed (that I could see). The entire project seems to have been a success.....

Front of house.

Side of house.

Other side of house.

And, best of all......the garage!

Good job, Bear Cubs!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Craft Day at The Park

Our homeschool group's usual Tuesday Park Day was a bit unusual today.

It wasn't just that we had almost every family in the group there (I think we had 14 families there?!?).

This certainly wasn't unusual....

A gaggle o' moms.

This was a little bit unusual for our family...

One too many cupcakes.

Nope, this isn't unusual, either....

Babyman showing off his find...

...a lady bug on a stick.

Nuthin' unusual about a flock of boys...

Gathered around the go-cart.

There really wasn't even anything all that unusual about someone stopping to ask if we were having a knitting class, since the majority of moms were knitting (or crocheting) something as we visited.

But, THIS was a bit unusual...

Ms. G. orchestrating craft time!

Ms. G. brough along bunches of clear glass ornaments, fancy markers, and paint, and helped each child decorate their own holiday ornament.

Finished products!

Thank you, Ms. G., for all for the time and effort you put into this fantastic project. And, thank you to all the mamas who brought snacks to share. Very nice day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

At The Farm

November 10-13 we spent at Grace Keith's parents' farm. 

Audry and Michael at The Farm

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Visit Home

William and I flew to California for a visit with my Mom. She'd been having a bit of a rough adjustment, and I felt like I wanted to be there with her, even for a short time, and that having William along to see his Gramma Charlotte again was an important thing. So Papa Bear used his sky miles to buy our tickets, and off we went.

I probably don't need to tell you I was really focusing on NOT getting stressed out about getting through security with a bunch of sharp objects, and travelling a full day with a diabetic child. I managed to remain pretty serene and calm through most of it, only getting a bit flustered as we went through security. Instead of the usual metal detector, the ATL had full body scans. So you can't have anything on you or in your hands. So all of my mental prep work was kind of shot.

Anyway, our flight out was great, mostly because William got to watch two movies on his private video screen, and I got to read. At the end of our non-stop flight, I was chilled and relaxed and happy to be at our destination. Of course the glass of wine probably helped.

Mom was waiting for us at the airport. She's one of the old-fashioned types who actually parks the car and goes into the airport and waits for you at baggage claim. It really makes your arrival and first greeting more enjoyable than doing it on the street in front with a thousand other cars waiting for you to pack your stuff into the trunk and get out of the way.

So, what did we do while we were in Marina with Mom? We went to the beach...what else? Each day there we visited a different beach. Cool, alternately overcast and sunny, and beautiful.

William on the beach at Carmel....his little bit of heaven.

We also visited with my Grandma GeoE for a brief time. It was difficult for William especially, knowing that she no longer knew who he was (or any of us), but he was fabulous about chatting with her, holding her hand, and giving her his attention.

One of the highlights for me was having Mom's friend, Randy, to the house for dinner. Randy has Type I, and it was fantastic for William to be able to have a meal and conversation with an adult who has been living with the disease for most of his life. It was great for me to "talk D-shop" with someone who's handling his business as well as he does, and manages to lead a full and interesting life to boot.

Our time was too short, and at the same time long enough for William to start getting homesick. We packed up our suitcases and carry-on's, being certain Rufus would be comfortable for the trip home....

Thank you, Mom, for a wonderful visit...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Butterfly Release

In the midst of packing for our upcoming camping trip, we had butterflies emerging from their chrysalises. Michael had received a butterfly habitat for his birthday last month, and we sent off for the butterflies, which arrived several days later. Just before leaving for FESTY, Michael opened up his box of critters, figured out the instructions, and set them up in the habitat. He even put some leaves in there in case they got hungry.

Today while grabbing some clothes from Michael’s room, I noticed there were butterflies in the habitat. I called for Michael, he grabbed habitat and put it on the back deck, opened the door, and we watched off and on for a couple of hours while they all dried their wings, did a strange vibrating thing, and eventually flew away.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Neighbor Returned Home

This little guy got spotted in our yard yesterday by a couple of the boys. It was decided that we “must” keep him…and I agreed to let him have a one-night-only sleep-over. This morning, after breakfast, Michael took him back out to near the area he had been found, and we let him go back to his little home, wherever it happens to be.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

JDRF Walk 2011

This is why we Walked today. 'Cause I detest these little buggers, and so does William. As much as they are vital to William's continued health and wellbeing, we all would be much happier if they were not in our lives.

And, a heartfelt thanks goes to Mimi for providing with this industrial-sized sharps container so we don't have to keep storing those buggers in recycled fabric softener jugs ;)

So, this was the second time our family and friends have participated in JDRF's annual Walk to Cure Diabetes. I have to give big hugs and thanks to Kitmama and S and their respective chitlins for coming out to Walk with us today, as well as to Christin for the loan of her wagon....which was definitely put to good use!

BabyMan rockin' the wagon.

Note small feets propped upon on JDRF t-shirts ;)

I also have to give big, fat hugs and smootches to EVERYONE who contributed and supported William in this year's Walk. First and foremost, for the second year in a row, Mr. Brad Van Hazel saw to it that Securitas' Global and National Accounts division commited $1,000 to JDRF's Walk in William's name. The rest of our family's Honor Roll of Donor, which darn matched Securitas' donation, includes:

The Bedard Family

Charlotte Tinker


Donna Kobzanuk

Faby Rodriguez

The Greer Family

Hannah and Uncle Bob

Harriette and Uncle LeRoy

Kelly Dayhoff

The Keith Family

Kimberly, Larry & George

Liz Geras

The MacDonald Family

Mary Gates

The Mills Family

Joanna Huenergardt

Terry Moore

The Shores Family

Thanks to everyone who contributed, William raised $1,920 for research committed to curing, managing, and preventing Juvenile Diabetes.

Some pix from the Walk:

William with the ever-present Rufus,

plus a new knitted friend in the backpack.

Sneaking a break...and some crackers....
in the wagon.


what young man wouldn't show up

where there's gonna be cheerleaders?

Guess-who-Doo showed up at the Walk?!?

Rufus reining over snacks and drinks.

The newest addition to the knitted family

of critters...a kitty named Alice.

Balloons. There were lots of balloons.

We stayed late enough to watch them

get cut free and float away.

Except for the ones we claimed and brought home...

Dimples and Funny Girl

attempting to manage their balloons.

Kitmama and Babyman.

A carrier, an oversided hat,

a front-backpack...

and more balloons!

Getting all those balloons home.

2011 Walk T-shirt....

and more balloons!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The FESTY Experience - Day Four (Sunday)

Sunday was very much like Saturday, so I won’t go into detail, just hit the highlights.

One thing that happened on Saturday that I did not photograph (because I was at camp) was what a hit was made by Thomas and Michael and their stilts. Now, these stilts are one more of those inventions of Michael’s. As often happens, he woke up one morning with a fully-formed plan to build some stilts out of PCV pipe. We had some around, which he promptly set about using to make his stilts (with oversight from dad). But, they were a bit too wobbly. So, David bought a stouter gage of PCV and they went at it again. Added a coat of orange paint, and here’s the result (this video was taken on Sunday):

According to David (who was there on Saturday sans camera), Thomas (who had built himself some black stilts in the same design) and Michael were a huge hit, with all kinds of people, both kids and adults, wanting to try them out. David’s now got the idea of perfecting the design, figuring out to properly affix the paint, and building a batch of them to sell at next year’s FESTY. Not a bad idea…

We all met up for dinner at the Devil’s Backbone Brewery, which was lovely (thank you, Kitmama and Billy!). We sat on the patio and enjoyed live music, good food, and good beer and wine.

Then, back to camp where I hung out with the kids while Billy, Kit, David and Thomas went back to see the Stringdusters again. All reports indicate that Thomas was beside himself being able to see them perform from backstage, and getting a poster signed by each of the Dusters. After the show, we were joined in camp by a couple of our neighbor campers for a nice fire and good conversation.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The FESTY Experience - Day Three (Saturday)

Continued from Day Two...

Camping at The FESTY was one of the few times we have camped “primitive” with the camper – no electricity plug in, and no water hook up. Having the water tank on the camper was great, though the pump was not working…we just opened up the drain on the bottom and filled buckets with water. The battery ran lights at night, but the electrical outlets in the camper don’t work without a plug-in…which is a great benefit in many ways – no electronic gizmos while camping! As a result, the kids all found other things to do while at camp, including archery practice, reading, drawing, and in Thomas and William’s cases writing stories. I can’t remember spelling so many words aloud in one day!

So, after a morning of hanging out in camp, we wandered off to the FESY grounds again.

Intense artistic concentration at the Kids Zone.

Thomas chatting with a new buddy.

More climbing - a little perspective (William is on the right).

Kitmama had mixed up her special bubble mixture and hauled it down to the FESTY grounds for some cheap entertainment.

Kitmama's Big Bubbles.

Babyman's Little Bubbles.

As with all festivals, cash flew fast and furious at FESTY. I was a bit surprised there was no ATM on the grounds, and at the same time very grateful…we couldn’t spend any more than we had with us! Each of the Huey kids had come with their own pocket money, and William was the last to spend his, on…

...a yummy treat...


...a sporty hat!

As usual, I was the primary picture-taker, so there really aren't any pictures of me aside from this self-portrait I managed.

I am having a grand time. Really.

There was much hula-hooping going on all over the grounds, at various levels of proficiency. The best hoopers were hula-ing in time to whatever music was being played.

Hula-hooping joy!

William discovered a new band, Two Man Gentleman Band, and took Audience Participation to a whole new level. They are very funny, and worth checking out. So, go do it!

So, back to camp for dinner, and the kids found their own entertainment. The younger boys all congregated at the road to sell art…and rocks…to folks passing by.

"Rocks for a quarter, art for free!"

Yes, they were actually giving away their art, and selling rocks. Funny thing is, they actually made some sales! A couple of people bought some of their art for cash, and a couple bartered with stickers, light sticks, and even a light-up light saber. Just about everyone who passed by smiled or commented.

After dinner, I hung out at camp with the five youngest while Billy, Kitmama, David and Thomas headed to the grounds to enjoy some less-interrupted music. In addition to the Stringdusters, David was particularly impressed with Rubblebucket.

It was actually quite pleasant lying in the camper snuggled in a sleeping bag listening to the music from the grounds. Once the music was finished, however, we all somewhat annoyed with a few other campers with RV's who were running their generators all night. It was really kind of rediculous to be running a generator all night just to keep the front porch light on. There was even a pop-up further off, about the same size as ours, that had two generators running 24/7. They had five gas cans all lined up ready to keep them going. Very un-FESTY of them in my opinion.

More tomorrow...