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...

Friday, October 7, 2011

The FESTY Experience - Day Two (Friday)

Continued from Day One!

After a good night’s sleep, I was up at a reasonable hour making chocolate chip pancakes. These are great from camping because the sweetness is built in – thus no need for syrup – and can be eaten with fingers – thus far fewer dishes, especially when you’re feeding nine people.

Babyman's chocolate pancake face!

The area the FESTY is set up in is a fabulously beautiful valley. Though it was plenty cold overnight, it warmed up very quickly.

View from our "front porch".

After breakfast cleanup, Kitmama headed into town to see about a new wardrobe (she found some fabulous outfits at a local thrift store) and to pick up David at the airport, while Billy and I herded the kids over to the FESTY grounds. First stop: the climbing wall, of course.

Thomas nearing the top.

LittleMan decked out for climbing.

The Pirate getting a grip.

William ascending.

Michael streeeeeeeeetching.

I couldn't believe what little monkeys these guys were, going again and again and again! Even Babyman got in on the action...

Babyman geared up and standing by.

Doin' it....with a little help from daddy.

The next big attraction was the roasting pig ("It still has eyeballs!").

(I'm not sure William made the connection between the pig and the pulled-pork sandwich he devoured - yes, they were kind enough to give me a carb count on the bread!).

Followed by the Kona Ice truck...

I think the coolest (ha!) thing about this rig was the self-serve flavorings that were available (they also had another huge list of more specialized flavors that they would pour for you). You can see the "fountain" on the lower left part of the van, just under the penguin. The guys were very nice, gave me a carb count for the size we got for the kids, and measured out the syrup to get the right amount for a serving for William.

Of course, there were grown-up refreshments as well…the Devil’s Backbone Brewery was on hand with four choices of their lovely beer on draft.

Vienna Lager in a fully compostable cup.

I was impressed with the environmental conscientiousness of the organizers. Aside from the compostable cups, they had recycle bins next to each trash bin, and compost bins next to most of them. They had a canopy set up just for the collection of compostable materials from everyone who was there, camping or otherwise. Big blue plastic bags were freely available for collecting recyclables in the campground. And throughout the campgroud they had specific areas roped off and labeled "landfill" as a subtle reminder to appropriately sort trash.

So after our wanderings and tastings, we were on hand, and right down in front, for the opening act, Sarah Siskind & Her Infamous Friends, some of the sweetest and tightest harmonies I’ve heard in a very long time. (I would have posted a link, but couldn't find one that does justice to the spectacular vocals and instrumentals that I experienced, sitting there in the grass).

The Pirate and daddy (with The Infamous Double Hat).

BabyMan, post-snack.

By the time we returned to camp, the previously empty campground was loaded to the gills. Kit and David pulled in just as we showed up, and we tossed together a quick dinner before heading back to the grounds for more music and fun.

My overall impressions of FESTY after the first day were very favorable. The grounds themselves are contained in a fairly small area, so it’s easy to find and hook up with others in your party (especially helpful when you’ve got a pack of kids). There isn’t too much “stuff” going on, not too many vendors, so the area does not feel cramped. There’s plenty of lawn area to sit and take a rest, and you can hear the main stage bands from every area of the grounds. And there is a second stage with performers playing while the main stage is quiet. There were plenty of porta-potties, which were frequently serviced, and the overall organization was very smooth.

I really appreciated the more relaxed approach in the kids’ area where parents were on hand, but not hovering and squirting sanitizer on everything every ten minutes and telling their kids the “proper” way to do their crafts. Most of the kids were running around barefoot and everyone was pretty much doing their own thing the way they wanted to do it. It seemed to have been enough of a shift for Michael that it inspired him to really sit down and focus on his “art” for longer than I’ve seen him do before. He spent a good half-hour simply coloring a coloring book page, completely filling in all of the spaces, and meticulously staying inside the lines, something he’s never done before. Even at the climbing wall, it was assumed that everyone (including the kids, with some parental oversight) had enough common sense to stay safe with minimal rules posted. Notice most of the kids in the pix are climbing bare-footed, which is most efficient, but which is generally a violation at other walls we’ve visited.

But the best part of FESTY, aside from the fabulous music (obviously), is the people. I did not come across a single person, either working for the FESTY, a vendor, or a visitor, who was not friendly, kind, and pleasant. There is a great blend of people attending, from young families, to college-aged people, to older generations who’ve been attending these types of festivals for decades (think Dead Heads). There was a wide range of fashion choices walking about, and I don’t remember ever being anywhere before and seeing so many people who were so comfortable with themselves and how they present themselves to the world (or, at least, the world of FESTY). Lots of cute dresses and skirts with boots; patchwork baggy pants on guys; unique layerings of unexpected fabrics and articles of clothing; over-the-top dreadlocks; and more tie dye than I’ve ever seen in one place before. It really got me thinking about how I might indulge in developing a more unique sense of personal style as I mature.

The only thing I would like to see changed for next year is the vendors. The food vendors were great, and I believe all were local eating establishments. I enjoyed a fabulous lamb gyro, Thomas and William had the pulled pork sandwiches, and Michael snacked on some outstanding home-cut spicy fries. But, the “stuff” vendors were disappointing for me. I felt sure that I would be able to find a sunhat (I left mine at home, and really needed one!), but there wasn’t anyone selling sun hats. Some of the vendors were selling art or crafts that were handmade, but there were also vendors selling stuff made in China. I think this would be a great forum for presenting artisan-level crafts (with an emphasis on sustainable or Earth-friendly), making it a secondary focus of the FESTY. After all, at least for me, Bluegrass and Artisan Crafts go hand-in-hand.

More tomorrow!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The FESTY Experience - Day One (Thursday)

Thanks to Billy and his magical music industry connections, both our families were able to attend The Second Annual FESTY Experience at The Devil's Backbone in Virginia. This awesome event is spearheaded in part by The Infamous Stringdusters, one of our new favorite bands. If you haven't heard them yet, go do it now!!! Even if you're not a fan of Bluegrass, you've got to appreciate the pure musicianship of these guys.

So, I have to send out a big, huge Thank You! to Billy and those who arranged for us to attend, as well as to Mimi and Christine for keeping an eye on the homefront and looking after the critters. We are blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives.

So, miraculously, we were completely packed up and on the road by 10:00 am. That would be three adults, six children, two vehicles, and a pop-up camper. (David had a business trip to attend to, and would be joining us in VA on Friday). That took some intensive planning, preparation, and pre-packing, which was accomplished spectacularly well by Kitmama and I. The drive up was pretty much uneventful (or so we thought). Lunch was a record-breaking 35 minute pit stop that encompassed fuel fill-up, pee-pee break, and making and consuming sandwiches. We arrived at the FESTY camp grounds just after sun-down, and after a bit of wrangling for a good location, dropped the camper and got camp set up. It was at this point we realized that not everything was accounted for; specifically, Kitmama’s cell phone and clothing bag. Ah, well, every trip has it's hitches, right?

Pix tomorrow!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Beautiful Pictures on a Beautiful Morning

Okay, maybe not the first one so much... ;)

This morning a tech came out to install a new windshield on the Sequoia, so all of the boys lined up sitting on the camper to watch. After a blazing, dry summer (even the weeds were dying!), the weather the past several days has been beautiful!!! Lovely, pleasant days, and sweetly cool nights. We even got the goose down comforter out!

So, here are a few shots of six beautiful boys on a beautiful morning enjoying learning something new.

Michael and Littleman (buddies!).

Babyman with bed head.

William with sleepies still.

"Where's The Pirate?" "Right here!"

William, The Pirate, Michael, Littleman and Babyman.

Same line-up. Thomas.

William and The Pirate.

A moment of surprise.

I love that these boys have the freedom to sit on a camper and watch something they've never seen before...unrushed, unhurried, completely immersed in the experience.