Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Giving: They Get It

I don't think I can take any credit for this one, since I've always struggled with being, essentially, a pretty selfish person. But our kids were born with a greater generosity than I've ever had and all in all we've tried to emphasize Christmas as a season of meaning and family, not a holiday of getting presents. Luckily, we set things up from the get-go by announcing that Santa brings one present per child, and on Christmas Eve we've given the kids each a book and that's it. So they've never expected a pile of presents under the tree and I think in retrospect that was a good path to take. I especially feel for families who have built up a Christmas tradition of mountains of presents and then this year find themselves in a financial pinch (as so many of us are in this economy). With kids, it's always harder to undo than it is to do.

Although they are essentially good-hearted kids, I was still really moved this year to see how Mackenzie and Asa have embraced this as a season of giving, not getting. First of all, Mackenzie went to pick out Asa's present. He went to a local bead store and picked out by hand a bunch of different beads, all in Asa's favorite colors. He wrapped them up with different kinds of earring wires and a craft-style case to sort and carry it all in, and voila she had her own earring-making kit. She took that kit and made earrings not just for me, but for many different friends, and even the moms of her friends in the neighborhood. When she ran out of beads, we went back down to the bead store and she used all of her money to buy more. In the process, she bought some ceramic beads for Mackenzie in the shape of a dragon's head and teeth and made him a necklace that was really cool in a 13-year-old guy kind of way.

So for me, that was really the Christmas gift that shone out during this season, way more important than anything that could land in my stocking: watching our kids get that giving is the greatest gift of all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Dream Role

It's been a crazy and emotional week around here. For almost two years, Asa has known that the theatre where she's been performing would be doing the musical Annie. Of course, as with so many little girls who fall in love with the story and the music, she dreamed of auditioning for the play and most especially for the lead part. So for quite some time she has been working hard on her vocals, stage presence, and other aspects of performance with the idea in mind that when the time came she would have a shot. Well, this week the time finally came. They announced the auditions and with a few days to prepare she started rehearsing the song "Tomorrow".

One thing I'll say about Asa is that when she puts her mind to something she is a very hard worker. In her favor is the fact that she memorizes things extremely easily (often to our dismay as she can recite word-for-word things like commercials you would rather forget). But she spent a lot of time on this song with me giving feedback, working on even minor details like where her eyes were looking, breathing, volume, timing, phrasing, and diction.

When the auditions came along, there were of course a number of girls hoping for the part, many of whom were quite talented. She knew it would be tough. Luckily, she got called back with a smaller group to a second audition (thus prolonging the agony of waiting to know of course). These girls were all so good, and I think it's a tough thing for any kid to go through working so hard for something and knowing that you might not get it. She has a great attitude though, and I've been impressed before when she's gone in for auditions and not gotten the part she wanted, just how mature she can be (much more so than I think I could be under similar circumstances!). She just sticks her chin out and troops on.

Well, the bottom line is that she found out yesterday that she got the part!!!!! So after a few months of memorizing a LOT of lines and singing a LOT of songs, she's going to stand on the stage and perform as Annie, which is really a dream come true for her. I'm so excited and yes very proud of her and all the hard work she has put in so far. She is so much like Annie in real life, so spunky and kind, good-hearted and mischievous, that I know she'll do just great.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Crazy Weekend Part 1: Robotics

Last weekend was the culmination of several months of craziness: robotics team meetings and Nutcracker rehearsals, endless details to manage (where in town can I buy a pink leotard? tri-fold presentation boards? Do I have all of the team permission slips filled out?) Of course, it was all worth it as we headed off to the regional robotics competition with our team Veni Vidi Roboti excited to see their robot on the field and present their research project, and as Asa took the stage in her first dance solo.

Unfortunately, bad weather in the form of horrifying ice and sleet made the roads a skating rink (32 accidents in one stretch of I-5 alone) and this complicated our plans greatly. The night before the robotics tournament, we still weren't sure if it was even going to occur, but finally after 3 hours of delays, the tournament did take place on Saturday for which I was very grateful. These kids have worked way too hard to miss out on competing!

The team had a great time at the tournament. They really impressed me with their morale, their coolness under difficult circumstances, their ability to work as a team, and their overall positive and encouraging attitude. Unfortunately, the robot took on a mind of its own at the tournament, with programs that worked fine on the practice table suddenly going haywire on the actual competition table. It was very frustrating for the kids, but they really were very professional about it all. I was extremely proud, both as a coach and as a parent, of this team. I know that we coaches really did our job well not when the robot scored high (it didn't), but when the kids accepted what had happened, worked to fix what they could, and moved forward with a positive attitude. This is not easy for adult engineers, so to see a team of kids accomplish this was impressive.

Of course, the robot performance is only 25% of the total competition, with the rest coming from the teamwork judging, robot technical judging, and the research project presentation judging. I knew the team would knock the socks off of the judges in those areas and they did. They ended up winning first place in the research project category. I haven't posted anything about their project up until now, because I didn't want to give away their subject publicly. The theme this year was transportation, they were to identify a transportation problem in their community, and propose a solution for that problem. Almost all of the teams at the competition chose things like pedestrian safety, school bus scheduling, walking and biking to school, etc. Well, our team chose the solar system as their community, and the problem of orbital debris (or "space junk") as the problem. Their research involved things like calling up a NASA representative, metal recycling specialists, and arranging a tour for themselves at a local metal recycling facility. They really poured a lot of energy into this project and it showed. I'll have to post the text of it here later this week as it was truly impressive. I could tell the judges were really impressed with what they had accomplished.

Lastly, the icing on the cake for the competition was that they got a Core Values Nomination from the head judge. FLL takes their core values very seriously, and they place a big emphasis on teams exhibiting these values, including the value of "gracious professionalism" which means competing like crazy but respecting and exchanging ideas with your competing teams. Here you can see a moment that occured in a hallway between competition rounds where our team and another got a moment to discuss their robot designs. This is really what FLL is all about, right here, the learning and growth that occurs when these kids share what they've learned with each other.

Before we went to this competition, I had told the team that I didn't care a bit if they won or were the absolute last on the robot table, but if they came away from the competition having done their best and worked well as a team I would be very happy. Well, they accomplished all of that and then some, and as always I'm honored to have been a part of their journey, and very proud of all the work that they put into this competition. Having the head judge acknowledge their teamwork and core values really just confirmed what I knew about these great kids.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Our Way to Robotics Again

It's that time of year again, when our robotics team heads off to the regional tournament with a robot built and programmed and a research project completed, and I as a coach am pulling out my hair trying to keep track of all the details, equipment, and schedules that need keeping track of to get us all there in one piece. For me, this week is probably the single most stressful of the entire year, mostly because I don't want to be the person who messes everything up in forgetting something crucial!

Watching the team present their research project and robot at the public library last week, I'm reminded that it is all more than worthwhile. I know just in watching Mackenzie over the four years that he's been involved in this program, it has given him many things. Most especially, the confidence to speak in public about complex subjects, and the ability to reach out to experts in various fields to ask for their assistance. This year the team did their research project on Orbital Space Debris, quite a hefty problem to try to solve. One of the things Mackenzie did was to call up the NASA representative for Oregon and Washington and ask if he would assist in answering some questions. He also picked up the phone and arranged for a tour of a local metal recycling facility.

Watching these kids answer questions from the audience at the library about their research and their design and programming of the robot, I was struck by how much each of them has developed in maturity and poise and public presentation skills. I know for Mackenzie too it has sparked an interest in all things engineering and programming related, and his programming skills this year have really taken off. For this year's competition, he wrote a line-following program that navigates the robot around the table following the black lines on the mat. Each year that we've done FLL robotics, his abilities in these areas have grown and grown.

So wish us luck as we travel to the competition this weekend, I'm excited to celebrate all that they've learned and accomplished as a team this year.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Both of my kids were sling babies, other than my running stroller they were never in a stroller (didn't own one), just carried around. Of course, Mackenzie almost broke my back, hitting 20 pounds at about 2.5 months old! But still, a sling is the best parenting "equipment" I ever owned.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Star Is Born

At the end-of-term recital for her stage performance/singing class, Asa performed The Climb by Miley Cyrus. Wow, she knocked our socks off! Lately, she's not only been playing the piano, but has started playing and singing at the same time. I'll have to get it on video sometime as it truly just blows me away. She is a dynamic performer and I have no doubt that if she really does want to follow her dream of being a singer, she totally has it in her - stage presence, voice, musicianship - she's a star! And I'm not just saying that because I'm the mom. :-)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Grief

There are moments as a parent that break one's heart. Like sitting beside your kids after decorating the tree, listening to Christmas music and enjoying the lights, sipping hot cocoa.... and having your daughter burst into tears because she misses her cat so much. "He should be here. He didn't even get to see the Christmas tree." What do you say to that? I wish I could make the pain go away, I wish I had a mommy magic wand. I miss Bandit too, sometimes a lot. There are animals that come and go from your life, and then there are those ones that have a special spirit that captures your heart and Bandit was such an animal.

Just as sad, I know his brother Garfield still misses him terribly. They were so close, always sleeping together, playing, or snuggling. And Bandit was such a neat freak that he always groomed Garfield (who apparently didn't keep himself to high enough standards for Bandit). Garfield will actually let the dogs groom him these days, and he has gotten a lot clingier since Bandit died. It must be hard not to even understand where he went.

I know that holidays are often hard for anyone who is grieving a loss, even if it happened many months ago. I guess I shouldn't have been broadsided by this one but I didn't even see it coming. I hope someday the pain will lessen for her, and for all of us. It maybe seems silly when so many people have lost loved ones to be grieving so for a cat, but he was a good guy and I miss him too.

Friday, November 27, 2009

More Fun From the Kiddos

Mackenzie pretty much keeps me laughing on a daily basis. The other day I took him with me on a run to Costco. While I prowled around the edges picking up foodstuffs, he headed into the center to the games/toys/books/video games sections. Later when we reunited, he told me that several older adults had approached him and asked his advice on buying video games for their grandchildren and that he helped them make good choices that will result in happy grandkids on Christmas morning. Then he quipped: "My new job: teenage video game consultant to the elderly".

He's also been impressing me lately with his computing acumen. He set up a website for me for a recent project, has been programming all kinds of nifty things (including his own screen-time timer that reminds the user that it's time to take a break for the sake of their eyes) and on the robotics team he wrote a line-following program that allows the robot to navigate by using the light sensor to detect when its over a black line and follow that line to its destination. The code includes sub-routines, calibration, decision statements and loops. His coding skills are leaps and bounds above where they were a year or two ago.

And speaking of Amazed with a capital A (for Asa), she called me into the living room this morning to show me that not only did she learn the piano part for Apologize by One Republic but that now she can play it and sing at the same time. For those of you who play the piano, you know this is quite a difficult skill to acquire. So let's see, she learned to play the piano with a keyboard class last spring. By the end of class she's playing with two hands, now she's playing something like this AND singing. She just blows me way the heck away. I'll have to get her on video when she feels like she's got it polished up.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Life With the Pun-Meister

Over the lunch table today, Mackenzie is commenting on Asa's tendency to only eat the middles of her grilled cheese sandwiches:

"Oh great, my sister is the Anti-Crust!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who Knew?

Who knew that teenage boys are every bit as hormonal and emotional as, say, an 8-months pregnant woman? One who hasn't slept in three days and has no chocolate in the house. Certainly not I, but I'm learning fast. Those of you with older boys can kindly stop laughing now.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Benefits of Raising Self-Sufficient Kids

This week I got to find out exactly how well I've been raising the kids to do things for themselves. Yes, I devised a little test for them, called breaking my hand, to force them to show me their self-sufficiency skills. Seriously, I did break my hand (just a little break in one finger bone) in karate class this week, so I'm all splinted up for a few weeks. By the next morning, they were blessing me with their abilities to not only fend for themselves, but take care of me as well. From Asa cooking me eggs for breakfast and taking care of the chickens to Mackenzie walking both dogs and helping me tie my shoes, the roles were definitely a reverse from a few years ago when I did all of these things for them.

It's just one more reminder that when we give our kids the ability to learn these skills like cooking (even with a hot skillet) in a safe environment, that by the time they're a decade old they can take on almost any task in the house. I know that a few generations ago, these things would be taken for granted. There was so much work to be done (gardening, tending the cows, churning the butter, gathering the eggs, hand-washing the laundry) that everyone had to pitch in. But these days our kids are often so busy with activities that sometimes it's just easier to do the household work ourselves instead of taking the (sometimes much messier and more lengthy) route of helping them learn to do it. The first time a kid folds laundry or cooks an egg, it's likely to involve so much more time and energy from you to help them than it would be to just do it yourself, but in the long run we do them (and ourselves) a big favor by having the time and the patience to help them learn these skills.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

October Fun

October is over and Halloween has come and gone. It's been full of visits to pumpkin patches, Halloween parties, trick-or-treating, harvesting fall fruits, carving pumpkins, and the joy of a new puppy. Here's a few pictures from our October:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Go Ducks!

The game time of 5:00 is pretty much guaranteed to prevent most parents of trick-or-treating aged kids from seeing the game, but ESPN is here in town and the Ducks are playing USC tonight. It's time for a little pre-game Oregon-colored fun, just before getting into the Halloween costume mood!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ratty Kisses

Introducing... Olivia! Mackenzie gave Asa a rat for her birthday and she picked out little Olivia here. She has very big ears and a very sweet personality, and she loves to give ratty kisses as you can see!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Side By Side

Last week the theatre company that Asa has been acting with had a fundraiser, a Depression-era themed event with an auction, food, and they invited everyone from the theatre to be involved in a talent show. Asa and I did a little song and dance (well, she danced to be exact - some excellent tap footwork!) to a song from 1927 called "Side by Side" I haven't been on a theatre stage in many years, but my little sis and I used to perform this at our grandparents Melodrama theatre when we were kids. So it was fun reminiscing, fun being on stage with my own little theatre hound, and fun having her choreograph our little song-and-dance number herself. I'll have to see if the video turned out and maybe I can post that here as well.

"Oh we ain't got a barrel of money
Maybe we're ragged and funny
But we'll travel along, singing our song
Side by Side"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Homeschooling Oblong

So I was standing in my brown belt/black belt karate class this afternoon and our sensei (teacher) asked us to form a circle for a drill. Well let's just say that the circle was not exactly circular in shape. It was more of a oblong with rectangular characteristics here and there. The sensei joked that since almost everyone in the class was a homeschooler, no wonder we couldn't form a circle. We all had to LOL at that one.

I was the only adult in the class, everyone else at that particular hour were homeschoolers. And our senseis homeschool their kids. Now I just have to say that I have never been in the company of so many cool teenagers as when I attend the classes at the dojo. Imagine being in a room with 20 teenagers who are all: polite, respectful, engaging, diligent. Exactly the opposite of what you would think teenagers are like, especially if you watch TV or read the newspapers. Where is the surliness, angst, and attitude? While I'm sure that none of these teens are perfect and that they may roll their eyes at their parents or grumble about taking out the garbage, there is much to be said for the wonderful intersection of homeschooling and karate that can turn out such a group.

Even if they can't make a circle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Weeks of Birthday

Looking at my beautiful sparkling now-10 year old girl, the song that always comes to my mind are these lines from Simon and Garfunkle's Bridge Over Troubled Water:

Sail on silver girl, sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way

She's definitely a big shining star in our world. And this year to celebrate turning "double digits" as she reminds us, it took us about two weeks. First of all, she had asked for a kayak (like big brother's) for her birthday. Since an October birthday didn't leave a lot of time for hitting the lake, we decided to give it to her in late September. That left us with a glorious fall day to go up to the water and try it out. This will definitely be a big hit next summer when we can camp a lot more and the kids can both use their kayaks.

Then, her two biggest bros Rob and Rick came into town to visit, along with their wives Kristen and Alicia. I think the only thing better in Asa's mind than having one fun big brother is having three! Especially when they're big enough to turn you upside-down.

So that was birthday celebration number two with our whole family together. She had been looking forward to this for weeks, and keeping Rick's and Rob's cell phones buzzing with anticipatory texts.

Of course, what tenth birthday would be complete without a gaggle of giggling girls in pajamas staying up late and making banana splits? Asa had a sleepover with some of her friends to celebrate.

Then finally on her actual birthday we went to the pet store to let her pick out a pet rat (her present from Mackenzie) and ended up coming home with a new puppy! This is the new family dog Sophie. I guess birthdays don't get much better than this one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So I Guess It's A Good Sign...

...when your teenage son says to you "Mom, you should write a parenting book. That way other parents or people thinking about having kids could have all the benefit of your wisdom."

After I got done laughing, I thought about it. Trouble is, I don't know what I'd say. Well maybe I do, but it wouldn't be enough to fill a book. When my son was just a baby I remember thinking about how helpless he was, and trying to put myself in his shoes. What if I was in some terrible accident and my memory was wiped out and I had to relearn everything all over again. What if my best friend was my caregiver throughout all of that. How would I want her to treat me? That's how I've tried to treat my kids. And I know my caregiver might sometimes get frustrated beyond all reason, so I hope that my kids can forgive me when I don't get things just right or when I blow a cork from time to time. I always apologize, after all they're my good friends too.

I guess it all boils down to the golden rule. Not enough to fill a book, but I guess enough so that your teenager still thinks you're doing a decent job of things. High praise indeed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bye Bye Old Kitty

Hopefully this will be the last time I write something like this in 2009. We had to have our old cat Noggin put down on Monday. He had stopped eating and it turns out he had cancer in his abdomen. He was a stray who came to us 16 years ago from my sister-in-law who had taken him in. Just a feisty 6 month old kitten then, he lived to be an old man of almost 17. Looking through my photos of him, he's always on someone's lap or in their arms. I'll put some more photos up of him tomorrow, but this is the last one I took, right before we left for Washington last weekend, he's sharing a sunbeam with Callie.

For the record, that's two cats, two guinea pigs, and two chickens in 2009. I know it's often natural and to be expected (all were in old age except for Asa's cat Bandit), but it's still hard. Especially since Noggin was one of our first "babies", along with Sabre our dog who passed away two years ago now. The house feels emptier, especially when I sit down to breakfast and Noggin isn't there demanding his lap time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And If You Worry About Your Kids Getting Addicted to Video Games...

Maybe you should worry more about adults!

Police on a drug raid play a Wii in the raided house for nine hours! Maybe they need to get Wii's for themselves. We have one and it rarely gets used, let alone for hours straight, LOL.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Quote from my daughter tonight on the ride home from Karate:

"Mom, don't you think Don't Stop Believing was the best song of the 80's"

And what do you say to that? LOL.

But, I did discover via Wikipedia that she is not alone in this opinion. Though the song by Journey released in 1981 never got higher than #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, in 2006, it was ranked as the 11th greatest song of the list of the 100 greatest songs of the '80s by VH1.

It is the most downloaded song not released in the 21st century of all time in the iTunes Music Store.

And in answer to her question, I'd have to give my vote to U2's Where the Streets Have No Name or X's Burning House of Love

Music From Nature

Both of the kids really loved watching this. I've thought of this many times seeing the birds sitting on the wires, but this composer brought it to life:

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Prodigal Cat Has Returned

This last week was worrisome as my cat Patches did another disappearing act while we were camping at Waldo Lake. She's a funny little thing, a stray that adopted us just over two years ago, the rest of the family calls her my "dog" because she follows me around and is totally dedicated to me. She loves to go on walks with our family, and at one point I even tried The Great Leash Experiment, figuring that maybe that way I could take her along with us safely when we got to the busier streets. But alas that was a dismal failure as Patches definitely despised The Leash. Still, as long as I'm in town she has never run away or gotten into trouble, but whenever I leave town I think she starts to worry that I'm not coming back. Despite the fact that while we were camping Wayne was here feeding and petting her, she has this notion that if I'm gone more than 3 or 4 days, she needs to go looking for me. Thankfully, I got her microchipped last year, so when she has gone on her find-Robin missions she has been turned in before (once almost 2 miles from home!)

After several days camping at Waldo I came home to find that she had set out yet again, and this time there was no news as the days went by. So we got out the Lost Cat posters, crossed off the date from the last time she did this and wrote in the new date and set out putting them up around the neighborhood. One thing you can say about the place we live is that people here are extremely helpful and love animals (this is so true that animal shelters in California have begun trucking their excessive animals up here because our adoption rates here are very high). I got no fewer than eight phone calls from separate people, some of whom had spotted Patches, some who had fed her and tried to corral her (she is extremely friendly but is not amenable to being picked up, making rescues tricky), and some who had seen my Lost Cat posters and also seen some Found Cat posters bearing her photo and just called to tell me in case I hadn't spotted those. I have to say, I get a little choked up thinking of so many people going out of their way to be so nice to just another little stray kitty. It sure gives you faith in good folks of the world.

As the days went by though, I was worrying more and my heart felt heavy. The saddest thing for me is thinking of her heading out to look for me. If she was just a cat who liked to wander, I guess it wouldn't bother me, but visualizing her out there trying to find me was just breaking my heart. Eerily, one night I had a dream that I found her, and when I woke up both of the kids said that they had a dream that we found her too (although Asa's dream involved her turning into a mermaid, which definitely didn't happen in Mackenzie's or mine...) That was the day we got the first phone call from someone who was feeding her on their back porch, so at least we knew at that point that she was alive and well.

That phone call came from a little over a mile away, but by yesterday evening she was found closer to home by a family about 7 blocks from here (maybe working her way back home?) and she was under their car. I drove over immediately, parked and called to her and she came running out (yet another reason she's called my dog, she comes when called). So all's well that ends well for the kitty this time. She's home, very hungry, a little skittish but settling back in.... at least until next time.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


One of the things I loved most about my childhood was the sense of rhythm and almost of ritual, the notion that things would come around every year that could be counted on. I think predictability is one of our most basic human needs. Some people of course seem to need it so much more than others, and perhaps children more than adults. Having touchstones throughout the year brings a sense of comfort and a respect for the turning of the seasons of life.

One of the things I have most grown to anticipate this time of year is our annual camping trip at Waldo Lake. I know I've probably posted similar photos every year, of us doing similar things - floating in boats, swimming in crystalline waters, kids catching frogs, hiking through woods, the spectacular beauty that is Waldo. Every year the kids are changed, but the landscape is not. The frogs are different of course, but catching them is not. Perhaps the water molecules from last year's lake have gone up into clouds and traveled around the globe and rained in Botswana and the water molecules in the lake this year were a fog bank around Bristol at this time last year, but yet the lake looks the same.

This year we were blessed with a stretch of unbroken lovely fall days. The frogs were plentiful, from the tiny "fingernail frogs", just the size of my pinky nail, to these glorious golden bumpy frogs with sparkling eyes, to camouflaged tree frogs that you have to be eagle-eyed to spot. The water was warm enough for kids to swim and float in, and for me in my wet suit to hang out in (the perks of being a triathlete mom is having the wetsuit that lets me hang out in cold lakes with my kids all afternoon).

The kids brought bikes with them and took off en masse for a group bike ride led by mountainbiking mom extraordinaire, Maria. They suddenly looked 5 years more grown up setting off like that.

Of course, time does have a way of marching on and some things change. For years, we brought our faithful and wonderful camping dog Sabre on our Waldo lake excursions. In his final year, I even brought my Burley trailer and wheeled him on the trails around the lake when he was too feeble to walk. Then he was gone, and I spent a few moments last year crying when I saw people with dogs that looked similar to Sabre.

This year of course we have Callie, and its her inaugural year camping. As a small dog, she has the added perk of riding in the kayak (something Sabre surely would not have done, as fearful of water as he was depite his Labrador heritage). We say she's the "bow wow of the bow" and she enjoyed being ferried over to an island where she could be a wild leash-free dog for awhile without our worrying that she would chase a squirrel into the wilderness and never be heard from again.

One of the other things I value about this camping trip, besides the sense of the earth coming 'round again and the changing of the seasons and spending time with friends who we haven't seen enough of over the summer is that the kids get plenty of time to just be kids. Without computers and games and electronic distractions of any kind, they can spend hours in a happy mob keeping a balloon in the air, cheering each other on. Even my big 13 year old (who often vaccilated between the adult conversation by the campfire and the games of the children) was caught up in the excitement of chasing a balloon through the forest.

In the end, the trip is really about everything important in life: family, friends, nature, beauty, fun, seasons, rituals, and appreciating the great gifts we are given here on earth. I am grateful for yet another ride around the sun, another season at Waldo.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Birthday Fun

Here's our birthday boy's big 13th in pictures...

Of course, he can't be serious for one moment for a pic with the family

Having cake after playing laser tag with his friends

Yes, he still LOVES hippos, and was really excited to get this cute stuffed hippo from his friend Tiff

Yes, he's a house of cards. Do you get the idea this kid always keeps us laughing?

His wish for his actual birthday was to go bowling with just family. So he's getting his family presents at the bowling alley

And enduring a hug from little sis

He wanted to roll out the first ball right at 4:14, when he became a teenager

And spent some of the rest of the day making foam sword and shield. I still think he looks very elvish with those ears!