B-I-N-G-O, or Anything but DisneyNickCartoonNetwork

If your house is anything like mine, it can be hard to tell if you even have any channels other than DisneyNickCartoonNetwork.  It is a rare event when our TV shows anything but kid shows during prime time.  And although I am not a dedicated football watcher, I do enjoy an occasional game.  I especially like to watch the Super Bowl, which may have more to do with FANFARE and FOOTBALL FOOD than the actual game.  Regardless of the reason, I face the same problem - getting my kids to keep the channel tuned to the game instead of begging to watch ANYTHING ELSE.

There are three primary strategies to keep the game on the TV:
1. Claim the TV and send them off to do something else.
2. Ignore their pleas for iCarly/Wizards of Waverly Place/SpongeBob by claiming temporary deafness.
3. Play SuperBowl Bingo and bribe them with games and prizes in order to keep their attention throughout the game.

We're going with #3. 

Want to play along?  Open the attachment below and print as many sheets as you need.  There are six different game boards from which to choose.  This game is great for both readers and non-readers as the logos make it pretty easy to find the square that matches the commercial.  Enjoy!

Print it: SuperBowl 2011 Bingo

Same and different, again. Or is that still?

If you are the kind of person who keeps score, or perhaps you're the kind who does not like it that I've stopped posting here in favor of lazily adding Facebook status updates (hi dad!), then I think its safe to say that 2010 was my worst year for blogging diligence.  On the days that I'm feeling optimistic, I post here with a renewed sense of purpose and good intentions up to my eyeballs.  Its hard to say whether 2011 will be the same or different.  Today I'm posting, which of course means I'm optimistic, so it seems like the least likely day in which to stake my claim either way.

Around here, we've been talking a lot about things that are the same or different.  Sophie's gotten very into patterns this year, and points out every A-B-A, A-B-B, A-A-B pattern she sees.  This has led to a lot of discussion about how things are the same and different.  Its gotten into my head, apparently, because today the differences between and sameness of things are stacking up in my head like a running scoreboard.

For example, when comparing this year to last:
Same - they both still enjoy skating.
Different - they now have less teeth.

Comparing how they react to having a muffin for breakfast:

Here's your banana muffin.
Sophie: But there's nothing in here.
Me: What were you expecting?
Sophie: Blueberries.
Me: But its a banana muffin.
Sophie: Right. Where are the blueberries?

Me: Here's your banana muffin.
Martin: That's awesome. I'd like ten more.
Me: How about if you finish that one and I'll give you another after that.
Martin: Okay, but get ten more ready.

This year we'll probably have more muffins and less teeth.  There will probably be plenty in 2011 that will be the same for us.  I'm sure we'll also have some new differences.  Again.  Or, maybe that's still.

O (best) Tannenbaum (ever)

Over Thanksgiving weekend we went to the farm for the annual tree cutting party.  Many years we've had snowy, icy, blustery, freeze-your-face-off and slide-on-the-road kind of weather.  This year it was warm and sunny; the kind of day where you take off your coat in the sun, and put it back on when you're in the shade. 

The kids wandered around the Rooster Condo as we waited for more guests to arrive.

"Let's get a picture of the three of us" I said.  One said fine, the other said no thanks.  We got them both in here anyway, even if one is busy tending the fire you cannot see.

Dad was happy to have everyone at the farm - seeing everyone together, enjoying the farm, finding Christmas trees that he planted just for this purpose.

This year, because the weather was so cooperative, dad took us out on a hayride.  The kids filled their pockets with corn they found in the field and prepared to throw it like they were on a parade in a float.

The kids held tight while my cousin Angie and I bounced around the back end. 

After scoping out dozens of trees, we went to the part of the farm where they were a bit taller.  After ruling out a few trees that were too tall or too fat, we selected the perfect one.  Dad and Martin cut it down and we loaded it on the trailer.

It was a beautiful drive back to the Rooster Condo; such a relief not to have ice forming on our faces and coating our mittens.

Once in the house, the tree was a bit larger than I'd originally thought.  It was so big, that I had to cut some branches so that we could sit at the kitchen counter without getting poked.  It touches the ceiling and fills the entire room.

The tree is so tall and wide we were not able to decorate the top half.  We threw lights at the top and chucked lightweight ornaments and hoped they would find purchase.  Just look how much the kids enjoy the tree.

We enjoyed it further when we heard it crash in the middle of the night.  Miraculously, it didn't break a thing.  Martin thought it was amazing.  Sophie just wanted me to know that she didn't do it.

Dad came over and helped me to get it upright.  We placed it on a board and dad nailed and wired it straight into the floor.  Decorating it a second time lost its luster, so it has less ornaments and placement is hit or miss.  No one minds.

Laying the groundwork

Sophie's trying a new approach this year with Santa.  She decided that before sending him a list of things she wanted this year, maybe she'd send him a little something.  She says its a gift with a note.  I think it might be more along the lines of a little pre-gift list buttering up, maybe even functioning like a save-the-date.

It reads:
"Dear Santa. I have been really good.  By Sophia. I love you."

After I took this photo, she added one extra line for good measure:

"Its a puppet."

Portrait in crayon

There's an extraordinary difference in the amount of paperwork that the kids bring home each day in their backpacks.  Martin sometimes has a single slip of paper, sometimes just an empty folder.  In contrast, Sophie's bag is filled to the brim with papers every single day - some tucked into a folder, others smashed into wadded up bunches at the bottom of her bag.  In Kindergarten, they are PRODUCERS.  Dozens of worksheets and cutting projects and glued together shapes and sight words and story boards are produced - and all of that in the first half hour of each day. 

A few weeks ago I noticed a drawing in her bag.  The drawings always catch my eye because it tells me a bit more about what she's thinking and how she looks at things. 

So I asked her about it.  "Sophie, I like that drawing. Is it a chicken?"

"No," she told me, "It's my art teacher."

The moment I became retro, or The Bug

A few weeks ago The Bug came out of retirement.  She'd been parked since c. 1994 and after having some work done, she was road ready.  It was good to see her parked in the garage, but she looked smaller than I remembered.  When I first moved away from home in 1992, I packed everything I needed into the backseat and trunk of this little car.

We opened the doors and the kids climbed inside.  They buckled up.  Pushed every button.  Marveled at how the old fashioned locks worked, and wondered what the turning cranks were on the door.  As they rolled down the windows by hand, I told them that this car was made the year after I was born, and right there I turned to dust before their eyes.

Martin opened the glove box (which sports a plate from a trophy celebrating the Urban Guerillas as the New Band of the Year) to pull the trunk lever.  Next to the lever we found a stack of film negatives, which the kids had never seen before.  The car and everything in it was Old Fashioned, they said.  I thought it was more Retro than Old Fashioned, but I guess that's the viewpoint you'd have if you had experienced it the first time it was around.

A bug is a people magnet, and although its small, five young children can easily sit in the front seats.

That weekend I drove the bug to the farm for winter storage.  My shoulder only inches away from the door, the radio that plays only AM, and the old familiar smell - all as good as I remembered.  What I don't remember is ever feeling that the car was anything but perfectly safe, which is probably related more to age when I first got the car than its actual safety features.  Driving it now, after years of having big vehicles, it felt like a tin can.

I haven't yet decided whether or not I'm going to sell The Bug in the spring.  For now, she's safely wintering at The Rooster Condo. 

Killing two birds with one stone

Bird one: I went hunting with my dad and have the pictures to prove it.
Bird two: my cousin Jenine challenged me to start posting here again. the email was gentle, but the message was clear - "get off your blogging butt, I dare you".

A few weeks ago I spent a Saturday afternoon with my dad at the farm hanging up signs.  It was a warm day, and really pleasant driving around with dad, hearing stories of the farm and our family that lived there.  It was easy to imagine all the Mitchell's and McFarlane's that had lived in the area.  Driving through the prairie grasses, I thought about how many times my Grandpa Mitchell had been in the exact same places.  I wondered how different it had looked when my Great-Grandma Annie (who had maybe one of the best nicknames ever - Annie Mac) lived there.

So when dad asked me if I wanted to join him pheasant hunting, my mind was caught up in stories of hardy women living on the prairie, and I said I would.  Then immediately wondered if I could do it. 

Sure, the lady who issued me the hunting license laughed and said good luck when she handed it to me.  Yes, my dad outfitted me in plenty of gear, including a pair of particularly stiff pants.  But I went anyway, and had a pretty good time.

For a few hours, we walked through knee deep prairie grasses (where I quickly learned to walk with the grain) and around the edges of cattail-filled swamps.  We watched the dogs work the field as they searched for birds.  Each dog caught a bird in their mouth, and dad's friend shot two more.  I didn't take a shot, but didn't miss taking one either. 

I didn't do anything stupid or embarrassing.  I kept up with the guys.  And I agreed to go again.

Slide, Slide, Slippity Slide | 2010 Edition

My brother is a pretty terrific guy.  He's very giving - he's helped me to move, he's picked me up (more than once) when I ran out of gas, and he's a really great dad and husband (just ask his wife's family).  He's also very crafty; not in the way I am, but in the kind of way where things stay together.  He's carved an elaborate pumpkin with power tools, he carves things out of concrete  that are both realistic looking and functional, and he built a shelving system that my dad says puts all other garage shelving to shame.

So, when Carrie told me that Ryan built a slip-n-slide in the yard I wasn't too surprised.  She sent me a video so I could see it in action.  I wasn't prepared for just how awesome it was.  Or for how hard it made me laugh.  Enjoy.

Note: this is a silent film, which is alright because if you have a loud laugh like mine, you wouldn't be able to hear the audio over the laughter anyway.

Dude, it's Summer: Baseball

This week marked the start of Martin's summer baseball season.  On Saturday, he attended a baseball camp run by our local team, The Springers.  I've watched a lot of games featuring some of these guys and was glad to see them show the kids how to play ball but also how much they love the game.  I think its best to just ignore the part where they are referred to as "the old guys". 

Here's Martin, marching off to stretch out with his group (spot our boy wearing #8).

It rained all four hours of the baseball clinic and I didn't hear a single kid complain.  Especially the kids that were learning to slide in the wet, muddy grass.

Earlier this week, Martin started playing Little League in the Minors.

At his first time up to bat, Martin had "his best hit of his life" (or so he told us).  Unfortunately, it was straight into the glove of another kid who probably had the best catch of his life.

Baseball is big in this town, and even the Minors draw a good sized crowd of parents, siblings, grandparents - and in our case, great-grandparents as well.  The ball field where Martin played on Monday is right behind where Grandma lives, and we were lucky enough to have her join us for the game.

Guess who else enjoyed the game, but didn't watch a single minute?

Dude, it's Summer: Splash

Summer officially started here last Friday when we kicked off the first free day with a visit to the splash pad.

We had plenty of sunshine, our swimsuits, a picnic lunch, and loads of sunscreen (we are a pale, pale people in early June).

It's all fun and games until someone gets a faceful of water.  Then its a time out, a snack, and back to more fun and games.


April 2014

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