Found Art

I also posted this on the kids’ school blog, but wanted to share it here as well.

Both of my girls are very prolific artists, S8 particularly so. I often find drawings and other artsy endeavors around the house. Recently, inspired by a book of fairy stickers a friend sent us, S8 made this crayon and sticker drawing/collage.


Another fairy drawing:


I love this one, of rabbit astronauts playing space tag ball:

I love that the ball has “SPACE” written on it.

For a time, they got into making pirate maps. I couldn’t scan one because they make them on huge sheets of paper, but they are really detailed and usually involve some sort of island, a body of shark infested water with a dire-sounding name (like “Shark Bay”), and a dangerous forest. Then they play games using the maps. Recently, I found some notes they had written as part of one of their games. It appears that they were pretending S8 was the president of an island that was sinking, and O7 was a professor who was an expert on sinking islands. S8 had written to O7 to get advice about running her sinking island.

Professor, a professor friend who studies geography (rock study) said i should focus on the economy, ect., instead of the island! Do you think i should listen to him? If i listen to him, the island will never be seen again! I think the island should be seen in its last days above water, by humans. Very deeply. Sincerly, President V. Samantha.
Professor, consequences are piling up for me. I don’t know what to do! Focus on island, or economy! I just got your scrap and you’re right. Hope we find the treasure.
Sincerly, President V. Samantha

At first, O7 (“Professor Molly”), who is not nearly as fond of writing as her big sister, scribbled pretend notes in reply.


But eventually she got into the game enough to write “real” replies. Hers are much more concise. She also uses a lot less paper. (She wrote them all on little torn scraps.)


Such drama.


This one didn’t scan as well, but I love the executive tone.

Professor, I share your concern in the sinking island project. We should send exlorers out there to find the treasure in those two weeks. Phone me your opinion tonight around 8:30 pm. If you think explorers should go there, I strictly advise that well trained explorers only should go. Please. I do not want our explorers to disappear along with the island as well. Sincerly, President V. P.S. Send the explorers with enough to last each and every explorer for 12 days. I want them back in twelve days no matter what.

I have no idea what happened to this island. Or the explorers. Or whether it was reported on Fox News. What a cliffhanger!


The Party’s Over

You know, I never knew that Doris Day sang that song.  I also never knew any of the lyrics beyond the first two lines, which my mother often (still) sang (sings) when it’s time for the fun to end.

We are home from Kalahari and getting back into reality the swing of things.  Boy, was that a rough transition.  We went from waterparks and Nerf wars to getting up early and making our own beds.  Sheesh.

Yesterday AM, we got up kind of early to get ready to come home.  I packed up the van while DH made some last-minute changes to a schematic and did a quick conference call with work.  Then we checked out, moved our vans to the main entrance, and went to eat breakfast at the Great Karoo, which is one of those buffet meals. 




I thought I would be all sly and Weight Watchery and ordered oatmeal instead of the full buffet.  Unfortunately, I think the oatmeal was made with water from the Swahili Swirl.  It was horrible.  I couldn’t eat it, even with brown sugar and cranberries AND raisins.  (That combination, of course, sort of defeats the whole point of ordering oatmeal.)  The waitress was kind and let me switch to something else, and I ended up with fresh fruit.  The kids pigged out on waffles, pancakes, cereal, and granola.  Basically, every sugary carbohydrate known to mankind in one meal.   DH made up for it with bacon, sausage and fried potatoes.

DH left for home after breakfast.  The girls and I met A7 and her mom down in the game room and we let the kids blow their remaining arcade credits.  They also played a game of mini golf.  Then we went upstairs to the gift shop.  As a thank you for hosting our funshop, the girls each received a $20 gift card from the conference organizers.  O7 had picked out a zebra earlier in the week, so she made a beeline for the stuffed animals and snatched him up.  S8 took a little longer.  She wanted to maximize her buying power (read: buy as much junk as possible, instead of one nice thing).  She ended up with a necklace with her name on it and a magnetic chess game.  We had a few dollars left, so we stopped at the candy counter and got a bag of treats for the ride home.  And that was that.


So goodbye, Kalahari! We will see you again in May, 2014!


Kalahari Day 2

Today we hung out at Kalahari with my mom.  In the morning, we made breakfast in our lovely kitchen.  I adore having a kitchen in a hotel like this.  Even though we are not really cooking complicated meals (like, nothing more involved than heating up canned soup), it’s great to be able to keep food in a fridge and have real dishes to eat off of.  Even things like drinks are fabulous.  How many times have you gotten settled in a hotel room and realized you (or someone in your group) is thirsty?  And who wants to drink hotel tap water??  What a luxury, to open the fridge and pull out OJ, or apple cider, or my new favorite:


Luxury, indeed.

So, in the AM we made a little breakfast of cereal and toasted bagels with cream cheese, and fruit, and I made coffees for Nana and me. Then we went to the waterpark for a while.

At the waterpark, O6 was grumpy. I don’t think she slept well last night, and for some reason, everything was just wrong today. First she said she really wanted to go on Victoria Falls, so we went on Victoria Falls. When we got to the top of the stairs, she said she was scared and didn’t want to go. I made her go down with us on the raft. She got off of Victoria Falls skipping and happy. But she did the Jekyll and Hyde routine all morning.

We sat in the hot tub outside and caught falling snow on our tongues and hair. That was neat. Then S8 met up with her friend, S6, and they started hanging out in the waves. O7 felt left out and sorry for herself and hung back. I’m sure the girls would have played with her but she just turtled up and became my Velcro baby again. So I took her on the lazy river while Nana kept an eye on S8.

After a few hours, we decided to head back for late lunch and to get ready for the conference. We got cleaned up and ate a little snack in our luxurious kitchen: peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, fruit, soup, and salad with picnic crack.

And then the girls practiced their violins.

Practicing violin

They also practiced Nana’s new iPad.


At 3, we gathered our 18″ Madame Alexander dolls and their wardrobes and headed down to the registration area.  It just took a few minutes to get our registration stuff and schedules.  I picked up our t-shirts and tote bag.  Then we did a few cartwheels while we looked around for a gathering of 18″ dolls.  We found them hanging out under the stairs at the convention center entrance. There were about 15 kids and dolls and it was really cool.



They decided to have a talent show. I’m pretty sure this was S8’s idea.


This little boy had his doll, Rosita, do a little ice skating demonstration.


S8 and her doll, Samantha, decided to sing. They sang a song that S8 wrote minutes before, called “Sing It Out”. She is in the process of writing down the lyrics and is planning to perform again at the talent show on Thursday. I did record it, but haven’t figured out how to post videos here, plus I’m not sure her adult self will appreciate me posting a video of her 8 year old self holding her doll up to her ear and singing a (let’s just face it) improvised song a capella. So I won’t bother. Let’s just say I think she’s awesome and has guts for getting up there and Singing It Out. Rock on, S8.

O7, of course, did not participate. She is in full-on Shy Mode, though she did sit in the audience and watch the other kids. And then she got bored, and started doing cartwheels, and other gymnasticky stuff.


The doll meetup kind of petered out anyway when Paxton organized a game of Zombie Tag. Here is S8 getting some clarification on the rules.


Basically, human kids run. Zombie kids do not run, and they are supposed to hold their arms out in front of themselves as they shuffle.

Every day I’m shufflin’…

O7 did cartwheels while S8 played Zombie Tag.  Nana and I sat on a couch and I worked on weaving in ends on my soon-to-be-born niece’s baby blanket.  It was very relaxing, in spite of the zombies.

Then we went into the ballroom for the family fun night, which was a mini carnival with balloon sculptures and silly games and face painting and lots of loud, fun dance music.  A lot of shufflin and Gangnam-stylin’.

We got in line for balloons.


Here’s O7 watching this girl make her a puppy dog balloon.



S8 wanted to get her face painted. She opted for a butterfly.


She is holding her fairy wand with a heart on the top. Part of the handle came off when she made a particularly vigorous wave of magic. We happened to run into the balloonist on the elevator and she fixed it for us. Sweet!

Before heading up to bed, we stopped at the arcade and played a game of bowling with Nana.



Back at the room, we called DH and told him about our fun day. Then we all played some assorted electronica (iPad, iPod, tablet, laptop) and went to bed.

Kalahari Day 1

Wheee!  We are at the Kalahari, a really neat indoor waterpark / hotel / convention center / small indoor city in northwest Ohio.  This is our fourth year coming here for an annual homeschool conference.  The kids are beyond thrilled.  Me, too, mostly.


My complaints are small and petty, and pretty much insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  First world problems, as a certain friend likes to say.  They are things like, “the arcade is insanely loud and overstimulating and makes me dizzy and I hate that we have to walk through it to get to the water park.”  Or, “the bathroom in our hotel is so narrow that it’s hard to dress in there, and I don’t want to come out naked from the shower into the common area of our room that we’re sharing with my mom.”  Etc.  First world problems, indeed.

Dizzy arcades and cramped loos notwithstanding, we are having a very nice time.

The conference itself starts tonight, but we came in a day early (1) because the hotel extended our group rate to include Sunday night as well as the four nights of our conference and the rates are ridiculously awesome so who could pass up that kind of deal???, and (2) my mom is leaving on Weds to go hang out with my sister while she  has a baby, so that gave us some extra time with Nana.   And if you’re eight or seven years old and have a really fun grandma, wouldn’t you want to hang out with her at a waterpark?  I totally would.

My mom flew in from Florida on Saturday afternoon, and we spent the day visiting with my grandma (who is also very cool, but she’s 92 and waterparks are a little too much for her now). On Sunday, we got up and made breakfast with DH, and then we packed the van. And when I say we packed the van, I mean we put so much stuff in there it looked like we were MOVING to the Kalahari instead of just coming to stay for a week. But only half the stuff is going back to my house in the end, so it’s all good.

We got here at 4pm, which is check-in time anyway, so we went right up to our swanky room on the sixth floor and unloaded our stuff. That took a while. We made it in one large trip with two luggage carts and the kids dragging their own suitcases and violins, but it was a huge exercise in luggage logistics. Then Nana and the girls unpacked groceries while I parked the van.

Our room has a full kitchen. Check it out:


Now, some people do not like to cook while they are on vacation, but I am a nerd and totally love to make food while I’m in a strange kitchen. It’s super-exciting for me to try to figure out how the stove works (I hate electric cook-tops, though) or to MacGyver a kitchen utensil. (Right now I am using drinking glasses as tapas plates.) It is also a lot cheaper this way. It only cost us about $20 a day extra for the kitchen room, but we would have spent waaaay more than that going out to eat for three meals a day x 4 people. So we have things for breakfast and lunch and snacks in our room kitchen, and then we’ll go out for dinner. Perfect compromise.

So first, we had a snack.  And then we went to the waterpark (which, face it, is what we’re here for.)

S8 in her new bathing suit

That was really fun. First, S8 and Nana went on Victoria Falls, which is a tube slide.  After climbing an insane number of stairs to the dizzying heights of the waterpark, you board a huge yellow raft (large enough for up to four people). The raft goes down through a big, enclosed yellow tube that actually goes outside the waterpark briefly before coming back into the building and dumping you into a pool, where the kind (but really bored) lifeguard assists you in exiting the raft with absolutely no grace whatsoever but without drowning.  Repeat.

Now, O7 and I like Victoria Falls, but her absolute favorite ride in the world is the Zip Coaster, so we did that while my mom and S8 went on the raft ride.  The Zip Coaster is a roller-coaster-shaped raft that is shoved through an orange tube (via a fast-moving belt) in a nauseating hill-and-valley fashion at an improbable speed and with water blasting you in the face the entire time.  It’s not for the faint of heart, or those wearing contact lenses.  But I took her because you need two people to ride the Zip Coaster and I am just that awesome of a mom.  We only went once.

But then we went on the Lazy River, because we saw the line for Victoria Falls was really long and figured S8 and Nana were still waiting to go down.  The Lazy River is really nice.  It’s not that lazy, because there are an unnerving number of empty inner tubes floating around like so much flotsam and jetsam, occasionally blocking up the river and making it a pain to get around.  It’s hard to just float laziliy along when you keep getting jammed up.  And then there are occasional waterfalls and jets of water and drips of water, so if you close your eyes and start to feel lazy, sooner or later you’ll get a faceful of water an a very UNrelaxing sort of way.  I think it’s to keep drunk people from passing out on the inner tubes.

We  made one pass through the lazy river and then headed back to the landing area of Victoria Falls to wait for S8 and Nana.  They were the very next raft down- perfect timing!

Next, the kids wanted to check out the wave pool.  So we did that for a few minutes, but then I was cold and said it was time to do something that the grownups wanted to do.  So we went to the hot tub.  There are three or four or maybe even five indoor hot tubs here, and two of them are indoor/outdoor tubs, which is really cool.  You swim under this plastic curtain that is very reminiscent of a drive-through carwash, and then you’re outside!  Fun times.

Then we went back to the wave pool, and there we met up with S7, a girl we met here last year and who instantly became BFFs with S8.  They hung out for a long time in the waves together.  O7 got bored and went back to the hot tub with Nana.  Then we all met back up and the girls did one more slide on the main play structure.  Then we went back to get rinsed off and dry (read: warm).  It was a lot colder this time than last year.  Brr.

Back in our room, we fixed a light dinner.  We had planned to go to one of the restaurants, but it was 8pm and we just kind of felt like something small.  So I heated up canned chicken veg soup and made the girls a PB & J sandwich (O7’s on pita bread, S8’s on multigrain).  I had a nice salad wrap with hummus and vinaigrette.  Nana had a PB& J on diet thinbread.  We ate a bowl of fruit and then pigged out on some raisin cookies Nana had bought at the bakery back home.  It was great.
Dinner in our room


Then the kids played Hello Kitty World in Nana’s room, while she and I chilled out and drank our coffees/tea.


By now it was nearly 9:30. We decided to go for a walk and see if the ice cream counter was still open. Damn, it was.


S8 ordered rainbow sherbet, and O7 got “Kitty Kitty Bang Bang”, which is cheesecake flavored ice cream with raspberry ripple and chocolate chips. I have no idea how it got that name but it tastes pretty good.

Then we walked through the aforementioned dizzyingly loud arcade. They still had our favorite game, Fruit Ninja. I let the girls play one round each.


We also walked around the main lobby. There is a cool view of the waterpark from above.


Just ignore those crazy children in the front. You know, the ones who look like gorillas.


By now it was about 10:30 and we were all suddenly very tired.  So we came back to the room and went to bed.  Tomorrow is the first day of our conference and Nana’s last day here, so we have to fit a lot in.

Move Along, Nothing To See Here

My kids and I just finished our first week of homeschool. It went pretty well.

S4 can read now. She can also write her name and most of “Nim’s Island” (but the latter only in black indelible ink on a kitchen wall).

Wall Palette

Nim's Island
O2 can count to 20 and recognizes both upper- and lower-case letters.

So I figure we can quit until about second grade, right?  (Hey, I don’t know if my kitchen walls can handle kindergarten!)