Monday, March 12, 2018

Trail Life Pinewood Derby and AHG Luncheon

A big part of their respective years are the fundraisers that AHG and Trail Life hold. These fundraisers help reduce the costs for registration and events like cookouts and camping trips. For Trail Life, they hold a big Pinewood Derby race and invite other troops to join us for a full day of racing, food and fun. 
Our troop owns a rally nice, metal track with electronic timing that's accurate own to 1/10,000th of a second! There's no debating who wins, no matter how close it looks.  
We had never done one of these before, so it was a new adventure for us. The boys designed their cars and then we sanded and painted them, adding some weight to make them as heavy as the rules allow.
Gabe's is on the left and is supposed to be a shark and Ezra's is on the right.

After some fine tuning and a few tests, it was time to see how they matched up with the rest of the guys. We had about 130 cars entered into the race from 4 regional troops. 

Unfortunately, there's still a lot for us to learn when it comes to making the cars faster, but we have a whole year to figure it out! From a fundraising perspective, the event was a big success.

For the American Heritage Girls fundraiser, they hold a big luncheon at our host church. They served meals and sold baked goods. The girls decorated placemats for the tables and helped cook and serve the food.
 Olivia helped prepare salads and then worked a food serving station for a couple of hours.
Emma helped run the bake sale, though she was rather sad when she found out she couldn't eat any of it. 

As with the boys, the AHG fundraiser was a huge success all around, so it was a job well done!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Emma's Birdhouse

For one of her AHG projects, Emma had to put together a wooden craft of some sort. She really wanted a birdhouse to hang out in the yard, so we ordered one and helped her put it together.
 This one I found used screws rather than nails, so it was a little different putting it together.
 She'd never used a screwdriver before, so it was a good experience for her. The screws were a little tight to do all the way by hand, so I had to finish them later with a power screwdriver.
 Then it was time to paint!
We hung it in a place of honor on our woodshed. Hopefully we'll have tenants later this spring!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Olivia's Cake Decorating Class

When a local bakery announced that they were going to have a class for kids on cake baking and decorating, we thought it was a great opportunity to sign Olivia up for something fun. Savor the Moment hosted a 4-week class that taught her the basics like how to do things like bake a cake and cupcakes, do crumb-coating, frost cupcakes and cakes, use piping bags and tips... that sort of stuff. I would say the results speak for themselves.

She had a ton of fun! They're offering a more advanced class in a couple of weeks that covers stuff like flowers and fondant, so we're thinking of signing her up for that one, too. I need someone to take over the birthday cake duties. ;)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Surprises for the boys!

Usually, we wait until their actual birthdays to do something fun or get them something we know they'd love, but this year, a couple of shows rolled through Greensboro that we thought the boys would love to see, so we got tickets for them and told them it was their early birthday gifts.

The first was the Monster Jam monster truck show. Rebecca's been bugging me for years to take the boys, but I've resisted because I didn't relish the idea of an enclosed space with tons of people and extremely loud trucks and fumes. I finally gave in and I was pleasantly surprised. It was definitely loud and the place was packed but there wasn't a hint of fumes (whether that's because of the fuel they use or that there was plenty of ventilation, i don't know) and earplugs were enough to keep the noise level in a comfortable range. I did feel like I missed a memo about the dress code for an event like this, but since I don't own anything camouflage, it wouldn't have mattered anyway... ;)
I didn't tell them what we were coming to see... Once they figured out what we were there for, they were super excited.
 They loved seeing all the different trucks, dirt cars and 4-wheelers. There was a shark truck, a zombie truck and even a Wonder Woman truck!

While they loved the trucks, they both said their favorite part was the 4-wheeler races because they moved so fast!

The second event was the Marvel Universe Live! show. Once again, I didn't tell them what we were coming to see.
 And once again, they were very excited when they found out what it was. :)
 The show was a lot of fun, with all kinds of characters from the Marvel movies and shows.
There were all kinds of acrobatic tricks, lasers, explosions and even motorcycle tricks. They absolutely loved the show!
They even got to meet Spiderman on the way out!

All-in-all, they were super happy to go to the shows, though they have expressed a little sadness that their birthdays are over so soon. While they won't be getting the usual gifts, we'll still manage to make their respective days special when the times come. :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

MLK, Jr. Day Community Service

Another community service project that Olivia took part in was on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at High Point University. The students and faculty organized a drive to package ready-to-cook meals for disaster relief. They had several tables set up to assemble the meals in bags, which were then heat-sealed and boxed up. The meals were a simple pasta meal with soy protein and powdered sauce, so that all it needed was boiling water to be made. 
 Olivia spent 2 hours doing various jobs like weighing and heat-sealing the bags. 
 All together they made over 5000 individual meals!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Neighborhood Cleanup - Olivia's AHG Service

As Part of American Heritage Girls, Olivia has to fulfill requirements for various badges and do 15 hours of community service each year. One of the requirements of her Caring for the Environment badge was to organize a neighborhood cleanup. 
Our neighborhood is a little too big to do a full neighborhood cleanup, so instead we cleaned up all the public area around our block, which is a pretty significant area. Olivia made up flyers and distributed them to all the neighbors, but sadly, nobody else made it.
  That didn't stop us, though. We went out for an hour and a half and cleaned up the park areas and along the creeks and roads. Everybody did such a great job!
In the end, we filled 3 full trash bags plus some random things like a pilates ball, a campaign sign and a really nasty couch cushion that had been thrown in the creek. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Happy Birthday, Emma!

Our sweet girl Emma turned 6! 
With everything we have on our plates, we didn't plan a party for her this time, but all she asked for was a colorful cake. :) She originally said a tie-dye cake, but I wasn't sure I could make it work. Instead, Rebecca sent me a link to a YouTube video that showed how to make a watercolor cake.
 Turns out that wasn't so hard. :) She loved it, for which I'm very happy. 
 Her highlight of the day was getting to walk through Party City and pick out a big balloon. We did have an eye doctor's appointment that morning which we told her was just for her special day, but she didn't think that was really a party, even though it's quite an event for all of us to take over the doctor's office for an hour. :)

The thing she's most excited about is that she now gets to go to the "big kids'" class at church, which is for 6-10 year olds. 

We're proud of our little girl and can't wait to see what the next year has in store for her (and us!)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Cold Snap

It's been brutally cold here for the last few days. Getting outside has been almost painful with the temps being below freezing even during the warmest part of the day. Despite their complaints, we bundled the kids up and took them to the Bicentennial Greenway for a walk along the creek. 
  There were some really cool spots where the creek had frozen. There was even this spot that had ice thick enough to support the kids walking on it. The place was maybe 6 inches deep and I'm pretty sure it was actually frozen solid. 
 It was frozen enough to support even me!  
 This is something that rarely happens here, so it was cool for the kids to get to experience something like this. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

It's a Brand New Car!

Ok... Not BRAND new... but new to us anyway. With the end of the year closing in, we decided to pull the trigger and get Rebecca a new car. Our beloved 2003 Mazda Protege5 had taken us over 230,000 miles (that's about the distance to the moon!) over the past 13 years and was slowly dying a painful death as various bits and pieces broke or stopped working on it. Rebecca has been pondering what vehicle she'd like to get over the past couple of months...
 and while this is her dream, it's not very practical... So instead she settled on this:
a 2010 Nissan Versa. Sadly, we couldn't find one in our price range in blue that was in decent condition, so we had to go with silver, but still... It's a cute car and one that we're happy with so far. It rides and runs great and we are so happy to have a solidly reliable car for her! We're looking forward to a good 10 years with this one!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A New Adventure for the Kids

This fall, we signed the kids (minus Irene, who isn't old enough yet) up for Trail Life and American Heritage Girls (I'm sure you can figure out who is in which group...) The groups are Boy and Girl Scout alternatives that hold fast to conservative Christian values and teachings while giving kids hands-on learning in all kinds of really cool areas. They even have to do a certain number of hours of community service each year.

The boys have been primarily learning about all aspects of safety, like fire, electrical, water and so on. The can earn badges in a number of areas, and just as soon as I can get the handbook, I'll be able to figure out exactly what those areas are. :)

The girls have been learning all kinds of stuff. Emma is in the youngest of the groups, so she doesn't earn badges this year, but Olivia is hard at work trying to earn hers. She has earned the Joining Award, which meant she had learned the Motto, Creed, History and various facts about the AHG and the things they do. Already, she's picked out a few badges to work towards and I tell you what: they are not easy. She's definitely got a lot of work to do!

Hopefully the kids' enjoyment and dedication to the groups continues and they can use it as an opportunity to make new friends and learn some very handy skills!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Hannukah 2017

It's that time of year again! Hanukkah is one of our favorite times because we make it a point to set aside each and every day to do something all together as a family. 
Our yard hanukkiah went up on time this year with a couple of improvements. Firstly, I got a light so it could be see all night long. Then I figured out how to put a long toothpick through the candles to hold the flames in place in the wind that kep pulling it apart last year. :)

We pulled out the decorations from previous years along with the hand hanukkiahs they made.

On the first night, we went to VoB for a service and they had put a light on the huge hanukkiah out front. Driving up, though, all you could see was the giant shadow on the side of the building, wich made it even cooler!
One of the things we did as a family was to go to the Greensboro Children's Museum together. Out front, they built this gigantic climbing maze that has two pyramids that are 30 feet high. Stretching between the two, about 24 feet off the ground is a web tunnel. 
In order to reach it, you have to climb all the way up through the maze of ropes and nets. The kids went right up, begging me to come along. I told them that I thought I was over the weight restrictions, so one of them ran inside to ask. Unfortunately, they came back out and cheered because there isn't a restriction on adults climbing it... Lucky me.
So... up I climbed. But I didn't go alone. Rebecca climbed up, too. Even the littles went.
Once at the top, it takes a bit of an effort to get in there. Fortunately, there aren't any pictures of me flopping like a landed fish trying to get myself into the tunnel. 
Once inside, it's a bit of a crawl for an adult, but a fairly easy crouch for a kid to get across to the other pyramid.
Once there, we climbed down to a very fast metal slide. Rather sadly for me, the only way I could get into it was headfirst, so it launched me out onto my face. The kids thought it was great fun, tho. A little hard on the butt, maybe, but still fun.

Then Ezra decided to recreate my first time through it.
Only I wasn't so graceful.

On another day, we made Hanukkah slime! 
It was pretty fun, but kinda gross, too. It stuck to everything. 
I found it on clothes, towels, walls, the floor... everywhere.
It was fun to play with, tho. :)
On another day, Rebecca took the kids to the Winston-Salem Children's Museum. They have such cool stuff at that one! This whole thing was hand-knitted by a Japanese lady!

The beanstalk in the middle of the museum is awesome! 
And the donut factory is appropriate since donuts (sufganiyot) are a traditional Hanukkah treat.

This room, with the air tubes and scarves, is a huge favorite. It's cool to let the scarves go in one end and watch them fly through the tubes to be spit out somewhere else.

After our regular Shabbat service, we had an afternoon of games and fun. One of the adults dressed up as Antiochus Epiphanies (that's what the A on the mask stands for. It's definitely NOT Captain America) and the kids had to beat him at Connect4 to kick him out of Jerusalem. 
While not exactly historically accurate, it was fun nonetheless. 
We also had a hanukkiah contest again this year. We won it last year with our block hanukkiah. This year we made one out of Perler beads. Want to guess how many we used? Actually we're not really sure exactly, but the flat base alone took about 3000, so we guessed maybe 4500. Sadly, tho, we didn't win. 

We did some other things that we didn't get pictures of, like going to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi one day. We also ate a TON of donuts. I mean a literal ton. At least, that's how big I felt at the end of it...