Friday, May 23, 2014

Wherein I Hurt

Last weekend while we were off on an adventure, we stopped at a park to play and eat lunch.

I decided to work with my kids on a life skill: hanging upside down.

This, of course, required some demonstration. The demonstration wasn't pretty.

  May 2014 

Getting my legs over the bar is a lot harder at age 30 than it was at age 10. (It doesn't help that I weigh 100 lbs more than I did 20 years ago). But I did it! And then I started feeling confident, even though the backs of my knees were sure to give out any second.

  May 2014 

So I tucked in my shirt and started swinging - which hurt really bad, but, overall, things were going well, so I decided to attempt a cherry drop.

  May 2014

May 2014

By dumb luck, I landed on my feet.

I mean, barely

But at least I didn't fall on my head.

I ended up attempting this feat three more times. Each time was equally hideous, but I was really excited that I could still (kind of) do a cherry drop.

The next morning when I woke up, I felt like I'd been beaten with a bat.

My back.

My knees.

Even my ankle! (Which I had repeatedly hit on the bar whilst attempting to get my long, heavy legs up there).

Now, a week later, I am still recovering. 

I'm feeling a little... umm... not young.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Scotty didn't have to work last Friday, so we decided to keep Nicky out of school for the day and go on an adventure.

We drove about two hours to Maple Canyon to hike.

There is a cobbled slot canyon there that we thought our kids would love.



There were lots of little places for the wee ones to climb to their hearts' content.

There were also many boulders that had fallen from the canyon walls and lodged in the path - proving that we could, in fact, die at any second.


This did not sit well with the part of me that is super paranoid of EVERYTHING.

(I am not going to let that part of me write this post).

(But seriously! IMMINENT DEATH!!!)

We didn't get very far into the canyon before things got interesting. The path was blocked by boulders that we had to climb over or under. Then we hit this:

Maple canyon

Maple canyon

Maple canyon

Which gave me the chance to test out my upper body strength (I couldn't have done that a year ago without Scotty hoisting me up by my tuchus).

At that point we decided not to continue on with the kids (immediately after the rope climb, there was another pile of caved-in rock to climb, and the path seemed to go on in that manner from there).

We all made it back out of the canyon alive and unsmashed. 


(Daisy, in true Daisy fashion, lost her hiking shoes and had to wear Barbie shoes).

We stopped by a fish hatchery on our way out of town.

So much.

Fish hatchery

My kids were in heaven, though. They thought that place was so cool. The employees let my kids feed the fish, and it created quite a frenzy. I thought a fish might jump into my lap for want of food.


We picnicked at a park and spent a couple hours playing and chasing seagulls. Then we went to Little Sahara to play in the sand dunes for a while. It was pretty windy, so we didn't stay long, but our undies were full of sand regardless.

We drove through a couple of old towns and then headed home. 

Our kids were pretty awesome during our adventure, and they've been asking when we get to go on another one. Little do they realize that everyday is an adventure at our house, whether I want it to be or not!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Forthcoming Photos of Fish May Frighten You! {and ten other random facts}

Fact #1: Koi give me the heebie jeebies.

Just look at them swarming each other - their fishy flesh rubbing up against their neighbors'. It's absolutely horrid!



And their mouths! Oh, those disgusting, circular mouths!! They are the things nightmares are made of.


Fact #2: Strangely, I was the only individual (out of hundreds) standing over this koi pond yelling like a crazy person. Sometimes I take my turn being the embarrassment of the family.

Fact #3: Goats on the other hand are like puppies to me. I want to hold them and nuzzle them (okay, maybe not nuzzle) and dress them in little goat t-shirts.

Just look at that cute face!


He's basking in the sun! He basks

I've never seen a koi fish do that.

Fact #4:  It's not just koi, though. I think I have an aversion to aquatic animals in general. One time I went swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman, and I was hysterical! If any of them came near me (or, gasp! Brushed against my legs) I began running, leaping, and hollering as if my life would surely end in that moment.

You know how sometimes there is a really annoying woman at a theme park or movie who loudly vocalizes her fear and ruins the experience for everyone?

Yeah. That was me.

Fact #5: Last week Scotty and I celebrated 11 years of marriage.

I'm a lucky girl.


Fact #6: Also last week, Nicky's nose bled all over his math homework. We decided not to turn it in.


Fact #7: We made that decision because a) he's in first grade - the penalty for not turning in math homework can't be that high - and b) one time Nicky's nose bled on the preschool sign-in sheet, and the teachers reacted like it was a 2319.

Fact #8: I really wish that Fox and Disney would collaborate so that the new Avengers movie can acknowledge that the twins are Magneto's children.

Fact #9: Whoa. I just had a nerd moment. Sorry, readers. 

Fact #10: I can't believe it's already the end of another school year. How does this happen?!?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Three Books: WWII

In my reading lately, WWII has been a recurring subject. I've never been much a fan of history - this is one of my character flaws, as I know there is a lot that can be learned from history, and it seems that a well-rounded person would have a decent knowledge of the world's past. My one redeeming interest is that I am fascinated - and maybe a little obsessed - with human behavior, so if you take the politics and the details of the battles out and focus on the conduct of the people - what they believed, how they were influenced by their surroundings, and how those things affected their actions, I'm suddenly ready to study and learn.

I often ponder how I would have fared in the heart of WWII - not that I would wish it upon myself - but I wonder whether I would have been heroic or cowardly. How would I have behaved if I had grown up in Nazi Germany? Would I, with blond hair and blue eyes, have been blinded and deceived by Hitler? Or would I have been able to recognize him for the devil that he was? And if I did know of the wrongness of his rule would I have done anything about it, or would I have silently disagreed and bided my time to save my own life?

I also wonder what my fight for life would have been like in a concentration camp. How would fear, starvation, illness, and abuse affect me? I can't even begin to imagine what it was like.

While curious, I am so thankful to not really know. Nothing I have experienced in my life can answer those questions. Nothing even comes close in comparison.

Thank Heaven.

This is where my thoughts always turn when I read anything that takes place in that era. Here is a rundown of the three most recent books I have read taking place in WWII:

Rose Under Fire is a young adult book written by Elizabeth Wein. It is a sequel (though, more of a companion, really) to Code Name Verity. The story is about Rose Justice, an ATA pilot who is captured by Nazis and thrown into Ravensbruck concentration camp. Rose uses poetry as motivation to survive and helps others to continue their fight to survive through words. She befriends a group of women known as "the rabbits," as they have been brutally experimented on by the Nazis. She promises to spread the truth about the rabbits if she survives the camp and commits to memorizing their names - living and dead - to seek justice.

Rose is a friend and fellow pilot of Maddie from Code Name Verity. While Maddie plays a role in Rose Under Fire, she takes a backseat in the story, so you can read Rose Under Fire without having read Code Name Verity...if you want. There are small references to things that happened in Code Name Verity, but since the things that happened in that book are confidential, Maddie can't really talk specifics with Rose.

Rose Under Fire shows the power that words have on the human spirit and the importance of identity. It is not a fluffy or light read, and it contains some brief instances of strong profanity (which is the sugar-coated way of saying it has the 'F' word).

I rated this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

The Plum Tree book by Ellen Marie Wiseman is a slowly-unfolding story beginning with Christine at age 17 when she falls in love with Isaac, a wealthy Jewish boy. As the war deepens, Christine is no longer allowed to see Isaac, and eventually, Isaac and his family are taken from their home.

Over the years, the war brings continuous devastation and horror to Christine's life, but her love for Isaac remains strongly rooted.

I was particularly interested by the way this book handled revenge. There are some similarities between Christine's experience and Rose's experience in Rose Under Fire, but the characters handled things differently.

If your WWII fiction needs a love story, this is your book!

I gave The Plum Tree 4 stars on Goodreads.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys takes us away from Nazi Germany and introduces Lina, a Lithuanian teenager whose family is captured and sent to a labor camp in Siberia during WWII. Lina, her mother, and her brother do everything they can to stay together and help those around them stay alive. I particularly love Lina's mother, Elena, who is strong and determined and takes the lead in trying circumstances.

As Rose found solace in poetry, Lina amplifies her will to live through art.

There may also be a love story in there somewhere (but don't confuse this book with any other "Shades of Grey).

I'm just sayin'.

I gave Between Shades of Gray 4 stars on Goodreads.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Where My Creative Juices Hath Flowed

A couple weeks ago I promised I would show you the project I had been working on; one that involved large pieces of paper, a copy of To Kill a Mocking Bird, and lots and lots of glue. 

I don't know what you thought I was making, but it probably didn't occur to you that it was a poster for Teacher Appreciation Week at my son's school (not exactly the first thing that comes to mind, eh?)

I'll show that poster in a minute.

But first, let me tell you my history of making posters for my son's school.

Once upon a time, I knew the PTA President, and she asked me to make a poster each month for the birthdays at the school. This project was perfect for me because I could help out at the school without having to work with other people (I try not to proclaim this too loudly, but I don't like working with other people) (plus, I refuse to drag my children out in public to work with other people - it's a nightmare).

I started in November with a giant turkey. Seriously. GIANT. This thing took up most of my living room, and I had to assemble it at the school because I couldn't transport it in my van.



Then in December, I featured Christmas lights on a much smaller scale. (The kids' names, of course, are on the light bulbs).



Then over Christmas break, I whipped up a snowman for January. 



And February was the month I was most excited for! I plotted for months in advance to make an Olympic-themed poster. After all, this can only happen every four years!*

(Also, this poster looked so much better in my head! They always do! Turns out, it's really hard to make good circles out of paper loops).



For March I was up for anything non-St. Paddy's, so I took advantage of Dr. Seuss' birthday (which is probably a little over-used in the schools these days, but hey! I drew that Cat in the Hat by hand, and I was pretty proud of how he turned out!)



For April, I felt pretty non-creative, especially when the awesome 3-D umbrella I envisioned in my mind ended up having to be a flat umbrella (apparently I am not the paper engineer I imagine myself to be).



For May, I was all hopped up on the last of our Easter candy, so naturally, I made a jar of sweets.



I also had the chance to make a poster for the school's Jump Rope Club as a "thank you" to Walmart for a grant they gave our school. 

(The children signed their names on the stars).


And, of course, the poster for Teacher Appreciation Week. 

I was asked to make one for the librarian, which was perfect because...


So I had to involve books, you know, and after running through ten thousand ideas, I came up with this:


And that, my friends, is where the copy of To Kill a Mockingbird came in. 

It looked better in my head, of course.

(Like, a thousand times better).

And after I got all of the book pages cut, I had to go back and check them all for racial slurs (just a word of caution, should you ever make book art for an elementary school, I don't recommend To Kill a Mockingbird as your paper source). 

Now, here's hoping that the librarian gives a hoot!

And there you have a run-down of every ounce of creativity I have mustered in the past nine months. Please forgive my horrible photos taken on my out-dated cell phone. 

*Every time I explained this to someone, they said, "But what about the summer Olympics?" We don't have school during the summer Olympics!