No Harm Done

Monday, October 30, 2006

"Amaized" and Confused.

We took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to hit the pumpkin patch this weekend. We haven't been to a pumpkin patch since Brogan was very small, and it seemed like the perfect thing to do on such a warm, sunny day. I think Braden was looking forward to going, but the littles were beside themselves with excitement. As in dancing and jigging in place excited.

Brogan decided the event was worthy enough to open his piggy bank bring some of his hard-earned money to buy the perfect pumpkin. A hayrack ride took us over to the pumpkin patch, and Brogan examined many, many pumpkins in order to find the perfect one.

Here he is with the "Great Pumpkin."

My boys are suckers for those plywood photo backgrounds. They're at nearly every carnival or children's event, and my boys cannot resist their siren call.

The area was packed with cutouts, hay bale mazes, slides, and areas where children could roll or jump in hay and corn.

Our favorite activity was the "Corn Maize." We bought our tickets and set off into the maze, the boys racing ahead of M. and I on the paths in the tall corn.

At first, M. and I would pretend to get lost, and it was like something out of a bad summer stock theatre production: "Gee. I. think. we. are. lost! (insert wide-eyed facial expression here. Gesture stiffly and self-consciously.) Where can we be? What do we do?"

The boys would stop at every intersection and carefully decide which direction to take.

45 mintues later we were singing a different tune. We had wandered in circles, running across the same people making the same Hansel and Gretel jokes, and we really wanted out. Finally, hot, thirsty, and tired we stumbled upon the exit. The attendant turned to us and said cheerily, "Congratulations! You've made it to the halfway point!"

Halfway? Halfway!?


We took a moment to get a drink from the machine before venturing back in to the maize. The drinks helped quite a bit, and we were in much better spirits when we started off.

This time I decided to mark our path in the dirt. I did this surreptitiously, and I impressed M. with my navigational abilities: "Honey, I think we've already been down this path. Why don't we try going this way?" I'm sure he wondered where my directional abilities had been during the "wandering in the wilderness" first half of the maze.

Anyway, I was looking really good until a family approaching behind us exclaimed, "Hey! She's writing in the dirt! What a great idea!"

My cool now blown, the other family followed us as we made our way through the corn. To kind of break up the caravan, we stopped to take pictures and let the other family go ahead.

(Which way do we go?)

After we exited the corn, I ran into the other family again and we chatted about the maze. I mentioned that it took us nearly an hour to do the first half, but only 30 minutes to do the second half. We'd definitely seen improvement on that second half!

The father in the other family said, "Yeah. It was definitely much more fun when you didn't use the map!"

Shocked, I asked, "There was a map?"

"Oh, yeah!" he replied. "It's printed right on your ticket!"

I have a feeling we'll beat our time next year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It's My Turn!

It's my turn for a birthday photo montage.

And I got it finished with 47 minutes left to spare! Whew!

*Again, I apologize for the choppy transitions between pictures. It looks smooth on my computer, but I cannot get it to work correctly on You Tube.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Braden's first "out of town" swim meet was this weekend. Saturday morning Braden and I woke up and were on the interstate by 7:00 a.m. It seemed earlier than it was because it was really, really dark. When did it get so dark so early? Has it really been so long since I was awake by 7:00??

We've shied away from travel meets in the past because, well... honestly, Braden's just not fast enough to be competitive. We really haven't wanted to drive an hour or two to watch him come in 17th.

Now lest you think I'm sounding callous and un-motherly, let me elaborate. Braden has been swimming for about 18 months, and in that time he's made great strides. In his first lesson he could not swim one full lap freestyle. After months of practice (he now swims 7.5 hours per week) he can swim all four strokes legally. When he swims, he looks like he's doing everything right, but he's just. so. slow.


He works so hard and hardly moves. His coach says that when his technique improves, he'll improve as well. So we're hanging on to that theory with all our hearts.

Braden's swim team requires him to swim a certain percentage of meets every year, and some of them have to be out of town. So this weekend we hurtled down the dark highway in a rainstorm to the meet.

Braden swam the 50 m. backstroke, the 100 m. Individual Medley, and the final leg of a 200m Relay. It's a tough division, because he swims with the 11-12 year-olds, and he's only been 11 for three weeks. Some of those 12 year olds are taller than me!

The 50 m. backstroke was his first race. I think he came in 17th overall, but the exciting thing was that he shaved nearly 10 seconds off his best time! W00-hoo! HUGE improvement there!

In his second event, the 100 m. IM, his big goal was not to be disqualified. He's never swum the butterfly in competition before, and didn't even swim the stroke legally until last week! Thankfully, he not only met his goal, but he won his heat as well because......wait for it...... his opponent was disqualified. We've no idea how he placed overall, but he had so much fun that I don't think he cares.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It's a Photo-Palooza!

This week we had the boys' pictures taken. We took individuals and a Christmas photo for family all at the same time. The photographer was great and very patient, but we were all tired by the end.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some photos.

Note: I said some. Those family members who normally get photos as gifts or with our cards will have to keep waiting and be surprised. I am not posting those. (insert maniacal laughter here)

This one looked better in my imagination than it did on film. I wanted to have both boys kissing Colson's head, and Colson mugging for the camera. It was hard to coordinate all the action, though.

I cannot believe how big this boy is getting. He's not looking much like a little boy any more!

This is an expression we see on Brogan all the time. Not quite smiling.....just....I don't know.....pleasant?

The camera loves you, daahling!

(Less than one hour after having pictures taken, Colson somehow ran into the ironing board during a light saber battle and cut the bridge of his nose. He's got a large owie right between the eyes. It was so nice of him to wait until after the photos. )

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Found in my Fridge

Apparently Mr. Freeze finally captured Batman and threw him in the "cooler." Batman was found among the items in my oh-so-organized-fridge.

Could you see him? Here's a close up:

Monday, October 16, 2006

And now, for your viewing pleasure: "Public Schoolhouse Rock!"

A parody of those animated gems we listened to between Saturday morning cartoons years ago.


"Dysfunction Junction"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The 2nd Annual "Fear Factor"

Last weekend witnessed the running of the 2nd Annual Fear Factor. Voluntary participants endured a daring obstacle course, a nail-biting infant rescue, and food that tested both their stomachs and will power.

We began our evening, as most evenings do when I am involved - late.

Yes, yes. Those of you who know me well know that I run on my own time schedule: "Hillary Standard Time. " (Usually 15-20 minutes behind everyone else.) However, this night it was not my fault. Truly. As I left my driveway (on time, I must add) , I braked at the first stop sign and the car made a horrible sound. Terrible. Metal grinding metal; like fingernails on a chalk board. (insert heebie-jeebies here)

Ashamedly, my first thoughts were along the lines of, "I can't miss this! How many times do I actually have to brake along the route to Fear Factor?" But after visions of my car hurtling offf the interstate into the river below, or into oncoming traffic, I chose to slowly limp home and call for help.

The lovely and gracious Mrs. G. picked me up and drove me back to where everyone else was gathered. We arrived about 30 minutes late, and I was shocked, shocked, by how much pizza two grown men and 8 children had eaten in one sitting.

But, enough with the rabbit trail. You want to know about Fear Factor.

Here are the basics: 8 children, 3 rounds, mucho prizes.

Round one: The Obstacle Course

Once again proving herself a fantastic event-coordinator, Mrs. G. dreamed up an obstacle course that was both challenging, yet completely do-able by children of all ages.

Contestants began by crawling through two separate tunnels, then climbing onto a table and walking the length of it. After jumping off the table, they were to slide down a slide headfirst, and then race to abasketball hoop and make a basket. (Each contestant had 3 tries to make a basket.)

Next, the contestant was to run outside, in the dark (again with the heebie-jeebies), to fetch two hula hoops. Standing on the door mat, they had two tries to throw a hula hoop over a baseball tee. This was harder than it looked and the biggest laughs came when, one after another, every child threw a hula hoop over the tee. (We'd been concerned this might be too tough for the kids, as Mr. G. hadn't been able to get his hoop over the tee.)

Next the children rode a scooter through orange cones to a jump rope.

After jumping rope 5 times, they hopped through a hopscotch grid and ran to the finish line. Sadly, the kids did their activities so quickly that most of my photos were blurry. These were the best of this event.

Event Two: Kitty Litter Confection

Or "Kitty Litter Pastry." I can't remember what we ended up calling this round. Pretty much it was just "Kitty Litter."

For this round I baked a cake that looked like a kitty litter box. Even though I made the cake, and knew that it was indeed a cake and not an actual litter box, I was still disgusted.

Here Mrs. G. models the cake for the camera. It looks like she's frightened, but really she was smiling and saying things like, "Yum!" and "Mmmmm!"

The colored specks are cookie crumbs colored with food coloring. We softened and re-shaped Tootsie Rolls to make poop. Some of the Tootsie Rolls are on top of the cake. Some were hidden inside.

All of this was inside a clean, unused litter box.

We took the kids outside to eat, and the dark made this activity soooo much creepier. The dark really helped the litter box cake look convincing. We blindfolded the children and reminded them that they had to eat the cake blindfolded.

All the kids bravely tried the cake, except Colson. He promptly took off his blindfold and declared, "I don't eat poop." Smart guy.

Here's Braden, who was still nauseous when thinking of the cake the next day.

Round Three: Save the Baby

I present to you, the victim. A helpless, innocent baby doll with a really big head. She was hidden inside a play structure in a big, empty gym.

Here we have Mrs. G. explaining the directions to the contestants. They would be blindfolded, spun around 7 times, and then left to themselves to find the baby and remove her from the play structure. Scattered between the start and the playstructure were multiple obstacles.

The spinning was fun.

Some chose to crawl.

Some chose to walk.

And they all made it in under 5 minutes!

We had a fantastic time. I think Mrs. G. is already thinking of ideas for the third annual Fear Factor.

We can hardly wait!

Coming Soon.....

Be afraid!

Be very afraid!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

They Built Me A Ramp 'Cause I Couldn't Hardly Run Fast

Well, I’ve done it. I went and joined a gym. We’d planned on doing this, but just never seemed to get around to it. But a couple of weeks ago I got a call from a local gym letting me know that I’d “won” a two-week membership to their club.

Yes, “win.” As in: Congratulations! You’ve “won” a $25 gift certificate if you sit through a “short” presentation about Rainbow vacuums, or “win” a free night in a resort hotel if you listen to a presentation about time-shares, etc. I knew that this gym membership would be the same. But M. and I decided that we’d go ahead and take them up on their membership offer.

On the day they started their pitch I interrupted the salesman and let him know that he didn’t have to go through his whole sales pitch. We wanted to join, and didn’t need to be sold.

Joe was a friendly, enthusiastic sort, and was happy not to run through his pitch. He made me a “thank you” vitamin supplement shake that (sort of) tasted like chocolate and peanut butter and ushered me over to his desk. I happily sucked away on my shake while he filled out paperwork.

Joe: “So, Mrs. __________ , you’re, what, 25 years old?”
(awkward pause)
Me: “What?”
Joe: “Oh! I’m sorry! I’m terrible at guessing ages. Did I overestimate?”

Hillary: (Not quite sure what to think at this point, because there’s no way on earth that I could pass for a 25 year old.)“Um. No.. I’m 35. “
Joe: “Wow! Really? “
(more awkwardness)

After the paperwork, we went out onto the floor to schedule an appointment with the trainer. Joe explained, as he consulted the appointment book, that he’d discuss with the trainer my goals for the workout.

Joe: “ So, let me ask, are you trying to gain weight or lose weight?”
My inner voice is screaming, "Look at me! Is it not obvious?!?!" But all I said was, “Joe, you’ve made the sale already. You have my check on your desk. You can stop now.”

To his credit, Joe laughed and apologized. He insisted he’s not a “booty-kisser”, but I’ve since seen him with other people and I know better.

And I’ll tell you, the person who came up with the idea of putting a tv on the treadmill is a genius! Each treadmill in this gym has its own tv and DVD player. No more listening to music and staring at the timer willing it to move faster. No more attempting to read a book that’s bouncing around on the treadmill bookstand with every step. No more trying to read the closed-captioning for “Regis and Kelly” from across the room. Here, I get my own. Personal. Television!

And if a tv wasn’t good enough, each tvs has cable! We don’t even have cable at our house! I’ve started going to the gym at the time Glenn Beck is on CNN Headline News just so I can watch his show. The only problem with that is that I frequently occasionally laugh out loud, and then realize (when I noticed others looking at me) that no one can hear Glenn but me.

I’ve started the “Couch-Potato-To-5K” running program. It’s a great program that totally fits with my, “What! There’s a tv on the treadmill?! Sign me up!” personality.

Do you think they’ll let me bring snacks?

Look! Doppelgangers!

Over at, you can scan in a photo of yourself and they'll scan it to find your celebrity look-alikes. Perhaps you will have better results.

I'm a little alarmed at mine. Other than Marie Curie, I don't know any of them. And honestly, I don't think they look a lot like each other, much less like me.

But I know that I probably don't see me the way others see me. I still look at pictures of my college self and think I haven't changed much. (Mom, stop snickering.)

Hm. Upon looking at these faces more closely, I'm starting to become a little alarmed at how much I resemble Jan Peter Balkenende.

MyHeritage - share your family tree and family pictures

Monday, October 02, 2006

Dear Readers, I Think I Have Found My Theme Song

I found this video recently, and showed it to the boys. As we're all watching and giggling, I'm looking at the man dancing in the background and thinking, "Hey! Is that Donny Osmond? It looks like Donny Osmond. " (I had a big crush on him when I was little, and I still think he is waaaaaay too handsome.)

Anyway, I'm pondering Donny and his good looks when Colson says, "Mama, he dances like you!"

"What? No, he doesn't!" I'm a bit startled, because that is NOT how I imagine myself when I dance. (I do dance a bit in the kitchen when I'm making lunch or waiting for one of the boys to finish schoolwork. Colson is quite an enthusiastic dancer!)

Braden says, in all sincerity, "Hey, yeah, he does! Right down to the facial expressions!"

Sigh.... all my illusions of being hip and cool were shattered. But at least I've found an edgy theme song!