Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ice, Ice Baby!

Usually, the only way to see a penguin in Indiana is to visit the zoo. But last week, I got to witness the beginning stages of a new breed at a friend’s house. I don’t want to confuse you, so I’ll cut to the chase. I’m talking about an ice penguin.

Have you ever made an ice sculpture before? Me neither. Have you ever thought that you might actually be creative enough to attempt one? Nope, can’t say that’s crossed my mind either. In fact, I didn’t even know I had friends that thought they should try this work of art on for size. That was until I saw firsthand, what my friend Allison’s engineering-crazy thinking husband is really like to live with.

Let me set the scene. Us girlfriends gathered in her kitchen, wine in one hand, melted brie on a cracker in another, in walks Erik scurrying through the crowd of cackling women, “Excuse me ladies, coming through!” he says wielding an armful of something filled to the brim with water. He’s headed out through their back door into the cold night. Allison lovingly smiles at him, looks at us and shakes her head, “Erik’s latest project” she says with her head cocked slightly and a giggle in her voice. She doesn’t seem annoyed or a bit surprised at what he was doing outside. Which of course, got us all jumping on this mystery like a bunch of hungry vultures! We would no doubt be waiting like prey to harass him about his latest nutty invention when he returned.

“Ice sculpture!” she says in a matter of fact tone. A whaaaat? We all ask with a laugh… yep, this man enjoys a challenge. When Erik returns, we get the low down on his creation. He was still in the beginning stages of adding water a couple times a day to a giant trash can he was filling outside. He is intelligent enough to understand the reasons to fill it and freeze it in stages. Unlike me who would have just filled it to the brim one time and wondered why it took a week to freeze or busted the trashcan from expansion. But alas, that is why my brain is not thinking about how I can create an ice sculpture. I’m too busy wondering if my kid has a pair of jeans left without a hole in them (the answer is no, by the way).

I’m not sure if the ice sculpture was really the act of Fatherly Love he was claiming it was by wrapping the deed up as if it was something fun to do with the kids. I mean, let’s be real, are the children really going to fire up the chainsaw and blowtorch? Sure it will be fun to watch Dad make a cool sculpture, but this is not something small animals and children can be that involved in. And from what I know about Erik, he’s pretty meticulous. Ask me about what happened when I almost dropped his son’s Pinewood Derby car! Now that was funny enough that I almost popped a vein from laughing at the look on his face. But I’m digressing… This ice sculpture was a serious matter.

Now, I’m not going to sit here typing out a bunch of disses, because frankly, it’s pretty cool! Cool in a number of ways – first, that he has an imagination wild enough to know he can attempt this without a second thought. Secondly, he has enough playfulness in his life to come up with these sorts of projects. And lastly, that he has a family that is totally on board with his unpredictable quirks, but that they can predict they WILL exist and come up often.

I’ve been inspired, and will tuck this tidbit into my back pocket for another cold winter of wondering what kind of project might be fun to try. It’s always fun to find out interesting things about your friends, and this was no exception. I’m hoping maybe I can convince him to create a beautiful fruit sculpture this summer and invite us all over for dessert fondue. He’s probably got a cocoa tree growing out back for dipping chocolate! I’d love to see what he could carve out of a watermelon or something.

For now, I leave you with his masterpiece…. Congrats Erik… see you at the Pinewood Derby, we’ll have our eyes on your kid’s car. Care to have a little wager?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy 8th Birthday Carter!

Carter had a little party today in honor of turning 8! The boys had such a good time together and wore each other out big time. He was ready for bed before 8:00 tonight - between playing Wii and a scrap game of football in the yard with his pals, he was ready to hit the pillow for sure.

Here's some pics from his special day...

And lastly, his annual birthday letter I write to him...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dear President Obama

Carter brought home a paper today, an assignment from school in which he had to finish an open letter to Barack Obama. It is precious, and you know preciousness has to be blogged about! It begins with this first paragraph, and then the children were to finish the letter. I will keep the spelling as it is written on his paper.

Dear President Obama:

We learned in Scholastic news that you will be President for the next four years. Here is what I hope you will do for our country:

I glad your the 44 President. I howpe you like beaing president. i hope it is fun for you. Iv seen you on tv when you became president and my mom saed Yaa! iv seen your dooders (daughters) to. Angjoy beaing president all ways.


Friday, January 16, 2009

The Making Of....Pinewood Derby 2009

Here we are again, fresh into the month of January, which means none other than Carter sharing his birthday weekend with the cubscout family. It's Pinewood Derby time!

This year, we actually started the car a full three days before weigh-in was supposed to happen. But, unfortunately the event was cancelled this weekend due to our weather delays causing schools to be closed - the venue in which it's held. Three days might still panic some folks, but that is SO much more time than is really needed to do this project. In fact, we didn't even open the box until less than 36 hours before weigh-in last year. And he had a top car, so we weren't sweating it this year. (we sound like pros now don't we?)

Um, here's a screen shot of this morning's temp and the reason why school and activities were closed. Brrrrrrrr!

Last year, Carter held the track record for the Derby, and won first place in his Tiger Cub Den. He qualified to race in the last heats against the other Dens in our Pack, but we had a few mishaps with his wheels falling off on the track. I guess after needing to race so many times, the car couldn't handle it. That, and probably the way he would play with it on the floor in between races - a sight that made most father's who are really into this, gasp in horror! It's not a hotwheel car afterall - it was a hand crafted vehicle that needed to be handled with care. Oh, who cares right? It's for fun - and he sure didn't care. Of course, until his wheels kept coming off and he couldn't continue to race.

But this year, we glued those axles into place so we won't have that looming over us again. He wanted the same design of car... a corvette, but wanted it red this year and the number 8, which stands for how old he turns this weekend. He's a patriotic boy, so he wanted stars and stripes again too. If you know Carter, he likes things to stay the same, so we couldn't really veer too far off from last year's model. Hopefully it will race as good as the blue one did!

Here are some pictures of the process, The Making Of 2009's Pinewood Derby car...

His block of wood cut out at Grandpa's house in the shape of a vette... the blue car is last year's model he made.

The underside needed to be cored out to fit our flat weights. That was a pain, and the most time consuming part!

Sanding his car...

Painting the vette... we were glad he had a red shirt on after this craft - he is a messy painter like his mom!

Spraying silver sparkle paint on his car in the garage - um, safe to say he has a pretty heavy hand on the trigger! I think the entire garage is covered in sparkles now!

Adding his stickers, his favorite part next to painting the car...

And lastly, the car cannot weigh more than 5.0 ounces. Got it right on again!

Of course I will add pictures from the actual Derby once we know when the rescheduled date will be. But for now, we can breathe a sigh of relief to know the car is done, the weight is perfect and it's ready to go. Now we just have to hide it until Show Time so he doesn't send it down his Matchbox ramp in the basement!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday Olivia!

T-W-O! Wow... time has sure flown by, it's hard to believe our little ray of sunshine was two years old on January 3rd.

Here are some pictures from the big day - enjoy!

Annual letter to Olivia....

Monday, January 5, 2009

Landscape Pictures

Recently I took some pictures while attending our family's annual winter reunion in Southern Indiana. The family has been gathering like this for decades, in the town church that dates back to the days when some of the wood used in the church came from the trees on the family farm, and were crafted thoughtfully by the hands before us. In these parts, generations have been born and passed in the same family homes sprinkled among the farms in these southern towns.

In the summer, the leaves are bright on the mighty oaks, the vast farming fields are rich with corn rows and beans, and the silver shining from the silos can be seen in every direction. The silence is hard to describe, not hearing the roar of the city like I'm used to hearing outside my windows. But it's warm and lush and peaceful.

In the winter, there is a barren stillness when one looks out into these fields. Snow crusted rows of overturned soil leftover from the October harvest, hides the livelihood of what the ground has to offer each year. The chill in the air that takes no effort to cut right through you because there are no big buildings to shield the wind - only land that outstretches as far as the eye can see.

On this particular 2 hour drive to the reunion, there were several things that caught my eye out the window that would have made a great snapshot, and I wished that I had taken out my camera sooner. But with all the chatting and catching up, it is hard to step away and snipity-snap all the things I was hoping to.

Here's what I did get though... enjoy!

Above is the quaint church that stands proud. This is where we hold the winter reunion each year.

Above is the cemetary on the church grounds, tucked neatly between farmland.

Above is the headstone of my father-in-laws beloved parents.

Above is an example of the many working family-run farms that dot the town.

And above here, we have a train carrying loads of what appears to be coal. At the time, we were able to tell Carter that Santa has that train ready for naughty boys and girls coal-filled stockings....hahaha!