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Archive for July, 2012

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At the cabin we learned about habitats. We talked about how where an animal lives says a lot about what it needs to live.

We caught some frogs for the kids one night and kept them in a big white tub. We studied where frogs live in the wild – ponds and lakes- and the kids decided to put water, sticks, and leaves in the tub. Later, while swimming, we found a snail and a clam. By looking at where we retrieved them from, Natalie decided we better add sand to our white tub biome.

Our foreign exchange student from Canada, Carson, was tentative, but very protective of his frog. Despite a very watchful eye, his beloved pond-hopper escaped.

James “loved” his frog until its legs started to go limp. We convinced him to release his amphibious friend back into the wild before its complete demise.

The snail and clam were not left alone long enough to become comfortable in their new abode and quickly became uninteresting because of their lack of activity.

Since then the kids have made connections between where animals live and what they need to live, such as birds live in our yard because it has worms… Well, it’s a decent line of scientific reasoning anyway!

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I have been traveling this month and it seems like every time I have a photo ready for a weekly photo challenge, it’s Friday and the challenge changes. So today I looked for specific opportunities to catch this weeks theme promptly.

Today was a bust of a day. I hadn’t planned anything with friends because we were supposed to “interview” potential nannies for next school year. I had two interviews set up. My 10:30, who looks very promising, informed me that she actually needed to go in to work today but that she’d really like to reschedule. I guess that’s ok, but it left me feeling disappointed and a little anxious. On paper, she’s my first choice. So instead we went to the park and had a picnic lunch. We enjoyed the morning and I still had hopes of meeting another candidate in the afternoon.

Liberty woke up James from his nap – both very sweet and irritating at the same time. We were up and ready for our 3:30 appointment. The kids were clean, the house was clean. I had them rounded up eating pears in the sidewalk cafe, aka, small lawn chairs and tables in the backyard. 3:30 came and went. At 3:45 I called – no answer. 4:00, 4:15, 4:30 – I was giving up hope. Riley arrived home to a disappointed family whose members were all very excited to meet potential nannies.

During the time that I was waiting – which I hate, by the way, waiting… And the reason I hate waiting with kids is because, as I said, The kids were clean, the house was clean. So, then you’re forced into a hold pattern where you want the kids and the house to stay clean. And that is not my idea of a good time.

Anyway, all is not lost. While i was waiting, I snapped this picture of Liberty “inside” the dog cage. You can tell by the way she is smiling that she has chosen to play “Simon” and isn’t inside as some form of cruel or unusual punishment, although the thought occurred to me as I waited. In a hold pattern. For 2 hours.

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Check out other photo challenge participants by visiting Weekly Photo Challenge – Inside

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I took the kids to the children’s museum this week. There is a “comment” box on the wall with little cards and a golf pencil (you know the type). I was thinking of what suggestions I might have when it occurred to me that I was trying to think of negative things. Funny. We all walk around expecting things to be organized, clean and in good working condition, otherwise we complain or email or call customer service. How many times do things go just as planned? They usually do. But do we take the time to stop and thank people? Or compliment them? Or tell them they’ve done well?

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Here are the things I appreciate about the Eau Claire Children’s Museum. The little things.

1. The stairs that lead to the basement exhibits are around the corner and hidden by a half wall. Very handy with a curious 1 1/2 year old.
2. The toddler area is totally enclosed. Take a load off and watch the babies play!
3. There are benches near every exhibit for weary moms to rest their eyes – er I mean feet.
4. The comfy bench tucked in the corner of the toddler area which is great for nursing babes.
5. Waterproof smocks for the water exhibit downstairs which never inhibit the fun but do protect the clothes.

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6. There are several vantage points that allowed me to view multiple exhibits at one time.
7. The exhibits are geared for kids but big enough for me to fit in in case the kids are tentative at first.
8. There are several craft/activity rooms downstairs with DOORS so we could all stay together despite the level of sustained interest on the craft.
9. There are pint sized toilets that are fun and functional for pint-sized visitors.
10. Re-entry is allowed in case you need a break, a snack, or a nap.

So THANK YOU designers, staff and volunteers! We had a blast!

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On fathers day this year we didn’t do anything out of the ordinary – we went swimming. For our family, swimming on hot summer days is akin to breathing. We decided to try out Eau Galle Recreation Area west of Menomonie.

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It costs $3 to enter the park, which boasts beautiful views, a park, camping area, boat launch, and, of course, a beach.

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The kids had a great time. And so did the parents! We would definitely go back again!

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I have never had so much fun watching softball before. Growing up, we had an annual get-together called Super Softball Saturday, when my parents hosted food, softball and merriment. I remember a lot of my friends coming and we had a great time. But, even the distant memory of childhood softball parties pales in comparison to watching the St. Joseph’s Whippets play softball each Sunday night.

Pam Sirinek, a member of our Parish, spoke with the youth during one of the last nights of religious education this Spring. She urged them all to join! Something from her pep talk must have resonated with Taylor because he brought me the form and wanted in. Whenever one of the kids wants to join something, we do our best to accommodate, and joining a church softball league met all of the criteria we place on good clean fun.

The Whippets are a group of youth in 6th-9th grade with varying levels of ability. Some are seasoned veterans of the sport, some, like Taylor, have never played before. But, everyone is included, everyone plays and – for real – everyone has fun. When Pam originally told me that the kids didn’t need experience to play and that the team is always supportive and inclusive, I smiled and nodded, but doubted that in the back of my mind. But, I have to tell you, she was right. The kids actually are there to have fun. Its great to see!

I’m not usually in favor of the “there are no winners and losers” campaign that seems to drive sports these days. Kids need to learn that there are winners and there are losers. You need to win with grace and lose with dignity. You need to lose, re-adjust and try again. But this league is really like a beer league for kids – only there is no beer. Just come out, bring a good attitude and play.

Father Tom is a hoot during the games. He cheers on each child, pats them on the back when they need cheering up, and leads the crowd in various chants and cheers throughout the game. One of the most famous chants is when the bases are load, Father Tom leads the crowd in cheering, “BASES FULL OF WHIPPETS! BASES FULL OF WHIPPETS!” He also brings his boom box and plays the song Whip It between innings to get the kids and the crowd fired up.

Taylor has had a blast. He gets out there on the field and tries his best. He works hard, smiles, laughs and tries to improve his game. That has been really rewarding to see.

There is no official score kept and, if one team scores 10 runs in an inning, the field team gets to bat automatically. The kids rotate positions in the field and everyone, and I mean everyone, gets a chance to play and bat. And, just to brag a little, even though no official score is kept, the Whippets are pretty good and we’ve had some real creams out there this year. The year ends, I’m told, with a tournament – teams are placed randomly, not based on wins or losses. I wish there were more totally inclusive, encouraging, fun arenas for kids to play sports.

Go Whippets!!!

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