Saturday, January 31, 2015

Random #3

My poor, sweet, neglected blog.  I have been far too deep in the weeds for weeks on end, and this has got to be among the lamest months for posting in the history of the Alton Boys.  Maybe it's because of how long it takes to assemble 1137 Lego pieces with a 7 year old?  And that's from just one building set that came our way over the holidays.  (As an aside, I must say that I do prefer Lego Star Wars over the Megabloks "Call of Duty" line, which is clearly inferior quality and has terrible directions.)

In other frustrating news, we discovered a slow leak from the upstairs tub that wreaked havoc on our dining room ceiling.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

We must always find time for homework.  If only it were straightforward.  When trying to sort words between the long and short "a" sound, where does the guy on the lower right fit in?  Is it short "a" for "man" or long "a" for face?  Short "a" for "mustache" or long "a" for "Adolf Hitler?" (Really, not a single other person noticed the resemblance before publishing that worksheet?  Maybe it's supposed to fit in the oddball category for the "ah" sound in "Nazi.")

Wish I could find the time to finally turn these beautiful blocks into a quilt, but I've barely sewn a stitch in weeks :(

Sometimes, when life gets crazy like this, you just have to stop and get a milkshake.  Then nothing else really matters.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Intro to Origami

I have to give it to Joseph, he really likes to mix things up.  He has some favorite after school enrichment classes like Mad Science, Legos, and soccer, but he often tries something new and/or crafty.  This session he chose 2 entirely new ones: chess and origami.

He came home with quite an assortment of items after the 1st session: a fox, a house, a piano, a drinking cup (which he actually used to drink from!) and a teeny tiny wallet.

This week he came home with a swan and some bunnies, but he was most thrilled about making a Samurai helmet.  The teacher also let him take home hers, which is the black one on the left.  His on the right is pretty darn good!  The reason he was so excited about them?  He could put them on some small stuffed animals and make them into Samurai warriors.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


We were so disappointed that we weren't able to schedule a ski trip during winter break this year like we did the past two, so last week when our friends told us about plans to day trip to Whitetail Resort, we eagerly accepted their invitation to tag along.  Just about 90 miles or 1.5 hours outside of DC in Pennsylvania, it's pretty convenient to access for skiing and/or tubing.  Now that we know it's there, we'll definitely be back again!

I'm not sure why Joseph struck the next pose, but the poor thing was crammed into clothes that were at least one size too small, if not more.  We bought the bib at the end of last year, and he clearly grew way more than we ever would have expected in the interim.  We also just bought that coat to ski in last year too, and he's busting out of it. Still, he was so excited to ski again, especially with a few friends.  We put them all in the full day Kid's Mountain Camp program for 6 hours, and they loved it.

It was amazing how much the conditions changed - so overcast and foggy when we arrive at 8:30 am to get the kids enrolled in camp, but by mid morning it was warm and sunny with beautiful blue skies.

My appearance changed shortly after arrival too, as we all geared up to hit the slopes.

With Joseph in ski school instead of just a single lesson, B and I skied more this time around than on any other trip.  

After warming up on the green trails in the morning, we got in quite a few runs on the blues after lunch.  They don't look that steep, but the thing about a 935 foot vertical drop is that it's all about perspective.  It was fun, and my confidence is certainly better, but I wouldn't quite say "Fanciful" was a great name for one of the trails.  

We did get to peek in intermittently on Joseph, and it was amazing to see how confident and skilled he had become in such a short time, not having skied since last year.  He got a pretty good report card from the instructors!

The kids' lift tickets were good for another hour after lessons ended, so we got to spend a nice amount of time skiing together with Joseph.  As you'll see in the videos, sometimes he's great at stopping, and others, not so much.  Although he needs a lot of help getting up, falling never seems to phase him, and he just keeps plugging along.  He might just be a speed demon too!  I'm so proud of that boy!


We left just as the sun was setting over the mountain, tired in a good way, happy to finally have visited this treasure, and wondering when we'd be back again!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Our elementary school has this great tradition in 2nd grade called "VIP Day."  There's a top secret sign up system, and every Wednesday a different family shows up in class to surprise their child with a presentation about them and an activity.  We chose today's slot since it was close to Joseph's half birthday, a perfect time to celebrate him!

Everyone starts with a slide show or PowerPoint presentation.  Can you imagine me going through more than 7 years worth of photos?  Stressful!  But iPhoto has a great built in system for slide shows, and we set it to a few of Joseph's favorite songs.  There were groupings of pictures like favorite things, family, travel, Halloween costumes, holidays, etc.  He sat up front and center, and the kids really seemed to enjoy it. Afterwards we let him answer a few questions from his classmates.

Then we broke the kids into 2 groups and Brent and I each took half.  I made 2 sets of different folded paper fortune teller thingamajigs, one with fun facts about Joseph, the other with tidbits about his travels.  The kids each got a turn doing it, and I could tell they loved the interactive element of this, even though it was such a simple thing.

Our other activity was making paper airplanes and doing target practice.  Joseph comes home with paper airplanes jammed into his backpack almost every day, so we felt like this really reflected his interests.  Plus, I personalized the paper with "JTG-VIP" on one side, and figured out how to place the lines and graphics so that it would show his name once it was all folded.

The targets were villains from some of Joseph's favorite games and shows, just pictures mounted on poster board, which I got to stand up by using poster board scraps as easels.

I think this was their favorite part!  The kids all lined up over and over again to launch those planes!

Instead of normal recess and lunch, families get to take their VIP off campus to lunch anywhere they want.  Joseph chose Guapo's of course.  It was such a nice touch that it started to snow during our outing!

I would have loved to have made a sweet treat to share with the class, but there's not supposed to be any goodies or prizes so the kids focus on the info and activities rather than what they're going to get. It's really a lovely tradition, and Joseph seemed happy with what we did.  Today and always, he's our VIP!

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Looks like a whole cake.

But by now he knows it's just a half.

Because it's only his half-birthday.

Only 7 and a half candles.
But he still gets a whole wish.

Happy 7.5 Joseph!