Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Soccer and Basketball Camps

Week Two of Summer Camps found Team Danger at the UT Soccer Camp.

After seeing this picture, and Alex's ripped socks, I made a quick Academy run to buy new socks. Red for Alex and blue for Ryan - their favorite colors, and so we've started color coding everything for them lately.
 They learned lots of new "moves," as Ryan calls them. All in all, soccer camp went well. It ended at noon each day, so we switched off working from home in the afternoons. Our favorite part of soccer camp, though, was when Alex told us on the last day that he had tested into playing with a group of older boys, and apparently he felt shy that he was "only" going into 2nd grade, so for the whole week, he told all his new soccer friends he was going into 3rd grade. Who knew we had a 3rd grader?!

Week 3 had Ryan returning to Country Home, while Alex went to Lone Star Hoops, a basketball camp for kids entering 2nd grade and up (so of course our 3rd grader was the perfect age). He went with two other boys from his basketball team, and it was held at their future high school, so I *thought* this would be a good camp for him.

Turns out I was wrong, and he HATED basketball camp. Which is an understatement. For the last two days, he was begging us to not send him. That's a pretty horrible thing, as a parent, to go through. Alex isn't the most manipulative child, so he must have really been unhappy to make these statements. I felt horrible dropping him off. Suffice it to say, this is one camp we won't ever repeat. I'm just hoping this will be the only bad camp apple in our bunch this summer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mouse Plans

Alex is getting more and more excited about our upcoming trip to Disney. I actually came downstairs one morning, and instead of the usual 'Batman' or 'Jake and the Neverland Pirates' show on the tv, he was watching the Disney Trip Planning DVD.

He's also all about Captain Jack right now, and has decided he wants a Captain Jack birthday party and to be Captain Jack for Halloween. I reminded him that he had a Pirate-themed party for his 4th birthday, but since that wasn't Captain Jack, he wants to do another.

I'm torn between being bummed I don't get to plan something different, and really excited that I DON'T have to plan something different. I've already made reservations for the boys to do the "Pirates League" experience at Disney - where they get made up like pirates and join a pirate parade through the Magic Kingdom.

Ryan is still MEH about the trip. I know he's going to love it, but it does get kind of depressing that he doesn't show more interest in the planning. I guess he's still too young to realize just how cool it will be, but hopefully he will be once we get there. Or else I'm deluding myself and I'm in for a world of hurt. Probably both.

While shopping at the evil Wal-Mart, I came across this super cute Disney journal featuring the Evil Queen from Snow White (for me), these Mickey spiral notebooks for the boys, and some folders for us. I'm using mine for all my trip planning, and I'll save the boys to give to them as part of their travel package when we take off.

They also had some cute Disney t-shirts for me, for only $9 each. I figure I  won't wear these too many places but at Disney, so $9 is about what I want to spend.

We also went ahead and bought airline tickets to fly. Originally, we were going to drive. But then Jet Blue announced a sale which makes flying cheaper than driving, so who am I to force my husband into a 36 hour roundtrip car ride?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Budding Monets?

Carl doesn't like to receive store-bought gifts from the boys, especially for events like Father's Day. As I am not exactly the craftiest person in the world, this puts a LOT of pressure on me every June.

This year, we went off to Cafe Monet for some pottery painting. We had a blast! They each made a hand-print tile (which is what I wanted them to make, especially since their hands are getting too big for the tiles!), as well as these ceramic jets which they LOVED.


And for Grandpa, they jointly painted a fire truck piggy bank.

I'd also ordered some mugs from shutterfly.

But I think my favorite gift of all was this "card" that Ryan wrote up for Carl all on his own.

Its Ryan's favorite Knock-Knock joke, which he tells over and over again.

"Knock Knock."
"Who's There?"
"Owls Who?"
"That's right, Owl's Who."

And then he added, "You are the best Dad in the whole world. Love Ryan."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Daddy's Day

We had a great Father's Day this year. Some of the highlights from our day:

Ryan (our little "cooker", as he calls himself) made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast on Sunday.

Playing Daddy's new Clone Wars LEGO PS3 video game.

LEGO Star Wars III The Clone Wars

Going to the Bob Bullock Museum to see the Orion MPSV.

It is traveling to the Kennedy Space Center from California, and Austin was lucky enough to be one of three stops along the way. 

 I think Carl was more excited about this than either Alex or Ryan, although they did ask quite a few questions of the engineers there.

 The boys enjoyed the NASA arts and crafts more, especially the paper airplanes they built. They could really soar inside the Bullock museum!

At first I was confused as to why they weren't building paper rocket ships, but then I remembered what the "A" in NASA represents.

And after the museum, we went back home for swimming and grilling.

Our kind of day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why I Vote Democrat

We interrupt this regular blog on the Adventures of Team Danger for a brief political rant.

Everyone's least favorite governor's Veto Deadline, oh, I'm sorry, his "Signing" Deadline is on Monday, so of course he managed to veto 23 bills today. Included among the bills he vetoed was HB 242, which would have made it a crime to text while driving.

The Guv's rationale for vetoing the bill? A bill that, mind you, was ratified by an absurdly Republican-controlled Texas Legislature? That while "texting while driving is reckless and irresponsible … House Bill 242 is a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”

This, from the man who signed a bill a few months back requiring every pregnant woman to get an ultrasound prior to a termination, no matter what the circumstances.

God forbid the government "micromanage the behavior of adults."

Unless, of course, its an adult WOMAN's behavior we are talking about.

What a moron.

My body, my choice.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Change of Costume

We went through our costume bucket(s) and sadly realized we have outgrown several of them, and it is time to pass them down to Connor and Matthew.

The best part of all these photos? they weren't posing for me. They genuinely were this unhappy to find they had outgrown their much-beloved, yet haven't-worn-for-years costumes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weekend Update

Besides telling the kids about Disney World, we spent Saturday morning at our second swim meet of the year.

It did not go well.

In fact, it went so poorly that I was doubting whether we would even continue the rest of the summer at all for much of the day.
 Ryan was disqualified from his Breaststroke and Butterfly races, and came in next to last place each time. And with Freestyle, he came in 22nd of 40. Just looking at this picture, at Ryan "diving" into the pool (he is in front) compared to how the others are diving, and you get the idea of just how out of his league he was.

And then Alex swam an amazing 25M freestyle, at his fastest time ever... during the Breaststroke heat. Cue the tears. The only ribbon either boy won was Alex's 7th place for the 50M Freestyle (out of nine boys, but hey, he got a ribbon). So I reached the decision we would just do one more meet, satisfy the minimum requirements, and call it a summer. Carl agreed, so all that was left was to tell the boys.

Who proceeded to spend several hours over the weekend reciting the Barracudas cheer, very proud of themselves for remembering it, and all about their team. And who did not want to quit swim team. So we're sticking with it for now.

We also had some of Ryan's friends over for a swim / preschool graduation party on Saturday afternoon. He had a great time, and they swam, ate popsicles and cupcakes, and played LEGOs.

And on Sunday, we did absolutely nothing.

We rested, played in the pool, played games, played in the pool some more, read, and watched "Pirates of the Caribbean" for the first time. We're starting a "Disney Family Movie Night" on Sundays during the summer, leading up to our trip, so I thought this was a good kick-off event movie. Alex has been begging and pleading to watch Captain Jack in action for years, but I hadn't recalled these films as being terribly kid-friendly. Turns out the Ghost Pirates are in a bit more of the movie than I remember, and there were a few more sexual references than I recalled, but those, at least, flew right over the boys' heads. Ryan spent most of the movie playing with their Captain Jack LEGOs when there wasn't a sword fight going on, so I don't think I've traumatized them too much. And no one has had any Ghost Pirate nightmares yet.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cub Scout Knight Training: Complete

Alex's official Knight Training by the Cub Scouts ended last Friday.

He earned lots of new belt loops and beads for his wolf badge, and even some pins. The pins are much harder to earn than the belt loops and beads, and some of them, like the Archery Pin and the BB Gun Pin, can only be earned at official Scout camps. Most of his bling he won't received until the Scouts officially start back up in the Fall, but he did come home with one nifty new large patch, as well as his own "Camp Badge" which they made the first day, and they added beads to it for each activity they completed. The photo below of all the beads gives you an idea of just how busy they were in five days! The gold beads were when he got bulls-eyes in either archery or BB guns, and the silver beads were for the almost bulls-eyes. Apparently he has quite an eye on him, because he earned a lot of god and silver!

As part of Cub Scout Camp, family members are "asked" to help volunteer. Carl's parents spent Wednesday with the camp. Al did woodworking and helped make 100+ birdhouses, while Chris was the Assistant Den Leader for Alex's Den. And Carl was the Assistant Den Leader on Friday. He even managed to bring Ryan along on Friday as an honorary Scout, and he got to participate in most of the boys' activities.

Ryan was quite content to play with LEGOs during the BB guns and archery time.

Alex caught a fish, and a frog on Friday.

And this was the Flag for Alex's Den during the week. They called themselves the "Brown Boys" because their Den wore Brown Neckerchiefs (each Den had a different color).

The whole week was a lot of fun, and we are definitely going to make sure to do it again next year. Plus, both boys can 'officially' go next summer, after Ryan has joined Scouts at the end of his Kindergarten Year.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Big Disney Reveal

For the past few months (ever since our New York and Boston trip for August fell through), I've been in overload planning our first family vacation to Disney World.

One of my favorite hobbies is traveling - and over half the fun comes from planning the trips. We went to Disneyland and Legoland in California two years ago, and I've been to Disneyland a few other times during college and, memorably, for my brother's birthday back in 2000, but neither Carl nor I have been to the Entire World of Disney since we were kids. They didn't even have Epcot back when I went, let alone Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.

In planning this trip, I soon realized that there is far, far too much information out there. So much information that it scares even me - a meticulous travel researcher and planner. Its overwhelming. And yet, I'm thriving on it. Perhaps even obsessing about it. If, you know, I were the type to ever obsess about anything.

First up, I had to determine the perfect guidebook to purchase. Which turned into two guidebooks, since the Austin Public Library stocks my other two top contenders, and I can check them out for up to nine weeks at a time.

Then I researched all of our lodging options, and prepared a proposed budget which I presented to Carl, complete with all the different lodging options. I was all about the Pirates of the Caribbean themed rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort, until I realized we would have only two double beds in the room.

 We have a king at home, and  I can usually survive with a queen, but a double... I don't think so. Then I settled on the Beach Club, primarily because of its over-the-top swimming pool, its two queen sized beds, and its proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. I have dreams of us escaping the crowds and August heat in the afternoon at the pool, while we regain our energy and enthusiasm for a fun-filled evening at the parks. And then they threw me for a loop by sending me an offer with one of the famous (at least by all the Disney geeks) PINs which offered me a savings of $40 a night to go to the Wilderness Lodge. So currently I have reservations at two hotels, and have until June 24 to decide just how incredible that pool at Beach Club looks. I've already dreamed about the pool, so I'm thinking that the $40 is worth it. Not that Wilderness Lodge's pool isn't quite nice, too, but I'm a big believer in the power of pools. Especially in August.

Now, the kids have not known about this trip. I didn't want to tell them too early, especially since Ryan has a hard time understanding the concept of time. But now that we are officially into the summer, I wanted to get the ball rolling.

I spent hours creating these Disney calenders for the boys for Jun, July and August, telling them what they were doing each week, including the Big Reveal that two weeks of August will be spent in Florida. I created the Countdown Chain, one ring for each 56 days until our trip, made out of Disney scrapbook paper, to be ripped off daily until its time leave. We created "Disney Dollars" which they can earn during the summer for reading (Alex gets one for each chapter book he reads, and Ryan gets one for each Beginner Reader book he reads to us, or for each 20 minutes of sight word time.)

 I bought the Disney "Apples to Apples" board game, and had visions of us all playing it and laughing, increasing our Disney knowledge as Ryan and Alex increased their reading and vocabulary skills. Just like on tv.

Disney Apples To Apples - The Game Of Goofy Comparisons

I could not WAIT to tell them about the trip, and fantasized about their reactions. I'd watched videos of how other parents told their kids, and the screams of "OH MY GOD!!!! WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!!!" brought tears to my eyes as the children would open the pizza box and find a Mickey-shaped pizza inside it. Those kids just KNEW what that meant.

So Saturday night finally came around, and it was time to tell Alex and Ryan what must surely be the best news of their life. I gathered up a Lightening McQueen gift bag for all these goodies, and we presented it to them at dinner on Saturday night.

And... nothing.

Alex was more concerned about the "Driving" notations on the calender, and how they took up two days on either side of the trip. Ryan was excited about the "Beach" notations. Carl seemed stunned, and I just wanted to cry.

Things got a bit better after dinner when I popped in the Disney Vacation Planning 2011 DVD the Mouse folks were kind enough to send me.  Alex at least had the proper exclamations of "Awesome!... So cool! ... Oh my God, we are SO going on that ride!..." Ryan mostly just played with the cards in the Apples to Apples game. I felt a bit better after watching the DVD with Alex, and I've gone ahead and ordered him his very own Disney guidebook, Guide to the Magic For Kids, so he can start his own planning.

But as a whole, the Big Reveal was highly disappointing. I keep telling myself its probably a good thing it happened this way, so that I can do my best to dial down my enthusiasm for THE BEST FAMILY VACATION EVER and thus not be disappointed on the actual trip when they don't want to wait in line for an hour to have their picture taken with Buzz Lightyear. But I still can't help wishing I had a really cool video to post on youtube like the other Disney-ophiles.

 Alex saying Good-Bye to Mickey as we left Disneyland in April 2009. We'll see you soon!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sandcastles, Sea Shells and Pirates

To celebrate the last day of first grade for Alex, the last day of pre-K for Ryan, and the last day of preschool payments for ANY CHILD, we took off for five days in South Padre on May 28.

We had invited my mom to join us, but the thought of the seven hour car drive from Austin on top of her 3 hour drive from Houston led her to book a flight to Harlingen and meet us at the condo.

We loved our condo! We stayed at Suntide II, and it was the closest to the sand I've ever been - we could be at the beach in a two minute walk door to tent (so to speak).

The only damper on the vacation was the fact that the tides were very strong when we were there. The riptides were especially fierce, and there was a drowning during out visit. As a result, I wouldn't let the kids venture out very far into the water. Definitely not beyond the first wave break. I figured if it was strong enough to cause me to worry that  it was going to pull my larger body out to sea, then it was definitely not  munchkin-friendly.

But they didn't seem to mind, and spent almost all their time building sandcastles and collecting sea shells. Sometimes the sandcastles even included the seashells.

The other highlight of the trip was our sunset cruise aboard The Black Dragon, a pirate ship.

Not only was the sunset breathtakingly beautiful, and we got to spot a lot of dolphins, but it was three of the most entertaining hours we've ever spent as a family. They encourage you to arrive 45 minutes before hand - this wasn't nearly enough. Those 45 minutes were spent with a pirate comedy show of sorts. Both Alex and Ryan, at different times, were picked out of the audience to help participate (score two points for me dressing them in their new LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean shirts!). Then there were cannons to fire, and sadly, a whole pier of pirate games we didn't have time to explore.

The cruise itself was two hours, and when one of the pirates squirted my mom with a water pistol as we were boarding, we knew we were in for some serious fun!

The boys got to fight the pirates, learn to talk like pirates, dress up like pirates, swab the decks like pirates, they had sword fights with pirates, they went on a treasure hunt for gold doubloons, they painted our faces like pirates, they got pirate tattoos, we all had a water gun fight, they received pirate certificates, won pirate booty, and I'm probably leaving something out. I can't say enough good things about the pirate cruise, and heartily encourage everyone heading to Padre to go aboard the Black Dragon.

It was a fantastic way to kickstart our summer, and we all had a great time.


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