January 31, 2006
January 30, 2006
Yesterday when I got home from the office the kids and I strapped on our cross country skis and hit our backyard trail for a late afternoon run.
The blanket of white was beautiful and L. found her own special hidden treasure...
... a "snow heart."
It's times like these when I don't mind my 40 minute commute to the office because I live in the sticks...
January 29, 2006
We climbed the walls...
... and I lived to tell the story. Check out my monthly column - with video clips, kids' review and photo gallery - about my family's rock climbing adventure.
January 27, 2006
Hot weather skiing
The Portland area hit a record high temperature of 52 degrees yesterday so it made me laugh to read today's story about warming up cold feet. We certainly didn't need any of the suggested remedies at our cross country ski club meeting yesterday.
Even with the balmy temperatures, the ski club still chose to hold their meeting. The group has had to cancel so many times this winter for lack of snow that the fact that there was at least enough white stuff to cover a portion of the field where the club's meetings are held, we went for it.
After a few ski games, the kids (and adults) started sweating and lots of us ditched our coats. And the snowman the kids had made before the ski games started was nearly headless by the end of the meeting. The snow was melting that fast.
After playing games and skiing around the field for an hour most of the kids were down to their t-shirts. G. said that although she got really wet, she didn't mind falling down. "I'm hot. The snow cools me down mom."
I never thought we'd have to worry about rolling around in the snow to cool down in January....
January 24, 2006
No ice, no village on Sebago this year
We stopped by Sebago Lake boat launch in Standish earlier this week to take a couple of photos of the lake with a Flat Stanley the kids are hosting. It's the second biggest lake in the state so when we drive by it, we usually stop to take a quick photo with our flat friends.
But usually by this time in January, the lake is looking like a little village with ice fishing shacks. This year, there's only a very, very thin layer of ice and some of that was cracking at the shore the day we saw it.
So it's no wonder that Maine's largest ice fishing derby on the lake is changing the rules this year.
I guess this isn't the year for us to try ice fishing. Actually, we're thankful that our cross country ski club can hold another meeting this weekend since there's finally some snow on the ground again.
January 23, 2006
What a difference....
... one day can make during a Maine winter.
January 20, 2006
Geocaching while waiting for snow
Our 4-H cross country ski club has been disappointed for two weeks with the lack of snow. But it looks like some is FINALLY on the way this afternoon. Hopefully it will stick around until next Sunday.
In an attempt to keep our weekly ski club meetings going, yesterday afternoon we decided to do a little geocaching on the Mountain Division Trail. Other than some patches of ice, there wasn't a lick of snow on the trail that we hope to at some point this winter ski on.
We found the geocache with a bunch of goodies inside and taught a few of our ski club members about GPS units. And it was good news that the geocache wasn't frozen to the ground, something that happened to a cache we found last winter. But then again, that was when it actually was a winter.....
January 16, 2006
Almeida family on the rocks
January 2006 in Maine = NO SNOW.
That meant I had to come up with a new idea for my column this month because snow boarding on ice and packed "snow" (really just bumpy ice) isn't my idea of a good time.
After some discussion the family decided to try out an indoor rock climbing gym instead.
L. showed no fear about climbing at the gym. G. was a little more timid but thoughtful about where she put her hands and feet on the wall. Definitely her mother's daughter.
My climb up the wall with Fino as my belayer (rock climbing talk for the person who takes care of the climber's rope and makes sure it's secure and not slack) was a little nerve-racking. And I should note here, I've always been a bit nervous about heights.
After several quick grabs for the wall when my rope went loose, I decided the couple of climbs I did were plenty for my 6-foot tall, not-so-thin body. And it was a conscious decision to stop climbing to save my marriage to a wonderful (but not a terribly talented belayer) husband. I left Fino to belay for L. And G. and I paired together, which G. seemed grateful for.
And of course we got a little goofy with Bunny, who climbed to the top of the wall a couple of times.
It turned out L. wore her monkey pants in honor of the activity. She's always thinking, that kid...
I'll take a scrambled Supersize
The Almeida chickens are in egg-laying overdrive right now. Not being a chicken expert (not even close), I would have thought the cold weather and shorter days would not have made our poultry friends very happy or productive.
But it turns out they are more than content. As a matter of fact, today the kids collected the biggest eggs I've ever seen. Thanks to the kids' 4-H poultry notebook, we were able to size them based on eggs people buy in the supermarket.
The egg farthest right is a Small (18 oz), the one next to it is a Large (24 oz) and the other two on the left are more than the 30oz Jumbos listed on the information sheet so we dubbed them Supersize. We're pretty sure our Comet breed hens shot those out.
Or should I say ... Holy Chicken!
January 14, 2006
Learning something new everyday
As I mentioned this weekend, Flat Blossom is in Texas. I got an email from the hosts' mom about a photo she had taken because she wasn't sure we would want to see it.
Apparently there has been a pack of coyotes near the host family's house and they've killed some of their ranch animals, attempted to attack their dog several times and have been causing ongoing issues for them. So during Texas' youth hunting season this past week, our host and her dad when out hunting for a couple of the problematic coyotes.
I told the mom to send the dead coyote photo along even though my family doesn't hunt, we're familiar enough with the typical trophy shots. Plus, our Flat Stanley exchange is a way for my kids to learn about the lives of kids who live in other places.
She agreed to send it.
In the meantime, her email prompted us to look up hunting season in Texas (suddenly realizing that of course fall wouldn't be the only time to hunt larger game). It turns out the kinds of animals hunted in Texas are quite a bit different (and the timetables more complex) than that of Maine.
After looking at the Texas animal hunting list, my kids have decided to research some of the animals to see what they look like. There were a lot they didn't recognize.
Then the email photo arrived...
G: "The poor coyotes. But they shouldn't have eaten their pets or tried to hurt their dog!"
L: "Oooh that's gross. I like the picture of Blossom with the cute horse a lot better."
January 13, 2006
Flat Blossom (another flat character L. drew to have adventures like Stanley) is in Texas. We just got an update on Flat Blossom from her hosts and the pictures were somehow... familiar.
According to the email, this photo was taken on the freeway in Houston.
"... she took pics of the sky/clouds (from the car window). She thought they were pretty that day."
Yup, L. has a fellow car photographer kindred spirit in Texas.
January 09, 2006
Oh... she's so cute
It feels like every week (OK I'm exaggerating a bit here), that we have to stop by the lobster tank in the seafood department at Hannaford to "visit" with the lobsters. And it's usually under the guise of, "We have to take a picture of Flat Stanley with the lobsters mom."
The seafood manager is very indulgent with the kids and usually pulls one out of the tank.
"Oh, isn't the lobster soooo cute! And it's a girl!"
The kids know which claws to look for that indicate gender thanks to the helpful seafood manager.
My kids used to eat lobster until their visit to the Oceanarium in Bar Harbor this past summer. The educational tour taught them a lot about the sea creatures and they've been enamored every since.
So I don't think there is a question as to which side of the lobster debate they are on....
January 08, 2006
Falling down is easier than getting back up
Our cross country ski club started yesterday and the snow conditions weren't great in the open field where we held our meeting. The light coating of powder only disguised frozen/ice ruts from snowmobiles so it was a bit like being on a mini-mogul course. But the kids didn't seem to mind because they had a great time playing tag and relay games on their skis.
We played a relay game that required hitting a ball down the course with a small racket. It was a good way to teach the kids to bend their knees.
And although we all did our share of falling down (me included), the hardest part for most of us was getting back up -- so we did a lot of practicing...
January 06, 2006
Kids, cars and cameras
Heading home from G's violin concert yesterday (I know Mom, there's another one in June), we decided to make a quick stop at the grocery store in Standish for some milk.
But whoa... there was a lot of hoopla in Standish when we pulled into Colonial Marketplace. About 5 police cars - and some unmarked Crown Vics (a clear give-away that there's something big going on) - surrounded the Gorham Savings Bank there.
As we drove by....
Me: Silently thinking about what was going on and deducing it was likely some sort of bank robbery.
L.: "Look at all those police cars mom! I didn't know there were so many in Standish."
Me: Thinking the same thing....
"Well honey, I think maybe someone tried to rob the bank."
Click. Click. (from the back seat)
"What are you doing?"
L.: "Taking a picture of the bank. (pause) Mom, did he steal my money too?!"
Me: "Well the bank has insurance so if he did, you don't have to worry about your money."
G. "Well he better not have taken MY money. I'll have to kick him if he did."
Ah yes, outrage at the prospect of someone stealing their money from the bank. And I know, G.'s tactics need a little work - she clearly has a real desire to kick someone.
But what is most interesting is the fact that the first thing L. did was reach for the camera in my backpack to take a picture (well about 10 actually). Clearly our Flat Stanley project has taken on a whole new dimension. Now it seems the kids are documenting our local news....
Photos take by L.
Outdoor/indoor fun, depends on the weather
My family spent a busy week enjoying typically outdoor-type activities, indoors.
On Wednesday we went swimming during a public swim time. There are several pools open that offer "open swim" in the Portland area including, St. Joseph's College in Standish, Cape Elizabeth's community pool and Riverton School community pool . The Maine Masters Swim Club has a list of pools in various towns around the state.
On Thursday we went ice skating at USM's ice arena.
L., not an accomplished skater, was trying out a knee slide. Her friends with more skating experience were doing some tricks but L. came home with a sore knee and a plan to, "work on standing up stuff next time."
On both "outings" we took our various Flat Stanleys and it's amazing the silliness that can come out of having a couple of flats around.
Not to mention the fact that now the kids have a new way to entertain themselves. It seems we're educating the world of flat people about Maine's variable winter weather via the car window...