The kids and I were talking recently about the fact that Bunny hasn't been receiving the same kind of attention from our family that Flat Stanley friends have recently. So we decided to do something about that.
Today is the official start of the "Where's Bunny" contest. Here's how it works.
We have taken photos of Bunny around southern Maine. In the coming weeks, I will post one every few days or so to my blog.
The first person to POST A COMMENT (it doesn't count if you email me) about WHERE Bunny is in the photo, wins a "really cool glitter pen" from MaineToday.com (a direct quote from L.). Anyone can win the MaineToday pen (well, except my co-workers who have an unfair advantage :-) so if you know where Bunny is, post it.
Here's today's pic...
(You have to name the place as well as the city/town).
Oh yeah, if no one posts a guess after a day or so, I'll post a hint in the comments.
Today I'll give you the hint now, half the name's in the pic!
Several people have emailed me (posting comments is cool too - hint, hint), about my blog entry on the Portland Pirates "Chuck A Puck" game. So here's the deal.
People buy pucks with numbers on them.
At some point between periods during the hockey game, the announcer tells the crowd it's time for "Chuck A Puck."
A mat is rolled out onto the ice and people throw their numbered pucks that they purchased at the ticket gate before the game from the designated throwing area (which is in the stands near the center line).
There are prize areas on the mat so any pucks landing on those spots wins something (t-shirt, hat, etc.).
I don't know all the details of the game, but that's the basic gist of it. And this video clip offers a demonstration of the fun.
If anyone has any other details, post a comment. I might not have got it exactly right; I am a new fan.
And just as a side note, I'd love to have those "Chuck A Puck" people with the brooms come home with me to clean up my floors.
The kids brought their ice skates to Massachusetts in hopes of doing some skating during our mini-vacation. During our last trip to Boston, the kids wished they had brought their skates to try out Frog Pond on Boston Common. So on this visit, we met up with a friend who lives in Davis Square and he drove us to the Common with our ice skates so we didn't have to drag them on the T (I hate driving in downtown Boston so thanks Craig!).
The kids' verdict on skating on Frog Pond:
The ice is yucky and all chewed up.
It's too crowded.
It was fun but I like the indoor rinks at home better.
We had a good time but the kids are spoiled with the indoor rinks in the Portland area. Ice on an outdoor rink just can't measure up.
After skating, we went to a bagel shop for some hot cocoa and a snack. I can't remember the name of the place but the kids and I were totally entertained by the way they sliced their bagels.
We ordered a bagel and it was sent down a conveyor belt with a metal spinning wheel. We thought it was a novelty to watch the bagel move down the belt but when it got to the wheel, I jumped in surprise.
The noise scared me initially because I didn't expect it, nor did I think I'd see the bagel flying down the belt afterwards.
What was really funny though (or scary depending on your perspective) is that we found this "bagel belt" so entertaining. We took a picture of it.
Took a quick video clip and basically lived up to the stereotype a lot of Massachusetts people have of folks in Maine.
My family had never been to the sanctuary and we were excited to see all the bird life there, even with the cold temperatures. Our friends brought a small bag of seeds and the birds were eager to welcome the kids to the trail. My kids had never encountered such friendly birds and were thrilled with the up-close look.
After playing with the birds, washing hands and having a snack, our friends helped us take some goofy pictures of Flat Stanley.
On our way back down the trail the kids spotted maple sugaring collection buckets. Being south of Maine, I should have realized that Massachusetts starts their sugaring season earlier. Maine's Maple Sugar Sunday isn't for a few more weeks (March 26 this year) and the kids are really looking forward to our annual trip to a sugar house.
After the hike, our friends suggested a drive over to Richardson's Dairy in Middleton, Mass. I know, it was a little weird to eat ice cream after spending the morning hiking in the cold but we all LOVE the stuff and my friends assured us it was worth the trip.
The ice cream was very tasty and I didn't feel guilty about eating the whole thing. It was a Richardson's small after all.
We went to another Portland Pirates game yesterday. We had a coupon from Hannaford for two free child tickets (thanks for finding it grandpa!) and we've had so much fun at the other games that we couldn't resist.
The kids were a little more subdued during yesterday's game because the Pirates were on the losing end of the scoreboard. But they still did their share of cheering and clapping while eating nachos, popcorn and soda.
During the third period of the game they really picked up as the Pirates scored a couple of goals and then took out their goalie in favor of another player to make a power play (or whatever they call it in hockey speak). Yeah I know, I'm working on learning all the rules of the game to explain them to the kids.
The home team didn't win in the end but that didn't deter L. from wanting to go to another game.
"We have to go again mom to see them win!"
There are another 11 home games left on the schedule so it's a definite possibility.
We continue to be amused by Chuck-A-Puck at the game. It just cracks me (and the kids) up to watch all those pucks go flying from the stands. We decided we're going to try it ourselves next time.
And of course, we couldn't resist taking another goofy picture with the Pirates guy at the end of the game.
I'm working on my next column about snowboarding and downhill skiing. Last year I took a video clip while snowboarding down the mountain. And I have to confess, I was a nervous wreck about it. I had the office camera and I was afraid I'd wipe out and break it.
I fall down a lot on my board but have been told by several people that, "you're not learning if you're not falling." Well I've certainly done A LOT of "learning" in the three years I've been boarding.
But, I did make it through that taping without breaking anything (me or the equipment) and dubbed the clip Not the Easiest Thing
This year I decided to do another mountain action video on my board. At some point last winter it finally clicked in my brain how to switch edges without losing my balance. Now I'm a much better rider, relatively speaking of course -- I'll never be ready for the terrain parks.
If you don't know anything about snowboarding, there are two edges - toe (front edge of the board) and heel (back edge). Finding an edge and riding it is not that hard. It's the switching back and forth that gives a lot of people trouble. But, it's something every rider has to figure out.
So today I was editing this year's video clip, and I noticed a big difference in my attitude. Although I got a little too close to a Slow Down sign on the trail and had to switch edges quickly (it really is hard to see where you're going through a camera), I actually laughed about it.
Yup, I think I'm pretty cool now. Well not really, but it's nice to hope.
My friend Jenn emailed me a story from her neck of the woods about a geocaching incident. Apparently someone (a "muggle" not familiar with the game) found a geocache under a tree in a park in Bethlehem, PA, and thought it was a bomb.
He told police he ''got away as fast as possible'' because he thought it could be a bomb. Firefighters, police officers and bomb squad technicians secured the area while investigating the mysterious box with ''This is a game'' written on the front.
They eventually determined that the box was part of a treasure hunt in which players use coordinates and a Global Positioning System receiver, or GPS unit, to determine where hidden objects are.
I understand the concern about terrorists and crazy people but geeze. The box was marked with the geocaching.com website on it and although the story didn't say this - clearly written by someone who was unfamiliar with the game - all geocaches are logged onto geocaching.com. Apparently the bomb squad did end up checking out the website before finally opening the box.
Two technicians from the Bethlehem Fire Department's bomb squad were called to investigate the box Tuesday, said Lt. Joe Chernaskey. As they inspected the box and tried to determine what was inside, a fire official went to the Web site listed on the box: geocaching.com.
The lock was broken and inside were stuffed animals, toys, notebooks and maps, according to police.
As for the hoopla about the old ammo boxes, they make great caches. The goodies don't get wet and hold up well in all kinds of weather. We've certainly found our share of recycled ammo boxes and they were well-marked as the geocaching website suggests. It was also clear that the guy who hid the cache in PA, had received the proper permission to hide it from the Parks and Recreation department who manages the park where the cache was found.
Some of the old ammo box geocaches we have found were well-marked.
What is really sad, even though the geocache box was clearly marked that it was a game, is that police are being coy with the guy who hid it.
Police wouldn't say whether Guth might be charged or with what crime. But they and fire officials fear it could cost thousands of dollars for bomb squad technicians to examine mysterious packages hidden in the city.
I think the more hoopla they make about the cache and the game, the more likely someone WILL actually try to disguise their bomb as a cache. Nothing like the police to give a crazy person a new idea.
And I'm disappointed that some random, alarmist pedestrian could put such a damper on a great game by calling police with the fear of a bomb. This game has been around for nearly 6 years when the GPS signal degradation was removed by the Clinton Administration. That policy allowed GPS users the ability to "pinpoint locations up to ten times more accurately" by making more satellites available to the general public. This policy change allowed the possibility to play games like geocaching.
So geocachers out there beware of Muggles spotting you uncovering a cache. My family wants to keep playing the game...
We went to a great Pirates game last night. It went all the way to a sudden-death shootout and the kids were on the edge of their seats.
As usual, the nachos, soda and popcorn were a big draw to going to another hockey game.
After the first period of play, two USM student teams tried to win some prizes by racing in a sled down the rink, around the goal net and back. It was really funny to watch and had the kids laughing hysterically. They weren't even too concerned when one of the sled pullers slammed his teammate into the sideboards making the turn around the net. But I did cringe a little at how much that likely hurt without protective gear on.
There weren't a lot of Salty Pete and Crackers appearances at this particular game, probably because it was on a weeknight (and it was USM night). But my kids didn't mind the lack of kid-oriented entertainment because there was still lots of yelling, screaming and cheering. They think that is one of the best parts of the game. I have to agree.
After the game we had to get a goofy picture with the Pirates guy. In typical L. style, she "posed" for the picture with her sister.
Nice fingers L.
When I asked the kids what their favorite part of the game was, L. chimed in without hesitation.
I think she's starting to understand how these live sporting events work.
It was a last minute decision but we opted to go snow boarding/skiing last night. The conditions looked decent and Shawnee Peak had their Monday night special going for $10 lift tickets from 4- 9 p.m.
So we packed up our gear - and dinner - and took off.
We didn't have any candy in the house for the kids' coat pockets and I thought we ought to get something before we got to the mountain. It's been my experience that a bit of sugar keeps my little people happy on the slopes. So I decided to stop at Reny's in Bridgton on our way.
Now I have to admit, I never did understand what the big deal was about Reny's. Well, now I know...
L. picked out Swedish fish and G. went for the Sugarbabies. We did a little taste-testing before the packages made it into their coat pockets and I was in shock. They were soft, chewy and get this, FRESH. They didn't actually try to pull my teeth out and I can't remember the last time that happened. Reny's is now on my list of places to stop on our next trip.
We made a couple of runs and stuck to the easy trails. We're not a particularly adventurous lot with the higher terrain. And as I have learned by observation in the past couple of years, the beginner lifts are a lot less crowded.
It was actually a pretty uneventful trip. No blisters on my hands (I tightened my boot laces with gloves on... very good suggestion Fino), no lost skis on the chair lift and no Christmas tree imprints on anyone's leg. All-in-all not much drama.
But the conversations on the chair lift, now those were amusing.
Prompted by taking a couple of photos of some Flat Stanleys on the chair lift, we discussed some of the funny pictures we've taken of flats over the past year. The pigs still rank at the top of my list.
On another ride, L. was whining about the rest of us going too fast down the mountain. Usually she's the one bombing down but yesterday she was a little tired. I think she was just in the mood for some extra attention but I couldn't shake her off the subject. So I told her she was being like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. She didn't care for that much but it got G. going on assigning our family members to people from that movie. G. decided she was Daphne, Fino was Fred and then she declared that Toddy (the blind cat) was Scooby. Apparently Toddy and Scooby are just the same.
"Mommy, they both like to eat all the time!"
Poor Toddy, he wasn't even on the chairlift to defend himself. Although give the chance, the girls would have him up there with them.
But a question I never pondered until L. did was,
"Why is Scooby so skinny if he eats all the time?"
Wish I knew...
Oh, and on the way home, L. thought the funniest thing about our night was "Foo City." Just an FYI to the supermarket in Bridgton, your D needs a new bulb.
The kids have been skating with their friends every week at USM's ice arena for open skate time. And as I have learned, it's not just about the the sport, it's also about wearing the skating outfits and special tights.
So there's little doubt that the ice skating competitions during the Olympics will be the highlight of the next couple of weeks at our house.
We had a little "incident" with one of the chickens today and G. wrote about it in her journal.
"Mommy, you should tell this story on your blog," she told me when she was finished.
She's 9 and she's ready for a blog of her own.
"I went outside with a broom to get the chickens off the porch today. All of the chickens got out except for one. That one got behind the grill on the porch and then before I could get to her, she went between two poles and got herself really stuck.
It took a while for me to get her out.
I had to push her wings together because she had spread them out. But one wing wouldn't get unstuck and it was tricky to help her. She kept moving away from me.
But she was so fat that it hurt her a little to get unstuck.
I got her out and I hugged her and I told her she was a good chicken. Then I let her go down the steps and then I shut the porch gate.
The chickens always poop on the porch that's why we never feed them food there. Mom always tells us to shut the gate but we forget sometimes. "
Yup, she really did go out on the porch with a straw broom to shoo the chickens away.
The hen was one of the supersize producers. She really is big.
If you're unfamiliar with chicken poop, it's nearly impossible to clean off wood surfaces.
Yes it's possible to hug and snuggle with a chicken - the kids do it all the time. They even claim they smile sometimes.
There is entertainment value in watching a chicken go up and down steps.
And I did appreciate the confirmation that she's aware that I ask her and her sister to close the porch gate. I just assumed I was wasting oxygen with that request.
Yesterday while I was working in the office, my husband called.
"We're out of chicken feed. Can you stop and buy some on your way home from work?"
Aaargh! I really dislike these phone calls....
"But those bags are really heavy for me. How come you didn't buy it over the weekend?"
"Because we were busy."
The kids had 3 shows of the theater production they were in this past weekend. Then there was the 4-H Demonstration event they went to. OK, yeah, we were busy.
"Alright, I'll go get a bag of chicken feed. But next time you have to do it. I HATE those 50 pound bags!"
OK I know, I'm complaining.... but geeze, those bags really are a drag!
And it's a good thing the kids didn't have the camera yesterday to take a photo of me carrying that bag to the coop. I would have had to delete it.
Plus, lifting and dumping the feed into the feed box isn't fun either. The top cover is just above my waist and it's mighty tricky to balance an open, 50 pound bag of feed on your hip and aim for the narrow opening....
My only saving grace yesterday was the fact that I didn't have to walk on any snow or ice to get to the coop. I guess that's one good think about the lack of snow this winter -- although I'd much rather be snow boarding than hauling chicken feed into the coop.
But the chickens were happy when their chow arrived.
And I have to say our happy chickens have been pumping out not only supersize eggs, but double yoke ones. We've had a bunch of these in the past few weeks.
I know it's a little off topic but I can't resist.
L. and I were at my dad's house last night watching the Superbowl. L. wasn't really watching the game -- she was there for the junk food -- but the commercials kept catching her attention.
The Burger King commercial had her completely captivated and thinking maybe she'd like to be an onion for Halloween. OK, as long as she didn't want to be that freaky King. He reminds me a bit of Chucky...
And then the streaker commercial came on and she was on the couch close to tears because she was laughing so hard. And yeah, I was laughing pretty hard too.
Overall though, I didn't think the commercials were nearly as good as previous Superbowls. But this being L.'s first time watching the Superbowl, she was easily impressed and plans to watch next year's "game."
I've done a lot of blogging about our chickens but I haven't mentioned the other seemingly more typical animals at our house. I say "seemingly" because our two cats are quite a pair.
Chion (chee-own), which means cry-baby in Spanish, has lived up to his name every day for the past 11 years. He cries to come into the house then 5 minutes later he cries to get out of the house. It's endless. But we've had him since before the kids were born and he is much esteemed by my husband and the kids. So to keep the peace, when I'm sitting at the kitchen table near the glass sliding door, I serve as doorman.
Our other cat, Toddy, is a fairly new addition to our lives. We got him about 2 years ago when he was abandoned by his owners. He had been hit by a car and left at the veterinary hospital my husband works at, never to be re-claimed.
As a result of that car accident, Toddy is completely blind but, he has adapted to that amazingly well. He can easily find his way around our house, both upstairs and down.
He also has a great temperament and tolerates just about anything the kids do to - and with - him.
But Toddy's downfall is his love of food and lack of activity. He would much rather sit on the couch with a warm body than do anything else. As a result, he is VERY overweight - and lots of people notice that.
"WOW, he's so HUGE!"
Yup, he is.
Toddy was "dressed-up" for our Holiday card this year. He weighs a little over 20 pounds right now.
So a few months ago the kids decided that Toddy needed to "get healthy" by exercising more. Their plan: turn our living room into a "gym" with an obstacle course and running path. The kids push Toddy through the course and are pretty gentle with him so I allow the gym play for a little while because quite frankly, Toddy really does need the exercise.
But yesterday when I got home from the office, something wasn't quite right with Toddy. His fur had a strange hue to it. As it was explained to me by L., Toddy got into some paint in the bathroom downstairs.
And to digress a little, I really don't know why I call it a bathroom. It's the place where Toddy sleeps and has shared with numerous baby chicks not big enough for the coop. I have finally come to terms with the fact that I have totally lost control over that room....
Anyway, it turns out the kids spilled some blue paint in the bathroom and Toddy walked through it. We still haven't been able to wash it off.
This snow-less Maine winter has really put a damper on skiing and boarding, but our chickens are loving it. In fact, we've never had so many eggs from our feathered friends. This picture represents about one week of egg production for the Almeida poultry.
But it's not just the quantity that's the problem; it's the size. The supersize eggs don't fit in extra large egg cartons and that presents some problems when trying to box them up to give to people.
And a person can only eat so many omelets, quiches, bread pudding, hard boiled and deviled eggs.
I'm not sure what Fino and the kids are doing to make the chickens so happy, but boy are they ever!
A basket of eggs anyone? Or if you're too far away... do you have any interesting egg recipes to share?
The skiing conditions were perfect for an outing today so the kids and I took the day off to go to the mountain.
At the beginning of the winter I mapped out the best lift ticket deals at the ski resorts within an hour's drive of our house. Shawnee Peak specials are great on Monday nights ($10/adults from 4-9 p.m.) and Wednesdays (all day) when an adult buys a lift ticket at full price, the junior skis free (and the second junior is only $10). And then King Pine has great specials too with skiing on Saturday nights from 4-9 p.m. for $39 for a family of 4; and 2 for 1 specials on Tuesdays.
So since it was Wednesday, we headed to Shawnee Peak.
L. and I were heading down the mountain when G. snapped this picture with her digital camera. She was feeling quite smug that she can now handle a camera on the slopes.
We're never without some Flat Stanleys to entertain these days. The conditions really were ideal and we spent about 5 hours skiing/boarding.