Fun and games ruled our 4-H Ski Club meeting yesterday with a decision that next week we'll be doing some skiing on the trail.
We did a review of basic skills for the newbies that included falling down and getting back up.
Then the kids played a push-the-ball game with badminton rackets. Those rackets get more use during the winter than they do any other time of year.
And of course we had to play a round of the well-loved Amoeba Tag game (the "it" person tags another and then that player has to hook arms and ski together to tag others). Players only wear one ski and by the end of the game everyone is out of breath not only from skiing, but from laughing.
But the most requested game again this year is skiing through hoola hoops. Even the adults can do it (Fino missed getting a clip of me but he caught another dad's success with the activity).
The wind chills were below zero yesterday so playing outside was not really an option for the kids. Their indoor boredom-buster idea of the day was a bowling golf game that L. demonstrated for me when I got home.
But after listening to the game last night, the kids and I decided we had to go to the next game in person to cheer on the team.
"We might be good luck mom!"
And the one thing last season that L. believed was the worst luck for the Pirates was bringing Grandpa to the game with us. I made a podcast of the kids talking about going to games last season and L. talked about the fact that every game we brought Grandpa with us during the regular season, the team lost. She referred to him as "bad llama luck."
L. had a friend in kindergarten that introduced her to a special snow snack - a scoop of snow with maple syrup drizzled on top. Having been educated ad nauseam about acid rain when I was in grade school, I've discouraged L. from making this snack each winter.
But after being nagged relentlessly about her desire to eat her "favorite thing" again this year, I gave in and let her make it the other day.
On Tuesday afternoon there was finally enough snow to do some cross country skiing. We got together with a few friends who are novice skiers and decided to teach them some games to learn how to get comfortable on their skis.
Playing games and being silly is way more important to my kids than actual technique or skiing on groomed trails. Their friends agreed while playing a gliding game on one ski and then practicing falling down and getting up. It's amazing how much fun it is to throw yourself on the ground and then pop back up.
Flipper, the almost frozen rooster, has a new strategy for staying warm -- sharing body heat. The girls are working on getting video of this but basically he squeezes his little bantam body between a couple of Rhode Island Red hens...
... then proceeds to tuck himself under one of their wings before going to sleep for the night.
After a rousing wake-up call yesterday morning (and I thought the crowing through the baby monitor was bad!) from our early bird camped out in the hallway (a.k.a. the rooster, his name is actually Flipper), he is back outside with his buddies.
But not before the girls and Fino decided to make him a fleece jacket to keep him warm.
The girls found a worthy use for that left-over Halloween fleece. Good thing there are no cats on it...
The jacket seemed to keep him toasty but then it was decided (by Fino) that it might not keep him that much warmer. Apparently chickens stay warm by fluffing out their feathers and he can't very well do that with a jacket on so it sort of defeats its purpose.
The spiffy jacket has been put away for now but might make a reappearance if the girls think the Flipper needs it again.
I got home from the office this afternoon and this is what I found inside my house.
Note the heating pad cord. At least Fino used it under a plastic bag and towel so it might be salvaged after the chicken is done with it.
Apparently the neighbor's dog ran into our yard (she really needs obedience training and spends almost as much time running wild in our yard as her own) so of course the chickens scattered. But it's mighty chilly outside and our smaller chickens have a lot less tolerance for the cold so usually stay inside the coop on days like this. But the dog scared them and one bantam ran quite a distance away from the coop. About an hour later Fino found the rooster and initially thought he was frozen to death. Turned out he was just really cold but still breathing. So he brought the little guy into the house and put him in a warm bath in the bathroom sink in hopes of warming him up quickly.
Afterward, Fino tucked him into a big box with a towel and heating pad in the hallway to keep an eye on him (and it was at that point that I walked in the house).
As we sat down to eat an early dinner, L. laughed and pointed to the hallway.
"Pop goes the weasel!" (She is the family comedian after all.)
It didn't take too long for the rooster to warm up start acting like his own feisty self again.
Then the rooster jumped out of the box and ran into the bathroom.
He sort of missed the toilet doing his business though.
Fino caught the rooster and put him back in the warm box. But then as G. was taking a quick video clip a few minutes later to put on her YouTube channel (have I mentioned how much she enjoys that website?), the chicken made another escape attempt.
The rooster is now in the box with some air holes and a closed lid. He'll hang out until tomorrow when he's completely dry and warmed up enough to join his feathered friends in the coop.
The kids really do work hard to take care of our feathered friends, especially in the winter. It's a rough job to trek water into the coop every morning to replace the ice block that forms overnight in their water trough.
But the ducks like to do more than simply drink the water, even on the coldest days.
I believe it was by Rodney Dangerfield who said, "I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out." Well, last night's Pirates game had more fights than usual as the team lost without scoring a single goal.
It was a bummer of a game and even though I managed to catch pieces of some - not all - of the fights on video, I always cringe when they happen. And the girls shrink down in their seats and half close their eyes until it's over.
G. was really sad about the team not playing well and suggested that the coaches, "weren't teaching the player right." I told her that was very unlikely as sometimes a team just has an off night.
Then during the middle of the third period, G. said we should leave the game early because they weren't going to win (the other team had just scored their 5th goal and the Pirates still had none). I reminded her that we were not fair-weather fans and that sometimes we were going to go to games when the team didn't win. G., bless her worry-type personality, was simply having a hard time watching the team lose.
L. didn't like that the team was losing either and decided that they'd win the next game. And in typical fashion, decided that they were losing because, "we need a good luck charm. Grandpa has to come to the next game so they will win." When in doubt, L. always resorts to some random superstitions to help her favorite team.
We took a bunch of Seen Team photos at the game and this was L.'s favorite.
We took the day off yesterday. We had to -- it actually snowed and the mountain had powder conditions to ski and ride! But I should have known we'd have issues as soon as I woke L. up.
First she simply wouldn't get out of bed. "I'm soooooo tired mommy." Then she did not want to eat breakfast but I made her sit down with a bowl of cereal while I packed lunches. She begrudgingly ate a bowl of Trix, not the most nutrious breakfast, but at least it was something.
After arriving and getting ourselves organized, we headed to the chair lift. L. was still a little grouchy and I thought her complaints about her new (used) skis being "too slippery" was just a reflection of her having one-of-those-days.
But then halfway down our first run L. took a tumble. It took her a few minutes to calm down enough to let me check her out. She was OK, just a bit shaken up. She did manage to get herself down the mountain on her own even though she cried all the way.
We took a break at the base of the mountain for a few minutes and G. reviewed for L. how to turn and stop on her skis. I thought it best to take another run before a snack break simply to get L. over the unpleasantness of her fall. She agreed with a candy bribe and we headed back up the mountain on the chair lift.
That's when the next tragedy hit.
L. took off her glove to open her candy and whooosh. It flew right off the chair lift. After a lot of crying, we reached the top of the mountain with L. wearing one of my gloves.
I did OK as a one-handed snowboarder.
After retrieving L.'s glove from the very friendly chair lift operator at the base of the mountain, I decided it was time to have a snack. When someone is in a grouchy mood I feed them. It usually worked for my grandmother and I've had some success with it myself.
L. ate some fruit and half a sandwich and she thankfully was back to her old, happy self again. We pretended to start the day over again and had 3 hours of enjoyable runs down the mountain.
It was a beautiful, cold day at the mountain and the snow machines were working hard.
The kids have been busy sewing with 4-H this month. Last week they attended a county-wide 4-H sewing workshop and made tote bags. I was at the office while they were at the class with their dad but when they came home they explained how they made the box-like bottom for their bags. They were quite pleased with their sewing skills after the class and really liked the idea that they could teach me something new.
And did you know that ANYONE in Maine can submit stories and photos of things going on in your community too? Here's how you - and your kids - can do it:
My.MaineToday.com is a new initiative by MaineToday.com designed to allow anyone to report the news in their community.
Post a photo: You can create a photo gallery if you have a bunch of photos to share or a single photo. It is up to you. The site accepts standard JPEG images, just like those from nearly every digital camera or camera-equipped cell phone. You don't have to write a story to go with your photo(s) but a brief title and basic description helps others understand and appreciate them even more.
Post a story: Stories can be just about anything and you can add up to three photos to your stories - or upload a gallery of photos separately. It's an anything goes type of thing. And adults don't have to be the only contributors - kids can do this too.
To get started, go to My.MaineToday.com and look for the green-shaded box at the top of the page titled: "Get Started Now." The site will guide you through the upload process (it's only 1-3 steps depending on if you're uploading a story or photo; it's really quick). And the best part is that your stories and photos become "live" on the site as soon as you're done.
Share the great things going on in your community with others. It's easy!
At the last minute L. and I decided to go to the Pirates game on Saturday night. MaineToday.com is helping out with the "Pirate for a Day" contest and we wanted a sneak peak preview on the video entries being made before the game.
SUBWAY Restaurants "Pirate for a Day" Contest: Only 50 fans will have a chance to record their "Why I should be a Pirate for a Day?" video entry at the game. Save your SUBWAY cash register receipts; the more you have, the closer to the front of the line you move! You’ll have :15 to catch the eyes of the judges, other Pirates fans! Costumes, jerseys and other props are acceptable! Must be 18 to qualify.
Some entries were pretty straight-forward (person stands and talks about reasons why they want to win) while others did a lot of jumping around and screaming. The online voting (MaineToday's piece of the project) should be a lot of fun and I'll let you know when that is ready to launch (a couple of weeks mostly likely).
"Pirate for a Day" contest
Even though the team lost the game in a shootout, it was pretty intense during the last minute of regulation play when the team huddled-up for a time out and then within 30 seconds scored the goal that forced the game into over-time. And as luck would have it (it was shear luck) - I managed to catch that goal on video.
Note: There was some debate in our house about posting this video but the males of household (Fino and Toddy) decided they were manly enough to agree (and I think Fino suspected that they would be outvoted anyway). But really, his research on doll hair paid off and L. is happy with the results. Although I did hear them discussing a hot oil treatment for next time...
The girls know how to dress for our outdoor adventures but when we're in and out of the car during the day there are multiple reasons why a winter coat in January is unnecessary. This was one of the more creative reasons I've been told recently.
"It gets in the way and I'm not cold when I'm hoola hooping!!"
And when the kids are desperate to play in the snow, they will settle for whatever winter-like stuff they can find. It's amazing how a patch of ice can entertain a group of kids for more than a half hour.
At first I scoffed at Sunday's story about "nature-deficit disorder," thinking it was yet another group of "experts" offering a new label for parents to stress and worry about how they're raising their kids. But as I read the story I realized there is a lot of truth to the issue of kids not spending enough time playing outside and learning about nature.
Now I have to admit, only recently have I allowed my kids to play out in the backyard without being outside with them. And I still don't let them walk around our neighborhood without an adult.
Am I too overprotective? Yeah probably. But I know my kids and they are not nearly as street-savvy as they should be and that worries me. I don't really agree with this particular thinking from the story that basically says parents should relax about their child's safety:
Richard Louv, who has interviewed thousands of parents and children about the subject, said the main culprit is parental fear of "stranger danger" - a fear that he says has been overblown by the 24-hour news cycle that repeats stories about tragedies suffered by children over and over.
"That's the very definition of conditioning," he said. "We're being conditioned to live in a state of fear." Louv said he realizes that there are "monsters out there." But the numbers show that stranger abductions have been either stable or declining for the last 20 years. "That's particularly true for the last 10," he said. "It's not nearly as unsafe out there as parents think."
But getting back to why kids today aren't spending time outdoors ... I think that parents have to show an interest and do it themselves in order to foster their child's interest. Because frankly, if you don't spend time outside why would the kids think they should?
So I do believe as the expert suggests in the story, that a great way to spend time outside is to find an outdoor-related hobby.
My family learned to geocache a couple of years ago even though Fino and I knew nothing about the game other than it required a GPS unit, a gadget I really wanted to have an excuse to buy. But as we learned to play, the kids discovered that they were better at actually finding the geocaches than Fino and I were. That sense of empowerment was a wonderful thing to witness and a gift I didn't realize I could give to them while trekking through the forest looking for a plastic box. Another unexpected bonus was that my kids' time on the computer at home converged with their new outdoor hobby when we discovered Travel Bugs (geocaching game pieces) and started tracking them online.
As a child growing up in an urban area, I had never done a lot of the outdoor activities I do with my kids now. It took some time for Fino and I to figure out how to orienteer, letterbox, navigate a corn maze or mine for gems not to mention I hadn't learned how to cross country ski or snowboard until a few years ago when the kids wanted to learn. But I found the sometimes humbling experience of learning something new and juggling my family's hectic activity/work schedule was well worth the effort. My family has some wonderful memories of spending time together outdoors.
How to you teach your children to appreciate and enjoy nature and the outdoors? I'd love to hear what you think about the "nature-deficit disorder" issue. Post a comment and let's compare notes!
Over the past couple of weeks we haven't had much time to really get out and hike and geocache so we've been doing some maintenance on our own caches.
A couple of our hybrids (geocaches that have letterbox stamps) don't really have room for the traditional geocache trading items and travel bugs/coins but some people have left in those in our caches recently.
And I have just have to say that in my humble, new-to-the-game opinion that the Pirates DID score a goal during the game even though it was ruled a no-goal by the officials. Actually, that was what prompted a big fight on the ice near the Hartford goal. Even the Pirates goalie (Grumet-Morris) skated into the melee to wrestle - and pin - the Hartford goalie. That's not an every game occurrence.
The scoreboard even showed the replay of the action several times and it was REALLY clear that the puck cleared the line. The crowd - including the girls and grandpa - were in a really big huff about that!
Before the game I was taking photos for Seen Team. When the girls walked into the Civic Center with grandpa (they caught a ride with grandpa since I had to work at the office earlier) they knew immediately that I had already arrived. They thought this sight was highly amusing.
Actually, the crowd at the game last night was great. There were a lot of festive revelers and it made taking photos for Seen Team even more enjoyable. Seen Team at the game
During Chuck-A-Puck someone's puck landed in the center circle for the $1,000 cash prize but then was knocked out by another puck. All around a scoreless night for Mainers last night.
The after-game celebration and fireworks show was also a lot of fun. We've never really taken them out to any major event for New Year's Eve and they really enjoyed the fireworks show.