The Cumberland Fair's parade around the racetrack was this morning. The wake-up call for the girls was 4:30 a.m. to get to the fairgrounds early to help put together the float their club had planned for the parade.
This is the second year the kids have been involved in the parade and they love having a float in the parade but not the early morning float work so much.
The girls took the camera to the fairgrounds while I was working so they could take some shots of the final float construction.
Fino took along the hot cocoa supplies for the crew
Apparently my kids were driving their daddy a little crazy because they were spending more time jumping around rather than helping put the float together.
Nice role-modeling the use of scissors daddy
L. told me she was distracted with the moon she could see in the daytime sky and had to take a picture of it instead of doing her float job. I downloaded more than a couple of moon shots from the camera so maybe daddy was justified with his horror movie scare tactic.
The kids chose three activities that they enjoyed this past year with their club to include as part of their float for the parade's "Family Fun" theme. I thought the apple headband was a nice touch on the archery section.
My kids have very limited experience with amusements parks. When they were 3 and 4 years old we went to Disneyland in California while visiting their cousins. We also went on a 3-day camping trip in Big Sur during that same visit and when we got home there was nary a mention about Disneyland. It was all about the camping trip and the seals and 'mermaids' (which were seals but they were convinced they were mermaids) and the waterfall we saw on a hiking trail.
And our one trip to Storyland was too much for our little G. when she was 5 and we ended up in the playground area of the park for almost the entire visit.
So raising a child who is overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of moving people, no interest in rides and a husband who also doesn't care for crowds either and doesn't like spending the kind of money amusement parks cost, we haven't made a return trip to one.
The girls will generally do one or two rides at each county fair we visit during the summer, which is usually the merry-go-round and some sort of kiddie ride that goes in a circle. They are intimidated by the big rides and haven't considered even trying them until this summer.
In July they tried the bumper cars at the Ossipee Fair for the first time and that was big news at our house.
In contrast, by the time I was 10 I was begging my dad to take me to Canobie Lake Park to ride the big coasters (which he first introduced me to a couple of years before that).
So when L. asked to ride the 'big kid rides' at the Cumberland Fair on Wednesday I was happy she wanted to give them a whirl.
G. still doesn't want anything to do with the rides so I purchased a ride bracelet with L. while G. and grandma (who trekked up to Maine for the day to see the girls' exhibits at the fairgrounds) walked around to sample all the food instead.
One of the rides on L.'s list was the ferris wheel (which she tried for the very first time at OOB last month with her friend) so we took some shots from the top.
We had to take a picture of the 4-H hall.
We spotted G. in her pink skirt with grandma walking around.
After the ride we made our third visit the Maple Sugar house (we've spent 4 days at the fairgrounds so far with one more day to go for the float their club made for the parade tomorrow). We all LOVE maple cotton candy and can't seem to get enough of it.
And what a surprise that L. brought a Webkinz with her on every ride. She is definitely going to be a big pocketbook type when she's older. She has a lot of 'necessities' to carry around all the time.
Do your kids have a favorite amusement park ride? We'd love ride and park suggestions for next year. L. and I might take an amusement park trip and leave G. and daddy at home.
The girls enjoyed their volunteer work at the 4-H food booth at the Cumberland Fair yesterday but there were a couple of memorable moments -- as there always are when dealing with the general public.
Take for instance the man who put his dirty dog bowl (w/kibble still in it) through the order window and into one of the girl's hands and asked her to wash it. It was either take the bowl or let it drop. Fino intervened on G.'s behalf and sent it right back out with a suggestion to wash it in the bathroom. (I have a feeling he would have offered a more colorful suggestion if the kids weren't around.)
Or the guy who ordered several sodas and kept asking L. for refills. The first was because his son had spilled it. Then it was because he drank it all. He was demanding and L. wasn't sure what to do about his request until one of the adults stepped in and asked him to pay for the refills. He didn't come back.
Then there was the woman who was hovering over the counter where the grill guys were (i.e., half her body was over the counter and into Fino and Josh's work space) offering pointers on how they could manage the orders better. As you can imagine, the guys didn't care for that so much but they showed amazing self-control in refraining from making any comments back.
There was a guy who ordered 3 hot dogs, 2 burgers and a sausage, paid for them then took off and never came back to collect his order. After calling the order number out for 30 minutes, I finally gave up. Someone in the crowd thought maybe the person just didn't hear me. That produced a chuckle from Fino. Quiet is not usually a word used to describe me.
Then there was a guy who came up to the booth asking questions for several minutes about the donuts we were selling. He asked multiple times what flavors we had (there were 4), who made them and confirming twice they were not from Dunkin Donuts. He walked away without making a purchase.
But there were lots of wonderful people who purchased items at the booth yesterday that were patient with the kids and clearly supportive of their effort to learn how to manage everything.
Like the woman L. gave a soda cup filled mostly with foam. It took L. several minutes to fill up the cup with actual soda and learn the nuances of dispensing carbonated drinks.
Or the slow moving line because it took a while for G. to tally an order and give back change. She did get the hang of things with Sarah, her 4-H leader, helping her out.
So I write this entry with humble respect. My hat goes off to those brave - and very patient - people who work with the public every day.
The food booth team that took orders, managed the cash drawer and dispensed the drinks.
Fino and our leader's husband Josh manned the grill.
Yesterday after the 4-H exhibit judging my family, along with several others, set up the 4-H hall with all the projects done by Cumberland County 4-Hers this past year.
The goal of the hall set up is to feature all the projects to their best advantage. I was designated as one of the climbers to hang stuff above the display steps.
The girls' 4-H leader put up a couple of the girls' projects. Dulce was the subject of several projects the girls have in the exhibit hall this year (L.'s projection art pic is on the right). They love that little rascal.
Once all the projects were placed, the fencing needed to be put up to protect them from being touched and damaged during the fair. I wasn't involved with that but it didn't exactly look like the easiest of tasks.
G. helped string the rope to protect the club exhibits. That darn dairy club always takes home the big 1st place rosette. Of course those 4-Hers do *awesome* projects and displays every year. The horse club display (in background) got a big thumbs up from the girls because they really liked braiding the yarn manes on the wooden horse heads. According to the girls, it was really a "fun and cool display."
The girls also spent some time walking around the fairgrounds yesterday to see how everything was set up and to show their visiting Flat Stanley (Maria) from Brazil what a Maine county fair is like.
The girls also did some chitchatting with their 4-H friend C. who was grooming her sheep to get ready for the 4-H sheep events this week.
Apparently the discussion when I took this pic was about the sheep being relaxed and the fact that it didn't care about moving around during this grooming session.
Today we're off to flip burgers in the 4-H snack shack. It's the cheapest - and tastiest - grub on the fairgrounds this week. Plus, it's for a good cause. All the proceeds go to the county's 4-H programs throughout the year.
Being typical kids with sticks in their hands, they had a grand time waving them around and being silly in-between offering parking assistance (and they did actually do a good job directing traffic).
But much to G.'s chagrin, her more vigorous waving did make the orange tie fall off a few times and required quick adjustments.
After they were done directing traffic, the kids attended the annual meeting and enjoyed eating the results of the pie bake-off afterwards as well as the glow sticks they were given when the sun started setting (of course what kid doesn't like glow-in-the-dark stuff?).
As G. often does sitting for long periods of time (i.e., more than a half hour) she got antsy so I sent her off to take some photos of the area while I chatted for a few minutes.
The setting sun at the estuary...
Hopefully the Extension Association's fundraising plans work out so that Tidewater Farm can serve as the new location of their offices and education facilities. It really is a beautiful place.
This year Standish Recreation started a new field hockey recreation program. It's basically an intro program for the sport for girls in grades 2-5 that only requires one afternoon per week commitment to participate. L. has been asking me to find a place for her to learn and play the game ever since USM's Girl Sports day back in February so I signed her up.
It turned out that the program needed volunteers so I offered to help with the caveat that I knew absolutely nothing about the game. That turned out to be OK so I'm learning right along with the kids from Bonnie Brown-Denico, USM's field hockey coach who is running the program.
L. is always one for saying what's on her mind. My favorite quote of the day from her was:
"You can't slap-shoot the field hockey ball like the Pirates. Did you know that mom? I like this girl hockey game a lot better for me to play."
L. went on and on about how much she liked field hockey in the car after her first practice. Then she wanted to know when the Pirates had their first game because she was really excited about the new season starting since she's involved in 'hockey' now.
For the past three years the girls have taken horseback riding classes for a few weeks each fall and/or spring. They LOVE trail riding and grooming the horses so they save up their money during the year (from birthdays and 4-H fair premiums) to pay for the lessons.
This fall their class are on Friday afternoons while I'm at the office. Fino serves as their taxi service and this past week I asked him to take a few photos of the girls on the horses for their scrapbook.
It's something I've done every year because like most parents, I enjoy looking back to see how the kids have grown.
But as I downloaded the photos this morning, I realized I didn't specify the kind of shots I wanted. I just assumed he would take a full body photo of the horse with the kid on it and that the kid might be looking in the direction of the camera for the photo.
As a woman who has been married for more than 14 years, I should have known better than to assume anything. I should have given him more instructions (although he tends to tune me out after the first sentence so that may not have worked anyhow).
While going through the photos I wondered why he didn't go to the places in the ring area where parents can see the riders without the obstructed view.
But then at the end of the 20 or so pictures he took (some of which were out of focus, bless his heart G. & L. use the same camera), I found a nice photo of the girls grooming a horse.
So this morning I asked him to take a few more photos next week after explaining more clearly what I wanted. He didn't see anything wrong with his photos but he agreed to try again.
Sometimes this blog thing gives me some nice leverage.
This week was all about footwear at the Almeida homestead. Not the "wouldn't it be nice to buy those shoes" week. Oh no. Our week would fall in to the "Whaddaya mean they don't fit anymore?"
So like most parents of fast-growing kids, I am going broke buying footwear for my 11-year-old's various activities that include tap and ballet shoes.
The hard-to-face reality of the situation for me is that my 11-year-old, G., is wearing my size shoe now -- that'd be a women's size 11.
I know that sounds a little scary but I think she will likely surpass my 6-feet stature in just a few short years. G.'s about 5'4" tall now so I'm pretty confident her body will eventually catch up to her feet.
The good news of the week was that G.'s dance teacher told her that girl's feet typically stop growing around 6th grade. She's been in the dance shoe business for several decades so I'm counting on this being the last year we have to replace shoes before she wears them out (actually I don't think she's ever worn out a pair in her entire life).
But sadly, G.'s shoe size now requires special ordering for dance shoes and that means waiting a week or more before she can get them.
The every day shoes are slightly easier to find *if* we can locate shoes that meet her criteria.
"They have to be comfortable and feel right."
"They can't look like boy shoes."
"They can't make my feet look too big."
"That's not appropriate for an 11-year-old."
The sad thing is that this is only September. The jump in shoe size will break the family budget again before December when we have to track down boots for both downhill and cross country skiing as well as snow boots and ice skates.
Of course, she could *borrow* some of my gear but then I can't do the activities with her. Although I suppose I could use Fino's ski stuff since he's the same size too... I know, it's all a little weird.
My slower-growing 9-year-old is not happy with me at the moment because her shoes still fit so I'm not buying her any new ones.
L. loves new shoes.
When L. was little I would go out of my way to avoid the shoe section of every store I visited with her. On the rare occasions I forgot, my little L. would pitch a fit to bring the house (or store) down if she didn't get a new pair of shoes that very minute. It was the throwing herself of the ground and sobbing kind of display. I didn't give in to her demands very often but sometimes I took the easy, cowardly way out and got the darn shoes she couldn't live without.
And this started before she could walk.
I'm not exaggerating (family and friends who know L., feel free to chime in to confirm this).
I decided when L. was about 18-months old to tell her about the Shoe Fairy who would only bring good little girls shoes. This particular Shoe Fairy did not like it when little girls pitched fits at the store.
The Shoe Fairy did visit L. periodically for a number of years and although the temper tantrums have waned, the whining and badgering for a new pair of shoes hasn't.
I know parents of boys have additional expenses in the footwear department between growing feet and shoes wearing out more quickly. But girl footwear has it's own special challenges.
The race was designed to encourage kids to learn more about technology through 4-H. Since my family has done some geocaching, we were put in charge of getting the supplies together to launch the club's travel bug.
Yesterday several members of the club hiked to our geocache at Kiwanis Beach to launch it. A few in the club had never geocached so we let them lead the way with the GPS unit and everyone exchanged trinkets.
L. was put in charge of tracking the Travel Bug online and reporting its progress to the club each month. Earning points for the race involves quite a bit of math (points for miles traveled as well as each cache, state and country it visits) so it will be a good practical math project for her.
We're hoping to get lucky with the 4-H Walker like some others the kids have launched in the past.
Hiking Doggie saw a lot of action in New Zealand for a couple of years but he hasn't moved since March. We're hoping with the southern hemisphere's start of spring that he'll be moving along again soon. But some of our other TBs have been MIA for a while so things don't always work out.
But he started off in the US before he made the leap to Europe.
You can download a Google Earth file from geocaching.com that plots all the geocaches a Travel Bug has visited for you. It's pretty cool.
The kids understand anything can happen with this TB race. They're hoping the geocachers of the world take good care of the 4-H Walker and keep it moving -- at least until May 2008 (when the official part of the race ends).
My girls - like most kids of the 21st century - are not intimidated by new software. If it's something that captures their interest, they'll give it a whirl.
About a month ago my friend Lisa suggested I check out Photo Story. She said it was a fun way to make a slide show of photos with your own music (you can create your own or upload an existing track). Since the kids have made a few of slide shows this past year with MovieMaker, I thought we'd try something new out.
L. was sitting next to me at the computer when I was downloading the software and she kept looking over my shoulder. She asked if she could try to make a video of Dulce's photos so I let her take over.
After what seemed like only a few minutes, she had made a slide show (it actually took the 9-year-old about a half hour). Last week she revised the project with some new photos and decided to enter it as her 4-H "Technology" entry at the upcoming Cumberland Fair (the fair opens Sept. 23).
Dulce's 'Blue' video
I'm not trying to make it sound like L. is really smart to have figured this out. No, the reason I chose to blog about this is because parents of kids today deal with stuff like this all the time. Kids are simply not afraid of new technology.
You put some new computer program in front of most parents and you'll likely hear a groan or an excuse to try it later because it will take time and more brainpower than they have at that moment to figure it out.
You put a kid in front of new software and they say, "OK, I can do this," and they start immediately navigating through it and make it look easy.
Another recent example of this at our house was related to our mobile phones. We have an extra phone in our plan (a long story that involved a broken phone and a decision that Fino has to have insurance) so when the option came to upgrade, we ended up with new phones and a calling plan that included texting. G. (she's 11) had texting figured out in a split second and has been asking all her friends and family to text her. And if you ask my co-workers they can confirm that she's always texting me while I'm at the office (and I agree with the PSAs about staying in touch with your kid via the phone, it really is a good thing).
How things have changed since I was a middle-schooler taking a typing class on an electric typewriter. The real kicker is that I'm not even 40 yet ...
We decided to bike the Mountain Division Trail yesterday because it was such a beautiful day.
I had a stomach bug that I couldn't seem to shake most of the weekend but was feeling better yesterday so biking the trail sounded like a good way to salvage the last day of the holiday weekend.
We set out on the trail from the Standish trailhead with plans to see if we could bike the entire length of the trail (which was posted on the kiosk as 4.7 miles from Standish to Windham).
The shady spots of the trail were great and the sunny parts required a couple of water breaks.
We had never biked (nor hiked or skiied) the full length of the trail so had not realized how many road crossings it had. There were four in total with all but one very quite roads.
This crossing had a lot more fast-moving traffic than the others.
After passing over the Presumpscot River, we got to thinking about our canoe and if we'd paddled down to this part of the river before. We all agreed that we hadn't .... yet.
On our way back to the Standish trailhead we ran in to some horses. We see a lot of horses in the Otter Ponds area when we're on this trail and the kids love it.
By the time we came to our favorite hill to cross country ski down, L. had to walk her bike up part of the way. The bike ride was about 10 miles round trip so everyone was entitled to be a little tired by the time we got to the last 1/2 mile.
We brought along our GPS unit to make a track of the trail since we're really enjoying everytrails.com (they really liked this trek of Namibia with the animals in it). But the GPS lost reception for about 1/2 mile so there's a portion of the trail missing on our map. We have plans to fix it this week but according to the readings on our GPS, we covered a little over 10 miles roundtrip. That was a record setting afternoon for mileage we've done on our bikes in a single day. The kids suggested we stick to our 4-mile roundtrips to the ice cream store near our house this week to recooperate.
We've spent a lot of time in the car the past couple of weeks with driving to Grafton Notch State Park twice and Oxford County. But the drives haven't been a hardship with the audio book titles we've been listening to.
Our first car ride to Grafton Notch was spent listening to "Half Magic" by Edward Eager (the kids gave this book, written in the 1950s, a thumbs up).
A few days later we went back down Route 26 to West Paris to dig for gems. During that car ride we started on a new book series, The Roman Mysteries. We all really enjoyed the first book in the series, "The Thieves of Ostia" and the kids were at the library the next day to pick up the next two audio books in the series!
The series is historical fiction set in ancient Rome around 79 A.D. The story is packed full of history about how people lived during that time with details about food, housing and activities. This isn't a time period that the girls have been really interested in up until now. But these books have great characters and the story is fast-paced with lots of suspense and it is right up their alley (and Fino and I are really enjoying the story too).
It's called 'mystery' but my kids say it seems more like an adventure series to them than a mystery. Whatever the case, they are hooked on the series and we are now already on our third audio installment.
The bummer is that the series is just finishing up it's first season in the UK and no DVD/video recordings and/or broadcast plans are in the works for the U.S. just yet.
But of course YouTube has a couple of trailers, a behind-the-scenes on-location piece and clips from an episode. I think you can guess that my kids are more than a little peeved that the TV series isn't in the states yet! But now they are more motivated to read/listen to the rest of the books in the series.
[Note: The first 4 books in the series are available in audio, the following 2 are not, then books 7-9 have audio versions but after that there is no more audio. It seems weird to me that they would record the books out of order but there you go. But my kids plan to read the titles we can't get in audio because they are clamoring for more, just as a book series should be ;-) ]
Click on the YouTube watermark in the lower right-hand side to view the videos on YouTube (or go here to see them all). A couple of them in this playlist we made have to be watched directly on the site because the person who posted the videos doesn't allow embed code on other sites.
Have any favorite books series - in audio or print - that you like? Tell us about it.