After spending a week target shooting with her dad in the backyard with both a BB-gun and .22-rifle (no Barbies this time, the targets of choice were cardboard boxes with hand drawn bulls-eyes and cans), L. was ready with her own ear protectors and renewed enthusiasm to give the shooting range with the Bulls-eye 4-H club another try.
So last night L. stepped into the shooting range and got down to business. Her form in the prone position was not ideal (swinging ankles in the air isn't condusive to steady shooting) but she managed to hit her paper almost every time.
G. was prepared this time and wore a pair of pants under her fleece skirt. She's got her fashion statement to think about on the range after all.
Target Shooting - Take 2
I had mixed feelings about being proud of L.'s shooting ability. Fino - who likes to stir things up on occasion - enjoyed my reaction to his comment about her "killer instinct."
The girls have now been assigned to a prone competition team (beginners learn to shoot in that position first) in the 4-H club so they could not bring their targets home last night because they had to be sent in somewhere (I have no idea how any of this works) to be scored.
The girls came home happy and excited to go to the range next week.
Mimi, the New York city area dog owned by our cousins came up for Thanksgiving (the people came too). Mimi was a little ripe and all the girls decided she needed a bath and some grooming in our bathtub.
I am certain the girls enjoyed themselves a lot more than Mimi.
Mimi offered a little payback with a very wet shake that got all the kids wet.
And just to make sure the cats didn't feel left out after all the attention Mimi received, the girls decided to make up a story about a rich kitty and a poor kitty, which included a horse-drawn carriage, various head gear, snow (thanks to quilt batting) and background music on the electric piano.
Dulce's Princess Story
Ahh yes, it was an eventful holiday weekend with our cousins at the Almeida homestead.
Our Thanksgiving Day prep started with making pies. G. took charge of making the pumpkin pie and L. took charge of the apple pie. She was just in it for the apple peeling action as well as the left over bits of apple.
The apple-peeling gizmo was money well-spent a few years back. The kids love using it and I don't mind making apple pies because it's not so labor-intensive anymore.
Since we had FOUR large hams in our freezer from the pig raffle winnings, we decided the last thing we needed to do was to find the space - or spend the money - on a turkey.
The kids were a little resistent to the idea initially because they couldn't believe our family would not eat turkey on Thanksgiving. But having grown up in an Italian-American family that ate a multi-course meal that included Italian soup and lasagna BEFORE the turkey was even served, it wasn't so far off-base to me.
I made two hams for the nine people we had at our Thanksgiving dinner table and there was still plenty left-over. The only meat we've eaten since our winnings back in early October has been pork. We still have a freezer full of meat.
Every adult at the dinner table said it was a little strange that they did not feel so tired after eating the Thanksgiving meal. We all got to thinking eating ham sounded -- and felt -- a whole lot better than turkey for next year too.
The girls gave roller skiing a try for the first time this weekend with Mike from the Maine Winter Sports Center. It is what nordic and biathlon competitors do when there isn't any snow to train on and we were curious to learn more about it.
Roller skis are a shorter version of cross country skis that have wheels on the bottom of the skis. The bindings on roller skis match the NNN and SNS style of cross country boots.
The girls brought their cross country ski boots and as soon as they locked into the bindings of the roller skis, they both commented on how weird it felt.
"This doesn't exactly feel like skiing mom. It feels kinda weird."
There are two basic kinds of roller skis - classic and skate. G. tried a classic pair of roller skis that had a rachet mechanism on the front wheel so she couldn't roll backwards. She liked the sound of that safety feature. L. tried a skate style with wheels that rolled both forward and back. After watching both the girls I noticed that G.'s movements were a little choppy while L. seemed to roll better. It looked to me G. was working twice as hard as her sister to glide along the pavement so I agreed with her when she said L.'s roller skis were better.
We walked beside each of the girls at first but they got the feel of the roller skis since they have done quite a bit of cross country skiing and they like to inline skate.
The trick of either ski is that there is no break built on to the roller ski to stop. That made the girls a little nervous but on the flat, smooth surface of the driveway, stopping was not a big issue.
After the girls took off their borrowed roller skis, we watched the competitive rollerskiers race around Pineland Farms for the Duathlon race. The girls and their friend (her dad was rollerskiing for fun with the competitors) cheered everyone on as the racers made three loops around Pineland Farms' course.
The Pirates changed the song played after the team scores a goal this season. L. and I have chatted about the change several times because she doesn't like it so much. It's also hard to hear compared to the old "Hey" song so I'm not even sure exactly what the tune actually is.
Fino took G. and L. target shooting with the 4-H Bullseye Club earlier this week. This is something he's been wanting to do with the girls for a long time now, mostly because he enjoys target shooting and wanted an excuse to do it more often. And since L. had such a great time at L.L. Bean last weekend with the computer simulation shooting game, Fino thought this was a good time to try the shooting sports club with them.
Being the organizer of the family, I called the 4-H leader of the club to get more information about their meetings at West Cumberland Rod & Gun Club. But because I know absolutely nothing about target shooting, I did not think to tell G. not to wear a her usual skirt (she makes them herself and wears one everyday) when she went to the meeting.
The skirt was a problem since beginners learn to shoot in the prone position first. But Fino's coat thrown over the bottom half of G.'s legs made her feel better about that part of things.
I thought G., being my slow-to-warm-up-to-new-activities kid by nature, would not like shooting that night. She was already stressed about her skirt problem and her glasses for near-sightedness had not arrived yet so she couldn't see the target very well. She's also a south paw and there weren't any lefty-shooting rifles available. The combination would have been enough to send any kid over the edge, let alone G.
But it all worked out. Once she made a couple of shots right-handed, one of the instructors realized that although she was missing her own target, she had hit her sister's instead (which was to her left). G.'s instructor asked her to switch trigger arms (so she was shooting lefty even though her rifle wasn't designed that way) and she was able to hit her own target a couple of times, much to her delight.
L. on the other hand was a jumble of nerves. Sometimes with L., being the spunky, prone-to-random-whims-for-the drama-factor kid, I'm not always sure when she says she's scared if she really is or if it's a ply for attention. It took us a while to realize she really was scared, not necessarily of the rifle itself but for the noise it makes when it discharges. The club didn't have any air rifles, which are quieter I'm told than the .22-rifles they use at Bullseye Club, and L. never did pull the trigger on the .22 for fear of the noise that night.
And I didn't blame her for being concerned. Every time G. took a shot I jumped, even with ear plugs on (see video below). Maybe there's a genetic jump factor I passed on to L...
But then L. and Fino chatted the next day about things and she decided to give his BB-gun another try at home before the next Bullseye meeting. Apparently last year she did some target shooting she enjoyed with Fino that involved his BB-gun and some old Barbies. I had no idea such an activity had gone on and all I could think when that tidbit was shared was that it was such a daddy thing to do!
Questions on the shooting range G.'s questions and comments cracked me up
Friends of ours decided to take a break from raising chickens and gave us the remaining part of their original flock.
About 18 chickens of various breeds ...
... and a couple of guineas.
The guineas, which I was really on the fence about taking but Fino really wanted, make a lot of racket and are pretty good at scaring away predators. And even if they don't exactly scare them away, the humans will hear the racket and investigate. Apparently the guineas have alerted our friends to attacks and ultimately saved their rooster's life. Twice.
After loosing Sassy, the girls are happy to have the guineas around and have been checking in with the flock more than usual.
We now have about 30 chickens, 2 ducks and 2 guineas now which is about the maximum number of feathered friends we've ever had at one time.
Hear the guineas
Since our friends asked us if we had the space for all of them - and were up for the care (the girls offered an enthusiastic yes) - I thought I'd post a couple of photos of Chickenland (our chicken coop).
The first phase of the coop was actually the middle chicken wire portion, which Fino built lickety-split because he bought the chickens before he had a place to put them.
Then he built the enclosed portion the following fall/winter and includes glass sliding doors he found at the dump. It's great to have a full wall of windows for a south-facing coop (more light=more eggs and happy chickens). Then he added the other end of the wired coop when our flock grew to 30 a year later so they had space to spread out.
The red string is linked to a bent nail that closes the door lock. After years of losing track of that darn nail, Fino decided to tie it to the nearby tree. He's a smart one.
After the third addition, the girls dubbed the coop Chickenland because they think it's sort of like a fun house/playland for their feathered friends.
The Maine Winter Sports Center had a demo running to promote their biathlon program for youth. We were told a biathlon group for 10 years+ will be starting up in southern Maine this winter and more information about that should be coming out soon.
Shooting sports are not something my girls are drawn to but after a little encouragement, both girls gave the computer demo a try.
L. did well for a first try at target shooting (she had a little assistance from a MWSC staffer). She scored high enough to get her name on the prize board, which she was quite pleased about.
Fino had to check out all the rifles in the new Hunting and Fishing store (he's a former army guy and likes to target shoot). Being typical females, we appreciated the decorations more than the merchandise there.
The girls spotted these lights - which were all over the place in a variety of shapes and sizes - and thought they were nice.
Since Fino is a vet tech, he's familiar with surgical techniques (and not squeamish). But he needed a second set of hands and asked for G.'s help cleaning the wounds. She did that surprisingly well and without complaint. The chickens are after all her beloved pets that she works hard to take care of them everyday (even when the tasks aren't fun).
Fino didn't have the surgical supplies he needed so he had to improvise by using dental floss to make the stitches. And the sock was his idea too so G. and L.'s hands wouldn't be pecked mercilessly while holding the hen in place. She actually seemed calmer with the sock over her head.
The whole process took about 45 minutes and the chicken ended up with about 15 stitches. She's doing well this morning and we're hopeful she'll make a full recovery.
The girls have renamed the chicken "Sassy" after handling this ordeal so well.
During the 'surgery' the hen made some weird noise that gave us a surprise and had us laughing the rest of the night. It was definitely a YouTube moment.
G. had a dentist appointment this afternoon to have a baby tooth pulled that she couldn't wiggle out and was causing problems with an adult molar. After several incidents with her dad pulling out the surgical pliers to yank one of her teeth out (which she does let hang by a tiny thread for days before her dad gets to it), she's apprehensive about telling us about her loose teeth. And even though she admits that her dad's extraction technique has never really hurt, both girls beg me not to tell him about their loose teeth.
To be honest, I'd run the other way too.
At the dentist though G. was a trooper with the extraction and the molar came out without much ado.
When we arrived home L. informed me that Dulce lost a tooth too. I have never seen a kitten tooth fall out before but L. managed to find it and put it in the tooth fairy box.
G.'s baby molar looks huge next to Dulce's tiny canine. I'm totally amazed that L. saw Dulce's tooth fall out and managed to find it afterwards.
G.'s hoping for $1 from the tooth fairy but the question being pondered by L. at the moment is what the tooth fairy will bring for Dulce.
The Bam-Bams were back at the Pirates game last night and the girls were all smiles about that. The guys drinking beer next to me said they'd apologize at the beginning of the game for the occasional curse word they might utter during the game around my kids. I supposed I should have done something similar for the family sitting in front of us for the random swing of the Bam-Bams by my crew. But it was an enthusiastic and pleasant crowd in our section and everyone got along just fine.
We were a little late getting to the game so I didn't make my way around the stands for Seen Team like I usually do but the fans I did catch were all decked out in their Pirates gear. Seen Team at the game last night
MaineToday also has a new Pirates FAN page where you can upload your own game photos, post commentary about the game and read Eric Weinrich's blog. We compiled some videos on a YouTube playlist for this season so if you catch some video from a game this year let me know and I'll get it on the playlist!
L. wanted to know if she and her friend A. could be Seen Team's "Fan of the Night" sometime but I told her the Seen Team couldn't choose themselves. She was willing (although reluctantly) to forgo the prize -- a really spiffy orange water bottle with the Seen Team logo and free tickets to another game -- because she just wanted her and A.'s picture to be on the scoreboard.
As things have a way of working out, she and A. did end up catching the eye of the roaming video camera during their enthusiastic rendition of YMCA and had their 10 seconds of fame on the board last night. They couldn't have been happier about it.
Since daylight savings 'fall back' isn't until this weekend (because of that darn new law), it took an extra hour for dusk and the girls were anxious to get out on the trick-or-treating route (I would guess other mother's across the US were cursing those lawmakers Halloween night). To pass the time, they decided to play with their new kittens outside and teach them how fun the swing set was.
You can guess who was having more fun with that.
And G. has been trying really hard to teach Dulce how to go for a walk on a leash. I don't have the heart to tell her about the reality of training a cat ...
I put a stop to the idea of teaching the kittens about the slide. I thought the swing was more than enough for everyone.
Once dusk set in the girls were in their costumes and out the door. We live in a good neighborhood for trick-or-treating with a low-traffic, one-mile loop.
G. was a Renaissance Queen and L. was St. Lucia, which was prompted by the latest American Girl catalog (Kirsten celebrates the Swedish holiday for the saint and had a page spread with a costume like this).
The girls like going door-to-door, not just for the candy but to also visit with everyone's animals. They know nearly every dog and cat in our neighborhood, most by name. So Halloween is a time to catch up on each of their animal friends with at the door chit-chat. I usually have to remind them to wrap up and get moving again, much to the amusement of my neighbors.
Of course, the girls can never remember any of our neighbor's names but that's clearly not part of their agenda. It's all about the animals for them.