Wednesday, January 30, 2013

an old man on 100's day

Today was Josh's 100th day of school.
He got to dress up like a hundred-year-old man.
I guess hundred-year-old men wear plaid shirts and crooked glasses.
I tried to get him to wear a vest or tie, but he said no thanks.
Chris wanted to shave off the top of his hair so he'd be bald on top.
Josh ran away screaming.

They got to bring treats and choose a hundred things for their trail mix bags.
"We got 100 stuff, like angry birds gummies, and mario gummies."

I guess old people eat a lot of gummies.

For the most part, they just counted by 10's all day.
They didn't have any old people races.
That would have been cool to see a bunch of miniature hundred-year-olds running a race.

It would look something like this:
Don't tell Josh I put this on here. he does NOT like people to laugh at him :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

I don't know if you know this...

...but Ashley writes talks in her spare time. She has a notebook full of church talks on things like baptism, faith, and modesty.

The other day she was busy hand-stitching for a while, then asked if she could use the computer to research a lesson she was writing. I helped her find one, and she printed it out. Then she cut and taped and scribbled things down. Being the amazing mother that I am, I didn't pay much attention to her busy work, since that is typical Ashley behavior.

Tonight she volunteered to teach our Family Home Evening lesson. She passed around this piece of fabric and told us there was a hidden message in it that we needed to find.

Can you see what her lesson was about?

She read us a story about a man who lost his leg and carved himself a new one, having faith that he would be healed enough to fulfill his calling in life.

Then she pulled a white card out of that magic pocket she'd taped to the back of her lesson. We were supposed to choose something on that list that would increase our faith, and then add something of our own to the list. The boys took it seriously and added things like "pay tithing" and "choose the right."

She bore a beautiful, eloquent testimony about raising our banner of faith, and how having faith can help us in our lives.

Chris and I looked at each other and laughed in a stunned kind of way, amazed at this person that was sent to our family.

We know she's ours because she has all of our genes, but wow.

I hope I can be more like Ashley when I grow up!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bracelet Boas, fabulous fossils, and a mystery unravled

Today the Natural History Museum had a grand opening of their new exhibit, Titanoboa: Monster Snake. Apparently it's a dinosaur boa fossil measuring 48 feet and weighing 2,500 pounds. We didn't pay to see the huge snake bones, but the museum had cool (free) things to see all over the place today.

 Josh wanted a picture with this fossil. They also let us choose from a bunch of ocean fossils that we could take home. Ethan got an old black whale rib. I chose a heavy black Dugong rib, similar to the middle rib in this (link) picture. Josh and Ashley chose smooth seashells.

This is called a Bracelet Boa, because Cleopatra wore them as accessories around her wrist.

 I can see why people keep snakes as pets. Their skin is so amazing, and their faces are so cute...

 Until they decide to wrap around your neck and kill you.
Luckily this guy just wanted to crawl into my shirt and get warm instead of kill me.

We got to pet a turtle...

and than become a pre-teenage mutant ninja turtle.

Go Gators!

It was fun to talk to people who were so passionate about what they do,
whether it's about bugs, turtles, sea shells or whatever.
This guy is the president of the local fossil hunter clubs.
He told us we can find shark teeth and other cool fossils in any of the streams or rivers here in The Swamp. Then he gave the kids their own bags of shark teeth. 

This was part of his shark teeth collection. Apparently not all sharks have pointy teeth. This guy has pearly teeth. That's the kind of shark I hope I run into at the beach.

Ethan was proud of his new sticker collection.

They had a puzzle you could do out on the grass that shows how big the Titanaboa is in real life.

Pretty big!
I'll never make fun of the movie Anaconda again.

The library's book mobile was on the scene, too (you can see it in the back ground behind our giant snake puzzle), and they gave the kids bags of crayons, coloring pages and noise makers, like kazoos and clackers.
We appreciated them so much, we considered going to use them at the library, where THEY could appreciate them too!

A campus taco truck was conveniently parked outside the museum so we thought we'd give them a try. 
The kids decided it was the BEST. DAY. EVER.
They say that a lot. I guess we have lots of best days :)

And here's a cool update.
Remember when we found this seashell last week, and we didn't know what it was?
It was delicate and broke easily, and I wondered if it was a baby turtle shell or maybe a turtle egg shell.
Well, since we were hanging out with all kinds of experts at the museum today,
I showed the turtle guy this picture, since it was still on my camera.
He didn't know what it was.
He said, "go talk to the seashell guys."
So I showed them this picture. 
They got all excited.
And this is what it is:
Mystery solved.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The best MLK day ever -- part 2

After the beach, we headed to St. Augustine. It was fitting because Martin Luther King Jr. actually preached here for a little while. And in celebration of MLK, the Castillo de San Marcos was free to the public (which was a pleasant surprise when we got there). I went on a field trip to the castle with Ethan, but the rest of the family has only enjoyed the view from the outside.

 We are a happy family :)

 The castle is just empty room after empty room of seashell walls, with an occasional poster to read or artifact to look at.

 I always love to see graffiti from the 1800's. People in that time loved to sign their names on everything.

Because the castle is a national monument, the park rangers have a junior ranger program where kids answer quiz-type questions as they tour the park. My kids have done it in other places, like the anasazi state park, and they work hard to earn a badge.
Ethan wasn't interested this time, but Josh and Ashley were determined to get the shiny badge. This pirate guy gave them their badge when they were finished with the quiz.

Josh was so proud, he talked the whole way home about what outfit he'd wear that would go with his badge.
He and Ashley even came home and wrote a letter to the National Park Service about why it's important to keep things like the castle maintained. When they send the letter, the NPS will send each of them a scout patch in return :)

Ashley's letter said, "I learned that cannons were the main line of defense for the castillo. To me the Castillo means a place of learning about war. I think it is important to preserve the castillo so that other children can learn about castles and war. I also learned that the moat around the castillo was usually dry. Thank you for letting me come and learn. Your friend, Ashley."

Josh's letter said, "I LearneD THat SpaNish BuilDT the Fourt. It's important Beickus we can see histroe. WiTHout the forT, we couLD oNLy Learn about this stuf in Books. Withoat the raNgers, the CasLL would faLL DoWN. Luve, JosH"

So as you can see, it's important to support the NPS, so future generations of children can learn about war, and the rangers can keep the castle from falling down.

The best MLK day ever -- part 1

Chris and the kids all had Martin Luther King Jr. day off yesterday, so we decided to enjoy each other's company some place outside our apartment so we wouldn't kill each other or die of boredom. The weather was supposed to be a bit cool, but beautiful, so we headed to the beach.

 When the sun was hiding, it was a little chilly, and Chris had to wrap up in a towel to keep warm.

Ashley looks like she's about to fly away with the seagulls. Her toes aren't even touching the ground.

 Since it was low tide, there were lots of cool things to find on the beach, such as really big bones...

 and bizarre seashells with other seashells growing on it.

  The kids were excited to find a live starfish. When they were done examining it, they threw it into the ocean.

 We couldn't figure out what this thing was. At first it looked like a seashell or a baby turtle's shell, but it was so fragile, I wondered if it was an egg shell of some kind. Whatever it was, it's beautiful and we were sad when it crumpled and we couldn't keep it.

 Ashley loves to throw the football around. I think Chris was surprised to learn (after almost 13 years of marriage) that I knew how to throw a pretty tight spiral.

Here's our loot. We didn't take most of them home, because we have a lot of shells already, but we were sure tempted...
you can never have too many seashells.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

oh the weather outside is delightful

 I heard cheering coming from outside our apartment a little while ago, and stepped out to see the kids and a neighbor boy making "snow" fall from the trees. They'd shake up a tree, and the little seeds would fall softly to the ground and they'd dance around in it.

Ashley had so much fun playing in the fake snow that she decided to sing about it. You can't hear her very well in this video, but she's singing "oh the weather outside is delightful, and the fire inside is frightful." Then you can watch the snow fall from the trees.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

This is what I call January

We've had some cold spells here in The Swamp this winter, but we always get a few good weeks in between. This is one of those good weeks.

Today we decided to head to the lake before it got too hot and all the sun worshipers came out.


Josh's school bus seat partner was there, too. While everyone else went canoeing, the two little boys played "feed the alligators". Luckily they were feeding imaginary gators.
 Ashley said they saw two big gators and one little gator while they were rowing the boat. The little one chased them.