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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Be still my pixelated heart.

Be still my pixelated heart.

All weekend long, Lauren and her friends have been playing with perler beads, also known as fuse beads or hama beads.

Somewhere over the pixelated rainbow.

A couple of years ago, we bought her at huge jar of them at Ikea, but since then, they've pretty much remained untouched. Until Saturday, when she took a sudden interest in them again.

Pixelated Pikachu.

Once her friends spotted them, they wanted to make some too and have been cranking out design after design. At one point, every kid in the neighborhood was on my patio engrossed in their bead creations.

Pixelated pony.

For my part, I had to keep fusing them all together with my iron. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying close attention and ended up melting the plastic peg board all over my iron, so it will be off to Target to pick up a new one. I did so many, that at this point, that the whole world is starting to look a little pixelated.

FYI, for some very cool bead design inspiration, check out Perbee.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hanging on to summer.

Giving a drink.

Trying as hard as we can to hold on, but summer is slipping away from our grasp. Girl Scouts has already called me back to active duty, the Fall season of soccer starts next week, and 1st grade room assignment arrived in the mail today. In fact, Lauren received her first phone call today from a boy(!) who wanted to know if she was in his class. I'm beside myself.

Every once in awhile, Lauren gets a whim to water the plants after we come home. Without my knowledge, she unravels the hose, turns the water on and maneuvers it throughout the yard, all by herself. I'll be inside the house making dinner, and suddenly I'll hear the outside faucet running. Then I look out the window, and they're she'll be, giving all the plant life a drink. She's very thorough.

A little sprinkle with the hose.

Grandma painted her nails pink this week. It's already starting to chip off, but it's still cute.

Scrapbooking bits.

As for me, I've been planning on making a scrapbook of Lauren's kindergarten adventures since she finished back in June. My goal was to finish it before she starts 1st grade. Of course, I just started it last week. Lucky for me, school doesn't start until September 7th. Some day the rest of me will catch up with my life.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer camps.

British Soccer Camp 2011: The view from the field.

I admit that I have been a lame blogger these past couple of weeks. In my defense, I've been trying to post this update for the last several days, but I kept facing technical difficulties with the forthcoming video files, which unlike camera files, I know nothing about. Thanks to the glories of the internet and with the help of iMovie, I was finally able to download the videos off my SD card, tweak the file properties and get them uploaded to YouTube. It was well worth all the trouble for approximately 2 minutes of footage.

British Soccer Camp 2011:  Coach Aaron giving direction.

Last week, Lauren attended British Soccer Camp. As part of the program, college students from around Great Britain come to the United States to coach kids and help them to work on their skills. Pictured here is Coach Aaron molding them into little limeys, I mean "football stars."

British Soccer Camp 2011: The coaches.

As the week progressed, I came to really appreciate their dreamy good looks and charming accents, I mean, how well they worked with the children.

Speaking of accents, I had joked on the first day that British Soccer Camp reminded me of going to Hogwarts, except without the magic and the evil wizard out to kill you. And just posting pictures isn't going to do this experience justice. You have to hear the accents, right?

Wait a second - did he just say "cast a spell"? Let's listen some more.

Okay, he just sorted them into Houses. British Soccer Camp really *is* Hogwarts!

Enough joking about the British. What you really want to see is Lauren do her stuff!

I just realized that in this clip I sound like a stage mom. To clarify, the kids were really confused as to what they were supposed to be doing during this exercise, so I was just giving a gentle nudge.

British Soccer Camp 2011:  Taking a break.

Let's take a short break before we head to the next camp.

Twilight Camp 2011:  My campers.

Back at the beginning of July, Lauren and I both went to Girl Scout Camp. The theme of this year's camp was Space, so there were all kinds of space related activities.

Twilight Camp 2011:  Alien cupcake.

The girls made alien cupcakes.

Twilight Camp 2011:  Looking for aliens.

And telescopes.

Twilight Camp 2011:  Satellite Wafers

And ate satellite wafers.

Twilight Camp 2011:  Our team's flag.

We even made a flag for our "moon landing."

Twilight Camp 2011:  Playing with matches.

Of course, we also did more traditional activities, like first aid and building campfires. I was a little nervous about having to build a campfire because that kind of thing is way outside of my comfort zone. Pictured here is one of the camp leaders showing the girl's how to light a match.

Twilight Camp 2011:  My first campfire.

Not to question her judgement, but trying to start your first campfire while surrounded by a bunch of 6 year olds all yelling in your ear, "CAN I LIGHT THE MATCH??" is quite stressful. Inside the coffee can is water. We were supposed to build the fire up enough to heat the water to make hot cocoa. Mine never quite got passed lukewarm, and in fact, when Lauren fell ill later that week, I thought I might have poisoned her because I didn't heat the water enough to kill any bacteria (In reality, it was an ear infection and strep throat.) When Mark saw this photo, he exclaimed, "Look at it! It's ROARING!" Nice.

That concludes our visit to summer camps for this year. More blogging to come this week, as I'll be wanting to get the post count up for August. :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eleven years ago.

Old girl.

Just a quick post to mention that eleven years ago this month, we adopted our sweet little lady.

On vacation now - a whole week at home without schedules or routines (Except for soccer camp in the morning). To me, that is absolute paradise.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Root, root, root for the home team. If they don't win it's the same.

Pirate Game 2011:  Jumbotron.

The wording of the title is intentional. It's an unfortunate homage to the fact that in spite of a very promising start, the Pittsburgh Pirates have returned to their losing ways that have become the norm over the last twenty seasons.

Nevertheless, last Sunday, we traveled with our friends to PNC Park to see the Pirates play. This was Lauren's second baseball game, and the first one that we've attended as a family since she was two.

Pirate Game 2011 - Let's Go Bucs

Sundays are Kid's Days, which means that Federal Street right outside the park is lined with fun activities for young fans to enjoy.

And what was the first item on the agenda?

Pirate Game 2011 - Face painting.

Face painting. Of course.

Pirate Game 2011:  Lauren X 2.

The lines for the activities get pretty long, but that didn't seem to damper the girls' enthusiasm.

As we stood in line, Mark and Scott bet that I am so short, that I could stand underneath Willie Stargell's legs.

Pirate Game 2011 - Me and Willie.

But I showed them! I am no where near that short. Look at how much I had to lean over in order to fit underneath Willie. Yep, I sure showed them...

On second thought, I think I was set up.

Pirate Game 2011 - Giant parrot.

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!! The Pirate Parrot ate too many Bucco Tacos and is so bloated with gas that he towers above the city!!

Pirate Game 2011:  Inside the parrot's belly.

Oh, nevermind. It was just an inflatable.

Pirate Game 2011:  Flat Bucco.

I noticed this strange fellow painted on the street. I like to call him "Flat Bucco," but Mark calls him "Pirate Roadkill."

Pirate Game 2011  - Cookie Cruiser.

Eat n Park was there too, doling out the Smiley Cookies.

Pirate Game 2011:  Custom Cookie.

The girls even got to personalize theirs.

Pirate Game 2011:  Lauren and Mini.

The new Mini Smiley Cookie was posing for photos. Scott insisted that there must be either a small child or a midget in the costume.

Pirate Game 2011:  Me and Mini.

So then I too had to pose with Mini Smiley, as a show of solidarity for the vertically challenged. I bet no one asked him to stand under Willie Stargell's legs.

Pirate Game 2011:  Doing the Babe Ruth.

Once inside the park, the girls watched batting practice.

Pirate Game 2011:  View from our seats.

Then it was time to head to our seats and watch the game.

Pirate Game 2011:  Daddy and Lauren.

As seems the case every time we have an outdoor activity planned, the weather was extremely hot. Ultimately, we left after the sixth inning, wilted from both the heat and the Pirates' 5 run deficit to the Padres. As we left, we vowed to return next year, but only if it's an evening game.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Save our town.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Main Street in Zoar, OH.

This Saturday, we made our third trip to the Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival. You can read more about our previous visits here and here.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  School house.

I'm beginning to think that I'm cursed in a Charlie Brown kinda way. You know - "Everything I touch gets ruined." My favorite products get discontinued. Most of the significant landmarks from my childhood / coming of age have been closed or torn down. Now I find out this weekend that one of my favorite places, a little town that has been in existence for almost 200 years, is endanger of being completely leveled.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Old finial.

From the Save Historic Zoar webiste: The Historic Village of Zoar sits at the base of a levee constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) nearly 75 years ago to hold back potential floodwaters. The levee is in need of major repairs and the Corps has given it a “Dam Safety Action Classification I” rating — its lowest safety rating, meaning the need to address the issue is “urgent and compelling.” By law, the Corps must consider all options to fix the problem. Basically, there are three alternatives:

Repair the levee
Tear down the village and let the area flood
Relocate the Historic Village of Zoar to higher ground

More than likely, the option will be the cheapest alternative: Tear the village down.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:   Whetting stone.

Now I know that places like Zoar are not everyone's cup of tea, and that with the state of our country's economy, the use of federal funding is under more scrutiny than ever. However, the loss of this little village would be such a tragedy. There are so many ugly, rundown, abandoned buildings that are complete eyesores, yet they continue to stand because no one wants to pay to tear them down. Yet Zoar, with its quaint little buildings and beautifully landscaped gardens could be gone in the next couple of years. Unbelievable.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Old wheel barrow.

But let's keep positive by enjoying Zoar in the here and now. As usual, we stopped in the antiques tent first. I probably spent a total of ten minutes browsing this year. First of all, it was incredibly hot and crowded. Second, that's about how long Lauren lasted before she wanted to leave. Lastly, one of the sellers curbed my enthusiasm.

I've been photographing antique fairs for years now, and not once has anyone said anything to me about taking photos of their wares. Well, there's a first time for everything. So there I was, moseying about snapping away at things that caught my eye.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Bull fighter painting.

Like this bullfighter painting.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Antique store front.

And these great old weathered store signs.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Love pillows.

And these plump love pillows (Yes. I just typed that).

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Tribbles.

I guess Tribbles are now considered "primative" (Note the sign says in small print "Trouble with Tribbles").

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Carnival game.

Then the party ended when I started to eye up this carnival game. The scene went something like this:

Antique Seller Guy: You know you should ask before you take photos.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry! Did I take photos of some of your stuff? If I did, I would be happy to delete them (The Photojournalist's Credo: "It's always better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.").

Now before we continue with this story, I'd like to point out that I was doing nothing illegal, and I only offered to delete the photos to be nice. However, in a public place where there aren't any signs posted about photography being prohibited, you can take photos of whoever and whatever you want. Otherwise, the paparazzi would be out of jobs.

Antique Seller Guy: I don't know.
Me: Well, is that yours (Points to carnival game)?
Antique Seller Guy: Yeah.
Me: So can I take a photo of it?
Antique Seller Guy: Yeah.

At this point, I'm trying not to snicker, and nonetheless I politely listened to his (true) stories about how people will take pictures of antiques and then try to scam people into buying items that they don't have on eBay. I didn't have the heart to tell him that if that was my angle, I would not be wasting my time and money by taking photos at an antique show, but would rather stay in the cool comforts of my home, searching for existing images on the internet and clicking "Save as." Mark just thought this was his way of hitting on me.

Moving along...

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Lunch at the brew tent.

We ate lunch in the "brew tent."

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Greenhouse door.

Which was situated right next to the greenhouse, my favorite building in the town. I couldn't resist taking yet another photo of it.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Mark and I under the big tree.

Of course, we also always have a photo taken under the big tree in the middle of the town's gardens.

Each year, there are free wagon tours of the town. I don't know why we didn't take advantage of this in past, but Lauren insisted on it this year.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011: Corgi named Caty.

While we waited to be picked up, we enjoyed the company of Caty, a six month old Corgi pup.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Zoar kitty.

Who Lauren quickly dumped to pet this cute, but unnamed kitty that was lounging on a nearby porch.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Clydesdales.

Finally, the Clydesdales arrived and we were off.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  View from the wagon.

View from the wagon.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Lauren and Daddy enjoying the wagon ride.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Getting ready for the wagon ride.

Lauren and Mark enjoying the ride.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Antique tractor display.

After the wagon ride, we checked out the antique tractor display.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  The lady and the zebra.

We also watched the border collie herding demonstration (No pics this year) and visited the exotic petting zoo. Here's something that you don't see everyday. It reminded me of the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
And hang out with zebras.

Oh wait, maybe that's not how it goes.

Zoar Ohio Harvest Festival 2011:  Garden view.

And that concludes this year's tour of the Zoar Harvest Festival. Boy, that was a long entry - hopefully it makes up for two weeks of silence!