Saturday, July 19, 2008

And They're Off!

(Note: I posted two blogs today. Don't miss the one below this one.)

Yes, it's that time of year again. Time for the Chicago to Mackinac Island race. I heard on the radio that it's the most prestigious fresh water sailing race in the world. Wow!

For the first time, the boys and I saw M off in Chicago. Usually we drive up to "the island" as folks around the race call Mackinac Island and driving to Chicago too makes for a lot of driving.

We had a great time. We dropped M off at the harbor at 10:00 this morning for his 10:30 boat call (he wanted to do some adjustments on the boat before everybody got there.) It was pouring rain when we dropped him off. Not a good sign for a comfy race. He said that it was going to be a wet three days.

Then we went to Navy Pier in Chicago. The boys and I played around at the Children's Museum there for a couple of hours and then headed to the end of the pier to see M's boat parade by. We met M's folks, brother and sister-in-law at the end of the pier. It was fun because there were hundreds of boats out there already racing. M's fleet is the biggest and starts last (since they're so fast.) He told me that they'd be by at about 12:30 or so. At ten to one there they were! I yelled to him and he heard me and waved! What fun! We saw his uncle and cousin on the boat too.

I took this picture of them going by the Chicago Light House. He's gonna love the photo 'cause he sure loves the Chicago Light House.

Here's a closer up one of the crew as they sailed by. M's waving to us.

May the winds be swift. Good luck sailors!

Best In Show

I'm officially the coolest mom ever. It's true. If you don't believe me, just ask R.

You see, a couple of weeks ago I read that there was going to be a Guitar Hero competition for kids going into 3rd through 6th grades and I signed him up. You should have seen his almost-nine-year-old version of his happy dance! What he also loved is that instead of his usual 30-minute maximum of video games per day, I told him that since he was "in training" for the competition, he should practice an hour twice a day for the week before the competition.

And did he practice! His dad was kind enough to practice with him often. Notice the faces concentrating so hard during this riff.

After a week of intense training, the day came. I fed him a good lunch with protein and carbs to keep him going, then we were off.

As excited for R that I was, I didn't realize that I'd have to watch (and listen!) to FIVE HOURS of rock and roll! OHMYGoodness, did I ever have a headache when it was over. (I know, I'm old.)
Anyway, this is what we watched for five hours. We saw the backs of two boys for five minutes, then we saw the backs of two different boys for five more minutes. And so on and so on and so on and so on.... for FIVE HOURS.
Each pair of boys played two songs -- each boy got to pick one song that they challenged the other boy to play. You get points for the number of notes you get correct. Some kids were hitting about 70% of the notes correctly, then there were some in the 90%. R is better at some songs than others. He gets from 84%-97% right at home. I crossed my fingers.
When it was R's turn, R picked "The Metal" to play and he hit 96% of the notes correctly (rock on!) His competitor hit about 75% correct.
Then, it was his competitor's turn to pick a song. I held my breath, praying "oh, please be a song that R knows and is good at." The boy picked "Helicopter." I had never heard of it before. I quickly looked at M and he had a big smile on his face. "R rocks this song out!", he said to me. I breathed a sigh of relief. R got 98% of the notes right on that one!! I was a proud mama bear. (R told me afterwards that when he saw that the boy was going to pick "Helicopter," he thought to himself, "Okaa-aayyy, if you really want me to play this song, I'll be glaaad to play it since I LOVE it!")

As they began the competition, they announced that there would be a Best in Show award given to the kid who "rocked out" and had good showmanship during their performance. About an hour into it, we realized that no one was rocking out, so M and I encouraged R to have a blast and do his thing while he performed.

R did some awesome rock-and-roll-kicks when he hit the key chords when transitioning to the bridge of the song (don't I sound oh-so-rock-and-roll-ish with my jargon?)

You can tell by his stance that he was groovin' and rockin' with the rhythm. I was so proud, man! I was cracking up and crying with pride the whole time!

After the first song, I put my camera away so I could watch. That means that you won't be able to see his turning-around-backwards-and playing-without-looking at the screen stunt. It also means that you won't be able to see his "atomic knee drop" that he ended the show with. Let me tell you, I almost peed my pants! It was awesome.

And he was awarded for his awesomeness. He was given the award for Best in Show! Too cool, huh!

Only two boys from each level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Expert) made it to the finals. Believe it or not, but there were two boys who got 100% on one of their songs and they moved on. (I think that they were ringers and should have been competing on Hard, but R's cool with the results.)

T was there the whole time too, playing his Nintendo DS. Once during the competition, they had a competitor who was going to play Easy (R plays Medium) and they needed someone to play him, so T volunteered. He had a great time too and played better than he's ever played at home.

As a matter of fact, his competitor picked a song, Welcome to the Jungle, that he's never played before and he did pretty well on it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cub Scout Overnight

M was in charge of a wonderful Cub Scout overnight. It was all day on Saturday and then they spent the night. He did a good job of delegating (tough for him to do) so that he had four sets of parents in charge of four different one-hour activities during the day. The theme was native Americans and each boy was assigned to one of three tribes. When they arrived, they were given a blank neckerchief and told to think of their Indian name and decorate their neckerchief with that name. They also decorated slides to hold their neckerchief on -- and they got beads throughout the day to add to their slide.

As with all Cub Scout meetings, the flag ceremony is a very important part. There were 19 kids in all during the day. Not a bad turn out in the summer for a pack that has 25 kids in total.

R poses with a group of Cub Scouts who are excited to start their day of fun (R is in grey with a green neckerchief.) Each tribe has a different color neckerchief -- two tribes' colors are represented here.

I did a lot of the research for M for this outing. Here is T (with yellow neckerchief) playing one of the games I discovered. The kids would throw a feather, run, pick it up and throw it again until they made it to the finish line. You can see T's yellow feather in the air in front of him.

One of the activities was to make a fishing pole out of sticks. M cut down all of the branches for the project and another dad led the activity during the day. R is picking out his lucky fishing pole. It was so lucky that he caught a fish without any bait!

Nothing like a group of boys praying before dinner to warm your heart. (R is in the back in grey and T is in the back center in yellow.)

The kids made "candy apples" in the fire by coring an apple and shoving brown sugar and raisins in it and wrapping in foil. Cook for 15 minutes and voila! Tasty goodness!

Not the best picture, but I wanted you to see the beads that they were able to get throughout the day. T is putting his last bead for the day (given to him for performing in a skit).

After the campfire, there was a quick thunderstorm and then a beautiful rainbow to end the day. I went home to the luxury of my comfy bed (and allergy-free house) while the boys stayed in the tent. A good ending to a great day.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Week at the Club on the Lake

Two weeks ago we had our second annual week at the cottage. Just like last year, we stayed with another family. Just like last year we had a really nice time. Oh, there were lots of reasons not to have a good time: four days of 60-degree weather and thunderstorms; I was sick for three of the days with severe allergies. (Long story on the allergy front, but I had an ear infection, sinus infection, and a throat infection from allergies. AND I "grew into" allergy-induced-athsma! Total bummer! But, we won't focus on that.)
As my friend says, any day on the lake is a good day.
Since our weather in June is unpredictable, I packed lots of indoor activities to play. The boys and I also loaded up on library books before leaving. I also got little toys to hide in the sand so that even if it was too cold to go in the water, they'd have fun in the sand. Of course, any weather (except thunderstorms) is good sailing weather. And, almost any weather is good fishing weather. So, all in all, it was a good vacation. Here it is in pictures.
T had a blast using his new snorkel and goggles. I threw three dollars worth of coins into the shallow part of the lake and he spent HOURS looking for the coins. I think that he collected about $1.60 worth. Not bad for hours of fun.

M had a blast with the newest addition to our fleet -- a little Sunfish. While he was zipping around the lake with high winds, I could hear him yell "yahooo" from across the lake.

The boys are trying to get the baby dinosaur out of the "dinosaur eggs." This kept them busy for awhile and then they made houses in the sand for their dinosaurs.

M took T for a ride on the Sunfish. This is a sailboat that T actually likes to go on. He likes to capsize on purpose and then right it (with his dad's help.)

T also loved taking the kayak out for a spin. He said it was lonely sometimes when nobody went with him, but he'd go anyway if he couldn't talk someone else into going also.

The whole family fits on "Sabotage," the boat that M and R race on Sundays. Can you tell that I'm driving? (But, I'm obviously not paying too much attention to driving since I'm waving to someone!)

Fishing was an everyday activity on this vacation. We got a lot of pan fish that we caught and released. One keeper, a huge Rock Bass, was one that we ate because T loves to eat fish and couldn't believe that we weren't eating all of the 24 fish that he caught. He was quite pleased with the Bass nuggets that I prepared as a shore lunch one day. Here is R fishing off the stern of our friends speed boat (anchored for this occasion.)

I love this one of T checking his hook. I don't know if you can tell, but he has his life vest under his sweatshirt -- he looked like the Incredible Hulk.

The boys really wanted to catch Walleye - a tasty fish in this region -- but they only bite at night. They woke up really early(5 am) and went out to give it a try. They even used live minnows as bait. They didn't catch any walleye, but this was the trip that they got the keeper bass that we ate. They used our fishing canoe to get to the deep hole (50 feet deep) in the lake.

Here's the keeper in the live well. Hard to see it, I know.

The proud fishermen, facing the sun with closed eyes. But, very proud of their early morning outing.

I tried to go back to sleep after I saw the boys off, but I couldn't. So I crept back downstairs in my pjs and took these lovely sunrise pictures. Then I made a cup of tea and sat outside watching the sunrise, waiting for my men to bring home breakfast.

At the end of the week, we packed up and went home. It was a fun week at the lake....and it was nice to return home.