Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ski Trip To Sunriver/Mount Bachelor

One of my good friend, a former x-country teammate in college, invited us to go on a ski trip in Sunriver, Oregon.  Lisa lives in Texas now, and had been living in Germany for a couple years, so I don't get to see her too often.  I've always thought it would be fun if our family's went on vacation together, but when she mentioned this trip I was hesitant.  It involved an 8+ hour car ride, and skiing, which neither of us have done in over 15 years.  But I wanted to see Lisa and her family (our kids are the same ages), and skiing could be fun, so I told Floyd I really wanted to go, so we did.

We borrowed my parents Suburu Outback for the trip and headed down.  It took us about eight hours to get there.  We stayed in a nice vacation rental in Sunriver, with Lisa's family and three other families (relatives and friends of relatives of Lisa).  There were seven kids running around, plus all the adults, but it was a good size house and didn't get overwhelming.  Sunriver is a funny town.  It is primarily a resort town, and the roads there seemed to be designed to be as confusing as possible.  There are no straight roads, and there are 10+ roundabouts.  But, it is really nice, with lots of trees, trails, pools, shops, etc.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't cooperating too much.  While it was nice to not have to deal with driving in the snow, when we headed up to Mount Bachelor for our first day of skiing it was pouring rain.  The good thing  was that no one was there, so it wasn't crowded at all.  The bad thing was that it was miserably cold and wet.  Selena was super excited about skiing and maintained her enthusiasm.  Allie was excited, but tended to get cold when she was actually outside.  We only got one pair of skis for the two of them to share.  Their foot sizes are only one size different, we figured Allie wouldn't want to ski that much, and I wasn't very confident in my ability to ski with either of the girls.

Selena had a blast, didn't seem to get cold, and didn't want to stop.  She caught on fairly quickly and was able to ski while holding onto a ski pole.  Lisa was amazing in helping Selena learn and showing us how to ski with her.  I did end up taking Selena once myself.  I was just happy that we didn't fall getting off the lift.  Selena claims responsibility for that feat.  She says she helped me keep my balance.  Selena did graduate and go down the Marshmallow run once with Floyd after she found out her friend, Lisa's daughter, did as well.

Allie liked skiing, but apparently did not like taxing up to the lift.  There was a slight uphill, and she did not like Floyd squeezing her between his legs and nudging her up.  But while she was actually skiing she liked it and she told everyone that she went on the lifter.

We based ourselves at the Sunrise lodge.  There is a free lift called Carousel that goes up a beginner hill.  Kids 5 and under ski free.  There was a web special a few weeks before we went that we got 3 day passes for $99/person (regularly lift tickets are $75/day).  In retrospect I wouldn't have bought the passes and just bought a half day ticket for me one day, and for Floyd the other day.  In having to take turns taking the girls out and taking turns watching the girls neither Floyd or I got to ski a whole bunch.  Lisa, her husband, her sister, and her parents were awesome and helped us out watching the girls so we got to ski more than we would have if they weren't there and willing, but still we didn't get that many runs.  We were both impressed, that even though it had been so long, and neither of us were that great to begin with, we still remembered how to ski, and it all came back fairly easily.

The second day of skiing, the conditions started out better with snow, but by the time we left it was switching between rain and snow.  We decided to go to the Mavericks recreation center and go swimming on the last day, instead of hitting the mountain again.  We were tired, and didn't really feel like getting all wet, and then driving straight home.  There was also reports that conditions wouldn't be good over Mount Hood pass and we figured leaving earlier rather than later would be better.  We ended up driving north to Yakima and going over Snoqualmie instead.  But we got unlucky it snowed some on our way to Yakima, and it started snowing right before we got to Snoqualmie pass, so it was a bit hairy going over.  But we made it safely thanks to Floyd's excellent driving and being able to take advantage of all-wheel-drive.

For the drive we packed lots of snacks, and had the iTouch and Nook Color for entertainment.  Books on "tape" are a big hit with Selena.  I had downloaded a Magic School Bus story from the library that Selena really liked plus our standard Robert Munsch and library mp3 downloads.  I was just bummed that most of the library downloads are in WMA format and I couldn't get them transferred to any device.  They are supposed to work on the iTouch, but I was trying to do it at the last minute and kept on getting errors.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Brachiosaurus aka Long Neck Dinosaur Costume

Yes, this is belated Halloween post, but that is how I work around here. :)  The girls wanted to be long-neck dinosaurs, specifically Little Foot from The Land Before Time.  I had already made monster/dinosaur costumes twice before, but adding in a long neck would be a bit of a challenge, but I was happy with the way they turned out.

While this won't really be a tutorial per se I will explain how I made it in case you want to tackle something similar yourself.

I used fleece fabric, since I needed quite a bit and it is relatively cheap.  In the past costumes I used a more furry fabric.  I used a cotton/polyester interlock from Joanns for the lining of the sweatshirt, and to make some of the bumps on the back.

I used the Willow Wayfarer Hipster for Slimster pattern.  I LOVE this pattern.  I think this is my number one most used pattern.  They fit great, seem to be comfortable and I can sew up a pair of these in less than an hour.

I used the Heidi and Finn Urban Unisex Hoodie pattern for this.  I LOVE this pattern.  This is my number two most used pattern.  The fit is great, it is fully lined, and the style is uber cute.  I made the sweatshirts with the hoodies, but after I finished I realized I shouldn't have.  The hoodies hung over the bumps on the back so we ended up just tucking them in.  The bumps were simply circles cut out and sewn on the back piece before assembly.  I stuffed them with the fuzz you use for stuffed animals or pillows.  I can't remember exactly what its called at the moment.   The tail was made by cutting out two big triangles, sewing some bumps on, sewing them together, turn inside out, and stuffing with fuzz.  I basted the tail between the band and the back piece of the shirt and then sewed the band on.

I made a pattern for the head that roughly looks like the above.  I cut two of the head pieces out and then sewed the rectangle around the edges.  Then I got a rectangle of 1/2" thick craft foam and looped it into a circle and stuffed it up the head to give shape and support.  I stuffed fuzz behind the foam into the nose.  I sewed a small "pillow" filled with fuzz and just stuffed it into the top of the head.  I didn't secure it at all but it seemed to stay propped up by the foam.  I folded the bottom of the fabric over the foam and sewed around the whole thing, not at all neatly.  I should have done that a little nicer. ;)  Selena drew mouths with a permanent marker, and we sewed buttons on for the eyes and the nostrils.   I did make Allie's hat slightly shorter as she had a harder time keeping the hat balanced on her head.

If that isn't clear, please feel free to ask me questions.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

You're the best mom ever!

Allie tells me every night when we snuggle up for bed, "You're the best mom ever."  It makes me smile and feel good.

Right now Allie is into coloring, drawing and painting.  We are rapidly going through printer paper printing out coloring sheets from the internet.  When we go to the Y, she proudly brings me between three and eight papers she colored while we were working out.  Markers are her preferred medium, but she forgets to put the caps back on and they dry out.  She enjoys watercolors as well.  I have some artist grade water colors I bought when I decided I wanted to learn how to paint.  That was short-lived, but the girls love using them, mixing their own colors, and they are easy to get out and clean up (as long as I keep the tubes away from them).   She has also started drawing recognizable shapes and people.  I like watching her discuss all the details of the picture while she is creating it.  She's started writing some letters too.  One day she had a paper and she says, "A for Allie", and then proceeds to write an A, but the tops didn't quite get connected, and she looked kind of confused then says, "that's an H."

She is still into computer games as well-on the Nook, the iTouch, and the computer.  She can't use the mouse on the computer so she has to convince me, Selena or Floyd to do them for her, but she is a master at the touch devices.

Her and Selena seem to be getting along better.  I think Allie is grasping Selena's imaginative play better and is more willing to play the roles Selena assigns, or offer up alternatives.  A few months ago she just seemed to cry if Selena told her to do something she didn't want to, or she'd ignore Selena and somehow "ruin" Selena's game, which made Selena cry.   There is still plenty of fighting and peskiness between the two, but there also seems to be longer periods of playing happily.  :)

Allie is a great eater.  She cheers when I make soup and begs to eat more eggs in the morning.

The sun came out today (amazing!)  and she says, "It's so beautiful."  I laughed and she says, "Don't laugh.  I just said it's beautiful."  I told her I agreed with her and I was laughing because what she said made me happy.

I had a first recently.  It was the first time I had to deal with a child who cut their own hair.  Allie decided to feather her bangs.  Fortunately she left enough that it did sort of blend in.  Her hair is kind of all over the place anyway.  Oh well.

 Allie drew this picture of me.  Then she asked Selena to help, so Selena drew the small head and smiley face. But I think Allie's original intent, based on what she described to me while she was drawing, was that the big circle is my head and the line across it is my mouth.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Reindeer Are Not Filled With Hot Air

Fall has come and winter is almost here, and thus it is cold, windy and dark much of the time.  We're getting outside less than I'd like, but we've got a good routine of all of us going to the Y.  Both girls enjoy going in the child watch and so it works out for all of us.

Selena is always planning and plotting and implementing projects.  She writes songs, stories, and letters.  Paints pictures and coloring pages.  She designs new fashions and has me implement--lots of dinosaur applique.  But she has been doing a bit of sewing herself.  She has a good handle on the pedal while I help guide the fabric.  She is even able to stop sewing right when the needle is up.  I can't do that.

Christmas is coming up and we're working on delayed gratification by having her create her Christmas list.  A few months ago she was grilling me on the realities of Santa and his reindeer.  "How do they fly?  They don't have wings."  "Hot air baloons don't have wings," I reply.  "They are not filled with hot air."  Hmmm.  The last I heard she decided Santa was a real man who gave presents, but he didn't really arrive on reindeer.  But now that the magic of the season is here, she is very involved in the story and hasn't asked any questions, reindeer or otherwise.  She is ready to leave the reindeer two carrots on Christmas Eve, just as Santa requested when she talked to him at the Santa Brunch.

Selena's been more into games.  She invents her own games, making the game pieces out of paper.  But we've also played some checkers, chess and poker as well.  It is fun to see her start to develop some strategy.  She made up a game of colors the other day.  It is like rock-paper-scissors, but you use colors instead.  She had all the rules worked out so each color beat another color.  She didn't quite understand the simultaneous of rock-paper-scissors however.  In her game each person stated a color, of course whoever was last won.

It's fun to read good stories to her.  When she hears a joke or story she likes.  Her eyes light up and she gets all giggly. Per the recommendation of a friend we checked out a bunch of Chris Van Allsburg books. Her eyes really lit up at the end of The Sweetest Fig.

We experimented with dairy free for a week to try to resolve some issues that are a little too-much-information.  But she really missed her macaroni and cheese and there was no immediate noticeable difference so the experiment was abandoned after only a week and a half.  I did try a vegan macaroni and cheese that was very tasty, though not really like mac and cheese, and very authentic looking.  Selena was so excited about the thought of it, but when it was served she refused to take even one bite.  She said she could taste it through her sense of smell and it did not taste good. :S