Thursday, August 2, 2018

Finishing a Goal

Over five years ago I noted that our pedigree fan chart needed to be redone because the ink was fading. It actually made it onto my New Year's Resolution list year, but was still on it at the end of the year. Since this is a great conversation starter in our home, and has actually been commented upon several times in the past few weeks, I figured it was finally time to make it legible once again. Monday I took it down, used rubbing alcohol to erase the fading ink, and then I spent some time over the next few days rewriting all the names. Today I was able to rehang it. It didn't take nearly as long to do as I had anticipated. That often happens, so why do I keep procrastinating?

Now I guess I'll need to add filling in the blanks to next year's New Year's Resolutions list!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Halloween in July?

Halloween in July?

Not really, but so that he could help with a Mutual activity, Wayne requested a "Where's Waldo?" costume. Fortunately, our closets are fairly well stocked, there was a bit of wiggle room in the "Miscellaneous" budget category, and I could schedule in some craft time, so that his wish was able to be granted. I really do enjoy creating things, and now there is an additional alternative when Halloween actually does come around.

It's a short-sleeved red shirt (actually on sale at the craft store!) instead of a long-sleeved one, but this is a costume and we live in Florida. I just used a foam brush to paint free-handed white stripes on it (front and back, but not sleeves).

I figured that was enough so that worn with jeans the youth would know he was to represent Waldo. However, he requested a beanie as well. I adapted this pattern, and although it's a bit on the big side - because I used a large needle so it would work up quickly - it works. Basically, just crochet a circle of half-double crochet stitches, increasing each round until the "cap part" is made, then crochet additional rows with the same number of stitches until the desired length is reached. I started with white and switched to red when it looked good. Top with a pompom and you're done.

Now he wants round-rimmed glasses! Anyone know where to get those?** 
Next he'll be wanting a cane!!

**Found a pair of "Harry Potter" glasses at Target that did the job.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Florida Trail - Segment 1

Driving across Alligator Alley and through Big Cypress National Preserve last Saturday brought back memories of an earlier trip there, spring break in 2007. For that vacation we spent time camping and canoeing in Everglades National Park, but before we drove home, we took advantage of being in the area and Wayne started his quest to hike the Florida Trail.

Checking websites today (2018), it looks like "segment one" is no longer the beginning. Maybe that will change again in the future. However, it was in 2007, and on March 21st, accompanied by Jeff and Steven, and his trusty green hat, Wayne completed the first 8 of 1400 miles.

Signing in!

The obligatory "here we go" photo for Mom

And they're off!

My job (and Michelle kept me company) was to drop them off at the beginning and meet them several hours later at the Oasis Visitor Center off of Highway 41. We were told it would be an 8 hour hike. It's a good thing we went directly there because it only took them 3 hours! Normally the trail is through a swamp and you're hiking in ankle to knee deep water. However, that particular year there wasn't even any mud! The rangers at the visitor center were quite surprised when they checked in at the end.

This adventure was started before this blog, but it was continued after. So far progress has been made four more times:

Segment 2 - Spring Break 2009

Segment 3 - Spring Break 2010

Segment 4 - Spring Break 2012

Segment 5 (No blog post yet - it must have been a busy summer that year!)

In case you're interested in hiking any of this trail, here are some online resources to explore:

The Florida Trail Association

Florida Hikes!

One person's experience

Monday, July 16, 2018

Remembering the Build-a-Bear Factory

Technically, I guess it was called the Basic Brown Bear Factory, but the concept was the same as today's current Build-a-Bear stores, and it was the destination for the 1st Grade field trip when we lived in California. I was reminded of those field trips during our Sunday evening phone calls when one of our sons mentioned their experience with the pay-your-age promotion fiasco this week.

He didn't remember building his own bear when he was six, but I found the proof. Hooray for pictures! They also showed that some of my memories were not quite correct, but I have my story straight now.

I knew I had a picture of Jeff with baby Michelle and a teddy bear, but it wasn't Jeff's bear, it was Brad's. I didn't chaperone his field trip because I had a month old baby. However, two years later, I did chaperone Jeff's field trip, and it was a fun one.

Working the "stuffing" and "blow-drying" machines

Note: If the internet can be believed, Build-a-Bear was started in 1997 by a former employee of Basic Brown Bear. The original store near San Francisco couldn't compete with the growing mall chain and went out of business about ten years ago. So sad.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve

Today's activity was exploring the boardwalk at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. You can read all about the park here. Someday we'll go back and do some of the other trails, but this short one was a beautiful walk on a gorgeous day. It was nice to get out in the wild, without having to get our feet wet.

Start of the trail. There were plenty of signs to read all along the way.

You can tell they're prepared for school field trips.

It was an absolutely gorgeous summer day, nice and sunny, but not too hot, especially in the shade. We expected to be bothered by bugs, and were prepared with insect repellent and mosquito netting, but except for some grasshoppers that left us alone, the bugs were all in hiding. That was nice, too!

We learned what a strand swamp is - a water-filled linear channel in which trees grow, a unique geological feature of southwest Florida - and read about different trees, ferns, plants and animals.

The cypress trees in this particular area have never been logged (as they have in other parts of the state) so they were quite large, maybe not redwood or sequoia large, but still majestically impressive.

There were some incredible examples of what strangler figs can do to other trees.

It was interesting to see royal palm trees in the wild; they look quite different when they're not all uniform in size and lining a subdivision entrance.

The boardwalk ended at a small lake which provided a peaceful, serene spot to rest and enjoy nature.

One last side trip before leaving for home - a little detour to check out the nearby lake. It definitely wasn't an overlook, it was too overgrown for that, but it was a beautiful body of water. Hopefully the Friends of the Park will raise enough money to reach their goal of increasing the trail access, then everyone can more easily see how beautiful this little lake is.

Back at the parking area, which was next to a closed gift shop, we found several clumps of tropical plants - the same kind found near Wyatt's temporary apartment. He thinks they're pretty cool; so do I.

I had to research them just a bit. These plants are called Ravenala madagascariensis, otherwise known as Travelers Palm, although they really aren't a palm. Isn't it fun to learn new things?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Finishing a List!

Welcome to another beautiful day in paradise! Sunny and warm, it was the perfect day to finish our list of Wellington city parks by playing tennis at the new tennis center. I'm calling it new, but really it was completed three years ago. It's taken us that long to make it over there! However, a few years ago, we did play tennis at the old tennis center. I'll have to look for pictures of that day and add them later. Here are some posts showing a few of the parks we visited - one of the first ones, and one of the last ones.

We were assigned court #14 and spent most of our time just volleying the balls back and forth. We did play one game, which Wayne won 6-0. Maybe someday I'll beat him, but playing tennis will have to be a more than once a year activity in order for that to happen!

On our way out, we saw this -

Any idea what it is??

It's a shoe washer! The courts were quite nice, but little bits of dust and gravel collected on our shoes. I guess they don't want it being tracked through the shop.

Now, on to the city parks of Royal Palm Beach!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Patriotic Tutu

This year I actually tried some of the crafts and activities I'd pinned over the years - Holidays: 4th of July. It really was fun finishing some projects, and making a dent in the ribbon and fabric scrap stash in the process. Here's our adorable granddaughter sporting a couple of those patriotic items. So festive!

To make the little skirt, I followed the instructions found here - Tutu Skirt. I used ribbon (which I wouldn't necessarily recommend - at least not 1" wide ribbon) and strips of fabric and tulle. 

I wanted to dress up the onesie, but I didn't necessarily want to appliqué anything on. (Due to some repair work in the ceiling, my sewing room is kind of in disarray right now.) Fortunately, a Pinwheel Hair Clip (without the clip) was the perfect accessory.

For future reference, here's the sizing chart from the previously mentioned website:

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Patriotic Crafts

Pinterest is a great site, and I regularly find things that I want to save and try again some day. This year I actually tried some of the 4th of July crafts and activities I've pinned over the years and it really was a lot of fun. Here's the round-up!

Patriotic Pinwheels - In addition to hair clips, this made a great little applique for a onesie. Since part of the object was to reduce the stash of fabric and craft supplies, instead of buying wooden stars, I used star-shaped pony beads for the center. Of course, these can always be made out of paper and attached to a straw or dowel. Then you'll have something to play with or wave in a parade.

Straw Rockets - Can you see the supplies (blue straws)  in the middle of the pile? Basically you just make a little paper tube (decorate like a rocket if you wish), stick it on the straw, and then blow! Isn't that simple?

Sparkle Bottles - If you don't add water, then they're sparkle rattles.

Ribbon Wands - I remember making some of these several years ago, with a St. Patrick's Day theme. Just tie some ribbon to a ring (these were shower curtain rings) or to an eye hook on the end of a dowel. Then put on some music and dance!

Ring Toss - The idea was to throw rings made of glow sticks over little flags stuck in the ground, but we just played with each item separately and still had a grand time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Valley Forge - A Day with Sam

Happy Fourth of July!
I don't usually wear red, but I make an exception for patriotic occasions.

We had planned to visit Valley Forge on the 4th of July, mainly because it was between Weston's house and the airport and we were flying out late that afternoon. However, it turned out to be a wonderfully patriotic decision. A "Community Picnic in the Park" was being held, so although it was a bit crowded, there were fun activities to help keep Sam occupied while Grandpa read his signs, and we didn't have to leave to find food for lunch. I enjoyed hearing "Benjamin Franklin" read the Declaration of Independence to the crowd, and I was grateful to just feel the sense of goodness that radiated from the people there. I love our country and it was the perfect way to celebrate our shared birthday.

First stop - the visitor center. We watched the short introductory movie together, and learned more about the significance of the place. For some reason, I had thought the winter of 1777-78 was a harsh one, but it was actually quite mild (although compared to Florida still cold!). The real challenge George Washington faced was turning dozens of small state militia groups into a unified national army. That he succeeded was a miracle. That's just my summarized impression; you can do your own research, and here's the website to get you started.

Then, while Grandpa read all about people and history, weapons and strategy, Sam and I wandered around the exhibits outside. He got to meet "Benjamin Franklin" and make a whirligig. He passed on trying on old-fashioned clothing and was too young to join the "militia".

As we were leaving we noticed the "build a cabin" booth. It looked like fun, but the line was a bit too long. I was impressed with all the volunteers; there were a lot of them - here's the proof. Back inside Sam signed his name to the Declaration of Independence and checked out the gift shop.

Before lunch we took a short hike/walk to the river. Can you tell that it was a gorgeous day? It was beautiful, but there was also something in the air bothering Wayne's sinuses, so he was miserable. That actually turned out to be a good thing as far as Sam was concerned; it slowed Grandpa down.

Trying a Pennsylvania Pretzel - cold lemonade on a hot day - I was impressed with the quickness and orderliness of the food line. These volunteers have obviously been doing this fundraiser for a while!

The Visitor Center is only one small part of the park. After lunch we headed out on the driving tour. Here's some of what we saw.

Old-fashioned cabins are enchanting, but also cold and dark and uncomfortable.

Water is fascinating.

Trains are mesmerizing.

We could have spent more time exploring, but we didn't want to miss our flight home. Maybe some day we'll return to this beautiful country, and my vote would be to visit again over the 4th of July holiday. There's just something special about being in the birthplace of our nation on its birthday.

Interestingly, someone shared this BYU Forum talk with me as I was planning this post - The Glorious Cause of America. I loved reading this perspective of George Washington, and I guess I'll have to read the author's books. There really are a lot of things we can learn from Washington's life.