Friday, June 30, 2017

Six Flags Day!

I start nearly every morning by going outside to turn on the sprinklers. I worked too hard on getting stuff in the ground this year and I'd like it to live so I water...and water and water and water.

The kids have been playing outside for hours on end the past several days and this morning Harper followed me outside when I went to turn on the sprinkler. It wasn't long before he had his bathing suit on and was "accidentally" getting wet. When Dakota realized what he was up to she joined him and the running through the water turned into jumping on the trampoline and sliding down the slide and swinging on the swings. That's just how it goes around here sometimes, all before 8 am. :)

They didn't end up out there too long though because the mornings as of late have been a bit on the chilly side. This was probably one of the warmer mornings this week but being in the water was just a bit much that early in the morning. They came inside to play in the basement for a bit while I did the other thousand morning things there are to do and then I called them up so we could go to Six Flags. (Landon decided it was more important to stay up all night than to get up and go with us today.) We had another bring a friend free pass so I invited Mema along and Tony took off work early and met us there. We got there right around opening time and it was quite busy. Luckily it didn't take too long to get through the gates and then we were able to use our Gold passes to get into Hurricane Harbor before it opened to everyone else at 11 am. 

We hadn't been there long when I looked up and noticed our friends the Wakefield's walking into the pool area. And, not long after that, we noticed some moms + kids from Harper's school as well as a boy that had been on his t-ball team. Harper ended up having a great time playing with all those boys while Dakota drug Tony over to the wave pool to watch her do handstands. (She does her best and I'd be willing to bet she'll have it down before the end of summer!) I stayed in the area watching Harper play while he took her so I don't have any video of it but I was at the pool with them yesterday when she was practicing so I do have this video:

Before leaving the park for the day we stopped and had our traditional over-priced Dippin' Dots

Lace Crowns

I've been working all week on stuff for Dakota's birthday party and I just have to share these super simple lace crowns I made yesterday. I found the idea on Pinterest, of course, and it looked easy enough so I decided to give it a try. (You can see the original post here.)

I chose a lace that I thought would look nice on the little girls and a burlap/lace that I thought the boys might not hate. I also grabbed a bottle of Aleene's Original Stiffen Quik which is a fabric stiffening spray. Since I wanted these to be ready before the party I used Dakota's head to do a quick estimate on how much lace to cut and then I drenched the lace in the stiffener. I let the lace dry overnight and then using my hot glue gun I decorated the edges with some gold sequin trim. Simple and pretty. I could have painted them different colors but I really like the simplicity of the white.

I considered putting a gold sequin trim on the boys' as well but after consulting Harper, I decided it'd be best to leave them plain. And again, I love their simplicity, so I'm happy with them. These will likely hold their shape a bit better than the other crowns because of the heavy burlap. 

I also ordered these pretty tutu's for the party and I think the girls are really going to like them! I thought the price was great ($13.89 for 5) and they were here the next day because of that handy Prime membership we have with Amazon. I also ordered Dakota one that was a little different, you know since she's the birthday girl and all.  I will say though that they came in a plastic bag and were very pungent upon opening. They had a very strong burnt plastic smell to them...I've been trying to air them out but so far, while they aren't as strong, the smell is still there. Hopefully the smell won't be so noticeable by Sunday or maybe I should just hope no one will care!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale


I just finished this book yesterday and holy crap was it disturbing. This book, from 1985, is a dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood. I'm thinking that back in 1985 this would seem very far fetched and unrealistic, but reading this book today you have to wonder how far off it really is. Of five stars I give it four only because I absolutely hated the way it ended, but other than the ending, I thought it was a great read albeit terrifying.

If you are unfamiliar with the book, here is a brief description from Wikipedia as well as the (thorough) general plot of the story (everything highlighted in gray is from the site):

The Handmaid's Tale is a 1985 dystopian novel[2] by Canadian author Margaret Atwood.[3][4] Set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian theocracy that has overthrown the United States government, the novel explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain individualism and independence.

The Handmaid's Tale is set in the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic military dictatorship formed within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America.
Beginning with a staged attack that kills the President and most of Congress, a Christian fundamentalist movement calling itself the "Sons of Jacob" launches a revolution and suspends the United States Constitution under the pretext of restoring order. They are quickly able to take away women's rights, largely attributed to financial records being stored electronically and labelled by sex. The new regime, the Republic of Gilead, moves quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical model of Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. In this society, human rights are severely limited and women's rights are even more curtailed; for example, women are forbidden to read.
The story is told in the first person by a woman called Offred (literally Of-Fred). The character is one of a class of women kept for reproductive purposes and known as "handmaids" by the ruling class in an era of declining births due to sterility from pollution and sexually transmitted diseases. Offred describes her life during her third assignment as a handmaid, in this case to Fred (referred to as "The Commander"). Interspersed in flashbacks are portions of her life from before and during the beginning of the revolution, when she finds she has lost all autonomy to her husband, through her failed attempt to escape with her husband and daughter to Canada, to her indoctrination into life as a handmaid. Offred describes the structure of Gilead's society, including the several different classes of women and their circumscribed lives in the new theocracy.
The Commander is a high-ranking official in Gilead. Although he is supposed to have contact with Offred only during "the ceremony", a ritual of sexual intercourse intended to result in conception and at which his wife is present, he begins an illegal and ambiguous relationship with her. He offers her hidden or contraband products, such as old (1970s) fashion magazines, cosmetics and clothes, takes her to a secret brothel run by the government, and furtively meets with her in his study, where he allows her to read, an activity otherwise prohibited for women. The Commander's wife, Serena Joy, also has secret interactions with Offred, arranging for her secretly to have sex with Nick, the Commander's driver, in an effort to get Offred pregnant. In exchange for Offred's cooperation, Serena Joy gives her news of her daughter, whom Offred has not seen since she and her family were captured trying to escape Gilead.
After Offred's initial meeting with Nick, they begin to meet more frequently. Offred discovers she enjoys sex with Nick, despite her indoctrination and her memories of her husband. She shares potentially dangerous information about her past with him. Through another handmaid, Ofglen, Offred learns of the Mayday resistance, an underground network working to overthrow Gilead. Shortly after Ofglen's disappearance (later revealed as a suicide), the Commander's wife finds evidence of the relationship between Offred and the Commander. Offred contemplates suicide. As the novel concludes, she is being taken away by the secret police, the Eyes of God, known informally as "the Eyes", under orders from Nick. Before she is put in the large black van, Nick tells her that the men are part of the Mayday resistance and that Offred must trust him. Offred does not know if Nick is a member of the Mayday resistance or a government agent posing as one, and she does not know if going with the men will result in her escape or her capture. She enters the van with her future uncertain.
The novel concludes with a metafictional epilogue that explains that the events of the novel occurred shortly after the beginning of what is called "the Gilead Period". The epilogue is "a partial transcript of the proceedings of the Twelfth Symposium on Gileadean Studies" written in 2195. According to the symposium's "keynote speaker" Professor Pieixoto, he and colleague, Professor Knotly Wade, discovered Offred's story recorded onto cassette tapes. They transcribed the tapes, calling them collectively "the handmaid's tale". Through the tone and actions of the professionals in this final section of the book, the world of academia is highlighted and critiqued, and Pieixoto discusses his team's search for the characters named in the Tale, and the impossibility of proving the tapes' authenticity.[6] Nevertheless, the epilogue implies that, following the collapse of the theocratic Republic of Gilead, a more equal society, though not the United States that previously existed, re-emerged with a restoration of full rights for women and freedom of religion.

My mom and I were talking about the book and how horrible the idea's presented were and then she forwarded me this article on Facebook. Please click the link and read that article. Let that shit sink in. Go ahead, I'll wait. 

If you can read that article and not be afraid for yourself and your daughters, I do not understand you. I'm ready to pack up and move before that shit storm hits and I can't get my family away. It is extremely terrifying that something as disgusting as this can seem so possible this day and age, but there it is, out in the open. Knowing that there are so many people that agree with these ideas is sickening and having them in places of power is a recipe for disaster. 

Angelina Ballerina Ballet + Tap & Twirl

Dakota's summer dance classes began last night. She'll have classes every Wednesday evening from 6-7:30 pm. Back when we signed up she really wanted to try both types of dance so I thought it'd be a good idea to just do two back to back but now I'm not so sure it was a great idea. She did wonderfully the first class but about mid way through the second class she came out of the studio in tears.

She'd told the teacher she needed to use the restroom (which she did) but then told me she didn't want to go back in because they were doing the exact same thing they'd done in the first session. If I had known that both classes were going to do ballet AND tap, I wouldn't have signed her up for both but it's a bit too late now since I paid long ago and she's already begun. I honestly think the bigger problem for her is the time of the class. She's an early riser (she barely sleeps to 7 am) and she's flat exhausted by 7 pm most nights. Yesterday she played all day, went swimming, went shopping with me, and then had dance; I think it was just too much.

I'm really hoping that she'll be able to stick it out for the summer and be happy because I'd like her to continue in the fall with their Primary Combo I class. I guess we will see what happens...

This first video is of the Angelina Ballerina class:

And, this video is a bit of the Tap & Twirl:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Splatter Paint: 4th of July T-Shirts

The kids were looking for something to do so I pulled out the t-shirts and paint I bought them to make some splatter paint 4th of July art. You basically lay out a white t-shirt and, using a paintbrush, throw paint everywhere. It's quite fun, but messy. It's takes some serious slinging, so it's a bit easier if you stand up above the shirt and give yourself a bit of room. 

Of course I got a little video of the painting action, and yes, there is now paint all over the picnic table. They were both a mess once it was all said and done, but they turned out pretty good!

Water Balloon's with Friends

The kids' neighborhood friends came over to play on Monday and they were here most of the day. They played really happily and when it came time for lunch they went home, grabbed their lunches and came back to eat down here with my kids; they thought that was just awesome! Once lunch was over I told them all to change into their bathing suits so they could do some water balloons. I don't think I've ever seen four kids move so quickly!

That was about 200 balloons gone in about 10 minutes! They had fun but since it was over so quickly I turned the sprinkler on for them afterwards. They ran through it for a little bit but the weather wasn't terribly warm that day so the slight breeze was making them cold. 

Dakota and Sydney thought it looked fun to stick their heads in the buckets! They liked slinging their hair back and splashing the boys with all the water!

It's Not Everyday

Harper and Dakota were on the trampoline the other day when Harper found a dead dragonfly.

He was super excited about it and carried it around for a good while before he ended up dropping it on the ground and losing it.

He loved that little dragonfly so much that he even made up a little song about it...

Learning to Ride Without Training Wheels, part 1

As Tony was pulling out of the garage a few weeks ago he accidentally ran over Dakota's bike. He only managed to mangle one of the training wheels, so the bike is still good, but the trainers had to come off. It kind of stinks that it was her bike to get ruined because of the three kids she's the only one who ever rides her bike. Instead of buying new training wheels I think it's just time to try to teach her to ride without them, and Harper too, while we're at it.

Neither of the kids is excited to learn how to ride their bikes without the training wheels but Dakota is a little more ready than Harps. He has never really liked riding his bike (or anything for that matter) and he's just recently becoming comfortable with the training wheels on so I feel bad making him attempt it without the trainers but at the same time, it's time he learn.

As you can see from the video's, Dakota's first time seemed to go a little smoother than Harper's. He was so worried Tony was going to let go and when he did let go, Harper refused to get back on. It's only his first try though and I'm hoping we'll be able to get them both up and riding before the summers over. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Harper and he just loved it! We started it around the end of May and finished it up last night. I wasn't sure how much he was going to understand but he surprised me and was able to keep up for the most part. There were times when I could tell he wasn't following the story and we'd have to stop so that I could refresh his memory but it was almost always about certain characters that aren't huge parts of the book. (Filch, Mrs. Norris, and Percy were three that he couldn't keep track of.)

Image result for harry potter and the sorcerer's stone images

There were many times he'd stop me as I read to offer his thoughts on what was about to happen and that proved to me that he was understanding the story. He kept trying to figure out why Harry kept seeing a green light and why his scar would hurt as well as why Professor Snape didn't like Harry. His nearly seven year old self loved Hagrid and enjoyed when he gave Dudley a pigs tail. He thought it was funny that Hagrid carried around a little pink umbrella and that he he'd named a three headed dog Fluffy.

I told him that we'd watch the first movie together once we'd finished the book and I think that will be happening tomorrow night. He told me that as I was reading to him he was imagining all of the things I was saying in his mind. I told him that was the beauty of reading! I can't wait to see if what he saw in his mind is close to what the movie portrays.

We wont be starting book 2 any time soon but I do see reading it to him in the future. Tony said he wants to read The Hobbit with him and I have Wonder picked out for our next novel and I'm thinking I'll try to get Dakota to listen as well. I'm not sure she'd old enough but we'll try it out and see.

Buzzing Up and Down

Landon had his (5) wisdom teeth removed this past Thursday morning. He had an extra bit of wisdom on the top left side of his jaw, but nevertheless, we were in and out of the surgeon's office in about 40 minutes. (In the picture below he's got a surgical mask on that is supposed to be holding the ice packs against his face but he was too "happy" and he kept tugging the mask away from his face so he could talk.)

He opted to just have laughing gas instead of being fully sedated and he was still a little high after the procedure. The surgeon told me that Landon was a "lightweight" and that he'd had to turn the gas way down...apparently Landon was really out of it for a few minutes! I can't imagine what he must have been like but he sure was full of it on the way home!

(I asked him beforehand if I could record him and he said yes, but I made sure to ask him if I could post here as well and he gave his blessing.)

Enjoy the video and good luck understanding him!

He was really happy and feeling good for a couple of hours but around 2pm he said his mouth was starting to hurt a bit. He took a dose of ibuprofen at that point but it was too late because he was in serious pain for a few hours before it and a dose of percocet was able to help. 

Today he is doing really well and besides some MAJOR swelling, he's feeling pretty good. We have to see the surgeon again on Thursday for a follow up and it'll be a done deal. Thank goodness. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Six Flags Water Park

Yesterday really felt like summertime to me. I took the kids to the water park at Six Flags for the first time this season and we had such a great day! I didn't realize until we were home again that it was the first day of summer, so it was fitting that we spent it frolicking at a water park! The water park doesn't officially open until 11 am each day but since we're Gold card holders they let us in to find seats a little bit earlier than everyone else. It's a small perk but one that comes in handy when you're trying to get seats in the shade! Before the throngs of people were let in I asked the kids to pose for a quick picture...I just love that they're holding hands and Harps has his arm around Kota like that!

As soon as the lifeguards blew their whistles Harper took off! He absolutely loves playing around on the wet jungle gym! Dakota, on the other hand, hates the water splashing her in the face so she held back at first. She did end up going down a few slides but she wasn't anywhere near as enthusiastic as Harper!

When they were done here we went over to the wave pool for a little bit. The only thing about their wave pool is they don't run the waves very long and they make everyone exit the pool so that they can do training every so often. I cannot understand why they don't do training in the morning and/or evening when the park is closed instead of making everyone exit the pool. It's incredibly annoying.

When they closed the wave pool for lifeguard training we decided that would be a good time for lunch. We picked up some pizza and bread sticks and took a break before heading over to the lazy river and then another pool area with slides. 

Before leaving for the day we made a stop at the Dippin' Dots cart, their favorite! They both decided to try the brownie batter flavor this time around and they both give it two thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Charlie Brown Birthday Party

This past Saturday was our little buddy Wyatt's fourth birthday party. He wanted a Peanuts theme and his mom Lisa did a great job creating that for him! 

(Lisa didn't make these, but they're just too darn cute!) 

The kids mostly played and ran around the house, but some of them came to the table to make Snoopy ears. Dakota loves arts and crafts so she was one of the first at the table while Harper was too busy running around to stop and make a pair. As a matter of fact I only saw Harper for a second here and there during the whole party and didn't even get any pictures of him! I swear he was there!

When I went to wrap up Wyatt's gift I realized I didn't have any birthday paper so I ended up using some plain brown paper. It looked super plain and ugly so I painted on a black zig zag like the one on Charlie Brown's shirt. It was still plain but I was flat out of time! I did make a cute little card to go with it though and although it isn't Charlie Brown themed, it's still adorable!

Hard to believe Dakota's 5th birthday is right around the corner...

Dance, 9/18/18

Dakota had her second dance class last night. Her class this year is at least twice the size as last year and it's harder to get videos...