Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Philadelphia Part II: Historical Encounters

Ryan looking up to James Madison

 Though we spent most of our time in Philadelphia eating great food, we did decide to venture to a few historical sights.  We stopped at the new Constitutional Center where the kids could take the Presidential Oath of Office, make a law, and play Presidential Jeopardy.  At the end of the exhibition we reached a room with 42 bronze men. They were seemingly perfect copies of the men who served as the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.  The kids loved it!  They peered into the faces of these frozen men and pretended to engage them in conversation. They enjoyed sitting with Ben Franklin and talking to James Madison and George Washington.

 It was strangely difficult to tell the tourists from the statues at times.  Alyssa bumped into one of them and turned around to say "sorry" until she realized it was Alexander Hamilton.  I brushed a little too close to James Madison and I had the eerie feeling I was invading his personal space.  If these statues exuded so much personality, I wondered how it would have been to really be in the room when the Constitution was signed.  The best part was that the kids got to live history if only for a moment.


Here is a link to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia if you would like to check it out! Constitutioncenter.org

Jessica engaging a signer in a philosophical discussion

Jesse standing stoically with George Washington

Jessica and Alyssa on the arms of Alexander Hamilton

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Philadelphia Part I: Wonderful Wasabi

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a great city!  It may not be as big as New York, but that is one of the reasons I love it.   It has a magnetism that keeps drawing us back.  Even after living there for two years, my husband and I crave spending time in the City of Brotherly Love.
On our latest trip, we checked into our hotel and searched for a place to get lunch.  It didn't take us long before we found a cute little sushi place called Mizu.  The kids love Japanese food.  We ordered a big plate of assorted sushi and some dumplings.  Usually Ryan sticks to the dumplings and is full.  But this time he felt adventurous and wanted to try some sushi.  My husband poured some soy sauce into the little dish and asked him if he wanted a little wasabi in it.  Ryan said, "sure".  Ryan carefully dipped his chosen piece into the sauce and popped it into his mouth.  "HMMMMM! It's kinda spicy, but really good", he said as he reached for more.  Then after shoving his third piece in his mouth, his hands immediately clutched his nose and a low painful groan emanated from his throat.  His eyes watered.  He grabbed his glass and gulped water to wash away the uncomfortable sensation.  Then he started laughing and we did too.  Even the chef behind the counter was chuckling.  When we all settled down, I figured Ryan would be done with sushi, but he said "Wow was that hot, but I love it!"  I want to come here again tomorrow!  .....and we did, but this time we mixed in his wasabi a little better.        
Ryan feeling the effects of a chunk of wasabi


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Writing Buddies

Ever since my oldest daughter Jessica could form sentences, she and I have been writing buddies.  We like to wake up early before anyone else, have a cup of tea and write. She used to just write a few silly lines that often times didn't make much sense to anyone but her.  Then came the 5 page stories with crazy plots.  Now she is working on a full blown Teen novel.  I didn't think she would stick with it but so far she has written 41 chapters and  329 pages!  Her persistence astonishes me.  Any free moment she gets, she is writing.  Sometimes, we tell her to stop working to come watch a movie with us.  Then yesterday, she asked me what I was doing.  She said, "Mom you know your novel won't write itself right?"  Yikes.  I tried to make excuses but it was no use.  She saw through me like my old Calculus professor when I tried to explain why I hadn't finished my integrals assignment. So she sat at the computer with me and I was inspired by her endless enthusiasm.  I accomplished more than I had in a while.

Later I had to run some errands.  The kids stayed home together.  When I returned, Jessica was sitting in between Alyssa and Ryan.  They were hard at work on their own stories and Jessica was going back and forth to help each of them.  They had never before shown an interest in creating stories when I had initiated it, but with Jessica's guidance Alyssa wrote 2 chapters and Ryan completed 2 pages.  They couldn't wait to read their works to me.  I was amazed to see how she had used her passion to spark the imagination of her siblings.    

I guess I have three writing buddies now! :)


Monday, July 11, 2011

Working Together

If I had told the kids that we were going to spend Sunday power washing the deck and painting the outdoor furniture, they probably would have wanted to migrate to a friends house for the day.  So I didn't tell them.  Instead, my husband and I got to work.  Upon seeing Dad with a cool new machine, Ryan quickly decided to come see what was happening. He stood watching the strong stream of water blast the dirt away. Jesse handed him the sprayer. His eyes lit up and I could see the wheels of his imagination turn.  He transformed into a space captain blasting bad guys with his super water cannon.  
The girls made their way out as well.  They each grabbed a paint brush (I brought out extras just in case), and wanted to help me paint.  We talked while we worked on one chair.  We quickly finished it and moved onto the next one.  Ryan wanted to try painting too so Jessica and Alyssa took turns with the power washer and Ryan picked up a brush.  I figured he would tire of it easily, but he helped me finish two chairs.
 With their help, we were done sooner than expected. That left time for us to take the kids out bowling....where they worked together to beat us and won an ice cream cone as well.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

That's the Hardest Part

 My son loves to stand on the dock and fish.  But he figured out pretty quickly that he wasn't going to catch anything with just a plastic minnow tied onto the line.  He figured he needed to learn how to fish with a real hook.   So he and Gramps, my 89 year old grandpa, (our family's fishing expert), set out together to catch a real fish.

They waited ........

and waited........

and waited......

They baked in the hot sun and finally gave up, deciding they would try again later when it was cooler.

A few hours passed.  The sun began it's slow descent in the sky.  They grabbed the pole and enthusiastically  took up their post once more.

They sat ...

and sat...

and sat.

I went out to check on them.  "Not even a nibble", they told me.  Ryan was a little discouraged and was ready to go back in the house.
I told him how Gramps and I used to fish all the time.  Most of the time we didn't catch anything either, but it was special to sit there with Gramps, talking and enjoying each other.  I told him that fishing is really about being patient and learning to enjoy the wait for the reward.
"Well that's the hardest part, Mom", he said.
Gramps and I chuckled and agreed. Ryan decided they could cast one more time but after that they should call it a day.  I was a little sad.  I wanted his first real fishing experience to be a great one.  I wanted him to be able to look back fondly on the moments spent fishing with Gramps, like I can. I was hoping he could catch something, even if it was just a tiny little fish. But of course I couldn't control the outcome.
So I took a few more pictures of them and waited for the last cast to end.  

They had almost finished winding it in, when something hit the line.  The pole doubled over and Gramps waited patiently for the right time. The tip dipped into the water. Gramps made one swift jerk and handed the pole over to Ryan.  I thought Ryan might fall over he was so excited, but Gramps told him how to wind it in. Pretty soon we could see a long graceful shape on the end of the line.  There it was a beautiful Northern Pike.  Ryan had caught his first fish after all!


(Hope you all had a great weekend!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bears vs. Black Holes

An epic battle
  There is an ongoing battle in our family.  "Black holes are stronger than bears!"  Ryan shouts and jumps furiously onto my husband.
"No, bears are stronger than black holes!"  My husband growls like a bear and his large hands claw at Ryan's belly.
They roll around on the floor grasping and clawing at each other. Feet and arms flail in the air.
"Black holes can suck up everything in the universe!" Ryan yells as he gets my husband in a head lock.

"Black holes just suck!  Bears are huge and have muscles!  Black holes don't even have muscles!" My husband counters and flips Ryan over.  Invariably, they call me over. I don't know how I became a referee for this cosmic combat, but I must decide the winner.  I declare anyone who is on top at the moment the champion.  In the fog of war they dismiss my words and continue their battle.  It finally ends in a rolling bear hug and the playing of video games together.  For now the house is quiet....until another black hole appears.  

A rolling bear hug

I also want to thank all my wonderful friends and family for making my birthday special.  I had a great day.  My son even told me, "Mom you still look really young."  That made my day.

We are heading up to the wilds of Michigan for the Fourth of July holiday, so I will not be posting for a couple of days.  Enjoy your weekend!