Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy and hopeful!

Spring will be here soon, and we are full of hope! In addition to seeing happy puddles of water--something we haven't seen for months!--here are a dozen things to smile at this (almost) spring: 

Taking the cutest passport photo in history!
 Biking on the trail, because it's not covered in snow!
Playing hockey on the last day of the outdoor rinks to be open
 (and with my favorite player!)
(and my favorite littles!)
Singing "Summertime, summertime!" in shorts the day the temperature rose above freezing
Having the entire pool to ourselves one morning, then having almost as much fun in the showers
Running through the zoo one frigid day and seeing the world's cutest aardvark
 and a diagram of a cow's intestines. Wisconsin!
 Asking which kid wants to crack the egg for the cookies
Making a lunar space craft at the afterschool science expeditions
 Painting with our hands and feet; or Max, painting with his belly!
 Playing "line tag" and basketball at the church gym
 Learning from my wonderful, wise kids
Thawing out on a 40-degree day! We are so grateful and happy!
This is how I feel about emerging from the coldest winter of my life:
video
Ha! One more, for the grandmas:
video

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winter day camp

Confirmed: boys in subzero temperatures can't feel the cold when they're having fun! Our day at Cub Scout winter day camp started out at -3F, rising to 16F by the afternoon. There was no indoor shelter, just hot chocolate and some "dump soup" (every kid brings a can of non-cream soup and dumps it in a huge crockpot--delicious, really!). 


I ran the "dog sled" station, where boys raced against each other pulling inner tubes with ropes. The course was set up a hill, which looked tame but turned out to be beastly! After racing up that hill about 30 times, I figured I can take at least a week off of my workouts. :) Of course Zachary and like-minded Scouts had dozens of ideas to improve their speed. The best tactic was recruiting an ex-Marine dad to help pull!
Over 120 boys attended the camp. Despite their best efforts, not all of them could fit on the merry-go-round concurrently. 

Geocaching, outdoor cooking, game playing, hiking, and of course, BB-shooting were other activities. When I was a girl I wished that I could be in Cub/Boy Scouts. Now's my chance, I guess. So fun!

Extracurricular excitement

There's nothing more satisfying than seeing a kid's inner motivation drive him. I saw this in Zachary and Jacob, who persevered through some unusually frustrating pinewood derby engineering! Everything went wrong with Zachary's car: axles bent, wheels got lost, and the entire body split in half three different times before he finished it! He is someone who superglues his way through problems without getting discouraged, and I love him for it. 

Jacob's car was too heavy, then too light, then so skinny that it had to be braced together with wire. It was rapid prototyping overdrive here for a week or so, and our kitchen counter looked like a carpenter shop!
In the end, Zachary's car was one of the fastest and won 3rd place. One of Jacob's axles gradually bent out of place during the races, making it one of the slowest: I think he got 20th place! I was just beaming that night, though, because Jacob was genuinely happy even though his race speed was disappointing. It reminded me that I can feel proud of my best efforts, even if things go awry!

Nothing went awry during his piano recital that weekend, however! He played beautifully.
The younger kids were just calm enough--but no calmer--to qualify for the feast of treats in the foyer afterwards.
The greatest treat was actually a science show we attended that night, Wonders of Physics. We have attended three of these shows, organized by the great Professor Sprott at UW. You can watch past shows on YouTube--they're basically a series of "wow" physics demonstrations that scientists of all ages love! Unlike at the piano recital, the kids eagerly sat in their seats during the entire physics show.
 Afterwards we stopped at the physics museum, full of hands-on experiments
and even a photo op with Sir Newton!

Where there's science, there must also be math. The next week Jacob was honored to attend a district math competition,
and I was thrilled to chaperone! Watching those kids work out the problems with looming time limits sent my pulse soaring. Cue flashback to math competitions of my childhood! I wanted so badly to jump in during the team competition--those were my favorite portions, maybe my favorite academic activity in all of school. Is there something like this for adults?!
It turned out to be a red-letter day for Jacob. On the individual competition he won 1st in his school grade and 3rd in district! And his team won 2nd place in district! Later that night he achieved a personal best on the Math Olympiads contest. I was thrilled to see him shine that day. We all need days like that!

Michael looks ready for some academic fun, too: here he is donning the specs that transform him into "Mr. Sundrickson," the name of the teacher he created for his pretend play:

Monday, February 10, 2014

A wedding and a baptism

If you don't know my brother James, you should! He is easily one of the funniest, most useful guys you could ever meet. Wasn't I just shooting hoops with him in the driveway or teaching him to swim? Now he's married, to the equally charming and lovely Catherine! 
This is the first time ever that I have gone on a trip by myself. In my life! I cried a little in the plane, for my boys. But after the first night staying up half the night laughing with James and Kim, I knew that I could enjoy time with my "growing-up family," and my wonderful brother- and sister-in-law! One hiccup: the marriage license managed to vaporize on the morning of the ceremony, and we all developed blood pressure problems during the hunt for it. It was a Saturday, so all public offices were closed! Eventually my brother located a home phone number for the county clerk, who graciously provided a hand-written license for them! I told them when they find the original I'll frame it for them. I got to sit beside my mom during the ceremony. The moment made me grateful for all the beautiful women in my life.

What a pleasure it was to be with many of them--my mom and sisters, 
 plus my grandmother, aunts, and cousins!
This was the first time that all the siblings have been together in over three years.
Hearing the Tabernacle Choir, eating at Grandma's house, holding my new little niece Hailey and being in all the familiar, sunny places in Salt Lake buoyed my spirits. My sister Michelle caught the bouquet--maybe I'll be traveling to another wedding soon! :)
Hailey! You've got to see sweet Hailey, the luckiest little angel to be born to my sister- and brother-in-law, Stephanie and Lindsey!


The other happy event happened right here in Madison, where our sweet Zachary was baptized.
The Alldredges and my dad travelled here to participate, and many friends came to support Zachary. How blessed we are!
Zachary received a journal for his baptism, in which he recorded this:
"Baptism
I got baptized today. The water was cold. When the refreshments came they were yummy! We had an awe-so-me time. We invited Ethan my friend and my cousins (the Alldredges). After that Ethan and some others came then we went skating. We had crazy night that night. I got leather scriptures. 
The Sunday after Baptism
When we got out of our fortresses, we played Legos. I made a machine with a watch tower. When we got to church the Bishop told me to stand. After church Grandpa had to leave. Nana said if we read the scriptures every day until we finish them she will give us [a prize]."

He's brought his scriptures to school to study every day since his baptism and has been trying to be good. Oh, how I love his earnest, gentle heart.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wisconsin Winter Fun

Wisconsin has been absolutely Siberian this winter! We had school cancelled for a few days because the wind chill was -40 F, good heavens! Everything I've experienced before this winter was "pansy" in comparison.

Our former pro-hockey player neighbor and rockstar of a dad cleared a retention ditch to use as a hockey rink. It is a part time job maintaining a pond rink! We spent several hours plowing snow out there, and our neighbor spent more. But to have your own private rink surrounded by the fresh Wisconsin winter--what could be more magical? Every time we played, we stayed until dark. 

When we couldn't bear clearing the rink anymore--and when it was too cold to play outside!--we moved indoors. One fun day we reserved the rink for an hour. We played hockey with three adults against about a dozen kids (some of them using the fun "walkers") and had a blast!

Of course there's always sledding (little Max barrels down like a champ!):
In our backyard we built a "bobsled run" going down the steps from our deck balcony and around the yard! Where was the photo on that one? Here's cute Michael instead:

One perfect day we drove up to Sauk City to watch for bald eagles. We spotted about 25 this year, up from 6 last year! Some friends came along:

One day the temperature was well above freezing and we decided to ride bikes. It was frigid, but so liberating to do something "summer" in the middle of the winter:
That was the reasoning behind my going running one day when it was -6F! Yikes! I couldn't feel a thing afterwards!

Here's beautiful Madison from the air--notice the capitol on the isthmus with frozen Lakes Mendota and Monona to each side. Wisconsin, we love you, winter and all! 
The kids and I are going to an all-day winter camp this weekend. More on that later!