Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beach Scrappin'

One of the perks of going to the beach with a scrappy friend is that we actually found time to scrapbook while on vacation! (and find the local scrapbook store :)

I'm not sure why some of these pictures are a little wonky, but I'm posting them anyway - I think you can get the idea, right?

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Fripp vacation

This year we vacationed at Fripp Island with some friends (instead of our normal Gulf Coast trip). We had planned this trip long before the oil mess, just in case you were wondering :)

Fripp Island, SC was a beautiful place! It took us about 8 hours to get there (and almost 9 to get home - was the extra time due to the traffic and rain or because I didn't drive on the way home??!?!? ;)

Here are my boys on the beach... The waves were great for boogie boarding and the water was just the right temperature to cool us off!
There are 'wild' deer on Fripp and they love to be fed! B's goal during the week was to feel their antlers - he did it on Friday night! Such an amazing experience!
Each morning, we could go and find the newly marked sea turtle nests.
Oh, and we learned to play bocce ball!
The 3 of us took an excursion one afternoon to the Hunting Island Lighthouse.
We climbed all 1,999,999 steps (ok, so it wasn't quite that many...) to the top and were treated to a nice breeze and a beautiful view!

There was a lot of sand digging and castle building. You can imagine my disappointment when Bennett explained that he didn't really like the beach (on, about, Tuesday) because the sand irritated him.
So, Brad buried him :)
Gator hunting was another exciting nightly event. These guys, big and small, were all over the golf course!
This is a close as we got - but Laci was still freaked out! :)
Brad and I took a walk one morning and I practiced a little of my mad manual photography skills...

And then one night, we all braved the wind and tried to get some family pictures. For Brad, the wind wasn't a problem... but for everyone else, it was a disaster :)
We had a great time on the island! Lots of good food. Fun on the beach. Amazing changes in the shore as the tide went in and out. Sand dollars, deer, alligators, and Nash the wonder Sheltie. Shopping in Beaufort. Splashing in the pool. and Scrapbooking (I'll post pics of that soon!!)

How has your summer been?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Parent/Child Space Camp - The Jedi Experience!

Warning! This post is picture heavy!! :) And long!!

Last weekend I surprised Bennett with a weekend of the Jedi Experience at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. For those of you who'd like to see what we did, here you go!!

We arrived at 12:30 on Friday to check in at Habitat 1. We were issued our arm bracelets, given our room number, and we given our saran-wrapped sheets and blanket.
We headed up to room 301 and checked it out. We were on the mixed-gender floor (since we were mom and son) and we got a whole room to ourselves (check #1 on my things-to-be-worried-about list!)There were many bunk beds, so Bennett chose the best ones and we hurriedly made our beds (making a top bunk is HARD!), set a few things out, and headed out to meet our group, the Katarns.
After a few introductions, a group picture, and a game we headed over to the MAT. Now, I have to admit that when I signed up for Jedi Camp, I was praying that we didn't have to do this machine - you know, the one where you spin all around - top to bottom, side to side. I thought that since we were going to Jedi camp, I would be safe. Wouldn't you know that it was the FIRST THING WE DID!! After watching everyone get whipped around - and exit the machine smiling, I gave in. Bennett was eager to try it and was the 2nd child. I was the last adult :) Jedi Master Sean assured me that I would like it - and that he would only spin me for 15 seconds. Oh, and I could tell him to stop at any time. Guess what? It was great! I didn't get dizzy or sick - the only thing that happened was that I couldn't stop screaming (I was the only one who screamed :) It was so much fun! And, Sean took me the whole 30 seconds :)

See, here's the machine, and me and Bennett. Don't we look happy?
After the MAT, Master SyRilla took us to the G-Force ride. We skipped that one, and opted for the gift shop (and a freeze dried ice cream sandwich and shave ice instead).

Next on the schedule was the Build Your Own Light Saber class. We learned about the parts of the light saber (did you know that each one has 2 crystals?) and then built our own out of PVC pipe. Here's what Bennett's looked like when we got done.
The light saber build was probably the biggest disappointment of the weekend (except for the lodging - more to come on that later!) What you see in the picture above is how we left with our sabers. Not painted, not embellished. They included in our graduation packs instructions for how we could finish them at home. Whatever. Bummer.

We had dinner in the cafeteria (spaghetti) and then checked out the Star Wars Museum exhibits. We focused on different aspects - first on vehicles, then on aliens on a visit later that night. The museum was awesome! So much memorabilia - ships, costumes, accessories...

Awesome, it was.
On Friday night we also saw the IMAX Special Effects movie. It was great - all about how Lucas made Star Wars. Really cool. It was late, though, and Bennett was spent. Since we are in the bed by 8 usually, seeing the IMAX at that time was a little rough. Nothing that a bag of cotton candy didn't help :) After the IMAX, we headed back to the museum, and then to bed at 9:30.

**Note - I've forgotten when it was, but we did light saber training at some point on Friday!! Pictures on Saturday - below...

Friday night was a tough one for me. Bennett, thankfully, slept great! I was worried about each and every noise, how we were going to get ready in the morning (since the bathrooms were not family bathrooms, I wasn't sure how we were going to shower, etc.) I tried sleeping with the desk light on, which was a mess. It was just not a good night for sleeping for me. I spent a good number of hours shivering (it was cold in there!) and wondering how I could score a night at the Marriott for Saturday! :)

We were up before 6, I smuggled Bennett into the Women's showers (and taught him the importance of showering with shoes on and the art not letting things touch the ground in public showers). Wake-up was at 7, and we reported downstairs for breakfast at 7:30. Breakfast was eggs, pancakes, biscuits, hashbrowns, cereal, sausage, and fruit. Yum.

The first activity of the day (and Bennett's favorite!) was building pod racers. Bennett's new best friend, "D" and he spend the whole period (2 hours, I think) building with Legos. Every piece imaginable was on that table - it was a dream come true! :)
Here are the engineers... So cute! D's mom and I sat back and let the boys build. (There were a few dad's that REALLY enjoyed 'helping' with the legos :) If only I would have had the chance to build one too!! Our team was Red 3.
Look who we met on the way... Have you ever seen 8 boys so happy?? (Yes, Bennett wore his Jedi robe all the time!!)
Our next stop was banner design. After some artistic differences that had to be negotiated, B and D decided on a wonderful name (the Inferno) and logo. Doesn't that sign look hot?? :)
Lunch on Saturday was pizza. And saltine crackers from the salad bar... After lunch we played a new game (designed by the Jedi Masters at camp) called Vanguard. It involved a lot of strategy (above my head, I hate to admit) and some really cool Galactic Heros action figures. The best point, to the kids, anyway, was getting into battles and trying to wound each other :) We played twice (and we lost both times) but at the end of the 2nd game we got to take a figure home, which was pretty much like winning the lottery. I let Bennett have mine, and he promptly traded it :)
Look who else we saw...
and these guys too!! Can you tell the B is in heaven again??
During a break, he climbed the rock wall...
Then we went back to light saber training. On Friday we learned the seven basic Velocities (like forms in TKD). These are the basic ways that Jedi use their sabers. A Jedi always uses his saber to defend himself - never to attack and only to inflict the least amount of harm possible. First, aim for the (1) weapon, then the (2 & 3) hands, then the (4&5) arms, and finally anything else (6&7). On Saturday we learned some advanced moves and tried them out...
We had a practice run on the Pod Racer Track.
After dinner (which was chicken and rice (ooh, and a brownie)- really quite good) we got to do the 1/6 chair, which simulates gravity on the moon. There were 3 ways to move - the bunny hop, the side-to-side shuffle, and the slow jog. Here's Bennett in the chair.
I'll spare you the pictures of me in the chair. Although it was really fun (REALLY fun), I don't think that these pictures were the most flattering for me :)

Next we rode the Millenium Falcon ride - the boys didn't watch the movie at all - they just pretended to be piloting the ship :) and then we headed back to the museum. This was a great free-time in the museum. We built robots, rode the hover craft, and watched a movie with C3PO.
We returned to our bunk room at about 9:30. Due to sheer exhaustion (and my ipod and the lights being out) I slept much better. I have to admit that I am proud that I didn't wimp out and head to the Marriott. Next time, though - Marriott all the way!!!

Wake-up was 6:30 on Sunday, but we got up at 6 and got cleaned up. We packed up our suitcases and were ready for breakfast by 7:15. Breakfast on Sunday was the same at Saturday (except we had tiny muffins instead of pancakes) and then we were off to the pod races.
The boys did a great job - we didn't win, but we didn't crash either :)
We played a quick game of The Jedi Trials (like Jeopardy). I got cool-mom points for knowing the 'Saarlac'.
The last event of the weekend was graduation. Here's a pic of the boys with our faithful leader, Master SyRilla (Kim). This is the 'silly' pose :)
During the ceremony (since I was in it, I couldn't take pictures!) we were each knighted by Master Quinn and received our certificates. Awards were given out for the best pod racing times and for the best score at the Jedi Trials. Team Katarn tried their best, but we just didn't place.

The best surprise of the weekend was when they gave out the coveted 'Jedi Savant' award. We didn't know that this would be awarded, but throughout the weekend, the 4 Jedi trainees that exhibited the most promise as Jedi were identified. Bennett was awarded this honor from Team Katarn!!! What a blast!! (I had tears in my eyes!!). He got a real metal light saber hilt - so cool!!

All in all, it was a great weekend. We were both exhausted but thrilled when we left. We learned so much to help us in the Jedi Way.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

There's a black stripe in the house!!

Yesterday, he entered the school as a red belt...
he practiced his form...
performed his form without error...
performed his one-step sparring....
did some great sparring... (look at that kick!)
and broke that board with a flying side kick!!!
and then
he left with a black stripe!!

Yea Bennett!! I am so proud :)