Friday, June 09, 2017

Four for now...

Good morning, four years old! 
Jade wanted to continue our tradition of bringing breakfast in bed for the birthday kid. Pancakes and bacon were her request!
 Jade is a very active girl.  She loves going to open gym at "Nastics-for-day" (aka gymnastics), loves swimming, climbing, and really loves riding her bike--which was upgraded in size for her fourth birthday!

 Jade's other love right now is My Little Pony. She got two new ponies: Cherilee and Applejack, as gifts from her siblings, and then had a somewhat impromptu "Pony Picnic" with some little friends on Friday (who says babysitting can't be fun??). Adelyn, Conrad, Jade, and Sage were the 3/4 year olds, and they were accompanied by siblings Larry, Jack, and Zyna... and Adelyn's mom. The kids enjoyed some coloring, dancing, and "Humpty Dumpty Pony Pie" games.
 Her chosen menu was: PB&J sandwiches, quesadillas, veggies, and mud and worms for dessert :) Thanks to Nana for sending the "4" candle. It went perfectly with everything! Simple, last-minute, but delightful birthday fun!

Also, she's been saying for a while that she'll "climb to the bell" when she turns four. And she did just that! On her fourth birthday, she climbed all the way to the top of the auto-belay at the peak and rang the bell at the top! (movie is a little long... she had quite a few "resting" moments arching her back all the way and tossing her curls...) 

I love this smart, sassy, curly-headed princess of mine! But don't be in too big of a hurry to grow up...


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

"It's not every day your young [lady] turns eleven..." -Hagrid

...and for that reason, there's nothing else I could possibly do but create a Harry Potter escape room birthday party!

First off, many humble thanks to Angela Ringlein for helping me see this project through to the end and bringing the sparkle and shine to everything there! And many thanks to Miss Hannah Reeves, whose beta testing of the puzzles, riddles, and codes was vital to the success of our escape room! And thank you to the Lock, Paper, Scissors site, which provided an excellent escape room blueprint!  It was a lot of work, but WOW! what a fun and awesome way to spend a couple weeks! (especially if you have an angel of a daughter who's turning 11 and loves Harry Potter :)
(she said we could match...I must still be a cool mom!)
The other secret to our success was the folding/expanding accordion walls in most LDS chapels (not to mention the foyer furniture there also...). Perfect place to put a few bike locks... and a great way to have a progressive room!
I'll do my best to not include any spoilers in my description, in case you want to try our escape room some day... it does require a fair amount of Harry Potter knowledge, as per design, but one HP guru per group is sufficient to succeed.

So, according to "Lock, Paper, Scissors," to make a good escape room, one must "sketch out a story line" for your room to follow... so here's mine: 

"It's an ordinary school night in the Gryffindor common room. Among the students reading, studying, and chatting, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are playing wizard's chess! Now, we all know that Ron is the superior chess player, but we also know that he's the six of seven kids, and his chess set is a hand-me-down that has seen many many games of chess.  As such, just as Ron is about to win, his queen misses Hermione's king... and smashes instead... her time turner! In a whirl of magic and hourglass sand, everyone in the Gryffindor common room is transported one week into the future!  

"You now find Hogwarts School of Wichcraft and Wizardry in an uproar, on the verge of closure, because 6-9 Gryffindor students (depending on the size of your escape room group...) have seemingly vanished for a week! Albus Dumbledore will be announcing the closure just before dinner in the great hall in exactly ONE HOUR! You must get out of the common room, complete all of your missing homework, and make it to the great hall before the announcement is made if you are to save the school!" READY??? GO!!!

The Common Room: 

 Announcement board...
 Arm chairs...
Basket of S.P.E.W socks, bookshelf, and chess game...

Curiosity piqued?? :) So was theirs... 
This is Dawna's birthday escape crew... (we actually ended up running the room four times over the weekend, but this is the only one I took pictures of)

(I loved that many of the kids came in costume!) 

But that's not all... because remember that part about missing a week's worth of classes and having to make up the homework?? Well, enter the...

Hogwart's Classrooms! 

(ok, so it's like 4 classrooms smashed into one little space... deal with it...)
 Looking to the right... (notice the 5 additional locks on the second accordion wall)
Looking to the left... interesting... 

The design of this space turned out to be really fun as the chairs served as a kind of maze they all had to maneuver around as they worked... now for a few close-ups...
Transfiguation (also a mysterious locked chest below the board)
Potions... (actually had a cooler setup later, but missed getting a picture)

Ancient Runes

Divination (it's a crystal ball, ok?)
And... I didn't get any pictures at all of my kids working on this section... lame... note to self: bring a designated photographer next time...

The birthday kids made it through the room in a respectable 1 hour and 10 min., which wasn't enough to save Hogwarts, but plenty for having a great time! I did catch the moment of final escape into the Great Hall (it's not a great video, but I love the excitement of the kids!)

Once they made it through, the kids got to enjoy a lovely Hogwart's dinner, complete with chocolate frogs and heaps of fried chicken :) 

(on a side note... the other groups made it through the escape room in 1 hr. 27 min., 58 min., and 1 hr. 6 min. All the other groups besides the birthday party kids were a mix of kids and adults.  All in all, for my first escape room, I think my timing was pretty good!)

A very happy birthday to my lovely intelligent daring and darling daughter Dawna! Thanks for lighting up my life always, and especially around your 11th birthday! I may have a new obsession now... 

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Baloo the Builder with Bears

For the last three weeks, I got to work with Larry's cub scout pack on their "Baloo the Builder" experience.  I researched some simple woodworking projects and decided on this fun one from Boys Life: Make a Homemade Candy Dispenser.

This experience was somewhat "blind leading the blind," as I have no actual woodworking experience... I'm sure Weston would have been a much better candidate... But we did our best, following along in the Bear Cub handbook... 

Week One
The boys were introduced to some basic tools and learned a little more about them: hammer and claw, saw, sandpaper, and screwdrivers. They learned about pilot holes and why we love them, and learned vocabulary such as Phillips head, thread, and leverage... 

Each of the boys got a "practice block" to try out the different tools, complete with sharpie instructions:)  
The boys learned that the joy of a pilot hole when working with screws... and how to use leverage against a big nail... and learned to be thankful for power saws... and realized that sanding takes  f o r e v e r! 
After practice time was over, they starting building for real! They used a saw to cut pieces of dowel for the pull handle.  
Then they attached the bottom with wood glue, nails, and screws

Week 2: 
The cubs kept sanding, nailing, and screwing, and when everything (except the top) was attached securely, they got to stain their projects to a beautiful cherry... the only problem was... well... after they had dried and we came back the next week...

Week 3: 
SHOULD have been a quick assemble of all the pieces, but the stain made the wood swell or bend or something just enough that most of the slides in the middle no longer fit inside the center... so we spent a LONG time continuing to sand (and a couple I even had to take home and use our planer on them) So, if you are planning to do this, maybe don't do the staining part... 
The jar tops were attached with finishing nails (also kind of a pain to nail into a skinny jar rim; highly recommend a tiny hammer)

But even with a few surprises and setbacks, 5 out of our seven boys were able to take home working candy dispensers after three weeks of work. 

The boys each brought their own treat to share, and we all indulged in Skittles, M&M's, jelly beans, and gumballs!  
Good work, builders!

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring Tease

Tomorrow school starts again... spring break is over... A week-long teaser of summer break makes it all the harder to return for six more weeks of school, state testing, and projects.

But it was a fabulous break. We left last Friday for Oregon to visit Aaron and Em. On the way to Central Point, we stopped by Sacramento to see baby Ada, all of two weeks old! And I admit, I did chuckle a little as Weston was describing how Ada was so much different "when she was younger..." How much younger can she get there, Daddy?!?  But it is true that our little ones change so quickly, even before our very eyes...

Anyway, after dinner and baby cuddling, we got on the road again and arrived at 2:30am at Rabun Way and plopped our kids--and ourselves--into bed.

And no more than 5 hours later, a parade of Pokemon loving cousins were running laps around the house having battles, trading posts, and quizzing each other on HP and EX's and etc. And a couple hours after that, we all hit the ground running to our first adventure: and... I can't remember the name of the place--will update later... A little drive, a short hike to the right, and we arrived at a beautiful huge waterfall!

And then back to the left, was the Valley of giant boulders (or something like that--update to real name later...) Lots of fun climbing, exploring, and even sliding to do!

The boulders surrounded a little beach by a raging river of death! ... or some beautiful rapids :) There's something about rivers and rocks and sticks that can keep kids entertained for hours!

And on the same day as that beautiful sunny hike through the woods, we continued up the mountain until we hit SNOW!! Lots of snow! Crater Lake was our lunch destination!
Ever since I saw Emily's post on Instragram, I wanted to do this!! I got to roast hot links in the snow!! I LOVE their little portable fire pit! Dream come true!!!!

Something fun for everyone at Crater Lake! Dawna and Adele busied themselves building a snow fort/palace/mansion: 
Jade found plenty of snow to taste (one of my favorite pictures of the day):
Apparently, snow comes in many delightful flavors... much like ice cream! 

Jon, Adele, and I raced little snowballs down the slope and over the ridge overlooking the lake! Super intense racing...

And to top it all off, we harvested the largest icicles we could get off the roof of the resort! Jon won.
And Jade and Malachi will tell you that icicles also come in many delightful flavors...much like Popsicles! 

And after all this, we weren't even done with our first full day of vacation! Once we returned home from Crater Lake, Aaron and Jon went off to indoor soccer and long distance running, respectively, and Emily and I ate more food :) 

Sunday we slowed down... a little... but still stuffed in as many Easter delights as we could. I got to play in a trio with Adele and Emily at church. Adele and Dawna dyed eggs with the kids while we hid plastic eggs in the house. Then we had a delicious lamb dinner. After that, we did the Easter story in eggs and the kids followed clues to find their Easter presents... yeah, that was our "slow" Easter Sunday...In the midst of all that, Dawna and Adele found a few minutes to serenade us on their instruments:

...a more grown up reprise of their original hit:

LOVE THOSE GIRLS!!! Then and Now... 

Anyway, back to spring break... 
Monday dawned bright and early once more for the big kids. Aaron and Jon, who had originally planned on taking the older kids backpacking but changed plans when rain came, took each of their older three kids on a caving adventure. They had a wonderful day, and hopefully my other contributor to this blog will fill in the details of their adventure... Emily and I had a very relaxing day at home with our little ones. It was a little nostalgic of our Lansing Court days, when all we had was little ones. We almost forgot what to do with them... but they reminded us of what they love to do. So we went to the park, read stories, played music... all the little kid things we miss sometimes with the hustle and bustle of active older kids.  

Tuesday was a celebration our our seven-year-old Xochitl! (Even though she wasn't officially 7 until Wednesday... but really, what kind of birthday is driving home from vacation??) We caught an early matinee of Beauty and the Beast starring Hermione Granger... I mean... Emma Watson :) then headed straight over to the Rrrink for some exciting ice skating! Xochitl is a quick study with anything involving balance, so with a little guidance from Aunt Emily, she was swooshing around the ice in no time! Jade and Larry made good use of the plastic "helpers" and Dawna did quite well after having roller bladed a lot this year. And it's always fun to see what Adele has been working on in her ice skating lessons... and try to copy her... mostly Aunt Deeb just ends up looking foolish... but having fun! 

On the way home from ice skating, Xochitl picked out two ice cream cakes from Cold Stone. Yum!
And we all know the Koberstein tradition of car trouble when traveling I-5... running over the moving dolly with the Quest, tire blow out, car being backed into, hitting a deer... so when Wednesday came and our vacation was almost over, Fate had to hurry and squeeze some car trouble in. Eva's battery was quite dead and decrepit on Wednesday morning. We weren't going nowheres. The car wouldn't start at all! So I called roadside assistance and they offered to tow us to a garage... but I thought it would be easier to just have them replace the battery on the spot. Only problem was... we had to get the battery. My manly main man Jon got on a bike and rode to the auto parts store with a backpack, bought a car battery, and biked home again! This is not an activity for the feint of heart. Those batteries are HEAVY!! He made it back to Rabun way just in time for the mechanic to get to work! And with only minor damage to clothing and sidewalks...All in all, it's one of the kinder car trouble experiences we've had.  All the kids were happily playing with cousins, safely parked in front of Aaron and Em's house :)( ALMOST something to smile about... 

So we got home. And on Friday to finish off our spring break fun, we all enjoyed Larry's "field trip" to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium! Paul and Becca joined us and now we all have annual passes to the aquarium! Many thanks to the thoughtful people there who made the "Family Pass" include two adults and ALL their children! All too often a "family pass" is for two adults and two children, which is pretty much useless for us...

Maybe the Jellyfish are cousins too!
Squids will be squids... We loved the "Tentacles" exhibit!
Playing with light settings on my Pixel XL. I liked this picture of Zyna!

Happy Spring Break!

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Dad's Book Club: The Great Gilly Hopkins and The Higher Power of Lucky

This year, one of Dawna's goals was to create a "Read it-see-it" book club with some friends.  The first book the girls picked out was this:

To be honest, I'd never heard of it before the Ringleins suggested we read it. So we checked it out and Dawna read it... and Jon read it... and then I read it... and it was a good read! A moving coming-of-age story as one young foster child learns how to be part of a pieced together family. And then learns how her own selfish and hasty actions could change her life forever...

The movie was also very enjoyable.  It's set in a more modern time frame than the book was, but still carried the message well. We watched it over at the Ringlein's house and had a very good discussion with the girls after, comparing and contrasting the book and the movie, discussing thematic elements... next time I'll have to take notes so I can blog better about it...

Bottom line: recommended!

But Dawna's Read it-See it club isn't the only place we're getting story time these days... You see, Dawna was recently moved up to the competitive climbing team at The Peak, which means practices three times each week... sigh... I feel like a real commuter now... between Dawna's climbing and Xochitl's gymnastics, I'm driving about 40 min. to and from practices 4 out of 5 days a week... So I thought I'd make better use of the drive time by checking out books on CD from the library (yes, I know about Audible, but my old '07 Odyssey has a great 6-disk CD player, and no Aux input, so books on CD it is...)

In the last two weeks driving around town for sports, we've listened to an entire book:

...the Newbery winner from 2007.  Also a fun book to read. Lucky, the main character, is just 10 years old, Dawna's age right now, and Lucky's mannerisms and behavior were perfect for that age, I thought! Lucky lives in a little town called Hard Pan, CA, with her guardian after her mother died. Lucky is smart, always doing her homework so she can be a world famous scientist someday.  Lucky is brave, chasing snakes out of clothes dryers and staying calm in dust storms. Lucky is thoughtful, considering questions such as "What is my higher power?" But most of all, Lucky is still just a little girl who needs to feel secure and loved, which makes me think of my baby Dawna... who is not much of a baby anymore, but just like Lucky, needs to be picked up and snuggled from time to time so she can remember how much she is loved!

Bottom line: recommended... but be advised there is a somewhat lengthy chapter involving a dog's scrotum...parental discretion (or better yet, discussion...) is advised :)

SO... we're on to a new Read it-See it assignment and new discs in the car...


Friday, February 10, 2017

Shootin' Hoops

We now enter the world of team sports! Took us quite a few years to get our first taste of this as parents since our oldest didn't have much interest in sports involving balls... but Lawrence decided to try it out this year! 
He plays with the City of Newark's CoEd recreational basketball program. There's not even any practices to go to, it's just come and play on Saturday morning. There's a group of about sixty kids split up into six teams; Larry is on the Bulls!
He wasn't so sure about being on the Bulls... that is, until we read about Michael Jordan. Now he's all about the Bulls... I've loved seeing how he really gets into the game, running back and forth across the court, posting himself under the basket and trying to remember all the rules! We've also been having fun practicing at the church after scouts on Thursdays and at Paulecca's house on Wednesdays.
And yes, I've discovered I'm one of THOSE moms... the ones who cheer too much... and too loud! But Larry doesn't mind having a silly mom there :) So GO 11 BULLS! THAT'S MY BOY!!!


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Birthday Boy!

Happy birthday to my dearest Jonathan! Many happy returns of the day! We enjoyed many good wishes from family and friends via text, phone calls, Instagram, and even snail mail (my mom always gets it to arrive right on time! I don't know how she does it!).

But we did have one unhappy return of the day after all the rain over the past two weeks...  

I guess our fence just couldn't take it anymore... yay for being homeowners and the surprise projects that responsibility sends your way...

Anyway... back to the fun of Jon's birthday...

We had a most delightful supper with Paul, Becca, and their kids on Sunday afternoon.  I fried up some Opal Eye that Jon caught on our dive trip last October; we baked some butternut squash from Norm Prince's garden; and Becca brought some fresh sour dough bread from her own starter! We felt all rustic having hunted and gathered most of our meal!

Still, we couldn't resist raising our glasses of store-bought sparkling cider in celebration of this strapping young man! Jon, you've been by my side for more than half my lifetime. I can't even begin to express the depth of my love and appreciation for all you've given me, all you've taught me, and all we've experienced together. Your energy and enthusiasm for life is a blessing to everyone who has the pleasure of knowing you!

Last but not least... Jade helped end the day on an adorable and relaxing note... her renditions of the "Squids will be Squids" tales.

Happy Birthday!

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