Star Wars in my Kitchen, or How Jude Turned Eleven

Well, the last two weeks have been very busy, not least of all because Jude turned 11 last Sunday. To celebrate, we had a Star Wars-themed birthday party for him last Saturday, which was extremely fun--both to plan and to implement. He only had two of his best buddies over, but we went all-out anyway.

Star Wars characters

Of course, in somewhat typical fashion, I didn't start planning it until the Tuesday before--but decided to go BIG anyway. Well, BIG--but with shortcuts. I bought the awesome Star Wars Digital Printable Birthday Pack from SimoneMadeIt on Etsy to help me get started, spent some time trolling the 'net for other people's Star Wars Birthday ideas, and even decided that making Jedi robes for the men-folk of the family wouldn't be too much to tackle, with the help of an online tutorial to save me a bunch of the brain work. (Okay, there was still some involved--four robes in four sizes? I had to come up with my own pattern-drafting formula. Yay! Geometry! But that's okay, still saved me a ton of research. And for those of you who can count, Levi gets to be an Ewok, not a Jedi.)

Star Wars birthday balloons

Star Wars party food 3

Star Wars party food

Star Wars party food 2

Jedi birthday cake

I wasn't the only parent getting in on the fun. Jason planned an extremely elaborate--and difficult--obstacle course for the young Jedi-wannabes. And made them light sabres out of plumbing foam pipe insulators and coloured duct tape. They had to undergo training, then they got their meal, and as the "instructional video" section of the party, we watched the original, first Star Wars movie. (Episode IV. Yes, it's confusing. If you don't know why, I'm not explaining it here.)

Just part of the Jedi training

This was actually the boys' first time watching Star Wars, although they have played the Wii game, read the Encyclopedia, and are fairly familiar with the "world".

Star Wars characters gone crazy!
Putting their crazy faces on!

Okay, okay... I didn't get it all done. Jude's robe was mostly done--enough for him to wear, anyway. Last week, I finished Noah's, and am currently 1/4 of the hem away from finishing Jabin's. Jason's may have to wait for some other projects I have to finish up... but that's okay. There are six movies, after all, and as of this weekend, we are only finished two of them. :-)

My progress was severely slowed by a very nasty cold that I caught from Levi halfway through last week. I am well on the road to recovery, now, and thankfully, Levi was over the worst of it before I succumbed, but I guess I got what I deserved for all those late nights trying to finish robes on time for a party I didn't plan until the last minute!

I keep telling myself that I won't do the same thing for Jabin's party in two weeks...

I hope I'm right!

Bulking Up

This winter, Jason has been doing some training, as he is planning to enter the Spartan Race in Edmonton this July. There is a kid's version of the race, too, and the boys are stoked that Daddy let them enter it. Thus, they have been diligently doing karate, swimming lessons, walks or Nike Plus (Fitness XBox Kinect program) on non-class days, and with the nice weather lately, they have added "trampolining" to the regimen.

All that hard work has really been paying off.

Honest, we don't let our kids use steroids, or anything! Maybe there was a radioactive spider around the place, somewhere...


Bring on the Comic Books!

Some people "poo-poo" comic books for their children. I don't--chosen appropriately by the parents, I think they are a wonderful motivational and--dare I say it?--educational tool.

This epiphany came the first time I purchased a comic book for my boys to read. It was Sonic the Hedgehog. My two oldest, who usually did nothing but bicker with each other, sat quietly in a chair and read the whole thing. Together. And again. And did I say "quietly?"

As they got older, they discovered Jason's and my "Calvin and Hobbes" books. We only had a few at the time, but they devoured them--to the point that I need to have one of them rebound. Despite the fact that most of the humour is over the head of an actual six-year-old, I loved that they loved them. I mean, C'mon! Calvin sometimes uses words that I have to look up! Eventually, we got the entire collection (which we doled out on special occasions and birthdays for at least a year).

The obsession with Garfield is one that Jason and I have been less fond of--we haven't purchased any, but they borrow them from the library. Jason and I both find Garfield to be kind of a negative jerk. Oh, well. None of the characters wear spandex, or have unrealistically-proportioned body parts, or is shown mostly naked, or--oh, wait. Yes they do. But in a funny way, not the give-you-nightmares-or-make-you-horny way. Could be worse.

Sonic comics have continued to be motivational to my children. After reading 10 books aloud to me (or 5 chapter books with book reports as they get older), they get a Sonic comic. It's a reward that is easy on the pocket book, and we thus reward reading with... Surprise! More reading!! What surprises me is that they haven't just figured out that they can buy the comics themselves with their "spend" money... but I'm glad!

The latest comic obsession has had a result that I didn't expect. My kids are devouring the "Bone" books by Jeff Smith as quickly as we can buy them or borrow them from the library. So far, we own the first four.

Apparently, one of the characters likes quiche. So there's vocabulary and culinary expansion right there--after I corrected their pronunciation, and explained what it is, they said, "That sounds good!" I said, "It is! I've made it, but it's been a while. I'll make it again soon." "Okay!" Yay! for getting them to want to try new things! :-)

Apparently also, one of the characters is obsessed with the book "Moby Dick." So, after a search through our Penguin Classics came up null, and then finding it among the books on our Aurora eReader, guess what Jude started reading last night?

He's already on chapter six, or something.

"The way they write the English takes a little getting used to," was his comment to me this afternoon.

After all my years trying to get my children interested in reading the classics--and trust me, I own and have available nearly every age-appropriate classic I can find, and have tried repeatedly to get them interested in them via reading aloud to them--who knew that a comic book would be the trigger that got them started on it?

So, yep, I like comic books. No one can tell me they aren't educational!!

The Wonder of Wire

Last week for History we were studying ancient Greek art and architecture. As a project to go along with it, I had the boys make a wire-frame sculpture. They did a pretty awesome job, I have to say.

Jabin's ("He looks like Junior Asparagus," I commented.):

DSC06674 adj.psd

Jude's (He ended up having to add a support and a wire for the sword. It kept "wilting."):


Noah's (like an egghead ninja!):



Extra Something-or-other

As Jabin was working on the good copy for his English writing assignment a few minutes ago, he remarked, "I need a new paper."

Jude, who was finished his morning work and was goofing off in the living room, exclaimed, "You need a new finger?!"

"NO! Paper!" Jabin corrected him. After a moment, he added, "If I had another finger, I'd be an alien!"

Hee hee.

November, already?

The last week or so has been a bit of a blur. I decided on the Friday before last that I would enter a craft fair on December the 9th, and figured it was a perfect opportunity to knit up a few dozen things and move some older yarn out of my stash. Ergo, I have been knitting. And designing. And knitting. A lot.

Which is perfectly fine, because for the duration of that time, it was snowing. A lot. The sun finally came out a few days ago, sparkling off a new-fallen foot of snow. And me with the summer tires, still.

During that time, I managed to finish the first sweater I've ever made for my darling husband. He has a strong dislike for the effects of wool on his skin, so it took me this long to convince him that there was wool that was less itchy, and that it didn't have to touch his skin. Since it has been finished, he has worn it a gratifying amount of times. I'm not sure if he really likes it, or is just trying to make me feel better. Either way, it looks great on him.

Also during that time--on Saturday, to be precise--Jude managed, through no fault of his own, to turn 10 years old. I managed not to cry about it--but I did succumb to nostalgia and picture the little bundle of joy we brought home from the hospital that catapulted Jason and I from the world of normal adults into that wonderful and scary job category of "parents."

Jude is now not even a little boy--I am starting to see the man he will become, both in his features, and his person. He has helped me grow up--and it is a joy watching him grow up.

I love you, little man! And though the prospect of what the next ten years may hold has me a little nervous, I look forward to entering this next stage of the adventure with you!

Pillow Fight

When Jude was born, one of his baby gifts was a child-size body pillow covered in flannel decorated with ducklings and cutesy ladybugs. It soon became one of his favourite possessions.

This pillow has gotten a lot of use over the years.

As moral support when learning to put on socks:

As a dance mat, before Wii was invented (Daddy's shoes make it even better):

As a surface long enough to accommodate a brotherly moment of bonding:

When Jabin got old enough, he became quite attached to the pillow, too. (Noah, not liking confrontation, chose to stay mum on the subject.)

The mutual attachment soon became a source of constant friction--both between the two boys, and on Mom's and Dad's nerves. Finally, after years of this, and various "systems" to try and get the boys to share it peacefully that all failed miserably, I had had enough. I went to the fabric store, bought some flannel and quilt batting, and using some muslin I had at home made not one, but two more body pillows, plus pillowcases for all three. (No sense leaving Noah out--when the prospect of having one of his own arose, he was duly thrilled.)

Finally, a truce. And we are ALL happy about it. :-)

Change of Season, Change of Pace

This past week, our Indian Summer made the full transition into Early Winter with freezing temperatures and two days of snow. This weekend, the mercury has hit +10 again, melting away most of the white stuff, but I know it is only a very temporary reprieve before winter begins in earnest.

... a reprieve that we are making full use of to finish our yard clean-up and other last-minute outside chores to prep for winter.

Jude has been driving us crazy for the last few months with comments of, "I can't wait for it to snow!" and "I wish it was winter already!" Given the brevity of our Northern summers, this has irked Jason and I, and we usually retort with, "Six months a year isn't enough for you?"

On Friday, as the kids and I were driving away from home in a snowstorm, Jabin said, "When it's summer, I want it to be colder. When it's winter, I want it to be warmer."

"Do you know what the secret to happiness is, buddy?" I asked him.


"Being content in whatever circumstances you are in." Then I explained what "contentment" is.

"Oh," he said, in that "clear as mud" tone of voice.

I guess that's a lesson we all have to learn in our own way. Sometimes, we re-learn it over, and over, and over.

Yesterday, I was surprised by a restless feeling.

"If we were in Red Deer," I commented to Jason, "this is the kind of day where I'd say 'Let's go to the mall and people-watch and have coffee.'" I think I just wanted to get out of the house, see something different, feel the crispness of the air and the bustle of a busier place. However, after seven years in Peace River, I don't get the yen for that much anymore--I'm out of the habit, I guess.

Well, since that wasn't an option, and since we wouldn't pile into the van for a two-hour trip to Grande Prairie just to have coffee at the mall, I did some digital scrapbooking instead. I managed to complete six layouts, working backwards from the present. That, plus the ones I've already completed in the last few weeks (I've been going through a miniature "scrapbooking phase") means that I have done all the photos back to mid-August already. You never know--maybe I'll actually get a whole year done digitally and print a photobook when Shutterfly has their year-end sales. That would be different. :-)

Well, I better go tackle those afore-mentioned outside chores. Here are the layouts I did yesterday:

Unreasonable Blessings

Sometimes I feel blessed beyond reason. As in, I'm not sure for what reason I am so blessed... but I am grateful.

Jason has been on holidays since last Wednesday. Originally, we had been planning on taking a trip out to Abbotsford for a wedding, then down to Seattle to see my brother for Thanksgiving. We weren't the only ones who were disappointed when we had to cancel due to budgetary constraints. However, Jason had been saving up his time off, and we had several fall projects that needed doing, so he took the holidays anyway.

For the most part, I have continued to do school with the kids during his holiday, as he has been outside cutting and splitting wood most days. He has also helped teach the kids at times, which has been fun for them and for him. Today, as I napped to try and kick the final vestiges of a cold that just won't die combined with the monthly cyclical low that leaves me drained of energy, Jason took over the morning subjects completely.

By afternoon, bolstered by my nap, I was able to teach the kids science so Jason could take advantage of the gorgeous weather and get back outside. As part of a lesson on evaporation, the kids did a watercolour painting. Two of the three made pictures for me that said "I love you."

"And this is me hugging and kissing you," explained Jabin.

I am so blessed by my family.

Show and Tell

Jude has recently discovered Microsoft Paint. And gotten his first e-mail account. While the etiquette training for e-mail has been being directed by Jason and me (and I apologize to those of my readers that have had to bear with him in the learning process), we've pretty much let him explore MS Paint on his own. This is the picture he e-mailed to Jason and me on Friday:

And this is the picture that Noah drew in church today. I think he would have left the characters unlabelled, but Jude drew a very provocative picture of Noah first, so the labelling was a bit of comeback. :-)

So much fun. :-)

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers

Jude has been asking to get a kitten for quite some time, now. As it happened, when my mother brought her creamsicle tabby, Peaches, up here for the summer, she was "in a way", thanks to an unplanned night out with a neighbouring Arkansonian feline.

So, last Tuesday, Jude got to bring home a little miniature male version of the kitten's mother, which he named "Tigger".

DSC05639 web.jpg

Tigger has been in the house, except for a few brief forays into the outside world, so we can make sure he is good and used to us. We have two other cats, both males: one is Simba, one of our original two kittens from 2009 that spent the winter inside (and contributed to Jason's contracting pneumonia the following spring), the other Samson, Simba's nephew.

Samson and his siblings were born in October of 2010, going into a particularly cold winter, and did not get handled much. As a result, he is feral--but he sticks around and keeps the mice population under control.

Still, it's a shame he won't let us near him. Because of that, Jason agreed to keeping Tigger inside for a limited time (ending today or tomorrow, methinks) to make sure he is good and tame--and also to ease him and the Great White Dork (aka "Thunder") into some kind of understanding with one another. Even if the understanding is just that Tigger learns not to let Thunder anywhere near him...

DSC05642 web.jpg

Welcome to the family, Tigger!