Sunday, July 29, 2012

At home Olympics

I don't want to use this blog to toot my own horn, but every once in awhile I think I come up with a brilliant idea and I feel the need to share it with you, my dear readers. As many of you know, I work as a nanny and as a result, I am always looking for fun things to do with the kids (mostly to entertain them, but also to keep them from whining, and fighting with each other). With the Olympics upon us, I wanted to do something Olympic-themed this week. I have not tried these ideas yet, but I am certain that they will be a hit so I thought I would share my ideas so you can host your own Olympics as well.

First up on my plan for the week is to have the children make up a country they want to represent. They cannot use any country already in existence. They need to come up with a name and make a flag. Depending on the age of the children, have them write down some facts about their country, such as climate, location, language, and industry. If your children are feeling super creative, have them come up with a national anthem also.

After they come up with their country, we will make torches. Take a piece of black construction paper, and shape it into a cone. Tape it so it holds. Cut strips of red, yellow and orange paper and glue them around the top of the cone to make the flames.

After the torches are lit, it's time for the games to begin. The plan is to spread the "events" over the next week or so. The event ideas are endless, but here are a few I came up with:

Javelin: Tape straws together and throw them. The winner is the one who can throw their straw the farthest
Discus: Use paper plates (or even frisbees) to see who can throw the farthest
Shot-put: Crumple up some paper into a ball. See how can throw the farthest
Long jump: Have children see how can jump the farthest
High jump: Instead of high jump, do the limbo! How low can you go?
Volleyball: Tie a rope between two chairs and hang a sheet on the rope to make a net. Blow up a balloon to use as a ball. Pick a number to play to and then serve up the balloon.
Sailing: Use craft sticks to make sail boats. Race them in the bathtub.
Shooting: Set up objects and, using a Nerf gun, see who can knock the most down.
Swimming: Go to the pool and hold races
Diving: Go to the pool and judge the dives
Running: Go to a local high school and use their track to run races. If you can find a baton to pass off, try to do a relay!
Tennis: If you have rackets, go to your local tennis courts and play
 Football/Soccer: get a ball, go play
Basketball: get a ball, go play

Along with Olympic events, we will take some time to learn more about the traditions and customs of the United Kingdom. We will talk about what is different (driving on the other side of the road, different words for certain things). We will make scones and have afternoon tea. Maybe we'll even have fish and chips for lunch one day. And, of course, we will watch the events on TV. (Go Canada!)

If you try any of these things with your kids, leave me a comment and let me know how it went! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cascade Falls

Husband has been pretty busy with school work this summer so it has been hard for us to take any sort of summer vacation. He finally had a small break in his schedule and we planned on going camping. That plan was nixed after rain and thunder storms showed up in the forecast for the area we wanted to go to. The forecast said 40%-50% chance of rain. We didn't like those chances so I found a hike for us to do instead. We looked at the forecast and saw only a 30% chance of rain and decided that at 30% it probably wouldn't rain. Boy, were we wrong! It rained heavily twice for about 10 minutes each time while we were on the trail. The rain was quite refreshing and kept us cool for the rest of our hike. As you can see in the pictures, we were soaked by the rain! (As a side note, I was on the mend from my nasty cold when we went on the hike, but since then it has made a come back. I think the being wet part didn't help. Sigh.)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My whittled down to-do list

See this empty box of tissues?

It was brand new 24 hours ago. Yep, I'm sick. Yesterday morning my to-do list looked like this:
-clean bathrooms
-wash floors
-make strawberry bread
-grate and freeze cheese (to replace the cheese lost during the power outage)

By noon my to-do list looked like this:
-Do not die

It's not like I wanted to accomplish anything yesterday anyway. Who needs a clean apartment? I was looking forward to spending the day in bed, going through tissues like crazy. And, of course, now that it is Sunday, I am feeling a little better which means I will be able to go to work tomorrow (It also means the drugs are working!). I was hoping it was the flu (Hello,weight loss!), but I think it is just a pesky cold/sinus infection.  I rarely get sick, but when I do, it always seems to happen on the weekend. It's as if my body hates me. Oh well. It's back to bed for me. I'm going to need my strength for work tomorrow; oh, and another box of tissues!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Animal magnetism

Since moving to Virginia, we seem to be attracting all sorts of critters. Some, like the stray cat Charlie, have been with us for over a year. Others, like Horkey the preying mantis, stay only a day. I don't know what draws them to our front door, but they come nonetheless. Last night, this guy showed up. He seemed quite content to just sit there and let me take his picture. You can't really tell from the pictures, but he was pretty big. As with every other creatures that visits us, when gave him a name: Naldi, which clearly is short for Reginald. I guess he could have been a "she" but I'm not really sure how you tell with frogs, or toads. Maybe this was a frog, or maybe it was a toad. I don't know how to tell that either.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Last weekend, we were hit by a derecho. "A what?" you say. I had never heard that word until last week either. Basically a derecho is a wide-spread, fast moving wind storm. You can read all about them here on Wikipedia (because we all know Wikipedia is the authoritative source on everything!). And man! What a wind storm. I grew up on the Canadian Prairies and thought I knew what wind was. I have never seen wind like that before. On Friday, Husband and I were in our living room watching a movie when it sounded like it was raining hard outside. When we looked out, however, we were surprised to see that what we thought was the sound of heavy rain was actually wind: really, really strong wind. According to the news, the wind got up to 75 miles per hour (120 km/hr). Within minutes of the wind starting, our lights began to flicker. After a few minutes of flickering, the lights went out. Grabbing flashlights and our rechargeable battery-operated lantern, we waited for the lights to come back on. We had a long wait, as our power did not come back on until mid-afternoon on Monday! We were among the 2.5 million people who lost power. Some people were without power for an entire week. Thankfully, we have friends who did not lose power, so we moved into their house for a few days. For those of you who didn't hear about the storm, it has its own wikipedia entry. You can find it here.

Husband and I have been discussing whether or not we would have be able to tough it out if our friends didn't have power and we would have had to stay at our place. I think we would have been just fine. For the most part, we were pretty prepared. Our lantern gives off a lot of light and we can recharge it in the car, so we would have been good for light. We had food that didn't have to be cooked, although the thought of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for days on end wasn't too appealing. I am sure I could have come up with some great meals to supplement peanut butter and jelly! Had I known how long the power would be out, I would have tried to get ice as soon as possible so we could have lived out of a cooler for awhile. By Saturday afternoon, there was no ice to be found in our city. We have decided that the thing that would have done us in would have been the heat. It was over 100*F (38*C) all week. It didn't cool down at night very much. We would have been toasty for sure. I think it might be wise to add a battery operated fan to our household items.

A couple people have asked me for advice on how to prepare for an emergency. I don't know why they've asked me. I guess it because we just went through one. I recommend getting a lantern that runs on batteries (and having lots of batteries on hand) or getting a rechargeable one and make sure it has a car adapter. We have this lantern and we love it! We bought it specifically because it can be charged in the car. Make sure flashlights, lanterns and batteries are easily accessible. For those of you who have the room, it might be wise to store a bag of ice in your freezer in case you have to live out of a cooler for a few days. Oh, and make sure you have cash on hand. Even though some stores didn't have power, they were still open. No power meant that the credit card machines didn't work.

This is the top third of a tree that crashed down in our friends' front yard. Thankfully it didn't hit the house!

An uprooted tree lays on a power line. This was a common sight in the days after the storm.

Our beds for a few days! Thank goodness for blow up mattresses and sleeping pads.

Husband with Lauren and Katie, our friends with power!

After consulting many websites to determine what was still safe , here is what remained of our fridge contents. After reevaluating, I tossed the butter and margarine also. Even though websites said they were safe, I wasn't taking any chances. We lost a few things from our freezer: ice cream, popsicles, frozen pizza, 18 cups of shredded cheeses (10 of which I had JUST shredded hours before the storm hit). We were able to transfer the rest to a freezer so we still have our meat.