Saturday, March 15, 2014

Science Camp, Chili Cookoff and Ian's Birthday party

The first day of March started off with our Ward Chili Cookoff.
Even though most of my family isn't too into chili we had fun, and everyone found something to eat.
One of the most fun things was watching the pie eating contest.
Some people were dainty with their pie eating
and some went all in.
(I loved his homemade "lean, mean pie eating machine" T shirt.)

The young women sold goodies to help pay for girls camp and the girls hosted their own sales of personally donated/handmade items as well.

Me catching up with a friend. She brought purses to sell, at $5.00 a pop we bought more than one :)

One of the things Ashley sold was cotton candy. I had her make it herself but it took her a little while to get the hang of it. The first one didn't look so good and when I left the room and came back she was eating the second one.
"What are you doing?" I said. She said "It didn't look that good so I ate it"
I had to supervise after that, but she ended up getting really good at it.
Come to find out they had free cotton candy at the cook-off. So not the best thing to sell even though a few people bought it anyway. Ha ha.

Jacob finished his Eagle project and delivered it to the mission home a few days later.
The day we were to deliver it there was a source that donated all these First Aid Kit bags to put them in. By some miracle they had 310 which almost covered all of the kits we made!

After lots of work Jacob delivering his completed project.

Happy Missionaries.
They had a multi-zone conference that weekend that they were going to pass them out.

That same day I volunteered a couple of hours to feed lunches to the homeless with a sister who does it every week. She has 5 kids and her and her sister-in-law since Thanksgiving have been packing lunches and feeding homeless every week. They are saints!
Oh this lobster was a thank you from North Carolina where Jeff had done a speaking gig for New York Life. He tells me "Hey I have a couple of steaks and 2 lobsters sitting here in my office"
When he brought them home I have to admit I was intimidated. What do we do with them??
Well a couple of you-tube videos later we figured out how to cook them and we had a great dinner of steak and lobster. I'm not a big lobster fan but I have to admit it wasn't 1/2 bad. Jeff said it was one of the best lobsters he's had. The boys even ate it too (but Ashley wouldn't touch it)

We finally had a little bit of rain come through our way. I swear it feels like we've only had about 2 weeks of a winter here this year. Ashley came home from school and we actually had hot chocolate and put on the beanie that I made her.
Crocheting has become my new hobby so I keep pulling patterns off the internet and experimenting. My crocheted ear warmers with a flower clip were a hit at the chili-cookoff and helped raise money for Ashley's camp.
These are some baby boots I did for a shower I'm going to.
I actually had to make 3 boots because for some reason one the boots ended up a lot bigger than the other one. They were a fun challenge but took me long enough to make them that I probably won't be doing any more any time soon.

Last Saturday we drove up to Camarillo to go to Ian's 3rd birthday Party

He has been looking forward to it for weeks according to Angela.
I think he was just as excited about his piñata as he was to see all of us :)


Jeff had to finish it off and ...

let out all the goodness. Its funny when you have a piñata with young children there is no fighting, mauling and craziness, for the most part you have children daintily picking each peace up. Ha ha.

They had a cake for the birthday boy and also for Angela who was the birthday girl since her birthday is a day after Ians.


You can tell he enjoyed his cake.

For our gift we brought him a scooter since he likes active type things. Next time we come out we'll see how he likes it.


After the guests left we opened our Christmas presents that we didn't get to give each other since the Zooks were back east for Christmas.
Ian liked his cape and little things we got him and we liked getting our goodies from Angela and Robert. (The boys thought they were fun when we brought back theirs)


Of course every trip up to Camarillo ends up at Rocket Fizz at some point. A few pieces of candy and Ian is Jeff's best friend (It's nice that he's happy with a few)

The next day we raced up to Palmdale to see Jeff's step-dad Reuben who had a stroke that week. He wasn't doing the best and we realized we shouldn't put off a visit. We had a nice visit with Jeff's mom but Reuben was very sleepy and didn't seem to be having a good day.
While Ashley and I were at science camp they moved him to Loma Linda where he ended up in the ICU. In the last couple of days he's improved some and Jeff is making trips during his work day every couple of days to check in on both of them. He is improving some and we are hopeful rehab will help him regain some of his abilities.
The next day was Monday and time for the long awaited 6th Grade Science Camp.
Here we are just arriving and hearing instructions and being introduced to the naturalists (the leaders of the classes) 
First they split everyone into study groups, We were the Coyotes. During the week any time we went to classes this was the group we were in. There were a couple of father chaperones and me helping the naturalist with the students.
They then sent everyone off to their cabins to unpack, meet to eat their sack lunches and then get started with the first set of classes.

Here are the girls ready for some fun. Well not all fun, it was like school outside in some ways. Ha ha, they had science journals that they had to fill out and record what they learned all along the way.

The first thing they got to do/learn about was rock climbing on the Alpine Tower.

The tower was like a giant rock climbing obstacle course.
Since the holds were too far apart for her to climb Ashley just took pictures.

Lots of her friends made it to the top. We would call to them and give suggestions on where to put their feet and where to go next...

It was always exciting when someone got to the top.

The boys. Scott (in the red shirt) had a broken arm and couldn't climb either.

Their compromise was to have them both harness up and high five the tower (they did this when campers were too scared to climb as well)

Our next rotation was archery.

This was also a bit hit with everyone and I liked it because chaperones got to participate as well.

We learned how to load and properly hold a bow and shoot it. This bow was bigger than Ashley and I had to help hold it for her to load it but they found a smaller one for her that she could manage.

She got a few in the hay. Not bad! I did pretty well and the first round or two got a few bull's-eyes...the more I shot the less accurate I got.

After classes we had dinner, I was in charge of a table group in the eating hall. The kids are in charge of serving the dinner and clean up. I learned that I had to ignore germs as I was the last to eat food that had been manhandled by dirty hands (the one with the dirtiest fingernails served us), I had to remind the kids more than once about passing food to neighbors so I actually got some and clean up was a long ordeal with many steps that I had to direct while sitting on my hands since only one student was allowed out of their seat.
After a not so restful night of sleep in a cabin full of giggly, excitable, and a couple of homesick girls we started out the next day walking to the barnyard and learning about horses.
I got chased by these Turkeys. I was coming up the rear of the group because there was no cell service at camp so I was calling Jeff to get an update of Reuben and things at home. When I went to join everyone these turkeys started chasing me. I would shoo them away but every time I turned around they were ready to nip my pants, it got a little unnerving...all the kids watching me thought it was pretty funny.

Once I caught up to them we learned about horses.

1/2 the group got to learn a bit about grooming and brushing the horses while the other 1/2 was riding.

Brianna and Ashley.
Since I wasn't planning on Ashley riding the horses I figured we would stay here brushing horses the whole time.

The group that was riding them had an extra horse and they invited me to ride. I jumped at the chance since I knew Ashley and I would be spending the next class period still brushing horses.

Well the naturalist that is in charge of the horses asked why Ashley couldn't ride. I explained why and she came up with a solution.

She found some mini-stirrups that cinched up tight so Ashley could put her feet in them and the naturalist walked along side the horse for the ride. I was happy and Ashley was even more happy.

The trail reminded me of the Yellowstone trail that we went horseback riding on and Ashley wasn't able to go one. I was glad she got to go with the group.

 I asked her how she liked it when she got back. She said it was fun but scary one time when the horse reared up some. Luckily the handler was right there to put a hand on her back and make sure she was OK.

After horseback riding I took one of the boys to the infirmary with red and irritated eyes. He had never ridden a horse before and loved it but his eyes were really bothering him (maybe allergies)
After an eyewash and changing his shirt (in case he was allergic to the horses) we came back to team building exercises.

they all held onto this rope and sit and stood as a group.

In this one they all had to hold hands and get two hula hoops going opposite directions around the circle. It got tricky when they met in the middle.
All the activities emphasized teamwork and communication.

After lunch we went on a hike and learned about the native plants in the area.

The naturalist split the students in to pairs and then would teach them about a particular plant. As we walked up the trail they would teach us about the plant at their station. When everyone came through they would go and learn at the stations from their classmates. This way they leap-frogged up the trail learning as they went. 

The Chaperones were the last ones on the trail and got to learn from all the groups. Here is the Yucca plant, I now know about it, it's life cycle and what they used it for.
It cracked me up because there were two boys that ended every one of their presentations with "if you touch this plant you'll die". I didn't buy it  but they said they got the other students to believe it.

I ended up stopping part way with a girl who had not been feeling good and was worried about throwing up in front of the group. We rested on a log and I tried to distract her while everyone else continued. When she started feeling better we decided to join the group. Luckily one of the dads got us and showed us which direction the group went and then warned us of the rattle snake.

This isn't a very good picture but you can see the curled up rattlesnake in the middle of the picture.
It isn't the season for them but sure enough one was out and so we all went back down the trail taking a different route and the other group didn't even get to go on their hike because of the rattlesnake. We didn't realize until we got back how rare it was for them to be seen. We were considered the "cool group" 

Taking a break on our way back down to learn some more and write in journals.

More journal writing and a bathroom break. Its funny they kept really pushing the kids to drink tons of water, this made for uncomfortable kids when we didn't have frequent bathroom breaks (one had to come down from the end of the hike to get a bathroom)
After going to the bathroom 3 times in the middle of the night the first night I kept my drinking to just when I was thirsty, ha ha.

After the hike was a class on archeology. Here they are doing an archeological dig looking for artifacts.

One of their finds was an old shoe.

That night was the last night of camp as well as the campfire program. The students were invited to do skits or share a talent.
Here is a group of boys being silly in costumes...


Here is Maia performing a solo

Here are the teachers doing a classic skit I see at scouts "Is it time yet?"
Pretty much all the boys were about silliness and getting laughs and 1/2 the time you didn't know what they were doing, and the girls were trying to be serious and really share talent.
The counselors threw in some fun skits too and it made for a great ending night.

Our last breakfast before we are going home.

Our last class rotation had a trip to the nature center and meeting some live animals. The dessert tortoise.

A python, that was freaking the boys out...

But Ashley and her friends were cool as a cucumber.

And a cute King Snake.

For the very last rotation there was a change of plans...they opened the side of the alpine tower that had a latter that went up to the first big platform. I knew Ashley could climb that high. So with arrangements from one of the teachers she jumped groups and got to climb the tower.
Here are the girls with their harnesses on
(I got to help with a lot of harnesses after helping two groups ;)

She is ready to go.

She got up to the first platform and she said she tried climbing a hold or two but it was impossible so...


She stood on the platform and then rode the rope down. I was glad she got to experience everything everyone else did at camp.

Our last meal of one corn dog and some fries and watermelon. Overall the food wasn't too bad but I was glad to get home and eat what I want, when I want, served with my own hands ha ha.

This was our group of cabin moms that oversaw about 40 girls every night. We had no breaks and were managing students 24 hours a day (luckily I had been warned by moms in the past).We battled homesickness, skittishness with outside noises, cleaned up throw up, managed turns in the shower, lights out and getting girls up and out of the cabin in time for everything.
We woke up at 5:30, got girls up at 6:00 and helped them roll sleeping bags and be out by 6:45 that morning. I was glad to have a nice group of women to share in that task.

Overall Ashley had fun, I was glad I was there and able to help when needed not just for her but all the other students.
After planning for, fundraising for and looking forward to camp its now over so now I'm turning my attention to what's next.