Thursday, February 8, 2018

In case you are wondering...

How I am adjusting to a more rural lifestyle after a year in Mountain Home, we will call this video clip exhibit A. A bird is trapped in the house and Declan and I are trying to deflect it out the patio doors, but the dogs have other ideas. Spoiler Alert: it does not end well for our erstwhile visitor.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Declan really enjoyed playing soccer here in Mountain Home for the first time. He played on the "Farm Bureau Insurance" team. I advocated for them to name themselves the "Riders" but was outvoted. The team was co-ed, which was fun. Declan also got the chance to play goal one game, which he really enjoyed.
When the photographer took this picture, he tried to elicit a smile from Declan by saying something to the effect that "aren't girls icky?", and Declan replied that that was a very sexist thing to say. The photographer was quite flummoxed and told me he must have said that a 1000 times to different boys and this was the first objection. My boy is woke!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

4th Grade Spelling Bee

Let me tell you, I think I discovered why Canadians have a longer life expectancy than Americans, despite spending much less on health care: spelling bees. It was so tense, I can't even tell you. It reminded me of the strongly unpleasant feeling I had watching Shane compete on Jeopardy. Your brain knows this should be fun, but there is still some adrenal . Declan won his class spelling bee, thus earning a spot at the grade final. At Hackler there are more than 300 kids in 4th grade, and they all came out to watch. The thirteen finalists represented each of their classes well, battling it out well into the the 6th grade word list. There were many tense moments for me in the audience, as they started with 2nd grade words which we had not reviewed, and I white-knuckled it when Declan got words like "cheddar" which I wasn't sure if he had ever seen written. He cruised through 12 rounds, making it to the top 3 when he stumbled on "regents". One of the other finalists also stumbled on his word, leaving a championship opening for Yasmine, on the word "bulletin". Declan and Isaac battled it out for second place, as two people were to go on to the County bee. Declan managed to earn that spot in the spell-off, when Isaac misspelled "cypher". 

                       Onto the County bee next year!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Chili Cookoff

 The hospital here announced a chili cookoff for employees with cash prizes, and I was all over that like white on rice. I haven't cooked competitively since I was a 1st grade dreamer with a carrot cake in the school bakeoff. I won a blue ribbon for my troubles. I wasn't ready to break my win streak, but chili is not really my forte. At home I make a vegan chili, which I knew wasn't winning anything around these parts. The debate around here is whether there should be beans in chili, not if there should be *only* beans in chili. So I started experimenting with various recipes, and no word of a lie, we ate chili for dinner for like 3 weeks running. This process culminated in an in-house cookoff for our unwitting houseguests, the Whites. Declan made a white chicken chili in the instant pot with a recipe I found for him on the internet to provide some competition but, with a nearly unanimous vote, my all-meat chili won top honours. Unfortunately, that sent Declan back to the drawing board, and he ended up going with another instant pot chicken chili recipe for contest time, despite not having practiced it at all, and ended up winning the whole cookoff. There were only 12 entrants, but he really won it fair and square, and took home a $100 Visa gift card for his troubles. I took second place and $50.

When Declan asked me if I thought he won because the judges decided to go easy on him because he was a kid competing in an adult competition, I told him probably so. But really his chili was the best one out there. It just killed me a little because his was instant pot, press a button and go, and mine was legit- slaving over a hot stove toasting chilis and the like. Go figure. +-

This is a picture of Declan, who after tasting his own chili said, "Wow, I see why people love it so much." This was before he had been declared winner, mind you.

Also note his sweater- this was a conscious choice. His plan was that if anyone complimented him on it, he would reply "I thought it might get a little CHILI tonight."  Ha. Ladies and gentlemen, my son. Unfortunately the only person who noticed his sweater preempted his pun, by commenting that it was a good thing he wore that sweater because it  was a little chilly out. He straight up facepalmed. So close to glory! Per aspera ad astrum, my child.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Baxter County Fair

This being our first year as residents of Baxter County, we were excited to check out the County Fair. We had a great time. It was a perfect evening. When we entered, I asked the ticket lady how much it would be for the three of us, and she said "Fifteen dollars". I replied "That sounds like a fair price" and she gave me what I now call the Baxter stare. Declan went on to earn his very own Baxter stare by telling the owner of this 4H goat, that he was sporting a "Nice Goatee". Made me laugh.

Our favourite stand was a wagering game, wherein you put a quarter on a particular colour, and then they release a rat, like an actual living, breathing scurrying rat, and whatever colour hole he scurries into on the spinning colour wheel is the winner. I have never seen such a thing in all my days.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Post-Target Life

Now that we have moved to Mountain Home, we are more than 2 hours drive from our nearest Target store. This takes me back to my life before Shane, when I lived in benighted Canada, and only got to go to Target when I was passing through Bellingham. I would always stop for stationary and wrapping paper. Now, it is a rare occasion indeed and Declan misses it to. So when I picked him up from Camp Mitchell, we were both keen to stop in Conway to hit up the Tar-gay. It was too hot to leave Livvie in the car, so we smuggled her in. Which is to say, we rolled her in in a regular red cart. As if they were expecting us, they had a selfie area set up where you could have your picture taken with Bullseye. We did.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Submarine Sleepover

Declan's Cubscout troop had a sleepover in the USS Razorback, a decommissioned submarine that is parked on the Arkansas River. First off was a very interesting tour, where we saw all the bells and whistles and guts of the submarine, including the bridge, where the internal temperature was usually well above 100 degrees. That lets me out for a submariner career. Well that, and the blood chilling claustrophobia. The boys played then had a thematically appropriate dinner of submarine sandwiches and then played games and watched a movie: Das Boot. Oh it wasn't actually Das Boot, but it was something nautical I'm sure. 

They spent the night in the bunks 3 or 4 stacked high, and in the morning dined on doughnuts and chocolate milk. Declan insisted on buying a bucket of army men the next day. I told him that the military life is not all doughnuts and movie nights. But maybe it is, I've never enlisted. There are lots of sleepovers, I know that much.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Spring Break - St. Maarten

We had the most fun on our last stop - at St. Maarten.   We had opted to take a powerboat tour of the island, which is not the sort of thing we normally would go for, but it was super fun.  We had a uber-German boat driver, to whom the whole sea was an autobahn. I've never gone so fast in a boat.  It was crazy, and Declan loved every minute of it.
Look at Declan's "I can't believe how fast we are going" face!
 We stopped at a variety of different snorkel spots and beaches on both the French and Dutch sides of the island.

Declan was excited to spot some sea turtles- this one had fish hitching a ride on his back.

We got some good beach time in too.

At one of the beaches we came upon a heap of iguanas.  Here Declan tries to feed them a blade of grass.

We had much better luck after getting a tray of kitchen refuse from a nearby restaurant.  The iguanas came a-runnin' after that!

We did make a stop at the famous "Airport Beach" which has St. Maarten's airport runway immediately adjacent.  I did not capture in the photo how thrillingly close the airplanes really do come to touching down on sunbathers. It was off the chain.

This just looks like an airplane flying by.  Was way more exciting than that in person.  I'm just not a great  photographer! I used up all my action shots on the iguana.

Spring Break - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Our next port was St. John in the US Virgin Islands, but we wanted to head over to St. Thomas, because National Park.  So we chartered a sailboat and headed over for some National Park snorkel action!

This was Declan's first time snorkelling in open waters and he did amazingly well!  I made him wear his puddle jumper against his will, but we had to swim a long way from the boat's anchor point to the beach at the National Park.

At the National Park beach, not to crowded!

We were joined at the boat by a 4 foot long barracuda.  Declan opted to get out of the water, but I couldn't bring myself to get out.  
Needs something to scale, to recreate the terror!

Let's get out of here!

Spring Break - Puerto Rico

Our first stop was Puerto Rico, and we opted to spend our time at the San Juan National Historic Site of the Castillo San Cristobal, where we learned about Puerto Rico being the Gibraltar of the Caribbean.  


Declan became a Junior Ranger here, which was extra challenging because the workbook was in Spanish.  We muddled through somehow.

Exit through the Gift Shop

Declan opted to take some of his very own souvenir money to commission some avian novelty photos. He is a boy after my own heart!