Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Think I Can
(Survive the Winter)

The Little Engine that Could

The Little Engine That Could was Joel's favorite this year. Or, if it wasn't his favorite, he really talked it up and liked it a lot.

(Am I boring you yet?)

The Little Engine that CouldThe Little Engine that CouldThe Little Engine that CouldThe Little Engine that CouldThe Little Engine that Could
To give you an idea of scale, the snow conductor of the train is taller than me.  I could have easily walked under the tunnel and the actual Little Engine was maybe 12 feet tall.  These kids do some amazing work.

Tomorrow and Friday I will put up the rest of my Winter Carnival pictures.  Then (maybe) on to regular posting.  My life is so full right now.  I'm basically just white-knuckling it until April.  Things have been so insane that I've even cancelled most of my lessons this week, just to regain some balance in my life.  I wasn't feeling super well, but I probably wasn't so sick I couldn't teach and that always makes me feel a little guilty when I cancel anyway. Sigh.  I have appreciated the mental health days, though, and I have almost caught up with my laundry.  At least, my laundry room doesn't look like a hurricane went through the clothing section of a department store anymore!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tea Party in the Snow

Alice in Wonderland
I think this one was my favorite this year.  And not just because I love Alice in Wonderland, either.  Because I don't, actually.  I kind of think it's freaky.  I just loved this statue for its whimsy and for how well the people were sculpted.  While most of the statues do a very good job on most things, people are usually lacking.  So this one was particularly impressive to me.
Alice in Wonderland

"The Guests Arrived an Hour Late to Find the Tea Part in a Frozen State."

Alice in WonderlandAlice in Wonderland
Seriously.  Just look at that Mad Hatter!  And the teacups, so daintily made of ice.  The Cheshire Cat is there, the March Hare and the White Rabbit.  It's just perfect.

Definitely my favorite of the year.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oh Yeah...It's Winter Isn't It?

Daddy and Sophia
Not to jerk you out of the tropical paradise that exists in the Caribbean, but since I had to be jerked out of it in real life, you're just going to have to deal with it virtually. (I flatter myself that you all would even feel jerked out of paradise just 'cause I've posted it a couple times...)

So, last week was Winter Carnival here in our very own winter wonderland.  You might remember my post from last year (there I go flattering myself again), but if you don't you can see it here.  Winter Carnival is a month long snow statue competition between campus groups and during the week of Carnival there is also an overnight statue competition.  Naturally, the month-long statues are much more impressive than the overnighters, but when you realize how little time the overnighters had, you will be impressed with theirs, too.

So, I took a lot of pictures this year.  And I didn't even get to all the really good statues, due to a very unfortunate experience involving one of my children suddenly getting sick while we were looking at them.  Sick, as in, we really did need to go home and change her clothes at the very least.  Immediately.  Poor thing.

Anyway, I took so many pictures, that I don't think I should put them all in one post.  So, I figure I'll divide it all up somehow and have several posts.  Thus boring all of you.  But, oh well.  I am a boring person in the wintertime, if you'll remember.

So, up this week on Overstuffed:  Winter Carnival 2011.  Check in every day to see your favorite books (oh yes, that was the theme--"Thousands of Pages Unfold in the Bitter Cold") come alive in the form of  snow statues.

For now, I'll start with the overnight statues, and some of the smaller month-long projects.  Then you can just look forward to the really good stuff as the week goes on...

First of all, that thing about the bitter cold?  They weren't kidding.  The week of Carnival our high temperatures were in the single digits and it was routinely below zero.  I felt rather sorry for all the crazy students out in the arctic weather carving sculptures out of snow and ice.  I also refused to let my children go see the statues until the last day of Carnival when it was like 20 degrees.  A veritable heat wave, I tell you!

So, we met up with some's Jane and Lucy now, and walked around campus looking at the fare.

Lucy and Jane
We saw Captain Nemo and the mighty Sea Monster from Jules Verne's classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
We saw The Hobbit.

The Hobbit
We saw Moby Dick.

Moby DickMoby Dick
We saw The Three Little Pigs.

The Three Little PigsThe Three Little PigsThe Three Little PigsThe Three Little Pigs
This one's for you, DeNae.  It's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  But I'm sure you already knew that!

Hitchiker's Guide
We had The Bible.

The BibleThe BibleThe Bible
We had How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
How the Grinch Stole ChristmasHow the Grinch Stole ChristmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas
And finally...this giant toilet was my girls' favorite.  I thought only boys were into the potty humor?

Everybody Poops
Oh, are you wondering what book that toilet is from?  Obviously, it's Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi, complete with TP and the catchphrase "Everyone Poops in Da Yoop"  (Don't know what the Yoop is?  Well, it's where I live.  The Upper Peninsula of Michigan=the U.P.=the You Pee=the Yoop.  And also, I am now called a "Yooper." And now you know.)

Everybody Poops
Stay tuned for more winter fun!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Belize: How a Baboon Pooped on My Head and Other Adventures

Our second port was Belize.
Like two ships passing in the night...
We took the tender boats into shore this time.  The kids thought it was a blast to ride on the smaller boat, and it was quite the ride, too.  I think it took us 15 or 20 minutes to get to shore.  Joel, on the other hand, doesn't seem so thrilled with the adventure, does he?
And this child just slays me.  It's like she was meant to live her life in the lap of luxury, hanging out on yachts and sailboats in the Caribbean.  I crack up whenever I look at this picture.
Glamour GirlBelize
Once in Belize City, there wasn't a whole ton to do, so we checked out all the little shops.  It seems The Pharmacy Where You Have No Need of Prescriptions was quite popular, and now I'm kicking myself for not getting a cheap inhaler at least.  But, I wasn't sure if I should trust it.  I'm still not, actually.  Forget I said anything.

While others were shopping, we hung out around the shops.  Chloe and Tychon had fun playing hand jive games.  Tychon was such a good sport to let Chloe teach him all her girlie games.

Chloe and Tychon
I think Joel was pretty bored with the whole shopping thing.
My Little Playmate
Although, I have no idea why, because there were lizards to be caught...
Lizard Chaser
...adorable nieces to photograph...
...and Christmas decorations to admire (I must admit, it was jarring to notice all the Christmas decor whilst in such a tropical environment--every time I had to remind myself that yes, Christmas really was just one week ago!).
There's my Bria looking beautiful in Belize.
Bria in Belize
As fun as shopping can be, we only have so much money and so much need for souvenirs.  Everybody pretty much decided it was time to get back on the boat, except my brother Nate, his wife Brittany, Chloe and me.  We went on an excursion to see baboons.

First, we had to take a ride in a taxi cab that was probably 20 years old and had no seatbelts.  It was about a 40 minute drive out to the preserve and Chloe got herself a good nap on the way.

The drive was worth it, though.  The preserve was more like The Garden of Eden.

Garden of Eden
It is run by a group of Belizian Rastafarians who live right on the preserve.  They bathe right in that river and they sleep in huts they built themselves.  I was most amazed to learn that none of them even wear shoes--especially as they were showing us all of the various poisonous plants in the area.
Chloe in Paradise
We got some lessons in baboonology and a lovely tour of the jungle.  Of course, you're never sure if you're going to be lucky enough to actually see the baboons, but we were hopeful.  Apparently, there is one particular family of baboons that has become trusting of the humans.  The family consisted of a male, his two female mates and their five offspring: all male, the youngest of which was only a few months old.

Nate and Brittany
And we were very, very lucky.  Of course, I was the luckiest of all, but we'll get to that later.

We heard the monkeys before we saw them, and then, before we could blink, there was a monkey making his way down to us, and his tiny little baby brother following.  Even the preserve owners were shocked about this, because the baby hadn't ever come down that far before.  He was so adorable to watch--just like a baby learning to crawl or walk, his swinging from branch to branch was uncoordinated and wobbly and oh so cute.

Baboon BrothersBaboonBaby BaboonBaboon
The baby didn't come all the way down, but his big brother certainly did.  He wanted a treat!

And so a treat he got.  There were about 10 of us in the tour group, and we each got to have a turn feeding him a piece of banana.  We put it in the palm of our hand, held it out to him (with the help of the Rastafarian dude) and he would grab our hands with his little monkey fingers and gobble it up.  It was truly an amazing experience.  Chloe was thrilled, even though you can't really tell that she actually fed the baboon because I was so excited watching her that I forgot to take a picture until it was over.  But you can tell she was excited about it.
Look Mom!
My brother Nate was the last person to get to feed him, and so he got to feed him about five times so he could finish off the banana.  This is a good shot of how the monkey grabs your hand to take the food.
Nate feeding the monkey
There's not much in the world that can beat feeding a wild baboon, until it decides to poop on your head.  I was just standing there, innocently taking pictures of the monkeys after they'd gone back up into the trees, when I felt quite the thud on my head.  At first, I thought the guy next to me had hit me with his camera (yes, that's how it felt!), but then the Rastafarian dude started telling the monkey he had no manners, and I realized what had happened.  Nate verified that my hair was indeed, um, soiled.

I choose to believe it means good luck for the rest of my life.  And I apologize to Brittany for having to sit next to me and my stinky hair in a cramped taxi cab for 45 minutes on the way back to shore.   She should get good luck for the rest of her life, too.
And that's about it for Belize!  We barely made it back to shore in time to jump on the tender and be on the ship for all aboard.  But the tight timetable was totally worth it, even though I was late to dinner due to an unplanned shower.  After all, not many people can say that a wild baboon pooped on their head in Belize.