May 17

So you know those Easter Egg coloring kits that you can buy in the store?  I’m sure you do.  They come with the cardboard egg holders, the little metal thingy that’s supposed to make it easier to get the eggs out of the dye water, and those dye tablets that fizz up like alka-seltzer.  Well, there has been none of that nonsense around our house for a while.

Last year Linda created dye from vegetables.  This year she used Kool-aid.  Some hot water, a little vinegar, and a packet of Kool-aid.  The unsweetened kind.

Easter Egg Kool-aid Dye

This year our Easter eggs were colored with these Kool-aid colors

Finished Easter Eggs

Here's the finished product

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May 16

Back in January, after the holiday school break, a note came home from school saying that it was time for the annual musical production.  This year it would be Willy Wonka Kids.  These productions are not actually done by the school, they are managed by the PTO.  However, the administration and teachers are very supportive.

Kieran wasn’t too interested in it initially.  Eventually he decided he’d try out for the role of Mike Teevee, the kid whose life revolves around television.  He went to the initial tryout after school and waited to see if he got a callback.  He did.  The part they wanted him to do during his callback was Willy Wonka!  Of course, he was one of several called back for the part, but we were really excited nonetheless.  After several days of call backs we waited to hear who got what part.

In the middle of a math lesson, someone from the PTO walked into Mrs. Hill’s class to hand out the envelopes to those who tried out.  Of course, nobody could wait until they got home to see what they got.  Kieran got the part of Willy Wonka!

The months of February and March were full of rehearsals after school.  There was a schedule that showed which roles needed to attend on which days.  Kieran only had a couple of days that he didn’t need to be there.  So we rearranged schedules and worked with some of the other parents to make sure somebody would be picking him up each day around 5.

Each of the cast members got a script and a CD with the music on it.  Kieran worked on memorizing his lines.  He also listened to the CD every night.  Hearing him singing along to his parts always made me smile.  I was in choir in middle and high school so vocal music is a great thing in my mind.  Everybody in the house was frequently singing the songs because we heard them all the time.  It’s a good thing it’s good music!

The performances were on Thursday March 25, Friday March 26, and two on Saturday the 27th.  Linda and I weren’t able to make it to the first performance on the 25th because we had Kindergarten orientation for the twins.  However, we made it over to Childs before it was over.  We watched the end of it through the windows in the gym doors.  That little glimpse made us eager for the next day when we could see the whole thing!

Aunt Sharon, Aunt Barbara, and Uncle Doug were able to attend the Thursday performance.  On Friday Linda and I took Declan and Owen to see it.  We also took some sunflowers and candy (Wonka brand of course) to give to Kieran after he came off stage.  For the Saturday afternoon performance Linda and I were joined by Aunt Barbara and Kieran’s Aunt Tanya.  For the final performance I was joined by Aunt Barbara and Kieran’s Aunt Beth and Uncle David.

How would I describe the show?  It was amazing.  The kids all did an excellent job.  The set was beautiful.  The costumes were wonderful.  I am extremely grateful to the PTO members who volunteered countless hours to make it happen.

I am so very proud of Kieran.  He worked really hard to do his best and that’s exactly what he did.  I knew he’d do a good job, but sitting in the audience and looking up at him on the stage I was awe struck.  He was a star.

Willy Wonka Banner

The banner hung outside the gym

Willy's First Appearance

This is where Kieran first appears in the show during the Golden Age of Chocolate song

Golden Age of Chocolate

The Candy Kids and the Oompa Loompas join Willy Wonka for the opening number called The Golden Age of Chocolate

The Bucket Home

Charlie and his family at home - Mr. Bucket is reading about the Golden Tickets

Candy Kids

Outside Charlie's house some of the candy kids wait for the Candy Man

The Candy Man

The Candy Man

Waiting Outside the Gates

The Golden Ticket holders waiting outside the candy factory gates

Pure Imagination

Willy Wonka comes through the factory gates singing Pure Imagination

Almost Ready To Go In

Pure Imagination is almost over - Then they go inside

Augustus Covered In Chocolate

Augustus has fallen into the river and is getting his Oompa Loompa lesson

Four Kids Left in the Factory

Continuing the chocolate factory tour with only four kids left

Veruca The Bad Nut

Veruca is covered in trash after going down the Bad Nut chute

Mike Teevee - The Ken Doll Version

After Mike Teevee is transmogrified by Wonka Vision the role is played by a Ken Doll - Willy Wonka is not pleased with him

Mike Teevee

Mike Teevee and the Oompa Loompas

You've Won Charlie!

Willy Wonka tells Charlie that he is giving him the chocolate factory

The Finale

Willy has given Charlie the factory by this point

The Bow

The entire cast out for the bow to the audience

Kieran as Willy Wonka After a Performance

Got this picture of Kieran as he left the stage after the second performance

Willy Wonka and Mrs. Teevee

Willy Wonka and Mrs. Teevee after a performance

Willy Wonka and his Factory

Kieran posing with the very impressive factory set

Mom and Dad with Kieran in the Factory

Linda and I with Kieran and the factory set

Kieran, Mom, and Dad - Close Up

Kieran and his proud parents - A close up

Kieran and the Director

Kieran and the show's director Mrs. Little

Willy Wonka and Aunt Tanya

Aunt Tanya came out for one of the performances

May 16

Can you tell who is excited about their birthday presents?

Twins Goofing Around With Birthday Presents

Peek-a-boo birthday boys

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May 16

SingStar and Rock Band are pretty popular in our house.  Auntie Beth has them both, and Linda quite often joins her.  So do the rest of us sometimes.  Declan and Owen like SingStar quite a bit.  Although they tend to mumble the vocals, but I do that too if I don’t know them.

Twin Sing Stars

Owen and Declan singing along to SingStar

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May 16

The children at the Dexter District Library had quite a treat during a Dr. Seuss story time:

Cat In The Hat Cake

Yum!  A cake.  Linda is so talented, don’t you think?

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May 16

Isn’t the Internet great?

Laptop Bedtime Stories

Sometimes the boys want online bedtime stories

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May 16

I’m glad to be working on garden beds instead of snowmen since it means it’s warmer.  However, back on February 28th we did have some great packing snow.  So the boys and I headed outside.  Here are the results:

Owen And His Little Snowman

Owen wanted to make his own little snowman and here it is

Everyone With The Big Snowman

The boys with the big snowman we all worked on. They posed him with swords.

Kieran vs. Snowman

Kieran and the snowman battle to the death - or something like that

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May 16

At our old house Linda had a garden.  It was a pretty good sized one too.  At least by suburban lot standards.  Since we moved to the new place at the end of 2002 she’s been gardenless.  That’s about to change.

We have clay for soil around here.  It’s no good at all for growing plants.  So we decided that a raised garden would be the way to go.  After some thought we decided that two raised garden beds in the back yard next to the deck would be best.  One will wrap around one side of the deck and the other will be a larger rectangular bed next to the first.  There will be room to walk between them on the grass.  The plan is that nobody will ever need to get into one of the beds because they aren’t wide enough to require it.

The construction project began today with a trip to Fingerle Lumber in Ann Arbor.  I compared prices between lumber companies and the big name warehouse stores.  Fingerle had the best prices.  It was also incredibly easy doing business with them.  One of the Boy Scout moms has a truck and she offered to transport the lumber for me.  (Thanks Kathy!)  So we drove to Fingerle and got everything done in well under an hour.  We drove right to where the wood was stacked in the lot and they helped us load it up.  Much easier than loading a cart, wheeling it through the store, and loading it in the parking lot!

The first thing Linda and I did was start digging.  The yard slopes away from the house pretty significantly.  That’s a good thing.  However, the garden boxes need to be fairly level.  We started piling clay up in the general area that we thought the boxes were going to sit.  After we’d had enough of the shovels, we headed over to the driveway and the power tools.  Sounds like fun to me!

We built the rectangular box in the driveway and carried it around the house to it’s intended location.  You can see it in these pictures.  The box is made from cedar 2×6 boards and 4×4 posts.  There are two boards stacked on each side for a total side height of 11 inches.  The box measures 5×14 feet.

First Garden Bed In Its Place

This is the rectangular bed. It's upside down in this picture. We need to flip it and fill in the gaps beneath it.

Closer View of Rectangular Bed

Here's a little closer view of the rectangular bed

You can see where the other box is going to go in the following photos.

Space For the Other Garden Box

The lines of clay near the deck show where the second garden bed will go.

Stay tuned for further updates.

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May 16

Beginning in September 2008 I became the Den Leader for a great group of Webelos Scouts.  Webelos is the name of the scouting rank that is technically part of Cub Scouts, but is focused more on getting the boys ready to be Boy Scouts.

We set about working our way through the Webelos program and earning the highest award a Cub Scout can achieve, The Arrow of Light.  Along the way I always had the support of a wonderful group of parents.  No matter what I needed, I know I could count on them.  So I want to thank Kathy, Nancy, Gregg, Christine, and Jackie.  You made it possible to give the guys a good Webelos experience.

Over the year and a half we earned some activity pins, belt loops, and patches.  We spent some time at Camp Munhacke for Resident Camp, Haunted Munhacke, and several other events.  We tried to make our way through a corn maze with a GPS.  We did woodworking projects in my garage in the cold months.  (Perhaps not my best planning effort, that.)  We raced Pinewood Derby cars.  We raced up and down the sidewalk.

In the second year we had to figure out which Boy Scout Troop we wanted to join.  The four boys knew they wanted to stick together and join a troop together.  There are three Troops in Ypsilanti.  They all invited us to attend their troop meetings.  They planned campouts and hikes for us to join too.  They each gave us a feel for how they work and how their existing scouts work together.  In the end all of the boys and us parents agreed that we felt the most comfortable with Troop 240.

So on February 8th Pack 295 has their annual Blue and Gold banquet.  All four of the boys in my den earned their Arrow of Light and received it at the banquet awards ceremony.  After the awards ceremony the folks from Troop 240 joined us up on stage for the Crossover.  I was proud to see the four boys Kane, Zack, Matthew, and Kieran walk across the bridge from the Cub Scout Pack to the Boy Scout Troop.  The Troop even surprised me by having me walk over the bridge too.  They switched my uniform from Cub Scout blue to Boy Scout green as well.  Pretty sneaky those Boy Scouts.  It worked, as I’m now an Assistant Scoutmaster in the Troop.

Starting Arrow of Light Ceremony

Kane, Matthew, Zack, and Kieran starting the Arrow of Light award ceremony

Holding Up the Arrow of Light

Kieran holds up the Arrow of Light

Cub Scout Den Family

Everybody's parents joined them for the big award presentation

The Crossover is Complete

Here are the new Boy Scouts with the other representatives of Troop 240

May 16

Time to start catching up.  Way back in December we went to Kieran’s school for a function and it turned out that Santa was there.  This was probably announced at some point, but before we arrived I was unaware.  Oops.  So after a quick trip back home for the camera, the boys met Santa.  It was a much more laid back setting than the mall!  Owen seems completely unimpressed.

Boys With Santa At Childs

Santa came to school. I wonder if he was checking report cards.

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