Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! As promised, here is the big reveal of Trevor's Halloween costume!

It's not a perfect match to the inspiration minifig, but pretty darn close! Trevor opted not to wear yellow face paint or a mustache, even though we'd done a trial run with both and they looked good. These pictures were taken just before a church event last night, so it's still possible that he'll choose to do the face paint and mustache for trick-or-treating tonight. 

We had a lot of fun putting the costume together. Trevor already owned the black pants and striped shirt. We cut a triangle from a scrap of red fabric to make his bandana. I sacrificed one of my old belts (that I haven't worn in 15+ years) and used the Crop-A-Dile to punch a hole so that it would fit Trevor perfectly. We made oversize keys out of chipboard that we cut and painted silver, then strung them through rope that we draped across him. We made the mask from craft foam and black elastic. The only things we purchased were the yellow gloves and the grey hat, which should get plenty of use during the winter. 

Not only was this costume very inexpensive and fun to make, but Trevor loves it. He can't stop smiling when he's dressed up. Check out these pictures I took of him sneaking around like a robber, hiding in the bushes, putting his hands up, and preparing to get handcuffed.

Cutest robber ever, even without the mustache.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Red Ribbon Week

It's Red Ribbon Week here in the United States. Red Ribbon Week is an annual event to teach kids about the importance of staying drug-free. 

Trevor's school is celebrating Red Ribbon Week with five spirit days. Monday was Backwards Day ("Turn your back on drugs!"). Trevor started out the morning by attempting to put ALL his clothes on backwards, but immediately changed his underwear and pants back the proper direction. He did, however, leave his shirt and socks backwards (the heel of the sock on the top of his foot instead of on the bottom). He claimed it wasn't uncomfortable. Perhaps not compared to backwards underwear and pants...

Tuesday was Sports Day ("Team up against drugs!"). That's an easy one - Trevor has numerous San Francisco Giants shirts, hats, sweatbands, etc. from Junior Giants. About 50% of the school was in Giants gear, so he fit right in.

Yesterday was Camo Day ("Hide yourself from drugs!"). Trevor doesn't own any camouflage-print clothing, so he came up with a brilliant alternative. He dressed in a plain tan shirt and tan pants, brought a roll of Scotch tape with him, and picked up fall leaves and taped them to himself as we walked to school. Here he is with the first few leaves.

The bell rang as we were taping the last leaves to him, so I wasn't able to take a picture of him covered with leaves. He got tons of compliments on his outfit.

Today is Career Day ("Make being drug-free your second career!"). Trevor wants to build robots and design laser mazes when he grows up. How exactly does one dress up to indicate that career choice?! I suggested that he wear regular clothes and add a professional name badge. We worked together to design this:

He's really excited to wear it to school. It'll be fun to see if there are any other programmers or engineers amongst the expected firefighters, doctors and nurses, soldiers, police officers, and professional athletes.

Tomorrow is Hawaiian Day ("Take a life-long vacation from drugs!"). Trevor has many Hawaiian shirts and plastic leis, so that will be an easy one. Of course, he'll be changing out of that outfit and getting into his robber minifig costume as soon as he's home from school. It's adorable and we had a lot of fun putting it together. I'll show you tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Way to Give Money: Hide it in a Pop-Top Can

Today is my nephew Timothy's 14th birthday. Like most teenagers, all he really wants is money. I get great pleasure out of messing with him, which is why I gave him a "knitting kit" last Christmas that was actually hiding money. I couldn't have been happier with his reaction. It was awesome.

We celebrated his birthday on Saturday during the Pumpkin Party, so I was able to give him his gift then. 

He loves pineapple, but there was definitely some confusion on his face when I handed this to him. He obviously didn't believe that our family would be giving him a single $1.25 can of crushed pineapple for his birthday. He clearly didn't trust me (and my gleeful cackling didn't help). He cautiously pulled the tab on the top of the can, pointing it at me just in case. 

Inside were coins, pieces of candy, and rolled up bills. He was completely impressed and spent quite some time looking carefully at the can to figure out how I got the items inside a seemingly-intact can.

To make your own, start by removing the BOTTOM of a pop-top can, using a safe-cut can opener (ours is by Chefmate).

Carefully pour the food into a different container. Rinse the empty can thoroughly, making sure not to saturate the label. I intentionally chose pineapple both because Timothy loves it and because it would come out of the can cleanly (unlike condensed soup, for example, that could get caught in the ridges of the can). 

When the can is clean, let it dry thoroughly. Roll up dollar bills and insert them vertically into the can. Add candies, such as Smarties and Tootsie Rolls, that will also fit vertically. Add handfuls of coins to fill in all the spaces. If you pack it tight enough, the coins won't rattle around and give away the secret of what's hidden inside too soon.

Use a strong craft glue to reattach the bottom of the can. I used Martha Stewart Glittering Glue, which worked perfectly. Let the glue dry overnight. Gently turn the can right-side-up and add a gift bow to the top. Then give your gift to someone special and do some gleeful cackling of your own.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkin Party 2014

Last weekend, we went to my sister's house for the (Sort Of) Annual Pumpkin Party, which is always a ton of fun. This year, there was no required object, but all our designs had to fit the Disney theme. We could carve as a family group (which we did) or as individuals (which everyone else did). 

Trevor and I did a bunch of brainstorming ahead of time and decided that we'd make Pumpkins of the Caribbean. We sketched out a design, made a cool-looking sign (aged by crumpling the paper, burning the edges and smearing it with chalk) then dug out all the props and materials we'd need. Here's what our completed pumpkin looked like: 

It was a joint effort. I cut off the top, Trevor and I pulled out most of the guts, Steve cleaned it thoroughly, Trevor sketched the face, then I carved the face, painted silver on the teeth, and made an eyepatch from craft foam. We all worked together to arrange the props. It was fun to work together; last year, Steve was on a business trip and missed out on carving with Trevor and me. 

It turns out we weren't the only ones to do a Pirates of the Caribbean theme. My dad carved this awesome ship. More than once, he and I have come up with similar concepts or designs for the Pumpkin Party.

My mom made Olaf.

My sister made a Dole Whip. It's filled with pineapple ice cream.

My brother-in-law made Dumbo (who is apparently a Giants fan).

The winner (as determined by each one of us grading every entry on a scale of 1-10) was my nephew's version of Tuck and Roll from A Bug's Life!

As the party was ending, we discussed several possibilities for next year's theme, including another Disney theme, anything animation-related (which could include Disney), and animals (which could also include Disney). We won't know which of these, if any, is chosen until next year's party is scheduled. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

MOAS Virtual 25th Reunion

Welcome to the Virtual 25th Reunion of the 1989 California delegation to the Model Organization of American States, representing St. Vincent and the Grenadines! Peter, Michael, Ron, Piper, Colleen, Sabrina, Michelle... this is for you. Can you believe it has been 25 years? Some of you I have been blessed to have in my life all that time. Others I have had the pleasure of reconnecting with recently through the magic of the Internet. I tried really hard but wasn't able to find John. I hope he will somehow stumble on this.

While I wish it were possible for us to reconnect for an in-person, life has taken us in so many directions and to different continents. We have families, jobs, responsibilities and other obligations that make it hard to meet in person. I thought a virtual reunion would be the next best thing.

I chose today for our virtual reunion because October 27 marks the 35th anniversary of the independence of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This country brought us together, so it only seems appropriate to celebrate on this special day. Our experience with the Model OAS was life-changing. There is no experience that I've had, either before or since, that matched the intensity of that trip. I've never learned as much in a single week or connected so deeply with anyone else in such a short amount of time. I am truly grateful for the experience.

Before beginning the reunion, I want to thank the adults who made it all possible. Our parents, of course, were incredibly supportive. They brought us to meet to meetings all over the state, gave up their phones for our frequent conference calls, and sympathized each time another 20-pound package of study materials arrived. Our local leaders supported us every step of the way. Generous donors made our travel possible. Our chaperone, Carol, gave 100% to the team and was simply incredible. But none of this would have been possible without one woman. Luella Zamzow hand-picked our team, trained us, and made us a success. She was a force. Luella passed away several years ago, which was a great loss to all who knew her. It's not an exaggeration to say that in my 42 years no person outside my family has had a greater influence on me than Luella did. She is dearly missed.

Now on to the reunion! Please rise for the National Anthem of St. Vincent and the Grenadines!

Every great reunion has favors. The beauty of having a Virtual Reunion is that there are no pesky budgetary limitations! So, please accept these virtual gifts from me.

Cufflinks for the men...

Earrings and lockets for the women...

... and flip flops for everyone!

We'll be dining on some Vincentian favorites, including:

All the while, we'll share our favorite memories from the trip. We'll reflect on where life has taken us and what role 4-H and this trip has had in our adventures and journeys. Mostly, we'll laugh and remember the amazing times we had together, 25 years ago.