Monday, January 25, 2010

Holidays 2009 - Part 3

New Years Eve 2009.
A get-together at Davenport Elementary School in Eureka.
We decided to usher in the New Year in a rather lively way.

Have you ever used half a gymnasium to play a card game called Dutch Blitz (SUPER-SIZED)?

Next game? ...... NOUNS!
How would you describe alabaster?
In just 2 words?

How about muskrat?

Or could you act out Grover?
Or caveman?
Remember - the timer's running!

Some of the crew take a time-out for refreshments.
Followed by singing some hymns.

At her "office" in the gym, Paige is busy taking messages despite the bedlam going on just a few feet from her "desk".

Marina and Anthony 'cat-ching' up on 'kiddy' stuff.

After some rousing games of basketball, it's time for Ultimate Frisbee.
Discussing ground rules.

Off and flying!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Holidays 2009 - Part 2

Holiday time is always family time filled with eating, games, craziness, visiting, laughter...

The kitchen on Christmas day. Talking and laughing - who's cooking?

Aha! Looks like Kyle and Kamela are in charge of the mashed potatoes.

Sunday at Rhonda and Leonard's. Undoubtedly, Kamela and Ashley are up to something.

Game time!

Ashley is attempting to draw with her eyes closed.

It's just too easy to peek. Drawing for this team is serious business.

Kyle gives Grandpa a hand.
The sun's out. No need for long underwear and coveralls!

Racquetball is the next activity. Katia, Ashley, and Karmen in a highly competitive showdown.

Karmen whoopin' up on her Dad.

Back to the house for some more goofiness.
Cowgirl Ashley.

Katia, the original goofball!

Kyle moves from "ridee" to "rider".

Settlers of Catan. Even the laid-back become competitive and high-strung in this game.

Katia saw this pencil and decided it was just perfect.

Normal bowling!

Not-so-normal bowling!
Opposite hand.
Eyes closed.
Backwards between the legs (as demonstrated by Kamela).
Backwards between the legs demonstrated by Steve.
Granny style demonstrated by Rhonda.

"The Kicker" demonstrated by Karmen.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Holidays 2009 - Part 1

Last year, while decorating cookies at Thanksgiving time, one of the kids remarked that the cookie they had just decorated looked like the Chinese flag. That comment was the beginning. They decided to decorate an entire batch of cookies representing myriad countries, including some rather obscure nations. They then took the cookies to Grandma and Grandpa's and introduced a new "name game" - as in "how many countries can you identify by the flags handcrafted in icing"?

This year, the contest reached a new level.

Here they are selecting their 40 countries - all of which will have their flags displayed on graham crackers.

Next, Kyle is getting the colors "just right".

The process continues.

Giving attention to all the details.

Flag art is an intense work.

How many can you name? Don't feel bad if you miss a few! You're looking at the flags upside down.

The contest is now underway! Everyone has a list of the countries in hand and are attempting to match with a number located beside each 'flag'.

To other participants, the contest seems somewhat unfair as they observe two renowned "geography experts" comparing notes! In fact, a couple of participants "waved white flags", surrendered, and took a seat!

Ashley checks out the finer points to determine whether she is looking at Vietnam or Suriname.

The contest winner! Having traveled to Europe, Asia, and South America in the past year probably helped. Congratulations Katia!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cold, Colder & Coldest

For years, man has endeavored to search out the limits of our very being. To test our strength both mental & physical. Climbing Mt. Everest & treks to the Poles, soaring in space and seeking out other frontiers such as Magellan & Fossett, Earhart & Livingstone, Lewis & Clark and many others have done. Some of these individuals were considered foolish for their adventure, others were considered heroes.

For the last 4 years, a handful of individuals from Central Illinois in search of adventure have been described (mostly by our spouses) as "foolish", "just plain silly", "crazy", etc. No, these outdoor lovers will never be listed in the "Adventurers Hall of Fame" nor will they become America's latest heroes. The Arctic, the Alaskan wilderness, shoot, even Wisconsin in wintertime overwhelm the nastiest, coldest days of an Illinois winter. So our overnight winter camping trip last Friday night just isn't likely to be made into a documentary for the Discovery Channel. Don't expect to see it chronicled in Outdoor Life or National Geographic's Adventure Magazine.

But, perhaps it is worthy of a BLOG.

OK, enough of the silly stuff.

This is the 3rd annual winter camping expedition. It started as a potential "one-time" event and was instigated because I wanted to share with my son Kyle, an experience similar to what I'd had a number of years ago with some close friends. Bruce, Rob & Robert elected to join Kyle & I and we had a great time. The next year, we had a couple new adventurers (Don & Doug) added to our group and this year Andy came aboard. Bruce, Rob & Don have had some of their children join us on occasion.

Friday, January 8, 2010
Brimfield, IL
Temp about 5 degrees
Approximately 12 inches of snow
Rob starts the fire!

In no time, the fire is roaring.

Rob, Andy & Doug survey the setup. The water is hot, the beans are simmering and the grill in the foreground suggests that venison steaks will soon be searing over the hot coals.

Yours truly starts the fried potatoes & onions.

Apparently, no one got a photo of the steaks on the grill but we did get a photo of the remaining beans & fried potatoes that were scrumptiously prepared in the cast iron cookware

Sunrise Saturday Morning
The fire is roaring again. Breakfast is on the way.
Temperature is -10 degrees.

Bruce is the breakfast guru. The eggs are about ready along with a leftover venison steak which is now deep-fried AND grilled.

Doug learned that hot eggs just removed from hot bacon grease stresses Styrofoam plates!

OK, up to now we've denied the claims that we are really a bunch of crazies. But get a load of this! Doug is preparing cinnamon rolls! It's -10 degrees!!. We are in the woods! But, Doug goes to work!
The mix needs 1.5 cups of 125-150 degree water. (Like we had a cooking thermometer hanging from a nearby tree!!!) Then the dough needs to rise! Yes, rise! Well, maybe we can do that. After all we have a fire! Somewhere between the -10 degree temp and the middle of the fire it must be room temperature! But none of us were quite sure just where that area might be. So, Doug takes a guess and sets it somewhere near the fire. They rise, despite the uncontrolled environment. Next thing on the little instruction sheet Doug is reading? Bake at 450 degrees!
We're in luck! We've got 450 degrees - somewhere.. It could be just over the flames? Just over the coals? Bruce told Doug if he got edible cinnamon rolls out of this process, Doug belonged in the "Winter Camping Hall of Fame"!

Well, what do you think?

A tour of our bedrooms.

This is where I slept. Just under the edge of a fallen tree. Don shot this photo of Bruce shooting a photo of me.

Don settled in on the opposite side of the downed tree from where I was and on the edge of a creek which is just beyond the end of Don's sleeping bag.


Bruce near his triple sleeping bag set-up.

Our group photo after breaking camp and just before heading home.
Bruce, Eldon, Don, Rob, Doug & Andy

For another perspective from this year's trip, see Rob's blog.

For Blogs on previous trips click here and here and here