Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Remembering Chloe

I'm saddened to report that we awoke on Monday morning to find that Mikayla's pet rabbit, Chloe, has unexpectedly passed on.

Chloe joined our family in June of 2005 and enjoyed four and half years in our rabbit yard where she had the freedom to hop about, dig tunnels and even stay dry during wet weather.

Every morning she would come and greet me at feeding time, excited to receive her daily human interaction and a short petting.

Prior to this unexpected turn of events, she seemed completely normal and happy.

Nibbles, Alexia's white rabbit and Chloe's roommate, seems to be doing alright, but may be grieving in her own way.

We'll sure miss you Chloe. Thank you for brightening our lives. You were a great pet.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can't Wrap This

I hate to do this, but it goes along so well with the Holiday Olympics: Gift Wrap posting that I can't resist.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Olympics: Gift Wrapping

Welcome to the 2009 Holiday Olympics.

The spotlight tonight was on Tanya and Eric as they battled it out in the exciting Gift Wrapping Competition.

Numerous shopping trips over the last few weeks have led up to this exciting event.

One such trip included a visit to the fabric store to buy yards upon yards of Tulle that would be wrapped around each gift like a ribbon. Instead of buying a few rolls, T took the DIY route figuring we save some $$$ and just cut our own from a 10 yard strip.

Thus begins Round 1.

T cut the first strip with less than desirable results.

Her Tulle cutting skills rival my penmanship skills.

While T decided it was a good time to check out what her BFF's were doing on Facebook, Alexia and I tackled the Tulle cutting project with results that met the minimum quality criteria for Tulle Ribbon. Whew!

Within just a few minutes we had 50 Tulle ribbons.

Round 1 results:
Gold Medal goes to Eric
Silver Medal goes to Alexia
Bronze medal goes to T.

Mikayla was disqualified since she is away at a friends house for the night.

Now we had a pile of cut Tulle, but we didn't have any wrapped presents to tie them around.

Thus begins Round 2.

Alexia went to bed. This is a no-minors allowed event.

A sizable pile of gifts quickly grew on the table and floor as all the hiding spots were visited and emptied. They were sorted and analyzed and then discussed in great detail to make sure none were missing and to make sure no purchases had fallen through the cracks.

Judges Josie & Katrina thoroughly examined the items to make sure none were edible, chewable or containing squirrels. Once the dogs retired to their own bones we were ready to start the competition.

Like a whirling dervish, T unrolled paper, put gifts into boxes, reoriented gifts, cut and taped faster than anyone I've ever seen. It was crazy.

After a gift was wrapped, she'd pass it off to me for labeling, ribbon tying and placing under the tree. It seems my penmanship still leaves a lot to be desired, but it also seems my tying skills only work on my own shoes. Tying ribbons on gifts is not one of my talents. Placing presents under the tree went pretty smoothly.

All I had to do was keep up with T's pace, but it just wasn't working for me.

Round 2 results:
Gold Medal: Tanya
Silver Medal: Eric

Stay tuned for more upcoming Holiday Olympic Events such as Cookie Baking, Finding Locations To Put All The New Christmas Gifts and every one's favorite: How Quickly Can You Take Down The Christmas Decorations After Christmas And Replace Them With The Snowmen Winter Decorations.

Happy Holidays!


PS: In other news, today Mikayla had her first workout with the Gymnastics team while Alexia went to dress rehearsal for the Christmas play that is being performed tomorrow. After we were done with those events we all went to Bellingham for the 4H Holiday Party at the ice skating rink and dinner at Round Table Pizza. Busy, busy, busy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Typical December Weekend

After a hectic week at work I was really looking forward to a weekend.

Friday night Tanya met up with friends for an evening of Scrap booking. She spends many hours a month, all year long, dedicated to creating beautiful memories for our family. Similar to the Growth Chart I talked about a few posts ago, projects such as these frequently fall by the wayside with little notice... only to be regretted years or decades later. Kudos to Tanya for her steadfast dedication to capturing the moments now so that we may share them with others in the future.

While she was scrap booking, the girls had a couple friends over and they all enjoyed attending Friday night Open Gym.

I enjoyed 45 minutes of quiet time at home. Well, I enjoyed 10 minutes of quiet time and then endured 35 minutes of barking dogs. There's some motivation to get the yard fenced.

Saturday started with Alexia & Tanya heading off to Christmas Pageant practice while Mikayla and I ran a few errands. Safeway, Starbucks, Safeway, Wal-Marche.

After lunch we jumped into the car for the annual Christmas Tree Hunt. We could have (should have) just hunted in the garage for the artificial tree, but instead we took advantage of the weather to visit the Hovde Tree Farm between Alger and Acme. (Yes, Acme, like in the Road runner / Coyote cartoons).

The weather was fantastic, albeit quite cold. There was even a trace of snow on the upper parts of the tree farm. We walked all around, twice, took some mandatory scrapbook pictures and finally chose the tree that looked a little bit better than Lisa's tree from last year.

Girls by the tree house:

Alexia locates the redneck chainsaw manger scene:

Double Whammy: Eric cuts down the tree and you can see his slowly receding hairline:

We made a couple stops in the old neighborhood (Glenhaven) as we drove by to check on our old house, the clubhouse, the lakes and the pool.

Once back home, we unloaded the tree, stuck it haphazardly in the tree stand with some water and then darted off to the small town Sedro-Woolley Christmas Parade.

Mikayla, Josie, Alexia and Katrina were all in the parade with the 4-H club. Since it was dark, it was difficult to capture photographic images of the event. Here is Alexia on the float:

Here is a ghost-like almost image of Mikayla (upper arrow, in a teal coat) and Josie (lower arrow, in the white fur):

Once the parade was over we headed back home to decorate the Christmas tree and enjoy the typical family holiday decorating conversations.

Topics this year included a number of exciting debates, such as:
1) Where should the tree should be located?
2) Is the tree straight yet?
3) Are the lights on the tree yet so we can put on the ornaments?
and the most popular topic of all:
4) What do you mean we don't have any tree lights?

Three trips to the store and four hours later the tree was deemed to be 'decorated'.

Alexia exclaimed that she would never forget this day because she got to stay up until 10:30pm to decorate the tree. That's her equivalent of "THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!"

Sunday started with another Christmas pageant rehearsal and church, followed by a clean out of our 'under the stairs' storage area before heading out to dinner.

While cleaning out from under the stairs we uncovered some photo albums from the 'before kids' era. Alexia came across a fantastic honeymoon picture of T & I on a catamaran outside of Maui. She couldn't believe it was us and exclaimed "Mom's wearing a bikini! She HATES bikini's!".

We met up with Kim, Chris, Kari, Troy and their kids for dinner at Red Robin for Kim's birthday. Dinner itself wasn't too unusual... except that Mikayla started to not feel well. Then she started feeling worse. And worse.

We rushed home with Mikayla becoming more anxious to be home as soon as possible. A short while after arriving at home, Mikalya emerged from the bathroom with something interesting to show us.

A quick call to the Asthma/Allergy doc put us (mostly) at ease and then we worked to ease Mikayla's anxiety.
Between her sister and her mother, Mikayla has seen a lot of medical conditions over the years so changes such as this tend to cause her undue stress.

We'll keep an eye on her for changes and see what happens on Monday morning.

Thus ends another typical Rolfs December weekend.

Happy Holidays!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend 2009

Thursday (11/26/09)
This year we opted to spend Thanksgiving day with Grandpa Dave & Grandma Margie at their place on Harstene Island. The plan was to have dinner at about 1:00pm on the Island, along with Aunt Rachel, Uncle Steve and Great Grandpa Joe... plus whoever else might show up.

The day started out innocently enough with an 8:55a.m. departure from Mt. Vernon. Awesome. We had 4 hours and 5 minutes to make the 160 mile / 3 hour trip. Piece of cake.

We decided to bring both dogs with us, knowing that they would spend most of the day in the car. Since the Ornamental Dog Union is still in negotiations with the Island Living Dog Union we figured it wasn't safe to let the two groups mingle without close supervision. Plus, we would be able to monitor Josie's leg condition to prevent her from gnawing on it all day like she would if left at home.

Despite a malfunctioning DVD player, things were going surprisingly smooth... until we made an ill fated decision to take a mid-trip break at a McDonalds near Tacoma.

Somebody ordered pancakes.
With syrup.
To Go.

Somebody managed to spill syrup all over themselves.
In the car.
On the Freeway.

A big fit was thrown.
Then, traffic stopped.
The fit... didn't.

Next stop: 9-1-1 Clothes Shopping at Walmart in Shelton, since nothing else was open.

T went in the store and picked out some clothes that would enable Syrup-girl to make it through the day.

Syrup-Girl tried on the clothes, but they were a size too big. T went back in to exchange them for a smaller size.

Somewhere between the front door of the store, the kid clothes section and the Customer Service Desk, T managed to lose the receipt needed for returning the clothes. She called me on the cell phone to let me know the situation.

Legend says that she wandered around the store, retracing her steps to find out where she lost the reciept. Eventually, the receipt was found. Coincidently, it was found right below a really nice sweater that just happened to fit-just-right, be just-what-she-needed and just had to be bought.

A short while later, T appeared with the resized clothing and we continued our trip to The Island.

We arrived 5 minutes late (but no one complained... thanks Rolfs!).

The next few hours included an enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner and entertaining conversation. The girls enjoyed playing on the beach with the Island Dogs, and Steve. They also enjoyed playing Crazy 8's.

Due to Tanya's peanut and celery allergies, dining out, or dining at other peoples houses always involves some degree of risk for us because we can't control the ingredients or gauge the cross-contamination risk. The holidays are particularly risky because it's often nuts and celery galore.

After dinner we had a few tense moments as Tanya started coughing, which is one of our indicators that she may be having an allergic reaction. After using her inhaler and downing some Benadryl, the symptoms, luckily, seemed to diminish. We all had flashbacks from a few years ago when we spent my birthday in the ER due to a restaurant unexpectedly using peanuts in a dish that we didn't expect to have peanuts.

Eventually the Island Dogs all went their separate ways and the Ornamental dogs were ushered into the house for a little social interaction and leg stretching (not leg raising). This was Katrina's first visit to the Island. I think they enjoyed exploring the house, meeting Aunt Rachel's dog Rudy and gnawing on some Island-Dog-sized bones.

We began our homeward-bound journey at about 6:30pm or so (uneventful) and managed to meet up with Aunt Rachel & Uncle Steve at Shari's restaurant in Tacoma for a lite-late dinner (and some pie).

From there we made a quick visit to see Rachel's new house before making the final drive back home (again, uneventful)... arriving about 11:10pm.

Friday (11/27/09)
Tanya and I battled a few crowds trying to get a good deal on a card table and chairs... but we lost and came home empty handed.

There is a lot more to the card table shopping story that I'll share with you another time (Tanya couldn't find the car in the parking lot and I rescued my damsel in distress).

Afterwards we spent some time cleaning out the garage and catching up on other projects that keep getting pushed aside for other projects.

Saturday (11/28/09)
The Sears Dryer Repair man came to look at the new dryer which makes an unexpected thumping noise. All the time. Yes, this is the dryer we bought a couple weeks ago. He said it's not unusual and it should go away in a few months.

Mikayla and I went to see the second movie in the Twilight series: New Moon.

A framed Christmas family heirloom fell off the wall and broke two other Christmas Heirloom decorations. We were very sad to lose these two irreplaceable pieces but are relieved that the third can be re-framed.

Sunday (11/29/09)
Mikayla was an acolyte at church while Tanya helped organize the Christmas Program rehersal. After that we spent a few emotionally charged hours putting on Christmas lights. It was great to have some help on this project... and it was great to do it without getting rained on for once. Thanks Tanya.

This evening we enjoyed the Mount Vernon Christmas Parade in downtown Mount Vernon. Tanya, Mikayla and I watched the parade procession while Alexia enjoyed being a parade participant with her Girl Scout troop.

** Girl Scout cookie pre-sales start in late January -- Mark your calendar! **

So... it's been a busy weekend.
Maybe it's just me, but two day weekends are never long enough.
Four day weekends, apparently, aren't long enough either.

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and recognize all that you have to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 23, 2009

The November Update

Time flies when you're having fun.

It also flies when you're really busy.

November is no different... except that there is a lot less daylight (particularly when the weather is crappy and today I'm pretty sure it was dark at 4:27pm).

Earlier this month we attended the 4H Awards Banquet for the Kids-N-K-9's club. Both girls were recognized for a long list of accomplishments. The leader of the club, Christy Lyon, was recognized as the 4H Leader of The Year. She truly earned it and we were thrilled for her. Thanks Christy!! You are amazing!

Speaking of dogs...
It seem that Josie (one of our "ornamental dogs") started licking her front paw... repeatedly. This has resulted in an open sore that needs to heal.
So, to prevent the licking and begin the healing process we first first tried spraying the wound with an antiseptic that promised to taste so bad the dog would no longer desire to lick it.
Didn't work.
Next we tried tying a bandanna around it.
Josie quickly figured out how to get that off and resume her handiwork.
Next we tried gauze and tape.
Didn't work.
Ace bandage.
Didn't work.
Time to get serious.
Instead of an Ornamental Dog, she's now a Sideshow Dog.

Don't get me wrong... I do feel bad for her.
I also feel like I have a good idea for next year's halloween costume.

Changing topics here...
Let me say congratulations to my Cousin Emily (& Jason & Audrey) on the new addition to their family: Alexandria Rose.
Also, good riddance to Emily's gall bladder.
Here's her blog.

Let me make a suggestion to you, Emily, and everyone else out there with young kids.
It's a given fact that one day you'll say "I sure wish we had done that thing where you stand the kids against the wall and mark their height". Eventually you'll get around to doing that, because everyone does it at least once.
Then you forget about.
Then you remember again... about four years later.
Then you move.
Most people leave the sheet rock in the house... and there goes your haphazard growth chart.

So... go find a BIG roll of paper.
No, paper towels are not a good choice. Neither is toilet paper.
Make sure it's at least 8 feet long (because you just never know). Tape it on the wall and use it for your growth chart. Measure each kid at their own birthday party. Make it a tradition so you don't forget about it. Then... when you move... you can take it with you.

Don't store it near the recycling bin. Or the fireplace. Or the kids Art Desk. Or the color printer. I'm just sayin'.

We started marking our kids height on the wall in the closet in our first house. Then we moved.

After we moved, I was busy painting and thought it would be special to have the kids put hand prints inside the closet at the new house. So... we did that.

About 12 months later I was doing more painting. Hey... good timing... made another hand print from each kid. I think we managed three years in a row... and then skipped the next three. DOH!

So... trust me... go get that big roll of paper and use it. Sure... go ahead and do the wall-marking or hand-print stamping (because they are cool) but at least you know the paper version can follow you from place to place.

This last weekend I finally finished the living room painting project that I agreed to do about 11 months ago.
Husky fans will be broken hearted to learn that our yellow/gold kitchen+purple living room combination no longer exists. Now it's yellow/gold kitchen+Latte living room.

This week we have Parent-Teacher conferences (all is going well in school), Tanya is dutifully working on her report cards and I am dealing with the chaos of a new computer system at work that came online today.

We're all thankful for so much and are looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.

Happy early Thanksgiving wishes to you all!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Fun Activity Book

Alexia really enjoys creating things.

Lately she's been creating a lot of drawings at her desk and tonight she surprised us with her first activity book.

She happily mystery-gifted this book to her sister by sliding it under Mikayla's bedroom door and then running and jumping into bed (where she was supposed to be in the first place).

Here are the scans that I managed to get before the activities were completed.


Coloring Page:

Name the Parts of a Dog:

Word Search:

In the event that you a) are feeling creative, b) are home schooling your children, c) need to give your kids something to do to temporarily stop them from fighting or d) are bored, then you should print out one or more of these pages and complete the activity.

When you are done, feel free to scan/email or snail mail them back to us here at TEAM Rolfs and you might win a spot in a future blog posting or video right here on the TEAM Rolfs blog! MAYBE there will be big prizes!

For those of you with a passion for art, you should be sure to check out Scott Rolfs' website. He's spewing artistic talent with great drawings from comics to monster trucks, heroes, villians and countless other subjects.

Unfortunately it seems the artistic gene decided to skip right over my branch of the Rolfs family tree. In fact, even my writing is bad. It's so bad that I'm not allowed to sign Christmas cards.

You all should be thankful that blogs are typed because otherwise no one would be able to read these diverse stories.

Now, get busy working on those activity pages!!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Drunken Sailor

Last week Mikayla participated in her first choir concert of the year.

Do you see where this is going yet?

The whole family was able to watch the show so here is a short video compilation that I threw together since obviously photographs don't quite capture the essence of the song.  It's less than 3 minutes long.

A quick Google search brought up the above lyrics and, thank goodness, the choir group used a slightly different set of lyrics.  Maybe Mikayla will enlighten us in the near future with a more accurate version of the Mount Baker Middle School interpretation.

Mikayla has now provided us with the actual lyrics... Middle School style:

What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
What shall we do with a drunken sailor earlye in the morning?

La, La, La-La (repeat multiple times)

Put him in the scuppers with a hosepipe on him.
Put him in the scuppers with a hosepipe on him.
Put him in the scuppers with a hosepipe on him earlye {clap} earlye in the morning.

Put him in the longboat 'till he's sober.
Put him in the longboat 'till he's sober.
Put him in the longboat 'till he's sober earlye {clap} earlye in the morning.

La, La, La-La earlye in the {stomp} morning!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Pajama Day. Take 1.

Mikayla was excited for 'Pajama Day' at school today.

I was jealous and thought about wearing my slippers to work, but didn't.

At about 2:50 this afternoon my cell phone rang.
It was Mikayla.
In a quiet voice she simply said:
"Today was not Pajama day."

It seems Pajama day was rescheduled to some future date. Somehow everyone else knew, except for Mikayla and two eighth grade girls.

My guess is that she'll get over this minor embarrassment.

At least she was comfortable!


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

This year Alexia was a dalmatian and Mikayla was going to be 'mustard' but decided to be a fairy instead. Despite the fact that Halloween is probably T's least favorite holiday, she was instrumental in getting Alexia's spots sewn onto her costume and she also make Mikayla's tutu-skirt from scratch. Thanks also to Sue & Andrea for the help, advice, guidance and support.

Me? I just ate candy, drove kids around and took pictures.

Friday night we went to the Fall Harvest Festival at Alexia's school.

Mikayla volunteered at one of the game booths and also at the Carmel Apple booth.

Alexia played a lot of games and participated in the costume contest. She didn't win any prizes, but her BFF Aryana did. Aryana was the 'Kittens 4 sale' next to Alexia.

Tanya and I volunteered at the Halloween Bowling booth. There's nothing qite like 12 year olds hurling bowling ball sized pumpkins at 2-liters of water... or your ankles if you aren't paying attention.

Today, Halloween, started with our final soccer game of the season for Alexia. It was a great first half, but the second half didn't turn out quite so favorable. The kids were more interested in trick or treating... or at least that's the excuse I'll use.

The weather was perfect for trick or treating. It was dry and not cold. The kids both met up with friends for their neighborhood tours and were quite satisfied with their loot.

While the kids were out trick or treating, Tanya was correcting papers, planning for conferences and ready to decorate for Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What did you say?

Do you ever say something that doesn't make any sense?

Here is an example:

Imagine you are a mother.
You are in a hurry.
You are trying to encourage a child of yours, who might be about 9 years old, to finish getting dressed.
Relatively quickly.
Maybe you intended to say:
"Now go put on your clothes."
but instead you actually say:
"Now go put on your pancakes."

Here is another example:

Imagine you are really mad.
You are about 9 years old.
You are in your room.
Maybe your dad is trying to talk to you, really calmly.
Probably you really don't want to listen to his logical nonsense right now and just want him out of your room.
Maybe you intended to say:
"Get Out Of My Room!"
but instead you actually say:
"Get Out Of My Mouth!"

It's hard not to laugh when those things happen.
Even if it makes people more mad.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

After a fun soccer game this morning we loaded into the car and went to the local pumpkin patch.

We were glad that it wasn't raining and a layer of hay helped to keep the mud to a minimum.

The kids posed for pics and then they quickly each located desirable pumpkins. We posed the pets for a couple of pics and Catrina felt it important to protect us from the threatening black cat.

Eventually we escaped back to the safety of the car with only a minor argument about whether the dogs really needed their own pumpkins.

They don't. It doesn't matter what google says.

Now we need to find time to carve pumpkins.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Household Oddities

Sometimes things change gradually and you don't really notice the changes.

Or maybe you do notice the changes, but it's a small change and not really a big deal so you just 'let it be' and move on.  Often times these changes are just meant to be temporary.

I think this probably happens to everybody.

Then... one random day you realize how a lot of small changes, insignificant on their own, can build up into something that might seem peculiar to the casual observer.  Or visitors.  Or Friends.  Or Neighbors.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Lately I've noticed some unusual things in and around the house.  They're all temporary.  In this situation, "Temporary" is measured in five year increments.

Let me list a few of the oddities for you.

1)  We have a child gate set up to block off the downstairs bathroom.  This is odd because my youngest is nine.  Years, not months.

2)  We have a litter box outside on the porch.  Our cat is an indoor cat.

3)  I have a Rainforest Closet.  Clothes are often hung in that doorway to my closet while they dry.  Every time I have to go in and out of there it feels like I'm ducking under wet tree branches.

4)  All the bedroom and bathroom garbage cans can now be found on the top of furniture, instead of on the ground.  Kind of like we are expecting a 100 year flood and don't want the garbage cans to get damaged.  Actually, it's not a flood we are concerned about... it's Hurricane Katrina (the dog, if you didn't know).

5)  The cat won't eat until you hop the child gate into the bathroom where her food is and 'look' to see if she has food in her bowl.  She won't go eat until after you go into the bathroom first.

6)  The "Industrial Art" (complete with Artist Drawn pencil circle) underneath our bathroom window was originally a towel holder.  Three times.  Now it's just Art, which is better than the holes in the wall which would be the alternative.

7)  Our family room is currently painted with three walls of purple and one wall of brown (oops, I mean "Latte").  We are trying to decide if we like the Latte color or not.  We've been deciding for about two months now.

That's about it I guess.  There must be others that I'm forgetting but that's alright because I'm sure you'll point them out the next time you visit.