Sunday, May 30, 2010

How Stuff Works: Roses

This is the fourth and final 'How Stuff Works' post left over from Mother's Day Weekend 2010. Links to those first three episodes are at the bottom of this post. Thanks for your patience.

How Stuff Works #4: Roses

We have a nice rose bush just outside our front door that provides us with numerous blooms throughout the year.

Every year it grows to monstrous proportions and without an annual scalping it would probably block our front walkway by fall.

We may not really have much of a clue about what how rose bushes such as this one are supposed to be maintained, but it seems to have held up pretty well to our haphazard maintenance (pruning). In fact, this year we seemed to receive numerous unsolicited compliments, from independent sources, on this particular plant.

The latest compliment was on Mother's Day this year.

Our neighbor saw us out working in the front yard jungle/garden and stopped by to chat with Tanya. The conversation mostly took place just outside our front porch... just 5 feet or so away from the rose bush.

It had grown about 5 feet since we last pruned it and was now jam packed with rosebuds. They discussed how beautiful it will be in just a few weeks when they all bloom at once.

The topic of discussion then transitioned to some other variety of topics, but I ran off to do something else, leaving them to their chit-chat.

Meanwhile, Mikayla finished weeding the soil around the rosebush and instead of disappearing to go text message her friends or train dogs or read a book, she decided to take some initiative and prune the rose bush.

To the best of my knowledge, she has never pruned anything before. We still aren't clear on the how or why she felt compelled to do this.

As I emerged from the garage, there she was... lopping off unbloomed rose buds by the dozens.

Assuming that Tanya and the neighbor were aware this was going on (since it was happening within arms reach of them) I bit my tongue. Clearly, someone must have assigned this task to Mikayla... so the pruning continued unabated.

Luckily, the neighbor departed moments later, allowing me to ask delicately ask Tanya about her master plan for the rose bush.

Tanya issued a loud *Gasp* and Mikayla immediately sensed that trouble might be brewing. Maybe she should quit pruning and go plant some flowers instead.

So... we now have a one-of-a-kind two tier rose bush.
It's the latest thing.
All the cool kids have one.
You should special order yours now.


For those of you who may be wondering, the rose bush is rapidly recovering and the remaining rose buds are just starting to open, and it still looks lovely.


How Stuff Works #1: Gardening
How Stuff Works #2: Cake Decorating
How Stuff Wroks #3: Tea

Friday, May 21, 2010

How Stuff Works: Tea

This is the third of four "How Stuff Works" posts from Mother's Day 2010.

How Stuff Works #3: Tea

Alexia's Girl scout troop organized a Mother's Day Tea Party for the day before Mother's Day at a local church.

There was a lot of time and effort invested by some (mostly by Mother's, unfortunately) into getting this event organized.

It wasn't the Tea part of the Tea Party that was complicated (for most). The complicated part was all the decorations, the setting up, taking down and the non-Tea parts that required so much effort.

Finally sitting at their table, both Tanya and Alexia were ready to enjoy the relaxing part of their Tea Party.

A few minutes later, anxious to taste her Tea, a frustrated Alexia finally asked "Mom, can you please stir this for me?"

Tanya replied with an expected "Why do you want me to stir it?"

Alexia, nearing frustration responded "I can't get this to dissolve."

It seems that instead of just putting the teabag into the cup, Alexia had purposefully opened the nice little tea package and simply emptied its contents into the cup of hot water. And then stirred. And stirred. And stirred.

From what I hear, the situation was handled quickly and quietly with little or no embarrassment and a short while later everyone was enjoying their wonderful tea.

Happy Mother's Day!

Stay tuned for the final installment of the 2010 Mother's Day "How Stuff Works" series... coming soon.

Here are links for the first two How Stuff Works postings, in case you missed them:
How Stuff Works: Gardening
How Stuff Works: Cake Decorating


Saturday, May 15, 2010

How Stuff Works: Cake Decorating

This is post #2 of 4 in the 2010 Mother's Day "How Stuff Works" series.

How Stuff Works #2: Cake Decorating

For Mother's Day 2010, Tanya expressed some interest in having an Ice Cream cake.

After a bit of internet research and a DVR'd Dairy Queen commercial (which finalized the issue of whether the ice cream is the top layer or the bottom layer (it's the top layer -- write that down)) I successfully created a strawberry + vanilla ice cream cake.

Well, I created most of the cake.

It's odd that after 30 some years I finally figured out the left vs right thing, but still can't frost a cake worth beans. Tanya stepped in to finish the frosting for me. This seems to be a recurring theme, unfortunately.

Before we could eat the ice cream cake creation it had to go into the freezer for a few hours to harden up. Fine... we'll have it after dinner.

Hours later...

Ultimately, we ended up getting Chinese take-out from Safeway for dinner. It's not quite clear what turn of events led to that specific decision, but that's where we ended up.

While deciding what to order we instructed the kids to go round up a few specific groceries that we were in need of, expecting they would grab the items on the list and come right back.

They did just that, but when they returned, they were giddy with excitement. A little bit like when they discovered the 'free' office chair up the street.

All out of breath with excitement, they claimed that the store was letting kids decorate Mother's Day cakes over in the bakery department and they wanted to go decorate their own cake. How fun for them! How lucky for us!

We just wanted to order dinner... so we sent them away to decorate a cake. Whatever.

Our food was finally ready, so I took it out to the car while Tanya went off in search of the kids.

After quite a while, they finally emerged from the store.

With a cake.

It turns out that the cake they were decorating was one which we were then expected to purchase. Not really surprising now that it's all typed out, but it wasn't what we were expecting.

Luckilly, it was only $5.

The kids were overly proud of their creation and overly excited that they were able to provide Tanya with this special cake for Mother's Day. All on their own (except for the $5 that Tanya paid).

We laughed about it, but then the happiness dimmed just a bit as we realized Tanya couldn't eat the cake due to the potential risk of cross-contamination with peanuts.

So, we finally arrived home, had dinner and the kids ate their bakery cake and we enjoyed the straberry-vanilla ice cream cake.

Stay tuned for post #3 of 4 in the How Stuff Works Mother's Day series... coming soon.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How Stuff Works: Gardening

The Mother's Day 2010 "How Stuff Works" Series.
This is Post #1 of 4

How Stuff Works #1: Gardening

For Mother's Day we spent some quality family time making improvements to the jungle in our front yard that used to look like it was nicely landscaped.

For simplicity, let's just call that gardening.

We've never had a real garden so it makes sense that the kids don't have extensive hands-on experience with most gardening chores.

Sure, they know the basics such as pulling weeds, watering the flowers, trying not to touch slugs, screaming if you see a snake and running inside the house to hide if you happen to encounter a spider.

Anyway, on Mother's Day we did some family gardening and even brought home a number of potted plants from Lowe's to add a little color to the tamed jungle.

Mikayla confidently took on the role of Master Gardener.

Her goal was to plant two potted plants inside the barrel planters outside our garage.

While the rest of us were weeding, she dug a nice sized hole in the dirt within the barrel and planted one of the flowers before filling the dirt back in around the freshly planted flower.

Ready to move on to the second barrel, she asked us where the other flower was that she was supposed to plant.

We were both surprised and pleased with her willingness and get-it-done attitude, I asked of her "Wow, you've already planted the first one?"

She replied as expected with a happy "Yep!".

It was clear that she was feeling confident about doing such a good job with her assigned task. Probably she was only looking for a little confirmation and self-affirmation when she added: "I'm supposed to leave the flower in the pot, right?"

After a bit of grumbling under her breath she dug up all her hard work and then asked for some help extracting the flower from the pot before replanting it.

Thanks, family, for all your hard work out there!

We hope all you Mom's out there had a Happy Mother's Day!

Stay tuned for the next three Mother's Day 2010 "How Stuff Works" stories!

While you are waiting for those to show up, you might want to entertain yourself by reading (or re-reading) about The Mother Who Saved Mother's Day posting from last year.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Dog Caper

Every April a Snohomish County 4-H club hosts "The Dog Caper" at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA. This is a three day event that is open to the first 200 4-H Club kids (and all their dogs) that sign up.

Both our kids signed up.

This three day/2 night event involves a host of dog-related classes, training, classes and presentations. This year it was 4/23/10 to 4/25/10.

The kids, dogs and chaperons all spend both nights in one of the buildings at the fairgrounds.

Tanya, not one who is fond of staying the night in places that aren't 'home' (unless it involves the word 'vacation') wanted to be part of this event but didn't want to sleep in the barn with the 200 sweaty kids and their Dander Dogs... so we splurged for a hotel room just down the road.

Friday afternoon Alexia, Josie, Catrina and I drove down to the fairgrounds where we unloaded (most) of the stuff and set up the two air mattresses and dog crates in a corner of the barn that they would call 'home' for the next two days. After signing her in and making sure there were two capable adults on-watch to keep tabs on her (and both dogs) I drove down to watch Mikayla in the State Gymnastics meet down in Bellevue, WA.

Meanwhile, Alexia had already run off to take the Canine Good Citizenship test (which she passed... for the second time).

Just after Mikayla's final performance, Tanya's cell phone rang. We learned that Alexia was at that moment chocking on a piece of hard candy. Tanya instructed them to call 911 and I sprinted out the door; ready to make the 30 minute drive back to Monroe in about 1.5 minutes.

Lucky for all of us, the follow up phone call put us at ease to let us know that she was now breathing, in the ambulance and on her way to the hospital.

Upon my arrival a short while later she was quite glad to see me and seemed to be doing pretty well. It turns out she choked on one of those butterscotch candies... which she had done once before. Hmmm. She still had a lump in her throat as if it hadn't dissolved yet and could still become a blockage in her airway. So we waited to have some xrays and were finally released (with her new fire dog from the Fire Dept) when she was able to drink water without any troubles.
From TEAM Rolfs

Now that it is 11:00pm... its back to the Dog Caper for Alexia to get some sleep.

The next day started early with classes on Dog Obedience, Agility and Showmanship. They also made a craft and had presentations from a Law Enforcement K-9 Unit and Katherine with her amazing Border Collie, Dazzle and their amazing tricks.

Some pics of the events:
From TEAM Rolfs

From TEAM Rolfs

From TEAM Rolfs

From TEAM Rolfs

From TEAM Rolfs

From TEAM Rolfs

From TEAM Rolfs

There was even a class on Laser Vision, for the dogs planning to become super heroes.
From TEAM Rolfs

Some pics of our kids and their dogs:
From TEAM Rolfs

From TEAM Rolfs

All in all, everyone had a good time all weekend.

Our 4H club (Kids-n-K9's) is planning a similar event up here at the Skagit County Fairgrounds in June 2010.

Our event is two days / 1 night and registration for any 4H Club member (dogs or not) is now open!!

Sign up fast or you might miss out! Space is limited.

Just give Tanya a call or contact the local 4H office to find out more.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Level 3 Gymnastics - State Invitational 04-23-2010

It was quite the whirlwind day on April 23, 2010.

This was the day when Mikayla had her State Gymnastics meet in Bellevue at the same time she and Alexia were supposed to be at the 4-H sponsored Dog Caper in Monroe.

The agenda to get everyone, and everydog, where they needed to be was complicated.

Tanya picked up Mikayla from school in the afternoon and they headed directly down to Bellevue to prep for the meet.

It was my job to be in Bellevue as soon as possible after I finished getting Alexia & both dogs settled at the 4H event in Monroe, with hopes that I wouldn't miss much of Mikayla's performance.

Tanya promised to get some pics from the warm-ups while awaiting my arrival.

My ultimate arrival in Sammamish High School in Bellevue was right on the mark to see her perform all four routines, documented forever in the below video (it's only two minutes, you can handle it!).

We are very proud of her.

Moments later, Tanya's phone rang with unexpected news from the 4H event that shifted the focus from Mikayla to Alexia. The caller alerted us that Alexia was currently choking on a piece of hard candy. Tanya ordered them to call 911 while I darted back to the car for the fastest drive ever between Bellevue and Monroe.

Tanya stayed behind to get Mikayla. A short while later we received news that Alexia was breathing and was en-route to the hospital. Since I was already on my way and the critical situation seemed to be under control, Tanya let Mikayla go through the awards ceremony and captured a few final pics before coming to Alexia & I at the Monroe ER.

Nice Job Mikayla! We're very proud of you!

More about Alexia's evening and the weekend-long 4-H event will be coming shortly.