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Another Tournament…

We went to Iain’s 4th tournament this past weekend. He’s a camo belt with a black strip now and it was his first tournament with sparring and WEAPONS!! Last week, he started asking me if his teachers could help him with the tournament stuff (he hadn’t done nunchucks it a while because they are doing sticks in class now (which I just learned are called Bahng Mahng)) and he wanted to be prepared (plus…practicing nunchucks is FUN!). So…I asked his teachers for him on Wednesday and Thursday and he asked on Friday (which was pretty darn cute). On Friday, his teacher told him exactly what he should do with his nunchucks (the judges just tell them to “do what you know”…but honestly…that doesn’t seem to work very well with the little kids…haha…they often just stand there until the judges tell them what to do…or randomly swing them)…Iain doesn’t like doing things unless he KNOWS what to do. So…his teacher told him he should do three triangles with a swing with each hand and then end with a two-handed lunge thingy with a “hiya” (can you tell I don’t do karate? haha…”lunge thingy” is so definitely not the technical term…ah well…I know what it’s supposed to look like when he does it…that’s good enough for right now…I’m sure Iain will correct me eventually…as he always does). Iain loved it and practiced it soooooo much Friday!

Anyway…Friday night we went to the hotel…nice, inexpensive Econolodge (seriously…we aren’t made of money…inexpensive is awesome!). We were supposed to leave in the afternoon right after Iain’s karate class but…Jim had a customer picking up an MG and we figured that 2G was more important than leaving exactly when we planned… And then…we went to leave and our GPS crapped out so…since we greatly depend on that when we go to tournaments (and pretty much all the time!) we decided to go to Target to see what they had. Ended up getting a TomTom…that has way more features than our 5 year old Magellan GPS (which was great 5 years ago…but not now)…and our new one has free lifetime map updates. It would have cost $80 to update the maps on our old one…it was totally worth the extra $20 to get a new one. Love it. Anyway…so we did eventually get to the hotel around 8:30 and watched some Karate Kid before going to sleep (seemed totally appropriate 🙂 )

Saturday morning, we went to LaRoche College for the tournament. Iain was soooooooo exciting! We got there around 8:30 (after dealing with a detour…I suck at detours even with a GPS). We got there in time to see the Opening Ceremonies, which Iain LOVES!! What little boy wouldn’t want to watch a bunch of people breaking boards in awesome ways?!

Usually after the opening ceremonies, we only have to wait like half an hour before staging but…since he’s no longer a white, orange or yellow belt…we had to wait much longer. I don’t honestly know what time it was before camo belts were called but Iain was GREAT! Way more patient than I am…haha. He loved watching the specialty weapons and such (dual nunchucks is awesome!). I love watching, too…because the older kids are really good. Eventually Iain’s group was called to staging and he got to line up with the other camo belts (and green, purple and blue, I believe?). He looked SOOOOO tiny…and was very overwhelmed in line…he ended up around these much bigger/older kids and kept getting “smushed” against the wall…I made my way to him and told him to just move out of the way rather than stubbornly staying in “your spot” in line…haha…and then he was ok.

Anyway…he did AWESOME at his form…his nunchuck moves were FANTASTIC! (he did just what his teacher told him to do…complete with “hiya”, which the judges obviously got a kick out of) and his first sparring match was AWESOME (I’ve done enough venting about the second one…so we’ll leave it at that…haha…the kids will grow up eventually and learn how to spar correctly…and in the meantime…I will just appreciate the sparring at his school all the more 🙂 ).

He got two trophies…the blue one for “Following Directions” for form/sparring and the purple one for “Powerful Weapon Handling” for weapons… We are all extremely proud of him!

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Funny Little Things

I have been HORRIBLE at writing here…so here’s the deal. When I feel like writing here…I will…and it will probably not be too long and drawn out…but at least it’s here so I remember in the days/months/years to come.

When my family was out Labor Day weekend, we went to the Celtic Festival across the street and there was Japanese fan dancing (don’t know why…’cause that’s not very Celtic-y). The second Iain saw it he asked to sit and watch…then they had a part where people from the audience could go on stage and learn some…and my mom went up and did it. I told Iain he could go up if he wanted to but…he didn’t. After the first song…he looked at me and asked “why aren’t I up there?”…”umm…’cause you said you didn’t want to…you can go up with grandma”…and he ran up and followed along…pretty darn cute. Not many 4 year old boys would be so eager to watch (and join in) Japanese fan dancing (that’s probably not what it’s called…I know…but that’s what it was). Jim has pictures on his cell phone…I need to get them from him and post them!

When we were at Jim’s parents to take care of their cats while they were away a couple weeks ago, Iain was playing around and leaning off the to do headstands (a common thing for kids to do…haha…I remember doing it when I was little, too)…when we were in the car going home…he said his head hurt…so I told him it was just a little rug burn so…he asked for some “rug block” so the rug couldn’t burn him anymore. Haha. Rug block…like sun block for rugs.

Autumn Jam

Was looking around online to see if you could make jam from pumpkin because I have a bunch of butternut squash from a local farmers market and…well…I’m still obsessed with jams/jellies. Very little searching lead me to a recipe for Autumn Jam. The original recipe calls for canned pumpkin pie mix but…I just substituted butternut squash and pumpkin pie spice…added some extra sugar and a little salt and…ta-da…pumpkin pie mix. I didn’t follow the directions to make the jam, either. I made it the same way I made my other jams. Brought all the ingredients except the liquid pectin to a boil…added the liquid pectin…and boiled for a minute. Made 3 pints (2 – ½ pints and 2 pints). Tastes really good already and it’s not even set (all jams/jellies taste better after they’re set but that doesn’t stop me from testing them).

(Yes…that’s BEER jelly…and it’s not gross…it’s AWESOME!…but I’ll get to that later…)

Since I decided to grow mint in our garden this year…I’ve had plans to make mint jelly. My mom made it when I was little and…I remember liking it. So…this past Thursday, I decided to give it a try. Having never made jelly (or jam)…I had no idea if it would work out but…it did…and it’s EXTREMELY easy…and EXTREMELY delicious. All you do is make strong mint tea…add sugar, lemon juice, green food coloring and LIQUID pectin and…ta-da…mint jelly. I used this recipe…and it worked perfectly…gave me about two pints. Note: 1/2 (6 fluid ounce) container liquid pectin is 3 ounces of liquid pectin…from the reviews on allrecipes…there seems to be some confusion.

After such a successful batch of mint jelly, I decided to try and make some coffee jelly. It’s just something I got in my head to try…even though I couldn’t find a recipe online (lots of coffee jello, which I’ve made and love…but no coffee JELLY…that used REAL (non-instant) coffee and pectin)…but…I figured you could make it the same way as the mint…just use coffee instead…and skip the food coloring, obviously, and guess what? You can…and it’s FANTASTIC! Tastes like sweet coffee. I just used normal coffee…but it would be really good with flavored, too! We had it on English muffins this morning and it was seriously delicious (Jim’s impressed 🙂 ). All I did was use 1-2/3 cup of coffee (I made two small cups on our Keurig…just to make sure it was strong enough)…and followed the recipe for the mint (add sugar, lemon juice…boil…add LIQUID pectin…boil 1 minute) and ta-da…delicious coffee jelly (it made 2 half pints, 4 quarter pints (one of which I gave to Jim’s parents) and some extra, which I put in a container in our fridge. It takes very little time to make…so if you like coffee…give it a try!

Next up…Beer Jelly. Guess whose idea that was? Yep…Jim’s. He thinks it’s neat that you can make jelly out of pretty much any liquid so…his obvious choice was beer. My first thought was…ewwwwww. I didn’t know how that much sugar would go with beer but…I had luck so far so…I gave it a try (the most we’d be wasting if it was bad is some beer, sugar, lemon juice, pectin…no big deal). Well…for those skeptics out there…it’s really good! I’m not a beer drinker…unless the beer is EXTRA fruity…and EXTRA sweet…I hate it. So…beer jelly is perfect…because…well…it’s extremely sweet beer. Jim picked up some beer just for the jelly…called Shock Top Lemon Shandy…it’s beer with lemonade added. I used 1-2/3 cups…followed the previous recipes (I added a drop of yellow food coloring ’cause I thought that would be cute)…and…ta-da. Seriously great tasting Lemon Shandy Beer Jelly…

One warning if you decide to try the beer jelly…use a bigger pot than you think you need…because beer + sugar = LOTS of foam…plus boiling…plus pectin…in our house…that equalled LOTS of mess in the kitchen as I used the same pot I used for the other jellies…and the foam totally went EVERYWHERE. Just thought I’d warn you about that…so you use a BIG pot…and don’t get the sticky mess we got. I have plans to make it using some of my fruitier beers…and lots of other things, too…including flavored teas…the pineapple mint and the chocolate mint that I’m growing in our garden. Can’t wait! Jelly is kind of addicting to make…once you start…you just want to use every liquid…to make more jelly. Haha. Enjoy!

I’m not going to even pretend I’m good at blogging any more. So…if I write here from time to time…I see that as a success.

These past couple weeks, Iain has had swim lessons. His first time in the water by himself. Not that you’d know. At all. He got right in and acted like he’d always been swimming. Funny. He LOVES to dunk and spent about 90% of his lessons underwater…dunking and swimming underwater. He figured out how to swim underwater by himself…that’s not something they teach in the preschool class…but he figured out it could be done and he loves it. We’d only signed him up for one two-week session…because honestly…he’s BUSY this summer but…after the awesome time he had the past two weeks…we decided to sign him up for another two-week session…in Level 1 instead of preschool. He’s such a good little swimmer and has sooooo much fun…how could we not squeeze in another couple weeks of lessons?

He also started his camo belt classes a couple weeks ago. Now…he loved his karate classes before…but now…he has a whole new LOVE for them. He totally enjoys sparring (the little kids are pretty funny to watch, too)…and he has fun learning his nunchucks, too (though he’s only had that a couple times…he’ll have more this week). He spars against his little friends…and hasn’t quite gotten the idea of it…but he’s just starting and he’s 4 so…that’s ok…he’s having fun with it and that’s great 🙂 The rest will come with time and age.

We decided to sign him up for karate camp, after all. At first we weren’t going to…we put quite a bit of time and money into his karate as it is…between monthly fees, gear and tournaments…but…we just couldn’t NOT let him go. He’s going to have so much fun! Three days…three hours each…of just karate? Awesome.

He’s also going to Vacation Bible School at the end of July…so…between that…karate camp (and classes)…more swim lessons…car shows…Medieval Faire…etc…we are BUSY this summer…but that’s how summers are supposed to be.

2012 NY Trip (Part II)

Sunday morning, my parents came upstate and we all went to the Adirondack Animal Land, which I found out about by looking for the closest zoo to the Albany area…who knew there was an Adirondack Animal Land?

If you have kids and live in that area…I highly recommend going. It was sooooooo much fun. It was the perfect size for kids (not overwhelmingly huge)…almost all shaded…and you can feed almost all the animals either through a tube or by hand (which means you are guaranteed to SEE the animals). I took a TON! of pictures…so here’s my attempt at not posting all of them…

Feeding a monkey…

Going for a pony ride…

Feeding the goats…

“They’re slimy!”

Zebras…

Riding a dinosaur…

Iain liked the skeleton…

In Jail…

Pretend crying in jail…

Riding an elephant…

Donkeys…

Deer enclosure… The deer were just ridiculous and much bigger than Iain. While he liked the deer…he thought they were scary sometimes, too…which I could imagine…’cause to him…they were big…and they REALLY wanted that food.

Smiling for food…

“Ewwww…yuck”

Jim’s herd…

Giraffes…

Yep…that was my attempt at not posting too many pictures…but that’s only like an eighth of the pictures I took while we were there so…I think that’s pretty good 🙂

To be continued. . .

2012 NY Trip (Part I)

This past Friday, we left for our annual trip to NY (yeah…I wish we got out there more often…). It only took us 8/8.5 hours to get to my sister’s place…which is GREAT timing for us. Iain is such a great traveler! We didn’t even have to whip out his portable DVD player or his Leapster Explorer or anything…in fact…he was so well behaved…I didn’t even remember we brought those things. He spent pretty much the entire time (except like the 15 minutes he decided to sleep) battling his LEGO guys (I guess they are actually mega blocks…but they are all “LEGOs” to him)…it was one LOONNNGGGG battle.

We didn’t do much in NY Friday. By the time we got there around 7:30…we got dinner and passed out.

Saturday morning, we got up early and went down to visit my parents. We went to White Pond (a place I spent quite a bit of time at when I was little…enough that even I remember it extremely well). It was funny to see it again…it’s been a while…and it still looks the same. A little more overgrown in some areas then it was what…20-ish years ago…but really not much has changed. It was a little rainy but…still great fun to show Iain something I actually remember from when I was little.

Hiking with grandpa…

A gnome carved his name in a fallen tree…

After our time at the pond, we went out to dinner at Maggie McFly’s…honestly one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to…the food was fantastic (even if it unexpectedly came in a HUGE black crock that I couldn’t quite figure out how to eat out of…haha)…

Wearing grandpa’s lobster bib…

Grandpa gave him a squid…and he actually ate it…complete with tentacles…yeah…I wouldn’t do that…unlike me…the second he found out it was a squid…he was sooooo excited to eat it. Okaaayyy. Haha.

After trying it…he popped the whole thing in his mouth and ate it…it was gone in a second.

After dinner, we stopped at a couple stores that we used to frequent when we lived in NY, Half Time Beverage and The Dragon’s Den. Great fun. Iain has been looking forward to going to The Dragon’s Den for months…saving his coins up to get a few more D&D minis to add to his armies. When he saw all the guys in the display case at the store…he’s like “wow…look at the army!!”…it took quite a bit of doing to get him to decide on any guys so…Jim and I sped that process along and he left with quite a few more guys to do battle. Haha.

We also stopped at a sporting goods store and I picked up a pair of running shoes (more on that in a different post).

After shopping…we went back to Rachel’s and, once again, passed out.

To be continued. . .