Friday, March 2, 2012

Griffith Observatory

We made our way down to Southern California last weekend and while there we stopped to check out the Griffith Observatory. None of us had ever been there so it was a fun new experience for all. Look at our lovely family picture taken just outside the observatory entrance and you can see the HOLLYWOOD sign in the background. It was not a clear day, but you can still make it out. We hiked up to that sign a couple of summers ago and the kids had a great time remembering, "Hey! We've been there!"

Grandma Karen and Grandpa Doug came along with us and  treated us to the movie in the planetarium. It was so cool to recline back and watch a movie on the ceiling. Some of us felt a little motion sickness as the images of the solar system "crossed the sky" on the screen. It was so neat to learn all about the stars, constellations, and galaxies that exist out in space.

Inside the observatory are many cool interactive displays. Jackson was entranced with the heat sensing camera. He couldn't figure out why he had such a red face! The Tesla demonstration was wild. Check out those bolts of electricity!

We got to see the old telescope in the tower: "Located in the roof-top dome on the building's east end, the Zeiss telescope is intended mainly for nighttime viewing by the general public, commonly targeting the Moon, planets, and brightest showpiece objects of our galaxy. A popular public destination when special celestial events occur, more people viewed Halley's Comet and comets Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake through the Observatory's Zeiss telescope than any other telescope on the planet."

There was one super cool exhibit located inside called the "Hall of the Eye". "The most significant change is the addition of a new exhibit station located in the Hall of the Eye exhibit hall below the telescope dome. The station provides live video and audio feeds from the telescope and allows visitors unable to climb the stairs into the telescope dome to have an observing experience." The kids were amazed that we could see what was happening outside. And it wasn't streaming through a camera. They could see cars moving and people walking outside - all reflected from this exterior telescope.

We were not aware that this observatory was a great destination for hikers. There are several trails up to and around the observatory. The parking lot was entirely filled and cars lined the hill with trail runners and families out for a day hike. Whenever we revisit this location we will be sure to pack our hiking shoes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

kids say the darndest things

Jackson has a daily behavior card monitoring system in kindergarten.

Green card = good job.
Yellow card = oops, you messed up.
Red card = you're in big trouble.

It is not uncommon for Jackson to pull a card. Every day his goal is to "stay on green card all day". Some days he meets his goal. Some days he does not. As far as we know, Jackson has never made it all the way to red card.

Yesterday, towards the start of the day, Jackson was talking too much and pulled his yellow card. (Oops, he messed up.) He happily went along with his day trying hard to be better, pay attention, follow directions, and not talk too much.

At recess Jackson so kindly shared a cookie from his snack with his teacher. She graciously ate the entire cookie! After she had eaten the cookie Jackson says, "Mrs. Nelson? I can go on green card now?"

Mrs. Nelson paused and thought about his best efforts to be good and said, "Yes, Jackson. You've earned your green card back. You can turn your card back to green."

Jackson walks into class and announces to the entire room, "EVERYONE, IF YOU WANT YOUR GREEN CARD BACK YOU JUST GIVE MRS. NELSON A COOKIE!"

Of course she heard his little announcement and she quickly tried to explain to Jackson and the entire class that this is not the proper way to earn back your green card. Poor Mrs. Nelson!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Movie Fest 2011

It has been a Summer Movie Fest for the Wards this year. We kicked off the summer early by seeing Kung Fu 2 during the last week of school - we couldn't wait for summer to officially be here - because we knew there were so many great movies coming out in summer 2011! Here is a quick run down of all the shows we saw and what we thought of them... Our grading scale is from 1 (not so great) to 5 (we LOVED it!).

Kung Fu 2
We LOVED this movie. It was inspirational, entertaining, and 100% family friendly. It also helps that we are huge Jack Black fans around here :)

Super 8
4 stars
Just Jeremy & Jennifer saw this movie. It was so well done - just like every other Speilberg movie. We didn't think it was as fantastic as the critics made it out to be, but still very very good. It was a combination of Goonies and ET. Set in the 70s, lots of language, a sci-fi twist, with a gang of no-name kid actors.

3 stars
Jeremy took the kids to see this one at the $3 theater. He said there were some super funny bits and that the kids liked it better than Rio.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2 stars
Jeremy went to see this movie for a 'guys night out'. He said, "There was a lot of CG action." Autobots battling Decepticons. I say, "What did you expect?"

Cars 2
2 stars
We were SOOO excited for this movie release. Our family LOVED the first Disney/Pixar Cars movie and were highly anticipating the next installment with our favorite characters. As with so many sequels, the film makers try really hard to out do the first movie. It was too much.We were sorely disappointed :( Several time through the movie Jackson (5 years old - should have totally enjoyed this show) put his hands over his ears and said, "I don't like this movie!" The news clip scenes were so long, the social drinking was inappropriate (I know they were drinking 'oil', but for heaven's sake it looked like alcohol!), and they jumped all over the globe - it was hard to keep the story straight. Now that I've killed this movie, let me tell you what we did like: the animation was great, the characters were the same loveable ones we met in Cars 1, and it was great to see Mater have a bigger role.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
5 + stars!

It was certainly a summer of sequels and HP did not disappoint. This movie was the big finnisher of all finneshes. The Grand Finale to a generation of Harry Potter mania. We did not wait outside for hours and hours like so many die-hards did ;) Instead, we bought the double feature tickets that showed HP 7 part 1 at 8:30 and then the premier at midnight. It was the way to go! We got to sit in a comfy theater seat with air conditioning and entertainment while we waited for the midnight showing. We were so happy with this movie. It stayed true to the book, true to the characters, and true to the fans.The story wrapped up so nicely with lots of action, one great kiss, and a super sweet ending.

This photo was taken AFTER we saw the show at about 3:00 am.

I Am Number 4
4 stars
To confess, we did not see this movie in the theater. We got the disc through Netflix and were pleasantly surprised with a fun teen sci-fi flick! So pleased, in fact, that we've watched it several times. Beware some language and some super scary bad guys.

3 stars
We began our preparation for next years Avengers* movie by taking the kids to see Thor. It was a good fantasy/mythology genre movie. We liked this movie well enough and look forward to seeing Thor's character again in 2012.
*The Avengers movie will star 4 Marvel Comics heroes: Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk. No worries, we have both Hulk movies in our Netflix queue and Iron Man recorded on our DVR. We will be prepared!

Captain America: The First Avenger
4 stars
The boys were most excited to see this movie. They'd seen the trailers on TV and couldn't wait to see a scrawny man transformed into a hero. We were surprised at the PG-13 rating. The 1940s setting was like a breath of fresh air. Clean humor, modest clothes, clean cut hair, and bright red lipstick! The boys most liked Captain America's super human strength, speed, and cool shield. These days, Jackson is especially enamored with anything resembling the American flag.

Those are all the movies we've seen up to this point in our Summer Film Fest. We have been highly entertained and stuffed with lots of FREE popcorn (thank you to Yahoo! and Regal for 1 million free bags of popcorn promo!). Do not fear! We are not done yet! There are still several films we'd like to see before summer officially comes to a close.

'To See' before summer's end:
X-Men First Class
Adjustment Bureau
Green Lantern
The Smurfs
Cowboys vs. Aliens
Pirates of the Caribbean
The Help

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Family Camp 2011

We had a blast at Family Camp this year. It was a fun-filled, memory-making, high adventure week. Enjoy a photo narration of our good times.

Catching Creatures



Trevor caught about 6 fish! His biggest was as 12 inch Rainbow Trout. He learned how to clean it, prep it, and cook it in the fire. He was so excited to eat his catch, "It tastes like chicken!" he said.

Skit Nite

Lounging on the beach

Hanging out with the teeny-boppers

Playing games in camp

We had 2 boats this year! The Sanger and the Malibu Skier

Talent Nite
Zachary kicked things off with the Star Spangled Banner and Jackson favored us with his sword fighting talent.

Celebrating the 4th



Water balloon fight!

Rock Jumping

Trying to go home
There is always a challenge when trying to pack up and leave camp. This year was no exception. Pulling the boat out of the water posed a challenge for our oversize trucks. Getting stuck in the mud is never fun. How many guys does it take to push a 2 ton truck out of the lake?

We are proud to announce that there wasn't one single trip to the ER this year. Woo hoo! That was a first. We were so spoiled to hang out with good friends and family for a whole week. The Minnicks came all the way from Montana to be with us! It was a fantastic week of good times, dirty fingernails, blue hands, HOT and/or COLD showers, card games, ghost town exploration, scary stories, staying up late, adult conversation at the late night campfire, and excellent dinners. We are already looking forward to Family Camp 2012!