Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lizzie Hits the Slopes

Lizzie has been skiing twice now. She has such a happy-positive-never-give-up attitude that makes for a fantastic experience. In fact, Lizzie is picking it up so quickly that she only fell down one time on her second skiing escapade. Enjoy a short video of Lizzie's super skiing adventure!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Polar Bear Plunge 2011

You can always find a bunch of crazy kids in our backyard on New Year's Day. This year was no exception. ALL the adults wised up and decided to forgo the traditional Polar Bear Plunge, but there were still several kids that were out to show off their wild side! These kids (minus the youngest girl) all took the plunge this year.

Looks like J was the brave one and went first!

Logan and Jake were right behind him. 3, 2, 1, JUMP!!

The girls went next:

Does that look on her face leave you breathless?! That water was COLD!

Jackson was so excited to put on his trunks and go swimming. The pool has been off limits since summer ended and he was ready to show of his swimming skills. Except that, hmmm... this water was kind of cold? It took him only seconds to realize that he would not be jumping in all the way. This picture shows how far he ventured into the water. Let's just say that he was quite disappointed with that water temperature - like we'd played a mean trick on him or something!

I've been looking through some old pictures this week and came across this one:

The photo is from one of our first Polar Bear Plunge days (January 1, 2008). Notice the large number of children that participated! And there were about 3 more adults (not pictured) that also jumped in on this day 3 years ago. I wonder why our numbers have dwindled since then??

We do this tradition because the kids love it. And because, truthfully, the adults get some good laughs and entertainment out of is as well. Next year, you can break out that bathing suit at Christmastime because it is guaranteed that we will be out there freezing our buns off every year on January 1.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 DI Regional Awards Ceremony

Here are some pictures of the teams just after they finished their Main Challenges. They were riding so high! Both teams knew they'd done so well in their performances. We knew their positive vibes and enthusiastic mood would be impossible to capture in a photo, but we thought we'd try anyway.

THE SUPER SMART ALAKAZOO AIRHEAD OF DOOM: serious first then a little silliness

THE SEVEN DI WARFS: serious with a side of silly

I don't know about you, but I think I prefer the silly pictures!

Fast forward to the awards ceremony...

Trevor's event was announced first. Now remember, these guys took first place at Regionals and State last year - they went to Tennessee to compete at Globals! AND our elementary school kids were up against all middle school teams because they are in 6th grade. They announced 6th place. 5th place. And a 4th place tie - The Super Smart Alakazoo Airheads of Doom and some other team tied for 4th. The team was shocked. It was the most difficult moment to watch them stand and get their applause knowing that their DI adventure was finished for this year.

Logan's team had the opposite experience. They placed first in their event! FIRST! They were so happy! It was an amazing overwhelming moment - so much so that Aubry started crying because she was so happy! These guys were stoked to wear their fancy new medals AND got to walk away knowing that they'd be moving on to compete at State in April. After seeing the scores the next day we found out that they'd scored highest in their IC and highest in their Main Challenge. Their structure held the most weight and their performance was top notch.

Are they looking proud or what?! It really was an AWESOME moment.

This picture is so out of focus, but it really captures the moment. It was surreal and joyful - do those coaches look happy or what?

This awards ceremony was a most challenging experience as a parent. To watch the older team feel like they lost the competition. Which, of course they did not lose. They took 4th out of 12 Jr. High teams! That is an amazing accomplishment. No matter how many times we try to convince them that they did so well, it still does not give them that 3rd place they were after. And in almost the next moment we had to be enthused and excited for the other child that took 1st place. Talk about a strained moment. We didn't want to rub it in the older team's faces, but we also didn't want to diminish the younger kids' win. Boy, it was rough.

We are so proud of both teams bringing their best to their performances and placing so well in their events.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Destination Imagination State Competition 2011

The season of Destination Imagination is in full swing! Trevor and Logan have been involved in weekly practices, early morning, and after school practices since the teams were aligned last December. This year, there were seven different challenges our teams could choose from (read about them HERE).

THE SUPER SMART ALAKAZOO AIRHEADS OF D O O M: Trevor's team (coached by Aunt Kari & assisted by team parent ME) chose the improvisational "Mythology Mission". This is the team's 3rd year together - it is so refreshing to see these kids work as a team. They are comfortable with each other, themselves, their ideas, and they don't worry about looking like a little bit silly every now and again. If you remember, this team took first place at Regional and State finals last year and went on to compete in Tennessee at Globals.

The video of their regional competition performance is posted below. But first, I wanted to give you a list of all the things that had to be incorporated into their improv so you could be on the look out for the elements they were judged on. Their time ended at the EXACT moment that they finished their skit. It was AMAZING!

1. Mythological Creature (Kappa) + several facts about the creature
2. Culture (Ancient Japan) + several facts about the culture
3. 3 souvenirs
4. combine 3 souvenirs to one great mega-prop
5. Improv Element - how well they incorporate and resolve this element
6. teamwork

It's hard to see or feel in a video just what it was like in that room, but the energy was almost palpable. Those kids were on fire! They knew exactly what then needed to accomplish and they went out there and nailed it! We are so proud!

THE SEVEN DI warfs: Logan's team was coached by Uncle Matt and Jeremy. This is their 2nd year together and are really starting to gel as a team. They chose the structural challenge "verses! foiled again!". Here are all of the elements they were judged on in their skit. I wish they'd been partially judged on their use of humor - they were sooo funny!! Here are all the elements to watch for when you view their video:

1. side trips (karate & dancing)
2. teamwork
3. props made of wood and foil
4. 4 lines of verse penned by the team
5. 4 lines of verse from a published/copyrighted song
6. storyline that involves a character that is foiled

7. structure
a. how much weight it holds
b. the design and use of wood + foil

Watch it again and listen for Lizzie (she was sitting right next to me during filming) singing along and saying the lines with the team. She knew this skit by heart!

This team totally came together to make this performance the best they'd ever done. That structure weighed only 24 grams. 24 GRAMS. Guess how much it held. Take a wild guess. It ended up holding 255 POUNDS! Is that amazing or what?! Yes, they are smaller than the other team, but their energy was just as electric as those older kids. They were so fantastic!

Stay tuned to read about the award ceremony...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Welcome Baby Clare!

My brother, Thomas, and his wife, Amy welcomed a new baby into their family on January 20th! Baby girl #2 for these guys. She is a most beautiful baby girl with tons of dark hair, cute chubby cheeks, lovely long fingers and toes, and rosy red lips.

Our kids were so excited to meet their new cousin baby Clare Elizabeth!

Baby Clare is grandchild #7 for my parents. It is so exciting to watch this family grow. 7 cousins in the Duran family! Here's the score so far:
Boys: 4 Girls: 3

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kings River Expedition

After browsing through old pictures last week, I came across our last summer's excursion in river rafting. Somehow it never made it's way onto the blog!

Last year for Father's Day, several of our friends decided to purchase (through Groupon again!) a Kings River Expedition as gifts to the husbands. Yes, the wives included themselves in the gifting and 4 couples got to go on a real wild water adventure! Matt & Aimee, Jeremy & Jennifer, Jared & Elizabeth, and (not pictured because they were on a different boat) Rick & Michelle. That guy in the back was our river guide, Ryan. We found out within minutes that we all knew his wife - she teaches at the elementary school our kids go to!

We all made our babysitter arrangements for the children and then headed out to the Kings River. We made it there in record time - thank you Matt for your mad driving skills - and arrived in time for our brief training. It's been so long that I honestly don't remember much, but I knew it would be a mostly safe journey because we were there at the end of the season which meant low water flow. That was good for me and my oh-so-non-adventure-seeking self. I was mostly worried about getting wet. Ha! That water was cold!! Yes, everyone in our group thought that fear of mine was quite silly and had a hay-day with the teasing before it all began. Everyone else was totally excited for this experience!

We slathered up with sunscreen, put on our water shoes, and hopped on the bus for a 10 minute ride to the head of the river trail. And when I say bus, I don't mean charter bus. This baby was an old rickety, 1932 original. (I don't really know what year it was made, but lets just say it was old, ok?) It had no AC = windows rolled down on this warm summer morning. The exhaust and fumes were pungent. And our driver took us over a rickety old bridge, but to make the turn after the bridge he had to BACK UP THE BUS! back onto the bridge to get us turned in the right direction! Talk about freaky.

We made it to our destination without incident and began our journey down the river. The river rafting company had their photographer perched at the most exciting point along the river so he could capture the moment perfectly. Let me narrate the photos for you...

Yeah, we're rafting, we're rafting...

Uhhh... here comes a big dip...


Ahhh! That's cold water!

*Nervous laughter*

We made it - yes! And oh, that is still cold!

This was the 2nd to last big rapid. There was still one more to go after the big photo shoot and Matt was determined to get it all on film. He had his Flip camera with waterproof casing all prepped and ready to go. He started filming just as we went over the top of the rapid, we hit a huge bump, his oar snapped in half, the splintered end of the oar rammed into our river guide's shin (so sorry Ryan!), and his camera shut off right before it caught any of the last of our river rafting experience. Bummer! The size of that last rapid was a quite unexpected! It was heart pumping and thrilling to say the least.

We paddled to shore and our guide hit the first aid station quickly to bandage up his fresh wound. Then he hit the BBQ to grill up our hamburgers for lunch! What a guy!

It was a great run. Really, it was. We had so much fun being there together as friends and doing something completely different than our usual out to dinner & ice cream dates. And the water really wasn't that cold. I'm just a wimp. Surprise, surprise, I know.

Our Minnicks have moved away since we took this trip. We miss them like crazy. Especially when we look at pictures and see how much fun we all had together. But let's not get too weepy. We will have more fun times together in the future! But, maybe next time there's a river rafting trip we'll just send the husbands. Guys only trip. I like the sound of that.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

You, Time-Out!

Thank you to Groupon for the excellent deal on tickets for our entire family to attend a basketball game! The kids were all excited to dress in the college colors and were feeling much school pride as we entered the arena.

The crowds have been VERY sparse at our local college basketball games... Which is fine by us because those sparse crowds worked to our advantage in several ways. The tix came at a great price, we did not loose a child in the crowd this time :/ ,and we got to meet Time-Out!

Time-Out was making his way through the crowd, talking to all the kids and taking pictures along the way. He spotted our eager children and came right over to them! What a sport! I was shocked when Time-Out leaned over to pick up Jackson and he jumped right into his arms. The kids were all in heaven. They've never had the chance to meet him up close. What a great night.

Oh, and we won the game too. That was just a bonus. Go Dogs.

Monday, February 7, 2011

kids say the darndest things

The scene: we are doing Lizzie's hair in my bathroom, as we do every morning.

Lizzie: Mom, I want to be one of those girls on that show.

Me: What show?

Lizzie: You know, the one where they sew the dresses...

Me: Oh, you mean Project Runway?

Lizzie: Yeah, Project Runway.

Me: You want to be one of the people that sew the clothes? or one of the girls that wears the clothes?

Lizzie: One of the girls that wears the clothes.

Me: Ok, but you're not old enough yet. You have to be a lot older to be a model. AND it's in New York; that's really far away! You can't move away from me yet! You have to stay here and be my Lizzie girl.

Lizzie: That's ok. I'll just wait until I'm married and then I'll go.

Mom: Sounds like a good plan to me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Oh what do you do in the WINTER-time?"

"When all the world is cold?
Do you play in the snow?
Or drink hot cocoa?
Or watch as the storm goes by???

Is that what we do?"


We play with our Christmas presents!!

For Christmas this year, we decided to get back to basics. The kids each got a 300 count box of Citi-Blocks. 300 x 4 = 1200 Citi-Blocks. Yes, they are just regular ol' blocks. All the same size. Good ol' wooden blocks. Because no matter what your age - blocks are fun! Right?! Well, that was what we learned last summer in the Children's Museum on our San Diego trip. The kids played with those blocks for hours! And when Costco had them on sale for less than $10 a box - we knew we had to do it.

(And speaking of "back to basics"... the boys also got a 1000 count bin of Legos. EACH. I know, crazy. But totally worth it because they're actually playing with their toys - 2 months after Christmas!)

So, fast forward to the days after Christmas... and what do we find? The camera has been hi-jacked by the kids and several pictures taken of their masterpieces! It was fun to watch their process...

His expression says it all, "Check it out, it's almost as tall as me."

"Let me get out a chair so I can make this tower taller."

The ladder came out next and the competition began.

Then they took a few steps back...

That minor setback didn't deter their determination. Another Bigger, BETTER, tower was quickly constructed.

And finally the pi├Ęces de r├ęsistance was complete. That thing was probably 11 feet tall!!

And with one fail swoop... the madness was over.

Oh, what do YOU do in the winter-time?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lizzie turns 7!

Lizzie turned 7 years old in January. She had our traditional week-long birthday celebration and felt like a rock star princess VIP all week!

Lizzie started celebrating even before her official birthday celebrations began. Gramma Elizabeth took Lizzie shopping (to pick out her own presents!) and out to lunch at the Red Robin. Lizzie had such a great time hanging out with her Gramma and auntie Mica. It was all that girl time and time spent together that made it so fun for Lizzie.

She woke to a pile of presents, donuts, and a family birthday party to start her birthday off right!

One of our family traditions is to measure the birthday kid on the morning of their birthday (you are always tallest in the morning, right?) Here's Lizzie's height on the morn of her 7th year.

Her class was treated to individually wrapped birthday brownies (note fancy new birthday dress and the blue bag full of goodies)

Lizzie ordered up a luxurious Spa Party for her and her girl cousins

Birthday lunch with Mom and Dad at the Dog House Grill! She had her choice of any restaurant she wanted and she totally chose the best eatery in town!!

She took 2 friends for a "girls nite out" shopping trip

And FYI there was NO cake this year. She didn't want it! Instead, she chose:

birthday breakfast: donuts
girls nite out: smoothies
class treats: brownies
spa party: rainbow sherbet with pirouette cookies
family party: cookies with vanilla ice cream (her favorite!)

Here are some things we love about you at 7 years:
that you know what you want (Squinkies and no cake)
♥ you are so much fun to be with
♥ you are a great friend & have the talent of making friends easily
your love of school
you are confident about yourself
your super positive always happy good attitude
the way you memorize songs so quickly
♥ your crazy dance moves and excellent rhythm
♥ your love of crafts

Happy Birthday to our Lizzie girl, Bo Biz, Lizzie bo Bizzie!! We love celebrating you and your birthday!!