31 May 2012

Science Project

Approximately halfway through the school year Lilys science teacher sent home a paper asking if any of the students would be interested in having some of their work published in a science book. She was going to gather all the work from the kidlets and send it off to be published. The work they were to do was outlined in the letter.

Lily loves science and wanted to participate. The first project was sent home when she was sick so she sat with me at the computer and we researched meteorology until 10pm one night. Each month another section was assigned and she would research it write her paper and hand it in. Finally she had to choose her favourite topic out of all of the ones she did, draw a diagram to accompany it and give it to Ms Brown for final approval. I sent in the money to pay for the book and frankly I would sporadically remember it but other than that it never entered my head.

Today she came out of school beaming with a book clutched under her arm. The teacher really put alot of work into this book and it's really a great memory for the students to have. The dedication that Ms. Brown wrote to the students and other 4th grade teachers actually made me cry it was so moving. What an incredible teacher. (this isn't the one that just slapped the kids with the massive book project)

When I Become A Scientist

Lilys diagram that explains her work
The question she chose to answer
Her full answer

30 May 2012

Things beginning with P

Seeing the pelican on the pier in Naples get hooked by the fisherman and then un-hooked and released gave us a wonderful idea for when we returned home and had a free day.

 When Jacob was just a nipper growing up his father owned a yacht club  which coincidentally was called Pelican Harbour Yacht Club. Where the yacht club once stood is now a seabird station and a rescue centre for injured birds, mainly pelicans, aptly named Pelican Harbor. On Monday afternoon we drove the girls to North Miami and took them there. For years injured pelicans have naturally taken themselves there for help. It relies one hundred percent on donations and is an awesome organisation.

We were able to wander around and see various birds in various states of convalescing. Even after the birds are well and are released from the massive cages many of them never leave they stay in the area and in some cases they stay right there and take up residence. Some are never able to leave again as their injuries leave them maimed for life and they won't survive in the wild again so Pelican Harbour has a few permanent residents.

Most of the injuries are caused by fishing hooks and one of the doctors showed the girls some of the hooks that they have removed from the birds and then showed them some x-rays showing fishing hooks inside the birds. It's so sad. The other big injury is to their pouches, again usually by hooks. BAD FISHERMEN! (that's for my dad and cousin Richie Rich).

We only stayed a little while cos it was, in Rosie's words, "a bit stinky" but the girls got to see how important it is to be responsible with your garbage and fishing tackle and how when you aren't it impacts our wildlife in unimaginable ways. We were able to see how, with a little TLC, all these birds can recuperate from the wounds and be released back into nature and they were able to donate some money to help this programme keep going and stop the brown pelican from ever going extinct again. All these birds are free to leave, all once again healthy, but they choose to stay
This guy looks a little bashful
This one was trying to look small and discrete
I saw this guy as we walked back to the car, I think he was just visiting but I am not sure he may have been a former patient.
Once we left here we plugged "parks" into the GPS and headed to one that it chose. The girls loved it, I just hope we remember which one it was. Lily posing for a picture. I think these days are coming to an end
Hanging about
On top of the world
RoRo in a rocketship
It took Ro ages to walk across this balance beam. Her balance is rubbish, i couldn't stop laughing at how bad she was at it. Practice needed for sure.
Another fun day.

29 May 2012

We escaped for the day

I spent most of Saturday cracking the whip on Lily, figuratively only, so don't get in a panic, so that she would finish her school project. We had initially planned to head over to the West Coast for the weekend but knew this wasn't going to happen as the weekend approached but the end of the project still loomed in the distance. I realised by Friday evening that she could easily finish it up on Saturday if she really knuckled down so I dangled the proverbial carrot in front of her nose and told her we would do something wonderful to celebrate once she was done because she deserved it. By late Saturday afternoon the last embellishment was in place and the lid put back on the glue pot. She was done.

After the girls went to bed I started packing the bags for a day trip over to the West Coast so that once everyone was up we could jump in the car and go. I hadn't told them of my plans because I really wanted them to sleep well and not wake up at some ridiculous hour because they were excited. We all slept quite late but were still on the road by 10.30am.

We love Naples, really love it. The drive over was smooth and we didn't stop at all. I have a new routine for longish trips; I pack a cooler and place it in the back with the girls and let them help themselves to what they want when they want it. We turned the DVD players on, ( we never let them have those) and we hit the gas. We didn't stop until we pulled into the parking lot at the beach.

There was a massive Hip-Hop festival in Miami this weekend on SoBe so our beaches were out of commission. Once we arrived on the beach in Naples it appeared that everyone from Miami had had the same idea as us. I have never seen so many people on the beach there yet it still didn't compare to here. Rosie, so happy to be at the beach
Lil, looking way older than 9! Gulp. Dang Brazilian friends and their gifts of bikinis!
My big girl
Surfer girl
This Pelican was caught by a fisherman on the pier. He,along with a group of men reeled him in and then caught him in a massive net. They held him down while they took the hook out and freed him of all the line. IT was quite disturbing to watch but refreshing to see people do the right thing. I'm sure over here they would have just cut the line and let him go.
Daddio, chilling
There goes that surfer girl again
Sisters on the pier watching the dolphin. Rosie was absolutely amazed by them. She thought they were whales.
A great place for dinner
dinner time
We had such a great day. I showered the girls off at the beach which made Lily chant we are not Hobo's. I then took them into the changing rooms and got them dressed for dinner. I really do take being organised to a whole new level even the hubs is shocked and he has been around for nearly 27 years! We walked around for a while until we saw our favourite ice cream shop and then we ate dessert. By the time we headed back it was late. Rosie won't sleep in the car at night because she finds it scary.I will admit that the Tamiami Trail isn't the nicest road to drive especially at night it is also an incredibly dangerous one. It must be dangerous if I only go 5 miles an hour above the posted speed limit! Lily slept nearly the whole way home! Bring on the summer vacation cos I can't wait to go back. My favourite Hotel over there has a roof top pool and the kidlets love it.

28 May 2012

Wandering the Outback

This is Lily's story that she had to write for her project. I think it is is really good for a nine year old child who detests writing. Give her a math problem to solve and she is in hog heaven. There are a lot of blank spaces in it as she had to illustrate it and left herself room to do so when she typed it up. I've posted photos of the finished book at the end of this post. Oh, you aren't expected to read it I just wanted a record of it here.

 Dear pen pals.
How are my two fave Jersey girls doing? Anyway, Spring Break is finally here! I can’t wait! Wait for what you ask? An awesome guided tour to koala and kangaroo land... AUSTRALIA!!! And, you are coming. Don’t worry, I’ve got everything under control. (This time I really mean it! LOL) How did you’re fabulous pen pal from London manage this you ask? For me to know and you to wonder!
 P.S. Dad’s got airplane arrangements done.

Directions for a fab week below:
1) Beg your dad to come (Friday)
 2) Go on a shopping spree (remember it’s hot in Oz)
 3) Go to Gate B at the airport (Saturday, 9 AM)
4) As soon as you land 6 AM, (now Sunday ), follow my Dad to Gate D, and see me, for a connecting flight to Oz.
5) Chillax in the sun and have a great time
TTFN, Karen + Carmen’s most awesome friend,
 Maisie Burton
 Can’t wait until Sunday, I think fidgeting in my bed, tired but just too excited to get to sleep. Just one more day and I see my best mates Karen & Carmen. Yawn. Wait a sec. Let me back up. Did I tell you who Karen and Carmen are? Of course not, forgetful me! Karen and Carmen Johnson are identical twins. My half-way-around-the-world best mates, my age, eleven. Also my pen pals. They both have the same wavy, shiny, brunette hair, sparkling emerald eyes, and are both skinny and slender. You can’t tell them apart by their looks, but their personalities are like night and day. Karen is a worrier (and great at her job as being one) while Carmen is an adventurer. Me, I’m a dull brownish-blond, blue eyes, and the smallest in my class. I even the twins out. Now where was I? Oh yeah, just can’t wait- Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

 Rrrrring! “That foolish alarm clock.” I mutter drowsily. In literally a second I snap out of this god-awful grumpy mood. I whip my head back around towards my alarm clock, which read 6:00 in robotic numbers. I gape. I over slept! GAH!!! In an instant I rush to my closet, slip on some comfy clothes, brush my teeth, grab my excessively tightly stuffed baggage, and fly down the stairs. I run to the lounge to find Mum sipping tea oblivious to the time. “What’s wrong, Pet?” Mum asks innocently. “The time!!!” I reply dragging her out the door. “ Oh deary me!” She commented. Now it was her dragging me to her small Peugeot. In the car about the only conversation is “Hurry up please!” & “I am! I am!” & “I’m going to miss my plane!” After a lot of confusion, we made it. “Finally, Gate D.” We both sigh in relief. Fortunately for us, there was a mishap and all flights got delayed. We were back on schedule! “That was a close call! Wasn’t it,

 dear?” “Yes it was, Mum.” I tried to say but after running almost the whole of London Heathrow, it ended up like: “Yes (breath) it (breath) was (breath) Mum.” All of a sudden a lady at the front desk piped up, “All passengers boarding flight 56 from London, England to Brisbane, Australia should all be at Gate D. Sorry for the delay. We will begin boarding shortly.” “Love you, Mum. I’ll keep you updated.” I told her and gave her a huge bear hug. “Be good, you.” She said, tears in her eyes. Then I spotted the twins and sprinted over to them.

 “I was worried, I thought you’d miss it.” Karen said. “You always worry.” Carmen taunted. “Oh my gosh guys, you haven’t changed one bit. Always bickering!” I teased. “I missed you so much! I-” The same woman interrupted our reunion with, “Attention passengers we will begin boarding.” So I skipped over to dad and told him, “Thanks for going through with all this, especially for me. Love you.” I gave him a huge hug. As soon as I bounded back to the twins a different lady with a microphone called, “...Maisie Burton, Karen Johnson, Carmen Johnson...” Well, that was all we needed to hear to run up to the front desk. “Present!” We said simultaneously. As a flight attendant handed us our boarding passes I looked down and realized my dad had done us a huge favor. As I turned around to yell thank you, I was ushered into the bridge leading to the airplane. I just about managed to mouth ‘thanks!’


 I decided not to tell Karen or Carmen so when the flight attendant told us to go to first class instead of coach they had no other choice but to go to first. Then when they nervously sat down I told them my Dad bought us first


 class tickets. They agreed that, as they put it “they were traveling in style.” After that we resumed our conversation that was interrupted, then dozed off.
 “Whoa! What was that!?” Carmen exclaimed as she lurched sideways in her seat to land on us. “Caarmeen. Are you serious, you just woke us up.” Karen moaned. “Passengers, please stay seated. We are going through some serious turbulence. Thank you for your cooperation.” Our pilot said. “Whatever, we needed to get up soon, anyway. Oh look,” I pointed, “It’s the food cart, good thing. I’m starved.” “Ugh, airplane food. Hope I don’t get sick.” Karen announced as if the world needed to know. “Lighten up, sis. C’mon.” After an episode of total horror, disgust, and painful complaining Karen ate to her fill. (Which consists of 2 mouthfuls.)

 After that we pretty much relaxed, played video games on our personal players, and read magazines. After a few minutes it got really boring so I got the idea to check our flight path so far. Turned out we were already flying over Australia and only had half an hour to kill. “Hey guys, we only have 30 more minutes until we land!” Carmen replied,


 “Just like they say; Time flies when you’re traveling in style!” We all laughed. When we finally got hold of ourselves, Karen joked, “Now I get it! No wonder Mom gets mad at her for her English grades!” We all had nothing better to do, so we joked around for the remaining, 15 minutes now, of our flight.

 “Passengers please stay seated until the seatbelt sign is turned off.” Ping! “Thank you for flying with us. Have a great day!” “Don’t you just love how in first class there are no crowded isles. Plus, your toes never get run over by the suitcases.” Carmen said in her own world. “No, we hate it.” Karen said with sarcasm.

After what seemed like forever, we finally came to the arrivals and departures. So much waiting and so many lines, if you don’t mind I think I’ll skip this boring part.

 “Finally, some shops around here! Ooh-la-la! My favorite, Duty Free, gotta stop there. I need a souvenir, too...” Yes, I do sadly admit I am a shopaholic. Wait, a sec am I dreaming or do I really see one of the best mini-shops


 around... “Hurry up Maisie! We’re gonna miss our bus!” “Just a sec! Let me window shop!”

 “I’m sooo tired!” I bawled. “Good thing because we need to rest up if we wanna tackle the outback tomorrow.” Karen told us. “Lets get to bed.” I yawned. We all headed back to our own rooms calling out goodnights. As I recall I probably slept undisturbed for a whole twelve hours. “Get up, get up!” Karen urged. “What? W- What happened?” I asked tired. Did I mention I’m not a morning person? Well, if I did tell you then you’d probably already figured out that being screamed at to “Get up, we’re late” isn’t exactly my cup of tea. As soon as my brain got the message that I needed to hurry I felt like yesterdays day of stress was nothing and that it was happening all over again. We all hustled and prepared for our day in the heat. Me with my small handbag which had “Keep Calm And Drink Tea” embroidered into it and the twins with their so called “small” purses were ready to go. ( I myself wouldn’t find that luggage small on any stretch of the imagination. I could never imagine lugging those things with me!)


 “Hey, wait up Maisie!” The twins yelled, weighed down by their “small” purses. I taunted them with my light-weight handbag and recited, “Hurry up twins! We’re gonna miss our bus!” In a sing-songy voice. Freshly up and awake now I skipped onto the bus while the twins barely made it on. It was a good 20 minutes to our destination so I decided to keep Mum updated, like I told her I would, on a post card I picked up at a shop called Souvenir Shop. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Anyways this is what my postcard looked like:

 Dear Mum & Dad,

( I cut this bit out as I couldn't make the post card line up as the HTML would not allow me to write it the way she had it)

 Immediately after I capped my ball-point pen the bus driver startled me with, “I believe this is your stop, mate. Enjoy it.” I looked round the bus and saw that I was the only person left. As I trotted off the steps, Carmen greeted me with laughing and pointing while Karen said she thought I would forget to get off. Sometimes I think Karen dies her hair brown and is a true blond. She worries, but then doesn’t have the common sense to warn you. When I told the twins this, being my friend and all Karen realized we were laughing with her, not at her and joined in on the joke. Okay, let’s get back to the present. So, our tour guide is pale skinned, olive green eyes, and is a radiant blond. Our Russian tour guide starts to give out brochures and leads us to a place where you can see a wide range of the outback. She starts to speak about something that sounded like ‘Dooz yous sees ow big zee outback is? We need to stay in za group zo vee don’t get lost. Ezpecially not just vandering here and there.’ Of course none of us could understand that so we didn’t get the warning. She said something else that was complete and utter hogwash. She finally realized we didn’t understand so she motioned for us to follow her. We all started toward a small shack that looked pretty run down. Right above the doorframe a sign that looked like it could have fallen down at any moment read: Bicycle Renting in big, blood red letters. Another smaller sign hung next to the door which said: Please Donate Bikes. Condition doesn’t


matter. Our guide leads us in and introduces herself.

 She points to herself and says slowly, “ I am your tour guide. Vy name iz Olga. You can rent a bike here.” As I glanced at the sign I sighed, “Great. Always wanted to ride a secondhand bike.” Only the twins heard me and giggled. We decided that biking would be less exhausting so I chose a fairly new bike with gears. It was a pale green one with Schwinn scrawled all over it meant to look like graffiti. Karen got a flowery one and if you back pedal it brakes, just in case. Both Karen and Carmen got bikes with a fairly big basket behind the seat for their heavy handbags. As we wheeled the bikes to the counter an Aboriginal man popped up and started talking and wouldn’t stop. It went something like this: “Helloladies,whatanicedayit isthatyou’vecometotheAustralianOutback.I’dbe delightedtobeyourcashier.Greatchoice...” It kept on going on like this but you get the point. After this long one-man conversation the man concluded that we had chosen very nice bikes and that our bike rentals cost us 12 Australian dollars. Four dollars per person he explained. We kind of walked away from him mid-sentence to which he was not offended and yelled, “Good on ya, Mate! ‘Ave a g-”

 Outside of the straw hut we had a few minutes for the people who rented bikes to adjust the seats, handles, etc. Olga herself rented a bike, so when the tour began the people who were to cheap to rent a bike were in


 sorry shape and were dragging behind. They all regretted that mistake quickly. We kept on having to stop for the slowpokes. B-O-R-I-N-G!

 After pedaling (and stopping) for about 5 minutes we stopped at a checkpoint to learn about it and look at an “interesting” rock formation. Well, we thought that her accent was some sort of eleven-year-old repellant so we wandered off a little. All of a sudden, “Cool! Guys c’mon check this out. Look look look!” We all followed Carmen to where she parked her bike. When we got there we found Carmen staring intensely at a huge iguana. It was at least 3½ feet long! Big, fat,


 ugly, bumpy, & weird it was! We stood gazing at that monster for a few minutes. Surprisingly, Karen didn’t even say something like, “Watch out for its tail! They’re dangerous!” That gives you the idea of how wowed we were. Finally I snapped out of the trance, I realized we had probably lost track of time so I turned toward the twins and said, “Let’s head back to the group. I think-” That was as far as I got. As we all looked in every direction we didn’t see a trace of our group. After several minutes we realized, we were stranded in the middle of the Outback. Karen was already freaking out. Pacing, talking to herself, and another of her million nervous habits. Me, trying not to worry failed, badly. I started to hyperventilate. As I said, Carmen, fortunately in this scenario at least, is the total opposite of Karen. So, that means Carmen is an expert under pressure. She calmed us both down expertly and mentioned that we could just follow our bike tracks back. “But, there is a problem or two in your plan. Number one, our tracks all criss-crossed. Number two, the wind blew all the sand over them so you can barely see them. Number three, if we just guess where the tracks are, we could possibly travel the wrong way.” Karen pointed out logically. After that we racked our brains for a few more minutes. When finally concluded we had nothing we realized it was only a few hours ‘till dark so we set up camp by where the iguana was. There were three small shrubs which formed a triangle about two feet away from                                                

each other. They’re about 3 ft. long. We chose these to partially serve as wind breakers. I pointed out it was actually a good thing that the twins stuffed their handbags to the rim. Then I said, “Hey, we can use the things in our handbags to get someone to help us! Lets get our rest first.” Since we were all so tired no one argued with that. We used our cardigans for blankets. (So that you don’t think we’re pure crazy I’m here to tell you why we have sweaters in the 90 degree Outback. We have our cardies because we thought the tour might be so long that it would get cold. P.S. If you thought that was a totally stupid idea, it was Karen’s idea not mine. P.P.S. If you thought it was a totally awesome idea it was 100% my idea!)


 “What’s the time?” I mumbled reaching for my alarm clock. When it finally occurred to me that it simply wasn’t there I opened my eyes and had a panic attack for a moment. I screamed for a nanosecond and kicked of the jacket. The scream wasn’t very loud, but loud enough to wake up a startled Karen. As I already mentioned, Karen and Carmen are like day and night. Karen’s such a light sleeper while it takes 5 minutes to wake up Carmen. As we shook Carmen up we wondered how we could get help. Carmen finally woke up and asked, “Why’d you wake me up Dad? It’s not time for school yet.” When she didn’t get a reply and


 was answered with a fit of giggles she opened her eyes. At first she was blinded by the Sun’s bright rays reflecting off of Karen’s bike reflectors. As soon as we all truly woke up we started brainstorming. I guess the saying, ‘you never know what you’re capable of doing unless you have to do it,’ is true because we were getting some pretty good ideas. First we made a mental checklist. It was what on average you needed to do to get help and survive. If you had to draw it out it would look like this:
 ❑Make a HELP or S.O.S. thingamajig
❑ Get water ❑ Get food
 ❑ Make a proper shelter
❑ Keep focused
 ❑ Attempt to make fire
 ❑ Get help
❑ Most importantly: STAY ALIVE

 After all of that exhausting thinking I realized, We couldn’t remember all of that stuff! We need to write it down! Awwwww. My nice, comforting postcard to my Mum would be turned into some sort of survival checklist and if we didn’t ace it we’d be dead! That’d be a nice thought for my now worried-sick mother! Right after my depressing thoughts Karen chimed in, “Hey, but we can’t remember all of that! We need to write it down!” Reluctantly I handed over my only pen and postcard. Karen plopped her behind on a nearby


 rock and started to copy down our checklist in her swirly-whirly handwriting she appointed us to start on, ❐Make a proper shelter. We kept our destination for three main reasons: 1) It’s a great windbreaker. 2) Any ground animal can’t clearly see us because of the bushes. 3) It’s spacious and roomy. So Carmen and I unwillingly started to improve it. “Carmen, look! Over there. I think that’s a rain cloud. It just gave me the idea to build a canopy on the top to give us some protection. Maybe just some leaves at the bottom so that sand will stick to the leaves and not us. What do you say?” “I say great idea but what can we use to build it?” “We’ll figure it out on the way. Anyway, lets go get it approved by Karen.”

 We ran over to Karen jostling each other all the way and as we got there we saw Karen mesmerized by something behind her so we turned in that direction. Sure enough, about 50 yards out, there was a mother kangaroo with 2 joeys in her pouch. The kangaroo finally scampered off and we gained Karen’s attention. She approved our idea and got off of her lazy bum. “Okay. Karen you,” I pointed at her, moving my index finger to some other bushes, “collect leaves for the ground. Carmen, you’re with me to figure out the canopy. Let’s get to work!” Carmen headed toward camp and thought of what we could use for a canopy. After about 2 minutes Carmen came up with, “I was


thinking we could find 3 long, flexible sticks and cross them over themselves and stick some wide leaves in between them. Kind of like a dome.” “Let’s start!” We went to some wiry trees and took our needed 3 branches. We checked the flexibility then carefully twisted it off. When we got back Karen was just arriving. “Hey Maisie, Carmen how’s it going?” “Just splintering through. Literally.” I answered. We all laughed. “C’mon. Karen start matting the floor with leaves please.” I had grunts as a reply. After about an hour of hard work we finally got to do this:

 ☑Make a proper shelter

 “I’m so tired.” Karen told us. “Okay then let’s get to sleep.” Carmen said annoyed. We all crawled in our what we now can call a tent and relaxed. All of a sudden, one second we’re awake, the next we’re out cold.

 “Wake up! The sun is shining time to get up!” Carmen pounced on us. “Well, you are nice and jolly aren’t you today?” I asked surprised but glad. “Yeah I’m determined to get rescued within a week. Anyway, before we do anything come outside. Look! I collected the rain water. Yesterday I scattered the leaves everywhere to let water collect in them. What you called a mess! Ha! Also our canopy and flooring worked! I’m hungry.” She said very peppy. “Let’s get


 food.” So off we went. “Follow me.” Carmen led Karen and I to the place where we found our twigs. “I’m up for fish.” Carmen said almost practically telling us I have a secret! And you’ll find out soon enough! Karen & I nervously exchanged glances. She brought us to a particular tree where she had pre-laid out three branches complete with three sharp stones side by side. She picked up one set and motioned for us to do so, too. We sat down and she taught us how to strip the wood off so the end was really sharp. All the while I was thinking, When the heck did you wake up. I got the guts to ask her and she just hummed a little. When she said our spears (spears not twigs now. HELP! Mad man on the loose) were sharp enough she brought us to a watering hole. Luckily no crocs in this one. She sat on a dry rock and started poking at what seemed like water. We sat down too and started poking at the water, which was actually small fish. They were feeding on some algae on the side of the rock we were sitting on. Easy enough because the fish didn’t have the brains to simply swim away from a big pointy thing. It wasn’t that easy though so we focused on one fish and within 3 minutes caught 2. So we tried getting one more. One for each of us. We had nothing better to do.

 After getting our third fish we headed back to our tent and made a fire using Karen’s bad breath. S-T-I-N-K-Y!!! We used her emergency lighter and purified our


water and fried our guppies. After having a satisfying meal, Carmen got out of her I’m-psycho-for-food-cuz-I-haven’t-eaten-for-2-days-and-that-doesn’t-suit-me mood I asked her again, “When did you wake up?” She answered, “I think the break of dawn. Whatever, let’s make a help sign and check off our dumb list.”

 ☑Get water
 ☑Get food
 ☑Keep focused
 ☑Attempt to make fire

 “You mean the list that could save our lives?” I asked, smirking. “Yeah, sure that one. Hey, Karen, do you still have that wristwatch? If you do what time is it?” “Yes, and 8 A.M.” Karen replied. “Okay, Karen. It’s you and me to brainstorm for a little while on making the help signal. Carmen has to get a little rest.” I directed. “Bu-” “Karen!” “Coming.”

 “Let me get this straight: We have to find a place that’s not too crowded and that is big enough to write help with some kind of materials that we still need to figure out what they are?” Karen questioned. “Whatever. You’re the smart one here.” I said. “Very helpful. So. We’ll start by questing for material to use. First, lets think of something that’ll stay in place and bring attention to itself. After we’ve got an idea of that


 we’ll call Carmen over to start constructing it.”
“Great plan, but, what is that material? I’ll search over here you can search over there.”

                                               Half an Hour Later:

 Me more awake now, “Karen! Go wake Carmen and tell her get herself over her! ASAP! Tell her I have good news!”

 “What’s so good?!?” Carmen asked, all pumped up. “Follow me.” I ran to a huge pile of wood. It looked like a tree had fallen down and only gigantic chunks of the trunk were left over. When the twins finally caught up to me they didn’t exactly have the reaction I was hoping for. Instead: “Maisie, I know, it’s great. Just one question,” She turned to Karen as if to say Is this girl loopy or something? So Karen broke in, “What the heck is so great about some pile of logs? I thought you meant there were other humans with help or something.” I told them that we could use these to make a jumbo help sign and have leftovers for like a bonfire to attract attention. Finally they caught on and said I was a genius. We started moving them to camp. It was exhausting. Long story short, it took us about 3 hours to move all the wood we needed. Then an additional 4 hours to build it. The log moving was easier though. Just rolling. It was the bonfire that was a pain in the neck but it came out awesome!


We needed extra twigs and rocks to outline the bonfire. It was 4 when everything was finished so we decided to go fishing. This time when we went fishing we were a little less tired and grumpy so we ended up with 8 fish which led to fuller stomachs. Carmen caught 4 and Karen and I caught 2 each. We two are pretty pathetic don’t you think? No, don’t answer that. After fishing we went to bed hopeful that in the night the bonfire would scream out to someone, anyone, that three eleven-year olds were stranded.


We all woke up at about 7. We were all so determined that someone had surely seen us. When we went down to the lake for a light breakfast Karen told us about her dream last night. If I had to suffer listening to it you will too. Here it is, word for word:

 “Last night I had the most awesomest dream about getting rescued. It wa-”

 See, wasn’t it horrible! Yes, I know it was a little short. And yes, I do think that it was a little mean for me to cut her off. But, sometimes when she says she has a “dream” it turns out to be a nightmare and it haunts you so you have to stop her. So I didn’t want to hear any of it and didn’t have to. I already heard enough of bad grammar. Awesomest. Gives me the


chills! We ate sushi once again, and that’s when Karen started getting delusional. She started walking toward her bike and started riding it in circles around the bonfire oblivious to anything and everything. “Um, er, what are you doing?” I asked concerned. “I’m riding my very own pony named Sparkles. You want a turn?” “No thank you.” I answered, this time even more concerned. “Carmen, I know I’m her best friend and all and I should know, but, is this normal?!?” I said so that only Carmen could hear. Carmen shook her head a shaky no. Karen tried thrusting her “pony” at me. And before you could say, “Jack Robinson” a jet landed on our shelter and crushed it to smithereens. Before I realized it I started hugging the pilot’s left leg and said, “Save me! I’m stranded!” I looked up and couldn’t believe my eyes. Johnny Depp was standing over me and told me, “I think a handshake makes a better introduction than hugging my pilot’s left leg.” I stood up, dusted myself off, and shook hands with a movie star! I looked around and Carmen looked like the only sensible one. Karen was still riding her “pony” and was now singing “La de dah la de dah” Carmen explained about our scenario maturely and asked if maybe he could fly us back to London in his jet. He surprisingly agreed and let us board his private jet. Help me I’m gonna faint! When we were in the air he explained to us why he was in Oz. I’m sitting next to Johnny Depp! OMG!!!


He started off, “Well, I’m out here to make an adventure movie. It’s supposed to be a secret. Anyway, I bet you’re wondering why we landed. First of all, that was a great help signal and a really good bonfire, too. We were about fifteen hundred feet up directly above you when we saw a glow, a fire it seemed like. So we dropped elevation a little and saw a help signal so we decided to land. Now I do believe it is your turn to explain to us why you were there. So once again Carmen explained for us. When she had finished I had finally gotten Karen out of her delusion and told her what had happened. Now, we were both blushing and were both secretly hope Johnny Depp would put that aside. But, first impressions are hard to get rid of. Luckily, he had a great sense of humor and said we all make mistakes.

 Did you know it only takes 5 hours in a jet to go from Oz to London? Well, it does. Isn’t it incredibly fast? Well, we all talked our heads off for about 4 hours of the flight and now we’re coming in for a landing. Good thing we forgot to unpack our purses. We still have our passports.:( It’s time to get off the private jet. At least I have a pic of him and me and boy do I have a story to tell. “Um, Mr. Depp, I don’t want to sound pushy but may I please have your autograph?” I asked hopeful. Sure enough he said yes so I gave him a scrap of paper. I can’t believe it! He actually signed it! So, I survived the Outback and got saved by Johnny Depp!


 I looked at my autograph and still couldn’t believe it.

 I ran over to the twins and instructed them to stay close and follow me. I led them out of the building and on the curb crowded with taxis.

 I searched for a vacant taxi and we all hopped in. “5 Marmion Street Clapham, please.” This time I did the talking. “All right then. It’s seventy pence per mile.” Oh great. Empty your purses. I thought. Home is about 50 miles from here.

 “We’re almost at your destination, ladies. Just a few more minutes. 2 to be precise.” “Thank you very much, sir.”

 “Here we are. That would be £42.00 exact.” I almost fainted, while sitting down! “60 miles, it was.” “Th-thank you.” I managed. I rummaged through my handbag and found 20 pounds and lot of twigs? We all looked through our handbags and in total found forty-two pounds and one pence. So much for a tip. We


handed over the money and our taxi driver counted and concluded we gave him an extra pence. So we mumbled it was his tip, to low for him to hear. We quickly scampered to the door and got ready for a punishment. Both my parents opened the door and I squeezed my eyes shut, not ready to be yelled at. Instead, I was greeted by a group hug and we were all silently pushed into the household. It felt so unfamiliar. When we were in, we all cried and exchanged our stories. 

Our parents were so worried, they called on a search party! We told them everything. Then I showed them my autograph, bragging. They gasped at everything and kept repeating, “That’s so dangerous, though!” At the end my mum sarcastically shrugged, “So much for the ‘be good, you!’ That didn’t work!” We all laughed and de-stressed. Coming home never felt so good. The End


The other 3 pages were the publishers page, dedication page and copy of the front cover and name etc. It didn't copy exactly how she  had it typed as she used many different fonts etc etc. I also only copied the text not the illustrations.

 She did the whole thing solo. I was not allowed to help at all. The finished book looked like this: Front cover complete with Caldecott Winners medal
Back cover: New York Times review
Inside back sleeve
on of the 28 pages.
One of her illustrations

27 May 2012

A beautiful sight

There are few things in this world that can make me hear the sound of angels singing as easily as a pair of beautiful new shoes. (shallow? yes indeed) But the most beautiful sight of all which heralded the most beautiful angelic chorus was this sight:
My little girl in a pair of pretty sandals.

I'm not sure if I have mentioned much here about Rosies feet and our quest for shoes for her on 3 different continents or not. Rosie has extremely narrow heels. They aren't much bigger than a mans finger which means every pair of shoes just slips right up and down as she walks. Please don't suggest a brand of shoes because as I have mentioned we have tried 3 different continents in our quest for pretty shoes but they have all failed us miserably. Child has been forced into a life of of Crocs and Keds with one pair of Nikes thrown in for good measure. None of the aforementioned shoes looks pretty with a summer dress, a Christmas dress or any stinking dress for that matter. As luck would have it Tom Boy doesn't much care for dresses but on the odd occasion where Mama says they are mandatory Crocs look horrendous with them.

When I went to get her school shoes sneakers the lady in the shop tried everything to get her in a pair of Sperry's and told me she would special order some "skinny" sandals for her and let me know when they came in. They came in a couple of weeks ago. We went on Saturday and she had 3 pairs to chose from. Dear heavens, 3 pairs that all fit. I nearly passed out from shock. Rosie was all giddy and took about a nano second to choose this pair. She is so proud of her pretty sandals and keeps telling anyone that will listen that she has sandals. She wants to wear them all the time and even wore a dress for 2 days in a row for the full affect.

 Please excuse the sand on her tootsies and the really shabby pedicure in the photo but we have just got back from a fantastic day in Naples, AKA Nipples. but more on that tomorrow. I just needed to stare at those pretty little toes and share them with my family who will probably pass out from shock as they, well most of them, have joined us in our quest for the perfect fitting shoes in the past.

They are indeed a thing of beauty. Oh my I can hear the angels singing again.

Just in case any of you have the same problem these shoes are "Jumping Jacks"

26 May 2012

A long weekend with a twist

It's a long weekend here. This weekend officially marks the kick off of summer. We were looking forward to heading over to the West coast but we have had to cancel those plans and any other plans that we had due to a school project that has me seeing red. I'm trying to make lemonade but I'm miffed to say the least, very very miffed. As one child was diligently working away inside the house on her freaking project Rosie and I were outside in the garden and she was trying to master skipping, AKA jump rope. She really, really wants to learn Double Dutch but in order to even try it she is going to have to learn ordinary skipping first. Try not to laugh. If I wasn't in such a snotty mood over Lil's project I am sure I would have been on the floor in hysterics.
There is so much determination on that little face. There is equal amount of determination on the face of the one stuck indoors today as well. Her story is amazing by the way. I think I am going to cut and paste it to the blog when she is done so I can have a copy here. have a great weekend everyone.

25 May 2012

A day off for good behaviour

Rosie had a field trip today and I was able to go along as a chaperone. I always chaperoned Lily's trips when she was little so now it is Rosie's turn. Her last field trip was positively dull but this one more than made up for it. We went to Pinecrest Gardens, the former home of Parrot Jungle and the kidlets got to play in the splash park, feed the animals in the petting zoo, feed the koi, play in the playground and have a picnic lunch. Absolute 5 yr old nirvana.

Due to all the fabulous foliage even though it was hotter than THAT place here today it was quite pleasant there with all the shade and the little ponds everywhere the only problem was the mosquitos but we were prepared for them.

This was Rosies favourite place to be.
This is a fun place to hang out
all the kids kept jumping on these little spouts and flattening them
Two peas in a pod
Jake and Ro
Up the monkey bars we go
All the kids were besotted by the pot bellied pig apart from from Rosie who loved this goat.
Frankly I think the pig was in need of some spanx.
I have no idea what these are but they are so pretty. I do know they are a lily as they were growing in a pond
Feeding the fish.
judging by the size of them they get fed alot.
After a long morning in the sun I couldn't help wishing these Lobster claws were real. It was lunchtime and they would have made a much nicer lunch than my cucumber and creamcheese sandwich
Between the 2 girls I have gone on quite a few field trips and tis is my favourite so far, closely followed by a trip to see Mr. Al. That man is so so funny and a very talented childrens entertainer.

23 May 2012

Glad it's today

I have never been quite so happy to say good riddance to a day as I was to yesterday. It was going along swimmingly until I got to school to pick Rose up and the teacher said that she had been very quiet and subdued. I immediately noticed that she was wearing her cardie which I thought was a tad off since it was 84 degrees. I placed my hand on her head and bingo, it was hot. We came home and I took her temperature. One sick kidlet. She was out for the count pretty much for the rest of the afternoon.

I had no choice but to take her with me to pick up Lily but that involves very little. Park the car, walk to the gate, kiss Lily, walk back to the car, drive home. Yesterday I carried Rosie instead of letting her walk and when Lily came out of her gate she walked straight to me, all alone, and looked up at me with a tear running down her cheek. I froze. Lily crying? It never happens. I asked her what was wrong. She didn't speak, instead a tidal wave of tears streaked her face. I was ready to shake the answer out of her as I knew it had to be something terrible for her to cry and even worse for her to cry in front of other people. One of her body parts must be about to fall off.

Through her tears she told me she got her FCAT results and that she had done really badly. I asked her what she had done. She told me. Her score was a passing score but it wasnt the highest score you can get. Last year she got the highest scores possible. This year she didn't and she was so disappointed. She was heart broken. It took over 3 hours to console her. Before you judge my child I will ask you a question? Have you raised perfectionist child? If not don't judge her or me. It is murderous. It is the hardest thing in the world. This girl sets the highest standards for herself and accepts nothing less than perfect, ever. Usually the highest marks come easily, this time they didn't. I would love to know what happened, what went wrong but I will never know. What did she do wrong?

As cruel as this sounds, I for one am glad this happened to her. She needed this lesson. It hurt my heart also to see her sad, to listen to her question herself but she needs to know that you can pass something without a perfect score and that it is acceptable. She needs to know that sometimes life doesn't go the way you want it to go. That sometimes when you think the world is about to crash and burn around your feet, it won't and that tomorrow will come and that you will be able to face it. One thing that really hurt her was the fact that some of the kids in her class relished the fact that she didn't do so well. I tried to explain to her that for once they got to beat her and it felt good. It wasn't that they were happy that she didn't get the highest score. It just compounded her sadness to have her best friend laugh at her face. (actually I think it sucked)

The child was a hot mess and it was heart breaking. She did eventually calm down and we talked about every aspect of her pain. She had swimming last night and I was glad to know that she would be able to get some of her frustration out. Five minutes after getting into the pool the lightening monitors went off and the pool was closed......arghh. Rosie was holding her own, at this point, with the help of M0trin and washcloths dipped in ice water.

We came home and after they were both tucked safely into bed I flopped down on a chair thankful that the day was over.

Not an hour later I heard Rosie crying, or so I thought, so I ran up stairs to see her. I found her laying in her bed laughing her head off and pointing at the ceiling. My first reaction was that she was feeling better but then I noticed that she was all sweaty and not making any sense at all. According to her Lily and I were up on her ceiling and it was hilarious. I tried to make her talk to me but she was out of it. Oh joy! I ran back downstairs grabbed the thermometre and took her temp. It was high, (103.9) but not high enough to make her this whacky. Since Jacob was at work and Lily was asleep I decided to do what I could do here at the house. I bought her temp down to 101.8 and she suddenly started making sense again and told me she was cold. Lucky for her cos at this point I was sweating bullets. I kept her glued to my side for a couple or hours and then decided it was ok for us both to go to bed. The child just started to get hotter and hotter until  eventually I was  able to give her more meds and she slept fitfully for the rest of the night.

When my alarm went off this morning I felt like I'd been hit by a truck, it was lashing rain outside and still dark but I was as happy as a clam to know it was a new day.

Lily woke up with her usual happy go lucky outlook on life. I had armed her with a few things to say if she got an flack regarding her scores and she was ready to take on the world as always. Rosie woke up with her fever but it wasn't as high as yesterday so she got to lallygag about while I got ready for work. I hightailed it out of the house at 7.10am with a quick, "call me if the sh*t hits the fan" comment thrown over my shoulder and headed for the sanctuary of my car as I headed to work. There was no way today could replicate yesterday but just in case it tried I was running away.

It was much better. Lily is coping with the disaster that tried to ruin her life yesterday and Rosie still feels like doo doo but I'm sure in a couple more days will be back to her normal self and me, I'm fine cos my Mama heart is still in one piece today.

22 May 2012

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Hello, my name's Dawn and I am a liar, apparently.
Remember the post a week ago when I said that Lily was stung by a Man O war jelly fish and that she isn't allergic to them? Well she is. Yes, 8 days later she woke up with the exact same reaction all over her arm and side and around her neck and on her thighs. Why it reappeared 8 days later is a mystery to all involved.
An anaphylactic reaction can reappear within 5 days and is oftentimes worse than the initial reaction but this reaction is not systemic and has left every body flummoxed.
She is taking benedryll and that's all that can be done. Thankfully her lungs are clear this time as is her throat, well at this time they are. The first reaction stayed for about 3 days, hopefully this one will head out faster. The first time the welts from the tentacles were really obvious, this time not so much.

So I am joining Liars Anonymous.

Spotty Maldoones arm, the other body parts look the same. This kid is one oddball kid....but lovable as all heck.

Since visiting her Dr. and posting this initially I have researched the heck out of Man O War and have come to learn that in my kid some people after the welts have faded and the rash is a mere memory and the pain is long gone the rash can reappear at any time for up to 14 days. So there you have it. She would have to have a reaction that is out of the ordinary but I'll take this over her reaction to ants any day of the week.

21 May 2012

Daddy's girl

I think that a certain little girl is going to be a daddy's girl. She is really, really attached to him and if he plays his cards right she will think he hangs the moon for her every single night.

20 May 2012

Birthday Fun

My kids should be waterlogged. If they aren't either at swimming lessons or swimming on the team then they are swimming for fun or at swimming birthday parties. It's amazing that they don't get tired of the pool. I'm sure if it was piano practice there would be some very loud protests by now.

Today one of Lily's friends had a pool party for her birthday and we were all invited. Since the birthday girl happens to have a little sister the same age as Rosie it meant that neither Jacob nor myself had to get into the pool to keep little Miss entertained as she was happy as a clam playing with Camilla.

Rosie and Camilla
Lily and Paula at war
Rosie doing a cannonball
Lily chillaxing
Rosie and Cami jumping in hand in hand
After spending a few hours at the pool we headed back to the house for some food. THe bigger girls hanging out
Hah, piano practice, it lasted 3 seconds!
Happy Birthday Paula.
The girls had a fabulous day and we got so lucky with the weather. The rainy season is upon us and most afternoons offer a good tropical thunderstorm. Luckily it held off today and didn't happen until 7ish this evening, just as the party was coming to anend.


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