We don't just go places...we have ADVENTURES!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy DOUBLE DIGITS, Matthew!!

The Matthew-man is 10 today, 10 today, 10 today!

Can't believe it, really. Now, more than half of the Zoo Crew beasties are in the double digits...

We celebrated early, since Mommy is out of town...had a little pizza, a little cake... The cake, well...evil beastie robbed Mammarazzi of one of her favorite pics--the blowing out of the candles!! ANY good scrapbooking magazine will tell you that it's a "must-have" for a birthday layout! But NOOOOO....he turns 10 and just has to blow them out BEFORE my camera was ready!! Can you believe it? He sure was pleased with himself for THAT one...

We all enjoyed the green frosting...PICS HERE

Ah well...even if he doesn't get any wishes this year, he's still the coolest 10 year old I know. He's tender, thoughtful, helpful, creative, smart & funny. (and pretty handsome for a beastie, don't you think?)

We're so very glad you are ours, Matthew!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Movin' on to Middle School

Patrick celebrated a milestone this week....graduation from 5th grade and promotion to middle school!! WHOO HOO!

MSD hosted a wonderful ceremony for both the 5th and 8th graders. The whole Zoo Crew + a few (Miss Ashley & Allison) traipsed to Columbia for the event. We took up an entire row in the auditorium, hee hee hee!

Our first surprise was finding that all the students were wearing caps & gowns. NICE! Patrick looked quite fetching (and entirely too grown up!) in his festive attire. All the graduates were ready for their close-ups and posed for us Mama-razzis (and a few Papa-razzis!).

A couple of observations on how wonderful this school is...
  • small classes mean LOTS of personal attention
  • the teachers in attendance all knew Patrick and had something kind to say about him
  • close to the start time, the principals took the time to make sure every student's family had arrived; we started about 15 minutes late, knowing one family was on their way--(and for once, it wasn't US!)
  • the kids were all kind and respectful to one and other...and were amazingly accepting of Patrick and his quirks...one super cute young lady was even teasing him about how excited he was to have us all there!
What a lovely treat to see Patrick hanging out with his friends, chatting and exchanging stories. Everyone wanted to know all about our family and which kid was which. Since Allison's coloring is a little more like ours, some of his friends were confused that she's not one of us, hee hee hee. (And one of Patrick's buddies thinks Katie is pretty cute!)

The ceremony began with the traditional procession and Pomp & Circumstance. The graduates lined up in a semi-circle, setting the stage for personal introductions; each student stepped center stage, signed his/her name and where he/she is headed next year. Patrick ROCKED...he didn't seem at all nervous or shy--and every sign was clear and concise!

After the speeches were over, diplomas were handed out and...then came the slideshow. THEN, just when I thought I was done getting teary-eyed, the students each presented their moms with a rose. One at at time, each child went to the stage, picked a flower from the basket and then went into the audience for some Mama lovin'. Despite having received a small warning in advance, this mom lost it. (I'm even getting misty thinking about it now!) After the rose presentations, the kids disappeared into the wings.

What could possibly come next? DANCING of course!! All the kids mingled on the stage, dancing and hamming it up to "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how this was gonna work for Patrick...until he rolled onto stage on a wheeled desk chair. His grin said it ALL! Two other boys rolled in on chairs and really got into chair dancing with him. Later in the song, he played air guitar from the safety and comfort of his own walker. Miss Ashley captured it all on video...so I hope to post that soon!

All in all, a wonderful evening, celebrating this amazing boy child (and all his friends, too!!). (Not so much a boy or a child anymore, though. *sigh*) He has come so very far.
Thank you, Maryland School for the Deaf!! We can't wait to see what middle school holds for him!!

In the meantime, feel free to check out more pictures from this festive event: MSD Promotion

And now we are SIX!

Miss Abba-Zabba is SIX!!

Yup, this darling, beautiful, funny little bunny joined the Zoo Crew six years ago.

She is unlike ANY who have come before her...she marches to her own drummer. She is a crazy mix of girlie girl and thug. She can run across the yard in plastic play heels and a skirt, only to tackle one of her big brothers. She knows JUST how to push everyone's buttons (and does it quite frequently). ;-)

She has successfully completed her very first year of school...and is ready to tackle first grade next! (How exactly did THAT happen?)

Happy birthday, Abbey! How VERY glad we are that you are ours!!

Check out her birthday fun...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Unofficial Summertime Kick-Off

Memorial Monday found the Zoo Crew flying our American flag proudly and thinking of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Thank you to all who serve. And thank you to their families, who often sacrifice more than we know.

The holiday found us playing host to our favorite Piggs. On the agenda for the day: BBQ, ice cream sundaes and amateur rocketry.

After a flying trip for more ice for the ice cream maker (who knew we'd need 22 pounds of ice?), our luscious French vanilla was ready for tasting. Steph took the first taste....

Amazing what 12 cups of milk, some vanilla extract and a 75 cent package of mix can become!! (We won't mention how long it took to cook first or how sore our little arms got from all the stirring. Let's just say that we were happy the churn is electric!)

After an inspirational visit to NASA on Saturday (followed by a trip to Hobby Lobby), the Crew were all set to become Rocketeers. Ah-hmm...Chuck prefers Rocket-MEN, thank you. (And, YES, several choruses of the song were sung...not well, but sung nonetheless.) We launched after dinner, and blew the minds of everyone.

This naive mommy will admit that she had NO CLUE that the "beginner" engines we bought would launch handmade rocket projectiles into the cloud layer! Steph and I even had to mount a vehicle based recovery mission to retrieve a rocket that landed more than a block away!!

While the big boys tinkered with their toys, the kiddles enjoyed some sunshine fun & frolic in the pool and on bikes:

Summer always kicks off better with friends! More pictures here (seriously worth a look!): Memorial Day 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Patrick's Day!!


So, one of the perks of having a super small class size is that Patrick benefits from the teacher's sense of humor! On March 16th, I received a call from the teacher asking if it was OK to play a little joke on my guy. Well, of COURSE it would be OK! Turns out we had all been teasing him about the same thing....how March 17th was Patrick's Day, not St. Patrick's Day. I had even toyed with the idea of "x"ing out the St. on his festive green holiday t-shirt.

Patrick arrived at school to find his teacher sporting this schnazzy attire:

His assistant, Michael, had a similar shirt--check out this cute group pic:

As he walked the halls of the school, Patrick spotted his friends wearing green shamrock stickers with his face on them, too!! Patrick spent the entire day grinning from ear to ear...and came home full of himself and funny stories about his Patrick's Day at MSD.

*sigh* How am I gonna top that one next year???

(Thank you, Shannon, for the pictures--and for giving him a day to remember!!)

Just Chillaxing with BHS JV

Along with high school comes the move from rec league lacrosse to the “bigs”—high school sports! Yup, that’s right…my girlie on the Junior Varsity lacrosse team! She is fortunate enough to be playing with some of the girls she’s been with for the last 3 or 4 years, so we are hoping for great things from them!! The team had their first games last week.

The first was an away game and must never be spoken of again. To quote her former coach, “It was ugly, coyote ugly.”

The second was a home game against the Frederick High Cadets. What fun it was to sit in the stands and watch them play on the big field!! (okay, I confess that I’m a doofus for thinking it was cool, but she’s my oldest and therefore I get to be a little weird about the new experiences!!) The BHS girls looked like they knew what they were doing, running plays and keeping the ball near the FHS net. The Cadet goalie did an awesome job, because I’m pretty sure we had at least 3 times as many shots on goal as we had points. Katie scored twice!

Check out the photo album here: BHS JV Lacrosse 2010 I'll be adding to it over the season, so be sure to visit from time to time!

The BIG Snow x Two

Winter got off to a crazy start this year—since when have we had snow in DECEMBER? Just when we thought things would mellow out and go back to “normal,” along came Snowmageddon! Y’all know the basics of that thanks to the news, so I won’t bore you with the details. But I WILL bore you with some pictures! So here’s what happened to the Zoo Crew:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Upward Basketball x THREE!

This year the Zoo Crew’s THREE youngest played Upward Basketball at the local Baptist church. Ben and Matthew have played in seasons past, but this time the Abbinator was able to join the fun, too! We had wonderful Saturdays watching the beasties bloom into real players of the sport!

Abbey played on a co-ed kindergarten team. No weekly practices, just weekly game times. For the first half hour each Saturday, the kids did drills designed to give them great fundamental skills. Some of the drills were as easy as follow the leader around the court boundaries to learn the lines. When the drills were over, the teams gave game play a go. WHAT A BLAST to watch!

We called it “Riverdance Basketball” because the kids would prance around using their best dancing feet. Some of them would forget to dribble and just race to the basket with the ball. Wonderful fun, truly! Abbey’s best trick? Stopping on the court to engage in deep conversation with her friend & teammate, Lewis. You can check out more pictures of Abbey’s team by following this link: Upward Penguins 2010

Ben was fortunate to play under the same coach as last year. The Lions are a rowdy bunch of 1st and 2nd graders, but thanks to Coach Mike, they managed to come together to play fairly well! Ben is, I think, grasping the basics of the game and starting to be able to really see the game as a whole. He’s a great dribbler and FAST, too….when he wants to be!

This team played tough and kept their spirits high, even when faced with really tough opponents.

Based on this season, I’m really looking forward to watching the Benster next year…it’s all gonna click and he’s gonna make one heck of a ball player! For more Lions action, follow this link: Upward Lions 2010

Which brings me to Matthew Man. WOW! This was HIS “light went on” year. Defensively, my boy-o managed to shut down a couple of the league’s high scorers, keeping his opponents to uncharacteristically low scores. He learned better ball control and gained a greater degree of accuracy with his shots. We’re still working on mastering body control, but this kid AMAZED us all with his “come from nowhere” mad skillz. He was a wonderful example of genuine compassion and sportsmanship, too. As one coach put it, "he takes 'em down, then helps 'em up!"

As for his team this year…what a wonderful bunch of young men. Seriously, we had the nicest team on and off the court! I sincerely hope we are able to get them back together again. And the games? It was so much fun to watch these guys play—win, lose or draw! At this age, they keep score and put it up on the big board. We had a couple of crazy close games, including the last one! A serious nail-biter, I tell ya! Going into the final period, the Wolverines were down 20-27; the other team needed to bench the one player our guys hadn’t been able to stop. After a whole lot of back & forthing, multiple shots with multiple rebounds, a set of free throws each, the game came down to the last 30 seconds…all tied up at 27-27. We spectators were out of our chairs, cheering and encouraging; parents from the other court were even watching our game!! And there it was, with 7 seconds left, a Wolverine basket….final score of the final game…29-27 Wolverines. WHEW! I tell ya’, I was drained! Want more Wolverine Action? Click here: Upward Wolverines 2010

I’m already getting psyched for next season!!!

Matthew B and the History Bee

Matthew-man had a chance to step up and show off his knowledge of all things historical at The Frederick County History Bee. Three students from each grade—3rd, 4th & 5th—were selected to represent Valley, along with an alternate for each grade level. After weeks of early morning team practices, it was time to put his intellect where his mouth is!

Mom & Matt set out on Friday, March 19th with the intent of arriving early enough to settle in and collect ourselves before the competition began. As with many Zoo Crew best laid plans, well, that just didn’t happen! Now, Mommy *knew* that the event was sponsored by the local community college and Mommy *knew* that the directions provided by Matthew’s school didn’t take us to the college, but who is she to argue with the teacher? (learned THAT lesson during her own school career!) Sponsorship doesn’t always = locationship, right? So we parked and dashed into the Parks & Recreation Office in downtown Frederick, only to find that they’d never even heard of the History Bee. (They have now, though!) YIKES!

Fast, frantic and fabulous driving across town--crazy mad dash across the college campus--Matthew made it to the registration table with a mere moment to spare. (Literally—we arrived at 11:39 am and registration closed at 11:40 am!) WHEW! (Do you know how rotten I would have felt if we’d been too late for him to participate? As it was, I felt HORRIBLE for being so rushed!) We parked our hineys with the rest of a very relieved Valley team and started a quick review quiz. Imagine my surprise to see that every other team member had a nice little folder with study materials and notes. Apparently, Matthew has kept his at school and has studied at recess and such. This Mom never saw any of those papers! At that moment, I will admit to feeling a wee bit nervous for the kiddo, since he was taking a somewhat lackadaisical approach to this big event.

Students were called to the floor for Round One. Each table had at least one Proctor, who asked each student, in turn, a wide variety of American History questions. When all students had responded to 10 questions each, scores were tallied and the two with the highest scores moved on to Round Two. Matthew responded correctly to 8 of 10 in the first round and moved on!! Two other Valley students also qualified for Round Two—more than in the last three years!!

Round Two: same game, tougher questions! Matthew managed to answer 6 correctly, but was bested by another student with 7 correct answers. Since only one child moved on from each table, well, Matthew was done for the day. He was a little saddened (more than I thought he would be!) at this turn of events, but we stayed to watch the Final Round.

Finals took place in front of the whole crowd. Questions were randomly selected from a large cage (think bingo or lottery) as each Finalist stepped forward to the microphone. Talk about nerve wracking! Questions in the Final Round were details from the history of Frederick County…really tough stuff!

An example: On his way back to Washington from Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln took a detour into Frederick to visit with a wounded soldier. What was the name and rank of that soldier? (If you don’t know, don’t feel bad…that one eliminated the student to whom it was asked!)

Matthew admitted that he probably wouldn’t have made it beyond the first round of Finalist questions…but says that he is now better prepared to go back for the win next year! You can see more pictures of this year's event here: History Bee 2010

In the end, we decided it was much better this way because they would have misspelled his last name in the newspaper anyway. Who wants to be famous with the wrong spelling? (On his paperwork for this event, our last name was spelled 3 different ways, NONE of them right!!)

We celebrated his incredible feat with waffle cones at Bruster’s, where he proved once again, that he is my “Ice Cream Charm” because they had my favorite flavor, Graham Central Station. Only one of the MANY reasons we are so proud of him…

Way to go Matthew!!!