Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Do Hard Things

Yesterday Adam asked Dallin, "Why are you doing that?"
Dallin replied, "I like to do hard things because I get better at them and then I get to like them more."
It stopped me in my tracks.  Yes!  I love that attitude!  Granted, Dallin and Adam were talking about a video game but still.

I'm a firm believer in the value of doing hard things.  When you have to stretch, take a risk, look silly even, that's when you learn.  Just like our muscles get stronger when we do resistance training, we get stronger when we have to work at it.  We gain skills and confidence and we feel empowered to take on life's challenges.  These are things I want for my children.  So go get 'em, kids.  Tackle those hard things in life.  You can do it!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dallin's Robot Birthday Party

I love birthday parties!  This one was really fun.  There are so many possibilities with robots.  Here are some of the things we did.

These were the invitations.  The information was printed and rolled up inside.

The robot centerpiece is made from cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, aluminum get the idea.

These felt robots were simple to make and added a lot of atmosphere.

Party food:

Mitch and I built D6 out of cardboard boxes and stationed him outside the front door.  And with a carefully placed walkie talkie and D6's remote-activated-leaf-blower arm, we had a lot of fun "greeting" the kids as they arrived.

For our first activity the kids decorated a robot body.  We utilized a lot of spray paint and a lot of, prepare this activity.

In this picture above they did a game called Around the World (okay, I just stole the name from the song I played while they did this).  Basically it's like a cake walk where they walk around the circle of robot images stand still when the music stops and when their image is drawn out they get a prize (candy buttons on their robot body).

This is called Can-Do Robots by familyfun, and the kids got really got creative putting their hardware on their can-robot heads (there's a completed example on the right side of the table).

They had to move a bunch of "robot components" in an assembly line fashion without moving their feet.  I called this one Conveyor Belt.  Brandt got into this one.  It was so cute.

Each team was blindfolded and had to listen to their robot controller to sort out the components into red and blue piles.  Then they tore off the blindfolds and assembled their robots as quickly as possible.  I gave them these photos to reference.

We did a game called Robot Rescue where they had to use the robotic arm to rescue the robots from the doorknobs and place them in the "decontamination unit."

We had a really close nuts-and-bolts relay race.  Dallin's team won by the skin of their teeth.

Update: I've had some questions about the relay race so I've added some details.  My husband had a bunch of large bolts with wing-nuts in the garage that we used.  I recommend wing-nuts so the kids have something more to grab with their little fingers but regular ones would do.  I broke the kids into two teams and at the opposite end of the yard I placed two bowls (one per team) containing one bolt and wing nut for each kid.  You can even thrown in some nuts of the wrong size in there to throw them off.  The kids line up single file and at GO! the first person in line on each team runs as quickly as they can to their bowl, screws the nut completely on the bolt, and then carries it (as fast as they can) back over the starting line.  As soon as they return, the next person in line runs to the bowl to screw a nut on a bolt and carry it back, and so on.  The first team whose last player crosses the finish line with his completed nut/bolt wins!  

We also did a Robot Freeze Dance to this cute song, and when I stopped the music they had to stand still, and if they moved they were out.  Dallin loved this!  It turned out to be his favorite activity of all.

Then we did cake and presents.

Birthday cake.

And I gotta say, D6 looked even cooler at night.

We discovered he's also very useful for spooking teenagers in the neighborhood.

All in all it was a lot of work, but Dallin loved it, which is what really matters.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dallin!

Dallin turned six last week.

Some things I love about Dallin:

His big, blue eyes

When he laughs, he really laughs.  It's uninhibited and joyous

His courage

His tenderness toward his baby brother

His exuberance

His unique perspective and say-it-like-it-is personalilty

Those hugs of his

His willingness to help

His creativity and interest in art

His sense of humor

I love you, Dallin.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chiricahua National Monument

Over Labor Day weekend we went camping at Chiricahua National Monument.  It is such a gem of a place.  The crowds were minimal, the weather cooler, and the landscape inspiring.  Here are some pictures from our visit.

One of the unique things about this place is all of the amazing rock formations, pillars, and "hoodoos" that abound.  We went on a hike called Echo Canyon Loop and soaked in the beauty and stillness of this place.

One of my favorite formations is this couple, frozen in a moment of romantic suspense...

The kids loved this place called the grottoes which was like a natural playground.  We took a snack break here.

I don't know if you can tell from this picture but the "roof" is formed by giant boulders jammed between pillars.

Another favorite part of the hike for the kids was the acorns.  There were bushes aplenty along the trail and the boys collected them with much enthusiasm.  They were not just acorns, they were "guys" with removable hats.

Adam especially took a liking to the acorn guys.  He stopped often to gather them, and soon filled his pockets.  And, I'm not going to lie, we even got a little frustrated with him for the slowness of his pace sometimes.  But not for long.

Critters and other beauties:

What a gorgeous place.

Before we headed home we stopped at Apple Annie's Orchard to pick some Asian pears.  Yum and double yum.

Somehow I missed snapping Adam's picture when he was eating.  But he loved them too!

As you can see we picked a big bucket full and have been handing them out to friends, classmates, and teammates since then.  They're almost gone now, but we sure have enjoyed them.

It was a great weekend full of beauty and quality time, and we made some lasting memories.