Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Odyssey of the Mind

I wanted to give an update on the Odyssey of the Mind competition the boys competed in, last Saturday. They competed with the Asheville Homeschool Co-op OM team. Their score is partially based on a spontaneous problem that they are given at the competition, and the skit they've been preparing for months. Reed's team chose "Odyssey Angels" - they had to find bad situations and make them into good ones. They didn't score very well on their spontaneous problem. However, their long-term problem (their skit) was highly creative and Reed did great! Unfortunately, they were the first grade school team to perform directly after the middle school teams, which typically makes it hard for the younger kids to get as many points. So, they didn't rank high, but their skit was still great! In it, humans had been turned into food and blind rainbow elephants, and the kids had to turn them back (they did this by having a gigantic bee sting the elephants and the vampire who was eating the "human food"). The kids had to come up with the skit, write the script, make all costumes & backdrops, etc. all by themselves. They worked REALLY hard on this, and we are all very proud of their creativitiy! Here's is the video of their performance:

Clay's team chose a very complicated Vehicle problem. They not only had to do all the work that Reed's team had to do, but their problem involved creating a vehicle with 2 propulsion systems, which could also express different *visual* emotions throughout the skit. They made up a story about a guy who thought Gorilla Glue was actually made from gorillas, so he drives around town, first getting angry at the store when he finds out about gorilla glue, then being content putting up protest signs, then being happy when he finds a protest and thinks it's for anti-gorilla glue (though it's actually an occupy protest), then embarrassed at the glue factory when he finds out that gorilla glue isn't actually made from gorillas. Their team showed amazing creativity coming up with things to express emotions (balloons blowing up, bubble exhaust, giant thumbs up or fists coming out of the walls of the car, etc.). However, they had some problems actually getting their car to go any significant distance. The propulsion systems they designed were a rubberband-type system using bicycle innertubes, and "rowing" with toilet plungers. Both were fairly slow, and when we got to the competition, they found that their plungers didn't work *at all* on the gym floor (they had been practicing on a harder surface). So at the last minute, they switched to one kid pushing the car as a propulsion system.

The team coach and I (the assistant coach) were grumbling that they should have just started with a sturdier base, like a wagon or part of a bicycle, like we saw other teams had done. But we were wrong! Even though their car went so slowly that they actually ran out of time; they were scored so highly on their creativity to solve the problem, their great special effects, their amazing artwork, their style points, and their creative propulsion system, they actually won 2nd place and are advancing to State Competition! (they technically won 3rd place, but the second place winners were not from our region, so our team will fill that spot). They also did really well on their spontaneous problem. So, now they have 1 month to perfect their vehicle and make it ready to perform at the state competition at Wingate University in Charlotte, NC, on March 31. As one of their team coaches, I'm both kinda bummed that we still will be having practices (it took up SO much time!), and also of course, super excited for these kids after all their hard work!

Our homeschol co-op actually had 4 teams competing, two primary teams (everyone's a winner in that category, none advance to state), one grade school team and two middle school teams. Both middle school teams placed 2nd in their problems (the other one did a problem called "Mad Science" which was also really fun to watch), so both teams will be going to the State Competition. Our OM fund is basically at broke right now, though, and we're trying to raise funds this month to get these kids to the State Competition. Our homeschool co-op will be running small fundraisers all month (bake sales and such), but if any of you would like to donate, you can do so at:

Just wanted to give you all an update and let you know how you can help. And when you talk to the boys next, please congratulate them on a job well done - they really both put in such a great amount of work and creativity to make their skits happen!

~ Julie

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Party Dress

I have been having a bunch of fun these last few days crafting up some home made dresses! I made one for a little friend, Willow, who turned 1 this weekend. But it didn't fit quite right, so I did some alterations and let ZB keep that one, and made a second, more perfected one for her sweet friend. I made T-Shirt dresses by using a tank top from the thrift, sewing a skirt on to it, and then decorating with ruffles all over (also fabric salvaged from old t-shirts) - turned out crazy cute! And ZB got to wear her new party dress today to Willow's party!

Here is little 1-year-old Willow's dress:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dinner Talk

I've got no news or updates or anything, just cuteness from the ZeeBster...

Oh, I can make a little brag - the chair she's sitting in was an awesome thrift find! I was in the checkout line in Goodwill, when I heard this conversation behind me, at the next register,
"No, I'm sorry, we don't take returns on furniture"
"But I can't use it. I thought it was a step stool, but now I'm pretty sure it's some kind of strange high chair."

At which point, I turned around and saw it was a Stokke chair:
Stokke Link
which retail at over $200, in perfect condition.
I promptly wrote the woman a check for $10 (this was more than she originally paid for it), and happily loaded it in my car! It matches our table and everything. My mom bought the "baby set" so ZB can sit in it (when she grows out of that, it's a regular chair also), but I even found a good deal on that, on ebay in a listing where the seller didn't really know what it was called and listed it incorrectly. So I bought it for half of what they normally go for on ebay.
Retail for chair and baby set: $273
My total price: $34

Sunday, February 12, 2012


It's finally cold enough that I just don't have any desire to go outside. Except that B is working hard on the chicken coop, so I do go out to see the progress, and offer my probably-not-helpful input :) He's doing an awesome job - these birds will be living in style!
There's still a dusting of snow left on the ground from the all-day snow we had yesterday.
The boys had a blast in the snow yesterday... R made this big snow (now ice) ball, it's good and dirty, having been rolled on a ground that only had an inch or two of snow. And it's now conveniently located right in front of the door so no one will forget about it :)

ZB and I were wimps and mostly stayed inside today. I worked on some mending and finished getting items ready for a big children's consignment sale, that I'm participating in this weekend. We did our best to keep bellies warm and full and made these super yum buckwheat pecan rolls!
Of course ZB was very helpful, as usual ;)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Putts 4 Pets

Reed and I volunteer weekly at a local no-kill animal shelter called Brother Wolf. This started because he went with a friend to play with the cats there, and came home begging to "get a membership". My loving boy!

Another love of his is putt-putt golf. So when I got our weekly volunteer newsletter from Brother Wolf, and it said they were doing an indoor mini-golf fundraiser, I knew we *had* to go. I'm not a huge fan of mini-golf, so Reed brought buddies and I volunteered with dog adoption area.

Of course ZB wanted to help, too (and don;t be fooled, that cute little doggie was thrilled with ZB until I came close up with the camera :) ...

She had a blast climbing on everything...

The kids entered the mini-golf tournament, which turned out to be a "wacky" tournament. Here they are golfing blindfolded!
Reed was excited to win a fun prize to take home...

At the end, 2 dogs were adopted and lots of donations were collected for all the awesome work that Brother Wolf does!
We were glad to get a chance to support two great organizations/businesses in Asheville today. Check 'em out if you get a chance: Brother Wolf & Sweet Tee Mini Golf.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Little Chicken

ZB taking some measurements on this sunny day (and maybe testing out the spot for the birds)...
It's actually been much too warm! I'm a big fan of mild winters - but 69 degrees in February isn't good for our trees or the bug situation come next Summer. The plants didn't get the groundhog's forecast today, everything is starting to grow! We have daffodil shoots and swelling crocus buds in lots of gardens... Here's our blueberries and anxious elderberries who can't seem to wait until Spring!

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