Monday, August 22, 2011

Adventure Courses in a non Litigious Country

If you saw my facebook post yesterday, you already know that on our 18th wedding anniversary Kyle and I (and the kids) went spelunking, zip lining and did a ropes course.

I'm a bit sore and bruised today from the experience but we all had fun and it is always good to challenge myself to go a bit out of my comfort zone.  In many aspects the ropes course we did here in Belgium was like those we have experienced back in the states.  We wore a safety harness, there were caribeeners (spelling???), and all kinds of wires.  We walked on lines high above the ground.  There were unstable steps, cargo nets, rolling logs, etc.

What was noticeable different was the level of staffing and the level of staff engagement with participants.  Pretty much the staff made sure the harness was on correctly, showed us how to clip on and off a line, pointed to the start and said yell if you have any problems.  From there we were on our own.  No one supervised if we were indeed clipping on and off the safety line correctly.  No one yelled encouragement if we were unsure about going forward.  No one was there to help us figure out a tricky element.

A few people did have difficulty with the ropes course.  It took several minutes of yelling and/or whistling to get assistance.  Fortunately no one completely freaked out.  As a family we did fine on our own - it helped that all of us have done ropes courses before and have a decent level of strength and balance and that the height didn't bother us.  Kyra did fall off one element, but was able to pull herself back on without assistance.

I think Kyle and I were the most struck by the lack of supervision in the caves.  We were shown a map of the tunnels, warned that some of the passages were tight, and pointed down a flight of steps.  The staff person said if you get lost, just yell for a while and someone will come.  This may have been reassuring had there actually been a staff person who was nearby the caves, but as soon as instructions were given, he left and we were on our own.  No one monitored the caves.  If we had gotten stuck or lost, we would not have been discovered until someone else entered the caves.

Many times I have encountered excessive safety barriers and warnings for idiots in the US and thought, is this really necessary?   Yesterday, we were fine without the excessive care but I wonder if there isn't a happy medium.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge

A few months ago one of the teens at church told me about Stumble Upon - an interesting way to surf the web and certainly can get addictive.
Anyways, today I stumbled upon this - a plan for watching a movie a day (not that I or anyone has that kind of time).  I doubt I'll do the challenge, but I think I may take on the challenge of figuring out what I would watch for each category.  Some are much easier than others to figure out.
Day 8 - movie I've seen countless times - Singing in the Rain
Day 23 - favorite animation - would have to be something Pixar - just have to figure out which one
Day 19 - favorite movie based on a book - Field of Dreams (the only movie I've seen that was better than the book - in every other case the movie was a good adaptation ie: harry potter movies or worse than the book ie: sister's keeper, clan of the cave bear.....
Day 22 - favorite documentary - Spellbound or Sound and Fury  (maybe I could use one for Day 11)
Wish I could figure out Day 25 - most hilarious - gotta think that through and then watch it - I love to laugh
Read the categories below, do you have any suggestions?

The 30 Day Movie Challenge

Day 01- The best movie you saw during the last year
Day 02 – The most underrated movie
Day 03 – A movie that makes you really happy
Day 04 – A movie that makes you sad
Day 05 – Favorite love story in a movie
Day 06 – Favorite made for TV movie
Day 07 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 08 – A movie that you’ve seen countless times
Day 09 – A movie with the best soundtrack
Day 10 – Favorite classic movie
Day 11 – A movie that changed your opinion about something
Day 12 – A movie that you hate
Day 13 – A movie that is a guilty pleasure
Day 14 – A movie that no one would expect you to love
Day 15 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 16 – A movie that you used to love but now hate
Day 17 – A movie that disappointed you the most
Day 18 – A movie that you wish more people would’ve seen
Day 19 – Favorite movie based on a book/comic/etc.
Day 20 – Favorite movie from your favorite actor/actress
Day 21 – Favorite action movie
Day 22 – Favorite documentary
Day 23 – Favorite animation
Day 24 – That one awesome movie idea that still hasn’t been done yet
Day 25 – The most hilarious movie you’ve ever seen
Day 26 – A movie that you love but everyone else hates
Day 27 – A movie that you wish you had seen in theaters
Day 28 – Favorite movie from your favorite director
Day 29 – A movie from your childhood
Day 30 – Your favorite movie of all time

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to School

8th grade
organized school supplies and folders yesterday
reviewed independent study plan
got up 2.5 hours before school bus arrival
10th grade
threw some paper, a pencil and two pens in his backpack 20 minutes before leaving for school
woke up 1 hour before school bus arrival

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Curly and Gertie center stage - Gertie's laugh hillarious!
 Now that I have some time (and before I don't have very much again) I've been reviewing past blog posts to see what I have missed.

One of those things was Oklahoma!  By blogging about it now, I miss the in the moment thoughts and feelings, but maybe I gain the perspective of time.

It seems odd to realize I have only done two productions with SHAPE players because those productions were all consuming and seem so much more than just two shows.

Tartuffe had a small cast of under 20 and Oklahoma had a large cast over 60 of us.  That meant bigger stage, more people and more moving parts. Scenes took longer to stage and rehearse because it took everyone really paying attention.   Tartuffe and Oklahoma were two entirely different experiences.

semi-pro photographer in the audience took this one
I will note, I have never considered myself a singer, and still do not.  The role of Laurey was challenging for me in that respect.  I did work on vocal training.  I think the hardest thing for me was to just get over myself and potential embarrassment of not singing well (which I didn't) and just get on with the show.

I enjoyed the energy and laughter of working with a larger cast but missed the intimacy of a small one.  I also enjoyed the more intergenerational -ness of the Oklahoma! cast.  It was fun to share the stage with children and youth.

As a show, you can't go wrong with wonderful songs like Can't Say No, Kansas City and Oklahoma, especially because those were ones I didn't sing.

Very soon auditions start for the next show - Plaza Suite.  Yes I'll be auditioning and we'll see what happens.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Service Project

 As a high school freshman/rising sophmore, Allen was old enough to go on his youth group's mission trip.  In the US he likely would have ended up in Appalachia working on homes or in an inner-city helping with a VBS or feeding program.

In Europe it meant that he traveled to Romania.  In Romania he helped build a playground and assisted with VBS and sports camps for kids.

The living conditions were rough - camping in the rain and cold.  The travel less than desirable - 30 plus hours by bus.  But he had a great time and I'm sure would go again.  His one complaint - his small group didn't have deep enough faith  discussions.  So when his group finished up (early) he went and joined a group that had longer and deeper discussions.

Next summer we will be moving back to Virginia, even so, I imagine we'll do our best to make sure he can go on this mission trip again.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Trick Candles

 Honestly, it was unintentional.  The commissary had a very limited supply of candles.  I didn't want the little kid ones, with Dora or Sponge Bob.  I grabbed the first package that looked normal.  Except they weren't.  They are the kind that relight after you blow them out.

I didn't tell Allen that.  Here he is anticipating eating yummy cupcakes.
And his first attempt to blow them out

and realizing what was going on...
and making another attempt

eventually he just spit on his fingers and squeezed them all out.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cinderella Weekend

 First of all - hooray!  We start a brand new month, which means our internet is back up to regular speed and now we have an unlimited data plan.  That means photos I put on the blog upload faster and I don't have to worry about using up limited data.

This was performance weekend for theater camp.  The kids all did a great job and it was fun to watch parents and friends enjoy their kids' production.

I enjoyed watching the evolution of the performances from learning lines and blocking to practice runs to dress rehearsals and then the live shows.  Many of the kids got bolder and braver in their characters and gave some very entertaining performances.  Some stepped up in ways they didn't think themselves capable.

There were some days of theater camp that were more enjoyable than others.  The mice certainly gave me a "fun" time.  Let's say they weren't the most focused characters nor did dance steps stick in their brains.  In the end they were an audience favorite.

The icing on the cake for me though is that now when I am going about my errands in the SHAPE community I enjoy surprise hugs from the kids at the PX and Post Office.    Can't beat that.