the theme

The pottery glaze seems to be going with a theme here. I've done a lot of experimenting but few results are as pleasing right now as the "tried & true".


the real seasons

The Okanagan First Peoples Sylix calendar of seasons. I love this one because it represents the local ecosystem. "Fall" can't possibly cover the range of experiences we have between September and November but I know the difference between the time of salmon spawning and the time of cold weather!

hmm, it's not displaying properly...will try to fix that at some point. Maybe. Click on the link to see the whole thing for now.

Syilx calendar with all seasons and indicators



I need a new coffee mug and can't seem to make one I like without giving it away or breaking it. My issues. I love this one made by Erika Lyn O'Rourke at Elm Studios just a little too much. I did some pottery glaze research yesterday and am so intimidated by how bloody much I have to learn and how many years I'm going to have to put in to be good. If all goes well though I'll have the required decades left in my life to get there...




This is the amazing painting Karen dropped off at our house - a complete surprise. What a beautiful gift, thank you!



"So good awfuls!!"
- Ezra Milagro

Waffles, that is.


Padme costume

I'm NOT pregnant but came across a pretty cool prego costume idea today and decided to blog it for complete lack of writing ideas. Odd that I was never visibly pregnant over Halloween with any of my babes.


koi quilt

It's been nearly two years since I made a quilt but I was inspired about a month ago. This little guy is a family friend that is really close to Ezra's age and I couldn't figure out what to get him for his birthday. Once I got into it, it took less than a week and I really enjoyed the process. Colours and patterns are so much easier than with pottery. I can try things out to see what works before I sew them together, unlike the glazing and kiln which seem like crapshoots and can't be undone.

kiln goodies

The guild has been very quiet over the summer, with only 3 of us coming in even occasionally to work. I've been really happy with a few of my most recent items and feel like the style I've been hoping to express is finding it's way out. Or in.

Once again, full disclaimers for the rank amateur photography - colours are not really what they appear on screen in some cases. Because I spend my time making the stuff, not editing or working on lighting.

Rice/dessert bowl

Small vase (8"?)

Experimental goblets

Small serving tray and 2 coordinating dessert size plates

My new favorite combo.

Chute Lake

While the Hildebrands were out, Nada proposed (and organized) a KVR bike ride from Chute Lake Resort down to Red Rooster Winery - 40kms but all downhill grade. Naomi came back from a decade-long bike hiatus and joined us while the guys did drop off/kid duty. Many thanks are in order for that! It was fantastic, I loved the experience and appreciated the good company.

Here are a few photos, generally in chronological order but in their unedited/unformatted glory. I only have so many hours in a day.



2 years


Ezra turned 2 this week. Jeremy wrote a little summary of what he's into and included some photos. It's a bit of a mind bender in a good way. I didn't dwell too much on memories of his birth this year, like I sometimes do with all the kids. He's fascinating and hilarious and well...two. He's got so much on the go that I was thinking ahead more than back. Yesterday afternoon he looked at me quite seriously and said something like "My birthday, want do it again!".

On his birthday I was picking up one of the last items in the baby section that I expect to ever need there (for myself) and it felt odd. I felt like I didn't belong in that world anymore and it was OKAY by me. I know at some point I'll miss these years but for now I'm ready for the next stage. I got to rock and snuggle Ezra to sleep last night, he was so wound up. I'm enjoying those moments while they last.

I don't care what any research says (and I haven't looked) but it takes my body, mind and hormones about 2 years to come back to "normal" after having a baby. No matter how long/short I breastfed. It was less pronounced this third time around because I had a better idea of what to expect and how I cope with it, but it is still undeniably physical.

Along with the improved reasoning faculties comes restlessness. I need to channel that in a functional way. The last time we were at this stage we ended up selling our townhouse and moving into a sweet rental with our eye on extended travel. I found out I was pregnant a few days after moving into the new place and all bets were off.

I think it will be an interesting year.

addendum to rant

The peak of PMS has passed and I'm back to taking responsibility for my own life and analyzing the choices I made along the way. My mom called to chat and gracefully pointed out that yes, my memory is very selective. There were sympathetic teachers and I realize that I wasn't often discouraged from doing things but wasn't self-motivated to come up with a lot of cool things on my own.

Other people didn't think nurse was a good match for me necessarily either but were kind enough to be supportive of what I said I wanted. It creeps me out a bit that that's the kind of friend I am. If you say you want to do something, it is my job to support what you say you want. Who am I to question it? It's particularly frustrating when my gut is saying it's all wrong but I'm not brave enough to confront a friend. It's easier through work in a professional relationship but it will always be a challenge for me.

My mom reminded me that I considered taking a recreation degree...now that would have been a great match. I don't recall a lot of support and ultimately rejected it because it seemed too frivolous (not serious academic study!) and impractical - no obvious job at grad. Say WHAT!? I can't come up with any other reason I didn't pursue it. And to think I ended up with a psych degree that time around. That's super practical and about a tenth of the fun.

No matter how inaccurate my memories are, I'm left with my impressions and how they've shaped me. Learning from it, adjusting those perspectives and growing from there are the challenges. It's all good.


self serving therapeutic rant

This is an odd quote to have rocked my world, but it did. It's from an article that Jeremy found.

4. Children and adults can be assessed at any age. However, the ideal age for testing is between 5 and 8 ½ years. By the age of 9, highly gifted children may hit the ceiling of the tests, and gifted girls may be socialized to hide their abilities. Unless they are absolutely certain they are right, gifted girls are often unwilling to guess, which lowers their IQ scores. (emphasis mine)

I don't know if I was ever in that category or not but the concept of having that socialized into girls by 9 is ominous and rings true for me. I have never figured out how to be proud of my accomplishments, abilities and gifts without the perception that I'm making other people feel bad. Bragging. Showing off. Guilt, the everlasting guilt. A lot of that training happened through school. I understand why it was done, but it's affected my concept of self permanently.

Net result? I second guess things all the time that I know. I did not notice this until I read the above quote and now I see it many times a day. Part of me went underground. I tried to downplay it and certainly never, ever went above and beyond what was (is) required. I'm often able to learn things really quickly, but when I don't it has been clearly pointed out to me that I'm not-so- perfect after all and oh thank goodness she sucks at something. This must where my fear of failure developed so strongly. I don't recall many times where I was genuinely encouraged to take on more, follow my nose and challenge myself with harder material. It was always about slowing me down. I may have selective memory.

I desperately wish that someone would have opened my mind to other options back when I was applying for university at the very least. I always got "you could do better if you put in more time" but never had any reason to care. I wanted to be a nurse for a while. Nobody said hey, that's cool but if you applied yourself to your science and math courses you could shoot for physio or doctor! I am also from a small, conservative town and that's a huge part of it as well. You're a smart girl, do you want to be a teacher, nurse or social worker before you have kids? *sigh* Social worker? Check. Kids? Check.

I don't know if it's too late to learn to trust that part of my brain. I fear it's mostly sawdust by now and don't even know what I'd apply it to anyway. I haven't really learned to work hard, don't have good study habits and am terrified to try new things because I might not get it right and other people will enjoy that (in my mind). I have this vague but looming sense that I had something special and lost it. Wasted it. Failed. I sound like I'm 90. Other days I feel more inspired by possibilities but don't know where to focus the energy.

All this baggage and I'm supposed to help my girls navigate these waters successfully?



A "low" of 21 tonite, this is summer at it's peak. I embrace it but I'm running out of ideas for suppers to pack for the beach. We normally spend part of the morning outdoors gardening/playing, head in for lunch, naps and reading, then off to the beach by 4 at the latest. Home for bedtime. I love my glass of wine on the patio in the warm, quiet evening air. Come to think of it the crickets are crazy loud this year but it's a good background noise.

This week's been a bit busier as Ivy is in art camp (loving it) and Ella is taking an intro to Irish dance class (loving it). That is the extent of our special programs for summer. It's a vivid reminder of all we're NOT doing by opting out of traditional school. Lunches, deadlines, schedules, driving, driving, driving.

Yes, we're going to home school again in fall with the same program. We're getting the hang of it a little and understand more clearly which hoops need to be jumped through and to know which ones are worth it. That will continue to evolve of course as we gain experience but it feels good for it to be familiar for fall. I don't want to do anything differently because we all enjoyed last year. Not every moment of course, but overall it was fantastic. Towards the end of the school year we met a few more families in the area that work with the same program and have kids of similar ages. Looking forward to doing some collaborating in fall.

Pottery has tapered off for the summer. The building that the guild is in is old and the wiring can't handle the kilns when there is a heavy a/c draw. Fall will come soon enough I suppose and I have a lot of work drying, ready to be fired when the time comes.

I've been slack on the canning front so far, better get on that cherry thing before they're gone!

Time to head out to that patio and enjoy the stars...


status update

I was going to try to compose a beautiful essay on the deep emotional content of my trip home to Winnipeg but I'm sick, irritable and in need of more sleep. And possibly I didn't think that deeply anyway while I was driving between engagements and chasing children down the streets. Jeremy's version of the trip is great though, so go read his posts and enjoy the amazing photos while I cash in early and continue to ignore this blog.



Ezra Milagro -

"I can't open Ivy's flowers." (package of fake flowers)

"I can't read it all."

Not my favorite word, but if he's going to use complete sentences with proper pronouns - without whining - I'll take it.


end of year celebration

The school year has been winding down for weeks for us, but yesterday we officially celebrated the end of it in Osoyoos. I don't expect this to interest a lot of people but I've updated the home learning blog I keep for the girls' supervising teacher.


real people

I've had the pleasure of running into a few people I really like in town this week that I know through blogging. Not that I'm much of a blogger but Angella and Amanda do it justice. They are all cool people and it's kind of sad that I have to "bump" into them, rather than actually planning to see them.

Other than realizing I'm lame for not making more of a social effort, I noticed that I'm the only one that dresses as if I was still online. The aforementioned ladies looked great and I was wearing a ratty old cap and gardening clothes. I'm cool with that most of the time but I'm thinking I should dress nice more than my current once a month.

Personal grooming is not a priority in the Hiebert household and it's painfully obvious. On that note, I feel brilliant for thinking of booking a hair appointment with my absolute favourite stylist of all time when I'm in Manitoba at the end of June. I have very happy memories of hanging around her salon when I was in/just out of high school. How cool is it to graduate and start your own business within a year or two? I may have hero worshipped her. I might still. I wonder how irritating it was for her in retrospect. It's going to be fun to get my hair styled, catch up on years of living and meet her kids. Too bad it's still a month away, it might almost be worth finding a new hat.

bowls, plates & mugs

Set of two mugs, sugar bowl, creamer and um...urn. Small cookie jar? Coffee beans? Tea bags?

Kid sized bowls

Appie plates with one larger serving plate.




I've been inspired by the pottery decoration of Archie McCall over the past week. I couldn't find many examples of his work online but I did find a few video clips of him teaching a seminar. Pretty amazing to see his stuff in a book, read his bio and then see him in action online.

My time at the guild has been pretty meager since I've been working more but I do have some new pieces that I'm really happy with. The favorites are a set of mugs with matching creamer & sugar bowl in a brown/denim kind of glaze. Pictures might be added eventually. The guild was clearing out a few boxes of low-fire underglazes & glazes so I took home the ones that didn't have lead and were usable on food surfaces. I also have a line on some *free* low-fire clay so I think I know what direction I'm headed for a while. I like the price, we'll see how I like the process. When I get to it.


important notes on my life

- I am alive and well, just choosing to do other things than blog. I finally decided to make a post and lost the whole thing in the publishing stage. Bleh. Spare time is spent reading or at the guild for the most part.

- Gardening is ramping up. The willows are leafing out, the daffodils and violets are blooming and the forsythia is about to pop. This is the time of year when I wish I had been diligent about cleaning up the yard in fall.

- I blow up approximately 8 balloons over 780 times a day, I swear. Ezra gets rather angry when we tie the knot in it.

- My personal boot camp effort started last weekend. Four hockey games in four days. Probably not be much of an achievement if you're 17 and play 5 times a week. I'm not close on either of those counts. I haven't done well at keeping the intensity up on the workouts since then but at least I've gone for a few short runs. Time to haul out the shiny baby blue and suck wind all the way up Giant's Head.


moon, gardens & clay

Lantern house for candles that I made in my class.
Ezra likes it and the girls keep stealing it for little creature games.

It's a full moon, I can feel it, there is weirdness all around. Also it's as bright as daylight at night, that was another hint. It's been pretty up & down around here. Mostly down as we've done the sick routine over the last two weeks. School expectations got ignored by all of us and it's been a slog getting back into it. Same old dilemma of books vs. stuff we want to do. Yesterday we did bookwork and today we had some fun. Ivy & Jeremy are playing simple but beautiful duets on their violins, a lovely milestone in their learning as far as I'm concerned.

Ella recently finished the Magic Treehouse book "Dawn of the Red Dragon" (#37) and it was beautifully illustrated. We all loved the pictures so we used it for our "art inspiration" this week. We drew & painted interpretations of gardens and traditional looking Japanese houses. When we finished with that we attempted some rudimentary Haiku and short poems. It was sunny, fun and relaxing. We might even have learned something, who knows?

I've been spending a few hours, several times a week down at the guild. I'll find any opportunity to announce that I belong to a guild. I think it used to be more meaningful in that you actually had to be trained in the particular trade before you could join. It's taken more focus than I'm used to to go there and practise, rather than create. It's a very different mindset with different rewards and frustrations. Several times I have thrown and recycled my clay all evening. I don't always have the willpower to destroy it all though and will keep my favorite item to turn into something.

A work in progress

Still on an artsy note, I volunteered to be part of the committee putting together the kids summer art programs this year. I didn't contribute a whole lot (yet?) but it has been fun to be in on the process and be able to provide some feedback about my children's experiences in the courses.



So far in the last quiet half hour I have followed google trails leading to both funeral urns (pottery) to UFO's (Falcon Lake, ON). So much extraneous information, so little time.


swear word

"MOM, Ezra smells like a swear word. Like rotten broccoli."
- Ella


first samples

I couldn't wait until next week to see samples from my first pottery firing so I stopped by the guild today. I hardly recognized my own pieces. The glaze changes them dramatically and you wouldn't believe the flaws it can hide.

My absolute first bowl. It is hard to see but I put a freehand design on the bottom and was very happy with the result. I have to come clean, I copied the idea & glaze from someone else.

This is one appie plate in a set of 4. There is also a serving size plate that I'm going to glaze to match. I winged it with the green/brown combo and it turned out a lot like I intended it to.

With all the excitement I decided to sign up for the guild. For a very modest fee I have my own keys and can go and use the equipment any time I want. In return, I agree to participate in all of their fundraisers by contributing pieces (once they're classified as acceptable anyway). Starting in March they have set aside one night a week where more experienced potters are willing to casually mentor beginners. It sounds like a good setup so we'll see if I take advantage of it.

I've decided that my first solo mission will be a coffee mug. Unless it turns into something else, I'm flexible.


Do try this at home

Ivy is enjoying some freedom from curriculum science, having ground her way through the required elements of her unit on "Matter". We found a fun science book at the library on the weekend and she has read a lot of it already. I love seeing her engaged in learning and watching what she gravitates towards. Often it's a matter of having information easily available in the right format and making it optional. Of coures we all love optional. She came to me this morning with recipes for gluep & ooblek. It was a smashing success and we had a lot of fun doing it. The gluep was really fun and the ooblek was just...odd.

Dissolve 1 tsp borax in 6 tbsp water. In separate bowl mix 1 tbsp white glue with 1 tbsp water. If you want it coloured, add one or two drops of food colouring to the glue mixture. Add 2 scant tsp of the borax solution to the glue. Mix until it turns into gelatinous goo and then play with it.

This was was a little trickier as the instructions were vague. Fill a small bowl half full of cornstarch and add water. There's a magic sweet spot where it's in limbo between solid and liquid. If you try to stir quickly it chunks up like a solid, but when you put it back down it oozes together. Ivy's assessment was that it was like it was "...on a timer for solids. It's solid for a few seconds and when time runs out it turns into a liquid".

From the book: Science Smart: Cool projects for exploring the marvels of the planet earth, Gwen Diehn, Terry Krautwurst, Alan Anderson, Joe Rhatigan, & Heather Smith



I was initiated into the art of pottery glazing this evening. It's a dark art, I swear. Here, dip it into this pink and it will come out blue! Really! That may or may not actually be true, but suffice it to say that the colour of the liquid glaze does not resemble what will come out of the kiln. I have no idea what I've done to my pieces. The good news is that I only did half of them so I can check these out before I do the next batch. I took a picture of one of them pre-glaze but may not bother posting it until I get them back.

The blue/brown combo on these mugs is something I'd like to replicate but the local guild doesn't have a blue anywere near that. The glazing experience has awoken a faint spark of excitement about all those chemistry classes I took sometime in the early '90's. They may come in handy!

The style of this artist is wonderful. I love the colours and the movement of some of the vases. I've got a long way to go...

In my hunt for glaze information I somehow stumbled across these painted houses and found them lovely. What is it with our culture and pink stucco and plastic siding?



I've spent the occasional evening moments trying out my tube watercolours on rice paper. I post this up here to have a marker for progress, not primarily to embarrass the reader or elicit encouraging comments. I need a placeholder.


I don't recall what I've posted about this before and frankly, I'm too lazy to check. I've been reading "Creative Home Schooling: A Resource Guide for Smart Families", by Lisa Rivero. It echoes a lot of the reasons we chose to keep Ivy home this year. I've been very emotional about it, fighting tears while reading. I'm sure I could use some personal psychoanalysis to sort out issues, but really, who has that kind of time? I'm trying to get over my guilt of saying "gifted" out loud, but that's as far as I've gotten. The general sense is that we're not alone or unique. There are lots of practical ideas and approaches that resonate with me. Other resources we've found useful are the Gifted Exchange blog and the ugly but info-filled Hoagies Gifted Education Page.

still learning

Yes, we're still home learning. I think I don't report about it often because it just flows as part of the day. It feels normal.

Parts I love:

- No alarm clocks unless I set the coffee maker to brew at 8am
- Home lunches
- General control over social situations. I'm not such a control freak (maybe?) but I love being the architect of which interactions get supported and which lapse. Lots of good ones have lapsed, by the way, as total number of engagements/obligations is crucial to harmony around here. Large groups of young, aimless, lost children at recess? Should be outlawed, not labelled "social learning". My kids are not any more socially retarded from home schooling than they were before. Maybe less because they're not under stress to fit in.
- "Extra-curricular" pursuits. Ivy had nothing to give when she got home from school last year.
- Creative outlets. Of all the bonuses, this is possibly the biggest for me. Time & energy for free play and personal projects, of which there are many.
- Learning more about my own children. I have insights into their personalities I would probably otherwise have missed. It's more challenging as well, but in a good way. I think we're getting a good understanding of Ivy's modus operandi, but Ella is still a bit of an enigma, to go with the latin theme (eds. correction..."enigma" is Greek, thanks Holsten for your contribution). Ella is FIVE! Isn't this age about play dough and getting along with others?). Her advanced abilities in reading, writing, math and drawing have far outpaced her ability to understand abstract concepts & complexity in plots. Sit down to puzzle with her or dare to play "memory" and you see how sharp those senses are.


- Ezra. The girls and I put up with an excessive amount of background noise and interruptions. I swoon to think of what we could explore without that responsibility. I know I signed up for it, I'm just sayin'.

- Curriculum. First of all, I had to learn to spell it. I knew this was going to be tough for me, and it is. I still haven't shed my teenage aversion to doing what someone tells me to. It's a constant background tension that Ivy has totally capitalized on. Of course she doesn't want to do it and she knows it's an Achilles heel for me. "I don't see WHY I need to do this. WHEN am I ever going to use this in real life? WHY can't I learn at my own pace? WHEN I need to know this, I'll pick it up fast." Shit. I can't answer those. The best answer I have it that we committed to this for one year and we're going to stick it out. We'll re-evaluate over summer. It's a constant toss-up between bailing because neither of us likes it and trying to demonstrate seeing through something that you've started (not a real strong point for any of us around here).

- The gap between text expectations and BC "Learning Outcomes" is stupid. For example, Ivy is apparently supposed to learn telling time, fractions, money and multiplication tables, according to her (dull, repetitive, ugly) text. Learning outcomes for her age? Money notation ($ signs) and "increasing familiarity with adding & subtracting to 18". Page 50 if you're still with me. Really? I've checked in with parents of children in her old school class and they're working on *drumroll please* addition & subtraction UP TO 10!

- Organization. Reporting. See aversion to authority above. I feel okay about pacing and knowing were we're at in our learning but I'm terrible and keeping track along the way. I'm in a stage again of gathering bits of paper and photos from all corners of the house to "prove" that we've been busy priming our academic brains and not say...watching MTV or engaging in child labour all day? I dunno.

*Sponsorship notes...Thanks to Blues Clues videos, Triscuits, Armstrong cheeses and Holsten Maibock for allowing me to make this post enjoyable.


Beem beem!

Or "How to clip the nails of a 1-year-old". Plant him on your lap and sit in front of computer with his favorite video playing. It's the crazy frog thing so if you don't want it stuck in your head, don't follow the link.

(Credit to Jeremy for this idea)



I may be having a mid-life crisis. I just signed up for a pottery class. And I'm really looking forward to it. Basket weaving, anyone?

I'm trying to get into the habit of baking our own bread. Chris tipped us off to the recipes of Richard Bertinet and they are rocking my world. My fougasse(s?) weren't quite as lovely as Chris's but they tasted wonderful.

I had a fantastic day in Kelowna last week. We (the kids, Dianne & I) hit the Bohemian Bagel Cafe for second breakfast, then the downtown library and a brief browse at Opus. That place is heavenly. We had a leisurely afternoon (for me, that is) up at the house and then a Mennonite feast for supper. Yum.

Opus inspired me to take out The Chinese Brush Painting Bible from the library again. I also have a crochet book on Amigurumi out and an intense desire to FINALLY make something with my beloved silks. I will not have time for even a small portion of this.

Ella & I found a cute little fish tank at the thrift store. Although Ivy was happy with her sea monkeys she is exponentially more thrilled with little fishes. Six hours in and they're all still alive. Ivy's longed for a pet for years and her crusty parents won't do it. She noted that of all the pets in the world she wouldn't pick FISH, but if it was that or nothing she'd be very delighted to have them. Good answer.

I recently read the series of The Books of Ember. Book 1 - City of Ember, grabbed me, 2 got a bit more dense but I stuck with it. I doubt that I'll ever go back to book 3, but 4 was back to the style of the first. Still with me?

I think I sustained a whiplash injury at my last hockey practise. When I fell over.


the uncool eco tips

These are the uncool and semi-humiliating ways I battle to save the world from my doorstep.*

Wear semi-dirty clothes on a regular basis. This saves water and keeps nasty detergents out of the water system. It's a bonus that clothes last longer (even though they look bad).

Give up entirely on fashion. It's hard on the ego but easier in every other way. See above treatment of clothes.

Rarely "clean" floors, sinks etc. A quick swipe of a cloth to spot clean and maybe a bit of baking soda should do it. If in doubt, dump some vinegar down the drain for good luck. Keeps chemicals out of water system and my home. This may however explain the general lack of visitors here.

Convince the children that using my wasteful very hot and deep bathwater when I'm done is a treat, if I have to run a separate one for them it will be much cooler and certainly more shallow.

Let the grass grow wild. I've heard it eventually chokes out the weeds or something like that. I also happen to like the violets, buttercups, clover and possibly dandelions that appear.

*In case of confusion on the part of the reader, this is a separate issue from my laziness and general lack of interest in housekeeping, I swear.


holiday bonus

For the full Christmas rundown go here. I'm just adding few extra Christmas photos in their unedited glory.

Ezra apparently has an extra face in this one, he was very excited about his monsters (still is).

Ivy posing with "Pepperico" the dragon.

Waffles with strawberries on Boxing Day, courtesy of Grandma Hiebert.

Ella holding "Annie" the hobby horse. This is one of the few gifts I made this year. It was fun to do this one and I was more than happy with how it turned out.

the far flung Friesens, Canmore edition

Although I had a very relaxing Christmas, it was a bit odd. None of my family members got together this year. On one hand, it took off pressure of any kind for us to travel. On the other hand...it just felt kind of "off".

Here's the Christmas postcard we got from mom & dad, who are enjoying the amenities of the Dominican Republic.

Mark came up for a visit a few days before Christmas so I did get a bit of a family fix. We had a mellow time and enjoyed the snacks by the fire and a few rounds of dominoes. He built a really sweet lego tower. It is also apparently the only photo we took while he was here (sorry Mark).

Chad & Crystal and the beloved cousins spent their holidays in Winnipeg, with all of us having abandoned them. They don't seem to hold it against us.

I did mention back in October that I'd met my family in Canmore for Thanksgiving weekend and I'm thinking it might be time to post those pictures.

After years of half-promises, I finally took the girls to The Enchanted Forest. Oddly enough, it DID live up to expectations. Who would have thought that possible? I'd love to go back and try out the adventure park someday.

The pool & waterslide were big features of the trip. The jury is still out on who made the biggest splash - this is either dad or Chad since Mark is watching in the background.

Mark, looking smug about his table tennis skills while watching the match.

Crazy cousins. This is the best photo of the four of them.