Wednesday, February 23, 2011

four years ago....

There's just something about the kid that enters life in an eventful way - I once ran into a lady who must have had a premature baby at some point, because she was so right. It's not that they're your favorite, or more loved, but the fight they went through to get here always holds a special place in your heart.

She was a month old and three pounds in this photo.

Coral is four years old today. Four years ago my May baby became my February baby. We did six weeks' hard time in the NICU, holding her tiny hand through all the ups and downs of preemiedom. We brought home a tiny, four pound infant who decided to stop breathing after two nights home. Then there were the countless appointments with her pediatrician, cardiologist, opthalmologist; the prescription caffeine we swore would make her addicted to coffee in her later years; and the much-hated apnea monitor we lugged around for six months. We worried about her learning to eat, learning to sit up, learning to walk - she finally met that milestone at eighteen months. There were times we thought she'd be tiny forever.

And now we have a smart, sassy, funny, sweet spitfire in this tall, lanky kid that you'd never recognize as the preemie she was.

She definitely has a special place in our hearts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

all's fair that ends fair

Finally, the photos from the last weekend of the fair are upon us! In addition to Alexei's rabbit activities mentioned in the last post, Ibis had her shoebox float parade and the kids had to work for an hour in the 4-H strawberry shortcake booth as community service to help raise money for our county's clubs. The last big thing was the awards ceremony.

Ibis loved the parade again this year; it's almost too bad she won't be a Cloverbud next year!

The strawberry shortcake booth was a lot of fun; they even roped Coral into some free advertising.

Alexei's head was almost too big to fit through the door when we got home after winning his best in class medal and best in show trophy and ribbon for his photo story.

The fair was amazing, but it was so nice not to have to drive out to the fairgrounds this evening!

Monday, February 21, 2011

rabbit show success!

Here it is, the moment you've been waiting for: photos and a recap of the kids' rabbit shows. Ta da! It only took me a week to get to this point - did I mention that the fair is now officially over and we got all our stuff back today?


Well, the fair is officially over and we got all our stuff back today. I'm pretty sure I gained five pounds in fair food and I feel like I can safely wait a year before wanting to commit two weeks of our lives to the fairgrounds again. It was an amazing, wonderful, fun, rewarding experience, but it was also exhausting! Go away tourists!

Wait, we live in Orlando. That's not going to happen.

Anyhow, on to the rabbits. Alexei had his show on Saturday, presided over by an official ARBA judge (I can tell you're impressed.) He presented his rabbit to the judge who proclaimed Fuzzy to be a "nice little rabbit," and he received a blue award and Best in Class American fuzzy lop bucks. He got beat out for Best in Show by a really nice mini rex but we were all thrilled with his first try.

Then Alexei went on to compete in showmanship, which involves taking your rabbit to the judge and answering questions about rabbit judging and proving that you know what makes a good show rabbit. He was terrified over this class and actually had the opportunity to drop out, but stuck it out and went on to win second place in junior showmanship. Not too shabby!

The following Saturday, Alexei took a written test on rabbit breeds, digestion, nutrition, and basics and wound up getting third place in the rabbit skillathon at the junior level out of the six kids participating. See, homeschoolers can take tests too!

Ibis showed her rabbit in the Cloverbud show the day after Alexei, and in spite of him giving her a nice nip on the hand during the show (which she thoroughly deserved), she did great with him. She answered questions about her rabbit and her 4-H club and was adorned with a Cloverbud medal for participating. I liked how she was about a foot and a half taller than any of the other Cloverbuds.

In other rabbit news, Alexei opted to use his fair winnings to purchase another fuzzy lop show rabbit, a promising young doe who should make a great future Mrs. Fuzzy. He's decided to call her Wuzzy. I think she may be the cutest thing ever.

Guess you can call us the crazy rabbit people now.

Friday, February 18, 2011

is it Friday yet?

It's Friday. Not just any Friday, but Rodeo Day. Our county still upholds its long-standing tradition of closing schools one Friday a year while the fair and rodeo are in town. History has it this was done because the cattle for the rodeo had to be driven across the main thoroughfare through town, making the road impassable for school buses and traffic. Of course these days I think all the cattle is trailered in, and it's just a good excuse to lure patrons into the fair. We made the mistake of heading out to the fairgrounds to feed the rabbits - it only took twenty minutes to park and a half hour to exit the parking lot after we spent the three minutes required to feed the rabbits. Thank you Rodeo Day.

That sort of set the tone for our day. I was helping Alexei study for his upcoming Rabbit Skillathon, and Coral and Hobie were playing nearby. I'm drawing a chart of the rabbit digestive tract (cecum, anyone?) and notice that the house has gone quiet.

Coral left the pantry door ajar, and Hobie snagged the two boxes of Cheerios. Thankfully he only managed to open one before I caught him, but he had a grand time shaking the bag upside down and covering the entire kitchen with oaty circles. There are still Cheerios under the fridge and behind the trash can.

While I was cleaning the Cheerios mess up, Hobie followed Coral into the bathroom and proceeded to unravel the roll of toilet paper and then start splashing in the toilet. If you're going to wreak havoc, go big. Thankfully the roll was almost empty and the toilet was recently cleaned.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

fair updates, weekend one

The fair has taken over our lives for the past week, but it's been a worthwhile endeavor. Before you know it it will be time for weekend two and then I'd be really behind on updating you, so let's get this show on the road!

First, Alexei's exhibits and placements. He had twelve entries in the Exhibit Hall, and the Best in Show Jr. Photo Story was definitely his crowning achievement. We'll find out on Sunday what exactly the prize will be (medal? trophy? money?) but we know for sure that his photo story now moves on to the state competition. When and where that is, I couldn't tell you. I'm guessing someplace on the exact opposite end of the state. Tallahassee, anyone?

The kid's earned at least $70 in fair premiums. I need to take out a loan.

His single photos earned him three blue and one red award.

His drawing earned a red award.

His Lego model earned a blue award.

His baked goods earned two blue and one red award.

His toy car earned a red award.

His tabletop earned a red award. This was the only placing I disagreed with - I really think it deserved a blue. It was an improvement over last year's white award and he was happy with that, but this mama is still grumbling internally. I need lessons on parental showmanship here!

Ibis had four entries in the Exhibit Hall. This is her last year as a Cloverbud so her entries were limited to five (including her rabbit) and all of her work earned automatic purple awards (a medallion and $3 each).

Her crazy cat drawing.

Her photograph.

Her shoebox float.

Her baked good.

I will update on the rabbit shows asap. I can think of so many puns right now but I'll spare you. I'm nice like that.

No I'm not.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the weekend's hoppenings.

*A note about 4-H show placements, in case you were wondering. The classes are all divided by age into junior (8-10), intermediate (11-14), and senior (15-18). Each show entry is judged on its own merit and receives a white, red, or blue ribbon based on how it meets the class's criteria. Then all of the blue award winners in a class go on to compete against each other for a double blue, which becomes Best in Class. Then all the class winners compete against each other for a Best in Show.*

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday's haul

Yesterday afternoon, we took the last of the kids' entries over to the fairgrounds. All of Ibis's entries were due, Alexei's baked goods had to be submitted, and the rabbit check-in time was upon us.

Ibis is in her last year as a Cloverbud (for children ages 5-7 by Sept. 1st of the start of the 4-H year) so she was limited to five entries in a smaller selection of categories. She had such fun with her projects!

Her shoebox float was just adorable this year. We told her to think of something she loved, and she chose to make an ice cream truck. A lot of glue and glitter later, we had a finished product. The school room floor may never be sparkle-free again. Next Saturday she'll get to parade her shoebox float across the Exhibition Hall stage at the fair with the other Cloverbuds, and she'll receive a medal for her efforts.

She also made banana oatmeal cookies, drew a colorful and crazy rainbow cat, and took this cool photograph of Coral.

Alexei's baked goods were wrapped up and submitted; he has high hopes for these.

Lastly, the rabbits were packed up and carted off. They'll remain for the duration of the fair and come home  next Sunday. It's amazing how much I miss seeing the little fellas around the school room!

This afternoon the fair officially opens, and the real fun begins.