Monday, February 28, 2011

Polar Ice

One of our groups of homeschool friends organized a tour of Polar Ice House ice skating rink in Grapevine.

With the boys in the family all entranced with ice skating and hockey, it was a given that we would all be attending this cool event.

Kathi Singleton, General Manager for Polar Ice, gave us a tour of the facilities. She said that the facility opens at 4:00 am each day for teams and individual practice. Several olympic medalists practice there as well as the Ice Jets and the Grapevine Wolves Hockey teams. They have two full size ice rinks and many locker rooms fully decked out with flatscreen televisions, xbox consoles, etc.



We got to see the Zamboni and the Olympia ice resurfacers up close. They are quite impressive with even more impressive price tags ($90K and $120K).



We also learned some interesting facts about keeping an ice rink cold. There are pipes underneath the ice that carry 8000 pounds of chilled brine water through them. The brine water lowers the temperature of the floor so that the water on top will freeze more easily. A layer of water is sprayed and allowed to freeze. The ice is painted white overall and whatever rink markings are needed for hockey or figure skating as added as well. Then more water is sprayed on top and frozen until it reaches about an inch thick.



The ice rink takes 3 days to form but only 3 hours to melt. As you can imagine, the electric bill for an ice skating rink is incredibly high. Their bill is about $80K per month and it costs about $350/hr just to keep the ice cold.

Polar Ice is a premier ice skating facility and teams travelling through the area on their way to their games will stop in for a practice. We watched this team practice for a little while today.



After our tour, Sara gave us a quick class on how to sit in our skates, how to keep ourselves from falling, and how to get up if we do fall.



Stuart and Nicholas are old pros at this stuff so they sat and watched but it was all new to Rachel and me. Rachel was the youngest child in the class and since all of the other parents were big chickens and wouldn't put on skates, I ended up being the oldest one in the class.



Once we got out on the ice, Sara also taught us some basic skating skills. Stuart got some video of me in this part of the class. It's sad because all the little kids just took to skating like ducks in water. It was clear that I was not so skilled. But not to fear, I won't be posting those video clips here.

But we did have fun!



Polar Ice opens the rink for public skating on Monday - Friday from 11:15 am - 1:15 pm, Friday nights from 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm, Saturdays 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm. And as of April 1st, they will also be opening public skating on Sundays from 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm. Public skating prices are Adults $8.00, Children $7.00, and Military $5.00.

If you don't have your own ice skates, don't worry. Polar Ice has skate rentals in your size for just $3.00/rental.



If you are considering trying skating, be sure to wear gloves because your hands will probably touch the ice a few times. And wear some layered clothing. The air is cold in the ice rink so you'll want a jacket but as you start moving around you will probably warm up and need to take a layer or two off.

Polar Ice also has a full snack bar called Crazy Joe's where you can get hot dogs, fruit, sandwiches, grilled platters, nachos, popcorn, cotton candy, bottled and fountain drinks.

We stayed up until the end of the public skating time and we were the last ones out on the ice. It was nice because it made it easier to get some video of the boys out on the ice.

Obviously, Stuart was taking this video because I wouldn't have been able to keep up with the boy like this while I'm clinging to the side walls.



Here's hubby showing off his new backwards skating moves.



Polar Ice offers a wide variety of classes for all ages and skill levels as well as figure skating and hockey lessons. For more information, please visit their website. They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monster Jam!!!

We won 4 tickets to Monster Jam!

Yes, we can't believe it either!

All we did was attend a local event at Bounce U that was organized by Playin' Around Town earlier this month. We went to the event because the kids love the bounce houses at Bounce U and the event was free, thanks to the Playin' Around Town sponsors. After the event, there was a random drawing and we won the Monster Jam tickets!

With 4 tickets, our whole family could go to Monster Jam. For some reason, I actually thought this would happen...until I really thought about it. Then I realized that Monster Jam probably wouldn't be too exciting for our quiet two year old who would likely complain about it being too loud yet would rip off any ear protection we tried to give her. Then she would get bored and try run around and explore the stadium.

Did I mention that Monster Jam is in the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington?

Not really a place for two year olds to wander around.

So, we decided that I would stay home with the little one and Nicholas and Daddy would take some friends for a Guy's Night Out.

As expected, there were lots of noise and fireworks...as if giant monster trucks jumping high in the air and crashing with a bang wasn't exciting enough by itself.



The monster trucks are really incredible. They are huge and powerful. But they are also incredibly customized and modified to match their theme. For example, the Monster Mutt had a tail and ears that flopped around and a really cute tongue that would really pant as he was lining up to start the race.



But as cute as he is, even Monster Mutt rolled over. There were a lot of trucks rolling over at Monster Jam.



Nicholas has never been to anything like Monster Jam so he was blown away. As he would say, "It was AWESOME!"






The monster trucks climbed right over piles of cars in the arena.



They even made light work out of destroying an RV!



Maximum Destruction made an impressive run...and an impressive crash in the freestyle event.



Did you notice all the cheering that took place when he crashed? So much testosterone in that building!

Maximum Destruction won the freestyle event, of course!

Monster Jam is a night of awesome fun full of exciting motorsport races and monster truck mayhem. I think the boys in our house will definitely be going back!

Thanks again to Playin' Around Town for the free tickets!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Playtime at the Thrush Park

We are blessed to have an abundance of nice playgrounds in our town.  Several are a short walk from our home so we love to spend our free time running and climbing and coming up with creative games on the playground equipment.

Rachel's favorite thing to do is swing.  She squeals with delight as she swings in the air.  She also loves it when I get in front of the swing and pretend like she's accidentally just kicked me as she swings forward.  She knows I'm just being silly so she giggles and begs for me to do it again! 


Nicholas loves to climb so he loves playgrounds like this that have really unique climbing structures. 


Going to playgrounds are a great way for young children to practice their gross motor skills for gripping, walking, jumping, balance, climbing, and of course running.


Oh, I've got to go now.  Rachel is fussing at me to get to the bottom of the slide to catch her.  Can you just hear her whine in this picture?

Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day

In honor of President's Day, we have been learning about the role of a president and our past presidents.

Nicholas started with reading aloud to Rachel and me. He read the book, "Celebrating President's Day: What Is A President?" by Jordano and Callela-Jones. It has simple language and was an easy read for Nicholas.



Next, I read to Nicholas and Rachel from another book called, "...If You Grew Up With George Washington" by Gross. This book tells you what it was like to live in Virigina during the colonial times of the 1730s and 1740s. What would you do to have fun? How did you light your house at night? We discussed some of the differences between then and now.

We discussed the role of the president in the early years as well as the role served today in modern times. We touched on some of the political, social, and environmental issues facing the world today so that he was able to understand just how many different issues the president could have influence over.

He wrote in his journal today, "If I were president, I would make recycling my first priority. I would also like to feed the poor."

Nicholas read the presidential oath and answered some questions about it.



We talked about presidents of the past and Rachel really seemed to enjoy looking at my set of U.S. President flash cards.



We discussed two well-known past presidents in depth - George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I had booklets on each of them and was going to read them to Nicholas so we could discuss them but he decided he wanted to try to read them to me instead.



He did great! However, the booklet really wasn't written for his level so he got burned out quickly and asked me to take back over.

After our readings, we discussed some similarities and differences in the two presidents. Nicholas even helped me make a Venn diagram to help illustrate them.



President's Day is an special day to honor our past presidents and what they have done to make this country what it is today. I feel blessed to have been able to help teach Nicholas and Rachel a little bit of patriotism today.

A Presidential Flair To Dinner Time

In honor of President's Day, I dug up a recipe called Thomas Jefferson's Chicken Fricasse. Who knows if was really a recipe of our president but it was fun to make.

Thomas Jefferson`s Chicken Fricassee Recipe
As found at www.cdkitchen.com

Servings: 6

Ingredients:



3 pounds chicken pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups water
1 cup dry wine
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cups fresh small mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup half and half cream
Hot Cooked Rice

Directions:
Wash and dry the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika.

Brown the chicken in hot oil over high heat in a Dutch oven.



Remove the chicken when well browned. Reduce heat to medium, add flour, and cook the flour until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Whisk in 2 cups of water, 1 cup of wine until smooth.

Return the chicken to the Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 50 minutes.

Remove chicken, keeping warm, reserve broth in large container. Broth may be strained to remove particles.

Melt butter in Dutch oven, over medium high heat, add onion, cook until lightly browned.



Add mushrooms, sage and parsley.



Add broth, cream, and chicken. Cook over medium heat, stirring until thoroughly heated. Served over rice.



~~~~~~~~~~

In light of George Washington and the whole cherry tree fiasco (which some say never really happened), we made Cherry Thumbprint Cookies.

Cherry Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:



1 tsp vanilla
2 sticks butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
maraschino cherries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The recipe calls for egg yolks so Stuart took a little extra time to teach Nicholas how to separate an egg. He broke the egg around the middle as gently as possible then showed Nicholas how to carefully move the yolk between the two egg shell halves while letting the egg white drip into the cup below.



Nicholas couldn't wait to give it a try! His first attempt at gently cracking the egg went well. But when it came time to move the yolk, it slipped out of the egg shell and mixed with the egg whites below.



But he was excited to give it another try. And he got it! Egg whites in the cup and egg yolk neatly remained in the egg shell.



Rachel helped me measure some of the other ingredients.



In a large bowl, mix together the vanilla, butter, egg yolks, and brown sugar until creamy. Add the flour and salt. Mix well.

Of course, both kids had to take turns mixing the dough!



Have the children roll the dough into 1" balls and place them on greased cookie sheets. Have them make a thumbprint in each ball.





Place a maraschino cherry in each thumbprint.



Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.



The cookies were nice although Nicholas said that they weren't sweet enough. Stuart and I agreed that they weren't as sweet as cookies that we usually get but we kind of like them because of that.

~~~~~~~~~~

I have a book that Stuart's grandmother gave us called, "The Original White House Cook Book, 1887 Edition". It is full of vintage recipes as well as historical information about the White House and etiquette at that time. I didn't find a recipe there that I really wanted to use for dinner tonight.

However, I found some very interesting home remedy recipes in the back of it. Some of them are just amazingly funny as well as a little frightening when you realize that this was what a doctor might recommend for you back them. I'll share a few favorites with you.

To Cure Earache.1.Take a bit of cotton batting, put on it a pinch of black pepper, gather it up and tie it, dip it in sweet oil, and insert it in the ear; put a flannel bandage over the head to keep it warm; it often gives immediate relief.
2. Tobacco smoke, puffed into the ear, has oftentimes been effectual.

To Stop The Flow of Blood.For a slight cut there is nothing better to control the hemorrhage than common unglazed brown wrapping paper, such as is used by marketmen and grocers; a piece to be bound over the wound. A handful of flour bound on the cut. Cobwebs and brown sugar, pressed on like lint.

Sore Throat.Cut slices of salt pork or fat bacon, simmer a few moments in hot vinegar, and apply to throat as hot as possible. When this is taken off, as the throat is relieved, put around a bandage of soft flannel. A gargle of equal parts of borax and alum, dissolved in water, is also excellent.

We've come a long way since the days of our earlier presidents. However, their jobs back then were just as challenging as that of our presidents today and I honor them.

Stuart Learns Hockey with MCHA

Stuart has had an interest in learning to ice skate for quite a while but now that Nicholas is taking skating lessons, it has resparked that interest. He has been skating a lot with Nicholas to help him practice and would like to get involved with hockey. He found that the Metroplex Christian Hockey Association offers a few free introductory hockey classes at The Ice near his office.



They even let him borrow some of the protective gear so he doesn't have to buy any until he is sure he wants to continue with hockey.



I had not seen one of his classes before because it is hard to watch Stuart on the ice while keeping up with two little kids as well. But we gave it a try this one time. I was proud of him for trying something new and he did well out there with a hockey stick and skates.





Although the kids were excited to watch Daddy on the ice, they couldn't see him very well and their attention spans aren't very long.



I had brought Rachel in her stroller. Although she doesn't need a stroller, it does help to keep her confined for a little while at least. I had plenty of toys for her to stay occupied with but even so, she wanted to get out after about 20 minutes. Then I had to keep up with her as she explored the games and vending machines around the ice rink.

She pretended to play the ice hockey game.



She pretended to drive a snowmobile game.



There was some bickering about who's turn it was to play a game or whining about being bored. But overall, the kids did ok for that hour...although I don't think I could have managed them for much longer in such a small space without them going totally stir crazy.



Well, maybe they did actually get a little stir crazy by the time class was over...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nicholas Gives Hockey A Try

Nicholas got to try out an introductory hockey class today. The class was at The Ice at Stonebriar Mall in Frisco and it was FREE! They provided rental equipment for free and even gave Nicholas a jersey to keep.



The class covered basic skills like moving the puck with a hockey stick. While the video below is not full of hard-hitting action, I do think the conversations between Rachel and her Daddy who are watching from off the rink are quite cute.



After the introduction to the basic mechanics of the skills, the kids got to move the puck around more on the ice and practice shooting goals.



It was a good way for Nicholas to get a feel for hockey and I'm afraid he likes it.