Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Late Christmas Lunch at ACOR

You might remember the gingerbread house we constructed around Christmas time, a fun project that helped bring a bit of holiday spirit to ACOR. That house decorated the front room of ACOR for some weeks before the big Christmas lunch, which occurred much later (in mid-January) for a variety of reasons. That large lunch included the employees and their families, so Abed, Naif and Said's children came and were fascinated by the gingerbread house. If you remember, originally it looked like this. (Yo is particularly proud of his icicles hanging from the eaves!). Well, actually, in this picture the chimney is missing already because Yo ate it long ago!

But it was time to decide what to do with the house. Figuring that no one would care too much if the house had been sitting out for a few weeks, we declared it open season on the gingerbread house.

This was popular, and within minutes the house looked like this:

Yo helped with the devouring, and helped 'raise the roof', although the candies proved more popular than the rather cardboardish house structure of gingerbread.

In the end there was not a candy left, and although it looks like a tornado hit it, it was clear many enjoyed this novel experience.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Antartica Fun Facts: Animal House Version

We've been closely following the unfolding news about Antartica and fun facts over at the Life of Wiley blog, but we noticed many stories about penguins, cyanobacteria, cephalopods and other such ocean detritus (oh, and how much warmer it is than South Bend!). But what we did not see was the reason for the trip.

But this news story offers a clue to the true purpose of the trip. Who needs Padre Island or Daytona Beach?

Hopefully things have calmed down since Christmas. If not, watch out Wiley, mom is going to be tired when she gets back!

Have a good trip, and be good boys!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Build a Bear!!!

As many of you know Yo is obsessed with Build a Bear. We have all heard his idea of opening a franchise in the Mecca Mall in Amman. We've seen the store front in malls but have never visited. Yesterday Mo had the opportunity to visit a store and watch the building a bear process in person. For Christmas our nieces and nephew each got a certificate to Build a Bear and yesterday was the day. Boy were they excited!! Here are the 3 bear builders (MRK, LL and FMK) outside the store:

The store is actually not that big but it is overwhelming - filled with animals, clothes and accessories.
STEP 1: picking a "bear" and bear is a misnomer since you can choose from all different types of animals. Here MRK is deciding between a triceratops and a moose. Of course being a good Canadian he chose the moose, whom he named Elliot.

STEP 2: You get to pick a sound that goes with your animal. Here LL and FMK are picking their sounds. LL chose a cheetah as her bear and she picked the "hello girlfriend, you are my best friend" sound. FMK chose a bunny as her bear and then chose the monkey sound to accompany her bunny. When we got to the next step (stuffing) Courtney (our stuffer) said she had never come across anyone who wanted the monkey sound put into a bunny. That's FMK she marches to her own drummer, definitely related to Mo.

STEP 3: waiting in line for the stuffing. Here are the patient new "best friends" and Mo waiting in the line. We asked and apparently it's always like this no matter what day or time, always a line and always pretty busy.

Once we got to the front of the stuffing line the next step is giving your bear to Courtney and then you get to step on the peddle that controls the stuffing of the bear. Here MRK is a little unsure of the stuffing procedure. But the very helpful Courtney (seen here stuffing FMK's bunny) was very reassuring and asked all the right questions. STEP 4: Giving the animals a heart. This part of the process is fascinating. Here Courtney asked each of the kids to pick up a heart that would be put into their bear. She asked them to rub the heart between their hands to get the hearts warm and beating. Then they were asked to rub the heart on their heads and stomach to make sure that the animals would be wise and never go hungry. They had to promise to always look after their animal. STEP 5: Fluffing and grooming. There is a station where the kids can brush and fluff up their bears.STEP 6: Clothing the bears, because no animal can ever be naked. . .

Here LL surveys the array of clothes to choose from. This was definitely the most overwhelming and costly part of the adventure. At one point LL had her cheetah completely dressed but she decided that the tiara she had chosen didn't go with the outfit and she wanted the "change" her clothes, but we had already taken the tags off so we "owned" the original clothes she chose. It's an interesting lesson in making choices and living with them. It is Canada so there was the requisite Mountie outfit.But it was definitely game over for MRK when he saw the hockey outfits. Elliot was to be dressed in an Ottawa Senators (his favourite team) outfit, skates, stick and puck. Here is MRK dressing his moose:

STEP 7: Picking a name

This is a very important part of the build a bear process - picking name. It's here that you enter your details so they can contact you in the future to lure you in to buy more things and revisit the store. You fill out the details and then when you head to the cash register you get a "birth certificate" for your animal.

And you get a "house" to take your bear home. We ended up with a pink cowboy boot wearing bunny named Livy who makes monkey sounds, a moose name Elliot who plays hockey for the Ottawa Senators and a cheetah named Nala who wears a tiara and carries a wand, but who is not wearing the right dress:
And three very happy campers. A fun time was had by all and everyone walked away with the build a bear of their choice. Aunt MRK walked away with a much lighter wallet, build a bear is not cheap, but it was on sale . . .