Saturday, April 20, 2024

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Things were rolling along at the Arc of Abilities as we passed the midpoint of April.  On Tuesday, we spent a delightful day at Bluebird Gap Farm (much to our surprise) and on Wednesday we welcomed 7 therapy dogs and handlers for a visit, including a new one, Tucker and his handler, Marisol!  Thursday was a great day as we celebrated another spring birthday.  This time it was Kate's and we got to see Sandra, too.  She treated us to her delicious pork and rice!  Finally, on Friday, we wrapped up the week with Eaton work in the morning, and time at the park in the afternoon.  We love springtime!

Tuesday, April 16

One local spot we have never visited is Bluebird Gap Farm in Hampton.  We finally made it down there today (it's not even that far from our center), and our day was wonderful!  It's not just for kids!  It was fun to see many farm animals, but there is much more, including a beautiful garden area (Hampton Master Gardeners), and a number of trails.  There were LOTS of photo ops, so here, mostly in pictures, is a recap of our day at the farm!

A washing machine from "back in the day!"

Important!  Thanks for pointing it out to us, Laura!

Petting seems OK!

Turkey talk from Michelle!

Sam didn't get close enough to test for spitting from this one!

Goats on the table!

More goats!  We saw sheep in this area, too.

Lunch at the nice picnic area on a perfect weather day!   

Mallory treated us to homemade 7 layer Mexican dip and chips!  Thank you, Mallory!  It was sooo good! πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

Hitting the Azelea Trail, which connected to the Vernal Pond trail, and is over 1/2 mile out and back!  

Atop "Kid Hill"

We all loved it, but only Emma found the official photo spot!

This is Boulder, a rescued Sulcata tortoise, who could be one of Sweet Pea's distant relatives!

Beautiful peacock roaming freely, but we didn't get too close!

The final area we visited was the garden, which is cared for by the Hampton Master Gardeners.  We can't wait to tell our master gardener friends about this lovely spot!

We loved this Peanut Butter Bush that Nan pointed out.  When you rubbed a leaf between your fingers, it would make your fingers smell just like peanut butter!

We were all in good moods after seeing the farm animals and exploring Bluebird Gap Farm on such a pretty day.  We thought our fun was over, but the vans took us across the street to Bass Pro Shops where Carol thought we would like to go inside and see the fish!  It was so cool!

What a fun ending to a fun day!  

Wednesday, April 17

We didn't leave the center today, but we had just as much fun as yesterday!  We made new friends, had a great visit with the therapy dogs and their handlers, and cooked, too!  Here are a few less pictures than yesterday, but enough to convey the joy.  We were busy today!

The first new friend we made today was Melissa, a grad student from W&M who came to observe but was happy to chip in and help our earlybirds get started on lunch preps.  She and Patrick browned meatballs,  Thanks, Melissa!  It was a hectic morning and your help was much appreciated!  We hope you'll be able to visit again soon!

While Emma stirred, Bryan sprinkled seasonings into our cheeseball ingredients.

We had a second hummingbird visit the feeder today!

We don't usually cook on therapy dog days, but we wanted to share a meal with Melissa, so we made an exception.  By 9:30 we were ready to hang with our canine friends for reading and game time!  We had 7 dogs and handlers today, and we just love all the attention from them!

Beka and Michelle enjoyed their first reading rotation with Aja.

Melissa joined Bryan and Abraham to read with Vicky, and sweet Aubree who was under the table checking out what her friends were doing across the room!

This is our new handler friend, Marisol, and her corgi, Tucker!  Devin, Kevin, and Nan were the first to read with them.  Welcome, Marisol and Tucker!

Look who was back today!  PIP!!!  She recovered very nicely from "doggy ACL" surgery and seemed her old self today.  Alexis and Anmmarie enjoyed their reading time with her and Caroline.

Kate and Sam took a turn reading with Kent and Leo.   Leo had his ears perked to sounds he heard coming from around the corner!

Casey looks very dapper today!  Xavier, Liz, and Erik read with him and Carol S. during the first rotation.

Last, but not least, Laura, Patrick, and Emma were happy to see Patti and Guinness again this month!  Actually, we ALL were happy to see them!

After the reading rotations, we played a version of the classic Don't Break the Ice game using cups, tissues, and toothpicks.  We also did a drawing activity that involved rolling dice and following directions.  The drawings are a little hard to see, but no two are the same, and that's what made it fun!  Thanks so much for the time spent with us, friends from Therapy Dogs International.  Your visits are truly a highlight of our month. πŸ’™πŸ•πŸ’œπŸΆπŸ’š

Just for the sake of documentation, we also celebrated National Cheesball Day for the first time ever!  Lunch was delicious!

Thursday, April 18

Believe it or not, we had another spring birthday to celebrate!  Our friend Kate will be 29 on Monday, so we partied today to make sure we wouldn't miss her special time.  She came in as a "Birthday Princess" this morning!

We also took a moment to celebrate Kevin, too.  He was wearing his shirt that recognizes today as World Tetrasomy 18p Day.  That is the very rare chromosomal condition with which Kevin is diagnosed.  His shirt also says "Team Kevin," and we're all for that!

April 18 is also National Exercise Day!  We celebrated that first thing this morning with our dance warm up, and later we took a walk in the hall before lunch.  We had just watched an episode from a series about unicorns that we're into, so Dev was imitating a unicorn during his walk! πŸ¦„

You would be blurry like Annmarie if you were power walking like she was!  (Hi, Laura!)

Finally lunch time arrived, and so did our friend, Sandra.  This time, she brought her husband Bill so he could meet her "angels."  Sandra was Kate's friend first, and we are so happy Kate brought her into our lives!  It was a pleasure to meet you, Bill.  We have heard so many great things about you from your sweetheart of a wife!

Sandra brought her special pork with verde sauce and rice for our lunch, but before we ate she had a surprise for Kate.  She is very crafty, and had made chip bags with Kate's and her daughter Maria's pictures on the front, impersonating some of Kate's favorite characters!  (Actual bags of unopened chips were tucked inside.)  We all got a bag to enjoy with our lunch.

The chips were good, but the star of the show was what we call the "Sandra Special."  It's roast pork in a salsa verde, that is served over her delicious rice with garlic and onions.  It's so good!  We asked Sandra for the recipe and she said she will come another day and teach us how to make it.  She says it really easy, so we can't wait for her cooking lesson!  Sandra and Bill are eventually going to relocate to Portugal, but her legacy will be having taught us to make this tasty dish so we can always enjoy it and think about our warm friendship with her.  Thank you, Sandra, for spoiling us once again.  Kate is a lucky birthday girl, and we are her lucky friends!

Happy Birthday, Kate!  We hope all your wishes come true!

Thank you, Elizabeth and Mark, for the cupcakes and sodas that were enjoyed by us all!  It was so nice to see you both today!

Sandra led us in a high-energy dance party that was perfect for National Exercise Day, as well as a rocking birthday party!

Thanks again, Sandra, for treating us to your special dish, and for your fun-loving spirit!  We love when you visit!

We wrapped up the day by putting the finishing touches on a set of 24 thank you cards that The Arc will send out next week to the dedicated volunteers who work with us at other Arc events.  Pam asked us to create these, and we were honored to do it!

Passing the pens around so we could sign the cards.  Each group was responsible for 8 cards.

Here are a few samples of the cards.  Inside each one we attached a heartfelt message for the volunteer recipient.  We are all grateful for the commitment of many wonderful volunteers!

Friday, April 19

Our work day at Eaton had to be postponed, so Plan B was to do stay at AFCC to do some gasketing work for Eaton and make thank you cards for yesterday's guests. We would then head to the park to picnic, play games, and take a walk.  However, Mother Nature decided to make it a cloudy and quite chilly morning, so we ended up having lunch and Choice Time at the center before taking a quick trip to NN Park for another turtle search since Mallory was with us.  This time we found lots of turtles, and even a surprising one!  It was a slower day, but we enjoyed each other's company, as usual!!

When we saw this downy woodpecker visiting one of the feeders, we grabbed the camera and this was the best shot we got.  We wonder if this is the same fella who visited our feeder last year?

Everyone on this side of the room was very focused on their job for our thank you cards that they didn't even notice their picture being taken!  

We checked this side of the room and found everyone focused on gasketing parts for Eaton!

We all chip in with ideas when we write thank you notes.  

Math with Michelle and Mallory is a marvelous and magnificent way to spend a little down time!

Michelle, Kevin, and Xavier remembered that a few weeks back when Mallory taught us about turtles and tortoises, we went to Newport News Park to search for the turtles and only saw a couple.  

We took Mallory back today and didn't even have to go very far down the bridge before we spotted a lot of them!

The turtles were hard to photograph in the murky water.

Suddenly, we spotted this big guy!  Mallory told us it's a snapping turtle.  We told her, and a passerby, that we have never seen a snapping turtle in this water in 8 years of visits!   The passerby said he didn't think the park staff was aware of it being here. 

Mallory suggested maybe it had been someone's pet, and maybe the person couldn't care for it any more and brought it here thinking it would be a better home.  The other turtles don't seem to mind.

Liz was so fascinated by the snapping turtle that she FaceTimed her mom to show her!  Next time we visit the park we will ask about it at the Discovery Center, and find out if it is still there.

This guy was looking for the sun, but it wasn't shining!

On the other side of the bridge, these goofballs tried to decide which way to go, but unfortunately it was getting late and we had to head back to the center!

After our turtle search, we made our way back to AFCC just as the sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds.  We're hoping we'll have better luck with sunny weather on Tuesday.  Meanwhile, we were content to start our weekend!  Here's what's up for us next week:

Tuesday:  Today we will visit our master gardener friends for a session at Freedom Park where we will learn about seed germination.  The weather forecast looks practically perfect, so we will plan to visit Jamestown Beach Park to celebrate National Picnic Day for lunch followed by a walk by the river.  Arc shirts optional. Bring a bagged lunch.

Wednesday:  This week is Volunteer Appreciation Week, so instead of volunteering at GCOC today, Ally wants us to visit their Open House as guests today!  We will enjoy socializing with staff and other volunteers who may be there.  Later, we will welcome the GCOC volunteers we work closely with (Joel, Peggy, Tom, and Ursula) to our center for a tour and dessert.  They are looking forward to seeing our place and learning more about what we do.  Lunch on your own.  JRES Cafeteria is available for Cheesy Pasta Supreme (which is typically spaghetti!) or Sub of the Day.

Thursday:  Today we are celebrating the end of Mallory's internship and her upcoming graduation from ODU!  We'll share our favorite memories, play games, and make nacho casserole with rice for lunch.  We're also going to have yoga with Jaime today, because we'll be on the road tomorrow, so dress to stretch!

Friday:  Today will be busy, but fun!  First, we will send a group to work at Pet Supplies Plus while the rest of us take care of some odds and ends around the center.  Please wear PSP shirts!  After lunch, we are going to see Christina at the Art Museums of CW.  She needed to change our visit day from Tuesday to Friday for the months of April and May.  Lunch on your own.  Microwave is available.  There is no school for students today so JRES Cafeteria is not open. 😞

Have a great weekend,

Lisa, Carol, Nan, and the AoA Gang