Monday, October 8, 2012

Josh vs. The Intimidator

I was very happy that we were able to talk Josh out of a birthday party this year and instead into taking a family trip to Carowinds, our local version of Six Flags. After teaching Cub Scouts for the past few weeks, Chris and I weren't sure we could handle an additional outing with 9-year-old boys! My parents came to Charlotte for the weekend, and we spent Sunday afternoon at Carowinds.

The Intimidator is the biggest ride at the park and is aptly named. It's 23 stories high and apparently goes almost 80 mph on the first drop. Josh rode all of the other roller coasters first and then decided he wanted to ride The Intimidator. Chris went with him. When they got off, Chris looked a little green and Josh was thrilled.

Josh wanted to ride it one more time before we left, but no one would go with him! I finally told Chris to walk him up to the ride (there was no line), put him on it and walk back to the exit. My dad and I waited for Chris, but instead we saw him and Josh on the front seat of The Intimidator for round 2. Chris later said he didn't want to look like a chicken putting his 9-year-old on the roller coaster and not riding it himself.

Needless to say, things did not go well for Chris. I'm not sure how well you can tell in this picture, but he looked like he was about to lose it when the roller coaster came around the last turn. We spent about half an hour at the park waiting for Chris' nausea to calm down, and then he spent a few hours in bed after we got home. Josh, however, had a great time. 

Molly stuck to the tamer rides, like the Red Barron planes, and talked my mom into buying her several stuffed animals and ice cream. 

We celebrated at home later with chocolate cake. Happy 9th birthday, Josh!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend in the mountains

We took an impromptu trip to the NC mountains this weekend and enjoyed great weather and a generally complaining-free time from the kids. There must be something about the mountain air! We hiked to this waterfall twice -- the first time we were afraid it would get dark while we were in the woods, so we returned the next day with a picnic and our swimsuits. I'll just say that Josh, the dog and I had a great time swimming.

We do feed our children and pets, even though you can count every one of Josh's ribs in this picture. If the dog was standing sideways, you could count her ribs too. 

Molly's feelings on swimming in freezing cold waterfall water

This is before the first hike, where everyone is clean and dry.
After the first hike, where Molly fell into the creek several times. She was a great sport about it, even after falling several more times the second day. Her clothes from this hike will never be the same! I think the back of her shorts will permanently be gray and brown from the creek mud. 

We also visited the apple orchard, but it was raining so we mostly bought pre-picked apples.

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of Third Grade

Finally! We had an extra-long summer this year, and Josh got on the bus this morning to start third grade. He seemed a little nervous and quiet at the bus stop, but he has a great teacher and a couple of friends in his class. I'm hoping it will be a good day for him. I wish I had taken a picture of him sitting at the breakfast table staring out the window like a zombie. The early morning start was a bit jarring for everyone!

Josh is holding our new dog, Kaia, who so far has been a wonderful addition to our family. She loves the kids and the cats, although the feeling is definitely not mutual from Homer and Henry. Kaia enjoyed all of the attention at the bus stop, and Josh liked showing her off to all of the kids there. 

Molly starts kindergarten on Wednesday, so only two more days until I start my new life with both kids in school all day! I'm the school yearbook adviser this year, which will be like a part-time job for several months, and I'm trying out a new writing job with a local news website in Charlotte. I'm excited about the possibilities with this large block of time I have every day, although next week I may take one day to read a book, eat and nap as an official day of rest after nine years of staying at home with kids!

Josh and his teacher, Mrs. Hodges, at open house last week

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Fifth Decade

We celebrated Chris' 40th birthday by ziplining with some friends and then enjoying dinner on the patio at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. It was a little more low-key than his 30th birthday blow-out, but with age comes less energy!

I practiced my new cake decorating skills I learned from my cousin in Florida on Chris' birthday cake.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Josh is at sleepaway camp in the N.C. mountains this week, and we have no communication from him. The camp does, however, post hundreds of pictures on its website every day so desperate parents can get a glimpse of what their child is doing and make sure the kid is wearing clean clothes every day. I have been pouring over pages of pictures, and Josh finally showed up in the photos today. Unfortunately, he looks either tired, miserable or confused in all of them. We haven't received any calls from camp (they have a no news is good news policy), so we're hoping he's having a good time.

Josh is behind the girl in the tie-dye shirt playing four square. We're always happy to see that he's participating (our standards are low!). Also glad to see that he is wearing a different shirt in two of the photos.

 Maybe acting out a skit?

I think this is how I looked in every science and math class I ever took (if I wasn't nodding off).
We're picking up Josh early Saturday morning. I've been writing and emailing him daily, and I'm sure he's been enthralled with my updates and photos of our kitchen renovation. I sent several stamped, addressed envelopes for him to write home, but so far, nothing! No news is good news, right?

Billy and Katherine?

I could hardly take these two seriously when they told me they would now be called Billy (Molly) and Katherine (Vivy). We're having a sleepover tonight, and these outfits appeared during the slaphappy phase of the evening. Hopefully everyone will sleep in tomorrow!

I took a picture from the back to show Molly's stuffed gator backpack/butterfly wing ensemble. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hilton Head 2012

We just returned from our 5th annual Hilton Head beach week, a trip that has become a wonderful tradition for us. We picked up Molly from her dance recital Saturday afternoon and headed for the beach

Thankfully the initial weather forecast of rain every day didn't hold up, and we enjoyed some mild weather and lots of sun toward the end of the week. We spent a substantial amount of money playing putt-putt golf and arcade games! This golf course had nets stationed along the course to use to fish your ball out of the water, which the kids used a lot.

Josh, Abbey, Molly
Molly takes a new approach to swimming every year, and this year she became some kind of ocean maniac. After her first swim at the beach, which appeared to be enough to get her acclimated to the waves, she wanted to swim on her own (with a life vest). I had to pull her kicking and screaming out of some rough surf on the last day because she didn't want to leave. 
Rare photo with everyone looking at the camera
Thankfully this year we did not have any issues with bikes running into cars or cars running into trees. I provided all of the calamity, falling over twice on my road bike, once on the edge of a busy intersection. I have a giant bruise on my backside to show for it. I'm sure I gave all of the drivers stopped at the light something to laugh about on their way to work that morning.
Emily, 16 months, and Mom
Molly, Elizabeth, Abbey
Molly is very serious about posing with Emily,
while Josh looks like someone just popped him on the rear end!
Celebrating summer family birthdays on our last night

Cub Reporters

I used to try and get babysitters or pawn the kids off on a friend when I had to work, but lately I've just decided to take the kids with me. People don't seem to mind the kids around, so in the spirit of trying new things, they are now my official assistants. It actually helps to have extra hands to hold notebooks, pens and my camera.

The kids and I have had some very interesting experiences in the past month! There are two trips I unfortunately don't have pictures of, the most notable a pet healthcare event in a questionable neighborhood where people were lined up around a parking lot with their dogs, primarily pit bulls. Josh and I almost got in the middle of a fight between two dogs that got off their leashes, and he got to see a bit of the perilous side of reporting!

This week we've already made a visit to an artist's studio, where Josh (and I) got to learn about encaustic painting, and have taken a tour a library. In the picture above, we were stationed on the course of a 5K for elementary school boys that ended in a baseball stadium. I was a bit horrified when Molly decided to use the dugout's bathroom, but the kids seemed to enjoy the afternoon. Josh even decided he'd like to try running a 5K himself after seeing some kids from his school in the race.

The best part about our library visit today was that after our tour, Josh agreed to sign up for the library's summer reading program and learned how to use the electronic check-out system himself.

Next week, the whole family is going with me to cover a bluegrass church. Hopefully it will be the first of many adventures on the job this summer!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

End of the school year

The school year came to a quick end this year! Molly finished preschool in late May, and what I thought would be a bittersweet ending to preschool for our family was not bittersweet at all! We're excited about her going to kindergarten next year, and I am very happy that my days will no longer be fragmented into dropping off and picking up kids every few hours. Molly had a great year at her new preschool, and now we are heading into a loooong summer.
Her preschool ended with a program for parents, and here Molly is giving me the "stop taking my picture, Mom" as she walks to the front of the church. The kids sang a few songs, and then all of the families had a picnic outside the church.

Josh finished second grade two weeks later, and we made sure to check that the "promoted to third grade" box was checked on his report card he brought home on the last day of school! Second grade is a bit of a wasteland as his school -- all second grade classroom are in trailers outside the main school building, so we're looking forward to Josh and his peers rejoining the rest of the school next year. He made a lot of progress in second grade, most notably learning to be a good sport in kickball and writing in cursive. 

Next up was Molly's dance recital, which brought an end to an excruciating year of dance lessons. Molly decided around Christmas that she no longer wanted to take dance, but because the dance school cleverly charges you $120 for the recital costume and "fee" in early December, we were committed to finishing out the year. I have employed many forms of bribery to get her to go to class without crying, and I will be relieved not to have to endure dance class drama every week anymore! 

Molly is fifth from the left in the line of girls below. She did fine in the recital -- I'm not sure what bothers her so much about dancing, but she's definitely made her opinions clear.

Josh and I attended the dress rehearsal and Chris attended the recital. I was thrilled to run into an old college friend as Josh and I were waiting to pick Chris and Molly up after the recital, then a bit mortified when Josh told immediately told my friend (who I haven't seen in at least 10 years) that he "came out of my mom's belly in September 2003." A simple "hi" would have sufficed!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A less miserable Cub Scout campout

I reluctantly agreed to attend the spring Cub Scout family campout, primarily because the weather would be more humane and the campground seemed pretty nice. I admittedly started the trip with a very bad attitude, but thanks to perfect weather and a great state park, I ended up having a lot of fun! And, I got some sleep! 

The park where we stayed had many things for kids to do, including mini golf and paddle boats. The kids were in heaven. Molly turns out to be a pretty good putter -- maybe there's a future for her there.

 At this point we had not seen a mirror or a hairbrush in quite a while.
Because it wouldn't be a true campout without the Metzl family providing some entertainment, Josh obliged by getting stuck in the Port-A-Potty while everyone was gathered around the campfire about 20 feet away. We were all treated to his panicked yelling and beating on the walls. Here, the cub master is walking over (he was followed by a pack of kids wanting in on the action) to assist Chris in the rescue. It turns out that only the door was stuck and the "potty" part of the Port-A-Potty was not at issue, and Josh was quickly freed.