Friday, July 15, 2016

The Favorite Week of the Year

Last weekend we had a visit from Ann & Hans (+ Luke) as Ann had class in Blacksburg. Friday, the boys were playing golf while school was in session so I took the teens and headed out to, naturally, play 80's video games and get lunch at Jack Browns, a perennial favorite. (Elon declined to join us.)

The visit was a perfect time to use up the (still untapped) keg from their going away party and have an open deck weekend for any and all friends who wanted to stop by!

Sunday was the big day, the best week of the year....

The girls were off to their very favorite camp and E had a week as an only child!

The girls are due back tomorrow, hopefully having enjoyed their time as much as always. E, Tim, and I didn't have too much going on, but he still loved "his" week!

Kicking it roof down in the Jeep today!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Very Wet Week

I don't know about you, but we've had adverse, rainy weather ruining things left and right. Independence Day was pretty much a wash out. Luckily, the city's fireworks were rescheduled for the following night. I took the girls, who each brought a friend, down to the forestation lawn to watch. Little did I know that having buddies would also mean get lost Mom. I was with Maggie and her pal when she said, "Mom, why are you so close to us?" My reply that I hadn't seen a friend of mine was not good enough. Luckily, a family with teens who had also ditched them too came by at that moment and I was able to glom on to their celebration. To be expected I guess!

Morrigan and I went last week to Raleigh, NC to see the band Twenty One Pilots last week. [For those unfamiliar with their music - see video below!]

It was her first concert and the rare convergence of a band she likes, a band I like, and a band whose tickets were available at a price we could live with. We (I) struggled mightily to take a selfie together. I am lacking some millennial skills for sure.

But I totally could apply an Instagram filter!

As the opening acts played, the skies at the open air arena started to look ominous. 

And soon, the entire crowd had to be evacuated to the parking garage and municipal building across the street. 

After a brief but intense storm, we were let back in. I think everyone was relieved that we didn't all have to go through security again. In fact, they didn't even check to see if we had tickets. No matter, the show was back on! Not that things looked much better above.

As you might expect from such clouds, there was rain. The entire show. But here is the funny, and most unexpected thing, it made it better. I was there with Morrigan, singing and dancing in the rain, and we had so much fun. As we walked back to the hotel, still in the rain, we couldn't stop talking about what a great show it was. M said she didn't know if she wanted to see them again in January as she wasn't sure it could ever match the show we saw.

Drenched post-show.

By some miracle, and an empty garbage bag we found, both our phones survived. As a side note, I have finally come to understand the beauty of Snapchat. It is an app which allows you to send pictures that disappear after a set number of seconds. You can also make a Snapchat "story" which is a series of videos and pictures, which you can caption, that lasts for 24 hours. The brevity of its lifetime didn't seem important until I watched Morrigan's Snapchat story about the show and heard myself belting out the song heavydirtysoul. Thank goodness the rain meant she only had a bit of video before having to put her phone away. (As the creator, she could save it, and did. I'm hoping it stays with just her.)

Last night's swim meet was wet by design. Maggie normally swims in the last heat. Which is good, because it means she is fast, and bad because she is with all the year round swimmers and comes in last in her heat. But yesterday there were enough swimmers that she was in the second to last heat and was the winner in each by several seconds (a long time in the aquatic world.) 

She cut time and placed well so it was an all around good night. 

In coming events, we have the Heerens coming to visit this weekend and the girls are off to Hogwarts Camp!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Relaxing, Uneventful Summer Marches On

All kinds of good new on our front. Morrigan knocked out all her Yfit hours and we are free from forced daily trips to the YMCA! Tim and I go there many days anyway but we can go with the knowledge that Morrigan has secured an extra elective block and can "enjoy" AP European History in the fall.

Our many grass growing experiments in chicken land are (partially) successful. While one side of their territory is still a muddy mess, the other is sporting some healthy looking grass. And weeds, we take any greenery we can get. After failed seeds and sod, we are likely to retain the barren moonscape on the other side but hope springs eternal that the living grass will spread.

And let's not forget a hallmark of summer, swim meets! Maggie has been doing well and routinely dropping time. I told her that her (much maligned) butterfly looked much better this week than last. She said she had really been working on it. Funny that...

The best part for me is seeing the kids all have fun together. Is there anything better than teens splashing around in the kiddie pool having a blast?

With three weeks done, we are halfway to the end of the season!

Tonight Morrigan and I are off to Raleigh, NC to see the band 21 Pilots in concert. Very exciting seeing as it is her first concert and the first relevant band I've seen in 15+ years! Not that I haven't tried. When I offered to take the girls to see Justin Bieber, they said they would rather scalp the tickets for cash. While I appreciate their commitment to making money, I totally got robbed. I mean, my mother got to see Duran Duran. I should get to see Bieber and 1D. But it looks like I'll settle for 21 Pilots. Full report out from the oldest person at the show to come.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Columbus Zoo

Last summer we won VIP passes at a charity auction for the Columbus Zoo. It tok almost a year, but we finally got around to using them! You have to call ahead and let the Zoo know you are coming so they can leave the passes at will call. Unfortunately, the day we chose, last Saturday, was also their big fundraiser, meaning they were closing early, at 3pm. After a family discussion, we decided that 6 hours was all the zoo fun we would need anyway and decided to soldier on. The zoo felt bad though and decided to throw in free day passes to the waterpark that is part of the complex. So we arrived a day early and spent Friday enjoying perfect weather for water slide action!

Sadly, as it was a very wet place, no pictures.

That night we went to Schmidt's in Germantown for dinner. We had to (gasp) wait almost an hour for a table, something we never do, but it was worth it. Great German food.

And a terrific atmosphere. There was a two man oompah band that was a hoot. They really interacted with the crowd, sometimes to the dismay of teenagers who will go unnamed, and played some non-traditional music, like the Beastie Boys' No Sleep Til Brooklyn. It was so much fun.

The next day we were at the park first thing, beating down the doors when it opened.

The zoo was one of the most well done zoos we have ever visited. Seeing as we only had six hours, we had to keep on task but we able to see most everything. We got to witness these flamingos fighting.

And see the baby tiger cubs play with their mom and each other. You've never seen anything this adorable!

What we all really enjoyed was our VIP status.

All day long employees would greet us with "It's the family of the day!" There were some perks we didn't really use, like unlimited rides. Just not enough time. But what we did take advantage of was the free unlimited animal feedings. 

First up were the lorikeets.

Then the giraffes...

But the big hit of the day was feeding the stingrays! They are very tame and come right over so you can pet them. But if you have food, they get excited and will eat out of your hand, which is an odd experience. They open up their mouths, which have no teeth but are kind of a hard cartilage, and then they sort of suction on to your hand. It doesn't hurt but it is a weird feeling. Not embarrassed to say we all squealed like little girls. 

We must have fed them over 100 fish. It was some good, splashy fun! 

After that, our time was up, which was probably a good thing as we were all beat and had a 7 hour car ride awaiting us. Tired, coated in sunscreen and stingray water, we made our way back to Virginia. It was a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

First Summer Swim Meet

Monday night was perfect for an outdoor swim meet - warm but not hot and just a light breeze. I was working the computers, inputting times to get the results sheets, but of course, was able to watch Maggie swim the 50 free and 50 backstroke.

After a winter off, she swam great dropping time in each race.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Summer is Basically Carting Kids Around

So this morning I thought to myself, self, you haven't blogged in almost a month. You should fix that. Then I quickly realized how very monotonous the last three weeks have been.

The last week of school was a mess. While the kids were ostensibly still in school, every day I had a combination of one or more children at home. Plus it seemed there was some reason I needed to drive them to school each morning - projects, donuts for Spanish class, you get the idea.

Once school actually let out, our days began revolving around YFit and swim team. The former is a program that allows high schoolers to work out at the YMCA instead of taking gym class in the fall. Morrigan has 50 hours to complete by the end of July. Hence, she is "enjoying" logging about three hours a day at the Y. We've been doing our best to coordinate that dropping off and picking up with daily swim team practices. Nothing but excitement I tell you.

But we had a nice visit from Tim's parents, who were en route to our niece's high school graduation in Michigan.

And we had a great dinner with Ann, Hans, and their kids on the night before they moved to Richmond. 

When I warned the kids there would probably be pictures, they rolled 
their eyes and said there are always pictures. 

That was a tough one. We've been best friends for a decade and their move made the whole family sad. Not to mention, Hans was always my wingman when Tim was working!

Wow, didn't mean to end on a sad note. On the plus side, swim meets start Monday so we'll at least have those updates!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Eion's 4th Grade Band Concert

Tonight was E's band concert. His teacher is a complete rock star. She took a group of 4th graders, most, if not all, of whom had no ability to read music or play instruments, and in eight months, had them concert ready. For all the grandparents out there, I'll put a video in at the end!

After school, Tim and I went on a walk only to return and find Eion had dressed himself for the concert. It wasn't what I picked out, but I also didn't have to iron. We call this a win-win.

Eion chose to play the clarinet. I think he was initially interested in the tuba, but he didn't want to share an instrument.

During my recovery from back surgery this fall, when I was trapped in bed, Eion, freshly armed with his new clarinet, subjected, I mean treated, me to many, many renditions of Hot Cross Buns. I was delighted to hear the orchestral version this evening.

E with his captive audience.

The last song they played was the theme from Star Wars. Their teacher directed them with a light saber. I love that woman!

Eion with his teacher and band teacher.

It was an excellent band concert!

And for all those who wish, the video of Star Wars!