Vacation Bible School

Posted in Church, Leah, Molly on July 22nd, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Our church does a couple of weeks of Vacation Bible School (VBS), and last week was the week our family participated. I joined in the fun one day as the official preschool photographer, though I snuck upstairs to briefly check out Molly and the elementary kids before heading down to preschool.

Vacation Bible School

I’m not sure what Molly’s shouting at the opening of VBS, but she’s definitely getting into it.

Excited kid

Jen taught Leah’s class. Here they are with everyone for opening singing.

Opening singing

Jen’s an expert VBS teacher. She even gets asked if she teaches in school year-round.


At the beginning of outdoor games, this counselor said the first two kids to tag him would start off as sharks. Leah was one of them. She isn’t the fastest kid, but she’s quick to move.


Jen’s not the kind of teacher who sits on the sidelines and watches. She’s right in the middle of the action.

Fun with kids

The game they played was Sharks and Minnows (a land-based version). When they got the go-ahead, the kids made their break.

Sharks and Minnows

Run, Leah, run!

Running Leah

Leah wasn’t the only kid clinging to Jen.

Hugging Jen

It was a great week, and all of us had a lot of fun. The girls were sad it had to come to an end, but not too sad as they knew a new adventure started the next day...

No training wheels

Posted in Molly on July 17th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

Molly has been unwilling to take her training wheels off her bike for some time, but a while ago she said she’d do it this summer. So, with a beautiful Saturday, I removed them from her bike, then we went to the school blacktop to learn. I started holding the bike for her, while she got the hang of it.

No training wheels

Molly enjoyed pulling me around, and I didn’t realize how much work it would be. I had just taken a shower after my morning run, but I was dripping with sweat again in no time.

Having fun

She quickly progressed from being held up by me to mostly balancing on her own while I just prevented falling over.


Leah rode her bike most of the time while I worked with Molly, but did take a bit of a chalk break to do some drawing. Not a long enough break to warrant taking off her helmet, though.

Chalk break

Eventually she was doing so well I started letting go. She didn’t realize I was doing it at first, but eventually noticed.

No hands

Then we progressed to just having me follow her around to catch her if she happened to fall over.

Follow along

In no time, she was riding like she'd been doing it for ages. Here's a video of her in action with scenes from me helping and scenes of her doing it all on her own.

The girls kept asking to take a break from bike riding to play on the playground, and we happily obliged since Molly was doing so well. They really love the playground. I think they’re part monkey.


Leah, upside down again, this time with a bare midriff.

Bare midriff

After some playground time, it was back on the bikes. Leah, Molly, and I decided to have races around the blacktop. I usually lost.


Great job, Molly!

Zoo VIPs

Posted in Family outings on July 16th, 2014 by c-had – 2 Comments

Charles’s mom, Carol, who works at the National Zoo, arranged a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Small Mammal House for us. We felt like VIPs getting to go back into the exhibits to meet the animals. Kenton was an excellent tour guide and taught us a lot.

Zoo VIPs

The first animal we got to meet was this Small Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec named Sansa. She may look like a small hedgehog, but she’s actually a tenrec and not related to a hedgehog at all. It just looks like it due to convergent evolution.

Small Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec

Molly was happy to pet the tenrec, though it would have been a bad idea if it was scared and had its sharp spines up. Leah was not up for petting anything with spines.

Petting a tenrec

The next animal we met was Bonnie the three-banded armadillo. She was just waking up, so still curved into her defensive ball.

Bonnie the armadillo

Leah did pet Bonnie the armadillo, but she was so quick in doing it that I didn't hit the shutter on my camera fast enough.

Quick pet

Molly of course pet Bonnie the armadillo as well.

Molly too

After we pet her, Bonnie was allowed to run around a bit. She seemed happy to stretch her legs.

Running around

Molly was really enjoying the tour and eager to see what was next.

Having fun

Next we met Clark the prehensile-tailed porcupine, who was very happy to see us as it meant he got a tasty snack. He started with some corn on the cob.

Clark the porcupine

Here's Clark patiently waiting for his next snack after finishing some papaya.

Hi Clark

Here's Jen feeding Clark his favorite treat - bananas. In fact, when he was first born he almost died, but bananas helped save his life. Scroll down to Porcupine Problems there for his story.

Feeding Clark

We then went to a different section of the small mammal house to meet a couple of naked mole-rats. These are some seriously weird animals, but Leah had no problems getting up close to them (without touching, though).

Naked mole-rat

Naked mole-rats have no fat under their skin and no hair on it, which means their skin is fairly translucent.


Kenton then opened up the exhibit to let us see the three naked mole-rat colonies and ask questions. This meant that everyone could see us as if we were part of the exhibit. I think this was Molly's favorite part, both because she liked seeing the animals and because she liked feeling special.

Us on exhibit

After our behind-the-scenes tour, we walked around the public parts of the Small Mammal House. Of course, the meerkats were a highlight. Leah and this meerkat had a staring contest.

Staring contest

There was not much more than a big piece of plexiglass separating Leah from this meerkat.

Up close

Molly knew that meerkats eat insects, so she decided to try to attract the meerkat by showing off the ladybug on her shirt. It was not fooled.


Leah thought she'd follow Molly's lead and show off the giraffe on her shirt to attract the meerkat. I think she's a bit confused about what might interest a meerkat.

Giraffe shirt

After the Small Mammal House, we wandered most of the zoo. As always, otters are very entertaining. Here's Molly (in the reflection) and Leah off to the side checking out an otter swimming around in front of them.


Molly and Leah are squinting without their glasses, but these otters sure do look cool.

Cool otters

This panda was chowing down on some bamboo.

Panda snack

Not only did Carol get us behind the scenes at the Small Mammal House, she also got us a bunch of tickets to ride the carousel. The girls were very excited to get to ride it twice. If you ever ride it, you can see the cuttlefish is dedicated to Charles's mom and sister.


Checking out the turtles, as we have done before.


Hello, Mr. Lion. We're happy to see you, even if we are exhausted having been at the zoo for more than six hours.

Hello lion

It was by far the longest trip to the zoo we've ever had, but the girls were troopers and did very well. To my surprise, they even stayed awake as we drove home through traffic.

The finale to the day's adventure was eating dinner at Chick-fil-A for the first time since they closed for renovations. The girls have been ready for their favorite restaurant to reopen for some time, and they were happy to see how fancy it is now.

Fireworks and friends

Posted in Celebrations, Family outings on July 15th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

We had not planned to be home for the 4th, so we had not made plans to see any fireworks. We decided last minute to head to the UMBC parking lot we'd been to 2 years ago to see the Catonsville fireworks. When we arrived, we were surprised to find friends already there.

Fireworks and friends

Leah's got something to say to Maya about her Rapunzel doll.

Something to say

Keira and Maya were kind enough to share some glow bracelets with other kids, which our girls very much appreciated.

Glow bracelet fun

They were about 20 minutes late, but the fireworks did eventually arrive.

The fireworks begin

The fireworks were pretty amazing. Just look at Leah's face watching them.


Despite being July, it was a bit chilly after dark. But we didn't mind, as we just cuddled up together with our jackets and a blanket.

Watching the fireworks

Here are a few more shots of the fireworks, to give you an idea of what they were like.





Sadly, the fireworks came to an abrupt and early end. We're not sure why. Some said it was due to an injury, others said it was due to wind causing the fireworks to land in the crowd. Regardless, the evening was fun despite the lack of a grand finale.

Another birthday

Posted in Celebrations on July 14th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

Aunt Caroline’s birthday may have been more than a week earlier, but we ended up celebrating it on the 4th of July with dinner at Carrabba’s.

Fourth of July birthday

Molly was a big fan of the bread, both for eating and for facial hair simulation.

Bread mustache

They don't sing at Carrabba's, but we do. She seems to be enjoying our rendition.

Birthday singing

Make a wish!

Make a wish

Fourth of July

Posted in Celebrations, Family visits on July 13th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

Since Hurricane Arthur ruined our plans to celebrate the Fourth of July at the beach, we decided to instead celebrate at our house. Here we all are at our celebrator lunch.

Fourth of July

After lunch, it was game time. Aunt Caroline, Charles, and the girls went to the basement to play Xbox while those of us over 30 played Texas Rummy. It’s a fun card game similar to Phase 10 that Scott taught us at the beach.

Game time

Jen decided very last minute to make the girls 4th of July skorts. I'm sure the girls will be showing their patriotism all summer long!

Patriotic skorts

The skorts make the girls giggle. Or, maybe that was Uncle Scott.


Vacation interrupted

Posted in Family visits, Trip on July 12th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

We had the beach house for a full week - Sunday to Sunday. Sadly, despite being very early in the hurricane season, the first tropical storm of the season headed straight for us. Then it became a hurricane, and kept on coming. Hurricane Arthur was due to hit us Thursday night, which made it the earliest hurricane ever to hit North Carolina.

We debated whether to stay through the storm or evacuate. We'd been through plenty of hurricanes in Louisiana, and this was only a Category 1 storm at the time (it ended up reaching Category 2 by the time it hit land). But we'd never weathered a storm in a house that was only a few feet from the ocean. Combined with the fact that it would ruin much of Friday leaving us with only Saturday, and the likelihood of losing power and running water, we decided to cut our vacation short and drive home Thursday.

Putt Putt

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Trip on July 11th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

What's a trip to the beach without some putt putt golf. And this was no basic miniature golf. This was Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf. First stop, the train ride to the first hole.

Putt Putt

Here's the other half of the train car as we approach the tunnel.

Into the tunnel

The second hole started in a castle turret.

In a castle

Some holes were inside of caves.


They had a hole on a pirate ship, though that was on a different course than the one we did.

Pirate ship

It was lots of fun. We had two hole-in-ones: Molly and Jen. Jen and Scott had a serious battle for the lead going the entire time and ended up tying for the best score. If you're in the Outer Banks and looking for some putt putt fun, this place is pretty cool. I'd definitely go back.

A lot of sand

Posted in Family outings, Trip on July 10th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

We headed to Jockey’s Ridge State Park to check out the huge sand dunes. After a long hike through the sand, we broke out the kites for some fun. Well, Molly got hers out. Leah was tired from the hike and not in the mood.


After a while, Molly was ready for a break and Leah was ready to fly her kite.

Leah's kite

Eventually, they started flying at the same time. It really was a fantastic place to fly kites.

Both kites

After the heat of the sand dunes, it was time to cool off with a popsicle back at the house.

Popsicle break

The big birthday

Posted in Celebrations, Family visits, Trip on July 9th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

The main event - celebrating Grams’s 60th birthday. Aunt EA made sure Grams was fully adorned, and Aunt Caroline made some yummy red velvet cupcakes. I think Grams is excited.


What??? One gift from all her kids. What could this be?


It’s an iPad!

An iPad

Happy birthday Grams! We love you!

That about covers the first couple days, but this is a week long trip so there's much more to come. Well, at least it was supposed to be a week long trip. More on that later.