Please Touch

Posted in Family outings, Leah, Molly, Trip on April 18th, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

After a fun day in Philadelphia, we spent the night in a nearby hotel along with four other families. We headed out the next morning to check out the Please Touch Museum. Leah was happy to see some familiar duck-billed faces there.

Please Touch

Molly learned how a lock works.


You can’t miss a chance to play a Big piano with your feet.

Big piano

Molly’s cranking the lift to load bricks up to Leah.


They have a pretty large grocery store set up that the kids spent much of their time in. Keira spent much of her time playing the role of cashier.

Grocery cashier

Molly thought this baby (as well as all the others) needed an MRI in the hospital.


Eventually, Leah played the role of cashier while Keira was a customer.

Role reversal

In the space area, they had launch pads for launching foam rockets. Molly’s red rocket has just taken off, though she doesn’t know that since her eyes are shut.


Shooting rockets up toward the target rings is amazing.


Statue of Leahberty

Statue of Leahberty.

Combining a couple of backhoes and a ball pit made for lots of fun.


No surprise that Leah quickly dressed as a princess when entering the fairytale corner.

Fairytale princess

Molly’s creating a book in the craft room. Note that the further out you stick your tongue, the harder you concentrate.

Tongue required

Leah takes a brief break from drawing to contemplate her artwork.


Keira’s excited to ride the museum’s carousel.


The girls love the carousel. Jen - not so much. But she took her dramamine so she was able to ride it one time (I had to take her place for the second time around).

Carousel ride

It’s a very nice carousel.

Nice carousel

We had to tear them away from their book making to ride the carousel with everyone else. To do so, we promised them we’d come back afterward. So, we headed back to the craft room to continue book making until it was time to go.

Back to books

And thus our great Philadelphia adventure came to an end. We then hopped in the car and braved the traffic of I95 back to Maryland.

Circus birthday party road trip

Posted in Celebrations, Leah, Molly, Trip on April 17th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

A couple of months ago, Jen got an email from her friend Kelly proposing something a bit crazy. Her daughters Keira (Molly's age) and Maya (Leah's age), who have been friends with our girls since they were infants, both have birthdays within a few weeks of one another. Kelly's brother works at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. Kelly wanted to see if people would come to a birthday party there.

This sounded crazy to drive to Philly for a kid's birthday party, but the circus school sounded like a lot of fun. Also, there was talk of staying the night and going to the Please Touch Museum the next day, which has been on our to-do list for some time. So, we said we'd love to join in the fun.

When we arrived at the circus school, they split the participants up into adults and kids. Jen participated, but I stuck to the role of photographer. Then it was time for the warm-up. Here the kids warm up the spring in their legs.

Birthday party road trip

Molly and Leah are getting stretched out.


Balance is an important skill for tight-rope walking and other circus arts. The 4 and 5 year olds started off working on balancing on things much more narrow than a normal balance beam (such as this 2x6 on end).


Molly’s group started out on the silks. I think she’s having fun already.

The silks

Jen’s group of adults started on the trapeze. Getting your legs onto the bar in order to hang upside down is tough.


Sitting up onto the bar isn’t easy either.

Sit up

Pretty soon after getting started, Molly was hanging around upside down.

Upside down

Look, Ma… no hands.

No hands

After the groups switched locations, it was Jen’s turn to try her hand at the silks. The adults did fewer upside-down hanging from your arms tricks, and instead kept their feet under them.

Adult silks

Nice pose, Jen.

Nice pose

Leah’s group moved to the trapeze. She had an easier time getting her legs onto the bar than the adults. Must be all that gymnastics she does.

Hanging around

Looks like she’s on the swingset at the playground.


This picture needs no explanation. Jen and Kelly’s faces say it all.

Different emotions

I don’t think this pose is actually relaxing, but it looks like it is.


Climbing is another important skill. They showed the kids proper technique, but Molly mostly just pulled herself up with her arms alone.

Rope climb

I never quite understood this activity the little ones did, but they seemed to enjoy it.

Handkerchief fun

Jen paid more attention to proper climbing technique than Molly.

Adult climbing

I’m beginning to think Molly prefers being upside down to right-side up.

Upside down again

Here’s the gym we were in, complete with lots of things hanging from the ceiling.

The gym

After the fun, it was time for a little lunch, or dinner. What do you call it when you eat at 3:00? Let’s go with linner. Molly was happy to get to sit next to one of the birthday girls.

Linner break

These birthday girls are having a good time.

Birthday girls

After eating, a couple of our instructors put on a show for us. I got video of the first, Christine, having some fun up on the silks.

The second performance was performed by Jackie flying through the air on the hoop. She used Disney princess music (The Glow), which the girls loved.

A show

All the kids and a couple of the instructors after a fun party.

The end

After the party and some dinner out at the Trolley Car Diner, we stopped at Miles Park in Whitemarsh to have some playground fun before heading back to the hotel. For some reason, the kids loved this seesaw. They would have stayed on it the entire time if we had let them.


I don't think we'll make a habit of road trips for birthday parties, but this was a lot of fun.

Kids Clothes Week Challenge

Posted in Crafts, Leah, Molly on April 13th, 2014 by jen – 1 Comment

I participated in Kids Clothes Week Challenge this week. The goal is to spend at least one hour per day for seven days working on kids clothes. I spent many more hours than that which resulted in a dress for both girls.

Kids Clothes Week Challenge

After seeing me make several Maggie Mae dresses as gifts, Leah requested one for herself. Leah still will not wear sleeveless dresses, so she loves the cap sleeves and, of course, the pockets!

Leah's dress

All Chad's photography is finally paying off as Leah is becoming a natural model, giving him lots of fun poses to photograph.

Natural model

Molly's ready for warm weather in her Seashore dress. She is our little string bean so the slender style of this dress is a perfect fit.

Molly's dress

Both girls love having dresses with pockets. They never put items in them, but love to stick their hands in to flare their dresses out.

Love of pockets

Fun with kites

Posted in Leah, Molly on April 11th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

Molly was given some money for her birthday. After watching Mary Poppins, she decided to buy her and her sister kites. She got herself a Hello Kitty one, and her sister a Cinderella one. Our yard has almost no trees, so it’s a great place to fly a kite.


Unfortunately, it wasn’t very windy on the first kite outing. That didn’t stop Leah, though. She had no trouble keeping her kite up while running as fast as she could around the yard.

Make your own wind

Molly did lots of math at the toy store to figure out what she could afford with her birthday money. After picking out the kites, she still had a little money left. She wandered around for a long time trying to find something to use the last few dollars on. In the end, she chose to buy this extra-large lollipop which came with a stuffed giraffe wrapped around it. She was very excited to eat it after dinner.


Of course, a lollipop this big causes lots of silliness, including pretending it’s a musical instrument.


Yes, she ate the entire thing (minus a lick or two for her sister). Now it’s time for a bath.

All done

D.C. Date

Posted in Family outings on April 10th, 2014 by c-had – 3 Comments

Jen and I gave each other dates for Christmas. We already went on Jen’s gift, and now we finally went on mine. First stop - Ford’s Theatre to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Christmas present

In case you’re trying to place Ford’s Theatre in history, this is where President Lincoln was shot. It’s still an operating theater, in addition to being a museum. You can see the notable box draped in American flags on the right.

Ford's Theatre

No photography during the performance, but here we are outside the theater after the show. This is the first time in a long time that I've shot a selfie.


The show was over at 3:30, and our dinner reservation was at 5:00. We had some time to kill, so we stopped into the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery since it was on the block between the theater and the restaurant. I’m not much of an art person, but it was certainly better than standing outside in the wind. Here’s Jen next to Hibiscus with Plumeria by Georgia O’Keeffe.

Art museum on the way

We then had dinner at Zaytinya, which was fancy and fantastic. You get several small dishes called mezze (similar to tapas). We had Kolokithokeftede, Falafel, Broccoli Saganaki, Zanzibar Salmon, Beef Keftedes, and Lamb Bahar. For dessert, we had Turkish Delight and Galatopita. Everything was great, but the Lamb Bahar, Falafel, and desserts were our favorites. I’d definitely recommend the place to anyone wanting a fancy dinner in Washington.

Dinner at Zaytinya

Aunt EA and Uncle Scott graciously watched the girls while we were on our date. We figured they’d just hang out at their house, but instead they went adventuring. They went to the National Air and Space Museum, since Molly’s been so interested in space lately. Uncle Scott and Aunt EA were kind enough to buy the girls these Hello Kitty astronauts in the gift shop. Then they played on the National Mall for a bit with their new toys held tight. Then they headed over to Ted’s Bulletin for some dinner and milkshakes before we met them there to head home.

High end babysitting

This makes two fancy dates in one week for us, which is pretty crazy. And both were way outside our five mile radius (as defined by Emily). I'm pretty sure we will not be keeping up this pace, but it's nice to get out a bit.

Zoo field trip

Posted in Field trips, Leah on April 9th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

The big field trip for the year in Leah's preschool class is the trip to the zoo. You may remember that I chaperoned this very trip three years ago when Molly went on it. Leah decided that I needed a repeat performance, so I got to chaperone the trip for Leah's class.

Before boarding the bus, while the parents were preparing, Ms. Lorrie led the kids in some of their morning routine. When Leah noticed that Ms. Lorrie was just picking people (rather than going by daily assignments), Leah crept close to her. When Luca finished with the calendar, Leah jumped up and told Ms. Lorrie she wanted to be the meteorologist for the day.


One of the highlights of the trip was getting to ride a school bus for the first time.

Bus ride

Sam joined Leah and me to form our little group for the trip. I really like chaperoning preschool trips, as the adult/child ratio is so low. It makes keeping track of the kids easy.

Leah and Sam

When we arrived at the zoo, we were surprised to find it almost empty. I guess the snow and cold from the previous couple days scared everyone away. Our bus was the only bus there (when I went with Molly, there were at least a dozen) and there were very few other visitors.

There were perfect head-size openings in the fence to view the rhinos through.

Watching rhinos

Sam’s happy with the rhinos, but Leah is confused about something.


Some smiling lions. Well, maybe they're not all smiling, but Leah certainly is.

Smiling lions

If the giraffe is being standoffish, a friendly wave can help them feel at ease.

Hi giraffe

The giraffe walked over to the front of the giraffe house near us, and used the metal beam across the front of it to scratch its head.

Head scratcher

The other giraffes were inside the giraffe house, and apparently they were doing some very shocking things.


The kids figured out the best way to view the elephants - leaning over the railing.

Leaning over

Lots of preschoolers, all lined up.

Lined up

It’s sometimes hard to get a picture with kids and animals in the same frame. Note the elephant off to the left, getting a drink of water.

Hello elephant

We got to see the first public feeding of the new lion cubs. We actually arrived to see it, waited for a few minutes, then left and came back as the zookeepers were having some difficulties getting them out to eat.

Lion cub feeding
On the prowl

Watching lions with Ms. Carol.

Watching lions

The lions brought out the serious side of Leah.

Watching lions

Sam was willing to get a little closer to this bearded dragon than Leah was.

Bearded dragon

We sat down and ate lunch on the path next to the chimpanzees. Under normal crowds, this would not have been possible. However, since we had the place largely to ourselves, we could eat wherever we liked.


Back at the front of the zoo, ready to head back to the bus. Just have to pose for a quick picture next to the lion statue.

Less active lion

We had a great time. Leah said her favorite animal was the giraffe, especially the tall female one named Angel. I'm sure we'll be back to visit her again before too long.

A night out

Posted in Food on April 8th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

With G’Mom and Grampa in town, they let us head out for a fancy dinner at Woodberry Kitchen. This picture is in honor of E.A. and Scott, my sister and brother-in-law, as they love to post this pose again and again.

Fancy dinner

Dinner was fun. Lots of creative, farm-to-table yummy food.

Fun dinner

Hooray for our first fancy dinner out in a while.

Final moments

Posted in Celebrations, Molly on April 7th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

The birthday party was so action-packed, there was no time for opening presents. So, after everyone left, Molly tore into them. She got lots of great presents, but the biggest one of all stood almost as tall as her. What could be in this giant present from Grams?

A big present

The number 1 item on Molly’s wish list - a telescope. One of her friends gave her a space book as well, so she’s ready to explore the universe.

A telescope

Of course, what birthday would be complete without a photo-op with the maternal grands?

With grands

Girls and Dolls

Posted in Celebrations, Molly on April 6th, 2014 by c-had – 2 Comments

For her seventh birthday, Molly decided she wanted an American Girl tea party. Something fancy and fun and all the guests could bring their dolls with them. Of course, girls were welcome to bring any doll - not just American Girl ones.

It's birthday time

Party prep

We created a banquet table for all 14 girls. Jen added the fancy decorations and place settings. She fixed fruit, muffins, turkey croissants, scones, and strawberry wafer cookies and stacked them on three-tier serving plates.

The table is set

Molly requested chocolate cupcakes with pink icing. Jen obliged (but next time, no fancy pink wrappers that stained her baking pans and proved more difficult to unwrap!).

Superstar cupcakes

While brainstorming about the party, I thought the girls would have fun having a doll fashion show. They could dress up their dolls, walk them down the runway, and have their picture taken along the way by the photographer (me). So, I built this doll runway out of some plywood and 2x4’s, then Jen made a skirt and covering for it.

Doll runway


The party began with a craft that the girls could work on as they arrived. Jen showed them how to make rainbow tutus for their dolls.

The party begins

Haley was very focused on making her tutu.

Busy working

Tea time

After making doll tutus, it was time for tea. Well, they didn’t actually drink tea. They had the option of hot apple cider or pink lemonade. Many actually chose the apple cider, though quite a few changed their minds after tasting the warm drink.

Tea time

While the girls had tea, their dolls waited patiently on the couch with their bags in front of them.

Waiting room

Grace and Molly toast to a new year of life. May 7 be even more fun than 6.


The girls loved the goodies Jen had made. Abigail even asked Jen for the recipe for the scones.


As the girls had tea, the weather outside took an unexpected turn. We were expecting to have a rainy but relatively warm day. So, we were very surprised to look out the window during the party to find this. It ended up snowing most of the rest of the day, though it had been so warm that it all turned to slush quickly.


After tea, it was time for cupcakes and candles.

Bracelet making

After tea and cupcakes, we moved on to another craft - making bracelets. The girls each made two - one sized for them and another sized for their doll.

Bracelet making

They picked beads out and strung them on clear plastic strands.


You have to be very careful to ensure the beads are close together but don’t bump out of place.

Twin bracelets

No goofing off here. Everyone is head down, hard at work.


Some of the beads had letters on them, which meant we all spent a lot of time searching for certain letters to spell names.

Letter search
Hard at work

I don’t know how Haley pulls off this tongue trick.

Nice trick

Yes, it’s time for girls to make silly faces at the camera.

Camera faces

Nice face Molly. And nice job trying to steal the shot, Grace.


Fashion show

Next, all the girls got their dolls dressed for the fashion show. We have lots of doll clothes, so there was plenty for everyone to wear.

Dressing room

Cora is looking exceptionally sweet with her fashionable doll ready to go down the runway.


Time for the runway show. Of course, the birthday girl was up first.

Fashion show

Notice that Jen made Molly and her doll (also named Molly) matching dresses.

Down the runway

You may have also noticed my laptop in the above picture. To make the runway show more exciting, I gave the girls live photography. My camera uploaded pictures as I took them to my laptop. I wrote a small app for my laptop to notice the new pictures and display them on the TV on the wall. So, the girls not only got to walk the runway, they also got to see themselves on the big screen as they did so.

Leah was of course second in line. Jen also made Leah and her doll, Rose, matching dresses.

Nice job, Rose

Camryn’s doll skated down the runway.

Skating down the runway

Abigail’s doll is ready for a masquerade ball.

Masquerade ball

Flowing colors surround Grace’s doll.

Flowing colors

Maria’s doll was ready to head straight from the runway to the soccer field.

Sporty Spice

Cora’s doll has it all - hat, dress, necklace, and boots.

Full ensemble

Elsa cooled the show down as Keira escorted her down the runway.

Snow Queen

Riley’s doll Miranda is looking very elegant.

Elegant Miranda

Alyssa lights up the room.


Haley found an outfit for her doll to match her own. Also, you can get a bit of a glimpse of the live fashion photography on the wall above.


Ariana’s doll is ready to take on the snow that’s falling outside.

Snow ready

14 girls, 14 dolls. Fun for all.

The whole gang

I think everyone had a great time. I don't know that I'll build platforms and write custom apps for every one of the girls parties, but it was definitely fun this time.

Celebrating our 7-year-old!

Posted in Celebrations, Leah, Molly on April 5th, 2014 by jen – 1 Comment

Per Molly’s request, we went to Red Robin (one of the only places around that still sings for birthdays) for her family birthday dinner with the Sellers side. Molly made this birthday hat for herself to make sure the staff there knew it was her birthday.

Birthday hat

Leah had fun playing with Aunt Caroline much of the evening.


As they always do, Aunt EA and Uncle Scott entertained with a singing card. Unfortunately, Red Robin is too loud to hear it, but we’ve heard it many times since we got home.

Jungle Boogie

It was a monster-themed evening, including some Monsters University toys like Art here.


Molly also got both the new Monsters University as well as the original Monsters, Inc.

Monster movies

Our real reason for being there was of course the singing and sundae for a birthday girl.


You can even relive the magic in this video of the singing.

Sunday was Molly's actual birthday, so we opened some presents in the morning before church, including a couple of jump ropes.


Testing them out

Leah gave Molly a couple of hula hoops. While Molly can spin these crazy fast, when Chad and I gave it a go, hilarity ensued. I laughed so hard my sides hurt!

Hula hoops

Molly also opened the present from Aunt ‘Chelle’s family while video conferencing with them. We did this for Emmie's birthday, and the kids really love seeing each other's reaction to the gifts.

Video conference party