Leah

Six Flags again

Posted in Family outings, Leah, Molly on October 30th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

It may have taken us a long time for finally go to our local Six Flags, but it didn’t take long before we headed back again. Six Flags had a Bring a Friend Free day, and Zach and Stacie were kind enough to offer to bring us. So, after church we headed there for fun again. After lunch, our first stop was the Ragin Cajun.

Six Flags again

The dads got to ride as well, though we were relegated to the car after the kids.

Dads too

The ride Leah most wanted to ride again was Wonder Woman. Jen and I were again happy to stand by and not ride this high spinner.

Wonder Woman

We rode lots of other rides, but I didn’t get pictures of them as most of them were the same ones we rode before. Molly continued loving roller coasters, and even added one beyond what she’d rode before. She was worried about riding Apocalypse (it’s a standing coaster), and said she didn’t want to ride it. Then Stacie bet her a dollar to ride it, and she of course did. She ended up saying it was her favorite ride of the day, and we ended up riding it a second time on the way out.

We left the park right as Fright Fest was starting, and our girls were ready to get out of the park then. Lots of zombies and other scary folks start wandering the park terrorizing guests, which was not their idea of fun. Next time we may have to leave a couple minutes earlier to avoid them entirely.

Thanks so much to Zach and Stacie for bringing us along.

Putt-putt fun

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Leah, Molly on October 28th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

In September we had visitors from a far away land. Emmie, JJ, Aunt ‘Chelle, and Uncle J flew up to spend a couple days with us. While they were here, we went for a fun outing of putt-putt. We split into two foursomes, with the girls requesting me to accompany them while JJ and the other adults made up the other foursome. There was some intense concentration.

Putt-putt

Jen putting

The girls had fun golfing, but also got a bit of time to relax while waiting on the other group to catch up.

Relaxing on the green

It was fun!

Golfers

Silly golfers

The putt-putt course is right next to Rita’s, so we had to stop in for a treat.

After golf treat

Rainbow unicorn party

Posted in Celebrations, Leah on October 27th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

The day after Leah’s actual birthday, she had her birthday party. She had no doubts about the kind of party she wanted - a rainbow unicorn party. Yes, not just a unicorn party, but specifically a rainbow unicorn party. Throughout the summer, Leah typed up an outline brainstorming the details of her rainbow unicorn party. Yes, she is her mother’s child.

Happy birthday banner

Rainbow unicorn decorations were everywhere - even outside.

Mailbox decorations

As guests arrived, they were given a unicorn horn and tail, then headed to the table to color a bit until everyone was there.

Coloring

Coloring

The girls then painted a canvas with rainbows. The canvas had a unicorn sticker, that was later removed after the paint dried.

Painting

Painting a rainbow

Here are the girls' rainbow masterpieces after the sticker had been peeled off (picture taken after the party).

Final product

After painting, the girls all made unicorn balloons. They picked a balloon, stuck everything on, and decorated the horn. We had a little trouble sticking things on (glue dots didn’t work the way we’d hoped), but made it through. Leah clearly likes her creation.

Unicorn balloons

We had a couple of activities that were not on the original plan, including tail braiding. The girls had all been given unicorn tails when they arrived. After the balloon craft, one of them decided to braid their friend’s tail, which led to everyone braiding each other’s tails. They loved it.

Tail braiding

Another unscripted activity was the tail shaking dance party. They had the best time shaking their tails and dancing to the music.

Tail shaking

Jen made a fantastic 3-layer funfetti rainbow unicorn cake for Leah’s party.

Cake

And we sang Happy Birthday (with a little extra unplanned fire).

Jen also made a great rainbow piñata for the party.

Rainbow piñata

The girls all got to swing at it several times.

Piñata swing

Piñata swing

Piñata swing

Piñata swing

After several rounds, the piñata was defeating the girls. So, they called in a big strong hitter to take it down. Jen only needed one swing.

Big hitter

Candy

Thanks to everyone for coming!

Party people

Silly one

Leah’s actual birthday

Posted in Celebrations, Leah on October 24th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

The celebration continued on Leah’s actual birthday. Leah shares a birthday with one of her best friends (Grace), and their birthday fell on a Saturday this year. So, we made sure their parties wouldn’t conflict, and decided Grace would have her party on their actual birthday and Leah’s would be the next day.

We decided to go out to lunch for a family birthday meal rather than dinner, and Leah surprised no one in choosing Ledo Pizza for our destination. After lunch, there was no time for presents because Leah headed off to Grace’s American Girl tea party. After she got home, she was eager to open them up. Molly made a great card for her.

Actual birthday

Star Wars is still a big hit, and the new Forces of Destiny toys are a favorite of our girls. Molly already has Leia and R2-D2 (which she got in Disneyland), and now Leah has Rey and BB-8.

Star Wars

Leah’s wanted Heelys for a long time, and was very excited to get them. Now she just needs to figure out how to skate in them.

Heelys

The girls really enjoyed playing with a marble run toy that was at the beach house in California, so we gave Leah one for her birthday. While Leah was enjoying her other new toys (that’s Rey in her hands there), Molly was quick to open up the marble run and construct a fun run.

Marble run

After dinner, Leah got to blow out a candle. The cake had to wait for her party the next day, but no one complained about the homemade chocolate ice cream Jen made for us.

Homemade ice cream

Leah turns 8

Posted in Celebrations, Leah on October 23rd, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Shortly after school started, it was time to celebrate Leah’s 8th birthday. This started a week early at Grams’s house. There were of course presents.

Early birthday

These perfect presents combined two loves of Leah - Minecraft and plush toys.

Minecraft plushes

Good things come to those who wait. Hatchimals were impossible to find at Christmas, but now Leah’s got one of her own.

A Hatchimal

Minecraft, Lego, Roominate. Do you get the idea that she likes to build?

Lego

Roominate

Thanks to all for the presents and the fun celebrating early.

School finally arrives

Posted in Leah, Molly, School on September 5th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

After an extra long summer with lots of trips (one of which I’ll post about soon), school finally started in Maryland today. Leah is now in second grade, and Molly is a fifth grader ready to begin her last year in elementary school. It’s hard to believe that this time next year she’ll be a middle schooler.

First day of school

We took our usual kids on the block picture before the first day of school. Several of the kids from previous years have moved on to middle school, but we’ve still got a good crowd.

Kids on the block

There was a lot of excitement at school, including the wildcat and a TV news crew. The girls (and their friends) got a picture with the wildcat.

Wildcat pic

We’re excited for a fun new school year!

The eclipse

Posted in Family outings, Leah, Molly on August 24th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

We saw the eclipse! Well, at least the 80% eclipse that Maryland got. We did not travel long and far to full totality like some of you. Instead we traveled 10 minutes to our local library branch. I even got a picture of the eclipse with this contraption.

Photographing the eclipse

I wasn’t sure if I could photograph the eclipse, but I ended up pulling it off. I didn’t have a proper solar filter, so I used eclipse glasses and some gaffer tape to hold it on. Picture taken with my Panasonic GX7 (Micro Four Thirds), a cheap old Canon FD 300mm lens on an old Canon FD 2x tele extender, attached with a cheap Micro Four Thirds to Canon FD adapter. With the 2x crop sensor, that’s a 1200mm full frame equivalent, so the sun filled much of the frame. Here it is at its peak.

Eclipse

OK, enough photography geekery. Stacie brought Simon and Matilda (and a friend) to join in the fun, so we got to hang out with them two days in a row.

Viewing

Looking up

Eclipse viewers

How did we end up at the library? Well, that’s a longer story similar to some of yours. We originally thought we’d just watch the eclipse at our house, but we didn’t think about getting solar glasses for the eclipse until a week beforehand, when they were impossible to find.

The Robinson Nature Center nearby said they were getting a shipment of glasses on Wednesday and would say when they arrived on their Facebook page. Jen watched it throughout the day and jumped in the car with the girls when the message went out that they had arrived. Sadly, they were sold out before she arrived. Apparently a bunch of people just hung out at the center waiting for them to arrive, and they were sold out within 10 minutes.

Our library handed them out at all branches the Saturday before at 11:00. Leah and I got there 30 minutes early, but the line was already giant (this is just a small portion of it). I’d guess over a thousand people. Only the first couple hundred got glasses, which did not include us.

Search for solar glasses

The library was also hosting an eclipse viewing party where they would have some more glasses for use, so we decided to make that our last ditch effort to see the eclipse. Given our previous experiences with getting glasses, we got there at 12:30 (party started at 2:00). We found there was already a pretty long line, and it just kept getting longer. Eventually, they gave out tickets for each pair of glasses they had, and we were fortunate to be far enough forward to get tickets. We ended up just taking half the glasses we were allotted, though, to help out with huge number of people who didn’t get tickets. Here’s a view of the party on the front lawn of the library.

Eclipse party

We all enjoyed experiencing the eclipse, and were glad we managed to do it. We even topped off the fun with a sweet treat. The library is just down the street from a Rita’s. Since we’d failed to get custard at the Rita’s in Six Flags, this was a good chance to make up for that failure. Yum.

Six Flags America

Posted in Family outings, Leah, Molly on August 23rd, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Leah participated in a reading program at school this past year that awarded her a free ticket to Six Flags America. It’s been a very busy summer, but we finally found time to go. And not only did we go, but we got to go with a bunch of friends from playgroup. Simon and Matilda, Keira, and Jake all joined in the fun (as did some of their parents). In fact, Molly’s first trip ever to an amusement park included Keira and Jake. Simon and Matilda were sadly not there (Matilda would have been 3 months old, so she probably wouldn’t have remembered it if she had gone). Leah was sort of there, as Jen was pregnant with her at the time. Here they are all those many years ago:

Holding hands

We got to Six Flags at 10:30 when the park opened. This was our first trip to Six Flags, but the others were experienced (most had season passes). All the older kids were tall enough now to ride all the rides (something new for Molly), but Leah and Matilda couldn’t ride the largest of them. That said, Molly was still scared of any roller coaster that went upside down or was too extreme. We tried to convince her to try one, but she was quite resistant. So, we started with some tamer rides that everyone could ride. First, the Flying Carousel:

Flying Carousel

Flying Carousel

Then the Tea Cups

Tea Cups

Our first roller coaster was the Ragin Cajun, a spinny mouse coaster that everyone could ride. And, surprisingly, everyone did ride it including Jen. She took a couple Dramamine before arriving so she could try some coasters, but I was still surprised to see her on it. I think Stacie deserves the credit for pushing Jen to ride this ride (and many other rides). The girls rode together, so Jen and I got to ride in a car by ourselves.

Then another smaller ride: French Quarter Flyers

French Quarter Flyers

French Quarter Flyers

We then went on Wild One, a wooden roller coaster originally built in 1917 at a different park and moved here in the 80s. Again, everyone could ride this. Both our girls said afterward they didn’t like the big drop at the beginning, yet both of them wanted to ride it again. So, most of us rode it a second time.

One of the reasons we rode it again was that there was no line. We apparently found a great day to visit the park, because there were almost no lines all day long. It was awesome.

We took a lunch break, then some of the kids really wanted to do Shipwreck Falls. It’s a big boat that crashes down into water (like Splash Mountain, but a lot wetter). Molly tried to get out of it when she saw how wet the boat was, but Jen said, “If I’m riding it, then so are you! Sit back down!”

Shipwreck Falls

We all ended up completely drenched. Even with the sun, it took hours to dry off.

Drenched

Since we were already drenched, we went ahead and rode Renegade Rapids. And then we headed to our first coaster that the smallest girls were not big enough to ride - the Mind Eraser. Molly did not want to try it (you go upside down), and Jen was happy to sit out. I rode it though. It’s fun.

Our next stop was Coyote Creek Crazy Cars (bumper cars), where all the kids (and Zach) joined in. Leah thought Matilda needed some directions on who to bump into.

Coyote Creek Crazy Cars

Molly does not have a lot of experience driving a car, and so had a little trouble getting the hang of using the pedals and steering wheel simultaneously. This gave the smaller girls ample opportunity to ram into her and Keira.

How does this work?

Now you’re getting it, Molly.

Now you've got it

It’s fun to crash into Jake.

Crash

We then went to the other wooden coaster - Roar. Everyone could (and did) ride it. It’s a bit shakier than Wild One, but still lots of fun. After riding it once (and cleaning up the drink I spilled in my backpack), some of the bigger kids wanted to ride Apocalypse. Molly did not, and the little girls couldn’t. So, I joined the three of them and we rode Roar again while the others rode Apocalypse. There was still no line when we finished, so we rode it a third time. Then we stopped riding it, both because the others had returned and because we had fully shaken our brains after riding the wooden coaster three times in a row.

The kids and Zach then hopped on High Seas (not my kind of ride).

High Seas

After that, it was time for sweet treat. We headed to Rita’s and had to stand in line for a while before finding out their custard machine was broken. We still got some ice, but we also got some Dippin’ Dots to make up for the missing custard.

After our treat, we headed to Gotham City, home of most of the really serious rides. Our first stop was The Joker’s Jinx, a seriously twisty coaster. The little girls couldn’t ride it, and Molly didn’t want to, so the three of them went with Jen and I to Riddle Me This (like an open air Gravitron that tips up on end). The girls got to ride it a couple times before the others finished on The Joker’s Jinx, and they loved it. I mentioned to Molly that she was going upside down on this ride, and if she could handle that she could handle it on a coaster. To my surprise, she thought that made sense, and asked if she could now go on The Joker’s Jinx. So, we went back to The Joker’s Jinx along with the other older kids.

Molly was pretty scared as we got strapped in. It’s also a ride with a fast launch (0-60mph in 3 seconds), which freaked her out. As soon as the launch was over, we emerged into a twist followed by a loop. As we finish the loop, I hear her screaming with joy “I like going upside down!”. She loved the ride, and was suddenly emboldened to ride all the most extreme rides. Here she is after conquering her fears.

Joker's Jinx

All the kids, Zach, and Jason then went on The Penguin's Blizzard River, a water ride that doesn’t really get you wet.

The Penguin's Blizzard River

The newest ride at the park is Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth, an extremely tall swing ride. To our surprise, all the kids ended up riding this daunting ride. Neither Jen nor I did. It was really high.

Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth

High flying

We then went to Superman, the biggest, steepest, fastest roller coaster of the park. It starts with a huge climb followed by a 200 foot drop reaching speeds of 73 mph. The little girls couldn’t ride it, but everyone else could and did (even Jen). Molly said she wasn’t even scared to ride it (her attitude was really transformed by her success at The Joker’s Jinx). Superman was a favorite of many of us.

As if that wasn’t crazy enough, we then went on to Batwing, a coaster that lies you on your back at the start, then flips you over so your flying (held up by the shoulder straps) and zooming around. Again, the little girls couldn’t do it, but everyone else (even Jen and Molly) did it. However, Molly, Jen, and I were not a fan. It was just too much for us. Rather than screaming about how great the ride was, Molly was screaming “I don’t like this” over and over throughout the ride. I don’t think we’ll be riding this on future visits.

We then made our way back. Several of the kids rode Wonder Woman again as we went by it, though Molly did not as her head was hurting from Batwing.

We then stopped for dinner. Jason and Keira left to head home, but the rest of us enjoyed park food for our second meal of the day. We got a picture of us all beforehand.

Our crew

After dinner, Jen and I would have been happy to head home, but the others weren’t done yet. The kids hit the Flying Carousel again. Then they wanted bigger rides.

The boys wanted to go back to Superman, so they set out on their trek. The girls decided to ride Ragin Cajun again. The girls were going to ride by themselves, but were told they needed one tall person for every short one (Molly counted as a tall one). So, I ran to the front of the line to accompany them on this spinny mouse coaster.

Ragin Cajun

Since the boys weren’t back yet, the 3 girls and I then rode Wild One again (meaning we had ridden each of the wooden coasters 3 times). Then the girls rode the Zydeco Zinger a couple of times.

After their second ride on the Zydeco Zinger, they were confused as to why the ride was not allowing others onto it. We had to explain that it was after 8:00 and the park closed at 8:00. Yes, we arrived when the park opened and stayed till it closed.

We then headed toward our car (stopping at the gift shop to pick up Wonder Woman souvenirs) and completed a long day of fun.

Thanks so much to everyone else for bringing us along. It was so much more fun having friends there, especially friends that we’ve had for so long.

Daddy date

Posted in Leah on August 11th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Molly had an event at karate a couple Fridays ago, so Leah and I had a date night. She chose Cheeburger Cheeburger, and an Oreo Shake to share.

Sweet date

We then went roller skating to complete our date. We’ve been roller skating together a lot, but always during an afternoon session. This was our first evening session, and it was very different. Crowded with teenagers and rap music (afternoon sessions are less crowded, lots of kids, and mostly pop music). It was still fun, but I don’t think we’ll be back in the evening any time soon.

Super Duper Hula Hooper

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Leah on July 25th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

On Sunday night, Callaway Gardens holds a luau to welcome everyone to the Summer Family Adventure (SFA) program. Apparently all these kids need for fun is a checkered napkin.

Welcome dinner

Per tradition, the highlight of the evening was a hula hoop contest, and our three girls were ready.

Hula hoop contest

Leah opted for the minimal technique - crossed arms and no extraneous movements.

Technique

Molly was a bit more of a show off.

Show off

Emmie had hula hoop skills as well. All 3 of them made it to the finals.

Cousin makes 3

All but one of the finalists lost their hoop when they had to lift one foot in the air, leaving Leah as the champion. She was officially proclaimed the Super Duper Hula Hooper for the week.

Our winner

The Super Duper Hula Hooper and her prize (a cup that gets free refills all week long), with her two finalist attendants on each side.

Champion

And the eight of us, ready for camp to get started.

All of us