Awesome, wow

Posted in Family outings on July 16th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

We saw Hamilton! I know many of you may have been on the Hamilton train for the past couple years, but we did not get on it until this year. Back in May, we bought tickets for the whole family to see it at the Hippodrome in Baltimore. Since we got the tickets, we’ve been non-stop Hamilton obsessed in our house. We listen to the soundtrack constantly, all of us read books about Alexander Hamilton (Jen and the girls read several, I just read the really long one), and we’ve been studying the history of the origins of our nation. Our favorite car-ride pastime is belting out lyrics to the song in a way that our children are both embarrassed by and happy to take part in.

Last week, we finally got to be in the room where it happens. The show was fantastic! Molly and Leah were so into it (especially Molly) that I could just watch them reacting, singing along, smiling, and cheering. We even got comments from the folks behind us that they loved how into it Molly was. Molly had to sit on the edge of her seat to see over the bar in front of us. She told us she didn't mind, because "the show is so good, you want to be on the edge of your seat.”

Hamilton

Angelica

The one drawback for the show was our seats. Our tickets were the first row in the upper balcony, which we thought would mean we had a railing right in front of us (like at our knees). Instead, it meant there was an aisle in front of us (so lots of leg room) and then a railing. For me, this was perfect, as you can see from my view:

My seat

However, the others in our family don’t have my height. So, Jen’s view was more like this:

Jen's seat

Jen and Molly solves this by sitting forward on the edge of their seat. As mentioned above, this didn’t bother Molly one bit. Jen, however, would have preferred to sit elsewhere. Leah is so short she solved the problem by slouching a bit and watching the whole show under the railing.

Despite the seat problems, we loved the show and would love to go back (we’ve been entering the lottery to try to win tickets to go back this week, but I don’t have my hopes up). We are also talking about seeing it at the Kennedy Center in D.C. next year. We just can’t get enough Hamilton!

In the room where it happens

Savannah trip

Posted in Family visits, Trip on July 15th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

During the week of the 4th of July, we went to Savannah for the first time in years. This included us in our car, Grams and Aunt Caroline in another car (Uncle Charles was hiking in the Alaskan tundra at the time with his family), and Aunt EA, Uncle Scott, Charlie, and Max flying in from Texas. This was our first long road trip since Molly got her Nintendo Switch, and we created a very fancy system of holding up the Switch for the girls to see the screen involving the case she keeps it in, kitchen twine, and chip clips.

Car Nintendo

The cars decided to split the drive down into 2 days expecting traffic and delays (though it ended up being not too bad). We did most of the drive on the first day, and stayed in Florence, SC. We were very happy to find a Mellow Mushroom and a Bruster’s right across the street from our hotel.

Pit stop

The big reason for our trip to Savannah was to attend the revival of my extended family’s reunion gathering. My grandparents held this every year for decades. My aunt and uncle, who now live in the same house, revived the tradition this year. Of course, we had to get a picture on the dock right away. And, as you can possibly guess, Jen made all the clothes here except mine.

Happy Fourth read more »

Building shelves

Posted in Leah, Woodworking on July 3rd, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

I’ve been getting more and more into woodworking over the past couple years (as you may have seen when I made wands for Molly’s Harry Potter party). So, when Leah planned to move into her new room last summer, she asked me to build her some shelves. We planned them out together. She helped a bit with building in the early days, but it eventually just became my project to build.

It took way longer that I ever thought it would have thought. In all, it was about a year. Of course, there was lots of stopping and starting along the way as I got busy with other things. Also, there was a lot of learning how to do things and trial and error. And of course there are lots of tools, jigs, and other helpful things to buy and make to help out along the way. But as things warmed up this Spring I was determined to finally finish them.

Here are the completed shelves (well, mostly) in Leah’s room, loaded up with stuff.

Leah's loaded shelves

I said mostly completed. Immediately after loading up her shelves, it became apparent that the bin at the bottom needed a latch. The idea of the bin was to load it up with stuffed animals, but when they were stuffed in there, they would push the door open. So, I made a little latch to hold the door shut. I think I can now finally call the shelves done.

Shelves with latch

I’ll also show you one in-progress picture toward the end. This is the first time I’ve finished with an HVLP sprayer instead of a brush. I’m glad I did - it’s a much smoother finish and brushing on these giant shelves would have taken forever.

Shelves

10 months after she moved in, Leah finally has her room set up. All the stuff that’s been on the floor waiting for shelves to store it is put away. All the things waiting to be hung on the wall are finally hung. I think it’s a pretty nice room.

Leah's room

Leah's room

And one more picture of just the shelves. Thanks to Lumberjocks user grimejr for the idea of putting a bin at the bottom.

Leah's shelves

Celebrations

Posted in Celebrations, Family visits, Molly on July 2nd, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Molly’s black belt test ended late, so we did not go out to celebrate that night. Fortunately, the next day was Grams’s birthday, so we went out to BJ’s Brewhouse to celebrate both Molly’s black belt and Grams’s birthday. After some delicious dinner, we of course ordered pizookies (which were also delicious). While waiting for these desserts, we gave Molly a present.

Earning her black belt was a really big deal, and we wanted to give Molly a big gift to commemorate it. We joined together with G’Mom, Grampa, and Grams to give Molly a trip to New York to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway. She and I will go up and see it in August. Molly was shocked.

Broadway gift

Molly was so excited. She’s talked about wanting to see this play so many times, but didn’t see this coming at all.

Excited

When our pizookies arrived, Grams got a special birthday one. We’ll celebrate her again in a couple days when we’re together with my siblings, but it was nice to get to celebrate on the day as well. Happy birthday, Grams!

Happy Birthday Grams

Tennis family

Posted in Leah, Sports on July 1st, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

We are a tennis-loving family. Well, at least half of the family is. Leah and I both play regularly and really enjoy it. This Spring, they started a Junior Team Tennis league, and Leah was happy to join a team.

Junior Team Tennis

Junior Team Tennis

Between lessons on Friday, team tennis on Saturday, and match play on Sunday, Leah was playing a lot of tennis this Spring. I’ve been playing a lot too, but I have no pictures to share with you.

Six Flags

Posted in Family outings, Leah, Molly on June 30th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

This year, we decided to get season tickets to Six Flags when they were on a super sale. So, now we’re enjoying taking advantage of it. We’ve already been twice this year.

The first time we went was in April, as a celebration of great grades for the girls. What we didn’t tell them ahead of time was that we’d coordinated with their best friends’ parents, and they were going to be there as well. So, after we got into the park they were shocked to find their friends there. Suddenly a good time was turned into an even better time.

ROAR

We rode a bunch of rides, ate some food, and had lots of fun together.

Riddle Me This

And it wasn’t all rides (well, it was almost all rides). In the New Orleans section of Six Flags, Leah danced with an alligator to some jazz music.

Six Flags dancing

On Memorial Day, we went back to Six Flags with old friends. Simon and Jake (on the left) have known Molly since they were very little.

Six Flags

We rode even more rides including the new Firebird coaster that opened that weekend. One of our favorite rides is The Joker’s Jinx, which Molly and I rode together. It was great, but the ride broke down as the next group (with some of our people) was about to go. So, we got stuck at the end of the ride, unable to disembark for 10 or 15 minutes.

Stuck

We look forward to more time at Six Flags this year (including a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, we hope).

Black belt in the family

Posted in Molly, Sports on June 28th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment
Black belt and Sensei

Molly is now a black belt in karate! We are so proud of Molly for all her hard work over the past five years. She’s just awesome. I want to tell you all about her black belt test, but first I just want to let her awesomeness sink in for a bit...

OK, on to the test. Molly tested for her black belt last night. This was an advanced belt test at her dojo, so it was just the brown belts working toward their next degree and black belt candidates. There were actually 4 black belt candidates, including Molly.

The test began with a written test, which she’s been studying for for years. Questions include things like who created the Kyokushin style of karate, where, and in what year.

Test questions

There are lots of exercises throughout the test, including jumping jacks, sit ups, burpees (lots of burpees), mountain climbers, and more.

Jumping jacks

Molly had to perform 17 katas throughout the test. Here’s one of the more basic ones - the 12 step kata.

12 step kata

As a black belt candidate, Molly gave a speech about her journey through karate.

Other students often help with the test, and there was no way Molly’s long-time friend Sarah (who got her black belt 2 months ago) was going to miss it. As soon as Sensei asked students to help with punches and kicks, Sarah ran straight for Molly. In fact, later this happened again, and Sensei immediately amended her request with “not Molly” to avoid having Molly continually evaluated by her friend.

Kicking

A couple of Molly’s katas involve the bo staff, including Dragon, seen here.

Dragon kata

The test also includes getting beat up a bit. Knowing how to punch and kick is important, but so is knowing how to take a hit. Here, Sensei is hitting Molly in the stomach to make sure she can take a hit.

Hit in the stomach

In addition to taking a hit, she has to take a kick. She’s done this before, but this was the first time she was kicked in the stomach from both sides. She says she’s still sore the morning after.

Kick in the stomach

After getting hit and kicked, she got stepped on too.

Stepped on

Here are photos from a few more katas, including Shadow, Heaven and Earth, and Tiger.

Shadow kata

Heaven and Earth kata

Tiger kata

Molly had been tested on every kata up to this point as part of previous belt tests, but there was one new kata for black belt - Gangasho.

Gangasho kata

As part of her black belt test, Molly had to break 3 boards. She could choose how to break them. She chose to break 2 boards at one time with a hammer fist, then the final board with a kick.

Part of the self-defense training of karate is knowing how to fight two-on-one. So, all the black belt candidates have to fight against two people at the same time.

Two on one

Molly sparred a bunch of people during the test, but I’m sure her favorite was getting to spar her old friend Sarah.

Sparring Sarah

The test was long and grueling. As it approached 3 hours long, Molly was exhausted. Then she took a hard kick during sparring from a bigger girl, and started to cry. But she didn’t let it stop her. She pushed through, kept fighting, and proved how tough she was. A hug from a good friend was also a big help when fighting through tears.

Hug from a friend

Each black belt candidate had to spar against Sensei. They don’t have to win, but they have to stand their ground and fight. It’s the first to 3 points. Molly did great, and even scored a point as you can see here!

Point against Sensei

After all that, the test kept going. They took off their sparring gear and Sensei sat on them as they held a push-up position. They also had to do a bunch more mountain climbers (not pictured).

Sat on

Molly did it! She got her black belt! She’s still a bit weepy at this point, but trying to turn it into a smile having accomplished her goal.

Black belt

The dojo acknowledges that all these girls have a family behind them, so we got to present Molly with her black belt certificate.

Family

Molly had her parents, sister, and grandparents there to cheer her on.

Family support

Black belt Molly

First Cello Recital

Posted in Leah, Music on June 21st, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Leah had her first cello recital. She’s been playing for less than a year, and is doing really well.



Cello recital

Here are all the cellists from Leah’s recital. She was the youngest and smallest.

Smallest cellist

Leah really likes her cello teacher, Mrs. Jen.

Teacher pic

Concert Orchestra Spring 2019

Posted in Molly, Music on June 20th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Molly’s in two different orchestras at school, so she wasn’t done after her Symphony concert. Five days after her Symphony Orchestra concert, she performed with the Concert Orchestra, a strings group made up of sixth graders.

The music is great, but the best part of the video is Molly’s reaction after the 5th song a bit after 12:55, so make sure you don’t miss that.

Concert Orchestra

Concert Orchestra

Also, if you’re trying to find Molly throughout the video and having trouble, it’s not your fault. In order to give the kids different perspectives, Mr. Denne had them switch seats around throughout the performance. Molly was happy to get to her final seat up front for the last two songs.

Changing seats

Symphony Orchestra Spring Concert

Posted in Molly, Music on June 20th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Four days after their performance in Hershey, the Symphony Orchestra performed their Spring concert.



Symphony Orchestra concert

Symphony Orchestra concert