Archive for September, 2018

First day of school

Posted in Leah, Molly, School on September 4th, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

It’s the day after Labor Day, which means it’s the first day of school! It’s a big day for our house, as Molly is now in middle school!!! We can no longer pretend that this isn’t happening. I guess we really had to stop pretending last week at 6th grade orientation.

Middle School Orientation

Middle school means our mornings are now earlier, as middle school starts an hour earlier than elementary, and also requires a bus ride instead of walking around the block. So, there is no picture of her with her sister, as Leah is still asleep.

First day of middle school

There were of course pictures with kids on the block.

Middle school friends

Middle schoolers on the block

And then waiting at the bus stop. We have so many kids around us that her bus stop is ridiculous. I counted 35 kids at the stop. It’s the first stop, and fills more than half the bus.

Bus stop

Then it was time to wake up Leah. She’s very excited about this start of 3rd grade.

First day of 3rd grade

One of the main reasons she is excited is that Madison is finally in her class.

3rd grade friends

We got a picture with some of the elementary kids on the block.

Elementary kids on the block

And of course with the wildcat.


And then she was off to class. Not only is Madison in her class, but lots of her other friends are too. And not only that, her teacher is Mr. Chen who Molly had and Leah has wanted ever since.

Best class

When Leah got home, she said it was the “best first day ever”!

US Open 2018

Posted in Family outings, Trip on September 4th, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

After a day of touring around New York, we were ready for a day of tennis. I actually waited to buy tickets until the night before in our hotel room. This meant we could see who was playing when selecting our tickets, and that we could get a great last minute deal (our tickets were just $47 each for some good seats in Armstrong). We woke up, ate breakfast, checked on Leah’s teacher assignment, checked out of our hotel and drove over to Flushing Meadows. We got in the gates just before 11:00 when the action began.

US Open

We wanted to see some different things while at the US Open. Instead of starting with big names, we started with women’s doubles with some future stars. Whitney Osuigwe here recently won the Girls 18s Nationals (she’s 16), but we got to see her playing with the adults.

Young Americans

Caty McNally was the older member of her doubles team at 16 and a half.

Young Americans

Back in March, Leah moved up to a bigger racquet (a 25” Babolat Pure Drive), but I guess she’s ready to move up to something bigger. That racquet may be taller than she is. Molly said the giant ball was the same size as a basketball.

Bigger gear

We got tickets to the brand new Armstrong Stadium. We made sure to get to our seats early so we didn’t miss any of Venus Williams’s match. It was very hot (95 degrees plus serious humidity), but I made sure our seats were in the shade at least. The seats on the other side in the sun were mostly empty as no one was willing to bake in them.

New Armstrong Stadium

We got to see Venus Williams take on Camila Giorgi in a very tough second round match. Despite being almost as old as me, she survived the heat and humidity to win the match.

Venus Williams

The new Armstrong stadium is really nice. I think I may keep trying to get tickets there. It still has big names like Ashe (maybe slightly smaller), but you get to be so much closer to the action without spending the big bucks. Just make sure to get seats in the shade. As you can see, the sunny seats are mostly empty because it was so hot.

Louis Armstrong Stadium

When we walked in, we passed a kiosk called Melt selling fancy ice cream sandwiches. After the match, we headed straight for it to get a cool treat. Both the girls went for the “Lovelet” (red velvet with cream cheese ice cream). Jen and I split a Brambleberry (honeycomb cookies with blackberry and lavender ice cream). They were delicious and refreshing in that heat.

Melt ice cream sandwiches

After the Venus Williams match, we watched a bit more women’s doubles. Here’s Taylor Townsend (who we’d see play for the Philadelphia Freedoms just a few weeks earlier).

Taylor Townsend

The great part about the outer courts is you can get so close to the action. Leah and Molly were especially close as they tried to find some shade to hide in. They could have easily reached over the fence to hand a ball to the players (they didn’t, that’s frowned upon).

Close to the action

We headed back to our seats in Armstrong stadium to catch the last set of the Juan Martin del Potro match. American Denis Kudla tried his best, but del Potro was just too much for him.

Juan Martin del Potro

Denis Kudla

Then we headed to the Food Village for some dinner (we’d had lunch there too) before hitting the road to drive home. We got home around 11:15, which was a vast improvement over 1:22am from two years ago.

New York Trip

Posted in Family outings, Trip on September 3rd, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

When our school year shifted to starting after Labor Day, a new opportunity became available to us. This meant that the first week of the US Open now happened during summer vacation. Two years ago we went to the Open for one day during the very busy Labor Day weekend, but this change meant we could go during the less busy opening week. So, this year we decided to make the trip.

The girls really wanted to see a bit of New York as well, so we decided to make it a two day trip. We’d drive up, see a bit of New York on day one, then see some tennis and drive home on the second day. So, Tuesday we got up and drove straight to our hotel (the Belvedere, one block away from Times Square) to check in.

After we checked into our hotel, we first took the subway down to the World Trade Center. We wanted to go up high to see the city, and chose the new One World Observatory to do it. The building is pretty impressive from the outside.

One World

They had tablets to rent that would tell you about what you were looking at. I wasn’t interested, but the girls really wanted to get them. I’m glad we did. I imagine the girls would have gotten bored quickly without them. With the tablets, they enjoyed learning all about New York and the landmarks we were looking at from above.


Here’s the view of Manhattan from the One World Observatory.


The girls wanted a picture of themselves with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

Girls and Lady Liberty

The place the girls were most excited to go was American Girl Place, the large American Girl store by Rockefeller Plaza. Molly has been saving gift cards for more than a year. We’d offered to take her to the Washington store, but she wanted to wait to go to the fancy New York store. The girls of course brought their dolls.

American Girl Place

Molly used her gift cards to buy the Girl of the Year - Luciana. Leah also got an outfit and a pet (not pictured).

New doll

Our dinner plan was to go to Ellen’s Stardust Diner (where the wait staff are aspiring Broadway folks who sing while serving you). We got there and got in line (there’s often a line) for 10 minutes or so, when the staff came out and said they were not taking any more customers that day (no idea why). So, we found a pizza joint for some New York pizza. However, it had no seating, so we opted to take our pizza back to the hotel to eat.

New York pizza

After dinner we headed back out to M&M’s World. It’s a fun store with everything M&M you could imagine.

M&M World

The coolest thing at M&M’s World is customizing your own M&M’s. You get to create 4 custom designs to put on your M&M’s. Ours were “Leah is cool”, “Molly is awesome”, a picture of a unicorn, and a picture of a microphone.

Personalized M&M's

The next step was to fill a cup with M&M’s of the colors of your choosing. Ours were yellow, pink, teal, and purple.

Choose your colors

You then pour those M&M’s into the printing machine.

Pour them in

And the printed M&M’s come out at the bottom. The M&M’s still have an M on one side. The machine prints your designs on the other side.

Here they come

And here’s our finished product. It was fun to make, if a bit overprices for M&M’s (that cup cost $20).

Finished product

Then we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before a fun day of tennis. More on that to come.

National Philharmonic Prep Summer String Institute

Posted in Extracurriculars, Molly, Music on September 3rd, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Molly was selected to attend the Prep Summer String Institute put on by the National Philharmonic this year. This is a week long summer camp put on by folks from the National Philharmonic (who play at the Strathmore in Bethesda where we saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban earlier this year). They only take really advanced students, so Molly was excited to be selected.

This camp was serious. They mailed Molly music a month in advance so she could practice it ahead of time. Then camp itself was an intense week of music. She rehearsed pieces with the full orchestra, had sessions on technique, worked on movement exercises (e.g. bounce a tennis ball to the beat of a song), and broke into chamber ensembles to work on more pieces. She even got to have private 1-on-1 lessons with the principal violist of the National Philharmonic. Combined with having to wake up early to fight traffic driving down toward Washington, the days were exhausting but so much fun.

They put on a concert at the end of the week. First each of the chamber ensemble's performed.

Chamber Ensemble

Chamber Ensemble

Here’s Molly playing with her chamber ensemble.

After all the ensembles played, the full orchestra came together.


Molly was one of only 2 violas in the orchestra (the other was the daughter of the institute director). They were really glad to have Molly, as the previous year they had no violas. I guess most kids that start early enough to be at this level choose violin or cello.


And finally, here’s the full orchestra playing together. It’s amazing that they can sound so good after just a week long camp.

Molly had no friends at the camp, but she did have one friendly face for the week. Margaret (Molly’s regular private instructor, National Philharmonic player, and the children’s minister at our church) was on staff as well. Molly didn’t work with her during the week, but Molly wouldn’t have been at this camp if it wasn’t for Margaret. Thanks Margaret!

Thanks Margaret

Molly may not have started with friends, but she certainly made several. In fact, after the concert we couldn’t understand what was taking her so long to come out. Turns out she was busy collecting email addresses from girls she had made friends with so she could keep in touch.

Thanks to Aunt EA and Uncle Scott for their hospitality as well. Jen, Molly, and Leah spent one night with them as they live fairly close to the camp. That saved one commute each way, and meant Molly got to sleep a little later one day.

Molly hopes to do this again next year, and we may also try to catch a National Philharmonic show to see some of her teachers in action. It was a really great experience. Thanks to the National Philharmonic for offering this great program!

Basement fort

Posted in Leah, Molly on September 3rd, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

The girls decided to build a fort in the basement.


Inside the fort were two air mattresses and their two sleeping bags. They ended up sleeping in it for two nights.

In the fort

Family Worship

Posted in Church, Leah, Molly on September 2nd, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

August was Family Worship at Glen Mar, so the kids got involved. Molly and Leah were joined by Simon to read the scripture one Sunday.

Reading in church

The next Sunday was even better. I got to lead worship with both my daughters. I loved it, and both girls did a great job.

Family Worship band

Family Worship band

Washington Kastles

Posted in Family outings on September 2nd, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

We went to a Washington Kastles match again! If you are not familiar with the Kastles, they are a World Team Tennis team. While most of professional tennis revolves around individual performances in the ATP and WTA, World Team Tennis offers pros and fans a team format and a lot of fun. And the tickets are really cheap for a professional sports event (we paid $14 per ticket).

The girls were part of the kids tunnel at the match, which included giving five to featured player Naomi Osaka (and all the other players, but I didn’t get a picture of them).

Naomi Osaka

The girls got a picture with the Tennis Ball Man (Tennis Ball Lady is in the background but otherwise engaged).

Tennis Ball Man

The Kastles played pretty well, but ultimately fell to the Philadelphia Freedoms. Sadly, this mostly took them out of playoff contention. Congrats to the Freedoms on a great match and on making it to the championship match.

Washington Kastles

Sandy Spring Adventure Park

Posted in Family outings on September 2nd, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

While the girls were enjoying the outdoors, we decided to have some similar fun. We headed to Sandy Spring Adventure Park where they have 13 different ropes courses of varying difficulties (we only had time/energy for 3 of them that day).

Sandy Spring Adventure Park

Us up high

Cargo net

Some of these steps made me glad I have long legs (sorry Jen).


That’s a big gap to stretch.


There were a lot of zip-lines.



At the end of some of the courses, they have an auto belay device to lower you down. It’s a bit unnerving to jump off a platform that high, assuming the auto belay will catch you after you fall a few feet.


It was so so much fun. We’re looking forward to going back with the girls some time.

First year fun

Posted in Leah on September 1st, 2018 by leah – Be the first to comment

This year was my first year at Manidokan. I had a lot of fun! First our parents dropped us off and we moved into our rooms.

Off to camp

Leah's friends

We figured out that the swim test was canceled, so we had to do the swim test the next day. Monday we went to Sawmill Creek and we saw a lot of interesting things.

Sawmill Creek

Sawmill Creek hike

Finally we had our swim test. Also at store time I got an owl that I named Kirstin.


Then we went to chapel and met characters from different times. Tuesday we went rafting where we bumped into each other a lot.

Leah rafting

Then we had chapel again and tried to help the characters fix the time machine, but it didn’t work :( .


Wednesday was our first time eating lunch in the dining hall! Also my parents gave me a care package! We also did field games and then pool games.


Pool games

Also we did mission night where we did rotations to make us feel like we were in the flood in Puerto Rico. Then we played a game called Fortress (a game that we play at night on a field). Thursday we had the dining hall (at lunch) all to ourselves! Then we did the flying squirrel. It was really fun!

Also we did arts and crafts where I made a leather turtle. Finally there was a talent show! There were a lot of funny and good acts. Friday there was a slip and slide and also a sponge race. I did the slip and slide but not the sponge race. I watched it though. Then we had a little free time in our lodge. Finally our parents came and we sang a few songs and then we left. I had a lot of fun at Manidokan!


My Manidokan Life!!

Posted in Molly on September 1st, 2018 by molly – Be the first to comment

I had a great year at Camp Manidokan. It was my third year and my best year yet!


Sunday was the day that I arrived at Camp Manidokan! I had left at around 1:00, and gotten there around 2:00. We stood in line for about an hour until 3:00 when they moved us inside for check in. After check in, I went to my lodge. Getting set up was harder than my past two years because my sister Leah was going to Manidokan this year for the first time (She wrote a blog about Manidokan also). After I was set up, I put on my bathing suit but waited to see if I would do the swim test or not. This is because it was thundering at the time. Unfortunately, I never did the swim test that day, because the pool closed due to all the thunder. So when we found out there would be no swim test, my parents left. And when the time came, I went to dinner. After dinner, I went to campfire hill, where there was a campfire, we sang songs, people from the past and future came to visit out of a time machine, all the normal stuff. After our campfire hill adventure, we had chapel. Then my 5-6 group went back to our lodge, had an evening snack, and took a shower. Then my day ended.



Monday was my first full day of camp! I went rafting on Monday, and it was the best rafting trip I’ve every done. Here is a picture before we got on the water.

Molly rafting

Rafting was very fun, one reason is because when I had gone rafting my past times, I only got out of the raft to swim in the water once (not counting after lunch). Only this year I got to do it twice!! When we got back, we had a bit of time, but then we did the swim test. I passed, and then I had pool time. After pool time was store time. Then I went back up to the lodge after store time, and stayed there until dinner. After dinner, we did an activity called Save the Time Machine. This was when we went to different stations to get items so we could fix the time machine. We had to find these items because the time machine broke. When the people came out of the time machine, they tried to go back to their times, but they couldn't. They just came out the other side back to camp. So they were trapped at Manidokan!! After the activity, we had chapel (we as in the people at camp), and then everyone went to where they were sleeping. Then my day ended.


Tuesday was the day I did the Sawmill Creek Hike! The Sawmill Creek hike is a hike to a water hole, where the campers that go there can swim in the (cold) water, jump off the rock/ledge into a deep part of the water, or relax on shore. I swam in the water, but there was no jumping for me! After the hike back to Manidokan, we had lunch. And after lunch we had pool games, but it was cut short by a sudden downpoor (It started after the 5-6’s got to shelter though). So instead of pool games, we played Mafia.

This is how you play Mafia: You need 7 or more players, of which one will be the moderator. The moderator puts everyone to sleep (in the game) and chooses a mafia, a nurse, and a detective. Then the Mafia wakes up and chooses someone to kill. Then the Mafia goes to sleep and the nurse wakes up, choosing someone to save. Then the nurse goes to sleep and the detective wakes up, choosing someone to suspect. Then everyone wakes up, and the moderator reveals the dead person and the suspected person, who are both now out of the game. This goes on and on for a while normally, but after two rounds of saving, killing, and suspecting, players can accuse players of being the Mafia. Then the living players have a vote, if the accusing player is right, the game is over, if they are wrong, they are out. If after a while, the Mafia is not caught, then the living will go into trial, and will vote on who the Mafia is. If they are right, the game is over, if they are not the game continues, but the person with the most votes is out. I do not know how the Mafia could win, because when I play, they are always caught before they can win.

After many games of Mafia, we had our normal pool time, and then store, and then some free time before dinner. Then we had dinner, and after dinner we played outdoor games and soaked our shirts for tie-dye the next day. After our soaking (shirts for tie-dye and ourselves) and games, we had chapel. After chapel we had our evening snack. Then my day ended.


Wednesday was my zip-line and climbing wall day! I started off with a great day. I did the zip-line, and it was awesome!!!! Here is a video of me on the zip-line (beware, I say weird things).

After the zip-line I had lunch. Then I did the climbing wall. Here is a picture from the climbing wall.

Climbing wall

After the climbing wall we had pool time, and then store time. After dinner my group tid-dyed shirts. For our evening activity that night, we did mission night. Mission night was when we talked about the fund that Manidokan was donating money to to help Puerto Rico after the hurricane Maria went through. This Fund was UMCOR, here is a link to the video that we saw about UMCOR. We had stations that were all related to something that would have happened during the flood. Here were the stations: salsa dancing, wants and need (for your home), house building (to withstand the hurricane), how to get to safety (during the hurricane), and what can you afford (because in Puerto Rico they are sort of poor). After mission night we had chapel.

After chapel we went back to the lodge to get ready for roasting marshmallows at campfire hill, and playing Fortress. Fortress is a game played on a hill (at Manidokan) where the players (kids) have to get a glowing bottle without getting bammed. Getting bammed is when people (the counselors and staff) have flash lights and if they say bam and shine the flashlight on you, then you have to go the start (the bottom of the hill). After we did all that stuff, we went back to the lodge and had a sleep over in the main room. We watched Lilo and Stitch, and only a few people (including me) were awake at the end of the movie. Then my day ended.


Thursday I went to Harpers Ferry! It was fun, and I got to go near the water this year! Here is a picture of when I was by the water.

Middle schooler

The walk there felt surprisingly short, and the walk back to the van felt a bit longer, due to the tired legs of my peers and myself. When I was there I bought Ice cream, a Girls Grab Bag, and Original Jelly Beans from a historical candy shop. Here is me with the food I brought back.

Harper's Ferry goodies

When we got back, we had a bit of time before we went to the pool. Then we had store time. And then we had dinner. After dinner we had the talent show. I did not preform though. After the talent show, we had chapel.

During Chapel, we did communion!!! Then we were “baptized” with water balloons, in which me and mostly some 3-4 and some 5-6 girls ran together behind the dining hall, away from the water balloons so no wetness was bestowed upon us. After chapel, I asked if I could have more communion, and Pastor Mike said, “Help yourself.” So I did. I ate one whole half of a piece of bread (which was probably a hot dog bun) mostly dipped in Grape Juice. Then my day ended.


Friday was my last day of Manidokan for the week. I woke up and had breakfast, and then 5-6 had a cleaning competition. We had about 10-20 minutes to get our room as clean as possible, and then the judges revealed the best rooms. The winners were, for boys, the boys (there was only one room of boys), and for the girls, drum roll please, my room!!!!!! The prize was first in line for snack, which was great for me, because I normally get out of the pool 5-10 minutes early to get first in line for snack, but then I didn't have to wait! For my morning activity, I went to the compound and did a slip-n-slide/human bowling with the 3-4’s (Including Leah!!). Then I played 9 square (and put on clothes instead of a bathing suit). Here is a link to a video that explains how to play 9 square. We stayed in the compound until lunch. After lunch we went back to the lodge and packed all our stuff. Then we had microwave s’mores (I had a peanut butter cup one [a peanut butter cup instead of chocolate]) and watched Lilo and Stitch again, because mostly all the 5-6’s didn’t see the whole movie. Then some (bareley any) 5-6’s went to the pool. And then we had store, which I got first in line for because I won the cleaning competition. Then we stayed at the compound (playing 9 square) until dinner. After dinner, all the parents came, we sang a few songs, got our trunks, and left. Here is a picture of a few girls before we left.

5-6 friends

I Loved Manidokan this year. It was my best year so far. I hope you enjoyed my blog. Good Bye!! :)