Archive for September, 2019

Big northeastern trip

Posted in Trip on September 30th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

For years, I’ve been saying that I wanted to take a trip up to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island for my 40th birthday. This expanded into a slightly larger road trip over time. My birthday was back in May, but the last week of summer was the best time for this trip (as you’ll see).

It was a whirlwind trip that’ll take me several posts to detail. The schedule was:

  1. Wednesday - Drive to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, do the park, stay in a hotel nearby.
  2. Thursday - Drive to New York, go to the US Open (which is why this trip had to be the last week of summer), drive to Massachusetts, stay in a hotel there.
  3. Friday - Drive to Newport, Rhode Island, go the the tennis hall of fame, enjoy Newport, drive back to the hotel in Massachusetts.
  4. Saturday - Drive into Boston, explore Boston, stay in same hotel.
  5. Sunday - Drive back home.

When I planned the trip, I was thinking Six Flags would be tacked on the end as a sort of gift to the kids since they were coming along for so much of my stuff. But then scheduling made it smarter to go at the beginning. So, they got their treat at the start (though they enjoyed all the other parts as well).

Wednesday was a great day to go to Six Flags Great Adventure, as most of the schools around there were already back in session. So, the park was really empty and we rarely had to wait long for rides. I don’t have many pictures because I was generally on all the rides, but here’s a couple from rides that the girls rode along.

Six Flags Great Adventure

Six Flags Great Adventure

This park had tons of rides. We didn’t ride the most extreme of them (like Kingda Ka), but we had plenty of fun thrill rides anyway. My favorite was El Toro as I love wooden roller coasters and it’s one of the biggest around.

Six Flags Great Adventure was only the beginning of our adventure. But more on that in the next post.

First big concert

Posted in Leah, Molly, Music on September 29th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

3 years ago, Jen and I went to see Pentatonix in concert. When we saw that they were coming back to Merriweather, we decided to take the girls for their first big concert. This time rather than getting seats, we decided to try lawn tickets (which were great!).

First big concert

Leah’s friend Anna (and her mom and sister, unpictured) came too.

With a friend

The crowd at Merriweather was light, which was great as we got a spot up at the front of the lawn.

Light crowd

Rachel Platten opened, and did a great job.

Rachel Platten

Then we had a bit of a break before Pentatonix came out.

Pentatonix

Pentatonix

They did a chill encore song.

Pentatonix on screen

It was a great concert, and everyone enjoyed it a lot. It’s amazing what these folks can do with their voices alone.

Playing with the band

Posted in Church, Molly, Music on September 28th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

After a week of orchestra camp, Molly had a bit more performing to do. She joined me and the band to lead worship Sunday morning. This was her first time playing viola with the praise band.

Playing with the band

National Philharmonic Junior Summer Strings Institute

Posted in Molly, Music on September 27th, 2019 by c-had – 1 Comment

Molly was selected to attend the Junior Summer Strings 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). Last year, Molly was in the Prep Institute (for 4th-6th graders), but this year she moved up to the Junior Institute (for 6th-10th graders). They only take really advanced students, so Molly was excited to be selected.

She had a great week working on lots of skills and some really challenging music. They put on two concerts at the end of the week for families to attend. Thanks to Grams and Aunt Caroline for joining us. Here's Molly with her Chamber Ensemble performing in the afternoon.

The evening concert was the full orchestra concert. Molly it very seriously, as you can see from her sticking out her tongue at me.

Serious musician

SSI concert

And here’s the full evening concert.

Here’s Molly and her entourage after the second concert (Aunt Caroline was unable to stay for the second concert, and we failed to get a picture at the first).

SSI concert

After the concert, we went to The Baked Bear for ice cream sandwiches. This place lets you choose two fresh baked cookies or brownies (fresh like still on the cookie sheet) and an ice cream flavor to make you a delicious ice cream sandwich. It’s as good as it sounds. I cannot understand why these places aren’t everywhere. These places should be as plentiful as fro-yo.

The Baked Bear

The big haircut

Posted in Leah on September 25th, 2019 by c-had – 2 Comments

Both of our girls have enjoyed having long hair for some time. Jen would suggest they cut it, and both would vehemently refuse. Towards the end of last school year, that changed for Leah. She started talking about cutting her hair, and she wanted it to be long enough to donate. In August she finally reached that goal and Jen made an appointment with her stylist, Crystal.

Here’s what Leah’s hair looked like before heading to the hair salon.

Leah before

Her hair, prepped for donation.

Big hair cut

Leah was all smiles while Crystal did her thing.

All smiles in the salon

Leah had 10 inches cut and donated to Locks of Love. We all love her new ‘do!

10 inches gone

Thanks Crystal!

Smiles with Crystal

Jen also got her hair cut and as they finished up, a huge thunder storm rolled in. Crystal offered them shower caps to protect their fresh hair cuts from getting soaked.

Stylin' in shower caps

And here’s Leah’s hair after her trip to the salon.

Leah after

Six Flags with friends

Posted in Family outings, Leah on September 20th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

While Chad and Molly were off on their NYC adventure, Leah and I took a few of her friends to Six Flags America.

Six Flags with friends

Smiles on Wild One

Rides are more fun when you are getting squished by your friends!

Friends squished

No surprise, Roar was the favorite coaster of the day!

Favorite coaster of the day

The girls decided to have a mid-afternoon treat together. We did get more than one, but this one was definitely snacked on by everyone.

Sharing snacks

It was the first visit for both of Leah's friends, and everyone declared it a GREAT day!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Posted in Molly, Trip on September 19th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Back in August, Molly and I had a glorious adventure to New York together. You may remember that we (her parents and grandparents) commemorated Molly’s huge achievement of earning her black belt by giving her a trip to New York to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway. In August, that trip finally happened.

For transportation, we planned to take the train up to New York. We arrived at the train station early to make sure we didn’t miss our train, only to discover that our train was running late. We were supposed to arrive in New York at noon, drop our suitcase at our hotel, then be at the theater at 1:00 for the show at 2:00 (the show said we should get there an hour early as security lines could be long). As we waited, the train kept getting later and later. I called Amtrak to try to move to a different train and was about to change our tickets when we got word that our train had finally left the station in Washington. The train was about an hour late, but we finally got on and had no further delays.

Once we got to New York, we had almost no time. The good news was that our hotel (Row NYC) was right around the corner from the theater. The bad news was our hotel was 12 blocks uptown from Penn Station. I conferred with one of my New York coworkers, and came to the decision that it would be safer to walk it rather than risk further delay on the subway. So, Molly and I walked as fast as we could up 8th Avenue. I was very impressed at how well Molly did navigating New York crowds, weaving in and out of folks as we hoofed it to the hotel. Once there, we checked in, went to our room, Molly changed from her sneakers to fancy shoes, and we were back out of the hotel in just a couple of minutes. We made it to the theater without any trouble (getting there an hour early was unnecessary) and finally took a deep breath. We stopped by concessions to get a drink (we were both very parched after all that), and settled in to our seats.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Our view:

Our seats

For those unfamiliar, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a very long play. It’s got two parts, and you buy tickets for both parts. The first part was from 2:00 to 5:00, then we got a dinner break until the second part started at 7:30.

We planned to go to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for dinner, but the line was a full block long. After waiting in it for 15 minutes, we knew we didn’t have time to wait for it. So, we went in search of somewhere else to eat. We ended up at Pasta Lovers, which was actually fairly empty. The pizza and service there was great! Would recommend.

Pasta Lovers Pizza

Our dinner went so quickly, we stopped into the Times Square Disney Store to check it out before heading back to the theater.

Disney store

I won’t spoil the play for you, but it was fantastic! We loved it so much. Best show either of us have ever seen! I actually went into it a bit trepidatious, as a serious Potterhead worried they’d mess it up. That didn’t last long. And Molly was so into it. It was a lot of fun, and was a take on the Potter universe in a very different way from the books and movies. And the effects were just amazing. All the wire work, and the many creative magic tricks. It was just so good.

The experience was even more than the show itself. The carpet throughout the entire building was Hogwarts themed. They had Harry Potter snacks and souvenir cups. They even had house banners for people to take pictures with, and a staff person standing there all day to take pictures with your phone for you.

Hogwarts banners

Hogwarts banners

Outside the theater, they have a scene from the Sorting Hat ceremony on the wall, including a spot for you to stand like you’re being sorted. Molly tried it out after the show was over.

Sorting hat

After the play, it was late but Molly really wanted to get a sweet treat. So, we trekked all the way to Black Tap to get one of their Crazy Shakes. This is the Cookie Shake, which is an Oreo Shake with vanilla frosted rim with cookie crumbles topped with a ‘cookiewich,’ crumbled cookies, chocolate chips, whipped cream & chocolate drizzle. Way over the top, but so good!

Crazy Shake

We finally got back to our hotel room around midnight and crashed. We got up early the next morning, checked out, and walked toward Penn Station for our train home. We stopped into Liberty Bagels Midtown for breakfast. Molly went for the rainbow bagel with birthday cake cream cheese. She only managed to eat 1/4 of it (then 1/4 more later on the train, then 1/4 more the next day for breakfast). I had the egg bagel with dill & herb cream cheese, which was excellent.

New York bagels

It was such a great trip!

Ocean Isle Beach

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

Molly and I finished Baltimore Mission Camp Friday evening, then we all woke up early Saturday (coincidentally, Jen and my anniversary, July 27) to head to Ocean Isle Beach for a week. We met G’Mom, Grampa, Aunt ‘Chelle, Uncle J, Emmie, and JJ there and stayed in a condo just off the beach. We picked Ocean Isle, North Carolina because it was drivable for everyone (though G’Mom and Grampa ended up flying) and highly recommended by one of Jen’s friends. We were not disappointed - it’s a great beach. Maybe my favorite to have visited so far - not crowded, nice water, some stuff to do (though less than you’d find at a bigger more crowded destination).

We arrived around 5:00 Saturday, and Jen made tacos for dinner. Then we walked over to check out the beach. Uncle J got these Surfer Dudes toys for each of the kids, and they were a huge hit. They played with them throughout the week, but they were especially fun on that first evening since we were not swimming then. You throw them out into the water, and they surf back to you on the waves. Thanks Uncle J!

Surfer Dudes

The next morning, we hit the beach for real. There was a lot of boogie boarding.

Boogie boarders

And then some time at the pool. And, of course, when at the beach, you've got to play putt-putt.

Golfers

including some hole-in-ones

Hole in One

Hole in One

Monday we went back to the beach for a lot more boogie boarding.

Molly boogie boarding

Boogie boarding

Boogie boarding

and an obstacle course.

Obstacle course read more »