Family outings

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.

Tablets

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

Manhattan

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.

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).

Stretch

That’s a big gap to stretch.

Stretch

There were a lot of zip-lines.

Zipping

Zipping

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.

Jump

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

Hershey Park

Posted in Family outings on August 27th, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Now that summer is coming soon to an end, I guess I should finally post what we’ve been up to this summer. So, take yourself back to the week school ended...

School ended on Tuesday, and Friday we headed to Hershey Park for some fun.

Hershey Park

We rode a lot of roller coasters. Hershey Park is great for our kids because they have a bunch of coasters with lower height requirements than Six Flags or King’s Dominion. This meant Leah (who is quite short) could actually ride lots of rides. She and Molly rode Laff Track, Lightning Racer, sooperdooperLooper, Trailblazer, Wild Mouse, Wildcat, and Comet (which she actually rode three times). Jen rode on most of those too (possibly the most impressive thing about our visit). Molly and I also rode Fahrenheit (Leah’s not tall enough for that one yet).

In addition to coasters, we rode the Ferris Wheel, since the girls had never ridden one before.

Ferris wheel

Ferris wheel

Hershey Park

For our treat, we had to try out Makin’ Whoopie Pies. We got 2 giant whoopie pies. Molly went for red velvet with traditional creme, while Leah went for sugar cookie with peanut butter filling. They were delicious - super sweet and rich. They were so sweet the girls and Jen couldn’t finish their portions, so I had to help them out.

Whoopie

Any trip to Hershey Park needs to have a stop into Chocolate World as well.

Chocolate World

Hershey Park was a perfect start to the summer!

Ice skating

Posted in Celebrations, Family outings, Leah, Molly on February 8th, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

The girls were invited to an ice skating birthday party, and had a great time. It was during free skate at the rink nearby, which we get into free as part of our Columbia Association gym/tennis membership. So, I decided to go as well since we don’t go ice skating that much. A fun time was had by all.

Ice skating

The Last Jedi

Posted in Family outings on February 5th, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

As usual, I wanted to see the new Star Wars movie as soon as possible, but our schedule would not allow that. I managed to avoid spoilers for a couple weeks, and then we finally headed to the theater with Grams to watch The Last Jedi. And the movie was well worth the wait.

The Last Jedi

Christmas tree

Posted in Celebrations, Family outings on December 24th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

As usual, we headed to Greenway Farms to cut down our Christmas tree. We’re very busy, and really only had one day that was convenient to get a tree. That day turned out to be cold and snowing, but we didn’t let that stop us. We quickly found a great tree. It’s a Norway Spruce (a first for us).

Christmas tree

Christmas tree

Christmas tree photobomb

Christmas tree photobomb 2

After finding our tree, we got a picture of all four of us amongst the beautiful snow covered trees.

Snow covered trees

The next day, it was time to decorate our lovely tree. After our trip to Harry Potter world at Universal this summer, the girls wanted the first ornament on our tree to be Harry himself.

First ornament

Molly is a goober.

Goober

Decorating with attitude

This year Leah got to put the angel on top. She was a bit scared to go this high on the ladder at first, but she overcame her fear and accomplished her task.

Angel on top

Here’s our fully decorated tree complete with presents.

Christmas tree

Fall photoshoot

Posted in Family outings on December 22nd, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Back in October, we found a lovely Saturday for a photoshoot. We headed to nearby Centennial park to take some pictures near the lake.

Heart hands

These sisters love each other.

Loving sisters

Well, that face didn’t last. This is my favorite picture of the set, as it shows their personalities so perfectly.

That look

Much of the purpose for this shoot was a picture for the Christmas card. This one was the winner for the front of the card.

Piggy back

We even got a picture with all four of us thanks to a tripod and a remote which allowed me to get out from behind the camera.

Family pic

Jen’s favorite shot of the bunch.

Back to back

And a bunch more shots.

Centennial Photoshoot

Piggy back

On a bench

On the ground

Molly sandwich

Look up

Harry Potter Halloween

Posted in Celebrations, Family outings, Leah, Molly on October 31st, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment
Harry Potter Halloween

For Halloween this year, we all went with Harry Potter costumes (which I am very excited about). I am Remus Lupin (possibly my favorite character), Molly is Luna Lovegood, Leah is Hermione Granger, and Jen is a Quidditch fan.

Harry Potter costumes

Harry Potter costumes

The girls really got into character. They even had a wizard duel.

Wizard duel

And they cast their spells. I don’t think they’re trying to hurt each other, given the smiles on their faces.

Cast your spells

On Halloween day, the girls had a Halloween parade at school as usual.

Halloween parade

Halloween parade

Then they had their class parties. And perhaps even took some time to learn something afterward.

As evening approached, it was time for some serious trick-or-treating. This year, Molly’s friend Grace joined our crew of trick-or-treaters.

Trick-or-treating crew

We trick-or-treated for about an hour.

Trick-or-treating

Jen handed out candy this year while I walked around with the girls. We didn’t have very many trick-or-treaters visit us early on, so we thought it might be a light Halloween. But eventually they showed up, totaling 139 trick-or-treaters this year.

Trick-or-treating

After returning home, Grace really wanted to keep going. Leah was done, but Molly agreed to go back out after thirty minutes of warming up and eating candy. So, Grace, Molly, and I headed back out to a street further than we've been before. This was later than we’ve trick-or-treated before, and Molly learned that late-night trick-or-treating can be awesome as folks are trying to unload candy. Every time someone said “just take a couple handfuls” she was very happy. She ended up filling up her pumpkin twice by the end of the night.