Family outings

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

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).

Snow tubing

Posted in Church, Family outings, Leah, Molly on March 7th, 2019 by c-had – 1 Comment

Our church youth group took a trip to Liberty (about an hour and 15 minutes away) to do some snow tubing. It was a youth trip, but adults that came along could bring their younger kids as well. So, our whole family went, as well as the girls’ friends who live behind us. Leah was happy to be included.

Snow tubing

Snow tubing

Tubers

Jen and Jeanie

Molly tubing

Leah tubing

Jen tubing

Adult tubers

Neighborhood kids

We had a great time. Hard to believe we live so close to snowy mountains and we’ve never done anything like this until now. Thanks to the Glen Mar youth group for setting this up.

Christmas Tree

Posted in Celebrations, Family outings on February 21st, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Christmas trees were hard to find this year at cut-your-own farms. We headed out to get one on December 9, thinking we had plenty of time. Sadly, our beloved Greenway Farms was almost sold out when we went. We managed to find this very broad Douglas Fir, but I’m not sure where we’re going to go next year.

Christmas tree

Here’s our fully decorated giant Christmas tree (we had to scoot the couch over a good bit to fit it.

Decorated giant tree

Franklin Institute

Posted in Family outings on February 15th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

In 5th grade, Molly went on a field trip to Philadelphia to the Franklin Institute. She liked it so much, she wanted to go back with us (mainly with Leah). So, we took advantage of a day off of school and drove up.

Franklin Institute

We enjoyed lots of the exhibits. Sir Isaac’s Loft was my favorite spot (lots of fun physics games), but I didn’t get any pictures of it. I did get a couple pictures in the SportsZone, though. Molly and Leah raced their bikes with some arm pedaling.

Arm pedaling race

The girls raced one another (yes, Leah’s faster).

Speedy little sister

The Franklin Air Show is also lots of fun. The girls climbed aboard this old Air Force plane there.

Air flight

Molly was excited about the virtual reality experience (she’s currently swimming by a whale). It was her favorite part of her trip with her school, and she really wanted to do it again.

Virtual reality

We also saw a planetarium show (probably Leah’s favorite part) and saw lots of other exhibits.

It’s a fun science museum. I’d recommend it if your in Philadelphia or not to far away like us.

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!