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 »

Baltimore Mission Camp

Posted in Church, Molly on August 21st, 2019 by c-had – 1 Comment

Our church does lots of mission trips, but a couple years ago started a new thing that’s kind of like a mission trip without the trip part. We spend a week working in Baltimore and sleeping in our own beds. This year, Molly was finally old enough to do it (must be entering 7th grade), so she and I signed up.

We had about 50 people split into 5 crews. Our crew consisted of 3 adults and 6 middle schoolers. Each day we’d spend the morning in one place, then the afternoon in another. Most of the time, we were volunteering with organizations throughout Baltimore.

Our crew’s first activity actually wasn’t even in Baltimore. Through the week, we come across lots of needy people throughout Baltimore. So, our first task was to buy some supplies and make 40 bag lunches. Each crew would take a couple lunches every day to hand out to those in need.

Fixing lunches

Monday afternoon was spent familiarizing ourselves with the city of Baltimore. Our crew did a prayer walk through Hampden, performed random acts of kindness, and we may have gotten some ice cream as well.

Exploring Hampden

Molly learned what a Hon was too.

Hon

A couple of days, we worked at Paul’s Place, which helps with feeding, clothing, caring for, and training the needy in Baltimore. Our first time there, we organized a couple of their storage units.

Storage organization

On our other visit, we served hot lunch to hundreds of needy people. These kids are ready for the doors to open.

Serving lunch

We spent several days helping out at Little Flowers, a charity day care.

Little Flowers

We changed things up Thursday afternoon and worked at Art with a Heart. They help the city through art projects. These pop art squares are put on trash cans to beautify the city.

Art with a Heart

Art with a Heart

We also spent an afternoon making things for Operation Christmas Child, but I failed to take a picture of that.

We took one afternoon off for some duckpin bowling fun. Very few of the kids had ever been duckpin bowling (it was Molly’s first time), so it was both a Baltimore experience and a chance for some fun.

Duckpin bowling

When we had an hour to kill, we toured Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, the "Mother Church of American Methodism." This congregation held the 1784 “Christmas Conference", at which the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States was founded and Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke were ordained as its first bishops.

Lovely Lane United Methodist Church

The ceiling in Lovely Lane United Methodist Church was created by a professor of astronomy at Johns Hopkins University.

Lovely Lane United Methodist Church

It was a fantastic week, and we definitely plan to do it again next year. It was awesome to be able to do this with Molly, and also great to be able to serve the city so near to us. Many of the places we went were very close to my office, and I have a whole new appreciation for the area I commute to a couple days a week.

My Manidokan Week

Posted in Leah on August 19th, 2019 by leah – Be the first to comment

by Leah Sellers

This year I had a really fun year at Manidokan and I want to tell you all about it!

Elementary campers

On Sunday all we really did was go to chapel. If you don’t know what chapel is, it is where the whole camp goes up to campfire hill and we learn about something, but with a theme! This year’s theme was The Magic School Bus.

Opening campfire

On Monday we figured out that we had to wake up at 7:00 in the morning, and all of us don’t like waking up early. Boo! After we had breakfast we went to the flying squirrel! If you don’t know what the flying squirrel is, it is when people pull you up into the air like a human swing and slowly bring you down.

Then we had lunch and next we went to a place called Sawmill. First we saw the old pool that Manidokan used to have.

Original pool

Then we saw the creek and caught crayfish.

Catching crayfish

Finally, we got to the water hole and got to jump off the rock there (you had to wear a life jacket)! Then it was pool and store time. Next we had dinner. Finally we went back to our lodge and went to bed.

On Tuesday we had breakfast and then went rafting! First we got placed in groups to go on rafts. We had to push the rafts down to the river and then set sail! Halfway through we got to get out of the rafts so we could swim around for a little bit. Then we got back on the rafts and played a game called bumper boats! I think you can guess what that is, but if you haven’t guessed it is basically bumper cars with boats! Then we got to a lunch spot and ate. Finally we had to go back to camp. We had to go through some small rapids and then paddle the rest of the way back to camp. Then it was pool time and then store time. Finally it was dinner time. After dinner we found out about this year’s Mission Manidokan. Mission Manidokan is when Manidokan uses the extra money from store time at the end of the week and donates it to a place that needs help. This year Manidokan donated to an orphanage that didn’t have enough shoes, and if they got shoes, the kids would out grow them! So Manidokan is going to use the money to get these shoes that grow 5 sizes! Then we did activities so we could know and feel what it is like without shoes. Finally we went back to our lodge and went to bed.

On Wednesday we had breakfast and then packed our lunches and went to Harper’s Ferry! It was a long walk there, but we made it eventually. We also saw a river and an advertisement on the mountain we passed by!

Potomac River

Advertisement on the mountain

Then we got to spend five dollars there on whatever we wanted! Finally, when everybody was done spending money, we walked back and my friends and I were shouting “A/C!” Even though it was a long walk there, it was still really fun to go there. When we got back we had pool and store time and then dinner. After dinner we had a lot more time to play Gaga ball, nine square, and carpet ball. Then we went back to our lodge and went to bed.

On Thursday we ate breakfast and there was also a sign up sheet for the talent show. Then we went to the zip line. It was my first time there! It was a pretty long walk to get there, but not as long as Harpers Ferry. My friends and I had to wait about 15 minutes before we got to go on the zip line.

After we walked back, it was lunch time. Then we went back to our lodge and got some time to pack our stuff because there was only one more day until we had to leave! Then it was dinner time. After dinner was the talent show! There were lots of people participating including Abby and Molly! Abby was doing card magic and Molly was singing My Lighthouse!

After the talent show we went back to the lodge and went to bed.

On Friday we ate breakfast, and then had Bible study. Then we went to archery! It wasn’t a long walk there, and when we got there we went over rules. Then half of our group did archery and the other half sat in the shade and waited until their turn to do archery. I was in the sit in the shade group. When it was finally my group’s turn, we were told how to shoot an arrow and then the helpers helped us shoot our first arrow. Then we could shoot three more! Next we got to sit in the hammocks while the people who wanted second turns got to go. When we got back it was lunch time! After lunch half the kids in our group went to arts and crafts while the others did the climbing wall! I did arts and crafts where you got to basically make anything you wanted with the materials they had there. I made some bracelets with braids. When the rock climbing people came back we had a little more time to pack and then we did pool and store time. Next, we had dinner and finally it was time to leave.

4th graders

THE END!!!

Leah has braces

Posted in Leah on August 19th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Today is the day Leah’s been dreading all summer. It’s the day she gets braces and a palate expander. Before heading to the orthodontist, I got a before picture of Leah’s smile.

Leah before braces

And here she is with her braces! She’ll likely end up with some braces on the bottom as well, but first the braces and palate expander need to make some room on the top.

Leah with braces

Molly’s Manidokan Adventure

Posted in Molly on August 18th, 2019 by molly – Be the first to comment

Sunday-

Manidokan was awesome! It’s about a 1 hour drive to Camp Manidokan, so on the way, we got ice cream! We went to The Little Red Barn. When we got to Manidokan, we waited in line for what felt like hours, and then Jordan and Haley got there. Thankfully, their parents offered for us to “camp out” in their car while we waited for the line to start moving!

After we got all signed in, I went to my lodge. I was very thankful for being in a lodge, because last year, the 7th-8th grade group was in cabins with no air conditioning. I think I was in a lodge because they added 6th graders to my age group, and 5th graders to the 3rd-4th grade group, so there was no more 5th-6th grade group. At the lodge, I got my stuff all ready, and put on a bathing suit to go do the swim test. However, we could not take the swim test on the first day AGAIN because there was too much chlorine in the pool (last year there was a storm, so we couldn’t do it). So I put clothes over my bathing suit (just in case the chlorine problem was solved), and waited for my last roommate Emma to come. When she did, we took a picture of all of my roommates. Here it is!

Middle school campers

After we took the picture, my parents talked to Emma’s parents, and then left. After all the parents left, we just chilled until dinner. After dinner, we went and played some name games, and then went to camp fire hill. At camp fire hill, there was a Magic School Bus act about the rules at Manidokan. After the fire hill stuff, we had snack, and then went to bed.

Opening campfire

Monday-

On Monday, I woke up, got ready and went to breakfast. Right after that, I got in the van and went to a trail to get on the Maryland Heights trail. Maryland Heights was fun, but VERY tiring. The trail we went on is a 4.5 mile round trip. Clearly someone read the information wrong, because the counselors told us it was about 5 miles up, about 5 miles back, and 9-10 miles in total. After Maryland Heights, we were supposed to go to Harpers Ferry, but we didn’t. Instead we had canoe training.

In canoe training, 4 people got in 2 canoes which were in the pool (2 in each), and 1 canoe got flipped, and the other had to rescue them. Thankfully, my canoe got flipped, because it was hot outside, and I didn’t really want to rescue another canoe. When our canoe was flipped, it was funny, because our canoe didn’t actually flip over when they tried to flip it, so they had to flip it over a second time. I also got trapped by the other canoe. There were 2 walls, a canoe acting as a 3rd wall, a Molly with a life jacket, and water that I could not swim under to get under the canoe. Soon after, the canoe moved away from the wall enough so that I could get out, and I was saved! After canoe training, we had our swim tests (I passed), and then we had pool time. So much pool!

After pool time, we had store time, and then we went back to the lodge to change and get ready for dinner. We had dinner, and then chapel. After chapel we had night swim, which was very fun, and I had it with Leah! After night swim, we had snack, and then went to bed.

Tuesday-

On Tuesday, we started off with a good breakfast. Then we did low ropes, which is a bunch of teamwork-related obstacles close to the ground. Some had ropes, some didn’t. Not the type of low ropes you would expect, right? At low ropes, we did a partner balance thing where there were 2 partners and 2 ropes. We had to place our hands on each other’s shoulders, or “hold hands”. Then we had to balance each other out and “walk” as far as we could to the end of the ropes. My partner and I made it pretty far, but not all the way.

After that we did 2 tire swing activities with a tire swing line. In the first activity, 5 kids sat on top of the 5 tire swings, and we had to pass a stick through the tire swing hole to the next person. The next activity is when 1 person would have to swing from tire to tire. The last obstacle we did is was the wall, which is a wall that you had to climb up using your teammates to help you get up. Basically, you would step on your teammates hands, and they would lift you up with their hands. Then someone at the top of the wall would help pull you up over the wall onto the platform behind the wall, and then you would make it over the wall.

After that we left for lunch. After lunch, we went on the Sawmill hike, to Sawmill! We went the back way though. This is because it would take too long if we wanted to have some pool time. So we went the back way to Sawmill, and got in the water - some slowly, some quickly. The water was freezing! After we hiked back from Sawmill, we went to the pool, and then we had snack. After we had snack, we went back to the lodge, and then we had dinner. After dinner, we had mission night.

At mission night, we learned about Mission Manidokan. This year’s Mission Manidokan is to raise money to buy 50 five size growing shoes. To learn more, click here! (P.S., that click here is not an ad.) During mission night, we played games about shoes, learning about the growing shoes on the way. Here's a picture of me at mission night!

Mission Manidokan

After mission night, we played fortress, and some of my group slept out. I didn’t, because I don’t like sleeping outside.

Wednesday-

On Wednesday, we went rafting and canoeing! I went rafting, because I didn’t want to canoe (too easily tipped over), and because I like rafting more than being in a canoe. When we first got to our rafting/canoeing destination, it was sort of a struggle. We had to get 10 canoes down to the water, as well as 2 rafts. When we started out, many canoes were leading, while others were behind with the rafts. This wasn’t a great start, because the leading canoes had no idea where they were going! Thankfully the adult canoes caught up to the leading canoes, and showed them the way. Once we got to our lunch spot, we had lunch, and then got to jump off the jumping rock, and swim around! Here’s a picture of me jumping off!

Water fun

After we swam around, and had fun, we had to get back on the water. Everyone got in their boats, and we set off to the rapids. Another reason why I did not canoe is I didn’t want to canoe in the rapids. So everyone got through the rapids safely, and we decided to play king of the raft. King of the raft is a very fun game. Basically, you flip the raft over, and someone starts as the king (at Manidokan, a counselor), then everyone has to try to get the king off and become the new king. Sadly, it’s a roughish game, and when you get “thrown” down by the counselors, it’s kind-of scary, in a good way though.

After we played king of the raft, we got back in our boats, and set sail to our final destination, the pick up area… When we got to the pick up area…, we got all of the canoes onto the trailer, and then we did the rafts. Once we got back, we had a bit of pool time, and then snack. Luckily, I was the first one in my group to get snack, because we had to go inside to shelter because there was a storm. So we went inside and bought snack from inside, but then the store closed and we had to go back to the lodge. Thankfully, everyone got popsicles at the lodge. After the storm, we had dinner. After dinner, we had chapel, and then it was bed time.

Thursday-

On Thursday, we started off our day with a delicious breakfast. Then we had Bible study. After Bible study, we went to the aerial park, or the high ropes course, for people who don’t know what that means. The aerial park was very fun, there were many obstacles that we went on, and there were 2 ways to end it. You could just go back to the start, or you could go down the quick jump. I did the quick jump, and it was awesome! The quick jump was a harness that you strapped into, and then you would jump off the platform you were on. After you jumped off, you would free fall for a few seconds, and then the quick jump would catch you, slowly bringing you down to the floor. Sadly, we didn’t really have anything to break our fall (besides the ground), so most kids ended up lying down on the ground when they finished.

After the aerial park, we went to a camp fire, where they had pie pans, and we made our own pie pizza sandwiches. After everyone had 1 pie pizza, you could get seconds, or you could make actual pie for dessert. I chose the pie, of course! Sadly, they did not have pumpkin pie filling, so I went for cherry instead. After lunch, we went to the zip line. The zip line was very fun, as it always is. This year was my third year doing it! Here’s a video of me on the zip line.

After the zip line. We went back for pool time, and then store time. After store time we went back to the lodge to rest up, and then we had dinner. After dinner, we had chapel, and then we had the talent show! This year, I finally stepped up and did something. I sang My Lighthouse! This took a lot of preparation before camp, because Leah and Daddy made a recording for me to sing to before camp, with Leah on cello, and Daddy on guitar. Then Daddy sent me with a thumb drive with the background music on it, and some links, just in case. Here’s a video of my singing at the talent show, for my first time!

After the talent show we went back to the lodge, had snack, and then went to sleep.

Friday-

Friday was my very last day (for this year) at Manidokan. We started the day with breakfast, and then we went straight to archery. At archery, we shot actual arrows, using actual bows, and targets. Then once we were done shooting, we sat in the hammocks until everyone was done. After archery, we had Bible study. Then we packed as much of our stuff as we could, and then we had lunch.

After lunch we had pool games/water games. Pool games was basically pool time in the before normal pool time, but that’s all I did, because it’s pool time! After pool games/water games, we had actual pool time. After pool time, we had store time, where I got a women’s fit Manidokan shirt that I like very much. I’m wearing it in the final picture with Leah, Jordan, Haley, and Madison. Then after store time, we went back to the lodge, made sure everything was packed, and then watched a movie. Sadly, when we were in the middle of the movie, it was time for dinner. After dinner, the parents came, and we shared what we learned. Of course, before we left Daddy HAD to take pictures, and he took some of Leah and me with our best friends/neighbors. Here’s one!

Neighbors

The End

Or is it…