Monday, December 15, 2014

The Best Day!

Have you ever participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange?  We have all participated in the "bring a wrapped gift to exchange" thing, but this year one of my kids is part of a Secret Santa where they actually drew names and are picking gifts for the person they drew.  Emily had so much fun deciding what to get the name she drew and shared this with her brother and sister.  The three of them decided we should do a gift exchange with our family.  I, of course, felt that this meant that Mike and I just needed to get gifts for the person we picked and no one else, but that idea was quickly extinguished by the kids.  They explained that we were going to do our gift exchange as well as purchase gifts for our children.  Not sure how they get off so easy as to just purchase for their name.  :)

We decided to do our shopping at the Dollar Tree.  I thought this was the best idea for "shopping alone" and being contained while doing it.  It worked out great!  The kids really did put a lot of thought into purchasing for their person and were so excited about wrapping their gifts last night.  It was too funny.  We are trying very hard to keep the persons name we drew a secret as well, but all three of them have accidentally said things a few times.  They do their best to cover their mistake, but it is just so funny!

After our shopping spree we finished our great day off by going to Boston Beanery.  Much to the embarrassment of my children, I asked our server to take our picture.  Emily, in particular, thought this was very embarrassing.  I suppose, what kind or parent are you if you can't embarrass your offspring.  :)

Prior to our shopping trip, we spent the afternoon on Skyline Drive.  We had a great day at church and then headed to Skyline Drive after lunch.  It was very cold and windy up there, but the sun was shining and it made for really great views at the overlooks.  We saw many cascades of icicles and had to stop and take a picture of one.

We also decided to walk down to the Diamond Falls waterfall, but it was pretty wet, icy and slippery down there.  We did not go all the way to the falls, but stopped at the bridge overlook to take a picture.  Was still about a mile and a half round trip (2nd half straight up hill), but did not want to risk the slipping possibility.  Such a fantastic day!!

The kids are now planning on their Secret Santa gift exchange for next year.  They are hoping to bring more people into it.  Grammy, Paw Paw, Uncle Paul, Aunt Allison, Penny, Adella . . . the names just go on and on.  :)  I love the days that we all laugh so much!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Halloween 2014

I love Halloween!  I mean, how can you not love it?!   When can you dress up however you want to and be someone completely different than you are!!??  And, the reason for the season . . . CANDY!  :)

Ryan tossed around going trick or treating this year.  He decided, kind of at the last minute, to go.  His friend, Kendall, came with us.  We had tons of fun!  I think they were worn out from all the walking when it was over.  Not sure why--I was fine and I am the old person!!

This year we were a trip to the movies.  Lydia decided very early on that she wanted to be a box of popcorn.  She designed her costume and Mike helped her put it together.  We kind of talked Emily into being a fountain drink.  What other drink than an orange Crush (just like her Crush softball team) would make sense for her to be.  Mike designed and put together Emily's costume too.  She did the letters and put on the front.  The compliments were like no other year!!  Soooo many people commented and remarked on how cute the costumes were!!  People would ask us how we designed them.  The girls would even get extra candy sometimes because they were so cute.  We told everyone that Ryan and Kendall were the actors in the horror movie we were seeing on our trip to the movies.  They did not seem to understand why they did not get the comments the girls did.  They thought their costumes were stellar.  I had to explain that scary is too ordinary at Halloween.  Original is the way to go.  :)  Definitely a winning costume year!!

So on Track

The weather has been so weird this year!  I am sitting here at work in capri pants and a short sleeve shirt, but just two days ago I was bundled up in a heavy coat and long pants.  A few weeks ago (November 1), Mike took our family to a JMU football game.  These are not something that we do too often.  We tend to go to the basketball games, but not the football for some reason.  We mainly wanted Ryan to see the marching band since he is in band at school.  We thought it would be neat to see a band that has it together and is MUCH larger that the Elkton Middle School band.  :)  He was impressed.  He kept commenting on the fact that they were "really on track."  I did not know what this meant for a bit, but then realized he meant, in my language, in sinc with each other.  I said "are you guys usually on track?"  "Sometimes" was his comment.  I think he enjoyed it.  Sadly, it was so cold and had rained the night before so the bleachers were very cold and damp since we did not have enough towels to dry off really well.  We made it thorough halftime and left.  We saw what we came to see though.

Before we went into the game, we ran into one of my former students--Josh Calderon.  He is a tuba player in the marching band.  It was great!  The kids took their picture with him for me.  Not sure they wanted to, but they did without a gripe.  Besides it being such a cold day--we had a lot of fun.  And . . . JMU ended up winning!  After we left they started winning.  :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Adella turns 8!

Ryan and Adella bowling at the same time.
 Last weekend the kids and I traveled to Richmond to celebrate my brother's daughter's 8th birthday.  She celebrated at a bowl america.  My kids love bowling and were able to play several games while they were there.  They also got to play with Adella's sister, my other niece, Penny.  Penny is 4 and really took advantage of the aiming stand that bowling allies provide for their younger patrons.  It was too funny!!  Fun day!  After that, we met up with Michelle and Trevor and their boy girl twins, Sydney and Grayson.  Love them!!

Fun Friday

Last Friday the kids had a day off school for teacher a teacher work day.  I took the day off and we took the opportunity to hang out with my friend Rabia and her kids.  The weather was amazing!  We spent some time riding bikes at the park, had lunch there and the kids played for a while.  It was a lot of fun!!  After park fun all afternoon, we introduced Geocaching to Rabia and her kids.  They loved it so much that she actually blogged about it on her blog.  Instructions and explanations and everything.  Check it out . . .

Love hanging with Rabia and her family and we don't do that nearly often enough.  Used to be very often, but now we no longer work together.

One of the caches was at our local camel farm.  Was too funny!!  The closest I had ever been to a camel.
Benjamin had to help with getting the cache out of the tube because we did not understand that we had to bring water.  :)

There were horses there too.  Was a really fun day!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

Since she was three years old, Emily has worn eye glasses.  Infact, one of the ways I would tell people who was who with my twins is to say "Emily wears Eyeglasses.  E for Eyeglasses"  When she got her glasses her eye doctor explained that she does not have a vision problem, but that one of her eyes simply crosses and shuts off a certain part of her brain when it does.  This would happen often at that time.  He also explained that Emily had a 50% chance of outgrowing this problem when she as about 10 or 11 and a 50% chance that she would have to wear glasses or contacts for the remainder of her life.  She had to wear patches, drops in her strong eye to make it blurry so that her weak eye would get stronger.  She hated patches and the drops eventually started giving her headaches since it kept her eye dilated all the time.   

She started off with wire frames that had pieces that went behind her ears.  We hoped this would prevent an active 3 year old from them falling off her face and she step on them.  Mike and I have never worn glasses so we never really knew when to adjust her glasses (since she really didn't know how or when to tell us) until we would see her eyelashes curling up inside her lenses.  It was really bad!  A couple of years ago she decided she wanted a pair of plastic frames.  I had a good friend who wore the plastic frames and loved them.  We got her those and she was much happier.  She has her athletic glasses for softball and gymnastics and we don't know her without them. 

Two weeks ago she came home from her eye doctor appointment with a huge smile on her face.  Mike had taken her to the doctor.  She looked at me and Mike said something about "look at what is missing."  I looked at her and she was smiling just like this. The doctor told her she only has to wear glasses at school and when she is working on things that are up close.  If she is not focusing on something close up she does not have to wear them.  No more athletic glasses and no more glasses at home unless we are doing homework or working on the computer.  She is so excited!!  We go back again in a year and are hoping that at that point he will tell us that she does not have to wear them anymore.  Who knows--this may be something she will still always have to have, but at least it is not constant anymore.  Can't tell you how happy she is.  :)

Emily at three years old when she first got her glasses.

Pies and Parties

Ryan turned 11 this year and Lydia and Emily turned 9.  They each had pool parties at my parents house.  Lydia and Emily had nice warm weather and it was perfect except for a small bit of rain we had at the very end of the party.  The following weekend seemed as if we had already come into a different season.  It was cold and windy and a bit rainy.  The boys still had a good time swimming, but spent a bit more time inside since it was warmer.  We had a good time with both.

Making food is always one of Lydia's favorite things to do.  She hopes to be a chef some day.  Had some stuff for her to make pumpkin pies a few weeks ago and she was kind enough to let Emily make them with her.  They each made a pie from start to finish.  They were yummy!!

Last tournament of the year

Emily's Crush team had their last tournament the other weekend.  We were to have another one this upcoming weekend, but several of the teams pulled out so they have cancelled it.  These girls do a great job and were excited to collect their trophies!!

Emily is typically the 3rd baseman, but at this tournament the catcher ended up getting sick and they needed to move kids around.  Her coach put her at catcher for a few innings. She did pretty well for never having tried it before.
 Waiting in line to get their tropies
                              Emily's coach, Jon, presenting
                               her with her trophy.

This particular tournament had various ages of softball teams playing that day.  There was another Crush team we had never seen before.  They were from Northern Virginia.  Two of the girls from that team came over to find the girls that were the same number as they were.  One of them was a number 1.  Emily had her picture taken with her.  It was so neat!!  They even had the same colors.

Summer Beach Trip

I know I have posted vacation posts before, but not sure if I have ever explained how things work in our family.  Every other year my parents rent a condo that we all stay in at the beach.  My parents, my brother and his wife and kids and the five of us stay at Myrtle Beach.  It is really great!  Then, every other year, we vacation as just the five of us.  It is the best of both worlds!!  This past July we did our vacation with parents, brother and family.  Had a great time, as always!!  We took our traditional trip to Broadway at the Beach, played mini golf and made a sand castle with the cousins.  A fun fun week!!
 The girls and me at Broadway at the Beach

  Eatin ice cream                                                              

The Zoltar Machine like in the movie Big.  We had just recently seen that movie.  They saw this from outside and thought it was actually from the movie.  :)
                                                                                            We enjoy going to
                                                                                       Bass Pro Shops and
                                                                                     play on the 4 wheelers
                                                                                            and boats
 With the cousins at our traditional
eating out night at Calabash.  Sadly
the restaurant burned down a few
weeks ago.
                                                                                    Me and E on the beach
 Geocaching one evening after hitting
Krispy Kream while they are making
the donuts
                                                                                  All the girls
                                                                               playing in the pool

 Love to watch them make the donuts
                                                                                       Lydi and Pen playing
                                                                             on the beach
Mike, Dad and Ryan--just hanging
                                                                                             Mini Golf
Did you know my niece
could fly?  :)
                                                                                 Had fun making our
                                                                             sand castle!
While we were planning our trip to Myrtle Beach, we realized our friends, the Liebers, were going to be there the same week!!  It was so cool.  We visited one morning for a few hours and had a fun time!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Caching and Biking

2 years later, we are still Geocaching and loving it.  We have this really great park near our house.  It is connected to some caverns, but we just go for the park.  There is a great bike trail around it and we spent the day there Geocaching a few months ago.  It was great!!  I wish we made a point to go there more often.  I really was most excited that I was able to put the bikes in our trailer and take them over there with us.  I did have to unhook the trailer to turn it around in the parking lot without hitting any cars--and my then 10 year old son had to help me hook it back up, but we won't talk about that right now.

They have this great biking trail there that has various exercise stations and dinosaurs in the trees.  Pretty funny when you come across them.  The kids liked modeling in front of them.  We need to go there more often.  Too fun!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Club 56

Our church has so many wonderful programs for our youth.  For the 5th and 6th graders, they have a club called Club 56.  This group of kids does various activities together throughout the year and at Christmas time they take stuffed stockings to the shut ins at the Assisted Living Facility that is affiliated with our church.  They really do a lot of fun things and it enables the kids to get to know their church family a bit better.  Ryan participated in this group and I am a volunteer.  Ryan participated in this group last year as well.  This past weekend we did a really neat ropes course experiential team building program for this age kid.  They were really neat!  They did a low ropes that they had to use their "suitcases" to get themselves across the "swamp" and not get eaten by the "water snakes."  They had to figure out the best way to get across the swamp and had to guide two kids who were blindfolded.  Ryan was one the kids to help the blindfolded swamp crosser.  He and Ellie did such a great job!  Someone had to be standing on a "suitcase" at all times.  This made the crossing more difficult.  They had to also pass their suitcases to the kids that were in the front of the suitcase crossing bridge.

Another low ropes they did was having to get from one tree to another without falling off the rope.  They had to help each other to the different "posts" where they could be more stable.  This required strength and balancing and trusting a person that you might not know very well.  It was really neat to see these kids do this.
After he helped Nicholas balance, Nicholas is now pulling him while Anyssa is helping him balance at the first post.

Drama Becomes Her

This past summer Lydia attended her first Drama camp.  One of our area high schools does a drama camp where the high school students are the counselors.  The drama teacher heads up the camp so that the high school kids can earn money for a trip they take during the school year.  It is such an amazing program!!  I had heard wonderful things and it sounded like it was right up Lydia's alley.  She LOVED it!!  For five days, for about 4 or 5 hours a day, they developed, wrote and acted in a play.  They put on a performance at the end of the week for all the families.  Lydia knew all her lines and even helped prompt another little girl who had forgotten a line or two.  We were so proud of her!!

 Scenes from Lydia's play
Lydia and one of her counselors, Allyson
 The entire group of kids and counselors from the drama camp

She enjoyed dressing up in "wardrobe" and being on a microphone so that everyone in the audience could hear her.  She loves being in front of people.  I wish there was some kind or program like this that she could participate in all year long.  At this point, I am not aware of one.  She will be able to take drama in the 6th grade so we just have two more years before she can do that.  :)