Friday, October 20, 2017

Movie at the Park

Almost every week, Greensboro's LeBauer Park shows a movie on a big outdoor screen. We saw that they were showing Hidden Figures, which is about the black women mathematicians in the 1950s and 60s who overcame all manner of racial prejudice to help develop the math needed to launch the US space program. It was absolutely amazing and highly recommend everyone see it. 
They gave away free popcorn and we brought our dinner down to sit and eat while watching the movie. 
 We had a really fun time and can't wait to do it again!

Van Troubles

So... Irene had her first driving lesson and it did not go very well...
Let me start by saying that nobody got hurt, not even a scratch, thank God.
I was in the kitchen cooking dinner while the kids were outside playing. I could hear them hooting and hollering as they rode their bikes and scooters in the driveway. Next thing I hear is Emma come into the house and say, "Irene drove the car down to the street." She said it in such a nonchalant way that it took me a minute to process. "What?!" I asked. Emma just said it again. I went to the door and sure enough, the van wasn't where I'd left it.  I patted my pockets and my keys were there, so I knew it wasn't that I'd left them in it or something like that. Panic set in and I bolted out the door. No van in the driveway. No van down at the street. I freaked out and started running. I had the presence of mind to count the kids on my way down and they were all there... except for Irene.

Apparently what happened is that while they were playing in the driveway, Irene had climbed into the van on her own and leaned hard enough on the gear shift to knock it out of Park. From there, it rolled backward down our driveway and shot across the street into the park and down into the cedar trees. Irene was completely fine, except for being scared out of her mind. I can only imagine the image of the van flying down the driveway, bouncing across the street and then cruising its way through the park backwards with Irene at the wheel. 

It could have been so much worse. On the way down, the van squashed our two tricycles that were in the driveway behind it. Thank God everyone was out of the way and unhurt.
 The van, however...
 was not in such good shape.
 Like, really bad shape.
As in... Totaled. It's toast. We no longer have a van.

It turns out that there was a recall about 4 years ago on our van for exactly this problem. According to Toyota, they have a record of sending a notice to our address, but we never got it. Fortunately, our insurance is fantastic. We have GEICO (yes, it's supposed to be all caps. It's an acronym. I'm not shouting it) and they said they needed to work up a valuation on it so they could figure out how much to pay us for it. I was determined not to get raked over the coals and did my own research. I determined that it was worth around $7100-7200. After waiting a week, they finally got back to me and offered us... $6950. I have to say, I was surprised. I wasn't going to quibble over such a small difference between our values. It was impressive not to get jerked around.

Our plan now is to use the Suburban for our family car and look into replacing Rebecca's aging Mazda in the near future with something that's not falling apart and has working air conditioning!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sukkot 2017

For the second year running, Valley of Blessing had their congregational Sukkot up at Higher Ground Christian Center in Virginia. 
 We decided to bring our camper up with us to stay in rather than pitching a tent for the ten days.
 If there's one thing we can count on at HG, it's beautiful sunrises.

 We did get a couple days of rain, but the weather was pretty nice, overall. 
We didn't plan nearly as many events as we did last year, so there was a lot of free time for just hanging out. That gave  Pastor Donna from spending a little time with the littles playing games. 

 We took a little side trip to Mabry Mill and walked around the old buildings and exhibits there. 

 The last night of Sukkot, we celebrated Simchat Torah, which is when we roll the whole Torah scroll back to Genesis 1:1. It's always so cool to see the Word of Adonai rolled out. 
This passage is the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy. It's divided to commemorate the dividing of the Red Sea during the Exodus.

While doing Sukkot at Higher Ground was good for two years, I think we've decided to go back to our previous tradition of camping on our own from now on. It's a lot less hassle and stress. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gabe's Birthday Surprise!

For Gabe's 9th birthday, we surprised them all by foregoing the usual birthday party for a night at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord. We'd been to a GWL before in Williamsburg, but that was way back in 2012, when Emma was the only Little, though Irene was on her way. :) One of the nice things about the GWL is that you can get into the pool at 1pm on the day you check in and then can stay in the pool until they close on the day you check out. So even though we only stayed one night, they got a full day and a half in the pool. 
The kids were all super excited when we arrived because we didn't tell them ahead of time that we were doing this. We checked in and Rebecca took them all straight to the pool while I unloaded in the room and decorated it.
If you recall, Gabe had asked for a Minion birthday theme, so we obliged him further on this trip with balloons, a banner, confetti and a bunch of Minion themed snacks.
I even made a trail mix with blue and yellow M&Ms (yes, I had to pick them out of a huge bag!) Chex Mix, pretzel sticks and candy eyes.
While I was setting up the room, The kids were getting into action. The best part about the GWL is that the older 3 are all old enough to run off on their own and do whatever slides they want. I think there were only two slides that Gabe and Ezra were supposed to need an adult for, but we certainly didn't mind going with them. 
 The Littles weren't exactly hard to watch, tho. They loved the wave pool! It came on and off at 5 minute intervals, so they'd bang around in the waves for a few minutes and then when it stopped, they'd want to go over to the huge fort with two slides that they could ride on their own.

 They also liked the splash area around the fort, but they weren't big fans of the huge, 500-gallon bucket that dumped every 10 minutes or so.

We engaged in a few races on the track slides, which was fun. I went a couple of times and beat everyone else, but I think it's just because gravity pulls harder on me. ;) I didn't get a picture of him, but during the second day, Ezra and Gabe made a friend who spend most of that day riding the slides with us wherever we went.  
As a  treat on the second day, we got a massive bucket of ice cream that came with all manner of stuff in it like cookie bites, brownie chunks, whipped cream and chocolate syrup.
They made short work of it, tho. (Rebecca and I may have helped a little...)

At the end of the trip, we were all waterlogged and exhausted, but super happy that we had come. Of course, they all want to do it again as soon as possible and I certainly don't disagree!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Backyard Building

Sometimes, when you get done with your work, but no one else is done, there's nothing to do but built a fort. :)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

First Day of EMMA Classes

It's a new school year at EMMA classes and this year, we're sending Emma along as well! 

 She'll be taking activities classes, art, PE and Music.
 The boys are taking classes in geography, science, art, PE and Music.
Olivia, is taking quite a course load with Spanish, General Science, Chemistry/Physics, PE and Music. She even landed a speaking part in the play! 

The kids have loved doing the EMMA classes and have made friends that they love to see every Friday. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Happy Birthday Gabe!

Gabe turned 9! I know I probably say this at every kid's birthday, but it really is hard to believe how fast they grow up. For his birthday this year, he really wanted a Minion-themed party, but we had another plan already arranged, so we told him we couldn't do a party for him, but we did a bunch of things to make the day special for him. 
 Rebecca went and found what has to be the biggest Minion balloon I've ever seen. 
I tried to make each meal Minion themed, so for breakfast, they had bananas dressed as Minions and Minion cereal.  
 For lunch, I made them Minion mac and cheese.
For his cake, rather than my usual attempt at a "designer" cake, we had them do some decorating. I made some individual Twinkie-sized cakes and decorated them with blue and yellow frosting. Rebecca found some Minion eyes, mouths and hair candy pieces at a store and we let the kids put them on the cakes. 
There were also tattoos for each of them, which were a big hit...
though I think Olivia may have gone a little overboard with them. :) They actually took a couple of days to wear off, so she had to go to piano lessons and EMMA classes with them still on. 

The day was a lot of fun, but we were saving his big birthday surprise for the following week so more on that later!