Tuesday, January 2, 2018

It's a Brand New Car!

Ok... Not BRAND new... but new to us anyway. With the end of the year closing in, we decided to pull the trigger and get Rebecca a new car. Our beloved 2003 Mazda Protege5 had taken us over 230,000 miles (that's about the distance to the moon!) over the past 13 years and was slowly dying a painful death as various bits and pieces broke or stopped working on it. Rebecca has been pondering what vehicle she'd like to get over the past couple of months...
 and while this is her dream, it's not very practical... So instead she settled on this:
a 2010 Nissan Versa. Sadly, we couldn't find one in our price range in blue that was in decent condition, so we had to go with silver, but still... It's a cute car and one that we're happy with so far. It rides and runs great and we are so happy to have a solidly reliable car for her! We're looking forward to a good 10 years with this one!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A New Adventure for the Kids

This fall, we signed the kids (minus Irene, who isn't old enough yet) up for Trail Life and American Heritage Girls (I'm sure you can figure out who is in which group...) The groups are Boy and Girl Scout alternatives that hold fast to conservative Christian values and teachings while giving kids hands-on learning in all kinds of really cool areas. They even have to do a certain number of hours of community service each year.

The boys have been primarily learning about all aspects of safety, like fire, electrical, water and so on. The can earn badges in a number of areas, and just as soon as I can get the handbook, I'll be able to figure out exactly what those areas are. :)

The girls have been learning all kinds of stuff. Emma is in the youngest of the groups, so she doesn't earn badges this year, but Olivia is hard at work trying to earn hers. She has earned the Joining Award, which meant she had learned the Motto, Creed, History and various facts about the AHG and the things they do. Already, she's picked out a few badges to work towards and I tell you what: they are not easy. She's definitely got a lot of work to do!

Hopefully the kids' enjoyment and dedication to the groups continues and they can use it as an opportunity to make new friends and learn some very handy skills!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Hannukah 2017

It's that time of year again! Hanukkah is one of our favorite times because we make it a point to set aside each and every day to do something all together as a family. 
Our yard hanukkiah went up on time this year with a couple of improvements. Firstly, I got a light so it could be see all night long. Then I figured out how to put a long toothpick through the candles to hold the flames in place in the wind that kep pulling it apart last year. :)

We pulled out the decorations from previous years along with the hand hanukkiahs they made.

On the first night, we went to VoB for a service and they had put a light on the huge hanukkiah out front. Driving up, though, all you could see was the giant shadow on the side of the building, wich made it even cooler!
One of the things we did as a family was to go to the Greensboro Children's Museum together. Out front, they built this gigantic climbing maze that has two pyramids that are 30 feet high. Stretching between the two, about 24 feet off the ground is a web tunnel. 
In order to reach it, you have to climb all the way up through the maze of ropes and nets. The kids went right up, begging me to come along. I told them that I thought I was over the weight restrictions, so one of them ran inside to ask. Unfortunately, they came back out and cheered because there isn't a restriction on adults climbing it... Lucky me.
So... up I climbed. But I didn't go alone. Rebecca climbed up, too. Even the littles went.
Once at the top, it takes a bit of an effort to get in there. Fortunately, there aren't any pictures of me flopping like a landed fish trying to get myself into the tunnel. 
Once inside, it's a bit of a crawl for an adult, but a fairly easy crouch for a kid to get across to the other pyramid.
Once there, we climbed down to a very fast metal slide. Rather sadly for me, the only way I could get into it was headfirst, so it launched me out onto my face. The kids thought it was great fun, tho. A little hard on the butt, maybe, but still fun.

Then Ezra decided to recreate my first time through it.
Only I wasn't so graceful.

On another day, we made Hanukkah slime! 
It was pretty fun, but kinda gross, too. It stuck to everything. 
I found it on clothes, towels, walls, the floor... everywhere.
It was fun to play with, tho. :)
On another day, Rebecca took the kids to the Winston-Salem Children's Museum. They have such cool stuff at that one! This whole thing was hand-knitted by a Japanese lady!

The beanstalk in the middle of the museum is awesome! 
And the donut factory is appropriate since donuts (sufganiyot) are a traditional Hanukkah treat.

This room, with the air tubes and scarves, is a huge favorite. It's cool to let the scarves go in one end and watch them fly through the tubes to be spit out somewhere else.

After our regular Shabbat service, we had an afternoon of games and fun. One of the adults dressed up as Antiochus Epiphanies (that's what the A on the mask stands for. It's definitely NOT Captain America) and the kids had to beat him at Connect4 to kick him out of Jerusalem. 
While not exactly historically accurate, it was fun nonetheless. 
We also had a hanukkiah contest again this year. We won it last year with our block hanukkiah. This year we made one out of Perler beads. Want to guess how many we used? Actually we're not really sure exactly, but the flat base alone took about 3000, so we guessed maybe 4500. Sadly, tho, we didn't win. 

We did some other things that we didn't get pictures of, like going to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi one day. We also ate a TON of donuts. I mean a literal ton. At least, that's how big I felt at the end of it...

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!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Breakfast with Nana and Pop-pop

With the Fall coming on, Nana and Pop-pop ended their extended stay up North and headed their way back to Florida. We got to meet them for breakfast on their way through town. In the past, we've gone to places like Smith's and the Oakcrest  Family Restaurant, which are both excellent, but the kids were delighted when Nana suggested Chick Fil A instead. 
It was great to spend an hour or so with them and can't wait until we can spend more time, maybe in Florida!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Rebecca's Big Night!

It's official! Rebecca is one of The Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina! 
The Great 100 is a one-time award given to the top 100 nurses throughout North Carolina who exemplify the profession. Nurses are nominated by their peers and are chosen through a blind review process. The selection committee is made up of previous Great 100 winners and they only see each candidate's achievements and community service. 
 Not surprisingly, they read through Rebecca's and thought she deserved the award!
I don't think anyone can say that she isn't dedicated to her patients, coworkers and community and the Great 100 award serves as recognition for all her hard work and care.
 Not only that, but the banquet is a great excuse to get all dressed up! :)
And just to show that sometimes unexpected things can happen at big gala events...
We got evacuated in the middle of the keynote address! Fortunately, the building wasn't on fire, but you can bet that if it had been a medical emergency, folks would have been well cared for with a whole hall full of nurses! :)