Friday, May 26, 2017

Olivia and Ezra's Shared Birthday!

Because both Olivia and Ezra wanted the same kind of party, we decided to combine them both and have a big one at Skateland. They each got to invite 7 friends for cake and almost 3 hours of skating.
Ezra turned 7 this year. He's become such an expressive young man. It's hard for him to contain his emotions and his energy most of the time and so he's very passionate about things. He gets upset easily when things don't go the way he thought they would, but he's quick to find something else to be happy about.
Olivia is 12 (going on 15...) and is turning into quite a young woman. She's very smart, loves to laugh and goes back and forth between wanting her space from the other kids and being very helpful with them.
For Ezra, I made him a chocolate cake with a turtle on it. He's recently become fascinated by turtles, so he was really happy when he saw it. Olivia requested a "funfetti" cake that had sprinkles in it and I decorated it with a roller skate.

The bigs had each gotten a set of skates last Hanukkah, so they were able to put them to good use.
We rented Emma some skates and she bravely ventured out, too.
Even Rebecca and I tried our hands at it.
 I realized that it had been 30 years since I'd been on skates! And it showed... it's a wonder I didn't hurt myself. :)
Fortunately, we had Olivia there to help us along and stay upright for most of the night. It was a ton of fun and hopefully, we can go again soon.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Our Littlest Little is 4!!!

Can you believe she's 4?!? She's growing up so fast, it's amazing. In the weeks leading up to her birthday, I asked her over and over what she wanted on her cake. At first, it was a butterfly, then a flower with a butterfly and finally, in her usual random spirit, she wanted a dolphin! Once she hit on that idea, she wouldn't let it go.
So, the morning of, Rebecca went and got her a big dolphin balloon. She squealed loud enough to hurt all our ears. :) Since we were having a party for Olivia and Ezra the next day, we decided to keep things low-key for hers and celebrated it with our friends in Yanceyville when we went up there that afternoon. 

I brought along the cake I had made and we all sang to her and made a big deal for her. :) I'm so looking forward to what Irene's got in store for us this year. Hopefully, it will involve using the potty...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mountain Top Youth Camp

While we were home with the littles, the bigs spent their week at Mountain Top Youth Camp. They did crafts, read the Bible, sang songs, climbed the mountain, played games, made friends and ate food. :)
This year, they had a Pinewood Derby and Gabe won! We are told that the coat hanger was the key to his success; just the right placements and weight. Ezra built what can only be described as a Mad Max Derby car, with nails and screws and chains. From what several people told us, Ezra was in the running for third place, but narrowly lost in the last race. We got so many compliments on both the boys from counselors about how polite and respectful they both were and how they participated in the activities and discussions.
Olivia didn't place in Derby, but it didn't matter. She had so much fun with the friends she's made up there over the past 3 years. Over the last year, she kept in touch with a girl from Mebane, exchanging letters and pictures regularly and even spending time sleeping at each other's houses. So for the two of them, this was a whole week of sleepovers and fun.

By the time it was done, however, everyone was ready to come home. Olivia was supposed to go home with her friend for her friend's birthday, but later that afternoon, she called and asked if I could come and get her. She was having fun, but she really missed us and wanted to come home. Of course, I went and got her and we made plans for her to go back for her friend's birthday party the following week.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hanging Rock

Once we dropped the bigs off at MTYC, we started home, but rather than go back the normal way, we went around to Hanging Rock and took a hike there as well.
Emma had been given a thing of bubbles by one of the counselors at MTYC and so she brought it along.
The path, for more than half the way is either paved or nicely groomed gravel, making it seem easier than it was. It wasn't terribly difficult until you reached the seemingly endless stairs. Poor Rebecca had to carry Irene on her back up them and Irene was not helpful in the least...
Emma and I reached the top on the wood stairs first, so she sat on a rock in the shade and blew bubbles while we waited.
There were still more stairs, this time rough-cut stone, that had to be climbed to reach the top, but the littles persevered and made it!

The view was incredible, but the girls didn't want to get any closer to it than they were. OK...I didn't want them any closer than they were. Sadly, there was an exposure problem with the camera, so my panoramic shots didn't come out.

The climb down all those stone and then wood stairs was certainly no easier than the uphill. By the time we got all the way down, we were all pretty beat. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pilot Mountain Hike

The day that we brought the older three kids to Mounatin Top Youth Camp, we decided to leave a little early and go for a hike around Pilot Mountain, which is on the way.
If there's one thing these kids love to do all together, it's climb! Be it trees or rocks, it doesn't matter.
It was no mean feat getting them all to balance on this bent tree, smile and be still for this picture, but we did it! :)
The littles have no fear of the rocks. Irene, especially, loves to climb on things...
The flowers were in bloom and looking mighty pretty.
It was a good hike for us and a good last hour or so all together before the bigs went off to their camp.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Piano Recital - Spring 2017

It's time again for the kids' piano recitals and we couldn't be more proud. Both Gabe and Olivia worked so hard and their diligence paid off. Their spring recitals always involve memorizing their pieces, so it makes it so much harder.

Unfortunately, Gabe's video didn't come out, but he was PERFECT! He was nervous about making a mistake, so we got there early enough for him to practice his piece and he knocked it out of the park. Later, I had him play it at home so I could record it.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Nature Walk

Recently, we got a whole bunch of rain over a couple of days, and afterwards the weather was just beautiful, so we decided to take a long walk along the greenway in Jamestown. There were tons of big puddles and the creek was super high.
Irene was, by far, the cutest things out there. She just went nuts over the puddles. She would scream, "MORE PUDDLES?!?!" 
And then run and jump in them.
She tried to get Olivia to come jump in a few, too.
There were several places where the runoff made streams across the path and Ezra liked to drop a leaf on the water and watch it float.
Olivia turned it into an olympic event, leaping across the streams.
The littles were just so happy to splash!

Gabe wasn't shy about it either. 
The rain on the grass made for some pretty sights.
Then Gabe found a wild honeysuckle vine and stopped for a snack, which then turned into a free-for-all on the honeysuckle. 
There was so much of it along the path that we kept having to push the kids along or they'd have spent all day on one vine. :)
Normally, you can get down and walk along the creek on the rocks, but this day, the creek was well above normal, so we were lucky to even have a place to take a picture.
Around this point, Rebecca had to run to a class, so we soldiered on, planning to meet in a park along the trail later, where she would pick us up so we didn't have to walk all the way back.
We found a flood gauge that showed that the creek was 3.5 feet above normal!

After hiking so far (at least 2 miles), we found the park and decided to take a break from walking and play on the playground for a while.
My goodness! These two really are peas in a pod, both in looks and personality!
After a good long while on the playground, Rebecca's class wasn't quite done, so we got back on the path and the kids found this huge stick they wanted to bring home. It was really a sapling that had fallen over sometime in the recent past. They though tit was great fun to work together carrying it. Ezra wasn't so much into the teamwork thing, though, preferring to sit it out and walk on his own.
We kept going on the path until we found a nice, gentle stream that wouldn't wash us all away. 
The kids took off their boots and socks and played in the stream for a bit until I heard from Rebecca that she was on her way.

On the way back, we took a side path that should have led us back into the park by the playground, but, despite the beautiful butterflies (or maybe because I was distracted by them ;), I got lost. Rebecca called me and managed to talk me out of the woods before we died. ;)