Friday, July 31, 2009

Cousin Camp, Tue Jul 14 (Discovery Place)

Tuesday's big adventure was a trip to the downtown Charlotte Discovery Place Museum. The museum was boasting an Odyssey Pirate exhibit that everyone was excited to see. Here is Emily posing at the entrance. Arrrgh!

The museum had a whole floor of hands on exhibits demonstrating all sorts of scientific principles. The little kids got to do their own science experiment on what kind of materials would make a good rain jacket. They learned how to use a pipette and determine whether different materials absorbed or repeled water. Emily got the hang of it pretty quickly. David really liked squirting the water out of the pipette. We learned materials like foil and wax paper repel water the best...

The highlight of this hands on room centered on small wooden sticks like the one my husband is holding. There were many of these sticks available for building things.

David, for example, chose to create a flat design, much like wooden flooring. Olivia is helping him here.

The big kids decided to tackle something a little more challenging with these little sticks. This picture shows a 'cantilever' addition to their very impressive tower. For those who don't know, a 'cantilever' is a beam supported only on one end. It is especially difficult to create this with little sticks. Team Nelli is very proud, as you can see.

And the final design, complete with red monument on top.
A sweet Daddy/Daughter moment.

And here is David raising the flags at the hands on pirate exhibit.

A fun day at the museum! There was a big family pasta dinner later that night. Chris's friend Dale was able to come over with his daughter Caroline. I am not sure how Nonna does it... I think she expected 10-12 people for dinner, which quickly escalated to 20 people and she managed to feed everyone! I found out later that the sausage and meatballs she planned to take to the beach were eaten that night. As she says, "I keep a very well stocked freezer! They also keep lots of wine around too.

David is introduced to "military guys"...

Nonna and Pop Pop had a big box of "military guys" in their toy closet. I thought David might be interested in them... He LOVED them and spent quite a bit of time (hours) lining them all up. He expecially liked the helicopter.

Apparently, his cousin Jed liked military guys too. Jed had a few things to show David the next day. And yes, Jed insisted that I take aerial and side view photos of his creation. His battle scene included good guys in white (on the left) and the bad guys in black (on the right). There are even some lying down fighting guys tucked under the book bridge on the right side. Emily got into this creation too - it was very complex. Jed also had a thing or two to teach David the sounds the military guys make when they fight. The bazookas go "pa pa pa pa". Or something like that... I am only an observer when it come to this kind of play... Later in our vacation, Uncle Steven had to teach David the correct sounds for some of the other weapons.... apparently he was doing it wrong. Boys.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cousin Camp, Mon Jul 13 (Lazy 5 Ranch)

Kristen and her kids (Olivia, Christopher, Ainsley and Analiese) arrived at Nonna and Pop Pop's on Monday morning for our outing to the Lazy 5 Ranch. Emily and Ainsley, not only cousins but best friends, were so excited to see each other. Also joining us were Madison, Jed, Daniel, Mrs Walkowiac and her grandkids (Blakely and Hailey). Daniel (he's 14) was very sweet to take orders and made sandwiches for the little kids - he called the sandwich bags "off brand" and used scotch tape to seal them shut, but not before labeling each child's sandwich with their name in permanent marker. Engineer in the making? It was sweet he went to so much trouble. It was about a 30 minute drive to the ranch. We saw cattle and a longhorn as we drove up to the ranch. The animals even came to greet us at our car... you think they were hungry? Imagine the excitement!

We parked by a cage of ostriches... the kids loved that! As you can see, they were huge!
And here is our picnic spot. Everyone is very excited!
Now, if you have a small group, you can take the tour of the ranch in your own car. But if you have a very large group, you can tour the ranch in style... Here we are waiting our turn.
And here we are getting into our horse drawn wagon! How cool is that!

We got big buckets to feed the animals with. David can't wait!
Look at this guy!
The giraffes were the most impressive. The pot bellied pigs, with their bellies dragging along the ground were kind of gross. Oh yes, there were zebras too! What a great outing!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cousin Camp - Sun Jul 12 (Travel Day)

We made it home! What an adventure these last 2 weeks have been. I have been diligent about taking pictures and keeping a travel journal so I will now begin the somewhat daunting task of updating our blog. We had so much fun though and I am excited about documenting all our memories.

Sunday, July 12 (so long ago!) was our travel day. We were able to get 4 free tickets on American thanks to all of Chris's travels for work. The kids were very excited for us to park in "The Parking Spot" because we got to ride a yellow and black polka dotted bus. They had 'big' excited eyes on the bus and couldn't wait to get on our plane. We usually fly Continental for direct flights but the fact the tickets were free somewhat made up for the long travel day.... After paying $15 per bag checked (ridiculous) we flew from Houston Hobby to DFW and were delayed about an hour - not too bad. The DFW terminal for American Eagle actually has a play place for kids... like the ones they have at the mall. I was really impressed with this. We had time to eat at the airport Chili's - the kid's favorite restaurant. They were very happy with their mac' n cheese and playtime. Since we couldn't get flights to Charlotte we flew into Greenville, SC. This worked out well because we have family there and it is only an hour and a half drive to Nonna and Pop Pop's house in Gastonia. Even better, the Vick's let us borrow one of their cars for our trip which saved us having to get a rental car. Thank goodness for family!

John Vick picked us up at the Greenville airport and treated us to hot dogs and homemade strawberry ice cream at their house. What a treat! We really enjoyed getting to visit with them before our drive to Gastonia.

Here is John Vick, Chris and Jed flashing their hook 'em horns. John Vick went to law school at UT Austin. Looks like Jed has the right shirt on too.

Here is Madison with Lia. Lia is thoroughly enjoying her ice cream. So much, that she wouldn't even look at the camera! Did I mention the homemade strawberry ice cream was really YUMMY!

And here is Lexi with Emily. It is hard to believe our god daughter will be 18 this September! She says she will probably stay in state for school with scholarship opportunities, but we are still hoping she might figure out a way to go to UT Austin. We'll keep sending burnt orange stuff her way.

We didn't make it to Nonna and Pop Pop's till after 10:00... so we headed straight to bed. The next day was a big safari adventure and we were all excited about it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Going on vacation...

We leave on Sunday for North Carolina and here are all the fun things we have to look forward to. I'll do my best to get some good pictures so I can blog about it all when we return! We are very excited.

Cousin Camp:
Monday - Lazy5Ranch - African Safari
Tuesday - Free Movie, Madagascar 2, Discovery Place
Wednesday - Carowinds Amusement Park, CiCi's Pizza
Thursday - Free Movie, Whitewater Center
Friday - Peach and/or Berry Picking, Adventure Landing Arcade, Fish Camp for dinner
Alternatives: Ocean Exhibit/Planetarium at the Schiele Museum, pool, Cartooning for Kids or Teen Jam at the Library

Beach Week:
Saturday - Arrive and Settle In, North Carolina Pork BBQ for dinner
Sunday - Pizza and cocktails on the beach at 6:00
Monday - Game Night at Nona and Pop Pop's, Late Night Poker to follow
Tuesday - Italian Night at Tom and Cortney's. Everyone brings potluck and try to dress Italian style.
Wednesday - Shag Night, Dancing to Band of Oz
Thursday - Annual Men's Luncheon, Ladies Night Out
Friday - Ice Cream Social and Fireworks

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

We had a whirl wind 4th of July weekend. My friend Joy and her kids, Noah and Lily, stayed with us and joined us for all the festivities. We went to the Pavilion on Friday night to hear the Houston Symphony's Star Spangled Salute. The kids loved the patriotic flags and pinwheels and had a ball dancing to the music. There was even a small fire works display after the concert.
Saturday morning we headed out for the parade, but it was really really hot this year. The kids enjoyed seeing the fire engines and getting all the free goodies... but it is hard to get up early for this after staying out late for the symphony. I think we will skip this event in future years.

My parents joined us for lunch after the parade and we had a great time visiting with them. After lunch, we all headed out to Ridgewood pool. The Woodlands opens up all their pools to the public for 4th of July and has food and games for everyone. We all had a ball.
After dinner, we watched the fire works from the parking garage where Chris parks. Again, The Woodlands put on an amazing show. New this year were red fireworks that formed perfect stars shot in front of blue and white fireworks. There was even a smiley face firework. Awesome!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

And one more of the kids...

It's all about the kids, really. Aren't they cute!

Our Whole Family

And, we all know how difficult it is to get 5 people to look at the camera and smile...

10 Year Anniversary Picture

Yes, I really like this one. We haven't changed much in ten years! Well... look at the family shot and I guess we have.

Our Beautiful Kids!!!

The guys at Olan Mills and their "silly monkey" really know what they are doing! I'll post more soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Shucking Corn

I put my kiddos to work last night. David won the award of most eager and most helpful. Lia tried to eat the corn before it was cooked.

Emily's very own library card.