Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 Pinewood Derby!


Chris and David had very high hopes for this year's Pinewood Derby race with our cub scout pack.  Last year, David came in 3rd place for his den and 6th overall for his pack so they just knew they were going to win it all this year with their new and improved car, the Rocket 5000!
 


(It looks fast doesn't it?)

 

Here are the Wolf cub cars... David's competition!  It was a very exciting morning and the anticipation in the air was thick!
 
Emily volunteered to sing the National Anthem to kick things off.  (Man... is she brave, or what?)  And yes, it was "that" quiet in the gym!
 

 
And then the races began!
 

This pack had a 4 lane track with all the bells and whistles.  The cars were released and the stats were posted to a large screen for everyone to see.  Not only were we able to see the times, down to the thousandths of a second, and the finishing order but we were also treated to the speed of each car corrected by some fancy scale-up mathematics.  Chris said they sized up the car by 30... and reported corrected speeds of over 200 miles an hour!  Pretty cool eh?

 
There was lots of excitement, for sure!  The Tiger cubs raced first and then it was time for the Wolf cubs and time for us to see how David's car would do!
 

 
So I know I have built this up... and you really just want to know if we won or not right?  Well... we didn't.  The cars in this pack were really, really fast!  The fastest cars were about 213 mph.... David's car raced at about 202 mph which was not embarrassing by any means... it just didn't cut it for this pack.  And after all the build-up and bragging he heard from his Daddy about this race, David ended up being quite a bit upset that he didn't place.  It was a good lesson in humility I guess.  Poor kid.  As the older kids raced, we saw one family in particular break all track records with a speed of 224 mph for their car.  I guess we have a thing or two to learn for next year.  ;-)  And yes, Chris videoed all of the races and has been analyzing them for next year's strategy.  Engineers.
 
The good thing... the silver lining... is that David's wolf cub dens met the next week for a more low-key fun race where everyone got a prize.  I'll write that up next.
 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Field Trip - Downtown Aquarium


On Monday, we played hooky from school, or rather took a field trip to the Downtown Aquarium.  Emily visited the Aquarium on a field trip when she was in 1st grade at catholic school and has been asking to go back as a family ever since.  So... 4 years later, here we are!  In the New Year, I promised her the first warm and pretty day we would go.  Well, we couldn't have had better weather on Monday.  It was sunny without a cloud in the sky and I think we even hit a high of 70!  I'm glad this nice couple took a picture of us outside the Aquarium and I'm glad you can clearly see that Isaac accompanied us in my belly.
 

 
We visited the inside exhibits first.  The kids were very excited and had fun locating each type of fish in the tank from the reference pictures below.
 


David is saying, "Look, the lobster is stabbing me in the eye!"

 
Here is a white tiger from India.  Her name was Marina and she treated us to a real live "Roar!" as we stood admiring her.
 

 
And of course, the photo op of the kids battling the stuffed white tiger was priceless! 

 
(Silly, aren't they?)
 

We got the all-day activity pass so the kids were able to ride the merry-go-round about 14 times.


We visited the sting-ray touch tank twice.  Emily said this was her favorite part.


We rode the Shark Train twice.


The sharks were pretty awesome and were swimming above and all around us in the shark tank.

 
 
We were all spoiled and had a wonderful lunch at the Aquarium restaurant.  They save some of the most amazing fish for the restaurant tanks and the kids loved how the stairs wound around this gigantic 3-4? story cylindrical tank.
 

And then it just got better and better.  Seriously, this is the best restaurant for kids in Houston.  They were all super-excited to get shark hats at the start of our meal.  And then they were treated to a kids menu that had over 6 pages of activities, not to mention all their favorite kinds of food.  I was happy to see the kid's meals were $5.99.  They got pizza, pasta with marinara sauce and chicken tenders.  I was thrilled to have a cup of seafood gumbo and a crab cake... and I am getting seriously hungry again just thinking about how good it was.


But the desserts for the kids were over the top and a steal at $2.50.  The girls ordered a make your own Sundae platter and were really happy to receive this:


And just pure coolness was the Paint your own Rice Krispie Rainbow Fish.  David was given a "palette" of strawberry, blueberry and chocolate sauce with a paint brush to decorate his rice krispie fish.  He looks pretty happy here doesn't he?


And yes, they are already asking when we can go back!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

David's 1st Reconcilliation: January 11, 2013

It is hard to believe that this is a Sacrament year for David already but we have been very busy preparing him to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Confession.)  He will make his First Holy Communion in the spring so we still have more work to do... but this was a very blessed day for our family.  While I take on the day-to-day faith formation studies, Chris has been responsible for preparing David to make his first confession.  Some of the sacramental preparation has been through activities at church but the bulk of the work has been completed at home.  I have loved seeing David and his Daddy work together and was very proud to hear David say he was ready to do this.  After David made his confession, we blessed him with holy water, lit his specially made candle, and said a prayer as a family.  I was very happy to see him actually smiling in this picture!!!

 

The children placed their candles on the altar to be blessed by the priests.  I didn't count heads, but it looked like about 200 children made their first confession that day.  We're so proud of you David Nelli!!!!

Happy New Year with the Smiths

Our dear friends, the Smiths and 3 of their children visited us the first weekend of the New Year.   Having 6 kids of similar ages about the house was really fun!  Here's everyone playing Mouse Trap at the kitchen table.  There was always something going on.  I can assure you that the kids didn't get bored!
 

We spent a good part of Saturday afternoon at the park and I was very pleased our girls wanted to ham it up for the camera.


They shouted "Sandy Feet!" for this picture.


We went out to Chuy's and had to wait a while for a table.  When you come as a "party of 10," on a Saturday night it is best to not be in a hurry.  At the Chuy's bar, the kids got their own table, drinks and chips and queso.  Not too shabby for them.


I thought this was a sweet picture of David and Gabriella.  He is showing her his beloved North American Bird Book.  They are about nine months apart and both in 2nd grade.


After church on Sunday, the guys plan was to watch a lot of football, which we did... but we also got the kids out to our neighborhood park for some fun.  This spinning and dangling park equipment was definitely a hit with our crew.  They played to see who could hold on the longest and I'm pretty sure Gabriella won every time.


I like Emory's smile here.

 
And this is my all-time favorite because the kid's smiles are priceless!
 

 

Yes, the Smith/Nelli kids certainly enjoyed each other.  It is always so much fun to get them all together.  :-)  The game here was called, "Geronimo!"