Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016: Week 2

How could two weeks have already gone by?  This is going way too fast!!!!!! Can we all just agree to press pause?

Summer Bucket List Item #8: Park Hopping

We love to explore local parks and find new places to play.  We headed to Rock Hill on Monday morning and entered "parks near me" into Google Maps and drove around to 4 local parks we had never been to before.  One was closed for maintenance, a couple of others were small, and fun for a brief visit, but not worth returning to, and then one was absolute Eden. I love when our explorations lead us to amazing discoveries!

We loved it so much we went back again 2 days later for a photo shoot for a Father's Day gift for Chad.  Glencarin Gardens is worth a visit.  Once Chad has received his gift, I will post pictures of our second trip there, too.

If you live close by, pack a picnic, grab a blanket, bring storybooks or games, and plan on exploring and resting awhile.

Second best part is it is completely free!   Number one best part, there is a lot of shade!  Which is imperative in SC in the summertime.

Summer Bucket List Item #9: Kindness Confetti Kids

The kids and I have started a summer service club in our neighborhood with several other moms and kids.  We meet together once a week to perform a service for our community.  For our first meeting, we made a snack mix and thank you cards together and then delivered them to the local fire department, sheriff station, and library.  I am very excited for more adventures with these cute kids and their very sweet mommies!

 Summer Bucket List Item #10: Eat Dessert for Lunch

On the day we had our pictures taken for Chad's Father's Day gift, we headed to my very favorite french bakery,  Amelies.  We each ordered a dessert to share and ate those for lunch.

Summer Bucket List Items #11 and #12: Go to the Riverbanks Zoo and Ropes Course 

On Thursday we headed with our friends to the Columbia Zoo.  It was the first day that their Sea Lion exhibit opened.  We explored the zoo exhibits and the new children's play area.  Last year when we went to the zoo, the kids asked to do the ropes course, so we made sure to make time to do that on this visit.  

You may not know this about my Ryan, but he LOVES babies and toddlers!  I love the sweetness these two pictures capture.  He is way more interested in helping our sweet little neighbor feed the giraffe than he is in the giraffe.

I am not sure he even noticed the huge tongue touching his arm, he was so focused on Caden.

My favorite part of the day was watching this mama koala snuggle with her baby.

The new playground and splash area is worth a visit all by itself.  We could have spent twice as long in this area.

All three of my children wanted to try the ropes course.

Since Molly isn't 48 inches tall, it meant I also got to try the ropes course.   The boys loved it and zipped all the way around up to the very top.  Not sure where they got their dare devil, thrill seeking spirits, but I can tell you it wasn't from their mom.

Molly got to the first level and decided that perhaps she did not want to go any higher, and that she would like help from this very sweet zoo employee to cross the bridge to get down.

So she and I headed back to the ground level, where she was much happier and we celebrated her bravery and willingness to try new things.

Summer Bucket List Item #13: Pie Face with Friends 

Ryan's new favorite game is Pie Face.  He wants to play it every day.  He was very excited to have friends come over and play with us.  I love it, too! Mainly because my children's laughter is my favorite sound in the world!

Summer Bucket List Item #14: Father and Son Night at Carowinds

With our season passes, we are hoping that Chad can take each of the children alone to Carowinds. Andrew and Chad went on Friday night.  Unfortunately, all of the rides were closed for testing.  They managed to ride the Fury two times, once in the front row (which was on Andrew's personal bucket list) before all of the coasters were shut down.  Andrew is hoping for a redo of their night ASAP.   We are very grateful they were there for just a couple of hours using a season pass and not someone who bought a ticket for the day.  However it was still very frustrating and disappointing.  In fact it has pretty much been our experience every time we have visited.  Way too many rides are being "tested" or not being run because of lack of staff.  This was the worse yet, but it is a very upsetting trend.

Aside from our bucket list items, we went to the pool 6 times with friends,  Ryan went to a birthday party, and I ran around like a crazy person trying to get all of the stuff I need for the Me-Too program at Cub Scout Camp.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016 Week #1

Summer Bucket List Item #1: Carowinds Season Passes

#1 on our bucket list this summer was to buy season passes to Carowinds, a local amusement park. The kids have begged to go here ever since we told them we were moving here.  We put off buying passes until Andrew was tall enough to ride everything.  So we started off our summer break by grabbing the kiddos from school on the last day and heading to Carowinds with Aunt Rachel.

Summer Bucket List Item #2: Be The First Ones in the Pool When it Opens

Mission Accomplished! 

Our pool opened the day after school got out, so my children ran to the gates to be in line when it opened and jumped in with their friends as soon as the life guards unlocked the gates.  We swam every day this week but Sunday.

Summer Bucket List Item #3: Silly Start of Summer Surprise Supper

This year Rachel, Nana, and Papa joined us for our traditional silly supper celebrating the start of summer.  First, each of us dressed up in crazy costumes. Chad stayed in character the entire night and spoke like Batman.

Next everyone filled out their dinner orders at a dining table set up in our office, because a silly supper can't be served in the kitchen.  That would be too normal.  Each person selected a food item, utensil, and a serving container for each course.  But they did not know what they were selecting, because everything was given a code name.

So you might have key lime pie as your first food item, served in a bucket, and eaten with a spatula.  Or as you can see in the background, key lime pie served on a cake platter and eaten with a knife.

Or you might get to eat salad with a toothpick served on a silver platter.

Or appetizers served on a dessert plate that you have to eat with a pasta ladle.

Batman had to eat his salad with a wooden spoon.

Eating salad with a wooden spoon proved to be a bit tricky for Molly, but probably because she couldn't stop laughing.

Somehow Papa lucked out and ended up getting to use his toothpick on watermelon.

Summer Bucket List Item #4: Memorial Day 5k 

Our new congregation also does a Memorial Day 5k and breakfast, so we woke up early Monday morning and all of us participated together.  Andrew, Ryan, Rachel, and Papa ran the 5k.  Andrew came in somewhere between 25 and 26 minutes.  He didn't have a stopwatch and was going by a friend's watch.  Ryan came in somewhere around 30 minutes!  Chad walked with Molly and I walked it with my mom.  Our times were a little more than 30 minutes. Afterwards we went home and swam the rest of the afternoon and cooked out in the evening.

Summer Bucket List Item #5: Library Reading Program

The kids met up with friends and signed up for the summer reading program at our library! They had games and popscicles, too! We have a great local library.  We do an hour of quiet time each afternoon during the summer, so the kids have already made great progress on their reading logs!

Summer Bucket List Item #6: Carowinds Water Park

The kids and I spent 4 fun hours at the water park this week.  Even with reapplying our sunscreen multiple times, we all got a bit red.  Ryan is tall enough to do all of the waterslides with Andrew and there was also plenty for Molly to do, so it was a wonderful place to play and we are all looking forward to returning.

Summer Bucket List #7: Andrew's First Scout Camp-Out

Andrew and Chad got to join the 11 year old scouts for Andrew's first official Scout camp out.  It was 93 degrees, but they both still had a fun time.

In addition to checking off lots of fun bucket list items this week, Chad and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary.  We went to Cheesecake Factory and then stayed the night at a nearby hotel after dinner.  When we walked out of the restaurant, there was a perfect rainbow in front of us.  Happy anniversary, my dearest love.

I love summer vacation with my kids.  It was when my kids and I get the very best of each other.  During the school year, when they get home afterschool they are tired, and I am tired, and we have so much left to accomplish on our to-do lists.  During the summer we get each other when we are fresh and happy and cheerful.  And then we have relaxed down time in the afternoon, in separate rooms reading, away from each other, during the "witching hour."  The spirit in our home is so different during these months.   So peaceful.