Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer Bucket List Week 8: Camping, Baptism, and More

Summer Bucket List Item 36: Camping with Friends 

We are trying to maintain a tradition of going on vacation with our family friends, the Westbrooks and Campbells each summer.  As the kids get older, scheduling gets a little more challenging, but we were able to make it work this weekend.  Our kids have known each other their entire lives and are more like cousins than friends.  They have such a wonderful time together and are completely relaxed and feel free to be as goofy and silly as they are at home.  We explored a new area this year a little closer to home, since all three families are doing a lot of road travel this summer.  We camped in the Uwharrie National Forest.  It was a nice place, but definitely not anyone's all time favorite place we have ever camped.  (Sliding Rock still holds that title with my kids).

We arrived in the evening and the kids helped Chad set up our tent.

We had a campfire that night and enjoyed smores and listening to the children sing silly campfire songs and tell jokes to one another all night.

In the morning, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and headed to Morrow Mountain State park.  We rented rowboats for an hour and enjoyed the beautiful views.

When we rowed into the dock, we decided that we were all hot enough to enjoy dessert before we headed to the top of the mountain for our picnic lunch.

The view from our picnic spot was lovely and there were trees to climb.

We headed down the mountain to go to a swimming hole in Badin Lake.

We hung out there for a while, then headed back to our camp site to eat dinner and swim in our campground's pool.

While we were in the pool, we heard thunder.  We checked our weather apps, and saw there was a ten percent chance of rain.  We weren't too worried.  Then the winds got a little stronger and it started to pour.  The kids took cover under our picnic table canopy.  The storm quickly became pretty intense.  And lightening struck in the campground.  We took cover in our van and listened to our Harry Potter audible book while we waited for the storm to pass.  Nate had not been able to get off work earlier in the week and arrived during the storm.

When it was over, we went to check on our tent and discovered that it had leaked. A Lot!  Leaked enough that our sleeping bags were soaked and we could wring water out as if they had been dunked in the swimming pool!

Begrudgingly we admitted, that there was no way things would dry out enough in the next two hours to be able to sleep there again that night.   We called Chad's mom and asked if we could come spend the night there.  (We had already planned to go to Pinehurst the next afternoon when we finished camping).  While Dave and Nate helped Chad pack up our wet things, the children played together in the game room and on the playground.

It was hard on all five of us to leave earlier than we had planned.  We all miss the Campbells and the Westbrooks so much.  I can't even type those words without crying.  We love our new home, and we know that God led us here, but it doesn't make us any less homesick, and to be honest time hasn't seemed to heal the hurt yet.  I am grateful that they were willing to make this weekend work for all of us to be together.

Summer Bucket List #37: Mady's Baptism

We spent the rest of the weekend in Pinehurst with Chad's family for Mady's baptism.  We were so happy that she was able to be baptized in NC so that we could be there with her on her special day.

Chad had the privilege of confirming Mady.

The rest of the weekend the kids played at the pool with their cousins, played Wii Sports, and had fun launching a rocket.

Summer Bucket List #38: Kindness Confetti Kids at Bright Blessings

Although this bucket list item is out of order, earlier in the week, we went with the Kindness Confetti Kids to volunteer at Bright Blessings.  The children decorated wrapping paper and made gift tags for their Birthday Blessings program.

This week's adventures also included swimming at our pool with friends twice, Andrew working on his sixth grade book/movie trailer with friends three days, piano lessons, Ryan completing his summer homework, and dance classes.  This next week's schedule isn't quite as full as the past few weeks.  I am hoping to have at least one "stay at home in our pajamas day."  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Summer Bucket List Week 7: Mr. Scribner Goes to Washington

As you have probably noticed this summer, some items on our bucket list are pre-planned and others are spontaneous fun that we add on the spur of the moment.  This week definitely falls in the category of pre-planned fun.  Andrew's 5th grade went to Washington, DC this school year. It was going to cost us close to $1600 for the two of us to go, so we planned a family trip to DC instead.   We were going to go over Christmas vacation, but Chad hurt his back and we promised Andrew we would go this summer.  After we made that promise, Chad had a chance to represent his company at meetings with the senators and congressmen from the Carolinas in Washington, DC. We jumped at the chance to tag along and fulfill our promise.  We had a great time.

Summer Bucket List #35: Family Trip to Washington, DC 

(When you rely on the kindness of strangers to snap a family photo, you get what you get.  Sorry, Molly). 

We drove to Washington, DC on Monday.  The kids did great on the drive.  We listened to Harry Potter books and watched a couple of Disney flicks.

We stayed at the Capitol Hill Hotel.  It was a great place for families. Close to everything.

After we got settled in, we walked to dinner at Let's Mix Bibija.  The food was excellent! We try to make it a rule on vacation to never eat at a place that we could eat at in our home town.  We love to try new restaurants! We use Yelp and Trip Adviser reviews to select our locations, and they have never steered us wrong.

After dinner, we walked several blocks to meet our evening bus tour of the monuments.  During the long walk, we tried to download the Pokemon app, so the kids could have fun while we traveled between the sites.  We weren't going to let them catch them at the historic sites. However the app  kept crashing, so instead we tried to catch all of the Pokemon Trainers we passed on our travels.  There were way too many to count and I was secretly glad the pokemon app wouldn't work, so the kids were more focused on the real reason we were there.

We wanted the kiddos to be able to visit all of the monuments while we were there.  Nighttime was perfect, because it wasn't as hot.  Our bus tour driver was very knowledgeable.  He had A LOT of information to share as we drove around to each location.

All of the flags were at half-mast due to the fallen officers in Dallas.

Andrew and Ryan were excited to pose with the Boy Scouts Monument.

This was Molly's favorite statue of the night.

Andrew asked me if he could pose like Martin Luther King Jr. in the picture.  It came across more like he was angry to be having his picture taken.

The most profound, and at the same time upsetting to the children,  conversation of the evening happened here at the Vietnam Memorial.  Ten-thirty at night isn't really the best time to introduce the concept of a draft or that females are now drafted with very tired little children. But from this came a discussion of why someone might choose to lay down their life for their country and the purpose behind all of these beautiful memorials.  And to discuss heroism and courage, and at the same time evil, pridefulness, and discrimination.  As I said deep conversation for 10:30pm.

The tour ended at the Iwo Jima.  Molly was already asleep on the bus, so Chad took the boys up close to see the monument.

The tour started at 7pm and did not end until 11:30pm.  When he dropped us off, all three kids were asleep and we had to walk 6 blocks.  Despite the late hour we ended, I would still have chosen to do a night time tour during the summer.  The heat was definitely more tolerable after sunset.

The next morning, we said good bye to Daddy who actually had to go to work on his work trip.

We ate a late and leisurely breakfast and then took Uber to the Smithsonians.  This was my first time using Uber, but I am now a huge fan!  It was way cheaper for the 4 of us to Uber across town than it was for us to drive and park our van or to pay for 4 of us to ride the metro.  And after the night before, I knew the kids wouldn't last to walk the 2 miles in the heat.

  We started at the Nature Science Museum.  The children loved this museum.  Their favorite two exhibits were the rocks and minerals, and then surprisingly to me,  the exhibit featuring the winners of the Smithsonian Photography contest from the past 20 years.  They stayed in that display for 45 minutes and kept saying that their Grandpa Scribner's pictures should be in there and wondering how we could get his photographs on display there. At all of the museums we went to this week, Ryan would grab my arm and pull me to anything he found exciting.  He needed my eyes to see everything he saw and loved.  My arm was red when we left this exhibit. LOL All three children chose to purchase rocks and minerals from the gift shop.

We walked from here to the American History Museum.  We saw wonderful items here, including a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Our family favorite was definitely seeing the Star Spangled Banner.

Andrew's number one thing he wanted to make sure we did in Washington, DC was to see the actual Constitution.  We were able to get tickets to see it and headed to the archives from the American History Museum.  It was a little bit of a hike, so we grabbed some ice cream to enjoy on the way.

We were able to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  I am grateful for wonderful teachers and scout leaders who taught my son so much reverence for these documents.

After three museums, our feet were tired.  We headed to the sculpture garden to cool off down by the fountain and enjoy the incredible art work.

We ubered back to the hotel and walked to eat dinner at Burrito Brothers.  The food again was excellent, but the smoothies were by far the favorite of the night after being in the heat so much that day.  The kids talked about those smoothies the rest of the vacation.

The next morning, was my birthday.  Chad headed off to meet with the senators again, and the kids and I headed to the National Zoo for the morning.

The pandas were my favorite.

Andrew's favorite was the red-maned wolf and Molly's favorite were the fishing cats (which are hard to see in this picture).

Ryan loved feeding the birds during lunch.  My boy who never chooses a favorite of anything, declared that the birds at lunch were his favorite animals at the national zoo.

When we finished at the zoo we tried to uber to the National Art Museum.  I say tried, because instead, we were brought to the American Art Museum...which is an hour walk away from the National Art Museum.  On the way to the wrong museum, we got to see the President's motorcade returning from DC.

When we realized that I had requested a ride to the wrong location, I decided we should save the money and walk.  We got to pass the White House and see the secret service guards  standing on the roof, which the children thought was pretty cool.

The walk was long and hot.  One of the signs we passed said it was 104 degrees.   When we arrived at the art museum over an hour later, we immediately went into the cafe to get dessert and cold drinks.

Here is my delicious birthday cake I bought at the museum.  We enjoyed it in the peaceful quiet and air conditioned beauty of the art museum court yard.

The boys enjoyed the art museum a lot more than they thought they would.  In fact they loved it, but were very confused to why one needed to be quiet inside like you are in a library.  Molly wants to be an artist when she grows up, so this was a place she was very excited to visit and was delighted to find her favorite animal here!

We walked across the street and enjoyed a delicious birthday dinner at Clydes and ubered home to see Daddy when he got home from his dinner meetings.

On Thursday, Daddy was able to join us by lunchtime.  We headed to grab hamburgers at Good Stuff Eatery.

After lunch we ubered to the Air and Space Museum, which the children had wanted to wait to visit with Daddy. 

We went back to the hotel and changed clothes so we could take the children to the Washington DC LDS temple, where Chad and I were married.  After reading reviews on the way, we stopped and ate at a place called Frankly Pizza beforehand.  Highly recommend it if you are ever at the DC temple.

We had never had a chance to take the children to the Washington, DC temple before.  They were so excited to see the place where we became a family.  We enjoyed walking around the grounds together and taking the children to the visitor center on the temple grounds.

On Friday morning we headed home.  Ten hours later, we arrived and went to bed!   

Summer Bucket List Item #36: Celebrate Danielle's Birthday

On Saturday, my parents and sister came to visit and celebrate my birthday.  We went to eat dinner at Chopt and then to see the movie The Secret Life of Pets.  We came home and played a new game the kids got me for my birthday called Exploding Kittens! So much fun! I love playing games!

On Sunday morning, the children surprised me by making me a birthday cake from scratch, on their own before I woke up.  I was a little nervous to taste it, but it was delicious!  I am embarrassed to admit I ate half of it myself, and not because I was trying to be a good mom.  It was that good! Andrew looked up a recipe online for a plain vanilla cake and then melted chocolate on top and added crushed graham crackers for a smores cake.  He gave Molly and Ryan jobs to help with. Chad and I were in bed the entire time.  Andrew is really enjoying baking lately.  

My birthday tradition the past few years has been to do an act of kindness in celebration of my birthday, instead of spending money on a gift.  This year, we were birthday buddies for a child at The Children's Attention Home.  (If you are local, I highly recommend volunteering with this organization).  While we were in Washington, DC, the Kindness Confetti Kids made decorations for the birthday boy. 

On Sunday morning, before church, our family went to the cottages and, as a family, decorated the little boy's bed while he was at lunch.  We gave him the birthday presents he had requested, a Tom Brady jersey and a Spiderman wallet.  I also brought a Patriot sign and banner and a Spiderman pillow and balloon to use along with the posters and links the children from Kindness Confetti Kids made.  I hope the little boy enjoys the gifts and decorations. I pray for him that the Children's Attention Home will be a place of healing for him and that he will know that there is kindness in the world.  

Bucket List Item #24 and a half: Finish Building Something from Wood

This weekend, the kids and Chad finished the project they started with Grandpa Bud...three shadow boxes for their Lego Mini Figures.