Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday!

I can't believe our baby boy is 5 now! T is his own person. Our only left-hander, he loves to laugh, he's got a great throwing arm. T loves wrestling with his brothers, running everywhere, and giving Mommy kisses! To celebrate, we headed out to another Blue Star Museum- B and O Railroad museum. We had a great day. Here's the kids pretending to climb up into the stagecoach. 
The kids loved dressing up as railroad workers.
We let the birthday boy pick which train ride and we went on the Mile One Express- the first commercial mile of railroad track laid in America, recognized as the birthplace of American railroading. Here's K and T headed holding their new books- B and O has a super summer reading program. read ten train books and each child gets to pick out any book (up to $10) from the gift shop. Nice!
The rest of us!
T picking carrots with Daddy. He requested carrot souffle and shrimp for dinner. 
T helped make his Captain America cake. James did a great job decorating- first time with fondant.

The rest of the kids loved making presents for him. I'm not sure who was more excited about the presents T or the rest!
We had a super day. It was really nice to spend all day just celebrating our wonderful 5 year old boy!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Park Quest 15 and ...

not 16! We had a good day today but it was definitely harder than most Park Quests and we were too tired for a second one. We had egg muffins, maple bacon muffins, and bananas in the car for breakfast as we headed out early to Greenwell State Park.  The kids were really excited to see lots of horses beside the parking lot.
Once we found the right parking lot, we headed out on the trail but we didn't see the trail listed on the Park Quest instructions. So we hiked an extra bit on the way to the start. We did find the Brown trail which linked to the Blue which linked to the red (a little longer start than the .2 miles listed :) The kids had a great time hiking- even though I wasn't sure I could get past this fallen tree. A little harder to bend over these days!
We had several great views of the Hogneck River.
We did go on a little (make that a long) extra hike which let us see this turtle.
We finally made it back to the car- absolutely worn out and decided one park quest was enough for today. Along the way I remembered College Park Aviation Museum was on the way. So we made a short stop there and checked out the airplanes.
They had great costumes there
Fun planes to fly
Practice flights
Even a simulator which was pretty hard.
Our day didn't go quite as planned but it was another good one!

What's for Dinner?

Sunday night- must be chicken!
James has always been a terrific griller and he usually grills a lot on the weekend so we can eat meat all week. But since he found this terrific idea:  butterflied grilled chicken. he's been grilling 2 or 3 chickens almost every Sunday. So good- very moist. He seasons them differently so it never gets old. Healthy. Fits with his healthy paleo diet. So proud of him for completing his Whole 30. He lost a lot of weight and body fat. I don't know how he found it to lose because he wasn't big before but now he's in ever better shape! Kind of wish I'd done it with him- maybe next year!

I'm not quite ready for all of us to eat paleo- I know lots of people do and love it. but it seems expensive and hard. Here are some recipes we've tried that have been good:

Enchiladas James wrapped his in cabbage and the rest in tortillas

Frittata This recipe is good because you could easily sub any veggies you have on hand

Sweet Potato/ Egg Hash James has had this lots

Sweet potato and kale chicken patties Everyone loved these- we needed a lot more

Banana ice cream : I haven't tried all these flavors but we had it tonight with almond butter- yum! Next we're going to try mango- just puree frozen mango

Snack ideas:
Kale Chips

I'm planning on trying:
Peanut Butter Breakfast Bread Pudding

Chocolate Monkey Bites

Paleo Meatballs

Bacon Brussel Sprout Salad

I really want to try this because my hard boiled eggs are often hard to peel

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole

Pumpkin Bars

Homemade Lara Bars

Some veggies I want to have more- bok choy, portabello mushroom, spaghetti squash,

Friday, August 24, 2012

Park Quests 12 & 13

After enjoying 3 Park Quests on Tuesday, I couldn't wait to do some more so Thursday we headed out early again. This time we started at Tuckahoe State Park which was beautiful. I'd love to go camping there sometime. We found a super tire park first which the kids loved. We had super weather and enjoyed the quiet by the lake. 

 After a little playing, we headed out to the disc golf course. It's amazing the difference in the kids' frisbee throwing since we last went. The kids also enjoyed figuring out all the animals from the clues.
 Next we drove back to Sandy Point. I'm so glad we did. We had such a great day! The Park Quest hike was pretty, the nature center and park rangers were super nice, and the weather was perfect. We were very happy for the free Cliff bars especially since I didn't pack quite enough food for hungry kids!
 But the most fun was the beach at the end. I didn't tell the kids until we got there so they were surprised and excited. What fun!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rendezvous here we come!

We completed Park Quests 9-11 today which means we get to go to the Rendezvous 29 Sep! It also means I'm really trying to stop myself from trying to do the last 12 in the next couple weeks! 
We were blessed with super weather today. It was 62 degrees when we got to Greenbrier State Park. It was very foggy but still pretty. The kids were super excited to find tons of spider webs- they were very pretty. This one had a heart in the middle of it. We followed "Big Foot's footprints" to learn about leaving no trace. The kids loved climbing on the rocks around the pond and we were all fascinated by the animal in the lake which looked like an alligator. 
Lots of posing for pictures along the walk.

Next up was Gathland- still 62 degrees out- amazing for August! We learned about GATH and honoring Civil War news correspondents. A little history about battle for South Mountain and then off to the Appalachian Trail for the Bonus Quest. We signed the log book with all our hiking names.
What a cutie!
Last PQ of the Day was Gambrill- such pretty views. we enjoyed the short hike and natural playground
is this Iron Mike?
off to South Mountain Creamery to get our passport stamped and BOGO ice cream! Yum!

Sweet end to a super day!


How time flies! This summer and this life! It seems like just yesterday we were wondering when our first son would arrive. I was sure it would be 4th of July since that was my original due date. I even took a bag to the cookout at a friend's house. But he was not ready and waited until the doctor pushed and prodded him to try to turn him around. He did not want to turn so he didn't get a choice. I had my first C-section and we got to meet our sweet little boy July 15th 2004. The years have flown by- we're in our 3rd state, 4th house since his birth. He's changed tons. No longer a tiny 7 lb 6 oz baby, or a chubby faced toddler. He's now a tall thin boy who loves to read, draw, play Army, take pictures, build with legos and who I love with all my heart.

 We were excited to be able to celebrate K's 8th birthday with a "hamburger" with Nana and Papa!
 We also went to an Orioles' game. We've enjoyed the Dugout club this year- even if it was hot. We had yummy snacks, bottles of water, score cards, fun batting cages. good times!
Happy Birthday K!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fun Times

We were so excited when the Cole's told us they would be able to spend some time with us this summer. They're headed from Texas up to Maine and got to spend almost a week with us. Between us 8 kids from 3 to 11. We played lots of legos, ate lots of food, played some games, did some hiking. Lots of energy, lots of fun! Janelle is much better about taking pics than I am which you can see here.

Did everything go perfect? of course not- with 11 imperfect people in one house there was bound to be some disagreements but it was super to be together. Most mornings we listened to the Bible and did a devotion together- a great way to start the day. The days that we planned in some resting time definitely were better days. We all need some time to rest, recharge, and get re-excited about seeing each other. We realized how hard it is to stay full of grace when we tried to have all fun and no down time. But even those hard times can be good when you humble yourself to make things right.

We started off the week slowly- well if you can call me leaving Janelle with 7 kids to feed the first morning she got here slow :) James went to work and T and I went to my doctor appointment. I thought he'd enjoy time with mommy and getting to hear baby's heartbeat. After my appointment, the ten of us did go to one of my favorite spots in Baltimore- Sherwood Gardens- so pretty and I love that it's just a short walk away.

Wednesday we went hiking at Patapsco Valley State Park- we hiked from the nature center across the suspension bridge to the falls. We definitely have 8 nature loving kids- even if they ran some of the hike, they were very excited about being out in God's creation! We ended the morning with a little playing at the tire park and a quick picnic.  We had some worn out boys!

 Wednesday night we were blessed to be able to go back to the Aquarium. We did the summer reading program at the library and they picked C's name for 4 tickets. The librarian knew that wasn't enough for our family so she found 4 more tickets for us. KG and T enjoyed a night home with Daddy while Janelle and I took the 6 big kids to the aquarium. Much fun! Here's C showing his candy cane smile!

Thursday morning we went to Annapolis.  It was pretty and the visitor's center movie reminded me lots of my time at West Point. But it was no West Point :) We do want to make a trip back there some day and see more of the museum on the USNA.

You can see some of the kids wearing lots of West Point shirts. We got lots of comments as we walked around their campus. The kids got a kick out of the gate guard who said we couldn't come in and the people who told us to leave bc of the shirts.
It was neat to see a midshipman room.

We made a quick trip to Sandy Point- we were too tired for Park Quest but enjoyed some crabbing. No keepers but it's fun to pull them up!
Friday morning we went to Oregon Ridge for more hiking. The kids really loved the stream and finding all sorts of nature as we walked. 1-2-3 on me was a lot of fun too.

The new nature playground was fun after the picnic.
What a cool bear! and cute almost 5 year old boy too!
We ended our week with a trip to Fort McHenry and were so excited that the reenactors were there. We went many times last year but always learn something new. This time we went on a park ranger lead walk and learned that I should not call the War of 1812- the second Revolutionary War. We got to see reenactors fire the cannon and practice sword drill- plus it's just super pretty! 

We had early birthday celebrations for P and T- hotdogs, brownies, and ice cream- yum!

A super week of fun with friends. It was really fun to see all the kids play together- whether the whole gang racing around or little pair of kids! And fun to see Janelle too!

Park Quests

Last Saturday we headed out for Park Quest #7 but it was such a pretty drive that we decided to do two. First we went to Sassafras  where the kids enjoyed digging through the archaeological boxes to find evidence from past 200 years. 

 After our dig, we headed into the house, where the kids loved dressing up as all sorts of Park Service workers. They were ready for cold weather, rock climbing, boating, being a park ranger, ...
 giving classes on animal bones,

 Then we headed out to the lake to dip for animals. We found a few neat birds and bugs and then headed to Wye Island.

At Wye Island, we went on a beautiful hike through the woods, over lots of wooden bridges while learning about animals. The Great holly tree was huge- almost 300 year old. Great day! Great fun! Park Quests 7 and 8 complete!