Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas

We spent 5 wonderful days at my parents house along with my brother Rory and his family and my other brother Mike and his wife Tara. When you stack all the presents for all those people under one tree it can be quite an incredible sight. Our youngest, Gavin, was attached at the hip to Grandpa. In the wee hours of the morning, Tiffany and I would hear Gavin calling out "Gampa" before he even got out of bed. We had some epic battles on Dad's new foosball table, a few of us even managed to steal a game from the old pro. Despite dire weather predictions, we only got a light dusting of snow, not the foot or so they were forecasting. It was a great time to spend with family while being thankfully for our Savior.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

We had quite the fun weekend up in Maryland celebrating Thanksgiving at my parents' house. The boys plus Tara all went out and shot guns one day while the women took the kids to a train museum. We played lots of pool and enjoyed the lovely dinner my aunt Annie prepared for us. Tiffany dragged me out for some Black Friday shopping again this year. Fortunately we only visited Toys R Us which brilliantly opened at 10pm. We waiting in line outside the store for an hour but we're in and out of the store in 5 minutes. Overall, it was about as good a Black Friday outing as I could hope for.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our First Broken Bone

Our little brute met his match. Gavin can dish out and take a lot of physical abuse but he finally hurt himself when he fell off Samara's bunk bed ladder. It was only a slight fracture and he'll be in the cast for three weeks. In the meantime, his brother and sister have learned not to mess with him. Samara has shed a few tears over a good head bashing thanks to Gavin and his new weaponized arm .

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Glasses

Like father, like mother, like son. It was inevitable, Logan needs glasses. Thankfully, he was super excited to get them. He tried on several types of frames including some cool thick frames that Tiffany really liked, but he insisted on wire frames because "they're like dad's." Bless his heart.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gavin's 2nd Birthday

Our little guy is growing up fast. He's a bundle of energy, excitement, and a ton of fun to have around. Thanks to Netflix, he has been watching lots of Care Bear episodes, so we celebrated with Care Bear cupcakes and a Grumpy Bear T-shirt Tiffany made.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween has been my favorite holiday for several years now but this one was bittersweet for a couple of reasons. First was because my legs had just run 26.2 miles earlier that day and then had to walk around trick or treating. The other was because this would be the last Halloween with our good friends David & Bonnie before they moved to Utah. Their son Michael has been best friends with Samara for several years now and it will be painful to separate. On a positive side this was the first Halloween Gavin really got into and he was super cute wearing his Peter Pan outfit. Plus!!! I just ran a marathon and will eat any and all the candy I want!

Marine Corps Marathon

I finally did it. I have wanted to run a marathon for the past several years but one thing or another has stopped me from doing it. After discussing it with my father and brother earlier in the year we all decided to register for the race. My father has run several marathons but this was the first time for my brother and me.

My summer didn't go as planned and I wasn't able to train as much as I should have, or at all really. After the crazy work schedule ended I was left with just two months to prepare for the marathon. I started off slow and never took any breaks, but in just 8 weeks I worked up to 22 miles. I wouldn't recommend such a condensed training regimen for anyone.

The marathon itself went really well. Although we all trained separately, the three of us ran 22 miles together. It was a lot of fun having someone to talk to throughout the race. My dad and brother pulled me along for those last few miles before I had to finally drop back after 22. I walked and jogged the last few miles but finally crossed the finish line in 4 hours 23 minutes. A respectable time all things considered. I even went trick-or-treating with the kids that evening!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

HFStival

Taking Tiffany to rock concerts has been more fun that I could imagine. Not only do we have a ton of fun singing and dancing at the concert, she comes home and wants to play the same rock music at home. Talk about a win win.

After a 5 year break, the year the almighty HFStival returned to the DC area. There used to be a legendary rock station, 99.1 WHFS, here that hosted the HFStival annually at the Redskins RFK stadium. Back then this was a colossal two day concert, with two stages that held up to 90,000 concert goers. All along the East Coast it was the rock event to be at. One fateful morning in 2005, HFS flipped to Mexican music without warning . Rock radio in the DMV area (D.C. Maryland Virginia) has never been the same since (DC101 is horrible in comparison). Ask any rock fan native to the DMV area and tears of nostalgia will flow as they tell you how great it was, who their favorite DJ was, and exactly where they were when they discovered it switched to Mexican music. OK, I'll stop fawning over some old radio station, that's not what this blog is about.

This years HFStival was tame in comparison. It was only one day long, from 11am to 11pm, and held in the much smaller but still lovely Merriweather Post Pavillion. My all time favorite band Third Eye Blind was there along with some other great late 90's bands: Fuel, Live, The Presidents of the United States of America, Lit, Marcy Playground, Jimmy's Chicken Shack, and Everclear. Representing the 80's and early 90's were the old rap group Naughty by Nature and the just plain old Billy Idol.

By accident really I happened to purchase tickets for the pit right in front of the stage. Being that close to the musicians was awesome, I got some great pictures and video. No watching the jumbo-tron for us! I even caught a guitar pick thrown by the Fuel lead singer and had my finger tips on two drumsticks thrown into the crowd by Billy Idol and 3EB.

Worthy of report were both Billy Idol, Third Eye Blind, and Naughty by Nature. Forget that Billy Idol is an old man, he can still belt out the hits just as well as back in the day. I wasn't a Billy Idol fan before really, but I certainly am now. He was incredible to watch. Third Eye Blind closed the concert and got everybody up on their feet and rockin. The crowd was singing along nearly as loud as the lead singer. Naughty by Nature was a band I was willing to skip. Tiffany said "No way!". Turns out she and her school friends were quite the NbN fans back in the day. Who would've thought?! She had a lot of fun reminiscing and dancing to their old school rap!









OK, I lied. Even though there were 90,000 or so tickets for sale at the old HFStivals, they would still sell out within hours (this is back before internet tickets sales btw.) To secure ourselves a spot in the front of the ticket line in '97, some friends and I reported to a store at 9pm the day before tickets went on sale (the JC Penney at the Columbia Mall in fact.) This got us on a list in the order that they would sell tickets to and we were something like 40th on the list. In order to stay on that list until tickets actually went on sale the next morning, we had to report back every two hours. If we failed to report back they'd scratch our name off the list. They'd also switch the location where we were supposed to report to as well. They'd tell us "meet at the lake front" in two hours , then "meet back at the store" in another two hours. We mostly stayed up all night having a good time, but as morning approached we faded quickly and napped between reporting in. In the end, we got out tickets and felt sorry for the hundreds of other people in line behind us who were unaware of the 'all night line guarantee deal' and who weren't going to get tickets. There's really not a point to this story but to convey that a lot of people went through a lot of effort to secure HFStival tickets. That particular HFStival was the break out year of Third Eye Blind and the first time I saw them in concert. They were brand new then and on the second, lesser stage. A lot has changed since then!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Camping at Burke Lake Part 2

We liked camping at Burke Lake last month so much that we already went back, but this time we stayed two nights instead of one. Taking down your tent after just one night of camping just doesn't seem right. As if three days in the woods wasn't enough, Logan and Samara say they want to go camping next time for a week!

Each time we go camping we acquire more and more gear. This time the kids all got head lamps to wear in the dark which they absolutely loved. Logan and I did a lot of fishing again and even rented a row boat for several hours as well. We never did catch anything while on the boat but I did catch a nice blue gill while on the shore so at least we didn't get skunked.

Gavin is the perfect camping baby. Both nights he would tell us he wanted to go to sleep by walking over to the tent saying "Night Night". The kid loves to sleep which is more than any parent could ever ask for.

We encountered a few mosquitoes this time and I got bit on the back of the leg by what I think was a spider. I'll spare you the details but it took a week for the bite to heal. As we were taking down our tents I found a legless lizard underneath our friend's tarp. For an animal geek life myself that was pretty cool. We also had a cicada killer hornet buzz our heads one night as we were playing cards. Tiffany and Samara were sitting next to each other and it landed right in Samara's hair. Always the protective mama bear, Tiffany shewed it away right? Hah! She freaked out and pushed Samara away as fast as she could! If you don't know what a cicada killer is, imagine a Godzilla sized yellow jacket on steroids. Google Image search "Cicada Killer" and look at the first two images. They're huge but generally harmless.

The kids haven't yet asked to go camping again. But maybe we'll make it a third time this year before it gets too cold.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fenwick Island State Park

Along with planning a family camp out this summer, we were also determined to get to the beach. We headed to Fenwick Island State Park in Delaware for a quick day trip with my parents, my Brother Mike and his wife Tara. Unfortunately the day started off poorly. Tiffany and I had planned on leaving the house at 8am, but that all went awry when we both overslept and Logan came to wake us up saying, "Ummm Dad, it's already 8 o'clock..."

We eventually made it to the park around noon, but discovered that Fenwick Island State Park has a very small parking lot that fills up quickly. We had to wait in line in our car until other cars left and a parking space became available. My parents got there early enough to avoid this debacle, so we unloaded the kids from the van and they and Tiffany walked to the beach to meet my folks while I waited in the van for a parking spot to open up. It took about an hour, but I finally got the car parked and joined them at the beach.

Tiffany and I make a great beach pair. Normal couples might have a hard time deciding who is going to stay on the beach to watch the kids. But Tiffany doesn't like getting in the water, so she is more than willingly to play in the sand with the kids. I'm basically part fish, so I greatly appreciate her watching the kids while I splash around in the ocean.

My brother and I both brought our masks and snorkels to try and scour the ocean floor for shells or wild life. Underwater visibility was only as far as our arms and there wasn't much on the sea floor. I caught one crab and a nice little shell which I stuck in my pocket and brought back to the beach. Back at the beach I handed the shell to Tiffany only to hear her scream a few seconds later. Out from the shell came crawling a little hermit crab. We had a good time checking out the little guy before I put him back in the water.

All of our kids loved getting in the water. Poor little Logan wanted to be in the water all the time, but it kept stealing away the body heat from his small frame. We'd send him back to the beach just so he would stop shivering. Cold or not though, he loved floating around and trying to body surf. Samara and Gavin both came out with me and had a good time until a larger than usual wave would get them completely soaked. They'd spend a while in the sand drying off before being ready to come back in the water.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

O.A.R. Concert

I was never a huge fan of OAR but I had heard they are a great live band and that they were local boys that grew up in Rockville Maryland. So I bought some tickets, convinced Tiffany to come with me, and off we went. They sure lived up to the hype and I can see now why OAR fans are such loyal fans. What is really impressive though is how much they won Tiffany over. She loves whenever I play their music at home now. Tiffany and I had a lot of fun dancing and singing, we'll have to do this again!

(btw- I was singing at the top of my lungs in this video and you can't even begin to hear me. It was a very loud crowd)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Camping at Burke Lake

For the longest time I have been meaning to take the family camping but I go so often with the boy scouts that I always push it off due to camping fatigue. Tiffany and I finally sat down in front of a calender and picked a weekend to go. We headed out to Burke Lake Park which is a great family oriented getaway in Fairfax county.

We had a good time fishing, watching wild life, cooking on the camp fire, and making s'mores of course. They even have a ride able train, an 18 hole frisbee golf course, carousel, ice cream parlor, and put put golf course. The kids were fantastic. Gavin liked to explore the woods and showed no fear grabbing at a lizard like it was a piece of candy. Logan loved fishing and even though we only caught a bat (watch the video below) he never got discouraged. Samara loved endlessly throwing rocks into the lake and hamming it up for the camera. Our only wish was that we stayed longer. One night just wasn't enough!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Richmond Drive In Movie Theater

My older brother now owns two old Volkswagens. The awesome "Thing" on the left and the beautiful Karmann Ghia on the right. He made friends with the owner of a NEW drive in movie theater who also happens to have a VW Herbie bug. The owner let my brother and the rest of a local VW club go to a double feature for free Friday night. We just happened to be in town that weekend so we tagged along!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Scout Camp

A day after returning from Louisiana I left to go to scout camp for a week. This year we went to Goshen scout camp which is the local camp for this region. We attended camp the week of July 4th and while it's not quite the same as being with your family on Independence Day, it was still a lot of fun being with the boys.

Last year we suffered from nonstop rain, this year it was nonstop heat. Overall, this summer has been very hot and this week at camp was one of the worst. At one point we were sitting in an open field in the sweltering heat watching scouts perform a play they created for a merit badge when the scout staff informed us it was 107 degrees. That was just one of several days in 100 plus degree heat. Towards the end of the week we had one spectacular storm roll through camp just as we were retiring for the night. It got so bad that we all headed to the dining hall for a couple of hours just to be safe.

As challenging as it is, I very much enjoy scout camp and being away with all the scouts. Maybe I'm making up for never doing it when I was a youth. ;-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Louisiana

Tiffany and I were itching to get back down to Louisiana again after visiting her grandmother there in 2004. I absolutely love the southern food, New Orleans, the swamps, and of course visiting her family. Visiting New Orleans a year before Hurricane Katrina really gave us some context to all the horrible pictures we saw on the TV during the storm. We were curious to see how much had changed in those 5 years since.

Once again we drove instead of flying. This time we had three kids instead of one, which greatly increased the potential for a disastrous 18 hour drive. We left prepared though. We departed Virginia in the evening on a Friday so that the kids would sleep most of the trip. During their waking hours the DVD player and Nintendo DS saved the day. I fueled up on gas and 5 Hour Energy drinks along the way and ended up driving the first 16 hours myself. Tiffany took over for the last two so that I could finally catch some sleep.

Making the trip as well was Tiffany's mom and sister Melissa with her two kids. Which made for a very full house and some volatile card games (sisters can be so petty).

I'm normally a tightwad and conscientious eater, but this is one of those trips where I completely let go of both. See two yummy dishes at a restaurant? Order both, try everything! The most unusual thing we ate was fried alligator, it did NOT taste like chicken. Most everything was fried which isn't my preference, but that's how they do it. We ate shrimp po' boys, soft shell crab po' boys, shrimp gumbo, crab claws, fried oysters, stuffed shrimp, boiled crawfish, fried eggplant, fried catfish, hush puppies, and of course fried chicken from Popeyes. Can you say YUM!? My favorite was still the boiled crawfish.

We spent a couple of days in New Orleans, specifically the French Quarter. Just like our last trip there, it absolutely poured on us both days. We had to hang out under some shelter while the storms past. But it made for a memorable experience. Hanging out in the French Quarter one day was singer songwriter/Tiffany's crush - Jason Mraz. We didn't know it but he was in the middle of a large crowd that had gathered to protest the BP oil spill. It was only after we returned back home and I was checking out the news did I see a picture of him there. I went back through the pictures I took of the crowd and you can certainly see a glimpse of him in my photos. Had Tiffany known he was there while we were she probably would've embarrassed herself, so maybe it was for the better. ;-)

Samara had been watching the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog a lot before we visited Louisiana. The movie is set in New Orleans and the main character works in a beignet shop and dreams of opening her own restaurant. Beignets are french donuts which are basically fried dough with LOTS of powdered sugar on them. For weeks leading up to our visit, we told Samara we were going to visit the famous beignet shop Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. She was so excited when we finally sat down in the very crowded outdoor cafe and ordered our beignets. She savored every last bite and every last lick of powdered sugar. We've asked her several times what her favorite part of our vacation was and she always says the beignets. We brought some beignet mix home with us and made some of our own as well.

Logan's favorite part of our trip was by far the alligator ranch we visited. This place was pretty cool (and expensive, but totally worth it.) They were taught a lot of facts about alligators, why they're important, how the eggs are harvested, how they're raised, and what the ranch does with them. We learned that the most popular alligator skinned item is the wrist watch band and that Louisiana has more alligators in the wild than all other states combined. After the classroom portion of the tour we were taken into the alligator barns where we fed them marshmallows and a live mouse. The guide took one out, taped the mouth shut and let the kids touch it. We took a group photo with the alligator across our laps. The most exciting part about the ranch though was the alligator petting pool where they got to pick up baby alligators. Logan and his cousin Payton were skittish at first of course, but once they realized the alligators were harmless (they're mouths were closed shut of course) they became pro alligator wranglers! Logan still says this was his favorite thing he did all summer.

Some other random memories were of the kids so desperately wanting to play with Tiffany's grandmother's cat. The poor cat was freaked out by all the kids and stayed hidden in the master bedroom all week. In the woods behind Tiffany's grandmother's house people have heard the screams of panthers. That thought spooked us whenever we had to go out to our cars at night. Can you imagine hearing a woman like scream coming from the forest? Scary! I went for a short run one morning and nearly died of a heat stroke. The humidity was unbearable. I sweated so much that I shorted out my iPod after only a mile and a half. And of course there's that crazy game of Uno that sent Tiffany and her sister to bed angry at each other on our very last night together.

The drive back up to Virginia was so much more difficult than the drive to Louisiana. The week long trip had worn us out and it showed on the drive back. We still left at night (after seeing The Last Airbender movie) but at some points Tiffany and I were swapping in and out of the driver's seat every two hours. Sleep was fleeting as the kids were having a rough time as well, especially little Gavin. We eventually made it home of course and with no speeding tickets thankfully. It'll be a while before we take another road trip that long!

Be sure to click on the title picture to see the rest of the photos


Monday, April 26, 2010

Samara's 4th Birthday

Our "little" girl has just turned four. The theme this year? Monkeys!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hockey

I took the family minus Gavin to a coworker's hockey game this weekend. The game started at 9:20pm and Samara was understandably falling asleep on the car ride over. As soon as we entered the building and saw the skaters she went crazy hyper on us. Even though it was cold and late, we had a lot of fun hanging out and watching the game. In the last seconds of game a hockey puck flew through the 2 inch gap between the glass and the netting right in front of us. Logan got to pick it up and help put it back on the ice, which he was super excited about.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter

As usual, click for more pictures.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Boy Scout Camp Out at the Larson Cabin

I took Logan with me on another boyscout camp out. This time we went to our ward friends' cabin near Woodstock, Virginia. We enjoyed some warm weather, beautiful scenery, and a magnificent night sky. I took the scouts on a 6 mile hike up and down the mountain that, partly due to the heat in the 90s, was more of a challenge than I anticipated. We also found another "spinning vortex of doom" log, which is a hollowed out log put over the camp fire. It quite spectacularly spews fire out of the top of the log for quite some time.

At night I experimented with my camera by leaving the shutter open for long periods of time to gather light. I pointed it to the stars and in one particular picture, tracked a blinking light from an airplane. As I was watching this particular airplane fly over head I also noticed a much dimmer, smaller, but faster object streak across the sky. I'm fairly certain it was a satellite and I happened to capture it in the photo as well.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Stepping Down

Stepping down off of elevated surfaces is always a tricky thing for young walkers. Gavin decided to first give it a shot by stepping off of a scripture case, all of about 2 inches high. Even though it wasn't very tall he still struggled with it, much to our amusement.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sleeping in the Igloo

If I ever wanted to write a bucket list, making an igloo and sleeping in it would have been on it. The idea of making shelter in the wild and using it to protect yourself from harsh environments has fascinated me since I was a little kid. I asked Logan if he'd like to sleep in the igloo and he jumped at the idea. So with lots of padding and material to keep us insulted from the cold, we piled into the igloo.

Weather.com recorded the temperature in our zip code at 14 degrees that night. I installed a thermometer in the igloo and it stayed right around 31 degrees all night. Quite balmy compared to outside the igloo!



Snow Drive

For the first time in three days, I ventured out onto the streets to check road conditions. I drove past Logan's school and our two old neighborhoods. Still a lot of messy streets!


SNOWPOCALYPSE!

Snow! Again!! Thirty Two Inches!!!

My igloo from that last big storm was quite a disappointment. I fixed that this time. Reallllly fixed it this time.

Schools are closed, work is closed, and they're forecasting another 10 - 20 inches tomorrow evening. Wow.

The kids love it and aside from shoveling, I'm loving it too!




Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Favorite Childhood Toy

This little cash register was my favorite childhood toy (that I can remember.) When I saw one in the store a while ago I had to get it, probably more for me than for the kids. It's been around the house for a while, but today Gavin played with it for the first time. He caught on quickly! He can get make 'change' but not a 'sale' yet. That involves the much more difficult task of turning the crank! Maybe we'll work on that tomorrow.




Thursday, January 28, 2010

Logan's Superhero Birthday

Logan had a superhero birthday party this year for his 7th birthday. Tiffany made special superman style capes and shirts for each of our kids. A lot of the other kids wore various super hero (or villain) outfits as well. Logan got everything he wanted including the New Super Mario Bros Wii game, dining at his favorite restaurant Red Robin, and a variety of other toys. Plus he got an awesome sleeping bag and sleeping pad combo from my parents so he can stay comfortable when I take him on boy scout camp outs with me. I'm jealous because its better than my own camping gear. Now we have more excuses to go camping!