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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kids and Concert

(Several of the following photos were taken by my kids, so please ignore the fingers in the way, heads chopped off, etc.)

We have been trying to take our kids to their first concert for several years now. First attempt was when we just had Marcus. We were there, ready to rock, and the band was stuck at an airport in New Jersey. No concert. Then a couple weeks ago when I went to see Robert Randolf and the Family Band at the Arts Festival, the kids were going to go. Turned out that that was also the night of the final Stanley Cup playoff game. Greg didn't want to miss the game and I didn't want to try to take two kids to a concert by myself. We thought we would give it a try again this past Sunday. We headed off to Hartwood Acres. It was about an hour drive (only about 15 minutes from our old house). I wish I would have known about these free concerts when we lived closer to Hartwood Acres. Apparently they have a bunch of them all summer long. We were there to see the Old 97's.

I thought I was all prepared. I packed some snacks for the kids and their drinks. I also threw in some long sleeved shirts for the kids in case the weather got cool in the evening. I suggested we take this plastic tablecloth that we have to sit on since it had rained earlier and the ground was damp. As soon as we arrived I realized how unprepared I was.

First of all, there were lots of people - probably close to 2,000 people. There were lots of families and it seemed every single one of the families had blankets, chairs, coolers full of food, drinks for the whole family, balls and Frisbees and hula hoops and other various toys for their kids, and almost every family had brought their dog. I almost felt silly walking across the lawn to find a seat in the grass while carrying nothing but my bag and a plastic table cloth, while our poor puppy was locked up in her crate at home.

After we found a place to settle, I took the kids up to check out the stage since we were a good distance away. We had just gotten back to our place in the grass when someone came on stage to announce that they were going to get started a little early that evening. No sooner were the words spoken than the skies opened up. In an instant we were in a massive downpour. Rain was falling sideways. People were running for cover. We were on our feet and on the move.

Greg and I each grabbed a kid. We took the plastic table cloth and draped it over our heads. It provided very little protection. I was suddenly glad we didn't have a full picnic spread out that we needed to pack up before trying to get to a dry spot. Greg followed behind me blindly while I peeked out from under the table cloth to try to make our way to the car. Mostly it was going well until we had to cross the area that people were driving through. Greg stepped on my flip flop and as cars went by on both sides and we were hiding under a table cloth with our hands full of kids, I was trying to locate my shoe in the mud that was quickly forming.

We did make it back to the car. My shorts were soaked. Greg's back was soaked. Marcus was pretty much damp all over and somehow Will was almost completely dry. We hung out in the back of our SUV which didn't really provide too much cover since the rain was still falling sideways. It probably rained hard for about 20 minutes and started to clear up a little. There was even a rainbow! It cleared up and the night ended up being perfect! I had a spare pair of pants in the car that I put on Marcus along with the long sleeve shirt I brought for him in case it got cold. Then it was back to the concert area.

It was quite an awesome concert, but not really for the reasons that I am usually raving about concerts. The atmosphere was just really cool. It was mostly families just hanging out enjoying the night. Probably 75% of the people there had never heard an Old 97's song. I did take Marcus up front for a little bit and there were some more hard core fans up there, but we were a bit back most of the time just enjoying being outside and listening to music. Kids played all around us and off to the side some older kids threw balls or played Frisbee. There were signs up that said no alcohol but a good deal of people were drinking openly in front of security. It seemed like as long as everyone was responsible, no one cared. We splurged and bought some food from the snack bar which was very reasonably priced for an event - $7.50 for two hot dogs, a hamburger, and a bottle of water.

And the kids had a blast! I had a couple cars in my bag and Will mostly hung out and played with cars and ate some snacks. Marcus jumped a lot and ran circles around our little place on the ground. Towards the end, both kids were up and dancing. It was the first concert I have been to in a long time where I wasn't annoyed at the crowd in some way or another. Everyone was there just minding their own business and having fun. We had so much fun that we are already planning on heading back at least two more times this summer. What a great way to spend time with my family this weekend.

(I have no clue how this picture turned out like this but it is pretty cool! Photo taken by Marcus.)


Monday, June 29, 2009


We had quite a busy weekend around here! Saturday morning we packed up and headed off to Raccoon Creek State Park. It was such a beautiful day. We wound our way around the lake and took a little side road to a boat launch area. It was bitter sweet taking Maya for a swim there. It was the same spot that we always took the pooch to when we were in the park so she could swim.

Maya did an awesome job at swimming. It is hard to believe that it wasn't too long ago that she would only take some tentative steps into the water. This was her first trip to a lake and she was retrieving like a professional.

The kids had a great time throwing sticks for her,

and just goofing around on the shore.

Will and Greg looked for boats out on the lake.

I even got Maya to jump off the dock.

The second time off the dock she was a lot more hesitant and needed a little push.

After Maya's swim, we went off to find a place to picnic. The sun was pretty hot but there were lots of shady areas. Marcus was way more excited about the picnic than he was expressing in this photo:

I don't know what I was thinking in this picture.

With full bellies, Will thought it was a good idea to try to climb a tree.

Then we were ready to hike. The last time we hiked at Raccoon Creek, Greg and I each carried a kid on our back. Although this was still a possibility, we much preferred to hike somewhere where the kids could walk themselves and use up their own energy instead of ours. We choose a short hike to the Mineral Springs. The trail runs along a creek and comes to a small waterfall.

There are areas where the water comes out from the rocks. The water is heavy in minerals and over the years has stained the rocks orange. The water drips onto these two big rocks and has eroded them away making these large bowls. Marcus and Will thought the bowls were perfect for "cooking".

Then it was up some steps to an old building that apparently used to be a spa.

We spent the night camping! We took the kids on one camping trip last summer that was a lot of work. Since we are still tent campers, there was just so much stuff to pack - tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, coolers with food, ice, cooking utensils and stoves, firewood, toiletries, clothes, extra shoes, and pretty much anything else that two adults, two kids, and a dog might need over the course of a night. We just happened to stumble upon the best campsite possible to make our evening under the stars practically stress free.

Yes, that is our house in the background.

Marcus and Will were so excited about camping. After getting the tent all set up, we played in the yard a bit and sang some campfire songs, minus the campfire.

We briefly thought about getting a fire set up but a fire ring in our yard would just be one more thing that Greg would have to mow around. The kids are really into taking pictures with my camera. Every once in awhile they snap a good one but this is the best we got of Greg and me on our camping trip.

We saw our little bunny friend, Brownie, hanging out by our campsite. I was fortunate to get a snapshot of him. It was likely the photo taken of Brownie ever based on some bunny remnants Greg found in the yard this morning. RIP Brownie.

Marcus was so excited about camping that he kept asking if it was time to go to bed yet. If I knew my kid would be begging me to go to bed, I would start camping out every night. Once the kids were tucked into their sleeping bags, neither of them were all that excited about camping anymore. There were a few tears and lots of reassurance that we were just outside the tent before they finally fell asleep.

Greg and I hung out on the porch all evening reading and play cards.

Maya hung out too, keeping watch over her two brothers in case some wildlife would happen to show up.

We didn't even have any trouble tearing down camp in the morning. We took turns hanging out with the kids and watching cartoons while the other one packed up the gear. We wasted no time because the weekend wasn't over and we still had one more fun activity to attend...



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We ARRR Busted, Matey

Since we were unable to attend our matey Avery's birthday party last week, we met up with Avery, her little sister, and her mom today at the pool to collect our booty and give Avery a present. We were so sad to have missed the pirates and princesses party but Marcus and Will LOVE all their new pirate gear. From the minute we walked in the door after our trip to the pool, both kids had nothing on their minds except being pirates. Will shunned the traditional way of the pirates and decided to become a cyclops pirate.

Greg hasn't gotten to spend much time at the pool so we decided to make a second trip to the pool this evening. The kids really wanted to show off all their swimming skills to Dad. Marcus wore his pirate "hat" to the pool. I'm a sucker for guys in bandannas so I told Marcus that he could wear his pirate hat whenever he wanted - except to church, weddings, and funerals.

When we got out of the pool, I wrapped the kids up like little sausages in their towels. Not totally sure what happened, but I think Marcus was trying to fall on this big inner tube that we had. Only problem was that his hands were trapped in his towel. He ended up going face first through the whole in the middle of the inner tube, right into the concrete below.

There was far less blood than I expected. Marcus cried a lot. I cried a little. The lifeguard went to get an ice pack. (Marcus said later, "I got ice pack. People get it. That nice.") He managed to cut the space between his upper lip and lower lip, cut his upper lip and it is a bit swollen, cut his lower lip and it is really swollen, and got a little road rash on his chin. Thankfully his teeth look fine. He informed us a lot this evening, "My boo boo still hurt." When I told him it was time for bath he asked, "My boo boo take bath too?"

But, a little carnage can't stop a pirate! In fact, it makes ARRR little pirate look all the more menacing.


Comment(s) of the Day

In an attempt to remember some of the funny things my kids said today, I made some mental notes.

Marcus got up this morning and we had this conversation. With each line of the conversation he kept getting more and more excited.
Marcus: Daddy work today?
Me: Yes.
Marcus: Daddy's go-go still here?
Me: Yep, his car is still here.
Marcus (really excited at this point): Daddy work downstairs today??
Me: Yep!
Marcus (throwing his hands in the air): That's AWESOME!!

We were getting ready to go to the pool and I needed to get the kids dressed and put sunscreen on them. It is easier to get them to stand still for sunscreen if I have the TV on so I suggested we put the TV on. Marcus said quite seriously, "No watch TV right now. We watch TV all morning."

Then I was trying to get the sunscreen on him and Marcus warned me, "Don't get it in my eyes, Mommy!"

As I was working the sunscreen into Marcus's skin, Will was in his bathing suit laying on the couch kicking his legs. Will yells to me, "Look Mommy! I swimming! I swimming! I all wet!" Thankfully he was just pretending he was all wet since my initial thought was that he had had a potty accident.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What are you doing?

A lot going on around here. So much has been going on that I think I really should write something down in the blog that has happened and then life just keeps on going and I never get around to it. Here's the rundown.

Father's Day weekend has come and gone. I warned Greg that he was going to have a pretty lame Father's Day. I tried to make up for it by surprising him on Friday with an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. The kids picked out which cake they wanted to give him and Greg was really excited with the cake.

Hate to break it to all the other kids out there, but it seems that my kids got the #1 dad, so at best, the rest of yinz are stuck with #2 dads.

Saturday I ditched the family to go hang out with some friends and see the Dave Matthews Band. I meant to take my camera but was left with the camera on my phone only. I spent the evening with Christy,


concertBFF (who I missed getting a picture of at the concert because my phone ran out of memory, so I took a picture of him at my house),

and I spent the evening with myself as well.

I also talked with another friend of mine for a bit in the parking lot. The weather couldn't have been more perfect - sunny and breezy. The concert was near perfect as well. There was an incredible set list with lots of rarely heard songs and the performance was just epic. Best Dave concert I have been to ever. That concert makes my third of the season, and my ninth Dave Matthews Band Concert in my lifetime.

Unfortunately for Greg, I got home really late Saturday night and was really tired come Sunday. ConcertBFF stayed at our house and needed a ride home on Sunday so I was off delivering him home. Greg's Father's Day was mostly spent watching the kids. We had a nice cookout with my family in the evening and I got to give my own dad his Father's Day kiss. Also planned on taking my camera to the cookout and totally forgot.

Back to life as normal come Monday - or at least as normal as life gets around here. Marcus has certainly entered that hilarious 3 year old stage where he just says the funniest things. He somehow manages to say, "What are you doing?" but the "what are you" part comes out in one syllable. I can't even replicated it. He continues to be the rule enforcer around here and yelled at me a few days ago for being on the kitchen counter, "Get down, Mommy! No go up there!" This evening he was helping me fold up a chaise lounge chair and warned me, "Watch your fingers, Mommy." I wish I could remember half the stuff that he says. Speaking of, Will talks in full sentences. This has been going on for awhile now. He just kinda slid into it and one day a couple weeks ago I thought, when did this even happen? He uses pronouns like I, we, you, and us pretty consistently correct. He is completely potty trained. Almost completely I guess since he still wears a diaper at nap and night. Maya is recovering from her surgery last week. She was supposed to get her stitches out on Thursday but I took her in today because her incision looked kind of gross. She had a reaction to the stitches. Not really sure how this happens but as I told her, no one in our family does things the easy way so it would only make sense. She is stitch free, on antibiotics, and was tearing around the yard this evening after birds and bunnies. And as for me? It was a great evening to sit back in a chaise lounge and watch my beautiful family.


Thursday, June 18, 2009


Sunday afternoon Greg was doing some yard work and I was hanging out in the sunshine while the kids splashed in our little wading pool. I thought, "The only thing that would make this better is having some water spraying on me..." I did a quick mental inventory of the things we have on hand. We don't have a sprinkler, however, we just happened to have a Slip & Slide! Greg and I purchased it for ourselves right after we got married - just because our maturity level only slightly surpasses that of our children. We only used it once, but that was about to change!

Greg and I had to use the Slip & Slide first, you know, to make sure it was safe. Maya quite enjoyed being sprayed and jumping in front of us as we slid down the hill. Marcus had a good time but needed a push to get going. Will wasn't all that crazy about the water spraying in his face. Oh, and our Slip & Slide is extra awesome because it is a double racing Slip & Slide! I sure am glad our neighbors really can't see our yard...

It turned out that our entire family was in violation of the Slip & Slide rules and regulations. We were all either too young or too old to be having so much fun.

In other news, Maya was spayed on Monday. I was nervous and sad but she was fine. She stayed over night and came home pretty dazed and confused on Tuesday. By Wednesday she was back to her old wild self, which isn't really that good since she isn't supposed to be running or jumping.

I discovered yesterday that we have a ton of wild raspberries growing right in our backyard. Delicious! I can hardly wait to eat some. Or more, since I was just out there and happened to pluck one off and pop it in my mouth. Yum!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

(Saturday) Good Zoo

Greg had to work on Saturday. I was planning on taking the kids to the pool in the morning, staying through lunch, and getting home just in time for nap. However, the weather seemed kinda cool for the pool and it didn't look like it was going to warm up until about lunch time. In a spur of the moment decision, we went to the Good Zoo in Olgebay, located in Wheeling, WV.

The last time I remember being there I was in middle school, and I don't think I ever went to the zoo. We have a membership for The Pittsburgh Zoo and it also gave us free entry into the Good Zoo, plus discounts on other activities within the zoo. I really liked it! They don't have the big animals like The Pittsburgh Zoo and most of their enclosures are rather cage-like. We live about halfway between The Pittsburgh Zoo and the Good Zoo so either way the drive would be about the same.

We got to see the train display which was certainly a hit for my kids.

Then we hit up the whole reptile section (and got scared out of our whits by a snake). After that we found a table and ate our lunch that we packed. (What's up with Marcus's face in this picture?)

Then it was off for a train ride. We got delayed waiting for the train to show up. It was a really long train ride though so that was nice.

By then it was getting close to nap time and I knew the kids were going to run out of energy. We skipped half the zoo, which really isn't that big to begin with. The zoo was particularly nice because there was almost no one there. I tend to get irritated by crowds - and just people in general - but it was all open space. I didn't have any worries about letting the kids run through the zoo on their own. We got some time to talk with people that worked there and one girl held up a chicken for us to pet. (Yes, there are chickens at this zoo. No elephants or zebras, but they have chickens.)

It was really a great day. Could have only been better if Greg had been able to go with us. Total cost of the day was $1.59!

This turtle was cracking us up because he was just hanging out with his leg up in the air.