The Sun Sets on Summer

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It's that time of year again where a great moan can be heard across our great land as kids are pushed out of bed and shoved onto a bus and taken back to the place where joy is surgically removed from their being. For parents on the other hand it is the one time of year that we feel really good about paying our property taxes. Some parents are so happy to get their kids out of their hair for a while that you could probably get them to pay a little extra.  

Yes, the kids are back in School. Both Russell and Mary are working, which is an oddity. It is actually the first time that Mary and I have been fully employed at the same time since we were married. Our first full paychecks come next week. It will be nice to shovel money into the hole instead of shoveling it out. One difficulty that my new job has for us is that I am in Maryland for training until Thanksgiving! I'll post some photos of Fredrick, Maryland when I get the chance. 

Our final weeks before school started were mostly lazy. They involved playing with the puppy, soccer games and a visit to the zoo. Check out photos of it all here.  

 

Paddy's big weekend!

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Way back in September Uncle Kevin and Uncle Rico told Paddy that he could come up for a visit as a birthday present from them. The only hitch was that he would have to wait until Kevin was done with nursing school.

Over the school year Paddy often talked about how he couldn’t wait to go spend the weekend with his uncles. Finally on the weekend of June 21 Paddy’s long wait came to and end. Basically, his trip can be summed up as copious amounts of movies and candy.

In short he had a fantastic time! Check out the photos of his weekend here.

 

A little catching up

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Wow, it has been over a month since my last blog post! I have been filling all of my free time mostly looking through a microscope trying to identify various and sundry little plants that most folks would call weeds. I'll do a blog post about all that later.  

For now, I'll give you an update on everything else. For the kids, the last day of school will be next Monday, June 17th. For them, there is nothing else. Next year, Emily will be in 10th grade, William in 7th and Paddy in 3rd. 

Paddy is looking forward to spending the weekend with Uncle Kevin and Uncle Rico. This is actually a birthday present from last year! Kevin was so busy with nursing school last year that he hasn't been able to take him until now. We know he will have lots of fun up in the big apple! 

Around the first week in July, we will all be going down to see Grandma and Grandpa in North Carolina. Emily, Mary and I will be there for about a week then we will return and leave the boys there. Then cousin Ian will come out from Washington State and all three grandson's will be at Grandma and Grandpa's house for a week or so.  

When the boys get back from North Carolina, we will go spend a couple of weeks at the Delaware coast with Pop-pop. Then back to West Chester for the start of the new school year. It seems to short all ready!

We have also had lots of stuff going on over the past month. Paddy played soccer this spring. A few weeks ago he asked if the Philadelphia Union had players that were teenagers. I told him that yes, they do have a few teenagers. He then said that he was going to be on the Union team when he becomes a teenager. I told him he better get practicing if that is going to happen. So, very day, he works on his soccer skills. 

William and I went on a school trip to the Baltimore Aquarium yesterday. Needless to day William was very excited! It was the first time that either of us have seen it. I particularly enjoyed seeing the exhibits from the Pacific Northwest as I was the person that issued the shellfish transfer permits that allowed them to take them out of Washington State. I was glad to see they made the trip across the continent okay. 

Check out photos of it all here.  

Russell

 

Spring time on Fisher Branch

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Actually, the title is a misnomer as spring was pretty much MIA on our trip to visit Grandpa Gene and Grandma Linda this past weekend. We drove down on Thursday in hopes that a 580 mile drive in a southerly direction would hold some warmer weather than we have been having here in West Chester. However, the day before we left the mountains got 5 or 6 inches of fresh snow! Fortunately, a quick look at the weather forecast showed that things should turn around fairly quick, and it did. A little. By Friday most of the snow was melted, and we had a mix of cool rainy and luke warm sunshine through Monday.  

The tardy nature of Spring 2013 is not just a figment of my imagination. Last year we came down for a visit at the same time last year. Spring seemed a good two weeks ahead of this year. Check out the photos from last year here.

Whatever the weather, or whether spring is early or late, it is always good to get together with your family. We even got to see Aunt Teri for a day. Grandma and Grandpa are doing good and Lilly and Max still bark at everything. One thing that is a little different on the ole farm is that Circe and Aster have become escape artist and seem to find their way to the blueberry patch every morning.

Check out photos from our trip here

Russell, Mary, Emily, William, and Paddy. 

Life with the Boys

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Paddy, William, Steve and I have been living it up lately. This past weekend,  Steve and I were especially excited because it was the start of the MLS season! We also have new seats where we are actually allowed to sit down (we use to be in the supporters section where you had to stand the entire game and shout obscenities at the opposing team, and sometimes we shouted obscenities at he home team. It is Philly after all). The first game of the year was with Sporting KC (Kansas City). We started off great with a goal in the 17th minute from recently reacquired Sebastian Le Toux. Then memories of the last season came flooding back with Sporting KC made three unanswered goals. Oh well, the boys in blue will do better next time. Check out photos of us all here

Kid Cookery

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For some reason, all of the kids have taken an interest in doing more of the cooking around here. Emily and William take basic cooking classes in school. When I say basic, I mean basic. Emily said that one day the made Top Ramen. Yum!

I asked Emily if they have covered taking care of their mise en place and she said that they were no where close to such concepts. Humm...what is a dad, who is a longtime student of French cooking, to do? Looks like it is time for some home schooling. 

One dish that the kids like, looks fancy, and if pretty easy is pull off is fish in papillote. This is simply cooking fish in a parchment paper envelope. the basic principle to keep in mind here is that things need to cook quickly in a hot oven (425 degrees), so the veggies need to be cut small and and the same size. The only other tricky part of the disk is cutting the heart shaped paper big enough and in the right shape, to hold your dish. Emily did a great job and got an A+ in her home school cooking class. She even let me take a few pictures of her at work. 

Paddy got the job of putting cookie dough on the cookie sheet. He did this well and didn't eat too much of the uncooked cookies. The only problem was that we couldn't account for all the cooked cookies once he was done. Humm?

William hasn't done much cooking in the past couple of weeks because he has been busy working on another major paper house project. Last year he completed a model of the Westminster Abby. This year, he wanted to make Grandma Linda and Grandpa Gene a model of the White House for their Christmas pressent. After many, many hours of painstaking X-acto knife cutting of tiny windows, he completed it and it looks great. See photos of both of these project here

Happy Holidays!

Russell, Mary, Emily, William and Paddy

Le Toux on Le Blog

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About a year ago The Philadelphia Union traded one of their star players, Sebastian Le Toux, to the Vancouver Whitecaps. They then held a going away party for him at Kildare’s Irish Pub in West Chester, just a few blocks from our house. Since it was walking distance, I went, had a beer, and met Seba. He spent half the season playing for Vancouver then got traded to the New York Red Bulls where he finished out the season. The last game of the year, we all got to see him play before his real home crowd at PPL Park.

When the season was over, we were all surprised the hear that he had been traded back to Philly! Again, they held his welcome home party at Kildare’s last night starting at 6:30. Which was very convenient for me, as the boys religious education classes are just a block down the street at St. Agnes. I dropped the boys off at church then, like a good Irish dad, I headed to the pub. Again, I got to shake his hand and get a photo with him. After which I headed back over to church and picked up the boys.

As you probably know from reading Le Blog, Paddy likes soccer and has gone to many games with me. I asked him when he got out of religious ed if he would like to meet a famous soccer player. “Sure! I’d love to!” He asked “When we could do that”  and I said “hummm…how about now?” He said “what? You can just do that?”

So, we walked the short walk back to he pub and went in. Any kids that came to the pub to meet Seba were ushered up to the front of the line and were given the royal treatment. Paddy, who happen to be wearing his Union hat, was over joyed. William on the other hand, could have cared less and asked if he could get something to eat.

Nonetheless, it was a big thrill for Paddy and a lesser thrill for William. Seab bent down and talked to Paddy. He asked if he liked soccer and if he could expect to see Paddy in the stands at PPL Park next season. Paddy skipped all the way home. Check out photos of the evening here along with a few other recent family photos as well. 

Bikes and School

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There are many differences between the schools that we had on the north Olympic Peninsula and the ones here in West Chester. Almost all of the advantages are for the West Chester Schools. Simply put it is just a large system with loads more money and resources. The one glaring category that the Sequim schools exceeded in is bikes. Each of the schools there, had a bike rack and they were all filled with bikes. From the Elementary school to the High School. Kids were able to ride bikes to school and park them in a designated spot. None of the schools here have a bike rack. Zero. And as far as I can tell, Paddy and I are the only ones that ride a bike regularly each day. The only other bike that I have seen a any of the schools is this one at Henderson High School. It is locked up on one of the metal benches at the stadium in front of the school. It looks like some bike advocacy is in order...

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A Week At The Beach

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Last week we finally got our act together and went on a long over due family vacation! We dusted off all the camping gear and headed to the Delaware Seashore State Park. Our activities were completely predictable. Mary and the kids swam at the beach. Russell rode on his bike. The gnats bit hard. We went to the boardwalk at Rehobeth Beach. Ate ice cream. Swam on the beach some more. See photos here

The Boys Go Camping

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Ever since school got out, William has been asking to go camping. The only problem with this request was one of shelter. We have two tents. A giant 6 person tent that requires two adults to pitch, and a small one person tent that I use for bicycle trips. Oh, we also have two old tents (over 15 years old) that leak lots of water in the event of rain. Since Mary wouldn't be joining us on the camping trip, the 6 person tent was out. What to do?

Then I remembered that we still had about $80 on our REI rebate! So, one day William and I went to the local REI and found a two person tent for about $100, which with our rebate, only cost $20. Not a bad deal! Now we had enought water tight shelter for all the Rogers boys to go on a camping trip! 

We chose to go to Hibernia County Park, which was only about 30 minutes away and had a primitive camp ground. Perfect. We also chose to go during the week in hopes of less people to deal with. We packed up are gear and headed out. We got the campsite and set up camp. It was a very nice camp site which we had all to ourselves! Even more perfect!

We then had lunch of standard camping fair (hog dogs) and then I headed over the to park office to pay for our site. At that point I learned why we had the campsite all to ourselves as it was only open on weekends. Total bummer! 

We headed back to the camp ground and took down our tents and packed the car. A quick search on my iPhone showed that there was a commercial campsite just a few miles away. It was considerably more expensive, but it had pool which which was a big bonus for the boys. We swam at the pool, had dinner of standard camping fair (more hot dogs) and s'mores by the campfire. 

The next morning I was glad that I went and bought the new tent as it rained cats and dogs! We had hoped to spend much of the day by the pool. Instead, we packed up the car, and drove over to Lancaster and found a dinner and got hot chocolates and sticky buns. 

Check out photos of our adventure here.

Open Practice

Whoa! Has it really be three weeks since my last post? You would think that being unemployed I’d have all the time in the world to blog away, but I’ve been so busy with other miscellaneous and sundry things that I just haven’t gotten around to it. From earlier post you might have noticed one of the things that keeps me off the street corner is that I have season tickets to the Philadelphia Union Soccer team.

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Back on June 21, the longest day of the year, the Union held an open practice for season ticket holders. Paddy and I, along with my friend Steve, jumped at the chance to see the players up close and see how they prepare for a game.

The practice was held at PPL Park where the games take place. Our regular seats are down at the “River End,” or as some would call them the “cheap seats” where all the hooligans sit. For the practice we got to sit in the midfield seats. The first thing that we noticed was that our regular seats are really cheap. The midfield seats are cushioned, and have armrest and cup holders. Plus you have an awesome view of the field!

I was a little afraid that the practice would be nothing more than watching a bunch of skinny guys run up and down the field sweating profusely. Luckily, this was not the case. Since this was the last practice before a big game on following Saturday, they did mostly ball handling activities and practiced setting up plays. It was truly amazing to see athletes at that level (i.e. professionals) kick the ball around.

Paddy, however, was unimpressed. He was there for two reasons. The first was to get a hot dog, fries, and some ice cream. The second was to get his Union tee shirt signed by all the players on the team. He got his hot dog, fries and ice cream and then had to endure the kicking of the ball for a while. As soon as the practice was over, they announced that the team would be available for autographs down front. Paddy immediately said “hey dad, can I go up front now?” Before I could even open my mouth, Paddy worked his way through the crowd and up to the front leaning over the rail talking to the players. Within a minute, I saw his little head pop up and head him say “hey dad! I got a goalies glove!” and he held up a blue and white goalies glove.

I said “dang nation Paddy! You give that glove back to whoever you took it from right now!” I said to Steve “you can’t leave that kid alone for even a minute without him getting into trouble.” Thinking that he conned the glove off of some other kid down there, I worked my way up front to let him have it. When I got there I asked him where he got it. A lady who was standing next to him said he just asked the goalie for it and he gave it to him. She said he gave the other glove to her son.

So it was, Paddy didn’t get his shirt signed by the team. Instead, he got his new, well slightly used, goalies glove signed by the team! I still think he is a little con artist. See photos of the event here.

Russell

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School's Out!

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With out doubt, the biggest event in our household is that school has ended, well, at least for the kids. Mary is done at the end of this week. All in all, this past school year was good for all the kids. They all made great strides academically and socially. Emily wrapped up middle school and will be a freshman at Henderson High next year. Like most teenagers, we have great difficulty working any kind of emotional response out of her, but we have managed to discover two things that she is happy about; 1) Henderson High is only two blocks away so she will never have to ride a bus to school ever again, and 2) one of her electives next year is photography, which she is very excited about. Emily’s main summer will be a science-fiction writing camp that is held over at West Chester University. Emily still likes writing a lot and is looking forward to exploring some ideas that she has floating around in her head.

William wrapped up elementary school and will head off to middle school next year. Of our three kids, William probably had the most personal growth. He did great academically. His only downfall was a brief period of not following through with homework assignments. But the motivation of a trip to the beach and camping this summer, helped turn that around. Next year William will be in 6th grade at Peirce Middle School. William’s big plan for the summer is a marine biology camp, which is also held at West Chester University. He is very excided about this camp because they will get to study live squids and other marine creatures.

Paddy finished up first grade. His big achievement for the year is that he reads like a champ! At the beginning of the year, he could read almost nothing. Now he picks up books like Diary of a Whippy Kid and plows through it. We aren’t sure what Paddy is going to do this summer. We have not committed him to a summer camp yet. He may go to an intensive swimming lesson session for a couple of weeks so he can get his “green” armband for the pool. If he gets that he can go down the big slide at the pool, which would be the most awesome thing in the world.

Me and the boys also plan to go visit Grandpa and Grandma in North Carolina for a couple of weeks as well. See some photos from the last couple of weeks here.

Russell

The Kids

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on what the kids have been up to so I thought I’d do that now.

First and foremost, they are very, very, very excited that there is only one full week of school left. Next week is the full week, then the last week in May they have one day off for an in-service day for the teachers, then the first week of June they have two full days, and three half days. The last day of school is June 8th! They don’t know it yet, but after school lets out they go to work at the North Franklin Street work camp for the rest of the summer.

In the last post about the kids, Paddy was playing basketball and taking swimming lessons. Basketball season is over and he has now moved on to baseball. He is still doing swimming. He doesn’t seem to care much about which sport he is doing at any given time, just as long as he is doing it. The one constant is that he talks trash at all of them. Next week he is going on a class field trip to the Herr’s potato chip factory. He is very excited about that.

William, on the other hand avoids sports at all cost, especially if it requires communication with another human. His primary mission in life is to collect every fact about every animal that has ever lived on planet Earth, and remember it. At the rate that he is going he will done with that project by the start of the next school year. Yesterday (May 17) his school went on an all day field trip to Washington DC. When we arrived we mapped out the most direct route from the bus to the Museum of Natural History. We’d have William tell you about it but his head exploded. He was doing pretty good until he came upon the exhibit with a real giant squids (there were two, a male and a female!). Lets just say he is a pretty happy boy today. See photos from our trip here.

Emily is also pretty happy, for two reasons. First, we finally hooked up her hand-me-down iPhone. She now has a gizmo with a phone, email, text message, and internet that she can carry around with her. Second, and probably, the main reason she is so happy, we let her dye her hair. It is now black and purple. These were not freebies for her. To get them we asked her to pull up her grades, which she did. Next year, at Henderson High School she will be in all honor’s classes. We are very proud of her. She is also doing well in fencing. She will be moving up to the intermediate class soon and will be learning to fence with an epee (a type of sword).

See more photos of the kids over the last month or so here.

Happy Spring time!

Russell

The Rest of the Trip

I ended my last post on the Family Blog with " The day was put to rest with a yummy dinner of home made pulled pork BBQ, coleslaw, and hush puppies. The boys made it an authentic southern meal by washing it all down with a coke-cola." Well later that night Paddy got to experience it all again as he started throwing up around 2:00 AM. Actually Grandma did as well as he was sleeping in her bed! Ugh. His illness was short lived and by the middle of the following day he was all better, as you can see by this photograph. 

Paddy Disapproves

Most of the rest of the visit was nice and relaxing. The kids stayed up late watching TV and playing computer games. I got up early and went bird-watching. By the time I got back they were up and feed. Afterwards it was play in the creek or computer, watch TV or just lay around time. By mid day, I would take off for a bicycle ride. Then, when I got back it was dinner time. Afterwards the kids would stay up late, and we would begin the process over again.

One rainy day Grandma took the kids to see a movie, "Mirror-Mirror." Grandma, William and Paddy gave it three thumbs up. Emily gave it two thumbs down. But she is a teenager and simply hasn't figured out how to operate her thumbs in that manor just yet.

William and Paddy did get to ride the horses one day. That was pretty exciting. They also got to help brush their hair and give the a wash down as well. Not something we get to do here in West Chester very often despite the fact that this is horse country. 

On Saturday we got an early start and headed back to West Chester. Again, we had absolutely no issues along the way. It was a nice drive back in fact. By 5:00 PM we were back home and happy to see Mary.

It was a fun trip and we are happy that we now live close enough to make move visits! We are certain to head back again soon.

Check out photos of the rest of the trip here. Also, a side not about the photos. Up till now, I've been loading photos much to large for the website and have been trying to readjust them. Some of the last photos are a little different. Let me know if you have any trouble viewing the photos or have any other issues with the site. I'll try to correct it.

Russell

Riding Grapevine, Stinking Willies, and the Land Speed of a Turkey

This post comes to you in triptych form; bicycle, bicycle botany, and bicycle birding.

Bicycle: Riding Grapevine

The kids and I are spending the week at Grandpa and Grandma's house in the mountains of western North Carolina. They live on Fisher Branch (a branch is a small stream that a healthy Appalachian resident could easily jump over. The key word is healthy. This eliminates 95% of the population of Western North Carolina), which is near the community of Center (a fork in the road), which is near the community of Petersburg (an actual cross road), which is near the town of Mars Hill (a real town), which is about 16 miles north of Asheville, North Carolina. Needless to say, they are up in the hills.

The road that leads from Center to Fisher Branch is Grapevine. Grapevine is a road that is about 7.3 miles long. It runs the length of Grapevine Valley, which is only a few miles long. The rest of Grapevine road goes up and over Walnut Mountain to Big Laurel Road in Big Laurel. Got that? Don't feel bad, I ain't got it either. What's important is that Grapevine road crest Walnut Mountain at approximately 3163' in elevation. When you ride your bike from Fisher Branch to Big Laurel it is a round trip ride of about 14.6 miles with about 2000' of elevation gain (see a map of the route here). It takes about an hour and a half. All in all it is a pretty good workout with some fantastic views. Like this one.

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Bicycle Botany: Stinking Willies

On the way up and to the pass on Walnut Mountain the pace is kind of slow. Slow enough that a cyclist can glance over and check out the flowering plants as you go. Coming up on the far side of Walnut Mountain I passed a small stream that was loaded with many different kinds of flowering plants. The most dominant amongst them was a species of Trillium.

This is  Trillium erectum . Here is a good example of why the use of the scientific name is a good ideal.

This is Trillium erectum. Here is a good example of why the use of the scientific name is a good ideal.

Scientific Name: Trillium erectum (L.)

Common Names: Wake Robin, Red Trillium, Purple Trillium, Stinking Trillium, Birthroot, Beth Root, Stinking Benjamin, Stinking Willie, Birth Wort, Nodding Wake-Robin, Bathroot, Bathwort, Bath Lily, Nosebleed Trillium, Ill-sented Trillium, Indian, Shamrock, Squawroot, Lamb's Quarters, Ground Lily, Wood Lily, Daffy Downlily, Jew's Harp Plant, Milk Ipecac, Pariswort, Rattlesnake Root, Bumblebee Root, Truelove, and last but not least, Three-leafed Nightshage.

The reasons that T. erectum has acquired so many common names are many. One reason is because it is a showy plant that is wide spread in eastern North American so many people (other than plant nerds) take notice of it. It is also highly variable, coming in white, red, purple, pink, and rarely yellow and green, leading people to believe that they were different plants. It was also used for medicinal purposes by early midwives and Native American cultures as something that would induce labor or help control hemorrhaging during childbirth. And as some of those names imply, it also smells to high heaven. Like skunk cabbage it is a plant that uses the smell of rotten meat to attached pollinators like flies and beetles. The common names that caught our attention was "stinking willie." When we pointed this out to William he screamed "Oh no! Another reason for Emily to torture me!" Back in Grandpa Gene's yard there was a deep red one blooming. Same species different flavor!

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As I mentioned above it enjoys a wide distribution through eastern North America. In North Carolina is primarily found the western mountains. It Pennsylvania it is found in almost every county except Chester! So, I'm going to enjoy it while I'm here.

Bicycle Birding: The land speed of a Turkey

Coming down Walnut Mountain may sound like an easy thing. However, it is almost as difficult coming down as it is coming up. The reason is for the winding road, with many hairpin turns and blind curves, that is starting to deteriorate with gravel and sand in the most unwanted places. Going up the workout is with your legs. Coming down it is with your forearms because you are applying the breaks where possible without skidding over the side.

Coming down you always want to make sure you stay in your lane because a car coming up would certainly take you out. Today, I round a curve and found something else to worry about. A male (tom) American Turkey jumped in front of me with on a few feet to spare. I was able to slow down enough as to avoid and negative outcome for both the large dark chicken and cyclist alike.

Once the situation was under control the turkey did the oddest thing in that it ran straight down the road about 10 feet in front of me. We rounded a bend and it kept on running. I laughed out loud (lol) at the way it dashed down the road; a view of a turkey that I have never seen. I glanced down at my speedometer and was impressed that this bird that I always thought of as clumsy and somewhat gangly moved along at a steady 16+ mph! After about 100 yards of this we got to one bend and the turkey simply ran off the edge of the road, spread it's wings and flew up into a tree. I chose not to follow suit, made the turn and continued down the mountainside via the road.

Ride lots, stop often,

Russell

Spring Break

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This week is spring break for the kids in the West Chester School District. If the rest of West Chester's kids are as happy about this as our kids are then the area is a utopian paradise like none other at the moment. Except for Mary. Mary doesn't work in the West Chester School District. She works for the Catholic Church. Which as (un)luck would have it has classes Monday through Wednesday. With the kids off for a week and dad being unemployed we seized the opportunity to strike out to the open road for trip to North Carolina to see grandma and grandpa.

At 5:30 AM on April 1st we woke the kids and told them that we were really off to Disney World! Then we reminded them it was April 1st. Parents are mean sometimes, but such is the way of the world. By 6:00 AM sharp, we said our goodbye's to Mary and hit the road. Mary, by the way, isn't to broken up about this. She will have the week free of any parenting duties and on the day's she has off she is planning to visit her brother Kevin up in Jersey City.

We are very, no, extremely happy to report that our trip down to North Carolina was completely uneventful. As you may remember when we did this trip last year we got half way there and we ran into engine problems with our old Honda. The kids slept for until about 8:30 when we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Then we drove until we needed gas, which was also lunch time. We stopped and made sandwiches, used the potty, and ran around for about 30 minutes. Then we got back in the car and didn't stop again until we got to Fisher Branch, North Carolina. We did the trip in 10 hours and 45 minutes.

We pulled up to the house just as a gully washer of an afternoon thunderstorm set in. Wow. For all the rain that western Washington gets we never got rain like that. Fortunately, it was short lived. We were all pretty worn out, but a yummy dinner of fried chicken helped rejuvenate our spirits.

Today we woke up to pancakes. Actually, I should correct that statement because Emily didn't wake up until about 11:30. I suspect she watched a lot of TV last night. After breakfast I don't know what the kids did as I headed out into the woods to look for birds and wildflowers. It was mostly a pretty lazy day. The kids did some fishing in the pond. Emily wore surgical gloves so the wouldn't have actually touch a fish in the off chance she actually caught a fish. I went for a bike up and over Grapevine (the mountain ridge at the end of the road). When I returned from my bike ride, William and Paddy were having a contest to see who could get the dirtiest. Paddy won by a wide margin. Grandma and Grandpa's friend Sean down later in the day and did some horse grooming, which the boys enjoyed.

The day was put to rest with a yummy dinner of home made pulled pork BBQ, cole slaw, and hush puppies. The boys made it a authentic southern meal by washing it all down with a coke-cola.

Check out more photos in the album here.

More later!

Russell

A New Beginning!

The last blog post on our old site was way back on February 11th about me meeting Sebastian le Toux, the famous soccer player. The post prior to that was January 8th about birthdays that occurred in December. So really, we need to do some catching up for the first three months of 2012! 

As with all kids, ours are growing like weeds. Emily quite literally so as she is as tall as Mary now. She has gotten into fencing and seems to really enjoy it. This past week she got her own sword and outfit with helmet. She has chosen to do epee, which is one of three types of swords used in fencing. I wanted to post a photo of her in her new equiptment but she said she didn't want any photos taken of her. I would have fought her about this but then I realized that she is learning to use a sword, i.e. a weapon, and that I better rethink that a little. I'll get a photo when she is at practice. Don't tell her about my plans...

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William is doing great. He and I have been working on models. The first one that we did was a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress. We finished that and moved on to a German U-boat. Those were "level 3" models in terms of difficulty. And we must say that they came out looking great. William, feeling a bit cocky, wanted to move on to "level 5" the hardest level of all. So now, the model that we are working on is the Cutty Sark, Level 5. These are good projects for William as it makes him slow down and be patient. We spend a great deal of time painting the models and try to make them look as authentic as we can. With the Cutty Sark we have learned that when they say "Level 5" the really mean "Level Eleven"! Here are photos of Will with his B-17.

Paddy has accepted sports into his life. He is currently doing basketball and swimming. He did soccer in the fall and is signed up for baseball in the spring. You would think that all the running around would wear him out. If you think that you would be wrong. It doesn't wear him out. It wears Mary and I out. It only seems to get him warmed up. 

Paddy's basketball team is something to see. It is, from what I can tell, the smallest team in the YMCA league with only six players. The other teams of 9 to 11 players. One of the players on Paddy's team has no legs or arms past his knees or elbow. Yet, he runs up and down the court and fights for the ball just as hard as anyone else. He will get the ball take it down court, shoot and score. He may be short in stature but he is ten feet tall in determination. One of the other little guys has a neurological disorder that causes him to trip and fall a lot. My knees hurt just watching him. Three of the other guys have clearly played basketball before. They look like pros at times.

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Then there is Paddy, who is still struggling to understand the basic concepts of the game. When he started he just didn't know how to dribble, he was totally unaware that it was required at all. He is now to the point where he has scored a goal three times...in practice. Paddy's real gift to the team is that he can talk trash. Matter of fact, he can talk trash like nobody's business. And he does a lot of it.

For example, at the beginning of the game the teams line up in front of each other so that the players know who they are supposed to guard. One game the referee pointed out Paddy to his opposing player. When he did Paddy leaned forward, took his hand and and formed a peace sign with his index and middle finger and pointed it back and forth to his eyes and his opponent's eyes and said, "yo bro, I'm watching you. Uh-hu, that's right, I said you." Paddy did watch him. He watched him score a lot of points. 

Despite Paddy being the weak link in the team's abilities, they win. Actually the always win, every game, and usually by a lot. Once they are up bay 10-20 points, they start doing a "P play." This is where they feed Paddy the ball and hope he scores. He came close one game. He got the ball, shot, and it circled the rim but fell the wrong way. Our hope is that he scores a goal before the end of the season. Here is a photo of the team in action. Paddy is number One!

I am still looking for work. I've had one interview out of 36 applications! I haven't heard back from the job I had the interview for and I'm still in the running for four jobs with the Federal Government. Mostly there are very few jobs in my career path available here. Most of the environment type jobs are looking for people that have experience with freshwater wetlands. Having spent 11 years in Marine Resources in Washington State is not the best match for such things. However, positions do turn up that I am qualified for and we are sure one will come through at some point. The good news is that Mary's job is stable and she is enjoying what she is doing. It pays just enough for us to get by, which ain't bad!

How is that for our first post on the new website? Let us know what your are up to in your neck of the woods. 

Russell, Mary, Emily, William and Paddy