Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mud Run

post by Jonathan

After some Advil, TWO showers to remove the red Carolina clay, and a lot of water, I’m happy to say I survived the 4th Annual Marine Mud Run at Belmont Abbey College. I’ve been working up to this event for a few months after being talked into it by some gym friends, and now that I’m on the other side, I’m glad I did it. Most importantly, this event raised over $22,000 for children of Marines who were killed while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The course consisted of 4.25 miles of trail running in addition to a variety of obstacles/challenges. Teams of four competed in heats of 10 (40 runners per group), and all obstacles had to be completed as a team (“No Marine Left Behind!”). There were a total of 117 teams in the competitive division, at least four of which came from the Ballantyne YMCA. The obstacles included push-ups (with a nice Marine’s boot in the middle of my back), duck walks, climbing through tunnels, scaling 8-foot walls, carrying 20 lb sand bags, and a crawl through a pit with 49,000 cubic feet of mud (according to their website). That’s about knee-deep muck for 50 yards or so. All of this was done while Marines “motivated” us (a.k.a. called us names, screamed that we were not fast enough, etc.). Nothing like an angry Marine drill sergeant about 2 inches from the tip of your nose to get you going!

Since we all met in a class called Athletic Conditioning at the gym, we named our team AC Power. AC Power did well—we finished first in our heat of 40 racers. There was a fair amount of confusion over the exact course to run, so about half of the teams lengthened the run by ½ mile and repeated several of the obstacles. Fortunately, our entire heat followed AC Power, so we were able to tell how we did compared to our heat. Unfortunately, we were misdirected and were one of the heats that ran too far and repeated some of the events. The Marines took full advantage of another opportunity to “motivate” us during our second pass. At the finish line, the judges put it all together, decided it was too tough to figure out each team’s time based on the course they may have run, and scrapped the awards. Fine with me—I don’t think AC Power was in any danger of winning anything. We found out later in the day that we placed 14th overall out of 117 competitive teams (not certain how they sorted it all out). Bottom line—we all had fun, got a little dirty, helped some children of fallen Marines, and probably made a few spectators laugh along the way. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Due to the very early start and the too tempting pit of mud, Trish opted to keep Ella and Jack away—a smart move on her part. But since she’s our family photographer and historian, I don’t have pictures to post. Some friends were there taking pictures, so I’ll see about tracking a few of those down over the next few days.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jack’s Birthday Party

Jack celebrated his birthday a few days early with all of his closest friends. Although he’s turning 5, his birthday theme of choice—“The Fantastic Four” (i.e., The Thing, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, and Human Torch). Accompanied by his best buds, Jack jumped and rested, jumped and rested for about an hour, then spent literally just a few minutes in a party room for the birthday song and cake (he licked some icing and then ran up to the party coordinator to ask if they could move on to the next room—he knew what was in store), and then had a free-for-all in the arcade room for another hour. He told me afterwards that he was “very happy about [his] party”—that definitely makes us happy, too.

{sitting next to bestie noah.}

{the thing is jack’s fave of the fantastic four. love that smile.}

{jackson and jack are still such good buds—we’ll miss him at school next year. jackson’s off to kindergarten.}

{love that ella committed 100% for jack’s party—she chose her supergirl shirt to wear, put a silver surfer mask on once we hit the cake room, and loved her invisible woman ring that baden and she are comparing here.}

{love to say that the cool face painting was from jack’s party, but cate showed up ready to party today.}

{we’re glad ryan and his big brother hayden could make it today—thanks for picking them up, brooke! ryan, what a ham. he literally ran towards the camera sometimes and definitely smiled whenever i pointed it at him. most of the other kids were so focused on their games they didn’t even notice i was there.}

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Going Green

post by Jonathan—I’ve started getting random emails from him with blog posts all typed up…a little anxious for me to catch up I guess. :)

Jack has been diligently working on his swimming this summer—practicing his strokes, building up his endurance, and even starting to learn a racing dive. While a lot of this has been geared towards the promise of being on the swim team next summer, a big part of his practicing has been to earn his green necklace at the Y pool.

Today, Jack reached that major milestone and earned his “big kid necklace”. To meet this goal, Jack had to swim 25 meters and tread water for 1 minute. Now, both he and his sister have access to any pool and all waterslides at the Y. More importantly, they are allowed in the pools by themselves. Since swimming in the indoor pool in the dead of winter is one of the kids’ favorite things to do but one of my least, I can now take them as often as they’d like and not have to be in the water with them. Next winter just got a lot more fun for Ella and Jack (and me!).

Of course, he spent two hours yesterday afternoon going down the two waterslides at the Ballantyne Y reserved for those with a green necklace. We’re very proud of you, Jack! Great job earning your green!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kid Fit Camp

Ella and Jack were together at Kid Fit Camp three mornings this week at the Morrison Y. They played games, ran races, did obstacle courses, performed gymnastics exercises, and even got some pool time in. They loved “exercising” where Daddy and Mommy get some workouts in, too. The camp leader forwarded along a few pictures from camp this week and it was just so cool to get a glimpse into their experience that I just had to post them to the blog. The theme for this week of camp was an animal safari—the picture of Ella swinging on the rope was actually named ‘Ellatarzan’. Ella and Jack had a fun week and even made a few new friends from our neighborhood.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lego Mania

Looking for a creative playdate idea that would help beat the heat, we made plans to meet best buds Baden and Ilse at the Lego Store in Concord today. The kids spent most of the time in the store doing mini-builds, following the instructions on the store’s computers—Jack built a gold medal and Ella asked for Baden’s help to build a bride and groom (aye yay yay, these two). After our fun just playing in the store and then some lunch, Ella, Jack, Baden, and Ilse took a group lesson together in the Lego Classroom. They worked in teams of two to create dancing birds—when plugged in to a computer, the birds would spin and play a song through the computer. Each kid received a ‘Certificate of Achievement’ and a keychain or minifig at the end of the class. Good times with some great friends.

I forgot to bring my camera today, might’ve been a subconscious decision because of the 100’s of vacation pictures I already had waiting for me. Thankfully Ivy (Baden and Ilse’s mom) shared her pictures, and I took a few with my phone. Here’s my weak attempt at a Polaroid collage—no iPhones or iPads in this house, so I had to do with whatever free stuff I could find…I’ll keep looking. :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Family Bike Ride

Now that Ella is so steady on her “two wheeler” we’ve been going on bike rides together as a family nearly every weekend. Jack, who is not quite ready to pick up much speed even with his training wheels on, rides in a seat on Jonathan’s bike while we all explore the streets of our neighborhood, cross a street to a nearby neighborhood with a beautiful pond, and then ride the “blacktop” of Ella’s school (where Ella perfected her stops and starts without training wheels). There’s also usually time to explore the fields near the school and hit the playgrounds. It makes for a fun, active, and easy family outing.

Our Project

We finally started on our big landscaping project that we’ve been planning for months (well, years actually). We did all of the planning, buying, bed creation, digging, and planting ourselves—over 70 plants along about 200 feet of fencing! We’re very proud of ourselves and I’ll have to do a separate post about the finished product later. Of course, this project took up quite a bit of weekend time since returning from Florida, leaving no time to take the kids to the pool, or anywhere for that matter. So, the first full day of planting we set the sprinkler up in the yard and let the kids go to town. They had a blast (donning their coordinated pirate swimsuits)…

…unfortunately they must’ve gone without bug spray or their bug bracelets for a time because by the next day they were both COVERED in bug bites. Jack had them everywhere in like clumps of 10 or 15, and I mean EVERYWHERE (poor kid). So, the next weekend day we spent planting, we decided to keep the kids indoors for most of the day. After The Neverending Story was over, Ella and Jack went upstairs to play. They seemed pretty quiet whenever I checked in on them (usually that means trouble), but soon they joined us outside to show off their new looks. Ella and Jack had been “getting fancy”. Jack’s hair was all wet, slicked down, and combed over. He had his Easter shirt on, a tie, and a “bowtie” (one of Ella’s bows). Ella had a flower in her hair, a princess dress on, and was carrying a fancy purse. They were very pleased with themselves. Little did we know that this would be Ella and Jack’s new game for the next few weeks—I’ve done quite of bit of laundry for Jack lately…

Sunday, July 11, 2010

THE Tree

It’s the tree again. We had another fun Sunday night with the Browns, eating at Zapata’s and then climbing the beautiful Magnolia and running around the fountain behind the restaurant. Ella braided her own hair tonight and always dresses herself nowadays. Love all of the thought that goes in to her outfits—her clogs because they are “like heels” and make her taller, the beautiful necklace Brooke gave her for her birthday last year (coincidentally at Zapata’s, but I think that was the point for Ella), a flower hair clip that she got on our trip to Florida and wanted to show off, and an outfit with leggings because she knew she would be climbing (glad she finally considers these things). I just loved this picture too much not to post…

Suited Up

As I was looking through all of my photos from our beach vacations, or from throughout the Summer in general, one thing really stood out to me. Ella has waaay too many swimsuits. Now, granted a few of them she’s had for several years, but still this is a bit much. She has worn every single one of these bathing suits over the course of our Summer—yes, count them, 11 of them! And, I didn’t even check if I’d missed any…

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Carousel

Before heading back to Charlotte today, Nana and PopPop took us to an awesome playground that the kids loved last Summer. The highlights of this playground are the beautiful carousel and the swings that are hanging on super-long chains (I swear they’re like 15 or more feet high). More fun and more Nana and PopPop love, and a great way to wrap up our 9-day Florida vacation.

{this is ella pouting about not being able to show off her mad-swinging skills (something she’s very proud of) on these mega-long swings. they are much harder to get going. the next picture is the smile after poppop came to her rescue and volunteered to push her on the swings. ah, the ups and downs of life…}

Friday, July 9, 2010

Back to St. Augustine

But this time the weather was quite a bit better and Nana and PopPop were waiting for us at their place. After some puzzles, games, and dinner we had waited out the hot, hot sun so it was time to enjoy a beautiful “cooler” evening at the beach and then pool. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves—they really show all of the joy Ella and Jack get from time spent with Nana and PopPop.

{another beach day, another grandpa to boogie board with…or charm into boogie board service, no less…}

{again and again and again. jack was done after one or two rides in and then he headed for the salt-free water of the pool. ella rode the boogie board for as many times as we would let her.}

{come on, poppop. just one more time. :)}

{more kid magnets. :)}