Monday, August 31, 2015

Hershey or Bust

We tried to end summer vacation on a high note by taking a day trip to Hershey Park a few days before school started.  Hard to believe it's been 2 full years since our last trip to the Sweetest Place on Earth.  Look how much Joseph has gown in the interim, from a Hershey bar (September 2013)

up to a Twizzler now!

Joseph could ride most of the attractions as a Twizzler, and after a spin on the Scrambler it was thumbs up for our first roller coaster ride, the Comet.

It was NOT this one.  Or THAT one that goes upside down.  I don't think I'll let him ride those until he's 30 or so.

As we were in line for the roller coaster, this is what the sky looked like.  Completely gray and dreary, with the only sign of color being the flag on top of the Kissing Tower.  After that it pretty much rained for hours with only temporary reprieves.  Let me tell you, Hershey Park in the rain pretty much sucks the big one.  They shut down all the major rides an there's not much else to do, but we did get in a ride to the top of the tower and a few rounds of bumper cars.

Since we drove all that way, we decided to wait out the rain, even though the majority of the park emptied out.  Once the rain finally passed, Joseph was able to ride his favorite, the log flume, 6 times in a row.  Plus he got himself some cotton candy, so the day wasn't a complete bust for him.

Plus they gave us free return visit tickets that are good for a year, so we'll give it another go soon enough.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

3rd Grade!

Do you believe we're back in school already?  It's two weeks before Labor Day and that somehow seems totally wrong.   Summer flew by and kind of feels anticlimactic since we didn't take a big trip this year.  Still, it's so nice to see so many friendly faces again and get back into a routine.

We have such a big grade and they are trying something new this year.  They've reduced the 5 classes into 4 so each class has 30 kids, but each class now has 2 full time teachers instead of 1 teacher with an occasional assistant.  We're excited that they looped the class this year so it's all the same classmates with a few new kids, plus we got an awesome teacher too!

Would you believe I actually had to miss the 1st day of school this year due to work?  So unlike me!  I'm sure nobody can tell these pictures were taken a day later :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Joseph at 8 years

I really almost didn't do this post this year.  Sure, I took the pictures with his alligator right around his birthday as I'm going to keep on doing as long as he lets me, but at this point, it's just so hard to summarize what a complex little person Joseph has become.  I can tell you what he eats, what he likes to play, what time he goes to bed....but there's so much growth and maturation in a year at this age that it's tough to fully capture the individual that he is. He has his own thoughts and opinions and he's got his strengths and weakness too, like we all do.  But at heart he's still a kind, sweet, and loving boy, so this year, just enjoy the pictures!

Eight is great!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Into the Woods

Two weeks ago we went on our first ever family camping trip!  Aunt Missy and her clan having been going every year, and when they invited us along this year, I thought it would be a great experience for Joseph.  I haven't been camping since I was in high school!  We borrowed most of the recommended gear from friends, and it sure seemed like a lot for just one night only.

To be honest, camping at Pohick Bay would hardly qualify as "roughing it," with electricity at every campsite, a store for every convenience you forgot, and comfort stations with showers.  The campgrounds are inside a large regional park that includes mini golf, Pirate's Cove water park, multiple playgrounds, and areas to rent kayaks and paddle boats.  It's barely 20 miles outside of the city.

The one thing I did buy was an air mattress, figuring we could always use it again for sleepovers and such.  There was a little mix up in communication about air pumps, but luckily another family had a foot pump to borrow, and we all pitched in to get it inflated.  I definitely took some ribbing for bringing one of my quilts along (as well as a sound machine!), but if we're talking about the creature comforts of home, another guy brought along his CPAP machine for sleep apnea, and there was some pretty constant Facebooking and cell phone charging going on.

After setting up camp, we took a little hike down to the bay.  Some of the kids jumped right into the water, but Joseph got a fishing lesson from one of the other dads, and he really enjoyed it.  There were 8 kids all together, so there was always some action going on.

We spread out over two campsites, each with a fire ring and a grill.  Missy took care of dinner and I brought the fixings for s'mores.  Everyone brought snacks to share, and our friend Jen had awesome music going over a bluetooth speaker.  Mis also did a scavenger hunt for the kids and brought glow sticks.  This was definitely a fun introduction to camping for Joseph!

As always, my boy was up at the crack of dawn.  So as not to disturb everyone else (even though they kept us up for hours with their talking around the fire well past midnight) the 2 of us headed out for a stroll in the woods and were treated to an absolutely  spectacular sunrise.  Being up early has its perks!

After breakfast the kids played for a bit while we packed up camp, and then we hiked down to the bay again once more before heading home.

All together, we were probably there for less than 18 hours, and I'm sure what we did was probably more "glamping" than camping, but we had a great time and would love to do it again.