Monday, July 16, 2018

A Day in Baltimore, Part 2

You may remember a couple of summers ago I took the boys to the Edgar Allan Poe house in Richmond.  There is also a Poe house in Baltimore.  It's located in a seriously scary neighborhood (like so bad I didn't want to stand outside to take a picture), but we decided to brave it briefly.  This is the attic bedroom of the tiny old house.

After we headed back towards downtown so that we could visit the Poe graves (there are two markers).  This was the boys' favorite part of the day.  The cemetery is mostly 18th century and is so interesting.

There are graves and catacombs all throughout the churchyard.  It was fun exploring.

Here is the newer Edgar Allan Poe marker.  It's on the corner by the street and has easier access for visitors.

Isn't it an unusual cemetery?  And the graves were willy nilly all over the place. 

Here's the original burial place for Poe.  You can see that visitors have left tokens at the stone recently. 

There are a number of prominent people who were buried in the cemetery.  Historical markers are dotted throughout.

And then look at this section - it actually tunnels under the church.  There are even graves located beneath in the crawlspace. 
It was a memorable ending to a full day.  And all three of the boys loved this cemetery the most. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

A Day in Baltimore

We headed north for a couple of days last week.  We spent a day in Baltimore.  I wanted to take the boys to the National Aquarium.  Here they are petting horse shoe crabs and stingray.

There was also a tank full of jellyfish to pet.  Even though we got there right when they opened at 9 am, it was still busy.

I've always like these fish.  They seem friendly and kind of have a smiley look to them.

In the Amazon section.  This aquarium is huge and wraps around and around.  There is so much to see.

Maryland is well known for its crab cakes, so we had to take a break from the aquarium for lunch at Phillips.

Only Reid will eat crab cakes (despite Cort's drawing).  But he was suitably impressed.

After finishing up the aquarium, we found a fun playground.  Tunnels and merry go rounds.

And stretches of music making instruments.  We spent some time hanging out here. 
As fun as it was, none of this was the boys' favorite thing we did in Baltimore.  Any guesses as to what was?  It'll surprise you.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beating the Heat with a Waterfall and a Mine

I've blogged about hiking to the Cascades before, but it was about 7 years ago.  We were overdue for a visit.  It's always much cooler there.  We left at around 6:30 in the morning to get an early start. 
 It can get crowded at the Cascades, but we timed it right and there weren't many people around.  It's a two mile hike to get to the falls.

 I have never been there when the water was warm.  Even though temps all week had been in the mid 90s, you can see from Cort's face that the water was shockingly cold.

 The falls are higher than they look in the pictures.  This one of Cort at the base gives you a better idea of their height. 

I fell on some wet rock steps on the hike back and busted my elbow.  While I tried to clean it up with a first aid kit, the boys discovered butterflies all over.  Here, Reid had two that landed on his hands. 

Aside from the crash down the steps, it was a fun hike.  Afterwards, we took a massive detour to go to the Beckley Coal Mine Expedition.  I had fond memories of a visit there with my cousins when I was a kid.  Here are the boys getting ready to ride down into the mine.
I think the boys were impressed by the history on our tour.  They asked a lot of questions.  It was a full day, but one we all enjoyed. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

My Kids Didn't Know About Tubing

We decided to take the boys tubing for father's day.  Paul and I hadn't been since the mid 90s, so we were pretty excited for a relaxing day on the Pigg River.  We were alarmed to discover that morning that our kids didn't even know what tubing was!  We had to explain to them about the intertubes they would float on and the river.

The water was a little chilly initially, but it was a warm day so it felt refreshing.  We had a short hike to the spot where we put in.

All smiles and ready to go!  The water was flowing gently.  There were one or two spots you had to walk a few steps, but overall it was perfect.  We saw frogs, a turtle, and three snakes.

It took about 90 minutes total to float the whole stretch.  Here we are at the end. 
It was a really fun experience, and the boys are all begging to return.  Turns out they are big fans of tubing!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Rising 6th Grader

Yesterday was Pierce's 5th grade graduation.  It's hard to believe we have a middle schooler now.

For Pierce, the highlight of the day was getting to go up in the ceiling crawl space of the school.  He's been asking the P.E. teacher, Mr. Banks, to go up there since he was in Pre-K.  Mr. Banks always told him he would show him what was up there on the last day of 5th grade.

Pierce got to take a few of his friends up the ladder to walk to cat walk.  It sounded like a herd of elephants in the ceiling.  He was so thrilled to get up there.

We are excited to see what adventures middle school holds next year.  Most people don't seem to have the best memories of the awkward middle school years.  But Pierce has always been such a happy, curious kid, who adores learning and school, so we are hoping he will thrive there. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sima's Home

I posted back in January about finding Sima for the boys to have a kid-friendly horse.  We did a three month free lease to make sure that he was the right horse for us (and that his owner, who loves him dearly, felt he was going to be the right semi-retirement home for him).  I think everyone involved has been thrilled with the situation, and this week we are making it official.

Sima is enjoying a slower, rural lifestyle.  He no longer is part of a show barn life, or spending his weekends doing eventing.  He has fully embraced this muddier, lazier way of living.

The boys adore him.  He's a gentleman for their rides.  They are practicing the basics right now, like trying to learn how to post to the trot.

And I enjoy him, too!  I've been taking him on trail rides, and sometimes do a little jumping.  Last week I showed Pierce how to use the good camera, and he worked on getting action shots.  I took three fences, and Pierce caught two of them just right. 

It's been a long time since I've jumped much, or worked with a trainer.  It's good for me to see the pictures to pick out my flaws.  I got a tad left behind on this one.

Compared to Francie, he's an easy going, straightforward ride.  He's very sensitive to cues - like changing diagonals or asking for leads.

Riding him makes me feel like a teenager again.  It's such a treat to ride a more finished horse. 

But this is the best part of it - he's gentle with the boys, trustworthy.  And here's my photographer.  Didn't he do a wonderful job?

We all look forward to more rides with Sima.  Once the boys are more balanced, I'm hoping we can even do some trail rides on our land.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Singin' in the Rain

Last December, Cort auditioned for a part in Singin' in the Rain.  It had been a while since he'd done any tap dancing, but he was thrilled to get the part of "Young Cosmo" despite that. 

The production ran for three nights last week.  It was put on by a local performing arts high school.  I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I was by the teenagers in the show.  They could sing and dance and act with the best!  The grand finale was spectacular!  Even after all the practices and performances, I never got tired of it.

And all the teens were extra nice to Cort and helped showed him the ropes.  He sure had a good time.  His new friend, "Young Don", who danced with him in the show, told him about another audition for a different musical coming up.  Cort is interested in doing another.  Me?  I may just need a couple of months to recover...but I certainly did enjoy seeing Singin' in the Rain!