Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pinewood Derby 2012

Third time is the charm!
This was Connor's third Pinewood Derby and he had not done very well in the past, but he always had a smile on his face and was a great sport. So of course on our way to the church to take part in the racing we had a discussion about good sportsmanship, win or lose. Thinking that the car would follow the path of previous years I focused heavily on the being a good sport if you lose. 
To our astonishment Connor and his "corvette" car did great. He placed second and was thrilled with his victory, and thankfully was as good a winner as he had been when he was the loser. 

Gage is SIX

My little buddy is growing up. Gage is the boy who loves to be with his mom, he constantly wants to snuggle with me, read to me, generally just hang out with me. But with school, he has really started to grow up and thinks that he is getting to big for me. It's a sad day when that happens. 
I took him to lunch for his birthday and when I asked him to hold my hand to cross the road he replied, "Mom, I'm a big boy now and to old for that. I think I've got this."
I think I'll be hearing more and more of that from my little man. But he always follows up with hugs and kisses, although I know that he will soon think he is to big for that to. 
I love this little big boy. 

 I thought I'd make fun cupcakes for his birthday in lieu of a cake. When I unveiled my creation to him, thinking he would jump for joy, he simply said, "Oh, those look neat. I was hoping they would be Pokemon." WHAT? Seriously?

We love our Gage and all his great qualities. He is a genuinely funny kid with charm and personality, he gets everyone under his spell somehow and gets favors from all. But he is one loyal guy, he is loyal to the end.
We love you Gage.

Battle of Antietam

With a free day on the long weekend we decided to pick back up on our sight seeing adventures. 

We chose to visit Antietam to learn the history of the Battle of Antietam (or the Battle of Sharpsburg if you are from the South). 

This was the bloodiest battle of the civil war and the first on Union Soil.  General Lee was looking for a victory on Union soil to give a boost to the Confederate cause after winning in Manassas, Virginia. A move to northern soil would also give some of the South time to harvest crops and salvage what they could of their war torn states. 
There were more American casualties on this day, September 17,1862 than any other day in military history. The Union troops equaled 75,500 and the Confederates had only 38,000. Neither side had any idea how many the other had, the Union had grossly overestimated how many Confederate soldiers there were and the Confederates had grossly under estimated the Union side. The battle lasted all day, civilians had fled their homes and farms to flee the fighting, many came home to find nothing, their homes burned, their fields and crops trampled and littered with dead from both sides, broken cannons, dead animals, absolute devastation. Many later wrote that when they returned home all they had to live on for several days were army rationed crackers that they were able to find left behind or found with the dead. 

 This is how Antietam looks today, not to different than it did in 1862. The same farms are there, re-built and occupied. It is quite a small area and hard to imagine over 100,000 troops flooding these fields and fighting. When I visit these places I am struck by the relatively small area and the very little amount of cover that any soldier would have had. Many of the fallen soldiers were killed in a small cornfield and a narrow stretch of land that came to be known as Bloody Lane.

 Above is Bloody Lane where many soldiers were killed. When walking and driving through these battlefields there are monuments everywhere, generally placed there by a state to commemorate and honor their soldiers who fought there.
Burnside's Bridge 
The last part of the battle occurred just over this bridge. The Confederates were located on the far side of this bridge, the Union where we stood to take this picture. The Confederates held the high ground and by all accounts had the upper hand here, but it was their last strong hold, their only way out of Antietam was to flee from this bridge and back across the Potomac three miles away. Ultimately that is what happened. The Union soldiers charged across this bridge, losing many on the way as they charged directly into the Confederate canons and barrage of gun fire. The Union took heavy casualties, some units suffering almost total losses. Total number of casualties for the day, 22,719 troops. It would take months to bury the dead. Some soldiers who fought here marched through on their way to battle one year later and recalled that they came upon remains after remains that were buried in hasty shallow graves and were now being exposed, it was very haunting for many of them.

What a great place to live, I feel like we are living in history's back yard.

No School

The school district had a teacher work day last week and we decided to take the morning and visit the Air & Space Museum near our house and use up our IMAX tickets we had been holding on to for quite some time. We went to watch Fighter Pilots. The boys were excited, the girls questioned whey there were not princesses in the movie. I now have at least two boys who want to fly fighter jets. 

 The boys were all enthralled with this exhibit, it had several artifacts that were used during the Vietnam war. But this is what they were all interested in ...
The "doggy doo" transmitter. That's right, a transmitter that is camouflaged to look like doggy doo, no one would suspect a transmitter encased in dog poop so apparently it was quite effective. Of all the awesome planes, spaceships, etc the museum had to offer, this was the most popular item, and probably the smallest in the entire museum.

Double Digits for Connor

This boy is 10 - not that I needed to tell you, I think you can tell by how cool he is in all his pictures. For some reason when a boy is double digits they feel the need to make silly faces and act cool for all pictures taken of themselves. Oh how fun our birthday photo shoot is going to be. 

For the third year in a row Ryan was out of town for Connor's birthday. But he was the cool dad who took the boys and a few of Connor's friends to play laser tag before heading out of town. 
Connor vacillates between thinking he is pretty darn awesome at everything and feeling like he isn't good at anything. Thankfully he spends more time feeling he is awesome. 
He is super helpful around the house and begs me to be able to babysit. On a few occasions we have been leaving him to tend the kids while we do a few errands and we come home to find the house clean and the kids peacefully playing together, what a nice break!
Connor continues to be a great student, earning top grades in everything. He loves sports and begs us to sign him up for tackle football. I suppose it is time. He is growing up much to quickly for my liking. 
Happy birthday Connor, we sure do love you. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tate - 0 Asphalt - 1

Tate has always been our competitive child. He competes with himself over everything, always trying to be better. In preparation for his first real basketball game he decided to practice outside in the driveway before his game. He worked and worked, dribbled, shot, etc. Some of the neighborhood kids joined him, he always plays with the older kids to challenge himself a little more.This day was no different.
At some point he tripped over his own two feet while holding the ball and his cute little face is what broke his fall. He didn't want to drop the ball and have the other kids get it and score while he was down. His poor face took a beating. He howled like I've never heard him howl. I had just stepped out of the shower and heard him running into the house with the neighbor kids screaming, "Tate is covered in blood!" There was quite the excitement at our house. His face was a mess, there was blood everywhere with a trail all the way up the driveway and into the house. 
We got him cleaned up enough to see that we should probably take him in to be checked out. What I thought would be a quick visit for some glue and flushing the asphalt out of the many cuts and scrapes. We were sent to the ER for and MRI to rule out facial and nose fractures, etc. 
He ended up with a clean bill of health, but missed his game in the mean time. But there have been some upsides, girls fawning over him, giving him all sorts of attention and scabs to pick to look at under the microscope. I like a kid who can look on the positive side of things!

What a handsome boy! He ended up with two black eyes and lots of swelling, but he's looking more like normal now. 

Prima Ballerina

McCall has started dance classes. 
She has been so excited to be a ballerina. Grandma Gulbranson bought her her first leotard for her birthday and she has been anxious to wear it!

Let's hope she is more graceful than her mother who was persuaded, gently, to pursue t-ball or soccer in lieu of being a ballerina. Turns out, it was good advice for me. 

Botanical Gardens

We had been told by many that the Botanical Gardens in Washington D.C. are a must see during the holiday season. I looked forward to it until we could finally get there. 
It wasn't disappointing. Each year is a different theme. 
This year historic and iconic buildings throughout DC and the rest of America were featured. Each was made completely out of organic plants. It was absolutely amazing, what talent. The kids were in awe with the model trains weaving in and out of the displays. They loved seeing all of the buildings and monuments that we have been seeing all over DC represented.

 The Capitol

 Smithsonian Castle
 The White House

Christmas Day 2011

Christmas morning came, we waited and waited and waited, until I could wait no longer. 
I figured the kids would be up nice and early and I wanted to see their faces when they saw the tree and presents and stockings. So Ryan and I wrapped the kids door so there would be no sneaking out.
But by 7:30 when they were still sleeping we thought we had better wake them up. With 9:00 church and needing breakfast before hand we were running out of time. 
The kids raced down stairs and opened up their stockings before having breakfast and heading to church. 
It was one of the nicest Christmas mornings we have ever had. 

Christmas Eve PJ's

Christmas Eve tradition - pajama's.
This is probably my favorite tradition from my childhood, I don't know why, but I loved coming home from Grandma's house after stuffing ourselves on a grand Christmas dinner to find warm Christmas pajama's to put on. Maybe because it felt like we were kicking off the festivities just a little early, but to this day, I love this tradition. 

 We also opened gifts from each other on Christmas Eve. The kids were so excited to get the gift exchange going. It was quite fun to go shopping with them as they thoughtfully picked out presents that they really felt the other would like. I love this time of year!

 Santa dropped off his yearly letter, largely ignored by most of the children until the chaos and excitement has died down slightly. 
Awaiting the children.