Sunday, January 4, 2015

(2014 Replay) Odds and Ends

To complete the recap of 2014, here are some random pictures that were too good not to share.

Livingston Park, post water play and the Good Humor man

The Janney Jammers soccer team
Beauvoir Park the rope bridge and Jackson
At the Bowie Baysox game
Best Father's Day gift from Jackson
Parenting 101
More Lincoln! This time in DC
Taking in the Geico building
Happy at Panera

Ella as the queen, with a cupcake. Bliss

We got a free piano off the school listserv
A fun weekend trip to Luray Caverns
 with friends from school
A ropes course at Luray
The Janney Jammers go orange
Halloween hugs
Ready to trick or treat
Mom selfie with Jackson's head wound from the Luray trip
Blogging is exhausting
(this looks a lot worse than it was)

(2014 Replay) June, July, August

Next on our replay tour through 2014, it's time for summer, June, July and August.

There's a lot to cover here; ready? let's go.

Early in the summer we took a (very) long drive to upstate New York and Racketty-Packetty with Arianne's manager (and friend) Abby and some other co-worker friends. Racketty-Packetty, named after the children's book, is a rambling old fishing shack on Lake Erie that was gradually built up and has been in Abby's family for many years.

It was a great old place and Jella ran around the grounds and on the beach. We had a cook out, a big bonfire and a canoe ride. It was relaxing and a rare treat to have a place where Jackson and Ella could run free.

Where there's a dog, Ella wants to hug it

July 4th
Chevy Chase Village, where my parent's live had a nice parade and celebration in the park. Jackson and Ella were in their patriotic finest, complete with drum and maracas ...because America :)

Bethany Beach
When I was but a wee lad, my family's summer tradition was to spend a week or two at the Sea Colony resort in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Jump into pools, build sand castles, go the boardwalk and eat funnel cake with my Dad, play games at the arcade with my brother, annoy my sister, the things memories are made of.

This year we restarted that tradition and went with my parents to Bethany for a few days. The kids loved it; give them a pool and they are happy, then you add in flying a kite, running into the ocean, building a sand fort with Dad and a few treats on the boardwalk and all was well. With the slight exception that Ella gulped some pool water and caught something. Which as you'll see was a theme (sick kids while travelling). She did OK during the day, but had a lot of trouble sleeping at night.

Getting ready for that bad gulp :(

A boy and his kite

5th Birthday
For Jackson and Ella's 5th birthday we hosted their Pre-K classmates who were in town for a dual themed party. The two themes were Star Wars and Frozen. You get one guess as to who picked which theme.

To accommodate our two different themes, Arianne decorated our front room and our living room, one for each theme. Up front was Frozen, with ice themed decorations and a tiara making station. In back was Star Wars with Star Wars posters and masks. Even the snacks were themed. Yoda Soda, a green fizzy mix, was a big hit, along with Frozen Melted Ice. The cupcakes were adorned with rings for each theme and colors picked by Ella and Jackson.

The activity for Star Wars was supposed to be constructing and customizing foam light sabers. Instead it became a light saber war in the backyard. Which I think suited everyone just fine. Glad we decided against wooden light sabers (just kidding). The final piece of a fun afternoon was Jella in costume as Luke Skywalker and Elsa.

Along with the party at our house, we had a smaller gathering at Grandma and Grandpa Miller's house.

Summer Trek
A big part of our summer fun was a long trip to the Midwest and California to see friends and family. I flew into Chicago for a few days, while Arianne took the kids out ahead of me, starting in St. Louis.

In St. Louis, Arianne, Jackson and Ella saw the Glodecks, where they visited and went out for some Ted Drewes famous custard.

Next up was Springfield, Illinois, Arianne's hometown. While there Arianne got in some time with her best friend Rikki, went to the local water park (Knight's) and even got in some history touring the Lincoln sites. Which coincidentally, I still haven't seen. I made one comment the first time I ever went to Springfield with Arianne that I didn't want to spend the whole time visiting Lincoln sites and I've been shut out ever since.

While on the way up to meet me in Chicago, Arianne and Jella stopped in Bloomington to see the Sohn's and their three boys.

Once in Chicago, Arianne continued the trek without me for a little while longer, visiting fellow Northwestern alum and friend Alison and her boys, then visiting another NU alum bestie Alicia in Evanston and taking the kids around the beach and campus of Northwestern.

With the North Shore tour complete, Arianne took Ella and Jackson to the Field Museum in Chicago, with a stop at the famous bean along the way. At the museum she met with up with another Springfield product and close friend, Amy and her son Matthew.

At this point, I joined the party and we were off to start the second leg of our adventure. It was off to Granger, Indiana and the environs of Notre Dame to see Arianne's cousin Mitzi, her husband Jim and their kids, Mia, Tyler and Allie. All the kids got along so well, it was great to see. They really liked going to a minor league baseball game at night. We stayed a few days and it was sad to have to go, but we are so happy that Jackson and Ella got a chance to get to know their cousins a bit more.

With South Bend in the rear view mirror, we dashed over to O'Hare (spending the night with the Nieto's in River Forest first) and got on a plane to California. First up was San Diego, were Arianne and I spent a few years while I was on a long term project for work.

San Diego is beautiful year round and it didn't disappoint. We got in a lot of good beach time, took the kids to Coronado Island and tried to hit up our favorite restaurants and cookie places (Biff's). At this point the wheels started coming off the wagon a bit as Jackson's asthma kicked in and he wasn't quite right for the remainder of the trip. He was a trooper, but was definitely lagging.

While in San Diego, we went to Sea World; a mostly good experience but blazing hot and humid and I ended up feeling sick after a lively spinning teacup ride (that sentence was a bit painful to write, but the truth hurts sometime).

The Hotel Del Coranado

After San Diego, it was up to the LA area for the final leg. While in LA we visited with my sister, her husband and their kids, Madeline and Alex. Again, the cousins hit it off great and everyone played nicely together. While in LA we also saw our friends and ex-neighbors Nathan and Christina who dropped by our rental place to hang out and catch up over pizza. Continuing a theme, we went to the Santa Monica pier, which the kids and Arianne loved and which I had to sit out most of with my new-found theme park ride queasiness.

Checking out Jon and Cat's Tesla

On the carousel at Santa Monica pier
And after all of that, back onto a plane across the country to DC and home sweet home. Where Arianne and I basically collapsed into a heap for a while. And got ready for school to start back up again. Kindergarten!