Saturday, November 8, 2014

October 2014

October was a month in which we spent 11 days on the road, a 5 day trip to Oklahoma and a 6 day trip to Arlington, VA.  The trips put another 3000 miles on our faithful Town & Country Minivan and bracketed the birthdays of 4 generations.  In Oklahoma we met with Max’s family to celebrate her father’s 90th birthday and Fay’s 80th birthday, both on October 2.  Mary, Max’s sister came in from Sanibel, FL and Max’s brother Frank, his wife Nancy and their daughter Piper her husband Cory and Fay's son Steve were all there.  The main celebration took place with a celebratory dinner that included the family and many of Frank and Fay’s close friends.

The whole group

Left to right:  Steve, Frank, Max, Frank Sr, Mary and Fay

170 Years Young

Our second trip to Virginia was to catch up with Clint, Marianne and our four growing grandchildren.  We were about a week late for Amelia’s 2nd birthday, but a two year old is always ready to open packages and her siblings (mostly Weiler) are all too happy to help her play with her new stuff.  Amelia, who most often prefers to be known as Mimi, a name provided to her early in life by her siblings,  is particularly attracted to armadillos at this time in her life.  This birthday provided two stuffed armadillos and several books about armadillos.  Unfortunately, no armadillo pictures, but we did get a preview of Weiler's and Mimi's  Halloween costumes:  the Blue Ninja and the Pirate.

Whenever we are with Marianne we are always busy.  This family stays on the move taking advantage of all that the Washington D.C. area has to offer.  This week was no exception.  We arrived on Wednesday late afternoon and since Clint had class that night, we had dinner at a local Lebanese restaurant.  Who knew these kids would like Hummus and Shawarma?   

On Thursday I was conscripted to participate in one of Reeder’s school programs that has monthly morning meetings called “Planet Partners”.  That week the focus was” habitats” and the activity was to learn what makes a good habitat and then identify those qualities for something living in the school yard.  I got a group of 2nd graders and we ventured out.  It seemed the focus was on animals, but my group first was interested in mushrooms and then settled on a pine tree.  Couldn’t have been a better choice as far as I was concerned.  We left the school and picked up Max, Mimi and Hayes (Hayes had run a fever the day before and had to stay out of school) and all left for the American History Museum.

We always seem to visit the remains of the battered Flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write what would become our National Anthem.  Yes, that's us under the metal representation of the flag just outside the room where the flag resides.  Pictures not allowed inside.

We had lunch at the museum's cafeteria and the only reason to discuss this is to have a reason to put in this picture of Mimi working through an ear of corn.

The American History Museum has lots of interesting stuff, but it also has simulators.  Hayes and Weiler needed to do a simulator, but they also needed someone to go with them because they were younger than the museum allowed without an adult.  Marianne quickly declined and Max wasn't about to get inside a simulator, so there was only one other person of sufficient age.  And who could say no to these two?

So, yes we did the simulator that is called "Robots of Mars" and involves taking you on something like a virtual roller coaster as you fly over, under, around and through an array of objects including into the mouth of a giant robot and then eventually out of its "bottom" opening.  And yes,  it was not only motions simulated but also in 3D.

When in Virginia, Max and I always stay at a hotel.  The military allowance Clint gets for housing in the D.C area doesn't provide for any more space than is absolutely necessary.  These are the Marines after all, and if you haven’t noticed, the Marine bases are always camps, not forts (Camp Lejeune, Camp Pendleton etc.) and although they don’t live in a tent, rental homes in the D.C. cost a lot and provide little.  Consequently, when we visit we stay in hotels rather than bunking up with the kids or sleeping on the couches.  One advantage our hotel stay provides is hotel rooms with two bed so that each night we take one of the Kappel kids to the hotel with us and also to dinner at a local diner where they serve a wide variety of kid dining (the Silver Diner in Tysons Corner: .   To our surprise, Weiler was brave enough to join us this year for his first sleep over, and he was amazing given that just last July he didn’t think he would stay with us until he was much, much older.  Below, Weiler getting ready for  his first hotel sleep over.

Weiler enjoyed Macaroni and Cheese with a hot dog for dinner and then watched a number of Disney shows in the hotel room until bedtime.  As you can see, bedtime can be whenever you get tired.

On Friday it was decided to visit a pumpkin patch, walk a corn maize, and sample the fall cuisine of pumpkin donuts.  After a drive to a farm in Maryland we arrived to find that the maize would not open until 5:00 that evening and that most of the things to do were not available.   After consultation and considering the drive time to get there, we decided to stay and do what we could.   There were a couple of thing to do, even though they were pretty disappointing and certainly not worth the entrance fee.  The hay ride tractor wasn't running so this had to be good enough

There weren't any animals we could get close to, but we did have this bale of hay with plastic horns attached and a lasso to practice roping skills.  And that was about as good as it got.

It was pretty much of a bust and on our way out Max complained to the owner and the entrance fee was refunded.  

But I do have to put in this picture of Mimi, just because it really shows who Mimi is becoming:  a laid back, mind of her own little girl who is just enjoying this ride.

Hayes stayed with us the second night and decided on breakfast for dinner at the diner.  He had pancakes, eggs and sausage and then watched James and the Giant Peach in the hotel on Max’s laptop.

He still wasn't feeling great and was still having bouts of low level fevers, but its always nice to have our undivided attention and get a book read to him by Grama Max at bed time.

Saturday started with Reeder’s morning soccer game.  Arlington has some amazing soccer fields with state of art artificial grass and lighted fields.  One nice thing about having a 300 mm zoom lens is that I can sit on the sidelines and get good action shots of the game. 

Saturday afternoon the adults settled in to watch Oklahoma’s loss to Kansas State on the football field.  It wasn't pretty because in this game they didn't get beat, but rather beat themselves.

On Reeder’s night with us she settled for a hamburger (meat, bun and ketchup) with a side of fries and a Chunky Monkey milk shake to go and enjoy while watching Mary Poppins with Max.  Nothing like a spoon full of sugar to make the night go well.  Along with their movie, Max and Reeder worked on their knitting projects.

Sunday was picture day in an attempt to get some good images of the whole Kappel clan for their Christmas card this year.  It’s always a challenge to get four kids and two adults to all look pretty at the same time my shutter clicks, especially  when two of those kids are ages 2 and 4 and don’t really  want to be involved in this process.   I can’t reveal anything about the setting other than the site and props used in the setting well describe the routine of their life while in the D.C. area this past year.  You will all just have to wait to see how it is represented assuming any of these pictures are ultimately utilized.

It was nice to get home and settle back into our routine.  The one last event of the month was Halloween.  We were out of town the last two years on Halloween.  We do get a lot of kids from the neighborhood as well as surrounding neighborhoods.  Our favorite “trick or treaters” were Sarah, Deseree and Anthony.  They might have gotten a little more candy than some of the others.