Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 5 & 6 - Cake Decorating and more Bike Riding

The week started just like any other - waking up to this furry friend cuddled up in my bed.  He is totally spoiled, and he hogs the bed and snores and wakes me up at night to go outside and pee.  But I love him anyway.  

I had a doctor appointment.  I was about 8 weeks pregnant, but I just didn't feel pregnant and in my gut I knew something was wrong.  Sure enough when I went in for an ultrasound, it showed a gestational sac, but no embryo.  The doctor told me my dates might be off and that the baby just hadn't grown enough yet to be seen on ultrasound.  I was scheduled to come back in a week.  But I knew my dates were right and I knew this was another failed pregnancy.  I hate that I have to deal with this overcrowded parking garage and pay for parking every time.  Too bad that's not even the worst part.  

I took Isaac for a haircut.  I meant to snap a before and after photo, but I only got the before!  His hair had grown quite long and I kept teasing him that he was like a shaggy dog.

For our activity this week the Laurels requested to learn some cake decorating skills from Suzy Neeves.  Suzy went to school to be a pastry chef, so her skills are pretty impressive.  I think I was maybe more excited for the activity than the girls.  We had a cake decorating activity when I was in YW and it's one of the few that I actually remember.  (Amy, do you remember your family came to visit from Nebraska that week and I think I decorated my cake to say "Welcome Casebolts" or something like that.  I remember your mom was so impressed by that cake.  Ha!)

Sydney, Sam, and Gloria with their cakes.

That's my cake in front.  Suzy taught us how to make different kinds of flowers.

My cute friend Suzy and her beautiful cake.

I don't remember how or why we got started, but Luke and I count dogs every morning on the way to preschool.  We live 2 miles into our subdivision, so when driving out we always pass several dogs out on their morning walks.  We have names for most of them - Furry Face, Shorty, Sniffy No Tail, etc.  On the road that leads to Luke's school there is some farm land and occasionally we see the tractor out on the road.  And on that tractor there is also a dog!  Sometimes he rides in the seat up front, sometimes on top of a load of rocks or hay in the trailer, sometimes sitting inside the front shovel.  His name is Tractor Dog and it's always a good day if we see him.  On this day I had already dropped Luke off, but then I saw the tractor coming and I hurried to snap a picture so I could show Luke after school.  It's totally blurry, but I want to keep this memory of our dog counts & Tractor Dog.  

And here's Luke after school with one of his Trio block creations.  Probably some sort of a gun or blaster.  We have a no gun rule, but boys will be boys.

We didn't make it to the bike park on Saturday, but after some yard work we got Luke out on Isaac's old bike with training wheels.  He had fun just going up and down the sidewalk.

And pretending to fall off and be dead.  He is such a ham sometimes!

The Bermuda grass that everyone has around here goes dormant in the winter.  If you roll in it, you get covered in dead grass that sticks to your clothes like a magnet.  Charlie pulled out the leaf blower to help get the grass off of Luke's pants.  He and Conner (our neighbor) thought it was hilarious and kept asking to get blown over and over again.

Sunday was the Super Bowl!  I normally don't care much about football, but for the past few weeks all of Georgia has been on a high about the Falcons going to the Super Bowl.  I was admittedly pretty excited about it myself.  We had "appetizer dinner" and watched together as a family.  The boys loved the commercials and the Lady Gaga half time show.  It was an exciting game and the Falcons had a big lead during the first half.  Every time we would cheer poor Cracker would get so nervous.  He crawled up on the back of the couch and hid behind my neck whenever it got too loud.  Nerdy dog.  Unfortunately, the Patriots made a big come back and the game went into overtime.  The Patriots also won the coin toss and took the ball, and the win.  We were so bummed!

Luke had a dentist appointment.  He hadn't been in a little over a year because the last one was so traumatic.  Luckily he did much better this time.  He has a pretty sensitive little mouth, and I could tell he was hating the whole thing (he kept wiggling his little legs and gripping the seat).  I was proud of him for holding it together so well.  

Somehow Luke ended up with my phone on the way home from school.  He snapped this photo (and about 100 more) while we were driving home.  That's Towne Lake Pkwy, and just a few of the millions of trees that we have here in Georgia.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Week 4 - Pinewood Derby and Bike Riding

I finished my second book this year in just a few days.  Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan.  It's about a young journalist living in NYC who has a sudden and bizarre breakdown caused by a rare autoimmune disease.  It was fascinating to hear her story and to also learn the medical science and explanations about everything that happened to her brain & body during that time.  I couldn't put it down.  (I was little concerned about the language in the first chapter, but it quickly got cleaner as she lost her mind.  Ha!)

For our YW activity this week the Laurels had planned to play tennis.  Kara plays for her high school and has a tennis scholarship for college next year, so she was our instructor for the evening.  We went to the Eagle Watch courts to play - Kara versus Gloria and I.  Though I was pretty terrible, I did better than anticipated and had a lot of fun too.  It had been years and years since I'd played tennis and I was surprised how much skill is involved.  I got some good pointers from Kara and improved my game at least slightly by the end of the evening.  

Charlie is the Scout Committee Chair for our ward, which means he oversees the Cub & the Boy Scout programs.  We went to the church on Friday night to help set up the Pinewood Derby track.  The boys were playing some kind of farting game with balloons to pass the time while the adults worked.

Saturday was the much anticipated race.  We bought pre-cut cars from Hobby Town because Charlie is not really a tool guy and doesn't have the right kind of saw.  The boys chose their paint colors and decals.  Isaac's car was called "The Golden Eagle" and Luke called his car "The Flame Thrower." He didn't like the extra weights I glued onto it, but when we tested it the night before it was way too light and wouldn't even make it to the end of the track.

Isaac's car won third place!  He was super proud because last year his car came in dead last in almost every heat.  The Willy Wonka chocolate bar car won first and I think the red car with the Lego driver came in second. 

Next it was time for the sibling race.  It's actually called the Outlaw Race and any car can participate, with no rules or restrictions.  Luke was probably more excited than Isaac was about the Pinewood Derby.  His car had been super slow the night before during test runs, but after Charlie made some adjustments to the wheels, and we added some weights and graphite powder, it sped up quite a bit.  Luke's car came in second and he was absolutely thrilled with his win and with his plastic medal.  

Of course we had to take a few photos in the winners circle photo booth afterwards.  

Later that afternoon we managed to load all four of our bikes into the back of our van, and drove up to a very flat park in Canton to do some bike riding.  We live in a super hilly neighborhood which makes it nearly impossible to ride bikes around - especially the beach cruisers with no gears that Charlie & I have. 

Before we left California Isaac was riding on two-wheels really well, but then he had a fall and refused to ride again.  We had made a few half-hearted attempts since we moved of getting him to ride, but hadn't really pushed him again.  Until now.  We let him make a lap with his training wheels first, and then Charlie took them off.  Isaac did great!  It took him a few minutes to get going, but then he was off!  

We had invited our neighbors to go with us.  I think it helped that their son Conner, who is seven, is riding well.  That was a little more motivation for Isaac to ditch the training wheels.  

Bike Riding 1.28.17 from Carrie Wood on Vimeo.

The park is really great because it's completely flat and has about two miles worth of paved trails that loop around.  It was a great place for Isaac to practice and I loved being on my bike again after so long.  We really need to invest in a trailer though because cramming those bikes into the van was quite the feat.

We had brought a bike for Luke that a friend had given us, but once we got to the park we realized that the chain was stuck.  So Luke rode his scooter and we'll work on bike riding with him next time.

Week 3 - Amicalola Falls and Crab Legs

The boys had Monday off of school for Martin Luther King Day.  I had been wanting to hike Amicalola Falls for awhile, and it seemed like the perfect day for an adventure (well, except for the rain in the forecast).  We set out early on our drive and the boys were not very excited about my plans for the day.  It was about an hour drive up to the park and then just a two-mile round trip hike to the top of the falls and back.

The trail is meant to be hiked going up the waterfall, so that you can see the entire thing from the base and then choose how high up you want to climb.  Well I must have gotten confused and taken a wrong turn right from the start, because we ended up hiking the back trail all of the way up instead.  I kept thinking we should have been able to see the waterfall by now, and it wasn't until about 1/2 mile up that I realized we were going the wrong way.  We decided to just keep going.  I pointed out this cool tree that had somehow grown to the side & then back up.  Isaac wanted to take a photo to pretend like he was holding it up.

When we finally made it to the top, the boys were quite underwhelmed.  I pointed out the parking lot below to show them how far up we had come.  

We began climbing down all of the stairs that we were meant to climb up, and finally got a view of the waterfall. I had to start bribing the boys with drinks and snacks to get them to smile for photos.  

After every few flights of stairs there would be a landing with seating to rest or take in the views.  Luke's little legs started to give out after awhile.  I was surprised to feel my calves get a bit shaky towards the end. 

The total height of Amicalola Falls is 729 feet, making it the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi.  I'd love to go back again in the spring when everything is green and the water is flowing a bit more.  Still, it was an impressive waterfall and a fun hike.  Though I'd go up the right way next time!

Once we were past the falls and headed back towards the visitor center, Luke had a little fall and scraped up the palms of his hands just a bit.  We made a bit of a detour off the side of the trail to rinse his hands in the cool stream and let the boys play on the rocks a bit.  They loved jumping from rock to rock across the water, and picking up the smaller ones to throw in and make a splash. 

There were several playground areas back near the visitor center, so we spent some time playing for a bit.  Inside the center they had a section of live reptiles - mostly snakes and a turtle or too.  Luke had seen a display of stuffed birds before the hike and had not stopped asking for one.  That is until he saw the stuffed snakes!  Isaac has a stuffed snake that he got years ago during a visit to the San Diego Zoo, and Luke has always been envious of it.  Well today was his lucky day I guess because I gave in and bought him his very own snake.  Isaac was content with a push-pop.

Before our hike that day I had told the boys we would get a treat afterwards.  I had packed lunches for each of us, which we ate during the drive home.  Then we stopped at Menchie's once we were back in Woodstock.  (Double dose of ice cream for Isaac, but he didn't mind one bit.)  Luke always finishes first and then asks to go draw on the big chalkboard.

Charlie had been on a business trip for a few days and while out at a store one night found a display of Lego sets on clearance.  We typically don't buy our boys toys on a whim, but Charlie decided to bring them each home a Lego set.  Luke wanted to build his right away when he came home from school. (He is also quick to change into his "comfy" clothes everyday immediately after school.)  He still needs a lot of help, but is getting much better at following the instructions and building on his own.

Our Ward had an emergency prep fair and the Young Women were asked to make a video demonstrating how to turn off household utilities.  I was not the one filming, so I didn't have a lot to work with, but managed to put together a decent video nonetheless.

YW Utilities from Carrie Wood on Vimeo.

In Luke's preschool class they have a big stoplight with red, yellow, and green lights.  If the boys stay on green all week then they get to choose something out of the treasure box on Friday.  This week Luke chose a red plastic heart necklace to give to me.  I was totally charmed and flattered by my sweet boy and his choice to pick something for me rather that himself.  I wore my new necklace with pride for the rest of the day.

One of my goals for the year is to read more books, and I finished my first one this week.  Andy Warhol was a Hoarder by Claudia Kalb.  It's a collection of essays analyzing possible mental disorders of famous personalities throughout history.  It was a fascinating read and I enjoyed learning the history of people such as Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Darwin, Fydor Dostoyevsky, Christine Jorgensen, and Betty Ford.

On Saturday we drove down the Barrett Pkwy to go to Hobby Town.  The Pinewood Derby is coming up and Charlie likes to get the boys cool decals and accessories for their cars.  After shopping we decided to stop for lunch at Red Lobster.  We haven't eaten at a Red Lobster in at least ten years, so the boys had never been.  Isaac is a seafood lover and was so excited to see king crab legs on the kids menu.

Charlie had to help him quite a bit to crack the shells and pull the meat out, but Isaac thought it was the coolest thing ever - especially the one with the claw on the end.  Something tells me it won't be another ten years before we go back.