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Saturday, September 21, 2013


Me and him.

So today is our 11 year wedding anniversary. It's been pouring rain, so obviously this photo wasn't taken today. Although it was taken by Lauren earlier this summer at the Zoar Harvest Festival. I wish I had something more exciting to report, but basically we've spent the entire day at home with just about every kid in the neighborhood, boys and girls from ages 7 to 13, in the house (Good thing I've stocked up on antibacterial wipes). I told Mark that the parallel universe version of us must be having an epic day. Actually, our plans for the rest of the evening including eating pizza and watching the movie Epic. So there you go.

Him and me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Summer fun.

Pool side.

I realized that I never shared photos of some of the other fun stuff that we did this summer. And since Sunday is the first day of Fall, I had better get to it.

Lauren love the slide at the North Park pool.

Lauren really progressed with her swimming skills this summer. For the last several years, I've been freaking out about Lauren learning how to swim because kids in our school district have to take swimming at school beginning in 4th grade. This is most certainly a by product of my our personal horror of having to take swimming at school in 7th grade. She had taken a few swimming lessons over the past two years, but they hadn't really gotten her all that far. Mark has insisted that lessons were worthless, and that she'd learn on her own.

Coming off the slide.

And to my vexation, Mark was right. This summer she boldly jumped into deep water (over and over again), and swam the length of the pool at the hotel where we stayed in Alexandria. She also first experienced the the joy of going down the water slide. I think if we can just convince her not hold her nose, she'll be golden.

 Mark's perfect form.

Some one else also experienced the joys of the water slide this summer. Look at that perfect form!

 Hang ten.

Show off.


Of course, no summer would be complete without a trip to Kennywood.


It's hard for me to believe that Lauren is now tall enough to ride just about everything in the park. This year, she took her first rides on The Thunderbolt and the Racer.


Log Jammer.

Bayern Kurve.

Here we are together on my all-time favorite ride, the Bayern Kurve!  It's probably the last time she'll be seen with me, well enough actually ride with me.

Funnel cake.

Here's Mark observing Lauren's form as she chomps down on a delicious funnel cake. And hey people staring off wistfully in the background, no doubt pondering whether they should go with cheese or gravy on their Potato Patch fries - photo bomb much?

Water race.

Like most kids, when we go to an amusement park Lauren is obsessed with playing games and winning stuffies. We keep telling her that we'll just buy her one from the dollar store, but somehow that's not the same. 

We visited Kennywood on a weekday, so the crowds were all at work. The drawback to this is that there weren't enough people to play the water race game. There was a man and his small son waiting for someone to join, but the game required four people. So Mark took one for the team and paid for a spot.

Serious competition.

As you can see by the focused concentration on the faces of the combatants, everyone was in it to win (Take special note of Lauren and the man with his son). Mark blew everyone out of the water (pun intended) because his will to win his little girl a stuffie (Okay it was more his will to cease wasting money on stupid games) won out over any sympathy he felt for the man and his son.

Mama and baby ducks.

There was an adorable family of ducks swimming in Kennywood Lake that day. Everyone paid more attention to them than the cheesy hip hop dancers performing at the nearby entertainment pavilion.

The Whip.

Whip it good.

Whip it good!


I'm sorry to say Lauren that while you may be tall enough to ride most of the rides, you still have to wait a few years before you can grow a mustache.

 You'l need them.

This summer, we also toured many of the area's miniature golf courses. My favorite is at Glenn's Custard. While it isn't the best course (Although as you can see above, the water hazards are pretty cool), Glenn's Custard holds a special place for me. My family has been going there for generations, and I have memories of taking the ride out "to the country" with my grandparents to go get some custard. Oh, and their custard is ridiculously good. They still have the antique custard making machines. I love watching the custard get squeezed out like toothpaste. When we go to Glenn's, it's almost a given that I will get a tin roof sundae because theirs is the absolute best in the world:  chocolate custard, Hershey's syrup, loads and loads of Spanish peanuts, marshmallow sauce, whip cream and a cherry.

Mark's Trans Am once broke down in front of Glenn's. He reminds me about it every time we go.

Lauren putting.

 Mark putting.

Baby bunny.

And just because you gotta end strong, here's a baby bunny who hopped out onto the green.

So that's another summer come and gone. October is shaping up to be one busy month, and then it's holiday craziness AGAIN from November to the end of the year. Where did this year go?!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Well, that was easy.

Bicycling is right up her alley.

While I was making dinner tonight, Lauren taught herself how to ride a bike. It took all of five minutes.

The joy of riding.

And yes, I realize that she's riding without a helmet. We do have one, but like I said, she just took it upon herself to get on the bike and go! And like any good mother, I grabbed my camera instead of the helmet - lol.


Friday, September 13, 2013

3rd grade is finally here!

Finally the first day of 3rd grade. 

The strike is over, and now we have ourselves a bonafide third grader! Since she has her hoodie zipped up, you cannot see how carefully she and I color coordinated her outfit. We went with a four color sporty ensemble, made up of heather gray, purple, aqua and lime green. You have to take my word for it, but socks match as well. Lauren seemed pretty happy when she got home, in spite of the fact that she felt some of the effects of Friday, the 13th. She was assigned bathroom monitor, and she was dropped off earlier than usual at her bus stop. You would think this was a good thing because usually she is the last kid off the bus, but you see, aside from the extra socialization time, one of the extra perks of being the last kid off the bus is you get all the candy the bus driver has left.

Hangin with Mr. Sovek.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The littlest birthday girl.

The littlest birthday girl. Look who turned one today! I feel bad (That's a continuous theme here, isn't it?) that I didn't finish the 52 weeks Cookie project. I just got too far behind, and plus I spend too much time in front of the computer editing photos as it is (And that's in addition to hours I spend during the day in front a computer doing work for my real job). However, rest assured there will still be plenty of Cookie's adventures documented here in the years to come. Cookie made out like a bandit on her birthday, and received three new toys. Her human family enjoyed some cake in her honor.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The summer that never ends.

Happy to be free.

I missed the entire month of August, and I feel terrible about that. Time really gets away from me these days, and I don't know how to lasso it. Oh well - got to keep moving forward, right? Okay, not exactly. You see, we're still on summer vacation here because the teachers in our school district are on strike. So we're actually in a bit of a holding pattern. The latest that Lauren would return to school is September 24th, but we're really hoping it's earlier than that. Not only are we out of sorts due to being off schedule, the strike is counting against all the holiday time off during the school year. It's an all around bad situation, to say the least.

Anyway, during the week before Labor Day, we took a little trip to the Washington DC area. Five years had passed since our last visit, and this time around, Lauren was old enough to get it.


We tried to tailor our trip around Lauren's interests, so naturally that included a trip to the National Zoo. We were lucky to see one of the famous pandas, in part because the man in the information booth near the exhibit shouted,  "THE PANDAS ARE OUTSIDE!" everytime we walked by him.

Lauren's own personal panda.

Of course, Lauren's primary concern was to secure a panda of her own.

Meeting a new feathered friend.

She was so cute taking photos of just about every animal in every exhibit.

Gorilla time.

Monkeying around.

Row houses.

Once again, we stayed in the Old Town part of Alexandria, VA. I just love it there.

Walking the streets.

The houses on these streets are worth millions. Yes, millions. When I get some millions, I will buy one.


There's also a very different vibe in Alexandria than what we're used to here in the suburbs of Western PA. Plenty of nice shops (Like the awesome Paper Source!) and restaurants, all within walking distance. And everyone brings their dog everywhere.


Here's one of the original cobblestone streets from colonial days.

Happy family.

Alexandria also has a very happening waterfront area. Don't you love it with strangers offer to take your photo for you? I didn't even think twice about handing over my very expensive camera - lol.

 City of Alexandria.

 Boat on the Potomac.

 Old tombstones.

Because of its rich history, Old Town Alexandria is one of the most haunted places in the U.S. Lauren loves anything spooky (and is quite fearless when it comes to ghosts, monsters or anything supernatural), so we signed up for an evening ghost tour.

 Candi's Candies.

This is Candi's Candies, which in and of itself, is a very cool candy shop. It's also the most haunted building in town. I'd tell the tragic story myself, but I'd much rather leave it to our tour guide. You're not supposed to video tape him, but rules are made to be broken. I found this video of him on YouTube, and while it's a couple of years old, he looks exactly the same. He's even wearing the same outfit!

Me and Lauren at the back door of the Carlyse house. Here we are in the back of the Carlyse house. When he was building the house, Carlyse entombed a cat inside one of the walls because according to folklore, cats ward away evil. Don't worry - he killed the cat first. Also, through history there have been several strange, unexplained deaths at the house. Funny the docent never mentioned any of this when we toured the house five years ago.  Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier.

We ended our tour in the graveyard of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House. It's mostly known as the location of George Washington's funeral, but it also has one of the two Tombs of the Unknown Soldier from the Revolutionary War. Occasionally, you can capture him looking out from the round window above his tomb (The creepy shadow in the photo is actually Mark - lol).

 Under construction.

No trip to DC would be complete without a visit to the National Mall. The Washington Monument is still under repairs due to damage it sustained during an earthquake a couple of years ago.

 View of the Mall.

I decided to use the Hipstamatic app on my phone to give a different twist on photos of the monuments that have been done to death.

 Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.

 Mount Vernon.

Next we headed for a return visit to Mount Vernon.


Still looks the same. :)

 George Washington's backyard.

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.

And that concludes our trip. Now everyone keep their fingers crossed that the next post will be Lauren's first day of third grade!