Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cub Scout Family Camp

Going on our first ever Pack Family Camp means it's official. Jackson is a Cub Scout...let us know if you want some popcorn! ;-)

There were ~60 Cub Scouts and their families on this trip to nearby Chesebrough Scout Reservation. It was a fun adventure! We all got to know the Pack a little better and try some new things. The first event for Jackson's Den was archery. It was a little challenging for our left-eye dominant, but right-handed kid. With a little help, he managed to hit the target several times. Then Ross got a turn and impressed not only his son, but the adults around too.

Next up, BB guns. This event was a clear favorite for Jackson. The hand-eye coordination was a little more manageable. He was so scared of this event before we got there, but he really enjoyed learning how to safely and properly shoot a gun. He looks pretty cool in his safety glasses too.

We all took a turn at the BB gun range, and Jackson enjoyed it so much, he went twice...once with his Den and once with the family. Ross, once again, wowed the adults and kids that were with us, and I was pretty impressed with myself on this one. Let's just say we're reinforcing the stereotype about people from Texas.

The highlight of the trip was the Raingutter Regatta though. Each Cub Scout built and decorated his own sail boat and raced it against the other boys in their Den in hopes of winning a Golden Duck. The winner of each Den would race later in the day to earn the highly coveted trophy and be the best in the Pack.

Jackson was looking forward to the race and was proud of his boat. He eagerly listened to the rules and advice given by the leaders. He did a practice run and then sat back and observed the others' techniques. It was a double-elimination bracket. Jackson won the first bracket and proceeded to the final round for the Den. He won race after race with some really close calls and some clear wins. In the final race his Denmate from the losers bracket beat him, which meant they raced one final time to determine the winner...Jackson won!

He was so excited, but he was also a really good sport. It was so amazing to see how these kids treated each other with respect despite the competitive desires to win. Audrey was so proud of her big brother if you can't tell from the picture below!

The last event of the day before the final series of races was rock climbing. Jackson and Audrey geared up and waited in line to climb. Jackson went first and pretty quickly and easily scaled the wall and rang the bell at the top. A little later it was Audrey's turn. Her agile nature made it easy for her to get to the top, but she just couldn't reach the bell. The entire crowd was cheering her on and willing her to do whatever it would take to ring the bell. It didn't happen, but she was great about it and had lots of fun anyway.

There was a little extra time left when the kids were done, so they let the adults that were interested climb too. It didn't take much convincing for me to go, and I'm glad I did. It was a lot of fun and gave me some flashbacks to a fun climbing trip in high school.

The big moment finally arrived, the Raingutter Regatta Finals! Jackson was in the zone. He was punching his hand as he mentally prepared for the final was pretty cute! Jackson won quite a few races in the first round before moving to the loser's bracket where he got another shot at the trophy. He did so great! He didn't win the overall event, but he did REALLY well! If you check out the pictures in the album you'll see some examples of the great sportsmanship they practiced.

That's where my pictures end, but that's not where the camping trip ended. That evening each Den prepared and performed a skit at the big campfire gathering. They also retired 6 American Flags that evening, which was a very humbling experience for them all. Of course, there were roasted marshmallows and campfire stories/games before bed. The next day the boys went for a hike, which rounded out a really fun Cub Scout camping experience!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back to School

1st and 3rd grade are here! Jackson and Audrey are wrapping up their first week of the 2016-2017 school year, and I'm thankful to say they're off to a good start (knock on wood!). This is their second year at the same elementary school...a first for our kids. It was fun to see Jackson walk up to the school confident and comfortable, and Audrey was adorably excited and nervous.

After waking up and eagerly getting ready for school, we did our 1st day photo shoot. In preparation I asked each of them what they want to be when they grow up. Jackson still wants to be a scientist, but he's also added app maker and robot designer to the list. Audrey wants to be a photographer and a gymnast this year. They both have a wide range of capabilities, so I have no idea what they'll end up doing as adults. I do know that getting some real smiles from these two involves some silliness in the process.

The kids picked their photo spots and asked for some silly, serious, and happy shots. Here's what we got...

I love these kids! They are so much fun!

Mountains and Lakes

We had such a great week at Pinecrest Lake with some friends from our life group a few weeks ago. We spent a few days in a beautiful cabin and enjoying the great outdoors. All of it was amazing! The kids loved playing on the "beach" at the lake. We rented a kayak one of the days and took turns checking out the lake. When the adults were done, Audrey decided she wanted a turn, so Ross took her out on the Lake. She did awesome! The boys were busy making their own tide pools, which they thought was a blast.

When we weren't at the lake, we were busy eating, playing games, and looking at the stars and planets and rocket boosters reentering the atmosphere. It was incredible! We saw Saturn and Mars through their telescope. We saw a few shooting stars, and then we saw this huge mass entering the Earth's atmosphere and breaking apart across the sky, which we later learned was a Chinese rocket booster. Pretty cool for a couple of space geeks.

We were back at the lake each day, so we did a little boating, fishing, and hiking while we were there too. It was a great way to spend one of the last weeks of summer. Great friends and great experiences make wonderful memories!

There are more pictures in the album as usual!

Friday, July 29, 2016

4th of July in Texas

We spent the week of the 4th of July in Texas again this year. Our first few days were spent in Leakey with the Rodriguez family. We shot fireworks on the 4th. Jackson and Mitchell helped with the display. They both had a blast and only got minor injuries. Really they both just got sparked enough to learn to be careful. We also floated the Frio river, played on the ranch, and celebrated Taylor's first birthday! Everyone was excited. I enjoyed watching Audrey drink in the smell of the cake, Mitchell help his little brother blow out his candles, and Jackson grin from ear to ear watching his baby cousin investigate cake for the first time.

It didn't take long for Taylor to dig into the cake and enjoy driving Mickey around on the icing while singing the hot dog song.

Taylor loved his presents and playing with family. There were lots of giggles and laughter, especially when Mickey did his songs and dances.

If that wasn't enough fun, both kids became go-kart drivers while we were there. Not something that was easy for me to watch! Mitchell taught them to drive...he can't reach the brake, which means they only know one speed, fast. Audrey almost crashed once, and when we had her stop so we could talk to her about how to be safe, we pointed out that she almost crashed. Her response was, "But I didn't!" We all couldn't keep ourselves from laughing since she said it with a huge grin on her face. Watch out world when this one gets her license!

We spent the remainder of the week in Fredericksburg with my Dad and the Money family. We went swimming and checked out the local farmers market and their vineyard. The kids loved playing together, and we had a wonderful time visiting and helping out however we could.

We wrapped up our visit to Texas with a visit to one of our all-time favorite restaurants in Austin, Trudy's. It was even better than we remembered! Great way to end a great week!

There are more pictures in the album.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Spring Baseball

Yes, I know it's summer. Yes, I'm always behind on my posts these days, but I want to capture these moments so I don't forget! This spring Jackson played baseball. The opening day ceremony was really neat. All of the teams stood around the field, said the pledge, and sang the national anthem. Then their special needs team, with the help of their mentors, threw the opening pitch. It was a great way to start the season.

The season was a tough one for Jackson's team, the A's. We had a new team that had several first time players. I was amazed at how much they improved over the course of the season though. In addition to learning the basics of the game, they started player pitch part way through the season.

Jackson was persistent and resilient during practices and games. He steadily improved throughout the season, and most importantly, he enjoyed playing!

There are more pictures in the album.

Memorial Day Weekend

The annual Stone Family Reunion took place over Memorial Day Weekend. We made the trip from CA to be with everyone. It's always so fun to catch up and see what has changed and what has stayed the same each year.

We started with a visit with E's grandparents and mom, as well as a visit to the Mudbug Festival where we enjoyed some crawfish, art displays, and good music.

We always have three hosted events during the weekend. Aunt Dottie has everyone to her house for an evening of BBQ and fun. Susan hosts brunch the next morning, and we wrap up at Uncle Ronnie's for swimming, karaoke, and fajitas. I only took pictures at Susan's house this year, which means I captured the annual puppet show organized by Aunt Carol. The younger generation loves this part of the weekend!

We managed to get a large group picture this year, and we had almost everyone there!

I also played with a new-to-me lens while we were there. There were lots of beautiful flowers to take pictures of!

There are more pictures in the album!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lovely Easter Day

Jackson and Audrey awoke early this morning eager to hunt for eggs and see what was in their baskets. We had to slow them down so they weren't simply a blur in didn't really work. They had lots of fun anyway and were excited about all of the candy, of course. We spent the morning playing games and enjoying some time together before church.

After the church service, we made our way to our friend's house for lunch and an Easter egg hunt. The dads hid the eggs outside while the mom's kept the kids corralled inside. When the eggs were all hidden, the kids gathered at the door and eagerly waited to hear the word "go!" Then they were off! They had lots of fun searching high and low, and eating candy again. They also love the food and playing with their friends.

When we got home I convinced the kids to do a mini photo shoot in the backyard. Audrey was first and loved posing and smiling for the camera.

Jackson was next. He's always a great helper with picking spots for pictures and posing. He especially loved taking the picture above with Audrey.

It was a beautiful Easter day both because of the weather and the people we got to spend it with. There are more pictures in the album