Monthly Archives: June 2011

Super Proud

It’s hard to believe how time has flown (is it almost July?!) but I have been meaning to write about Isaac’s 5th grade graduation.  His school had a special catered presentation at one of the big hotels in Charleston.  They had everything fancied up so it would be special for the kids.  We knew there would be awards and speeches and typical graduation stuff but we didn’t know what to expect.

After we ate, they started with the awards.  There were awards for various things and initially, Isaac didn’t seem to be called for anything.  He was not the best singer in the chorus or the best at archery.  We didn’t know what to expect but, as parents, we just wanted him to get some award so he could walk up in front of everyone to receive some applause.

Finally they called his name.  He marched up sort of shyly and shook hands.  We were relieved.  Then they called him again…and again…and again.  All told, Isaac ended up receiving 9 certificates of various types including the American Citizenship award, the National Young Scholars Award, the DAR Good Citizen award, the President’s Award for Academic Achievement (which included a letter signed by President Obama…very exciting for Isaac!) and the technology student of the year award.  I was so worried that he would just receive some award and he blew me out of the water!  By the end, his face beamed!  He wasn’t arrogant at all.  In fact he was a little embarrassed by his repeated trips up to the front.  To me, that was all the more indication that he truly deserved every award he received.  I could not be more proud!

Jump forward to this weekend.  Isaac tested for his blue belt in tae kwon do.  The blue belt is the last step before black belt.  The testing gets a lot more serious and the number of students testing thins a lot.  There were only a few people testing so the the spotlight was really on those folks to perform.  Each person did their forms (basically, a routine that shows skills such as balance, focus, etc).  Isaac did his cleanly and without problem.

The part of TKD that always worries me is the sparring portion of the instruction and testing.  Of course, a large part of TKD is fighting.  I mentioned before that it’s a weird feeling that sort of comes over me when I watch my son fight.  I want him to be disciplined and focussed and also prepared for things out in the real world.  Still, I would much rather he never have to be in any sort of threatening situation.

So, Isaac was paired up for sparring and they started the fight.  He quickly landed several punches and kicks.  At one point, he knocked his opponent to the ground.  It shocked me a little but the boy jumped back up and they continued.  Sparring is pretty much full contact.  No head shots and no blood are allowed but otherwise, there is quite a bit of freedom.  He has gained so much confidence and so many skills in TKD and that was evident as he sparred.  I was so proud to see him fight and watch as he just did what he needed to do to fend off the other boy.

I am so proud of my boy!

Coopers Rock

A few weekends ago, we went on a little getaway vacation to Coopers Rock State Park in Bruceton Mills, WV.  I was mainly excited for the cabin in which we were staying and the hot tub it advertised on the back deck.  Never did I imagine how cool the park would be.  More about that later.

So, we got to the cabin after navigating the Grand Canyon road back to the place.  The cabin itself was nice and did in fact have a hot tub.  The kids jumped right in as Emily and I unpacked and prepared for supper.  I am not sure why, but the power went out and we were without water or AC.  When you are not prepared, both are pretty important.  Anyhow, several hours later, it came back on and all was well…even the well.  We could shower and do dishes, etc.

On Saturday morning, we gorged on cheap powdered sugar donuts and Doritos then headed to Coopers Rock (it seems like there should be an apostrophe in there but there isn’t).  Little did we know, but there was a celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the park.  The place was teeming with things to do as all sorts of groups offered nature talks, projects,  and hikes.

The kids built cool birdhouses and painted rocks.  We played on the play ground (where I tried my best to dislocate my shoulder).  We saw rescued birds of prey from the West Virginia Raptor Rescue Center and even got to touch a red tailed hawk who was very friendly.  It turns out, she was essentially raised in captivity so was not bothered by people.  The other rescued hawk and owl were not so friendly.  Still, they were awesome!

I think the best part of the park though, was walking the trails under the rocks.  We explored some and saw great rock formations.  The kids and I walked into a cave/tunnel and went all “Dora the Explorer”.  Abigail fell in the dirt and got muddy.  It was perfect and cool and a great time to be together as a family.

If you ever pass through the northern part of WV, stop in at Coopers Rock.  Its views are breathtaking and there is all sorts of fun to be had there.  It turns out that the hot tub was very popular, but it paled in comparison (for me at least) to the beauty of our state, just as it is!

Fire the missiles!

Lest you think we are all work and no play when we go to our land in the country, I figured I should report on our war games…er…model rocket launching fun this weekend. We did work some but that bit seems like an old tune now. The kids were pretty much over the non-fun stuff so they explored some in the woods and found a new “hide-out” while I did the rest of what I had to do before play time. I have no idea what sort of cave, bramble or whiskey still they happened upon but they had an awesome time!

Preparing for launch!

Anyhow, we finished up with all of that and we headed to the top of the hay field to prep our launch area. There were a bunch of kids at the next house over so I think our position was as much an advertisement as it was anything else. So we launched a few rockets. It must have been the humidity or something because the nose cones were on so tight that they never discharged the parachutes. And what is a model rocket without a parachute as it heads back to earth? It’s a freakin’ bullet! Run!

Mission Control

Isaac and Abigail decided to invite the neighbor kids over and they brought some cousins so there were at least 6 kids…more targets! Just kidding. We were very careful to keep everyone safe. Everyone got a chance to push the launch button, which I thought would be the thrill. I was wrong. The real fun was racing across the field to recover the rockets! Who knew exercise was so fun!

The rocket!

One boy said he had always wanted to launch rockets but his Mom wouldn’t let them (for safety reasons I bet!) I think I found our new role on the hill. We are the people who let you do all the stuff your parents won’t let you do!

Click to play the launch movie

(click here if your computer cannot play the movie above)

By the time we were through, we had a bunch of the parents up there too. We have met so many people and everyone has been so nice. I suspect most everyone confirmed that we are the unstable, crazy ones up on that hill. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing?

Driving in the hay field

So yesterday, I mentioned that we went camping last weekend.  The spot where we camped is on the back side of our hay field which lays on a bit of a slope.  We drove both vehicles down to the edge of the woods and left them there overnight so we could have easy access to the junk that remained in them.

This was a month ago...before the grass really grew!

Since we knew it was to get hot, we decided to get an early start.  I am so glad there are no near-neighbors because I started the chainsaw at 6:30 am.  Anyhow, we packed up camp and planned to move the car and van to the end of the hay field where I am erecting my bear-deterring fence for the bees.  Emily started up the Subaru and drove right off though the thigh-high grass in the field.  The van did not fare so well.  The tires spun but the van never moved.

It was clear to me that we were not going to simply drive out so we had to go to plan b.  And then it struck me.  My friend Maria over at Chicken Blog sent me a cool book last year called Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).  One of the things the book suggests is to let your kids drive a car.

So, I climbed out of the van and hollered at Isaac.  He’s 11 (and a year older than I was when I first drove a car).  I told him to get in and drive.  He looked at me with that, “Yeah right” look but I opened the door and pointed.  He climbed in and was terrified.  I think that was the proper response.  We did a crash-course on driving and then I went behind the van.  I planned to nudge it to get it moving while he drove it slowly and steadily across the field.  He started off ok, but when it didn’t immediately move, he gunned it.  White smoke rolled from under the tires.

“Dad, the speedometer showed 60!”  I have no doubt about it.  Isaac drove the car 60 mph in the hay field but didn’t move an inch!  We re-visited our driving lesson and on try #2, he successfully drove the van right across the hay field and up to the dirt road.  The boy was so excited and could not have been prouder of himself.  Although his friends did not believe him when he got back to school on Tuesday, he will probably always remember the first time he got to drive a car.  Sometimes a little (controlled) danger can be a good thing!


Holy cow it’s been awhile since I have posted. It seems like time is flying! I certainly need to remedy that. So, last weekend, the hottest weekend of the year (so far), we went camping on the bee farm. I had to set more fence posts in the ground and I have been itching to stay up and see the stars and listen to the crickets. You know, they say you can find the temperature by counting cricket chirps for 15 seconds and adding 37. I don’t think I could count fast enough to make a good measurement so I am sure that it works. It was hot!

Anyhow, I dug more fence posts and cut a bunch of trees and brush. The kids mostly read their kindles but they also went on a rock hunt. I told them I would pay them if they would find sufficient rocks to make a proper fire pit. I wanted to hear crickets and by golly, I wanted to smell like smoke before I laid down for the night. The kids were great. They actually dug some rocks out of the ground. I suppose they saw it as an easy way to make things happen fast…find huge rocks and dig them up…make Dad carry them to make for an instant fire pit. Well, they did a great job though my back may never forgive me after carrying some of their finds.

All of this is to say, we got pretty hot and sweaty outside working all day. Luckily, I bought that tank I mentioned in the last post. We had 35 gallons of water to set the concrete posts, cook and bathe. Of course, bathing was a relative thing, but we made the best of it taking a cold water bath at our campsite.

Oh, I don’t want to forget…on the way walking the path between the tent and the car (which housed the water tank), I happened upon a copperhead. He wasn’t wearing pants thankfully or there would have been two of us in a code brown status. I grabbed a shovel and went after him but he was headed for the woods too.

We finally got cleaned up and went to bed. Rather, we went to clumpy ground…it could hardly be called a bed (gee whiz have I become soft in my old age). I never did get a chance to really look at the stars.  Still, camping on our land was absolutely wonderful!  We ate mountain pies and roasted marshmallows.  We giggled in the tent and woke up groggy.  It was a marvelous weekend, stiff backs and necks aside.

There is lots more fun to report including driving the van 60 mph across our hay field…but you will have to wait until next time to read about that!