Wednesday, March 26, 2014


When Ellie came home and said she might want to do crew, I said, "Cool!"  It always looked so romantic in the movies.  Slender boats gliding along glassy rivers. It turns out it's a little like ballet; there is a lot of hard work and athleticism going on behind that grace.

Ellie leaves for practice every weekday immediately after school (2:30) and gets back at 6:45.  Sometimes I'm the one driving the carpool.  Saturdays she leaves around 7:30 and gets back after noon.  It is a BIG commitment.

First, they've been doing tons of working out: running, rowing machines, exercises I've never heard of that combine jumping jacks, pushups, and a little more.  Then they had to learn how to carry the 65 foot long boat.  They they have to learn how to carry it down a steep hill to the dock and put it in the water in a coordinated manner.

Ellie's in the sea-green fleece and yellow backpack

Then they have to attach all the oars and learn to get in the boat at the same time without tipping it over.  I'm totally impressed.

That's Ellie with an oar
I tried to be sneaky and take these pictures of Iliana and her team.

Ellie is the third white t-shirt back

Sneaky because I didn't want to embarrass her.  I had a beautiful 3 mile hike in the process.  But it turns out that if you wear a bright coral shirt and carry a camera, you aren't being that sneaky.

This is Iliana's whole boat waving to me and yelling "Hi Iliana's Mom!"

Some March Catch Up

Early in March, Mark and Dane got to go on the cub scout Polar Bear Campout.  They saw some beautiful woods, slept in a cabin with a snorer, and Dane made a paracord bracelet that he's worn every day since.

Sammy, Dane, and Jacob--All Tiger Cubs

Paracord Bracelet

I got to drive Iliana's carpool to Crew, and took the opportunity to spy on the kids a bit and take a hike. I'm really impressed by the size of the boats!  Learning to carry them and put them in the water is half the struggle for the new kids. The woods around here are gorgeous!

Carrying a crew "shell"

Another sign of spring

Mark took the scouts on their first actual backpacking trip.  They went to the C&O Canal, and whet their appetites for the bigger trip in April.  

Leaving after work means arriving and cooking in the dark.

Scoutmaster Mark and Star scout Drake

The IceBane Patrol

And the Tiger Cubs when on a Go See It to the Leesburg Today Newspaper. They had "Rex the Stinky Skunk" along because he was awarded to them this month for being an exemplary den.

Dane, Owen, and Spencer

A Little Catching Up: February

I haven't posted much about what we're doing in a long time.  I feel like it's time to catch up a little, so many things are happening in our family.

First up: Snow in Virginia!  We finally got a snowstorm that actually qualified as a snow storm in our Utah sensibilities.  And then we got a few more after that.  I think this week will be only the second weeks since Christmas that the kids haven't had either a snow day or at least a late start.  These photos are from the "big one" in mid-February.

The weekend after this, the three youngest kids and I went for a hike along a piece of the Bull Run-Occoquan trail.  This trail goes along the Occoquan reservoir where Iliana is doing Crew.  We wanted to check it out.  It was beautiful, and we saw our first sign of spring!

 February is also my birthday!  Julie took me out to lunch, and we tried out a new mexican place.  I haven't been impressed with Mexican food on the east coast so far, but this one was really good!

Then we had some more snow.  This time we finally made it sledding on the big hill in Manassas National Battlefield Park.  Yes, the location of the First and Second Battle of Bull Run.

The building in the background in this picture is "The Old Stone House".  It was used during both battles as a field hospital and a place to keep prisoners of war.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Ice

Two mornings ago, we woke up to more ice.  Drake, Adelaide and I all took at turn at falling flat on the ice.  School was delayed, not cancelled, because they've already cancelled the maximum number of days possible without adding on to the end of the school year!

This weekend I took Iliana and few friends to EFY Express at Southern Virginia University.  SVU is a private LDS University started in 1996 on the site of an older college.  they have the coolest main building:

It is in an absolutely gorgeous spot in Shenendoah Valley at the base of the Blue Ridge mountains.  

I also really loved this statue titled "The Whole Armor of God".

Pinewood Derby

Dane got to participate in his first Pinewood Derby a couple of weeks ago.  He did a really great job building his car!

I put more work into helping him with his car than I've ever done in the past…

...and the poor kid came in dead last every time.

All the cars were within 1 second of each other in time, and I found out that they had graphite for everyone to use but they didn't tell us until we'd turned our car in, and they wouldn't let us use it.  It's always a bummer to see your child cry.

Still, I'm really proud of him for being brave.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Unfinished Railroad at Manassas

Monday was Martin Luther King day, so the kids didn't have school.  The three youngest and I went on a hike in Manassas Battlefield National Park (also known as Bull Run).

We've been to various parts of the park before, but this time we decided to hike along the unfinished railroad, where the banks and cuts that were intended to be a level railroad gave the cover to a 2 mile line of the confederate troops.  The history is sobering.

It was a beautiful day, and we had a great hike.

When we walked along the river we found shells and smoothed glass.

Drake found a tree covered in thorns.

The fallen leaves and balmy weather made it feel like November, not January.

And I'll prove I was there with this picture.

Drake is a Star Scout

Last week we had a Court of Honor for Troop 1826.  Mark first got to praise the scouts that went on the Klondike Derby campout.  Mark says it's the wettest camping he's ever done.  The boys and everything they took with them was SOAKED.  The klondike sled race was pushing the sleds across wet grass and through mud puddles.  But Mark's troop did really well, and when all the scores of the race and the skills areas were totaled, the Troop earned second place!

Notice they all have green pants?  Good looking scouts.

The boys also got patched that night for helping on the Day of Service last September.  Dane had helped as a Tiger Cub, so he got a patch too.

Then the highlight of the night for us was Drake being awarded the rank of Star Scout!  Way to go Drake!  He is growing into a great young man.