Sunday, May 18, 2008

We missed our calling...

Not to steal the thunder from Shayann but she is right...the obsession with Guitar Hero is spreading! I think the Thomas Family was supposed to be the next big family rock group...maybe it's not too late. We have spent the past 3 Sunday evenings at my parents' house rockin' it out. And Shayann & I played together for a few hours on Friday night too. Nate has had the game for a while and decided to bring it over to share. Nate can really rock, Shayann is getting there (easy Shayann...I am just talking about experience wise), I am getting started, but there is nothing better than watching Kevin rock it out!!

For starters, Kevin refuses to rock sitting down..."rockstars stand up." His favorite song is One by Metallica. After his first time playing it he asked me if I could download that song to his mp3 player for him!! He also loves him some Alice in Chains "School's Out" and "When You Were Young" by The Killers.

This has been really fun for me because one of the things I take pride in is the effort I have made to expose Kevin to all kinds of great music and now because of this Guitar Hero thing, he is ready to talk about it more. Like when he randomly says "I know who sings that song One...Metal-i-ca" and I can correct him. Then the next day on the way to school Enter Sandman comes on the radio and I when I tell Kevin that it is Metallica he simply replies "AWESOME!!!" It is great.

Really my favorite part of it is watching Kevin enjoying something that I love, and sharing it with the people we love. Nate gets so into it and it is so fun watching Kevin feed off of it. Like tonight when he challenged Kevin to learn the ZZ Top song La Grange so he can play it for him next week. We have yet to get Byron or Sharlene to try but they have been a great audience!! It hasn't gotten old yet and I hope it doesn't for a long time!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Post 4/15 updates coming...

As you should all know by now, tax season kicked my butt this year but by some miracle I made it through!! It was a definitely a rough one...I think the official average was 72 hrs per week. Let's hope that never has to happen again!!

Anyway...with tax season over, I am officially out of excuses for not getting some updates on here. I will try to get back in the swing of things but for now you at least have some new Kevinisms to run with. There are several good ones that I have been saving up so enjoy them!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Halloween 2007

It took everything in me (and several others) to get Kevin to agree to a non-Star Wars costume this year. I got him to commit to an astronaut costume that we saw online, at least until we got to the costume store. Once he saw all the Star Wars costumes, and ninja costumes too, he changed his mind. But no, I put my foot down and he grudgingly went along. I personally think the astronaut costume turned out great and he got rave reviews from his fellow trick-or-treaters (even from the ones that thought he was a Ghostbuster!! - guess they didn't see the space shuttle & NASA patches).

I love his face in this picture!

What is that on his back you ask? Kevin's dad thought he would be creative (scary!) and make Kevin a jetpack to go with his costume. Actually not a bad idea but there were a couple flaws.

1) The box was a little too big.
2) He had planned on painting "USA" on the back but ran out of time - so it was just a white box.
3) The cups that were glued on the bottom to look like rocket boosters fell off after about 5 minutes - so again, it was just a white box.

But other than that, it was a good time. Kevin made out great like always. See the 10/31 Kevinism for details on his experience handing out candy.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Recent News from Kevin's Place

Kevin is enjoying his new school so far. He is still a little mad about the uniforms (can't understand why the teachers don't want the kids to be unique). Everyday I ask Kevin how his day was and he says "same as always, G-R-E-A-T." This is definately a step up from his daily answer last year which was "halfly good, halfly bad...cause the kids were noisy." He is making lots of new friends and really likes his teacher, Mrs. Patton.

You know, I really love the fact that Kevin is into science but he has hit a new exterme, for two reasons really. See the 10/14 Kevinism (at left) for the first reason. The second reason; as you may know, Kevin has become obsessed with Star Wars (yes, it is an obsession and I do not approve). So naturally, his first school library book was a Star Wars book. I suggested (strongly) on the next library day that he not come home with another Star Wars book. I reminded him how much he likes science books. So what does he come home with? A book about genes and DNA...seriously. Although it was a picture book, it was pretty advanced and in depth, I say at least high school level. So I am not sure which is worse, Star Wars or my 7 year old reading about fetal development, genetic engineering, and cloning. Oh boy, I just can't win. And for the record, when the next week's book was Star Wars again, I decided to let it slide.

Kevin is now a Cub Scout. I am still trying to adopt all this new scouting lingo and terminology but he is a Wolf scout this year. So we now have den meetings and pack meetings and all kinds of awesome activities to coming up. There is a campout this coming weekend with the whole pack (all ages in his school) and then his den (the Wolves only - 2nd graders) are going to the Firehouse Museum in Ypsi next Saturday. Should be good times. By the way, if you are interested in buying any popcorn, Kevin will be selling it though the end of the month. He will be happy to give you his sales pitch too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

DC trip - our first "real" vacation 8/16 - 8/21/07

We accomplished my short term goal in life and took our first real vacation to Washington DC. We had an awesome time and can't wait to go back and catch all the things we missed. The commentary is probably more for my benefit in trying to keep the details straight so Kevin doesn't have to correct me, but you might enjoy it too...

8/16/07 - Thursday

Naturally we started the trip off in dramatic fashion. The morning was spent packing (cause why would I pack before hand?'s not like we had been looking forward to this for months!!), and when I say morning I mean up until about 1:00pm when we were supposed to be leaving. I them proceeded to tear the house apart looking for the luggage locks and came up one short. After a quick stop on the way to get another lock, we actually made it to the airport, got checked in and through security really quickly. However, Kevin decided that we needed to stop at the Borders in the airport so that he could get some "entertainment for on the plane." After much debating he finally settled on a Transformers book. We got to the gate just in time to hear the "last call" for our flight. Oops! But oh well, we got on board and were on our way. The flight was quick and painless. The best part was flying right over the Lincoln Memorial on the way in. You should have seen the twinkle in Kevin's eyes. I knew this was going to be a great trip.

We got our bags and embarked on our first of many experiences with the Metro. We managed to get on the right train and head in the right direction the first time. (Actually, for the record, we never got on the wrong train...which I am told is very rare!). We stayed at the Marriott at Metro Center so we were right downtown. The Metro stop is right on the same block so it was the perfect spot and was really central to everything. We got checked in and sat for a few minutes and then decided to venture out for dinner. After checking out the 2-3 blocks around the hotel, we decided on the ever exciting Subway. (It was at that point that one thing I would not be experiencing on this trip was the many fine dining options in DC...I would have to pick my battles). We headed back to the hotel and planned for our first of many adventure filled days. (Kevin had an assignment the week before we left to pick 2 places he wanted to go everyday we were there so we would have a narrowed down list to choose from).

8/17/07 - Friday

We decided to start off the week with the places Kevin wanted to see most. We headed for the Smithsonian, more specifically to the Air & Space Museum. We actually met up with Rachel (work Rachel) and Rob on the way to there so they joined us for a while. Kevin didn't really want to ever leave though. We ended up just eating lunch there. Kevin really wanted to watch one of the IMAX movies while we were there but we didn't time it right and there wasn't one playing any time soon. He was a little skeptical at first but I was able to convince him that the planetarium show, Cosmic Collisions, would be just as good, if not better. It was awesome. All that was left was a trip to the gift shop (which would become a common theme for the trip), where Kevin picked up his first "snuggle friend" AstroBear (a bear in an astronaut suit). This first picture is the first one we took in DC. The view right off the Metro stop at the Smithsonian. The next couple are from the Air & Space Museum.

Touching a real moon rock

I don't really have any other good pictures to post from the day but that was definitely not all of the excitement. After we left the Air & Space Museum we headed over to the National Aquarium. That was a good time but honestly, it was a little bit of a let down. For being the "national" aquarium, it was pretty small. It was actually in the basement of one of the Federal government buildings. So we had to go through security...which was fun. After the aquarium we headed back to the hotel to rest for a few minutes.

One side note...I am not sure why exactly but I swear, 95% of the time that Kevin turned the TV on, SpongeBob Squarepants was on. Seriously, I have never seen so much SpongeBob.
We decided to venture over to Union Station for dinner. Again, I couldn't talk Kevin into Pizzeria Uno so we settled for Johnny Rockets. He enjoyed it. And since I am a pushover when it comes to Kevin, we stopped by this bulk candy store where you buy a box and fill it with whatever you want. So, $9 (for the smallest box they had) and 30 minutes later, we headed back to the hotel.
I guess because it was the first day, Kevin wasn't worn out enough so he hit the pool while I read (yes, I bought The Bourne Identity at the airport...I forgot how much I like to read since I never have time to do it for fun). Kevin made quick friends with a family in the hot tub and told them all about his adventures for the day.

It was a long but great first day. I don't think Kevin has ever fallen asleep so fast after hitting the pillow.

8/18/07 - Saturday

The one thing we knew we would be doing Saturday was the International Spy Museum. As mentioned before Work Rachel and Rob were in DC the same weekend so we had planned to meet up for the Spy Museum on Saturday. We just had to plan the rest of the time around it.
The Spy Museum tickets we got were for 3pm. We decided we would check out the breakfast buffet at the hotel. I wasn't that excited about it since it was like $15 for me and $5 for kids but let me tell you, I have never seen Kevin eat so much!! Seriously - eggs, bacon, half of a huge waffle, a slice of french toast, yogurt, strawberries, a danish, milk & OJ. He made every dollar count, and then some.

After breakfast we decided we would head over to the White House that morning. Here are some pictures from the journey.

This was where our first mini-crisis of the trip occurred. As we were making the journey from the back to the front of the White House, Kevin discovered that he had lost his Spiderman sunglasses. He was really broken up about it for a minute but since we had no idea where to look for them, I did what any reasonable mother would do in that situation...the bait and switch. I distracted his attention long enough to get him to the CVS that was on the way back to the Metro stop were we replaced the Spiderman glasses for Batman glasses. Crisis averted...all was well again.

We headed back to the hotel and I caught a 20 minute power nap while Kevin caught another episode of SpongeBob. Then after a quick lunch at Cosi's (and no, Shayann, I didn't not get the BLT, you must trust me), it was off to the Spy Museum.

Next time you are in DC, I highly recommend the Int'l Spy Museum. We weren't able to take pictures in there but there is some really cool stuff on display there - all kinds of hidden cameras, bugging devices, etc. Kevin's favorite part, no surprise here, was crawling through the air duct. He must have done it 5 times.

Another side note - one of the unexpected moments for me that came out of our visit to the Spy Museum was the realization that Kevin is getting old. In one of the last parts of the museum they showed a short movie about why spy tactics were still needed in the world today. One of the clips in the video was of the attacks on the World Trade Center. I immediately looked at Kevin and the blank stare on his face made me realize that he had no idea what that was. He was only 18 months old when it happened and we had never really talked about it. I told him briefly what it was and that we would discuss it later. It was just really crazy and humbling to realize 1) that it has been 6 years since 9/11 and 2) that my little boy is really at an age where I can no longer shelter him from the ugliness of this world. By the way, we did have a talk later about 9/11 and Kevin's response was "why would someone want to kill so many people?" I know I didn't have a good answer for that one.

Anyway, back to DC fun-ness. We again hit up the gift shop, this time on assignment from Shayann to bring home some "spy gear." She wanted night vision goggles but we had to settle on some binoculars with a night vision scope. Naturally Kevin wasn't going to go without some spy gear of his own so he got a "mobile spy ear" (car with microphone on it that you can pull back and send in to listen on conversations in the other room - very cool).

On the suggestion of Rachel & Rob to check out a really good smoothie place at Union Station, we returned for the second night in a row. Actually, it really is a great place to eat with kids in DC. There is something for everyone and it is on the cheaper side. This time we had a slice of pizza (again not Pizzeria Uno - I gave up) and grabbed a smoothie to go.

Below is a picture of Kevin at the Metro stop at Union Station. By this point he had the whole Metro thing down. We bought a weekly pass so we didn't have to worry about the fares every time so we really got into a good routine with the whole thing. I would give Kevin his ticket as soon as we got off the escalator (and he would be right ready for it), he would scan it and hand it back right as I was coming through the turnstile behind him. You would have thought we were professionals.

After we got back from Union Station, Kevin posed for some pictures in the courtyard outside our hotel. These are just a couple examples. He picked all the spots and poses (which many turned out to be the same pose)....what a weirdo.

We really did just crash and burn once we got back to the hotel. We were exhausted. Another long but exciting day.

8/19/07 - Sunday

The basic plan for today was to spend it at the National Mall (or as Kevin said with air quotes "The Mall"). Short Hair Rachael gave Kevin an awesome DC map for the trip, which was super helpful. Unfortunately, Kevin took the suggestions on their to heart and we had to obey to the T. The instructions for the Lincoln Memorial (which was the absolute must see on Kevin's list) said that it is best at night. While I agree that it would be best at night, to Kevin that meant we could only see it at night. So the plan was to go do the Washington Monument in the morning, hit another one of the Smithsonian Museums and then head back for the Lincoln Memorial just before dark.

Now, one of my favorite parts of the trip is that we did what we wanted on our own terms. The lack of planning did hurt us a little bit this day though. The plan was that we would go early and try and get tickets for the Washington Monument. We started the day off with a room service breakfast, which Kevin through was pretty awesome but it put us a little behind schedule. By the time we got there the tickets for the day were gone. So Kevin and I had to have a little heart-to-heart about the plans for the next two days. We had already decided what we were going to do Monday (don't want to ruin the suspense for you...) so we were trying to decide if we should try to get tickets again tomorrow and cancel those plans or if we would just visit the Washington Monument from the outside and make sure we get tickets on the next trip. Kevin agreed he could wait until next time, but only after he lectured me about making sure to get tickets ahead of time next time.

The weather wasn't the best (rain drizzles/showers) so we decided to go hit a museum and hope it would clear up. Since the Museum of American History was closed (and to quote Kevin "booooooo!!!"), we opted for the Museum of Natural History, which actually was great. It is really amazing that you can spend an entire day at the museum but you can! We ended up having lunch in the cafe there and then we decided to catch the afternoon IMAX show. I was a little concerned with the choices, Lions or Sharks in 3-D. We decided on Sharks. It was actually really cool. There were no shark attacks, it was really just about all the different types of sharks, what they eat, and how they interact with the other fish/creatures in their environment. It was really interesting and Kevin loved the 3-D. He kept trying to touch the sharks & fish. He had the biggest smile on his face the whole time.

Here are a couple pictures (the others didn't turn out too well unfortunately). Kevin loved the dinosaurs and the ginormous quartz for some reason. And let me also explain now, since you will see it in 90% of the remaining photos for the day, that is a porcupine puppet (named Morgie) on Kevin's hand. Exactly...we couldn't avoid the gift shop! Although, I got my souvenir there as well - a really cool rock sculpture of the Washington Monument.

We then started our hike toward the Lincoln Memorial. And for those of you who have not been, I do mean hike. We put in several miles that day! We did stop briefly on our way to watch a free karate demonstration that was going on on the lawn by the Washigton Monument. We stopped for a couple pictures at the World War II Memorial along the way but were hurrying to get to the Lincoln Memorial so we could be there before/after dark. (I opted out of the other war memorials. I figured Kevin might still be a little young to fully appreciate them this time around). Once we got to the Lincoln Memorial, we took our "day" pictures and then just hung out on the steps for an hour or so until it got dark. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. Kevin made some phone calls and then played his DS and I read my book. It was just nice to have a minute to just sit there, looking at the view across the Reflection Pool from the steps and just taking it all in.

Along our journey back to the hotel we realized we didn't really have dinner and it was getting late so Kevin talked me into McDonalds. We had to hurry out of there quick though cause we ran into some shady characters in there, specificially one drunk guy trying to carry on a conversation with Kevin in spanish. That is when I made the decision that we would not be out wandering the streets after 10pm again! (Mom & Dad - don't worry, we were really fine, and were only 2 blocks from the hindsight we just should have gotten it to go). We got back to the hotel, Kevin got in yet another episode of SpongeBob and then we were out.

8/20/07 - Monday

Monday's activity of the day was the National Zoo. Our research had told us that it is a big and really cool zoo so we planned to start there and see how long it took us to get through. It is part of the Smithsonian and the exhibits are said to be as close to the animals actual habitat as possible. It is a couple Metro stops north of the city. And by the way, at the Metro stop was the longest/tallest escalator I have ever seen! We were on that thing forever! I tried taking a picture but it did not do it justice.

I won't give you a ton of commentary on the zoo. We did end up spending pretty much all day there. Some of the highlights are in the pictures below. One of the disappointments were the elephants, Kevin's favorite. They are in the process of building a huge new elephant exhibit so the elephants were MIA. The pandas were awesome, especially the little guy eating his bamboo. We have a video my camera of the tigers play fighting.

My other favorite part was encouraging Kevin (without his knowledge) to regulate some teenagers that were making out in the bird exhibit. After we walked past them, I told Kevin to yell "get a room." He did. This other mom near us says "yeah, really." Kevin thought I was telling him to yell it at the birds. It was awesome.

The last picture needs a little explanation. For those of you who do not watch the Disney channel, there is a cartoon on there, Kim Possible, where one of the main characters is a naked mole rat named Rufus. Well, it just so happened that we made it to the small mammal house at 2pm, just as they were doing the "meet a mammal" presentation. And what was the mammal of the day? A naked mole rat!!! Kevin got to hear all about them and get his picture taken with one. He was very excited.

Kevin and Rufus, the naked mole rat

We ended the trip with a stop in the gift shop. The time Kevin's snuggle friend of choice was a Panda which he decided to name Obi-Wan [a.k.a. Ben]. Again, what a weirdo. We stopped by Subway on the way back. Kevin fell in love with this Subway because they actually had ketchup. Why would you would want to put ketchup on your turkey sub? I don't know, but then again this kid puts ketchup on tacos. Hopefully this is a phase.

We went swimming again once we got back to the hotel. I must say, the hot tub soak felt really great. After all the zoo walking on top of the monument hike the night before, it was nice to just relax for a few minutes. We headed back up to the room to pack up and get ready for the trip back home.

8/21/07 - Tuesday

Our flight was leaving at 11am so we did not have time for any more adventures. We just got up and ready for the day and checked out. It was raining a little again so it really didn't make the luggage hauling too fun. But we made it to the airport and got checked in with a little less than an hour to spare. We got a smoothie and some Fruit Loops to snack on for breakfast. Kevin posed for a couple last pictures in the airport. We were sad to be leaving but Kevin was very excited to see Grandma, who was picking us up from the airport. We got on the plane, waved goodbye to DC, and headed back to reality.

We forgot to take a picture in the Detroit airport before we left, so we did it on arrival

That was it!! We survived! It was definately some of the most adventure packed days we have had to date but we loved every minute of it. I was very grateful to be able to spend some good quality time with Kevin. Not that I didn't know it before, but I really was able to witness some of the qualities in that kid that make him so special. When I told people about our trip, one of the common reactions was, "are you crazy? you are going to take a 7 yr old to DC by yourself?" But I wasn't worried. Kevin was great. I didn't have to worry about him at all. We saw a lot and we really had a lot of fun together. Kevin is already planning the next trip for all of the things we didn't get to see this time around. I can't wait!!!