Sunday, September 23, 2012

Last Saturday

Last Saturday was a bit crazy, and definitely blogworthy. We started the day with an 8am assignment to clean the chapel. Next it was off to register for a local "Walk for Shelter," which some of the local wards decided to support this year to support the good service going on in our community. It was a really fun event complete with moon bounces, balloons, and face painting for the kiddos. Last year, the walk had about 180 participants; this year there were over 400. It's pretty awesome to see the result of Mormon Helping Hands getting behind an effort. 

We started the walk with these folks. Both my family and Adam's dad were there for the walk. (Side note: My dad had already run the Bluemont 10k that morning and was still there to register for the walk by 9:30. Crazy fellow!) Joel kept Emma entertained, and Grandpa W had John on his shoulders for the 1 mile walk through downtown Leesburg since I had forgotten the stroller. It was fun to chat with Melinda's boyfriend Dave who had flown out to visit for the weekend. 

Adam and Spencer peeled away from the group at the courthouse so they could run to Ida Lee rec center for Spencer's basketball class. The rest of us ended up at the park to enjoy a BBQ lunch and visit with friends. Emma, John, and I picked up the basketball crowd; then Adam took the kiddos home so John could snatch a little nap while I ran some Saturday errands

Next on the kids' agenda was a lemonade and craft sale. This awesome Gpa swung by just minutes after Adam texted him, and he proved to be one generous customer. The kids had a few other customers, including Jim Gardner (our neighbor and good friend) and raked in $9 in the few minutes they were up and running. (Sorry we missed you, Gma!)
Next Adam took S and E to friend Kareena's birthday party at Pump it Up (where Uncle Joel now works) and back home to pick up John, me, and some Chicken Tikka Masala supplies. From there, we went to Grammy's house for  a potluck dinner and games. One busy and wonderful Saturday.

Gymnastics Girl

This lovie has just started a series of gymnastics classes. Every Monday, she comes home from school, gets a snack, unpacks her backpack, does her homework, and then we head off to gymnastics class. This is a picture of Emma on her first day. She's dressed up to dance, but ready to try forward rolls, backward rolls, assisted flips over bars, balance beam walks, and jumps off trampolines and springboards. It's pretty fun to watch. 

I love the confidence that comes with trying new (hard) things. Just yesterday, Emma tried a forward roll on her own in the privacy of the family room. Previously, she had been able to make it through the full rotation only with the assistance of an adult. She decided she wanted to do it on her own, and...success! Emma is sometimes timid when it comes to physical obstacles because she really does NOT like to get hurt. I was so pleased to see her venturing into new territory. It's great fun to try new things!

Emma's take on gymnastics: "It ROCKS!" 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Daddy Dates

A most excellent tradition has cropped up in our house: the Daddy Date. Adam has made a habit of taking individual kiddos out for special outings. Spencer and Emma have long been planners and beneficiaries of these special times, but John had his very first official Daddy Date the first week of school when Adam wanted to do something special for our sweet boy who walks siblings each day to the school bus, wearing his backpack. It's tough to be left behind without the siblings and playmates whose company he has enjoyed all summer.

This is a photo I took when the boys were just about to head out on their date. It might be my favorite picture ever. John looks like such a little man, and Adam sure looks handsome!

John got to go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. When I asked him what he did for his special time, he said "Daddy date. Daddy Car. Eat. Play." A pretty good description. He repeated it regularly for days afterward, happy to tell any new audience about his "Daddy Date."

Emma's location of choice for her Daddy Dates is almost always Dunkin' Donuts. On this particular day, Adam took Emma to her swim lessons and then they swung by for a treat at the donut shop afterward. 

Spencer LOVES to ride his bike. This summer and continuing into the Fall, Adam and Spencer frequently ride up to the Potomac Club (over a mile), go for a swim, and then ride back. On the day pictured below they biked even further, catching part of the W&OD bike trail in their adventure. 

Just to round out the post, I thought this picture was worth posting. John is wearing a little nightshirt that Adam wore as a 2 year old. All three of our kids have worn it as toddlers, and we had to document the occasion before shipping it off for cousin Sadie to experience. These kids are blessed to have one fantastic Daddy. 

Just Cuteness

Emma has been learning about Community Helpers in kindergarten this week. She came home from school on Friday with a baker's hat and a foil-lined tray full of paper cookies. John thought this was the best thing ever and kept begging for a "cookie hat." So, we obliged. I helped John make a hat of his own, and Emma got some paper, drew and cut out cookies, and gave Johny his own tray. He spent the next while circling the house to give cookies to anyone willing to sample his wares. A sweet moment well worth capturing. 

A Cummings Saturday

We started this Saturday as all Saturdays began in the home of my youth: with some yard work. It was time to prune some bushes growing too close to the house, and one sneaky tree had grown up right near the foundation, so a very pleased Spencer got to cut down his first tree. Are you proud, Papa?

After that, it was off to Spencer's basketball class at the local community center. He's having a great time learning some basic skills and prepping for when his class will scrimmage. This 7 year old has got a pretty great shot. You can see that he made this one during a pass/pivot/dribble/shoot drill. Go Spence!

Emma and John were champs on the sideline. They had fun cheering on their big brother, although it did help that I had packed some fruit snacks to help them through the 50 minute practice. That always makes for happy kids.

We let John sneak in a quick nap while Spencer and Emma did some art projects. (Our kitchen table is in constant disarray, covered with paper, markers, scissors, and scraps - sure signs of creative minds at work and play). After that, we picked up our good friend Cole and headed to the Dulles Plane Pull. Cole is our good friend from when his family lived in Leesburg 3 years ago; his mom and I served in a Relief Society presidency together, and we spent a lot of time at Cole's house for presidency meetings. Now, Cole lives across the street from us! Spencer loves having a best buddy so close, and John loves it too. John claims all the Gardner boys as his pals.

We had a great time investigating the different planes that are on display as we made our way back to watch a team pull the Fed Ex plane at the back of the event. The kids had a great time asking questions of the military personnel who were manning some of the planes. They loved the cargo plane (no picture of that one...oops) but were especially excited to find some Navy planes. Spencer has a thing for aircraft carriers right now, and Cole's dad is a Navy guy.

This kind serviceman helped lift the kids up so they could see inside the cockpit of a second Navy plane. Emma spotted a parachute, which she thought was super cool. Spencer's favorite thing about the plane was the hook on the back that catches the wire, allowing it to land on aircraft carriers.

Here are Spencer, Emma, Cole, and John perched in a Fairfax Police helicopter. They were making up stories of what situation might call for use of the stretcher they spotted in the back of the helicopter. Emma thought it would have something to do with robbers. 

After we scoped out the aircraft, it was off to the moon bounces. The kids opted not to pull the truck (the kid version of the "plane pull") because they were too excited for some inflatable fun. Here we are in line for the Jurassic Adventure. I love that this event has so much variety and is FREE!

We woke John from his nap so we could make it to Dulles Days, so he was not quite in the right mood for jumping in the moon bounce, but he had a great time sitting on the side and high fiving Cole and Spencer through the netting. 

 Our last inflatable for the day was this surfboard. An operator controls it and tries to throw the surfer off the board. I was proud of Emma for trying it, and she did quite well in keeping her balance. 

Spencer announced that he did better. Ah, sibling rivalry. There's a lot of that going on right now, but for the most part I feel very lucky that these two get along quite well for the majority of the time. 

Tender mercies of the day: Remembering to bring pretzels and water so the kids had something to snack on while we waited in line, picking up an umbrella out of the car at the last minute thinking we would use it for shade and needing it for the abrupt rain shower that occurred on our walk back to the car, getting GREAT parking, following my intuition to take an alternative exit out of the parking lot which meant that we didn't get stuck in traffic and then not taking any wrong turns in figuring out how to get back on 28. 

Post plane pull, we did a grocery store run, welcomed Adam home from a Nats game (bachelor party for Jith, a friend from the Deloitte days) and then the kids played outside with some neighbors and Adam while I made a quick dinner. Spencer and Emma snuck a piano practice in, and I think we are all glad that this great but BUSY Saturday has come to a close. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What Heroes Look Like

Adam came to my rescue today.

I had to go in for an additional ultrasound because baby was not cooperating the first time around. After getting a good view of all four chambers of the heart, I headed out to the car in hopes that I might make it in time to greet the kids at the bus. I turned the key in the ignition, but nothing happened. Tender mercy #1 came when the gentleman directly across from me had just come to his car and helped me to jump the car. It started up, but as soon as I threw the car into reverse, the middle of the throughway, no longer in an out of the way parking space. Who ya gonna call? My main man. 

Adam pulled out of a conference call to answer, and boy was I grateful. He made arrangements not only to meet the kiddos at the bus, but then proceeded to make awesome play date plans for Spencer and Emma so he and John (who had to sacrifice the latter part of his nap for the excursion) could go pick up a battery at Wal-Mart and meet me in Reston. 

I managed to find someone to help push the car into a parking space and caught up on a lot of scripture reading while the afternoon progressed. (Love that iphone). When Adam arrived with new battery in hand (hurrah!) we were able to track down an adjustable wrench from the maintenance man in the building to complete the repair. (Another tender mercy). 

Emma was calling Adam "super daddy" tonight for coming to my rescue, and I must agree. He is my very own superhero.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Summer Fun

Here is a quick recap in photos and descriptions of some of the things we have been up to this summer.

We spent a long weekend at Aunt Carol and Uncle Geary's WV Cabin, where the kids had a great time running down the battery on the golf cart. Spencer and Emma even took turns steering. They get pretty regular practice since Adam lets them steer up and down Grammy's long driveway whenever we visit. 

We had lots of great food and enjoyed reading, relaxing, and playing with a new stash of toys. 

 Carol and Geary have built a fun treehouse. Emma didn't spend much time out of doors since she had a pretty awesome allergy attack, but Spencer and John were loving it. 

 We had a Cummings reunion at Grammy's house, complete with lots of playtime. Although now that I think of it, this photo is actually from when Jenny and Nathan brought their cute kiddos down to visit and Papa put up a bounce house he had purchased at a yard sale for the grandkids to jump around in. It made a reappearance at the reunion. 

We did some last play dates and said goodbye to our good friends, the Tikalskys, who moved away this summer. Emma and Natalie did co-op preschool together, and their family was in our ward for many years.

The kids logged lots of time at the library this year. Spencer and Emma both completed the summer reading program and were awarded with free books at the end. John and Spencer won books along the way in the weekly participant drawings too. John's book was a Walter Wick "I Spy" board book that has become a quick favorite.

This photo was taken after a library program. A cast of two put on the play "The Wizard of Oz." It was quite impressive to see their rendition and the list of characters each played during the duration of the show. I was exhausted for them by the end.

I spent a week at Girls Camp with these cute Young Women and leaders. Adam held down the fort at home, and the kids passed their days at Grammy's and Grandma's house. I don't think I could survive as YW President without the support of family living close by. It was a relief to know my kids were having fun while I hung out at Camp Snyder shooting arrows, firing bb guns, and doing ropes courses.

  After living in Loudoun County for most of my life, I finally made it to the Loudoun County Fair for the very first time. We took the YW as an activity on Children's Day when all 15 and under are free, and my kiddos got to tag along. 

John enjoyed the petting zoo, although he was content to watch others feed the animals.

Spencer and Emma, after much deliberation, decided to use their ride tickets to go on Surf's Up. Ride tickets were pricey, so they were limited to just one ride and were pretty good sports about it. John was too little and I was too pregnant to go on much of anything, so we were the official observers.

We had fun play dates with friends. Emma had a particularly wonderful time having all-day adventures with Emily W. Here is a tent I helped them create in Emma's room.

 John wanted one too, so he got to have his snack in a kitchen tent.

  We went to the Youth Conference Celebration, where youth from seven stakes in the area joined together to put on a dance festival. Papa was acting as a chaperone from our stake, so we got to sit with him. We love Papa!
After months of rehearsal, it was really wonderful to see the level of polish the youth achieved and to feel of the spirit that comes when 1300 youth gather together to share in a common experience, one that required faith, diligence, and trust in the leaders who organized this event. Mission accomplished, youth. It was a powerful sight.

 We had some water fights with neighbor friends. 

John claimed Spencer's tool set as his own and spent many spare afternoon moments digging in the dirt.

We had a fun walk along the Goose Creek with Aunt Katy and cousins Miriam and Reuben. Everybody got good and dirty throwing rocks into the water. 
John and Miri pictured below. 


Emma loves the dress-up at Grammy's house, and my boys love Uncle Joel. Grammy's house is always a winning destination.

We heard some nice music this summer. I taught violin several mornings during the week, which left afternoons free for other activities. Spencer continued his piano lessons through the summer. Emma is excited to start piano next week, and John jumps onto whatever instrument anyone is trying to practice. 

He often gets one of the little violins out of its case and pulls me over to the violin room where he sits in a chair, points at my chair and demands that I "dit" to give him a lesson. He bows his head after sawing away at the strings for a few moments since he sees my students bow at their recitals. It's pretty darling. 

Our neighbors the Fergusons gifted us this sandbox, and it has led to lots of time digging and exploring the new toys that came along with it.

Spencer went with Gpa and Dad to a Nats game, where he was treated to game day concessions and a ride on the Metro. He was one happy, happy boy. 

We welcomed Aunt Melinda home from Utah. She just graduated from BYU as valedictorian of her college and has returned to pursue a Master's program at VA Tech. So proud of you, Melinda!

The kids donned cowboy hats and took off on their imaginary horses to fulfill one of the things on their list of "Things We Want To Do This Summer," which we created at the beginning of the summer. It's been fun to cross off the items as we accomplished them.

One of the "must do's" this summer was play at the school park with Uncle Joel. I forgot to take a picture with the man himself, but we snuck this in the Friday before school started. The ice cream truck was just driving by as we drove up, so we waved them down, and I treated the kiddos to ice cream as well. (Another summer "to do" was take a summer drive 

We spent some time riding bikes. This is one of John's favorite things to do. "Bike. Hat." And off he goes. Spencer loves to take long bike rides with Adam up to the neighborhood pool, swim for a while, and bike back. John doesn't have quite that distance in his little legs, so he hangs out on the driveway and sidewalk close to home.

 We had our annual Read-a-thon while the Pascual cousins were down for a visit. The basic format consisted of 10 minutes independent reading/reading with an adult, 10 minutes of play time, 10 minutes of read aloud, 10 minutes of play time. Rinse and repeat. It was great fun, and Gma Valerie had a fun idea of letting the kids pick a treat from a bowl when they heard specific words in the read aloud. I think we decided that next time we'll lead with Tootsie Pops and let them suck on those during the read aloud time since they were sometimes distracted by collecting the treats or shouted out the word they were hoping to hear to get a specific goodie. Silly cousins.  

With the cousins, we staged a water balloon fight and found that we quickly had neighbors anxious to get in on the fun as well. As is always the case, we spent forever filling the water balloons and they were all popped within seconds. After that it became a sprinkler party.

All in all, this was a pretty GREAT Summer.
 *Side note: We never did go camping, but the kids crossed it off because we did set up the tent in the backyard for an afternoon. Sometimes close counts.