Gracie Talks Turkey

Earlier this week I pulled into the driveway after work and saw Grace and Scott “galloping” around in the front yard.  Grace explained that they were “riding their turkeys.”

She saddled up again and gave me a demonstration. “If you make this sound, he goes left,” she explained.  “If you make this sound, he goes right, and if you go like this, he’ll circle back to the start.”  Then, while she pretended to tie the turkey’s reins to the porch post, she said what I was afraid she’d say: “Now you try it.”

I’ve done a lot of goofy things to entertain my little princess, but this was one indulgence I wasn’t ready to grant, at least at that moment.  “No, honey,” I demurred, “I’m afraid if the neighbors saw me riding around on a turkey at my age, they’d think I was silly.”

“Daddy, it’s okay,” she assured me.  “He’s invisible.”

Somehow, I wasn’t convinced that would help my situation.

The next day, I asked if the turkey was getting wet in the rain, and she said, “No, he’s in his pen.”  Just to tweak her, I said, “Oh, no, I’m afraid he got out of the pen.  I saw a turkey running down the street after the mailman yelling, ‘Gobble Gobble, Gimme Mail!'”  Without missing a beat, she answered, “Well, it couldn’t have been mine.  He’s an off-road turkey.”

Check and mate.

OBX 2015

The first week of this month, we enjoyed a relaxing week in the Outer Banks with Grandma and Grandpa.  We managed to get the same house we had 3 years ago (even though I was convinced for some reason it had been razed by a hurricane in the interim).  The chief appeal here is the direct access to the beach, and the ability to watch the sun rise and set from the comfort of the deck.


As an avid sky-watcher, I found plenty to look at all week, though the highlight was probably the electrical storm we got to watch one night as it lit up the skies a few miles away.  Living in the tree-filled suburbs, you don’t often get a feel for the true size of a storm, or the play of lightning from cloud to cloud, but with a miles-long unobstructed view of the storm out over the coast, it’s like the world’s biggest fireworks display.  Sorry I couldn’t manage any photos for here.

The kids enjoyed the water all week, even though for the most part they couldn’t wade in too far due to treacherous rip tides.  After Labor Day, the lifeguards packed up and left for the year.


Collecting shells was a popular passtime. This week I was trying to organize the garage and found a collection of shopping bags filled with shells the kids (and I) had picked up over the course of the week.  It probably weighs about ten pounds.  I’m pretty sure we left a few on the beach, though you wouldn’t know it from that pile.


Grace was easily the biggest beach bum, angling for walks with Grandma every chance she got.  Somehow every “walk” ended up getting her wet.  Meanwhile the boys were just as content hanging out inside, playing video games and watching untold hours of “American Ninja Warrior” repeats.  But when we did get Jason out on the sand, he seemed to have a good time.



For the grown-ups, the trip was largely about food.  Laura and I made sure to get out to our favorite spot, Kill Devil Grill, as often as we could, and over the course of the week we ate way too many Duck Donuts (and yet, somehow, not enough of them).  I even broke down and tried fish tacos at one eatery, and found they’re surprisingly a lot better than they sound.

I went in with vague plans for seeing the Wright Memorial again, or climbing Jockey’s Ridge early one morning, or maybe even a horse sightseeing tour for Grace.  But by silent consensus we all seemed to agree to just relax and recharge, instead.  It helped that most kids had to return to school that week, so after the holiday Monday the crowds diminished considerably, and things were comparatively quiet. We even fit in a little birthday party for Grace, who turned 7 (gulp!) that Wednesday.


Thanks for the fun, OBX.  See you next time.




Jason Goes To Camp

From July 11 to 18, Jason experienced his first Boy Scout summer camp at Camp Raven Knob, just outside Mt. Airy, NC (aka “Mayberry”).  Given his dietary and allergy issues, I opted to tag along to help out the leaders and prepare Jason’s meals.  It was a fun week, with tolerable temperatures, pretty scenery and interesting merit badge classes for Jason.

Here’s Jason at easily the most popular spot in camp, the Trading Post.  This is where scouts could supplement the less-than-inspiring cuisine of the dining hall with snacks, ice cream and “slush puppies,” and spend all that money from Mom and Dad on t-shirts, pocket knives, walking sticks and whatever they forgot to pack before leaving home.  Jason didn’t get to enjoy the snacks, obviously, but he did score a neat utility knife with about a dozen gadgets included.


Jason’s tentmate exhausted all his funds pretty much on Day One, and spent the next few days anxiously awaiting a care package from home (“I know I’m getting one because I sent it myself!”) so he could sell the contents for more spending money.

With 43 scouts and ten leaders, Troop 800 took up two adjacent campsites and, as always, made its presence known.


With canvas tarps strung over concrete or wooden floors, it wasn’t quite the Waldorf, but our accommodations did keep out most of the rain and bugs.  Except for a couple of storms (one big enough to see us evacuated to a permanent structure for an hour or so), the weather was sunny and pleasant, anyway.


There were lots of aquatic activities on the lake all week, including swimming, canoeing, sailing and paddle-boarding.  Jason’s a strong swimmer, but none of his classes involved the water, and I couldn’t talk him into taking a dip even during the Free Swim periods, but I’m pretty sure Scott will be all about the water when it’s his turn to go.



We went to three campfire ceremonies over the week, including a very impressive “Order of the Arrow” induction ceremony for the Old Hickory Council. The ampitheatre gave a great view of the lake and mountains, a view I tried to sketch at one point, with disappointing results (which I’ll spare you here).


There were numerous trails, but the only one we took was to the top of Raven’s Knob, which afforded a nice view of the camp.  (This is not my photo.  I took one, but my camera took a hit and I ended up losing a day’s worth of images.  All things considered, I opted not to climb the mountain again for another shot).


It’s not like we didn’t get in plenty of walking, anyway.  The building in the clearing in the upper right is where Jason had most of his classes. For his aviation class, he followed that road down past the aquatics area, past the ampitheater and on off to the left for what had to have been at least another 1/8th of a mile to a shelter on the edge of the “Cripple Creek” area where some scouts got to recreate pioneer life.  Since it was such a long trek, I usually walked with him to that class and  back.  By the way, now I know why Boy Scout socks are dark green; I ruined five pairs of white gym socks walking those dusty trails!

At week’s end, Jason had completed his requirements for his Photography and Movie-Making, Digital Technology, Metal Working, Leather Working and (nearly) Aviation merit badges, and acquired a new appreciation for air conditioning and indoor plumbing.  Still, he claims he slept better on his cot in the tent than he does at home on a mattress.

All told, a rewarding experience.


Fun At Grandma’s

Last week we made our first trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Ohio in over a year.  It was also our first real vacation in a long while.  The kids enjoyed time with cousins, a trip to Amish country and an endless supply of snacks.


Scott and Jason tried their hands at riding Cousin Alex’s longboard, with varying degrees of success, but no injuries, thankfully.


Grace put almost as many miles on Grandma’s pedal car as we did on the real one.


And we fit in a couple games of miniature golf, the first a lot of fun, the second one on a much more frustrating course in miserable heat.


All in all, a lot of fun.  You know it’s true when the question you get as you drive away is “When are we coming back?”

Dance Little Sister, Dance

Grace had her dance recital on Wednesday, and all the practice paid off; she did a great job.  Her old class, a couple years ago, was more just a case of “something to do once a week,” with not a lot of real progress.  At that recital, all the girls just watched the teacher and tried to mirror her movements.  This year, her teacher did a much better job and Grace was very much into it.


There was a fun moment after her tap routine; the dance ended with the girls’ hands up in the air in a “Ta-Da!” kind of pose and Grace held it for a long time, even after her partner Abby had gone back to her seat to make room for the next act.  You could tell she was really basking in the applause.  After the recital, the first thing she said was that she wanted to do it again next year.  Always a good sign.