Monday, December 29, 2014

Fancy Girls

Mom and Hazel went out together for a fancy girls' lunch at Chez Zee on Sunday. Hazel and Mom were very excited to go, and while Mom was getting ready to leave, Hazel kept asking if it was time to go yet.

Not only did Hazel and Mom dress up fancy, the restaurant was very fancy. There was a red grand piano, with a guy playing music. There were twinkly lights everywhere, and it was very warm and cozy, even though it was a cold day outside.

Lots of people there were talking, and Hazel asked Mom why it was so loud. She said she "thought it would be quiet and peaceful" there.

The food was fancy too. Hazel had creme brulee French toast and Mom had veggie eggs benedict. They also liked the croissants with strawberry butter. When Mom and Hazel planned the outing, they originally thought they would just go there for cake or pie. Chez Zee is known for its desserts. But by the time they finished brunch, they were so full they decided they'd have to go back another time and just get dessert. They figured it would be fun to have another girls' day anyway.

Hazel really enjoyed the decor, and after they finished eating they walked around and looked at everything before they left.

Hazel liked it so much, she decided she wanted to go back for her birthday.

While Hazel and Mom were out at lunch, Dad stayed home with me and Turner and we watched football, played Candyland, and took naps (well, Dad took a nap while we played).

We are really enjoying winter break! It's going to be hard to return to school next week.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

All I Want For Christmas...

... is my two front teeth!

Bubbe was singing that song all weekend (she's so silly), and then today my second front tooth fell out while I was chomping on my lunch.

Check out my new grin!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Chanukah!

Delicious latke dinner, courtesy of Bubbe
This time of year is pretty fun. In addition to getting a nice long winter break away from school and the opportunity to spend lots of time at home with mom, Hazel, and Turner, it's also Chanukah. Bubbe flew in from Atlanta to help us celebrate.

Each of us kids gets to take turns picking the candle colors for the Menorah. Most nights, we eat dinner by the bright candle lights of the menorah. Then we play dreidle and open presents. When Bubbe was here, she made delicious latkes that we all gobbled up.

Go Wildcats!
It was a pretty lazy weekend so that we could stay home, play with Bubbe, and play with our presents. One fun activity was we all watched the Kentucky basketball game. Kentucky won by a lot. Dad is pretty sure Papa was watching the game with us from Heaven.

The weather was reasonably nice as well, so Bubbe took Turner and me riding our bikes in the park. She was pretty impressed with how much we liked it.

The only downside of the weekend was that Hazel was a bit under the weather. But that didn't stop her from opening her presents!

Here are some pictures from Chanukah and Bubbe's trip.

Friday, November 7, 2014


We all got dressed up, but Hazel forgot
one of her legs!
As if Halloween wasn't fun enough, the next morning we all got up early and headed to synagogue for my consecration. This is a ceremony that marks the beginning of my formal Jewish education. The whole family came - we got dressed up and everything.

It was a pretty fun service. We got pictures taken holding a Torah, we got to sing songs, and then at the end, we each got called up by both our Hebrew and English names and got our very own Torahs. You an actually watch the entire 30 minute ceremony here. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, you can skip to the 28:40 mark which is where they announce my name and I come up and get my Torah.

My Hebrew name is Marnin Chaninah. It means "One who brings joy" and "compassion". Mom and Dad gave it to me because they hoped I would have these qualities when I grow up. So far, so good!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Here are a few pictures from our awesome Halloween, which included a party at Dad's work, carving a pumpkin at home, and trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. Also, Turner had a pumpkins and pajamas party at his preschool. Hazel and Dad carved a pumpkin together at Hazel's school too.

I dressed up as a wizard. Hazel was a witch. Turner was a cowboy on Halloween and an astronaut (or space cadet, as he likes to say) when we went to Dad's work party.

For trick-or-treating, Mom pulled out her banana costume. A teenager told her she is the coolest person she's ever seen. Mom won't stop reminding us of that moment. Dad pulled out his werewolf costume.

We all had a great time! To see more pictures, click here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bubbe's visit

Last weekend, Bubbe came into town for a short visit. We were super excited to have her here!

She got into town Thursday night after we had gone to bed, so we got to surprise her Friday morning by singing to her to wake her up. Hazel and I have made up a little special Bubbe song that we only get to sing when she's here. We're teaching it to Turner.

Unfortunately, Hazel was a little sick when Bubbe was here, so we had to tone down our plans a bit for the weekend.  During the day Friday, I went to school while Bubbe played with Turner and Hazel. Then I came home and we all played some more.

Friday night, out Aunt Susan (Bubbe's sister) and Uncle Stuart came over. They were visiting from Birmingham. After we said hello, we went to dinner at a very Austin-y place, the Salt Lick! The drive was a bit long, and Turner fell asleep in the car. Dad carried him in, and  Turner remained asleep in Dad's arms all the way through dinner. The drive was worth it though. We had really delicious barbecue - brisket, turkey, and beans, followed by ice cream and pie for dessert! Yum!

Saturday morning Bubbe and Dad took Turner to Tot Shabbat. Bubbe was surprised at how much Turner loves to sing!

Later Saturday afternoon, we all went over to the Harvest Festival at our school. Mom volunteered to help lead the cake walk, and while we were there, Turner won a prize! Since Mom was tied up with the cake walk, and Dad was home with sick Hazel, Bubbe took me and Turner around to see everything. Turner liked the petting zoo. I liked all the yummy treats.

Then, Saturday evening we got a special surprise. Mom and Dad left town and went to visit some friends in Dallas. So Bubbe stayed home with us by herself all night. We had so much fun with her! We had make your own taco night. It was fun.

Sunday morning Bubbe took us to Sunday school and Mom and Dad met us there, when they came back from Dallas. We were excited to see them again.

When we got home, Bubbe helped us put up our Halloween decorations! We had fun stretching out the spider webs and adorning them with spiders.

Sunday afternoon, it was time to take Bubbe to the airport. It was a fun weekend but it sure went by fast. We had one more treat for Bubbe though. Dad and I were going straight from the airport to our cub scouts meeting, so Bubbe got to see us both dressed up in our uniforms!

You can see pictures from our weekend here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My first camping trip!

One of the best things about Cub Scouts is that we get to go on camping trips. Last weekend, I went on my very first Cub Scout camping trip, and Dad, Mom, Hazel, and Turner all came along.

We camped at Bastrop State Park, which is about an hours drive from Austin. Bastrop was in the news a few years ago because it had a HUGE forest fire that burned down almost all of its beautiful pine trees. However, one result of that was that the facilities were re-built, and it was all very new and state-of-the-art (Mom especially appreciated the nice bathrooms).

The peanut gallery, enjoying some free time
Our den leader gave us her family's old tent to use on this trip. It is a HUGE nine-person tent. Dad set it up in our garage a week ago just to make sure he knew how to put it together. His work paid off as he, Mom, and a few other grown-ups were able to set up our tent in pretty quickly after we arrived. We all loved sleeping in the giant tent.

Bobcat ceremony
We got to the campsite on Saturday morning. Some of the Cub Scouts camped there Friday night, but since this was our first trip, we decided to just camp out one night this time. Bastrop has what Dad calls "car-camping." We set up our tent just a few feet from where we parked our car. The campsite had water, electricity, grills, and picnic tables. It also had bathrooms and showers very close by. We were right next to all of the other kids from my Cub Scout den.

We just barely starting unpacking when our morning activities started. First we had a flag ceremony in our full Cub Scout uniforms. Then we heard all about wildlife conservation and taking care of the parks. Then we got tons of free time. During my free time, I hiked, ran up and down hills, played with my friend Brody, and did all kinds of other fun stuff. Hazel made a new friend Avery and they played together a lot. Later in the day, Turner's friend Felix came and they got to play together. Everyone had a lot of fun.

I got my Bobcat badge!
Felix's dad brought army MREs that we got to eat. It was pretty neat, but I mostly just liked the candy.

After lunch, we had the Bobcat ceremony, where I received my very first Cub Scout badge. I got to put paint on Dad's nose. We also did some more activities like meeting some of the older scouts.

Dinner Saturday night was super fun. The older kids all cooked hot dogs and other yummy food. My den performed a skit that we had practiced earlier, and then we watched some of the other skits by the campfire. Then we all went over to Felix's campsite and cooked smores and played. It was so fun.

By the time we went to sleep, we were all exhausted and we all slept through the night.

Chillin' during free time
Sunday morning we woke up for a flag ceremony and a hike with the whole pack. It was fun but tiring. When we came back, the parents had cooked us a delicious pancake breakfast! After we finished eating, we packed up and drove back home.

We all loved camping a lot, especially Mom. She can't wait to go again!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mitch joined Cub Scouts

Besides school starting, I've been doing some other new things this year. One of them is joining Cub Scouts. I am now an official Tiger Cub. Dad came with me to the first few meetings, got excited, and now he's a Tiger Cub assistant den leader.

Our first meeting was a couple weeks ago. The topic was one of my favorite things -- maps! I got to draw a map of my neighborhood, learned how to use a compass, and studied the parts of a globe. That earned me two belt loops - Map & Compass and Geography.

In addition to the two belt loops, I also learned the Cub Scout Promise, the Law of the Pack, the salute, handshake, and motto. I practiced it all week with Dad and did enough to fulfill the Bobcat Badge requirements. I was bummed out to find out that we only have our den meetings every other week instead of every week.

Today was our second meeting. Since our first meeting, Dad and I bought our uniforms and Mom tirelessly sewed all of our patches on. We were excited to wear them to our den meeting. At today's meeting, we earned two new beads as we talked about our place in our family and each of our responsibilities. We even made a small family picture album. 

I'm really excited about all of the fun things we have planned this year for Cub Scouts!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer of Swimming

We started out our summer with two weeks of blitz lessons at Waterloo Swim School. Blitz lessons are half-hour lessons that are scheduled Monday through Thursday in one week. We really liked that we could play and practice at the side of the pool before and after our lessons, and Mom loved that she could watch while in the pool, unlike other places where she had to sit on the side and watch. 

After doing that two weeks in a row at the beginning of summer, we decided the lessons were awesome but we were pretty tired out and it'd be better to take a week-long break in between blitz weeks. 

Hazel, flying through the water with the greatest of ease
The other thing that happened was Mom first signed only Hazel and me up for lessons. But during the first week, Turner said he really wanted to take lessons too. So he also took lessons the second week. He did great! 

When we got back from our road trip, we signed up for a week of blitz lessons, then a week off before another week of blitz lessons. 

We thought that would take us to the end of the summer, but the swim school had so much demand for more lessons, they tacked on two more weeks of lessons, which took us up to the start of school. We signed up for the last week, thinking we'd have a week off in between each blitz week, but Turner changed Mom's mind. 

Swimming makes me so happy!
Turner started out doing really well in the beginning of summer, but while we were on vacation, he fell into a pool once, then swam with a life preserver the rest of the time. 

When he went back to lessons, he was pretty freaked out about swimming without a life preserver. He screamed through most of his lessons until he got a new teacher, Preston. The week he had Preston, Turner made so much progress, Mom didn't want him to take a week off and have to start over again, so we signed up for an extra week, meaning we had three weeks of blitz lessons in a row!

With Preston's help, even Turner has grown to love the pool
With all these swim lessons, we all made a TON of progress! Hazel and I both passed from the orange level to white to novice. After novice, there's only one more level until we can join a swim team! After we passed each level, we got a bracelet, which was really exciting. We were very motivated to pass each level and are proud of our progress. 

We swam pretty much every day during the summer. In addition to our swim lessons, we tried out lots of different pools, including Deep Eddy, the oldest swimming pool in Texas. It's one of my favorite pools. We spent a lot of time at the pool in our neighborhood and the pool in our old neighborhood. 

We love Life Time Fitness!
The last weekend of summer vacation, we joined Life Time Fitness so we'd have a place to practice in fall, winter and spring, so we wouldn't lose all our new-found swimming skills. I love swimming, so I am happy we can continue swimming year-round.

Also, we can take swim lessons there. Turner is signed up now, and Hazel and I will take some once we settle into our school routine. In the meantime, we have had a lot of fun swimming in the gorgeous indoor and outdoor pools and trying out the huge water slides there. Hazel and I took the swim test -- swimming a length of the pool without stopping -- so we don't have to stay right with Mom while we are swimming. And Turner has started jumping into the pool and with some encouragement, will swim from Mom to Dad and back. Since we joined, we've been there a lot, and by practicing on our own, our swimming has improved even more!

We worked really hard and learned a lot this summer. Mom and Dad are so, so proud of us!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Fun with Friends

Birthday party at the Thinkery

One of the things we were looking forward to coming home to while on our trip was our friends. We missed them while we were away, so when we got back, we spent some quality time with all of them, and went to loads of birthday parties.

We went swimming with Ethan, Travis and their mommy quite a few times. We also had lots of play dates with them. Both Mom and Miss Emily did science experiments with us. We made an explosion with Miss Emily and a volcano with Mom.

Miss Emily told Mom about a farm camp Ethan went to, and Hazel told Mom she wanted to go with him sometime. So one Friday, she joined him. They played with baby bunnies, swam in a pond, fed some animals, and did lots of other farm things. She had so much fun, I went along with them the next Friday. Then we went together the next week too. Next year we will go earlier in the summer so we have enough time to go more often.

Sleepover in our toy room!
We also had play dates with our friend Hannah, who was in my kindergarten class last year. She even came over for a sleepover one night. She and Hazel dressed Turner up and called him “little sister.” Then we each made a pizza for dinner before watching the movie “Frozen.” Mom made cookies with ice cream, too!

We were excited to catch up with our friends Ender, who is in my grade, and his sister Felix, who is Turner’s age. One day we all played at their house. Another day, when it had been raining, they came to our house and we all played in the mud!

Botanical Garden
Another time, while Hazel and Turner went to preschool, Mom took Ender and me to the dinosaur island at the Botanical Garden, then to the dino pit at the Austin Nature and Science Center. We had a blast digging up dinosaur fossils, hiking around and playing in a creek. We will definitely go back once it cools off a little bit, and I told Mom I really liked having Ender along for the fun.

Toward the end of summer, while Dad was out of town, we all went with Ender, Felix and their mom to a hiking trail. We found a fun place in Bull Creek to play in. Mom wasn’t prepared for that, so we all had to ride home in our underwear and she had to wash our new sneakers for us!

Mud Day!
Hazel has been excited to go to kindergarten but also sad to say goodbye to some of her preschool friends, so we got together with a couple of them before school started. One day we met up at a bounce house. Another day we met at Quarry Splash Pad. Mom enjoyed getting to know their moms better, and it was a nice way for Hazel to wrap up her time with them at preschool, since none of them will go to our school.

We feel very grateful to have such great friends, and it was a blast hanging out with them this summer!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy Seventh Birthday to Me

Good morning! I'm 7 today!
The day after we came home from our trip gave us a real reason to celebrate – it was my seventh birthday!

The King of the Seventh Birthday
We started the day with present opening, an activity I spread out over the next few days. I received lots of great stuff, including a Kindle Fire, lots of fact books, encyclopedias, art supplies, science kits, and books about dinosaurs, and games about dinosaurs and maps.

I couldn't wait for my party!
We spent the rest of the day swimming and preparing for my birthday dinner. I wanted to eat at home and had a few special requests, orange chicken from Costco and Razzleberry Pie from Marie Callendars. Our friends Emily, Ethan and Travis joined us for dinner, pie and more presents. It was great seeing them and celebrating together!

Blowing out my cake with my assistant, John.
About a week later, my birthday culminated with a party with lots of friends, water, pizza and dinosaur-topped dirt cake at Quarry Splash Pad. We all had a really great time. 

The QSP scene

I had a blast turning seven! Don't forget to check out all the photos from my birthday celebrations. There are lots of good ones!

Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 Road Trip Part 4 - Driving home

We were sad to leave Bubbe, but we still had a couple more days of driving before we got home. On Monday morning, we got up with Bubbe, had some good, long hugs, and waved goodbye.

Our first stop on our drive was the Birmingham Children's Museum. Our Aunt Susan (Bubbe's sister and Hallie's grandmother) met us at the museum to show us around. There was a lot of cool things to see at the museum. Since we were there so early, we got a lot of individualized attention from the staff, including some neat magic tricks. Mom even took a video of Dad levitating.

My favorite part of the museum was (of course) the dinosaur exhibit. Mom and Hazel loved going down the big slide, and Hazel found an animation section where she could draw. Turner was still pretty tired, so he wasn't his normal cheery self.

After the museum, we drove all the way through Mississippi to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Our hotel had a pool and we all really wanted to go swimming. Dad asked the woman at the front desk if the pool was indoors - it wasn't. He asked if it was heated - it wasn't. He asked if it was too cold to swim in. The woman replied "Sir, you are in southern Louisiana. That water will not be cold" Sure enough, it was unbelievably warm and nice. We all went night swimming before having a healthy dinner and drifting off to sleep dreaming on being home the next day.

The next morning Mom and Dad had planned to go on a swamp tour near our hotel. However, the weather was looking threatening, and the tour was later in the day than they wanted so we decided to just drive home. When we got to the Texas state line (hooray Texas!), we stopped at the Texas welcome center.

That turned out to be what Mom called "the best welcome center ever". In the back, it had a huge bridge that went way out into a swamp. We saw turtles, a Great Egret, and even an alligator! Mom was so happy to see an alligator after all. I was happy to get a Texas map.

Our next stop was a few hours later in Brenham, Texas at the Bluebell Ice Cream Factory. Ice Cream for everyone!

We finally arrived home at around 4pm in the afternoon, happy to be home. The adventures aren't over yet though - the next day was my birthday!

You can see all of the pictures from our road trip here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

2014 Road Trip Part 3 - Atlanta

The Discover Space Shuttle!
We had fantastic time in Pennsylvania, but eventually we had to continue on to the next part of our roadtrip. Our next stay was with some cousins in North Carolina. On the way, we stopped just outside Washington DC at the Air and Space Museum.

The Air and Space Museum had all kinds of neat airplanes for us to look at, and it was a great stop for us to run around and stretch our legs. Our favorite part of the museum was definitely the space shuttle. It was gigantic.

When we got to North Carolina, I was excited to meet my cousins Randy, Michelle, Matthew, Staci, Darryl, and Hallie. Randy, Michelle, and Matthew were nice to let us stay with them, and they even gave us some fun bubble toys to play with when we got there. The next day we went swimming with them, had a quick nap, and then headed over to the Marbles Kids Museum.

Future Hockey Player
This children's museum had a lot of neat things, including a hockey court, which Hazel loved. She has a mean slap-stick. They also had a gym, an electric grid, a playscape, and other fun areas. We were happy to wear ourselves out there before meeting Staci, Daryll, and Hallie for dinner.

The next morning we said goodbye to our North Carolina cousins and drove straight to Atlanta. Like on our trip to Pennsylvania, we surprised Mom and Dad by electing to skip children's museums along the way to get to Bubbe's house in time for dinner.

We did a lot of fun things while we were in Atlanta. On Thursday, our first day, we went to see Bubbe at work at her dental office and get our teeth cleaned. All three of us did well. I was a little shy around the X-ray machine, so Bubbe had her teeth X-ray'd first to show me it was okay. I agreed to do the X-ray the next time we're in Atlanta. That night we went to a big outside party with Aunt Laurie and Uncle Jonathan. It was great to see them again. All of kids impressed Bubbe with our potty-training, and our ability to pee outside when necessary.

On Friday, Dad, Mom, Aunt Laurie, and Uncle Jonathan took me, Hazel and Turner to the Fernbank Museum of Natural Science. They had an awesome exhibit on dinosaurs there. I've been reading a lot about dinosaurs on our trip and immediately identified the giant dinosaur fossil in the main room as an Argentinosaurus. Bubbe and Aunt Laurie were impressed. Dad's favorite part of the museum was a section on wales and evolution. Hazel and I used the computer to make all kinds of fat dolphins, which we thought was hilarious.

Friday night we had planned to go swimming and show Bubbe how great our swimming skills were, but it starting storming. So instead we stayed in and watched Frozen on Bubbe's TV. It was really fun.

On Saturday we got up early and went to the Atlanta Aquarium. Our favorite part was the dolphin show. I especially liked it when the dolphins swam backwards standing up. I told Mom those dolphins were crazy. After the show, I went up to one of the dolphin trainers and asked him how deep the water was (30 feet) and how many gallons of water it held. He asked me to guess and I guessed 24,000 gallons. He said good guess, but it was actually 2 million gallons! That's a lot of water! Another highlight from the aquarium was the penguin exhibit. Like last year, I managed to attract a lot of penguin friends.

We came home for a nap on Saturday and then Saturday night we went to Stone Mountain for the laser show. Bubbe was impressed with how well we all did staying up late. All of us really liked the laser show and fireworks, and Turner especially liked the Frozen tribute. Dad liked the Devil Went Down to Georgia tribute.

After such a busy week, we took it a bit easier on Sunday and stayed at Bubbe's house. The weather was nice, so we played outside with her hose, sprinkler and pools. It was a great way to spend the day.

Saturday evening, we had a small birthday celebration for Mitch with cookie cake, ice cream, and homemade snow-cones. Then we said a sad goodbye to Aunt Laurie and Uncle Jonathan, and packed up, ready to begin our drive home the next morning.