Archive for August, 2012
When my mom came down from NY to visit us last week we thought we’d take a trip to Kings Dominion, a big amusement park just about 30 minutes up the road from us. And why yes they do have a scaled down version of the Eiffel Tower there. John actually grew up taking annual summer trips to Kings Dominion so it was kind of cool to take Clara to ride some of the very same rides he took a spin on as a kid.
So many rides, so little time. This face is one I like to call “which one should I ride first?”
Actually, despite being a ride junkie at a few other places – like our visits to Funland in Delaware – she wasn’t as interested in the rides on this particular visit. She was so stuck on the idea of going to the water park area that she couldn’t bring herself to enjoy much else. Although she did stop to give some love to the various Snoopy statues around the park. This bended knee action kills me.
This one is entitled: Snoopy, let’s hug it out.
In a spur of the moment we-might-regret-this decision, John and I decided to ride something ourselves: the Drop Zone tower – one of those rides that lifts you up into the air (272 feet) and then drops you down at 72mph. There are a couple of YouTube videos (not ours) that capture the experience here & here. It was actually really fun slash totally scary. We did that thing where we giggled for ten minutes afterwards while we got our bearings again.
Once we were safely back on the ground, we headed to the water area so Clara could finally unleash her water-loving agenda.
For the most part it involved splashing water out of the baby pool.
And some synchronized jumping into the pool with Nonna. This kept us busy for a good 30 minutes.
After lunch we moved on to another part of the water area with all sorts of opportunities to get soaked. Clara still doesn’t like getting her head wet so she spent most of her time playfully dodging jets and waterfalls. Her favorite part was playing a game of chicken with this giant bucket that dumped water onto everyone who was standing below it every few minutes. Note the butterfly photobomb.
She loved the bucket because once it dumped there was a nice pool of water to splash around in.
We eventually wrapped up our time with the water because it was getting close to someone’s nap time. On the way out we checked out one more ride – the antique cars, which Clara loves to ride with John’s parents (they’ve taken her a couple of times already this summer since they have season passes and Clara is free ’til she’s 3). John and Clara were brave enough to let me drive (since it’s pretty much an auto-pilot thing). As a reminder, I only drove for about a year in high school before going off to college in NYC, where no one drove (I lived there for 6 years, then moved to VA, but we’re a one car family, so I pretty much haven’t driven much for the past 12 years, although I still have a license that says I’m technically allowed). From the photo below you can tell that Clara wasn’t sure it was a smart decision to let me take the wheel…
Has anyone else hit up some amusement parks or thrill rides this summer?
Two weekends ago we experienced our first family reunion. It was my mom’s side of the family and in honor of my Granny’s 90th birthday earlier this year, nearly 50 of us gathered at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill, Kentucky (since it’s a short drive from Granny’s home in Huntington, WV).
It was a pretty brief trip, with folks arriving Friday evening and leaving Sunday morning. But we packed in a lot of quality time in those 40-ish hours. For instance, Clara experienced her first pony ride.
We also went on a short hike that the ranger described as “stroller friendly.” We’re not sure if he knew what a stroller was.
It was a fun hike nonetheless. Clara (and I) were in rock heaven.
Burger had fun too – although this photo is mainly to show my sister Emily that if she’s gonna photobomb my picture like a big weirdo, I’m going to put it on the Internet.
Here’s a better shot of us (with Sherry’s ol’ turkey leg shirt) enjoying the hike together.
But this trip wasn’t really about our little family foursome – it was about the family forty-some and getting to spend time with our cousins, aunts, uncles, etc, etc. That “etc” is mainly my sisters’ and cousins’ kids since I think there were about fourteen kiddos there who were under the age of ten. Including this troublesome trio of Clara and her cousins John and Emanuel. They were just touching the rock, but I think it looks like they’re ready to be frisked. Except for Emanuel. He’s about to make a run for it.
Clara also got to hang with our cousins daughter Elsa, whom she idolizes.
The reunion centered around a big picnic / cook-out on Saturday evening at one of the park’s shelters.
And it wouldn’t be a reunion without matching t-shirts right? And since my mom’s family is the Kelleys, we went with a kelly green theme (though the little kids got white shirts with clovers on them).
Here are the women that run this show / are responsible for this madness. That’s Granny in the center flanked by her daughters (and daughter-in-law on far left). My mom’s the one on the far right. The hilarious thing about this picture is before we snapped it, Granny put in a request: “I want to be airbrushed.” Ha!
Granny is the definition of a grandma with spunk. She’s always smiling and cheering people on and still always surprising us with great one liners. This picture is right after we presented her with the new TV we all went in on together. She stood up as we all chanted “Speech! Speech!” and then simply said “Thank you for the TV. It looks lovely.” and quietly sat back in her seat.
Her three daughters certainly inherited some of the spunk. Particularly my aunt Liz (far left) who made these t-shirts for the three of them.
But the gathering wasn’t just t-shirts and photo-taking. There, of course, was eating.
Between the watermelon and the icing that Clara’s smashing into her cake-hole below, I swear she ate some real food. At least I think she did.
At least she stayed hydrated. Did I mention she idolizes Elsa?
The saving grace for all of those with children was the big playground that was right next to the shelter.
Clara was queen of the swings. Or maybe with the way she’s clutching that Sleeping Beauty doll, she’s more like King Kong of the swings.
One of her favorite swinging buddies was her baby cousin Ben (John’s little brother). Clara just lights up around him.
And sometimes he does the same around her. Isn’t he a handsome devil?
This next series of photos cracked me up. Ignoring the fact that these two toddlers are related, this picture is like the epitome of playground flirting. Do you eat lollipops here often?
She said she’d go out with me!
And here’s Emanuel’s attempt to break up all of the mushy stuff. Not sure he was successful.
But perhaps Clara was learning the ways of her cousin John. Because at the end of the day she just wanted to steal his seat in the double-stroller next to his brother Ben.
As many cute photos came out of our reunion weekend, my favorite was probably this one – which is a photo taken who knows how many years ago. It’s Granny and my Papa back in the day. Such a charming picture of the two of them. Makes me wish he were still around to see all that this family has become.
Our first ever Kelley Family reunion went so well that we’re already starting to plan the next one (probably in 2014). Any fun family reunion tips or suggestions to make the next one bigger and better? Well, maybe not bigger. Forty-eight people was a lot already!
Hi guys, Clara here. This is a fun monthly letter about my life that I’ll be sharing with my pen pal who is also named Clara and lives all the way in Germany! Each time, my friend Clara will also be sharing a letter with me, so I’ll get to read all about the life of a little girl with the same name in Germany. I think it’s really cool – and hope you guys do too!
Oh and I get a little help from mommy when it comes to writing my letter, and my friend Clara’s mommy helps to translate my letter at the bottom of this post into German so my friend Clara can read it. And you can drop in on her letter to me right here (which is translated into English at the bottom of her post).
My name is Clara too. And we both have last names that start with a P! Mine is Petersik. My birthday was also in May, but on the 14th and I turned two. You’re so big. I’m excited to be three someday. Then maybe I can go on the big girl swings instead of the little kid swings that I swing on now. I live in a city called Richmond, and it’s known for having a giant river that runs right through it.
We drive over it all the time on bridges and even swim in it and watch people kayak there. I think you would like it here. Germany sounds great too because I love chickens and cows and sheep so much. I think my brother Burger (he’s a five year old chihuahua) would love Germany too because he could run with all of the animals and bark at them.
It’s so cool that you’re going to Kindergarten in August! I’m starting preschool in September and I can’t wait because they have a really fun playground. I will only go two days a week in the mornings but mommy and daddy say they won’t know what to do with themselves without me. I think they’re going to miss me more than I’ll miss them. I’ll be busy playing on the playground and painting pictures. I love to paint and play with Play Doh.
Your version of Kindergarten with your mornings out in the woods sound really fun! I love the woods. Sticks, rocks, and sand are my favorite things to play with in the whole world. I think someday if we meet we should play in the woods together and sing songs. I love singing and dancing too. My new favorite song is Put A Ring On It by the Chipmunks. I think some other lady sang it first, but I like their rendition the best. I also love any song by Adam Levine. Whenever his songs come on the radio in the car I shout his name and my parents laugh.
I’m excited to learn more about you and have you as my pen pal. Ballet sounds really cool! I go to a music class every week and my parents are talking about signing me up for a dance class because I love that so much. Maybe I will get to do ballet like you! It will be really fun to learn about another little girl from Germany with the same name. It will be interesting to hear how your life is the same in some ways and very different in others. Thanks for your letter and I can’t wait for the next one!
Here’s our Clara’s letter translated in German for her pen pal:
Hallo Clara, mein Name ist auch Clara und unsere Nachnamen beginnen beide mit einem P. Meiner ist Petersik. Auch ich hatte im Mai Geburtstag, am 14. und ich bin jetzt zwei Jahre alt. Du bist schon so groß. Ich finde es sehr aufregend auch irgendwann einmal 3 Jahre alt zu werden. Dann kann ich vielleicht endlich auch auf der Schaukel für große Mädchen schaukeln und muss nicht mehr in die Babyschaukel klettern, wie jetzt gerade. Ich wohne in Richmond. Richmond ist bekannt für seinen großen Fluss, der mitten durch die Stadt hindurchfließt. Wenn wir durch die Stadt fahren, überqueren wir ständig über Brücken den Fluss. Ich mag es auch im Fluss zu schwimmen, oder anderen Leuten beim Kajakfahren zuzuschauen. Ich glaube, dir würde es hier auch sehr gut gefallen. Deutschland klingt auch großartig, besonders da ich Kühe, Ziegen und Schafe auch so gerne habe. Auch mein „Bruder Burger“ (ein 5 Jahre alter Chihuahua) fände das bei euch toll. Er würde die ganze Zeit hin und her rennen und wild bellen, um die Tiere zu beeindrucken.
Es ist so toll, dass du nun in den Kindergarten gehst. Ich starte mit dem Kindergarten im September und kann es gar nicht mehr abwarten. Im Kindergarten haben sie einen so tollen Spielplatz. Ich gehe am Anfang nur zwei Vormittage in der Woche dort hin. Meine Mama und Papa sagen, sie wissen gar nicht was sie alleine ohne mich zu Hause anfangen sollen, in dieser Zeit. Ich glaube, sie werden mich mehr vermissen, als ich sie. Ich bin schon ganz aufgeregt endlich dort auf dem Spielplatz spielen zu können, oder tolle Bilder zu malen. Ich liebe es, zu malen und mit Knete zu spielen.
Dein Waldkindergarten hört sich aber auch sehr lustig an. Ich liebe es, im Wald zu sein. Stöcke, Steine und Sand sind meine allerliebsten Lieblingsspielzeuge auf der ganzen Welt. Wenn wir uns treffen, müssen wir unbedingt zusammen im Wald spielen und zusammen singen. Ich singe und tanze genauso gerne wie du, musst du wissen. Mein Lieblingslied im Moment ist „Put A Ring On It“, gesungen von den Chipmunks. Außerdem liebe ich wirklich jeden Song von Adam Levine. Wenn immer ich auch im Radio ein Lied von ihm höre, rufe ich ganz laut seinen Namen und meine Eltern müssen lachen.
Ich bin so aufgeregt und glücklich mehr über dich zu erfahren und dich als meine Brieffreundin besser kennenzulernen. Dass du zum Ballett gehst, finde ich auch sehr spannend. Ich gehe zur musikalischen Früherziehung, einmal pro Woche. Meine Eltern haben mir versprochen, mich auch in einem Tanzkurs anzumelden. Vielleicht gehe ich auch schon ganz bald zum Ballett, so wie du. Ach Clara, es wird so ein Spaß werden, die Welt mit deinen Augen zu sehen und zu lernen wie es ist in Deutschland ein kleines Mädchen zu sein, dass auch noch ganz genauso heißt wie ich. Es wird bestimmt vieles geben was für uns beide gleich ist und trotzdem in vielerlei Hinsicht ganz verschieden.