Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Riley enjoyed herself immensely at Camp Cedarbrook last week. She was understandably anxious and nervous the night before we left as she and I made final preparations. However, when we picked her up at the end of the week I asked her if she had missed us. She laughed a guilty kind of laugh, at which point I asked, "You weren't having too much fun to miss us, were you?" She responded with a huge smile and a vigorous nod. Stupendous.


BUNGANUT LAKE (she was very pleased that she passed the swimming test for the second of the three sections in the lake.)

She brought home gifts for us all--mostly items she weaved. She's eager for me to buy ingredients for some special camp treat to make at home. She loved, loved, loved the swamp walk, for which they duct-taped their shoes to their feet so they didn't lose their shoes in the we have a lovely, sticky residue on her crocks. She's been singing camp songs NON-STOP!!!--and trying to convince me that we need to have song books for meals like they do at camp (separate lunch songs and dinner songs, no less). Ummmm, no. As much as I like to sing, I'm not seeing that one happening. And, like any good child who is given money to spend, she spent all but $1 of the money we sent with her. Here she sports her new camp shirt:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beach Bums

The AF has a beach recreation area south of Boston. We booked months in advance, and this weekend was finally the big beach event. The area is called Fourth Cliff. Originally it was an Army coastal artillery station, and part of the WWII Boston Harbor Coastal Defenses. Today it's a sleepy beach cottage/recreation area. As you would guess - the kids loved it.

The Cliff is really a point where a river dumps into the Bay. The real beach area is more on the river side of the camp. It was nothing like the white sandy beaches of Destin, Florida, but it had something else. The rocky shore and tidal pools offered some wildlife adventures for the whole family. We stayed for a couple of nights and surprisingly only got a little bit of sunburn. Most of the kids have my complexion. Cory on the other hand has his mom's skin and turns a rich brown when out in the sun.

Here are some of the highlights:

Swimming in the surf

The tidal pools offered critters up close and personal.

Sea Stars

We saw lots of aquatic hermit crabs and sand dollars galore...but no pictures - oops.

Of course we had to help the kids build a sand castle. (bonus points if you can name the vessel used to create the front gates of our castle)

There are many many more pics, but we'll save some for later posts.

Friday, July 24, 2009

King Arthur's Quest

Riley and Mary had a blast participating in Missoula Children's Theater's production of King Arthur's Quest, in which they were cast as Knights.

After a Monday morning audition, the girls spent the next 4 days in 4 hour rehearsals learning lines, songs and dance routines. They did amazingly at 2 separate performances on Saturday at 10 and 2 (and this is after a night sleeping in tents!),

and now we're humming all the songs to ourselves as well!

We're looking forward to MCT coming back next year--maybe Cory will be brave enough to audition.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rednecks Everywhere

While we were working in the 2 and 3 year old class during last Sunday's church service, one of the precious children announced to us,

"We're rednecks because we eat rabbits and reindeer."

Allrighty, then. I guess that pretty much sums it up.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Camp Freedom

It's impossible to coordinate all the schedules of our neighbors for a camping I did the next best thing. I just declared a FRI night as Camp Freedom night and told everyone I was setting up a tent and would be out with the kids. Of course these things start innocently, but as usual our circle is "all in" and we soon had 4 families with tents ranging from single person to a multiple room bungalow.

We pitched tents...

We cooked raw meat over an open fire...

We roasted marshmallows and made smores...(for those of you who know about Cory's puking on parents issues...he added another notch in his belt for yaking on or around Daddy).

We sang songs...

We generally had an amazing night.

Until the rains came.

Cory and Mary slept soundly while I endured multiple thunderstorm cells passing directly overhead. I was then wide awake. Eventually our tent leaked, but the kids did not seem to notice. Mom slept inside (she is smart!). After the kids finally woke up, I went inside for a few hours nap while they watched cartoons. I was so excited for Saturday night so I could get some decent sleep. Maybe real tent camping for the family is not so far off.

When questioned about the night and if he had fun, Cory said, "Can we camp in the tent again, but without all the fun?" I guess that is a yes!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Ted and I were lucky enough to be invited by my Uncle Russ and Aunt Melody (who, btw, make a great bbq sauce and rub, click here to see their website) to join him and his family at a Red Sox game.

They were vacationing in Boston and New York for a week and had tickets to a game against the Royals. We agreed to meet at about 6:30, my uncle suggesting that we be able to identify them because they'd be the ones wearing Red Sox shirts...ha ha ha, he's such a funny guy. (Ted and I, on the other hand, do not have Red Sox attire--probably issued at birth in Massachusetts. ;)

We decided to arrive to the game in style, taking Boston's subway, the 'T'. (my uncle, on the other hand, arranged for Limo service for them--I bet his grandkids LOVED it!) We knew we were going on the right train because we were squeezed with a thousand other people, all wearing Red Sox t's and jerseys, and we were a little perplexed/nervous when they all got off at a stop earlier than we were planning to, but in end it just required us to backtrack a wee bit. While the trip saved us in headache and hassle of driving in to the city and locating parking, it certainly added time. We spent probably 3 hours in the round trip.
Once there we found our seats (an entire row for the Nikkel crew), and grabbed some traditional baseball food--hot dogs! Fenway Franks, actually.

My uncle, bless his heart, was purchasing for the grandkids as each vendor came by --popcorn, cotton candy, lemonade, the works. Because that's what grandparents do.

It was a perfect night for baseball, and we had a great evening. It was fun for me to go to this game with them because as a kid we used to meet Russ and his family and my grandparents in Dallas to watch the Rangers play the Royals.

Thanks Russ and Melody!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On This Day In History

According to, on July 15 in 1916 Boeing Co (Pacific Aero) was formed by William Boeing in Seattle, WA, in 1933 Wiley Post began first solo flight around the world, in 1965 Mariner IV sends back first pictures of Mars and in 1975 Apollo 18 launched.

But, more interesting and important to all of us, on this date in history Ted was born. Happy Birthday!

I've said it before--God has truly blessed us with a man of incredible integrity. Ted is remarkable, and we are thankful for a man who leads our family with both strength and tenderness.

The kids adore him.

and I do too.

Hope your birthday is the best! We love you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rite of Summer I

After the school year finally ended the kids took swimming lessons at the pool. This was a little bit painful because the lessons started at 8:30, meaning that we're finally done with school, but we still have to set the alarm to get out of the house everyday. However, we felt that getting lessons in early would make swimming the rest of the summer better for everyone, outweighing the pain of early rising.

At this point I will insert my somewhat personal and traumatic memories of swimming lessons. Our classes had clever names, like minnows, flying fish and sharks. At the end of the session you were given a color-coded certificate indicating whether or not you passed. I can recall the summer I received the non-passing certificate--I would not be a flying fish. Heartbreak. Despair. I'm the first-born with all the trappings--high-achieving, perfectionist, independent. How could I NOT pass? And yet, being the first-born, I was also not allowed to show my disappointment (I see therapy in this girl's future!).
So the kids' last lessons arrive with the ever-important papers telling me whether or not they should move up to the next level, and I am nervous for them. Honestly, I don't think they care.
Let's just say they all did swimmingly.

Riley learning rhythmic breathing:

Mary practicing blowing bubbles while she swims:
Cory kicking and paddling his way down the pool:

Of course, the highlight for them all was jumping in the deep end and, for Riley, going down the slide. I only have pictures of Mary and Cory--I somehow deleted the ones of Ri, (although I don't think that fits with being first-born--must not make a mistake!).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tall Ships

We spent an absolutely gorgeous Friday afternoon in Boston, an official port of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge, admiring a few of the Tall Ships in the Navy Yard. Quite honestly, our kids were not excited about this excursion. Someday they'll thank us for the countless sightseeing things we do, but the current consensus is that it is much more fun to stay on the Circle and play (unless, of course, we're going to the pool or a playground). Nevertheless, we wanted to go see them, and we figured that Friday would have a few less visitors than Saturday, so we loaded up and headed south with the whiny crew.

Upon arrival, we found some FREE! parking and walked a few blocks to the piers. The ships were pretty cool. It's quite impressive to see the tall, tall masts and imagine climbing to the tops of them in the middle of the ocean. That's some serious courage.

Highlights of the day:

  • the Coast Guard Eagle--a very big boat. It's the Coast Guard Acadamy training boat for cadets.

  • the first boat we saw had a Bagpiper playing as we walked up. There is no way you can graduate from AC/Lyon and not get a little nostalgic when you hear a bagpipe. I loved it.

there were cannons, cannon balls and anchors to climb on--almost as good as a playground. The kids could have spent the whole time just doing that!

  • our parking spot had a 2 hour limit, so the kids didn't have to wait in any of the long, long lines to tour one of the boats...we just didn't have enough time. I know they were relieved.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons

Make a Lemonade Stand!

That's what the girls have been eager to do now that summer break has finally arrived. Riley has been asking for a while, and I've been successfully putting it off for a while. When she pulled out her American Girls Guide to Making Money book to reread, I knew I wouldn't be able to put it off much longer.

Earlier this week, right after swimming lessons we began the cookie making, popcorn popping and powdered drink mixing for the Snack Stop, as they've named it. By lunch time the girls were set up at the top of the hill, yelling "snack stop" at every passing vehicle.
They were not snookered by the older boys who "promised" to bring money tomorrow for a cookie today (kind of like Wimpy, but the girls don't know about him and that makes me feel old), yet they were also generous with offerings of a free cookie and lemonade to the mail lady, Dorrie, and some of the guys mowing the common areas
The days that followed were all rainy, nasty days, so I'm glad we didn't put it off another day. I've already let them know that they'll need to buy cups for any future Snack Stops--my supply was demolished.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

yellow then red -- bad for ted

I decided to take the family out for ice cream. Mary B had been asking to go to a specific restaurant for some time so I decided that we would give it a try (just for dessert though). Anyway...I proceeded out the gate and thru the nearby town of Lexington.

Then this guys appears in my rear view window with all lights flashing.

Praying he's after someone else, I quickly slide to the side...rats he pulls in behind me. I quickly replay in my mind the last 1/4 mile...I guess that yellow light was closer to red than green :(

He walks up and barks out that I had just strolled through a red light. He noted I was not speeding at all, but that I had run the light. What did I have to say? (The wife and kids all in the van mind you). I politely and respectfully said when I saw the light it was yellow. I did not not try to quibble - just succinctly answered his question.

Driver's license and Registration please...oh great...I have a Nevada DL with an OH street address on it. To make it even worse I have a DL that says - VALID WITHOUT PHOTO (because I have not been back to NV in years to renew my license in person so they mail me one without photo). I also hand him my military ID. I know this is all bad for me.
He asks how long I've been stationed here.
Jul 07, sir.
So have you had reason to travel this road before?
Most certainly sir.
So you know the light is there and MA laws state you should proceed with caution under yellow so you can stop?
Yes sir.
What's your MOS? (that's old Army talk for what is your primary duty - a more proper question would have been - what's your AFSC - Air Force Specialty Code - but I did not say that:)
Acquisitions Officer sir.
What? So you buy things?
Yes sir (does he really want to know...I'm guessing the 'I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you' line was not going to help here).
He pauses for a minute or so and clicks his pen in and out while looking at my registration.
I'm going to let you off with a warning...but next time stop before the light turns red...(then he holds up his ticket booklet) otherwise you will ACQUIRE one of these!
Yes sir!

My good fortune can only be explained by one of two things - Lucy's being cute in the seat behind me or him laughing at me in my #1 Dad (Father's day T-shirt).

Kristi joked - that was almost some very expensive ice cream.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

1,000 pages later...

Within a week of starting the Library's summer reading program Riley and Mary Beth had already read their goal amounts. what?
I'll tell you what--now they want me to supply them with prizes for repeat performances.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


On the 4th we had a fun day at the Coast Guard Station in Boston with food, fun and entertainment all hosted by the USO.
Among the highlights:
Watching the USS Constitution in the harbor and hearing the deafening boom as she shot her cannon. (Lucy did not like this so much. Cory was frightened, but had to watch--he just needed to be safely watching from behind his sisters)

Touring the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba

And apparently collecting rocks while we waited for Ted to bring us lunch.

The "you-know-you're-at-a-Coast-Guard-installation" moment...

Seeing the bouncies weighted by anchors.