Spring Break 2012: Day No. 2 — Rafting

Date March 20, 2012

After the rock climbing at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, Julie and the boys (the blue helmets) moved on to whitewater rafting:

Pre-trip safety instruction with a deep southern hipster:

Pre-trip safety lecture from a deep southern hipster

Loading up (did I mention that they’d dyed the water green for St. Patrick’s Day?):

Preparing to board the raft

Heading into the rapids:

Heading into the course

And…the action shots:

Through the Rapids

Through the Rapids

Through the Rapids

Through the Rapids

Through the Rapids

So, if you race down steep rapids, how on earth do you get back to the headwaters? With a conveyor bridge, of course!

Rafting escalator (conveyor bridge)

Exiting the conveyor bridge

Spring Break 2012: Day No. 2 — Rock Climbing

Date March 19, 2012

On Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, we (Benton, Carson, my Uncle John, and I) headed to the U.S. National Whitewater Center on the outskirts of Charlotte. It’s an impressive complex, made a bit surreal by the dying of the water green in honor of St. Paddy (and more surreal by the fact that I combined three images in an HDR process):

U.S. National Whitewater Center, Charlotte, NC -- St. Patrick's Day 2012

There are a number of activities at the center, so I’m going to break this up into three separate posts. We started off at the rock wall (in the picture above over on the right edge — the light brown, lopsided tower thingy), where Julie and the boys both took multiple turns on multiple difficulty levels.

Carson, Julie, and Benton all on the wall at once:

Carson, Julie, and Benton on the rock wall

Carson at the top of the wall:

Carson reaches the top of the wall
Benton paused for a photo op en route to the top:

Benton pauses to mug for the camera

Benton near the top of the wall

Julie close to the peak of her comfort level:

Julie on the rock wall

Overall, Carson gave the experience a thumbs-up:

Carson gives rock wall climbing a thumbs-up

Spring Break 2012: Night No. 1 — Hangin’ w/ the Second Cousins

Date March 18, 2012

Spring break this year is taking Julie and the kids to Florida by way of Charlotte, NC, (with me). We arrived at my aunt and uncle’s house in Charlotte late afternoon on Friday and then headed over to my cousin’s house for dinner.

The gaggle of sibling/cousins/second-cousins held council (short two: one was still at soccer practice, and Benton had gone off and located the basketball hoop) in the backyard trying to decide what to do:

The Brownlows and Wilsons discuss what game to play

“Red Rover!” someone suggested. “Boys against girls,” (the same) person suggested. While the numbers did not seem to be in the boys’ favor at first blush, Mac is no dummy. He immediately identified the weakest link and went for it:

Red Rover it is!

Red Rover -- Mac goes for the weakest (youngest) link

Red Rover -- Mac goes for the weakest (youngest) link

Red Rover -- Mac goes for the weakest (youngest) link

Red Rover -- Mac goes for the weakest (youngest) link

The game was called after two runs.

A Spontaneous Spa Day

Date January 18, 2012

I went back to work after the holidays and spent the first week working crazy hours, which then evolved into an upper respiratory infection by the end of the week. By the following Tuesday, I was working from home rather than annoying my co-workers with a persistent cough and, worse, the risk of infection. At the same time, Alana came down with a stomach bug that kept her out of school for a couple of days, the second of which was Tuesday. She felt well enough that day, but she needed to stay home to get past a 24-hour window of quarantine.

As luck would have it, a book that she’d ordered, Fancy Nancy: Ooh La La! It’s Beauty Day, arrived that morning. Gender stereotyping be damned, the Fancy Nancy series of books are pretty entertaining, and Alana has owned and/or checked out many of them. But, this was a new one to her, and she had anticipated it’s arrival ever since ordering it over the weekend. She dove right in, and, the next thing we knew, a good portion of Julie’s day disappeared into time spent at the home spa.

Before starting, Alana made up a list of services to be provided:

The Available Spa Treatments

The ambiance was enhanced with iPad-piped music:

Spa Ambiance Circa 2012 -- iPad-Driven

They started with a footbath (Alana was a recipient of some of the services as well as the provider, as the logistics allowed):

Starting off with a foot soak

The facial mask was concocted from bananas and honey (and a couple of cucumber slices, of course!):

The Makings (banana, honey) for The Facial Mask

The facial mask itself (Fia became very interested in this treatment, as Julie was incapacitated while her face was slathered with yummy goodness):

The Application of the Facial Mask

The manicure, which Julie commented about two days later, “I’ve found it’s really unfortunate that my middle finger wound up being the blue one — out of my peripheral vision, I keep think I’m flipping myself the bird.”

The Manicure (Julie noted that blue for the middle finger was unfortunate for her peripheral vision)

And, the “total makeover,” which meant “makeup and a ponytail:”

Hair and Make-Up by Alana

Thus, Super Mom got her day of royal treatment.

Fun with Chinese Cardboard

Date January 17, 2012

I’ve got a co-worker who took an extended trip to Japan and Taiwan during the latter half of December. It was a mix of business and pleasure, and he came back with a bagful of small gifts from his travels. Carson and Alana scored, in that he gave me (for them) a small stack of 4 pieces of recycled cardboard with punchout figures that could be assembled by interlocking them. This was my first day back to work after being off between New Year’s and Christmas, and, as it turned out, it was the first night I got home before 8:00 and was reasonably healthy ever since. That’s one of the reasons I’m just now getting caught up on posting here.

I wasn’t sure what the interest level and/or ability of the kids would be, but, as shown below, they both dove right in (2 cards apiece) and were quite successful:

Cardboard Animals

Carson posing with the animals he put together:

Cardboard Animals


Once all eight animals were assembled, a little cooperative trading occurred so that each of the kids wound up with a herd with which they were happy:

Cardboard Animals

New Year’s Eve in the ‘Hood

Date January 16, 2012

As is now officially a tradition (ugh!), we spent New Year’s Eve bouncing around a couple of houses on our street — the party started next door and then moved a few houses down for the latter half of the evening and to ring in the new year (neither Carson nor I lasted that long).

Alana, foolishly, neglected to ask for another pony (or six) while she was adorned with pigtails (the pigtails being a rarity that make her father even more malleable to her whims than he normally is). But, she did proudly show off her pierced ears, which were just past the point where she was able to start switching them out with choices from the array of styles she received for Christmas.

Alana and Julie

Meanwhile, downstairs, Benton and Carson got so involved with their respective handheld devices that they didn’t realize they’d actually been sitting next to each other for more than 3 seconds without requiring adult intervention. I was optimistic all year long that it would happen at least once in 2011, and they squeaked in under the wire.

Peaceful Coexistence

And, not one of our kids, but I’m including the picture anyway, because this picture of “‘Taterhead” just makes me chuckle (I simply can’t look at this picture without thinking, “Yes, he IS!”):

Nate certainly is...

He wasn’t just walking around wearing this on his head — it was a part of a game he was playing with several of the other kids:

Games in the Homon Basement

Beating Boredom with a Book

Date January 15, 2012

This photo was actually from between Christmas and New Year’s, but it seemed worth posting. Alana has become quite the voracious reader. The Dublin library system works in such a way that we can check out 20-30 books at a time…and that’s regularly what happens. We, of course, are thrilled to encourage the activity.

We’re also thrilled to see the built-ins we put in get used as Julie intended.

Dealing with Boredom...

This photo was taken on a drizzly mid-morning, when I was trying to get some things knocked out on the computer and Julie had run out do some errands. Alana, unprompted, went and got a book, came into the office, and plopped down quietly to read.

Exploring Downtown Columbus

Date January 2, 2012

With my folks in town for a few days between Christmas and New Year’s, and with the weather being chilly and soggy, we decided to spend a few hours of Forced Family Fun poking around some of the outdoor areas of downtown Columbus that were completed during 2011.

We started out at The Columbus Commons, which is a 9-acre outdoor space put in to replace City Center, an old indoor mall. There wasn’t much going on in the space during a dreary weekday, but we did get a picture of the kids in front of the large Christmas tree erected there:

Three Kids at Columbus Commons

From there, it was a couple of blocks over to The Scioto Mile, a riverfront walkway that has been somewhat controversial locally, but really is well done, even if the onset of winter meant the various fountains were drained and off:


With the fountains and pools emptied, we took the opportunity to snap a family photo next to “Gavel” — a silver sculpture inside a (drained) pool at the Ohio Judicial Center. We got this picture just before getting booted from the pool by a passing security guard.

A Family Pose in an Empty Fountain (Before Getting Kicked out by Security)

From there, it was over to Battelle Riverfront Park, which has a replica of the Santa Maria (it’s never been open when we’ve been down in the area, and this trip was no exception), as well as a sculpture garden with a series of mythical creatures depicted and the tale of those creatures told in a large plaque set in the ground near the entrance. Carson posed with the owl sculpture:

Carson Poses with an Owl at Battelle Riverfront Park

From there, it was a late lunch, and then Alana availed herself of her grandparents’ arms to swing her way all the way back to the car for the trip home:

Swinging Betwixt Willing Grandparents

Skiing: Carson’s Perspective

Date December 27, 2011

Using the same little camera that I used for the Christmas morning time lapse post, we now have a gadget that is good for helmet’s-eye view of all sorts of activities. Our first published attempt (video by Carson, video editing and music by me) is a tad long (5 minutes), but it gives a pretty good idea of the snowboarding skills of Carson and Benton, the skiing skills of Alana and Julie, and the early-early season conditions at our local slopes.

As always, if the video below doesn’t display, you can hop over and view it on YouTube:

A Time Lapse Christmas 2011

Date December 25, 2011

Santa brought a little camera that supports time-lapse photos in addition to helmet-mounted video. More on that as Carson gets rolling.

But, for now, an unedited 2.5-hour gift-opening experience this morning compressed into under 2 minutes. If the video below doesn’t show up, you can view it on YouTube here.

Merry Christmas!