Monday, November 14, 2016


This kid just melts me. When he smiles? Be still, my heart! 

The promised graduation post and our typical Saturdays

Hi! I got a little carried away with karate pictures, as usual, so I tried to tidy them up some so I wouldn't be tempted to add a hundred of them. 

Damon moved from a low green belt to a high green belt, so he's featured in some of the pictures but didn't bump up to a different belt color. Hopefully that will happen in February. Brrr. I don't even want to think about February. But after that graduation all three Thingz will be in the same class again for the rest of forever and let me just make the sound here to express how excited I am about that: Wahoooooooooooooooooo!!

As always, click on any picture to see it in more detail and larger. Damon was featured in two of the weapons displays, though he informed us later that he should have only been in one (typical), and Carrie did one as well. 

New belts, with the exception of black belts, are tied on by parents after the graduation ceremony. Black belts are tied on, onstage, by instructors. The medals around their necks mean they graduated with honors. In order to do that, they had to have turned in at least three karate homeworks. The categories are Knowledge (reading minutes, which ties in nicely with the school reading logs), Self-Discipline (which encourages them to be responsible around the house and with homework, etc), Goal Setting (which seems the easiest to me: three goals and how you'll achieve them. Two of the three have to be completed before you turn it in. Liam's first goal is "to not quit until black belt!" Needless to say, his paper hasn't been turned in yet...), and Respect (going out of their way to be helpful/courteous/etc and must be signed by a parent AND a teacher). 

I can't say enough good things about this program. Yes, it takes up a ton of our time and, let's be honest, our money. But the instructors are amazing, patient, encouraging, dedicated, and fun. Not only are the Thingz learning martial arts and defense, but they're in something that isn't instant gratification. They're starting to see that accomplishments take a long time and that you need to stick to it to be good at something. Do they always want to go? No. Do I always want to take them? No. But we feel that these are good lessons for our family and that this particular program will help their lives in other ways down the road as well as helping them stay physically active now. 

And then there are these feet that I just adore. Damon is still disappointed that he isn't yet a brown belt, which is the lowest of the highest belt levels. He was pouting about his lack of a new belt in the above photo.

It's too bad that you really don't get a sense from the pictures of how hard these kids work. They go to class 2-3 times a week in our old town. Most weeks we go Monday for both of their level classes, Tuesday for weapons, and then again Wednesday for both classes again. Thursday nights are our night off, every other Friday tries to host home group, and weekends are crazy. 

This weekend we did our third Mystery Adventure (see previous post) and three karate classes on Saturday. This is a first. The Academy hosts a Grappling class at 10 AM. It is an elective, but highly beneficial towards earning one's black belt. Until now, the Thingz could only do one elective and they'd chosen weapons, which improves focus and concentration. Grappling is more like wrestling, and I am not even close to qualified to tell you how they differ. 

Anyway, now that the big kids are only six months away from being black belts, they are officially black belt candidates and are encouraged to take classes in everything. One, they'll need all that stuff for their black belt tests, which is taken in stages, and two, it's kind of a reward for sticking with the program for the years required to get to this point. 

So the big kids were excited to head into that first Grappling class. I stayed home and sent the camera with Pap, who was visiting. And kudos to him; in spite of being intimidated by the fancy camera, he did a great job capturing them!

As Damon is not yet a candidate, this was how he spent his time while Thing One and Two were on the floor:

After 45 minutes or more of hot, sweaty working, it was time for their regular family class which means any student of any level participates in the same class. There are jumping jacks, push ups, and some kind of ab work in addition to all the karate stuff they do.

After 45 plus minutes of that class, they take a break to put on their sparring gear:

That class is also 45 minutes or so. We had hot, sweaty, tired, starving Thingz come home! Again, good job to Pap for taking super pictures!

Mystery Adventure #3

So we've driven past this newly created park several times and hadn't had the chance to taken the time to stop in and check it out. We decided to remedy that after church yesterday since it was a beautiful not-too-cold day.

The place is called Sawyer Quarry park and there are trails but we don't know where they meander to because we took the one which arrowed to the Quarry and never made it any farther. 

You'd have thought we landed on the moon. The kids were so thrilled to explore. They climbed around like the monkeys they are (and are definitely their father's children) and had no intention of leaving. We had to practically pry them out of the quarry to return them to the car, with promises to come back and investigate more on another day. With hats. And appropriate footwear. And snacks. And water. 

Happy beautiful birthday to Grandmama! Anyone who wants to come hike with us around the new quarry park, let us know when! We can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

No more piggies

Backtrack to a Birthday

So this kid had a birthday. He turned 11 on Halloween and he wanted an Illuminati on his birthday cake. 

As they say, "I have no explanation," other than I blame Nicholas Cage in "National Treasure" and my mention that my Pap Pap was a Mason...

I think the cake had Minion undertones and I cracked myself up when I noticed what shirt he wore as he blew out the candles.

We did cake over the weekend, knowing from experience how crazy Trick or Treat prep is. We never get to enjoy the cake when we're blasting through dinner to make it outside in time for the start of the candy hunt. Since his birthday wasn't until Monday, we kind of spread out the activities and treats. 

When Monday rolled around, he got a beautiful sunrise for his birthday:

And a golden tree showing off just for him.

And lotsa welcome-to-eleven love from his Dada.

And the party and parade complete with costumes at school, naturally.

He had made a birthday wishlist:

1. DS 2. Nerf "ring of fire" gun 3. watergun (like Damon's) 4.a watch 5. waterbaloon stash 6. Lego Star Wars Kilo Ren set
7.boomerang 8. remote controlled drone 9.lazer light 10. Lego Minecraft set 11. scateboard 12.pokemon deck set 13. ipod 14. iphone 15.Nerf football 16.Swiss army card

They don't call 'em wishlists for nothin'.

He did get a few of those items and a few were squirreled away for Christmas presents. Those of you who know us at all know that iPhones and iPads were not on the "bought" lists. Sadly, neither is the remote controlled drone.

He DID acquire a foam boomerang which has already been stuck and rescued from multiple locations. I'm not sure who has been more entertained by that one...

Special thanks to Grandmama for the Minion bag of loot. He was delighted and I'm finding things from it everywhere that he didn't have time to open on his birthday. He gave it quick once-overs of glee and then we had to get ready, which meant a little more prep on some of our behalfs/behalves(?) than others. 

Harpo Marx with his horn staff, the Blue Power Ranger,

and Poseidon in handmade armor. Makeup and hair by Mama, costume help by Dada.

Speaking of Dada, he went as a Dia de los Muertos inspired sugar skull:

And I impersonated Abby, the lovable forensic scientist from NCIS. Definitely one of my favorite costumes! 


Our sweet next door neighbors took this family photo of us:

This Power Ranger powered down right in the big chair. Happy Halloween to all and to all a good night!

That's the deck I just swept...

Saturday, November 05, 2016

It's That Time Again...

I have, of course, a bazillion karate graduation pictures to sort through, but I wanted to post that one immediately so you can get a sense of how much the academy has grown. Not every kid who takes lessons was there, and nobody who takes the krav maga classes are on stage, either. That's a lotta kids! And everyone did a super job on Saturday. It was a fun experience to see how much the students have grown!