Wednesday, August 3, 2016

To the Races!

Rylan got an invitation through cub scouts to visit the Orange County Speedway for basically free, and I decided this former car lover had to go.


To start, all of the drivers lined up their cars for a meet and greet with the fans.

Orange County Speedway

Then the cub scouts grouped together to sing the National Anthem.

Orange County Speedway

Finally the races began...sort of. During the first race, a piece of metal flew off the track into the stands, hitting a random guy, so the race was paused while we all waited for an ambulance to come take the man away. Then during the second race, one of the cars crashed into the wall (no one was injured), so the race was paused while they cleared the track.

Car racing is either really exciting or really boring - we weren't sure which!

By the time the second race finished, it was about 8:30, and since the next race involved 100 laps, we decided to cut out and get ice cream. I asked Rylan if he would ever want to go back, and he said, "Only when they do ride alongs."

Eli's Room

We've been working this summer on updating all of the boys' rooms. Here's the before picture of Eli's room:

New House - Before pictures

I think that when the original owners built our house, they had only finished the family room, and the rest of the basement was slowly finished over time by various owners. The whole basement feels like an amateur DIY job, and Eli's room in particular is odd. It's situated behind the laundry room, and because of a small step leading into it (which I can't figure out the point of), the ceiling is slightly lower than the rest of the basement, making it feel like a cave. It was not built to be a bedroom - there's no closet, and since the previous owners were using it as an exercise room, there were mirrors on every wall and a TV wall stand that we cannot remove. Also, the vent was a large pipe sticking out of the ceiling, the window is a tiny basement window, and the light fixtures are the kind of long fluorescent bulbs that you find in office buildings.

So starting with this blah canvas, we transformed the room. I am so pleased and so proud.


Eli painted this mural on one wall. After helping to paint the murals for his 5th grade class production of Beauty and the Beast, he has been talking about being a scenery painter when he grows up, so I suggested letting him practice on his wall. We looked at ideas on Pinterest and found one that used this tape resist method. Since then, I have seen some really amazing murals using tape resist that Eli might want to try when he's older. For now, we are loving what he came up with.


I plan to sand down and paint all of the built-in bookshelves in the family room, but since I've never painted furniture before, I decided to test out the method on some of Eli's furniture so that the room would match and feel more cohesive. This is a $50 desk from Target that we were using to hold the rat's cage before we got their current abode, so I knew ruining it would not be a big deal. The top was black, but I sanded it down and painted it white. I also did the little wall shelf on the floor in the bottom right corner.


We also put a vent over the pipe in the ceiling and curtains covering the awful window, and voila, it felt like a finished room. Next year, we hope to be able to replace the window and door and repaint the ceiling.

Due to picture-taking limitations, you really can't get an accurate idea of how great this room looks. Guess you'll all have to come visit!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fun with the Alleys

Josh and Jaime have been visiting for a few days, and we've been having a blast! We went swimming, played at the Durham Science Museum, and had a water fight.










And of course, we did a lot of this...


Kentucky in July



We took our annual trip to Kentucky in July. It was as hot as usual. Which is to say, as hot as North Carolina. If we were smart vacationers, we would go someplace cool in the summer.

One way to beat the heat in Kentucky is to take a hike through Mammoth Cave, so my mom got us all tickets. I was not thrilled at first (I grew up in cave country; I have been in a lot of caves.), but it turned out to be really fun. We took the historic tour, which led through some narrow, stooped, winding passages. Kellie, Alex, and Michael had to duck for half of the tour, and the Fat Man's Misery was a squeeze for anyone over the age of 12.

We spent the Fourth in Tennessee with Michael's family, where the boys enjoyed the annual Blowing Things Up celebration while I went on an eight mile run. (Kellie and I are training for a half marathon in August.)

Orange Belts

Eli and Rylan earned their orange belts in tae kwon do in June.




Monday, July 11, 2016

DC Trip 2016

In lieu of a big trip this year, we are going to paint and freshen up the basement area (family room plus all three boys' rooms), so we only took a couple of small trips this year.

The first trip was to DC so the boys (just Cole and Eli because Rylan was with my parents in Kentucky) could revisit some places they haven't seen since they were little. We started off at Gravelly Park on a Saturday night to catch up with my friend Leigh from high school. Cool park and fun to see her!

Miriam met us at the hotel room late that night, and on Sunday, we trekked into DC to see the monuments. Between the heat and the walking, Cole and Eli were not the most pleasant travelling companions, but peace was restored with lunch and a quick nap (me!) at my aunt and uncle's house in Virginia. My Grandma Alley was staying at my aunt and uncle's house for a few days, so we planned our DC trip so we'd be able to see her. At 92(?) years old, she's still as upbeat and amazing as ever.




On Monday, we went to the zoo - I think the first zoo the boys have been to while old enough to remember it. When we lived in DC, we went to both the Smithsonian zoo and the Philadelphia zoo many times, but that was 8 1/2 years ago. Surprisingly, Cole and Eli both really got into the zoo and wouldn't let us skip a single animal until we'd been there for HOURS and HOURS and they were ready to go.



Miriam was leaving us from the zoo, so the boys and I took the metro back to the hotel. This was a feat considering that I haven't taken the metro in the aforementioned 8 1/2 years. Plus, half of the blue line is closed down for construction. But we're still alive!

Our last day was spent at some of the museums followed by a quick stop at Ikea on the way home. A trip to DC is not complete without a stop at Ikea!

Rylan's Appendicitis

In March, I got a call from Rylan's school saying he wasn't feeling well. Michael picked him up from school, set him up with treats and games on the couch, and worked from home the rest of the afternoon. When I got home around 5 or 6, Rylan was writhing on the couch in pain. I asked him where it hurt, he pointed to his right side, and I said, "Michael, I think he needs to go to the emergency room. I think it's appendicitis."

I took him to Rex because it was the nearest hospital, but it turned out that they didn't have a children's surgeon on staff and that I would have to take him to Wake. They told me it would be faster if I took him myself rather than waiting for an ambulance, but because of legal paperwork mumbo jumbo, it took another full hour after that before they released us. Plus, they took out his IV, and it had to be replaced at Wake. So frustrating!

Once we got to Wake, though, things moved pretty quickly, and everyone was treating it like an emergency. Michael arrived at Wake about the time we got there. I had called him from Rex and asked him to come give Rylan a blessing and stay to give me moral support. I was pretty emotional and just needed someone to hold my hand.

Rylan and I had to stay one more day at the hospital, but all went well. Thank goodness for wonderful surgeons and nurses.

In a lot of pain here prior to surgery, but grinning and bearing it.
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