Vanessa turned 6 this past year and started first grade. Can't believe how old she's getting.
Grandma and Grandpa K and her Aunt Hannah came by to help setup for our family party.
Vanessa was lucky enough to have two parties, one at home for the family (which also covers her Grandpa's and my own birthday).
|Two parties means twice the fun. And twice the cake.|
|She's not excited at all.|
|The singing crew.|
Like I mentioned, Vanessa got two parties. A family party at home, and a kid party at My Gym. Here her friend Paige shows of her gymnastic moves.
|Vanessa and Elizabeth get in on the balance beam action.|
|They had all kinds of stations set up for use.|
|Elizabeth just hanging around with Caroline.|
|More balance beam action.|
I'm not sure what trick Elizabeth is doing here, but it appears to be close to her father's famous post pattern.
|After equipment activities, it was mat time with all her friends.|
|I think she had her birthday song sung to her 5 times or so.|
|What makes mat time more fun? Mat time with floaty tubes as swords.|
|Make that floaty tubes as unicorn horns.|
All the kids on the mat. Time to blow it up. Elizabeth was too scared to sit on it during inflation.
|Time for snacks.|
|Everyone tried to be very polite with their snacks.|
|And one more birthday song, just for kicks.|
|Not sure the number of candles is the right proportion for a cupcake.|
|Afterwards, Vanessa shows off one of her many birthday presents.|
Somehow the girls convinced Sarah to let them have breakfast in their room. I wonder if it was to celebrate their new bunk beds they got early in the summer?
Finally, Grandma, Zak, Heather and Terry came over for yet more birthday fun.
|Elizabeth looks like she's having a terrible time.|
|As is Vanessa.|
|Grandma chilling in the driveway.|
Sarah makes the girls special Star Wars pancakes almost every Sunday. Elizabeth gets Darth Vader, Vanessa gets Yoda, and Sarah gets a Stormtrooper.
|Fall means time for the Maryland Renaissance Festival.|
|And my favorite act, the Squire on the Wire, a comedic juggling and high wire act.|
|I've seen his show every year and it never gets old.|
|The girls love playground time there.|
|Lots of ropes and stairs to climb.|
Vanessa is old enough now to more than hold her own against the other aggressive kids.
|Elizabeth initially opted for the safety of the swing.|
|Eventually she wanted to get in on the action.|
Vanessa thought this was a ton of fun. All I could see is a very muddy carseat on the way back if she fell.
Vanessa loves rock climbing, so when she saw that there was a rock climbing tower she was ready to go. She soars up the rock climbing wall, though she does cheat a bit at the end by using her belay a bit more than she probably should.
She also took a chance at dunking someone in the dunking booth. Gotta work on that arm accuracy.
|Did someone say free pony rides?|
|I know Elizabeth liked that idea.|
What discussion about fall activities would be complete without a trip to FedEx field to see the Redskins. Normally I take the girls to see a preseason game, but we were on our St. Louis/SoCal road trip at the time. So we decided to take them to see the Vikings game later in the season. But first, my brother decided he wanted to go see RGIII's debut in New Orleans, and wanted to know if I wanted to come. Of course! Our brother-in-law John and Brian's friend Justin came along with us.
I had never been to New Orleans before. So I had no idea what to expect. Let's just say that New Orleans lived up to my expectations. Now, if I went back again, there is zero chance that I would agree to share two double beds with three other guys who are drinking heavily. We got into town around 9:30 PM New Orleans time (10:30 PM our time), and the guys decided it was time to go out. By the time we got back to our hotel, it was 4:00 AM New Orleans time (or 5:00 AM my time). Let just say I saw enough vomit and public urination to last me for quite a long time.
The next morning, as John and Justin slept off their hangover, and Brian ran/vomited out his, I walked around the town. Eventually, they woke up enough for us to take a rail tour of the city. I saw James Carville out for a jog from the train. We also went to a pep rally for the Redskins down on Bourbon St at the one bar that is a Redskins bar. We saw Larry Michaels and Doc Walker as they led the Redskins Radio pep rally.
|Here's John, Brian, and myself on Bourbon street at the pep rally.|
|Not a bad turnout for an away game.|
|Here is Brian, John, Justin, and myself chilling and watching college football at a bar that night.|
We eventually ended up at a karaoke bar in New Orleans. Even though the place was filled with smoke, I had a sinus infection, and couldn't hear, I was the only one willing to get up on stage and sing. I chose Huey Lewis' Power of Love. It was bad, really bad. Very off key, but everyone (except myself) was drunk, so no one cared. Here's some photographic and video evidence of the musical crime. I believe the second video even has me doing some bad dancing during a vocal break. Ugh.
|At least they didn't boo me off stage. They should have.|
As for the game itself, it was awesome. The New Orleans fans were some of the best away fans I've ever interacted with. Very friendly before, during, and after the game. The place was also really loud.
|Here's a view of our seats. We visited both end zones quite a few times that day. (40-32 victory)|
I told the crew that if we won the game they could buy me a drink. Luckily they went easy on me and bought me a hurricane from a nice restaurant. I hadn't had anything to drink in 10+ years, so 1 inch into the fruit punch concoction and I was ready for a nap. However, since I'm older and wiser, I didn't even try to push it and finish it.
After dinner, we found a jazz club on Frenchman's street. That's a couple of streets over from Bourbon St. Rather than the drunkenness and debauchery we saw on Bourbon St, this street was filled with live jazz musicians. This was much more my style and next time I visit New Orleans, I'd like to spend more time there. Though I'd like to find a jazz club that doesn't allow smoking....
After a couple of weeks, the Vikings game rolled around. This was fortuitous as Sarah and my coworker DC Washington was singing the nation anthem.
The girls really wanted to tailgate at the Vikings game and cook hamburgers and hot dogs. I'm not sure I've ever brought apples as a tailgate item, but there's a first time for everything.
|And their parents, sometimes. ;)|
And here is my fabulous coworker DC slaying the National Anthem as always.