February = Birthdays

Cake, cake and more cake.  So much of it that I can honestly say I don’t crave it in the least right now.  I’m hoping it wears off prior to Stewart’s birthday or sadly, she may be getting an ice cream cake or maybe even a cookie cake.  I’ve had so much cake in the past month even those two alternative options don’t sound great.  We had Chard the other night and it was a wonderful contrast to the weeks of cake we have had.  In all seriousness, and a complete aside, Chard is quite delightful.  So much so that I feel the need to capitalize the word in my writing not once, but twice.

Anyways – back to the topic.  Cake and birthdays.  The cakes were all nice and most of them homemade (Cindy is truly an artist with cake as her canvas).  Here’s proof:  We have had so much cake lately that Cindy apparently wasn’t getting enough nutrients and has been stricken with the flu.  Best I can tell she is breathing but not yet moving.  On 4 visits today she was only awake one of them.  There are white t-shirts with more color than her face right now.  Something tells me she’ll be first in line for the flu shot next season.

Which brings me to exactly where I am at right now.  135 minutes into Charlie’s naptime (hoping he makes it a solid 150-180 minuter) having wasted almost all but the last 5 minutes (debatable, I know but you’re still reading, right?) aimlessly catching up on my Google Reader articles, wondering why I have yet to shower today and about halfway through the 2nd pass of the 2010 Radiohead In Rainbows performance in “Live From the Basement” – an absolutely amazing live performance. The song “Where I End and You Begin” off of the Hail to the Thief album at 49:28 is spectacular.  Poof!  Over 2 hours of my life I likely won’t get back.  Will’s at a friends house and Stewart’s resting after crashing directly into a magnolia tree on her bike.  She was trying to catch her brother who passed her in the grass when she got waaaay out of control until the magnolia tree promptly got her back under control.  Thank goodness for helmets.  She’s tough, she rode home.  The family driving in their car who stopped to see if she was ok had a nice view of a crazy wreck…not fun to watch as a father.

Where was I?  Right.  Birthdays.  We’ve had our share, hence the cake overload.  Charlie, then Emma,  then Nanny and then Cindy.  3 weeks off and then Stewart and Mom are next.  Good times.  Pictures to prove it.  Even some videos sprinkled into the slide shows – nice new feature Flickr!  Enjoy them.

Click here to see a slide show of Charlie’s birthday (plus a few videos).

Click here to see a slide show of Cindy’s birthday.

Click here to see Stewart get her Yellow Belt in Tae Kwon Do (plus a few videos).

Click here to see all of our pictures via Flickr.

A Whirlwind Weekend!

Oh what a weekend!  There’s nothing to feel sorry for us about here just “complaining” about how great of a weekend we had.  The short story if you can to skip to the pictures goes like this:  Marathon, Lexington BBQ, watched “The Social Network”, 2 days at the Grove Park Inn and Spa, breakfast at Tupelo Honey in Asheville and back home.  Phew!  Fun weekend.

On Saturday morning John, Jason and I headed up to Pinnacle, NC or the home of Pilot Mountain for a trail marathon.  We completely underestimated the “trailness” of this race.  We got a bit concerned when we had to drive through 2 stream crossings that covered half of the Tahoe wheels on the way to the start line.  12 stream crossings, very little flat running and 100% trail made for a long but adventurous morning.  After trying to keep dry I finally gave in at stream crossing #4 and went right through.  It was pretty exhilarating.  Although my shoes were heavier for a period of time after each crossing the feared blisters never came and the cool water was actually rejuvenating.  Pilot Mountain was no slouch. 

Much of the ascent was up a rocky, leaf-covered trail cut out of the side of the hill.  The views on the way to the mountain and up the mountain were spectacular.  The support throughout the race was too. Mentally I was prepared to reach the summit and then proceed down for the next 12-13 miles.  Not so much.  More like proceed to go up and down for the next 12-13 miles.  I spent a great deal of time walking up and running down.  I “ran” the 2nd half 39 minutes slower than the 1st half.  Regardless, it was good enough for 26 out of 62 finishers (and 84 starters) and I very much enjoyed the challenge of this kind of race.  The reward of Lexington BBQ (or Fish sandwich for me) and sweet tea we had afterwards wasn’t half bad either.  After a quick bite it was home, then family dinner and a movie (“The Social Network”) for Cindy and I later.  Good movie – worth the watch, likely not the Oscar.

On Sunday Cindy and I departed for 2 days and 2 nights at the Grove Park Inn and Spa.  If you haven’t been we would highly recommend it.  The huge fire they make in the lobby fireplace during winter months is worth it alone.  Sunday Brunch in the Blue Ridge Dining Room is also a meal not to miss.  Other meals in the Blue Ridge Dining room we found to be slightly less than great.  But the buffet…pretty spectacular.  The buffet the day after a marathon.  Nothing short of divine.  We sat in chairs and watched the sunset over the mountains.  We people watched as the Asheville icon Andie MacDowell (think “Groundhogs Day”) strolled by.  We enjoyed afternoon adult beverages on a weekday.  We read.  We spent 6-7 hours in the spa where we read, sipped, soaked, napped and repeated throughout.  On our last day we swung through downtown Asheville (we didn’t leave GPI otherwise!) and wandered around until we found Tupelo Honey, a breakfast spot recommended to us by our friend/neighbor Valli.  They make an incredible sweet potato pancake!  Don’t miss this place.  Overall, the days away were awesome and a great reminder to me how important one-on-one time with Cindy is.  I cherish this kind of time with Cindy almost as much as I cherish the moments when we return back home to the kids.

Tonight we celebrate Cindy’s Birthday with cupcakes and potentially Chik-fil-a (it’s Chik-fil-a night at the kid’s school – we are still in formal negotiations) and then tomorrow back to reality.  Pictures of the birthdays of February are forthcoming.  Pictures of our trip to the GPI are below.

Click here to see pictures of our Grove Park Inn visit.

Click here to see all of our pictures via Flickr.

Hi-yah! TKD and More Winter-time Fun

Quick post to throw another batch of pictures your way.  The recipe for this batch is 2 parts outdoor wintertime fun sandwiching one part Tae Kwon Do with a sprinkle of Charlie chilling with his iPod (or so he thinks).  Wintertime fun consists of our 2nd (or was it the 3rd?) snow of the winter in January and a hike to the new neighborhood fire ring where we met our friends the Shia’s to roast marshmallows and make s’mores.  Great add to the Baxter offering for sure.

Quick comments on the Tae Kwon Do (TKD) pictures.  I wasn’t a fan going into it.  There.  I said it.  The idea of something that encourages my kids to hit and kick other things while yelling seemed backwards to my being.  On paper it is backwards.  I have existed nearly my entire 14,000 days on this Earth with little need to kick and hit something else (Tim, my brother, may have been the only exception.  Sorry Tim!).  So why would I want my kids to go to a place where they could not only do this but learn how to do it well?  Oh yeah, and to have to PAY for this?!?!  Thank goodness for more rational thinking (Cindy) where I was reminded of the values of leadership, discipline, respect and confidence that are core to TKD.  Plus the first 3 classes were essentially free.  Well.  Wait for it…I was wrong (this statement is a sign of immense growth on my part).  The kids (both Will and Stewart) absolutely love it!  They have learned so much, the instructor is incredible and motivating and to see Stewart do this with such great confidence is worth every penny. Oh yeah – most of these pictures are of Will testing and receiving his Orange belt (5th belt?).  Stewart goes for her yellow (2nd belt) this month – more pictures to come.

Expansion of mind.  What an under billed part of being a parent.  Good stuff.  Thanks kids, TKD (and Cindy).

Click here to see a slide show of winter and the kids at Tae Kwon Do.

Click here to see all of our pictures via Flickr.