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Halloween in Review

November 9th, 2008 · by sarra · No Comments

Sorry for the late update, but here’s the lowdown on the Kell Family Halloween 2008.

The weekend before Halloween, we went to Boo at the Zoo. This is the second year we’ve gone. It was a hit again this year. Link had a great time trick or treating, and eating his candy while we waited in line to ride the train. I don’t think he’s ever had that much sugar in one month, much less one evening. It was an omen of the week to come.

Link wore his fireman costume, the same one from last year. After several trips to the costume department at Target, Link wouldn’t agree to wear anything (including the Thomas costume!), so I was glad I still had it. Once it came time to dress up and trick or treat, Link was enthusiastic about wearing it.

Granny and Pop Pop came in to visit for a few days (including Halloween). They arrived on Wednesday, which was coincidentally Pop Pop’s 65th birthday. We picked up Link on the way home from the airport, and that evening we went to Fire of Brazil for a special dinner. Link wasn’t really into anything they served, but I brought a few things for him and he enjoyed the ambiance (luckily kids under 5 are free). After we gorged ourselves on meat, we came home for Pop Pop’s special cake.

Special cake

Link enjoyed his small piece so much that he ate about half of Granny’s piece too.

Thursday I had to work, but Link stayed home with Alex, Granny and Pop Pop, and I was assured fun was had by all. When I got home Link was still napping, so I cleaned out the pumpkins for the Jack o’Lanterns. When Link woke up, I asked if he wanted to help me carve the pumpkins. He stayed for perhaps 5 minutes before he got bored and went to play Lego with Pop Pop. I made a Dwight o’Lantern, and a Link o’Lantern.

Friday Link went to school. There was trick or treating at the nearby hospital* in the morning, and then a party in the afternoon. The four of us stopped by the party, and then brought Link home a bit early. I made dinner while Link and Pop Pop played. We started getting the first trick or treaters while we were still eating, and Link was chomping at the bit to go out. I dressed up in my witch costume again, and Granny and Pop Pop joined Link and me on our adventure.

We got about a block away when Link decided that he didn’t want to walk anymore. I coolly informed him that only big boys get to trick or treat and big boys walk. He decided he wanted to walk after all. We headed up the next block to the church about 3/4 of a mile away which was hosting a trunk or treat. There were very few houses that were decorated and lit on the way there, so only a few stops on the way.

As we were walking, Link was trying to negotiate how much candy he’d get to eat when we got home. He asked if he could have one candy corn (he had just gotten a small package of candy corn from one of the houses). I told him yes. Then he asked, “How about 2 candy corns?” I told him he could have one package of candy. He seemed satisfied with that.

Once we got to the church, we went through the gauntlet and got our loot. Then Link said he was done and ready to go home. Pop Pop volunteered to carry the now heavy pumpkin, and he promised not to eat anything.

When we got home, Link trick or treated at all the neighbors’ houses we didn’t hit on the way out. All of them had buckets of candy on their porches with a note to take one (or 2). We made sure Link kept to the rules. The final stop of the night was our house. Link rang the doorbell and yelled, “trick or treat, Daddy!” We went inside and Link got to eat his one promised piece of candy. Pop Pop had been true to his word and didn’t eat any. Link chose a mini-Snickers bar. After that we brushed and flossed and went to bed.

Since then, he’s gotten maybe one or two more pieces of candy. It’s still sitting in his Pumpkin in the dining room, but I think he’s forgotten all about it. I think maybe it’s time to get rid of it.

*Link’s school is affiliated with the hospital, and many of the other parents work there.

→ No CommentsTags: Link · Photos

Introducing Lady Benezia

November 1st, 2008 · by sarra · 5 Comments

Alex got a new kitten today. Her name is Lady Benezia.

The New York Kells were visiting for a few days, and on Thursday while I was at work they stopped at the PetSmart to look at the kitties up for adoption. There was a cute gray tabby there that they all took an interest in. Alex filled out an application, but the agency was understaffed and told us it might be a week before they could get back to us.

Today we went by there again after lunch to see the kitties, and there was another agency set up as well. They had two adorable Lilac Point Snowshoe Siamese kittens. (UPDATE — She’s not Siamese and not Snowshoe! Both of those are breeds. Nor is she a lilac point! In fact, she is a blue lynx point and white domestic long hair. The blue point part means the grayish coloring is blue — too dark for lilac. Her foot pad colors don’t match, so that’s the “and white” part. The lynx point means there are some tabby genetics involved that create the M pattern on her forehead.) We went inside to meet the tabby. She was sweet but quite skittish. We came back out to meet the Siamese (edit – Blue Lynx Point DLH), and we were all taken with Lady Benezia (nee’ Bridgette).

The interview was short, as it was clear that we were going to provide her with a good home. We brought her home this afternoon.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Kitties · Photos


October 27th, 2008 · by sarra · 1 Comment

I gave Link his first noogie tonight. He thought it was awesome, and asked for another one. After the third one (“and no more”), he asked me to show him how it’s done. I did, but warned him not to get in trouble at school for doing it to his friends.

They grow up so fast. *snif*

→ 1 CommentTags: Link · teh funnay

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

October 26th, 2008 · by sarra · No Comments

We went to visit the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad last month. We drove up to Bryson City, NC on Saturday, rode the train through the Nantahala Gorge, stayed overnight and drove home Sunday morning.

We kept our destination a surprise from Link. We just told him that we were going on a special trip. He got to watch movies in the car on the way there, so he was pretty excited anyway.

We left first thing Saturday morning, and arrived in Bryson City around 11am. We had lunch near the train station, then visited the model train museum. There are two set-ups inside. The first one is geared for kids. All around the outside are buttons to press, which activate various trains, lights and sounds. But the big set up is in the other room. I made a movie (beware the music is a little loud) of it. If you look closely you can see Link running around.

Of course there was a gift shop, and of course tons of Thomas stuff. We got Link a puzzle and daddy a train. Then we went to the station to wait for the train. There was a live band there playing train themed music. Link was pretty tired (it was right about naptime), but seemed happy nonetheless. He perked right up when the train arrived.

We had seats in the climate controlled car. We let Link sit next to the window. Link and Alex walked around the cars and checked out the dining car and the snack bar. The train ride was about 4 hours round trip, including a one hour layover at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. We were all pretty tired by then. After the layover, we brought out the iPod with the Thomas shows. Link was happy and mom and dad got a rest.

When we got back to the station, we had to drive to Dillsboro (about 20 minutes) and find the hotel. We were a little worried, but found it pretty easily. Unfortunately when we checked in, we found only down pillows and the front desk said that was all they had. Using my handy iPod, I was able to find an Eckerd not far away, where we got some Benadryl and foam pillows. Then we had a mediocre dinner at a steak place in Downtown Dillsboro and went back to the hotel.

Despite the late hour, Link was reluctant to go to sleep. Finally we got the lights out and we all went to sleep. The next morning, Link woke up very early and therefore so did Alex and I. Link played with his new puzzle while Alex and I showered. The hotel had a lovely breakfast spread, so we had a nice breakfast and the lady gave Link a stale biscuit to feed to the ducks on the river.

The train ride was great, and the hotel was nice (as long as you aren’t allergic to down and don’t accept a room by the elevator).

→ No CommentsTags: Games and Toys · Link · Movies · Photos · Vacations

Train Update 2008

October 7th, 2008 · by alex · 2 Comments

If you’re following this blog, you may remember a post about two years ago on the resurrection of my father’s old trains. Last year we bought some new track and made things work a bit more smoothly. This year I got the bug to do a little more.

I was inspired by our trip on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Not only did we ride in a genuine (renovated) turn-of-the-century (er..the one before last) train, but we also got to see an amazing model train display at the Smoky Mountain Trains museum nearby. In the museum store (and on the train itself) they had model versions of the same kind of coach that we rode in! Of course I had to buy two of them, one with Bryson City printed on it and one with Dillsboro. And, since I bought those, I realized my current locomotive wouldn’t do. Why would a Santa Fe Flyer FT-A be pulling a train in the Smoky Mountains? I mean really.

So I bought a couple of locomotives, too.

The locomotive that ran our train, I learned after a little research, is a GP-9 Diesel. It’s the 1751 pictured here:

GSMR 1751 GP-9

Unsurprisingly, there is no pre-painted version, so I’m going to go ahead and do it myself. I bought an unpainted, inexpensive, locomotive shown here:

Undecorated GP9m

The GSMR also has this really cool green locomotive, a Southern 722. Here’s the reference pic I pulled off of their site:

GSMR 722 Steam Locomotive

And here’s the train that I got:

722 Southern Steam Engine

There are some minor differences, but it seems awfully close. The actual train is currently under repair, so we didn’t get a chance to ride it, but it is a great Christmas train, no?

So that will probably be enough to deal with this year, but here’s the wishlist:

  • More track — I have enough for an oval, but I’d like to add a second loop and a siding to put idle locomotives and rolling stock. Currently I’ve got two boxes of Atlas code 100, but maybe I should go with Bachmann EZ Track, or upgrade to Atlas code 83 with True-Track. So many decisions.
  • DCC system — If I’m going to have more than one train on the tracks, I’ll need a method of controlling each one individually. This is it! (I’m looking at this one.)
  • DCC modules — My two DCC locos lack sounds and the unpainted one doesn’t have a DCC module at all. (I’m looking at something like this for sound.)
  • Semi permanent base — I don’t think it’s practical to set all this up on a yearly basis. I think I want to slap it all on a piece of plywood. Which means I’ll want to put some basic decoration on it.
  • Yeah, this list could go on and on. I’ll stop here. For now.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Games and Toys · House · Photos · Uncategorized

Family Portrait

September 17th, 2008 · by sarra · 1 Comment

Link’s teacher asked us to bring in a family portrait for this week’s lesson. Ever the obedient parent, I set the timer on the camera and took a couple snapshots.

Link also brought home a picture he drew of his family. It’s actually recognizable as people. I don’t know how much help he had, but it’s the best we’ve seen from him (which isn’t saying much, I know).

→ 1 CommentTags: Link · Photos

Family Dinners

September 9th, 2008 · by sarra · 1 Comment

We decided that Link is old enough to move his bedtime back a bit, and try to start having family dinners. Also, I was tired of eating my dinner at 8:30pm.

Last night, I prepared meatloaf with spinach for the grown-ups and green beans for Link. When he came to the table he complained that he didn’t want meatloaf, so I gave him the option of sitting in his room until after dinner and going to bed hungry. He reconsidered his stance.

I’m not going to force him to eat what we’re eating unless it’s something I know he’d eat anyway (like meatloaf). So I will probably be making two dinners most nights, but I’d be doing that anyway so it’s no big deal.

After the rocky start we had a lovely family dinner, in which everyone cleaned their plate and Link even used his spoon. And best of all, he was still in bed by 7:30.

→ 1 CommentTags: Link

Mei Lan’s Birthday

September 7th, 2008 · by sarra · No Comments

We went to the zoo on Saturday to celebrate Mei Lan’s 2nd Birthday. There was a special members’ only event in the evening. There was a brief rain squall as we were driving to the zoo which made it a bit humid, but also probably kept some people at home, so the zoo was probably less crowded than it would have been.

Soon after we got there Link heard the train, and thereafter wanted nothing to do with seeing animals but only wanted to go ride the train. I tried to put him off by telling him that we would ride the train after dinner, but that backfired because then he started claiming he was hungry. I got him a piece of pizza, but he didn’t want to eat it. I gave up and we went directly over to the train & carousel and got it over with. Of course the train goes by the playground, so we had to go there next.

Once we got that out of his system, we went back to see some more of the animals. And once I came to terms with the fact that my son is 3 we all had a great time.

→ No CommentsTags: Link · Photos

Labor Day Weekend

September 1st, 2008 · by sarra · 3 Comments

We didn’t do anything particularly special for Labor Day, but here are a few photos. Enjoy!

→ 3 CommentsTags: Link · Photos


August 25th, 2008 · by sarra · 1 Comment

Scene: Driving home from school

Link: That is an ambulance
Sarra: Yes, it is
Link: How many people can ride in an ambulance?
Sarra: Ambulances are for sick people
Link: I will count to six
Sarra: Not six, sick
Link: I will count to sick. One, two, three, four, five, sick.

Scene: Link’s room, early morning

Sarra: Do you have poop in your pullup?
Link: You said a bad word!
Sarra: What’s a bad word?
Link: Poop! You said a bad word!
Sarra: You said a bad word!
Link: You said it first!
Sarra: You said it second!
Link: You said it first, you said poop!

→ 1 CommentTags: Link · teh funnay