Bouncing away the day

Programming note: There will be no new posts next week, the week of April 26th. I have a business trip. During the week of May 3rd, posting may be disrupted because we have to change our blogging platform. (For those who are technically inclined: Google is ending FTP support for Blogger. Boo.) We’ll be back up and running as soon as is practical that week.

All right, back to the important stuff. For our last day of spring break, we met some friends at a playground, and then went to an indoor bounce playground a couple towns over from us. What is an indoor bounce playground, you ask? Picture a moon bounce. Now picture ten different varieties of moon bounce, all inside a converted warehouse. Yes, it’s as much fun as it sounds.

First, a quick look at our playground romp, which included a small but spirited game of Whiffle ball:



When we headed over to the bounce place, we started out in a room that contained a sort of inflatable boxing ring, complete with comically oversized boxing gloves that weighed about ten pounds (5kg) each:



And did I mention that parents play for free?


For the pacifists in the crowd, there was a nice inflatable climbing structure with a big slide at the end:



There was also a two-person racing obstacle course, which yours truly ran several times, to the detriment of my bone and joint health:



Truth be told, the kids had a good time, but this was really a workout opportunity for the parents, and we loved it:


Until next time, have fun out there!

Easter dinner

My uncle Mick and his family hosted for Easter dinner with the Spergers this year, so we trooped out to their place for food, conversation, and the traditional Easter egg hunt:






Our events are always well documented, thanks to the efforts of your intrepid reporter, his lovely wife, and Little Sis:


It was good to see everybody – we hadn’t known my cousin Dan was home from college for the weekend – and thus refreshed, we headed home for one more day of spring break before it was time to head back to work and school.

Tomorrow: Bounce.

Easter morning

Like Christmas morning, only a lot more low key.

Here was the scene before the kids woke up:


By the way, I had to wake up the older two after Anna came to get me. Nick was downright unhappy about the wake up call. Chelsea didn’t even get out of bed this year. “Take some pictures,” she mumbled.

You’ll notice how chipper Anna looks compared with the other two:




You’ll also notice there is pretty much no candy in sight. We are those parents:


Anna insisted on standing on her chair after a while… possibly to show that she did indeed possess more energy than her two siblings combined:


It was a nice, quiet, sunny Easter morning. We eventually rousted Chelsea and made it to the late Mass. Tomorrow: Easter dinner with the Spergers.

Spring baseball

The day before Easter, Nick and I took a couple of his friends to a Phillies exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (The regular season didn’t start until the day after Easter, so this was technically a spring training game, albeit one played here in Philadelphia.) We took the subway down to the park, which turned out to be a real novelty for his friends, neither of whom had ever been on the Philly subway before:


We got to the park early enough to see batting practice, which was a first for me. I’ve never managed to get to a game that early before:



Our seats were up high and away, along the first base line in the upper deck, but the price was right – we paid $4 per ticket with taxes and fees included. As it turned out, the weather was perfect and we had a fantastic time. But it could have been 45F/9C with clouds and wind. And this was an exhibition game, meaning both teams pulled their starters after a few innings.


If you look closely in this picture, you can see about two dozen Pirates players standing around in the outfield before the game started. That was a strange sight:


The boys did plenty of roaming around during the game, and plenty of eating too:


It was a fine way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Now, where were we?

All right, I found my cable for downloading pictures from my camera. So we can now pick up with the rest of spring break. When we last left our intrepid explorers, they were slogging through the zoo with 100,000 of their closest friends.

On leaving the zoo, we had to cross the Schuylkill River to get back to our van, and we had the chance to snap a couple of pictures of the city skyline and the crew teams rowing on the river:




On our way home from the zoo, we stopped for water ice, that classic Philadelphia treat with the baffling name:



Tomorrow: Besuboru!

Wayback Machine: Sum-sum-summertime

Yeah, it’s only the middle of April. But we’re having such a warm and sunny month that it’s easy to forget we’re not in the middle of June.


While I’m working on our latest technical glitch, I thought we could take a look back at our beach trip in the summer of 2007. In particular, we spent one evening on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey with practically the entire extended family. Here are two of my uncles:


My mom and my little sis:


And a very nice photo of my folks:


Going to the boardwalk is all about the rides:






And of course, it’s also about the cotton candy:


Hope to be back soon with some fresh pictures. In the meantime, have a fun day!


Wayback Machine: February 2009

We’re having some technical trouble this week – your correspondent managed to lose the cable that connects the camera to the computer. Sigh. While I keep searching, here’s a look back at a night of sledding back in February of last year:

Mike and the kids

Since I’ve started keeping this blog, it has amazed me how quickly we come out of sledding and run headlong into spring.

Interlude: Saturday breakfast

As the resident early risers in the house, Anna and I often go out to breakfast together on Saturday mornings. This past Saturday we decided to head to Whole Foods, which has some decent bagels and a yummy hot breakfast bar.

Anna went for a poppy seed bagel this time, reflecting the influence of Chelsea’s mom Mary on her taste in bagels… poppy seed is Mary’s favorite:


In typical Anna fashion, she was actually trying to avoid getting her picture taken, which is why she was holding the bagel in front of her for the last picture:


Eventually I got her, though:


That girl is a funny duck. You may notice that she’s wearing her pajamas. That was her choice, but when we ran a couple of errands after Whole Foods, she kept saying to me, “Are there going to be a lot of people in this place?” I guess she started feeling self-conscious about her attire.

The kids who stare at goats


On Friday we took the girls to the zoo. (Nick went to a friend’s house for the day.) We went with two other families, and we were all eager to take advantage of the gorgeous weather – sunny and warm, with high temps around 80F/26C.

Unfortunately, everybody else in Philadelphia had the same idea.

It took us about 30 minutes to get from the MLK Drive (West River Drive) up to the traffic light in front of the zoo, a distance of maybe 1500 feet (500m). Our usual parking spots were completely jam packed, so we ended up parking in a makeshift lot in Fairmount Park, across the river from the zoo.

Once inside the zoo, we had a good idea – we started by heading down the left side path from the entrance, instead of going to the right as almost everyone else normally does. That gave us a few hours of moderate crowds instead of body-to-body crowds, but the place was just packed all around.

Here’s Chelsea with our friend Nicole:


When we started down the left side path, one of the first things we reached was Bear Country. It’s weird seeing a polar bear on green grass… it’s as if the zoo decided to do an exhibit based on the TV show Lost.


The zoo is readying a Lego-themed set of exhibits, so in several places around the property there are life size Lego versions of animals:



Smile and wave, boys… smile and wave.

Anna, who is crazy about animals, really enjoyed herself throughout. At the start of first grade this year, each of the kids wrote down something that they hoped to learn about this year. Anna wrote, “I hope to learn about animals.”


Miss Maria is also a friend of nature:


We got to go in the new aviary, which opened last summer. It’s a great addition to the zoo, beautifully done, though in truth we were starting to get a little warm and tired by the time we got there.


One of our last stops of the day was the Treehouse, an old favorite. I remember climbing on these eggs when I was a kid:


We started wilting in the heat during the afternoon, and missed out on the big cat exhibit. But it was a great day all around, and we want to thank the 200,000 residents of the Delaware Valley who came out to enjoy the day at the zoo with us.

Happy weekend!

Ralph Stover

After we’d had our fill of banging on magical rocks, we drove a few miles down the river to Ralph Stover State Park, where we could do some hiking along a creek in a valley.



Amazingly, there were some whitewater kayakers out for a paddle:


The kids skipped rocks… waiting, of course, for the kayakers to pass first:





We took a creekside family self-portrait:


And no photo op would be complete without a shot of the Three Musketeers together:


Next it was time to hit the playground:


As is often the case, Maria had the best and most stylish technique:


Near the playground we found a big climbing log suspended over a little branch of the creek:



To get this very sweet picture of the Three Musketeers sitting together on the log, I had to bribe them with a promise that I would dunk my head in the creek:


Chelsea has pictures of the dunking, but I’m not posting them.

To wrap up the day, we drove a little bit more to the top of a ridge overlooking a creek, where there are several scenic lookouts. The pictures don’t really do justice to the view from up there, alas, but we snapped some nice pictures of the family:




When we got home for the evening, we found that the day’s weather had caused our trees to bloom:


Amazingly, the weather was only getting better from there.

Tomorrow: At the Zoo… along with everyone else in Philly.