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Scarecrow Scramble

We hosted the 5th annual Scarecrow Scramble this fall and we had a great time!! We had a bunch of new activities as well as some of our favorite old ones.

The crew all set for the Scramble!

We had our basketball game after the road race. The adult competition was particularly tough!

The candy corn race is always a fun one!

All tied up was done in two parts....first the rope challenge and then the puzzle challenge.

The puzzlers waiting for their turn.

Lucy intently working on her puzzle.

Our judge!

A new challenge this year, golfball hunt and toss....execution could use a little work.

Kids ready for the donut race....always fun.

The water race this year was new and a big hit!!!

We ended with a Q&A of trivia of past Scarecrow Scrambles.

And after the awards ceremony...it was a great day!!!

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Fall Fun!

Just a few fall pictures to catch up the blog...and make me wish for warmer weather!

John went to an apple orchard on a school field trip. Here he is with Leo and their friend, Alexa.

The entire class.

There was an interesting presentation about apples (they get the bees on loan for their orchard) and the kids got to each pick a peck of apples. Here is my cute apple picker!

We also went apple picking one afternoon with Nate and Cooper.

The kids had fun on the playground too!

We had a great fall!

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Back to School and New Year's Resolution

One of my New Years Resolutions is to blog once a week. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up the highlights from last year and post new stuff from this year. So...I never finished pictures from our trip but I'm moving on to Back to School in order to get things going....

The day before school started we had a last pool party with school bus cake. The kids had a great time!

Nate's first day of school was the next day. He was ready and excited for First Grade!

Nate had a great day at school and has been enjoying it everyday since. He is reading well, does a good job in math and has made a few new friends.

John started his last year of preschool but the transition was much easier than last year. He has been having a great time.

Leo is in his class again this year and they play together most every day.

Hopefully it won't be three months until I post again!

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Paris - Eiffel Tower

We had five days in Paris. I took a bunch of pictures...I couldn't narrow it down anymore than this, it's a beautiful city!

There's nothing more 'parisian' than going on a carousel in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

The first afternoon we walked around the Eiffel Tower to get a good view from every angle.

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Our second day in Brussels we headed to Bruges, which is about an hour outside of Brussels.

Vehicles are not allowed on many of the roads near the center of town. It is one of the best preserved medival cities in Europe.

The first thing we did was head to Markt Square to climb the Belfry.

The boys were very excited to climb the Bell Tower, it is 366 steps to the top.

The stairs were tight and twisty.

Tired after the long climb.

The view from the top.

Coming down the steps.

The Church of the Sacred Blood. It is said that there is a vial of Christ's blood store here.

Bruges is called 'Venice of the North', as there are canals running thru it.

The next morning we had a bit of time in Brussels before our train to Paris. Nate wasn't feeling 100% so John and I walked around a bit in the morning while Nate took a nap in the room.

Brussels (and John) is very photogenic.

John is a bit of a budding photographer!

Nate woke up and then we found this cool smurf statue. I didn't know that smurf's were Belgian.

And then it was the high-speed train to Paris!

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Atomium and Mini-Europe

We headed up to the Atomium and mini-Europe on our first full day in Brussels. The atomium was designed in 1958 and is 335 feet tall and each sphere is 60 feet in diameter.

They had this cool 'be.WELCOME' sign the kids could climb on while we were waiting in line for tickets.

Total cutie.

The boys enjoyed going inside the atomium.

There was a great view from the top. There was a cool view of mini-Europe from the top and you could see all the way to downtown Brussels.

They had a great display on the making of the atomium and a bunch of information about the Civil Engineers who designed it which was neat.

Next after an hour of playing on the playground and lunch we went over to mini-Europe. Mini-Europe was pretty amazing... they had the most famous buildings from each of the EU Nations on a small scale.

Nate is showing off his shirt will all his EU flags on it while he's in front of his flags.

On the subway ride home. It was a fun-full day!

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Day one in Brussels

After our third night in Amsterdam we took the train to Brussels. In hindsight we should have taken the express train but it was 'only' 30 minutes longer and cheaper to take the non-express train, theoretically...

After 4 hours on what amounts to a subway car and three different transfers with our luggage we made it to Brussels. When we got there we checked into our hotel and headed to the Grand Place to see the Flower Carpet.

The flower carpet happens every two years for three days. We timed our arrival so we would get to see the last day of it. It was raining but pretty spectacular.

Pictures can't really do justice to the size of it. It is about as large as a football field, covered in individual flower petals and sod. It was very impressive, especially with the beautiful buildings surrounding the square.

After we viewed that a bit we had a good lunch in one of the restaurants surrounding the square. John and Nate were excited they got to drink their water out of wine glasses. Glenn and I were nervous.

We then walked up to the Comic Strip Museum which told of the history of comic books. The boys were most excited to see the Smurf Comics since the Smurfs are Belgian.

Brussels definitely had a different 'feel' than Amsterdam. Glenn and I enjoyed it more...the streets were wider with real sidewalks, buildings more spread out and the architecture just as interesting as most European cities.

Downtown Brussels is nicely walkable with tons of shops, restaurants and museums. The boys saw these macaroons in one of the numerous chocolate shop windows and wanted to try them. They were pretty but earned a thumbs down for taste from the boys.

We walked around a bit that evening catching the flower carpet a few more times and visited the Manneken Pis statue which is quite small in person.

Afterwards we stopped for a snack before bed. We all agreed that Belgium had the best food of the three places we visited. Chocolate, waffles and french fries are their specialities.

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Anne Frank House and Windmills

The second full day in Amsterdam we started off by heading to the Anne Frank House. I was glad I had made advanced reservations, as the line at 8:30 was already several hundred people long. We were just able to walk in at our reservation time. The Anne Frank House was very moving and had a lot of information. Not only about Anne's life, but also how the building was used (spice warehouse) and the people who helped the 8 people in hiding. The boys were silent and excellent for the 45 minutes it took us to walk thru.

After that we went to Zaanse Schans, which is a little town about 40 minutes from Amsterdam. They've moved a bunch of old houses and windmills to this one area and have a wooden shoe factory, cheese shops, chocolate shops and a bunch of other stores and museums to walk thru.

The wooden shoes were very colorful and the demonstration was interesting but I do wonder how many pairs they sell each year.

Nate has decided that once he learns about woodworking in Boy Scouts he would like to make a pair. Currently they're mostly made by machines, with a template shoes on one side and the block of wood on the other. The wood has so much water in that it drips out. It takes only about 10 minutes to make a rough shoe by machine.

Afterwards we went to see the windmills. It was very cold and rainy that day.

John found this duck which he called the Darth Maul Duck.

They had several windmills, each of which were all 'working' windmills. The majority of them were from the 1600's.

Most of the windmills were either sawmills or oil mills. We went in the one that produced peanut oil. It was quite loud inside and the platform by the blades was very rocky and windy.

The boys found a chocolate shop and we browsed thru the craft fair before taking a bus back to Amsterdam.

We enjoyed our time in Amsterdam. The museums were great, there were many more we would have like to have gone to but didn't have the time or the boys wouldn't have enjoyed them too much. We did find it incredibly dirty, people would throw trash in the streets and the garbage cans were few and far between. There was a lot of trash in the canals which is a shame. It was nice seeing so many people on bikes but the scooters were a bit out of control. It was a good place to visit but I don't think we will rush back. On to Brussels next!

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First day in Amsterdam

We went to Europe for 12 days in August. Our first stop was Amsterdam. It was a twelve hour trip thru Dublin and the boys did great...only a bit of a meltdown in the customs line in Dublin.

When we first got in, we decided to do the canal boat trip. Some of us were a bit more tired than others...

Amsterdam has more canal boat houses than any other city in the world. A lot of the canal houses kept their blinds open so we were able to peek in on the way by.

Almost all of the canal houses had hooks at the top of their houses which is what they use to move furniture, etc into the upper floors of their houses because the stairs are so narrow.

The next morning we had a quick breakfast...John wasn't feeling so well so he went back to the apartment with Glenn to rest.

Nate and I took a nice scenic walk up to the Van Gogh museum. Both boys were great walkers, walking at least 5 miles each day.

The Van Gogh Museum was great. They had tons of his paintings organized by date and it was interesting to see his 'state of mind' as his paintings progressed. Nate was actually fairly interested in the paintings and I think enjoyed himself.

Afterwards Nate and I walked over to the nearby park where there is the Iamsterdam sign and a playground.

Afterwards we met up with Glenn and John at the New Church which is next to the Royal Palace. It is where the royal wedding between the Crown Prince and Princess was and the inauguration ceremonies are.

We went over to the House Boat Museum afterwards. It was pretty neat to see how these house boats were set up.

We went back up to the park by the museums so that John and Glenn could see them since they didn't come in the morning.

The boys had fun playing on the swing set and running thru the water.

t for Thompson!

We had a good first day and a half in Amsterdam!

...and a finalized post after 6 months!

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Last day of vacation

Our last day of vacation was spent at the Magic Kingdom. We arrived with plenty of time to see the opening show.

We hit up all of the boy's favorite rides...dumbo of course...

...and to mix things up a bit John tried out Aladdins Magic Carpet ride, which is basically the Dumbo ride but it tips you back and forth as well as up and down.

Meanwhile, Nate had gotten brave and decided to go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. He rode it twice and loved it.

We had lunch at the Crystal Palace, which was my favorite eating venue of the trip. The boys loved seeing all the Winnie the Pooh Characters.

Nate found a man to trade pins with him after lunch.

And since John's favorite part of the trip was swimming, we made sure to leave plenty of time for that in the afternoon.

It was a great trip. I am officially hooked on the idea of a February vacation, especially after this FREEZING winter!

Somethings I don't want to forget for next time....
John's favorite rides were Dumbo and Small World.
Nate's favorite rides were Pirates of Caribbean, Nemo in Epcot and Race Cars.
French bakery was awesome.
Meal plan not worth it for us.
Nate gets sick on the Magical Express.
Boys loved all 'playgrounds'.
Boys loved seeing characters and trading pins.
Best Character Food - Disney Junior.
Best Characters - Crystal Palace
Not worth it character Meal - Cape May
Definitely go back to the Beach Club!

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