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JULY 2006
(Hold your mouse over a picture for its caption.)

July 4, 2006 

We headed over to the River for the Fourth and had a wonderful day of fun in the sun.  Mark, his mom and I took the boys tubing in the gulf and they had a BLAST.  KC and Stacy were there with some friends and their kids and we had a nice relaxing day visiting and eating hamburgers and hot dogs (what else do you eat on the Fourth?).

We got home just as the neighbors were gathering out front for fireworks.  Alex was disappointed that we weren’t planning to stay up until midnight – I guess he got his holidays confused.  We thoroughly enjoyed our little light show and collapsed into bed, perfectly content!

Patrick setting up a firework The modern statue of liberty

July 6, 2006

The Fouracre reunion is in North Carolina this year, so we loaded up the van and drove about halfway this afternoon.  The kids love staying in hotels and as usual, went berserk in the room jumping from bed to bed.  Mark took them down to the pool to swim off some energy, which didn’t really work.  Neither of the kids could fall asleep and rotated beds about a thousand times before we all got settled in.  Fortunately, we’re not on a tight schedule and can wake up when we want tomorrow.

July 7, 2006 

The rest of Mark’s family also drove up to the reunion today, and most of us arrived at Uncle Micky and Aunt Linda’s house around the same time.  The weather was actually a bit cool and we gathered in the front yard while the kids played various ball games and the adults tried desperately to stay out of the line of fire. 

Every time Ryan tried to pick up the second ball, the first one would roll out of his arms Ashley and Preston playing darts

Alex at bat while Preston (out of camera shot) pitched Ryan deciding whether to give his Daddy "five" Danielle and Julia trying to find the ladybugs they had in their jar

Patch caught a daddy long-leg spider and thoroughly enjoyed showing everyone what he had.  He let Julia play with it, and you should have seen Marybeth's face when she saw her daughter holding a spider!

 Patch and his new friend

Patch and Julia trying to recapture the spider Julia being very brave with the spider

 Wild blueberries and raspberries grow along the road so we took several walks picking berries.  Ryan couldn’t get enough and kept following Mike down the road saying “more, more, more.”  Julia took it upon herself to keep track of Bojay, Mick and Linda’s Labrador.  Of course, this is Bojay’s territory and he certainly didn’t need kept track of, but fortunately, he loved the attention and has the patience of a saint.

Patch and Mike picking the juciest raspberries "more, more"

Showing off their haul Julia and Bojay taking a stroll

Later on, Julia was sitting off by herself, so Mike told Ryan to go over and give her a hug to cheer her up.  He happily obliged and Julia pulled him down to sit in her lap.  Mike asked her if he was getting heavy.  She wrapped her arms around him and said, “He’s not heavy, he’s perfect.”  It was the sweetest thing!

Ryan and Julia - just perfect

Mary Ellen got out some old family photos and Marybeth and I had fun trying to pick out who was whom, while Ryan supervised.

I just love Ryan's stance - so grown up Walking down memory lane

The gorgeous view from Micky and Linda's back door Alex and Heather discussing Pokemon tactics

I had a blanket on the grass to sit on, and Patrick wrapped himself up in it and complained that he was cold.  I was teasing him that he was too used to the Florida heat and couldn’t stand a little nice weather.  Well, a little while later he wasn’t looking himself so I suggested we go lay down in the guest room.   When I laid down next to him, he was burning up!  Turns out he had a fever of 103.  Poor little guy!  Mark took him to the hotel for a little bit so he could rest, and fortunately the Advil really perked him back up.

Dinner was at Fran and Mary’s house.  Jay and Stacey, the only remaining crew, arrived just in time for dinner, and alas, the reunion was officially on.  Fran made an absolutely wonderful pork dinner and we picnicked while the kids went crazy.  Between the hammock and the tire swing, you’d have thought they were at Disney.  The girls called the hammock the "boat."  LOL  Oh, and we can’t forget the three dogs.  Alex and Patrick couldn’t get enough of them!  Their yard has wonderful wide open spaces so the kids could run to their hearts’ desire.  They have a fire circle where we roasted marshmallows and ate s’mores until we finally had to call it a night.

Mike and Fran were being well supervised while they checked the grill Fran, a/k/a the Pied Piper

Ryan likes Daddy's bottle!

Taking a boat ride They LOVED flipping the hammock!

Alex and Patch spun Heather and Ashley into oblivious Julia and Danielle's turn

That's Patrick - don't ask, I really don't know what he was doing! Jimmy and my 3 boys chopped up fire wood

Nana helping Julia hold the baby Mark holding Ryan, with Preston and Alex watching the baseball game

Avid fans Cameron watching his mom swing big!

What a cozy scene Heather and Cameron roasting marshmallows

Chase got some help from Nana Three cool dudes

Kate working on her s'more Danielle and Preston being too cute

Jimmy provided some mood music How am I doin', Jimmy?

A proud Nana and Papa Maddie (left) and Caroline (right) checking out the world

Kate was having a ball under the hammock!

July 8, 2006

It’s Coon Dog Day!  Every year Saluda, North Carolina celebrates Coon Dog Day with a festival and parade.  We started with a pancake breakfast at the fire station, then headed down to the main street for the parade.  What a hoot!  The parade had every fire truck, vintage tractor and hot rod in the area, as well as a bunch of hilarious lunatics in trucks decorated to depict coon hunting.  But the actual dogs were the real deal.  There was every type of hound dog you could imagine, all ready to compete to see who’s the best coon dog.  Once again, the kids were in heaven.  Fortunately, I had already told them well in advance, and several times, that we were not going home with an extra dog in the car, which saved us a whole bunch of heartache at the festival, although I did get several, “but Mom, they’re so cute!”

Danielle and Papa took a break after breakfast Waiting for the parade to start

Stacey was a human jungle gym for Kate and Chase One of the classier floats.  LOL

Mick and Linda enjoying the parade

Once the parade was wrapped up, we headed back to Mary and Fran’s for another feast.  Jay and Stacey brought their bouncy house and kiddie jeep which kept the little kids busy, while the bigger kids played a game of baseball.  Alex disappeared with Jimmy for some videogames in between baseball games.  Once the kids were done with the baseball field, the big kids (my age) played bocce.  The game was interrupted when one of Mary’s friends got her car stuck trying to leave, so the guys had to strut their stuff and push her car out. 

 The Clan

Danielle and Stacy four-wheelin Ryan took Marybeth for a ride

Mark's aiming for a DUI!

Patch is such a swinger Marybeth gave Ryan a "horsie ride" - while looking way too buff, I might add!

Kate got a kiss from Papa Ryan and Mike hangin' out

Kate can turn on the smile! The Official Bocce Team of the 2006 Fouracre Reunion

Ryan gave Caroline some luvin Danielle and Kate got spun by Stacy

Jay's a natural Daddy Isn't Daddy supposed to give piggy back rides?

Heather and Alex were playing soccer around the tree Hey Nicky!  The bouncy house is for the CHILDREN!

Looks like we've got another monkey boy on our hands! All smiles!

Just hangin' around Ashley being cute

Mike has taught Ryan to get him a beer from the cooler He brought an extra one for Uncle Mark

We big strong men - huh huh Cheering on the men

OK, this one needs some explaining.  Notice how Jay's shirt is soaked, and Ashley is running away.  This all started with Jay with a hose, and escalated to the kids dumping water on Jay at every opportunity.  It became quite a challenge!
I'll get you for that!

I spent most of the day trying to keep one of the babies in my arms at all times.  LOL  They weren’t feeling well so they needed extra cuddles, which is right up my alley.  Alex and Patrick have started saying, “Step away from the baby” whenever I get near one of the twins!

Ryan helped Grace try to calm Maddie down Looking very cool

Mark kept Caroline very content There's no place better than Mommy's arms

Nicky got some one-on-one time with Maddie All tuckered out

July 9, 2006

We packed up for the trip home this morning, and stopped back at Mary and Fran’s for breakfast before hitting the road.  I gotta say, Fran is some chef!  We’ve eaten like royalty the whole weekend.  Saying goodbye was sad, but we look forward to the next reunion in two years.

Preston and Danielle petting Isabelle Patrick demonstrating just how much he loves bacon

This is where Fran spent most of the weekend - in the kitchen!

 We decided to drive all the way home today and got home just in time for bed.  What an awesome trip!

July 15, 2006

The snakes are hatching!  When I went to spritz them in the incubator tonight (they need to be kept moist), there was a little head poking out of an egg.  And it’s an albino, just like Zeke.  Even if you’re not a snake fan, this is so cool!

Those are four little albino heads poking out Our first baby of the year

You can see at least 2 albino and 2 regular heads poking out

July 16, 2006

We’ve had a busy two days of baby snake births.  It takes them up to a day to fully hatch.  Once they cut a hole in the egg (they have an egg tooth on their nose at birth) and poke their head out, they rest for several hours and absorb the yolk before they come completely out of the egg.  Every couple of hours, we’d check the incubator, and there would be a baby snake hiding and one or two more noses poking out.  We had 12 eggs, and 10 hatched perfectly – 6 albinos and 4 normal color.  It looks like the last two couldn’t get a hole in their eggs and died before they could hatch.

Cute story:  We were in the car when Patrick said something rather eloquently.  Mark said to him that he had a good vocabulary.  Patrick said, “What’s a vocabulary?”  ROFL

July 17, 2006

I was in our bedroom this morning when we heard the spectacular sound of the sonic booms as the space shuttle came in to land.  It’s a good thing Mark was there and remembered it was landing today, because I was about to give the kids holy hell about whatever they had just broken!

Boring summer day?  Get out a bunch of pipe cleaners and watch the imaginations grow!

Alex's is obvious and appropriate.  Patrick was Inspector Gadget

July 22, 2006

Mark and I took the boys to the mall for some arcade time, but quickly changed our minds when we discovered a new glow-in-the-dark putt putt in the mall!  Forget that it glows in the dark - it's air conditioned!  The boys' personalities really showed as Alex insisted that we keep score (which was truly ridiculous given the setting) and Patrick completely ignored the score and got as goofy as he could!

Patrick hitting his ball like a pool ball through the log

July 23, 2006

The boys have been asking all summer to go to a water park, but something always seems to come up to prevent it.  With summer quickly coming to a close, we hooked up with Becca and her boys at Typhoon Lagoon.  The biggest hit was the wave pool, but we all thoroughly enjoyed the water slides, a water coaster (water roller coaster), and snorkeling in the shark reef!  The most ingenious part is a creek that flows around the entire park, so you can float from ride to ride.  Ahhhhhhh.  Becca brought her underwater camera so we can share the fun with you!

I think this slide wasn't quite "thrilling" enough for Alex Patch hangin' on

Mark gave Andrew a lift Carter, Alex and Mark shooting out of the water coaster

Screaming in the jaws of a shark! A gorgeous shot in the shark reef

July 25, 2006

The boys got their haircuts today, and I just want to mention that Alex is letting his hair grow out, so if it looks shaggy, it's supposed to for now.  He has shown me kids whose hair he likes, and I've agreed it could look good, but right now he's in the awful transition while it grows.

July 26, 2006

Grandma's home!  Mom's been in Michigan for the past two weeks, and we have sure missed her!  The boys and I stocked her fridge, then headed to the airport to get her.  It's so nice to see the kids run up to give her hugs!  She jumped right back into the thick of things, when I left the kids at her house so I could head off to a closing.  Welcome home!

July 28, 2006

We went and met the kids' teachers this morning.  I can't believe school starts on Monday!  Of course, all of the teachers are wonderful.  Patrick is really looking forward to this year because his teacher pushes reading.  Alex is a little less excited.  His teacher is supposed to be pretty tough, which I like and he doesn't!  He has a new gifted teacher this year, who seems very nice, but not nearly as eccentric and fun as their old teacher.  I'm sure they'll all fall in love with her, but I think the old teacher's shoes will be hard to fill.

Alex organizing his school supplies Meeting his teacher

Alex with the new gifted teacher Patrick already loves his teacher!

July 31, 2006

The boys grudgingly went off to the first day of school this morning.  Patrick was very nervous about not knowing anyone and all of the usual first day jitters.  Alex just plain didn't want summer vacation to end.  I'm a little ticked at Alex because he wouldn't let Patch sit with him on the bus, which upset Patch quite a bit.  I understand Alex's position - fourth and fifth graders get to sit at the back of the bus and he wants to hang out with kids his age - but Patrick sat by himself both to and from school and was feeling very alone when he got home.  :-(

Mark provided us with some comic relief tonight.  We were eating nachos while watching America's Funniest Videos tonight.  He had a beer and a bottle of Alaska Lava hot sauce.  He was watching the show and not paying attention, when he took a swig of the hot sauce instead of his beer!  It was MUCH funnier than anything they had on the show!!!  He spent the rest of the evening with ice on his lips!

At least they're still together in pictures!