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Thursday, June 30, 2016


Lon is now ELEVEN.  

Letting that sink in for a moment.

We had to go to the doctor this morning, his eleven year check up.  He is 4'10" and 66 pounds. He is exactly one foot shorter than his father. At eleven.  He will be taller than I am in about a week, or so it seems.

After we got home, Lon said he would like ebelskivers. We have not had them in a long while.    Love those little puffs!

Lon got a new Lego after breakfast and he had to build it!  The only help he wanted was for me to attached the sting to a wench and then to the grappling hook.

And now it is done.

The afternoon was low key.
Mark and Lon rode to the new gas station on their bikes for ice cream.

Lon wanted to share his birthday with some friends over. That is what we did!   We had spaghetti and corn, and empanadas!   Good food and good company!

 All the kids got along very well. It was nice that they played together well and the adults could talk.

the kids!

It was a fun evening! I am so happy we did this!

Lon said this was a great birthday.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Antiques Roadshow Taping!

Back in the spring I put my name in the drawing for tickets to an Antiques Roadshow taping. I did not think I would win. I did not win last year. BUT I did win!  Two tickets to a taping in Virginia Beach ! This is the real reason we drove up to Virginia, not just to go to Colonial Williamsburg!

we got to the convention center early, so we walked down to the Virginia Beach Saturday Market. They had a booth for the museums.

They were impressed that Lon knew how to play Graces.  He had fun playing.

It was our time to go in!

We were very excited. This was going to be fun!

We were really here!

We got to talk to some very fun people. Once you are out on the floor you can not take pictures.  They do not want to spoil the season by everyone putting up pictures on social media before the show airs!

We talked to one gentleman who had an enigma machine!
The things we brought were fun, and it was nice to know more about them even if we are not going to  be able to retire on them anytime soon

Lon wants to go to another taping!  When the announce the list in the spring, if there is one within driving distance we will try again!

Who knows we might be featured in the feedback booth, being goofy!

Colonial WIlliamsburg

On Friday, we drove up to Virginia. We left here at 6:06am and it was already 84 degrees!
 We got up there early enough that we spent the afternoon at Colonial Williamsburg! Lon had been there as a baby, I pushed him in a stroller, he does not remember that!

one of the first places we explored was the Powder Magazine.

Lon thought it was really cool

we went over the courthouse,  but Lon did not want to get into the stocks.   Maybe next time

Musket firing.  He gave a talk on the musket and how it worked,

He fired musket without a ball, just a gun powder flash. It was very very loud

We were getting really hungry! Time to find something to eat. The place I wanted to go, Lon thought was closing too soon, and wanted to go the Shield's Tavern.  We both had burgers. They were very good!    It was fun. Lon ordered the root beer. It was draft root beer. He LOVED it.  Dark, thick and creamy. He never had anything like that. We bought some to take home!

Archaeological digs are going on !   Lon thinks they are very interesting!

Lon was watching them sift the dirt, and he pointed to a small nail in the screen. They had not seen that and congratulated Lon on his good eyes.  

I told Lon I wanted to go into a store to see what was at the grocers.  He said, fine, but he was not enthusiastic about it.

Little did he know there was ice cream in that shop!

Ice cream breaks are the best!

Meeting the puppet. That was very fun. They were very entertaining.

We got to play and learn about some of the artifacts the kids had dug up that day. When we go back, we will plan on being there when they open, and Lon can take part in the digging not just the cleaning.

Of course we had to check out the big map at the visitor's center.  

Lon and I had a great time. It will be fun to come back, and maybe we can plan on a not so hot day!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bee City!

We got to Bee City just as they were opening.   We had not been out there for at least a year. It is always so much fun to go out there.
Good Morning, Lemurs. Moms with Babies!  We were advised not to touch  the babies or Mom would bite.
The Moms were the most hungry of all the lemurs!

feeding the lemur. Monkey Os. Which are really Cheerios.  I like calling them Monkey Os.

The Squirrel Monkeys are getting apple slices for breakfast.

Watching the wild cat, a Serval cat.  He likes to spray. We were not sprayed on.

We kept talking to the donkey about waffles. He was not amused.

Inside the aviary.  The birds were just waking up and were not very hungry yet.

Lon was waiting for the birds to come, but the keeper said they were not really hungry yet.

Lon spotted this tiny egg on the edge of the aviary.

As we were leaving the keeper asked us if we wanted to see a baby, so he pulls this tiny thing out from it's hiding place. SO tiny

Everyone on the train!

It was a really fun way to pass the morning.  Happy we got to go!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Whirlin Waters, 2016

Today was our first trip of the summer to Whirlin Waters Water Park.  

Waiting in line for the park to open. We got there about 10 minutes before it opened.  The longest ten minutes ever!

Cruising along the lazy river.  This is one I can do with Lon, the play structure and the slides are out for me.

Playing in the water spouts

The wave pool. He loves this one.  I did go out with him for one round of waves

There he goes again, for another round of waves!

Riding the waves

After three hours at the water park, we were done.  And hungry! We stopped by Famularis!  It was Lon's suggestion.

It was a very fun day!

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Biltmore

Today's Grand Adventure was the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina.  When I first looked into going there it was 80 dollars a ticket.  This summer, I found out that if you pre order tickets, you can get them for 50 dollars and kids get in free!  It sounded like a great day trip!

On the road to the Blue Ridge Mountains!

We got a little bit of a late start, I overslept and then we forgot a couple things at home.   We were finally on the road at 6:42 am

the house is HUGE

I splurged on getting valet parking. It was very worth it. I pulled up to the front of the house, there was no waiting for a shuttle or long walks.  It worked really well!


The house was decorated for a wedding.  There were wedding dresses and other costumes from a lot of different costume dramas.

We got the audio phones, we both learned a lot about the house with it. More than just reading the little booklet.  I am glad we got it

The grand dinning hall, with three fire places

The other end of the dining hall.  The table was set up to seat 22.  A small dinner party

a detail of the fencing around the winter garden.

The breakfast room.
Set with Bacarat Crystal.

The detail of the music room.  This room was re enforced with steel over the windows and steel doors during World War 2. The Biltmore quietly took in priceless art from the National Gallery and kept the safe for the duration. Mrs. Vanderbilt  never charged the National Gallery for the storage.

The view from the Loggia.  When the Vanderbilt's first got the property it was not a forest. Frederick  Law Olmstead suggested that the view would be beautiful if they farmed the bottom lands for the livestock and to make this view into a forest.  It is a gorgeous view.

The tapestry room.

There are three beautiful tapestries on the wall. This room is the corridor to the library

This is a  Venetian painting, call ed the Chariot of Aurora. By Giovanni Pellegrini in the 1720s. The library was built around the painting.  The docent was telling us that most of Pellegrini's art was destroyed in the wars.

George Vanderbilt loved books. The library has about half of his 23,000 books.

Loved this on one of the doors in the library

Edith Vanderbilt's bedroom

I liked the attention to every single detail. They did not have plain andirons, they had these little guys.  How wonderful!

The grand staircase and the light fixture

Still learning about all the things in the house.  One lady took time to tell me how wonderful it was that my son was listening to the audio phone and looking like he was interested  in everything and behaving very nicely.  She said her 11 year old boy would not have been this good.   Lon said he was enjoying himself.

The view from the staircase windows

The grand light fixture

Below stairs. I have no idea how i got this effect but I like it.

This room is called the Halloween room, and it took them a long time to figure out why this room was painted this way.  It turned out that this was the result of a New Year's Eve party. The guests painted these scenes and I can not remember  what play these are based on at the moment.

The party was in 1925

One of the first bowling alleys in a home.  Two lanes.  There was a little niche behind the pins for a servant to be able to reset the pins but also to be safe from flying pins.

The indoor pool.   The tiles were by the same person who designed the New York Subway tiles.   The pool no longer holds water. They tried to fill it and in 12 hours it drained out into the sub basement.  
On the way to the pool they had changing rooms one row for ladies, one row for gentlemen.  The audio phone mentioned that the ladies changing rooms did not have mirrors. Their lady's maids would have made sure they looked good.

One the way to the servant's hall was a gym,  even by today's home gym standards the gym is amazing. Showers, parallel bars, a rowing machine.  

The original copper pots. One the way to the kitchen the tour lead us through some of the servant's rooms. The kitchen maids would live near the kitchen, the boys and men who worked the estate would live out over the stables, and the ladies maids and some others would live on the fourth floor.  The Vanderbilts supplied all the furniture and bed clothes,  the servants personalized their rooms.  The Vanderbilts were said to be good employers, paying New York wages in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  There were generations of families who worked the estate.
Listening to the kitchen talk.

The Vanderbilts also supplied clocks and time pieces to the staff so they could be on time.

The electric dumbwaiter, they also had a manual dumbwaiter, they could hold up to 250 pounds going up!

They had 5 refrigerated rooms.  The ice cream made on the estate was said to be the best anywhere.  They had pantries galore.
The laundry room was gorgeous, giant mangles to iron the giant table clothes. No linens were hung out side to dry.  There was a special room that had electric heat to dry the linens on big hanging racks they could slide in and out of the warm room.  

We thought about trying to find someplace off the estate for lunch, I am glad we did not. It was a long drive back into town and we were really hungry! According to my fitbit the house tour we were on was 2533 steps. Including four flights of stairs.  We had lunch at the Stable Cafe. About half way through lunch, Lon realized it was really the old stables.
The kids menu had a good selection for Lon and it was generous portions. He also had the dark chocolate fudge cake (lava) with homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream.   His burger was a good 1/4 pound and had Tillamook cheddar on it. He was in heaven!   I had a chicken salad sandwich that was just okay.  I had a bite or two of Lon's dessert.   The honey almond layer cake did look good though, next time!

Waiting for our car.  They were fairly quick too.
They had the a/c on so we would not be in a very hot car. Nice touch.

Leaving the house area. On our way through the gardens and out  of the Estate.
The gardens. I wish we could have stopped but we will next time.  There was a car riding our bumper, even though it was posted 20 miles an hour and the road was a very narrow one way road.  I was not impressed with that driver.

It was worth going to, it was wonderful. We will be going back!
We passed a place called Antler Village, more shopping, but they also had a petting zoo with baby goats! We have to go back for that!!