This past week was our annual vacation which we couldn't really afford to go on and which coincided with my 37th week of pregnancy, thus making any real travel impracticable anyway. Soooo...we decided on the new trend in recession family vacations - the StayCation. We booked a 7 bedroom house in MD for FREE which we used as home base for a week of day outings. Adora, unfortunately, was *not* on vacation this week and so we added Nehemiah into our mix of activities. Somehow I managed to take pictures on Monday, drain the batteries to my camera and not get them recharged again until this evening so unfortunately I have very few photos. So here was how our week went:
Monday: Ravens Training Camp (free) - we drove 1 1/2 hours to Westminster to sit in the blistering heat and watch the Ravens practice from across the double practice field. This was a very popular event for the more die-hard among us and not so much for the smaller ones. The Fan Zone fun area was a great way to keep the dissenters happy. They got to bounce around in the moon bounce, run the inflatable practice field obstacles, slide down the gigantic inflatable slide and whack the heck out of each other with giant padded sticks. We followed that up with a trip to Baugher's, the local ice cream place and then went home and celebrated David's 5th birthday.
On Monday we also announced the week-long project - a movie/story parody contest. The kids were to pair off with whomever they chose and perform a parody of any movie/book/show they chose. They had until Friday to plan and rehearse.
Tuesday: Three "B" Day - All the B's were a surprise as the day wore on. They were told only to get up and get ready for the first B by 9:30 am. I had managed to save enough MyPoints to get us some gift cards to Cracker Barrel where we had our first B for Breakfast (which turned out to be more like Brunch but, hey, it still starts with a B). We went home and regrouped and then headed out to our second B - Bowling. We managed to correspond our B day with the homeschool bowling at the local lanes so it only cost us 2.50/game/kid with free shoe rental - pretty good on our budget! Nathan beat the pants off nearly everyone and Ruth surprised us with her very unique but effective pinball style bumper bowling. We came home and threw some supper at the kids while Tad and I skipped gleefully off for a date night while Adora handled the final B - Bingo. I had raided Trader Joe's and bagged up a bunch of additive-free cookies and snacks which they earned while playing several rounds of Family Bingo. They ended their B day with a bonus B - Bug's Life - before heading off to Bed.
Wednesday: Game Day. I was anticipating the need for a break for me and baby so planned a day at home base in case I needed to just sit and rest. We pulled out any and every game anyone wanted to play. Our neighborhood gaming friends came over and spent hours playing LOTR Risk and Viktory II. Meanwhile, the younger crowd broke out Elefun, Uno, Moose in the House and a whole score of other games. Dinner was Panera bread sub night. Instead of dropping the $65 it normally costs to feed our family from Subway, we spent $20 in delicious breads from Panera Bread and broke out our home supply of lunchmeats and garden veggies for make-at-home sandwiches. That was a real hit for supper and the older boys got a whole day of gaming with their dad - a very rare treat.
Thursday - Water Park Day. Every year we try to do an amusement park day. This year I looked at every amusement park within a four hour drive, combed the internet for coupon codes and figured and re-figured how to make group rates work. Even at that, I couldn't get us into an amusement park without dropping close to $500 for one day's entertainment. Finally, our priest's wife tipped us off to a parks and rec pool facility in Calvert County - Cove Point Park Pool - with some of the things our kids love best about water parks - fountains, slides and pouring buckets. For under $60 we were able to get everyone in. It was a two hour drive spent listening to the Focus on the Family Novacom series on CD (listening to stories on CD is a favorite family past-time). When we arrived there we found that some punks had vandalized the lap pool and it had been closed and drained. But we still had the run of the water slides and attraction pool. The older kids enjoyed that while the littlest ones spent the day splashing in the kiddie pool which featured a row of 8 inch fountains and a spouting whale in the center. That kept Nathan and Miah entertained for the entire day as Tali crawled in and out of the 9 inches of water. We packed a lunch and ate outside the pool gates. For dinner I headed to a local Food Lion for a rotisserie chicken which I took back to the pool so they could stay in the water as long as possible. A few die-hards - JT, Philip, Betsy and Ben stuck in the pool until the closing whistle while the rest hit the showers and cleaned up for the long drive home.
Friday - Performances and Girls/Guys Night Out - In the morning all got up and readied themselves for the Big Contest. We gathered in the living room (baby and I were too tired to head to the stage in the basement so we made do with a living room performance space). Tad and I acted as judges. Ben and Philip were first up with their parody of Kung Fu Panda - Fon Du Panda. It included some wonderful collaboration between the two and some fantastic mask work by Ben. That was followed by Betsy and Miriam's collection of scenes from Ice Age and Cinderella which involved two very hairy costumes and a lot of faux food consumption. They won an award for best Musical Adaptation with their song Amazing Grapes. Next came Ruth and Andrea who also parodied Ice Age. Their scenes were fairly unintelligible but they did manage to work together with a lot of grace and won the Best Collaborative Effort award. David spent the week being a Royal Pickle and rejecting every offer to collaborate with every team in turn. He finally decided to work alone, then chickened out at the last moment on his plan and hollered out one of PT Flea's lines from Bug's Life for which he (begrudgingly) won Best Character Study. JT and JM collaborated on an animated food show. JT picked up the technical end of the animation while JM helped with the story-line and did the narration. It was a wonderful little piece with some nifty technical work by JT for which they won Best Television adaptation. JT and Ben won special awards for their technical and mask work respectively. Prizes were awarded from Monday night's leftover Bingo stash.
We ordered Papa John's pizza for dinner (with 2 scrip cards I've had in my wallet for eons plus the XL pizza special) and then off to our respective Night Out. The girls headed to a local church to see Beauty and the Beast performed by a cast comprised largely of their homeschooled friends. They were bedazzled by the beautiful and talented young lady who played Belle and were quick to secure her autograph as soon as she appeared from behind the scenes.
The boys took in the movie G-Force in 3D (probably our biggest money splurge of the week) - Tad had the difficult task of trying to find something to excite our boys, aged 3 - 12, and so he pulled out the big guns.
Both of us ended our evening out with a trip to Cold Stone for ice cream and Tad's crew got home first to relieve the babysitter with whom we'd left Tali (her first time ever without family! She was so excited to have us all home she managed to weasle her way out of bed and didn't go back again until 10:30 pm).
Saturday - Picnic Day - Somehow we managed to line up two separate picnics on the same day. The first was a noon picnic at the home of a fellow John Carroll alumni. A group of Tad's friends from high school have reconnected through Facebook and decided to gather together in person. It was loads of fun to meet some of them for the first time and to see others again, gathered with spouses and children. From there we went off to the annual TORCH homeschool picnic, arrived home around 7:30 stuffed to the gills and filthy dirty. All were bathed, prayed up and bedded down.