Annie turned 11! We’re so proud of our little girl! See her year-in-pictures recap HERE.
Brooks’ Chicken – Oneonta
On the way back from one of Gracie’s X-Country meets we stopped at Brooks. Melani graduated from SUNY Oneonta so it was a little bit nostalgic for her. We also took a little tour of the campus.
Parkour / Ninja Training
The kids love watching the American Ninja Warrior and the Ultimate Beastmaster competition / reality TV shows. A couple of years ago – one of them got invited to a birthday party at the Broome Hippodrome. We bought some gift cards – but COVID prevented us from using them last year. Thankfully, the Hippodrome survived (but moved from Endwell to Vestal).
Dominick, Annie & I finally got to make a trip over there – and had a lot of fun. You can see some of our antics there in the video above. It’s definitely a good time – but you really need to have some upper body strength to get the most out of it! There are a lot of activities that require you to be able to lift or hold your own body weight with your arms.
Halloween / Pumpkin Farm, Boris, Howard Sternum
We live very close to the “famous” Boris the Skeleton…. In the one picture below – you can see the kids in front of Boris’ house. The kids got a kick out of going over there to trick-or-treat.
We had a lot of beautiful fall foliage this year, and managed to make it to a couple different pumpkin farms as a family this year.
My Aunt Carmen got to meet the famous “Shock-Jock” Howard Sternum on Halloween. Personally – I’m not a fan – and quite honestly, I don’t think the guy is very healthy… He’s really just hair & bones!
Both Dominick & I have been doing some camping over the last several months with his scout troop. It’s been a loooOoong time since I have been camping in the colder months – so that was something I was proud of us both being able to accomplish!
In early December we had a campout in which we stayed in the cabins, cooked two turkeys in trashcans and invited the families to join us for a Thanksgiving meal. There was a lot of snow & mud at Camp Tuscarora – so just getting the family up to the camp was an adventure of it’s own!
Dominick also had Winter Camp in late December. I was extremely proud of him for camping in a tent for 3 nights in the winter and doing it without me! (busy time of year for financial advisors).
We went down to the Poconos for Thanksgiving. Melani’s sister’s family rented a place down there and we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with them, Melani’s mother and my brother-in-law’s parents. The place wasn’t big enough for us all to stay there – so we stayed about 7 miles away at Camelback’s Aquatopia. We had been meaning to get there anyways – since we have a comparison post about all the Poconos water parks & Aquatopia was the only one we had not managed to stay at yet! The trip was a whole lot of fun for the entire family!
Our stay @ Camelback’s Aquatopia was fun! It’s always good to get a little “beach” time during the colder months! You can read more about our impressions about Aquatopia HERE if you are so inclined. Last year we got over 30,000 views between our 2 posts comparing the 3 water parks in the Poconos.
Gracie, in particular, has been very busy 3D printing! We are still learning & improving, and we keep challenging ourselves with more difficult models and prints.
Annie had to build a native American styled totem pole – so we actually created one that we could 3D print! Each of the characters is to represent a specific quality of Annie. The teacher said she needed to have 3 animals on her totem pole – I told Annie she needs to have many more – since she is such a talented & special little girl!
Dominick has been really taking an interest in animation. He has been using the open-source raster graphics program Krita to create his animations. Below is the last one he finished and posted to YouTube. He has another one that he is working on with an Etch-A-Sketch theme…
The Clean-up Challenge
As you can imagine, it is a struggle sometimes to try to keep the house clean with 4 active & creative kids in the house. And it is ESPECIALLY difficult right before Christmas! So, we finally tried something new – having a clean-up challenge with the kids competing against each other for a significant prize!
We had some rules and Melani was to be the judge. She did not know what kid had which room – and the kids could only clean when their mother was not around. It was a lot of fun, a LOT of cleaning got done – by people other than adults, and one of them won an awesome award! I threw frugality to the wind and I think we over-delivered on the prize. Think “Shock & Awe”! I TOLD the kids – the prize would definitely be worth their effort – and they definitely agreed that it was. We also had individual rewards that they could each win if they successfully cleaned something we secretly identified in each room (before rooms were drawn for).
So, with Melani judging the rooms without being told who had which room – she picked Gracie’s room as the winner! There were two other rooms that were close – and a third that didn’t really show too much genuine effort (Sophie!)
One of the gifts in the prize basket was a Space Shuttle Lego set – (which you can see below) that Gracie assembled and even embellished it on her own with her new label maker.
I had really planned on having this Adventure Update out BEFORE Christmas – and to be working on a new one. But I have been side-tracked with the end-of-year responsibilities of my job and creating content on the other websites/blogs we have. So this one just keeps getting longer!
Christmas was very nice and quiet this year. Melani’s older sister was in town – so it was nice to be able to see her and spend some time with her over the holidays.
I think Santa was WAY too generous, again, to the kids – as vacation time and Christmas time seem to be the two times a year that they really struggle to be good! I guess it doesn’t really matter what I think of their behavior – just what Santa thinks!
The three younger kids were involved with the Christmas pageant this year again. Dominick had the distinct honor of playing Joseph.
Lincoln Logs / Link-n-Logs
Lincoln Logs always seem popular in the fall @ our house. Timeless toys!
Random Kid Picture
Featuring Gracie in this update….
Merch By Amazon
We got approved for a Merch by Amazon account in 2021 – and have been slowly trying to build it. Here is a Pop Socket of a design we created. Were still learning the ropes and having some challenges along the way. This design is an original. It’s not presently available – since Amazon didn’t like me referring to the shark as a baby shark. They felt like it infringes on Baby Shark…. So I will have to resubmit it and refer to the shark maybe as a juvenile shark????
Sophie – First Person on Mars….
Birthday party, Kopernik, cute kid picture. nuff said!
We had a rough start to the school year. Over the course of the first few weeks – 3 out of the 4 kids were quarantined because of other kids in their class (or teachers) having the corona virus. Each of them spent a little time with me @ the office during quarantine. Sophie was so good about the remote learning – for being such a little kid. In the afternoon on one day she looked a little tired – so I asked her if she wanted to lay down and take a nap. To my surprise, she said “yes”. So I took her upstairs and let her lay on the couch. She almost instantly fell asleep. She slept like a log for a couple hours and didn’t even move! My business partners really got a kick out of how good she was and how soundly she slept!
I hope 2022 is a great year for everyone! Thank you for reading!