Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Oliver Drives A Go-Kart

For some time now Oliver had declared quite adamantly that he "WILL NEVER" drive a go-kart. We've asked him why and got numerous answers from him. They all seemed plausible--because it's Chloe's thing and he was scared of the noise of the engine and it just generally scared him. OK. So, we didn't push it. In his own time.

In the past few weeks, the stars seemed to align for Oliver and several things began happening that had us and him thinking perhaps NEVER had arrived and he would be willing and was ready to get into a kart-

  • he had developed his own friends at the track, most of whom drive in the Kid Kart class
  • he has developed relationships and built trust with Chloe's kart tuner and driving coach, Chris, as well as OVRP owner, Tim, who would be the one taking him out for his first spin in a kid kart.
  •  he likes volunteering to "fill-in" on the podium and he wants a trophy of his own
  • he is a dare-devil madman on a scooter and couldn't possibly be scared of driving a go-kart after some of his antics 
  • he became generally interested in car racing, watching Formula 1 with Dad
In the past when we went to track and to races, Oliver would chase Chloe and her friends. He had fun and the other, older kids were generally nice to him. But, as it goes, having the little brother around often turned to tantrums and spats. But, as Oliver approaches 5 years old, he nears the age of many of the younger kids driving in the Kid Kart class at the track and he has found his own set of friends to play with. He doesn't need to chase big sister Chloe and her pals anymore. He has his own band of pals to ride scooters with and drive remote control cars.

But, most of Oliver's new friends are driving karts and they would disappear from play time to drive on the track and Oliver was left to watch or chase Chloe and her pals.

Oliver is also a dare-devil and shows no fear when riding his scooter at the track. He smashes into fences, attempts jumps and spins and has ruined two pairs of shoes and one pair of jeans in the last two weeks alone dragging himself behind the scooter at high speeds. If the kid wasn't afraid to go down a hill on a scooter and attempt a jump and use a fence to stop himself, then he wasn't afraid to sit in a go-kart.

Oliver also started watching Formula 1 with Matt on the weekend. He would also make commentary on tracks and started telling us what color he wanted his Kid Kart, race suit and helmet. At first I thought he was just wanting the gear to look the part, but then at the first race of the year two weeks ago a group of us all went to dinner and Oliver asked Tim when he was going to take him out on the track.

What?!

Oliver and Tim have built a bond and Ollie feels comfortable with Tim and trusts him. They are kind of two peas in a pod as evidenced in their after-dinner chase (thankfully the restaurant had cleared).

So, the stage was set for Oliver's first lesson in a kid kart with Tim.

But first, we had to buy Oliver a race suit. Blue. Everything must be blue.
The cutest boy driver I've ever seen.
 

Once we had the gear, we were set to actually get in a kart with the motor on. Tim ran through some drills with Oliver--gas and brake, stopping and going, how much to press on the gas (not much)--before he allowed Oliver to actually take to the track.
Running a drill to learn the pedals.

A rolling drill that teaches Oliver to STOP the kart. Chloe took a chance standing in as the stop sign. He did stop just about 1/2 inch before her foot.

With the motor running, a stop and go drill. Oliver is tethered with Dominic holding on just in case.
 And once Oliver was ready, the announcement was made on the PA, "Clear the track for Oliver!!". He had a captive audience.

Getting help putting his helmet on.

Looking determined. 



And he was off!!

He did great!
He had a blast.
He was very proud of himself.
He declared his drive, "EPIC!"
Oliver got a round of high fives from Tim, Peter & Dad after his drive was complete.

Super proud of himself.
 Look out Kid Karters, Oliver will be racing soon!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter

We had our friends (and the kids God parents) over for Easter. They came Saturday evening to spend the night and Sue brought dinner. The kids and dogs were on their best behavior as usual. Ha! Chloe and Oliver had spent the day at the track and were tired and Emma Claire was overly-tired and Lizzie and Flash decided to stay awake and pester the guests. Welcome to the madhouse.

Once I finally got Emma Claire settled and asleep we sat down to dinner and adult conversation.

On Easter Sunday, the kids were up bright and early as usual. I had their Easter baskets out on display and it took Oliver no time to break into his candy and start devouring it despite me telling him not to do so. He was very excited to go out and hunt eggs and by the time we we went outside he was wired for sound.

Chloe runs through the yard making quick work of finding the hidden eggs.


Emma Claire gets some help from Catherine.

Jelly beans.

She's searching for more jelly beans.
Emma Claire seemed a little unsure of what to do. Catherine, Bryan and Sue assisted her in finding some eggs and once she discovered the jelly beans inside some eggs the hunt was over for her.

Chloe made quick work of the hidden eggs, piling them in her Easter basket while Oliver was busy opening the eggs looking for the ones with only money inside.

The highlight of the Easter egg hunt was the four dozen confetti eggs BeBe and PaPaw sent from Texas. The kids love these and I think they are quickly becoming an Easter tradition.

Oliver taught Emma Claire all about the confetti egg tradition.

Oliver brushing confetti from his hair.

Oliver getting help from Bryan to smash an egg on Daddy's head.

Bryan helps Emma Claire get Chloe with the cascarones.
I made an failed attempt at taking a photo of all three kids but I couldn't get them to sit still or look at the camera all at the same time. This was the best I got.




Hope you had a great Easter weekend.
 Now to the clean up....

Monday, April 21, 2014

Race Weekend #1 of 2014

The kids were off from school last week for spring break and the karting season is officially underway which means that I have little to no time to update the blog with all the activities we have going on. I am going to try to get all the backlogged posts on the blog this week.

First up, race weekend #1--

The first race weekend of the year was a busy one. It was a double-header race weekend with the first race in southern NJ and the 2nd race at OVRP in the Catskills.

Friday before spring break was a half-day for Chloe so we headed out to the track mid-day in mad dash to get a few practice sessions in before the sun went down.

Matt, Oliver and Chloe went in “Nellie” and Emma Claire and I followed in my car because Oliver had a soccer game late Saturday afternoon.

The drive took about 3 hours and the only eventful thing that occurred was the $28 toll on the thruway for Nellie! Ouch!

We got settled in at the track, unloaded Chloe's karts and she got a few sessions in before sundown. For dinner, a group from OVRP all went to the pub located on the race track grounds. Oliver had a blast chasing Tim around and it was decided that night that Oliver would have his first karting session with Tim during spring break (more on that in another post).
Watching a movie outside.

The race team tent - Team OVRP.

Saturday was race day and Chloe did really well. Her driving has improved a lot since competing in the Florida Winter Tour and she qualified 2nd, came in 1st for the pre-final and finished 2nd in the race. It was a good sign that this was going to be a very competitive year for her.
Chloe leading during the pre-final at NJMP.
Saturday's podium.

Oliver, Emma Claire and I had to leave about mid-day from south Jersey to go to Oliver's soccer game. He scored the only goal in the game for his team!
Oliver and his soccer teammates.

Our original plan was to go from the soccer game to OVRP but the race in south Jersey didn't finish up until 6 p.m. so we decided to spend the night at home and head to OVRP early Sunday morning.

Sunday's race was a pre-season race, only a kick-off for the race season at OVRP. Lots of people came out to race though and the kids were reunited with all their race pals.
Oliver playing with his friends-after I snapped this photo, I had him STOP playing on the forklift.
There was lots of competition on Sunday. There were four racers who could take the pre-season win. In the end, Chloe came in 3rd place and had some good racing with two competitors.
Chloe during Sunday's race at OVRP.

 There was no podium on Sunday since it was a pre-season race. There was a podium for the kid karters and of course, Oliver was asked to fill in for a kid who didn't stay for the awards. He was happy to do so.

It was a great start to the season. Looking forward to the first regional race in two weeks.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

20 Months!

At 20 months old, the fingers are still in the mouth the majority of the time.

Emma Claire is 20 months old today! I am getting misty-eyed just thinking that she will be two years old in 4 short months. The last 8 months have been such a whirlwind that it really only seems like yesterday that we came home and celebrated her 1st birthday.

Milestones this month -

  • Emma Claire is starting to run.
  • She is mimicking more and repeating words. Her vocabulary is growing.
  • She wants to be with her big sister and big brother in everything they do.
  • She adores "GeGe" (Oliver).
  • She is only waking once at night (knock on wood).
  • Her nap schedule is all over the place. Some days she wants to nap in the morning and others she makes it until after lunch.
  • She started Mommy & Me gymnastics. It is at the same time Oliver has gymnastics so we are already there. I registered her because I got tired of spending the entire hour Oliver was in gymnastics chasing her off the gym floor.
  • She's suddenly gotten opinionated.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Spring Soccer

Today was the 1st day of spring soccer though it didn't feel very spring-like.
Oliver getting pumped up to play. He was really focused, helped teammates and had a blast.

Just to confuse things, our town has two soccer leagues with very similar names. In the fall, I signed Oliver up for one of the leagues and he was assigned a team. The team was all boys ages 4-6 years old.  I didn't know about the OTHER soccer league in town until this winter when spring soccer registration opened and the other mother's were talking about it. I thought they were all signing up for the league Oliver was on, but I learned that this other league was the one most people preferred for young, pre-school children because the kids are comprised boys and girls and are all pre-schoolers (ages 3-5). It seems the league Oliver was originally on in the fall is the NEXT league you put your child into, IF they like soccer and once they have a year or two of playing soccer on a team in the other league.

Having two leagues in town with really similar names made absolutely no sense to me, but that this other soccer league was most fitting for pre-schoolers did make sense. Oliver loves soccer, but didn't always like playing on the other team because the boys on the team in 1st grade dominated the game. The youngest players on the team, Oliver and the other 4 year-olds, who were playing soccer for the first time rarely got the ball and were often bullied by the older boys on the team for not understanding what was happening or where to go in the game. Those 1st graders on the team had two years of playing team soccer behind them and had a greater understanding of the game. The 4 year olds were trying to catch on and understand the game. There was a big ability gap between the boys on the team and it all came down to age.

Even though Oliver was signed up in the other league for fall and spring soccer, I signed him up for the other league for this spring. Technically, he's in both leagues. But, after today's game in the new league, on his new team with the younger, combined boys & girls, I knew it was the right league for him at this age. The whole team is younger and just starting out in team sports and soccer. The overall feel is that everyone is there to enjoy soccer and have fun. And, Oliver had a blast and he didn't score a goal. If this had been the other league/team he was on in the fall, he would have been very upset and discouraged that he didn't score a goal (and that's mostly because the older kids on the team would point out who didn't score a goal).

Oliver played really well, was focused, made new friends and assisted his teammates. I was really proud of him, especially since it was windy and cold. He didn't complain once, I on the other hand complained a lot about the cold.

I really hope the rest of the season continues with Oliver having fun and enjoying playing the game of soccer.
They're playing AND smiling!

Oliver was given the honor of starting the game by kicking the ball into play.

Oliver running to get the ball with the opposing team hot on his heels.

Oliver celebrates after a teammate scores a goal.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Sunshine!

Fingers crossed, it seems that spring has finally decided to show up. This week we have had warmer temps ranging between 40-60 degrees depending on if there was sunshine or clouds. We're having the daily parade of deer through our yard and I discovered one bush that was putting on leaves has been devoured by deer. It's not been eaten outright, its just been disfigured. The birds are also starting to show up in mass quantities and once again we hear chirps and tweets in the morning. We have also been visited on two occasions by something that likes to eat our trash. I am thinking it is either a bear or a raccoon because it has pulled over our very large and heavy trash container and bent the metal stand holding the bird feeder to the ground.

Yesterday was definitely the nicest and warmest day of the week. I took Oliver and Emma Claire outside to get some sunshine and to attempt to check over the landscape and start making a list and plan of things we need to do to whip the yard back in shape since it had been neglected while the house was vacant. I didn't get very far in my planning when I got sucked into drawing hopscotch on the driveway for Oliver and then a racetrack for his remote control cars. An hour later, we were still playing and Chloe was off the bus and digging out more toys from the barn. I didn't get much accomplished in the way of chores, but it was nice to be outside with the kids and feel that winter IS finally behind us.

Chloe threw her backpack down on the ground after getting off the school bus and started playing.

All three kids playing along the driveway. It is very nice to have an acre of land to play on.

Emma Claire having fun.

Emma Claire thought the blue sidewalk chalk looked tasty.

Oliver got hot and headed for the last of the remaining snow on our property. He told me his ears were sweating. It was only 58 degrees outside.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Disney



Oliver has been asking to go to Disneyworld for about a year. The third round of the Florida Winter Tour series was going to be held in Orlando, so we decided that would be the race that the entire family would attend and I could take Oliver and Emma Claire to Disney during the week before the races.

I somehow missed the "Disney" fever. I never sipped that "kool-aid". I could list a million other things I would rather do than go to a Disney park. Laundry and a root canal is on that list. It just isn't in me.

I wasn't going to do this alone. I recruited BeBe to go with me (apparently I inherited my lack of Disney enthusiasm from PaPaw who did not want to go).

So, before we went to Florida, I did a little research and stopped when I discovered how much it would cost for two adults and one child (Emma Claire is free) to just get a ticket to go inside a Disney park. SAY WHAT?!

So, I went the easy route. I chose Epcot. I know, I know. I have children. I should have taken them to the Magic Kingdom for the first Disneyworld experience. I chose Epcot because 1) there is less mouse, less princesses, less teacups, etc. 2) there was the flower show going on and I knew that there would at least be something pretty & interesting to look at besides mouse ears on grown adults.

Also, two weeks before the trip, Oliver declared he didn't want to go to Disneyworld anymore and he wanted to go to SeaWorld to get splashed by Shamu. Then a week before we left, he told me he was over SeaWorld and would prefer to go to LEGOLAND.

He wasn't dead set on Disney but I couldn't take him to Orlando and drive an hour and a half to go to LEGOLAND. It had to be Disney or I could never face the other moms at pre-school. They were already shocked and appalled I lacked the love of Disney.

So, on Friday morning we headed to Epcot and paid $293.94 for admission. I think the man at the ticket booth quickly learned that we weren't Disney people when he asked Oliver who his favorite Disney character was (for his ticket/card) and Oliver looked back at him with a blank stare. The man had to make his question multiple choice. Stares again until Oliver finally chose (C) Goofy (when you don't know the answer, always go with C).

And like that, we entered and began our day of waiting in lines of fun.

The flowers were beautiful. The park was actually a better experience than I had expected. I will probably take the kids to the Magic Kingdom when we go back to Florida next year (it's going to take me that long to save up to go). We went on the Nemo ride and saw Crush. We walked through the Butterfly Garden, we bought a $17 spray mist fan for my son who complained he was hot while I basked in the 85 degree day thinking, "Hallelujah! There's NO snow and I am warm!". We really enjoyed walking through all the countries and were really disappointed to find out Germany ran out of beer! WHAT!? I walked all the way to Germany for a beer and a pretzel and there was NO BEER! We let Oliver pick where we ate lunch and he chose very well--Morocco. We had a nice waiter who wrote Oliver's name in Arabic for him and met another nice girl in China that also wrote Oliver's name for him in Chinese.

But, most importantly, Oliver had fun spending a LOT of money.

Our Disney day in pictures. Proof I actually went to the one place I have tried very hard to avoid. 
Proof I have been to the "Most Expensive Happiest Place on Earth". For $15 and 20 minutes in line, you would think I would get a better quality print.
Looking at the fish in the aquarium while we wait to see Crush.

The flowers were beautiful.

Oliver and BeBe looking at railroad village landscape.

Oliver in front of the Lion King topiary. 






Emma Claire taking a nap.
Morocco.
Oliver in front of Tow Mater.

And Oliver's two favorite activities...the playground and splash pad (a.k.a things we could have done for free and had just as much fun doing).





Emma Claire got in on some playground fun too.
 
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