End of Summer Break

Sunday, August 31, 2014 No comments
The days on the calendar seem to have run out on us and its back to school time. I had let the kids choose one last summer "hoorah!" before they went back to the classroom but other things got in the way (like time and weather) and we weren't able to make a trip to the zoo or the beach.

But, we squeezed some activities into the last few days, some were fun and some were not so fun--

The Apple store

Who would have thought that the longest excursion we would have taken would be to the Apple store to replace the recalled battery in the iPhone. I had an appointment but the store was crazy crowded with people all wanting their batteries replaced, etc. I was told 45 minutes,  but 3 hours later we were still waiting.

The iPads held the kids attention for a little while and we walked the shops in the shopping center as well.


I realized that I hadn't the kids photos taken professionally since last August. I made an appointment at one of the kid-centric in and out photography studios and we went for a photo shoot.

The kids being put in place for a photo. What is this backdrop? It looks like it belongs in some dilapidated house. Whose walls look like that? I should have said something, but the kids were happy and compliant and I didn't want to jinx it with a backdrop change.

These places can be hit or miss sometimes, depending on the kids moods and the photographer's interaction with the kids. This time it was a hit. Our photographer was very good. My only complaint was I didn't like one of the backgrounds. I like plain backdrops.

You can see some of the finished products in the blog header.

We also had some photos taken of Chloe in her race suit that came out nice.

Stuffed Animals -

We had lunch and then I got conned into going into Build-a-Bear. Oliver declared he didn't have enough stuffed animals and gave me a sob story on how stuffed animals help him sleep at night and not be scared. Then he let me know that he saw a commercial on TV and that they had a Spiderman bear that he wanted.

The kids making the hearts come to life.

Emma with her bunny we named "Honey".

A tie-dyed naval officer bear. She wanted a camo soldier outfit but I told her that clashed too much with the tie-dye.

Oliver with his spidey bear he named...Jeff. Of course.
The kids are ready for school. The backpacks are filled with supplies and summer's coming to a close.

North Carolina

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 No comments
It's been the summer of kart racing. When I think back on the last two months, I think of all the races and trips we've taken in Nellie to various tracks.

We've camped at a lot of tracks and done a lot of traveling in Nellie this summer.

We had a club race in New Jersey before we headed out to North Carolina for double-header club race in Mooresville.

The podium in NJ.

We came back from Sunday's race in NJ, cleaned up Nellie, packed for NC, resupplied with food and left for NC on Wednesday. We went so Chloe could learn the track ahead of the big Pan-American Challenge race that will be held there in October.

We had a custom kart suit made for Chloe that would match her helmet and it arrived just as we were pulling out of the driveway for NC. Great timing UPS! Chloe was super-excited to try it on and wear it at the event.
My sister and brother-in-law came up from Atlanta to see her race and our friend Tom also came with his daughter. It was a fun weekend and a learning experience for us all.

Tom, Amelia and Chloe

Shakey came too.

Deanna, John, Matt, Chris, Chloe, Oliver and Emma Claire enjoying some NC-style BBQ.

We met some nice people and we met some not so nice people who will do anything to make sure their kid wins. Everyone learned something at this race, but most of all, we are excited and looking forward to the race in October. Chloe has a whole team behind her who believe in her driving talent and ability to win.

Emma Claire liked tire lifting. I think she would like to be on Chloe's pit crew.

It was HOT in NC. I loved it, especially since the northeast has had a cool summer.
Emma Claire wants to drive.

She can almost touch the pedals.

And after the battle on the track, the top four kids go off and play together.

Emma Claire and I watching Chloe practice.

The whole family at the podium.

Oliver looking handsome on his scooter. He made lots of new friends in NC.
Oliver and Chloe got some time on track together on Friday. Oliver has driven a lot of different tracks for a kid who doesn't race!

Chloe wanted to prove she could ride her bike without touching the handle bars.

Chloe and her coach & tuner, Chris, going out for a practice session.

It's Almost Back to School Time

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 No comments
Oliver has been up and down about going to kindergarten. He tells me he wants to be homeschooled (He thinks he can play Wii all day if he is), but he got more excited as we went back to school shopping, especially when he got to pick out a new backpack and lunch box.

The summer break is coming to a close. Back to school is in sight. The backpacks are all loaded with back to school supplies, the back to school shopping is done and I have started putting PTA meetings, sports schedules and back to school/meet the teacher nights on the calendar.

Oliver will start kindergarten and Chloe will be a 5th grader in her last  year of elementary school. We just found out who Oliver's teacher will be and I've heard lots of positive feedback about her. She sounds like a good fit for Ollie. He is also in class with our neighbor, so both boys are super-excited to have a friend they know in class.

Doctors, Dentists & Post-Placement

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 No comments
In between traveling we squeezed in some time for the dentist. It was Emma Claire's first visit to the dentist and I can't say she was the best patient. She did like the waiting room though.

The "prize" for being a good patient at the dentist was a "gold" chain. I can't make this up. Only in New Jersey.

We also went for all three kids physicals and annual exams at the doctor. Oliver and Emma Claire had to get some immunizations but otherwise, three healthy kids. Can't beat that.

We also had our one year post-placement visit with our social worker. Emma Claire has been home a year!


Wednesday, August 06, 2014 No comments
Emma Claire enjoyed her cupcake.
Emma Claire did not enjoy the candles on the éclair (her nickname).

Today is Emma Claire's birthday and she is two years old! She is in full-on terrible twos. Just tonight Oliver and Chloe came inside from playing outside because they said Emma Claire wasn't being nice. And, she wasn't. She was hoppin' mad about the sidewalk chalk and insisted it come inside. She wanted to color every one and every thing and they just wouldn't comply.

Emma Claire's vocabulary is still growing. Her favorite words this month:
"Give Me!"

The other day I caught her playing in my makeup and asked her, "Emma Claire, what are you up to?" and she responded, "No good!".

And there you have it.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014 No comments
Nellie parked with Mont Tremblant resort in the background. We don't pack lightly. Details of our family vacation/kart racing week in Quebec follow.
Late on Friday, June 25, we packed up Nellie with provisions and headed out for Quebec. The trip was two-fold, part vacation and part racing. So, we dressed the kids in their pajamas and once we were all packed and ready we headed north stopping for the night just shy of the U.S./Canadian border. We had heard all sorts of stories from fellow racers and RV travelers on the unpredictability of crossing the border in an RV towing a trailer with four racing karts. Would they inspect the cargo and the bus or not?

The answer was NOT. We crossed the border early Saturday morning and were basically the only vehicle entering at that time. No problems. Very nice border control agent. The only unwelcome event we had while crossing the border into Canada was the simultaneous text messages from our cell phone carriers alerting us that we were international and facing data roaming charges.

We did what any visitor from the States would do once crossing into Quebec and passing through Montreal--we stopped at W*al-M*art for some supplies (namely a shopping cart half-full of English chocolate). Only difference, everything but the store name was in French and there was a row of electric car charging stations out front. We continued our way north to the Laurentian Mountains and the town of Mont Tremblant where we would spend the next five days.

Mont Tremblant was a beautiful setting for a family vacation. It also is home to a kart track (would you expect anything less?) and a three-time world champion kart driver and instructor. We spent the first two days in Mont Tremblant touring the area and the last three at the track.
The kids on the walking trail in Mont Tremblant.

Oliver and Chloe enjoying some snacks in the top bunk while watching a movie. We really "rough" it when we camp.

Matt and Chloe with a giant bar of English chocolate reviewing the GoPro at the track from earlier in the day.

Around the campfire at the campground in Mont Tremblant. Emma Claire had already gone to bed.

Matt ready to hit the track in his DD2.

Oliver suited up and ready to drive his kid kart. He's an international kart driver now.

Chloe getting a track lesson from Ben Cooper.

Chloe and Oliver on track together.

More tutoring from Ben Cooper.

Oliver and Chloe on track. Oliver loved the track and drove really well and got in lots of laps. He went out on his own. This photo was taken on his favorite part of the track.

Ben Cooper wanted a photo of Oliver in his kid kart. Ben told Oliver he was his favorite driver now. We were all impressed and Oliver asked, "Why should I care?" So Oliver. Hard one to impress.

Chloe and Emma Claire in the track office at Tremblant.

Our podium of kids.

We called this Emma Claire's "palm tree" hair do.

Oliver ready to hit the track.

Back at the campground after a day on the track. The pool was too cold for me.

Oliver loves to dive.

Emma Claire thought the water was a little too cold too. She opted to play from the sidelines.

At the ski resort in Tremblant. The weather was such that you started the day in many layers and peeled them off as the day went on only to layer them back on as the sun went down.

A silly-shot of Oliver and Chloe in the resort.

Chloe in front of the tourist information which featured a Birel kart (her chassis manufacturer).

Oliver had fun on the bungee jump.

Chloe took on the rock climbing wall and managed to make it to the top on all four climbs.

Emma Claire was cheering Chloe on as she scaled the hardest part of the rock wall.

Chloe ringing the bell at the top.

We rode the gondola to the top of the ski resort. The view was fantastic although a little cloud-covered and chilly at the top.

A selfie of me and Emma Claire.

We finished at the track mid-day on Wednesday and made way to Trois-Rivières which is home to the prestigious Le Petit Monaco kart race which is set on a tricky street circuit. After trying to navigate to the paddocks we got in line behind fellow participants who were lined up to enter the paddocks and set up shop for the next four days--two practice races and two race days.
You can see the row of trailers and RVs lined up for the opening of the paddocks for the race.

Emma Claire told Dad she could steer Nellie into the paddocks.
We unloaded, got out the karts and equipment, met up with Chloe's tuner Chris who drove in that day, did a track walk and ate dinner and went to bed. Thursday, the paddocks were nearly full as people arrived during the night. It was the first full day of practice in what would prove to be a challenging kart track. Chloe had many new things to learn racing at this event. Canadians have different kart set-up requirements. She had to learn a new style of track on a different type of tire she was accustomed to driving on with a different sized kart axle. So, Thursday was a day to get Chloe comfortable on the track and in the kart set-up. But, Mother Nature wasn't going to accommodate us and practice was cut in half when the skies opened and absolutely poured rain and came a flood where we were camped.

Oliver pushing the water to the storm drain.

At the height of the rainfall, the water was up to the middle of my calves. After the rain stopped, it receded but we were left with a small lake which the kids loved splashing in. Both Oliver and Emma Claire went through three outfits each that afternoon.

We stayed in the paddocks Thursday night and the kids played with friends and fellow karters. Chloe and her teammate, George, were interviewed by the local press and had a photo shoot.
Chloe and her teammate George in the newspaper photograph with the Northeast U.S. Rotax director in the foreground. The story ran in the Friday paper.

Friday was another practice day. Chloe struggled to be competitive with her track times and the day turned worse when there was a serious karting accident on track involving a teen driver from the U.S. Such a tragic accident and our thoughts and prayers are still with the young man and his family.

That evening we went to dinner with other race friends in the busy town of Trois-Rivières. It was Friday night and everybody seemed to be on the main, pedestrian street. We were a large group and decided to split in two groups so we would have a better chance of getting in a restaurant.
At the restaurant.

Saturday was the first of two race days and Chloe finished in 9th. During Sunday's race Chloe had another Micro drive up her backside but she managed to stay calm and cool and escape unscathed. She drove well and finished in 6th place.
Chloe, Chris and Matt work on making changes and adjustments to her kart.

Waiting with a race pal to go out for practice.

Chloe and Oliver smiling from Nellie.

A selfie from the stands.

Chloe on track during qualifying.

Waiting for tech. after coming off track.

Oliver photobombed Chloe.

Chloe racing on Saturday.

A view of the spectator stands.

Chloe (in the red suit and yellow/orange helmet and kart) at the start of Saturday's race. The concrete barricades were very intimidating, especially to U.S. karters who are accustomed to driving on track with ample grass space for run-off.

Start of Saturdays race.

After the accident on Friday, the intimidating track set-up and other frustrations, we were happy that Chloe finished safely and without any accidents. She's a smart driver. She learned a lot and is ready to race again in another two months in Canada.

We stayed for Sunday's award ceremony and drove home that night, getting back home in the early hours of Monday morning.