Friday, December 28, 2012

Our Super (Mario) Bros.

A family vacation and the holidays caused me to get behind on the photos, so I'm finally getting around to finishing up October and starting November.

The Scouts at the 1890's school
The Scouts at the 1890's school

Zach, Alex and the rest of their Scout Den had a fun field trip (known as a "Go See It") to a historic place called The Landing (formerly known as Murphy's Landing for those in MN). The park has historic homes and buildings from the 1850's-1890's to show how settlers in the area lived at the time. The Scouts got a taste of what family and school life would have been like for them - no video games or electricity! They all had a lot of fun.

Luigi and Mario
Luigi and Mario

For Halloween, they dressed up as Mario and Luigi from the Super Mario Bros. game, an idea they came up with all on their own (so cute!). They were excited to be dressed up for school all day. After school, they went trick-or-treating at the local businesses downtown and scored a huge amount of candy.

In other news, Alex was soooo excited to finally lose his first tooth! It bugged him that Zach lost his much earlier, so we were all happy for him when it was time for the Tooth Fairy to visit. Just like Zach, the Tooth Fairy gave Alex a set of gold coins for his special first tooth.

Check out the Sept-Oct 2012 album and the Nov-Dec 2012 album to see these pics and a few more, as well as some videos of Cole practicing his trombone for us. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

School days

Ready for 1st grade!
Ready for 1st grade!

As usual, September means that school is beginning again. This year, Cole is in his (gasp!) senior year in high school, and Zach and Alex started 1st grade at the Catholic school in our parish. I don't think Cole would be overjoyed at having pictures taken on his first day of school, but fortunately for me, Zach and Alex still are - so we took pictures of them as they went off to the bus stop. :)

Sept was a bit of a tough month for Zach, who suffered a broken collarbone when he got tackled in flag football.  Grandma Pat happened to catch some of the aftermath on camera, and in addition to the pain poor Zach suffered, the pictures show a moment of brotherly love as Alex helps comfort Zach as they leave the field.  Fortunately, the injury didn't slow Zach down much and he's right back to his energetic self.

Along with these pictures, the Sept-Oct 2012 album includes a fun day at our church's annual Fall Festival fundraiser and the Raingutter Regatta races at the October Cub Scouts Pack meeting (hence, the kids in costume), along with some other odds and ends - including some videos of Z&A reading and Papa playing the accordion!

Also, I've added a couple new photos to the Basement album showing the work I did on the basement bathroom - a new tile floor and wainscoting on the walls. Slowly but surely, it's getting done!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Scouting fun

Alex and Zach with Den Leader Mommy
Alex and Zach with Den Leader Mommy

We had a couple of fun Cub Scouts events in August - a camping trip with the Pack and a day camp specifically geared towards Tiger Cubs (first graders).

The Pack camping trip was the first "real" camping trip for Zach and Alex, spending the night in a tent somewhere other than in our backyard. They, and the rest of the Scouts from Pack 324 who attend, had a fantastic time. We did some canoeing, did some geocaching while we were out on a hike, made pizzas and s'mores on the fire, played some games and just had lots of fun. Z&A can't wait for the next camping trip - they're hooked!

A week later, they and two other friends from their Tiger Cub den attended a one-day camp geared just for kids their age. They did all sorts of fun activities while earning some of the achievements towards their Tiger badges, but I think their favorite activity was archery. They were so excited to try out the bows and arrow!

The pictures from these activities have been added to the July-Aug 2012 album. I also have a Tiger Scouts album to show all the fun activities they're doing in this year of Scouting (I'm having a lot of fun as the boys' Den Leader!)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Look out PGA!

Alex and Zach get golf lessons
Alex and Zach get golf lessons

At the suggestion of a friend, Zach and Alex took a series of golf lessons at the local country club with their friends (and fellow "double trouble") Jack and Ted. They had a blast learning how to putt, chip and drive over a five week period - so much so that they begged us to buy clubs for them, which they are frequently seen using in the backyard with wiffle balls. I took a few pictures from their first session and posted them in the July-Aug 2012 album.

Papa blows out the candles on his birthday pie
Papa blows out the candles
 on his birthday pie
Also in the album are pictures from Papa's birthday, where we of course celebrated with the customary birthday pie. Never heard of birthday pie? Well, when you're the birthday boy, you get to pick your treat, and Papa couldn't resist a homemade raspberry pie - yum!

We celebrated another milestone in July - Zach lost his first tooth!  He was very excited to get a set of special Presidential gold coins for his first tooth (the tooth fairy gave a more "standard" gift of a quarter for his second tooth, which came out a few weeks later).  Alex hasn't lost any yet but has two very wiggly teeth, so we expect another visit from the tooth fairy soon!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fun in the California sun - Part 2

The happy couple celebrates their union
The happy couple celebrates their union
 The remaining photos from our trip to LA have been added to the LA/Katie's Wedding album. They include a stop at one of Joe's favorite parks as a child, the amazing Heritage Park in Cerritos with an island that contains a playground hidden in an 18th century Boston town.

Also in the album are pictures from a visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and a stop at Sunset Beach for some play time in the ocean and on the sand.

But most important of all - and the reason for our trip - was the beautiful wedding of Katie and Iose. After a ceremony at the LDS Temple earlier in the day, Katie and Iose exchanged rings in the lovely Gibbs Butterfly Park, followed by a reception at their church, where a mix of American and Samoan traditions celebrated the happy occasion in fantastic style.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fun in the California sun - Part 1

With Katie and Iose at the entrance to Disneyland
With Katie and Iose at the
entrance to Disneyland
The Vandermark crew took a trip out to LA in mid-July to celebrate the wedding of Joe's sister Katie and her now-husband, Iose. We had so much fun at the wedding and during the rest of our time there, visiting and playing with the whole family.

The first batch of photos from the trip in the LA/Katie's Wedding album include a day at "the happiest place on earth" (aka Disneyland) with Katie and Iose and some video game fun at the Chuck E Cheese (check out Z&A's jam to "Slow Ride" :)). More pics from the trip, including Katie and Iose's beautiful wedding, are coming soon!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A festive(al) weekend

Zach and Alex at the BBQ Days parade
 Zach and Alex at the
BBQ Days parade
The second weekend in July is always a fun-but-busy weekend for us, as both our town and Cole's hometown have their big town festivals that weekend - BBQ Days and the Raspberry Festival, respectively. And starting this year, the big parade for each festival had some of the Vandermark boys in its list of participants.

Saturday was our BBQ Days day. Zach, Alex, Joe and I marched along with the rest of our Cub Scout Pack, handing out freezees to the parade-goers - a very welcome treat on a hot, sticky day! After the parade, we met up with Grandma Pat and Papa Bob at the carnival to have some food and enjoy some rides before Zach, Alex and I had to go work a shift in the Scout's pork chop and corn-on-the-cob stand. Joe spent the day working at the Knights of Columbus' burger and dogs stand. We were definitely worn out at the end of that day!

The next day was a little more relaxing for us but still lots of fun. We went up to watch the Raspberry Festival parade to watch Cole perform with the LMPM pep band from his school. Later that evening, we were back at BBQ Days to watch their famed fireworks, put on by a major pyrotechnics company based in town (they were amazing!).

Check out the fun in the July-Aug photo album, including a video of Cole's band performing (Hi Cole!)!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The boys of summer

Zach and Alex at T-ball
Zach and Alex at T-ball

I'm finally catching up on our summer photos, and I've got the pics through the month of June up on the site. June was a great kickoff for summer.

As mentioned in the last post, the boys fired off rockets with the Cub Scouts and we spent a day at the zoo to see dinosaurs with Grandma Pat.
We celebrated Joe's birthday, including a special present where I took him to see Roger Waters perform The Wall, who was in town that night (great show!).
We honored 2 of the best dads I know, Joe and my dad, on Father's Day, a relaxing fun day up at Grandma Pat and Papa Bob's house.
Zach and Alex started their second season of T-ball, this year playing on the Maroon Team.
The carpet was installed in our basement - we have a functional space downstairs! Yay!! :)
Grandma Pat and Papa Bob spent a special day with Zach and Alex, taking them to the Como Town amusement park just to hang out and have fun.

Check out the pics and video clips in the May-June album.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

From space-age to prehistoric

Zach and Alex are ready for rockets!
Zach and Alex are
ready for rockets!

We took quite a time trip in the last week, starting in the Space Age by shooting off rockets with Cub Scouts and finishing up the week going back in time a mere 65 million years to the Dinosaur era at the MN Zoo.

The Cub Scout rocket launch gave each scout the chance to fire off his rocket twice, and the rockets were flying high on a perfect Saturday morning. Zach and Alex had a blast (ha!) shooting their rockets - they went really high! Zach's rocket had a slight mishap on its second flight - the parachute didn't pop out, so it turned into a nice lawn dart on its return to Earth, burning itself halfway into the ground. Zach thought that was SO cool! :)

Did you stop by for a bite?
Did you stop by for a bite?

We finished the week celebrating the end of the school year joined by Grandma Pat for a trip to one of our favorite places, the Minnesota Zoo, to see the new Dinosaur exhibit. This cool exhibit features animatronic dinosaurs displayed along a trail similar to the other animals at the zoo. It was really neat to see the dinosaurs as they may have looked in life, really giving you perspective of their enormous size.

Check out the pictures (and a couple of video clips of the rocket launch) in the May-June album.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A birthday, baseball and Memorial Day

A great day for baseball
A great day for baseball

Just a quick post from a beautiful Memorial Day at the ballpark yesterday. Mom and Dad B had given Joe a family day at the game as an early birthday present, so the seven of us headed out to Target Field to watch the Twins "begainst" the Oakland A's. After a couple of days of weather extremes (cold, windy, rainy and then hot, steamy and windy with even more rain), it was a perfect day to spend a day at the ballpark as a family.

Because it was Memorial Day, the Twins had a number of tributes and memorials to honor and remember our veterans, particularly those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It was great to explain to Z&A what the real meaning of that day is for. One of the highlights was the National Anthem, when a WWII vet raised the flag in front of his family and wife of 65 years and a pair of vintage WWII fighter planes did a flyover.

Check out the video of the flyover plus pics from the game in the May-June album!

Friday, May 25, 2012

From Lions to Tigers (Scouts)

Alex, Zach and the rest of the new Tiger den
Alex, Zach and the rest of the new Tiger den

Most of the pictures from the last month are from Cub Scouts events - participating in the city-wide clean up by cleaning up trash at Veterans' Park (on a cold, rainy day!), helping out at a fundraiser dinner, and graduation/rank advancement at the year's final Pack meeting. Zach, Alex and the rest of the Lions Den stood guard during the flag ceremony in their last Lions duties, and then they crossed the bridge to receive their orange Tiger neckerchiefs and the Lions badges they had earned. The boys were SO excited to move up to Tiger Cubs!

The city clean-up pictures are in the March-April 2012 album, while the rest are in the May-June 2012 album.  Also in this album are a couple pictures from Hot Club, the annual Jazz band performance at Cole's school, a highlight for the band members and families alike that is performed at the school in a cabaret-style club.  Cole even performed a trombone solo this year and sounded fantastic!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Easter fun

Alex and Zach: These eggs are Easter Bunny approved!
Alex and Zach: These eggs are
Easter Bunny approved!

Easter weekend is traditionally a weekend of family fun in the Vandermark household, and this year was no different. Zach and Alex started the weekend with an Easter care package from Grandpa Dan and Grandma Marilyn with a bunch of really cool coins from Grandpa's collection and some special Easter baskets from Grandma. Afterwards, we dyed some eggs and made yummy Easter M&M cookies.

On Easter morning, the boys couldn't wait to see if the Easter Bunny had left anything for them in the not one but TWO pairs of buckets they left out. Zach and Alex normally each leave a bucket out, the same ones every year ('cuz the Easter Bunny is all about reusing!), but this year, the boys decided to leave those and the buckets they got from Grandpa Dan and Grandma Marilyn's care package. I guess they thought they'd get more treats that way, and of course, the Easter Bunny obliged by filling all 4. :)

After we celebrated the real meaning of Easter in church, we had a little more fun with an around-the-house egg hunt, where the silver egg is an extra special find. You can find the pictures (as well as a video of the boys talking about the Legos they got from the Easter Bunny) in the March-April album.

Meaghan and Cole
Meaghan and Cole

Also in the album is a great picture of Cole and Meaghan, who both looked wonderful on their Prom night!

We've also made some progress on the basement (yeah!). The walls were painted a warm grey with a dark red accent wall where the TV will be. The bathroom was painted the same red and will eventually have some cream wainscoting. The picture in the basement album shows the trim ready to stain (we did that part); that trim is now up so it's time to order the carpet, a patterned mid-tone grey. Can't wait until it's all done!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Jamming to a "Jungle Beat"

Zach and Alex perform with their classmates
Zach and Alex perform with their classmates
The kindergarten classes at Zach and Alex's school put on a Spring program titled "Jungle Beat." Each of the classes was featured for one of the song, performing music about the jungle and the animals who live there. Zach and Alex's class was featured for the title song, "Jungle Beat," using a bunch of percussion instruments for the beat. They did a great job! Video clips and pictures of the performances can be found in the Mar-Apr 2012 album.

Arrgh! We be here to see Pirates!
Arrgh! We be here to see Pirates!

Also added to the album are pictures from Z&A's spring break, where Zach, Alex and Mommy went all over town having lots of fun. There are pictures from our trip to the Minnesota Zoo and, the big highlight of the week, the trip to the Science Museum to see their special Pirates exhibit, featuring treasures found from a real pirate ship that wrecked off the coast of Cape Cod.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A big month for Cole

The birthday kids get a special treat at Fogo
The birthday kids get a special treat at Fogo

Cole reached the ripe-old age of 17 in February (still hard to believe - he can't be *that* old!). The weekend of his birthday was a busy one, with our side of the family having a little celebration at our house and then we joined Lisa, Gene and Gene's parents in celebrating the birthdays of both Cole and his girlfriend Meagan at Cole's favorite restaurant, Fogo de Chao. We all had a wonderful time and enjoyed more than our share of so many tasty kinds of meat - yum!

The birthday pics have been added to the Jan-Feb 2012 album, along with some more pictures and videos from basketball, a cool centerpiece craft project for our Cub Scout den, and a pirate-themed birthday party for Z&A's friend, Luke.

Cole's Baptism
Cole's Baptism

In March, Cole became a full-fledged Catholic, getting baptized and confirmed and receiving his first communion. We're so proud of him for making the choice to continue to grow and strengthen his faith! Pictures from the baptism, which was done before Mass, are posted in the Mar-Apr 2012 album, along with pictures and video of the beautiful new piano that we bought (can't wait to start lessons!).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Derby racing and birthday fun

Alex's and Zach's cars
Alex's and Zach's cars

Zach and Alex participated in their first Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby race in January and had a fantastic time doing it. They picked the models for their cars from their collection of Hot Wheels and then helped shape and sand them. The cars did great in the races, and both boys earned trophies and medals! Zach's car placed 3rd in Best of Show, the best looking cars out of the whole Pack, and Alex's car placed 2nd among the fastest Lion Cub racers (our den).

The pics and video clips from the race are in the Jan-Feb 2012 album, along with pictures from a recent den meeting where the scouts built models of special inventions using Legos (as you can imagine, the activity was a big hit with all the boys!).

The birthday kids
The birthday kids
Also in January, we celebrated Zach and Alex's 6th birthday and Grandma Pat's (annual 29th?) birthday with a nice family celebration at the house. Zach and Alex also had a Lego-themed party with all their friends from school and a few old friends from New Horizons at a fun place called Jumps and Downs, which had bounce houses and inflatable play areas. Pictures from both birthday celebrations are in the Zach and Alex's 6th Birthday album.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

They blinded me with science!

Exploring the Science Museum
Exploring the Science Museum

OK, so no one was actually blinded, but it's hard to resist a headline like that when talking about a trip to the science museum. :-)

Our first photos of 2012 include Z&A's first season of basketball, which they absolutely loved, and a family trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota for some fun and learning through cool interactive experiments and exhibits. The photos are in the Jan - Feb 2012 album.

More pics coming soon, including the Pinewood Derby, Z&A's birthday and more!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Family trip to DC

Dressed up and ready to celebrate
Dressed up and ready to celebrate

We took a family trip to Washington DC over New Year's to celebrate the wedding of Joe's sister Mary Ann and her new husband, Nelson. We had a wonderful time at the wedding, spending time with much of Joe's family - such a good time, in fact, that we actually forgot to pull out our camera so we'll have to wait until we order some of the official pictures to post them. In any case, it was a lovely evening, and we are so happy for them!

While we were in town, we did get a little sight-seeing in, spending a day at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum with Grandma Pam, Auntie Katie and Uncle Iose. The museum is a kid's dream (big and little), featuring some of the biggest milestones and best artifacts of the history of air and space travel. We also took a brief walk down the National Mall to see the Washington Monument (from the outside, since the building is still closed). See the pictures in the Washington DC album. We're looking forward to our next trip out to DC when we can take the time to really explore all the other great landmarks and museums that DC has to offer.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Holidays Part 2

Excited for Santa
Excited for Santa

Finishing off the holidays, our pictures of family, fun and food have been posted to the Christmas 2011 album. We captured some pretty great expressions of joy from the wonderful gifts we got from our family. (Yep, short and sweet, but what else can you really say about Christmas pictures? :-))

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Holidays - Part 1

Spending time with GG

This year, we once again spent Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago to celebrate the Holidays with family and friends - a great way to kick off the Holiday season! We spent a day with GG, eating lunch at a nearby Polish buffet (yum!) and opening presents. The following day, we had breakfast with Karen's godmother, dinner with the Belousek family (and meeting our new cousin, baby Joshua) and in between we played for a few hours at a nearby children's museum. We then concluded our whirlwind trip with brunch with the Chmuras (aka "Uncle and Auntie Chooch" and Amanda) before making the trek back home.  See the Thanksgiving 2011 in Chicago album for the photos.

We continued our Christmas holiday celebration in the following weeks with performing at the church Christmas Concert, an awesome Advent calendar (Lego Star Wars!), a Christmas play performed at the Stages Children's Theater, and Brunch with Santa at Macy's with some of Zach and Alex's friends from New Horizons and their families. You can find all of these pictures in the Nov-Dec 2011 album.

Also added - some pictures from our church's Fall Festival in September, courtesy of Grandma Pat, and an update to the basement project! We've hired a contractor to finish the walls downstairs to the point where we can paint, and it's almost done! The pictures in the Basement album show the rooms with the drywall up - what a difference that makes!