Finally an update on Kayla & Ashley


She is wrapping up first semester of junior year! Yikes. She has about half of her minutes for her driver’s license. Yikes! And next semester she starts a class called College Skills that helps her navigate the process of finding and applying to college. Yikes!!!!! There really is a lot going on as she is learning to navigate the challenges that school presents and we learn new strategies to help her. She is the head of the building committee for robotics club too. In the meantime,here are some songs from her recent christmas concert. To find Kayla, look for a girl standing between two flags. Now look slightly to the left. See the bangs just visible over a music stand? That’s Kayla.

Up first is Triptych 1.

She didn’t like Triptych2, so here is Triptych 3.

Her favorite is this one, Celtic Carol. It’s a Lindsay Stirling song.

Kayla really loves her school. Being a Sacred Heart school, they can celebrate Christmas! There are trees and decorations all around. A tradition is that a nativity is set up on a table by the chapel, and every girl in the school gets to be a lamb that she places. Here is a photo of the scene.


And here is Kayla’s lamb, the second red from the left. Look close and you can see the label.



She’s had a super busy year! Being in 8th grade means confirmation. This past weekend, the confirmands went downtown for an overnight retreat and service day at a domestic violence shelter. Kevin chaperoned too. The very next day, Ashley had her belt test. She earned 3 stripes and advanced from low purple to high purple! Her next test is in the spring, and she will have to really work extra hard to color up as she needs a 4 stripe score to do that (the highest score given). Should she succeed, she would be a brown belt. If not, she will earn her brown belt one year from now. Right after her belt test was her piano recital. The piano at the nursing home was SOOOOO badly out of tune, and people kept holding loud conversations while the kids played. Ashley asked that we not video those but instead let her do it on our piano. The special part of these three pieces is that she chose them and she edited them with help from her teacher into something manageable. Here she is!

The Gift

Next up is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Our cameraman was not so good about helping her turn pages….

We finish with her show stopper (she was the last performer): Where Are You Christmas?

Too cool for the whole recital business? Nope! While waiting for her turn, a shaft of sunlight sneaked between some curtains and was blinding her. She didn’t want to move during another child’s performance, so I handed her my glasses.


She is just growing up too fast and looks it in this photo! Ashley has applied to Woodlands also and is excited at the chance to go. She continues to draw and be musical and just be an awesome kid.


Music and Memories

It’s been extraordinarily long, so here goes!

First up are two videos from way back in May when Kayla performed with the orchestra in the spring concert. They played 7 numbers, but she only wanted two recorded. The first is the Dartmour.

The second is an all-time fave for Kayla – Beethoven’s 5 Secrets by The Piano Guys, adapted for their little orchestra.

Ashley had a piano recital in there too, but she did not like the way the performances turned out. She wants me to record her playing here at home on her good piano. Ashley also had a karate belt test since the last post, where she earned her purple belt. She will rapidly be reaching the stage where each test won’t be able to advance a color, and there won’t be stripes any more either. She plans to stick with karate until she earns her black belt, which she hopes will be before high school graduation. Then she’ll stop because college will be on the horizon.

The summer has been busy! Kayla has been working at Six Flags in the games department. She really likes it! It has kept her fairly busy, working 5 days per week.

Kayla work

She is now working only Saturdays because field hockey is starting on Wednesday. She starts school on August 24th. She’s taking AP English Language, AP Statistics, Biology, Modern World Topics, Christian Scriptures, Spanish 2, and orchestra. It is looking like a good year with good teachers and schedule. Let’s hope! We start looking at colleges this year, and she will have a College Skills class second semester in place of Health to help guide her through some of the stuff (all juniors get this class).

Ashley has been hanging around with friends and me. She is now gravitating toward a career in art, perhaps working costume or make-up design or special effects for movies. She’s 13, so a lot can change between now and when she actually has to make up her mind! She will be applying to Woodlands soon and starting school on the 22nd. It will be the last year we will have kids in our local district.

We went to the Lake Bluff 4th of July Parade, but it was just Ashley and me. We saw fun things and Ashley made a new “friend”.

peanut new friend legion

Kevin has been working and traveling a lot. I have been trying to do things left handed.





The girls and I went with Erin and the boys to Six Flags. Rhys had a good time!


The whole family took a last mini vacation this past week to Cedar Point in Ohio. Kevin and the girls got Fast passes and rode almost every coaster in the park on the first day. We stayed 12 hours until almost 10PM local time so that they could ride one of the coasters in the dark. They got freaked out coming off that coaster when they noticed that the tree and wood fence lined exit ramp was covered in spiders! We went back the second day to ride the other things but didn’t stay as long. I got to ride the train, the sky lift, and the giant ferris wheel. I also got to hold things, fill water bottles, and calm any fraying tempers. Here are some pix!

We ran into some rain, but not too much. Check out the sky. The coaster in the picture is Gatekeeper, which spans right across the whole front of the park and over the main gate.


Cedar Point is right on Lake Erie.


Getting ready to ride Maverick, one of the “Savage 7” coasters in this park.


Maverick about to take off. Kayla is in front of Kevin and Ashley.


This is Kayla about to launch on Top Thrill Dragster. She’s in the middle next to the lady with the yellow shirt.


Dragster launches you to 25mph in the first 0.76 seconds, then gets even faster to propel the car up the vertical loop. You go over the top, then twist down.


Ashley and Kevin getting ready to launch. This is the only time I have ever seen her nervous about a coaster! She just wasn’t sure they would have enough momentum to get over the hill. They did.


Me and my girls at the gate for the park. That’s Gatekeeper running over our heads. The girls and their Dad rode the “Savage 7”: Valravn, Millenium Force, Raptor, Rougarou, Magnum XL 200, Top Thrill Dragster, and Maverick. They also rode a bunch of other things.


The whole family! Can you tell Kayla and I are related? Check out that stance!


A silly snack break.

cedar point 15

This is the first drop for the coaster Valravn. The train cars have 3 rows that seat 8 across. It dangles at the top of that drop before letting go.

cedar point 14

Bumper cars while it sprinkled outside. Thunder shut down the main rides for about an hour on Wednesday.

cedar point 13 cedar point 12

By a weird coincidence, one of Kayla’s fellow robotics team members was at the park the same time as us. I spotted her, but Kayla was getting on a coaster so the girls never actually connected.

Before leaving, we visited the “World Famous” Cheesehaven. Kevin found some special aged cheddar, and they had a section for weird sodas like this one. Nobody seemed to want to buy one though.

pickle soda

Kayla did a little bit of the driving too, both there and back, to get some highway experience. Nothing more monotonous than the Indiana/Ohio Turnpike! She got to practice her passing and lane changing skills too.

Both before and after our trip, we have Gizmo with us. He misses his mom.


But he still has time for pampering and play.

gizmo2 gizmo1

Ashley just left for a trip to Michigan with her friend. When they came to get her, they brought their dog Una. She’s a one year old Shitzu-Yorkie mix. She and Gizmo got along fairly well!

puppies 3 puppies 2 puppies 1

He chased her around the house and got all energized to play. He just went outside and chased a bunny out of the yard, so his day is complete. Kevin is in Vegas for work until Tuesday, Ashley comes home Tuesday. It will be just Kayla and me for the next few days!