Friday, August 25, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Heart

So when I first realized we would be very close to the path of the total solar eclipse this year, I really didn't think it would be necessary to drive to see it.  I mean, we would likely see 90% totality.  That should be enough, right?  Then, the more I heard about it, the more I realized that any partial eclipse would not really be visible without special eclipse glasses (the sun would still be too bright to look at with the naked eye) and would barely even be recognizable with only slight darkening of the skies.  Then, the week of the eclipse in our area was forecasted to be a very cloudy and rainy week so it was very likely we would see nothing.  So I finally at the last minute decided we should take the boys out of school (it had already been announced as an excused absence that day) and drive a couple of hours to the closest viewing area that wasn't under cloud cover.  We drove to the small town of Orangeburg, SC just south of Columbia along with thousands of other people from all over the country.  This little town played host to many of these eclipse travelers.  We went to the local Chick-fil-a to grab a quick bite for lunch before the eclipse, and it was so crowded inside, we just got our food and ate in the car while watching the partial eclipse with our eclipse glasses and our shoebox viewer.  We met some other awesome travelers in the parking lot and just set up to watch together.  I do think the most amazing part of events like this is how it brings people together.  Everyone was nice except the one car who decided to honk their horn at us right in the middle of the total eclipse because they just couldn't understand why everyone else was stopped and watching the darkened skies and amazing view.  I guess they missed the memo.  Haha!

We have our eclipse glasses from Amazon and our shoebox to view the partial eclipse and are ready to hit the road. 

A little car picnic lunch at Chick-fil-a. 

The beginning of the eclipse through the shoebox viewer and with the glasses on the camera.  I actually took all of these pictures with my phone camera because it is often easier to take pictures in different lighting with it.  Camera phones have really come so far. 

We actually didn't let Mattox sit outside and look at the eclipse for very long because he could not be trusted to use the glasses on his own.  I don't really know if he could actually see anything since everything through the glasses looks pitch black except the bright spot of the sun. 

Evan was actually quite paranoid to be outside without his glasses after all the hype over the eclipse and talk at school about the dangers.  I tried to explain to him that it was really no more dangerous than any other day outside in bright sunlight and that you should never look directly at the sun anyway.  

Just wearing our cool shades for pictures. 

My silly boys. 

That big bright orb in the sky sure can do amazing things.  I think my favorite part was still the halfmoon shapes the partial eclipse made when filtered through the trees. 

I don't know why Brody thought he needed the glasses to look down at the ground. 

My boys at the total solar eclipse of 2017. 

It was neat watching it gradually get darker all in the space of less than 30 minutes. 

Some nice folks from Charlotte took our picture. 

Getting closer and really seeing the moon shape in the shoebox viewer.  I enjoyed "wearing" the eclipse moons.

Looking like twilight now. 

The nighttime outdoor lights came on.  And the store employees were viewing from on top of the restaurant. 

I actually just took a video of the actual eclipse to capture the moment as it would have been difficult to take pictures and enjoy it.  I took some still shots of the video to show the actual ring and three awesome falling stars that were also visible in the darkened sky.  It was weird to see the streetlights all come on in the middle of the day.  Evan and Brody talked a lot about the "ring of power" after this.   You know, the one ring to rule them all.  Ha!

On the drive home, we made another awesome discovery when we stopped in a little town in rural SC to get some yummy homemade ice cream and explore this little "old western" town.  I do wonder if they use this for something special.  

There were a whole bunch of buildings with signs. 

There was a large stage on the train station so I wonder if they do performances here.  I wished the stores were actually occupied. 

The boys liked the jail and tried to see if any prisoners were inside.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back to School 2017

The boys started back to school in early August after getting a reasonably long summer break from the end of May.  They enjoyed being back on a traditional school calendar although I think they will miss their longer breaks throughout the school year.  This school system does give decent holiday breaks with a little Fall break in October and a whole week off for Thanksgiving so I don't think we will mind too much.  The boys started their last year of ever being in school together.  Sigh.  Yes, that does make me a little sad.  Evan will move up to middle school next year, and because they are four years apart, they will not be in the same school again through middle and high school.  They started riding the bus this year because the morning school traffic was making Daddy late everyday and because it is easier not to have to get the little ones out in the afternoons to pick them up.  I am glad they get to ride the bus together this year, and I don't know how I will feel about letting them ride separately next year.  The boys were excited to start another year of school adventures. 

Brody is ready for 1st grade.  I had other shirts picked out for the boys, but we were at Target the day before school started, and they saw these dinosaur shirts they just had to have. 

I don't remember what he was saying here. 

So excited to go back to school. 

But not too excited about the early morning mosquitoes that plague our area. 

Evan is ready for his last year of elementary school.  It seems like just yesterday he was starting kindergarten.  Sniff.  

He is such a cool kid now.  He wanted some converse this year.  You know, style over functionality.  Haha! 

What an "Incredible" start to the school year!  They rolled out the red "carpet" and welcomed the kids back in style.  Yes, that is the principal dressed as Mr. Incredible.  

I always feel a little anxious watching them walk through those big doors. 

Brody gets welcomed back with a big hug from a teacher. 

I made them stop for a quick picture together, and they weren't too thrilled. 

Brody found his seat.  He got to pick whether to sit at a desk with a chair, stand up, or sit on the floor.  They have a flexible classroom. 

Evan did not want me going in with him so I just snapped this shot from the doorway.  Haha!  
Their superlatives for the year:  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sweeter than Watermelon

What could be sweeter than a watermelon, you ask?  Well, I think this will answer that question:

Baby's first watermelon!

The sun was so bright. 

Better once we got some shade. 

He isn't 100% happy all the time.  Ha!

But he is 100% sweet! 

A little comparison to big brother Mattox who was a little bit younger for his first summer so he didn't actually get to eat any.  

Yay for yummy watermelon...and sticky babies! 

Big brothers joined the party. 

Lots of sweet sticky faces. 

Mattox was glad to get to eat some this time and loved helping his baby brother. 


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