Joshua and the 8th Grade Semi-Formal

Next week, Josh is graduating from middle school, and moving on to high school in the Fall. With less than one week to go, the school hosted a semi-formal dance for the entire 8th grade at the school itself last Friday. Did they do this every year? We definitely didn’t have a semi-formal when I was in junior high school.

It was a big deal — most of boys were dressed in suits, and many of the girls took the afternoon off so they could get their hair and makeup done. We got Josh a new suit, shirt, and tie for the evening.

Before the dance started, many people got together at a nearby park for pictures before heading over to the school at 7 PM. Josh said he had a really good time — some dancing, but also a photo booth, snacks, and goofing off with friends. I ended up picking up Josh and another boy at 9:30 PM, and driving them home.

Posted in Family, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We went to see the live-action Aladdin film, and I didn’t think it was all that necessary

Nums, Lily, and I went to see the new Disney live-action Aladdin (2019) film. I have to admit that the folks at Disney are smart — they can make a live-action film version of every animated film in their vault and mint money. Personally, I don’t think the story needed a live-action version, but whatever. Josh was very much against seeing the film, so he stayed home.

The film is very similar to animated version, except there are two new songs in this film. I would write more about this film, but….. meh. The only good part of this film was that I got to spend time with my two favorite girls.

Will Smith was kinda okay as the Genie. If you were worried about Will Smith spending the entire film in blue face paint, don’t worry, because he’s not.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

June 1 Trenton Thunder Game and CMB Demo Team Performance

The kids caught a ride at 5 PM with some friends to Arm & Hammer Park, and we cleaned up after the picnic at our house. We got on the road by 5:45 PM and made it to Trenton in time to park, and get inside to watch them perform. I wish the team was allowed to perform a little closer to game time so more people could see them actually perform, but water under the bridge.

The performance went well and was done in 4 minutes. After that, the kids went to their seats. The game was fun, and the Thunder won 2-1 against the Harrisburg Senators.  Our church folks were nearby so we did stop by to say hi to them, but we basically sat in the seats we purchased through CMB Karate.

After the game, we watched the always-nice fireworks display.

And without further ado, their last CMB Karate Demonstration Team performance:

June 1 2019 CMB Karate Demo Team – Trenton Thunder from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

Posted in Family, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Church Picnic at the Ipes

For the past few years, members of our church have been going least annually to go watch a Trenton Thunder game as a small fundraiser for the church. We’ve been meaning to have a number of the church members over for lunch, dinner, or something along those lines. I got the bright idea that we should have a picnic at our place before the game, and then we could go to the game afterwards.

We settled on June 1, as the kids would be performing with other students from CMB Karate before the game. Little did we know it would be their last performance. A few weeks before the picnic, we set up a sign-up sheet at church for folks to bring sides, drinks, or dessert. I had many grand ideas in the months prior to have the interior of the house painted, new outdoor speakers, but none of that turned out to be feasible. We lucked out with good weather, and everyone basically stayed outside.

We set up three eating areas (including one under a pop-up tent out in the yard, with borrowed folding tables and chairs). For food, we served up Italian sausage, hot dogs, and hamburgers, plus all the sides. I also went out to buy lots of bottled beverages.

For entertainment, we purchased and set up a few different game or activity areas in the backyard– a giant Jenga-type game , cornhole, and badminton.

In the morning, I was still running around buying supplies, including Tiki torches and citronella candles, drinks, ice, etc.

We even used our new bar cart.

Overall, I thought the party went very well. I’m so nervous about hosting parties, but each one has been fine. I mean, look, you have good food, activities, keep the drinks flowing, keep the conversation going, and what more do people need to have a good time?

Well, ice for one. Even though we had 20-30 lbs of ice on hand, we still ran out during the party. Lesson learned — don’t underestimate how much ice you’ll need. Whatever you need, double it!

Posted in Family, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It’s the end of karate (for the kids) as we know it, and I feel (sorta) fine

Nothing lasts forever.

The Beatles. Vacation. Milk.

For us, add to that the kids’ love for karate. I think it’s been about five years now, and they moved up slowly from white belt all the way to black belt. Pretty impressive. We thought they would continue on, learning new skills and techniques like sparring and grappling, weapons, etc.

Nope. Last Saturday, the kids went to their last class at CMB Karate.

After they reached black belt status, their interest in practicing (or going to class) dropped off. As they’ll tell it, they didn’t feel the drive or passion after reaching that pinnacle.

I’m not certain why I feel a bit more bittersweet on this. Josh is dropping band and the trumpet after this year. I feel that karate was a big part of their lives these past five years, and it’s a sign that remnants of childhood are slipping away. They’re growing up, and moving onto other things, whether we understand what those are or not.

Does it mean they’ll never do karate again? No. Of course, they can choose to return to it in the future on their own. For now, that chapter has closed. That’s the end of weekly classes, karate tournaments, and demo team performances (after next week’s last performance of the season.)

You know, maybe it is better this way. It was annoying to constantly force them / remind them to practice. As they get older, they have to make these decisions for themselves, and feel like they want to practice. If you enjoy something, you’ll do it. As parents, we’ll have to continue to learn how to be good guardrails as they explore who they want to be.

Posted in Family, News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Memorial Day Weekend 2019

I think we had a fairly low-key Memorial Day weekend. What, no out-of-state travel? No running around? Yeah, I guess so.

We got a bunch of clean-up down at the house (in anticipation for a party at our house the following weekend), I purchased and used our new pressure washer, we went to the town Memorial Day parade, and we went to a pool party hosted by some friends Sunday evening.

Pictures below from the parade — Lily and Namita marched with the Girl Scouts, and Josh marched for the last time with the middle school marching band. He’s decided that he’s done playing in band, so this was his last hurrah.

Posted in Family, Friends | Tagged | Leave a comment

Oooh, aaaah, we have a new outdoor bar cart

Last Christmas, my sister and her husband bought us an outdoor bar cart for use when entertaining in the backyard. It’s, of course, been cold and rainy these past few months, so no one has needed it. With Memorial Day weekend here, and the weather was good, I felt it was time to open up the box and assemble it. The kids were nice enough to not run away when I volun-told them to help me put it together.

Voila! We have a new bar cart.

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I bought a gas pressure washer over Memorial Day weekend. It’s interesting.

Every year, we get mold on the vinyl siding of our house in areas that don’t get nearly enough direct sun. A stone wall in our backyard gets that way too. Too much shade from pine trees. I once rented a gas pressure washer from Home Depot back in 2014 for the old house, but I found using it to be awkward. After twice paying contractors to clean the outside areas of our house, I think it makes better financial sense to purchase a tool that we will expect to use at least once a year.I wanted to rent one this year, but I guess they’re hot commodities and always unavailable.

There are lots of guides online to read through, and I would recommend understanding your requirements and budget before you invest in a pressure washer. We have average homeowner requirements:

  • Need to clean my home’s vinyl siding of mold annually
  • Need to clean concrete walkways once in a while
  • Need to clean stone retaining walls around the yard annually
  • Need to clean patio maybe annually

No boat to clean. ;)Besides cost, from experience, you also need to balance features against maintenance and portability. I once rented a large gas pressure washer from Home Depot. It was powerful but large and heavy. It was a trial to simply load it up in our SUV. While I like idea of electric for the easy upkeep (no gas, no oil), those models don’t appear powerful enough for cleaning stone or concrete garage floors.I decided on a midrange Ryobi gas model. It provided enough PSI to clean stone, could spray soap when needed, and was portable.

So far, so good. The fuel tank is a little on the small so I have to refill the tank after 30 minutes of use. I would also have preferred an onboard tank for soap/detergent. I was surprised to learn our concrete walkway was filthy and discolored. I was so focused on cleaning the siding and backyard stone wall, I never considered the concrete. I started cleaning the front stoop and the difference in color was dramatic. See the color difference above. Crazy, right?

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Garage Renovation Project has commenced – Phase 1 (Painting)

A new year, a new home project.

The chaos that is our garage has been bothering me for eons. Yes, that’s right. Eons.

I’ve been cleaning it out slowly these past few months, but that’s only step one. The next phase is to prep the walls, remove old rickety racks & hooks, paint the garage, and install new shelving and track systems for improved organization. I want fewer things strewn about the garage like a minefield or obstacle course, and more items up on walls, out of the way, and easy to find!

I’ve worked out the layout for the future state, and we’ve started painting. I haven’t settled on an exact color, but we’re thinking a grey. Although I love grey, I’m not sure if I want to see grey walls and a grey floor. The jury is still out. For now, I’ve got one wall painted with paint + primer. We still have three more walls plus ceiling to paint, then to install the shelving, and move everything. I’m trying to get it done in stages, and completed in full by August 1st.

Wish us luck.

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Brunch with friends in Morristown for Sheba’s birthday

On May 4th, we drove up north to Morristown to celebrate our friend Sheba’s birthday. For a nice change of pace, we went out for Sunday brunch. It was also the same weekend for the Kentucky Derby, so End of Elm featured a few unique Derby-themed drinks available.

For a hard-to-find restaurant adjacent to the Morristown train station, the Brunch menu was fancy. In case you were dying of curiosity, I opted for the fancy shmancy chicken & waffle sliders.

Posted in Friends | Tagged , , | Leave a comment