Category Archives: Photos

Let’s Play Chess

Last night, we took the family over to the Nashville Chess Center.  Why were we there you ask?  Well, Kalonji went to meet the administrative staff at the center to discuss potential collaborations for Kalonji’s non-profit.   Admittedly, I know absolutely nothing about chess,  but Kalonji has been teaching Kaleya & Jihad how to play.   They were having their Holiday Party and there were at least 50 or so people there.

It is located in a gorgeous old home on Belmont Avenue.

Picture of the Chess Center building

And, the space is divided into areas for play, for learning, and they even have a small library.  It was fun to watch some of the regulars play even though I couldn’t follow along.   One of the members set Kaleya & Jihad up on a computer to do a chess tutorial.  Kaleya knows how a few of the pieces move so she was actually explaining them to me.  Jihad was doing his own thing – he didn’t need me at all 🙂

Jihad snacks
Jihad and Kaleya play

You know me…I had to take some pictures in their library.

a view in the libraray
cool chessboard
my librarian self loves the classification

The  club is open two nights a week and a few hours on Sunday afternoon so we will likely join after the holidays.  Kalonji wants the kids in his mentoring program to understand the rules and ways of the game as a way to further stimulate strategic thinking skills.   There may be more chess reported here on the blog in the near future  :-).

Scenes from a Bar Mitzvah

On Saturday, we went to the Bar Mitzvah of a good friend of Jihad’s.  Having never been to a Bar Mitzvah before we were especially looking forward to it.  Jihad’s friend, who we’ll refer to as ID, did a great job going through the ceremony and seeing as that he is autistic, we know it meant just that much more to the family.  I was so touched, I even cried some.  🙂

The Rabbi explained all the parts of the ceremony well and we were able to follow along.  The passage that ID read was  Genesis 37 where it’s described that Jacob was loved more than his other brothers by their father, Joseph (Israel).  We learned that the Torah is read in syncrhonization by all synagogues during their weekly service and that the reading of the Torah is measured out precisely.

Here’s ID afterwards with his Rabbi and the Torah scroll

Here’s a picture of one of the hand-written Torah scrolls on display

Kaleya was off and on during the service, by the time it was over, she was so ready to go

she perked up though during lunch and of course getting to take balloons home made her day.

The Temple was very nice and I especially appreciated the sense of history present in the service and in the actual building.  At the end of the service, the names of those who had anniversaries of their passing during this season were read.  Also, there were pictures of all the graduating classes of the temple going back to the 1890s.  Here is an example of one of the class photos – this one from 1932.  Can you imagine seeing your ancestors back several generations if they too had been members?

We had a great time seeing ID again (he goes to Jihad’s former school) and meeting more of his extended family. Of interest to my genealogy interests, we learned that ID’s grandfather is the founder of an African-American newspaper in North Carolina and the family has ties to the city where I grew up.  Small world!

Halloween 2010 – A week later

I’m a week late with the Halloween report, but we had an excellent weekend and of course there are pictures to share! Friday night started with a slumber party for Jihad.  Several of his friends came over and we had 5 pre-teen boys running amuck for 24 hours.  Poor Kaleya felt excluded at first, but I had a talk with all the boys (all of whom have younger siblings) and explained that they needed to not exclude her. After that, all was well.   One of Jihad’s friends, D, stayed with us the rest of the weekend.

On Saturday we met some friends of ours at a nearby mall for dinner.  D & Jihad got their face painted.

Our friends’ son was dressed as Batman for the mall trick-or-treat.  Isn’t he cute?

On Sunday, Halloween day, the kids went to a Halloween party followed by trick-or-treating.  Kalonji and I didn’t even get to stay with them since we had some unfinished business to take care of with our move, but I think the kids enjoyed themselves tremendously.  Kaleya was a ladybug.

Jihad and his friend were just plain scary. (Jihad is on the right w/ the bloody chest)

Group picture of some of the kids @ the party!

And the kids crash at the end of the night.

Oh – and of course I have to share something else.  My mother’s job had Halloween fun to and she was a serial murder (who was getting locked up and sent to jail)

complete with her own victim.

And, for the pumpkin decorating contest, her pumpkin was a serial murder pumpkin – with cereal inside (get it?)

Family Vacation to Florida: Day 4

June 4th, 2010

Now it’s Friday and again, we slept in before getting a late start out.  I had a hard time deciding what we would do this day but eventually decided on the Florida Aquarium.  Despite the high admission price it was well worth it.  In addition to the aquarium exhibits, they had an outside water play area that the kids played in.

The Aquarium offers scuba lessons which they call “Swimming with the Fishes” – that was interesting to watch b/c they have a tank where you can look at people learning to scuba.

Here is the “No Bone Zone” where you can touch some of the specimens.

Then, the kids went to the water play area for awhile to cool off.

Now, Kaleya was playing with the water squirt machines spraying other kids. I predicted that if she got sprayed she would not like it. Sure enough, she got sprayed and I hear her over there crying so went to see what was wrong. After she calmed down though she went right back over to get in the mix again.

After the aquarium we then headed to Honeymoon Island Beach. I wanted to go to a beach that was not filled with tourists and Honeymoon Island certainly was not. The shore was rocky, but overall the kids enjoyed it – they actively searched and found many seashells and began a small collection.

And that was the end to another great day.

Family Vacation to Florida: Day 3

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 3 of the vacation started off as leisurely as Day 2.   After sleeping in, the kids’ daily walk around the lake with my stepfather, my solo trip to a nearby cemetery for some genealogy work, and lunch, we went down to St. Petersburg to visit the Science Center of Pinellas.  I figured I couldn’t subject the kids to more “history” stuff so a Science Center seemed like a good idea.

The Science Center is an older establishment, having been founded in 1959, but they had some interesting things to see.  It was actually the first science education center in the United States. We began in their marine room where they had a tank with a few specimens of marine life.

One of the more interesting things in the tank was a horseshoe crab, I’m not sure I’d ever seen one before.

They also had owls.

They had a cabinet with skeletons in it, so of course we had to open it

One of the lovely treasures inside was a skeleton of the horseshoe crab!

and check out the Snowflake Moray Eel

Following the marine room we toured the rest of the inside of the center and saw alligators, a scorpion, a gecko, the wingspan of an albatross (did you know it was almost 15 feet?) and more. We even saw a tarantula and the shed exoskeleton of a tarantula.

Outside of the center they had a wetlands area, a Native American village replica (which had been recently burned down by vandals), and a sidewalk tile exhibit that represented the United States and the years each state entered the union. The boys particularly enjoyed the wetlands; they saw a snake, several lizards, a big spider and a big cricket. yucky.

Of course Kelli had to stand next to her Florida.

After the Science Center we tried to go back home, but Kelli got turned around and we ended up in Tampa. So, we went to the International Plaza so she could visit a particular store. At the mall we waited for her at the children’s play area – it was themed like a Looney Tunes baseball field.

One of the ladies next to me @ the play area started talking to me and she ended up forwarding me a text ad from Bath & Body Works to get $10 in free merchandise w/ a purchase of $10 dollars or more. That resulted in me spending $35 dollars there, but I got $40 worth of free stuff. Can’t beat that! The boys even got a new shower gel, the Oak scent from their mens collection.  That was a great social marketing ploy if I can say so myself.   I am a little disappointed that their Twitter account has not been updated since April 8th.

And finally, more swimming this night.  We’d picked up an inner tube for Kaleya, so she had a great time being a bit more adventurous in the water.