Monday, October 13, 2014


Back in the day I attended the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, MN with my brothers and beloved Aunt Ellen. I've blacked out most of the experience, but distinctly remember witnessing the performance of "Puke and Snot" whose act consisted primarily of chewing a carrot and then spewing it out while insulting each other and anyone else in their proximity. The two performers took a liking to me (I think I was six or seven at the time) and singled me out. It was not attention I particularly wanted and I left the festival feeling dirty and disgusting and with an aversion to root vegetables.

Time passed, and over the years I've managed to avoid attending pretty much Ye Ol' anything. However, Owen recently attended a Medieval Times performance and Nora loves all things princess-y, so when Brad texted us in the early hours (ok, 10 am) of Sunday -- the only non-rainy day of the three-day weekend -- that the Browns were at the Maryland festival and basking in revelry and merriment, I agreed to put aside my past grievances and take the kids to the fair.

Owen was a little reluctant to attend, but became entranced as we walked by Shakespeare's Skum and saw their version of Henry V (we later went back to catch the tail end of  Othello: Having A Bad Day, and all of  Antony & Cleopatra: As the Nile Flows). We caught up with the Browns in time for a joust, and then got to partake in the massive slide before hanging out in the children's area, catching a performance of the "Dueling Fools" and then searching for the perfect medieval hat for Nora (Owen could only find metal armor which we all agreed was a bad idea).

All in all, it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday and while we discovered that Puke and Snot are still touring with the show, Allen agreed that we could skip that one...

(click here for all the pictures)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

18 Innings...


The Nats' loss to the Cardinals in the 2012 NLDS was a roller coaster, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat all unfolding before our eyes.  That team was young and exciting, and they filled us with hope for the future.  2013 was a reminder that even with the talent in the world, nothing can be taken for granted in baseball, and every trip to the postseason needs to be savored.  The 2014 Nats ran away with the NL East and we could taste a deep run into October.

Brad & I lined up tickets for the whole NLDS, I picked up Owen early from school, and we settled into our seats on a glorious afternoon ready watch our team take on the Giants.  But the Giants took the early lead, and the breaks never quite went our way (Desmond struck out with the bases loaded, Harper led off the next inning with a towering home run into the third deck, but alas no one was on base).  The Nats' comeback fell short, and the Giants took game one 3 to 2.

We had a whole crew for game 2: Owen & I went with Brad & Marlo and Mia and Ben, and Mom Mom & Grandpa Don got tickets too with Aunt Katherine and Uncle L.  Elaine was a bit bummed she and Nora weren't going too, though I think she was over that by the time the game was over.  The Nats jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third, and Jordan Zimmermann, fresh off his no-hitter in the final game of the season was twirling another gem.  He was one out away from a complete game shutout when he gave up a walk.  Drew Storen came on, gave up a quick two hits, and just like that the game was tied.  On to extra innings!

Now, when the game started at 5:30, it was a warm sunny day. But as the night wore on and the innings mounted (10th), the temperatures plummeted and the wind was whipping around the park (11th).  We bundled up (12th), abandoned the upper deck (13th), warmed up in the gift shop (14th with a second 7th inning stretch!), and eventually made our way to a great spot out of the wind to stand (15th) and watch the rest of the game.  16th, longest game in Nats history.  17th, surely someone will score -- so cold -- but every inning is a chance for an ecstatic walk off win!  18th, Giants home run, the clock strikes midnight (Owen's first time staying up until the witching hour), longest game in postseason history, the Nats go quietly into the night...

The series wasn't over though. The Nats won game 3 in San Francisco taking back the momentum, but a series of miscues in game 4 gave the series to the Giants, and the season was over.  There's always next year...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sailor Girl


The last few times we've been out sailing it's just been the boys out on the boat, so when Grandpa Don suggested the boys go sailing again, Nora put her foot down and decided it was high time she got out on the water.  Once Nora decided she was in, Mom Mom thought she better go too, and Elaine got the idea that she better help out somehow.  We made it out to the boat a little before lunch, and the weather was perfect for a day out on the Bay.  An easy sail out and back.  The bagels for lunch were yummy (Nora even tried the liverwurst!)  Owen showed Nora the ropes (not quite literally of course, since ropes on a boat are called lines).  Nora had a blast playing up on the bow, though she made mommy a little nervous with overconfidence in her sea legs, and she made daddy a little nervous with her declaration that standing on the bow with your arms outstretched is what you do "in romance"...    

(click here for all the pictures)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Tea Time


Several months ago, Mom Mom called us late at night to ask if Nora would like a fairy princess tea party for her birthday. The question seemed somewhat rhetorical, as Nora loves fairies, princesses and tea parties and the nexus of them would kind of be Nora's Shangri-La. But Mom Mom, was at a silent auction for Gadsby's Tavern, the bidding was heating up for said tea party, and so she wanted our blessing to go all grandmotherly and win big.

She was victorious, and so we began planning for eight little fairy princesses in training to descend.

Planning a tea party for non-tea drinkers can be a bit challenging, so we opted for pink lemonade instead. There weren't a lot of takers for the cucumber sandwiches and baby quiches, though the popcorn and goldfish crackers were pretty popular. Everyone loved the cake.

The girls got to choose from a bevy of ball gowns, and were then schooled in proper fan etiquette, the history of fairies, tea-time manners, and dances. They made magic wands, played games and earned their wings. And Nora had a really, really good time.

Thank you so much, Mom Mom.


(click here for all the pictures)
(click here for a video highlighting Nora's actual birthday)
(click here for a video highlighting her party)

Monday, September 01, 2014

Nora's a Handful

Nora has made a lot of promises about turning five. Throughout the past year, when faced with something she didn't particularly want to do, she would tell us she would do it when she was five. Brushing her teeth by herself; Riding a bike; Dressing herself; Eating strawberries -- these are activities that eluded the four year old Nora but ones that the five year old version will embrace. (Well, maybe not the strawberries.) Still, despite all her protestations, Nora accomplished an awful lot in her fourth year of life -- beginning school, piano lessons, teaching Daddy how to put together an ensemble for her that she could approve of... We're pretty proud of her and can't wait to see what happens next. Happy birthday, baby girl, we love you so, so much.
  1. It's impressive how quickly one can find religion when donuts are involved.
  2. "I don't need any weapons, I've got skills..and lasers beams."
  3. If you're ever at a loss for words, go with the silly face.
  4. Almost every problem can be solved with either a tissue, a hug, a bandaid or some combination thereof. And if that doesn't work: bubbles.
  5. The doctor is occasionally in.
  6. "You can go now."
  7. Sometimes you have to make your own rainbow.
  8. There are a surprising number of alternative uses for hair clips. 
  9. All the world is a stage.
  10. And in the immortal words of Ms. Ogden, "Be kind. Be brave. Be safe."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bad Air Daze

Owen has been going to our softball games all his life, in fact Elaine was still legging out hits while she was pregnant with Owen.  With his love of baseball, it's no surprise that these outings are always lots of fun, whether it's watching daddy play, taking BP before the game, or tossing the ball around on the side.  For the last couple seasons, Owen has even come out in the field to help out in the outfield during the game.  For our last game of the regular season this year, Owen decided that EPA softball league rules allowed for 8 year olds to play DH, and since our league is pretty laid back, he actually managed to convince both teams.  So Owen was slotted into the Bad Air Daze line-up and he stepped up to the plate for his first official at bats with the grown ups.  His first time up he lined out to the third baseman (no gimmes in this league!)  With the sun setting on the Mall, he came up for his second at bat with a runner on third and two outs in a tight game, and he hit a sharp grounder down the third base line.  The runner sprinted home, and Owen was safe at first with his first hit and first RBI in official EPA league play!  The game ended with Owen on deck, so his official line for the night was 1 for 2 with an RBI (better than Dad!).  Now he'll just need to talk his way into the play-offs line up ;-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

School Daze


Last year around Spring Break, I asked Owen how second grade was going and his response was that, "I think third grade will be good." It kind of broke my heart. I'd been a bit frustrated by Owen's school for a while and had entered him into the DC School Lottery for the past two years to try and get into SWS -- a school that was at one point part of Peabody (Owen's Pre-K and Kindergarten that Nora currently attends), was expanded into a temporary location a couple of years ago, and then got a permanent home 1.5 blocks from our house, though we don't get any preference for it.

But the first week of summer vacation, we found out that Owen got off the wait-list and was in. Owen was less than thrilled -- he didn't want to leave his friends at Watkins -- but eventually, with the promise of lots of playdates with the Watkins crew, he grudgingly agreed and we prepared to join the SWS community.

Funny thing about the SWS community: they do things a little differently. Whereas at Watkins the first day of school is a day of instruction, SWS uses it as a conference day, a fact we didn't learn until we returned from Iowa. Meanwhile Peabody had decided to move from using the first day of school as a conference day to using the whole week for one -- a fact we also learned while in Iowa -- until enough parents complained that you couldn't let working families know this three weeks before school starts when all the summer camps are closed that they decided to revert to their previous stance. 

So on the first day of school, we met Nora's teacher (Ms. Rountree) and then sent her off with Mom Mom for a day of fun, hosted a playdate for Owen (with one of his SWS friends from baseball), went to Owen's conference and met his teachers, took a self-guided tour (primarily of the baseball section of the library) picked out his symbol (it's apparently a Reggio Emelia thing -- he went with a fleur de lis in honor of Cub Scouts), took Owen to his doctor's appointment, and then eventually reconvened at home.

Tuesday -- their actual first day of school --  Allen accompanied Nora, who rode her bike, to Peabody for her first day of kindergarten while I accompanied Owen, who also rode his bike 1.5 blocks, to SWS for his first day of third grade. By all accounts it was a successful first day. Now for day #2...


(click here for the pictures)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Come Rain or Come Shine

Owen's 8th B-Day Party

For four months -- sixteen weeks -- the DC metro area hadn't had any rain on a weekend day. That all came to an end on Saturday -- when we invited ten kids (including Nora and Brad) into the woods to celebrate Owen's eighth birthday by scaling the Labyrinth in inclement conditions. I was a bit horrified that we were latching children to a structure and forcing them to climb for two hours in the rain (Owen quit after one), but the kids all seemed to have fun and no one has developed pneumonia...yet. Owen got to show off his climbing skills, Nora kept up with the big kids and Hayden and Ronan had to be dragged away. All in all, it was a surprising successful birthday party (it probably helped that we watched Star Wars movies on the way there and back, we brought towels and a change of clothes for the kids and there was pizza), and one that none of us will forget.


(Thanks to Charlie, Hayden, Ronan, Adam, Gabriel, Elijah, Ben, Mia and Nora for being good sports and celebrating with Owen. Special thanks to Brad, Marlo and Aunt Katherine for helping out at the party, Grandpa Fawcett for driving four eight year olds and Mom Mom and Grandpa Don for showing their support -- until it started pouring. To see all the party pics, please click here.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Crazy Eight

Seven is an interesting age - it's kind of the end of the little kid years and the beginning of something...else. There's more independence and closed doors and requests for privacy (and a sudden ban on adorable Facebook postings). Sarcasm rears its ugly head and at times I wonder where my sweet little boy has gone. But then he'll ask me to play a game. Or tell me a joke. Or stage an impromptu dance party. And sometimes, if I'm very, very lucky, Owen will ask me to cuddle with him. Happy eighth birthday, little man, I love you so, so much.
  1. When Minecraft gives you lemons... combine them with warm milk to make cheese.
  2. Goodbyes are hard.
  3. "I'm going to go live in the sewers!"
  4. As long as there's a tether, it's perfectly safe.
  5. It's ok to be the world's punching bag as long as you have on your cup.
  6. Sky above me. Earth below me. Fire within me.
  7. Don't worry, you can just pretend to drink the wine.
  8. Winx is not a cartoon about fairies. It's a cartoon about fairies AND specialist.
  9. Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Speak softly, and carry a big stick." Even better if you have an entire arsenal at your disposal.
  10. And in the immortal words of Coco Chanel, "If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Scouts in the Outfield


It's always fun when two things you love come together in unexpected ways, like chocolate and peanut butter, or, since Owen doesn't actually like his chocolate and peanut butter together, like peas on a taco. This weekend baseball and camping collided with a Cub Scouts trip to see the Potomac Nationals and then everyone getting to camp in the outfield after the game!  Add in a whole bunch of Star Wars characters wandering around the stadium, kids-run-the-bases after the game, fireworks and a movie on the scoreboard to watch from our tents, and it was quite the sensory overload.  The one drawback of this whole plan was that with so much to cram into one evening, the kids were all up until almost midnight, and when "Call Me Maybe" started blaring over the stadium speakers to wake us up at 6 am, there might have been a few questions from Elaine and Nora about the wisdom of this whole plan ;-)

(click here for the pictures)