Sunday, September 07, 2014

Tea Time

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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.

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(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

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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

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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...

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(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.

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(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

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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

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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)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Iowa

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Two weeks may seem like a long time to spend in Iowa, but it sure does fly by.  We left DC bright and early on Friday morning and made the 14 hour trek to Iowa in one day.  That meant we could jump right into the fun of Sweet Corn Fest on Saturday.  While there wasn't enough corn to freeze yet, there was plenty to eat, the weather was perfect for swimming, and there were oh so many cousins to play with.  Thomas & Jen were there with Ethan, Simon, Samuel and Maria, and Leanna & Troy were there with Grace & Grant to round out the second cousins, plus Ashley brought Daniel and Soren to add a couple second cousins once removed.  April came later in the week with Henry and Gus to add some third cousins, and even the Kennedy Fawcett clan attended Corn Fest with all sorts of tenth (?) cousins (who knows how many times removed ;-).  (And that's just the Fawcett side, there were even more cousins and second cousins at the Grady family reunion, and more third cousins on the Grady side visited the pond too!).

The weather was unbelievably gorgeous for almost the whole trip.   That meant plenty of swimming, fishing, swinging, canoeingcovered wagon rides, tractors, flying drones, fireworks, and fun of all sorts.  It wasn't all fun and games though.  It wouldn't be an Iowa trip without some projects, so we stocked the pond with some new striped bass, and began work on a new dock.  All told it was a great couple of weeks in Iowa with all the Zimmermans, Gradys, Fawcetts and all sorts of family we know and love.

(click here for all the pics)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Grady Bunch

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We missed the last Grady family reunion -- I was eight months pregnant back in the summer of 2009 and wasn't up for an extended family extravaganza in an old, country cemetery (long story, but FYI, we Gradys love cemeteries). Afterwards, I had some regret about missing it, but then Nora was born and I was too distracted to care.

But this time was different. This time the I wasn't with child. This time there were going to be t-shirts. This time we were already in Iowa for the Fawcett Sweet Corn Fest.

So we went. I was a bit anxious as some of our childhood family gatherings didn't end well and recent ones had been a mixed bag (some were beautiful, but one involved a hospital visit after a quarters game went awry and another ended even worse), but I have to say, not only was there no bloodshed, it was the most fun I'd had in a while.

I got to hang out with my "little cousins" who are no longer little and, quite frankly, way cooler than me. Owen and Allen were able to field an entire baseball game -- they even got Grandpa Z and Uncle Dave to play -- and later drafted me for kickball. There was an all-hands volleyball game where Nora's godmother, Caitlin, was able to show off her middle-school team skills. Meanwhile, Nora spent the entire time with her little cousin Erin, you know, the other little curly headed blond girl.

There was a flat-uncle Loumen in shamrock boxers, and replications of childhood pics. There was homebrew, and talking dogs and family lore. There was an entire debate about which was the more seminal purchase of 1964: thrasher vs television. Heck, the earth even moved -- though it was later found to have been the foundation cracking from too many Grady's assembling for mass in Bernie's living room (though I prefer to attribute it to God's shock at Al being at church).

There was a lot of love, very little quiet, and a great deal of peace and contentment.

And most importantly, I finally got my Uncle Bernie t-shirt.
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(Thanks to all of the Gradys -- particularly Pete and Bernie for organizing, Glen & Al for the t-shirts, Joyce for the pint glasses, Brandon for the beer, Kevin for "Cards Against Humanities," Cheryl and Blaine for providing party rooms, and everyone else for everything else. To see our pics, click here).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

a-Maze-ing

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Last weekend, Allen tried to rally the troops to head to The Building Museum for The BIG Maze - a special exhibit that would only be around for eight weeks this summer. The kids balked. They refused. They said they'd rather live in the sewers (ok, I may be exaggerating there...but not by much). Finally, Owen admitted that he just wanted to wait until following weekend so that he would remember it better, because that's how memories work. Allen relented and the kids pinkie swore.

So this Saturday, Allen got up early to take the car to be serviced (long story), stopped by his office to get his refrigerator and other contraband that he couldn't let the movers take to his new office next week (his division is changing buildings), and made it back to our house by 10 am so we could get to the museum right as it opened.

But then Nora threw a fit. Pinkie swears be damned, she was not going to the Building Museum. She cried. She screamed. She had to be carried to the car.

Once we finally arrived, however, she ran around with a huge smile and when reminded that she didn't want to go, she responded, "I changed my mind."

Owen went through the maze about seven times (Nora probably went about 5) trying various methods to find his way -- using his innate sense, keeping a hand on each wall, and just random luck. There was some pretend baseball while the grownups helped make and arch, some structure building at the Imagination Playground and then a couple of more times through the maze, to get our last licks in.

It was a wonderful way to spend the morning, proving once again that Allen knows best.

(To see all the pics, click here).