Wednesday, November 12, 2014



So last year Andrew and I took Owen and Luke to Carderock on Veteran's day for their first climbing outing.  They had a great time, Owen got a harness for Christmas, spent lots of time on the climbing wall at camp, and got climbing shoes for his birthday, but somehow we made it all the way to Veteran's day again before taking the boys back out on the real rocks.

With the weather 70 degrees and sunny, we couldn't have asked for a better day for our annual climbing trip.  We set up a harder climb than last year, and Owen proclaimed we should climb youngest to oldest, I guess so he could show us all how it's done.  He scrambled up the rocks like a little monkey, then came down and told us that, "Climbing is like a team sport, your arms, legs, eyes, and brain all have to work together or you'll never make it to the top."

Luke was next up, but Owen couldn't keep himself off the rocks and started bouldering around barefoot.  When Luke was stuck at a tough spot on the climb, I went up to try to help him find some holds only to look over and see Owen 8 feet up on the rocks beside us also doling out pointers.

Andrew and I had our turns, and found that some of the spots on the climb really were a bit tricky.  Then Owen scrambled up again, with a little more difficulty at the first big problem on the climb.  When he got down he dropped some more of his zen climbing wisdom, "Another way to think of the climb is it's like a war.  Your arms and legs are the armies, and your eyes and brain are the spies searching for weaknesses in the wall for your armies to attack."

If we learned one thing from this spectacular November climbing day, it's that we need to do it more often in 2015...

(click here for all the pictures)

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Halloween 2014


Halloween conveniently fell on a Friday this year, and it was a half day of school to boot. The kids went easy on us this year with their costume requests, Owen wanted to go as Ryan Zimmerman and Nora was set on Minnie Mouse, both of which we had readily on hand. Adam’s parents Karen & Edgar kindly invited us over to their pre-trick-or-treating party, where the kids burned off some pre-candy energy, and we enjoyed hanging out by the ‘poison punch’ with the grown-ups. Then instead of braving the madness on East Capitol Street, we trick-or-treated our way from Adam’s house to our old block on F Street, visited with some old friends and neighbors, and trick-or-treated our way back home. All told, a very satisfying Halloween for the whole family.

(click here for all the pictures)

Friday, October 31, 2014


It had been a pretty crazy weekend. After 12 distinct activities in the course of two days (soccer, cello, dance class, Cub Scouts popcorn sales, baseball, Halloween party/chili cook-off, church, Sunday School, birthday party, playdate, Cub Scout meeting, and dinner party), Allen had I were finally retiring for a good night's sleep when we received word that Nora's teacher had been diagnosed with viral meningitis (the second kindergarten teacher at Peabody to be diagnosed).  We were slightly concerned, but not too much. And while I did peruse the educational materials on meningitis provided by DCPS, I mostly wondered about the wisdom of DCPS handing out these materials along with donut on the playground with 240 little kids with questionable personal hygiene. That is until the wee hours of Tuesday when Owen threw up and it got personal.

As Owen was not the child we expected to succumb to illness, we were concerned. I alerted his teachers and school nurse and made an appointment with his doctor to make sure Owen was not sick and spreading a pandemic across Capitol Hill. After a half hour exam, the doctor concluded that he was fine (although she reserved the right to revise the diagnosis if circumstances changed). Feeling relieved and wanting be efficient, I asked if you could a get a flu shot even if you'd been sick. She said, "sure" so I went ahead and had him injected, informed his teachers he was in the clear and then took him to pick up the CSA and Nora from aftercare. After getting dinner ready, I headed out to a PTA meeting where we further discussed meningitis and proper cleaning methods for an hour and a half. Meanwhile, Owen went to bed at 6:30 pm and developed a fever. He threw up around 10 pm. This meant that we had to tell his teachers at his previously scheduled conference that while he wasn't truly sick, he also wasn't coming to school that day either.

So Owen and I had a second mother-son bonding day. He ate a good dinner and went to bed at, if not a reasonable hour, certainly one we're used to. And on the plus side, Owen actually made it to the toilet instead of vomiting in his bed this last time, which feel like something of a victory and a developmental milestone. An incredibly gross one mind you, but still...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Frozen on Ice


Last summer, in the middle of a playdate, Nora's friend Kate's mom called to invite us to join a group attending Disney's Frozen on Ice. I'm not a huge Disney fan, but Nora loves Frozen and an outing with her friends, even though it was on a weeknight, seemed like a fine idea. I agreed, wrote a check and put it on the calendar.

At Nora's birthday party, we finally received the tickets at which point I realized the extravaganza was not at the Verizon Center as I'd assumed (I mean the Capitols play there, it already has ice!), but at the Patriot Center. At GMU. About an hour outside DC with no traffic.

But fortunately, Lizzie's mom offered to drive and so Nora and I had little to do in the 75 minutes it took to get from our home to the Patriot center parking lot but sing various Disney songs. Once there, we power-walked to the nearest bathroom and then ran into Kate's mom who directed us to the our seats (past about 30 different Disney toy kiosks) just in time for the overture and introduction of all the Disney characters (full disclosure, the fish from The Little Mermaid seriously creeped me out).

The first half went great, but intermission was a little rough as I was raised you don't but $20 Olaf Snowcones and apparently a lot of parents seated in our general vicinity weren't. Nora got pretty upset (as did Lizzie and Kate when Victoria's mom broke down and got one). Eventually they calmed down, but by the end, it was 9:00 pm and we had to pass another 30 kiosks selling Disney products and still not purchasing any goodies. Added to that, I neglected to bring Nora's pajamas (I had them packed in the car when we were going to drive, but then we carpooled...) while Lizzie's mom was more on top of things. Nora screamed the entire walk from the arena to the car and for the next 15 minutes while sitting in the parking lot trying to get out. She eventually calmed down and fell asleep for the drive home where her father carried her to bed and put her in appropriate sleepwear.

It was definitely an experience - though I'm not sure we'll be repeating it anytime soon -- and the next day, Nora talked of it fondly. I'm still not quite there.


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 ;-)