Friday, March 10, 2017

I have a dream...

I Have a Dream - 2017
My biggest regret when we decided to move Owen from Watkins to SWS for the third grade was that it meant Owen wouldn't be able to participate in the longstanding Watkins' tradition of the fifth grade reciting Dr. Martin Luther Kings's, "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I'd watched videos of previous classes and always teared up, so knowing that Owen would miss out on the that experience made leaving the Cluster extra bittersweet. Little did I know then, but the teacher behind the tradition, Amy Wertheimer, would eventually join SWS's faculty and continue the tradition at SWS. Sometimes the universe throws us a bone.

So on a cold Friday March afternoon, the rain/sleet paused for a few hours during which the fifth grade classes of SWS, Logan Montessori and Ludlow-Taylor joined together to relive a piece of history. There is something incredibly powerful about seeing a diverse bunch of 10 and 11 year olds recite those words. And in times like these, where it feels like a new injustice is reported each day, being reminded of those words seemed all the more important.

Thank you to everyone involved that allowed us to share this moment. Let freedom ring.

(To see all of our, and some others' pictures we copied, please click here).

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Trondheim

Norway

I'm not sure when I'll be able to travel internationally again for work on climate issues, but I did manage to attend this March the workshop in Trondheim that I helped to organize.  What was really exciting about this trip is that I was able to convince Nabeel to leave his Silicon Valley VC world for a few days to join me in Trondheim to talk about how the autonomous vehicle future he's involved in can impact the climate, and give us some good ideas about how to capture this possible future in our models.

The conference was great, and we had most of a day to explore Trondheim before it started on Sunday night (and that was probably more than enough time to see all the sights you really need to see in Trondheim during the winter ;-)  We saw the quintessential view along the river and the old bridge; the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world; the statue of King Olaf Tryggvason who 'slayed Thor' bringing Christianity to Norway (but we later learned was in turn killed by a bunch of Thor loving farmers); we climbed up the icy battlements of the Kristiansten Fortress; we wandered the streets of Trondheim; and we warmed up with hot chocolate and waffles.  All told it was a wonderful few days in Norway.

Norway

(click here for all the pictures)
(click here for Nabeel's pictures)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spring at the Springs

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Since this was a non-western ski year, we planned back in the Fall to meet up with Joe, Cate and their crew at Seven Spring for President's Day weekend. We did not, however, plan on it being 60 degrees mid-February in Pennsylvania.

There had actually been a fair amount of snow earlier in the week and the temperature had been low enough that the good folks at Seven Springs were able to pack quite a base. That meant that Allen could enthusiastically ski in and ski out on Friday night. By Saturday afternoon, it was more of a hike.

Still, we had a great time hanging with the Mettenburgs. Owen skied with Allen and I the whole weekend (and even got some night skiing in there). Nora was in ski school until 2:30 each day, but we managed to catch her in action on the slopes (including when she skied two black diamonds!) and got to ski with her ourselves after class. Gigi did ski school the first day and then went out with the crew for the second day. Hugh learned how to do pizza in ski school, though he still needs to work on how to stop (as do we all).

In between we watched, "Into the Woods," played Catan and Seven Wonders, ate some delicious food, had a lot of wine, and started planning for Deer Valley, UT 2018.

(To see all the pictures, please click here.)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

42!

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As everyone knows, or at least those familiar with the work of Douglas Adams, the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, is 42, And as Allen turned that magical age this year, it behoved me to celebrate it appropriately.

So I planned and I planned and I planned. I planned overnight childcare (thanks Mom Mom and Aunt Katherine). I planned shelter (which involved casting a fairly wide net to include the lovely Inn at Spring Manor, which while less convenient than a host of Bed & Breakfasts in Fredrick, MD, did not involve any blinding wallpaper or creepy Victorian dolls). I planned a 15 course meal (well, Volt planned that, and planned it even further ahead than I did as they booked our reservation for 2018 - which seems odd given that 43 isn't the answer to anything besides the closest prime number less than 45 - resulting in an uncomfortable wait in their lobby while they sorted that out).

What I did not plan was to have a terrible cold on Allen's special day. Or the severe blisters all over my mouth that resulted from my attempt to mitigate said cold by drinking boiling hot tea.

Still, we made it through all 15 courses (personal favorites: butternut squash macaron with foie gras; tuna poke; lamb tenderloin; and beef cheeks) and Allen pronounced his birthday a success (especially when I made it up to him the following weekend with a nap and a cherry pie)!

Happy birthday, Allen Fawcett! Now I just have to remember to cancel next year's reservation.

(To see all the pictures, click here.)


Friday, January 27, 2017

On the Floor

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One of the perks of living on Capitol Hill is that the kids get to do lots of cool field trips around Washington, and sometimes one of your classmates has a parent who's a Member of Congress and you get to do a really cool field trip.  One of Nora's friends happens to be the daughter of the Congressman from Los Angeles, and he was kind enough to host Nora's class for a little walking field trip over to see the Capitol!  We walked over to the Hart Senate Office Building, and rode the Senate Subway over to to the Capitol building.  Congressman Sherman took us to see the West Front of the Capitol where they were demolishing the inauguration stage.  Then the real fun began when he took us all onto the floor of the House and Senate.  We spent half an hour on the House floor, and the kids got to try out the voting machines (Nora was most excited to vote 'Present' because then Molly's Dad's name lit up as 'P Sherman', and if you don't find that funny, just watch Finding Nemo again ;-)

Congressman Sherman answered tons of questions from the kids, and he really showed off his skills (both parenting and Congressional) when one of the kids (let's call him David to protect the innocent) asked if he could pass a law that let him eat all the candy.  Of course the kids all cheered, but Congressman Sherman sagely told them that we need to think about the consequences of the laws we pass, and if we read this proposed legislative text closely, you might notice that only David gets to eat all of the candy he wants, and who do we think that candy comes from?  The rest of the second grade class no doubt. At that point the cheers turned to boos, and an entire second grade class could see a future for themselves scoring legislation for CBO.

(click here for all the pictures)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Democracy

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We had hoped to leave town for the inauguration -- this particular peaceful transition of power is a bit harder for us to witness than previous ones, and some distance seemed advisable. Sadly, our plans fell through but fortunately Aunt Katherine and Uncle L, who are DC adjacent, offered us a safe space... and a lot of beer.

But as the inauguration grew closer, pretending it wasn't happening became challenging. As friends and family travelled from across the country to take part in the Women's March, sitting idly by seemed a bit wrong. Once Allen's cousin April asked if she and her family could stay with us, I decided to go ahead and participate as well. So I made a sign, met up with a group from the neighborhood and marched over to the rally with a few hundred thousand others.

To be honest, I'd never participated in a protest before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But I have to say that the women, men and children that marched on Saturday we're the most polite and supportive crowd I've ever been in. It was amazing to see such a diverse array of people who were compelled by such a wide range of issues gather and have their voices heard. For the first time in months, I started to feel hopeful again.

And as we chanted yesterday, "This is what democracy looks like."

Woman3

(To see all the pics, please click here.)

Monday, January 16, 2017

7 Springs Cluster

7 Springs - 2017 Cluster Families

Since this winter is an off year for our western skiing adventures, we decided to double up at 7 Springs this season.  We have a trip with Joe & Cate coming up in February, but for the first trip of the season, we joined four other families we know through the Cluster -- the Telfair-Chas, the Violas, the Sodermans, and the Hogans -- for a raucous MLK ski weekend.

The weather was a bit iffy, but the company (and more particularly, the cocktails) was great. All the kids had a blast skiing, though the real fun was running around as a pack in the hotel. Nora in particular got a taste for gambling at the arcade, spinning the wheel to win big tickets, and eventually (or $20 later) winning enough to get a plush Minecraft pig.

Owen skipped out on ski lessons this trip and stuck with the adults and his more advanced friends the whole time. The "black diamonds" at 7 Springs didn't faze him, so I guess I can't claim he absolutely needs east coast lessons.  Nora did ski camp, and skied with us after the second day. She was a champ cruising down Lost Girl, and looked ready to hit the slopes again soon.

7 Springs - 2017 Cluster Families

(click here for all the pictures)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Importance of Balance

Nora and Owen (well, mostly Nora) wrote a new play entitled, The Importance of Balance, which they performed on New Year's Day. They hope you like it!


Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

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Christmas seemed more like something to get through than to celebrate this year. Our office parties were filled with nervous speculation as to what the coming transition would bring and baked goods. Our annual holiday party devolved into prognosticating whom among our friends and neighbors would suffer most in the coming year (Allen may have been the winner!!!) and sharing escape plans for the inauguration festivities themselves, all while consuming copious amounts of alcohol... and cured salmon. And if all that wasn't enough, the flu hit Capitol Hill culminating in Nora spending her first night of Winter Break alternating between throwing up on herself, her bed, and Allen.

But the beauty about the holidays, and for us in particular this year, is family. This year, Allen's kind of saved us. It's hard to get too worked up about repeal and replace when your kids' brand new Dave the Shark Dirigible is circling the tree. While the dismantling of climate treaties is troubling, helping your son build his own computer is both consuming and rewarding. And really, you can't be too glum about the encroachment of civil rights when there are toddlers and cake.

But really, it's just nice to know that you have a lot of wonderful people in your life that have your back, no matter what the new year brings.

(To see all the Christmas pictures, click here.)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Elementary School Musical

SWS held its second annual Winter Music Concert this past Thursday. And while Owen demurred from participating in the chorus this year, both he and Nora shined with their respective classes. Nora belt out that holiday classic, "When the Saints Go Marching In," (which has way more choruses than I ever remember) and had a featured percussion part. Meanwhile, Owen led the cellos in the SWS orchestra's renditions of "Jingle Bells" and "All Aboard" all while looking incredibly dapper in his hat. It was quite a night.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Botanic Gardens 2016

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One of our favorite holiday traditions is the annual Botanic Gardens holiday party showing off all of their fabulous trains.  This year the theme was National Parks, and Mom Mom and Grandpa Don joined us for the day, Owen's DCYOP concert in the afternoon, dinner at Tortilla Coast, and then the train and garden extravaganza.  Happy Holidays everyone!

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(click here for all the pictures)

Holiday Strings

The DC Youth Orchestra held its holiday concerts this weekend, and for the first time both kids participated (with Mom Mom, Grandpa Don, Allen and I cheering them on).

Nora debuted her viola playing with "See Saw" and "Hot Cross Buns" on Saturday.

Owen and the Level D Sinfonia performed "Dragon Dance" and "Let it Snow" on Sunday (trust us, the first cellist was kind of blocking him, but he was totally there and played like a champ). Owen even earned an MVP award (and a free sweatshirt) for allowing a Level C Sinfonia cellist to borrow his cello after some last minute tragedy left hers unplayable.
They both did really well and were pretty excited that they each got to both perform and be in the audience cheering the other on this time.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Just Keep Running

Nora had her first confession this weekend and both kids had DC Youth Orchestra concerts, which meant that we weren't able to cheer on Aunt Katherine and Uncle L at their Kiawah Island Full and Half Marathons in person. But we were there in spirit...

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Thursday, December 08, 2016

China

China - 2016

After having several trips to China cancelled at the last minute, I finally managed to get to Beijing for the 2016 IAMC meetings.  The meetings went well of course, and I did manage a quick morning at the Forbidden City before flying home.  What was really striking though was the air pollution.  The day I arrived, the pollution was off the charts, and walking outside felt like standing down wind of a camp fire.  The air improved when the winds changed a couple of days later, but the experience really makes you appreciate the importance of clean air, and the benefits of environmental policies.

China - 2016

(click here for all the pictures)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Tea Time

High tea
John's friend Jacqui has been staying with us one night a month for over a year when she visits DC for some consulting work. This visit, she suggested we ditch the boys and enjoy high tea at the Ritz (Allen was pretty easy to ditch having just left for China; John and Owen were perfectly content to be excluded).

So Nora and I donned, if not our finest than at least some reasonably cute attire, and drove with Jacqui out to Tysons II for tea (and hot chocolate for Nora). We had a lovely view of the Ritz Christmas tree while we enjoyed finger sandwiches, scones, strawberries with clotted cream, gingerbread cookies, other assorted pastries, and champagne (again, Nora stuck with hot chocolate). Nora pronounced it much more fun than she thought it would be and Jacqui and I had a wonderful time, though I wished I'd remember earlier, exactly how much caffeine is in black tea.
High Tea

(Click here for all the pictures.)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Iowa 2016

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of spending Thanksgiving in Iowa. The election was still a little to recent, and for us it's personal -- key components of the Republican agenda is to back out of the Paris Agreement (which Allen worked on extensively) and repeal the ACA (which I worked on somewhat) not to mention they keep suggesting we're swamp dwellers. Knowing that my home state of Iowa voted in such a way, felt a bit like a personal affront, but then knowing to get to Iowa we have to drive through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana? Well that just seemed like the 2016 version of the Trail of Tears.

But given that the alternative was staying in DC and the fact that deep down, we are Iowans and as such, to quote Dar Williams, "we don't like to make our passions other people's concern," we made the drive.

We kept things fairly low-key, and my parents largely handled us with kid gloves. Allen ventured out a bit more, and had a couple of conversations that were frustrating to say the least, but for the most part, Thanksgiving was a welcome distraction from the reality we faced back home: there was a ditch digging project at the pond to distract Allen (and the kids); an awards ceremony for corn eating; baking; and lots of silliness.

But mostly there was family, which as Dar Williams also says, can fix a broken heart.

(To see all the pictures, please click here.)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Publishing Pumba

Publishing Pumba

Nora had another Publishing Party, and this time her story was all about Pumba and the very complicated relationship she has with her favorite dog ;-)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Days After

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We had a really hard time processing the election. To be honest, we didn't really see the result coming and as it will have significant, and in all likelihood negative, impacts on our professional, and possibly personal lives, we've been a little shell-shocked since.

And that's why, while I am always grateful for the service of our men and women of the armed forces, I was particularly grateful for Veteran's Day this year occurring three days after the election, and allowing us a break from work and the world. Allen and I took the kids and Owen's friend Adam to Great Falls where we met Brad, Mia and Ben. It was a beautiful fall day, and we spent it climbing with friends, communing with nature, and hoping that everything will turn out ok.
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(To see all the pictures, please click here)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

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Owen wanted the whole family to dress up as characters from Tin Tin for Halloween this year, but while Owen would clearly make an ideal Tin Tin, just how we'd pull off the rest of the characters was a bit murky.  I guess I had the beard to be Captain Haddock (though my hair really isn't dark enough), but none of us had the mustaches required for Thomson, Thompson, or Professor Calculus (granted, given Nora's obsession with mustaches, she probably would have taken one for the team), and Mommy really wasn't particularly thrilled with any of the female character options (Bianca Castafiore is a bit too obscure, and rather matronly to boot).  In the end we talked Owen out of the group costume idea, Nora went as Bat Girl, and I made some neat low-poly demon and fox masks out of cereal boxes for Elaine and myself.  Happy Halloween!

(click here for all the pictures)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Views from the Top

Climbing 10/16
A beautiful fall day and a clear schedule? Of course we headed out to Great Falls for some climbing with our friend Andrew and his son Luke. Owen's been taking a climbing class with his friend Adam, so he was almost too fast to capture on film. Nora is still getting her climbing legs on, but she did great, and stopped to pose for lots of pictures. Hopefully we'll get to go again before Winter kicks in.

Climbing 10/16
(To see all the pictures, please click here.)