Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009


A little bit of catching up to do in this post. First of all, we had a lovely, traditional Thanksgiving at Nancy & Danny's house this year. Nancy made her famous mole gravy, and Elaine baked her fabulous pumpkin pie. Katherine & Lee were in town, and Adrienne came up as well. Danny built a gigantic dining room table to accommodate the masses, while Owen and Makayla were relegated to their own, private kids table. Some traditions weren't quite the same, for Katherine, Adrienne, and Christopher the drinks weren't flowing quite as freely as in years past. They are getting older after all, or maybe it was just the marathon Katherine and Adrienne had just run in Richmond, or perhaps it was Nancy's twin brother taking up the slack (the less said about this photo the better ;-). Despite the lack of alcohol, Owen was sure to maintain one Thanksgiving tradition, as half way through dinner he took off his shirt and ran around the house shouting, "naked boy!" Yes, a wonderful time was had by all.

The next day, despite a freak hail storm, we ventured out to Eastern Market to pick out our Christmas tree, and then went up to Silver Spring for dinner at Mom mom's house with aunt Katherine & uncle L and aunt Jen. Owen and Makayla had a great time playing together, and we all stuffed ourselves with a lovely dinner for the second night in a row.

To complete our Thanksgiving weekend, on Saturday we took advantage of sunny skies and relatively warm temperatures for a trip to the zoo with the Hyatts. Nabeel and Megan were in town with Kaden and Liam, and it is always wonderful to see such great friends. Owen and Kaden had a blast looking at all the animals (they even learned a thing or two about giant tortoise mating habits), and Kaden even tried to teach Owen how to read a map.

All and all, we had a lot to be thankful for this year, and we celebrated in style.

(click here to see all the pictures)


Friday, November 27, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

We haven't written up our Thanksgiving blog post yet, but in the meantime we thought we'd put up a few movies for your post-Thanksgiving enjoyment. Both videos are inspired by the previous post, "Soothing the Savage Beasts." First up, Owen may have been a bit shy at the instrument petting zoo, but he was very enthusiastic when Grandpa Don broke out his old trumpet. He wasn't sure what to do at first, but once we showed him the zerbert sound he had to make with his lips, he started trumpeting like a pro.

The next movie moves from the instruments to the savage beasts. Here is Owen's dramatic reading of 'Where the Wild Things Are.' (Note that he won't read this book to his baby sister because he thinks it's too scary for her, so he prefers to read 'If You Give a Mouse a Cookie' to her instead.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Soothing the Savage Beasts

The Atlas

We live a few scant blocks from the Atlas Theater and while we've walked by it numerous times while making our way to various eateries and taverns on the H Street Corridor, we'd never partaken in its cultural offerings. But a few weeks ago, I received a notice that the Capitol City Symphony would be performing a children's concert complete with an instrument petting zoo at Atlas and decided that we should broaden our horizons.

Owen and I were joined for our inaugural concert by Mia & Marlo and Luke, Claire & Andrew (Allen and Brad stayed home with Nora and Ben). Owen was a little freaked out about touching the instruments and wanted to storm the stage instead, but Mia had a blast with the timpani and Luke got some quality time with the strings, before taking their seats.

They sat in rapt attention for the conductor's introduction and Skidmore's percussion piece, and did pretty well through Copland, Strauss and Britten. But Luke decided to get his groove on during Bernstein's Candide Overture and Owen & Mia followed suit. By Shostakovich's Festive Overture the eight year old in the row ahead was giving us dirty looks. We probably should have left before the Strauss finale...

After snapping a few pictures in the lobby, the crew literally ran back to our place to grab Nora and the boys before chicken racing to the Argonaut for some pub fare. Which I understand mirrors Itzhak Perlman's post-concert ritual...

Capitol Symphony

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Room of One's Own

We've been debating when to move Nora to her own room for a while now. Allen has been advocating sooner rather than later since she's been sleeping through the night for over a month now and he'd like his side of the bed back. But I've been a bit reluctant as Nora is our baby and probably the last one we'll ever have sleeping in our room.

However, Nora's a restless sleeper and after a fitful night where she slept seven and a half hours but I was up every hour to check on her, I finally caved and agreed to move her into her own room. She slept 8 hours and 29 minutes the first night, a personal best which she then topped the next night at 9 hours and 1 minute.

It's a little lonely back in our room with her gone, but much more restful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

School Daze

We live in the District of Columbia, a district not generally known for its public education system, except in notorious terms. While we purchased our house in anticipation of Owen's arrival, we didn't anticipate that we'd still be living in DC once his elementary education began, and so no consideration was given to what school was associated with our address.

This appears to have been a terrible oversight.

See, while we love our neighborhood and don't want to leave it for several more years (there's lots of kids Owen & Nora's ages; it's close to H street and its numerous cool bars and restaurants; I can walk to work; we're close to Allen's dad's and a reasonable distance to Allen's mom's...), we're not loving our neighborhood school. Miner Elementary is a lovely campus, but it's on the border between our neighborhood and one which isn't particularly safe, has no diversity, and regularly scores below the district's average test scores (which are significantly below the national average).

This means that when applying to the District's school lottery, we will be out of area for all of our top choices. Moreover, as it is a lottery in the truest sense of the word, there is nothing we can do to improve our chances of getting into one of our preferred schools.

But Owen turns 4 before September 30th 2010 and so the search for a suitable educational institution is on. Last night we went to Peabody's Open House, Thursday is Maury Elementary and next week is Ludlow-Taylor. The week after Thanksgiving we attend the Capitol Hill School Information Night at St. Peters. All of which culminates on January 28th (or there abouts) when we electronically submit our application and hope for the best.

And begin weighing the pros and cons of homeschooling...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oh, What a Night

Despite living a mile from the action, we spent the Fourth of July at home watching the Capitol concert on TV because I was eight months pregnant and Owen is a bit freaked out by fireworks. At some point during the concert, the cast of "Jersey Boys" started singing and I turned to Allen and made some comment -- the nature of which is a source of debate. I maintain that I conveyed that we could skip that show when it was in town. Allen states that I actually insisted we should go and while he was surprised by my new found love of the falsetto, since I regularly sang "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" to Owen when he was an infant, it wasn't completely ridiculous that I would want to see the Frankie Valli story live and in person. So Allen very lovingly purchased tickets to the musical as a "thank you for carrying my child for nine months" present to a less than enthusiastic me, and convinced Mom Mom to babysit.

When Mom Mom signed up to babysit two kids under the age of four, she didn't realize that she would be just getting back from a business trip to Austin that afternoon and that Grandpa Don would be in Florida that weekend, leaving her outnumbered and weary when she arrived at our place. We have to hand it to her though, she really rose to the challenge. While Owen was pretty self sufficient (he wouldn't let Mom Mom go upstairs with him at bedtime and actually gave her a kiss through his closed gate before putting himself to bed), Nora refused to go to sleep and so Mom Mom was "on" for pretty much the entire 4 1/2 hours we were gone. Fortunately, Nora spent most of the time smiling and cooing at her grandmother, which made the evening easier to bear.

As for us, we learned that "Jersey speak" involves a lot of swearing, that Frankie Valli has a lot of fans over 50, and that maybe I shouldn't be so catty around my husband.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Halloween 2009


I've always found Halloween to be stressful, which I attribute to my Des Moines roots. Des Moines has always been a town that believes in quid quo pro and so while most municipalities feel that donning a costume and the implicit threat of tire slashing is sufficient to warrant candy on Trick-or-Treat night, Des Moines insists that in addition, young children tell a joke at each home. From an economics standpoint, this makes no sense as the jokes tend to be bad, the telling painful and the process time-consuming which means ending the practice would be a Pareto improvement. However, the custom persists which meant I spent the weeks prior to Halloween studying my brothers' Boys' Life magazine to cull some suitable joke which was invariably appropriated by my best friend by the third house of the night, forcing me to resort to, "What's big, red, and eats rocks?" (A big, red, rock eater).

This year was going to be easy, however. Owen had informed us in September that he wanted to be a lion and I ordered a costume right away, we inherited a pumpkin costume for Nora from a neighbor and Allen and I decided to recycle our costumes from last year (as he'd spent hours on his which wasn't properly appreciated at the time, and with a new baby and the Cap-and-Trade bills, didn't have time to create a new one). The plan was to attend the Brown's annual Halloween blowout, do a little trick-or-treating there, and then swing by Grandpa Fawcett and Claudine's for Owen to help hand out candy.

Only Owen's costume was too small and the day was too warm for Nora to wear hers. Owen didn't nap and interrupted Nora's while practicing his roaring. It started raining. And after three hours of playing at the Browns, Owen announced he didn't want to go trick or treating, he wanted to go home.

While perfectly understandable given the inclimate weather and the absence of a nap, we'd made promises and we were going to keep them, by damn. So we drove back to Capitol Hill with both kids asleep in the car, looked for a parking place near Grandpa Fawcett's and when one did not become available, drove home, parked illegally, made a very grumpy Owen don his costume again, and had Allen push him in the stroller (with its rain cover) while I carried Nora (with an umbrella) to East Capitol street.

There Owen sulked for a while but ultimately rallied and Nora mostly slept. Allen and I had a much needed drink. We never did any actual trick or treating (though strangers did hand us candy as we walked the mile in the rain), and we didn't get a picture of the kids with their jack-o-lanterns until the day after, but all in all they had a pretty good time.

And no one asked us why the chocolate chip cookie went to the doctor's office. (Because it felt crumby).

(click here to see all the Halloween pictures)