Monday, October 31, 2011

Brady's 5th Birthday


Fresh off of his play-date with Brady and Leo last weekend, Owen saw Brady and a bunch of old DOL friends again this weekend at Brady's 5th birthday party. After the cold wintery mix of precipitation on Saturday, Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous (if somewhat muddy) day, quite fortunate since Brady's party was outside at Ticonderoga farms fall festival.  The kids all had a great time playing on the giant slides, bouncing on the awesome bouncy thing, going on the spooky hay ride, screaming in the haunted house, and roasting marshmallows for s'mores.

Meanwhile, back at home Nora had her very first play-date.  Her friend Violet, from DOL, lives one block over from us, and the two of them got together (with their moms of course) at the park and had a great time playing while the boys were off at the party.

(click here for all the pictures)


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hottern'Hades Halloween Party

There is a long and glorious history for our annual Halloween party, and this year Brad & Marlo planned to go big.  I can't to Brad's epic write-up of the party history and plans, so best just to quote it here:
A brief history for those new to this phenomenon: 1996: Kirsten A. throws the first ever UT Econ Halloween Party in her tiny apartment. Everyone dresses up and has fun. 1997: Kirsten gets a house and the party becomes a serious event. 1998: The Browns take over, add a trash can full of super spiked sangria & a keg - the event is now a happening. 2000: The Party moves to the “Cougar Den” - the atmosphere is more like a frat house (albeit a nerdy one) & less like a married couple’s house. 2003: The Founders are scattered all over the world, but there is critical mass in DC. Armed with infinitely more income than in grad school and a truly global guest list, the debauchery level reaches apex and the happening is now a cosmic force. 2007: We are old and have children. The parties start earlier and tend to end a little after dark. There are less f-bombs in songs on the playlist. There’s still plenty of good beer, lots of friends and neighbors, and great costumes. And we added the now famous chili cook-off.

2011: Looking to restore the old glory of this bacchanalia (in a way that hardly resembles the great monuments of the past, but… ), we are blowing the roof off and taking it to the streets. 100 yards of traffic free pavement, a moon bounce, a horse swing, pumpkin carving, bikes, trikes, and big wheels, frisbees and footballs, cornhole, pingpong, bocce, and other non-sports. Marshmallow roasting. Plus, the return of the Witches Brew, primo local micro brews on tap, and wine (and softdrinks). Music. Leaf piles. Candy. Grills moved to the front yards and fired up to feed the delicate tummies.
Alas, mother nature had other plans for this year's party, as Saturday brought us rain and the first October snow we've seen in DC in many years.  Unfazed, Brad and Marlo moved the party inside, set up a tent and a fire-pit on the deck for the kegs, and pushed on with the party.  The chili was delicious, the kids had a blast, and the party was salvaged. Sadly we had to head home around eight to get the kids to bed, but reports are that the party raged on until 2 am, so at least some of the party's old glory was restored.

(click here for all the Halloween pictures)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three Amigos

Owen's been missing his daycare friends, Leo and Brady, so we squeezed in a playdate last Sunday. One forgets how silly five year old boys can be, and when you multiply that by three, well, you get a pack of little boys that decide to shove footballs up their shirts and pretend that they're pregnant.

The day was beautiful so we headed over to Lincoln Park for some football, baseball and ghost in the graveyard before walking to Eastern Market for some donuts. All in all the boys walked over 2 miles, and yet still didn't seem tired when they left (thankfully, no one went into labor).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Last Friday was a professional development day for DC teachers and Monday was conferences, which meant that Owen had a four day weekend. We decided to run afoul of the DCPS attendance policy and make it a five day weekend in order to accommodate an overdue trip to Austin.

Which meant we had to pack a lot into five days.

There were three separate ice cream trips (at two locations), seven restaurants (including the site of our first official date) and three museums (only two of which involved dinosaurs). We saw the clock tower from a distance, saw my dissertation chair up close, and posed with an animatronic president.

Custom-made antelope, rabbit & pork sausage, huckleberry compote, sriracha aioli, cheddar sausages were consumed as well as taquerias and some serious Texas Bar-B-Que. Livestock was inspected (though none were harmed in our subsequent brunch). Longhorn paraphernalia was purchased and worn. Dinosaurs were sat upon and admired from a distance. Pools were swam in and naps were missed.

And there were cows. Lots and lots of cows.

But mostly we were able to catch up with some good friends and relatives that we haven't seen in a few years (or in the case of Brandon, Anneke and Asa, since May). Thanks to Bill, Katherine, Billy & Sarah who drove up from Houston; Shane and Laura who put off packing for a trip and playing with their new iPhone 4S to meet us for dinner; Brandon, Anneke & Asa; and Kelly, Channing, Calder & Wright who managed to not get sick. Finally, a special thanks to Uncle Truman & Aunt Janis, who let us crash at their place for a couple of nights, provided our kids with all sorts of diversions and got up at the crack of dawn to make us breakfast tacos before we headed out to the airport. We had an amazing time and we hope to see you all again soon.

(click here to see all the Austin pictures)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I gave Allen 1 week to recover from his India trip, after which I scheduled pretty much every second of his weekend. Saturday was baseball camp followed by the Red River Shootout/F Street Block Party. Traditionally Brad and Marlo have had everyone up to their place for the Texas-Oklahoma football game, but since it was the same day as our block party and there was a bouncy castle involved, we instead invited everyone to our place. Apparently, the gods didn't like this change in plans. Allen, Brad and Andrew gave up and joined the outside festivities after OU was up 34-10 at the half. Sadly, they couldn't escape our neighbors giving us updates. I suspect will be back in Silver Spring for the 2012 game.

Sunday we managed to make it out the door before 10 am in order to get to Brad and Marlo's for our annual pilgrimage to Butler's Orchard for the harvest festival. It was a balmy 78 degrees, prompting us to skip the hayride, but we still managed to partake in the corn maze, super slide, hay barn and play area. Sure, Owen was MIA for 10 minutes and the squirrels have already eaten our two pumpkins, but it was still a pretty great way to spend a Sunday.

Monday was Columbus Day which we celebrated by eating pancakes, a trip to the zoo and dinner at Mom Moms. Afterwards, we retired and started preparing for our trip to Austin...

Monday, October 03, 2011



Last week I went to India to speak at what I thought was the Enhancing Capacity for Low Emissions Development workshop, but after a long series of meetings and discussions at the U.S. Embassy and the Indian Planning Commission (about which I've probably already said too much) turned out to be the Joint Indo-US Workshop on Economy-Wide Analysis for Low Carbon Strategies.

I left DC on Friday afternoon, flew to Chicago, and then took a 15 hour flight over the North Pole to India.  The flight went smoothly, I managed to get some sleep and even got to see the scenic views over the desolate mountains of Afghanistan before landing in New Delhi on Saturday night.  The jet lag was a bit tough, I kept waking up in the middle of the night with my body convinced it was the middle of the afternoon.  The upside of this was that with three 24/7 cricket channels available, I learned a fair amount about limited overs, leg by wicket, silly mid on, and the third man.

I had the day free on Sunday, except for a prep meeting in the evening, so I hired a car and driver to take me to Agra for the day to see the Taj Mahal.  It was a long four hour drive to Agra, but it was certainly worth it.  The Taj was even more impressive in person than it appears in pictures, the white Indian marble gleams in the sunlight, and the beauty of the fine detailed relief carvings and endless designs of inlaid semi-precious stones show why it took 20,000 workers, 1,000 elephants and 20 years to complete.  In the words of the Emperor Shah Jahan himself:
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
After seeing the Taj Mahal, I explored Agra for a while and saw some of the beautiful carvings and inlaid marble work that is still done by the descendants of the artists who worked on the Taj itself.  The trip back to New Delhi took a couple extra hours due to an accident, and I learned that I never want to attempt driving myself in India.  The upside of this was that I missed our seemingly unnecessary Sunday night prep meeting.

The rest of the trip was all work, a read-in meeting at the U.S. Embassy with USAID, a meeting with the Indian Planning Commission (which judging from the reaction of the locals, was a bigger deal than I realized), two days of the actual workshop, and a day of follow-up meetings with the Indian modelers.  The most interesting part was the local transportation in Delhi, we rode around in tuk-tuks, little motorized rickshaws, that were terrifying to ride in (they seemingly obeyed no traffic law), but interestingly enough had all been retrofitted to run on compressed natural gas to improve the air quality in Delhi.

I'm glad I was able to add India to my list of world travels, but it was tough being away from the family all week.  Thankfully, technology has progressed since my last trip abroad, and I was able to use Facetime to see the kids and Elaine each day.  They'd call right before bedtime in DC, which was 6 am in India, and we'd end and start our respective days with smiles from halfway around the world.

The trip home was even longer than the trip there.  I left Delhi just after midnight on a 15.5 hour flight to Chicago (over the North Pole again) landing at 5 am, followed by a four hour layover, before finally getting back to DC around noon.  But the hugs and smiles from Owen, Nora and Elaine when I got home made all the weariness of the road melt away.

(click here for all the pictures)