Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: The Year in the Eyes of Babes

For Christmas 2012, we gave each kid their own camera and let them loose. Just over a year later, we finally got around to downloading the fruits of their labor. It's not terribly surprising that both kids have inherited Allen's love of documenting even the most trivial of life events, but it's pretty endearing to see how they did so.


(Please click here for highlights of Owen's pictures, and here for Nora's.)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013


2013 is a year for Christmas in Iowa, but before we left, the season got off to a great start with our open house, Owen's Holiday concert, and Christmas caroling with our old neighbors.  After caroling on Friday night, we went home to pack the car, and got ready to hit the road ridiculously early.  For several reasons we decided to attempt the drive to Iowa in one day: Katherine & Lee are no longer in Cleveland, Grandpa Fawcett was going to ride out with us to Iowa (providing an extra driver), and perhaps most importantly a blizzard was bearing down on Iowa, so if we were going to make it for Christmas, we had to make it quick.  In fact Uncle Ken called on Friday night to inquire when we were planning on leaving, and when Dad said 6 am, Ken simply said, "you better get off earlier."  So in the morning we carried the sleeping kids out to the already packed car, and were on the road by 5:30 am.  It started raining a little after Breezewood, didn't stop until just before we reached the Mississippi, and the snow started falling as we dropped off Dad at Ken & Helen's.  The kids did great on the 14 hour drive, and when we woke up to 6 inches of snow in the morning, we knew we made the right call.

We were the first to arrive at Grandma & Grandpa Z's, so the first few days in Iowa were relatively quiet.  We stayed in on Sunday to recuperate from the drive just making it outside to build a snowman, but on Monday we braved the bitter cold (it got down to -15 below that night!) to go over to Ken & Helen's for dinner (at noon, so it wasn't supper).  Thomas & Jen were battling various illnesses in the family, so we didn't get to see the boys, but Nora had a great time playing with Grace, and Owen got to break out the flexible flyer for some fun but cold sledding down the drive with Daddy and Grandpa.


Dave & Kara got in on Christmas Eve with a much needed burst of extra energy to keep up with the kids.  We convinced Mommy to let Owen and Nora open one present each, wrote notes to Santa, ate lots of Christmas cookies and candy, and made it to midnight Mass (well, 9 pm Mass, but it felt late enough with the kids).

Christmas morning brought all sorts of treasures under the tree from Santa, but I think the big hit were Nora's roller skates and Owen's rollerblades.  You might think that these were Summer toys that would have to languish in a closet for months before being played with, but no, the kids insisted on bundling up and skating in the snow.  And truth be told, they were right.  The kids had a great time on their skates, even in the cold and snow.


On Thursday we squeezed in a quick serendipitous visit with the Mettenburgs (who were in Iowa for Joe's nephew's wedding) in the morning, and Steve, Becky and all the cousins arrived around lunch. Owen was over the moon to have his cousin Sam around to play with, and Nora got a chance to be the big kid showing cousin Erin the ropes.  We opened more presents, played lots of hide and seek, and had a grand time with the whole Zimmerman family in the house.  That night Owen had a sleepover down in the basement with Sam, and Nora had a sleepover with Erin upstairs.  The boys were out almost instantly, but the girls could not seem to settle down and fall asleep.  After a few too many times getting out of bed, we decided that it might not have been all Nora's fault as she told us that Erin was getting up, going to the bathroom, getting a handful of liquid soap, and smearing it on Nora's cheeks.  We think she was just trying to share the secret of her wonderful smelling skin ;-)

All trips must eventually come to an end, so we hit the road for home on Friday (after not nearly enough time with the cousins according to Owen).  We stopped just outside Toledo on the way back to break up the drive into two days, and were home by Saturday night.  Christmas wasn't quite over yet though.  Sunday morning we had a faux Christmas brunch at Mom Mom & Grandpa Don's with Katherine & Lee, and Nancy, Danny and Christopher.  Mom Mom made delicious waffles, we opened more presents, and long last Christmas was over.


(click here for all the pictures)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Elfis is in the building

Owen informed us back in November that he was cast as a body guard in Watkin's 2nd grade holiday play. The role required a dark suit, some sunglasses, and maintaining order at the North Pole. On the designated morning, Allen and I dutifully took off work and recruited Mom Mom and Grandpa Fawcett to join us for, "Elfis and the Sleigh Riders." It was quite an event and Owen (and his classmates) totally rocked it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

We Are at a Play!

We've been a bit obsessed with Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie series (Nora in particular) so when we heard the Kennedy Center was staging, "We Are in a Play," we made a mad dash to get tickets (which was a good thing given every show sold out). Kids and adults had a great time and Nora even got to hang out with her friend Jack who just happened to have seats next to us. Banana!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

House Party

We'd been meaning to have a get together with our old neighbors for a while, but as the months passed and the holidays loomed, we decided to go for broke and invite all our local friends to our place for some Christmas cheer. It was a little slow goings at first (only the Browns and Mom Mom were there for the first hour), but things eventually picked up until the house was fairly hopping.  Later, we were able to reflect on the evening, which taught us how quickly a gaggle of seven year olds can morph into a Lord of the Flies gang which catapults brownies. And that no party is complete without a plank-off.  And that if you have a former NFL athlete in your midst, then someone's going to feel compelled to challenge them to some ridiculous test of meddle.  And that we are really lucky to have such great friends and family so close by.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Animal House

In the middle of the kids' piano lesson on Thursday night, our neighbor Danielle stopped by and in hushed tones (in case I said, "No, thank-you") informed us that they would be having a petting zoo over at their house from 7:00 -8:00 pm that night and we were welcome to stop over with the kids. It seems that Danielle was charged with the hosting and entertainment duties for her office holiday party and that after her first suggestion of a DJ was vetoed, she decided to go in a different direction...

It was pretty impressive to see our neighbors' back yard filled with a pony, llama, goat, sheep, pig and numerous bunnies, ducks and chickens (also a little disturbing given the animals proximity to the pit their brethren has been roasted in for previous parties). The kids loved it and it certainly made for an interesting night at home.


Monday, December 09, 2013

Membership has its privileges

We try to make it out every year to see the trains at the Botanical Gardens, but it can be a challenge. As the space is fairly small and the demand fairly large, you can end up waiting outside in the cold for an hour or so, or more accurately, Allen can wait outside in the cold while the rest of us check out the other exhibits until her texts us. Once inside, we usually only spend about 15 minutes watching the trains before the crowds chased us out.

But a month or so before its unveiling, I got an email from the "Moms on the Hill" list-serve informing me that by joining the Friends of the National Botanic Garden Fund we could both support Owen's favorite place on earth, and attend the holiday preview of their annual "Season's Greenings" display which meant avoiding the masses and getting to enjoy cookies, wine, and hot chocolate while leisurely touring the gardens after dark.

So I sent off a check and an RSVP for five, and on Saturday night we (including Grandpa Fawcett) spent an hour and a half marveling at all the wonders. The entire center was largely empty which meant we had the run of the place (literally -- Owen and Nora kept disappearing down pathways) and could spend as long as we wanted in each room enjoying DC in miniature as well as various scenes and trains (this year's theme was World Fairs). It was a pretty magical night which was topped off by swinging by the National Christmas tree on our way out.

It was by far the best and easiest way to indulge one of our favorite holiday traditions and as it doesn't require Allen to battle the elements, probably means we're about to become lifetime members.

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


Monday, December 02, 2013

Nora, the Crocodile Lover

Given how much the kids (and us adults, too) enjoyed "Lulu and the Brontosaurus" at the Imagination Stage, Mom Mom decided we should also check out "Lyle the Crocodile." Nora in particularly loved the show (there was singing, and tap-dancing and a deranged cat!), and while she was too shy to meet the cast, she at least allowed us to get a picture of her near them.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

TJ Class of '93


As hard as it may be to believe, it's been 20 years since I graduated from High School. And while the winds of fortune have scattered us about the globe, Thanksgiving weekend brought many of us that still have family in the area back home, and proved a great time for our class reunion.  Of course I had to dig through my yearbook, and resurrect some old photos before the big event, finding scraps of evidence for my Robert Smith-esque (or was it Flock of Seagulls like) hair, but alas no record was kept of my purple locks.

While there are a few people from TJ that I still see from time to time (or at least see on Facebook), I was very pleasantly surprised to see some old friends come out of the woodwork.  I had a great time catching up with everyone, giving Elaine a glimpse of my High School life, and even appropriately (for a Science & Tech H.S. reunion) dorked out with Google Glass, though much like High School, virtually no one danced.  We closed down the reunion, and went over to the after-party at an Irish bar with Paul and Joe, and stayed out celebrating until 2 a.m., which I discovered is not nearly as easy to do as it was 20 years ago.

(click here for my pictures, and here for all the official pictures)