Tuesday, August 27, 2013

School Days

School started in the District this week, and while for Owen this was old hat, for Nora it was a whole new world. On Monday we took Owen to Watkins, met his new 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Coleman (sadly, none of his close friends are in her room), and then watched while she shook hands with each of his classmates and slowly called them to circle time. We then ran over to Peabody for Nora's teacher conference (she'd met Ms. Ogden on a home visit before our trip to Iowa) and to check out her new room and the extensive renovations that Peabody underwent this summer before dropping her off for a day of Mom Mom.

Nora's official first day was Tuesday, so we parked by Peabody and took a quick picture in front of its sign before the mob overtook us. Owen had jumped onto the Watkins bus without so much as a goodbye, so Allen and I simply followed Nora over to the playground where she enjoyed the various structures as Allen & I chatted with other parents and waited for the bell.

Now, when Owen had his first day at Peabody, the parents were allowed to escort their kids to the classroom for a final farewell. We had mistakenly assumed that Peabody hadn't changed their policy in the intervening three years and so weren't particularly focused on goodbyes or inspirational speeches as the kids lined up to go in. It was only when Allen nudged me to say that Nora was waving goodbye that I realized my little girl was going off to school... and that I wasn't going with her.  Not even for a few extra minutes.

Owen has been largely noncommittal about school -- he likes his teacher but doesn't think he classmates are too big on listening. So far Nora's favorite part of the day is nap time, because they leave the light on. I'm just hoping for a fun year where they stay safe and learn and grow.

(click here for all the first day of school pictures)


Sunday, August 25, 2013

House Party

Owen informed us a while ago that he wanted to have his birthday at our new house. I was a little wary, as even though we have a much larger house than our old abode, a house full of seven year old boys seemed overwhelming. We countered with spending at least part of the party at Atlas Arcade and actually took Owen there to see if he liked it. Owen said fine, provided his party was organized into three parts:

  1.  Baseball
  2.  Arcade
  3.  Pizza/Cake
In the end, there were actually six parts to the party: Basketball (due to Grandpa Fawcett installing Owen's new basketball hoop at a kid-friendly height); Baseball; Marbles; Arcade; Pizza/Cake; and Bedlam. Sure a couple of the kids decided they didn't want to go to the arcade (we let them stay at the house with Mom Mom and Grandpa Fawcett) and the end of the party degenerated into girls (Nora, Mia & Gigi) vs boys. But despite all the screaming and yelling, we think they all had a good time...especially Owen.

(Special thanks to Leo, Hayden, Connor, Gabriel, Martin, Marcus, Mia, Ben and especially Gigi -- who travelled all the way from Pittsburgh to come to the party (and so her parents could attend a surprise party later that night) -- as well as all the grownups who helped. To see all the party pics, please click here.)

Friday, August 23, 2013

The End of an Era

We've had kids enrolled at the Department of Labor's Child Development Center since December 2006, but with school starting on Monday for Nora and Owen long since graduated to elementary school, we finally had our last day on Friday (though Nora might "drop in" a few times this year). We've had our share of ups and downs at Nobel, but for the most part, our kids have thrived there and made some life-long friends (though to be fair, it's a bit early for that claim) all while I was a few floors above them. Due to my proximity, I've been able to commute with them, nurse them, and rock them to sleep. We've shared storytimes, lunches, field trips, parties, recitals and the occassional festival. Through it all, our kids have had some amazing teachers who taught them, loved them, celebrated with them, consoled them, and just made their lives (and ours) better. Thank you all so much -- we're really going to miss you.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Magnificent Seven

Untitled Six was a crazy year -- new school, new house, new teeth. But despite all the curveballs that we (and life) seemed to throw Owen's way, he's come through with a smile and a song (most likely either Katy Perry's "Fireworks" or the "Star Spangled Banner"). In the past year, Owen has become an essayist, a solo percusionist, a Lego enthusiast, a photographer, a budding scientist, a pretty good infielder and a lover of compound interest. And while I cringe a bit each time he asks if I want to hear a joke, I melt a little everytime he says, "I love you, Mom." Happy seventh birthday, Owen, I love you so, so much.

  1. Life is pain...especially if you don't stick the landing.
  2. A tooth in the hand is worth $.01*2(t-1) in the piggybank.
  3. Blues are a blast.
  4. Superfriends are super great.
  5. What one lacks in pitch can be made up for in decibels.
  6. First rule of running club...actually involves stretching and isn't that exciting.
  7. Honey bees are awesome. Royal jelly...not so much.
  8. "Actually..."
  9. If you have to move, try to make sure it involves a space 3 times its predecessor's complete with a balcony.
  10. In baseball as in life, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but there's always another season.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Long Journey Home


Without our usual stop at in Cleveland with Katherine & Lee, we decided to get a bit more creative with the drive home from Iowa. An endless stream of Summer activities kept all the Zimmerman cousins from visiting Iowa during our trip, so we decided to spend Thursday night in Schaumberg with Steve & Becky.  This of course was a huge hit with Owen and Nora, since their big cousins Olivia, Maura and Sam are all so cool, and Nora was of course thrilled to to have her little cousin Erin looking up to her. We played lots of hide-and-go-seek (which is particularly exhausting when you're trying to be the fun uncle ;-), tossed the baseball around (so Owen could show off to Sam his improved skills from a summer of baseball camp and many hours playing catch this trip), and even got in a heated flag football game (Dads vs. kids of course ;-). The visit was too short, but we can't wait to get all the cousins together again this Christmas.

Visiting Chicago was great, but it still left a bit too long of a drive back home. Fortunately, Joe & Cate are in Pittsburgh now, and have a new home to visit and a new baby to meet :-).  So we struck out for Pittsburgh on Friday, and of course the Mettenburgs had an amazing feast waiting for us at their beautiful new home. Saturday morning we finally met Hugh (who is adorable), and tried to relax a bit to rest up for the big night ahead of us.  It had not gone without notice that the Pirates had a perfectly timed 4pm game that night, and Joe had managed to procure tickets for us all. So we all drove downtown, hiked across the bridge, and climbed up to our seats and enjoyed the gorgeous weather and the most breathtaking view in all of baseball. Oh, and the Pirates played too, if you can call it that, they lost to Arizona 15-5.

Sunday morning we finally said our goodbyes, and drove the last leg of our long journey home. It was a great trip, but we're all glad to finally be back sleeping in our own beds.


Thursday, August 15, 2013


Every summer we make a pilgrimage to Iowa, but this was the first one in a long time that didn't involve a stop at Aunt Katherine's & Uncle L's (though we had just seen them at the beach...). We were not short on companions, however: Grandpa & Grandma Z let us take over the homestead; Uncle Dave & Aunt Kara stayed an extra day after Dave's high school reunion to get a little nephew & niece bonding time (and so Kara could work on her curve ball); Ellen & John came down for a quick visit before heading to South Carolina for Caitlin's grad school graduation; A short drive to Marshalltown meant a luncheon with Bernie as well as a quorum of Pete & Jeannine's brood; Blaine came down for a night; We stopped by Ames to see Thomas and his crew; And there were were always a bevy of Fawcetts nearby.

In between all the visiting -- and sometimes during -- we ate a freakish amount of corn (due to the late planting this year, the sweet corn wasn't ready until our second day which was great for us though a bit of a bummer for the "sweet Corn Fest" two weekends before). We broke in the new pond swing, ate smores, camped in the tipi, caught our first (and second, third and fourth) fish, jumped off the high dive (Grandpa Z set a new record as oldest jumper), and just generally enjoyed those last lazy days of summer. It was a really good trip. And a long drive home.

(To see all the Iowa pictures please click here)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

State Fair

For years we've been going to the Montgomery County Fair with Brad and Marlo, and while it's been fun and all (who wouldn't enjoy seeing a "zonkey"), I've always felt that the kids and Allen had missed out on seeing the full glory that a fair can be.

But no more.

Because we were in Iowa a little later and a little longer this year, our visit happened to coincide with the Iowa State Fair and because we wanted to go down to meet Ms. Maria Eloise Fawcett, we happened to be a half hour from the midway on Tuesday afternoon. With the stars aligning so perfectly, we had to go...

It started out a little rough. It took us a while to figure out where the parking entrance was which meant Nora had a lot of time to covet the ferris wheel. Since the entrance took us right by it, we told her we'd ride it first thing. Allen dutifully went off and got $20 in tickets, we waited in line and then were promptly put into a car with orange stripes, right next to one with purple. Nora began frantically gesturing at the offending stripes and pleaded to change cars, but the the operator said we couldn't. So she proceeded to scream for three and a half minutes of the four minute ride, and it was only when Allen promised to take her to a nearby dragon roller coaster (while I ran back to the car and got "Pink Lemonade") that she calmed down.

Once peace reigned again, we took the tram to get a better view of the spectacle, stopped by the agricultural house to see the butter cow (restored to its full glory after the sabotage a few days before), hung out at the Hi-Vee park where I ran into a high school friend, partook in some of the less healthy fare, watched some baby ostriches being born, and let the kids get their farm on before driving back to Iowa City.

And while it made for a pretty exhausting three hours, but it was totally worth it.

(For more fair pictures, please click here.)

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Life's a Beach

We were a little short on vacation time this summer, but with Mom Mom and Grandpa Don having a free condo to share at the Outer Banks, we wanted to squeeze in at least a few days at the beach with them, Aunt Katherine & Uncle L. So the morning after Allen returned from Aspen, we packed up the car and headed to Duck, NC (by way of Allen's alma mater).

The temps were in the low-eighties that week, which meant that the water was a little chilly, but the burning sand and biting flies which had ruined Nora's seaside visits in the past were no longer a factor. Absent those, Nora had a great time -- spending most of the mornings making sand castles with a few forays into the water (so long as daddy was holding her). Owen for his part continued his love of boogie boarding though was a bit more selective in which waves he was willing to try. Allen and I just enjoyed sharing our parental duties.

We only had three days there, but everyone had a really good time and Nora even managed a souvenir -- "Lana," the moon jellyfish she found on the shore our last morning there. Can't wait to see what she collects from the roadside on our trip to Iowa...