Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2014

Allen really, really loves Christmas. Which is why it's a downright shame that due to an ineffective flu shot, a bike ride in the rain, an excessive mise-en-place and probably too late of a Christmas mass, he pretty much missed it. Sure, he made it down to see the kids unwrap their Santa gifts, but after that he disappeared for several hours before I told him he had to wake up and shower if he wanted to go to Mom Mom's. He barely rallied, was shivering while getting dressed, had to rest on the couch eating dry toast before he could make it to the car, and went straight to Mom Mom's guestroom once we arrived where he spent most of the day (we would occasionally bring him out to the couch to watch us open presents or force more toast and ginger-ale down him). He was home and down for the count by 10 pm.

The kids had a great time and Mom Mom made a lovely meal, but I have to say it probably wasn't our favorite celebration. Also, with Allen largely out of commission, it was pretty much our least documented one, but thanks to Grandpa Don, you (and Allen!) can get the gist of our celebration here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Here We Come a Caroling

One of our Christmas traditions is to go caroling on F Street with our old neighbors.  Several of us have moved away from the old block, but we still gather to raise our voices in song, catch up with old friends, and share some cookies and hot chocolate.  Happy Holidays F Street!


Bust a Move

Nora had a very enthusiastic final dance class on Saturday, and was in no way harmed in the making of this video. At least permanently.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Solstice

They do things a little differently at SWS: instead of a holiday concert, Owen (aka Sun #2) and his classmate proudly present a Winter Solstice play.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

But Wait, There's More!

A scant three days after the final performance of Annie, the kindergartners had a holiday concert. Kate was scheduled to introduce the first song, but the weekend proved too much for her, so Nora had to step in as understudy. She sort of stole the show (or at least the parts I managed to record), and even provided some choreography for the "Jingle Bell Rock" mash-up with the first graders.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Party 2014

For our second annual holiday party, we had a plan. In order to avoid a repeat of last years' tribute to William Golding, we posted signs stating food was not to be brought upstairs (and subsequently flung downstairs) and co-opted Grandpa Fawcett's space for a viewing of Harry Potter, to give the eight-year-old crowd a quieter alternative to boys' club. But then the weather gods were kind and no diversions were necessary as the boys could be sent outside to shoot arrows and fence and scream and whatnot without disrupting the adult flow and killing our holiday vibe. It was a glorious thing, and it would have worked, too, had it not been for those meddling kids and Ronan shooting his sister with a blow gun.

So after an ice pack for Maeve and a confiscation of all weaponry, we had a very nice and relatively
calm holiday party.


Sunday, December 14, 2014



This fall, Stuart-Hobson Middle School decided to christen their renovated auditorium with a performance of "Annie" and invited the other members of the "Cluster" to participate. This meant that Peabody kindergartners, that attended weekly early morning rehearsals, would perform "Tomorrow" with the orphan herself. Nora initially demurred, citing shyness, but we pressed on because seriously, who is she trying to kid?

So we bought the movie and made her watch it. We ferried her to 8 am practices on Thursdays. We forced her to wear her brother's weathered long underwear to achieve that truly uncared for look. And on Friday night, to a packed house which included Mom Mom & Grandpa Don, Grandpa Fawcett, and Allen, Owen and myself, Nora sung her little heart out.  She watched the performance in awe with her friends, and when the big kids reprised 'Tomorrow' for the finale, the little kids stormed the stage to join them in song, take their bows and share in the celebration of a successful opening night. Beaming as we left the auditorium she loudly proclaimed it the "BEST DAY EVER!!!" before returning home where she and Owen proceeded to reenact the entire play while I channeled my best Miss Hannigan.

Then came the two Saturday performances. Nora was pretty tired after Friday night, and she mustered just enough energy for the Saturday matinee to mouth the words before leaving early to get ready for her friend Kate's birthday party. She had a blast ice-skating, but the idea of performing one last time was almost too much for her. We insisted that the show had to go on, made her don Owen's cast-offs again, and she lip-syched for the five minutes she was on-stage before demanding to go home.

All in all, it was a pretty awesome experience (and the Stuart-Hobson kids did a tremendous job), but I don't think Nora's quite ready for a Broadway run.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Trains, Flora, and Wine


One of our favorite holiday traditions is going to Owen's favorite place in the world, the U.S. Botanic Garden, and seeing their amazing holiday train display.  This tradition used to involve standing out in the cold in some impressively long lines, but last year Elaine figured out how to make this tradition 1000% better.  With a donation to the National Fund for the U.S. Botanic Garden, we could skip the lines and see the trains at the Botanic Garden Holiday Reception.

This year the Holiday Reception was the same night as Owen's cello recital, so we invited the whole family to join us for the concert, and then thanked them for their support of our budding musician with dinner at Tortilla Coast and a relaxing evening of wine, plants, and a lighthouse themed holiday train display.


(click here for all the pictures)

The Music Man

Last year, Owen asked to start taking cello lessons. I was a little put off at the time, since after years of good intentions I had finally managed to arrange piano lessons for both kids and thought I should at least get a victory lap before we moved onto the string family.

But Owen persisted and in the Spring, we successfully bid at the Cluster's Auction on group lessons for the DC Youth Orchestra Program. Come Fall, outfitted with a 1/4 size cello, Owen started Beginning Cello Level A.

I should note that while Owen's paternal great-grandmother was an accomplished cellist (she played with the Cedar Rapids Symphony) and Grandma Z played violin back in the day, Owen's string pedigree does not include Allen and I, so Owen was kind of on his own at home (I have some piano, sax and a lot of oboe; Allen has a bit of piano, a little trumpet and some guitar. But cello? Not so much). After a month or so, Owen's instructor suggested we supplement the group lessons with some individual instruction, so Owen started also taking lessons from his music teacher at SWS, Mr. James.

All of this was building up to Saturday night's recital, in which about 200 beginning students played Jingle Bells, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and a host of other tunes. While our clear favorite was Hot Cross Buns by the Level A cellist, there were some other standouts -- some extremely talented harpist and a lone baritone that nailed the Star Spangled Banner -- with only a few painful moments, (I really wanted to give all the beginning oboes a hug after their rendition of Lightly Row -- it gets better!).

All in all, it was really exciting and endearing to see so many young people at the start of their musical education. And it was all worth it for the smile Owen donned after his performance when he found his cheering section (Grandpa Fawcett, Katherine & Lee, Mom Mom & Grandpa Don, and Allen, Nora and I).


(To see Owen's class performance, please click here)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Turkey Days


Thanksgiving didn't go quite as planned. First we left later then intended due to 1) Grandpa Fawcett having flown out early to help finish what can only be described as a super late harvest; 2) Owen had a really cool birthday party on Saturday morning that he didn't want to miss; and 3) having had 3 weeks of someone (myself included multiple times) being sick, I wasn't particularly excited about getting up at 5 am and splitting 14 hours of driving between Allen and me. So we decided to take two days and let Owen have his fun, arriving at Grandma & Grandpa Z's on Sunday afternoon. Then we found out on Monday that owing to some recent unpredicted snowstorms, Uncle Dave & Aunt Kara weren't going to be able to drive out from Colorado. We were all pretty bummed with the news, but Allen most acutely as he generally trades off being the "fun Uncle" with Dave and welcomes the reprieve that comes with being ranked second.

Despite the abbreviated schedule and guests, we had a pretty amazing visit. We managed to pack in dinner and a playdate with Grace, some sledding and work at the pond, Pinewood Derby preparations, a lot of Minecraft, a picnic or two, epic battles, an unexpected homage to Eminem, birthday surprises, Olivia's elevation to the grown-ups' table, a parting brunch at Ken & Helen's, Christmas brew, and of course, family.

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


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Harvest in the East

DC public schools likes to take the week before Thanksgiving to celebrate the harvest (though given we're an urban school district, the celebration tends to be larger than said harvest). Songs are sung, poetry slow-jammed and there's an abundance of food. Allen and I both managed to make Owen's party (and song) on Thursday, but Allen was off at a conference on Friday and so had to miss Nora's -- which meant he missed Nora's debut as the fifth fat turkey and the traditional harvest cupcake (and resulting purple tongue).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014



So last year Andrew and I took Owen and Luke to Carderock on Veteran's day for their first climbing outing.  They had a great time, Owen got a harness for Christmas, spent lots of time on the climbing wall at camp, and got climbing shoes for his birthday, but somehow we made it all the way to Veteran's day again before taking the boys back out on the real rocks.

With the weather 70 degrees and sunny, we couldn't have asked for a better day for our annual climbing trip.  We set up a harder climb than last year, and Owen proclaimed we should climb youngest to oldest, I guess so he could show us all how it's done.  He scrambled up the rocks like a little monkey, then came down and told us that, "Climbing is like a team sport, your arms, legs, eyes, and brain all have to work together or you'll never make it to the top."

Luke was next up, but Owen couldn't keep himself off the rocks and started bouldering around barefoot.  When Luke was stuck at a tough spot on the climb, I went up to try to help him find some holds only to look over and see Owen 8 feet up on the rocks beside us also doling out pointers.

Andrew and I had our turns, and found that some of the spots on the climb really were a bit tricky.  Then Owen scrambled up again, with a little more difficulty at the first big problem on the climb.  When he got down he dropped some more of his zen climbing wisdom, "Another way to think of the climb is it's like a war.  Your arms and legs are the armies, and your eyes and brain are the spies searching for weaknesses in the wall for your armies to attack."

If we learned one thing from this spectacular November climbing day, it's that we need to do it more often in 2015...

(click here for all the pictures)

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Halloween 2014


Halloween conveniently fell on a Friday this year, and it was a half day of school to boot. The kids went easy on us this year with their costume requests, Owen wanted to go as Ryan Zimmerman and Nora was set on Minnie Mouse, both of which we had readily on hand. Adam’s parents Karen & Edgar kindly invited us over to their pre-trick-or-treating party, where the kids burned off some pre-candy energy, and we enjoyed hanging out by the ‘poison punch’ with the grown-ups. Then instead of braving the madness on East Capitol Street, we trick-or-treated our way from Adam’s house to our old block on F Street, visited with some old friends and neighbors, and trick-or-treated our way back home. All told, a very satisfying Halloween for the whole family.

(click here for all the pictures)

Friday, October 31, 2014


It had been a pretty crazy weekend. After 12 distinct activities in the course of two days (soccer, cello, dance class, Cub Scouts popcorn sales, baseball, Halloween party/chili cook-off, church, Sunday School, birthday party, playdate, Cub Scout meeting, and dinner party), Allen had I were finally retiring for a good night's sleep when we received word that Nora's teacher had been diagnosed with viral meningitis (the second kindergarten teacher at Peabody to be diagnosed).  We were slightly concerned, but not too much. And while I did peruse the educational materials on meningitis provided by DCPS, I mostly wondered about the wisdom of DCPS handing out these materials along with donut on the playground with 240 little kids with questionable personal hygiene. That is until the wee hours of Tuesday when Owen threw up and it got personal.

As Owen was not the child we expected to succumb to illness, we were concerned. I alerted his teachers and school nurse and made an appointment with his doctor to make sure Owen was not sick and spreading a pandemic across Capitol Hill. After a half hour exam, the doctor concluded that he was fine (although she reserved the right to revise the diagnosis if circumstances changed). Feeling relieved and wanting be efficient, I asked if you could a get a flu shot even if you'd been sick. She said, "sure" so I went ahead and had him injected, informed his teachers he was in the clear and then took him to pick up the CSA and Nora from aftercare. After getting dinner ready, I headed out to a PTA meeting where we further discussed meningitis and proper cleaning methods for an hour and a half. Meanwhile, Owen went to bed at 6:30 pm and developed a fever. He threw up around 10 pm. This meant that we had to tell his teachers at his previously scheduled conference that while he wasn't truly sick, he also wasn't coming to school that day either.

So Owen and I had a second mother-son bonding day. He ate a good dinner and went to bed at, if not a reasonable hour, certainly one we're used to. And on the plus side, Owen actually made it to the toilet instead of vomiting in his bed this last time, which feel like something of a victory and a developmental milestone. An incredibly gross one mind you, but still...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Frozen on Ice


Last summer, in the middle of a playdate, Nora's friend Kate's mom called to invite us to join a group attending Disney's Frozen on Ice. I'm not a huge Disney fan, but Nora loves Frozen and an outing with her friends, even though it was on a weeknight, seemed like a fine idea. I agreed, wrote a check and put it on the calendar.

At Nora's birthday party, we finally received the tickets at which point I realized the extravaganza was not at the Verizon Center as I'd assumed (I mean the Capitols play there, it already has ice!), but at the Patriot Center. At GMU. About an hour outside DC with no traffic.

But fortunately, Lizzie's mom offered to drive and so Nora and I had little to do in the 75 minutes it took to get from our home to the Patriot center parking lot but sing various Disney songs. Once there, we power-walked to the nearest bathroom and then ran into Kate's mom who directed us to the our seats (past about 30 different Disney toy kiosks) just in time for the overture and introduction of all the Disney characters (full disclosure, the fish from The Little Mermaid seriously creeped me out).

The first half went great, but intermission was a little rough as I was raised you don't but $20 Olaf Snowcones and apparently a lot of parents seated in our general vicinity weren't. Nora got pretty upset (as did Lizzie and Kate when Victoria's mom broke down and got one). Eventually they calmed down, but by the end, it was 9:00 pm and we had to pass another 30 kiosks selling Disney products and still not purchasing any goodies. Added to that, I neglected to bring Nora's pajamas (I had them packed in the car when we were going to drive, but then we carpooled...) while Lizzie's mom was more on top of things. Nora screamed the entire walk from the arena to the car and for the next 15 minutes while sitting in the parking lot trying to get out. She eventually calmed down and fell asleep for the drive home where her father carried her to bed and put her in appropriate sleepwear.

It was definitely an experience - though I'm not sure we'll be repeating it anytime soon -- and the next day, Nora talked of it fondly. I'm still not quite there.


Monday, October 13, 2014


Back in the day I attended the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, MN with my brothers and beloved Aunt Ellen. I've blacked out most of the experience, but distinctly remember witnessing the performance of "Puke and Snot" whose act consisted primarily of chewing a carrot and then spewing it out while insulting each other and anyone else in their proximity. The two performers took a liking to me (I think I was six or seven at the time) and singled me out. It was not attention I particularly wanted and I left the festival feeling dirty and disgusting and with an aversion to root vegetables.

Time passed, and over the years I've managed to avoid attending pretty much Ye Ol' anything. However, Owen recently attended a Medieval Times performance and Nora loves all things princess-y, so when Brad texted us in the early hours (ok, 10 am) of Sunday -- the only non-rainy day of the three-day weekend -- that the Browns were at the Maryland festival and basking in revelry and merriment, I agreed to put aside my past grievances and take the kids to the fair.

Owen was a little reluctant to attend, but became entranced as we walked by Shakespeare's Skum and saw their version of Henry V (we later went back to catch the tail end of  Othello: Having A Bad Day, and all of  Antony & Cleopatra: As the Nile Flows). We caught up with the Browns in time for a joust, and then got to partake in the massive slide before hanging out in the children's area, catching a performance of the "Dueling Fools" and then searching for the perfect medieval hat for Nora (Owen could only find metal armor which we all agreed was a bad idea).

All in all, it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday and while we discovered that Puke and Snot are still touring with the show, Allen agreed that we could skip that one...

(click here for all the pictures)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

18 Innings...


The Nats' loss to the Cardinals in the 2012 NLDS was a roller coaster, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat all unfolding before our eyes.  That team was young and exciting, and they filled us with hope for the future.  2013 was a reminder that even with the talent in the world, nothing can be taken for granted in baseball, and every trip to the postseason needs to be savored.  The 2014 Nats ran away with the NL East and we could taste a deep run into October.

Brad & I lined up tickets for the whole NLDS, I picked up Owen early from school, and we settled into our seats on a glorious afternoon ready watch our team take on the Giants.  But the Giants took the early lead, and the breaks never quite went our way (Desmond struck out with the bases loaded, Harper led off the next inning with a towering home run into the third deck, but alas no one was on base).  The Nats' comeback fell short, and the Giants took game one 3 to 2.

We had a whole crew for game 2: Owen & I went with Brad & Marlo and Mia and Ben, and Mom Mom & Grandpa Don got tickets too with Aunt Katherine and Uncle L.  Elaine was a bit bummed she and Nora weren't going too, though I think she was over that by the time the game was over.  The Nats jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third, and Jordan Zimmermann, fresh off his no-hitter in the final game of the season was twirling another gem.  He was one out away from a complete game shutout when he gave up a walk.  Drew Storen came on, gave up a quick two hits, and just like that the game was tied.  On to extra innings!

Now, when the game started at 5:30, it was a warm sunny day. But as the night wore on and the innings mounted (10th), the temperatures plummeted and the wind was whipping around the park (11th).  We bundled up (12th), abandoned the upper deck (13th), warmed up in the gift shop (14th with a second 7th inning stretch!), and eventually made our way to a great spot out of the wind to stand (15th) and watch the rest of the game.  16th, longest game in Nats history.  17th, surely someone will score -- so cold -- but every inning is a chance for an ecstatic walk off win!  18th, Giants home run, the clock strikes midnight (Owen's first time staying up until the witching hour), longest game in postseason history, the Nats go quietly into the night...

The series wasn't over though. The Nats won game 3 in San Francisco taking back the momentum, but a series of miscues in game 4 gave the series to the Giants, and the season was over.  There's always next year...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sailor Girl


The last few times we've been out sailing it's just been the boys out on the boat, so when Grandpa Don suggested the boys go sailing again, Nora put her foot down and decided it was high time she got out on the water.  Once Nora decided she was in, Mom Mom thought she better go too, and Elaine got the idea that she better help out somehow.  We made it out to the boat a little before lunch, and the weather was perfect for a day out on the Bay.  An easy sail out and back.  The bagels for lunch were yummy (Nora even tried the liverwurst!)  Owen showed Nora the ropes (not quite literally of course, since ropes on a boat are called lines).  Nora had a blast playing up on the bow, though she made mommy a little nervous with overconfidence in her sea legs, and she made daddy a little nervous with her declaration that standing on the bow with your arms outstretched is what you do "in romance"...    

(click here for all the pictures)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Tea Time


Several months ago, Mom Mom called us late at night to ask if Nora would like a fairy princess tea party for her birthday. The question seemed somewhat rhetorical, as Nora loves fairies, princesses and tea parties and the nexus of them would kind of be Nora's Shangri-La. But Mom Mom, was at a silent auction for Gadsby's Tavern, the bidding was heating up for said tea party, and so she wanted our blessing to go all grandmotherly and win big.

She was victorious, and so we began planning for eight little fairy princesses in training to descend.

Planning a tea party for non-tea drinkers can be a bit challenging, so we opted for pink lemonade instead. There weren't a lot of takers for the cucumber sandwiches and baby quiches, though the popcorn and goldfish crackers were pretty popular. Everyone loved the cake.

The girls got to choose from a bevy of ball gowns, and were then schooled in proper fan etiquette, the history of fairies, tea-time manners, and dances. They made magic wands, played games and earned their wings. And Nora had a really, really good time.

Thank you so much, Mom Mom.


(click here for all the pictures)
(click here for a video highlighting Nora's actual birthday)
(click here for a video highlighting her party)

Monday, September 01, 2014

Nora's a Handful

Nora has made a lot of promises about turning five. Throughout the past year, when faced with something she didn't particularly want to do, she would tell us she would do it when she was five. Brushing her teeth by herself; Riding a bike; Dressing herself; Eating strawberries -- these are activities that eluded the four year old Nora but ones that the five year old version will embrace. (Well, maybe not the strawberries.) Still, despite all her protestations, Nora accomplished an awful lot in her fourth year of life -- beginning school, piano lessons, teaching Daddy how to put together an ensemble for her that she could approve of... We're pretty proud of her and can't wait to see what happens next. Happy birthday, baby girl, we love you so, so much.
  1. It's impressive how quickly one can find religion when donuts are involved.
  2. "I don't need any weapons, I've got skills..and lasers beams."
  3. If you're ever at a loss for words, go with the silly face.
  4. Almost every problem can be solved with either a tissue, a hug, a bandaid or some combination thereof. And if that doesn't work: bubbles.
  5. The doctor is occasionally in.
  6. "You can go now."
  7. Sometimes you have to make your own rainbow.
  8. There are a surprising number of alternative uses for hair clips. 
  9. All the world is a stage.
  10. And in the immortal words of Ms. Ogden, "Be kind. Be brave. Be safe."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bad Air Daze

Owen has been going to our softball games all his life, in fact Elaine was still legging out hits while she was pregnant with Owen.  With his love of baseball, it's no surprise that these outings are always lots of fun, whether it's watching daddy play, taking BP before the game, or tossing the ball around on the side.  For the last couple seasons, Owen has even come out in the field to help out in the outfield during the game.  For our last game of the regular season this year, Owen decided that EPA softball league rules allowed for 8 year olds to play DH, and since our league is pretty laid back, he actually managed to convince both teams.  So Owen was slotted into the Bad Air Daze line-up and he stepped up to the plate for his first official at bats with the grown ups.  His first time up he lined out to the third baseman (no gimmes in this league!)  With the sun setting on the Mall, he came up for his second at bat with a runner on third and two outs in a tight game, and he hit a sharp grounder down the third base line.  The runner sprinted home, and Owen was safe at first with his first hit and first RBI in official EPA league play!  The game ended with Owen on deck, so his official line for the night was 1 for 2 with an RBI (better than Dad!).  Now he'll just need to talk his way into the play-offs line up ;-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

School Daze


Last year around Spring Break, I asked Owen how second grade was going and his response was that, "I think third grade will be good." It kind of broke my heart. I'd been a bit frustrated by Owen's school for a while and had entered him into the DC School Lottery for the past two years to try and get into SWS -- a school that was at one point part of Peabody (Owen's Pre-K and Kindergarten that Nora currently attends), was expanded into a temporary location a couple of years ago, and then got a permanent home 1.5 blocks from our house, though we don't get any preference for it.

But the first week of summer vacation, we found out that Owen got off the wait-list and was in. Owen was less than thrilled -- he didn't want to leave his friends at Watkins -- but eventually, with the promise of lots of playdates with the Watkins crew, he grudgingly agreed and we prepared to join the SWS community.

Funny thing about the SWS community: they do things a little differently. Whereas at Watkins the first day of school is a day of instruction, SWS uses it as a conference day, a fact we didn't learn until we returned from Iowa. Meanwhile Peabody had decided to move from using the first day of school as a conference day to using the whole week for one -- a fact we also learned while in Iowa -- until enough parents complained that you couldn't let working families know this three weeks before school starts when all the summer camps are closed that they decided to revert to their previous stance. 

So on the first day of school, we met Nora's teacher (Ms. Rountree) and then sent her off with Mom Mom for a day of fun, hosted a playdate for Owen (with one of his SWS friends from baseball), went to Owen's conference and met his teachers, took a self-guided tour (primarily of the baseball section of the library) picked out his symbol (it's apparently a Reggio Emelia thing -- he went with a fleur de lis in honor of Cub Scouts), took Owen to his doctor's appointment, and then eventually reconvened at home.

Tuesday -- their actual first day of school --  Allen accompanied Nora, who rode her bike, to Peabody for her first day of kindergarten while I accompanied Owen, who also rode his bike 1.5 blocks, to SWS for his first day of third grade. By all accounts it was a successful first day. Now for day #2...


(click here for the pictures)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Come Rain or Come Shine

Owen's 8th B-Day Party

For four months -- sixteen weeks -- the DC metro area hadn't had any rain on a weekend day. That all came to an end on Saturday -- when we invited ten kids (including Nora and Brad) into the woods to celebrate Owen's eighth birthday by scaling the Labyrinth in inclement conditions. I was a bit horrified that we were latching children to a structure and forcing them to climb for two hours in the rain (Owen quit after one), but the kids all seemed to have fun and no one has developed pneumonia...yet. Owen got to show off his climbing skills, Nora kept up with the big kids and Hayden and Ronan had to be dragged away. All in all, it was a surprising successful birthday party (it probably helped that we watched Star Wars movies on the way there and back, we brought towels and a change of clothes for the kids and there was pizza), and one that none of us will forget.


(Thanks to Charlie, Hayden, Ronan, Adam, Gabriel, Elijah, Ben, Mia and Nora for being good sports and celebrating with Owen. Special thanks to Brad, Marlo and Aunt Katherine for helping out at the party, Grandpa Fawcett for driving four eight year olds and Mom Mom and Grandpa Don for showing their support -- until it started pouring. To see all the party pics, please click here.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Crazy Eight

Seven is an interesting age - it's kind of the end of the little kid years and the beginning of something...else. There's more independence and closed doors and requests for privacy (and a sudden ban on adorable Facebook postings). Sarcasm rears its ugly head and at times I wonder where my sweet little boy has gone. But then he'll ask me to play a game. Or tell me a joke. Or stage an impromptu dance party. And sometimes, if I'm very, very lucky, Owen will ask me to cuddle with him. Happy eighth birthday, little man, I love you so, so much.
  1. When Minecraft gives you lemons... combine them with warm milk to make cheese.
  2. Goodbyes are hard.
  3. "I'm going to go live in the sewers!"
  4. As long as there's a tether, it's perfectly safe.
  5. It's ok to be the world's punching bag as long as you have on your cup.
  6. Sky above me. Earth below me. Fire within me.
  7. Don't worry, you can just pretend to drink the wine.
  8. Winx is not a cartoon about fairies. It's a cartoon about fairies AND specialist.
  9. Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Speak softly, and carry a big stick." Even better if you have an entire arsenal at your disposal.
  10. And in the immortal words of Coco Chanel, "If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Scouts in the Outfield


It's always fun when two things you love come together in unexpected ways, like chocolate and peanut butter, or, since Owen doesn't actually like his chocolate and peanut butter together, like peas on a taco. This weekend baseball and camping collided with a Cub Scouts trip to see the Potomac Nationals and then everyone getting to camp in the outfield after the game!  Add in a whole bunch of Star Wars characters wandering around the stadium, kids-run-the-bases after the game, fireworks and a movie on the scoreboard to watch from our tents, and it was quite the sensory overload.  The one drawback of this whole plan was that with so much to cram into one evening, the kids were all up until almost midnight, and when "Call Me Maybe" started blaring over the stadium speakers to wake us up at 6 am, there might have been a few questions from Elaine and Nora about the wisdom of this whole plan ;-)

(click here for the pictures)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014



Two weeks may seem like a long time to spend in Iowa, but it sure does fly by.  We left DC bright and early on Friday morning and made the 14 hour trek to Iowa in one day.  That meant we could jump right into the fun of Sweet Corn Fest on Saturday.  While there wasn't enough corn to freeze yet, there was plenty to eat, the weather was perfect for swimming, and there were oh so many cousins to play with.  Thomas & Jen were there with Ethan, Simon, Samuel and Maria, and Leanna & Troy were there with Grace & Grant to round out the second cousins, plus Ashley brought Daniel and Soren to add a couple second cousins once removed.  April came later in the week with Henry and Gus to add some third cousins, and even the Kennedy Fawcett clan attended Corn Fest with all sorts of tenth (?) cousins (who knows how many times removed ;-).  (And that's just the Fawcett side, there were even more cousins and second cousins at the Grady family reunion, and more third cousins on the Grady side visited the pond too!).

The weather was unbelievably gorgeous for almost the whole trip.   That meant plenty of swimming, fishing, swinging, canoeingcovered wagon rides, tractors, flying drones, fireworks, and fun of all sorts.  It wasn't all fun and games though.  It wouldn't be an Iowa trip without some projects, so we stocked the pond with some new striped bass, and began work on a new dock.  All told it was a great couple of weeks in Iowa with all the Zimmermans, Gradys, Fawcetts and all sorts of family we know and love.

(click here for all the pics)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Grady Bunch

We missed the last Grady family reunion -- I was eight months pregnant back in the summer of 2009 and wasn't up for an extended family extravaganza in an old, country cemetery (long story, but FYI, we Gradys love cemeteries). Afterwards, I had some regret about missing it, but then Nora was born and I was too distracted to care.

But this time was different. This time the I wasn't with child. This time there were going to be t-shirts. This time we were already in Iowa for the Fawcett Sweet Corn Fest.

So we went. I was a bit anxious as some of our childhood family gatherings didn't end well and recent ones had been a mixed bag (some were beautiful, but one involved a hospital visit after a quarters game went awry and another ended even worse), but I have to say, not only was there no bloodshed, it was the most fun I'd had in a while.

I got to hang out with my "little cousins" who are no longer little and, quite frankly, way cooler than me. Owen and Allen were able to field an entire baseball game -- they even got Grandpa Z and Uncle Dave to play -- and later drafted me for kickball. There was an all-hands volleyball game where Nora's godmother, Caitlin, was able to show off her middle-school team skills. Meanwhile, Nora spent the entire time with her little cousin Erin, you know, the other little curly headed blond girl.

There was a flat-uncle Loumen in shamrock boxers, and replications of childhood pics. There was homebrew, and talking dogs and family lore. There was an entire debate about which was the more seminal purchase of 1964: thrasher vs television. Heck, the earth even moved -- though it was later found to have been the foundation cracking from too many Grady's assembling for mass in Bernie's living room (though I prefer to attribute it to God's shock at Al being at church).

There was a lot of love, very little quiet, and a great deal of peace and contentment.

And most importantly, I finally got my Uncle Bernie t-shirt.

(Thanks to all of the Gradys -- particularly Pete and Bernie for organizing, Glen & Al for the t-shirts, Joyce for the pint glasses, Brandon for the beer, Kevin for "Cards Against Humanities," Cheryl and Blaine for providing party rooms, and everyone else for everything else. To see our pics, click here).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



Last weekend, Allen tried to rally the troops to head to The Building Museum for The BIG Maze - a special exhibit that would only be around for eight weeks this summer. The kids balked. They refused. They said they'd rather live in the sewers (ok, I may be exaggerating there...but not by much). Finally, Owen admitted that he just wanted to wait until following weekend so that he would remember it better, because that's how memories work. Allen relented and the kids pinkie swore.

So this Saturday, Allen got up early to take the car to be serviced (long story), stopped by his office to get his refrigerator and other contraband that he couldn't let the movers take to his new office next week (his division is changing buildings), and made it back to our house by 10 am so we could get to the museum right as it opened.

But then Nora threw a fit. Pinkie swears be damned, she was not going to the Building Museum. She cried. She screamed. She had to be carried to the car.

Once we finally arrived, however, she ran around with a huge smile and when reminded that she didn't want to go, she responded, "I changed my mind."

Owen went through the maze about seven times (Nora probably went about 5) trying various methods to find his way -- using his innate sense, keeping a hand on each wall, and just random luck. There was some pretend baseball while the grownups helped make and arch, some structure building at the Imagination Playground and then a couple of more times through the maze, to get our last licks in.

It was a wonderful way to spend the morning, proving once again that Allen knows best.

(To see all the pics, click here).

Monday, July 07, 2014

OBX 2014


We didn't have a big group for our beach trip this year, so we decided to get a condo, and it turned out the best one we could find was in Duck in the same complex as Don's condo.  We rented a two bedroom place with a loft, and since we had the extra room, Grandpa Fawcett was able to join us (and stay in with the kids so Elaine and I could escape for a few moonlit walks on the beach :-)  The place had a nice beach house feel to it, and a deck with a great view of the Ocean and the Army Corps Research Pier.


We drove down to Duck on Sunday and as soon as we got on the beach and saw the wonderful breakers and dipped our toes in the 76 degree water, we knew things were looking good for a great week at the beach.  Sure enough, the first few days were near perfection, temperatures in the upper 70's and low 80's, and a nice shallow sandbar for ideal body boarding conditions (never mind the makings of a tropical depression down off the coast of Florida).  Owen had a blast in the water, and Nora declared that she's "more of a pool girl," though she did make it out into the Ocean once with Daddy.


When we got back from hang gliding the AC was out in the condo, and despite all of our trouble-shooting efforts, we spent a rather uncomfortable night trying to sleep without AC or fans, and spending a few too many of those waking hours worrying about the storm bearing down on us.  On Thursday morning, with the prospects of waiting out a possible direct hit of a category 2 Hurricane cooped up in the house without AC, we decided the prudent thing to do was to get out of town.  So we booked a room at Great Wolf Loge, drove to Williamsburg and spent the afternoon at an indoor water park.  The water park wasn't the type of thing we would normally do for a vacation, but given the circumstances, the kids had a lot of fun, even if we were forced to spend the night in a place that Elaine aptly described as, "imagine Chili's and Outback Steak House mated and gave birth to a water park."


By Friday morning, Arthur had moved on without leaving too much damage behind, and three new window AC units had been installed to cover for the broken AC, so we headed back to Duck and were back in time for lunch.  The post-Arthur surf was pretty rough, and the no swimming signs were up because of an abundance of rip-currents, so we didn't get much more Ocean swimming in (plus the water temperatures were considerably cooler than what we had become accustomed to), but we did manage to spend plenty of time on the beach building sand castles and flying kites before driving back home on Sunday morning.  All around, despite our first OBX Hurricane, it was a lovely beach trip.


(click here for all the pictures)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sailing & Camping

Last year for our 10th anniversary Elaine and I had a lovely night at the Inn at Little Washington. Having spoiled ourselves with such a romantic get away last year, we decided to balance the scales a bit and spent our 11th anniversary camping in a tent with the kids in Aunt Katherine & Uncle L's backyard.  It's not that we didn't want to celebrate, but we'd just been out for a nice dinner at Rose's Luxury recently, and we let the one-month-ahead reservation window slip by us for any of the really fancy places, and our anniversary weekend just happened to be the one weekend where we could actually pull off a day sailing and our long promised backyard camping adventure.  So the boys went out for a surprisingly great sail in the morning, then we all pitched our tents, roasted s'mores on the campfire, had a decent night's sleep (though Nora bailed out of the tent and made Mommy sleep inside with her), woke up bright and early to paint rainbows in the backyard.  Not your conventional anniversary celebration, but it's hard to complain when your having fun with loved ones :-)

(click here for the pictures)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fathers' Day


We have a lot of fathers in our lives and so had a lot of celebrating to do on Father's Day. First off the kids distributed the cards they surreptitiously made for Allen and John (which involved one of them working on the card while the other distracted the recipient and then switching, hiding the cards in various places in house and then jumping out and shouting at Grandpa Fawcett & their father and flinging said cards at them). Then it was off to the newly re-opened Washington Monument with Aunt Katherine for a Father's Day tour and lots of photo ops.

After presents (Grandpa Fawcett got a cool map; Daddy got some boring clothes) and lunch, we headed up to Aunt Katherine's and Uncle L's to be joined by Mom Mom and Grandpa Don for games, some more presents, adult beverages and a whole lot of Allen's Hot Dogs specially ordered by Katherine (who also supplied all the fix'ins), before heading home where a very tired Daddy and Grandpa Fawcett soon crashed. Which was good, because Allen needed to rest up to prepare for Nora's class's Father's Day Extravaganza on Tuesday (particularly the shaving part...)

(To see all the Father's Day pics, click here)

Monday, June 09, 2014

Zip a dee doo dah

Katherine had been bugging us for a while about going to a ropes course near her house, and on Sunday we finally had the perfect day to try it out.  I was borrowing Katherine's car to drive out to Shepherdstown, WV Sunday night for a conference, and with beautiful weather, we thought it was the perfect time to visit Sandy Park.  Sure enough, it turned out to be an amazing time, Owen bounced through the trees like a monkey, Lee and I raced through the zip-lines, and if you make it through the video, just know that Elaine didn't really save the hat ;-)

(click here for all the pictures)

Jen & Azher's Wedding


We hadn't been to a wedding in a while, and the kids hadn't been to a wedding ever, so when Don's daughter Jen and her fiance Ahzer announced their incredibly family friendly wedding at the Baltimore American Visionary Art Museum (there's a playhouse and weird animal benches!) we were pretty psyched.

Don was a very proud papa, the couple themselves were glorious, and the food was delicious, but the highlight for our family was checking out all the strange exhibits next door (particularly the working pay phone!).  We had a great night celebrating, and then a lovely morning filled with swimming, the Science Museum, and the National Aquarium before heading home (meanwhile Jen and Ahzer headed off to Estonia to begin a long and happy life together). Congrats to the doctors and to see all the pictures, click here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

One Fish, Two Fish, Dead Fish, Blue Fish

I'm not a huge fan of the animal world, and so have been reluctant to allow those filled with dander and requiring much upkeep into our abode. So we've had an ant farm (which turned into more of an ant cemetery). A jelly fish (which pre-deceased the pet stage). And recently we got an aquarium, two neon fish (chosen by Nora) and a couple of dalmatian fish (chosen by Owen).

It was all quite a production. We decided we were going to go to the pet store over Memorial Day only to discover that the tank needed to set a week before we actually got fish. So the kids picked out all the accoutrements, scoped out which fish they wanted, and made a plan to return the following Sunday. Right after church we hurried over to the pet store to get the fish (Owen was particularly anxious to save the dalmatians from the "semi-aggressive" fish they were sharing a tank with), and left with four fish and an algae ball. We quickly set up the aquarium and acclimated our new additions (Sarah, Elizabeth, and the two unnamed dalmatians-- Owen couldn't decide), and headed out to meet Aunt Katherine, Uncle L, Mom Mom, Grandpa Don and Grandpa Fawcett for some outdoor adventures before Allen left for a conference in West Virginia.

Two days later, Owen's fish weren't looking so good. By Tuesday afternoon, Grandpa Fawcett regretfully informed me that they'd passed aways.

Not to get all Sophie's Choice, but if one of the kids' pets had to die, we were rooting for Nora's. Owen doesn't handle saying goodbye well to inanimate objects, so the passing of a living being seemed like it would be hard for him to take; whereas Nora coexisted quite happily with Lana the dead jellyfish for six months. But as life isn't a movie, we dealt the hand we were given.

I told Owen when I picked him up from aftercare what had happened and gave him the option of a burial at sea or land. He opted for land, asked me to dig the hole, and by the time Nora had gotten a lily for the grave from the dining room table, Owen had already plopped his pets into the grave and was asking to play Minecraft.

I guess people grieve in very different ways.

Anyway, we now have two fish; long may they reign.

(To see all our fish pics, click here)

"No-name 1 and 2" (May 31, 2014 - June 2, 2014).

Sunday, June 01, 2014

All She Wants to Do is...

We aren't allowed to watch Nora's dance classes. We've always been a little frustrated by this fact, but its logic became clear when Ms. Hailey attempted to instruct five four year olds as their family and friends looked on at the observational class on Saturday. There was crying. There was screaming. There was clinging. And there was very little dancing (although I must say that Nora -- while largely ignoring Ms. Hailey's instructions throughout -- did seem to be the lone student that embraced free dance). In the end, Ms. Hailey grudgingly gave out stickers, but was pretty free with the hugs.

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

Monday, May 19, 2014


Cubs Scouts got off to a bit of a slow start for Owen, with the Wolf Den never really forming up.  Owen did manage to race in the Pinewood Derby, but things didn't really take off until the Wolf Den merged with the younger, larger and more active Tiger Den.  With a few Den meetings under our belt, and some patches and belt loops earned, we finally went out on that quintessential Scout outing, the Cub Scout camping trip.

Saturday afternoon the whole family drove out to Watkins Regional Park.  Before heading over to the campsite, we rode the train and played a round of mini-golf while waiting for the rest of the Den.  Then we drove over to the camp-site and found our spot, nicely tucked away in the woods with  decent clearing for tents, and a fire ring.  We pitched our tents, and the Scouts started collecting wood for the fire.  Then we all gathered around the ring, built a nice tinder and kindling tipi inside of a fuel wood log cabin, and let the boys light it.  I'm fairly confident it could have been started with one match, but with a bunch of boys playing with matches for the first time, let's just say we were lucky we didn't run out ;-)

We played some games while the fire burned down, and when it was ready to cook on we started working on dinner.  Some of the kids, including Owen and Nora grilled hot dogs on a stick, and we improvised a way to cook hamburgers on the fire for everyone else.  Elaine, Nora and Grandpa Fawcett all headed home before it got too late, and Owen and I stayed up with the Scouts roasting marshmallows over the fire and telling stories.  We retired to our tent, which was next to a tent with a bunch of the boys, and tried to fall asleep in the less than peacefully quiet surroundings.

The dawn came all too soon, though Owen still managed to sleep in somehow.  Sausages, and breakfast burritos cooked on the camp fire were the order of the day.  After breaking camp, we went on a hike through the woods, and before we knew it our first Cub Scout camping trip was in the books.

(click here for all the pictures)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day and Birthdays

So I seem to have neglected to take pictures this year, but that doesn't mean we didn't have a lovely time celebrating Mother's Day.  Instead of fighting the crowds to go out for brunch, we decided that the boys should make brunch here.  A few years ago I tried to make poached eggs for brunch, and it turned out to be a little bit of a disaster, but armed with my new sous vide machine, we managed to make a lovely meal of poached eggs on hearty toast with bacon from Union Market, home made bacon jam, and fresh greens from our CSA.  And since there was little chance of the kids of the kids eating all of that, we whipped up our old standby orange French toast.

Thankfully Elaine's birthday didn't fall on Mother's day this year, so on Tuesday we left the kids with Dad, and went out for a delicious dinner at Rose's Luxury.  The wait was surprisingly short, and the meal was wonderful, but we weren't quite ready to call it a night after polishing off our deserts, so we went out for a glass of wine at Sona, the new creamery and wine bar near Eastern Market.  It was bit late, but we shut the place down having a lovely chat with the owner about all the challenges of starting up the first cheese making operation in the District, and we can't wait to go back and try out their offerings from their own cheese cave ;-)  Nothing too fancy in our celebrations this year, but the sentiment is as strong as ever, Elaine you are an amazing Wife and Mother, and we all our so lucky to have you in our lives :-)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Tea

Nora's teacher, Ms. Ogden, has an annual Mother's Day celebration where the Mom's of Classroom 7 (or appropriate substitutes) are invited for a little entertainment, refreshments, gifts and a mothering talk from Ms. Ogden's mother the Friday before Mother's Day. Sadly, Mama Ogden couldn't make it due to a foot injury, but the rest of us had a lovely time.

To see the special videos the kids made for us, check out the links here and here.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Bend it with Bedlam

Nora has told us time and time again that she's really good at soccer (she took a class while in daycare), but we were unable to prove her meddle due to some reluctance on our part (we'd started Owen off in soccer and he'd spent most of his time climbing trees in lieu of drills) and dance conflicts. But when the Spring season rolled around, I decided that our little girl needed a sport and so convinced the league to let her be in the "Under 5" instead of "Under 4" group (red-shirting be damned) and dutifully took her to her first practice.

Nora quickly found herself on an almost all-girl team, The Dragonflies (Nora initially suggested the name, "Unicorn Sparkles," and got several other girls to agree, but the coaches eventually intervened and decided "Dragonflies" was a bit more practical). Practices have generally gone well and she's mostly enjoying herself (except when her brother gets help out as goalie and blocks her kick...). Hopefully she'll stick with it, though as a friend pointed out, given her insistence on wearing a skirt, she might be better suited to field hockey.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Grandma & Grandpa Z


Grandma & Grandpa Z were in town for Owen's First Communion, though based on photographic evidence it appears they spent most of their trip with Allen. They got in Thursday night and as their sole son-in-law had Friday off and the weather was fairly glorious, they spent the day seeing the sites: the MLK Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the DC World War I Memorial, and some others. Afterwards they headed to Toki Underground for lunch, followed by some down time before the heavens opened up and the kids, myself and Mr. Brad Brown joined them.

We were planning on heading to the Nats game shortly after work (Brad was using an extra ticket), but a rain delay inspired Allen to make pizza, after which we headed to our glorious (though somewhat damp) seats. The kids, grandparents and I only lasted until the fifth inning (which, given the hour delay I thought was pretty good), but Brad and Allen stayed for the whole thing and even managed to get a foul ball out of it.

Saturday was spent with soccer, dance and baseball before we headed to Katherine's for a lovely dinner and garden show. Sunday was devoted to Owen's First Communion, and Monday we all went to work/school while Mom & Dad partook of the DC metro bus system and the Smithsonian Art Galleries.

I took off Tuesday so that I could spend the day with Mom & Dad before they headed back to Iowa, but sadly the elements (and the National Arboretum's schedule) didn't cooperate, and the day was largely spent driving around the monuments in the rain and playing boardgames (Dad won at cribbage; I won at the marble game; and mom was an excellent sport), before I drop them off at National for their trip back to the homeland.

(click here for all Allen's pictures)
(click here for all Grandpa Z's pictures)

Monday, April 28, 2014


The road to Owen's First Communion was not without a few detours. In the fall Owen announced that he didn't want to have a First Communion (I asked him if he even knew what that meant to which he informed me "yes" but that he still didn't want it, though he later grudgingly agreed). Around All Saints Day, I had a bit of a falling out with Owen's Sunday school teacher, Mr. Stephen (a Seminarian) and the Sunday School Coordinator, Ms. Elisa, over mass worksheets, the purpose of teaching the Fatima Prayer (and the "fires of hell") to a bunch of seven year olds, and ignoring parent inquiries while dispensing multiple reminders of the importance of holy days of obligation. By winter, we had reached a detente, though we were late to the Reconciliation service and forgot to sign in resulting in another back and forth with Ms. Elisa.

But eventually, we found our way. Owen had his first confession (he's actually gone twice now -- a feat I hadn't managed until a couple of years ago), did the requisite banner making and church scavenger hunt, tried out unconsecrated host (he faked taking the wine) and then on April 27, 2014 -- the same day that John the XXIII and John Paul II became saints -- Owen had his First Communion to a packed congregation with his loving family in attendance.

Grandma & Grandpa Z flew in for the event, and we were joined by Mom Mom & Grandpa Don, Godmother/Aunt Katherine and Uncle L, as well as cousin Molly. It was a long mass, and the non-Catholics weren't really sure what to take from Father Byrne's homily about not following donkey do-do (it involved getting lost overnight in the Grand Canyon and sticking together, thought I'm not totally sure what the Catholics were supposed to take from it either), but I think everyone appreciated the solemnity and pageantry of it all (well, maybe not everyone...).

After the mass, we skipped out on the cookies and juice reception at the church in favor of the margaritas and chicken tenders lunch that Owen requested (actually, Owen just requested the chicken tenders; the margaritas was all us). Later, we headed back to the house for ice cream cake and so that Owen could make a playdate at his friend Ronan's, and so everyone else could take a nap.

(Thanks to everyone who came and for all the cards and notes from Uncle Bernie, Aunt Ellen, Dave & Kara, and Aunt Jeannine. A special congratulations to Owen's fellow communicants. And to see all the pictures, please click here).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mommy Day

Historically, Owen and I have celebrated Emancipation Day in the District by going paddle-boating in the Tidal Basin -- it used to also involve a trip to the MLK Memorial in keeping with the spirit of the day, but after a failed attempt to find a pedi-cab resulted in a 3 mile death march in 80 degree heat, Owen but the kibosh on that part if the tradition. But this year, Emancipation Day fell in the middle of Spring Break, so we decided to save our adventure until the very last day and include Nora.

This year was particularly awesome. Grandpa Fawcett gave us a ride to the boats where we spent the next 45 minutes meandering about (Nora was steering) in a post-Cherry Blossom festival lull. After a short snack break, we walked (technically, we sneaked) to the Smithsonian metro stop and took the train to Capital South in order to partake in some "Good Stuff" hamburger, fries and the obligatory milkshake. We then we headed over to the Brent Elementary playground to continue to show off our climbing moves, but called Grandpa once we got a little too over-stimulated.

After a little quiet time at home, we headed over to the rec-center to meet Nora's friend, Violet and to try out our new soccer goal. Alas, Nora thought Owen and I were too focused on having fun instead of winning, resulting in an abrupt departure and strong talking to (followed by some My Little Pony, so that Princess Celestia could drive the point home). And bubbles.

Everyone was pretty worn out afterwards, which made finishing Owen's Springbreak homework pack a bit of a challenge (whoever decided to assign poetry to second graders after a week plus break from school should have to sit with said second graders for the hour it takes to write said poem), but I think speak for everyone when I say I can't wait until next year.


Sunday, April 20, 2014


Our Easter traditions are pretty basic: breakfast at the bagel place (long story, but it boils down to our inability to make the 9 o'clock mass at St. Peter's); church at St. Joseph's (conveniently at 10:30 am); and then an egg hunt at Mom Mom's (with Makayla) followed by a lovely dinner.  But really, why mess with perfection?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring Break

Our initial plan for Spring Break involved a family trip to New York, but we hemmed and hawed and then lost our hotel deal and work for both Allen and myself became insane, at which point we decided to go with Plan B. Our hope was to find a camp both kids could attend together, but Nora was too young for most of the camps we looked at and seemed horrified by the one Owen was most interested in, so instead we went the divide and conquer route.

Owen caught the bus at Eastern Market where he headed up to Valley Mill Camp to spend his time canoeing, rock climbing, practicing archery, target practice and building an entire American Indian-inspired armory. After a beautiful first day, we worried that Tuesday's rain and Wednesday's snow would dampen Owen's enthusiasm for the great outdoors, but apparently that wasn't the case and by Friday he was singing camp songs and eating s'mores like an old hand.

Nora meanwhile headed to an Irish Dance camp. Most of the days involved some dancing, some art-and-crafts, a fair amount of free play, and some drama. On Thursday the campers staged, "The Leprechauns and the Castle" where Nora played a princess kidnapped by Leprechauns, found by fairies and saved by knights. Or something like that -- there weren't any spoken parts so it's subject to interpretation, but I'm pretty sure that's what they were going for. Regardless, she had a pretty good time.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Opening Days

Spring is "officially" here, and while old man winter has been stubbornly refusing to leave, the baseball calendar will not be denied.  On Friday the Nats played their home opener, and of course Owen and I were there.  I picked up Owen early from school, and we joined Mom Mom & Grandpa Don at the game.  We took in all the pre-game festivities; cheered mightily as we watched Ian Desmond sprint around the bases for an inside the park home run as Justin Upton pretended the ball was lodged in the fence; booed lustily (and maybe shed a tear or two) when the first ever instant replay challenge at Nats Park went against us sending Desmond back to second; and reveled in the hope and joy that a new baseball season brings, even if Braves spoiled the fun besting the Nats 2 to 1.

The Nats weren't the only ones with an Opening Day this weekend.  Owen moved up to AA little league this year, and his new team, the Rangers, played their first game Saturday morning.  Owen was brimming with excitement for all the new challenges in AA ball, machine pitch, keeping track of outs, and playing with the big kids in second and third grade.  The biggest change though was that Coach tapped Owen to start the game off playing catcher.  He donned all the gear, put on a catcher's mitt for the first time, and crouched behind the plate catching (and blocking) the bullets fired in by the pitching machine.  The whole team had plenty of rust to shake off during the first game, but they beamed with the excitement of a new season.

(click here for all the pictures)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cochon 555

For a while now, Don has been talking up Cochon 555, and this year he convinced Katherine & Lee, Danny & Nancy, and Dad and I to join him, and even got us upgraded to VIP tickets for the event.  Cochon 555 is a pork extravaganza.  Set in the huge space above Union Market, each of the chefs is given a whole heritage pig and tasked with dreaming up their best creations to win over the judges and guests and try to win a trip to the Grand Chochon competition in Aspen.  Our favorite going in was of course Erik from one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, Toki Underground, and he didn't disappoint.  Serving what we all agreed were the tastiest dishes of the night (and previewing what we hope to see at his new H Street place Makketto), Erik won the night and sent us home happy.

Twenty-Twenty-Twenty Six Hours to Go...

Dave & Kara

Uncle Dave and Aunt Kara were in town for a book conference, and managed to extend their stay in order to have 26 hours of fun with us. Allen picked them up at their lodgings while I took Nora to her first day of soccer (where she totally rocked it). After a quick stop to change, Nora and I headed to dance class while Owen, Allen, Dave and Kara played the marble game.

After we finally reunited, it was on. We headed off to Union Market to partake of the latest artesian pleasures and then off to the Atlas Brewery to quench our thirst. The kids weren't particularly excited about that diversion (despite the cornhole, and the Morris dancers waxing poetically about beer), but they were rewarded for their patience with a stop at Atlas Arcade for some X-Men and 80s nostalgia.

Once home, Dave, the kids and myself engaged in a feverish soccer-esque game (there was a ball, kicking and goals, but also keep away and some form of wrestling...). Molly and Tyler joined us for dinner and some sous-vide steaks a la Allen, which Dave ultimately conceded tasted pretty good for boiled meat. Eventually, we put Owen to bed in Nora's room (good thing we still had his old mattress) while Dave & Kara took over Owen's room and his National League adorned bed.

The next morning we had sous-vide eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes and a lot of Avenger adventures and photo ops before Dave & Kara headed to the airport and John & Allen prepared for Cochon 555...

(click here for all of Dave & Kara's pictures)