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)