Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas in Iowa 2015

Christmas 2015 in Iowa
We left a balmy DC on a Wednesday to head to Iowa for Christmas, where the temperatures were moderately lower but the snow no more apparent. But the absence of a white Christmas was more than made up for by the presence of cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles (Uncle Bernie and Uncle Pete even made it by) and the release of Star Wars VII (Nora declined to go and Owen didn't like the ending and tried to warn others as if he had known that ***SPOILER*** he never would have gone).

We only had one full day of the whole crew as Dave and Kara had to head to Chicago to meet up with Kara's sister and parents, but we managed to get in dinner, presents, a couple of rock concerts, a whole lot of pictures (including one of Santa in the act!), pancakes a la Olivia and even got to hang out in the new sunroom Grandma and Grandpa Z finished hours before we all arrived.

Steve, Becky and the kids had to hurry back to Chicago iso that Olivia could perform for half time at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans with the school band. But not to worry, as we still had the Fawcett side of the family to hang out with. Despite a massive ice storm, we braved the backroads (and narrowly avoided a couple of ditches) in order to have a lovely lunch at Ken and Helen's with Grandpa Fawcett, Leanna, Grace and Grant (and Grandpa and Grandma Z).

Then we packed up and headed out the next day (to avoid a second storm on its way) in order to get back for our second Christmas celebration in Maryland.

(To see all the Iowa Christmas pics, click here).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

SWS Winter Concert 2015

Mom Mom and Grandpa Don missed Owen's Sinfonia concert due to a baby shower while Katherine, Lee and Grandpa Fawcett missed it in order for Katherine to run a marathon, Lee to run a half one and Grandpa Fawcett to watch. Not to worry, we told them, not only does Owen have a second concert with the newly formed SWS orchestra, and a duet in the new SWS chorus, but Nora would also be performing that holiday classic, "The Crawdad Song" with her classmates at the first annual SWS Winter concert.

The concert was scheduled for 6:00 pm which was a brilliant choice by the SWS administration in order to insure maximum attendance, but a disaster for the SWS administration in terms of adhering to fire codes as the parents, grandparents and other loved ones of 270 students descended into a gymnasium designed for an audience of 300 tops. It was a standing room only situation by the time I arrived at 5:40. By the time Katherine, Lee and John showed up (about 10 minutes after) it was an overflow situation.

But despite the mania, it was a really good, albeit a seasonally odd program. I'm genuinely not sure what the preschool and pre-K kids were singing but the kindergartners performed "Apples and Bananas" and "Little Bunny Foo Foo;" the second graders paid homage to the sixties with "Three Little Birds" and "Yellow Submarine;" the third graders sang "Albuquerque Turkey" and the "Hokey Pokey."

Nora got to show her flair for drama while demonstrating how to properly mourn dying crawdads (she had practice with jellyfish;-).

Owen and the chorus poised such existential meteorological questions as, "Who can see the wind?" and "Why are there so many songs about rainbows?"

And for the grand finale, the entire fourth grade, many of whom had only been playing their instruments for two months, covered "Eek!" and "Twelve Bar Blues."

It was a pretty impressive show, though I think everyone was ready for dinner at Liberty Tree afterwards, where Allen avoided crawdads but did take in a lobster roll.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Owen's cello playing has come a long ways since his first DCYOP concert.  A solid year of private lessons coupled with additional sectionals now that SWS has its own orchestra means that the pieces Owen now plays are more interesting and the manner in which he (and his fellow orchestra members) plays them is far more enjoyable. Added to that, the audience was encouraged to make noise this year (as opposed to last Spring's accidental contribution), making it a pretty great concert all around.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Nora's 1st Lost Tooth
At Nora's dentist appointment in September, Dr. Jackson announced that Nora had some loose teeth with some permanent ones on the move. This was news to us, but as she was clearly of age, we started to make preparations for the big day (ie we found her tooth fairy box and Allen lectured Nora on the beauty of exponential growth to preempt any disappointment for only getting a penny for her first tooth) and waited. And waited. Months passed and still nothing.

Well, not nothing -- Nora's teeth could practically do 360s in her mouth and her permanent tooth appeared to be coming in between the loose ones in question. Finally, after a few failed attempts and Nora's blessing, Allen pulled Nora's first tooth and a delighted Nora got to show off to all her friends.

Now if we could just get the second one out she can proclaim "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!"

Nora's 1st Lost Tooth

Update: The second tooth held out for a long time -- so long that we became a bit worried that it was going to become a problem (it was kind of on its side and seemed to be re-treating into the gum), so after some aggressive loosening from Elaine, Nora pulled the second one on January 4th, by which time, her replacement teeth were pretty much already in.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Botanic Delight


The tree is up, holiday cards are arriving, and it's time for the annual Botanic Gardens Holiday Reception.  Next to free parking with your zoo membership, there's no better deal in DC than a U.S. Botanic Gardens membership to skip the line for the annual train show, and instead attend the preview night with wine & cheese, trains, lights, and the kids having the run of the place for the night.  Katherine & Lee came down, and Jackie was in town, so she and Dad joined us as well.  Of course we also had to sneak in a side trip to the National Christmas Tree in front of the Capitol to boot.  If only the Hawkeyes would have won the Big 10 championship game, it would have been a perfect evening ;-)


Saturday, December 05, 2015

Ice Capades

Nora was invited to her friend Milena's birthday-skating party. Initially all the kids were using the equivalent of skating walkers to glide across the ice. After a few passes though, Nora decided to try it on her own. She was a little rocky at first, but by the end, she was doing twirls and even making a new friend.

 (To see all the skating pictures, click here.)