Sunday, May 31, 2015

Into the Woods

Cub Scouts Camping - 2015

I am not a camper. While in my lifetime I have deigned to sleep in tents, truck beds, an outfield, and the occasional tipi, it was never for more than one night and it was not without complaint. It's not so much that I hate the outdoors, so much as I celebrate in all that its alternative has to offer: running water; refrigerators; wifi; and the absence of bugs. But we'd missed last year's Cub Scouts camping trip (the boys did a den overnight instead) and Owen really wanted the whole family to go to the Scouts' Weekend extravaganza at Shenandoah Springs, so I caved.

And then Nora broke her arm.

This seemed like a perfectly reasonable excuse for Nora and I to forfeit the camping experience -- as I mentioned to Nora's doctor multiple times -- particularly given the forecast was for rain and unseasonably warm temperatures. But Nora's doctor said that as long as she kept her arm dry she'd be fine and both Nora and Owen really wanted this to be a family affair.

So we went. The rain held off, the temps were mostly mild and the fish were biting more than the bugs. Owen had a blast on the zip-line, canoeing, making and launching a rocket, fishing, and hanging out with his friends. Nora loved lying in the hammock, fishing, having Daddy paddle her around, and oddly enough, the mess-hall dining experience. Both particularly loved the Webelo II's "If I Were Not a Cub Scout, I Wonder What I'd Be?" medley with the clear favorites being: a Girl scout ("Buy my cookies! Buy my cookies! Give me all your cash!"); a Den leader ("Do this! Do that! I think I'll take a nap!"); and a Statue (" " -- you kind of had to be there).

Allen and I were a little less enthusiastic, mostly owing to my going through caffeine withdrawal and the sheer verbosity of Pack 230 leaders ("a terrible death to be talked to death, a terrible way to die!"), but we have to admit that we had some really nice family time and some cool memories. And honestly, if Nora could do it with a broken arm, the rest of us can surely suck it up.

But next year we're bringing a cooler of Diet Coke and some other adult beverages.

(click here for all the pictures)

Our Little Artist

Our Little Artist

Our Little Dancer and our little artist ;-)

National Gallery - May 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015


I finally managed to make one of Owen's Food Prints days, which was fortunate as this was the last Food Prints of the year. Owen helped make a lovely garbanzo bean dish (which he didn't eat) and harvested a lot of greens; I saved the day by correcting Stephen that doubling 1 tablespoon of vinegar results in 2 tablespoons of vinegar, not two cups; and the rest of the kids produced quite the feast: deviled eggs (some produced by SWS's very own Sarah and Louise), Swiss chard, bread with garlic butter, mixed green salad with cilantro lime dressing, strawberry lemonade, and for dessert strawberry-rhubarb bars. Afterwards, the kids partook in SWS's Field Day (and my phone ran out of batteries).

But if you could only make one Food Prints this year, this was definitely the one.

(Click here for pics)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Broken Promises

National Gallery - May 2015

The plan for the weekend was a family trip to Great Falls so that Nora could finally break-in the harness she got for Christmas with an inaugural climb on belay.

Plans changed.

We went to the National Gallery instead.

(click here for all the pics)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Fawcetts and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

It's been a rough week for the Fawcetts. Monday our internet service, which had been intermittent, became non-existant. Tuesday, Allen came home to find that a termite swarm had emerged in our bedroom.

And then came Wednesday.

It started off quite nicely. We all met up at Nora's school for her Knee Bowl Art Show and then headed out to dinner. After a lovely meal al fresco, the kids biked while Allen and I walked home. The kids were racing (and playing "invisible football" though I'm not sure how or why) and instead of having them wait at the corner for us to cross, I told them they could go ahead and turn at the corner. 

This was a mistake.

Owen whipped around the corner and Nora, being the adoring little sister, followed suit. Only her training wheels that we've been holding off on removing until the end of the school year (due to her commute requiring numerous boosts up various hills) didn't corner like they were on rails and she crashed. She was a bit bloody and very tearful, so Allen carried her the rest of the way home (despite my attempts to make her walk). Allen gave her a bath and put some bandaids on her scrapes, we read her some books and put her to bed.

An hour or so later she woke up crying in pain. I went an cuddled with her for a while and got her to fall back asleep, but then she woke again in pain shortly thereafter. It was around this time that I started googling "symptoms broken arms children bikes." After her third time waking up crying in pain, I decided to take her to Urgent Care, where they determined in about 15 minutes that she had a small fracture in her elbow, and that she'd be in a cast for about four weeks.

Now, I don't always give Nora credit for being the brave little girl that she is, but she was pretty amazing Wednesday night. Aside from a few tears when they bent her arm for the x-ray (from what clearly was some intense pain), she didn't cry or complain the entire time we were at Urgent Care. In fact, after about the 10th apology from me I was informed that she had already forgiven me and that I was now being annoying. And also that since it was her left hand she could still write and draw.

A very nice physician assistant wrapped her up and put her in a temporary cast and sling (she gets the real one next week after the swelling goes down) and sent us on our way. Since it was now after midnight, we decided Nora should stay home and miss the field trip she had been looking forward to on Thursday. We also decided she'd take a pass on piano and swim lessons and that our plans to go climbing on Memorial Day were now shot. However, we still needed to come up with an alternative for Friday's author's presentation at school that Nora had spent a month working on and centered on hand puppets.

As you can see, we made it work. Now to just get through the next 3 1/2 weeks...

Monday, May 11, 2015


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Birthday Luxury


It's always good to start planning early for Elaine's birthday.  With Mom Mom's birthday on the same day, and Mother's day right in the mix too, things can get a bit tricky, but back in the Fall I came up with a plan that I thought just might work.  The only problem was I needed to find a date that would work for us, Mom & Don, Katherine & Lee, and Nancy Danny, wait until just three weeks out from that date, and then somehow beat the 10,000 to 1 odds to land one of the most difficult reservations in town -- the rooftop garden at Rose's Luxury on a Saturday night.  With some careful use of the official atomic time, some quick clicking, and a healthy dose of luck we scored the table. It was a beautiful evening, with perfect weather, amazing food, friends and family coming together to celebrate two wonderful women.  Thank you Elaine, and thank you Mom for all the happiness and joy you bring to our lives, and happy birthday to you both.

(click here for all the pictures)

Saturday, May 09, 2015

The Replacements

Kelly's Visit

Kelly is one of our few non-econ friends from Austin. A photographer/book-keeper, mother of three and wife to the lead singer or one of our favorite Austin bands, Grand Champeen, Kelly is a really cool lady that we haven't had the pleasure of seeing since our last trip to Austin back in 2011.

Kelly had decided to celebrate her 40th birthday with her husband Channing in her beloved Pittsburg listening to her beloved Replacements. All was well until Paul Westerberg's throat started hurting on Tuesday, at which point her best laid plans went to hell.

After importing grandparents to watch her three sons, taking off work and flying cross-country, Kelly wasn't quite ready to let the dream die. She remembered that we lived in DC where coincidently the Replacements were scheduled to play on Friday, that Channing knew a guy who knew a guy who had an extra ticket to the show, and that three nights should be enough for even the hardest of rockers to re-cooperate. It seemed like a sign.

So Channing flew back to Austin and Kelly took the bus to DC to hang with us for a few days. She took in the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery, several cello tunes from Owen and even the "Arsenal of Democracy" flyover. Things got a little dicey on Friday -- the metro we put Kelly on to go to the concert broke down for 20 minutes and it wasn't until after she'd hung out for several hours in the neighborhood that Kelly discovered the concert wasn't at the 9:30 Club like we thought, but rather Echostage which is across town and next to nothing. Kelly is now a huge fan of Uber.

In the end, Kelly said it was a great show. And while we're sorry that Channing missed it and that she had to be without her boys for three extra days, we're really glad we got to hang out with her. Hopefully, our next meet-up will be a bit less stressful.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Spirit Party


As a new SWS family, we kind of planned on watching and waiting to see how all the various events and fundraisers worked before getting too involved.  However, as the annual Jazz Auction & Gala was approaching, the Rubens approached all the new 3rd grade parents about hosting a Spirit Party to auction off at the Gala.  Elaine wasn't convinced, but I'm a bit of a sucker for these things, and got it in my head that it would be fun to rent out one of the Skyboxes at a Baysox game for our Spirit Party. Long story short, it was a lot more work than I really anticipated to set everything up, and of course there was all the stress at the auction about whether or not enough people would sign up for our Party, but when the day finally came, it couldn't have gone better.  The weather was stunningly perfect, we had a great group of friends come out for the party, and the game couldn't have been more exciting as we watched the Baysox win 11-9 on a walk-off grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the 9th!  We might even have to do it again next year ;-)

(click here for all the pictures)

Sunday, May 03, 2015

And the Band Played On...

Owen had his second cello recital on Saturday afternoon (after he had helped to clean up the Sherwood Rec Center and had his little league game -- another win for the Pendragon Nationals!).  It's pretty amazing how far he's come given he's only been playing for eight months, and we were incredibly proud to hear his and the rest of the Level B Cellos' rendition of Mahler's Theme from First Symphony (a step up from December's Hot Cross Buns and in proper concert attire this time!).

The cellos were fourth on the program (after the harps, guitars and bass). Afterwards, Owen was off with his fellow musicians leaving Allen, Nora and I to enjoy the violas and a whole lot of violin performances. Nora had spent the entire concert sitting at a table next to us, writing a book about the things she loves. It had seemed like an ideal way to keep her both occupied and quiet, and it would have worked perfectly too had it not been for some precariously stacked textbooks. Unfortunately, as Nora reached for an errant crayon, the table tipped and 40 or so copies of "City of Magnificent Intentions" crashed onto the floor and the backs of the people in the row in front of her, while a bunch of five year olds played "Twinkle, Twinkle."

It made for a painful last 15 minutes of the concert, but once we were at dinner and the kids had chips (and Allen and I had margaritas), it became more of an amusing footnote in Owen's musical journey rather than a completely mortifying parenting failure. Mostly.

Congrats again to Owen for doing a great job and if you'd like to see more pictures, please click here.