Sunday, August 28, 2016

Party Madness

Nora's 7th B-Day Party
Nora's gotten really into science this year -- she and Allen regularly play with a chemistry kit she has, she loved the engineering class she took in aftercare and this summer she built a robot at Mad Science camp. So a birthday party devoted to experiments with 14 little girls seemed like a brilliant way to celebrate.

And in the end, it was -- a very loud, but brilliant, idea. There were fireballs and slime and explosions and color changes and dancing and screaming and even cotton candy. But mostly, there were 14 little girls that had an amazing time getting their STEM stuff on.

(To see all the birthday pictures, please click here.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

School Daze 2016

First day 2016

Today was Owen's first day of 5th grade (and last first day at SWS) and Nora's first day of 2nd grade. Unfortunately, Allen was too ill to join us for drop-off which meant that capturing this moment for posterity fell to me. Please rest assured that no children were harmed in the staging of this picture and Owen was far more excited for the day than it appears.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


10 years. Double digits. An entire decade of watching Owen evolve from a jaundiced, sleep-renouncing newborn with a disproportionately large head, to a... kid. A kid who will quiz you on the Revolutionary War, Greek Mythology, Zoology, parts of the brain and Pok√©mon characters in a single afternoon. A kid who will tell a joke or interject a snarky comment, but will then tear up if he doesn't like how you laughed at it. A kid who hates Donald Trump, loves Elvis Costello and plays a mean OK Go on the cello. And while there are still moments when Owen's youthfulness is on full display -- when he sulks after being corrected or rides the tricycle across the living room, or just experiences the kind of unadulterated joy that adults can never seem to achieve -- a more mature side is emerging. Owen's becoming someone who listens to the news, asks pointed questions and has surprising insights. Someone who tries to cheer people up by finding a bright side. Someone who takes moral stands for causes he believes in. And someone who can beat me at corn hole without any handicaps.

I love all sides, very much. Happy birthday, Owen, it's been an amazing 3,653 days.
  1. Ah, the suite life.
  2. Some days, your amygdala just can't take it.
  3. "I threw myself to the wolves, only to learn of the tenderness in their howl, and the loyalty in their blood." ~ Isra Al-Thibeh
  4. Orchestra and Chorus are two very distinct things. Something you might want to clarify before agreeing to join the wrong one.
  5. It's easier to be a good loser, when you steal home under the tag.
  6. "Seriously?"
  7. Rick Riordan was mistaken: Mount Olympus hasn't actually relocated to the top of the Empire State Building.
  8. Two words: bone scythe.
  9. It's not easy, being green.
  10. Sometimes life comes down to a single moment, when all eyes are on you watching to see if you will succeed or fail. A lot of times in your life, you'll come up empty: drop the ball resulting in the game winning run; miss the tie-breaking question; flub a note during your solo. It happens to us all, and it's a disappointment that we all learn to cope with. But sometimes, you come through in the clutch. And those moments are glorious.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Iowa Summer 2016

Iowa Summer 2016

After the tumultuous start to the trip things settled down a bit in Iowa.  The sweet corn was ready as soon as we arrived, so there was plenty of corn to harvest, cut and freeze well before cornfest. Katherine & Lee made their first trip out to Iowa since Nora's baptism, and of course Katherine made sure there were plenty of games and tournaments for everyone.

Cornfest was a blast.  Katherine organized the 2016 Dam Cornhole Tournament, and she and Lee gave it their best shot in the second annual sweet corn eating contest.  They were no match for me though, as apparently speed sweet corn eating is my calling. I finished my four ears in a record 1 minute 49 seconds, while Lee came in second, 44 seconds behind me.


Our second week was full of farming and fun.  Ellen & John came for a visit, we saw Margret and Alex Hoover ahead of Hooverfest (Margret had plenty to say about the election of course;-), plus we took on our big Pond project for the year.  We used the pile of huge rocks that came from the foundation of an old barn to build a retaining wall along the South edge of the Pond between the dock and the damn, and built a fan ramp up to the dock.  The most exciting part of the project was putting in the giant fishing rock, which was almost too big to move with the tractor and excavator (Ken went up on three wheels briefly trying to move it with the tractor, and we had to carefully roll it into place with some special maneuvering to get the right side facing up).  Something was missing though when we finished, the gravel ramp just didn't quite look right next to the beautiful rock retaining wall, so Kent and I came up with a plan to pave it with limestone (which of course Kent just happened to have a pallet of), and with that the project was complete. Just another day of life on the farm.

Iowa Summer 2016

(click here for all the pictures)