Monday, December 31, 2007

Opening Presents

Lyra loved opening her birthday presents, and Eva wanted to help or watch every step of the way.
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Eva goes to an indoor climbing gym every Saturday. She climbs the high walls that require a belay (hence the ropes) as well as the lower walls (boulders) that just have thick pads to cushion any falls. Eva has loved climbing since she first tried it when she was five years old. Lyra at the bottom on the left is too young to climb, but she wants to try - she walked up to the wall and jumped to try and reach a handhold.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Over the Mountain & Through the Woods..

To Grammy & Coach's house we went. After celebrating Christmas at our own house and opening (many) presents we headed to Frank & Emily's house for a wonderful Christmas dinner. We had delicious food, a nice nap (me) watched an old Batman movie (Will & Eva) and generally had a very peaceful time. Lyra can just barely reach the doorbell if she REALLY tries.
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Growing Up

Some photos allow us to see the person a child may become as they grow older. I think this is a window to the young lady Eva will soon be.
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Gymnastics Practice

If you think this looks easy, you should try it. Eva is touching her toes to the back of her head. She love gymnastics and decided she needed to do a little demo in front of the Christmas tree.
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Lookin' at Me

Will was goofing around looking at himself in the mirror. His face in this photo is actually taken in the mirror, and it is a really good shot of what he looks like (e.g. what Mom and Dad would like him to look like when he is not being belligerent or hamming it up for the camera).
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Oooh! See my Doggie

Lyra really enjoyed this Christmas. She was not quite old enough to experience all the anticipation felt by the older kids (though she did have an early go at opening a few presents). However, this morning she was fully 'in the moment' and loved discovering all of her presents. The dress she has on in this photo was one of her presents, and she had to put it on as soon as she saw it.
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New Cutlery

I am not sure why Lyra was so fired up about her new fork and spoon, but she sure was. She loves to eat, and I think she was happy to have another cutlery option.
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Lyra received many presents, but this is one of her favorites. It is a soft stuffed doll and Lyra loves it. Lyra is almost two and has the word 'mine' down pat as she demonstrated to anyone who tried to separate her from her doll.
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I Love the Sweater!

I have almost this same photo from last year, with a different garment. I think neither Cathleen nor I ended up with as many clothing gifts this year as last. This sweater was Will's gift to Mom. Dad, Will and Lyra went to the store, Dad picked out a sweater while Will chased Lyra around the store. Teamwork.
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Kristmas Kitty

He may be hard to spot, but those eyes in the center of the photo are KC. He adopted a spot amongst the presents under the Christmas tree as one of his preferred hiding spots over the past couple of days. Needless to say the presents are now gone. He still likes the base of the tree (and pawing the garland), but the concealment effect is diminished.
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Getting Going

Our tree is in the doorway between the library (where the stockings hang) and the living room. We started out in the library going through the stockings, then moved around the other side of the tree where Santa had left the majority of the presents.
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Christmas Crier

Will was the first person up this morning, as about 5:15AM. He spent about 45min singing Christmas Carols to himself until he decided everyone else needed to get up. Will knows a lot of carols, and sang them with vigour, I think in the hopes that the rest of us would wake up (which we did). Eventually Eva also woke up and decided we all needed to go attack the stockings and presents. Lyra mercifully slept for a while longer.
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Rite of Passage

This was Lyra's first visit to Santa. She was so excited until it was her turn. Then, as you might expect, she wanted nothing to do with Santa. But this was a very nice and experienced Santa. He deftly handled Will's request for an XBox and managed the picture pose with a terrified Lyra. If you look closely on the left, you will see that I am actually holding Lyra and leaning out of the picture; that is my cheetah print raincoat there. Lyra is crying but it is easier to tell that in the photo print. Now I need to get a frame so this picture can join our collection on the mantle!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Potomac River

This is the Potomac River looking north from the point where the Chain Bridge crosses from DC into Virginia. The river looks so small here, not much more than a stream, yet only a mile or so south the Potomac is close to a mile wide. Much of the granite to build DC was quarried from along the Potomac here and further north. This is technically part of the 'Potomac Gorge' and as you travel north through Great Falls the Potomac narrows even further and becomes a torrent that is both a great place for kayaking and the scene of many drownings as people slip off the rocks into the rapids.
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Animals Managing their Environment

Will thought this was a beaver dam, but I suspect it is too small, and I did not see any evidence of a beaver house or den. Still, this small dam and another to its right out of the photo were clearly made by animals. This dam blocks a small stream that runs parallel to the Potomac in its overflow zone. I drive over the Chain Bridge at least once a week, and in the early morning this pond is almost always home to a Blue Heron that stands on the rock in the middle of the pond. The work of the muskrat or beaver that built this dam benefits the heron, the ducks that swim in the pond and probably many other animals and I am curious if these other animals reward the dam builders in some way.
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Milkweed Pods

I was at a dinner recently where Mark Anderson spoke. I was a little tired, and Mark sometime takes ten paragraphs to say ten sentences, but I was really struck by one of Mark's points. Mark addressed biology as a source of design inspiration and he made the point that when a function has emerged in nature, the natural design is usually the BEST design for that particular function. E.g. fish generally translate energy into motion more efficiently and effectively than any human design to do the same thing. I think the airborne distribution of seeds by plants like the milkweed is a great example of this.
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Milkweed Blowing Away

There was a good breeze and these milkweed pods were breaking up and dispersing their seeds. I think this is a great example of the convergence of beauty and function.
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Will Spielberg

Sometimes it seems like Will thinks he is Steve Spielberg's long lost cousin. For about the past year he has been using the family video camera to make his own movies. After his first work behind the lens I edited the film in iMovie. Will quickly pushed me aside and now knows iMovie far better than I do.

The movies almost all feature Sniffler, a stuffed gerbil and Sniffler's numerous stuffed animal friends. Plot and dialog can be weak, but there are usually lots of stuffed animals flying off buildings and driving around in toy cars.
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Beautiful to Behold, Divine to Consume

We smoked the turkey outside on the grill this year, which resulted in a bird that was tasty and mouth wateringly gorgeous. Of course, by the time it was carved and at the table it looked nothing like this, but that is why I took the picture.
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Not (Yet) Named Game

Will took most of Thanksgiving morning when the rest of us were cooking and designed his own ancient history themed board game.

He made his own game cards and even his own die (I, II, III, IV, V, VI of course). He plays Age of Empires on the computer and I think that was an influence, but he is also very interested in ancient history and he used that knowledge to full effect.
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The game that Will designed has both a board like Monopoly or Life, and a Role-Play area where players roll dice to simulate combat (a la Katana). The board itself is pretty complex with four primary cards (Relic, Talisman, True Cross and Holy Grail) required to be in place for the person who draws the Aegis card to win. Or something like that.

The individual spots on the board that a player can land on all draw from ancient history. They include "Design Coliseum, Collect Reward", "Cowardice at the Battle of Thermopylae, Move Back 2 Spaces", "Slave Trade" (which is the the corner square akin to Jail in Monopoly), and my favorite "Assassinate Xerxes, Collect Reward".

I played with Will and realized the rules were a work in progress, but he has thought through quite a lot. A new player gets both money and food. With money you can buy cities - but you need food to buy an army.
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Monday, November 05, 2007

A Cat Ballet

I took Eva to a Washington Ballet performance of Where the Wild Things are and it was great! Very innovative, lots of fun and just right for a child's attention span. Eva put on her own ballet here at the house. She likes to do dance performances for us but she hadn't done one in costume for awhile.
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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Here's a better view of Eva's halloween costume. Will crammed himself in there.
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I wish I could have captured the frenzy and energy of this cat and mouse ballet created by Eva. Lyra wanted to dance too.
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CHARGE! Somehow we don't have a family photo and I don;t knnow why because somebody definitely took one. Maybe it was not on my camera. Bill and I dressed as Romans too although most people took us to be Mr, and Mrs. Bacchus.
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