Friday, January 19, 2007

Lots of Progress!

Because the floors in the front of the house are being refinished, we moved out for a few days. I took the kids by today to see what's been happening and boy were they excited!

Here is the new pergola going up in our garden. We are also, finally, having some proper landscape lighting done to do our garden justice! That big structure to the left is the porta-potty which did double duty as a stabilization device for the posts while the concrete was setting. Bill went out there with a level and the work was perfect!
We have this one cabinet that is stained greened and the granite looks nice here too. My built in desk area is also green like this and I will post a picture later when I can get to that part of the house.

We are also having a small moveable island for the kitchen in this same green. The top will be wood.
This counter has our new kitchen sink in it. The sink caused a bit of a scare.

I ran by the house this morning to check on the kitty cats (Noelle and KC are having kitty-cat-camp in our bedroom while the floors are being refinished downstairs) and the countertop was just being delivered. The sink looked ENORMOUS, so enormous that we thought it couldn't possibly be right. The sink matched the drawings but it didn't look like it would fit centered over the cabinet below. However, our granite already had a hole in it to center the sink over the cabinet. I went upstairs to see the cats to relieve some stress (mine and theirs!).

When I came back downstairs, disaster was averted because the granite guys said they could cut some of the flange off the sink so it would fit in the countertop centered over the cabinet. PHEW! I wonder how many times there have been problems like that I don't even know about! I don't know. And I don't WANNA KNOW. All I can say is that we are very excited to use this kitchen!
Our countertop was delivered today! We had originally planned marble countertops but when we went to pick out a slab, everything in our favorite marble was already reserved. We ended up picking out a slab of very cool black and gold granite I wish I could remember the details about where it was from and exactly what it was but I can't. It was delivered today and we think it looks magnificient!

Monday, January 15, 2007

What Else is New?

I haven't posted in a long time. Bill has gotten reacquainted with his camera and interest in photography and, as such, has done most of the picture-taking and posting over the last month. My New Year's resolution is to play the piano for 15 minutes every day. I've actually been doing this, much to my surprise. I find that Hanon exercises are so mind-numbingly-dull that I can play them and talk with the kids, keep and eye on Lyra, or plan my day at the same time. They are, however, doing their job in bringing some strength and coordination back to my hands. So even though this whole endeavor is very frustrating, I can tell that I will regain my technique (or at least a chunk of it) if I persevere. And I will set a good example for Will and Eva too. Not that they are paying attention to that. I think everyone is sick of hearing Hanon at this point.

In the last two or three weeks, Lyra is growing by leaps and bounds in all ways. She had her 1 year check up last week. 19 lbs 14 oz and 29 inches long (which is something like 25% for weight and between 50% and 75% for height). She squawked once about her shots but no real tears. She is a toughie! She is FINALLY saying Mama (in addition to Dada, Bye-bye and possibly "yum yum"). She can follow simple instructions like "What do you have? Spit it out!" Her favorite food is still banana. Lyra's top two teeth are just starting to poke through so I hope that means more nighttime sleep for all of us. I will take a picture when they are all the way in. Lyra took four or five steps in a row today! She is getting closer to being a walker and that means I am going to have to figure out a real shoe solution. She pulls everything off her feet and I'm not sure I have matching sets of anything left anymore.

That's it for now. We will take more renovation pictures soon. The cabinets are in now and much of the trimwork is done. This week, they are sanding and refinishing the floors in the front of the house. This means we have to move everything in this area (i.e., our "kitchen" and "living room") into the back of the house! What a daunting task! I am sure the pressure of a deadline will work its magic and it will get done.

Look at Eva's Ears!

Eva's been wanting pierced ears for months! We finally made it happen! Aren't they cute? As she put it, "I'm half excited, half scared and half happy!" She was very brave. Miss Donna at Today's Cargo gave her an ice cube to numb her ears first and after that, she didn't feel a thing. Sure wish I'd had that option when I had my ears pierced.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Cabinets

Just about all of our new kitchen cabinets have now been installed. This picture is taken looking south out the window to the garden. The sink will be in the cabinet under the window, with the dishwasher in the open space to the right. I almost hesitate to say this, but it feels like we are getting close the end of the trim carpentry. It seems like it has been going on forever (or at least since before Christmas). We have granite picked out for the counter tops, and I go so see it Monday to decide how it should be cut to show it off to best effect. The wood for the pergola in the garden was delivered today, so I expect that work to start soon. It is great to see the progress being made, but we can't wait for the work to be finished!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tug of War

Today was a classic January global warming day in Alexandria, with 70+ degree weather. Will, Lyra and Dad went to the park, and Lyra crawled around in the grass enthusiastically. She found a stick, and Will started playing tug of war with her. Will had the clear advantage in size and strength, but Lyra showed real determination as her expression attests (click to enlarge the photo for full effect).

The Joys of Older Children

When Will was a baby, he loved to be pushed fast in the stroller, and would cry whenever Dad stopped running behind the stroller. Now that Will is eight (and Dad is eight years older!), it is wonderful that Will wants to push our one year old daughter Lyra, and both seem to love the arrangement.

Light in the Piazza

Last night we went to see “Light in the Piazza” at the Kennedy Center. Light in the Piazza is a wonderful musical play. Most of the press descriptions of the play focus on the fact that it was adapted from a novella by Elizabeth Spencer, but that novella had also previously been adapted as a 1962 movie staring Olivia de Havilland as Meg Johnson and Yvette Mimieux as Clara. From reading reviews of the movie and looking at the movie photos (see poster left) it appears that it also significantly influenced the musical.

In last night’s stage production, Christine Andreas as Meg Johnson really anchored the show and delivered an amazing performance.

Both the music and the story in Light in the Piazza are wonderful and slightly outside of typical fare. The music is more classical and operatic, and the story, while on one level a simple romance, leads to a lot of reflection on the role of emotional and intellectual maturity as they relate to a person’s ability to enter into long term romantic commitments.

The evening was organized by our good friends the Munks and included lots of their other friends. Thanks Jeff and Tamara!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Lyra's First Birthday

Lyra turned one today. It seems like only moments ago that she was born. She is a great and perky baby with an incredible cheerful disposition. She is adored by her older brother and sister (Lyra is not only enough to haress them yet), and of course by mom, dad, family and friends.

She put a lot of energy into her birthday. She tore into her presents, tried to play with as many as she could, and she devoured as much birthday cake as we would let her have. Unlike her older brother and sister at the same age, she stayed awake throughout her first birthday celebration, and really seemed to recognize that this was HER party.

All that partying is hard work. This sippy cup is actually empty - Lyra received a set as a gift - but she sure acted like she was getting a swig of something.

All Mine

Lyra was very aware that she was opening HER presents. She gathered them close, played with them in turn and then actually picked them up and started putting them into a shopping bag to take home. She is the first of our three kids to show such an awareness of the present process on her first birthday. We think watching Will and Eva may be teaching her excess posessiveness.

Can Someone Help Me?

Lyra was very willing to work at the present opening process. She dropped this wrapped "monkey in a box" a couple of times and picked it back up before finally getting it open.

Do You Play?

Before she started opening presents, Lyra did a lot of crawling around and playing with various found objects. (I guess that is the basic definition of what babies do.) She was especially intrigued with this guitar Christmas tree ornament. I wish it had actually made noise, she would have been even more enfatuated with it.

Neon Reindeer

This is actually not a neon reindeer. It is a basic front yard Christmas reindeer that had the unique feature of a head that continuously nodded back and forth. I could not resist a long exposure shot to show the head as a series of streaks of light. With more effort in photo shop, this might get really interesting. Double click the image to enlarge it for best effect.

Will & Eva: Published Artists

Every year at Christmas, our local weekly, the Alexandria Gazette, devotes an issue to publishing the art of local kids. The Gazette includes poetry and some short stories as well as visual art. Almost the entire issues is kids' art, and it does not look like anyone who submits something to be published is actually left out. Will and Eva were very excited to see their art and their names in print.

Floppy Eared Red Dog

Eva won coveted position inside the front cover of the Gazette with a color version of her floppy eared dog. Eva tends toward a distinct style, putting a lot of effort and ornamentation into the frame around even simple drawings. Her work tends to use bright colors and exaggerated features (ears in this case). Her drawings are not as precise and detailed as Will's, but in some ways they are more immediately recognizable in style.

Will of the Dragon

Will's Dragon was published in black & white, but he got his own headline. The original drawing in color shows all the work and detail Will put into his effort.

First Night Alexandria

Alexandria holds a "First Night" celebration on New Year's Eve that is really good - activities for many tastes and age groups spread over an increasingly wide area. Given our kids' ages, we don't generally (ever) make it out until midnight, but we have a lot of fun. The highlight for me this year (and last) was seeing Bill Kirchen at the Torpedo Factory. Kirchen is the former guitar player for Commander Cody and played the unforgettable lead on 'Hot Rod Lincoln'. As this shot of his performance attests, he is getting on in years, but he can still play the guitar - in any style he wants.

Russ Glenn

The iconic singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie actually wrote a variety of children’s’ music in addition to his better known repertoire (This Land is Your Land, etc.). Russ Glenn is a local singer I had never heard of before First Night. He performed Guthrie’s kids' music at the Del Ray Dreamery (oops, I mean the Dairy Godmother, the original name was lost in a trademarl dispute, but we still like it better). Russ played and our kids really enjoyed it.

Will & Eva on New Year's Eve

Will and Eva are becoming more difficult to photograph. When they are posing, it is very obvious (and generally not attractive). Shooting them when they are not posing requires much more patience and quicker reflexes than it used to when they were younger. I took these shots of them during the Russ Glenn show at the Dreamery, and they are pretty fair representations for year end 2006.