Tuesday, December 30, 2008

KC & Noelle

These are our two cats, KC and Noelle.  It is very rare to find them sitting together and willing to look at the camera.  They had been sleeping and I had to wake them for their photo.  Noelle was very curious about what I was doing.  KC just wanted to go back to sleep (and did so about two seconds after this photo was taken).  

Three Wise Men

One of Will's class art projects was to create a nativity scene out of modeling clay.  Will was assigned the Three Wise Men.  These are not painted, they are just done with pieces of different colored clay.  I am not sure which one is Caspar, which one is Melchior and which is Balthasar, but the magus on the left is carrying myrrh, the one in the middle is carrying gold and the one one on the right is supposed to be carrying frankincense, except it was lost in transit.  I love all the detail of different hat styles, the little feet, etc.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Day

Or should I say "kiss-em day" as Lyra does! You might guess from the little video clip included here that Santa brought me a new toy! I got a little Flip video camera (it showed up very late on Xmas eve) and it was a lot of fun to have on Christmas day.

Clearly I still need a lot of work to take decent video. I added the music because there are sections with no talking but unfortunately, there's no way to fine tune the volume of the music as compared wit the video sound. I mean, I did select the "Play softer than the video" option but that's the only option...there's no "play really really soft" option. There's now way that I can find to make credits that scroll or to change the font on the title and credit screens. Picky, aren't I???

Still, this is much easier to use than our other camera, else there would be no video out here at all. That camera isn't exactly hard but it is more involved and I have to relearn every time how to use it. And the charger for the battery is always AWOL. And I never did figure out how to get the videos off it and onto the computer. So the Flip is much better and I am very excited! Cristin got one too and I am sure she loves hers as much as I love mine.

Unfortunately, Frank Jr. was so sick on Christmas Day we didn't even see him! And then Josie got it and I think maybe Mom too. We have our fingers crossed that the rest of us stay healthy.

What I cannot believe is how much TRASH we have generated. Despite trying to have a simpler holiday and recycling all the boxes and paper, we are drowning in trash. I am thankful that our trash/recycling pick up is tomorrow but I am embarrassed at the big pile outside! Fortunately there is another family on our street now with children so we won't be the only ones with a heap out front.

I will post more pictures later tonight. Will did some posting of his own, as Santa brought him a new digital camera to replace the one he left out in the rain last spring. Here's Will's new blog: www.twinkieandfriends.blogspot.com.I hope he will update it regularly so he gets writing and typing practice.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookie Decorating!

FINALLY I made some gingerbread cookies for the kids to decorate. I don't seem to find time to do this very many times during the year but it is so fun and not as much of a pain as I always think it is going to be before I start.

Eva's buddy, Schyler, came over for a sleepover and they are having a lot of fun! It is always nice to have Schyler over because she is cool to have Lyra there and does a very good job of looking out for her. You can see her helping Lyra decorate a cookie. I think Schyler may be a teacher some day.

The girls decorated their cookies with royal icing, sugar sprinkles and those pens with the edible ink that you can get now. They don't work as well as I'd hoped they would but the are not bad. When I bake the rest of the cookie dough, I am going to dry painting on some of them BEFORE baking with colored egg yolk. I might actually need to buy another paintbrush or two to do this because all my good supplies seem to be AWOL. I do not know what happens to all my stuff.

Will and I waited until the girls were done before decorating our cookies.
Results are below
Posted by Picasa

The Finished Product

Here's the final result, although I have a bit more cookie dough in the fridge to bake and also need to bake a bunch more for upcoming events. I didn't take a picture of the resulting mess but you know, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lyra's Last Day of School

Today was Lyra's last day of school before Christmas break.  Her class ended early so she could go to carol singing and get a candy cane (in her right hand) and a sleigh bell (around her neck). 

She had a great time and actually sang a few songs (Jingle Bells).   

Cat Work

We have two cats.  This is what they do during the day.  They are not affected by the economic crisis.  A bad day for them is not having their litter box cleaned.

Lessons & Carols at National Cathedral

Every year National Cathedral School (girls) and St. Albans (boys) perform Christmas 'Lessons and Carols' at the National Cathedral.  The different singing groups from each school perform various carols along with readings of Christmas lessons.  

Will sang with all of the Form A & B (grades 5 and 6) boys, as well as with the C B A Chorus (this picture), an elective singing group of boys in grades 4 through 6.  

The Cathedral was packed for this event.  A large proportion of NCS and STA boys and girls performed, hence many parents attended.  Will is on the very far right in this photo.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lyra Decorating the Tree

Lyra is almost 3 years old, and this is the first Christmas that she has been 'in the moment' in terms of all the activity and expectation.  She knows all about presents, Santa, going to get the tree, etc.  As soon as we got the tree home she wanted to decorate it, and when we finally set the tree up, she had the honor of hanging the first ornament.  

The Big Tree

We have roughly 11' ceilings, and last year had a smallish (~7') tree that really looked over matched in its space.  This year we went for a bigger tree and found one that was reasonably narrow (so as not to take up the whole room) but also over 9' tall.  This meant that all tree trimming activity required a ladder.  

Eva Celebrating the Christmas Tree

I am actually not entirely sure why Eva is so fired up in this photo.  She really loved decorating the tree, especially putting the angel on the top.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

More on the Tree Trimming

Everything Cathleen says in her long post below is accurate, including me saying the 'f-word' when trying to untangle the defective lights from the top of the nine foot tree standing on a ladder getting my arm perforated by the blue spruce.  I thought I said it under my breath, but 8 year olds have good hearing.  

Other than the lights, we mostly had fun decorating the tree, though some egg nog would have been very nice.  

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thought for the Day

Styrofoam packing peanuts are the work of the devil.


This is a cruddy photo because I took it on my phone. My digital camera is AWOL. It was behaving very strangely anyway and I have asked Santa for a new one. Bill's cameras are intimidating and so all I have right now is the camera on my blackberry and I am pretty darn thankful to have it!

We cut down the tree last weekend and that was great fun! But then the kids naturally wanted to put it up and decorate it right away. We really didn't have a big enough chunk of time to do it during the week so we managed to stave the task off until this weekend. Yesterday morning, I took a day off from running and started putting the lights on instead. Last year, I got all the lights on the tree and a bunch of them didn't work so I had to take them all down, get new lights and do it again. This year, Will tested all the lights first and I got the "all clear!" I thought I was set, but still it was a debacle, just like last year.

I hauled the big ladder out of the greenhouse. You can see the tree is in the doorway between the living room and library which means I have to walk down the hallway and into the library from the other side to get to the other side of the tree. The tree is so tall I had to move the ladder into the other room a couple of times as I put the lights around the top of the tree. I finally got to use a chair in the other room instead of using the ladder but going up and down and around, I still worked up a sweat (so I felt totally justified in not running that morning!). I ran out of lights pretty close to the bottom but figured it would be easy enough to buy and add one more strand. I plugged them in and......half of the lights on two of the strands would not come on!!!!! It was difficult to refrain from cussing in front of the kids but I managed, mostly because the kids were not really around. I fixed one strand but could not fix the other one. In disgust, I told Bill he had to finish the lights.

This morning, Bill tried to figure what was wrong with the top strand (because OF COURSE that was where the problem was). Next thing I know, Eva comes running into the kitchen, "Daddy said the f-word!" All the the kids were Very Excited about this unprecedented (at least unprecedented as far as they were concerned) event. Poor Bill! Lyra is probably going to tell her preschool class that "Daddy said the f-word" although of course she does not know what the f-word is. I went to the drugstore and bought more lights and finally we got the tree lit and decorated without anymore swearing. We sure could have used some egg nog and next year, we will prepare accordingly.

Everyone says we should get a pre-lit tree and it certainly is tempting. But I bet there would be some cussing involved in figuring how to get it in and out of some storage area that we don't have and then trying to assemble it. Next year, I am going to advertise on my local listserv for someone to come over and put the lights on the tree. This is definitely a job worth outsourcing!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lyra Got a Haircut

Lyra officially looks like a little girl now. I'm a little bit sad but also excited not to have to cut any more tangles out of her hair. She likes her new do! Will and Eva were not so sure yesterday when the deed was done but they are used to it now.

We shouldn't have to get it cut for another year now, although I expect we will because Lyra likes to go to the beauty shop and have her hair done. She is such a girlie!

I am realizing that there are many many posts on this blog related to Lyra and Eva's hair. I might have to make that its own category.
Posted by Picasa

Finding a Xmas Tree

We cut our own tree last weekend at Snicker's Gap and that, once again, worked out very well. It's about an hour away, the have lots of hot cider available and they are also very organized about getting you set up to cut your tree and then getting your tree ready for you to take home.

Snicker's Gap had Douglas Fir and Colorado Blue Spruce trees. The Douglas Fir are much easier to work with but the Blue Spruce look so much wilder and fun that we went with one of those. Unfortunately they are PRICKLY. Putting the lights on and decorating will not be fun. However, the prickliness should easily keep the cats and children at bay.

It was very cold for the tree cutting. We pulled out all the ski-wear to do it. This is Lyra's first Christmas where she really is excited and knows what's going on. She knew we needed to pick out a big tree since our ceilings are so high. She promptly picked out several 5 foot trees for us to take home because they looked plenty big to her. It was darling!
Posted by Picasa
Timber! Will is literally pushing the tree over. I thought I had a picture of him sawing it but I can't find it. Selecting the tree was a major challenge because each big kid had a favorite tree and wanted "theirs" to be The One.

We finally had to make an executive decision before Lyra got lost and we all froze to death.
Posted by Picasa
How's that for team work?

It was soooooo cold and the kids had to pull the tree up hill for part of the way.
Posted by Picasa

Gingerbread Houses

My friend, Cheryl, makes and decorates these extraordinary gingerbread houses and she made houses for Will and Eva to decorate about a week ago. For all the baking I like to do, this is an activity I have never attempted. The final products were great! Eva is horribly out of focus here but that's what I get for using my phone to take the photos.
Posted by Picasa
Here's Hammy with Will's house. That is a UFO in the left foreground there.

You can see Cheryl's in the background. Hers is exquisite.
Posted by Picasa
The house on the left is Cheryl's and the house on the right is Eric's. Aren't they magnificient????
Posted by Picasa

Look at Lyra's Hair!

Had trouble getting this photo, this was the best I could do. Isn't her hair funny? We have a couple of tents that are worth well beyond whatever we paid for them in terms of the amount of fun the kids have had with them. A special feature of the tent is the static electricity it generates, especially in the winter!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bill to the Rescue!

I thought I was being so effcient! I dropped Will at music theory and went to the grocery store right near his class because we are out of a lot of staples. Then I thought I'd pick him up after that and take him downtown for a sleepover, then quick drive home, meet my fairy Godmother and Voila! Be ready for a night of Xmas fun. But NoooOOOOOOoooo.

The grocery store is packed. People clearly are expecting snow because the milk cabinet was empty. After standing in a line long enough to read an entire Good Housekeeping, I discover that my wallet is at home next to my laptop and not in my purse. They wouldn't let me just type in my credit card number so Bill is having to drive up here with his wallet. I am standing here looking like a dork! Ms. Fairy Godmother is going to have a lot of work to do. Bill will surely need attitide adjystment (as will I!).

How many of you have done this? Hopefully I am not alone.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Cheryl and Todd hosted this year's Thanksgiving. Eric and Kevin came to play at our house in the morning so Cheryl do some cooking unencumbered by children, then we took the kids over in the afternoon. Mom and Dad came too! It really was a lot of fun and we all are so thankful to have our friends and family. I posted a few photos below. The rest are in the video here. Bill took all the photos so he isn't in any of them. But he was there yesterday, really he was!
Eva carefully planned matching outfits and hairstyles.
Posted by Picasa
Will likes jello!
Posted by Picasa
In order to get pie, the kids had to perform. Eric and Kevin did an impressive rendition of Piano Man. I wish we had been organized enough to record it. Eva sang her Castle on a Cloud song and Who Will Buy (from the musical Oliver). I think Will played one of his Streabogg piano pieces. Fortunately, the adults, having made the rule, got to eat pie without having to do anything extra.
Posted by Picasa
Lyra slept through the entire meal and woke up just in time for pie. We did manage to get her to eat two helpings of turkey and sweet potatoes before she got her own pie. She really dug in!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I love my Blackberry!

So I am here in the carpool line with nothing to do.

Eva wanted to know why barbershops always have that pole outside (we had passed a couple of barber shops on the way here). And I could use my blackberry to look it up! I knew it was from medieval times but that was all I knew. For those of you who want to know, the symbol dates back to when barbers also did tooth extractions and surgery. The brass basin on top is for the leeches, the one on the bottom is to catch the blood, the pole is the staff the patient gripped to encourage blood flow, and the stripes are bloody and clean bandages. Yuck. Bet you wish I hadn't told you!

I also got to look up "cornucopeia" in Eva's class this morning because I thought it meant horn of plenty and also an over abundance; someone else thought it was from mythology. We were both right!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It worked!!

I don't know how to get the text next to the picture though. All that white space is ugly. But I like this concept! Sometimes what keeps me from making a blog update is not wanting to sit down at my computer. Or not being home to do it.

No rest

This is an experiment. Supposedly I can update our blog from my phone. I don't have a great photo to use so I just took one of what's going on here. Lyra is interrupting KC's nap to give him some love.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eva's First Singing Recital

Eva has been taking a class at the Little Theatre of Alexandria to learn to sing Broadway music. She loves to sing and has been wanting to learn how to sing in front of people. Her recital was last night. We did video it (well, Will did) and I don't have that file yet but here is her song. She sang Castle on a Cloud from Les Miserables. Unfortunately, the piano is almost louder than Eva and I can't fix that. But you can still hear her if you listen carefully. I can't even sing that song because it is so sad. Little girls seem to like it anyway; another girl in her class sang it too.

There were 15 or 18 kids in the class. Songs had to be from musicals written before 1980 and the teacher worked with each student to ensure they were picking a song appropriate for their voice. Kids ranged from 7 to mid-teens. Songs came from the King and I, Oliver, the Lion King (I think that's not pre-1980) and Song of the South and a few other musicals. Some of the children, like Eva, had never done anything like this before; others clearly had experience. Everyone did reallly well and no one was rattled if they had to start over. Eva's instructor did a great job of creating a supportive environment where everyone could feel comfortable taking risks in front of the group.

There were a lot of people in that recital room, figure two parents per kid and many siblings. I do not think I could have sung by myself in front of all those people, at least not without some tequila.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


This is a looooooong overdue post about our summer vacation. We spent the last week of August on the shores of Sebago Lake at Migis Lodge. This was a perfect family vacation because there were lots of outdoor activities that we could enjoy together (and that would tire the kids out), easily available babysitting, and very good food! I walked around the main lodge to the office to check in, saw the lake view, and immediately decided we had to go back next year. And our vacation hadn't even started yet!

Here's our cabin (Pinetop) and a view of the sunset over the lake.

What's Fun?

After we arrived and got settled into our cabin, we went to happy hour, and it was happy! See Eva and Lyra having a good time? Our cabin was very close to the lake and there were canoes, kayaks and small sailboats to take out. There were hiking trails populated with fungi in every color of the rainbow because the summer had been so rainy and wet. Lyra was especially fascinated with the mushrooms. There was also a game lodge and one very exciting bingo night! Will insisted on staying through the entire thing.

Will and Eva Discover Waterskiing

One of the greatest things about Migis was the ski boat that was at the dock every afternoon to take anyone who wanted to go skiing around the lake. Younger kids went on a boogie board behind the ski boat. More advanced skiers did the slalom ski. We stuck with plain old water skiing and it was lots of fun even when it was cold. (Notice that photos of Bill and me waterskiing are conspicuously absent!) Lyra was afraid of the ski boat for the longest time. However, she says next year that she wants to "tummy board."