Monday, June 30, 2008

Test post

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This is a test

Can I really post from my Blackberry?? If so, that will be SWEET!

A Night of Climbing

I took Eva to climbing team tonight. Here is the best photo of the evening because I really do not know how to take indoor distance pictures with my point-and-shoot digital camera (or any camera for that matter) so have patience with the photos that follow.

I have no personal experience with this sport at all but I am coming to realize that the analytical component is as important as the strength and technique components if not more so. Ideally you review your climb before you start and plan accordingly. I love this quote!
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Eva looks like a daddy long legs. Her long arms and legs and her flexibility are real assets in this sport. It was fun to watch her climb; I don't have the opportunity to do that very often. Eva just loves to do this and she is working so hard! She says she is not competitive but I think Eva is going to find her competitive spirit in this sport.
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This was difficult to photograph because there was a big light right over the woman climbing here but try to see what she is doing. She is WAY UP HIGH and the part of the wall she is climbing on is slanted over the floor so she is hanging down from it. This kind of climb is really difficult because gravity is pulling your body away from the wall. I don't even know how she is doing this.

I am in respectable shape but I feel like the Pillsbury Doughboy whenever I take Eva to climbing. Most of the people in the climbing gym are very lean and ripped. It takes so much strength to do this sport that I am not even sure which area of the body is most important. Some day I have to conquer my fear of heights and add a bit of climbing to my fitness routine.
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I'm tired of sitting still, can we go home now? Lyra has been very patient here. Bill normally takes Eva to and from climbing but is en route to ROME at the moment so I got to do it tonight. It has been a lot of fun to watch her climb! It has been less fun trying to keep Lyra off the climbing wall, away from the big fans, away from the weight machines etc. etc. etc. I swear the only time she was still was for this photo. Doesn't she look like Will? And Bill?
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Hoooooooaaahh! Sometimes Eva is not tall enough to reach a hold. She is learning how to rock her body and lunge for it.
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Birdfeeder = Cat TV

There was no way to get the cats AND the birdfeeder in the picture at the same time. I bought a supposedly squirrel-proof birdfeeder at the kids' school auction this year and now there are now lots and lots of birds and squirrels on the patio now. For birds, we mostly have cardinals, finches, sparrows and the occasional chickadee or blue jay. For squirrels, we have the fat kind.

KC and Noelle are even more obsessed with the wildlife outside than they were before. The other day I woke up and one or both of the cats had gotten one of the screens out of the kitchen windows. Thank goodness I had left the window closed because who knows what would have ended up in the house if the window was open without a screen! We do get possums and raccoons out there too! And the cats, at least KC, would have been g - o - n - e.
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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mrs. Mallard visits the Hotel Monaco

Eva and I saw Mrs. Mallard today sitting on the corner by the Hotel Monaco. You can't tell from the picture but she has TEN ducklings there! I don't know why she was on a street corner and far far away from any water and, presumably, her nest.

There was a police officer standing by, waiting for animal control. I had visions of Carl (was that his name? in Make Way for Ducklings?) escorting Momma Duck and her babies back to the river. But NooOOOOooooo. The Animal Control guy came with his cat carrier thing and scooped up all the babies. Momma Duck was in a huge panic (who can blame her?) but did not want to get in the truck. Mr. Animal Control assured me Momma Duck was going to follow him but I think it all seemed so needlessly traumatic. I bet he could have picked up one duckling and started walking; Momma and all her babies would have followed. It was only 5 blocks to the river.

I wish I hadn't stayed to see that part.
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Kissin' Cousins

Emily came to visit Grammy and Coach this weekend and I brought Lyra and Eva to play. It was 5000 degrees out but that did not stop the girls from wanting to play outside and being in constant motion. Emily and Lyra stopped to hug for the camera! They are just so cute! I wish there was a way to get all the cousins together more often.
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I wish I had the soundtrack for this picture. Lyra ran around the yard screaming all the way. You can see her mouth is open in this picture. The girls had so much fun!
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Friday, June 20, 2008

Lyra has a Boyfriend!

Lyra finally got to meet Baby Zach, lucky recipient of the coonskin cap of an earlier post. I think I have not heard Lyra talk so much as she did when Zach was here. She shared all her toys with Zach and made sure he had something to drink. She was a perfect hostess but I fear poor Zachary might have felt a little smothered.

Zach seemed to have fun being with another child and meeting our cats. Our friend, Julie, adopted Zach and brought him home from Russia earlier this month and I am sure he misses his friends from the orphanage. Zach is a moch loved baby and has a blog too; you can read his story here.
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An Original Poem, by Eva Phelps


Small, cute
Evil eye
Eats like a horse
Drinks like a bird
It's true!

Eva wrote this poem about Lyra at school. She had told me about it before I read it at her "Author's Tea" because she was concerned that everything she wrote wasn't all EXACTLY true even though she says it is in the poem. What part isn't true, I'm not sure. Lyra is small and cute. This 3 ponytail hairdo is something Lyra made up and asks for every day. You can see she makes a mean evil eye! Eva said the "Eats like a horse" part meant that Lyra was a messy eater, not that she ate a lot. Maybe it's "Drinks like a bird," I am not sure what that means.

But it doesn't matter, I love Eva's poetry!
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Eva turns 8!

Happy Birthday! I cannot believe Eva is 8! She wanted cheeseburgers and a cheesecake for her birthday because she loves cheese. We are going to start calling her "Wallace."
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The hit of the party! Did you have one of the Barbie heads when you were little? I did! Mine came with make up including scary blue eyeshadow and bright pink blush. Eva's is just hair. She does hair designs on this and then uses it to show me how to do her hair. I am becoming quite an accomplished hairstylist.
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Friendship bracelets! Another fun activity from my childhood that I need to relearn! Eva loves handicrafts. We have not been so successful with this. Maybe when Lyra takes a nap I can help her figure this out.
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Eva's wanted this special tea cup for a long time. Ever since attending historic tea party at Gadsby's Tavern, Eva has been a tea aficionado. We have a large collection here at home (all caffeine-free, of course!) This beautiful mug has a strainer insert for the tea leaves and a top to keep it all hot!
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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alexandria Waterfront Festival

We went to the Red Cross Waterfront Festival today with Will's and Eva's friends Jake and Maris.  It was hot, and there is only so much cotton candy, caramel apple and Snowkone you can eat, so we only stayed about an hour.  

This is the ride I call 'The Bullet'.  The little cockpits start by spinning around faster and faster, then the arms they are mounted on begin lifting them up and down.  The result is spinning and being pulled outward, but also swooping up and down so you get the 'I left my stomach in the air' feeling.  Will claims he threw up when he got off this.  I think he was just going for some melodrama, but it was clear he preferred the idea of the ride to the reality.  Jake on the other hand was not bothered at all.


This was one of those rides that is basically a circular cage that spins, and after it starts spinning (and the centripetal force holds the rider against the side) the cage begins to tilt so you feel like you are spinning upside down.   I have ridden many variations on this ride, and this was on the tamer end, but you can see that Will and Jake think it is pretty fun.

Slippery Slide

The Waterfront Festival was frustrating for Eva and Maris.  Maris was not tall enough for most of the more exciting rides, but her pride prevented her from going on the 'kiddie' rides.  Eva was tall enough for the big kid rides, but was a good buddy and did not want to leave Maris behind.  They found a few rides they really liked including the big slide, and then left the Festival early to go swimming.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Bob

This box turtle appeared in our garden last week and the kids named him (who knows if it is really a him) 'Happy Bob'.  He has only been back a couple of times, but our next door neighbor knows him and I think his main territory is in her yard.  Every time Lyra goes into the garden she runs around searching for 'appy Bob'.  I am not sure what turtles normally eat, but Bob likes stale hamburger bun left under the picnic table.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Green Goatee???

Today was Eva's end of the year party at school. It is amazing how civilized these events have gotten since the kids were in pre-k and kindergarten! Someone brought in these cute cupcakes with aqua frosting and a little shark fin stuck in the top (Eva's class mascot was the bull sharks). Lyra HAD to have one. Silly me, I thought she wanted to EAT it, not use it as make up!
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Saturday, June 07, 2008


It has been a long time since I (Cathleen) have updated the blog. Part of it is that I have not been diligent about taking photos and I usually think of this as a space for sharing my photos. But that is too narrow a view of what a blog is for! Especially since I rarely carry a purse anymore and thus have nowhere to put my camera. Over Xmas I knit this cute little pouch for the new blackberry Santa brought me from this leftover yarn that I LOVE. It has all my favorite colors in it and matches everything I own. I find I shove my debit card in there and my driver's license and that is pretty much all I take anywhere now. The only downside is I can't cram a lipstick in there very well.

Anyway, thought I'd put in a few text updates about what we're all up to. For myself, I have to say that I am SO GLAD SCHOOL IS ABOUT OUT! The end-of-year activities, while fun for all the kids, have been very disruptive for me personally. It is about 5000 degrees outside and yet another big thunderstorm is brewing even as I type this. So, once school is out and I am not quite so "scheduled," I will be able to follow up on the basement place to come out and tell me how much it will cost to fix our continuing water problem down there. And maybe get curtains for the dining room, clean out the attic, etc. etc. I am sure I have already overbooked the summer. But it will be a new routine and change is fun!


I cannot believe Will is TEN YEARS OLD and has completed 4th grade. It seems inconceivable! Every year I think he looks so big to me and then I look at last year's pictures and he looks so little and young. Will has had, I think, a great year at school. There was a lot more homework, a lot higher expectations and report cards with letter grades on them. He really rose to the challenge though managing all his time and materials has not been easy (I hear this is very typical with boys and that I should not expect improvement for a couple of years).

Will's school exposes the boys to lots and lots of sports, more than I ever could do on my own and let me say I am So Thankful! While he doesn't have a strong interest in focusing in a sport outside of school, he seems to have enjoyed learning some of these new things (esp. lacrosse and baseball) and always enjoys a hard game of tag, dodge ball or wall ball with his friends at school. He has yet to join the running club at school (a special club by invitation get your invitation by being caught running in the hall, repeatedly coming to school late or other behavioral offenses) but there is always next year!

Will's extracurricular activities include piano and cartooning. We just attended his studio recital today although Will did not perform because he joined the studio too late in the year to do so. We will work to get some of his piano and at least some of his cartoons on the blog. He loves that cartooning class and that is the one thing that he practices to excess outside of class time.

Will continues to be a big reader (currently reading the Pendragon series, Ranger's Apprentice series and just starting Dune). He is thoughtful but at the same time, naive (because, of course, he's only 10!) Will and his friends have been following the Presidential election process very closely in the news. Will and most of his friends are Obama supporters.


Eva is an incredibly active child. She looooooves her runaround time and spends several hours a week doing gymnastics and climbing. She is STRONG. She runs wicked fast and can do push ups. Climbing, in particular, is becoming a real passion of hers and she has just been signed off to train with SportRock's advanced climbing team. I am not sure how we are going to work out the driving around and at some point, she will have to make a choice about which activity she loves most, gymnastics or climbing.

It does seem that Eva has done a bunch of growing up in the last couple of months. She is more focused and serious about the things she loves to do and also about school. It will be interesting to see what happens next year. 3rd grade is the last year at her school and we will start the outplacement process to find the next school for Eva.

Eva's other passion is art. I do not know what to do with all the doodles and pictures and, most recently, poems she has written and illustrated. I need to get organized and get some of this stuff out here on the blog so we don't keep all the fun to ourselves!

Friday, June 06, 2008


Lyra is talking a lot more than before. Some of you may not know that Lyra has been receiving regular speech therapy since December to encourage her to use language to communicate and to build her vocabulary. Maybe it's being the third child but she has not been so forthcoming with conversation as Will and Eva were. However, she understands everything and has a great little sense of humor. New phrases include "Excuse me," "Bless you," and "Naked me!" because she is at that age where she likes to run around without a shirt on.

Lyra is also a little monkey and climbs adeptly on and over everything, just like Eva. She sees Eva in gymnastics and wants so badly to have her own gymnastics class. Eva taught Lyra to do a forward roll. I am sure a cartwheel is not far behind.

Lyra's favorite song for me to sing to her is the one about the three little kittens losing their mittens. Her favorite books are Goodnight Moon and Owl Babies. I think Go Dog Go is is a close third. Lyra actually cries to go in the car every time someone leaves the house; no matter how much time she has spent running the other kids around during the day, Lyra is always up for another outing. She is NOT a homebody!

Happy Birthday to Bill!

Bill had a birthday last weekend and we had a fun celebration at home. He had lots of help opening presents. That book is "1080 Recipes," the Spanish equivalent of "The Joy of Cooking." Can't wait to try that out!
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A New Reader!

Will was supposed to be practicing piano but things became suddenly quiet. I found Will in the living room with Lyra reading her a story (The Princess Handbook: How to Be a Princess). I thought this was very sweet.
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Davey Crockett ... King of the Wild Frontier!

I made this "coonskin cap" for the new son of a good friend. Isn't it funny? Pattern is here; it is not hard but the yarn is so fluffy it will make you crazy. Lyra loves this hat but knows it is not hers. I am on the hook to make one more for each kid plus a stuffed squirrel for Will. Don't you think this yarn would make the perfect stuffed squirrel?
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