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.
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Will likes jello!
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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.
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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!
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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."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lyra-isms and Creepy Crawlies

Some of you may remember that Lyra spent many months in speech therapy over the last year. For some reason, she was not interested in talking. I know it is typical with children who have older siblings not to be able to get a word in edgewise or to have someone else always finishing their sentences for them. But I never quite bought that explanation for Lyra because Will and Eva spent so much time in school that she is, for much of the year, more like an only child than the youngest. She did make a lot of progress and stopped her sessions this fall. We can now better appreciate what is going on in her mind and all the funny things she says.

Lyra understands opposites and sometimes comes up with her own ways to express these. She asks us to "buckle me in my car seat" and then to "buckle me out." "Blow up the balloon" and then "Blow it down."

She Totally got the halloween concept and was excited to Trick or Treat for weeks and weeks before. Finally, on Halloween night, she us she was going trick or trating but that KC couldn't go. I asked her why just because I wanted to hear her answer. She said, "KC doesn't have a bag!" That cracked us up. It wasn't because KC is a cat or that he's not allowed outside; it was because of something that we could have easily fixed if it were the real reason. She probably chose that because neither Will nor Eva could find their usual and favorite trick or treat bags and were, at that moment, tearing up the house looking for them.

Lyra's articulation is still in development. She says "Cris-em" for Christmas, "base-em" for basement and, as Will and Eva did before her, "nack-em" for napkin. But these are easy enough to translate. Her most shining verbal moment recently was finding a centipede (eeeeeewwww!) and coming to tell me about it. "Mommy! There is a big bug next to Daddy's attic! It is BIG. There are lots of lines! Mommy come see!" Mommy was less than enthusiastic but Daddy wasn't home.

There was, in fact, a hideous intruder inside the doorway to the attic stairs (so it was work to find it). And you know what? It Was big and there Were lots of "lines," i.e., legs and long antennae. Some of you may have read on Facebook that I've been paying Will $5 to kill these things. We never had more than one a year until recently. Apparently they come indoors in the fall. I am hoping for a big ole cold snap because Will's services are getting expensive. He disposed of the creepy crawlie for a fee and Lyra got a $1 "finder's fee." She was so pleased!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

SportRock Bouldering Competition

Eva competed today in the Youth D (10 and under) class in the American Bouldering Series at the SportRock climbing gym in Alexandria.  Eva is only 8, and we think she is the youngest competitor.  She is justifiably proud of her third place finish (in an admittedly small field of competitors).  I think the two girls ahead of her were 1 - 2 years older.

(To get a better idea of what bouldering is like, check out this video.  For context, today Eva finished four routes with point values in the 100s, with one 255 point route.)

Fancy Footwork

Actually, climbing requires fancy footwork AND handwork.  Before starting a route, the climber is supposed to study the available holds and 'sequence' the route, in other words decide on the specific order of hand and foot moves to use on the climb.  Eva is not always patient enough to plan out her route, but she is pretty good at improvising as she goes along.  Climbing is like gymnastics or autocross in the sense that managing weight transfer is critical - frequently getting to the next hold is all about momentum.  

Climbing on the Ceiling

At dinner this evening we were trying to explain to Eva's grandparents that often climbing requires working not on a vertical wall, but on an overhang that is almost horizontal.  The strength required to hold on is *much* greater than simply climbing up a vertical wall, and missed holds result in a quick drop to the mat below.

Coach Deren

This is Deren, Eva's climbing coach.  At the start of the season, I think Eva thought he was too focused on climbing competition, but now that Eva is competing herself I think she appreciates his perspective more.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


We had really really really really wanted to carve pumpkins last weekend. But our weekends are always so jam-packed with kids' activities that we didn't get to it. Bill was out of town all week and I never could muster the energy to do pumpkin carving by myself with the kids on a school night. So here we are, right as we are all trying to get dressed and leave for a party frantically trying to carve one of our three pumpkins.

Bill sure is a good sport, isn't he? :)
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Peter Pan, Wendy and Tinkerbell

Will didn't really want to but he stuck with the family theme. He is supposed to be Peter Pan. Eva is Wendy and Lyra is Tinkerbell.

We discovered as we was planning our costumes that the whole world has the Disney Peter in their head when they think of Peter Pan, but none of us have ever seen that version of the movie. Plus I am fairly certain there is no way in hell Will would have worn green tights (and I never would ask him to, cool mom that I am). The Peter Pan movie we watch is the one with Jason Isaacs as Mr. Darling and Hook. That is a good one!

We are taking suggestions for next year's theme. Will says it's his turn to pick. I am lobbying for Phantom of the Opera. Who has some fun and creative ideas? Halloween where we are is a Big Party and we love all the planning and building of costumes as much as the actual night.
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I made this mask from posterboard, construction paper, staples, tape and a baseball cap. This was the best way to wear it but I couldn't see well so I spent the evening with the lower jaw up closer to the upper jaw (see below). But of course, we needed a dramatic photo!

Will made me a severed hand with a wrist watch out of construction paper and that is what is stapled to my shirt.
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The Whole Cast

This is the best of the worst and will certainly not be appearing on this year's Christmas card so see it here and now!

Bill's/Captain Hook's hook is in Tinkerbell's/Lyra's trick-or-treat bag so he can hold his beer. My Tick Tock Crock mask is denting my forehead (hopefully not permanently) and pulling my eyebrow skin so I have a funny expression on my face. I don't know what Will/Peter Pan is doing. Eva/Wendy looks pretty good.

As expected, our costumes only made sense when we were together. On our way out to a pre-trick-or-treat party, a parking enforcement guy pulled up on the sidewalk in his little 3 wheeled car, jumped out, told us to hold still and took a photo on his cell phone! I've never been pulled over on foot before. As the night went on, it was difficult to stay together so we all had to do costume explanations after that.
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Look at all that LOOT!

Even when trick-or-treating is done, there is still more fun to be had! I think Will and Eva (and now Lyra) think the big "candy sort" is the best part of the night. My running buddy, Tehan, comes to trick-or-treat with us each year and help with the candy sort-n-trade process. About half of Eva's candy is off limits every year due to her nut allergy so she trades the stuff she can't have away to Will and Lyra.

The grown ups sit and watch the chaos over a glass of wine. Every year, we wish we remembered to order a pizza or something but every year we forget and so there's not much in the way of a normal dinner.

So what camp are y'all in as far as letting the kids have their candy? I have friends who have their children trade their candy in for a toy or something else. Others ration it. I let the kids eat whatever they want on THE NIGHT (what the heck...then lots of it is gone and I brush their teeth ONCE). Then I hope to stick to one piece a day after that. They can have it whenever they want, for breakfast if they want but then they have to wait til the next day for another piece. This is a great way to teach the joys of delayed gratification!
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Lyra looks drunk on candy, doesn't she? Here is our friend, Julie, with her new baby boy, Zach. This is Zach's first American halloween. Julie adopted him from Russia last spring. You can read Zach's story on Julie's blog. It is a great story with a happy ending. Anyone interested in international adoption should take a look.

Now Will isn't in any of the candy sorting pictures because he is very proprietary about his candy and so took it to the living room away from the distraction of others. He built a castle from it but then hid the whole thing so I don't have a photo of it.
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