Saturday, October 31, 2009

Philadelphia Rock Gym - Another Blue Ribbon

Eva loves indoor rock climbing, and in the autumn competes in the Friction Bouldering Series / American Bouldering Series competitions in the Mid-Atlantic.  The competition this weekend was at Philadelphia Rock Gym (PRG) in Oaks, Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia.  We had a miserable drive to Philadelphia, leaving DC at 4:30pm Friday and taking almost 4hrs to get to our hotel in Oaks.  It should have been 2.5hrs.  

Eva gorged on sweet breakfast food this morning before the competition, so I hoped she would have plenty of energy.  When she started climbing, it turned out that the routes were interesting, but frequently deceptive.  What looked easy turned out to have some twist that made the route very difficult.  The way bouldering competition works, a competitor has 3hrs to climb, and is scored on his/her 5 best (most difficult) climbs that have been successfully completed.  Normally you try and get five moderately difficult climbs done quickly, then work on more difficult (higher point) routes.  

For some reason, the waiting between climbs at PRG was long.  Eva would try a route, if she did not make it we would wait 15 - 20 minutes to try the route again. After an hour, she had only successfully completed one route.  She sent (completed) another climb, then had a bad fall and had to take a break.  Eva had some candy and soda, and said she would stage a great comeback.  She did, but it was a nail-biter.  

The competition was ending at 1:10, and at 12:55 Eva only had 4 climbs on her card.  She picked a pretty hard climb and had to complete it successfully, or she would have ended the day with only four completed routes.  I was nervous, but Eva finished strong.

Eva competes in the Female Youth D class - girls 10 and under.  There were five girls in her class, and she won.  This was Eva's second win, and she was thrilled and is now looking forward to competing at her home gym, SportRock Alexandria, in two weeks.  

In the photos, note the 'snow' in photo three.  This is the light from the camera flash bouncing off chalk dust in the air.  Climbers use chalk on their hands to improve grip.  SportRock in Alexandria bans loose chalk and requires climbers to use liquid chalk or chalk that comes in balls.  Both approaches minimize the release of chalk dust into the air.  My lungs hate chalk dust suspended in the air, and I hope all climbing gyms soon start banning loose chalk.  

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Philly ABS Comp

Eva and I came up to Philly last night in horrible traffic so she could compete at bouldering. She is now goofing off while we await results of the scoring.

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Friday, October 30, 2009

MORE Baking!

All my recent posts have been of things I've baked.  It must look like I don't do anything else (Not True though).  Yesterday morning, Will informed me that he needed cupcakes for his class Halloween party by TODAY.  ARGH!  This is the kind of thing I like to have a couple of weeks notice for because I will bake early and freeze and then plan to decorate at my leisure.  I don't like having to rush, especially since there are so many other things undone.  I suppose all the books say I should have told him No so he would learn a lesson.  Or I could have gone out and bought cupcakes but I rather pride myself on my baking and nothing I buy would taste as good as I what I would make myself.  Sooooo, I made some simple chocolate cupcakes and decorated them with Milano cookies and Oreo cookie crumbs.  These were not hard to do and they turned out pretty well!  I think the boys will like them.

Posted via email from catphelps's posterous

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Halloween Activity!

Lyra really wanted to carve her pumpkin so we did it this afternoon while Will and Eva were at school.  Eva carved hers with Bill this weekend.  I rather like spreading it all out this way, one kid at a time.  I also baked the rest of the gingerbread cookies (which have since been eaten!) and got a start on my costume.  South of the Border!  There's still quite a bit to do to get the rest of the costumes ready but I promise there will be more pictures soon.  Happy Halloween!

Posted via email from catphelps's posterous

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Eva's Cat Pumpkin

We all went yesterday to pick out pumpkins for Will, Eva and Lyra. Will and Lyra are away today but Eva designed her pumpkin face, and I helped carve.

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Monday, October 19, 2009

Don Quixote rides again!

I took the kids to see the Washington Ballet's Don Quixote this evening.  It was GREAT!  After frantically trying to find a synopsis of the books online, it turned out the ballet included one manageable story and, as usual, incorporated all kinds of great showcase dancing for the men and elements of comedy.  I think that is why we always love TWB's performances.  I don't really have another ballet company to compare it with so I don't know if TWB is unusual in this regard, but I know that the acrobatics of the male dancers are cool enough to keep Will interested in going and we all appreciate the the humorous parts.

It was quite long, with two intermissions.  I thought the kids might fall asleep since we'd already had an action packed day and sitting in a dark room with classical music going is just the right setting for a nap. Instead, the performance inspired such quotes as "There is one flat dress!" and "She has been on that toe for exactly one minute!" and "Now that is just funny!"  The only things that marred the performance were the lack of a live orchestra and the one (or more?) audience members sitting nearby who were excessively and unpleasantly perfumed.  Our eyes were burning and Will, especially, was miserable.  I think it is rude to wear a lot of perfume when going to a crowded place.  BLEAH. I am glad we were able to stay for the entire performance.

In December, we are going to see the Nutcracker and Lyra will come with us!  She is very excited to attend her first ballet and is already planning to wear her tutu and ballet shoes.  She is disappointed that she doesn't get to dance.  I guess I need to find the girlie some ballet lessons.

Posted via email from catphelps's posterous

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MORE Baking and Halloween prep

Eva had a friend over and they wanted to bake cookies and decorate them.  Am I the cool mom or what?  We made really yummy gingerbread and the kids decorated and made a mess.  A delicious mess though so it was OK.  I am going on a long run tomorrow to make up for all the cookie dough and cookies I ate.  Let's hope it is NOT raining.

Also I need to get going on Halloween costumes so I spent some time on that today too.  You can see Eva has made considerable progress with hers.  Lyra is going to be Ronald McDonald (Old McDonald, in her words).  Her costume is still in progress.  I colored red stripes on her sleeves but still need to do socks or tights, figure out something for her shoes and also decorate her yellow shirt.  Eva is excited to do Lyra's makeup. 

How funny is it that these are the costumes, and my kids HATE fast food and won't eat it even when we are on a road trip and desperately need them to just eat the fast food because there is nothing else?  Still not ready to divulge our Halloween costume theme....those of you who know it, shhhhhhhh!  More to come later!

Posted via email from catphelps's posterous


Last night's adventure was a trip to the Haunted Forest with Will's class and a corresponding class of girls.  Due to a travel snafu on Bill's part, I had to find babysitting for Lyra and bring Eva to this event.  That was not the original plan and I was worried it would be too scary.  And it did turn out to be way over the top of any haunted anything I have ever seen!  I actually had to ask another mom to go ahead of me because I am a great big CHICKEN and was too scared to go first (Thank you Alice!).  But after that, I needed to be brave for Eva's sake but most of the boys enjoyed being scared.  Really if you take a pre-emptive first shriek at anyone lurking in the darkness, it takes some of the fright out of it.  But still, this was pretty dang intense.  It is not for the claustrophobic.  And, hands down, everyone thought the circus area with the clowns was the scariest. 

As with Harry Potter and the dementors, hot chocolate took away any lingering terror.  That and watching other forest-goers come tearing out of a haunted bus at the end of their walk.  I don't know what was in there because there were two trails and we took the other one.  But it was so predictable, every few minutes there'd be all this screaming and a few people would be hauling a$$ out of the bus and into the main fairground area.  I only got moderately lost on the way home and no one had any bad dreams.  All's well that ends well!

Posted via email from catphelps's posterous

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I'm in Chicago for a couple of days. House of Blues is an icon, and of course the building on the right is also an icon for fans of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What's going on at Chez Phelps?

We are going to dinner at a neighbor's house around the corner.  At Eva's request, I baked a yummy chocolate cake (I hope it's going to be yummy) and at my request, I made some hot ginger cookies.  I must have eaten 6 or 7 of these already.  We are also in full Halloween swing.  We have a family costume again, the theme of which I will not divulge yet but here's a hint....Eva is going to be Wendy's.  See her costume in progress!

Posted via email from catphelps's posterous

Six Flags Roller Coaster Photos

Will and I made a short pilgrimage to Six Flags Great America today, to use the season passes we were levered into purchasing on our last visit.  I have to say that with Six Flags only 30min from our house, and practically no lines because it is off season, this is an easy ~3hr excursion.

On the last trip I used my iPhone to take some photos.  This time I used my Canon G10 configured for 'point and shoot' (preset focus and aperture set for maximum depth of field).  This worked great and all the photos were good from a focus and exposure perspective.  However, the composition was not up to my mental aspiration.  I had the camera strap threaded through my belt so if the camera flew out of my hands on a roller coaster it would not go anywhere.  Unfortunately this meant I could only get the camera about a foot from my body, and there were some great shots I missed because I could not hold the camera over my head.  I also need to back the shutter speed off a little to show more of the motion in some of the shots.  Oh well, we do have season passes, and they are open Saturdays and Sundays through 11/1.   

Because the lines were so short (almost non-existent) we were able to get the front seats in the front car on most of our rides.  I have to say, this is eerie, especially on Super Man, which is the highest roller coaster at Six Flags.  As Will put it, when you start down the main hill, it feels 'more than straight down'.  Because I could not get the camera high enough, I could not effectively capture the sensation of vertical drop, but in the front car with nothing at all in front of you it was intense.  This video on YouTube gives a pretty good sense of what the ride is like in the front car.  

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Six Flags ... again

Will and I are off for a short visit to Six Flags. Goal today is front seat rides on as many rollercoasters as possible in 90 minutes.

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Earth Treks FBS Climbing Competition

Eva had a great time at today's Friction Bouldering Series / American Bouldering Series Competition at Earth Treks in Rockville.  She and her friends from SportRock climbed really hard.  I do think the Hershey's bar, Reese's cups, Gatorade and Pepsi that Eva consumed must have had something to her 1st Place finish in her age group.  Eva has a couple of more competitions in October and November (Philly, Timonium) and then will hopefully go to a regional event in New Jersey.  She loves climbing and her level of intensity this year was a big step up from when she started competing a year ago.  

The climbing is great exercise, physical and mental.  Eva's strength has improved, and the (many) moves that require her to hang from one arm have become manageable.  Mentally she has also progressed, and she has the confidence for the (also many) moves that require dynamic climbing, or dynoing where she basically needs to leap from one position to another.  Eva has given up gymnastics to  focus on climbing, but I think her years of gymnastics training did help prepare her for many of the moves in climbing.

Eva's climbing coach Jason is excellent, has really inspired her to push herself.  

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Blue Ribbon!

Eva has been doing competitive rock climbing for almost exactly a year. Today she won her first blue ribbon for her age group. Eva has worked very hard on developing her climbing skill and it showed today. She finished routes I would not have believed she could do if I was not there to see her. Eva's coach Jason is excellent and had done a great job encouraging Eva to push herself.

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Bouldering Competition

Eva is competing today in the Friction Bouldering Series event at EarthTrek in Rockville. So far she is doing great!

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Apple Season

Old Town has one of the oldest weekly farmers markets in the US. The market occurs every Saturday morning and we try to go each week to stock up on fruit and veg.

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's posterous

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Williams Selyem 2005 Chardonnay

This was delicious wine. Really nice balance of aromatic and mineral notes. Drinking wine this good makes we want to just close my eyes and let the flavor flow over my mind.

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's posterous