Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Three Generations

This photo of three generations of women (from my side of the family) was taken in September at my cousin Cyndi's wedding. If it looks familiar that's because a cropped version was used for the 'Jill' cake.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Polar Bear Club

At some point, Brad started the tradition of a "polar bear club." This brilliant activity consists of going swimming in the ocean when it's freezing cold both outside and in the water. Let me be clear -- this is not a tradition I particiate in.

This Thanskgiving in Rehoboth Beach, Cassandra was initiated (of her own free will) in the club. There was no stopping her really. See photos below of Cass walking with Aunt Jenna before she jumped into the water.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The 'Jill' cake

My family had a few surprises in store for me to honor my 40th birthday. One of them was t-shirts each emblazoned with photos from a decade of my life and the tag line, "Four decades of excellence." EXCELLENCE I tell you! See photo below of my mother-in-law and my father wearing the couture.

Another surprise was a slide show with photos and videos from those four decades. I expect it to go viral anytime now. Here's Zander and me watching it:

And yet another was a cake with -- what could it be -- ME on it!

Finally, I also got a fancy new iPad to play with.

THANKS family! Here's to four more decades...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Glad I'm not in 1st Grade

My son's 1st grade math homework leaves me dumbfounded. Not sure if this says more about my poor math skills or more about the specific work of Zander's class. (No jokes please, Brad.) Below are a few questions from today's work. The sheet was titled, "At the Park" and the directions said to "Read the clues. Solve the problems."

1. There are 16 red, yellow, and purple flowers by a bench. There are 4 more yellow flowers than red flowers. There are 2 more purple flowers than yellow flowers. How many are there of each flower?

On the backside of the sheet the theme was "Snack Time" and the directions were to "Solve the problems. Draw pictures to help you."

1. There are pears, oranges, and bananas in a bowl. There are 12 fruits in all. There are twice as many pears as there are oranges. There is the same number of bananas and oranges. How many pears are there?_____ How many oranges are
there?_____ How many bananas are there?_____

Not impossible, sure. But that's some challenging stuff. Clearly, I am not made for 1st grade.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah...

(Cool menorah photo taken by Pap-Pap Phillips)

...come light the menorah.

Hanukkah is getting bigger and bigger in our household as a certain six-year-old understands the present part more and more. This is somewhat ironic because the present part is more a function of the holiday's proximity to Christmas than anything else.

Nonetheless, below is a picture of Zander singing in the choir at the Hanukkah service. A doting grandparent was able to get a photo of him actually singing. For the record (ha, ha), he sings these songs all the time from start to finish -- in the car, while putting together Legos, etc. But, on stage, he sometimes gets distracted. (I am watching what I write now that Zander is a fluent reader.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Siblings, Part II

If I posted as often as I had content to post or even half as much as I think about posting, there would be something new here everyday. Then again, if there was something new here every day, I wouldn't have much to post about. I guess what I'm trying to say is part of the reason it's hard to find time to post is because my (our) life is so full and so busy. Some days I am barely holding it together. (No jokes please, Brad.)

But, tonight I have carved out an hour or so to catch up on some blog posts. They should be showing up over the next few days and here is the first...

* * * * * *

My brother was in D.C. again last week on a quick work-related trip. At the last minute, I was able to join him and my sister for dinner. It was surreal in some ways -- sitting at a nice restaurant drinking wine with my siblings. It was so...grown-up. Pardon the fuzzy picture.

Friday, November 26, 2010

21st Century Thanksgiving

Trading "surprise" faces with cousin Ruben in Shanghai via Skype on Thanksgiving day...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This was a new one

Yesterday, I went in to tell Cassandra -- who seems to have prematurely decided to join the 'terrible twos' -- that it was, indeed, *still* time for her nap since she hadn't slept at all in the hour and half she had already been in her crib.

I went in and what did I find? She was NAKED! Completely naked! She had taken off all of her clothes and her diaper, the latter of which she was holding out to give me. Thankfully it was not soiled.

"My naked!" Cassandra said proudly. (She says "my" instead of "I or I'm.")

"Yes, you sure are," I said, trying to keep a straight face.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Confessions of a Helicopter Parent

Honestly, I'm not sure who these photos say more about -- Cassandra or me.

I was (am?) such a helicopter parent with Zander. When he was Cassandra's age, if a playground had a sign that said "Ages 5 and up," gosh darn it I'd go find one that was appropriate for his little legs. I definitely would not have let him hang from monkey bars or climb up at a ladder at 23 months old.

I know, I know. It was a disservice to him. There is some kind of famous saying about treating your 1st child as if he or she were your 3rd child. I had heard it and I knew it, but I couldn't do it. It's in my nature to over-parent and I have to fight the temptation all the time.

I'm still a nervous nelly of a mom when it comes to things like below, but at least I let her try them. I spot her and try my best to keep her safe (in between grabbing my phone to take pictures, of course.) The truth, worrying less gives me more space to enjoy this stage, which is going by all too quickly.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This evening while doing his math homework...

Zander: "I have a math test on Thursday."

Me: "Oh yeah? What's it on?"

Zander: "Paper, I guess."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Our driveway has somewhat of a slant to it at the top and then also down the bottom. This makes riding trikes, scootering, and the like sometimes tricky and a bit treacherous. Where Zander is/was cautious, Cassandra is carefree. The faster she goes the bigger the smile. And we simply cannot get enough of the smile so we indulge. But make no mistake, being out on a driveway with an incline and this 22-month-old is a full-time job.

Here are a few short clips from one afternoon over the weekend.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Picture Day!

One morning last week when Zander heard it was picture day at school, he decided he wanted to wear a tie and get dressed up. Who was I to stop him? Unfortunately, you have to order the photos beforehand and the last two rounds were terrible so I didn't get any! Ain't he handsome though?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blue Skies and Summers Farm

We found ourselves enjoying perfect weather this weekend at Summers Farm in Maryland to help celebrate the birthdays of two special boys, Champe and Caden. After days and days of rain being outside under the blue sky was glorious.

Most of these photos are of Cassandra because Zander was pretty much off on his own or with other families enjoying the corn maze and various other attractions. He is six and a quarter after all. And for the record, the girl chooses her own hats. Sure, I acquire them, but she puts them on.

Big tires and sand...

Take a close look -- it's corn, NOT sand...

Little girl, big chair...

With Brad...

Zander and the elder birthday boy, Champe...

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Beep Beep!" OR "More Seltzer Please"

Cassandra is in the midst of a fascinating (to me at least) developmental phase of language and I've been meaning to document it for some time.

My car is not a car, but instead it is "Mommy's beep beep!" My phone is not a phone, but rather it's "Mommy's 'Hi.'" An airplane is not a plane but instead it's an "Up! Up!"

Zander remains to be "Zzzzzz." In the morning after she wakes up she asks, "Zzzzzz sleeping?" When she sees his shoes she says, "Zzzzzzz's shoes!" She has been referring to her brother like this for months now. Sometimes I even catch myself saying something such as, "Let's go pick up Zzzzzz."

Interestingly -- and very much a 2nd child thing -- Cassandra can perfectly ask for seltzer. (As anyone who spends time with us knows, our family drinks a ton of seltzer water.) Recently we've been letting Zander join in on the fizzy fun and every now and then Cassandra too. The results are shown in the video below...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Same building, different floor

My office moved last week (same building, different floor) and over the weekend I went in to unpack some of the many crates I had filled. Turned out you can accumulate a lot of crap stuff you don't need when you work in the same place for over ten years.

Brad stopped by with the children and to help me arrange things in my new space. While this picture isn't the best quality, it gives you an idea of just how much can be packed into one of the crates. (And as you can see the offending tooth finally came out.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

1st Grade Self-Portrait

He's the one in the middle. ;)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fire Drills and Lockdowns

Fire drills have always freaked Zander out. Of course we didn't realize this until last year at the start of kindergarten after he experienced his first real drill. For weeks afterwards, we endured question after question about what *we* would do in a fire.

Truth be told, they were all good questions, like so many of the other ones that come out of this boy. But, they aren't necessarily questions that adults (me) are willing to entertain in their psyches for long periods of time. Think along the lines of "What happens if we don't hear the the alarm?" Regardless, last year as a result of Zander's good questions, we went out and got a ladder so we could at least escape from the 2nd floor if needed.

Well, today was another fire drill at school. At bedtime he told me again how he doesn't like them. He said the alarm almost "broke off my ears." What follows is a list of *some* of the questions he asked.

  • Do we have a ladder? [I was proud to say, "Yes! We do have a ladder!"}
  • What if I don't hear the alarm and you have to carry me down the stairs and there are flames on them?
  • What if we can't call 911? I wish it were shorter than three numbers!
  • How will they know where our house is?
  • Can fire get through doors? What about wooden doors?

As the questioning went on (and on), my instinct told me this was a losing battle. I finally told him to think happy thoughts about building ships with legos (a recent obsession) and about his friend's upcoming birthday party. As I write this, I am considering e-mailing his teacher to see if we can get a heads-up about when the "lockdown drill" will be occuring this year. I am so not ready for those questions.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

1st Grade Country Bumpkin

Zander started first grade this week. I'd post pictures from the big day but I don't have any since our camera broke some weeks ago. Here's one taken this morning with my handy phone:

Not sure if you can tell from this photo or not, but he has a crooked front tooth. The looser it gets the more crooked it appears. Someone recently told me how this same thing happened to her son right before an important family event. The term she used to refer to how her son looked at the time was "country bumpkin."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Summer of Swimming

Just catching up on some posts. Sorry I've been away from the blog for awhile and posting has been light.

These are some swimming highlights from this summer. It's been a transitional few months for Zander who now happily jumps off diving boards and swims in the deep end. Cassandra continues to be fearless and the joy she appears to get from swimming (and water in general) seems limitless. Brad has been wanting to write a post about the children and swimming as he has taken the lead on everything from their swim lessons to schlepping everything to the pool, but life has gotten in the way as it so often does.

But, isn't she cute? Looks clearly like a girl to me in these photos, but often people comment on how cute *he* is or they try to find a gender neutral way of referring to Cass. I can tell they're just not sure. I don't care though. Or at least I don't *think* I care.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Growing Up

One of my college roommates had twins the other day and it's worthy of commemorating here. Sure I know lots of other people who have had babies and even a few who had multiples. But something about my college roommate having twins is shocking to my psyche.

See despite children of my own, a job, a mortgage -- little things like that -- more often than not I still feel like a big kid. Actually it's more like I feel as if I am playing grown up kind of like it was in college.

I am thrilled for her of course. And oh so glad that it's not me who will be up at all hours for the next year. Welcome Bailey and Rowan!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cassandra at Discovery Woods

My sweet baby. Only she's not a baby anymore. She's practically a little girl.

Last week Cassandra started full-time at Discovery Woods, the same preschool Zander attended (mentioned a number of times on this blog). She is in the toddler program. While it's nowhere near as convenient for us since she used to be at the daycare onsite at Brad's office, we are thrilled that she is getting this experience.

She comes home every day having gone through at least one change of clothes -- often two or three -- from either painting, playing with or in sand or water, etc. There was a time when this might have bothered me. Now, I expect it and even hope that she gets dirty enough and has enough to fun to warrant a change of clothing.

Here she is on a walk with our godson Caden, who also attends Discovery Woods:

(If you look closely in the video clip above you can see Zander in the brown striped shorts, who is at summer camp at Discovery Woods, digging a trench. They are at different campuses for most of the day though.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Earthquake in the Early Morning

I spoke with my mom recently and she told me she was hoping for a new blog post. Yeah, me too mom. ;)

* * * * * * *

Truth is, there just aren't enough hours in the day anymore. Often, I compose posts in my head and never quite get to finishing them on screen. Life's little details keep getting in the way. I used to like details. I was on top of them. I could juggle them with my eyes closed. Now they pile up and I do my best to take care of at least the important ones. An example -- every day at the office I am excited when I get my "inbox" down to less than 500 messages. Sub-500 makes me happy. It's so wrong.

* * * * * *

There was an earthquake here today. Really. Brad and I woke up and couldn't figure out what was happening. I thought it felt like an earthquake would. The whole house was shaking. It sounded like an earthquake. I heard the pots on the pot rack bang. But, there aren't earthquakes in Northern Virginia, I thought to myself.

* * * * * * *

But, oh yes there are. Checked twitter and lo and earthquake! Throughout the day images of Christopher Reeve as Superman making the earth go backwards to save Margot Kidder as Lois Lane from the earthquake caused by Lex Luther's bomb danced in my head.

I told Zander when he woke up later and did my best to sound all excited. He didn't buy it at first. I watched the terror take over his face. His knowledge of earthquakes comes solely from Earthquake in the Early Morning (Magic Tree House #24), which tells the story of the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Spoiler: Jack and Annie narrowly escape with their lives.

I thought things seemed okay. At dinner he asked a clarifying questions about if anyone was standing on the earthquake when the crack opened up in the ground. I had some more explaining to do. Can someone please explain it to me in a non-scary way so I can then impart that to my child? 'Cause it wasn't a big deal on the Richter scale, but the friggin' ground *was* shaking. I don't know how Californians do it. (That means you cousin Lisa!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Joy is...

...a wagon full of melting ice, of course.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pirate Feet...Aargh!

Zander actually said, "Look dad...I have pirate feet," and made a pirate face to go with the dirty feet. This photo was taken after about five days without a bath. KIDDING! It was taken during a night of camping. Brad and Zander camping, that is. Here's a close-up in case you couldn't see the dirt:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Dressed

Never have I seen a child who wants to put her own clothes on more than this little girl. Oh, how she tries and tries. She has actually mastered getting her crocs on and off, but she'll still working on the rest of it.

It's just about the cutest thing.

Taking things literally

I have always been fascinated by -- and had fun with -- language development and children. And now Cassandra is at that age where every day she learns a new word (clock! moon! broken!) and funny misunderstandings regularly occur. Here's one from the other day...

When Zander asks for more of something before finishing what he already has, for years I have said, "Sure! Fill your tummy with what's on your plate and you can have more of [insert food item here]." So, when Cassandra was indicating that she wanted more water, I told her the same thing -- to fill her tummy with what was in her cup and I'd give her more. She looked at me oddly and then took her sippy cup and tipped it toward her belly button.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kindergarten Extravaganza!

Zander's school had their big song and dance "Kindergarten Extravaganza" last week. There was a lot of hype leadinp up to it, both from the school and from the Z man. Thanks to some babysitting by Grandma Paula, Brad and I were able to go sans Cassandra so we could actually pay attention to the show.

Zander did just fine as you will in first few clips below, although he was tired and coming down with a cold.

This song is called "The Alphabet Boogie." It's hard to tell but the children had some fancy footwork going on:

Zander refers to this next number as Rockamotion. What I like about the clip is that, if you look carefully, you can see Zander winking at me. See, his teacher told him that actors and actresses don't wave in the middle of their perfomance. So when he noticed me, he winked instead. He had done this earlier in the performance too, in response to me waving at him. (Look, who knew? It was almost instict.) Anyway...

And finally, here a few outtakes where we caught him yawning and/or feeling out his pockets or playing with his "junk" as Brad called it. He did this throughout much of the performance. I was trying to guess all the thing he might have had in that pocket (Star Wars lego people? rocks?), but Brad says that little boys just like to play with their penises and that is what he was doing. At one point when I saw the thumb go in the mouth (Zander still sucks his thumb), I gasped and said something to Brad along the lines of, "Aaaaaaand there's the thumb!" Brad asked me which I would prefer him doing -- sucking his thumb or playing with his "junk." I had no answer.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Where's Cassandra?

The game is a lot like "Where's Waldo," only much easier. Also, the 'hidee' in this case never gets tired of the game.

Here's another version. Just put a pillow covering your face. Doesn't matter if the rest of you can be seen as long as you can't see the person saying in a high pitched voice, "Where's Cassandra? Has anyone seen Cassandra?"

It pretty darn adorable.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

So much to blog little time.

Sigh. So much to blog about, so little time. We're in this stage of life where I feel like it will be forever before I can actually, ever relax again. But that's a post for another day.

Where was I? Right -- so much to blog about. Like for example, Zander and his old friend Elizabeth reuniting for their umpteenth Milkshake concert:

Here they are in 2007 at their first Milkshake concert together:

Or, I could do a post about Cassandra's first experience with ketchup and how now we can't even say the word "ketchup" much less put the bottle on the table without an endless amount of moaning and pointing until we squirt some for her to try to pick up with her fingers. We keep saying (and showing), "Ketchup is for dipping Cassandra," not to wear.

Or, I could talk about how we were spoiled by professional family photos by Jessica of Portrait Playtime and instead we now get these awkward, standard school photos:

(Photos that arrive -- mind you -- smashed in a backpack and surrounded by sticks, random drawings, and leftover lunch.)

Or I could post about how Brad's 'best man' and his wife came to visit from the big apple for a few short, special days. (He's a gallery owner and she teaches violin and plays on Broadway -- doesn't get much more New York City than that.) Their daughter is exactly one month older than Cassandra and they're the kind of people who, even though we rarely see them, feel like family. And look -- naked babies trying to hug each other:

Yeah, there's lots to blog about. Just not enough time! Life is full and that's a good thing. Just keep reminding me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sword fighting and Sack Races

Last weekend, Zander and Brad took one of our semi-annual trips to Claude Moore Colonial Farm's Market Fair (mentioned previously here and here) while I was home with a napping Cassandra. This might sound like I got the raw end of the deal, but I was napping too.

Anyway, this trip Brad caught some photos that really give a flavor of the event.

The sword fighting demonstration (Note: that is Zander sitting in the front row with the red baseball cap):

Bobbing for apples:

On an old-fashioned see-saw:

Some random geese:

A short video of a quick sack race, which oddly, Zander won:

And finally, we could no longer avoid letting Zander using his own money to by a pop gun. It looks like this one. He pretty much hasn't put it down since. Call us crazy, but it's the first of this type of play weapon that we have had in the house (other than the occasional water gun, which we naively tried to refer to as a water "shooters").