Monday, November 12, 2012

Marathon Man

Kenny ran a marathon yesterday.  Yeah, I'm impressed too. It's not on my bucket list, but it's on his and now it's crossed off forever.   

 He is already talking about the possibility of running future marathons (Beijing has one in the spring and the fall), 
but I think he'll spend some time recovering before he actually signs up to run another one.

  He did pretty well for his first, and maybe only, time and we're all very proud of him!

Yea, marathon man!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Nancy Strikes Again

We had our family pictures taken in September by our favorite photographer and dear friend, Nancy.  Despite having to work with some very uncooperative and less than willing subjects, she worked her magic once again.  My goal is always 1 good family group and 1 decent shot of each of the kids.  Mission accomplished.  Thanks, Nancy!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

All my pumpkins

One of the residual benefits of all of my children being born in the same month is that things like coats and costumes fit everyone at the perfect season.  Before Caleb's first Halloween I found a pumpkin costume on ebay for the bargain price of $5.  

We certainly have gotten our money's worth...

 Caleb, 2006

Isaac, 2008

Claire, 2012

Monday, November 05, 2012

Happy (belated) Halloween

For the sake of posterity, here are my little ones celebrating one of their most favorite holidays.

 Caleb as a samurai.

 Isaac as the white ninja.

Baby Claire, the cutest pumpkin on the block, 
at least we think so.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

O, Canada

We took a very quick trip to Canada over the Labor Day holiday.  Kenny realized that we hadn't left the country this year, the first time since we got married, and decided that was unacceptable.  So, with Claire's brand new passport in hand, we drove ourselves to and across the border. 

 On our way we stopped in Cleveland to visit cousins.

 We also made a pit stop in Kirtland, Ohio.   Kirtland is am important site in Mormon history and Kenny had never visited before.

 Claire and Daddy in the School of the Prophets.

 The Kirtland Temple, the first LDS temple constructed in modern times.

 Niagara Falls, USA.

 Niagara Falls, Canada.

 We decided to take a ride on the Maid of the Mist in order to view the Falls to their best advantage. 

 Thank goodness for our ponchos or we would have been soaked.

 During our brief sojourn in Canada, Claire learned to hold her bottle all by herself.  YEA!

 After our ride on the Maid of the Mist, we squeezed in some pool time,

(We really need to teach Isaac to swim).

 And a round of miniature golf - because once you've seen the Falls, well, you've seen them.

 One last shot of the Falls before heading back to the US of A.

No stamps in the passports, not many places do that anymore actually, but mission accomplished just the same.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What a Face!

 This is Claire's expression of choice these days.  The funniest thing is that every time she makes it, she laughs at herself.  Oh, how we love our silly baby girl!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Day of School 2012

Caleb has been going to school now for 4 years and he handled his first day of First grade like a pro, just as I expected.  With Isaac I was ready for tears, hanging onto my hand for dear life, and a general lack of enthusiasm for all things preK.  But, despite telling me "I'm not so sure about this," as we walked to his classroom, he put his things in his cubby, kissed me goodbye, and sat down on the carpet ready to go without even a glimmer of hesitation.  It was a good first day of school and although we will be switching schools mid-year, I think it's going to be a great year for both of them.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to School

School starts Monday, YEA!  We met the boys' teachers last night and they are both really excited about the new year.  We have purchased school supplies and backpacks and new shoes.  We have selected their first day of school outfits (do boys have outfits?) and talked about our goals for the year.  And, we will have a special back to school dinner and FHE on Monday to celebrate.  

In the meantime, we are spending the weekend playing wii and watching movies and savoring the last moments of summer vacation before the boys get back into the swing of things.  We have had a great summer, but are all ready for a bit more structure.  And I am ready for some free time to start working on my own projects.  Best of all for me, however, is I am ready to NOT be going back to school.  I love to look at my Master's degree diploma.  It reminds of what an exceptional graduate school experience I had, but it also reminds me that I'm DONE.  FOREVER.  


That said, there is something about going back to school that always makes me feel a little nostalgic.  I love freshly sharpened pencils and crisp, new notebooks full of blank pages waiting to be filled.  I love brand new boxes of crayons and markers that will be transformed into precious works of art.  I love meeting the teacher and finding their cubbies and learning who sits at their tables.  I love talking about all the things they learn each day and seeing how excited they get by these new discoveries.  I love school, even when it's inconvenient and challenging.  So, this fall I am pursuing a different brand of educational endeavor.

Over at A Bowl Full of Lemons, Toni is hosting a 14-week home organization class.  Each week she will guide her "students" through one room in the house, organizing everything in their paths.  For me, the timing of this class couldn't be better.  With our move to China edging ever closer, this is exactly what I need.  The kitchen is project number one, starting September 1, and I can't wait!  Now, if I could just get this excited about cleaning every room in my house...

Click the button to join in the organizing fun!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Trouble With A Capital "B" and/or "C"

Did you hear about the Bumbo seat recall?  If by some miracle you haven't, you can read about it here.  

We, like 4 million others, have a Bumbo, but in our house there is little danger of Claire falling out since she doesn't much use it for sitting...

but, we might just get rid of the Bumbo anyway.  
Just to be safe.

PS I came into the room on the day of the recall to find her like this -- it's hard to tell from the photos, but she is about 8 inches off the ground with just one foot on the Bumbo and the other floating in mid-air.  I have no idea how she managed to get into this position.   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

9 years

The summer is flying by and I have thousands (okay maybe just dozens) of posts to publish to get caught up on all our comings and goings, but they will have to wait for school to start -- which is a mere 12 days away.  In the meantime, we are busy, busy, busy doing summer camp and going to the fair and barbecuing and learning to climb stairs (yes, she is only 7 months old and already climbing stairs!) and starting to get serious about moving a million (actually only 7000, but it might as well be a million) miles away and generally doing all sorts of things that leave no time for blogging.  

But, today is exceptional.  Some days are like that.  Some days force you to stop and think and make an exception, and today is one such day.  9 years ago today I married the best man I know.  Truly.  He is smart and kind and courageous and generous.  He was when I met him, and he is still all those things now.  He is an incredible father, a wonderful husband, and generally just a stellar human being.  Everyone who knows him loves him, and best of all, he loves me.  We have had 9 years of joy together and apart from a recent discovery that he thinks synchronized swimming and rythmic gymnastics are not "sporty" enough to be in the Olympics, he has never disappointed me.


and now, well, last November.
Clearly, we need to take more pictures of the two of us together.

I know people always say it seems like just yesterday was our wedding day, and in some ways I feel that way too.  But, mostly, I feel grateful for and am keenly aware of every single day and hour and minute and moment we have spent together.  I am grateful he is the father of my children.  I am grateful he loves travel and theater and music and literature.  I am grateful he is patient and wise.  I am grateful he doesn't just listen to me, but that he hears me, too.  I am grateful he believes in us and our family and all the possibilities ahead.  I am grateful we get to see and experience the world together, because there is no one else I would rather do that or anything else with.  I am grateful for the man that he is and the person that I am with him.  

Happy Anniversary to us! 
It's been an excellent 9 years, just as I knew it would be.  Here's to many, many more.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Fun #8

We are a church visiting family.  Everywhere in the world we travel, we always make time to see a few churches.  As a result, we have been to cathedrals, monasteries, abbeys, convents, temples, chapels, tabernacles, synagogues, and just about every other type of place of worship imaginable.  Except for a mosque.  But, we will do that someday.  While living in DC we have been to the National Cathedral several times, but very few other religious buildings.  DC, like many large and oldish cities, is teeming with churches, many of which are open to the public and have beautiful stained glass, artwork, and other objets d'art on display.  I have recently decided I want us to see some of these churches before we leave for China next year, so to that end, earlier this week we visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

I have wanted to visit the Basilica for many years and finally got my act together enough to pile the kids in the car and drive the very short 15 minutes (I know, ridiculously close!) required to get there.  The boys have been along for many of our religious building excursions in the past and though they were not thrilled when I revealed our destination, they, like always, found several things of interest during our brief sojourn at the Basilica.  Their less than enthusiastic reactions reminded me of a conversation Kenny and Caleb had last summer near then end of our stay in Vienna.  We were talking about plans for the day and Caleb said, "Daddy, can we not go to any churches today, please?  I really like churches, but if we can just do something different today I would be really happy and then we can see more churches tomorrow."  Kenny, of course, granted this very polite and reasonable request and we managed to find some non-church things to do that day.  Like I said, we are a church visiting family.

The Basilica is vast, not surprisingly.  In fact, it is the largest Catholic Church in the US.  With very few exceptions the wall and ceiling art is done in mosaics.  I'm sure there is a statistic somewhere of how many colored tiles were used -- it must be in the tens of millions.  Much of the art is also very obviously American.  The crypt is enormous and the walls and columns are printed from floor to ceiling with thousands of names.  There are dozens of chapels throughout both the upper and lower churches as well.  We only paused in most of them, but each is beautiful in its own right.  We did not get to see the crypt chapel because there was a mass in progress, but we had unfettered access to every other part of the building except the main altar in the upper church. 

Memorial Hall in the crypt.

There are two organs in the upper church, this is the larger of the two and has nearly 1000 pipes.  While we were there, an organist began to play, giving us a very pleasant and unexpected surprise.

This mosaic is the "Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome."

There were marble columns everywhere in the upper church -- clearly no expense was spared during construction.  This one in particular was gargantuan.

"Christ in Majesty" -- the mosaic in the North Apse.

The mosaic from the West Apse, it is called "Woman Clothed with the Sun," but Caleb and Isaac preferred to refer to it as "the dragon one."

An example of gorgeous mosaic detail.

The interior view from the dome crossing, you can see the altar in the distance.

"Our Lady of China" -- we couldn't pass up the photo op.

Cooperative and happy Claire resting on a pew.

Another stunningly detailed mosaic.

"Mary, Queen of Ireland" scupture where we stopped to 
throw wishes in the fountain.

Varicolored marble columns.

And even more varieties of marble.

Another example of a beautiful mosaic.

Interior view.

Exterior view.

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