Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Marathon training season started for me today, followed by a game of Risk in which Connor utterly crushed me. During the game, Connor announced that he and Helen had waited until 8:00 to wake up (a rare treat for Ed, indeed) and Connor had even set the table for breakfast before Ed came out to put something on the table - surely a good omen for the day.

Helen ran a half mile and Connor ran a mile as I told them we were participating in 37 days of awesome by running every day until New Year's. The original challenge I signed up for was to run at least one mile every day, but Helen feels she needs a little time to work up to that. 

Next came cheesecake (the dessert Connor requested) and banana bread (the bananas on the counter called me to end their misery) baking, a decadent seafood platter put together by Ed to take to our neighbor's home, and then back home for the main event with just the four of us. It's not our typical Thanksgiving, but it did provide a nice break. Friends joined us for cocktails and dessert to top off the day. Helen and Connor went to bed giggling, zipped up in the double sleeping bags that Ed and I first used on our honeymoon in Alaska back in 2001.

The 3.5 pound red snapper that we baked in salt, something which is becoming our traditional fancy meal.

There is cheesecake! We will conquer it later!

Potatoes Anna - so much buttery goodness.

The perfectly baked fish. We consumed about half of it - so there's plenty for leftovers! It's almost like having a giant turkey at our home!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Good Toys

The basic standards for a good toy in our house is that the ratio of hours of entertainment must be high relative to the amount of space the toy takes up. A yo-yo, for example, need only be used by a child for a few hours but a pretend kitchen better be the center of a child's play for many, many hours. Recently, I've been doing a little clean out, and I've added the criteria that the toy should be able to be played with by both Connor and Helen, offering each of them something.

The marble runs in our home have been lifted up in status recently. Helen can build and test one route for the marble to come down while Connor builds another, often with the more complicated pieces, more twists, and a little more craziness.

The recently completed run?

I love this toy, so I'm always thrilled when it's revived from the shelves it normally sits upon.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Art and Memorable Moments

Today, Connor's art class presented artwork that showed a surprise. I wasn't able to attend, but a friend took this video of Connor and sent it to me. As soon as I saw the first frame, I knew exactly how this was going to end. Nobody has ever told Connor how serious his broken arm was. Nobody has every told Connor that a fall of a not too different nature could've ended in a broken neck. So while I immediately tensed up when I saw this, I know Connor is much more sanguine about the whole affair.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Lice...Round 2?

Arlington County has changed the reporting guidelines for lice, and it is no longer a requirement that families report the little buggers. This is unfortunate, since children can be asymptomatic carriers for several days, which heightens the chance for spread.

Last Sunday night, Helen attended a birthday party and one of the moms came up to me after dropping Helen off and said "just wanted to let you know, the classroom next door to ours has lice", which I thought was nice of her to mention. She has children in both classrooms.

Tonight, I received a note from a parent in Helen's class self-reporting that her son had lice, along with some information on how to spot lice and take care of it. That note inspired another mom to check her daughter's hair and sure enough, her daughter also was playing host to several bugs.

I get Arlington's position, that it's not a health issue, it's a nuisance. But it can become a big nuisance, and it seems to me knowing it's in the classroom is better than not knowing. I'm grateful to the parents for self-reporting, and I'm also once again grateful to the folks at Lice Happens who gifted me a comb at a blogging event several years ago. I'll be deploying that comb on Helen's head, hoping her head has not been near enough another child's to have a wayward louse decide to join her crazy hair.

Hello, Monday!


Updated: NO LICE - so far, at least!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In answer to the question...

Will a seagull steal a chip from a child's bottom?

The answer is yes! If he lies still enough. But it takes longer than you might think.

Connor was totally complicit in our antics. Five adults and Helen watched very quietly, reloading and baiting the cap on his bottom as necessary.


Saturday, November 22, 2014


This past Halloween, Connor and Helen - along with a friend of theirs - took part in our first family Bike-or-Treat. The ride was sponsored by KidicalMass. I forgot that costumes were allowed, so when we arrived, I tried to make up names for our complete normal clothes. I think we decided that we were undercover agents.

No matter - there were a few stops along the route where other riders who had ridden ahead were posted and ran through the bike train with treats. This was perhaps the best use of Helen's basket ever.

We're hoping to catch more of these rides when the weather warms up again. It will warm up again, right?


Friday, November 21, 2014

The Signers and the Non-Signers

Once upon a time, I was the kind of parent who signed her child's school paper every single night - just as the teacher asked. But then one day, I just stopped. I didn't stop caring about my child's progress, I guess I just got tired of signing.

That day was towards the end of Connor's first grade year. I like to think I was pretty much the most kick-ass-paper-signer-of-all-time up to that point. And then I just fell apart. I remember realizing it when I looked in his notebook and had to flip back quite a few pages to find my last signature.

I was sorting papers in Helen's class a few weeks ago. And I have to admit, as good as I was at signing stuff when Connor was in first grade, these parents put me to shame. Many of them signed not just the box marked "parent initials", they signed their full name next to each line of the paper. They, by the way, are all parents of first born children.

Poor Helen, she never even got to witness all my kick-ass-signing glory. As I was sorting papers and got to hers, I noticed this. It's not that I don't care - I just fail to sign.

Helen is super proud of the forgery, and occasionally requests that I not sign, even though I now try and sign the paper before she turns it in each Friday. Sometimes, Helen asks Connor to sign. When I texted this photo to my sister and mom, my sister wrote back "looks like she's pretty close to Ed's", which of course made me laugh out loud while I was volunteering in the class.

Good thing I know the teacher well. Otherwise, she might request Helen bring another parent to class with her!


Thursday, November 20, 2014


Connor hit upon the game Pokemon a few months ago, and he's been playing with friends, Ed, and occasionally Helen and I whenever he gets a chance. I actually don't mind the game, but my favorite part is not actually part of the game at all.

For the uninitiated, it's a card game where you draw Pokemon, that come with special fighting powers and abilities to fend off attacks and evolve into strong Pokemon. The names of the moves can be things like "stretch kick", "spiral drain", "ice ball", "spit poison", "powder snow"... The first time I played, I just presumed this was some weird theater game, so of course I pretended to be the Pokemon, and would try and act out the various moves. This thought had never entered Connor or Ed's mind, so they had failed to incorporate any crazy acting into the game at all. And in fact, when Connor tried to act out a move on Ed, Ed thought he was being a little rude. I, of course, confidently said "that's the whole point of the game". Which of course, it is not, but it still makes the game a lot more fun.

Even though Helen does not possess the level of reading skills required to play the game, she enjoys it anyway. Last night, she leaned over Ed's shoulder and created her own move - the "power cough". I almost fell over I was laughing so hard. Ed was a little concerned about the germ spread, but that's what makes it a powerful move, right?*

Now...I want to start making my own Pokemon cards with powers Helen or I deem awesome. It's going to add a whole new dimension to the game.


*Connor did come down with a high fever and ear infection following this great move, which may or may not be related to the move.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Season Ending Hike

As mentioned last Wednesday, a week ago Sunday, we should have been coming back from a camping trip. But by the time we settled on where we wanted to go, the campsites were full. No matter, Ed had a friend from high school in town, so he met him and another friend from back in the day out, while I caught up on some reading after putting the kids to bed.

But Sunday, we took advantage of what would turn out to be among the last really pleasant fall days. For at least a week now, it's been hovering around and below 30 when I run in the morning, and the day's aren't getting that warm either.

Old Rag, a hike that started the summer with a challenge, is getting to be old hat for the kids. I can't believe I haven't posted photos before now, but here are a few shots captured with the iPhone. Crappy photos, to be sure. But good memories all the same.

After the hike, I ran along the tow-path back to the car so I could meet the kids and Ed a little further on down the trail, letting Connor and Helen avoid the trek back to the car. No need to ruin a great hike with pushing it just a little too far.

Until Spring, Old Rag.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We Never Eat Science

Helen received a gift subscription of Little Passports from my mom for her birthday. This month, the packet took us to South Dakota. One of the items in the packet was a science experiment to better understand erosion, which was discussed in the context of the Badlands.

The experiment called for dropping different amounts of water on Skittles to see what happens. Before we started, Helen admonished Connor and I saying "we never eat science". This, of course, is not true, since we eat science every time we bake, so I asked Helen where she got that idea from.

It is a rule in her first grade class.

And in a first grade classroom, that rule makes a lot of sense.

Several hours later, our Skittles have nearly eroded away entirely, except the purple one which was doused with the fewest drops of water. I'm wondering if it will hang on until morning. And luckily, because we never eat science, I will get to find out!

This started out as four Skittles that did not touch each other.