Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ides of Life

Oliver has been ice skating before, but this might be his first time actually enjoying it.

We went ice skating after school one day because Phoebe's best friend had never been!

Phoebe got a FitBit for Christmas and now keeps track of everything. Her continuous hula hooping record is now more than six minutes long. Ask her for the exact record; she is very proud of it.

I've never considered myself a political activist, but Mr. 45 is changing that. His election baffled me and his executive orders have gone against my core values. After 45 wrote an executive order to ban travel from Muslim-majority countries, I proudly stood in solidarity with many other peaceful protestors. I would be ashamed of myself if I didn't do something to stand up for my Muslim friends and neighbors. They are peaceful people that practice a peaceful religion.

Bruce and kids combing the rocky shore for the perfect shell or rock or sea glass. This is in Rhode Island at our neighbor's grandma's house along the shore. It was beautiful!

Phoebe loves loves loves animals. She enjoyed walking our neighbor's dog around the yard in Rhode Island.

For Valentine's Day, Phoebe helped me decorate all the bags for our valentines for the homeless project.

She is running out of teeth.

Martha's Vineyard 20-miler 2017! I first won this race in 2007 and then again in 2012. This year makes it three wins!

February vacation in Quebec: we got a sweet little cottage with an outdoor hot tub.

Phoebe literally chilling out.

Phoebe getting off the magic carpet, ready for more action.

K had never skied before, so gave it a go. She does not like the cold. Or uncomfortable boots. Or awkward skis. But she survived a lesson, learned to stay upright more than on her bum, and tried skiing. Success!

Oliver loved skiing. Scott and I took turns going down the bunny hill with him.

Bruce and Phoebe waiting in line for the lift. That would be Phoebe "doing the Dab," as she calls it. She thinks she is so cool.

Oliver discovered ketchup-flavored Doritos. We may never be the same again.

We tried to include a few things that K would actually enjoy, so we headed to a mall and got pedicures. She claims Canadian malls are sooooo much better than American malls.

Phoebe and her snowshoes.

Phoebe in the Montreal Biosphere, a museum about climate change.

And we finally made it to the Montreal Biodome - the museum we originally intended to see. It's like a zoo/ museum/ aquarium.

Phoebe and her big mouth with an alligator and his big mouth.

Phoebe started a cooking class after school and loves it.

I might just adopt the bullet-point style of blogging from now on. I cannot seem to keep up anymore.

January highlights:
  • We added to our family! No, I am not pregnant. We took in a 15-year-old girl from church who needed a place to go. We bought bunk beds and another shelf for Phoebe's room and K fits right in. K is a freshman, a sprinter on her school's track team, and is easygoing but driven. After a full day of school she heads to track practice, then comes home to a pile of homework before dinner and bed. She prefers to spend weekends sleeping in. Thankfully, she is patient with small noisy kids. Anyway, she has been with us since the start of the year and will be with us through at least part of the summer or maybe longer. K is a delight, so we aren't showing her the door.
  • I ran a 3K at an indoor track meet. I started official marathon training and jumped in a 3K for fun. I got roasted by the other ladies, but still had a blast.
Phoebe at a community ice skating party.
February highlights:
  • It was our neighbor's birthday and he wanted us to celebrate by going to his grandma's house in Rhode Island. We went for a night and enjoyed playing with the dog, throwing rocks into the ocean, playing in a real legit backyard, baking a cake together, staying up chatting, and enjoying time with friends. 
  • Valentine's Day was eventful yet again. I organized women from church, school, and neighborhood groups to assemble 120 valentines for the homeless. 100 valentines went to the Salvation Army in Central Square and another 20 went to a smaller women's-only shelter called On The Rise. I also got valentines for Scott and the kids and they gifted me lots of chocolates too.
  • I hosted another successful blood drive at church. When I first started organizing drives, I would get so nervous about things possibly going wrong or no one showing up or whatever. I am finally getting to the point where I feel hardly any stress at all. Which is good because this time around, Oliver threw up at school that morning so that changed our plans for the whole day. I am usually there from start to finish, but this time I delegated and disappeared for as much as I could. As for Oliver, he threw up twice but woke up fine the next day.
  • I won the Martha's Vineyard 20-miler! This probably deserves its own post, but it's not going to happen. Here is a quick recap: I woke up race morning to a car that wouldn't start. Our car battery was weak anyway and then Phoebe left an interior light on when she was searching for a favorite pencil a few nights before. Oops. Luckily, my parking-spot-neighbor was warming up her car for work, so she gave me a jump-start and I drove the 1 1/2 hours to the ferry. I took the 45-minute ferry to Martha's Vineyard and warmed up for the race. The weather was fantastic. Last year it was ridiculously awfully cold and this year it was in the high 40s or low 50s - so 70 degrees warmer than last year. It was still windy, so I spent the first 10 miles tucked behind two guys. Those initial miles are along the ocean, so the wind is very strong and my face felt like it was being sandblasted. After 10 miles, the course turns inland and the wind isn't as bad but then the hills start rolling. I was not sure what place I was in because there was a relay at the same time; I had seen another woman go out very fast at the start, but wasn't sure if she was a relay runner or a 20-miler. As it turns out, she was a relay runner. Not knowing my place didn't slow me down though: I was determined to race well even if it wasn't going to be a win. I'd worked hard just to get there! But when I got to the finish line and the race director unfurled the winning tape across the line, I was really happy to break it. I first won this race in 2007, so it is nice to be able to come back a decade later and win. 
  • February vacation! The kids had a week off of school and Scott took the week off too. We wanted to escape the city, but traveling anywhere with six bodies is now really expensive. We looked at places within a few hours' drive and ended up going to Quebec. K had never been out of the country so was very excited to go somewhere - even if it was just Canada. We stayed at a little vacation house in a small town between Montreal and Quebec. We went skiing and hiking and snowshoeing. The house had a hot tub and tiny sauna, which we used daily. We went on a day-trip to Montreal and after two hours at the wrong museum, we ended up where we originally intended at the Biodome. K is not a huge fan of the cold or outdoors, but she tried a lot of new things. To reward her efforts, we had a girls' day where we went to a mall and got pedicures and facials. We decided that everything tastes better in Canada. Everything was a little cheaper too. Success.
As for kid updates:
  • Bruce still loves middle school. He enjoys the feedback and actual grades as opposed to the ambiguous grading system from elementary school. He loves playing piano in the jazz band and now plays regularly at church functions. He loves playing Bananagrams and would sit there putting together words and eating cookies all night if I let him. 
  • Phoebe is a joy and a curse still. She is so fun and creative, but throws fits like a two-year-old. I keep hoping this phase will end, but I hear it may just spread into the teenage years. Phoebe still loves taekwondo and is now going twice a week. She is taking a cooking class after school once a week. She made thumbprint cookies the first week and sorbet the next. Phoebe has lost a few teeth and still has a ridiculous streak: she recently etched the word "POOP" into our tabletop with her fork.
  • Oliver is still my baby and showing it. He loves preschool but still goes through periods when I have to talk him into attending. He also has a hard time going to Primary on Sundays. He does not like big crowds and so clings to my leg when I try to drop him off with his class. I usually have to sit with him for awhile, then sneak out when he isn't looking.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Holiday Whirlwind

Here I am playing catch-up again. My blog may be doomed thanks to Facebook posts that keep my family somewhat updated and my increasing habit of personal journal writing (not a bad thing). Still, I think there is value to the sort of family journal that this blog has become. So I will keep trying...

November highlights:
  • Voted! I was excited to cast my vote for a woman. I was not excited when the devil himself won the election. How long will it take for him to get impeached?
  • Got flu shots. Oliver cried, Bruce had a panic attack, I squealed, and Phoebe didn't even notice when she was stuck by the needle. She basked in her toughness for a few weeks.
  • Went to a zillion school events. Having three kids at three schools makes for lots of weeknight events. The middle school had a "health and wellness night" where we did a scavenger hunt and some other activities and won Boston Celtics tickets in a raffle; Bruce and I went to the game and had fun, but it was late for a weeknight and we were surrounded by stupid drunk people. Oliver's class had a potluck and sang a few songs as part of a presentation. 
  • Attended the Harvard-Yale football game. It's a big rivalry here and tickets are hard and expensive to come by, but one of Scott's coworkers gave him tickets so we felt obligated to use them. Harvard and Yale aren't actually that good at football, so it was like watching high school football in a bigger stadium and with freezing naked college kids across the bleachers.
  • Thanksgiving! We started the day off with a win and course record at the Wild Turkey Trot, then came home and cooked all day. We had the missionaries over along with an elderly man from church and a neighbor of ours who moved here from India a few months ago and had never experienced Thanksgiving.  
  • Black Friday at the Zoo! We spent the day avoiding traditional retail and instead went to the Franklin Park Zoo during the day and Zoo Lights at Stone Zoo at night. 
First big snow at the neighborhood park!

Learning gun safety before going shooting with Uncle Chris.

Sledding and tubing in Ohio with family!
December highlights:
  •  Selling fudge with the Boy Scouts. Bruce's scout troop made, packaged, and sold fudge as a fundraiser for scout camp. We sold fudge in the train stations and to friends and family and it occupied way too much time.
  • Bruce's piano recital. He has been Skyping with his piano teacher for a few months and we had a recital with the other 10 or so Skype students. It isn't quite the same sitting in your living room watching the tiny screen for a recital, but it is sure convenient. Getting a teacher to our house has been a pain in the past: parking is hard to find and traffic is always awful, so if a teacher agrees to come it's going to cost an arm and a leg. Bruce also had a recital with his jazz band and they were very impressive!
  • My church calling took over my life. As humanitarian service coordinator, there was lots to do this Christmas. I organized a toy drive through the Salvation Army, put together a wish list and fundraiser for a family in the community whose house burned down, and organized another blood drive (which I also donated at). 
  • Had a birthday. With the business of everything else going on, I barely noticed turning 35. Scott did get me a cake and I got a few gifts. I'm pretty sure I got a few gray hairs from this month too.
  • Phoebe graduated from her taekwondo class. She got her double black stripe belt and moved up to the youth class. It's much more intense and they add sparring too. So far, she is loving it.
  • OHIO! We looked forward to this all month and were so excited to finally get in the car and go. It's a long drive, but the kids were good on the way there. We attended the family Christmas Eve bash, visited with friends, saw all nine of my siblings and their families, went shooting, did some shopping, sneaked a date in with Scott, did lots of trail running, had a bonfire, went sledding, did lots of eating, and had a wonderful Christmas morning too. The kids each other really meaningful gifts this year; I was so impressed by them. For instance, Phoebe bought Oliver a Star Wars 5-minute stories book and she got Bruce some comic books. We made it back to Boston for the new year, but the kids are already asking when we will be going to Ohio again.

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Monday, November 07, 2016

Halloween 2016

We started Halloween weekend with a trip to Cape Cod. After my dissatisfying time at the Akron Marathon, I signed up for the Cape Cod Half Marathon for redemption. I put in a few solid weeks of training post-marathon, didn't bother with much of a taper (since it didn't seem to do me any favors for Akron), and went out and hammered the half in 1:22:39. I planned to run between 6:15-6:20 pace and did exactly that with 6:18s. It was good enough for third place, so I get $300 (if it ever comes in the mail!). After the race, Bruce and Phoebe wanted to go biking on a nearby trail so I put in a few more miles to cool down.
 Driving back from the Cape, we stopped at a cranberry bog. We have lived in Massachusetts for more than a decade and somehow still hadn't been to a bog. So we changed that: we stopped at this awesome little family-owned bog and took a brief tour, learned about the cranberry vines and how they grow, then checked out the cool equipment they sort it on. The kids got to try it out (above, sorting berries on a conveyor belt). We took some cranberries home and put them in an apple pie. Those little berries are tart, but they sure go well with sweet stuff. Yum.
After our cranberry bog experience, we went home and went to the church Halloween party. Phoebe was a skeleton, Oliver was Mr. Incredible, and Bruce was an obscure Jedi from Star Wars. Nobody had strong opinions about what they wanted to be for Halloween, so they raided the dress-up box and this is what they came up with.
 Phoebe found some vampire teeth at the trunk-or-treat to complete the look.
 On the real Halloween (Monday), we packed in a bunch of activities after school. We visited the fire station to get glow sticks and candy.
Then we went to Phoebe's school Halloween party at the park. The weather was fantastic so we stayed for a long time and played games, got more candy, and painted pumpkins.
After the school party, we came home and grabbed some dinner before heading out for trick-or-treating. We went to a nearby neighborhood and stopped by a senior center where a few elderly residents lined up their wheelchairs in the lobby and handed out candy in a sort-of buffet line. The place was decked out with decorations and the kids agreed it was their favorite stop of the night. By the end of the night, the kids got their weight in candy. Bruce ate a bit, then gave me the rest to donate to a food pantry. Phoebe ate a bunch of hers and is still eating it bit by bit. Oliver ate all the KitKats out of his pile and now just likes to count it and sort it, but not eat it.

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Middle school isn't so bad after all

 I was initially worried about Bruce entering middle school this year, but he is thriving. He recently had some art put on display at the Children's Museum, so we went to the opening reception to get a look at it for ourselves. His is the flamingo print.
 It was perhaps the funnest art reception ever because we got to play in all the exhibits too.
We had a blast playing there on a Friday night. Thankfully I packed this kid's pajamas; he fell asleep on the bus ride home!
Bruce joined the cross country team. I didn't want to force him into it, but was more than happy when the gym teacher encouraged him to join the team. It wasn't really legit cross country: they ran 1-1.3 miles twice a week on a small flat grassy field behind the school. They had one meet at the end of their short season where they competed against the other three middle schools in the district. Bruce's school team was the largest and they won handily. Bruce ran the just-over-a-mile race in a bit over 10 minutes and finished in the back of the pack, but was happy that he improved his time throughout the season.
While other parents chatted and walked their dogs, we were the most experienced cheer section out there for sure. We had our cowbells, drum, a sign, and lots of high-fives to give.

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Queen P turns seven

Phoebe started out her birthday by getting her front tooth pulled. It has been wiggling for weeks and Phoebe said it was going to fall out on her birthday. I think when one of her teeth fell out last Christmas Day, she thought it was pretty awesome. So the tooth came out - with a little help from Scott.
 Gross. Phoebe was so proud of her bloody nasty mouth. I don't think I looked when I took this picture. Ewww.
Phoebe had her birthday all planned out (for a long time). We started out with cheap-o Lucky Charms for breakfast. And milk sipped through a straw that fit nicely into her newly gapped teeth.
We had crepes for lunch. Phoebe's had about a gallon of Nutella on it and a bunch of powdered sugar and coconut flakes and raspberries. So sugar for breakfast and sugar for lunch. Thankfully, Phoebe requested mexicali chopped salad for a healthier dinner. After a good serving of veggies and fruit, it was back to sugar though...
Ginger chocolate cake and an ice cream cake that Grandma Raymond sent! Yummmm. Phoebe got a few presents, but the biggest gift was two pet hermit crabs. She named them Digger and Maxi. They were so traumatized from the ride home from the pet store (or something?) that they dug holes and stayed in them for a few days, so she didn't actually see them on her birthday. Several days later they made an appearance before digging themselves underground again. She put a picture of herself next to their cage and talks to them in hopes they'll warm up to her someday.
I had a parent-teacher conference with her first-grade teacher last week. The teacher said Phoebe is strong academically, but is so overly enthusiastic that it can be a disruption. Yep, no surprises there. She also said Phoebe is particularly good at helping out some of the tougher kids in class. Her kindergarten teacher made this same comment last year: Phoebe is inclusive and knows how to talk to kids with behavioral problems. Proud mom moment there. Maybe she will turn out ok after all.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

More photos because Maine is beautiful

 Here is the cottage we stayed at in Maine. It was a super-old house, built before plumbing was a thing. Two bathrooms were added in more recent years, but you have to sit on the toilet sideways to fit in the bathroom. Awesome. It was great though: it's nice to have a backyard for even just a few days.
We did lots of hiking. The kids did great and we had our best family hiking experience since Oliver was born.
He always had a stick in his hand, often using it as a lightsaber or pointing it like a gun and telling people to put their hands up. It's a little disturbing coming from a three-year-old.

 He does cute things too though: he picked up these leaves and wanted to carry them back for his preschool teachers.
 This is the lake behind the cottage. It was small and shallow, so perfect for the kids.
 Look - there is photographic evidence that I exist!
 Scott took Phoebe out...

...and Oliver too. He seems to have forgotten that last kayaking incident. He was pretty happy.
 We brought the kids' bikes. They love getting a little more freedom than they get on city streets.
 We hiked a place called Step Falls.
 We enjoyed the view from the top, slid down some slick rocks, and headed down.
 On the way down, Oliver tripped and fell. He was running downhill with a stick in his hand and didn't let go of the stick to brace his fall, so face-planted in the dirt and rocks and roots.
We made a few more stops for side-of-the-road waterfalls and such.
Phoebe was pretty stoked that she photo-bombed the boys.

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