In Which I Recap With Photos

I can't seem to find a rhythm to keep the blog current with events as they occur. Seems I'm destined to be a "Week in Review" kind of blogger. There have been big happenings here in the past 9 days.

I can't believe this first picture is from only 9 days ago. Alex's school science fair project advanced to the Regional competition where he earned another first place. Always wondered just what the heck gluten is anyway? Ask the boy, he can tell you. That and whether to use bread flour or pastry flour for your next pie crust (pastry!).

Shortly after the science fair we headed to San Antonio where Emma had qualified to be in the Regional competition for the National History Bee. We studied history 'til we knew all kinds of facts about Marbury vs. Madison and the Albigensian Crusades. Despite spending the first round getting used to the game-show buzzers and realizing she was going to have to hop to it if she meant to beat some of those history-obsessed boys to the buzzer she ended up in the top 10 finalists. Better than any Jeopardy! episode ever.

THEN, the spring musical. After months of rehearsals, prop-building and painting the singing and dancing is behind us. It was strange to sit down and look ahead to the week and see only SPACE in those afternoon slots (and swim practice.....but that's different).

My car hit 111,111 miles.

Emma was accepted to LASA, one of the local high school magnet schools. After much contemplation she has decided to give it a shot. As difficult as I KNOW it is for her to embark on this new, scary, exciting, challenging adventure I am sure I do not fully grasp the courage required. I am in awe of her.

Speaking of courage, I am reminded of this list Alex brought home on Valentine's day. Every student had an assignment to write one kind sentence about all the other students and the teacher compiled the lists. This is Alex's. They're all sweet and wonderful but my absolute favorite of ALL TIME is the first one. Especially the "courage giver" part. I want to be a courage giver too. I want everyone to be a courage giver. Imagine what the world could be like if only there were more courage givers out there.


Red River 2013

After a hiatus last year we hit the road for a semi-long weekend and drove to Red River, NM for a ski weekend with the family. It was our first family ski trip in a looooong time. What used to be a regular thing, when there were fewer of us (I'm looking at YOU, Children!) had faded to nothing in the last several years. This was the first time on skis for the little nieces and Emma became the best ski instructor anyone in the family has ever had. Last summer she taught the girlies to swim and now to ski.  As Madilyn put it, "She's a really good cousin". I couldn't agree more.

I really love Red River. It hasn't gone commercial and consists of one street with some Mom & Pop restaurants, a market, and ski gear and rentals, some local tchotchke shops and places to stay. What more do you need? They've even started making snow so no worries about the slopes being rocky or bare in those dryer years. And the crowds were nonexistent. Sunday I think I waited in a lift line for maybe 2-3 minutes while Monday and Tuesday there was NO WAITING at all. It could not have been better. There were several moments on the slopes where we were the only ones within view. Our own private mountain. 

It almost became our private mountain for a few bonus days. We woke early on Wednesday to make the trek back to Austin only to find about six inches of snow on the ground, about five hours earlier than the forecast I saw had predicted. No bueno. My minivan was not going to make that climb out of the valley so we had to sit tight and hope the plows came soon. Turned out it only took the plows as long as it took Shotgun Willies to cook us up some french toast and eggs so we were on our way. 

Everyone made improvements (even ME!) and has vowed to keep the momentum. Red River, we'll be back!


On the road

There are moments in parenting that undeniably remind you that time flies, nothing stays the same and the time we have we our kids is ridiculously short. First day of kindergarten comes to mind. Those first steps that come so quickly, and words coming out of their mouth like magic, losing teeth, riding a bicycle. There are so many examples. Here's another. I can't get my mind around how our Sunday mornings went from this:

To this:

This along with several high school related activities. Elective showcases and those pesky academic classes that get in the way of just taking theatre all day, every day (but isn't all the world a stage?). AP or Not To AP?  It's definitely forced me to start thinking in terms of how many years before college is staring us in the face (answer = not many!) and all the growing up that's going to happen in what is really such a short time. And how quickly it's going to go.



After the hellish summer of '11 I made a solemn vow (if solemn = an uninterrupted string of bitter curses) to stop beating my head against a scorching hot wall by trying to coax food to grow in this hot dry climate. I kept that vow for 2012 but my empty garden plot looked so lonely and these lovely onion sets just showed up on my doorstep. How could I NOT plant them? And lovingly mist them? We will get big shiny onions. We WILL!

Amazing Race!

Alex and I ran the Amazing Race at his school on Saturday. There was a strong bias in favor of people from Texas since all the obstacles included trivia about Texas. That's my excuse if we don't win. Thank goodness we all now know that the LONGHORN is the official state mammal.


A brief retrospective

I haven't coordinated with Ian to get the nice NY pics from his camera yet so here's a look back at the recent holidays. We made the trek to the Twin Cities for the first time in a shamefully long time. The drive didn't seem overly tedious. I guess if you put an iDevice (or two) in the hands of all passengers time will fly.

First we stopped off in Oklahoma City to visit my family and celebrate our Christmas with them. Over the  years we've done various takes on name drawing or Dirty Santa - homemade gifts, used items, $25 limit - and now we've moved on to Gift Card Dirty Santa. We left for the northern leg of our trip well-stocked with iTunes, Target, Whole Foods and Starbucks cards.

After narrowly missing what must've been a tow truck driver's worst nightmare in Des Moines we made it to blustery St. Paul. It was cold like we haven't felt in a very long time. Negatives! As much as I hate the Austin summers I don't know if the Minnesota winters are any better. Heat Index vs. Wind Chill? But those Minnesota summers...ahhhhhh.  Alex was thrilled to see real snow...INCHES of it! Emma was tickled to finally have good reason to wear her warm boots. She also spent Christmas Eve in bed with a cold, but thankfully not the horrid flu that was going around. Knock on wood.

The new house is beautiful!
There was sledding and visiting family & friends and gifts and a Trader Joe's (my FIRST!). The Mall of America (SOMEONE needs to create a decent app that will let visitors plan their trip). They've made a lot of changes since ditching the 'Camp Snoopy' theme. I was also struck by guards at every entrance turning away any unchaperoned under-21s. I can't imagine the throngs of people if they hadn't been turning some people away. By 2pm it went from being merely crowded to Oh-My-God-I-Just-Need-To-Find-A-Corner-To-Rock-In-Crowded. But Emma loved every minute and we did actually score some fun deals. And the SOCK store - JUST SOCKS from floor to ceiling. Oh My.

It was a perfect holiday break. Celebrated three Christmases and still had time at home to wallow in being lazy for a few days before school started.


NYC - 2013

Heeellllllloooooo!!! It's me! Still here. I know. It's been a while...if you can call a few years "a while". But as time has been seeming to speed up lately and my memory for details has been suffering I thought I should resume recording some highlights. Since getting my scrapbooks up to date is less likely than a cooperative congressional session I will give this another shot. And I can share! With you!!

The inspiration was our recent trip to NYC. It was A's first trip and E's second, she having visited three years ago with Ian and cousin P. The kids sat down with our DK New York book from a decade ago and wrote out their "must-dos". It was a long list that the naysayer in me said we'd never get done - and we didn't - BUT we made a darn good dent in it. My feet felt like they'd been beaten and I guess they had. I forgot my Fuel band at home so have no idea how many steps we took every day but it was A LOT. The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy hampered our trip somewhat - no stops at the Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island (hopped a Staten Island Ferry to get a drive-by view), the Enterprise was under repair and covered with scaffolding on the Intrepid, and rerouted subways and trains threw us off track upon arrival and when we tried to get to Hoboken to visit Carlo's Bakery.

7am - Ready to go! 
FAO Schwarz
We closed the place down.

Intrepid Air & Space Museum

At the Met

Wicked - amazing!!

Sullen-faced at Strawberry Fields.

T-Rex at the American Museum of Natural History

Cake pops at Dylan's Candy Bar. Which is totally the Disneyworld of candy shops.

He carries the world on his shoulders every day.

Cake Boss! The pastries were fantastic (Gah! The CREAM! ). The cupcake, not so much. Too sweet.

Buddy says the Lobster Claw (pastry-cream filled croissant) is their best thing and I have to agree that it was blissful. But this cannoli cake was so pretty. Wish we could have brought it back with us.

Ian has many more photos from his real camera so maybe I'll get some higher quality pics up here soon from some of the other attractions. 


Two moms. Five kids. We so crazy!

I've heard rumors claiming Austin had a hotter July than recorded history had ever shown. Weather reports were banned from my eyesight and earshot after the 30th day of temperatures rising higher than something in the range of Satan's netherworld but I don't doubt it. Not to be held down by the oppressive heat (or perhaps crazy from it?) CCC and I somehow got the idea in our heads to go even closer to the equator and ended up with all five kids in San Antonio for some fun a few weeks back.

We ran a zone defense and I think we teamed up quite nicely. The kids all managed to have fun and I daresay, so did I, despite feeling like I was truly going to die during a few moments of overwhelming heat sufferage.

CCC, being the Movie Master that she is, put together this lovely account. I couldn't have said it better myself.


Suburban wildlife

Made a new friend while setting out the recycle bins yesterday when I came within an inch of stepping on the neatly coiled thing. The thing waited patiently under the recycle box I hastily threw on top of it while Bubble Boy and kids ran out so we could all gawk and frantically snap pics. Big E shot some video but since the poor snake was paralyzed with fear the video looks pretty much exactly like the photo.


So it begins....again....and again.

Little A did NOT wear his hair in this horned style. Although he wanted to.

After a summer of friends, sleeping in, popsicles, lazy days, nights of swimming, fun adventures hither and yon, with only a smattering of "I'm bored" and sibling squabbling rising to the surface here and there, we aired up the bicycle tires (why did I bother showering?) and rode off into the not-quite-cool morning to face the throngs of people descending upon the school for the first day of school. I didn't think to take a picture of the crowd trying to wedge itself through the hallway yesterday but here's a snap of today's crowd which I estimate at less than half of yesterday.

Big E was giddy with anticipation to get started with her fabulous teacher and class. Friends scattered throughout her classroom and the knowledge of all the privileges 5th grade holds has kept her buzzing for the last week. A bit of melancholy when she realized Monday was to be her last "First" day at the school she's attended since kindergarten. How that seems like it could have easily been last year I can't explain. Time playing evil tricks.

Little A was less giddy about moving on up to 1st grade. Moving from the cuddly comforts of his sweet kindergarten to the institutional portable building located 1/4 mile from the rest of the school, with its wood paneling and *gasp* his own desk, complete with a coloring sheet when he arrived. Not sure what to think about such an official looking classroom, he innocently reminded me, "I've never done this before". Sweet boy. Luckily, Ms. Teacher HAS done it many times before and I trust that he is in good hands.

End of First Day reports were mixed. Big E had "the best first day EVER" and enthusiastically continued similar remarks for the rest of the day. Little A was concerned about the strictness 1st grade seemed to entail and was troubled that one little girl had her name moved up to red on the very first day. That seemed a bad omen. He did not have his name moved up the naughty chart and for that he was hugely relieved but still felt very tentative today.

This was taken today so it's technically not a First Day pic. She warned me to not embarrass her in the class but I couldn't resist sneaking at least one. Absolutely no hugs or kisses though.

In other beginnings....LOOKEE! LOOKEE! A blog post! Took a little vacation there for a few weeks. Can't wait to get caught up on what we've been doing.