Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tennis Camp

My camera doesn't take good indoor pictures, but here are photos of the boys at the Thompson-Woods Holiday Tennis Camp at VT. They worked their little butts off for two hours pretty much non-stop. Small groups played on each of the six courts with each of the six pros. It was a great experience for them.

Grant's forehand

Spencer preparing to serve.

A nice suprise

The kids and I had breakfast with our friend Chuck who works with them on chess, and me on life! Chuck is well-read and has an ability to analyze life and its trappings in a philosophical and objective way--but with a healthy dose of humility. At breakfast he presented us each with a book from his collection, carefully selected and totally appropriate:

For me: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
For Spencer: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman (himself!)
For Grant: How to Calculate Quickly by Henry Sticker

He explained why each book was important for us and we left anxious to get reading! This was just the neatest thing.

I have a lot of reading to do! Jake lent me several running books that I've started on as well. And I am in the middle of several other books with the kids.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Smart dog

Today I got Trixie a new Wubba (at right). The old one has only one tentacle left and...well...it looks pretty much like a sperm at this point.

She is one dog who seems to truly appreciate her toys. She took that new Wubba and snuggled with it and even brought it upstairs with her. Then....here's the amazing part. We were in the kitchen and I said to Trixie, "go get your Wubba" and she looked at me and I could tell the wheels were turning. Off she goes...and YES, she came back with the Wubba! The old one, but still, what a smartie!

She has a toy basket and enjoys playing with all the different things in there. Now if only we could get her to pick up her toys and put them away!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Prep 08

Various scenes of Christmas!

No personal space required.

Last day of school before break - pajama day/bowling/movie.
No actual schoolwork!

Teamwork on the Christmas cards.
Jobs included addresser (Cortney), folder/stuffer (Robert),
licker (Grant), and stamper and return address labeler (Spencer).

Oh, Christmas Tree! Kids made the paper chain garland.
Of course, photos never do it justice and you can't really see the lights.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Virginia Tech String Program Recital

Last night was the big recital for the students in the VT String Program in the Squires Recital Salon. I was equally impressed by the first-years (Spencer among them) as well as the second-years-- it's fun to see what we all have to look forward to next year. It is hard to believe that none of these kids knew anything about their instruments just three months ago. We enjoyed seeing the personalities of each of the kids come out during the performance as some look ready to start up a jazz band!

The first-years being readied by Vernon Burnsed for conductor Jeff Midkiff

Spencer was thrilled that his third-grade teacher, Mrs. Lloyd, came to see the performance. He scanned the crowd until his eyes settled upon her and then all was right in his world! She is clearly one of those pivotal and influential teachers who has inspired and encouraged Spencer. She is very gifted, creative, and energetic, and we are lucky to have her.

Frere Jacques - Spencer is second from the right, front row.

Twinkle Twinkle - Spencer is second from the right, front row.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Recital at Wheatland

Today was the recital at Wheatland Retirement Community in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Here's Grant's rendition of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Interesting choice of song considering we were at a retirement community filled with grandmas!

The long-awaited Spencer/Grant duet of Jingle Bells.

And Spencer's Ode to Joy!

Thanks go to Grant's piano teacher Darlene Himes and to the patient teachers of the VT String Project: Vernon Burnsed, Yi-wen Evans, and David Feldman.

Darlene went above and beyond the call of duty to suggest and coordinate this duet and give the boys the opportunity to perform together.

Darlene and her happy students!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who needs cellos and pianos??

No need for those expensive lessons and pesky sheet music. Why bother when you have tub tunes?!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jingle Bells

For your viewing pleasure...a duet of Jingle Bells by musicians Spencer and Grant. (The whining heard in the background is the dog!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chess Lounge

This is a picture from the VT Chess Lounge where Spencer enjoys spending a few hours on Saturdays. Chuck is a gifted chess teacher and gives generously of his time. Spencer has been working with him since early summer and the two have a great rapport. Both kids are off to a tournament at VT today so I'll report back with results later.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


From the big night in the neighborhood! This year Robert hauled the trailer with the kids and fortunately, we didn't lose any off the back end.

Waiting by his victim...

We don't generally let the cats on the counter but for some reason Munchie and Grant have this breakfast ritual. Munchie stations himself close by, monitoring the cereal eating, but trying not to look toooo interested. When Grant is finished, the Munch tries to swoop in for a few laps of milk. (Don't they both look guilty in the bottom picture?)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Natural Bridge Trip

These photos are from my Earth Sustainability class trip to Natural Bridge, Virginia on October 18, 2008. The boys joined us and one of my students from last year came along to help watch the two young mountain climbers!

It's quite huge -- you actually drive over it to get there!

Where's Waldo?

Imagine me saying 500 times this day, "boys, get down!" It was made harder by the fact that the big "boys" of 18 and 19 were doing the same!

Spencer listened intently to a discussion on how early Monacan Indian tools were made. Those tour guides are sure passionate, but equally long-winded.

This was taken in the caves. They are fairly sizable and it takes about 45 minutes for a guided tour.

I'd love to know what was going on in that little mind!

Halloween preview

This was an easy Halloween for me as costume maker. The kids would have opted not to dress up had that not been a condition of getting candy! Spencer is reprising his role as a ghost, and he did the white makeup himself (much to my chagrin, but Robert told him to go ahead...that's what I get for napping!). Grant is a LEGO. This was the real resourceful one. I bought some green sponges, cut them into circles, turned a matching green shirt inside out (because it had pictures on it), glued them on, and added LEGO logos using the computer t-shirt transfers that you can make yourself. They wore their costumes to Fall Festival at school this evening.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

DC Trip - Day 1 & 2

VT was off for Fall Break on Friday so we took the kids for a whirlwind trip of DC. On the way up we stopped at the Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles. My favorite thing was the prototype for the space shuttle Enterprise. The plan was to retrofit it for flight but that never happened so this one was never in service. What is incredible is the size and scale of it and to think of it piggybacking on a 747 I think it is. It's pretty massive.

In the tower overlooking Dulles airport - 168' up. Looks like the "City of Brotherly Love"!

Robert wanted this photo of an ancient computer (it pains me to even call it that!) that he actually worked with. Geez, that really dates him (OK, us!).

Outside the museum at Dulles.

We took the Metro downtown. Of course our monkeys could not resist the poles. And yes, I recognize the connection to a certain type of disreputable dancing!!

The capital. This is as close as we got.

The White House!
One of many "drink breaks" requested by the kids as we marched them around Washington. The deal was, if you complain, we're packing up and heading home! That kept the complaints at bay. (Was I that wimpy a walker as a kid?!)

200 million-year-old petrified wood outside the Natural History museum.

Day is done.

Grant loved his perch in the hotel elevator that opened up to the 8 story atrium!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Let's Go Hokies!

I went to my first Hokie game in many, MANY years. Did I mention MANY years? A neighbor offered three tickets so Spencer, Robert, and I made the trek. We enjoyed a brief visit to the Cranwell tailgate then took in the Homecoming game against Western Kentucky, where we won, 27-13. We were in the East Stands which were bathed in sunlight and we baked. Fortunately I had a tank on under my Hokie shirt and could shed a layer. Others were not so lucky!

Looking like a first grader!

Grant lost a top front tooth - the natural way, this time! So now he looks like a true toothless first grader! He lost the other one when he was three I think - lost to a concrete step. It was ugly. So now we have to hope that both top teeth will come in. There was some question about whether the growing adult tooth could have been damaged in the fall. I hope not!

Here's another chair picture! This is one of many ways in which bodies are draped over it!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Chair

Hannah (L) and Munchie (R)

As mentioned in a previous post showing the boys in the chair...everyone loves the rocker! And for some reason, it often attracts two bodies at once.

A Wedding Celebration

We enjoyed the wedding of our neighbor's daughter Blakely and Mike. It was a nice evening with probably the nicest wedding toasts I'd ever heard. We sat with neighbors and good friends Debbie and Jeff, who as builders, observe the most interesting things in whatever structure they find themselves!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Waxing philosophical...

From the Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, "The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less." (p. 162)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Of Cellos and Dragonfruit....

Spencer got his cello today! They aren't actually using the bow yet, but he did try it out. He got a cool back-pack style carrying case to get it to and fro.

While Spencer had his lesson, I helped Grant practice his piano. All the public piano practice rooms were busy (at 5 pm...don't these people have something better to do?!). So we trolled around Squires and found an upright piano in the "green room" off of the main Commonwealth Ballroom stage. So we got comfortable there and got to work!

I couldn't resist picking up this dragonfruit from the store today. The color and shape are very distinctive and more flower-like than fruit-like. The inside is white with what looks like poppyseeds. The flavor is very mild - Robert thought it would go well with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.