Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 09

Some of our family traditions - some typical, some not!

Robert and the boys go out and cut down a tree. Robert brings up the supplies and rearranges the furniture, then puts the lights on. The kids and I do most of the decorating.

Oma makes a gingerbread house for the kids to decorate and of course, eat. She knows everyone's favorite candies to include.

This is the time of year we break out the jigsaw puzzles and do at least 2 or 3 over the holiday. The kids look naked, but aren't...they just recently decided sleeping shirtless was a good idea until they realized how much warmer shirts can be!

Kids with Aunt Elisabeth's in front of the tree they decorated at Oma's.

The funny thing is that on Christmas Eve they spent a good bit of time playing with this cardboard box. Typical kids!!

Christmas morning started bright and early, especially considering the boys weren't asleep until close to 11. We heard them checking downstairs frequently and reporting back to one another. iTouches were the big gift to each this year, along with books, Wii games, puzzles, LEGOs, and games. Spencer got a camera to take on his trip. Robert got his usual Soduku daily calendar, allen wrenches, polar fleece, etc. Cortney's biggie was a wetsuit for the next triathlon season.

After the presents were unwrapped, everyone found a comfy spot to settle in for the day! Merry Christmas 2009!!

Blizzard of 09

A big snowstorm was anticipated to hit during the day of the kids' last of school before winter break. As a result, school was canceled and they missed out on an all-school bowling trip (done in pajamas) plus an afternoon of movies, parties, and gingerbread house making. The snow started in earnest around 3:30 that day and we ended up with about 16" of beautiful snow. We were housebound for a day and a half, and it was a full three days before I got the van out again. It was a fun event and I'm convinced the blood-alcohol level of the whole town was at an all-time high that Friday night since no one could go anywhere, the semester was finally over, and frankly I think we were all just happy to be home, at least for a while, till cabin fever set in!

The pure, unadulterated snowfall!

Snowmen - they were adorned and dressed, but I removed that before they melted all the way!

These pictures show why the minivan was left at home for several days. Each time we ventured up or down the famed Harding Rd (in the 4wd truck) with its hairpin turns, there was a new set of auto casualties. With a ditch and rock wall on one side, and guardrail and cliff on the other, there is little margin for error. The wrecked cars added to the problem by squeezing traffic down to one lane in parts.

Grant's Karate Strip Test

Grant earned his first stripe on his purple belts are green, blue, brown, then black. It'll keep him busy for a while, because some of those belts you have to have for 6 or 12 months. He's focused and committed!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grant...Future Teacher?

This just in from Grant's teacher:
Thought you would enjoy this Grant story...this afternoon during math Grant came to me and said that he thought the group activity was too chaotic. :) He then made the suggestion to have me do the activity on the board with the whole group. (good idea!) So I smiled and asked if HE would be the teacher and run the activity with the class. At first Grant thought that I was kidding (like I tease!). So he went up front as I informed the class that we had a new teacher named Mr. Martin. Grant, er...I mean Mr. Martin did an excellent job of facilitating the group activity. I called Mrs. Marshall on the phone to come watch it was so cute.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009


It was a very nice Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh with my mom and dad, sister Kristen, nephew Evan, and of course Robert, Spencer, and Grant.

Getting ready to feast...Robert is taking the photo!

Wild turkeys - frequent visitors to the backyard.

My sister Kristen and I.

My nephew Evan and I when I ran the 5K Turkey Trot and won the Master Women's Division in 21:15. (More on that HERE)

There was a lot of gaming going on - electronic and not.

We spent some time at the new rec center that features an incredible indoor water complex. It had better be incredible since the township is struggling to manage this financially.

We also hit the ice skating rink, for the yearly donning of the rental skates and shuffling around the tiny maniac hockey phenoms who dart among us.

LEGO League

I'm a bit late getting these up from Spencer's Purple Panthers LEGO League Competition on November 8. Harding Avenue Elementary had two teams, a fourth grade and fifth grade team, and Spencer was on the fourth grade team. None of them had competed before so it was a very new experience for them and for us as parents. Steven Edwards was a great team coach, putting many hours into the two month prep period that included after school and Saturday meetings. The kids not only had to create and program a robot to perform specified tasks, they had to complete and present a research project. They were evaluated on their teamwork (not easy on a team of ten) and sportsmanship.

The team came second in the robot performance category and fourth overall, putting them in the alternate position for the state competition, but apparently they won't be going. It was a great experience and Spencer was pretty bummed when it was over for the year. They'll be back at it next year!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Spencer's Cello Recital

Spencer played Hunter's Chorus as a duet with his teacher, David Feldman. Then David and his colleague led the whole group in an improv session with the students providing the background. Impressive!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Prep

Another Halloween is almost upon us. Grant enjoyed some autumn leaf jumping where some residents had conveniently raked their leaves for town pickup!

This was the first year we really turned the boys loose on their pumpkins and gave them sharp implements to carve with. They did a heck of a job! Grant designed his pumpkin complete with swirly eyes and glasses. Spencer's was a model of oxygen. Cortney included the triumvirate "VT", wind turbine, and bicep. Robert oversaw the pumpkin hollowing and seed roasting. Excellent work, family!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Homecoming 5K and Pumpkin Picking

Today was the VT Homecoming 5K. Grant ran the 1 mile fun run; Spencer and Cortney the 5K. Spencer ran with his trainer Jake and ran a strong race - his first 5K on the road. He did a 5K last spring on the cross country course. We followed the race with lunch at Cabo Fish Taco, paid for with race winnings! Then we hit a local pumpkin patch for some of the requisite orange holiday gourds. It was a gorgeous fall day, no waiting, but they said their pumpkin patch was decimated by deer so the u-pick was basically selecting pumpkins scattered throughout a grass field. Luckily no one seemed to feel too gypped! Nice day, we are certainly blessed.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Today was our trip to Polyface Farm in Swope, Virginia with Joel Salatin, a farmer featured in Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma. This is a highlight of our food and agriculture semester, if not a highlight of our whole two year Earth Sustainability course series.

Two of our students rode their bikes to Polyface - over 100 miles!!

The WHOLE ES crew - students and faculty

Rachael, Gyorgyi, and me! Lucky to work with such great folks!