Saturday, December 31, 2011

First Snow Sports of the Year!

We got out for the first snow sports of the year in very mild temps - in the mid 50s. As I pointed out to the kids, it was about 15 degrees warmer than the triathlon I did in October!! I was not able to ski last year so it was nice to get out with them this year, and nice to be familiar with the facility. Spencer put this video together (more on Cort the Sport's blog):

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Movie Trailer

Spencer and his friend Davis had some fun the other night!! I don't know what it is about this movie trailer but it makes me laugh every time!! It's well worth the 55 seconds to watch!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family Photo!

We were long overdue for a Martin family photo! So here we are, the day after Christmas, outside enjoying some mild temperatures.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day!!

It was a terrific Christmas here in Blacksburg, still unseasonably mild and sunny. That didn't prevent Santa from coming (nor did our lack of chimney). Spencer enjoyed his MacBook and Arduino hardware and Grant was excited about his Acer tablet and videorecorder plus night-vision goggles. Christmas Eve included the Martin family traditions of herring salad and bread, while Christmas morning featured Cortney's homemade waffles, sausage, fruit salad, and coffee cake from the local bakery. The kids are now entrenched in their new electronics and Cortney had time for the annual Christmas Day nap!! It's shaping up to be a relaxing lazy day around here.

Merry Christmas!!

Brotherly love!

Oma and Grandfriend

Let's try the new rock hammer on the gingerbread house!

Good morning!!

New rule: nothing made of cloth for Christmas please!

Cheese puffs and a new MacBook. Who could ask for more?

The aftermath!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winter Break, Week 1

We've had a BUSY and fun first week of winter break!
  • Bowling with William and Andrew
  • Ice skating with William and friends
  • Grant worked out with his gym teacher Dan White
  • Swimming with Vivian, Simon, and William followed by snacks at the coffee shop
  • A shopping trip with Aunt Elisabeth
  • A return trip to the pool for Grant with Andrew
  • Spencer cheered on the VT Basketball team with Davis
  • Spencer attended John's birthday party
  • Cortney and Grant had dinner out together
  • More cookie making
  • LOTS of programming as Grant is wrapping up his biggest and best computer game yet.
  • Started on another puzzle!
  • Frosty 5K

The Elf

Just a few pictures of our elf, Grant! He wore the Santa hat to school a few days where he also learned to make an origami "ninja star" which now adorns our tree!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree

I finally talked the family into trying the tree in the front hall and I think we have a winner!!!  It was easy to put up and gave us a lot more room and less furniture to relocate.

Robert and Spencer cut the tree and put the lights on, then Spencer and I decorated. Grant helped for five minutes, but in his defense he had a very busy and scheduled weekend.

I requested a skinny tree...


The new location means a new viewpoint!

Some weekend rest!

One way to put the angel on!

Goo enjoying a nap

We are ready!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spencer plays Bass!

When Spencer started playing cello and I saw how big it was, I said "at least he's not playing bass." Well, now he's playing bass...part time.

Spencer's middle school band director made a bass available to Spencer so he wouldn't have to haul his cello back and forth to school. He's had exactly one real lesson on it but still managed to play just fine in the winter concert. We were too far away to give me any hope of a good photo or recording so this is the best I can do for now. His orchestra concert is this week so I expect to have some good video from that.

Spencer, you rock that bass!!! We are proud of you!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Spelling Bee and other Good News

Grant with the Principal, Mrs. Marshall
Today was the 2nd Annual Harding Avenue Elementary School Spelling Bee. I'm the parent charge by virtue of having asked last year why we didn't have one. My youngest, Grant, had wanted to do one after seeing Akeelah and the Bee.

Grant, at just 9 years old, is driven, self-motivated, goal oriented, hard-working, and focused. (I can't imagine where he gets it?)  As parents, Robert and I try to be pretty low-key and low-pressure to try to offset highly focused kids.

At the school-level of the Scripps National Bee, children receive a list of words to study (try circumlocution or extemporaneous) and the bee is derived from that. Grant kept a list in the car, one at school, and one at home. He looked up online "how to prepare for a spelling bee" and discovered that exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain, so he practiced words while doing jumping jacks and burpees in his room. He said that blueberries are brain food so I indulged him with this out-of-season purchase.

When I watched the 4th grade bee, I had a pretty good sense of how Grant was feeling. I knew, thanks to my own racing, the pressure, the adrenalin, the desire to succeed. He was the defending 3rd grade champ and had invested considerable time working toward a good outcome.

I had done what I could to support him but to also let him know that I was SO proud of him simply for the way he approached his preparation. He had done everything he could reasonably do. It's 98% preparation but there's that 2% or so that is not always within your control.

While I was a judge for the other grade bees, for this, I was just a spectating parent.

What started with about 30 children, eventually whittled down to just two. I held my breath and with "gyromancy" it was over. Grant was a two-peater, the 4th grade Spelling Bee champion!!

I watched his elation and it was palpable. I knew he'd be riding that high for a while and I was so pleased for him to really know...what hard work can yield. 

Afterward he said that all morning, prior to the bee, he felt "like his life was on hold."  Thanks to triathlon and marathons, I knew exactly what he was talking about.

It's been a GREAT week for the Martins.  In addition to the Bee and Cortney's Marathon last week, Spencer came home with straight As on his report card. That's no small feat especially considering the rigor of his Algebra class (that he takes with 7th graders). Robert has been working incredibly hard and it's always a good week for him when the Hokies win!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A weekend in Richmond

We all enjoyed a weekend - more like 40 hours - in Richmond, Virginia's capitol. I (Cortney) was running my third Richmond Marathon so it was a nice chance to get away as a family!

The race was Saturday and I walked to the race with friends, giving Robert and the boys instructions to make the most of the day. I'd put together a list of museums and things to see in easy walking distance especially since many roads were closed for the race.

They ventured to the Capitol building for a tour and returned with the highest praise for the tourguide who told enthralling stories. Spencer is planning to apply to be a page for next year, which would have him living in Richmond for 45-60 days and assisting in the Capitol!

We met up after the race and enjoyed a nice German-style lunch at the Capitol Ale House. Then they went off to the Science Museum of Virginia while I rested up some. We finished off the day with a Thai dinner and an early night.

Sunday we returned home, but not without a detour to Gander Mountain to look at survival supplies for Grant and Dixie Caverns to check out rock and mineral specimens with Spencer!

It was a fun-filled weekend with gorgeous weather a nice race result too. I'm so thankful we were all there together!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Grant has been working on his fire starting skills -- a little scary for mom, but a good skill to have!! He's using a magnesium striker for it, and in the garage because it was a bit windy out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


We enjoyed another Halloween with our great Luster's Mill tradition, pulling the kids around in the hay wagon as a group. It's nice that the kids here are all growing up together and sharing in these great neighborhood parties. We have some great party planners around here - the Wilsons, Hobarts, and Holbrooks. They do it up big with decorations and adult beverages and we are fortunate beneficiaries!

Spencer recycled his "absent-minded professor" costume from the play last summer and Grant went as a pumpkin -- a last minute change of plans. It was his idea (garnered from the trip to Deer Valley) to cut the bottom off and wear the pumpkin. It initially weighed 16 lbs, so he scraped and scraped and SCRAPED until he got that thing down to about 6 lbs. We added a little foam pad between his head and the squash and he was good to go. He even managed to navigate in the dark and not fall down!!