Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy birthday Little Guy!

Little guy was very excited his birthday was on a holiday - Thanksgiving Day.  Elizabeth was jealous - why does he get to have his birthday on a holiday and I had to have my birthday on a Tuesday!

The weekend before his birthday we had a few friends over and a small celebration.  

 The little guy's favorite dessert is pumpkin pie, so of course we had to celebrate with his favorite. 

 On his actual birthday we were with Rich's side of the family. 

 He enjoyed being the center of attention.

And he really liked the Thomas cake! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sometimes we get it right

Ok, well, NaBloPoMo was a bust this year, and once again I have a creative excuse.  Last year it was a kidney infection, the year before it was the cold that never, ever, went away over 3 months.  This year it was walking pneumonia!  What can I possibly come down with next year?  

But, at least one thing went right this fall.  I was stressing over what, if any, activity to choose for them over the winter, and finally decided to just go for gymnastics.  Sure, it's a hike to get there, and a pain in the middle of a Saturday, but this is one time I can confidently say we got it right.  Elizabeth LOVES it. No more soccer for her.  We're going to stick with gymnastics or dance from here on out.  Andrew thinks it is fun and all, but the truth is he'd really rather be playing a ball sport.  But it works, and it's fun for them to be in class at the same time.  So just two quick videos from the rope swing. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trophy Day, part II

Elizabeth got her soccer trophy last weekend, and when we told Andrew he was going to get a trophy, too, he was beside himself with joy and excitement.  And then soccer day was cold and rainy, and it looked like the handing out of the trophies would be canceled.  At the last minute, someone offered up their office, which was close to the soccer field.  But it caused a huge rush to get there and many families didn't make it.  I'm thankful we could - Andrew was so happy. 
 He took the picture of the waiting trophies. 

There are a few kids who are almost as small as he is, but in this picture he is soooo much smaller than the other kids!  He so loves it though.  Can't wait to see Coach Pablo in the spring! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Misked-up Stragety

Rich here again.  Gotta give Susan at least a couple of breaks during the hell, er, experience that is NaBloPoMo.  I also like to blog about things I find funny or interesting before they slip out of my head like a random piece of spaghetti through a strainer.  (Man, I *hate* it when that happens!  The spaghetti, I mean.)

I asked Andrew this morning if he wanted a snack.  Without delay, he said he wanted some "misk" and pointed at the part of the counter where we keep cereal, chips, snacks, and bread.  I did not want to show him how flummoxed I was at the request, so I paused and said "Sorry, little guy, I didn't hear you.  Can you tell me again what you want?"  Without delay "Misk.  Misk." With more pointing at the counter.  As I frantically, yet calmly so as not to alarm the ever-observant boy, scan the counter I spot this:

"Misk" = Mix

"Oh, the mix!  Good job, little guy."

Before I give him the mix, though, I decide that I need to correct this issue of pronunciation.  We spend the next 2-3 minutes repeating back and forth:  "Mix, little guy."  "Misk"  "Mix, little guy"  "Misk"  "Mix"  "Misk" "No, little guy, mi-kuh-sss"  "Mi-sss-kuh"    Finally, after pronouncing every letter several times, with the emphasis on the "x," Andrew says "mi-kuh-sss." He was very proud of himself.

At dinner later that evening, we were in a restaurant with moderately loud music (great Mexican food though and a locally owned place) and I told Susan the story from this morning and said, "Andrew got it.  Right little guy?  Mix!" And I hear him repeat it, "Mix."  "That's right little guy, mix!"

To which Susan says, "Uh, he's saying 'misk'."  

I look at my boy, who is grinning with pride from ear to ear.  I smile and say "Good job, little guy."

So, there is an "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" story here.  In 6th grade I had a great history teacher.  He really challenged me, more than many of my teachers prior to that had, and did it in a way that made you feel more mature, even adult-like.  I was answering a question in class about the Germans in WWII, and I started to respond, "Their stragety was to..."  Before I could get the rest of the answer out, my teach says, "What?  Stragety?"  And the exchange goes something like:

"Yes, their stragety was..."


"Uh, yes, stragety"

"No, strategy"






"Yes, strategy"

"Strategy.  Uh, their stra-te-gy was..."

Now, I'm not bragging, but I was one of the top students in my elementary school class.  This could have potentially been seriously damaging to me since I also had a fragile ego.  But, it turned out that the other kids in the class kind of bonded with me a bit, as if to recognize that I wasn't an academic robot, that I was human and could make mistakes.  And, I learned a little lesson about myself - that it's ok to make mistakes and learn from them and that my teachers are truly here to help.

Hopefully both E & A will have that realization some day.  And, no Baby Bush jokes, please...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Skipper the Fast

Here's a video from June of me ignoring my persistent daughter in favor of watching Skipper off leash.  This little dog is fast - I took this video after she'd been running around a while, so she's actually slowed down here. 

I've been doing a run/walk program with my friend Libbie in the mornings and bringing Skipper along.  I have to say this morning time in the park is probably the best thing we've done for Skipper.  For a while I was dragging her along and feeling like I was asking too much of her, but lately I've been letting her off leash and been amazed by her.  She tracks along, running circles around us.  She'll run to greet other dogs, but always comes back when called, without too much delay.  I definitely do not have full control over her, which makes me nervous in a city park, but she is far better than I ever would have expected, and she obviously recognizes that she is to listen to me.

This has given her a lot of confidence.  She still hides a fair bit, and is still frightened of Rich, but she'll actually come out when people are around.  She's just still so skittish and nervous, but she's made amazing progress in 10 months.  We seem to have turned the corner on housebreaking (I hope I haven't just jinxed it!).  She's just obviously my dog, and I'm excited to work more with her. 

But, like any dog, she's got her odd quirks.  Her great love is socks.  Socks that have been worn by me, or actually anyone.  She snags them out of the dirty clothes (we have to bury them under other clothes) and hides them in her bed, and occasionally snacks on them til they are ruined. 

And, the best news of all?  Finally, finally, finally, we have won the battle of the fleas.  Whew! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I have no idea why kids get a ring of chocolate around their mouth when eating chocolate ice cream.  Choco-mouth is a term of endearment in our house.

Today was a FULL day - we left the house at 8:30 this morning (thank goodness my sister is staying here this weekend and was able to help with the kids) to make it to Gaithersburg for a Girls on the Run 5K in which our niece and my brother were running, then my mom and I ventured to Toys R Us (with Andrew) while the rest of the crew went to my brother's house, then we went to the ice rink for our nephew's hockey game, then a pitstop for ice cream, then back to my brother's to watch the Raven's game, before making it home just before 7 pm.  E&A were exhausted, which resulted in a rather unpleasant bathtime experience.  Can't wait til Rich gets home!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

trophy day

Today was Elizabeth's next to last soccer game - next week is a make up from a rain date.  Since today was a nice (though freezing!) day, Coach Eric decided to hand out the team trophies today.

It's a nice trophy - and I honestly think her last one from soccer.  Thanks to Coach Eric and Coach Janet for putting up with a lot this year (and for being so nice to Andrew, too, hanging out there on the right).

Friday, November 11, 2011

a groupie is born

Here's an old one from the summer.  

Do you watch PBS kids shows?  If so, you know SteveSongs.  Inbetween the shows, to fill the 30 minutes, this guy named Steve, who always wears a red shirt, sings songs.  They're catchy and fun.  So when I saw that he was performing at Wolf Trap's Theater-in-the-woods, and there was another show - an African storyteller - before him, and the shows were two for the price of one, I decided we had to go.  

It was like 1000 degrees that day, and it's a theater in the woods.  We actually got there early and staked out a seat in the front row. 
 And when he walked out on stage, Elizabeth turned to me and said, hey, I know him from TV!  And insisted I take her picture with him in the background, and then snatched the camera and took 45 other pictures of him performing. 

 And she kept tugging at my arm and asking how we could talk to him, and how we could meet him, and how great he was.  He called a couple of kids on stage with him throughout the show, and then near the end sang a song and invited ALL the kids onto the stage.  Bliss.  There were so many kids I couldn't get a picture of Elizabeth up there.

And then they announced he'd be signing autographs and selling CDs and meeting fans after. 
 So of course we had to buy a CD. 
He was really great, and said he remembered her from the audience and he saw her in the front row.  He recognizes kids just freak out when they're in front of him, so he asks them to tell him a joke.  (she managed to choke out the interrupting cow, which he countered with the interrupting starfish)

Both Elizabeth and Andrew loved the entire experience.  But Elizabeth REALLY loved it, and turned out to develop an intense love of the song she sang on stage.  The song is called Shapes, but it's the chorus that is burned into my brain: line line circle circle square square square square triangle triangle. 

Elizabeth loves to listen to the CD on the CD player in the dining room.  We'll listen all the way to the shapes song, then she plays the shapes song over.  And over. And over. And over. And over.  And over. And over.  Until one of us snaps and makes her move on, which usually results in an argument.

We saw the show about a week and a half before we went on vacation and rented a small (very small -  like the smallest possible house ever) beach house with our long-time friends Chris and Tricia and family.  So they also were subjected.  I can't remember exactly what happened, but at some point late in the vacation we saw a band perform. I'm going to have to get Rich or Chris or Tricia to remind me of what exactly happened or what the band was, cause I am drawing a blank and can't even imagine when in the world we would have seen a band - Oh, got it, last day, Blueberry festival (where the blueberries are trucked in from NJ), also 1000 degrees outside and some poor Irish band (? Chincoteague is a weird place) playing under a tent, and the group of us sweating to death under a tree sucking on rapidly melting snocones.  Anyway, Chris leans over and says in his deadpan dry way, huh, I wonder if they know line line circle circle.  So yeah,  the CD made quite an impression.

But the songs are clever, and catchy, and he is a super nice guy.  As with anything with kids (or at least E and A) there's a cycle in interests and this week we've been listening to the CD a lot.  A knows all the words now and sings along enthusiastically, and E's desperate love of line line circle circle has lessened to a tolerable level. 

I saw he's performing at Jammin Java in February, so we might go.  $15 a ticket gets steep, but it would be worth it.

And Theater-in-the-woods?  We had a good time.  Steve was great, and so was the storyteller.  If they have the deal of two shows for the price of one (and that one is priced at $8), I'd totally go again.  Though, there were some stressful things.  We staked out this good seat in the front row, right?  But it was 1000 degrees and so not like we had anything on us except a snack bag and my bag.  Thankfully E did not have to go to the bathroom, because saving our seats would have stressed me out.  As it was, A was STARVING, and they only allow you to drink water in the actual "theater" part - step onto the path leading to the theater and you can eat whatever.  So I had to take A 20 feet onto the path, keep my eye on E who was tasked with saving our seats, and urge A to choke down his cheesestick as quickly as possible.  Stressful.   Also, let's just be honest, sitting in an amphitheater for two hours sweating is not entirely my idea of a great time.  There was a lot of downtime between the shows, and they didn't start on time.  But for the cost, it was great, and now we've got a little budding groupie on our hands.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

not quite over Halloween

Years ago, Elizabeth got a set of Charlie Brown books, covering all the famous TV holiday specials.  Lately we've been reading the Halloween book, and tonight the set was scattered across her bed.

Andrew picked up the book, and flipped it over to look at the cover, and gasped.
"Look!" he said accusingly.  "At Snoopy and the bird.  They are dressed like witches!"

I'm not sure italics quite captures the scorn and disapproval in his voice.  Maybe it's time for a little lesson on pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


My friend KG has made an appearance or two over at AwwwClutter, but I don't think I've ever written about her on AwwwTrouble.

The funny thing about me and KG is that we are both into social media, but in totally different fora - I blog and facebook, and she twitters follow her at KGDC1 and yelps and foodspots and blogs at GirlMeetsFood and I don't even know what all else.  This means we miss out on too much of each other's lives (though she keeps me up to date by emailing me some of her good stuff).  I half-heartedly encourage her to join facebook, knowing it would never be her thing.  She is working me hard on twitter, though, and has almost got me.  I just need some spare time to set it up.  

In October, she and I hightailed it out of town for one of our rare all-day outlet trips.  And she insisted that we eat a real lunch, at a real restaurant - and I am so glad she did.  

Here's her review on Yelp of our fabulous lunch at Vintage 50.   I don't know how, but I have got to get to that restaurant again.  Rich would love it, and they did have an appealing kids menu.  So another outlet trip must be in my near future.  

And months ago she sent me a link to one of her twitter friends who also blogs (yes, another tab I have had opened within my browser for months that I can close!).  Together, they came up with a Dirty Dozen Ways to Assimilate to DC.  Not sure I can add anything to that list.  

KG also told me that her mom is volunteering at the Botanic Gardens at Christmas, so maybe we can see a friendly face this year when we go.    

I should get her to do a guest post sometime.  Oh, I know exactly when.  KG is a native of DC, lived here her whole life except for college at Miami.  And, she has never had a soft shelled crab.  Never.  I am agog at this news.  So I've promised her the next time my parents are in town during soft shell season, she is getting one with them.  Absolutely.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What to do next?

Fall semester activities are drawing to a close, and we need to plan for winter/spring.  This stuff makes me crazy.  They both want to do extra activities, so we have to balance the right activities among two kids, sorting out dates, figuring out what their friends are going to do, and what is affordable and reasonable from a time perspective. 

Should we do gymnastics this winter?  On the plus side, there are classes for E and A at the same time, and we think they'd both really enjoy it.  On the other hand, the class is a drive away, in another neighborhood entirely, so none of their friends would be in class, and we probably wouldn't continue much beyond one or two classes, so is it really worth it? 

We didn't do dance for E in the fall in favor of soccer, which was maybe a bit of a mistake.  Can we join dance (which switched to a year-round calendar rather than semesters) in January?  But if we do that, how do we fit in gymastics? 

And they really do need swimming lessons - two friends of E's take swimming at a local place, but the class is Wednesday afternoons at the same time as A's soccer, which we'll definitely do in the spring again.  There's an expensive swim class on Sunday afternoons we could join in the early spring with classes for both E and A at the same time, but it's pricey and do we want to drive across the city ever Sunday afternoon at 5 pm?  There's a rec center swim class that's super cheap, but we've found with the rec centers you get what you pay for. 

E's new school, as a start up, doesn't have a music program and she is definitely musical.  At 6, should we start her on music lessons?  Piano?  We think so, but when will we fit that in, and what will she practice on?  Can we buy a piano?  Where the hell would it go?  (I have A Plan, Rich is skeptical.)

So does that mean she'll be doing religion school, plus dance, plus swimming, plus piano?  That is too much.  Maybe we skip dance, but add piano? Hold on piano til next fall, when she's 7, and add dance back in? 

And what about t-ball?  Realistically, t-ball will only happen if Rich and I decide to coach.  E is only kinda into t-ball, but A could play next year.  Should we be a part of building a team now so that A can play next year? 

A right now is easy - he'll keep his music class, and start up spring soccer, and we'll squeeze in swim lessons at some point.  But it's clear that A's skill set is firmly in the sports section.  If this continues, we're looking at years of soccer and t-ball and any other sport we can squeeze in, while meanwhile he also is interested in music, too.  In addition to the three years separating the two, which puts them in very different age categories for most activities, right now it also looks like they're going to want to do entirely different activities. 

Bottom line, this is the stuff that makes my head ache. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall walks

One of our friends, and Elizabeth's soccer coach, recently celebrated a birthday and his twin 6 year old sons wouldn't let it pass without a party.  So we all gathered in the park and went on a fall walk. 
Elizabeth started the afternoon less than thrilled.  

 But things picked up once the walk began. 
 And bugs were spotted. 
 And weird growths on trees were found.

 And walking sticks (and hitting sticks) were discovered. 

 The road is closed to cars on weekends, so it wasn't quite a walk IN the woods, but it was a safe and easy walk for kids.
 Not to mention beautiful. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

last bit of halloween cuteness

Can't resist getting one last post out of Halloween.  E and A during trick or treating at the office. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Unlike last year, we had a fairly tame Halloween.  I don't know whether to feel relieved or rejected, but in retrospect it was nice not to be so booked up.

So just a few images.  Rich's (and now my) office does a trick or treat for kids, so that kicked off our festivities.  E and A really look forward to this, as there's a lot of attention focused on them and some high quality candy.  We go them dressed in Rich's office and he let E draw on a corner of his whiteboard.  (it says I had a gift, plus she labeled herself "me"). 
 The company has three buildings and we're based in the hinterlands.  I got a little work in while RIch took them to the main building, where there was a DJ and more games. 
 E wearing Daddy's infamous horns he bought many years ago at some festival. 
 I  thought hse was just going to want to be a princess again, but in the month before Halloween she expressed some different ideas.  I popped in the thrift store by my house in mid-September and scored this mermaid outfit as well as Andrew's horse costume.  You've got to buy Halloween stuff early to get the best costumes.  While last year her dress reminded me of a wedding dress, with the fluffing and the arranging, this year we moved into the evening gown portion.  There were times when I actually felt this outfit might be a little too slinky. 
 And the gang - E and A with their neighborhood friends.  Pink princesses dad was telling me about how she insisted on makeup, as did E.  We agreed that there was an age when makeup on little girls was not a good idea, but at 6 it was still cute. 

And by the end of the evening, the old Elvis mask made an appearance. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

What Happens at Home on Mom's Night Out

Rich here.  Been a while.  Anyone missed me?  :D

Ever wonder what happens on Mom's Night Out?  Everyone probably gets the scoop from their spouses when they get home.  Or not, depending on whether the Dad's want to actually reveal that they fed the kids too much sugar and sent them to bed an hour later than they are supposed to.  That is not what happened here, but in the NaBloPoMo spirit, I thought I would make a contribution that is timely.

6:45 PM  I walk A home from picking up dinner (Chinese from around the corner).  I mention that Mommy is going out tonight.  A's response:  "Awww.  I'm going to miss her."  I say he should tell that to Mommy before she leaves.

7:15 PM  Mommy leaves.  Kids have eaten really well and behaved so they get dessert.  E gets her two pieces of Halloween candy out of her pumpkin before I can even say that is what she should do.  A mysteriously selects a cheese & crackers snack - the ones with the little red plastic stick.  Odd boy.

7:40 PM  Kids have built a fort in the living room out of pillows while I cleaned up after dinner.  I used to love doing that as a kid with my brother & sister.  They make ghost sounds with E saying "Go Back!!!!"  Which is imprinted on a fake rock that we have as a decoration, so can only assume she read it.  I take a picture and go upstairs to get pajamas since I am treating them to a movie in the living room.

7:42 PM  I'm downstairs.  E says "Andrew is poopy!  Ewww it's stinky!"  A is wearing underpants.  I am thrilled.  Consider texting Susan to share in my plight but I'm a grown man and can handle without disturbing her evening.

7:45 PM  A repeatedly stating "It's easy peasy" referring to how easy it will be to clean up.  I am not as optimistic.  Biggie wiggie messy wessy.

8:00 PM  A gets cleaned up and bathed and insists that he still has to poop.  Sit him on toilet on kids seat.  E decides she needs to read him some stories to help him focus, but, after about 10 mins, to no avail.  At some point during the bath, A states "I went to the Tenleytown library today." "You did?" I ask quizzically.  "Yes, on the bus."  "Oh. With [babysitter's name]?" "Yes"  "And her friend?"  "Yes"  "And [A's little friend that lives up that way]?"  "No."  "Oh, with whom?" "With [another friend's name that I do not know]"  "Oh.  Ok. Was it fun?"  "Yes".  I decide that I need better knowledge regarding these children with whom my son is fraternizing.

8:10 PM  We're settled in the living room.  Popcorn is popped and movie is on.  For next 1 hr 10 mins, we blissfully watch "The Aristocats."  Cute movie.  A methodically shoving popcorn into his mouth.  Both E and A doing a good job of sharing.  I ask E if our cat, Harrison, can do any of the tricks the cats can do in the movie.  "Daddy, it's only pretend!"

9:20 PM  20 mins later than bedtime, but did not want Poop-gate to affect the movie-watching time.  I walk A into the kitchen to get drink of water (salty popcorn).  He sees a shadow on our floor in the shape of something odd.  He exclaims, "What the *heck* is that?!"  Nice to know my son listens to me.

9:30 PM  Teeth brushed.  E exclaiming she's not tired.  Typical night for her.  A comments that he is a sleepy boy and is ready for bed, which he goes into happily.  E draws a picture involving several coffee mugs.  I know not why and did not want to discuss.  She states that she wants our dog, Skipper to sleep with her.  This is usually a bad idea.  Dog not quite housetrained and has a few "favorite spots" on E's floor.

10:00 PM  I relent on dog issue and take dog out for very brief walk in front of house.  Dog does her thing and I give her to E.  E puts her in bed with her and falls asleep within 10 mins.

10:15 PM  Both kids asleep.  I do load of laundry (poop clothes!), pour myself a beer (New Belgium Trippel - yum!) and watch a little ESPN Friday Night Football.  Ahhhh.

10:45 PM  Susan comes home with a lovely gift of butter chicken which I taste and I give her the rundown you have just read.

That's it!  Uneventful in the grand scheme of things.  But never a dull moment.

- Rich

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What is the name of his horse, take 2

Take 2 - second try with the video.  Can you see it?  And decipher what he is saying? 

I actually spent a few minutes at work looking at the wikipedia page on Backyardigan episodes.  What did we do before wikipedia?  Anyway, they've variously called horses Old Paint, and there was an episode with a horse called Toronado, but it seems to be a dead end. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What is the name of his horse?

For once, I actually captured something timely on video, and Blogger is semi-cooperating and letting me post it.  Blogger hates me and my videos.  It took a LONG time to upload this stupid 37 second video to blogger, and then for some reason it showed up twice.  And I watched both versions, and decided not to delete one or the other to max my chances, and yet today, it's gone.  AUGH.  I can see them in the editing view, so I have NO idea of why this isn't working, but will try agin tonight.  Dammit.  It is cute.  

I have no idea why his horse is named Randin Road.  Radin Road.  Something road (the troad in this video has never been heard before, I think he was kidding with me.).  Initially, this summer, for a brief period all horses were named this, but he's settled on this horse with this name.  I kinda feel like he might have picked it up from The Backyardigans, and feel like I need to watch all the horse episodes to figure it out, and while I love me some Backyardigans, I've not mustered the energy, and that might be a wild goose chase anyway.  Any other guesses out there?  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

another November

Well, another November brings another NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month.  30 days, 30 posts.  At least that's the goal.  Like 2009, I start NaBloPoMo with a nasty cough.  Fingers crossed that unlike 2009, this is just a passing cough and won't last all month long.  I'll start strong tomorrow with the Halloween recaps, and I have some good videos if BLogger will cooperate, and there's always catching up from the summer, and this year my blogging friends have devised some helpful prompts, and I've also missed the last two books from the book club.  So no shortage of posting intentions.  But tonight, the Nyquil is about to kick in, and I'm double dosing with Delsym, and triple dosing with hot water, lemon and honey, so hoping to start fresh tomorrow morning.  Happy NaBloPoMo reading!