Halloween Morning

October 31, 2012

Crowded in the bathroom early this morning we all got a first glimpse at Noah's completed costume.Thanks to Hurricane Sandy we had plenty of time to clean up our basement and work on Halloween costumes. Now off to finish prepping spooky specimen jars for Noah's Mad Scientist class party. What's on your plate for today? 

Happy Halloween!

Flying Pumpkins

October 29, 2012

There have been some seasonal warnings on the radio in preparation for this storm: "Please remove all exterior Halloween decorations. Pumpkins can become flying projectiles". That's quite a vivid image isn't it? Nature's own version of Punkin Chunkin.
I am glad we made the trip to a local pumpkin patch last week and didn't wait until this week. I think that poor patch is going to be turned into a big soggy batch of pumpkin soup. We have followed the advice of the public service announcements and brought our pumpkins inside.

Storm Prep

October 28, 2012

We have been in storm prep mode around here. Waiting for Frankenstorm (aka Hurricane Sandy) to make her arrival and hoping her impact won't be too severe or long lasting. We have a good stockpile of batteries, water, firewood, and leaves. Yes, leaves. While most of our neighbors have been frantically raking and piling up leaves, we have been picking out our favorites and bringing them inside. In the past few weeks, Camille and I have become leaf junkies. We can't get over all of the vibrant fall foliage. I can't stop taking pictures of the leaves and Camille can't seem to stop collecting them. We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping Sandy won't do too much damage on her way through the area.

City Schooling

October 26, 2012

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

I am a geek. There's no denying it. I love school. I love learning. I love being around others who like to learn and teach.

The idea of homeschooling has always been a tempting one, not just for my kids' sakes, but for my own selfish desires. Perhaps I should be embarrassed to admit that, but I am not. I have seriously considered taking my children out of school just so we could do field trips every day (sleeping later would be nice, too). And now that we are living on the edge of a city filled with museums and historical sites, it is an even more enticing prospect. We haven't made that plunge yet, but it hovers in my mind, especially on crisp autumn days.

The percolating idea of homeschooling pushed me to the realization that what I really want is an adult version of homeschooling. Actually what I really want is "city schooling". I want to attend lectures, gallery talks, author talks, etc. I want to take advantage of this city and all of the cultural offerings. I want to fill my brain with more than just grocery lists and library fines.  So I have started to do exactly that. I have started city schooling. 

Last week I heard Lois Lowery speak about her new book (both she and the book are amazing) and saw Jon Scieszka in action with a group of middle school students (what a funny, energetic guy). This week I wandered through the National Gallery's sculpture garden, attended a gallery talk about the current Serial Portrait exhibit, and quickly ran through the Renwick's fabulous 40 under 40 show. My field trip list is long and growing. My mind is eager and ready. So far City Schooling is a very good thing.


October 24, 2012

Pierce Mill, Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC

A few weeks ago, we went to the zoo.  One of our last stops was at the invertebrate house where we were delighted to discover an enormous octopus. We were all entranced and quickly joined the crowd of admirers. 

Camille elbowed her way up to the glass and with her index finger she traced the path of one of the large and sinuous tentacles. She did this in a slow, trance-like movement before announcing in a loud voice: "This is my favorite part to eat". It was such a startling comment and in such sharp contrast to the hypnotic movement of her finger, that the woman standing next to me gasped, giggled nervously, and stepped back. 

It's true. Camille does love to eat octopus tentacles (thanks in large part to spending her early years of life in Japan and Italy). It just felt a little jarring to hear her proclaim it in such a public way while standing in front of what was clearly meant to be an educational display and not a tank at a seafood restaurant. 

I love my kids.

73 Cents

October 22, 2012

73 cents. That's the title of a colorful mural on a brick wall between a gas station and a CVS drugstore. That's also the amount of money the artist was required to pay for each page of her dying husband's medical records. Seventy-three cents per page and it would take over twenty days to get his records. It's a very sad and frustrating story. And also an inspiring one. Regina Holliday started painting this mural just days after her young husband died in 2009. She didn't stop there. She has also gone on to use her voice and her paintbrush to advocate for patients rights. Regina Holliday is a paintbrush warrior.

I didn't know any of this when I stumbled upon the mural earlier last week. It was dark and I couldn't read any of the quotes (Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but I could tell there was a lot of power and emotion up there on that brick wall. I returned two days later to photograph it. 

73 Cents
5001 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, DC

DC Life: Kids Euro Fest

October 21, 2012

Kids Euro Fest: Over two hundred free performances through out the city for the next few weeks. Yesterday we went to the Embassy of the Czech Republic to see a family of stilt walkers/actors (luckily the kids didn't really catch on to some of the adult themes). Today we headed to the Embassy of Slovakia to see a fabulous mime act. Noah even got in on the action when he was brought up to engage in a few crazy rounds of ping pong. Lots of fun for all.


October 18, 2012

It's getting darker earlier, ghosts and jack-o-lanterns are making their seasonal appearances, and two little girls are frantically making Halloween decorations. It started with black and orange paper chains which are now hanging throughout our house. Then fabric ghosts with ghoulish faces and last night a bumper crop of little paper "Boo!" signs...taped to the tree, taped to door handles, taped to lampshades. I love this stage of industrious crafting, spontaneous ideas, and excessive tape use. The sad news is that we will probably get some rain today so I don't think the "Boo!" tree will survive very long. 

Somewhere Between

October 16, 2012

As parents, we have on-going discussions about how things are going with our kids. Sometimes we have little strategy sessions when it seems like we need a new approach to a particular issue. Sometimes we pat ourselves on the backs when our kids shine. Sometimes we worry. Sometimes we seek advice from others. Sometimes we just laugh at ourselves. 

Most of the time we are just hoping and waiting to see how all of this will work out. It sort of feels like cooking with a vague recipe, tweaking ingredients, tasting along the way, periodically peeking through the oven door, but never really knowing how it will all come together until that timer beeps and we burn our fingers as we eagerly break off that first little piece.

Parenting certainly isn't an exact science and adoptive parenting has its own unique set of flavors. In the past year, adoptive issues have become much more intense for all of us. Camille has had more questions, more emotions, and more stories than ever before. Sometimes we have been ready and waiting to give her answers and comfort, other times we are caught off guard and feel as if we have had the wind knocked out of us...gasping, tearing up, and sputtering to say the right things. Reading and knowing what and when and how to say things, is very different from actually doing it, especially when there are so many tender layers. We crave a specific and precise recipe, but there really isn't one.

This past weekend Adam and I had the chance to see Somewhere Between. It's a beautiful documentary that follows four Chinese adoptees over the course of three years. Four teens living in four different parts of the United States who bravely allow us to peek into their lives. There are plenty of books and films about adoption, but almost all of these are created through the lens of adults (experts, parents, adult adoptees). Even though we were late and that meant we had to sit in the very first row and my neck was killing me from the awkward angle, I was glued to every word. Hungrily, soaking up their stories and trying to digest them, several days later I still find myself thinking about the film. Trying to add it into the mix of things I want to carry with me. The title alone is rattling around in my head and heart. Somewhere Between. Not fitting into one specific box or identity. Looking like one person, feeling like another on the inside. Between two families, between two countries, and between childhood and adulthood. Plenty of very good food for thought.

 If you are in DC, the film has been extended until Oct.25th. If not, check the website for listings in other cities (including opportunities to meet the director and/or some of the girls...that really made our experience very memorable.)


October 15, 2012

 Most of last week was spent unpacking our basement, running errands, and cursing under my breath. I grumbled my way through the traffic, waited impatiently for the slow moving cashier to do her job, got frustrated with the overly chatty shoppers in front of me,and snapped at my kids when I was late to pick them up at school. And then on Friday I got a much needed kick in the pants. 

I spent the morning volunteering at the Walter Reed National Medical Center where all of my petty frustrations from the week disappeared in the face of true pain, loss, and heroism. Futures detoured, limbs gone, families reeling, walls covered with get-well wishes, and flags flying over a place where uncertainty and hope hover. A dramatic shift in perspective.

Seasonal Critters

October 11, 2012

We have been starting to pull out our Halloween decorations and begun to engage in the all-important annual discussion/deliberation about costumes. Has that been happening around your house, too? Turns out humans aren't the only ones surrounding themselves with black and orange at this time of year. Take a look at the milkweed bugs we discovered on our little ramble last Saturday. 

The alien-like pods of the milkweed plants enticed us into a section of the meadow that was teeming with life. Thousands of milkweed bugs at all stages of development...kind of like an insect Halloween party gone wild! The really cool thing about milkweed plants is that in addition to milkweed bugs, they are also the host plants for monarch butterflies. Lots of orange and black there, too. And it turns out that this area is one of the stopping points for those amazing monarchs that make the 2000 mile migration journey to Mexico. I have always wanted to see the monarchs down in Mexico. That really is a dream trip for me, but until that happens we will happily keep an eye open for them during the fall and spring months, we will plant milkweed in our yard, and we'll also be viewing the new film, Flight of the Butterflies.

Exploring: Woodend Nature Sanctuary

October 7, 2012

A Saturday morning ramble at Woodend: a little meadow, a friendly family of deer, trees for climbing, mossy logs for crossing, and mushrooms for studying.

If You Lived Here

October 4, 2012

Adams Morgan, Washington, DC

It's an interesting time to be living in America's Capital City: our first Presidential election in the States with kids who are old enough to realize what's happening around them. Noah has been asking lots of good questions. His classmates have some pretty strong opinions about the candidates and he's trying to form his own which has led to some lively conversations around the dinner table. Last night he wanted to stay up for the debate, but bedtime prevailed. However, reading this post this morning has me re-considering that decision and perhaps we'll let him stay up for the next one.

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