Monday, December 22, 2008

Solstice Celebration

We celebrate the Winter Solstice with friends at an open house. And we had a fabulous time! The food was all so yummy -- green chile corn chowder, mini pizzas, more cookies than I can recall, spinach puffs, munchies of all kinds, great champagne, wine and beer. At the end of the night when it was just 3 of us, there was delicious fudge!

Lotsa pictures to share, too:

Susan had some actitivites -- everyone had to have some s'mores, toasted at the brazier table.
Susan with several of the kids -- Dan in the middle, Andy to the right.

I think this is my favorite picture -- the joy on Sorscha's and Dan's faces -- not to mention the flaming marshmallows, which was the reason for such big smiles!

Same kids, different view.

Got Andy to look up for this one!

Let's see... Teresa, Bruce, Linda, Jenny & Dave -- and a very clear picture of the Mona Lisa that appeared on the back of the little Mother and returning Sun made with paint marker on construction by Spencer. Susan said he was very excited to see the Mona Lisa show up on his artwork. There was some debate around the table -- is that Mona Lisa, Jesus or the Virgin Mary? I guess it depends on which media outlet you call to share your 'miracle' find!

Spencer in a very pensive moment.

Jenny, modeling the earrings Scotty made for her.

Sorscha making a sun -- from a styrofoam ball, yellow glitter paint and small lengths of pipe cleaners. Scotty made the earrings. Dan made something he called 'a doo-hickey on a stick' which Bruce said looked more like a sperm! Yeah, no pix of that craft item!

Late in the afternoon, Dan, Spencer & Scotty trying out Spencer's new wii wheel controller.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Snow!

Okay, so it's not a lot of snow by, say, New England standards, but we've had our second snowfall this month -- before Christmas, even! And more snow is forecast for later today thru tomorrow.

When I grew up here, in the 70's to early 80's, snowy winters were common. In 1984, we had measurable snow on Jan 17, Feb 17, March 17, and April 17! I remember because I got married on May 17, but no snow that day. When I married again, it was another 17th -- in December, so today is our anniversary. No snow that 17th either. Today, tho, we'll have snow for our anniversary!

Anyway, on to the snow pictures...

Dan, shoveling snow off the driveway.

kitty cat tracks on my window sill

Snow on the pinon tree in our front yard.

Yesterday, we went to visit a friend who lives up in the foothills, at the end of a forest road, so the boys could sled. No pictures, because my camera had a small mishap when I dropped it in the snow and water got behind the lens. Once I got home, I tried using the blow dryer on it -- at Gary's suggestion -- and it worked! My camera is back!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fall Days

Well, it's fall here -- the days are cooler, breezy and much too short! Just as boredom threatened, the new museum membership card arrived in the mail. Fourteen months of free access to two of our favorite museums, and a third we keep saying we'll visit someday, maybe even this year.

We spent last Friday at Explora (our local kids' science museum) and the Natural History Museum. No pix from the history museum, but I do have some from Explora.

First, Andy built a tower with his favorite Kapla blocks

They teamed up to experiment with electricity
Andy spent a lot of time working on this particular puzzle

Dan lining up the nails to balance them from the standing nail

Andy solved this one pretty easily.

Most impressive to me, tho, was when Andy sat down at the puzzle with these 6 blocks and ...

got them all to fit into the box! I've tried this one for years and never figured it out. Andy did it in under 10 minutes, after several tries.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

halloween party

We celebrated Halloween with a party at Susan's house this year. My camera batteries ran out, but I did manage to get several pinata pictures first. Andy didn't hit the pinata this year -- tho he did get some treats from it -- and Dan abandoned his costume as we arrived, so he's not in costume for these pictures.

Dan taking a swing at the eyeball pinata

And again...

Jenny missed the pinata hitting, so these are for her:

Scotty taking a swing at the pinata

Gotta love Eliza's style. Altho she looks like a very colorful samurai here, she was actually an archeopteryx. Here she's without the elaborate head part of her costume.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Aquarium & Botanic Gardens

Again, no pictures of the animals in the aquarium, or the plants at the gardens, but we had a fun day with friends. We rode the train, toured the aquarium (twice), visited the Japanese garden and the Heritage Farm

The boys enjoying the mantas at the aquarium. Dan wore only his best clothes for this outing!
Don't they look like a bunch of unschoolers?

Our beautiful boys

This was going to be a blog about last week's trip to the zoo. But I didn't take any 'zoo' pictures. No animals, no friends on the playset, altho we did see animals, and we met friends there. All I have are a few pictures of our two beautiful boys.

A rare shot of Dan looking at the camera. I don't think he realized I caught this one, but with him, I'll take what I can get! I think Andy was talking, which made the shot easier to get.
Andy washed his hair just a few hours before this picture. Look at those curls!! Proof he's mine after all, because we know those curls did not come from Gary's side of the family! Yes, Andy is blessed/cursed with the curly hair that has shown up during adolescence for every male child in my maternal line for at least five generations. I love the curls! The boys, however, find them not so extra. Dan is fervently hoping that gene skips him.

the Balloon Fiesta

We went to the morning launch at the Balloon Fiesta on Weds this year. In years past, we've always gone to the evening activities, usually the special shapes glowdeos. A week or two before Fiesta, Dan said to me "Mom, did you know there's another whole balloon fiesta in the morning?" I explained that it's the same fiesta, but I prefer to go evenings, not at 6 am when it's freezing cold. He insisted he really had to see a morning ascent. Locals (and the Fiesta planners) call it a "mass ascension" here which makes Gary cringe (he understands NM is a very Catholic state, but really there was only one 'ascension') so I make a point of saying 'ascent' now. Anyway, we went to watch the balloons take off.

It was really a lovely morning. Not as cold as I remembered from my time at Fiestas in years past. And, in a week of changing weather, it was one of the best launches in this year's Fiesta. I took lots of pictures, so I'll post several of our favorites.

As we walked in from the parking area, we saw these balloons. The mostly yellow, brightly colored ones are from a local balloon outfit called Rainbow Ryders, who sell rides up and down the Rio Grande, which means most of them fly over our house. We see several balloons a week from September to May. Just one of the many joys of life in Albuquerque.

The first wave of balloons take to the sky.
A pink house, tho not the one from John Mellencamp's song, I think. It looks a little off balance, don't you think?
We watched this balloon being inflated and launched. It reminded us of JayJay the Jetplane which Dan watched for a time when he was very little.
I like this one with the flames.

Airabelle the Cow is at every Fiesta.

This pig inflated next to us as we watched the jetplane fill up.

Dan insisted I get a shot of this castle balloon in flight. That has got to be a hard balloon to fly -- nothing aerodynamic about a flying castle.

My personal favorite -- I love the colors on this one!

Harvest Party

A couple of weeks ago, we spent Sunday afternoon at a harvest party at Ironwood Farm

I didn't get a lot of pictures -- too busy eating good food and catching up with friends -- but here are a few.

There was wool spinning on a wheel. I didn't try it, but watched a few others give it a try.
The boys tended the fire on the steam tractor to sound the whistle.
Dan & Scotty, with Dominick, whose Dad is an old friend of Chris. The boys had a great time, climbing all over the steam tractor and exploring the farm together.

Dan & Scotty, looking up from the mine shaft over at Scotty's grandpa's house next door. They were up and down in the barrel on a hoist powered by the steam engine at Scott's place.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Renaissance Fair

Saturday, we drove up to Las Golondrinas, a period historical museum/farm, for the Santa Fe Renaissance Fair. It was a beautiful day and we all had a great time.

There was 'live steel combat' which the boys found very cool.

Frog catapulting (with plastic frogs) which is harder than it looks (and it looked pretty hard!). Andy got one frog in a basket, of the 6 frogs each boy catapulted.

And a Jacob's Ladder game, which is much harder than it looks! Climbing a ladder mounted like a hammock requires balance, patience and about 3 tries to grab the bandanna! In these pix, each boy succeeded in getting the bandanna (which was threaded thru the hook near the medieval carnie).
Andy, with the bandanna in his hand, as he lost his balance. But he got the prize!

Dan, just reaching for the bandanna.

Spencer, who was really good at this game!

And a performance by Clan Tynker, whom Andy always loves to see!

Raspberry Picking

We had a great day on the 14th (only got photos uploaded today) picking raspberries at a local organic farm. The berries are delicious! We left with 3 pints, which were gone by Tuesday morning -- just snacked them away.

Only got a few pictures before the batteries died, tho.

After raspberries, we met friends in the park to play.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dan and math

Dan asked me, "What's 95 plus 80?"


"Yay! I got it right! Andy asked me what it was and I figured it out!" (Andy has been quizzing Dan lately -- no idea why)

"How'd you get that answer?"

"Because I know 100 plus 80 is 180, and 75 is 5 less than 80, then 95 plus 80 is 5 less than 100 plus 80."

He spent the next half-hour figuring out math sums on his own, and telling me how he came up with them.

"Mom - 28 plus 28 is 56!. Know how I did that? 20 plus 20 is 40, then 41, 42, 43, 44,.... (up to 56 on his fingers)."

"You added the ten-units, then counted up the one-units. Cool!"

"No, I added the 20-units, then counted the other 16." (very matter of factly)

Which prompted me to give him a quick description of place values as a math concept.

Even cooler, it's all math done in his head!

He is too clever!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Our Vacation

We're home from our vacation in California. Everyone had a great time!

We arrived Weds night, so we could surprise Grandma at the airport on Thursday morning. Grandpa knew we were coming, but for Grandma & Auntie Michie it was a complete surprise! After the airport, while the grandparents had a nap and settled in at another Auntie's home (we also stayed with an Auntie), we visited a nice park with play equipment, a climbing boulder. The boys played, climbed, took pictures (see my 365 blog) and just relaxed. It was wonderful to spend a day together, out of the car, after two days on the road.

Friday, we went into San Francisco after breakfast, where we saw Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, Alcatraz (no tours, just across the bay), sea lions and sea gulls, ferry boats, a submarine, lots of sailboats. We visited and toured Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum -- very fun and stranger than I ever imagined. We drove up some very steep streets, and down the same very steep streets. The downhills made me nervous, which thoroughly entertained the boys. We drove down Lombard Street, billed as the crookedest street in America. We stopped in at a chocolate store where the boys bought some great candy, and we all just enjoyed looking at the candies and gifts.

Saturday, we visited Santa Cruz for the beach, at the end of a wonderful drive through the mountains on a shaded, winding road. Andy spent 3 hours in the water, Dan alternated between water and sand.
On Sunday, we visited a shoreline park in Mountain View where Grandpa rented a pedal boat for the four of us to use for an hour, which was lots of fun, too.

We had a great time. Every day and night included wonderful meals -- Japanese potluck, spam musubi, namasu (salad), sushi, kalua pork and more. We ate out at a wonderful Chinese restaurant, and finished the weekend with pizza, spaghetti and salad (wonderful Vietnamese salad, too) and birthday cake for Grandma's 80th birthday (a couple of weeks early).

Through it all, the boys were wonderfully fun and conversant and friendly and just amazing!

We're back home now, and very happy to be here. I still need to do some housekeeping and am so looking forward to my daily walk with my dog! Only after some grocery shopping and a visit to swim with friends first, tho.

Friday, August 22, 2008

of teeth and skateboards....

For the record, the two don't mix. Poor Dan had a rough 24 hours.

On Weds, we colored a new blond stripe for him. It was beautiful, the full length of his hair, about 3" across on the right side of his part. Just what he wanted.

Thursday, he was invited to go swimming at a friend's indoor pool. I never even thought about his new hair color. You know where this is going, right? He swam for only about an hour, in water that reached to just below his jawline. Had a great time, then we headed to the farm to visit Scotty.

After we'd been there a couple of hours, I noticed Dan's hair. The bottom 6" was aqua green. Okay, I thought, I can re-do the color, I have some color solution left. Then I noticed it looked tangled and matted. Maybe he got something in his hair? I rinsed it out for him, and combed it. Now it looked like someone left it in the crimping iron too long. He had fried green hair.

I made a frantic call to Crystal to report a hair emergency, and got her voicemail. When she called back, she confirmed what I already knew. I'd need to cut off the fried green hair. She explained how to layer it so it would fall nicely and said if we really wanted blond to the ends, I could wait a day and color the underlayer. Thank goodness we hadn't colored all his hair or he'd have needed a radically new haircut!

I trimmed Dan's hair Thursday night, and it looks pretty good. Thankfully, the waterline was just below his jawline and the layering Crystal recommended has it framing his face nicely. We left it his natural brown below, because right now Dan is so done with hair coloring! The hair I trimmed off has the texture of nylon Barbie doll hair. Really. (Note to self -- no swimming for at least 3 days after a hair color.)

A little while later, Scotty & Dan were riding together on Scotty's electric dirt bike - Scotty driving, Dan behind. On the driveway, they wrecked the bike. Dan told me he landed on Scotty, which begs the question 'how did he end up with several scrapes and bruises the length of his left leg?' One of the rare days he wasn't wearing jeans -- he still had his swim trunks on from his earlier brush with 300 proof chlorine.

Scotty came home with us that night. The boys stayed up late, and were up early. About 9:30 Friday morning, as I was checking my email before heading out to buy tires, Dan came up behind me and said "I lost a tooth."

"Really -- was it that dangly tooth up top?"

As I swiveled around in the chair, I see Dan bleeding from his mouth, holding the other top incisor in his hand (it was only the tiniest bit loose). "No, it was the other one" he manages to say before lunging towards me for a teary hug. I got him spun around and headed for the sink/fridge area. Darn, no popsicles. I put a bag of frozen peas on his mouth and we head for the sink, as I grab a small glass and salt. I mixed up some salt water and had him swish it around until the bleeding stopped. Assessed the damage -- split, swollen bottom lip; missing top tooth left a gaping hole; other tooth dangling even more precariously. Okay, I guess we're having ice cream for lunch after we get new tires on the car.

How, you may ask, did Dan knock out his front tooth? Let's call it a physics lesson. He and Scotty were using the skateboard as a lever to raise the back of the couch. On their first attempt, the skateboard flew up and smacked Dan in the mouth. By the time I'd cleaned Dan up, Scotty had managed to raise the couch off the floor and was standing on the other end of the skateboard. A bit later Dan explained that during his injury, they were actually trying to launch a bottle of root beer. In the house. With a skateboard.

Friday afternoon talking with friends, Dan said it hurt for about 5 seconds. Scotty said it seemed Dan was upset for longer than that. Dan agreed that maybe it had been more like 12 seconds.

He also agreed it's pretty scary when a skateboard flies up and hits you in the face.

Yeah, he is going to look so good by next week.....

Saturday morning update: The dangling tooth fell out overnight, and the new tooth is already visible.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Peer Pressure

I've read articles and even had people ask me how our kids will ever learn to get along in the world without the apparently essential experience of socialization in school; how they'll respond to challenges like peer pressure and negotiating other social situations. For all that we're told as parents to watch out for negative peer pressure, we're also conditioned to rely on positive peer pressure, and somewhere along the way most people just come to accept that of course kids, especially teens, will succumb to peer pressure.

Lately, I've really struggled with my feelings about one of Andy's friends, and this child's influence on Andy. I've heard from others, and observed myself, some very undesirable behavior from this friend. I'm not usually one to limit or prohibit friendships, but I've found myself concerned, because it seemed Andy was oblivious to his friend's actions. I've been concerned how that friendship could cost him other friends, the guilt by association aspect, and even that Andy might be swept up in some of the negative behaviors.

Yesterday, he asked about making time to hang out with his friend. In addition to having already made other plans, I wasn't really up for having this conversation with Andy. I explained a bit about my concerns and offered him a short visit, with conditions. I didn't really feel good about it, but felt it was the best I could do.

A few minutes later, Andy said "that's okay, we can skip it. I don't have to see him tomorrow." He sounded so defeated and sad. I felt awful, so I sat down with him and opened by telling him I could see that this really was important to him, and I'd like to hear how he felt.

Andy said, "I don't give into peer pressure. I follow my own flow. I do what I want to do. There have been times I didn't like it when [his friend] fights with someone. I tell him 'don't escalate things, just do something else'. He doesn't always listen to me, but I do say it. Sometimes I just walk away. I don't do things just because of peer pressure."

Wow! Just wow! Here I've been watching interaction between Andy and his friends and taken his responses to them - his quietly just not doing what he doesn't want to do - as missing social cues, as Andy being in his own head and oblivious to what's happening around him, when really it's his way of not caving in to peer pressure. Andy states his position, and if others don't hear him, he just walks away and does his own thing.

Clearly, I'd underestimated Andy, and I admitted to it. I told him I could see that he was hurt that I hadn't trusted him to be able to handle this. I apologized for not seeing that he's very capable of dealing with peer pressure and said that I'd trust him to come to me if he needed my help.

I've always known Andy walks to his own beat. Andy lives a life that is entirely, authentically his. He wears what is comfortable for him, pursues his own interests, plays with the toys that interest him (whether or not they're popular), has an amazing imagination and really is very thoughtful. What I hadn't noticed is how much Andy has grown, and how very aware and thoughtful he really is. He's finding his own way in the world and I'm so happy I have the opportunity to watch him as he does it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Yesterday, we went bowling with friends. We all had a great time. Andy bowled two strikes his first game, Dan bowled a few spares in each game. Scores weren't high and bumpers were used, but it's all about the fun of bowling not about who wins. Every good frame for anyone is celebrated by everyone.

Dan, after a spare
Andy after a strike

Another strike for Andy, with more high-5's. By midway thru the first game, Sorscha was giving out hugs for any occasion that merited high-5's from the boys. Sorry no pictures of any hugs, tho.

It was so nice to have the bowling virtually to ourselves on a Friday afternoon -- the price is good then, and with kids back in school all our usual haunts are ours again!