Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pacific Northwest Christmas


We are celebrating our holidays in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Above is the tree and the gifts before bedlam ensued on Christmas morning.

Anna and Sam were ready to celebrate!


On Christmas Eve, Mount Rainier came out of hiding, and was bathed in late afternoon sunshine.


Maggie helped her little brother with his stocking on Christmas morning.


Christmas morning there was a beautiful red sunrise (which happened well after the gift unwrapping began.)


Number One gift this year was a die-cast Kubota tractor for Sam, just like Grandpa Doug's full sized one.  After opening this one, all else was mere gravy.


No offense, Aunt Jane, I love the sweater, I just don't like having clothes pulled on over my head with people watching.


Lad and Grandpa comparing gifts.


This present was nearly bigger than Aunt Dorothy.


Anna loves Christmas!


A group photo with matching t-shirts.


Followed by obligatory FUNNY FACE!



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holidays are here!

I've been terribly lazy in updating the blog, so I thought the best excuse to post would be to share a few holiday pictures.

First, our holiday family portrait.  We took this in the lobby of the Cleveland Institute of Music, where Maggie performed her end-of-semester prep orchestra concert just over a week ago.


Here are the three kids- Anna, Sam, and Maggie.


We had birthdays this month too.  Here are the three birthday girls!


And there was another holiday just about a month ago too!  We shared a wonderful Thanksgiving with my sisters and their families in sunny and warm Smyrna, Georgia.  Sam loved having the attention of cousins, uncles, and definitely aunties.


All our best wishes to friends and family for a wonderful holiday season, be it Solstice, Hanukkah, or Christmas.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Super Halloween

We had a pretty Super Halloween here this year.

Grandma was in town for one thing, and that's ALWAYS super.  She also made Sam a very sweet Superman costume for Sam.  He's been eyeing it for two weeks now, smiling every time we said "SUPER SAM!"

However, I don't think Superman had to endure the shame of having his mother and grandmother get him into his suit.  Sadly no phone booth was handy.



Much happier once he's got his suit of invincibility, here's the Super lad and his Super mom.


He really enjoyed seeing the kids come to the door, bending bars of steel, and getting into his jammies.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Visit from Grandma and Choosing a College

We've had a wonderful visit with Grandma Pam the last two weeks.  We even got some glorious sunny and warm northeast Ohio autumn weather!  She and Sam had a wonderful time, especially on the swings.





Mommy makes sure Sam gets plenty of energy food.



Anna gave a presentation to the local AFS group about her six months in France.  With her were the two other students from Heights High who also were away last year (Finland and France.)


A senior this year, Anna has been busy thinking about where she would like to go to college next year. It's not an easy decision to make!  Sam has done his best to help out.  First he suggested the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, home of the Nanooks (great hockey!)


How about Boston?  I hear Harvard is a pretty good place to get an education.


Of course, both Kim and Sam think you can't get much better than Princeton.  Go, Tigers!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

September Update

I've been shamefully neglecting updates here, and not at all for lack of content.  We've been busy!  Since the last post, all THREE kids have started school.  Anna is a senior this year at Heights High, Maggie an eighth grader at Monticello Middle, and even little Sam is going to daycare now, three days a week.  So our daily routine has settled into a more structured one, mornings of packing lunches, eating breakfasts and heading off in various combinations to our daily tasks.

First day of school for the big kids ran the gamut of emotions.
The menfolk share a hearty breakfast.

Sammy has been furniture cruising for months and months.  This month, however, he has- cautiously and carefully- begun to take off on two feet.  Usually supported by a walker toy, but ever so occasionally, he becomes the Amazing Walking Baby.



This weekend, we had the good fortune to head down to Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood to pick up our weekly CSA grocery share.  Normally we do the pick up much closer to home... but we forgot about it on Thursday.  So we headed down on sunny Saturday and got our goodies right next to the iconic St. Theodosius cathedral.


Picking up our Fresh Fork bag in Tremont. 

We also had the good fortune to join Anna on an AFS club outing to Patterson Fruit Farm in Geauga county for some apple picking.  Sammy enjoyed wandering through the pumpkin selection and of course picking the apples, which was messy work.  We've had rain for a week straight so the orchards were quite muddy!

At Patterson Fruit Farm.

Got one!

Which one should we pick?
Time to head home.

I want a bigger one!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer's Twilight

August has a bittersweet feel here at our house- plenty of summer left to enjoy yet the vague sense that it will all soon come to an end, as we return to the more steady routine of the school year and work.  Here are a few photos of what we've been doing to enjoy the end of summer.

Sam and Kim patiently await yummy food and drink at Great Lakes Brewing Company, where we celebrated friend Daniel's birthday.
Maggie and her friend Maria enjoyed Laurel School's Shakespeare Rocks! camp.  The final performance was scenes from Twelfth Night.
On Friday our friends Mark and Jen and their nearly-two-year-old Caroline came over for supper.  Sam and Caroline very much enjoyed each other's company!
Saturday we spent the afternoon at Stan Hywet Hall gardens in Akron.  The grounds were lovely! Here we are inside the walled English garden.
The girls and Sam enjoying one of the many park benches on the property.
The girls couldn't resist the enormous chess set in the garden.
I liked these enormous irises, taller than Kim! (but not as beautiful!)

These beautiful red blooms set off nicely the house in the background.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Weisswurstfest!

Gesundheit!

Social media really is a strange and sometimes wonderful thing.  Unexpected connections can come when you least expect them.

A facebook friend of mine, David, recently said that a cucumber salad he'd prepared gave him gastronomic flashbacks to eating the same salad at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, during the year he spent there working on his dissertation.  I commented on his post, to the effect that I too had spent a fair bit of time in that beautiful city while my father was on sabbatical.  I suggested that we get together and share a meal of Bavarian specialties- his cucumber salad and some Weisswurst with Lowensenf and WeiƟbier  So we did!

This past Sunday David and Liz came over and we enjoyed a tasty plate of boiled sausage and much conversation and sharing of pictures from Bavaria.  We had a great time and ate altogether too much.




This post wouldn't be complete without a picture of Sam, who also enjoyed the Bavarian repast.  Here he is enjoying his favorite pastime- emptying and sorting the tupperware drawer in the kitchen.  This fascination keeps him happily busy for... minutes on end.

Friday, July 8, 2011

France, part three: Provence!

This is the last installment of my photos from France.

Anna and I spent five days exploring Provence.  We stayed in the beautiful city of Aix-en-Provence, in the heart of the old part of the city.  The narrow street and stone houses were beautiful.  We enjoyed walking the winding alleys, finding surprises around each bend.

Aix is a city of fountains.  There were dozens in the streets we walked, sometimes in a corner, but more frequently where two or more streets intersected.  The main street, the Cours Mirabeau, has a large one at the top of the street.  This one, the quatre dauphins, was my favorite.

Flowers were in bloom everywhere- we saw a lot of this pink oleander.

One of the evenings we were there, we were fortunate to enjoy a free public concert, inaugurating the upcoming opera festival in town.  The London Symphony Orchestra and soloists performed highlights from the opera La Traviata.  Earlier in the evening we scoped out the venue at the top of the Cours Mirabeau.  The seats were available by prior arrangement (which we hadn't made).

And here is what it looked like just as the concert was starting.  The area was packed and the audience listened with rapt attention.

One morning we stumbled on this market.  So colorful!  Anna bought us strawberries and cherries for our picnic lunch that day.




We spent a full day driving down along the coast of the impossibly blue Mediterranean sea.  This cliff is along the coast near the small resort town of Cassis.


















Along the wharf in Cassis.



In Cassis, we went on a chartered boat tour of the calenques or creek inlets, fragile, beautiful areas.  Here is Anna aboard the boat.


On our way back to Aix, we drove along the Route des Cretes, which scales the cliff to the east of Cassis and affords wonderful views from above of the town and sea.

Another full day we spent exploring two ancient ruins.  The first was at Les Baux de Provence.  This medieval settlement, built on a promontory of les Alpilles mountains, was originally constructed to defend the area from invaders.  The village is quite charming and the fort settlement very interesting to explore.


Provence is famous for growing many beautiful things- olive groves, sunflowers, and of course lavender.  It grows everywhere, and on a windy day like we had as the mistral wind gusted, the scent is unmistakeable.


Set against blinding white gravel paths, the purple flowers are stunning.

In Les Baux, they even pave the streets with it.

Just north of Les Baux, near the outskirts of the town of St. Remy is the excavated Roman settlement Glanum.  Our visit was a bit of an afterthought, but I had a feeling that it might be interesting.  We ended up spending two hours exploring the site.

Amidst the remaining stone walls were remnants of capitals, culverts, sculpture, baths and cisterns.

And so I bid adieux with a glass of my favorite afternoon refreshment while we were in Provence, pastis, or liquid Good-n-Plenty as my brother-in-law calls it.



One warm afternoon in Aix we even had the pleasure of enjoying our cool drinks (pastis for me, iced chai latte for Anna) at a cafe with some live jazz.