Sunday, November 25, 2012

Memory Dump

I need to write, but haven't. It has been a gloriously long 4-day weekend here (the first we've had in a good while). There are still a few remaining spanakopita left over from Thanksgiving. Tom and the kids brought home a Christmas tree yesterday, which we've set up indoors for the first time. Alas, it does not smell as strongly as would be ideal, but it's faintly piney and very pretty, all decked. The cats have largely left it alone, though the kids (especially Eleri) have had to be reminded repeatedly not to mess with it. I sure like having it here, though.

We're waiting to close on our new house. We were all set to sign the papers a little over a week ago, and then there was an 11th hour paperwork problem on the seller's end that necessitated pushing back our closing date by almost a month. Ah well. "Hurry up and wait" is still perhaps better than "keep looking, fruitlessly." It's a nice place. A two-level townhouse close to metro, in a quiet neighborhood. And it has oodles of storage, and I mean oodles. And 4 bedrooms (so any potential visitors should take note and consider themselves welcome).

I've gone through a bunch of photos that have been languishing on the computer, some of them since July. I've done a terrible job this year of keeping up with daily photos of the kids, but I suppose that's the way it goes. I'll endeavor to do better, as always. I've actually found myself missing my camera lately, which is in itself rather telling as to how infrequently I've picked it up, in recent days. The iPod is a somewhat satisfactory substitute (I do like the ability to take and upload video on the fly), but not enough to really justify not using the "real" camera more than a few times a month.

Tom and the kids have been suffering from a bit of a headcold this past week. Soren was the last to fall, and boy howdy. His tendency to rub his face on his shirtsleeve has resulted in a super-sad nose and pair of cheeks. Mostly he's not been especially afflicted by any more bothersome symptoms than a runny nose, though, so that's pretty good. Eleri was a little fragile and feverish for a few days, but she seems to be doing better. I figure I'll finally get hit with it tomorrow, once Tom goes back to work. Murphy's Law and all that.

Mostly, though, things are good. Soren's doing well in school. (Not that we are concerned with "academic progress" in preschool, but Tom and I are both glad he is enjoying himself.) Eleri's working hard at sounding out words and continuing to enjoy learning sign language. Soren actually signed a full sentence at me the other day, unprompted. We've established (and tried to enforce) a rule that talking with one's mouth full is verboten, but signing is permitted, and Soren signed (with his mouth full of food) asking for some water. I was pretty impressed.

Not much horsing for me lately, but plenty of Zumba. I never would have predicted I'd enjoy that as much as I do, but there it is. My friend N may be close to finalizing the purchase of a second horse though, so there may be more opportunity for me to ride again in the near future. I do miss it, though I've been so busy lately that the missing has not been so acute. It helps, I suppose, to know that the opportunity is there if I really, really want it.

I guess that's it for now. Memory dump complete.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Duck Day

Oh look. I made that same joke three years ago. Hehe.

Happy Thanksgiving! We had our friend Carlota & her kids over for dinner this year.

On the menu:
- duck
- salad
- pumpkin/black bean soup
- mashed sweet potatoes
- cornbread stuffing
- cranberries
- nine BAJILLION spanakopita
- homemade rolls
- apple pecan pie

I think that was everything. There was also wine, so it's possible I'm forgetting something else...

I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful that my kids have good relationships with all of their grandparents. I'm thankful that we've (almost) got a house to call our very own. I'm thankful for Tom's good nature and Soren's silly nerdiness and Eleri's snuggly sweetness. I'm thankful for health and good friends and good food and good wine and warmth and hugs and laughter. Life is pretty freaking great.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Fall Back

[obligatory griping-about-the-time-change post]

Used to be, I whined about setting the clocks forward in the spring for Daylight Saving Time. Especially when I was getting up early enough for work that that hour meant the difference between waking up with the sun and waking up in the dark. Setting the clocks back an hour in the autumn was great. Especially those first few days of feeling like you get an extra hour of sleep in the morning.

Since having kids, however, all time changes are crummy. In the spring I have the same DST-related complaints as before, and now at this time of year, I have two little beasts whose internal body clocks pay no heed to the glorious gift of that extra hour of sleep in the morning. Le sigh.

[/obligatory griping-about-the-time-change post]

Fall is here though, no doubt about it. And though I think Arizona's got the right idea about saying "To hell with these blasted time change shenanigans!" I am still a big fan of this time of year. Fall indeed remains my favorite of the seasons. The air is crisp and fresh and cool, providing ample opportunity for the wearing of sweaters and the consumption of hot beverages. The leaves (around here anyway) are quite a sight to behold. And yes, I was complaining rather a bit on Friday when I took the kids to play outside and stupidly neglected to grab myself a jacket, or gloves, or a hat, to protect me against the blustery afternoon, but I'll chalk it up to the usual seasonal change boneheadedness (I do the same thing at the beginning of summer too). I know I'll be better prepared next time.

Anyway. Hello again, Fall. So nice to see you there. (Even if my weasels insist on waking me at 6am to greet you.)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

O library, my library

We have been using the public library system(s) a lot lately. The week of Halloween, we were at our local branch of the Alexandria City library four days in a row (story time for Eleri, Spanish story time for both kids, story time for Soren, costume parade). We use the Fairfax County library system a lot as well (multiple branches nearby, compared with just the one Alex. City location near us). We were going at least once a week to some library or other during the summer, plowing through Soren's 100 books, and it almost seems as though we've only increased our patronage since the start of the school year. Go figure.

I love it. I love that the kids love the library and consider visits there to be a treat. The children's librarians at Beatley are incredibly friendly (I'm not sure that the FCLS branches we tend to visit actually have dedicated children's staff), and there is always a nice variety of programs available between the two library systems.

We also rent lots of DVDs. That's where we got our start with the whole Signing Time series, and recently we've rented a couple of Schoolhouse Rock collections, some Magic Schoolbus episodes, and a few Dr. Seuss cartoons. Just yesterday we brought home our first Reading Rainbow DVD (and yes, that show totally still holds up, today).

Soren and I have been reading chapter books at bedtime. We've read some Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), some E.B. White (Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, reading Trumpet of the Swan now) and some Laura Ingalls Wilder (Farmer Boy and Little House in the Big Woods, about halfway through Little House on the Prairie at present). This is relevant to the post because all of them were/are books we've borrowed from the library. I'm not sure how much he retains yet, but it's fun. He and Tom are going to start The Hobbit sometime in the next few months, too. This is something I'd really looked forward to - being able to read chapter books with the kids, a chapter or two per night - and I'm really enjoying it. I suspect it'll get even better as they get older. I still eagerly anticipate the nights I can read the same books to both of them.

Anyway. Yay for literary kiddos. Yay for a seemingly endless supply of free books at our disposal. Consider this my endorsement for supporting your local library.

Now, what else did I say I was going to write about soon?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Our car hates winter

I'm not sure what the deal is, but for the past three years, our car has had the annoying habit of refusing to start when the weather gets cold. The first year, we'd only had it for 8 months or so, and it wasn't until after the first big snow storm that it started pulling the "neaner neaner, gotta jump me" routine, so we just figured the battery was old or something. The second year, we got wise and bought one of those portable jump-start thingies that you charge up, hook up, and go. That thing has come in handy lots of times. Last year...actually, last year I don't remember having too many problems with it. It's possible I've blocked it out, however.

This week has been chillier, and rather rapidly so, than last week. Last week we were in the 70s, this week it's the 40s and 50s. This afternoon, when I picked up Soren from school, I shut the car off while he was putting on his seat belt, and then it wouldn't turn over again. What the...? It's not as though it was even THAT cold today. Over the course of the afternoon and evening, I think I had to use the jump starter three or four times. So, yay. Fun times. I find it hard to believe the battery's already bad; it was replaced, at most, two and a half years ago. So maybe the alternator's going now? Or perhaps the car just doesn't like to get up and go when it's chilly out. Who knows?

Not a super blog-worthy tale, I realize, but I wanted to make a note of the starting trouble so I will be able to look back and have a record of when it was happening. Lucky you, getting to read my drivel. ;)

Thursday, November 01, 2012


I'm not sure how I managed to live here over 3 1/2 years without realizing this, but...

Note to Self:

You know the HOV-3 lanes on 395 South? You know how they have somewhat infrequent freeway off-ramps? Well, it turns out that those lanes going northbound have no off-ramps. At all. So if you think you're going to save yourself some time getting to Shirlington or something by jumping into the HOV lanes to scoot around some traffic, think again. Failure to remember this will result in a doubling of your transit time, as you will have to go all the way to the traffic circle by Memorial Bridge and turn around.

That is all.