Tuesday, January 28, 2014


The students at Janney Elementary were recently visited by the mascot of our local American University, Clawed Z. Eagle.  (I guess that's supposed to be like Claude, the eagle?  Kinda cute.)  Clawed, along with some ridiculously tall guys, came to tell the kids about Janney Day at AU, and invited them all to come see a men's basketball game, for free!

Since most of us are constantly telling our kids that they are never allowed to leave home, and AU is the perfect school for them when it comes time to apply for college, we took the opportunity to get them excited about and peak their interest in their future home of higher education.  I unfortunately had to work, but from Brent's pictures, it looks like half the first grade class took over the bleachers.  And they got free t-shirts too!  Score one for American U!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fossils and Gems

First field trip of the school year!  The kids are learning all about rocks (which sounds a lot better if you say they are studying geology in Earth Science), so they went to the National Museum of Natural History to get an up close and personal look at all kinds cool stuff.  I signed up to be a chaperone and was assigned 5 kids to supervise, which included my Joe Joe.

The kids were given a scavenger hunt checklist and searched for specific fossils, gem colors, and interesting things like a giant crystal ball, a rock that became magnetic after it was struck by lightening, and a meteor from outer space.

The trip was timed perfectly, as the hall that houses the dinosaurs is about to be closed in April for a 5 year renovation.  The space will undergo a complete overhaul before the permanent fossil hall reopens in 2019.  Although there are plenty of other wonders there, like the 8 ton African elephant in the rotunda or the Hope Diamond, not much compares to the amazement of a young one when they see the giant T. rex.  We really appreciated one last look at our dinosaur friends, knowing the kids will probably have lost their fascination with them by the time they are on display again.

It was a crazy, hectic, stressful time keeping 5 little ones in check, but I arrived with five and I left with five.  Winning!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Black & White

I'm not up for resolutions this year.  Instead, I'm a man with a plan.  I have so (so, so, so, SO) many cookbooks, especially those devoted to baking, that I decided to make a cookie of the month, using recipes I've never tried before.  The first one that caught my eye was Martha Stewart's mini black and white cookies.  I grew up outside of New York, and they were a staple of my childhood.

The recipe made only half the amount it stated, and there was absolutely no way to roll the cake-like dough into balls, so a mini ice cream scooper was a must.  Other than that, the only thing to decide is if you want to try the vanilla side first, the chocolate side first, or split your taste buds down the middle.

January's cookies were approved by my 6 year old.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Slippery Slopes

It was kind of surprising to realize that we've never really gone sledding all that much.  We haven't even had much snow in DC the past few years.  But with our recent winter weather granting us 2 snow days off from school after an already long holiday weekend, it was the thing to do!

We started out with a few runs down the short slope in our neighbors' backyard, but the boys easily bored of that and it was off to Fort Bayard park just a few blocks away for a little more excitement.

We managed to accumulate a good 5 inches of snow or so over the course of the day.  Amazing how the view from our front door changed so much from 8am to 8pm.

Why do we have an LSU snow hat?  Does it ever even snow in Louisiana???

And now for videos!  On the very first run in Ethan's backyard I was surely glad that  my ankle was bolted back together.

The kids of course enjoyed the much longer and faster runs down the big hill at the park.  I learned to get out of the way as Ethan whipped by.  JT was cautious his first time, but after that there was no slowing them down, whether they went together or alone.

There were plenty of other crashes I didn't catch on video, but Brent and Lisa each got taken out as they tried to slow the kids down and prevent them from hitting a tree or heading into the street.  Seriously, we were magnets for this sled!  I started the day with a crash, so fitting I ended it with one too.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Chocolate cake, chocolate glaze, chocolate sprinkles.

Six and a half candles.

But only half a cake.

Happy half-birthday, my love!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Snow Tubing

Snow tubing at Wintergreen was such a blast last year that it was a must during our ski trip to Snowshoe.  We even went twice!  The first time was both beautiful and insane with all the snow and near white-out conditions, but the 2nd time was exhilarating when the tracts were icier and faster.  Why Coca Cola sponsors the park, I'll never know.

Grab a tube, take the tow line up to the top, race down, repeat.

All the pictures were from our 1st outing when it snowed nonstop.  The videos were from the 2nd, when it was clear enough to see.  You can tell we were having a blast, and Joseph's laughs make it all worthwhile!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Easy Being Green

Joseph looks like a natural on skis, doesn't he?

However, having taken his 1st lessons a whole year ago, he was absolutely going back to ski school.  We signed him up for a 2 hour private group lesson with his buddy Ethan, and Ethan's dad too, and each of the kids had an additional individual private lesson the following day.  

It amazed us how enthusiastic the boys were to get up on skis again, having had such little prior experience.  They had phenomenal instructors who kept them interested, energized, and encouraged to keep at it.  (You guys rock, Mr. Jeremy and Mr. Dave!)

Meanwhile, Brent and I, with Ethan's mom, Lisa, got some grown up time to explore the trails on our own.  I was actually not nervous to ski after my ankle surgery, but we stuck to the greens and it was plenty exciting for me.  Also good to know that the ski patrol was always nearby, and happy to pop into a photo.

By the end of the 2nd day of lessons, complete with rides on the ski lift, both boys wanted to head down the mountain!  Ethan was truly ready and did the entire run on his own.  Joseph still needed a quite bit of assistance, but we made it down alive.  He's getting better at turning, but he's still not so great at slowing down and stopping.

Here' some video action of Joseph practicing with us:

And here's a sample of what he did with an instructor:
(Thanks, Steve, for the footage)