Bright Points

November 30, 2011 by Adam in Family

Yesterday while walking down the hall, hand in hand, Joanna and I were stopped by someone we didn't know.  She had to tell us that she thought we were incredibly cute and that she smiled every time she saw us.

Joanna is now officially a manager, after being temporarily in the position for over six months.  She was getting somewhat frustrated by how long it took.  Though at the absolute lowest point on the pay scale, it did mean a little raise, which was nice.

Sam was sick today, and I ended up taking a medicinal mocha for a headache.  His last day of the term is tomorrow, so he'll have a math quiz and fitness test to make up.  Poor boy.


November 29, 2011 by Adam in Family

I dug a shallow grave in the backyard in the dark of night.  Under the glow of the cell phone, Sam slipped the gerbil into the hole as I whispered a quick apology to Pear.  I covered her up, and went downstairs with Sam to watch The Walking Dead.

The backstory is a little confusing.  Evidently our babysitter Jenny had the gerbils out with Berry and Duncan.  It's possible they were held a little too tightly for too long.  When Jen realized one of them was dead, she ran in to talk to Sam and ask him what she was supposed to do.  Pear ended up in a box and a show was put on for the kids before they noticed.

I ended up breaking the news over dessert.  The kids took it well, discussing which one of them was holding it.  No blame was assigned, though I added a gentle reminder on the fragility of gerbils.  The consensus was that a new gerbil would be purchased and given the same name as the old one.

Wonderful, Wacky Thanksgiving

November 28, 2011 by Adam in Family

I've come to the conclusion that our life will never be uneventful. Most good, some bad, and with the occasionally weird tossed in to spice it up.

Thanksgiving at my mom's was good and only vaguely chaotic. There was food, chatting, and Sam getting loads of birthday money. Hanni baked a bunch of sticky buns which we've been slowly eating away.

Saturday was a huge breakfast of eggs, omelets, pancakes, waffles, and bacon. The birthday boy got his dish of choice, and everyone else as well. Jamie picked up Sam to go to lunch, and the rest of us went to the park where Emma got the last of the bike riding down pat. Sam's classmate Abigail showed up with Limpy the Guatemalan street dog. For some reason, that bizarre phrase stuck with me and I made a t.v. show intro song out of it. The day ended with pizza and Mythbusters.

Sunday was fairly low-key. Joanna, Berry, and Duncan went to church, while Sam, Emma, and I headed to the reservoir to ride bikes. We were out there for over an hour, having a surprisingly good time. We hung out after lunch for a bit, then went to Sacred Heart Hospital at Riverbend for the Santa photo. It was about an hour of waiting madness, but the kids were pretty good, and we picked up cupcakes for Emma's half-birthday party. She seemed to enjoy the music-playing shirt we got her, rocking out before bedtime.

The one really frustrating thing that happened this weekend is that the jewelers lost Colette's wedding ring. Joanna was sad and frustrated, and we're trying to figure out how to deal with it. It sounds like they're trying to make amends, but it's challenging trying to establish the value of everything. Fortunately it was appraised and insured back in 1985, so we have some estimate as to the size and worth. Still, it's not really replaceable in that it was something of Collette's that's forever gone.

I threw together a video of the last couple weekends, swimming, bike riding, birthdays, and such. We're a pretty silly bunch.

A lovely Thanksgiving

November 27, 2011 by Sue in Wielesek

So we could accomodate everyone's schedules, we had Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. It was a real treat, with Bob and Anna bustling around; Anna made a tasty pumpkin-pear pie, and Deb sent a pumpkin pie over. Boy, always take up with men whose ex-wives are good cooks, and more than that, willing to share.

The kids were all there except Dez, who had already had one Thanksgiving with his Dad's family (Jenny had Shaun and his family over for Thanksgiving the day before.) and was 'gived out. I got to see him and Jenny at the Civil War game -the Springfield High football team gets paid to provide students as door checkers at the exit to the Beer Building. Jenny says his grades have improved radically.

As always, everyone was amazingly helpful. Hanni whipped up stuffed mushrooms, and everyone else lent a hand, so it was pretty easy. We had a nice long phone call from Seraph and Robbie, spending Thanksgiving in Arizona with Robbie's Dad and step-mom.

As always, even after this year of losing people to cancer (Besides Colette, two people I knew fairly well died of cancer this year) we have much to be thankful for.

Bike Rider

November 27, 2011 by Adam in Emma

Emma learned to ride her bike today.

At the beginning, she expressed an interest in hopping on Sam's old tricycle, but we somehow got all three younger kids down to the park.  Berry and Duncan put on their training-wheel enabled bikes and were off.  Emma took a bit more work.

Still, within five minutes, she was starting by herself and stopping by herself.  The in-between part of riding around had already been mastered, so she was golden.  I was very proud of her tenacity and she was very excited to have a new, grown-up skill under her belt.


November 27, 2011 by Adam in Sam

Sam officially turned thirteen today.  I asked him if he wanted to borrow a razor and have a beer.  Both were politely turned down.

His festivities began yesterday, getting a song and batch of sticky buns while at my mom's for Thanksgiving.  This morning he got his breakfast of choice (cheesy eggs on challa bread), and opened up all his presents.  Jamie showed up to bring him goodies and take him to lunch.  By afternoon, he was rolling in birthday cash and presents.

He was surprisingly generous in his wealthy state.  Steam was having a bunch of game deals, and he bought two 4-packs of games and gave them out to myself, Matt, and Josh.  We were all immensely appreciative.

I'm about to head to la Perla's to pick up his pizza of choice.  We will be eating that and watching Mythbusters.  I think the day has gone exactly as Sam wanted.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

November 25, 2011 by Danica in Danica Miller

I hope everyone is having a grand celebration on what ever day you choose for doing it! Yesterday mother and I had dinner at the nursing home at noon after watching a bit of the Macy's parade. I got there too late for the Rockettes as it turns out - poo... Later in the day I got to celebrate with the Brinkmans and Emma's large family. Delicious gourmet fair and a real treat.

I did get some good photos of mother yesterday, which I thought I'd share. The closeup portrait is one of the best I've taken in a while, I think. Love to all!

Quiet Thanksgiving

November 25, 2011 by Adam in Family

We had a pretty quiet Thanksgiving, as we're really celebrating it today.  I think I had a vegetarian chick patty as my main dish.  Still, it's all about the company.

Sam was at his mom's house, and Jamie and Emma went off to Bend yesterday morning.  I picked up Sam in the afternoon and Emma should arrive today for my mom's Thanksgiving bash.

Berry's on day two of a bed wetting streak.  It's funny how it seems to be fine for months, and then it pops up again.  The good news is that we've got the routine down.  She tells me the problem, grabs clothes, runs to the bathroom to pee and change.  By the time she returns, I've stripped the bed and put on a new mattress cover and fitted sheet.  After tucking her in, she gets to sleep in a minute.  I feel like the pit crew at the Indy 500.

We were generally lazy yesterday, but snuck outside to rake leaves.  Duncan had this desire to jump in a leaf pile, so we put one together for him and he spent nearly an hour jumping into it over and over.  He evidently had some game involving Pokeman going on.  We eventually inticed him back.

I made bananna bread, and Joanna made pumpkin pie.  We should be all ready for the big day in a few hours.

Since it's our anniversary, Joanna and I exchanged presents at the breakfast table.  The kids munched on eggs and sausages.  I played with my new razor, and Joanna assembled her Kindle cover and book light.

It's also Sam's final day of being a tween.  I'm pretty sure that as the day progresses, he'll become increasingly hairy and his voice will drop a couple octaves.

Hi, y'all, and Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2011 by Sue in Wielesek

Delightful news, Morgan had her baby, a little girl named Rose. Sadie called, weeping happily into her cell phone. So lots to be thankful for this year.

Adam, I would love to feed you dinner tomorrow and Friday, but I think everyone else is showing up at 2 on Friday, and I hope you guys will too. Adam, I'm thinking we're doing a little family birthday for Sam on Friday? This will be a fun Thanksgiving, with Aric, Charlotte and Anna. Well, Bob's up swearing at the fax machine...we need a butler who understands electronics. Love to all, Mom

Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving

November 23, 2011 by Adam in Family

It's been the usual weird and wacky week so far.  I let myself have a mocha this morning, as it's practially Friday anyway.

Sam's been practicing his speech all week.  I've learned more about Teddy Roosevelt's suffering than ever before.  He also keeps trying to retake a Fitness test, attaching various reminders to himself so he doesn't forget.  This morning it was tape on his finger.  Hopefully that'll do the trick.

Duncan had pajama day at school yesterday, but he had an accident and had to quickly throw his favorite pajamas into the wash first thing in the morning.  He ran around in his underpants until we made him put on a bath robe, and fortunately managed to get him in clean pjs and off to school.

Berry has been fairly cheerful, always surprising us with wild outfits and makeup when we return home from work.  Following in her brother's footsteps, she made a texture pack for Minecraft where everything looked bright pink.

I called up Emma last night and wished her a good Thanksgiving.  She and Jamie are going to Bend tomorrow, though I think Sam will be staying with us.  I suspect tomorrow will be pretty low-key, with some cooking for tomorrow and catching up on house projects.

We also had a difficult sit-down with our sitter Jenny, telling her we were going to switch back to Jessica for after-school care.  It was hard, as we like Jenny and the kids adore her.  Jessica's schedule just opened up and we really like the consistency of keeping her throughout the year.

I'm really looking forward to the next few days, hanging about the house and being lazy.  Rumor has it my mom will feed us tomorrow, and then we've got those assorted birthdays coming up.  I guess I need to wrap some of those mysterious UPS boxes that keep arriving.

Heading Out

November 23, 2011 by Seraph in Cortez

Early Thanksgiving wishes to everyone, and Happy Birthday wishes to Sam!  We're heading out to the airport soon, and will be in Arizona until Sunday. 

Love to you all!

Pre-Thanksgiving Weekend

November 21, 2011 by Adam in Family

The weekend has come and gone.  On one hand, it was rather pleasant and relaxing, while at the same time we ended up getting a ton of work done.  I think we did somewhere between six and eight loads of laundry, and usually three loads of dishes per day.

Friday night we pondered going to a play at Emma's school, but she wasn't interested and everyone felt pretty worn out.  We instead had stir-fry and a quiet evening.  The next morning Joanna slept in until nine, which is unusual even for her.  I fed the kids a hearty breakfast with bacon by the time she arrived.  Eventually we got organized and headed to the bank and a farmer's market to get pulled pork and other goodies.

For the afternoon, we attempted to go swimming, but Sheldon was closed and apologetically gave us free swim coupons.  Eventually we made it to Willamalane and had a surprisingly good time. 

Sunday involved another big breakfast, including sauted chantarelle mushrooms on eggs.  Joanna went to church and I took the younger kids off to the library, scooping up Sam on the way back.  He had a bunch of homework, so we worked on his reading and speech.  Joanna did her hair and worked on Christmas presents.  Emma, Duncan, and I played a bunch of games together.  Dinner was pizza and Mythbusters, as usual.

This morning we got the kids off to school, and I reminded Sam about his health class test he needs to make up.  He's doing pretty good about taking care of these things, though cutting it a little close for my comfort.

The week ahead is a little odd, with the short week and the kids going off to Bend with Jamie this Wednesday.  They'll magically appear Friday afternoon for a Thanksgiving here, Sam's birthday on Saturday, and Emma's half birthday on Sunday.  Busy, busy.

New Sweater Mocha Friday

November 18, 2011 by Adam in Family

Emma tried on Joanna's sweater yesterday and it fit wonderfully.  The girl has it on for school today, which is a good thing as it's somewhat chilly (there were a few flakes of snow in with the rain this morning).  Joanna's been working away at the thing for a month or two, unraveling big sections when there was a problem.  It's neat to see it finally finished.

Sam's been working away at homework, finishing his reading and getting ready for his Teddy Roosevelt speech on Monday.  He also entertained Emma and I with his Skyrim antics.  He took off all his armor and gear in front of some boy in game, who exclaimed "Naked! Naked! Naked!" and ran off.

Berry's had a bit of a hard week for some reason.  She's been up every night for the last four days.  I went downstairs to cries of "mama!", and asked her if she needed anything.  She exclaimed "I want mama!" and made kicking motions when I tried to lay down next to her.  I opted to lie down at the foot of her bed for a few minutes, and she immediately conked out.  This was after a rough evening of periodic screaming.  I kept taking her outside and breaking out my dad's dentist voice, calmly explaining how she needed to calm down/brush teeth/go to sleep.  Ah, the joys of parenting four year-olds.

We have a relatively quiet weekend coming up.  I'm hoping we get to a farmer's market and swimming pool tomorrow.  Tonight is a date night with the kids, and the plan is to go to Emma's school to watch the play.  Good times.


November 17, 2011 by Adam in Adam's Games

Sam's been playing Skyrim for almost a week now, though I only got it a couple days ago. I haven't been able to play all that much due to life's responsibilites, but what I've done so far feels pretty special. I'm also having a strange compulsion to gather up every potion ingredient I can find and eat it to raise my alchemy skill. I'm busy eating animal parts and weird plants all along my journeys.

I finished Bastion last weekend, which was a wonderful, artistic game with an interesting story. It was simple in some respects, a standard "fight the monster and get the stuff" game, but the narration was constant throughout and kept things interesting.

Finally, Minecraft goes live tomorrow, despite a couple years of playing. I'm strangely excited to get back to it and explore the Nether for strongholds. You can "win" the game now, and I'm eager to find the things necessary to do so.

Mid-Week Date Night

November 17, 2011 by Adam in Family

It's Thursday, and I'm probably taking up all the juicy news events of the week so tomorrow's Mocha Friday post will be dull. Ah, well.

The end of the term is sneaking up on Sam, and he's got a fair amount of homework for this weekend. There's a speech on Monday, and a book to finish. Finally, he has some athletic tests to make up from weeks ago. I'm working hard to guide him through all the miscellaneous things that have to get done.

Berry's been up a lot this last week, three days straight. Joanna's getting a little frazzled around the edges. We went out last night, to Bepe and Gianna's and then over to the art museum on campus. There was a depressing and political exhibit from a Chinese dissident. We moved on to the "birds and flowers" exhibit which was only slightly more uplifting. Finally we made our way to the asian pieces, which were as wonderful as always.

Emma comes home today, which I'm very excited about.

taking requests

November 16, 2011 by Sadie in Sadie & Greg

While Gregory thinks its a sin to even mention the C-word before Thanksgiving, I'm taking orders for my semi-annual Christmas mixtape, featuring Leadbelly, the Weepies, Sufjan Stevens, Eartha Kitt, Elvis Presley, the Vince Guaraldi Trio, Frank Sinatra, and more. Let me know if you'd like one.

Another Weekend, Come and Gone

November 15, 2011 by Adam in Family

I'm back at work after a three-day weekend. It was surprisingly pleasant and occasionally productive, though I tried hard to hang out and relax.

I spent most of Friday with the kids, taking the day off work so we could spend time together as they were off of school. I let Joanna sleep in and made a hearty breakfast for everyone. Sam was playing Skyrim and loving it, so he spent much of the day doing just that. He did take a break for a family Apples to Apples game. Emma and I went outside a fair amount, with her riding her tricycle around the block and I ended up doing some gardening. Jamie picked them up at three, and I did the weekly shopping trip, which was very quiet without Emma. Joanna and I went out on our date night, having a delicious treat at Poppi's Anatoilia.

I scooped up Emma on Saturday, and all three kids were exceptionally pleasant. Emma cheerfully played with the younger kids in the basement for much of the morning. Emma showed off my old insect collection from graduate school, and we all decided to make potions around the table. Emma, Berry, and I played with a ball and bat, Berry cheerfully fetching it when it went away. We also cleaned out the chicken coop and put up new Christmas lights for the driveway.

I picked up Sam after another great breakfast of crepes, sausages, whip cream, waffles, blueberries, and mocha. He was still playing Skyrim, but he managed some reading time for class and some hang out time with the rest of us. Emma rode around outside some more, we all played a bit of Minecraft, people went to parties, and the house we mostly cleaned up. The night wrapped up with pizza and Rough Science.

All is well.

Thank you!

November 14, 2011 by Seraph in Cortez

Thanks everyone for all the birthday cards and good wishes!  It was a long weekend (Isa had a 1/2 day on Thursday, and both Isa and Robbie had Friday off) full of relaxing family time. 

We've been on a Harry Potter marathon finishing up the seventh movie last night.  Now we get to watch the final movie tonight - after homework and committee meetings!

Emma as a 50s Housewife

November 13, 2011 by Adam in Emma

For some reason, Emma struck me as a 50s housewife this morning.  She'd gotten all prettied up with makeup and Joanna helped curl her hair.  Emma has a love for Chanterelle mushrooms, so she was chopping them up and sautéing them with garlic and butter and olive oil.  It was delicious.

Emma's been great today.  She played with Duncan and Berry.  We played baseball in the backyard, with Berry as our catcher.  During the library run, she stocked up on books like The Teen's Guide to World Domination and The Teen's Guide to Helping Our Oceans, Rivers, and Other Aquatic Things.  Emma, who is watching over my shoulder, tells me I should add The Girl's Guide to Style.

You can add "chicken wrangling" to her list of skills.  She had this giant brussle-sprout stem that she was waving around, trying to get the chickens to behave.  It was a sight to behold.

Ben and Emma are Engaged!

November 12, 2011 by Danica in Danica Miller

No need to whip out your calendars as there is no wedding date selected yet. But I just wanted everyone to know the exciting news!

Ben, romantic that he is, decided he was going to have a good friend who's a jeweler make a ring (special beacuse Ben had studied with this guy while in middle school). He kept everything a surprise until he popped the question on Halloween while they were hiking in the Bristol Hills in the FingerLakes on a glorious fall day. It's been reported that Emma was so surprised she was speechless! Fortunately she recovered enough to say yes! Ben was quite pleased with himself that all went according to plan.

Of course I'm thrilled! When they stopped by to show me the ring, I had to take lots of photos.

According to Ben the ring shows the Hudson Valley view of the Catskill mountains and the sky above, obviously very symbolic to them because this all started on the Bard College campus, which sits overlooking the Hudson. I, however, think it could represent any of the many mountains they've climbed together - from the Adirondacks to the Rockies in CO or those in Ecuador with many more to come I’m sure!

Happy Birthday, Seraph

November 10, 2011 by Sue in Wielesek

Hi, beautiful girl. Have a wonderful day with your fam! Love, Mom

Mocha Thursday

November 10, 2011 by Adam in Family

I had a mocha today, so I'm unnaturally peppy.  Today Joanna is at home with Duncan and I'm in cubieville.

I wandered down to Roosevelt yesterday afternoon to go to Sam's parent-teacher conferences.  It felt like speed dating, all these tables lined up in the gym, chatting and bonding until the bell rang.  My first stop was with Sam's favorite teacher, who was completely shocked to find out he was Sam's favorite teacher.  It turns out he's a really nice guy, and I think has made world history quite fun for Sam.  The second was his English literature teacher, who I already knew. 

In general, Sam seems to be doing fine in his classes.  He's a bit reserved, but participates in conversations.  Sam also seems more confident with projects.  There were some concerns about his health and absences.  It sounds like he's mostly made up assignments, though not always perfectly.  I think he still has some gym tests that are outstanding.

We worked on homework for a long time last night, with his Theodore Roosevelt assignment taking forever.  He was pretty loopy last night, barely coherent as he finished up his math.  Still, we got it done and he managed more reading that night.

Today his game comes out.  He's been counting the hours all week.

Midweek Update

November 09, 2011 by Adam in Family

Nothing too exciting to report.  Duncan was out of school, so I've been working at home today.  He spent most of the time working on this rather epic book he made with Microsoft Paint and Word, occasionally asking me for spelling help.

I'm off to Sam's parent-teacher conference in a half hour.  Life continues as usual: laundry, feeding children, coordinating schedules, helping with homework, and so on.  Looking forward to seeing Emma tomorrow.  Sam's counting down the days for the Skyrim release.  I get it a few days later in the mail, something he regularly taunts me about.

Swimming, Guy Fawkes, and Family Dinners

November 07, 2011 by Adam in Family

Back at work after an eventful weekend.  I managed a bit of relaxation, though it did seem that we ran through a tremendous amount of activities.

On Friday night Sam was at Jamie's and we played with the kids in the basement.  Come morning, I found myself playing with everyone again in the basement, alternatively pretending to be a monster and a monkey.  Eventually we moved on to crepes and sausages, with Joanna running to the store so that I could have my morning mocha.  I picked up Sam after a grocery run with Emma.  I put the boy to work outside, trimming shrubbery, and set him to reading while we took the rest of the crew swimming.  Sam and I continued our zombie fighting adventures with Matt and Josh. Joanna made pumpkin pie for Sunday, and we relaxed until pizza and Mythbusters that night. 

We headed outside to celebrate Guy Fawkes' day.  Mostly it was an excuse to tromp around outside to burn sparklers and other odd things in the dark.

We had more crepes on Sunday, after I finished my Batman game in the wee hours of the morning.  Emma and I went to the library and ran errands.  In the afternoon, we headed to Berry's Autumn Fair.  Kiera, Emma's old teacher's daughter, painted a ferret face on Emma.  Lots of crafts were made, and we eventually headed home.  That night was a massive family dinner: Hanni, mom, Bob, Yayoe, John, Jenny, Destin, and Jordan all showed up for soup, bread, salad, and lots of dessert.  Good times.

December trip

November 06, 2011 by Seraph in Cortez

I keep forgetting to post our December trip plans.  We'll be flying in to PDX the day after Christmas, and flying back on Jan 1.  I think we're hoping for some quiet "free" time, but for the most part we're excited about all the overwelling and load family time!! 

Double-Mocha Friday

November 04, 2011 by Adam in Family

I had two mochas today.  The first I made myself this morning.  The second was given to me by a happy customer, along with a fresh blueberry scone.  Delicious.

Jamie and I went to Emma's parent-teacher conference this morning.  She's doing very well with school, is social and cheerful and generally well rounded.  Emma gets high marks in reading and math, and is good at giving presentations in front of class.  Her spelling needs some work, but I figure that'll improve as she reads more.

Since the conference was in the morning, we hung out at home until it was time to go.  I worked a little, but Emma somehow managed to lure me over for her Glee pony project.  She printed out Glee-themed pony drawings from deviantart, cut them out, pasted them on cardboard, and made little stands for them.  When we were talking to her teacher, she played with them to entertain herself.

The week has gone fairly well.  Joanna and I went out Wednesday night.  Emma arrived yesterday and wanted to work on homework, so I made some up for her.  This morning she was programming in Scratch and making a rotating sun.

We're hanging out with kids tonight, though I'm not sure what we're doing.  Family swim is a tad late.  We may just stay home and relax.  Tomorrow Sam and I have some tentative coop gaming, and I want to get Emma to get a new fish.  House projects are always calling to me, and perhaps we can get outside too.

electrification and root canals

November 03, 2011 by Sadie in Sadie & Greg

We now have power, heat, and water, although we are limping by without internet. My dentist's office reopened and I got to move my root canal to tomorrow, too. In the meantime, I'm sucking on ice cubes at UMass, taking conference calls in the library telephone booth. There's nothing like the creature comforts. 


November 03, 2011 by Seraph in Cortez

Yesterday I stupidly rubbed my eye while cooking.  Oh, did I mention that I had chyenne (sp?) pepper on my fingers?  Ouch!!  After riping out my contact (hmmm... before I rinsed my hands, so more pepper got in my eye), I did the whole flush with cold water thing, and then walked around all day with my glasses on and a puffy red eye.  At least the food was yummy!

After Halloween

November 01, 2011 by Adam in Family

We all survived Halloween, and I'm looking forward to a quiet evening tonight.  Joanna spent the day at work walking around, giving out candy and asking for donations.  I had it easier, but the boots still pinched and the facial hair began to drive me crazy.

We got home, quickly ate, and rushed out the door to begin the trick-or-treating madness.  It was generally a good time, and our bowl of candy was gone by the end of the night, with each of the three kids gorging themselves on candy.  Mom came by to hand out "envelopes".  Each kid was beside themselves with the cold hard cash contained within.

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