Thanksgiving Break

November 29, 2014 by Adam in Family

There are still a few more days for Thanksgiving break.  Sam and Emma are going to their mom's house later today.  Joanna is returning with Berry and Duncan on Tuesday.  It'll just be Honoka and I at the house for the most part - she has bowling with friends this afternoon, and I'll be doing various errands.

I had Wednesday off, so I hung out with everyone and celebrated Sam's birthday.  The kids went to their mom's house in the afternoon while Joanna and I saw the latest Hunger Games while Honoka shopped.

Thursday was much of the same, but with Emma's half birthday in the morning.  Joanna packed.  There was lots of playing at the house.  Sam helped move the treadmill from upstairs to the basement, and the old dishwasher outside to be picked up.  Eventually we wandered over to mom's house for Thanksgiving preparations and eating.  We chatted and ate too many desserts.

Friday morning we bid farewell to Joanna.  Honoka stayed up all through the night to say farewell at 4 a.m.  I'm not sure how she managed that - I stumbled downstairs with Joanna to make her tea, chat a little, then fell back to bed.  Her trip was fine and she made it to Rochester, texting all the way.  I fed Emma and Honoka a first breakfast of waffles, and when Sam got up we had second breakfast at the Glenwood with my mom.  As for the rest of the day, I managed to accomplish various things from my massive list.  Emma had her friend Jade over.  Sam and I played a whole lot of Rome II, moving little armies around the battlefield.

Dinner was entertaining.  Somehow Sam and I managed to cook gnocchi, make a cheese sauce, and cook Brussels sprouts.  The latter turned out best, I think.  We played Telephone around the dinner table, much to Honoka's amusement.  Eventually we took Jade home, got Emma to bed, and Sam and I watched a scary movie.  I had to stay up a little late to shake it off.

It's first thing on Saturday morning, so I'm going to hang out with Emma now.  The teenagers are fast asleep.

Happy Birthday Sam & Happy Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014 by Lohring in Lohring

As well as Sam, yesterday would have been Franklin Miller's 101st birthday. Here are a couple of classic pictures in his memory.The first is with me when Franklin was in hes early thirties, the second and third are at the Beachcraft factory when Franklin was in his forties.


November 27, 2014 by Seraph in Cortez

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! The pies are done, the turkey is in the oven and the bread is rising. I'm sure we'll get in a listening to Alice's Restaurant too. We all of you are warm and happy today!


November 27, 2014 by Adam in Sam

Somehow Sam managed to make it to sixteen.  He's currently 6' 2" and just joined South's wrestling team.  To top it off, he's got a 4.0, though he might get his first B this term.  He's far more gregarious than I was at that age, and he has a number of friends that he hangs out with.  Needless to say, I'm quite proud of the boy.

The birthday boy was up early and started with french toast, bacon, and a latte.  We unwrapped presents for him, most of them practical items of clothing.  He did appreciate the hat Joanna knitted for him, as well as the two old topographic maps I'd found at the library sale a few weeks back.  After playing with friends online for a bit, we headed downtown to Sizzle Pie for a short walk, pizza, and conversation.  We finished up the celebration with a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts, lighting a candle for his doughnut upon his return.

Happy birthday Sam!

November 26, 2014 by Seraph in Cortez

Happy birthday Sam!  Your birth day will always be a memorable one for all of us!


November 26, 2014 by Yayoe in Yayoe

Today's is Sam's birthday. How well we all remember waiting for him to arrive on Thanksgiving Day. Franklin Miller was also born on this date. This is your special day SAM. And here's to Franklin...too. Enjoy

It's a Long Way to the Top

November 24, 2014 by Adam in Family

". . . if you want to rock and roll." was the usual response from Emma every time I asked that on the way up Mt. Pisgah.  The last time we went to the Arboretum, Sam said he wanted to go to the top of the mountain.  Yesterday we started at the base on a cool, clear day, and made our way up the 1.4 mile trail to the summit.  It was a long haul, and Emma complained most of the way.  Sam occasionally went off-trail to explore.  I occasionally resorted to pushing children some of the way.

The top itself was beautiful, and we were all thankful for getting there.  Sam loved the relief map showing the local area.  We snacked, rested, enjoyed the view, and headed back down.  Joanna's knees started to fail, so she walked backwards with some assistance for the last bit.  We returned home and collapsed with exhaustion, Honoka going to sleep on the couch almost immediately.

The rest of the weekend wasn't quite as exhausting.  Friday night Duncan had a sleepover at Ash's house, while Joanna and I went out on a hot date.  Saturday morning Berry and I played Castle Panic and Terraria.  It was nice getting in some one-on-one time before her trip back east.  I picked up Emma, took her and Honoka to the library while Joanna took Berry and Duncan to a laser tag birthday.  Emma and I spent the afternoon installing our new dishwasher.  Emma was genuinely helpful, doing quite a bit of the work herself.  She later told me it was pretty fun, and I was happy to have clean dishes again.

Saturday night was the usual pizza and Mythbusters.  Sam played a lot of video games with his friends.  Both Honoka and Sam worked on US History assignments. 

Sunday morning we got up early and got Duncan and Berry ready for their trip back to Rochester.  Everyone has been a little off, as it's always weird for us.  Fortunately it's a short trip and I think they'll have some fun adventures playing in the snow and visiting with family.

Mocha Friday

November 21, 2014 by Adam in Family

Well, the dishwasher arrived.  It looks very pretty, still wrapped in plastic in the corner of the room.  Apparently installation wasn't included and so we get to figure out how to hook it up this weekend.  Sam offered to assist, which is nice.

The kids were all home last night.  Sam and Honoka worked late on homework, as the end of the term is coming up soon.  Sam and I had a somewhat heated discussion about taking only three classes next term.  I'd like him to take at least one more, as this is the last time education will be free.  He's talking to his counselor today.  The little kids where generally sweet and happy.  Berry is wearing half of the BFF necklace she shares with Honoka.  Emma was her usual funny self. 

Joanna and I have a hot date tonight - should be fun.  I'm getting excited for the holidays.  Berry and Duncan leave Sunday morning, which will leave the house strangely quiet.

Family Vacation Destination

November 20, 2014 by Sadie in Sadie & Greg

In anticipation of the final family vacation survey results, which will be available this weekend: What I learned from designing a Family Vacation Destination survey:

1. Everyone is unique, but decision-making requires simplification.
I received as many direct email responses from my first survey as survey responses, detailing the financial and logistical nuances of family vacation planning. Closed-ended questions were left blank and open-ended questions were used to communicate preferences and expected issues in vacation destination selection.  This, along with repeat survey responses from single users, made the results of the first survey unreliable at best.

2. Desire can be simple, but motivation is complex.
Often, direct emails came with recommended destinations based not on preference, but on what appeared to be best for the group. Actual preference as determined by voting was not aligned with respondent's destination recommendations.

3. Question structure can facilitate or impede accurate information gathering.

Respondents were split on vacation dates. Those who had no preferences for time were unable to provide a first or second choice for a vacation week, because they didn't care. Those who had other summer plans were only able to only report on possible unavailability. If I could create the survey again, I would change vacation dates to be a single multi-select question with any blocker weeks, as respondents generally view dates as “available” and “not available.”

4. Stakeholders need to understand the process to trust the process.
Several respondents were dismayed by the results of the first survey because they had not selected the top vacation destination. A run-off survey was developed in order to:
1. Narrow and simplify destination decision-making
2. Add an "anytime" option for vacation week preferences
3. Create a respondent summary view after submission, so stakeholders could see survey progress.

5. The total of group preference can inform, not decide, the group's final choice.
Lots of people want to go to Hawaii, which is a great vacation destination. Unfortunately, it’s not a feasible destination for whose of us who would have to take a 15+-hour flight with a one-year old. Even if the popular majority decides on Hawaii, the family vacation won't be in Hawaii.

Sorry, kids.

That's because the missing assumption in the survey is that a family vacation includes as many members of the family as possible. In an environment where the most people have to be able to participate in order for something to occur, we are limited by the deviant cases as much as by the majority choice.

Great surveys can weigh many voices equally, provide a space for information collection, and hone in on key indicators to inform smarter decisions. However, good decision-making is still a required part of the picture. However exciting as it is to provide all members of the family with an avenue to share a “vote,” more complex financial and logistical dynamics are always at play in group choices (as the initial direct email respondents implicitly knew, using their voices to circumvent the survey, recognizing that would be a minimal part of the final decision-making process)

Should you still vote for Hawaii? Good question. It will certainly decide where the next family sub-group vacation goes. And like all election coverage, this information will likely influence voting behavior. But you still have a vote, and you should still use it, albeit within the realities of vacation destinations.

In short, the Democrats are NOT the same as the Republicans, no matter what Nader says.

Another Ordinary Week

November 19, 2014 by Adam in Family

The week has been surprisingly ordinary.  I get up before everyone, shower, start the tea kettle, do the dishes, make my lunch, make breakfast, eat, and head off to work.  After work I help get dinner ready, eat and chat, get Sam from his mom's house, help with homework, and play a little on my computer until we all sit down to watch a show. 

There have been a few quirky things.  When I picked up Sam last night, Emma declared she needed an old toy from the basement as a prop for a school commercial.  I dutifully found and delivered it.  Honoka has been slowly crocheting an American flag blanket.  She has 29 stars finished so far.  Sam's been playing Napoleonic era wargames with a friend online.  Berry made a robot out of cardboard and lots of paint.  Duncan has over 30 Minecraft mods.

Next week will likely be a little crazy with the holidays and all.  The little kids leave for Rochester next Sunday.  Sam needs to pick up a class or two for next term, with scheduling this Friday.  I continue to skim the various online sales for present ideas.  I look forward to the combination Thanksgiving, Sam birthday, and Emma half-birthday extravaganza coming up quickly.

Low Key Weekend

November 17, 2014 by Adam in Family

The weekend was relatively uneventful.  The kids and I hung around the house for the most part, playing games and crafting quirky artistic things.

Saturday morning Joanna took Duncan and Berry to a chess tournament.  I took Emma and Honoka to the library for the book sale and usual book borrowing.  Around lunch I took Honoka to a meeting with Megan to work on catering homework at Starbucks.  I snuck a coffee and dropped off snacks with Joanna.  The little kids had a good time, returning mid afternoon with medals.  Sam, Emma, and I played on the computer and later they played in the basement with Berry.  Emma ended up hurting her legs by doing the splits, but she seemed mostly recovered today.  The evening ended with pizza and Mythbusters, and Duncan going off to a musical with Flynn.

Today Emma, Berry, and I started the day with Terraria. I whipped up a breakfast of waffles, eggs, bacon, sausages, and mocha for everyone.  Joanna and Duncan went off.  Emma and I braved the cold to do a little archery and play with ice.  I chatted with my mom, now returned from visiting Sadie and crew, only slightly battered and bruised from the experience.  We made some little projects out of modeling clay, including a little box for Joanna.  Emma drew.  Berry roped us into weird things.  Eventually they returned with a couple of Duncan's friends.  The day wound down, Joanna went to a book store to listen to a writer.  Dinner was had.  All was well.

Mocha Friday

November 14, 2014 by Adam in Family

I had a house full of happy children last night.  We rolled the emotidice at dinner and talked about what happy, sad, silly, mad, ecstatic, or surprised happened to us that day.  Emma was cheerful and funny as always, sharing her latest drawing and the music she's learning for her flute.  Joanna started making an epic felt advent calendar, a giant tree with 25 little pockets.  Sam and I discussed the meaning of Fight Club.  Duncan played Minecraft.  Berry, Emma, and I talked about Terraria.  Honoka crocheted and listened to Japanese pop music.

The weather is cold and dreary.  I have a variety of house projects to work on to prepare for winter.  Hopefully I'll feel good this weekend and actually accomplish it all.  If not, there's always hanging out in front of the fireplace and playing video games.

Free Coffee

November 13, 2014 by Adam in Family

I'm soon going to go and enjoy some free coffee that our work recently started.  It's funny how the little things improve morale sometimes.

The week has generally been good.  Monday was no school for the little kids and Emma was sick.  I think they all hung out and took it easy most of the day.  Berry and Emma have this thing where they listen to Percy Jackson books on CD and draw.  Whatever it was only lasted a day.

No one had school on Tuesday.  I had coworkers coming in from out of town, but fortunately they left early and I went home to hang out with everyone.  Berry, Sam, and I played Legos in the basement.  The two of them later had an epic chess match, where it looked like Berry did relatively well (though ultimately lost).  I had a good time just hanging out with everyone - Berry and I continued to face terrible monsters in Terraria and overcome them.

Last night Joanna and I went out to a hipster diner downtown, chatting and nibbling our way through the evening.  She's slowly finishing her memoir, working on side projects, and keeping the house from falling down.

Another Exciting Weekend

November 10, 2014 by Adam in Family

We had a fairly eventful weekend.  Friday night Joanna and I were planning on going out, but the babysitter never showed and we decided to have a date inside.  After feeding children, and an amusing interaction with Duncan as our waiter, we had a rather pleasant meal and chat at the kitchen table by candle light. 

I woke up at two a.m. on Saturday with a headache, which continued off and on until Sunday morning.  I spent most of the day pretty low-key.  I picked up Emma from her mom's. Later that afternoon she had a play date with Kate.  I played video games with kids, did chores, and stayed around the house.  My only outing was to get pizza for Mythbusters.  Still, it wasn't a bad day - just quiet.  Joanna went to a baby shower and Duncan had Flynn over.  Sam conquered the world virtually.  Emma drew.

Sunday morning I felt better and I took Sam, Honoka, Emma, and Berry to Mount Pisgah.  It was beautiful, despite and because of the pouring rain.  The turning leaves were incredible and there seemed an adventure around every turn.  Sam was all ready to hike the mountain himself, occasionally updating over walkie talkie, but I called everyone back for a Humble Bagel lunch.

We crashed at home, but I gathered everyone up again to go out to Plank Town to hear Joanna play.  The place was a little noisy, but she was great.  Berry and Duncan went up to play with her at one point, to their great amusement.  Eventually we returned home for tasty dinner, homework, and collapsing in exhaustion.  Both Sam and Emma seem to have caught my headache.  Sam went to bed at eight and Emma woke up this morning to announce she needed more pain medicine.  I wish I could stay home with them, but I have work people coming in from out of town.

It's time for me to rally the troops, as I'm the only one awake at the moment.  I wish I could let them sleep for hours if they'd only awake refreshed and ready for the day.

On the Radio

November 10, 2014 by Adam in Joanna

Joanna was on the radio last weekend.  Here are the kids, listening intently.

Happy Birthday Seraph

November 10, 2014 by Yayoe in Yayoe

Monday is Seraph's birthday. I remember when I met her at age 10..Wow...where has the time gone...Hope you have a great day celebrating another new year of you dear heart.

Sue it was lovely to read about your visit with Sadie,Greg and Simon....and now you're visiting Anna and other family members. How fun is that!
Enjoy....see you when you return to the land of the gray and rainy.

In Washington, DC

November 09, 2014 by Sue in Wielesek

Greg took us to Springfield to catch the train south, so we got to play a bit more with Simon on the way. We had a seven hour trip to DC, but it was comfortable and fun to watch the scenery . It was also interesting to go by train through all the towns and cities. Many tracks go through old parts of town, so although those areas are run down, they show what the town was like in the past.

 It was lovely to have Anna waiting for us at the train. She has a small but very pretty apartment right across from Howard University, so it feels like the University district in Eugene. She also has a knack for interior decorating, and as they used to say, "She has the place fixed up real cute." I can tell how happy Bob is to see her. They are planning some curtain hanging and picture hanging projects.

Meg and Dick are visiting in Washington, and we all arranged to meet at the new apartment of Mekayla and her friend Stephanie, where much moving in, picture hanging, etc was ongoing. Callie and Will were there, and I got to see Baby Nat for the first time. He's nine months old, and except for the age difference, he and Simon are surprisingly alike. Mellow guys. Nat, like Simon, likes everyone he meets, and they both are relaxed and cheerful. Nat looks like Callie around his eyes, but both boys have open, attentive faces.

Leaving Dick and Mekayla to work on furniture repair, the rest of us headed for a walk in Rock Creek Park; this is a beautiful park, originally a big farm. Unfortunately, we just got started down the path, when I caught my foot on some crumbled asphalt and face planted. I got a nose bleed and a couple of scrapes, but doggone it, I was traveling with my family doctor. Meggie's medical skills are justly praised, and she very efficiently figured out that I didn't need to go to the ER. She took me, Bob and Anna to Anna's house and patched me all up. She then very sweetly sat and visited with me for a long time.  Tomorrow, If I'm feeling up to it, we'll go over to Callie and Will's house for breakfast. Missing you all, but having fun seeing all the East Coast fam.


November 09, 2014 by Sue in Wielesek

What a wonderful time we had in Massachusetts! Bob kept fantasizing how we could get Seraph and Robbie to move there and rent a room in their house. Or rent a pied a terre in Greenfield.
Obviously he was quite smitten with Simon, as am I. It made me wish I had been a stay at home Mom, or at least a stay at home Grandma.

It was really interesting to watch  him learn new stuff. At the beginning of the visit, he could reach for things by sort of flailing his arms in the general direction of the object, but by the end he had learned to co-ordinate both hands to grab something.  Also, when we got there, he had one noise, a lovely little "coo coo" but the day before we left, he began a new sentence. He repeated, for nearly an entire day, a sound which made him sound like a small engine with creaky gears. Best of all, the night before we left he only woke up once, around midnight, to eat.

So we really had fun, not just with Simon, but with Sadie and Greg. They are excellent parents, and Simon is the most good natured kid. I said I have only perfect  grandchildren, and it's true.

I'm going to post this, then post a follow up, since I'd lost a draft.

Mocha Friday

November 07, 2014 by Adam in Family

Friday already.  Man has this week zipped by.

The first part of the week was relatively uneventful.  Days were filled with work, getting dinner ready, helping kids with homework, doing laundry and dishes - the usual.  Thursday during the day Joanna and I snuck off to Hideaway Bakery for a coffee date in the morning.  That was fun, just to hang out without kids.  Tonight we're going downtown for dinner and the First Friday art walk.  As for the weekend, I've some things to do for my Canadian passport, but will otherwise be hanging out with kids doing cool things.

Halloween Aftermath

November 03, 2014 by Adam in Family

We survived Halloween.  I took everyone out for a few blocks - Emma, Honoka, Berry, Duncan, and his two friends.  Honoka peeled off first to go to a party at a friend's house.  Emma and I headed home and Joanna took the kids from that point on.  Sam escaped into the basement to watch horror movies.  Everyone returned home to eat their spoils and give up some money to the candy wizard in exchange for cash.

I fed the horde the next morning, then took Emma, Duncan, and Berry to the library after friends went home.  The afternoon was low key, with lots of Terraria with the girls.  Sam and I managed to play some more CKII, where I destroyed a couple empires through incompetence.  My insane son inherited the Byzantine empire and things didn't go well.  He went to his mom's to watch Godfather so the rest of us ordered Sizzle Pie pizza and watched Mythbusters.

Sunday was equally low-key.  Since it was Daylight Savings Time, I roped the up-early Emma and Berry into a board game.  We played Elder Sign and fought the lurking Lovecraftian horrors, with Berry playing the winning turn.  After a tasty waffle breakfast, Joanna went to church with the little kids.  Emma and I put on mud masks with Honoka's help.  After lunch Joanna and Honoka went to a knitting store.  The kids and I played games and wandered outside a bit.  Flynn came over to play with Duncan.  We had a good family dinner to wrap up the night.

All is well.

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