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Preview: Belmont or Bust

Belmont or Bust

There and back again - the tale of five Alabamians on a sojurn to New England for 525600 minutes... or rather, "Well, it ain't Hartselle, but we can stand anything for a year!"

Updated: 2014-10-03T01:18:39.608-04:00


Has it been two years?


I was just thinking today that we arrived in Belmont, MA two years ago today. In so many ways, that seems like just yesterday, but also a lifetime ago. We've been back in Alabama for almost a year, and I'm just amazed at how quickly the time has gone. The kids have all graduated into the next grade (Jamie into 8th, Rachel into 5th, and David is heading to Kindergarten!), Sonja has completed another course towards her Master's Degree in Elementary Education, and I'm still trying to connect the dots about how to apply great MBA theory in an unconventional setting.

Last week, we were thrilled to host one of Rachel's friends from Belmont. Arianna and her mother flew down to spend the Memorial Day weekend with us, and I think they were pleasantly suprised to see that Alabama does indeed have running water, electricity, and high speed internet (though the last one doesn't compare to the fiber optic service I had in Belmont). Here are a couple of pictures of the girls on our outings:

Finally, something new!


August 18.
Well, it's been awhile. We've had a whirlwind of a summer!! We spent our days having sleepovers, swimming at the Hartselle pool, visiting Happy Hour at Sonic, eating at our favorite local haunts, and reconnecting at church. It's good to be home.

Jamie and Rachel started back to school on August 6 - the earliest we've ever started here. David will start preschool in September. We've gotten into a pretty good routine of taking the kids to school and then going to walk each day. I will also be starting school this month. I'm going back to work on my Master's in Elementary Education. I'm almost ready to get back into the classroom. I will take it pretty slow, though. I don't want to go back before David finished Kindergarden.

Rachel is playing soccer and will begin playing handbells next month. Jamie is playing drums at school and Rock Band on the Wii at home. He went on a Jr. High mission trip right before school started. I think it was a good trip. He'll be getting more involved with the youth at church this fall. David and I entertain ourselves playing "wonder pets", "buzz and woody", and "action fingers". I have enjoyed the extra time with him, but I am ready for him to go back to school. I don't get much done during the day with him around. I still have a huge storage container of stuff from the home remodel to go through!!

Sweet Home Alabama!


We have been back in Alabama for three weeks, and are just about back into a routine. I returned to work last week, and I can honestly say that it is good to be back. The kids are having the time of their lives, sleeping over several times a week with friends and cousins. Things are MUCH more spread out here in 'Bama - the thirty mile drive to the next town tends to really eat up the petrol!It has been a busy two months since the last post - since then, I've gone to India and South Africa, both David and I have gone through commencement ceremonies, we've driven 1200 miles across the Eastern US, both Sonja and James have celebrated birthdays, the kids have gone to Vacation Bible School, we've moved into our new house... the list is long, and it's all good.Here are a few pictures from the last few months:Grannie (Brenda) visited for graduation, and brought us all presents!The obligatory cap & gown pic...David and Ethan's favorite painting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts:We took Grannie to the Sky Walk observatory at the Prudential Center, and found that yes, indeed, Boston is the hub of the Universe!David and Ethan graduated from Trinity Covenant Preschool:And we finally got a picture of Sonja and Susan!Sonja thought we needed a picture of the family from the BACK STEPS as we departed (since our arriving picture was on the FRONT STEPS - see the post last June...)We're getting ready for a three-day, 1200 mile Odyssey:The kids REALLY liked the truck! Too bad only James could ride down the road with me!We arrived in Hartselle, ALABAMA at about 5pm on Monday, 16 June, and found our lovely remodeled house. Sonja loves her new kitchen, and comes to me about every other day and says, "Have I mentioned recently how much I LOVE my new kitchen?"We even got entirely new rooms - the dining room was not functional before - remove a couple of walls, a fresh coat of paint, and TA-DA!James was thrilled to have a music room to continue his pursuits (he had a similar keyboard in Belmont...)Rachel LOVES her new room - great for a growing girl:Complete with a chandelier and canopy!James thinks he has the coolest room in the house; with a four foot long red-eyed tree frog, he wouldn't get much argument from me:All of you guys in Alabama have already seen this - but here's a picture of Taj McKelvy for our Boston/global friends:Michael C. - you thought BRIAN had a lot of grass to mow!For my non-Southern friends - yes, those are Crepe Myrtles and Magnolias planted in the flower beds, mulched with good old Southern Pine straw...Another shot of the front yard - somehow the picture above doesn't convey very well how big this yard is!And the back yard of course - this is where we watch the sunset everyday. Tough, but somebody's gotta do it :-)For his birthday, James had a sleep over with the guys, and they rocked out on the Wii "Rock Band" - until almost 3am !Of course, when DAD came in to wake them up at 0700, they were not happy campers!David, the quintessential morning person, seized the opportunity created by groggy big brother to join the band, putting his own style into the mix. Of course, the big guys really didn't want to rock out to the Wiggles!All in all, it has been a great, if hectic six weeks. Time to catch a deep breath, enjoy the last few weeks of summer, and get ready to kick off another school year in early August.[...]

While the Fellows are away, the Partners will play!


The Fellows left for their international trip on Friday, May 16. They are going to India and South Africa for 2 weeks. While they are away, the partners have made big plans to enjoy our last weeks together.

Our first outing was to Kimbal Farms to eat lunch, play mini golf, and eat yummy ice cream. We actually got rained out on Saturday morning, so had to go on Sunday after church. It was a great day!!


Happy Birthday, David!


We had David's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's on Sunday, May 11 (yes, Mother's Day). We had a very good turn out for his party! He had two friends from school: Narmada and Joshua, and several friends from MIT: Madeline, Ethan, Tom, Nora, and Owen. He had a terrific time! David chose to have chocolate cake at his party.

On Tuesday, David helped me bake cupcakes to take to school for his actual birthday. He selected chocolate with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkes, of course! He is a good little helper in the kitchen (even though he got a little wild with the sprinkles).

On the big day, we let David choose where he wanted to go for dinner. He punched a fist up in the air and shouted, "McDonald's!" So we had birthday dinner at McDonald's and then came home to open presents. He got a Wonderpets Flyboat, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a Ben 10 "watch", a Little Einstein's conductors baton, and the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything pirate ship.

Happy Birthday, Rachel!


Monday, May 5

Rachel turned 9 today! We celebrated by going to Rainforest Cafe for dinner. Rachel saved her family presents to open today, and she was thrilled with them all. She got a Webkinz snake, a Littlekinz mouse, a littlest pet vet set, Enchanted , an American Girl's activity book, & My Sims for the Wii. We finished off our meal with a vooooolcanooo.


Rachel's Birthday Party


Saturday, May 3

This year Rachel decided to have a bowling party. So, I got online and searched for bowling alleys in the area. I found a cool one in Needham, MA - the Needham Bowlaway. It's a small bowling alley - only 8 lanes - in Downtown Needham. They have Cosmic Bowling there - candlepin bowling with music, black lights, neon, and glow-in-the-dark balls. It was really a fun place for a party! (Candlepin bowling uses smaller balls with no holes. You get 3 balls per frame, and the pins aren't swept away between balls.) The only wrinkle in the party was that the sewers were backed up, and there were no bathrooms. Arrgh!

We had an excellent turnout! Rachel invited Esther, Kia, Madeline, Hannah, John, Chloe, and Kaylee from MIT and Lori, Arianna, Kristina, Philip, Cullen, Emily, Mia, and Pauline from school. We bowled for the first hour, and then had cookie cake, chips, and juice in the party "room". The treats Rachel selected for her treat bags were great in the black lights!! It was a very busy, but very good birthday party!

Nanny & Papaw visit - April 20-26


Sunday, April 20
Nanny & Papaw fly in. We come home for a bit and then take them on the tour of Mt. Auburn cemetary. It's a beautiful spring day, and the cemetary is beautiful with all the trees and flowers in bloom! We did a good bit of walking. Dinner at Bertucci's.

Monday, April 21
The kids are on spring break this week, so we're free to play. Tim has class. :-(

Tuesday, April 22
The kids and I take Nanny and Papaw to Cosi for lunch (at MIT) and have smores for dessert.
Nanny and Papaw take the trolley tour of Boston - the kids and I come home to rest and have a quiet afternoon.

Wednesday, April 23
We go to Walden and walk around the pond. It's hot!! Maybe even 80 degrees! We're going to be so hot this summer in Alabama!
We found Emmerson Hospital - where Bree was born - so Nanny could take a picture for Bree's baby book. Lunch at McDonald's in Acton.
We went to see the Old North Bridge.
Tim, Dad, and Jamie went in to Boston to see Blue Man.
Dianne, Rachel, David, and I went to Burlington Mall. Nanny and Rachel had time to shop for clothes for Rachel's birthday. David and I wandered around the mall, and David picked out a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for his birthday present from Nanny. Then we ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory - Rachel just loves Linda's fudge cake!

Thursday, April 24
Dad goes into Boston on his own and visits the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum.
Dad, Jamie, and I go to a Red Sox game. We got tickets from a Sloan Fellow who was selling his. Boston played the LA Angels and lost. :-(
Dianne stays home with David and Rachel and cooks dinner for company. Silvia, Flavio, Esther and Anna from Brasil come for dinner, and Esther spends the night.

Friday, April 25
Dad comes to MIT for Choice Points. We read A Doll's House this week. I am drafted to read "Nora" in the role play portion of the class.
After class, we come home and head out to Kimball Farms. Nanny told us about this place when we told her we were going to Boston for the year. She used to go for ice cream when she lived at Ft. Devens (pregnant with Bree). Now it has mini golf, bumper boats, picnic facilities, and a country store. We played a round of mini golf. David enjoyed helping everyone reduce their strokes on at least one hole by picking up the ball and dropping it in the hole. Tim, Rachel, and Jamie did the bumper boats and had a blast. The ice cream was delicious! Nanny polished off a huge cup of chocolate!!

Saturday, April 26
We went to play at Skyline park. It was much cooler and windy! Jamie and David had a blast going down the hill slide. Rachel tried her hand at kite-flying.
Lunch at Brother's Pizza. Dad ordered a cheese pizza with extra cheese, and BOY was it CHEESY!!! Then it was time to take Nanny and Papaw to the airport. They had an eventful ride home, but made it safely.

Patti, Kevin, and Sarah visit


Thursday, April 17
Tim's cousins from Chicago fly in.

Friday, April 18
Dinner at Legal Sea Foods near MIT and a walking tour of the MIT campus.
Rachel and Sarah hit it off fabulously and pick on Jamie mercilessly.

Saturday, April 19
Visited the Museum of Natural History at Harvard.
Dinner at the McKelvys' house.

Morris' visit to Bahston


Friday, April 11 - Wed, April 16The Morris family arrived in Boston on Friday afternoon. Rachel, David, and I were the welcoming party/taxi service. The most fun thing to see was Rachel and Beth running for each other across the baggage claim area. The Morrises and the McKelvy children spent the night at home (with a quick trip to Brother's for pizza), while Tim and I had dinner at the JFK Library.Saturday, April 12Trip into Boston - walking some of the Freedom TrailVisiting Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market Our favorite street musician was playing in Boston Common. He plays hammered dulcimer and guitar. He got the kids involved in playing strange and unusual instruments on Tom Paxton's "Marvelous Toy". "It went zip when it moved, bop when it stopped, whirrr when it stood still. I never knew just what it was. . . and I guess I never will."Sunday, April 13 We went to the Children's Museum and Planetarium. We saw a 3-D movie about three flies who go to the moon on one of the Apollo missions. We also saw a program on lightning. It was a hair-raising experience for Jamie!!We ended our day with the family laser show in the planetarium.Monday, April 14Tim and John attend class at MIT. Tim introduces John as "Sonja's wife's husband" or something like that - brain fried!!I let the kids play hooky from school. Karen and I take the kids for lunch at Bertucci's in Harvard Square and visit the Curious George Store.Duck Boat Tour - David sleeps through the whole thing. The rest of the kids get turns driving the Duck Boat in Boston Harbor.Dessert at the Cheesecake FactoryKaren & John have a night out in Boston.Tuesday, April 15The oldest kids return to school. David and I take the Morrises to the Old North Bridge and the Minute Man Visitor's center.Dinner party with several Sloan Fellows and families - total chaos but a nice time and good BBQ from Blue Ribbon in Arlington. Attending were Mikko, Minna, Kia, and Tatu from Finland; Adrien, Chloe, and Basil from France; and Susan, Madeline, and Ethan from US.Wednesday, April 16Rachel's school has "Walk to School Day" - so Tim, John, and Beth all walk to school with Rachel.A teary goodbye is cheered by a visit to Ohlin's Bakery for doughnuts.The Morris family departs for Alabama. Sniff!!I went for coffee with several of the partners at Talk of the Town diner in Watertown.[...]

Week of April 7-11


April Orientation for the new Sloan fellows.
Unbelievable! It has been a year since we came up for orientation and began our Sloan Fellows experience!

Monday - Jamie and Rachel's final concert for Saturday school.

Tuesday - we have our host family over for dinner. Adela, Apollo, and Emily are a wonderful family!

Wednesday - partners' orientation meeting

Thursday - party for orientation

Friday - Karen, John, Beth, and John Thomas arrive from Alabama and
closing of orientation - dinner at the JFK Library

We're staying another year!!!!


Old Sturbridge village


Sunday, March 30
We didn't do much this weekend, since David was sick all week. On Sunday, we decided to do something outside, since it was sunny and the highs were predicted to be in the 40s. An absolute heat wave up here!! Spring has been the hardest season for me. We've had some sunny days, but they have all been very cold and/or windy. It makes me a little crazy to look out, see sunshine, go out to play, and be able to see my breath because it's only 32 degrees outside!!

Anyway, we made a trip to Old Sturbridge Village on Sunday afternoon. It is similar to Plymouth Plantation, but larger and set 200 years later. The village is the recreation of a New England village in the year 1830. There are houses, stores, churches, and farms which are all staffed with "recreators". There were new lambs at the farm - which were very cute! We even got to take a horse & buggy ride across a covered bridge. It was a terrific outing! I just wish we'd had more time.

We went to Johnny Rocket's in Burlington Mall for dinner that night. We came into the mall and saw that it was decorated for Christmas. Then we saw the signs that the mall was being used as a movie set for a new comedy starring somebody I "should" probably know but whose name I didn't recognize. It will be fun to see our favorite mall from here in a movie!

Happy Easter!!


March 23
(Also my mom's birthday!)
It was a chilly Easter morning!! The kids got up at the crack of dawn and came downstairs to rouse Tim and I from bed. They all enjoyed their Easter goodies from the bunny, Grannie, and Nanny & Papaw. They also read their cards from Aunt Dot.

After breakfast from Ohlin's bakery, we had our egg hunt. We had to bundle up to go out to search for the eggs! No PJs for this cold morning! David ended up with the most eggs because the bigger kids left the more obvious ones for him. But he did find one of the tougher ones that Jamie was searching for. Then we dressed and went to Payson Park for church. The church was the fullest I have seen it! There were over 200 people at the service. So crowded services at Easter is a common phenomenon here too. (I later saw in the Hartselle bulletin that there were over 1000 people in the 3 services on Easter morning. Wow!) The church was decked out with beautiful flowers - lilies, tulips, and hydrangeas in all colors. There was even a cross covered in daffodils! The colorful flowers were really pretty - especially since there is nothing blooming here yet! New England is still mostly brown with a little green - very bland. The service was nice, and concluded with a singing of the Hallelujah Chorus - which all were invited to join in singing. I went - of course. It was great!!

We had a delicious Easter lunch from Burger King. Then we set out for an outing to see a sugar shack - a place where Maple Syrup is made. March is sugaring season. We actually were there on the last day they were making syrup. The place we visited is a little "mom & pop" operation that gives educational tours of their sugar shack, complete with samples. We learned about how tree sap is turned into maple syrup - it is boiled down and greatly reduced. Sap starts out at 2-3% sugar and they boil it until it's about 67% sugar. The sugaring season has been a really good one this year. The owners said that there are usually 11 "flow days" in a good year - this year they've had 17!

Then we went for a quick walk in the woods - because it was a really beautiful day! After our walk, we came home for our ham dinner. Unfortunately David went to bed with a fever that night and we spent the whole next week home sick. He had a bad cold that developed into a touch of pneumonia. But we saw the doctor and got on an antibiotic before it got too severe.

Finally Skiing!


We finally took our first ski trip! We've been talking about going all winter but never made it until now. Tim got home from California early Friday morning (he took the red eye from CA). David had the day off from school, and Jamie and Rachel both had half days for Good Friday. We decided to go up to Sunapee in New Hampshire on the recommendation of some sloan friends with kids. We ate dinner at a Cracker Barrel. Yum!! We haven't had Cracker Barrel since last fall. We stayed at a hotel with a pool, so we checked in and suited up. The kids had a great time in the water!! Tim got a kick out of stepping out and getting a snowball to throw at the kids in the pool. :-)

The next morning, we got up, ate breakfast, and boarded the shuttle to Mt. Sunapee. David stayed in the daycare center because the youngest lesson age for skiing is 4. He went right in without even a backward glance at mommy.

Tim, Jamie, Rachel, and I headed over to the rental area to get registered for lessons and fitted with equipment. The whole process took over an hour!! We had fabulous help from several of the staff members who took pity on the first timers from Alabama. Then we were ready to head to the beginner area for our lesson. We signed up for the "Families First" program, so the four of us had an instructor to ourselves for a 2 hour lesson. It went really well. Tim had been skiing before, so he had a head start on the rest of us. Rachel picked it up like a pro. Jamie and I had the toughest time. We both did fine in the beginning. (Actually, keeping the skis under me wasn't as tricky as I had feared it would be.) Our trouble came when we went uphill a bit and were working on snowplowing to stop and then turning. That's when the majority of our falling began. I did ok snowplowing on a small incline (when I wasn't going too fast), but I had a tough time when my speed picked up! My ballet trained legs really had a tough time turning in rather than out!! Jamie couldn't get his skis turned out enough either. I did ok with turns to the right, but for some reason, I never mastered turning left. I fell almost every time I tried! By the end of the lesson, we were exhausted and HOT. We were way overdressed for the day, but we didn't know any better. The last part of our lesson was learning to use one of the lifts for the smallest of the hills (Lemon and Lime). This lift was like a moving sidewalk, rather than a chair lift. We went down a couple of times, and then called it quits. We went to grab some lunch, and after that felt energized enough to go try again for another hour. By the end of the day, everyone was happy with the whole experience. I look forward to giving it another try sometime. Maybe we'll get one more chance this winter. It has been an exceptionally good year for snow here in New England.

We came on home on Saturday night because the kids wanted to spend Easter at home.

Late Feb & Early March


February 24 - we went ice skating at the Frog Pond on Boston Common.

Tim turned the big 40 on February 26. We went to the Bull and Finch pub for dinner to celebrate. The Bull and Finch is where the outside filming of Cheers was done. The inside doesn't look at all like Cheers except for the wooden indian chief. The walls are all decorated with Cheers memorabelia, though. Then we came home and had chocolate cake and opened presents. Jamie gave Tim Wii points, Rachel gave him a Red Sox coffee mug, and David gave him The Jungle Book. We also got Tim several MIT/Sloan mementoes.

On Wednesday, Feb.27 (continuing Tim's birthday celebration), Tim, Jamie, & I went to see the Blue Man Group. It was an amazing show, and the three of us thoroughly enjoyed it!! It was much different from what I expected. For starters, we were right next to the "poncho" seats. I had no idea that I might need to have a poncho for this show! There was a lot of flying paint, marshmallows, and goo. But they have it down to a science, and we didn't get messy at all. The whole experience was indescribible. It was a percussion, comedy, art, audience participation "concert". I highly recommend it to anyone who gets the chance to see Blue Man!! Rachel opted to stay home with David and the sitter, and it was probably a good thing. I think it would have been too intense for her.

Jamie had his 6th Grade band concert on March 6. He did a great job!! He played tympany on one piece, the bells on another, and the snare drum on the final number - which was the Indiana Jones theme. It was fun! We sat behind his homeroom teacher who commented that Jamie is a very smart boy. He makes us so proud!

Saturday, March 15 was Wellington's winter carnival. Jamie and I worked the inflatable catepillar for two hours! Whew! Rachel, Tim, and David had time to go around and play at the other games. It's much like Crestline's Carnival. Jamie says that Crestline's is better, though, in large part due to the Teacher Review.

Sunday, March 16 was Palm Sunday & the day Tim left for his trip to California. We took him to the airport and still made it to church on time. Jamie and Rachel passed out palm leaves during the service. The palms were much different from what we use at home. Each person got a single, long piece (like a really long piece of grass), rather than a "branch". That afternoon, we had an MIT Easter party at a ceramics place. The kids got to decorate their Easter eggs and paint a ceramic piece. The pieces will be fired and will be a nice memento. (I'm using that word a lot tonight!) I guess I'm realizing how short our time left is here.
After the party, a large group of moms took our kids to Friendly's for dinner. We were a very loud party of 5 moms and 11 kids! But the Friendly's people were very friendly indeed, and we had a nice meal together.

We had to celebrate St. Patrick's Day without our patriarch this year, since Tim was in California. The kids said that it just wasn't the same without Daddy, even though we had a special meal complete with green mac & cheese, broccoli, and Irish soda bread. I did refrain from coloring the milk green this year.

David has been taking swimming lessons at the YMCA in Waltham this month. He really enjoys the lessons! His teacher, Brandon, is really good with the boys. There are 4 boys in his class, and one of them is David's best buddy, Ethan. David's favorite thing is making "fire water" - kicking in the pool.

Winter Vacation Week


Feb. 18 - 22The kids had the week off from school this week, but Tim didn't. So, we didn't do too much. Jamie and I went to see Spiderwick at the IMAX theater. It was pretty good. Jamie had read all 5 books, and had been looking forward to seeing the movie since we saw the first preview. Rachel had a marathon spend the night with her friend Esther (from Brazil/ friend from MIT). We went to a dinner on Saturday night and Rachel went home with Esther from there, but it was very late, so Esther's mom suggested that Rachel just go ahead and stay until Monday.The weather has been crazy this week! On Monday, the high was 63 and it rained all day. After that, the temperature plummeted and the highs were in the 20s/low 30s. Then it snowed all day Friday - we ended up with somewhere around 6 inches of snow. We're not tired of it yet, but our landlord does all the shoveling.Back to the week's activities. On Tuesday, my friend Susan and I took our 5 kids on an overnight trip. We started out at the Ecotarium in Worchester, MA. It's kind of like a zoo, planetarium, and science discovery museum all rolled into one. It was really cold outside, so we didn't spend too much time visiting the animals. We did see eagles, owls, a polar bear, an otter, and a red fox on our quick trip around the grounds. Next, we went to a planetarium show that was cute. It was about 2 kids who build a rocket from a cardboard box and take a tour of the planets in our solar system. David and Ethan enjoyed the preschool play area.The older kids really enjoyed the dinosaur exhibits that filled the bottom floor. On the second floor, there were lots of space activities. Rachel and Madeline made pocket solar systems, and we all watched an Ecotarium teacher "make" a comet. Of course, she said that the real thing would be 300x bigger than what she did. Rachel and Jamie with a friendly Australopithecus.Then we packed up and drove on to Springfield, MA to spend the night in a hotel with a pool! Yea!!! We went to grab what we thought would be a quick bite for dinner and ended up spending 2 hours in our restaurant of choice. We didn't even have to wait to be seated. Anyway, both moms were a little frazzled after that. We swam for about 45 minutes, and then called it a night. I had never spent the night in a hotel with the kids and not Tim. It really wasn't too bad. I might actually be game for trying again during our April break.On Wednesday, we got up, ate our lovely breakfast at the hotel, and headed out to the Springfield Museums. A really neat gathering of a science museum, ancient artifacts museum, fine arts museum, and history museum. In the center of them all is the National Dr. Suess monument. (A quadrangle with bronze statues of the Lorax, Cat in the Hat, Horton, Sam I Am, and several other Suess characters.) We had a good time exploring them all. During all this, I had a sore throat and was worrying about whether or not it was strep. Turns out it was. Arrrrrrgh!!! But it's not nearly the severity of the case I had on New Years.Thursday, we just hung around the house. Friday, Jamie went to class with Tim and me. We were discussing Julius Caesar for Choice Points (the MIT literature class for fellows and partners). The professor had invited children to come during the school vacation weeks. Since Jamie had read and performed Julius Caesar in Mr. B's class, we wanted him to attend. He actually participated in a "reader's theater" of one of the scenes. It was fun to be in class with him. I missed the first half of class going to MIT medical for a strep test. They don't do the quick test the[...]



My baby has passed another milestone! He has given up the passie. Sniff!! Sniff!!
He picked out a "passie prize" on Thursday - a new Buzz Lightyear with a laser. We brought it home and put it up on Mommy's dresser as incentive to sleep without the passie that night. He knew that if he gave up his passies, he'd get to have Buzz. He did it! It took a little longer than usual for him to go to sleep, but he made it. He was so excited on Friday morning! Then with our busy weekend, we were out late every night and he fell asleep quickly each time.
Mommy is a little sad. He is growing up so fast! He has grown up so much this year! But we've had a lot of good time together.

A VERY busy weekend!!


Feb. 8-10It was a busy weekend after an extremely long week during which it either rained or snowed all day every day.Friday night, we went to an authentic Chinese New Year party thrown by the Chinese and Singaporian Sloan Fellows. This is the year of the Rat - which makes it Jamie's year. We ate moderately authentic Chinese food for dinner and had Singaporian snack foods. Rachel even participated in a Chinese dumpling-making contest. It was a nice evening.Saturday was absolutely full! Jamie and Rachel both had Saturday music school in the morning. Then we had another Sloan Fellows function in the afternoon. We went to Jillian's next to Fenway Park (the closest I've been to Red Sox territory) - and it was "Truck Day" too. For those of you who are like me and don't have a clue what "Truck Day" is . . . it's the day that the truck departs from Fenway Park to take the equipment to Florida for spring training to begin. You know that you're in baseball crazy country when they even name the day the truck leaves for spring training!!! Anyway, this place is a very nice bowling alley/pool room. The kids all had fun bowling and playing with the pool tables. We had to leave the party early to get Rachel to the high school for the Spelling Bee. Her team-The Super Spellers- did a terrific job. But I must say that it was a little underwhelming. The whole thing only lasted about 15-20 minutes. Even Rachel said, "That's it????" So we let her choose where to go for dinner to celebrate her hard work preparing for the bee, and she chose Chuck E Cheese. Sunday, we got up and went to church at Belmont First Methodist because it was Scout Sunday. Jamie dressed in uniform, sat with the boys, and recited the Boy Scout oath during the service. For afternoon entertainment, Jamie, Rachel, and I went to see the Arlington Children's Theatre's production of Little Shop of Horrors. It was actually pretty good. Jamie really likes the music from that show, plus there was the added bonus of knowing a girl who was in the girl's chorus. She was Jamie's buddy at VBS this summer and is a real cutie. When we got home, Tim wanted to go scout out Nashoba ski area. It's only about 20 miles from our house, so we drove out there. It's really just a big hill, but I think it will be a good place for us to start since none of us have any ski experience. We'll probably go next week while the kids are out of school for February break. We stopped to eat at McDonald's on the way home and experienced our most interesting snowfall of the season thus far. It has been snowing on and off for the whole weekend, but the pavement was all clear because the temperatures haven't been too low. When we went in McDonald's, the parking lot was clear of snow. While we were eating we had a round of heavy thundersnow - thunder, lightning, and heavy snow. There was about an inch of snow deposited in about 15 minutes. The snow was strange - it was little balls that reminded us of Dippin' Dots. Plus the temperature dropped dramatically during the time we were inside. The moisture on the roads flash froze. We saw lots of cars that had run off the road and many others that were slipping and sliding all over. We were ok because the van has front wheel drive, buit this was definitely our most frightening winter driving experinece! Tim expertly brought us all safely home. Jamie and Rachel were both sure that they would be out for a snow day on Monday, but no luck. The Belmont road crew got busy sometime after 10:00pm, and the roads were just fine.[...]





New York trip
Feb 2-3

We took another quick trip to New York. We drove to Stamford and took the train into town again. Our first stop was the National Museum of Natural History ( the setting for Night at the Museum which we just saw last month). It was fun to look for the things we had seen in the movie. David enjoyed the dinosaurs, Jamie enjoyed looking for Mistmantle creatures in the dioramas, and Rachel enjoyed the ocean habitats. The kids wanted to visit the Nintendo center and Toys R Us again, so we headed over to Time's Square. (image) We ate dinner in a little family pizzaria. Next, we made a trip to the Americal Girl Place. Rachel was shopping for something, but couldn't make up her mind what she wanted. She actually didn't end up getting anything from there, so I have a feeling we'll have to go one more time before leaving Boston.



Our trip to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT.
Jan. 20-21

Catch up - arts


I have been so bad about neglecting my blog!! Things got so crazy with the Christmas season, going home to Alabama and returning with a severe case of strep, and taking advantage of our new Netflix membership (since Tim had a little "down" time this month). I know that I have a lot of catching up to do.Jamie played in his first band concert in December. They call it "Bandarama". There were 8 different full-sized bands that played in the gym at Belmont High School. The gym was huge -all the groups were set up in the gym - maybe the size of an indoor practice football field. The concert was about 2 hours long, but it was good. Jamie actually got to play in 2 groups - the Saturday Morning All Town Advanced Band and the 6th grade band. We got to see Jamie play bass drum, snare, chimes, tambourine, and xylophone. He even ended up getting to make the "cracking the whip" sound in one piece (he was drafted at the last minute because on member of the band chose to come to the concert in ratty shorts and t-shirt and wasn't allowed to play). He did a really good job! We may have a drummer on our hands even when we come back to Hartselle. Jamie has been asked to play in a percussion symphony by his drum instructor. He will practice for 6 weeks and then have the concert on Feb. 14. We're excited about getting to hear him play. We were also very excited by an art assignment and grading sheet that Jamie brought home from school this week. It was a watercolor painting of a surreal beta fish; he called the piece alien fish. His art teacher gave him a rating of "advanced" in each grading criteria area; then at the bottom of the page she wrote, "See me about the art show." I don't know what that means yet, but we're looking forward to finding out.We have made our first arts excursions. In mid-December, we took the whole family to see a Christmas matinee concert by the Boston Pops. We had kind of crummy seats, but the concert was excellent!! Our favorite piece was a new version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" - premiering this holiday season. It was a great rendition, with each day having a style of its own. For example, the "5 golden rings" verse was done in the style of Beetoven's 5th. I looked for a recording, but it's not available yet. The concert included a visit from Santa Claus and ended with a sing-a-long. They played "Sleigh Ride" as an encore. Afterward, we walked to the Prudential center and had dinner at PF Changs (my first visit). David discovered that he likes the spicy chicken ( I told him it was Flamin' Hot Cheetoes chicken); he gobbled it up!After our trip to Alabama, Tim and I went to see Rent. The production was fabulous! And the singers were all terrific! There were two Idol winners in the cast (one American and one South African). It was a wild-hair date. We decided to go that day (if we could get a sitter) - we did and it was great!We still want to take the kids to see Blue Man group.Rachel is still playing hard on her violin. She has learned several more songs. Her final concert will be in early April. Next week, she will begin a class on Cartooning. It's an after school program offered by the art teacher at Rachel's school. I will be eager to see what Rachel produces from this experinece. Rachel is also on a team for the town Spelling Bee. She is on a team with 3 other girls, and is the only American. The Bee is next Saturday, and our team is practicing hard![...]

Snow Day!


The Nor'Easter arrived, but didn't pack quite the punch they had feared. We got about 7" of snow here in Belmont, a bit more than Boston. Turns out that we have received almost 35" since December 1st, which is about 22" above normal. Not bad, eh?The kids were very happy tobe out of school Monday, but the roads were clear by mid-afternoon, and things got back to normal quickly. We even went out to dinner Monday evening to Bertucci's, one of Sonja's favorites in the area.Here are a few pictures:[...]

Here We Go Again...


The Kids have their first SNOW DAY IN BOSTON!

Belmont has already cancelled school for tomorrow (Jan 14), as the bulk of the storm will hit between 7am and noon. Tomorrow will be rough, but should be great sledding by Tuesday! Quite a change from last Tuesday, when the high was mid 60's and I wore shorts to MIT...

(by the way - our house is right above the quotation mark (") in the graphic below!)
A Classic Nor'Easter, according to WBZ-TV:


Nor'easter To Slam Southern New EnglandBOSTON (WBZ) ― Brace yourself for a treacherous commute Monday across southern New England. WBZ meteorologists say a Nor'easter will bring about a foot of snow to several communities. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning from midnight until 7 p.m. Monday.The snow will start falling after midnight in the Boston area. About one-to-four inches could be on the ground across the state by sunrise. There will be a mix of snow, sleet, and rain in southeastern Massachusetts.Heavy snow will move in all over southern New England around 7 a.m. and stay until the afternoon. The snow could fall at a rate of one inch to two inches per hour.It will start to taper down to flurries in the afternoon, making the evening rush hour tricky as well.By the time it's over, the Boston area and communities north and west could get eight-to-12 inches of snow.

Stay with and WBZ-TV for the latest forecasts.
(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Even more snow!


Sunday, Dec. 16We got about 8 more inches of snow last night! Tim made it to his bus for New York, and the drive to NY was only 6.5 hours!! At least it was a limoliner - Tim says he was very comfortable! The kids and I ventured out to build a snowman and play in the snow. All three kids love the snow. Rachel, Jamie, and I threw snowballs at each other. Jamie jumped into a snowbank that was up to his waist! David waded in and lost a snow boot once, but it didn't deter his enjoyment of the snowy day. Yesterday we all got our first experience with sledding. We walked down the street to the resovior and the fun took off from there. David really had a good time sledding! He's very brave about riding down even big hills on our little plastic sled. He gets to go sledding at preschool, and the teachers all say that he can't get enough of it. David thanks God for playing in the snow each night during our bedtime prayers.We're also aclimating to the cooler temperatures up here. Yesterday the high was in the 20s, and it was cold. Today the highs were in the mid 30s and it almost felt warm. We're going to feel like we've gone to the tropics when we're home for Christmas![...]