Gallery updates

If you wander over to the gallery, you’ll see a new look and feel (Thanks John for the remote-remote helpage in getting that set up) as well as some new pix from Thanksgiving, Christmas and in between.
I updated the gallery software so now I can export straight from Lightroom (which I recently adopted for photo management on my PC) to the gallery. The plugin could use a few more features (would be nice to create a new album from the plugin) but it’s still a bunch easier than creating jpegs locally and then using a third tool to upload.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re getting set for a great 2008.

Darth Andrew

Another Halloween in the books. A week ago, we went to the school Halloween party. Andrew had missed part of Wednesday and all of Thursday due to illness, but used his Friday off day and the weekend to recover enough to eat cookies and parade around the gym on Sunday. He wore the “legacy” costume – the complete Darth Vader getup that Mom sewed out of felt, velcro and nuke-proof, waffle-knit black polyester back in 1970-mumble. It fit him pretty well. We updated it with a modern Darth mask molded out of much thicker stock than the older fac-formed ones, plus the lightsaber, of course.
A’s recovery was only temporary, as he missed school on Monday due to a resurgence of his cold. And by that time, the rest of us were suffering along with him. But when Wednesday night rolled around, we hit the neighborhood up for all it was worth. I’d say we visited fewer than a dozen houses but the kids still filled their moochin’ sacks to max capacity. Andrew actually handed his off to me, complaining about the weight. Wow, kid, what a shame.
Plenty of pix over in the gallery, including the award-winning robot costume modeled by William.

Back to school night

Thursday was back-to-school night for Andrew. The Early Childhood Center had an open house for an hour in the evening, so we had the opportunity to explore Andrew’s room with him, meet his teachers, and mingle with the other families.
An easel sat near the front of the room, and we quickly discovered that it contained a daily report from Andrew, and Andrew only. His teacher told us that Andrew was the reporter for the week. His tools include a plastic fedora and microphone (which he of course refused to model for us), and his job was to get up in front of class each morning and report something that had happened to him that day. The other kids then get to ask questions.
Andrew's Reports
Friday’s report remains a mystery, since this isn’t the sort of thing that Andrew likes to talk about at home.

Sarah’s wedding

So I’ve finally processed the pictures, and there’s two new albums up in the gallery: One from our vacation in Denver, and the other from Sarah’s wedding. The wedding was an all-too-rare extended family event for us, and I’m very happy we were able to introduce Maggie to her great-grandparents and all the other extended family. I’m also very grateful for Elise’s parents and brother joining us and giving us a little time to talk grownup talk to the other grownups.
Speaking of Mags, she surprised us with her passion for dancing at the reception. As soon as the adults cleared out, she found herself a square of parquet and proceeded to jackhammer it with her delicate little feet. She did that for four or five songs straight, and we almost had to drag her away.
I tell you now: we are in deep, deep trouble.

Big A in the Big K

Andrew in school uniform, hiding his face from the camera

That’s right, he’s left the sleepy world of pre-school behind for the neon-drenched, leopard-print-spandex-clad world of Kindergarten. As you can see, he’s already tired of the paparazzi.

Make no mistake: Andrew is a shy kid. We all gathered in the auditorium for the principal’s welcoming address, but Andrew wouldn’t let go of me when it was time for him to go off with his class, even though he’s friends with two of his eighteen classmates. But when we parents wandered over to the classroom half an hour later, he was shouting out answers to questions. So I guess all the emotional stuff is just for my benefit.

Andrew is definitely ready for the real deal. He’s reading a few words, and I think he’ll benefit from a little more structure. We’re very enthusiastic about the school, even though we’re now outsiders in a Catholic setting. I’m certain we’ll have a lot of ‘splaining to do in the first few months, but I’m confident that Andrew will do well there, and that they’ll help form the whole kid. Now all I have to do is figure out how to handle the transportation will still finding time to squeeze in a little work…

Bikes are cool

“Why do we always have to live on a hill?” Andrew huffed as he stood on the pedals of his blue-and-silver bike, which he recently christened “Hottie,” and started up the gentle rise outside our new house. A couple of days prior, we had traded our white colonial with black trim and terraced back yard, situated halfway up a steep hill, for a white colonial with black trim and terraced back yard, situated at the base of a slightly smaller hill. After a chaotic weekend of packing and moving, Andrew hungered for a little attention. Per usual, he didn’t have much trouble convincing me to drag out the bikes, so we set out to explore the new neighborhood.
Andrew lasted only a few pedal strokes before he wound to a halt less than halfway up the hill. “Push me, Daddy!” I dismounted my own bike, planted my palm on the back of his saddle and gave him a shove. After a couple of repetitions, we made it to the top of the hill and turned left to coast down an intersecting street. He teetered a bit on his training wheels as he rounded the corner, then picked up speed down the hill. Near the bottom he jammed on his coaster brake to lay a skid mark, then craned his head around to admire his artwork.
“Watch where you’re going, Andrew!” I shouted as he swerved towards me. I’ve learned not to follow too closely behind, or ride too closely beside him. He has a typical five-year-old’s ability to control direction, and the attention span to match. Despite that, I always wear a grin when we’re riding together. “Hey, you want to turn down this street?” I pointed left.
“Sure,” he responded as he swung his handlebars and pointed. “What does that sign say?”
“I bet you can sound out the first word. Do that, and I’ll tell you what the rest says.”
“N – O – T” he spelled, then went on to sound it out. “nnnn…oh…t. Note?”
“Pretty close, Andrew. It says `Not,’ as in `Not a through street.’ What’s another name for that?”
“Dead end?” He got it on the first try.
“Very good! Let’s go see what’s down there.” We pedaled to the end of the block-long street, waving to a couple of families playing in their front yards, enjoying a cool summer evening. We looped around to head for home, and Andrew made it to the top of the hill without stopping. We turned back onto our street and started coasting home.
“Who invented bikes?” Andrew asked on the way down. I shuffled my mental notes, trying to decide whether to start with Draisines, penny-farthings or the modern pneumatic-tired bike, but he cut me off before I could start. “They’re really cool. Lots cooler than cars.”
My grin widened a couple notches. “They sure are, son.”

Air Andrew

Yesterday we took the kids down to the Rhode Island National Guard Air Show [as of this writing, website appears busted]. Taking a five-year-old and two-year-old out to an event like that is always a dicey proposition, but they tolerated the long walks and exposure to the sun remarkably well. We arrived just as an F-15 and P-51 did formation passes. That put a silly grin on my face that lasted for the next couple hours through aerobatic demonstrations (Sean Tucker and Michael Hunter) C-23, A-10, C-130J and UH-60 flybys, and a Blue Angels show.
Oh, and Andrew liked it, too Andrew’s toy-of-the-moment is now a spring-loaded Blue Angels flyer, which we flew all over the back yard after returning home. He’s convinced that Blue Angel #6 is the fastest and loudest.

Is it plugged in?

So sometime after the 31st of March, I lost track of the AC power adapter for my video cam. Soon after that, I lost battery power. Around that same time I lost a lot of other stuff as we (OK, mostly E) rearranged the house and cleaned and re-cleaned in preparation for a painfully long set of open houses and showings. Eventually those paid off – we have a buyer! – and we did one last cleanup because we’d grown to love it so much. That, and we had to do an inspection. Soon after that, most of the stuff I’d lost started to reappear. Except, of course, for the power adapter.
Two eBay auctions and one disappeared delivery later, I had a new one. Then I had to set about finding some hard drive space, which I eventually found on Hey, at 10GB an hour, this miniDV stuff demands elbow room. About that time, I got distracted by a new monitor (and not to change the subject, but oh man is this thing sweet). So finally, tonight, I made some time to sit down and string a couple of clips together:

And if you’re the kinda person who might like to watch that video on, say, an appleTV box, try this (65MB download).
Anyway, I apologize for depriving the intertubes of my beautiful kids for so long. Expect it to happen again.

Maggie’s 2nd

Update: pictures posted in the gallery.
So we managed to organize something that otherwise reasonable people might mistake for a birthday party today.

Fortunately, Maggie’s standards are still pretty low. Next year we won’t be able to get away with night-before invitations and day-of cake planning. She’s clearly a two-year-old now; I had to kiss her elbow booboo about 19 times before she finally fell asleep tonight.