Wednesday, December 02, 2015

All of us at Disney

Here's a shot of all of us at Disney. I'm surprised at how well it turned out, since at the time Zack and Ella were snipping at each other and were NOT interested in posing. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Zack had no interest in getting autographs from the characters....until we had thanksgiving dinner with the princesses. Then he was all over getting autographs and pictures.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Legoland, Day 2

LL is the best place ever, according to Z. Today he got his driver's license, watched a 4d movie, fought bad guys in a mummy tomb, watched good guys fight off pirates on water skis, and went on a boat ride. At the moment he's building a velociraptor cage.

And yes, that's a life-sized Ford Explorer made out of Legos.

Tomorrow it's onto Disney.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Legoland, day 1

He may be in heaven.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


We had Zack's parent-teacher conference yesterday, so it seemed like a good time to post an update. 

First, I have to say that his teacher, Ms. Cipollina, is fabulous. Just so sweet and caring--she really wants all the kids to do well. Zack says at least once a week that she's the best teacher ever. 

Zack is doing well. According to the report that he wrote about himself, he likes reading and writing the best, math is ok, science is good, social studies--eh, not so much. He's reading a little above grade level, which reflects changes that I've noticed recently. He's doing well in math, and in everything else, too. He got good marks in all of the social stuff--following the rules, etc. Ms. C said that he gets a long with all of his classmates and everyone seems to like him. She also said that he's probably the most creative kid in the class. 

The "but" is that because he's got so much going on in his head, he sometimes doesn't read the instructions on his worksheets and so doesn't show that he masters all the concepts. He's not inclined to check his work (honestly, I always hated doing that, too). He also needs some help with writing. His teacher said that others that are reading at his level are writing long paragraphs independently, which he's only doing with guidance. To be honest, I think that he can do it (Ms. C thinks so, too), but that it's too much of a bother for him. 

Because of this, Ms Cipollina nominated him to be a part of a new program at school called Rock N Read. He's the only one in his class that gets to do it. It's for kids like Zack, who can read at grade level but need some more work on concepts and writing. Volunteers come in to work one-on-one with the students. He's had two sessions so far and he really seems to love it. He came home all excited and showed me everything thing they'd done. It seems like a win all around. 

As far as everything else goes, he continues to do really well. He has friends coming out of the woodwork. What I love about him (well there are many things, but...) is that his attitude seems to be that there's no reason he can't be friends with everyone. I hope he keeps that. He's always busy at KAH and the counselors there say he's a great kid. He has a couple close friends in the neighborhood that he likes to hang around with. Coby lives across the street and they will often go back and forth between houses on the weekend. His other good friend is Arianna, who lives about a block and a half away. We like to hang out with her parents, so we'll often have impromptu dinners. I love to see that he has no problem being friends with girls, and they get along so well. 

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Happy Halloween!

In short, we had a great Halloween. Our neighborhood really gets into it, starting with a neighborhood parade that starts on our front yard. Kids come out of the woodwork, I swear. Then trick-or-treating. Then we had a party. The adults went to Paul and Holly's house, while the kids had their own party at our house (childcare was hired, don't worry).

I was Frida Kahlo, Zack was a Knight Terror, and Rob was some sort of Phantom of Doom.

Everyone had a blast.

Monday, October 05, 2015


We went to see Hotel Transylvania 2 yesterday, bringing Zack's friend Ariana and her brother Garen along.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Clam chowder on a Friday night

Just have to wait for it to cool off.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I love how it looks as if Georgia is rolling her eyes.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First Day of School

I've just realized that the pictures I thought I posted of Zack's first day of school are still floating around in the ether somewhere. Sorry about that. Let's try this again. 

Here are pics of Zack's first day of 2nd grade, along with his teacher, Ms. Cipollina. He was very excited because he's in a portable classroom (apparently a very desirable commodity among the 2nd grade set). He loves his teacher (and having chatted with her for a while today, I can see why) and so far loves 2nd grade. 

He's really been doing great and I can already see a big change in him. He has increased confidence. For example, Rob and I always drop him off on the first day so that we can figure out who his teacher is. He wanted us to walk up to the 2nd grade line (they line up outside before going to their rooms) with him, then all of a sudden he was gone. He was off saying hello to some of his other friends. The times I've dropped him off at KAH in the morning, I've barely signed him in before he's off finding friends to play with, and forget getting a hug from him in the morning! That said, when I pick him up, I get a really big hug and smile.  

He's been doing all his homework while at KAH; they have some homework time before the fun starts and he's been taking advantage of it. He's been much more responsible about the tasks he has to do before and after school, remembering to get his lunch, take care of his backpack, feed the dog, etc., without being prompted. 

His philosophy seems to be that there's no good reason why he can't be friends with everyone. He talks about a lot of different kids that he plays with at school. He's got a lot of friends in the neighborhood, too, including Coby who is on the same block. On the weekends they've been moving back and forth between their two houses, playing this, that, and the other thing for hours. They get a long so very well---it makes all of us parents very happy! 

He's also developing more confidence in new social situations. Last night he tried out taekwando at the Y. It was the first class and he'd never met the instructor. A year ago he would have made a big fuss about me staying with him in the room, but last night, while he was a bit shy at first, he was perfectly fine when I said I'd be back to get him when it was over. You could also tell he was positively beaming when the instructor told him that he was impressed with how quick Zack was. 

Which leads to my final story. When he got home last night, it was late, so I told him that he had to be quick in the shower (not typically his forte). He took a shockingly quick shower, but one that seemingly involved soap and shampoo. I expressed my shock, to which he immediately replied "See? I'm quick at a lot of things." 

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Summer has flown by. How is it the end of August? How is Zack starting second grade (!) tomorrow? 

In spite of illness and stress and (non-fun) travel, we had a pretty good summer, I think. We just got back from our annual trip to CT where we managed to pack in a lot of stuff--seeing all kinds of family, going to the beach, eating ice cream, camping (just Rob and Zack), eating seafood, kayaking, swimming in the pool, playing miniature golf. 

Zack loves seeing all of his cousins and aunts and uncles, and I think the feeling is mutual. We've explained a little about how Rob is adopted, etc., etc., and some day it will probably hit him that Rob and Kelly are siblings but they call two differnet women "Mom," but in the meantime he just knows that a whole lot of people love him. And that's all that matters. What makes me happy to no end is that even though most of his cousins are nearly two decades older than him, they have no problem spending time with him and including him. The older cousins were playing frisbee on the beach and had no problem letting him join in. 

He's matured a lot in some ways this summer. He's glad to help out (well, most of the time)--setting the table, feeding the dogs, bringing groceries inside. It's really nice. 

I'm just going to post a bunch of pictures from vacation here, and in the next post. And then I'll try to be better at posting from here on out. 

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Having fun at camp!

He apparently called this work "Haunted Mansion."

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Guess I'll keep 'em

So tonight Zack decided he "must have" most of my avocado sushi. And then Georgia decided that she "must have" my shrimp sushi (she licked it while it was on my plate! While I was sitting there! And showed no remorse!).

But then they did this. G laid on my lap and Z started snuggling. Guess they're not so bad.

Thursday, July 02, 2015


A year off did these gals some good. I can't get a pic that really captures the variations in color, but they are gorgeous this year!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Stick of Awesomeness

The second graders won the Stick of Awesomeness today. I'm not quite sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it's good. 

Sent from Mailbox

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

First day, last day

We have a second grader now.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

One more....

Lost another one tonight!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Take Your Child to Work Day

Yesterday was Take Your Child to Work Day. Last year Zack chastised me for not taking him, so I knew I'd better plan on it this year. NIH does a really great job with this day. Most of the institutes put on activities for the kids, so there is tons to do. I pre-registered him for four things and then I figured we'd wing it from there. We started out with a presentation on bones and muscles. We left that one early so that we could meet Kelly and get a tour of the wing she works on at the Clinical Center. I thought that was pretty cool because I'd never gotten to see the hospital part of NIH. Zack was most impressed with the internal "train" system that transports supplies within the building. 

From there we took the shuttle to the National Library of Medicine for a magnet demonstration--very cool. Then we shuttled back to my office for lunch, where he tried out the Director's seat in the conference room. We all decided that he'd be an excellent candidate for our new director. 

Then it was on to the Fire Department. NIH has their own department, also something I'd known about but never seen. They did had a great program--a video on fire safety and what to do in a fire, a tour of the building, then outside for a demo. They put out a "fire" on the roof and rescued Sparkey (kind of like Smokey, but a human in a Dalmation costume and for house fires, not forest fires). It was pretty impressive to see the trucks zoom in, set up, and maneuver. Then we went back in the firehouse, where they talked some more and showed all the kids what firemen would look like if there were a fire and they were searching through the house. This was really great because their 60+ pounds of gear make them look a bit creepy. The kids learned to Stop Drop and Roll, and they got a chance to put out "fires" in a house. I have to say, the firemen were awesome about talking with the kids and answering questions. I feel safe knowing they're protecting me here at work. 

The final stop (after a quick snack) was a presentation on how they take pictures of body parts from outside the body using CT scans and MRI's. I wasn't sure how this one was going to go--scientists aren't always known for being able to bring the science down to a popular level, much less a kid's level--but this one was pretty good. They'd taken scans of a lot of non-human things (like oranges, iPhones, etc.) and got the kids to guess what they were, and the whole talk wasn't too technical. 

Once that was over, we decided to call it a day and headed back to my office to pick up our things. Zack said goodbye to everyone, and we headed out. 

He told me a few times that he liked my office and campus a lot, and that he had a really good time. I'm really glad we had a chance to spend the day together, and I'm sure we'll be doing it again in the years to come. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Progress Report

We got his report card today. I won't bother to tell you his exact grades because they don't use ABCDF, and I'm not entirely sure I understand it all myself. That said, he's doing great. He has improved in reading so much this year and is exactly where he needs to be. We knew that he'd improved substantially just from how much more he reads voluntarily and how much better he does it. All the other metrics on the report card were really good, too. Notably, he got the very best grade possible in art. 

The chatting issue that he had in class has subsided. He no longer has a behavior plan; his teacher suggested that it wasn't necessary any longer. 

He's got a lot of friends and seems to pretty much get along with everyone. He has a lot of male friends, but his closest friend is a girl, and he often asks to have play dates with Ariana, who lives down the street. We think it's great that he has no qualms about hanging out with girls or boys. 

He's still loving KAH. I think he's gained so much confidence from being a part of that. He's made so many friends there, and gets involved in so many activities. He plays group games like dodgeball and gets involved in all the clubs and activities. It makes me so happy that he enjoys it. 

And he continues to be a really fun kid. He's funny and sweet and cares about his family and his pets. He loves hanging out with Kelly. She took him to the movies last weekend and they had a blast. He watches over the dogs, telling me if one threw up, or if they need to go out. He's picking up on sarcasm now. I have a tendency to be sarcastic (shocker, I know), which he didn't get for the longest time. Now he calls me out on it: "You're being sarcastic, Mommy." One day Kelly was going on about how much she loved JoJo, and Zack quips, "EVERYone knows how much you love JoJo." We nearly bust a gut laughing. 

He's a really good kid and this seems to be a really fun age. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


This boy of ours is growing up so much. It seems like a switch flipped on when he turned 7. He'll get his things ready in the morning (getting his backpack ready, filling his water bottle) all by himself without too much reminding, if any at all. He'll take his dishes over to the sink all by himself. And just tonight he finished a book report for his homework all by himself without prompting from me. This is huge--even up to a week ago homework usually bordered on a struggle. 

He and I have such interesting conversations now. Two come to mind. 

Last Sunday he and I walked down to the park. We weren't there long when he fell in the creek and got soaked. I could tell he was embarrassed and he wanted to head home right away. I started telling him that it wasn't really a big deal, no one there knew him, and stuff like this happens to everyone. I told him that I've had some pretty embarrassing falls, too. Of course, he wanted to hear an example, so I told him about the time I was chasing geese at Lake Towhee and fell in the mud, then had to ride home on the back of my mom's bike in my underwear (I was around 3). The look on his face! He loved hearing that something like that could happen to someone else. We also talked about how the best way to deal with situations like this is to laugh them off. 

Last night I was lying with him as he was falling asleep. We'd had an off night; we were both tired and a bit grumpy and we'd gotten angry with each other. Somehow we started talking about emotions once the lights were out. I told him that I get angry and sad, too. He asked what made me sad. I told him a few things, then I asked him. Then he asked me about what made me angry, and then he told me. We talked about happy, too. It was such a sweet conversation, a great way to end the day on a good note. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Guys' day out

Zack didn't have school or aftercare yesterday, so Rob stayed home to hang out with him. First they went swimming, then they headed over to Sligo to hit some golf balls. Rob got this shot, which might have just become my all-time favorite picture of Zack. 

I asked Zack later if he had a good day. He nodded, then perked up: "No, no, it was an AWESOME day!" 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Good impressions.

So this is apparently the first '-ine' word that Zack thought of in class.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Science club

Today in science club they made their volcano erupt and started learning about parts of their body. They traced themselves, then drew in different organs, bones, etc.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Lizards and Snakes and Turtles, Oh My!

Yesterday was Zack's birthday party, at the Brookside Nature Center. (I think our days of having it at the house are over.) My lack of organization these past few months paid off in that we had a fabulous day for a nature party. First, the naturalist (who is AWESOME! Seriously, she is so very good with the kids and clearly loves doing this.) talked to them about reptiles and amphibians, and they got to check out a real turtle, look for similarities and differences between a frog and a toad, and then, for the piece de resistance, got to check out a snake. As the birthday boy, Zack was the only one who got to hold the snake---I love his look of anticipation in the picture above! Then they went outside on a hike. The naturalist said there might be signs of wood frogs coming out and heading to the ponds--I'm not sure if she was telling the truth or a white lie, but the kids love the idea. On the way, we stopped to talk to the man making maple syrup over a fire outside (40 gallons of sap are needed for one gallon of syrup--liquid gold!), they got a few wiggles out of their system, but no frogs. No one seemed to mind, really. Then we went back inside, decorated party hats, had some frog cupcakes and goldfish crackers, and everyone went home happy! 

I really think this might have been the best party yet. It was low key, but all the kids seemed to have fun. There were no tears. And this is such a funny, fun age---they're not afraid to show off what they know, they make a lot of astute observations, but they pretty much have no filter on what they say. So we got the whole story about how one boy's dad stepped on a turtle and its shell cracked and it was bloody. And Kelsey (Zack's best bud, in the purple next to him) suddenly observed, "Zack, you have very long eyelashes for a boy!" They were all just really adorable and really good. He seems to have found a set of really good kids. 

Oh, and the coolest part of the day for Zack? After all the kids had left and we were cleaning up, the naturalist gave him a bag with a molted snake skin in it. He thought that was just fabulous!