We scheduled our Bethesda segment with my parents primarily to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday and originally planned to stay for five or six days and then do some Appalachian camping on our way north to Ithaca. As it turned out, we needed all the time we could get for some family R&R.
Shortly after our arrival, Sarah was stricken with strep throat and Maggie had an infected finger, requiring multiple trips to urgent care. I was fighting a cold (we feared it might be strep, but I dodged that bullet) and my poor dad was hit with a powerful cold as well. But it was the perfect place to curl up and lick our wounds. The kids love it there and adore their grandparents. (One of my favorite moments of the trip was when Maggie refused to follow us downstairs for dinner, stating firmly, while sitting at the top of the stairs, “I want to wait for Grandpa!”)
Despite all of the illnesses, we did manage to get out with the kids a fair amount. The pictures below make it look like all we did was romp around, but really we just never took out the camera when we were convalescing.
exploring Little Falls Creek
exploring Little Falls Creek
exploring Little Falls Creek
popsicle at the doctor’s office
splash pad fun
splash pad fun
aftermath of a high speed collision at the splash pad
examining I.M. Pei’s East Wing of the National Gallery
It’s been a very busy month around here so the blog has been neglected. Here are some of the highlights:
Unbelievably cold weather. I wrote a post about the cold in December, but that was nothing. On January 6, the Governor officially closed all the schools in the state due to the cold for the first time since 1997. That was the first of a string of ultra-cold days. Local public schools have missed five days already this month due to dangerously cold temperatures; these were not snow days. At SPA (my school) we missed only 4 ½ days because we reopened at noon on one of the days. This many lost days is unprecedented in the memories of my veteran colleagues. We’ve had multiple days where the high temperature was below zero, and wind chills in the Twin Cities have dipped into the -40s. Crazy! With that said, I’m pleased to note that my cold weather gear is handling it marvelously — those ski goggles are getting far more use than usual!
Sandy’s shoulder surgery. My mom, Sandy, (usually known as “Grummy” around here) had shoulder surgery at the beginning of the month. Recovery looked very good for 24 hours, then very bad for another 24, and a slow but steady recovery since then. I flew out for MLK weekend and had a wonderful visit despite the struggles.
“Winterupt.” At SPA we’ve launched a new two-week program for 8th graders called Winterupt. (See the announcement letter I wrote to 8th grade families if you’d like more info; it’s a bit PR sounding, but it gives a good overview.) It’s been a ton of work and we’re only half-way through, but the first week has been outstanding. I feel lucky to work with an amazing team of educators who make this whole thing come alive. Today I simply had a blast doing my job. In the course of a few hours this afternoon I got to play with legos, tromp around in the snow with 80 kids (taking measurements and trying to locate hidden rubber ducks), assist students in creating accurate scale sketches of our playground, blast great music, and try to get a cookie from my forehead to my mouth without using my hands (I succeeded, but then had to spit the cookie out because I’m not eating sugar and flour right now, see below).
Whole30. Sarah and I are almost done with our second Whole30 program. It’s basically 30-days where you don’t eat or drink sugar, grains, dairy or legumes. This is, obviously, a royal pain in the ass, but it’s worth it. We’ve both experienced it a bit differently this time around. Sarah has been less excited about it this year, and is definitely ready for day 30 (next week). I, too, am a bit fatigued by it (I had to spit out an oreo, grrr) but have mostly found it to be far easier than last year. In particular I like how it resets my appetite, makes food more about sustenance than emotional satisfaction, and makes me pay more attention to what I’m eating.
Escargot! The cafeteria today featured food from France and China (this connects to the language immersion component of Winterupt, and our cafeteria is awesome.) I had never had escargot before, and there it was for the taking. At first I was a bit leery, but then I saw some of my students heading back for seconds. If they could try something new, so could I. Overall impression… not bad. Loved the garlic sauce. Reminded me of shellfish or octopus—the chewy texture. Will definitely try it again some time. (Note that technically this broke some Whole30 rules because I think it was soaked in butter, but trying somewhat legendary cuisine trumped the fine print.)
We were lucky enough to be on the last stop of the Grummy 2011 Grandchild Tour a few weeks ago, when Andrew’s mom, Sandy, stayed with us for a week! Between all the moving that’s been going on in our lives in the past year and settling into our new home, we hadn’t seen her since last spring, so a visit was long overdue. She wanted to see our new digs and spend some quality time with Griffin, so we got to host her here in Minnesota! Griffin was quite excited that Grummy, who normally appears on our computer screen, would be staying with us. He was quick to tell her all his new words, sit on her lap for some reading, and show her around the house. Every morning he excitedly woke up saying, “Grummy? Grummy?” and would rush down the stairs saying, “Hi, Grummy! Hi, Grummy!”
One of our destinations while she visited was the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. This is a favorite for us, as well as a great spot for taking photos. This time, once again, did not disappoint!
We also took Grummy to the Children’s Museum, on a tour of Minneapolis lakes, to the Roseville Library, on a tour of Andrew’s school, and to the Mall of America! Overall, it was a great visit for everyone and we loved having a chance to hang out with Sandy. Griffin asked for Grummy in the morning for almost a week after she went home, and he’s still calling string cheese (which was a snack unique to Grummy in Griffin’s world) “Grummy cheese.”
Our big Thanksgiving gathering took place in Santa Cruz again this year. The consensus is that Santa Cruz is the best of the various destinations that we’ve been to. It’s close. It’s beautiful. Rental houses are plentiful and relatively affordable. And there is no shortage of fun. (Plus, nutritionists always recommend riding roller coasters after a 10,000 calorie meal.) Thanks to Nancy for the massive job of organizing the event! Some favorite pictures are below. Click on them to see larger versions or click here to see the full album. (You may notice a slight parental bias in picture subjects…)
Grummy is in town for a visit, so the whole Stocco-Palmer-Roy family (minus Andrew, who was working hard getting his classroom ready for students on Monday) went out to the Eat Real Festival at Jack London Square on Oakland’s waterfront.
Grummy and Griffin ready for fun!
Cousin Max is a practicing walker and keeps Uncle Dave moving.
Cousins Raven and Max dipped their toes in a fountain while Aunt Nancy and her mom, Mary-Helen, watched.
It was so much fun, Griffin just had to take a nap!