Griffin has had a great season with his volleyball team this fall. The team has been unfailingly positive even in the face of defeat. (Though they’ve done better this season than last year, with a few decisive victories and many close matches.) It’s been a joy to watch them duke it out on the court every week.
Here’s a short video at the tail end of one of their closest games. Alas, after getting 1 point from victory, they were ultimately defeated, 25-27.
Kudos to my colleagues Neil and Diane for organizing a faculty gathering at Afton State Park earlier this month. Families were welcome at a large group site. Some folks brought tents and stayed overnight. Many others stopped by to enjoy the fire for a portion of the evening.
Sarah was out of town, so I brought our three kids plus two extras. They basically ran off into the woods and only emerged occasionally for hot dogs and s’mores. Social gatherings like this have been few and far between since COVID struck, so the time felt quite special. We didn’t stay overnight, but had a lovely time spending the evening with a stellar group of people.
Griffin canoed in the boundary waters with Camp Widjiwagan from June 20 to July 1. He had a fantastic trip, but he had an accident in his final days. On June 29, he was leaping from rock to rock (as one does) in “Disappointment Lake,” about six miles from the Canadian border, when he landed on an unstable stone and pitched forward face-first into another one. Cracked two teeth and injured his wrist. At first it seemed like the wrist was merely sprained, but after a few days with little improvement, x-rays confirmed that he had a buckle fracture on the growth plate. At least he doesn’t need crutches for this one. (He broke his foot in April!) Cast should come off at the beginning of August.
With the much larger yard at our new house, the kids have been lobbying for a trampoline. At first, Sarah and I were completely opposed to the idea. Cost and safety were concerns, of course, but we also didn’t want a gigantic ugly thing dominating the yard. The kids, however, were persistent, going as far as creating a slide presentation about the many benefits of a trampoline.
As we scouted around the yard for a location, we realized that at the far end of the yard, there was an overgrown area that was actually reasonably flat if we mowed it down. In the summer it is completely out of sight from the house, shielded by trees and bushes. Our resistance crumbled. And now we have a trampoline in its own hidden glade.
Griffin has been taking a piano for a few years. This year he started learning the trombone as part of the music program at St. Paul Academy. He played in his first concert this evening. He sounded good and, more importantly, had a great time.
The beginners joined the full band for two pieces. Griffin is on the rightmost bottom seat in the two videos below.
If that title makes you think we’ve gone entirely insane, you may be right. After two years of low-key COVID birthdays, we decided to pull out all the stops this year. Maggie and Griffin agreed to have a joint birthday party at the water park at Great Wolf Lodge. Yep. Sarah and I agreed to take our kids plus six of their friends to a hotel water park for an overnight birthday bash. (This is so out-of-character for us that I can’t even believe I’m typing it.)
Needless to say, it was tons of fun. Even for the grownups. And we were all worn out by the end of it. (Oliver and Griffin both fell asleep in the car on the way home.) Here’s a photographic sampling of their escapades.
This year marked Andrew’s third trip as a chaperone with the 7th grade at Camp Widjiwagan along the boundary waters in northern Minnesota. This trip was different for a number of reasons. First, Griffin was a seventh grader, so he was on the trip too! It was pretty great to be able to share this experience. This year we also went up in March rather than January. As the normal January date approached, COVID rates were spiking, so the school and camp made the wise choice of postponing. It was a bit soggier than usual, but we had no issues with the pesky virus, so it was well-worth the wait.
My gifted colleague, Bobak— social studies teacher, photographer, and videographer—documented the trip for posterity. I’ve pulled a set of photos from the larger collection to share here. Most of these include Griffin, but some just help set the scene.
Here is Bobak’s “Widjimasters 2022” video compilation:
We decided to take the risk of traveling this Christmas after two years of staying put. We flew to Bethesda to visit Andrew’s parents (known to the kids as “Grummy and Grandpa Stape”). Andrew’s brother, David, also visited with his family (Nancy, Raven, and Max). We were nervous about COVID the whole time, but multiple self-tests have come out negative, so we think we made it.
We avoided indoor activities beyond the family, but had a great time skating and exploring the National Mall. Pictures below capture a bit of the spirit (click on them for larger versions).
And, a video of Raven and Nancy doing a spin on the ice: