Mitropolis Family Party

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Family Picture

Today we met up with the Mitropolis side of the family for a fun afternoon at the Dracut House of Pizza. Thank you to cousin Karen and Auntie Diane for organizing everything. The little cousins had a great time trying to break one tough pinata, and chasing each other around. It was so nice to visit and catch up with everyone. ...And don't worry Peter, Rebecca has decided she's too young to marry you, so you're off the hook.;-)

All the photos are posted here.(noelle01520/annie123)

Bookmark and Share

Recital Day

Friday, June 26, 2009

Between the graduation party, the dance recital, and Father's Day, last weekend was pretty much a blur of activity. As if that wasn't enough, I've been sick since Sunday (but am finally starting to feel better). So this post is really late, but here it is.

Getting Ready

Sunday was the big day! Yup - Rebecca's recital day. We were up and at 'em early - me gelling, curling and pinning (her hair), while Greg drove to Pepperell and back to pick up her sisters. There was a change in venue this year which pushed the start of the show up an hour and a half, 11 AM was our target arrival time at Quinsigamond Community College. Rebecca's first dance, the tap routine, was third in the program, and her second routine (tumbling) was 33rd (or 4th from the end), so we were sat through the entire 2+ hour recital.

After the tap routine (which was great), I went backstage to get her into her tumbling costume. Unfortunately all that gelling and spraying had taken its toll, and an elastic was hopelessly knotted in Rebecca's hair. No one had scissors, so I pulled and Rebecca cried until finally another Mom, more talented at the whole hair thing, intervened and managed to get the elastic out (a big clump of her hair came with it but at that point I was happy to take what I could get). At least my daughter was happy in her costume, unlike the adorable littlest clown who was declaring her costume was too itchy and refusing to put it on.


Seems our troubles backstage were an omen of things to come. Routine 2 started out well, but soon disaster struck. There is a point when the little kids jump in circles in the back of the stage while the older kids run off stage and come back with hula hoops. This is the signal to is the younger kids to stop jumping in circles and do somersaults through aforementioned hoops. Unfortunately, the hula hoops were erroneously placed on the wrong side of the stage. Already on shaky ground, the poor kids didn't know what to do. The bigger kids ran back and forth and then finally decided to do somersaults back across the stage to get the hula hoops. By the time they got that done, they were way behind in the music and had to skip ahead to the next part of the routine. All the while, the little kids (including Rebecca), kept jumping in circles in the back, waiting for the hoops. This kept up until the last 15 seconds, when everyone finally figured out what they were supposed to be doing. So it was basically 30 seconds of the routine, a minute and a half of jumping in a circle, and then 15 more seconds of the routine. I'm so glad I took her to all those extra practices for the past 2 months so she could learn the routine.;-) I did feel kind of bad for the kids because they worked so hard to learn it, but these things happen. Good thing they are little enough that pretty much anything they do is somewhat cute.

Bookmark and Share

Shannon's Grad Party

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Graduate
Saturday we all went to my beautiful step daughter's graduation party. Shannon graduated from high school last week - we are so proud of her! It's hard to believe - the first time I met her she was 5 years old, and I feel so lucky to have the priviledge of watching her grow up. We got to visit with lots of family and friends, and Rebecca and Gregory had a ball playing with all the other kids and the Slip and Slide. I think Greg is still in shock that his little girl has graduated. Congratulations Shannon!
Grassy Gregory on the Slip and Slide

Bookmark and Share

The Salamander Story, Part II

Thursday, June 18, 2009

By popular request (OK a request from one person - Sarah!!) here is the salamander story I referenced in this post. Before I begin, I would like to say, if you are a member of PETA, don't hold it against me. I love animals and would never hurt one on purpose. Also, I was only 10.

Here it is. The house I grew up in is in the middle of the woods, and there is a plethora of woodland creatures in its vicinity. As kids, we would catch various amphibians, and make 'homes' for them in our sandbox, including toads and salamanders. If you turned over a rock in our yard, it seemed like there was about a 1 in 3 chance of finding a salamander (a common red backed or a similar all black one). By the time I was ten, I was starting to loose interest in playing with slimy animals, but occasionally would still participate in a salamander 'race' with my younger brother Kenny. To race, each of us would catch one of the unfortunate critters, and let it run over alternating hands. Every time it climbed onto the next hand, we would bring the next hand in front, to give the salamander somewhere to run, and so on ...

This is what it looked like
before the race!

As you may know, when the tail of a salamander is handled, it can easily fall off. This is a defense mechanism in case a predator grabs the little guy by the tail. The salamander is able to run away, leaving the predator with only a tail to eat. The salamander gets the last laugh since it can then regrow a new tail. Surprisingly, in all our salamander games, I had not experienced this phenomenon before this day (do you see where this is going?). Now, Kenny and I were kneeling in the grass, near some rocks which edged the walkway to our house. We were racing salamanders when something happened to my salamander. I looked down at my hands, and saw I was holding the front of it in one hand, and the tail in the other. Really not so surprising considering what we were doing, but this is the really weird part. I have a very clear memory of what happened next. Clear enough that I believe: a) it happened or b) Mom laced my Hydrox cookies with LSD. The back legs were still attached to the tail piece!! I screamed and dropped both pieces on the ground, and BOTH pieces crawled under a rock. (The LSD in the Hydrox is looking a little more plausible, isn't it?). The sight of the back legs and tail crawling under the rock on its own is something I've never gotten out of my head and I've never touched another salamander (not even the one in my basement). My only theory is that the tail got pulled, but somehow I had found a salamander with a genetic abnormality, and too much of it fell off?

Anyway, that's the story, at least how I remember it. Kenny, if you remember it differently, please let me know!!

Bookmark and Share

The Moment You've All Been Waiting For

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Yup. It's that moment you've all been waiting for. That's right. It's Rebecca's 2009 dance rehearsal video. For those of you not in the know, parents are not allowed to take video during the actual recital (on Sunday). But the rehearsal is another story - it's a sequin studded free for all. Here's her primary dance routine:

But wait, there's MORE! This year she's in two dances. Primary dance and tumble kidz. Here is routine #2 (this one is worth watching):

Bookmark and Share

Gymnastics Show

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rebecca and Gregory getting
their gymnastics medals.

Rebecca and Gregory had their year-end Gymnastics show Saturday. Here's a short video to give you an idea. They did a warm up and got to demonstrate the skills they learned this year. Then three of the competitive gymnasts did some tricks for everyone. Every kid got to stand on the podium and get a medal. Rebecca came back with hers and told us "Yup - I got a medal cause I'm a winner!" Gregory wasn't too impressed with his and took it right off and stuffed it in our bag. Then it was out back for ice cream sundaes. On the way out, the competitive kids were giving high fives to the little kids. When Rebecca got to them she gave them each an enthusiastic high five and exclaimed "You guys are amaaazing!!".

Bookmark and Share

The Salamander Story

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why do I always have to open my big mouth? My Rebecca loves a good story. If you catch her interest, she wants you to tell it to her over and over (and over and over ... ). We've been through this several times in the past year. First it was the story of Anne Frank, which I told her after Greg and I went on a Neutral Milk Hotel kick about a year ago. She wanted to hear about Anne, her 2+ years hiding in an attic, her capture, why she was sent to prison, how she died, how her father found her journal and published it, etc., etc., ETC.! Finally, I got tired of making up the parts I didn't know. I checked a book out of the Holden library about Anne, and we read it together. It was a children's National Geographic book - I figured at 4, Rebecca was a little too young to sit through/understand Anne's actual diary.

Then the was the "Into the Wild" soundtrack which prompted the telling and retelling the sad story of Christopher McCandless. Then, we saw a fox on the side of the road with 2 babies. This somehow resulted in many retellings of the story of the only person known to have survived rabies.

A spotted salamander

So I should have been ready earlier this week. We were driving in the car to my Mom and Dad's, who were babysitting when she said, "Mom - did you know once I got a bloody nose, and the blood dripped down my shirt?". I hadn't known about that. Five minutes later, I got another story which I won't repeat about peas and her digestive system. Finally I had to ask, "Rebecca, are you trying to gross me out?". The truth was out. At this point, a normal Mom would probably try to change the subject or something. But not me. I decided to get into a gross out contest. After several lame attempts, I finally resorted to my salamander story. A few of you may know I have some kind of weird love/hate relationship with amphibians (as opposed to reptiles, where it is pretty much hate/hate). We have Amy, the frog in our pond. We also used to have a spotted salamander that lived in a drain in our basement. I ran upstairs screaming the first time I saw it, but I came to accept it. I haven't seen the salamander in about a year now. It used to go away for a month or so, and I would think it was gone for good, and then I'd go downstairs to start the laundry and there it would be, sitting on our drain. But it's never been gone anywhere near this long. I even kind of miss it. I'm choosing to believe it had a peaceful, geriatric salamander death somewhere in our drain than the alternative (that there is something bigger living in my basement that ate it).

But this story is not about that salamander. It is the first of two creepy amphibian events in my early childhood, which are probably the root of a lot of my issues. I find it creepy and disturbing, and I don't really like telling it. But I had to win this gross out contest, so I pulled it out. At the end of the story, she was quiet for a minute, and then she said "Mom, tell it again". I told it one more time, but when she asked for a third telling, I came to my senses and told her the story creeped me out, and I didn't want to tell it again. She agreed that I had also succeeded in creeping her out (Yes!) and I hoped that was the end of it. At my Mom and Dad's, Greg and I were walking out the door when she asked me to tell it again. Uh oh. I think I know what her new favorite story is going to be. What could I say? Here it is. Me: "Honey, Daddy and I have to go now." Rebecca: "Please?" Me: "You already know the story." Rebecca: "I don't want to forget it." Me: "I'll tell you what, why don't you tell it to Grandma and Grandpa after we leave?"

Sorry Mom and Dad!

Bookmark and Share

The Decemberists

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Greg enjoying a balmy Boston summer night.

By some miracle (thanks Mom and Dad!) Greg and I acutally went out alone last night and viewed an excellent show by alternative rock band The Decemberists. The concert was in South Boston, at Harborlights (OK, so it's now the Bank of America Pavilion, but Harborlights sounds so much better, doesn't it?). This is a medium sized venue overlooking Boston Harbor, and is roofed, but open on three sides. On a nice day, this is a beautiful spot to see a show. Unfortunately last night was not such a night. Even lead singer Colin Meloy, born in Montana and currently a resident of Portland, Oregon, poked fun at us "Northern People", assuring us that it was summer elsewhere in the country.

The first half of the show consisted of a nonstop rendition of their new album "The Hazards of Love". Luckily, my smart and musically minded husband foresaw this, and bought the album last week. A lot of the Decemberists' music sort of grows on you, and listening to the new album several times over the weekend greatly increased my enjoyment and understanding during this part of the show. We were thrilled to see the entire story told start to finish, and figure we probably will never get another opportunity to do so (the fabulous female singers who contributed to this album are not part of the group, and probably will not participate in the next tour).

Decemberists' front man Colin Meloy
in a playful spotlight struggle with Chris
Funk, during the 2nd half of the show.

The second half of the show was much more relaxed. They played some well known favorites such as "The Barrow Boy" (Rebecca was thrilled when we told her - this is her favorite Decemberists song!), and "Valencia". Colin engaged the crowd in a lot of playful banter, and played a snippet from "the worst song I (Colin) ever wrote", "Dracula's Daughter". Colin and guitarist Chris Funk even shared their guitars with members of the audience, including one lucky guy who was brought up on stage and forced to play Funk's guitar with a beer bottle.

All in all, it was a great show. It was worth braving the weather, and we are looking forward to the next time The Decemberists roll into town.

Bookmark and Share

Groovy Granola

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Our homemade granola.

Last night I was in an experimental mood, and decided to try baking granola. This has been building for two days, since I googled 'low sugar granola recipes' and bought ingredients for the first one that came up. Rebecca was my helper, and we heated, stired, and baked. It was actually really easy to make, and the kitchen smelled amazing while it was cooking.

The result was very yummy when warm, and both my picky eaters declared they liked it. This morning, it was still good, but had definitely lost a little something in the cooling process. Still, it made a good breakfast with milk and some blueberries. I plan to go through this excersize again someday, although I will experiment with different recipes. I told Greg, now that I make my own granola I'm going to stop shaving my legs (just kidding ... I stopped shaving years ago).

Tonight we have a rare night out without the kiddos!! Greg and I are heading into Boston to see The Decemberists!

Bookmark and Share

The Pool Is Open

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Happy summertime! This weekend was the long awaited opening of the town pool. Rebecca's school is directly across the street from the Holden Recreation facility, and for months, every time I pick her up, she picks one or two from her standard set of pool questions. "How much longer until the pool opens? Why haven't they taken the pool covers off yet? What if it keeps getting hotter and hotter everyday? Won't they have to open it then? Do you think they'll have Ring Pops again?". Did I mention, she's been waiting for the pool to open? I have to say, I get pretty excited for pool season too. Membership is an incredible perk for Holden residents - we pay less than $100 for the entire family, for the whole summer.

The weekend weather forecast was inconsistent, oscillating between partly cloudy, sunny, and a high of 70. Not exactly pool weather, so I tried to prepare But we lucked out and it turned out to be a beautiful weekend - sunny and upper 70s. The pool water was rather frigid, but the kids didn't seem to mind. Gregory waded in to the kiddie pool, tripped, got up, and said "Oh, that's cold". That was all we heard about it. He then took off for the slide, which empties into a 4 foot deep pool. I caught up with him on the pool stairs and told him he is too small for the slide, at which he replied, "but Mamma, I'm a BIG guy!". If he thinks he's going to pull out the cute card to get me in that freezing water, so he can go down the slide on my lap, he's got another thing coming (at least until July)!

Bookmark and Share

Future Stunt Man

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The past few weeks have been incredibly uneventful (or at least uninteresting). As a result, I'm kind of scrounging for material. Today, I'm pulling one from the vault (translation, I finally got my act together and uploaded a video I've been meaning to post for the past 6 months). Here's Gregory, the kamikaze, displaying amazing agility, courage, and the sense of a grape (he comes by it honestly since it's his Dad and myself who are actually letting him do it). This video was shot 6 months ago, right before the infamous ice storm of December, 2008.

What can I say, his favorite activities are jumping off things, jumping into things, and jumping over things. I foresee many trips to the emergency in our future.

Bookmark and Share