Maria’s First Communion portraits

Maria makes her First Communion this Sunday, and Chelsea has been hard at work for the past couple weeks making Maria’s dress. She has done a fabulous job! Chels was finished enough with the dress yesterday to take Maria’s ‘official’ First Communion portraits, and they turned out beautifully. This is just a sampling of the pictures Chelsea took.

First, here’s a good look at the dress (and the girl!)… the lace in the skirt is from Chelsea’s wedding dress, and the veil is the one my mother used in her own First Communion:


Now, a closer view. The gemstones on the bodice and the trimming on the straps both came from our trip to New York the other week. Chelsea also made the earrings and the necklace:


In addition to making the dress, the earrings, the necklace, and the girl, Chelsea was also taking some spectacular pictures:


And to round out the set, I believe this is the rosary that Chelsea received from her grandmother Mocky, who passed away last year:


I’m in complete awe of the echoes of family history that Chelsea has been able to summon with Maria’s First Communion. Can you even imagine what it’s going to be like when Maria gets married?

Wayback machine: March 2008

It was this time a year ago that we renovated Nick’s bedroom, putting in a new floor and giving the walls a fresh teenager-friendly coat of paint. One of the great pleasures of seeing the kids grow up is giving them the opportunity to do new things. In this case, “legally” painting walls in the house was exciting for everybody – the whole thing actually made me feel a bit like Tom Sawyer with his fence.

Here’s the young man himself, hard at work:


And wherever Nick goes, his sisters are never far behind:


Nick and I were talking the other night about some exterior trim painting work I need to do this summer; I might enlist his help, perhaps even with some modest financial consideration. He spent time on a ladder in Florida this spring break and looked very capable:


T-Ball for Anna

Anna started playing T-ball this year, and she’s having a great time. The league has seven girls on a team, and they play two-inning games, which is a relief for the parents. Here’s our girl on the field during her first game:





All photos courtesy of Chelsea and her amazing digital SLR.

Visiting the H-Mart

Friday evening, I took the girls down to Cheltenham Avenue and York Road to visit H-Mart, a South Korean supermarket chain that has a few outlets here in the US. Maria had visited before on a field trip, and I wanted to see it for myself – first, because the very idea of a Korean supermarket 10 minutes from my house is wonderful, and second, because I’ve never really tried Korean food.

H-Mart has a food court upstairs and a grocery downstairs. There are also several little shops leading into the grocery, including a delightful French pastry shop called Paris Baguette. The girls loved the pastry shop because you get your very own set of tongs to carry around the store and pick up things:


When we went up to the food court, we found it had a very funky setup – you order and pay in one single spot, and then you get a series of receipts for the different stalls from which you have ordered food. Each stall has a numerical display out front, and they post up your number when each thing is ready – for instance, our rice was #368 at one stall, and our dumplings were #524 at another place. Not your typical food court around here!

The girls were reluctant eaters, but eventually warmed up to the idea of trying some things:



We had some delightful fried chicken which had been doused with a sauce that was alternately sweet and spicy – this alone was enough to guarantee a return visit. Next time I’d like to do a little homework in advance and figure out some more things to try.

Take Your Children to Work Day

Yesterday I got to bring Nick and Maria to the office for our annual Take Your Children to Work Day. (Anna is still too young – SAP’s program starts around Maria’s age.) This was Maria’s first year, and Nick’s second. The folks who planned it did a fantastic job once again, and the kids had a great time.

Here is Nick sitting for lunch in our training area, in a spot I usually visit when I need a quiet place to sit and read things for work:


Nick and Maria had separate lunch times, so when Maria and I sat together, we sat outside. We have outdoor tables and chairs outside the cafeteria, and they just got them out this week. There was a special visitor in the cafeteria – the cow mascot from Chick-fil-A, known in my house (thanks to Anna) as “the Moo”:


Nick had a chance to catch up with the Moo as well:


We always have some special treats at the office for the big day. One of the things we saw this year was a Microsoft Surface, which is kind of like a cross between a coffee table and a computer. It has a touch screen, and you can play games on the surface of the table with multiple people playing at the same time. Nick, naturally, got in on the action:


I’m never quite sure how the kids interpret all of this. Do they think I spend my days in the office playing video games and visiting with the Moo? I can remember going to the office with my dad when I was a kid and reporting back that he spent his day talking on the phone and shredding things. He was an Enron executive. (Kidding!) In any case, Take Your Children to Work Day at SAP is a great day for the kids, and a lot of fun for the parents, too.

Day trip to NYC

This past Friday I took Chelsea up to New York City for a day trip to celebrate her birthday. My mom was kind enough to look after the kids for us after school and overnight, so we had a kid-free day and could come back as late as we wished. Super cool!

Chelsea’s first (and strangest) wish of the day was granted when our train turned out to have double decker passenger cars:


She was more excited about this than I would have imagined:


We started out the day with a visit to the International Center of Photography, a museum in midtown. Ironically, no photography allowed inside the museum:



Chelsea took some pictures of me outside as well… notice how the museum visit inspired much more of an artistic approach than my pedestrian documentary-style work:


We went next to Bryant Park to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. The weather in New York was just about perfect for our visit – about 72F/22C and gloriously sunny. We weren’t the only ones who thought sitting outside that day was a good idea:


For the aspiring fancy photographer, Bryant Park is a treasure trove of visually interesting things:




From the park we made our way down Sixth Avenue toward the Fashion District. My folks gave Chelsea some walking-around money to spend at Mood Fabric, the fabric store that the designers on the TV show Project Runway use. Before we reached Mood, we stopped in some amazing little specialty shops. My favorite was the trimming shop, which specializes only in trimming details that you would put on a piece of clothing:




We continued to snap pictures on the street in the manner of tourists, taking in the old buildings and any other interesting things we saw as we walked:




When we reached Mood, we were both stunned at the size and variety of what they had to offer. The place is completely overwhelming – three floors of fabric, each floor probably 5,000 square feet (550 square meters) and completely packed to the gills:






Some other tourists kindly took a picture of us:


We had dinner at VYNL, a fun restaurant we discovered on a prior visit. It was conveniently along the way from Mood to our evening engagement:




After dinner we went a few blocks further north to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, where we saw a performance of Ailey II, the “junior” company of dancers:


Chelsea by this point was done with being photographed:


The dance performance was wonderful, and afterward we walked back down Seventh Avenue through Times Square to make our way back to Penn Station and then home again. It was a wonderful day, and a great reminder that the big city is close and convenient enough for us to visit more often than we do. Hopefully we’ll be back there again soon.

Easter continued

Our Easter adventure continued with Mass at St. Vincent’s, followed by dinner with the Spergers and Kings at the home of my Uncle Mick and Aunt Pat. Here we are all together after Mass… we manage to get a complete family pic about twice a year these days:


Fake smiles all around on the kids:


Chelsea decided we should take some Easter pictures at home between Mass and dinner:




Anna finally gets the level of attention she believes that she deserves from her siblings:


We had a great time seeing the family at Easter dinner. Chels organized an Easter egg hunt for the younger kids. It was pretty windy outside… Maria doesn’t usually wear her hair like this:



We’re big on family togetherness in this tribe… this is my grandma with my cousin Dan, and Chelsea with Dan’s sister Colleen:



We’ll have the family together again in a couple weeks for Maria’s first Communion, and then again on Memorial Day for the traditional visit to the zoo. Summertime is just around the corner again….

Easter morning!

I’m in the happy position of having so many photos from the past couple weeks that it will take a few days of dedicated blogging to get through them all.

We had a delightful Easter morning in our house. In the past couple years we’ve decided to focus on giving the kids non-candy gifts in their baskets, and it’s been a fun challenge finding things that are fun, reasonably cheap, and small enough to fit in the basket. Chelsea came through as usual with some terrific ideas:


As the kids get older, we’re able to do Easter and Christmas later in the morning each year. In this picture you can see that Nicholas in particular would rather be back in bed:


Tearing into the baskets is always fun:





Thanks Easter Bunny!

Wayback machine: Mother’s Day 2003

I am not even 100% sure of what year it was, but we were at my grandparents’ house for Mother’s Day, and the kids were out playing in the backyard. I snapped this picture of Maria, and it has been one of my all-time favorites ever since:


There was frost on the grass this morning (sorry, Chels, life in the north is like that) and for whatever reason it made me think of this picture.

Speaking of Mother’s Day, we have established for ourselves a new tradition of taking weekend trips for the holiday, coming back home in time for the usual family celebration with the Spergers. This year we are going camping near the Delaware Water Gap on the New Jersey side. I’m taking a luxurious four-day long weekend for the occasion; we will leave Thursday after school and come back Sunday before the Sperger family get-together. We’re hoping for good weather!

Here comes the sun

And here comes our new garden! Last week Chels and her playgroup friends (who are just fabulous with us and with each other) started a vegetable garden on the southwest corner of our property, where the sun exposure is best.

Now, this is going to be just about the most exciting picture we will ever post on this blog. Are you sitting down? Here goes:


Okay, it’s a rectangle of dirt. Consider this the “before” picture – later in the season we’ll surely have some pictures of veggies and herbs sprouting to life.