Kids in a pile, and a summer hiatus

Nick and Anna got the idea the other day to pile up all of the blankets and pillows in the house… guess who was at the bottom of that pile:


That’s right, Maria! The missing kid from all our photos. Maybe that’s where she was the whole time….

Gentle readers, I want to let you know that I’m going to be taking a break from blogging for the month of August. There are two reasons. One, we’re going to take some vacation during the month, so my posting would be sporadic under the best of circumstances. Two, and even more important, I need to build up my backlog of photos!

Being a little bit “behind” in the photostream gives me a lot more flexibility with each daily post – longer vs. shorter, for instance, which is influenced by the rest of my schedule for the day. We anticipate making a lot of memories during the last whole month of summer, and that will generate a ton of new photos.

So this is not a permanent goodbye, merely a “see you again soon”, and I expect to be back in the swing of posting in the first week of September.

Have a great summer!

B Champs revisited

I was able to grab some more photos from Chelsea’s camera, so I have a fresh round of pictures from the kids’ B Champs swim meet that took place last week:






We are bursting at the seams with pride for our kids, none of whom have really been natural swimmers at the start. They are working with grit and determination to figure it all out, and I love them for it.

Lazy days, few and far between

In case you hadn’t noticed, we keep a busy schedule during the summertime. Even so, we occasionally get the opportunity to hang out at the pool and do some swimming:



The weather in Philadelphia finally turned hot and sticky – not what we wanted, necessarily, but certainly what we expect for July. Truth be told, it’s just more fun to go to the pool when it’s hot outside! And in the same vein, we’re looking forward to some time at the beach in a few weeks, hoping we get another good year of warm, sunny days and just-right water conditions.

Jonas Brothers concert!

Who are the Jonas Brothers?

That was the question on our minds Friday afternoon when my dad called. He had some tickets available to a Jonas Brothers concert that evening. Would we like to go? Pretty much all we knew was that the Jonas Brothers are a product of the Disney empire and are very, very popular with pre-teen girls. Our pre-teen girl and her older brother were each already committed to other plans for the evening, and we had been casting about for something to do with Anna. A concert? Why not?

We decided to take one of Anna’s friends with us, a dear little boy we know from our swim club. His mom dropped him off to us and we were soon on our way:


Traffic was heavy in town – there was a Phillies game starting at the same time. By the time we made it to our seats, one of the opening acts was already on stage:


The show was sold out, so the arena was packed to the gills, and it was LOUD:


The music itself actually wasn’t too loud – I’ve been to concerts at the Wachovia Center before which were absolutely painful. No, the loudness was supplied by the crowd. In between acts, there was a feature where you could send a text message to be displayed on the big screens over the stage. Pretty much all of the messages looked like this:


Every time a new message came up, there was a new round of screaming. And by the time we got to the main event, the excitement in the crowd had gone far beyond a fever pitch. Here’s a brief video clip to give you a sense… make sure your speakers are not turned up too loudly before you play this:

My hearing was completely shot when we got out of there.

Jordin Sparks, formerly of American Idol, was one of the opening acts, and she put on a very energetic set:


As for the main event, well, they were pretty lively too:




Anna and her friend had a fabulous time, despite the fact that they didn’t know any of the songs… indeed, we were probably the four most clueless and unaware people in the whole place that night. We do know that there are three Jonas Brothers, they are all fairly musical guys, and they’ve put out two platinum-selling albums of up-tempo pop/rock songs. We also know that next time they come to town, we’re bringing earplugs.


A footnote: When we had gone into the concert, there were two dads who were tailgating in the parking lot. Presumably their wives and daughters were inside at the show. When we left, they were still out there, tossing a football back and forth in the blissfully quiet parking lot. An idea to remember for future teenybopper events….

“He became a swimmer this year”

The kids had their end-of-year swim team party earlier this week, and we’d received some advance warning that Nick might be getting an award. (The warning went like this: “Make sure Nick is there, and you should bring a camera.”) Sure enough, the coaches presented Nick with the Most Improved Swimmer award, which has been presented annually for many years at our swim club, and is named for a young man who gave all his heart to the team before his untimely passing.

Our young man was beaming all night:

Nick with his award

It was such a joy to see him win! For one thing, he couldn’t stop smiling. He posed proudly for a lot of pictures with the other award winners, and at home in his room right now he has a little shrine he’s created with his award, some ribbons he won at events this season, and some team memorabilia. Nick is competitive, and when he finally started tasting success this year, he got hooked.

I asked him the other night if he planned to swim again next year, and without hesitation he said, “Yes.”

One more thing – the swim season here is pretty short, and from the first meet to the last is only about 5-6 weeks’ time. Nick took about seven seconds off his freestyle time during that stretch, and he took about six seconds off his breaststroke time. He’s going to be absolutely dangerous in the water when he starts to grow some more.

Many thanks to Kate for (unwittingly) providing today’s picture; I have been trying to catch up with Chelsea all week for a picture exchange, and it never happened, so I, um, borrowed this picture from Kate’s Facebook album. Thanks and sorry, sis.

End of the swim season

This week the kids are wrapping up their swim team season, which is a sure sign that we’re on the home stretch of our summer. The final meet for my kids is B Champs, an all-day affair at one of the swim clubs in our league. Here’s another look at Anna in the water for her first-ever swim meet, last week:


We have some great photos of the swim team award ceremony the other night, and I need to grab those from Chelsea’s computer. Soon, gentle readers, soon….

Birthday at the racetrack


On Saturday we had a family outing to Philadelphia Park Racetrack, a horse track about 20-30 minutes from our house. My dad used to go with his friends when he was a young buck, and to honor him on his birthday we had his party out there.

Philadelphia Park has a picnic grove for families, and it’s a great deal – free admission, covered tables and pavilions, and a nearby pavilion for wagering. They even have a nice playground for kids:



We brought hoagies (sandwiches), cake, snacks, and drinks for everyone. The weather turned out to be just perfect, and we had a great time all around.

Here we are by the finish line – this is me, my dad, his dad, and my kids:


I took an opportunity to snap a picture with my godparents… not sure where betting on horses fits in with my spiritual development:


Gramps wants to go out to the track again later this season… I think we’ll have plenty of takers on a repeat.

How does our garden grow? Very nicely

With all of the rain we’ve had this season, it turned out to be a very good year to start a new garden. In recent weeks we’ve enjoyed an abundance of leafy salad, and we’ve started to get some tomatoes, too:


We’ve accidentally picked a couple of our carrots, thinking they were weeds in the garden, and those are coming along nicely. We’re hoping for some peppers and some herbs from our herb garden, too.

Anna Week: The big swim

The biggest moment of Anna Week, even bigger than the first tooth, came on Monday, when she swam in her first-ever swim meet. Not only did she swim in a meet for the first time, she also swam the length of the pool without stopping or touching the wall for the first time. It was a crowning achievement after her first summer on the swim team.





She repeated her performance at our last regular-season meet just last night, making this a fitting moment to wrap up Anna Week. I’ll have to see if we can gin up enough pictures of the other two characters to stage a Nick or Maria Week.

Anna Week: Out at the park (again!)

Anna and I had occasion to visit another local playground the other night, while big brother Nick had soccer practice. I used to visit this park when I was just a pup, so it was fun to see how it has changed over the years. Anna and I climbed everything there was to climb. Here she is during a break in the action:


I think I’ve mentioned recently that the weather here has been just spectacular of late. This was another routine July evening for us – sunny, beautiful puffy clouds overhead, low humidity, gentle breeze. We turned on the air conditioning today because it got warmer and humid with a front passing through, and it was the first time in three weeks that we’d run the A/C. Lovely.