Peace, music, and dancing

Miss Maria is fast approaching her birthday, and over the weekend we had a family dinner for the girls so we could celebrate both of their big days at the same time. Maria got some clothes that suit her beautifully, including this Woodstock T-shirt from her Grandma:

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Our girl is turning 10 this week – amazing! She’s getting so big so fast. Did I mention yet that she made the cast of The Nutcracker once again this year? Auditions were over the weekend. Maria will be a soldier, like last year, but she hung up her angel wings because she’s now too tall for the job. In the next few years she’ll have chances to be a Party Girl (ha), a Polichinelle, or one of the supporting roles in the Land of Sweets. Lots of possibilities. Meantime, it will be good to see her back in uniform:

Soldier with flourish

End of the summer visit to Smith Playground

Just before the start of the school year. Chels and the kids went with Maria’s old playgroup for a visit to Smith Playground in the city. I’ve never been myself, but apparently it’s a great old mansion that has been fitted out as a giant indoor playground, with another huge playground outside. There is a big wooden slide in the house, and every time I see pictures of it I wish I’d taken the day off and tagged along:

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I think this is actually a merry-go-round, believe it or not:

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And no playground would be complete without a jungle gym of some kind:

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Between Franklin Square, Smith Playground, and the Castle Park out in Doylestown, there really are some great parks around here.

Back again!

Blog friends, thanks so much for your patience. I had a bit of personal business to attend over the last 10 days. It went well, and now I’m back in business.

Exciting things have been afoot in the Sperger house. With the return of the school year, everybody is back into their routine. And with each passing year, the kids get better and better at the things they do.

Take, for instance, young Anna. Last year she started playing soccer, following in her siblings’ footsteps. It was a slow start, very tentative, but she really started to enjoy it as the season went on. This year, she has hit the ground running. On Sunday she scored two goals in the first half of her soccer match, then went on to turn in a great performance as goalie in the second half.

Here she is waiting for the kickoff:

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I wasn’t fast enough to catch the goals on camera, alas. But I can tell you that she dinged one of them off the left post, and the other one was just a straight line drive past the goalie. She and one of her teammates are both the younger sisters of soccer fanatics, and it shows.

Here is Anna at halftime, waiting for her stint in goal to get underway:

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What’s all that marking on her face, you ask? It’s a face painting of a dolphin that she got when she went to the aquarium on Saturday with one of her friends:

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One of the other parents pointed out that Anna had such a good game yesterday that she’ll need to paint her face every week now, for luck!

It’s always a delight to see the kids in their element. Watching Anna dribble upfield, running away from defenders, was like a preview of things to come.

Back after these messages

Gentle readers, I regret to tell you that I will be away from the blog for a few days starting on Friday. I need to look after some personal business, and it’s likely to interrupt my blogging schedule.

In the meantime, I realize I overlooked the beach portraits that Chelsea took of our kids last month. I can’t do justice to them here, but this is a representative sample:

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I also loved this picture of my paternal grandparents, who came down to the promenade most nights around sunset to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of the ocean:

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I only wish we had more than a week to spend together. We all live around the corner from each other, to be sure, but it’s not the same the rest of the year. The working folks have their jobs, the kids have their activities, and life sails along. At the beach, we have time to enjoy each other fully.

Back soon, faithful readers!

Crop circles

We’ve had a ton of rain this year. Seems like every week of the summer we had a three-day deluge, and as a consequence, our grass is still growing in September as if it were May.

With my frequent mowing schedule, I’ve decided to spice up the job a little bit, and I’ve started trying to mow the main part of our yard in the shape of a crop circle. There’s a tree in our yard that I use as the center of the circle, and then I go around it in ever-widening loops until I reach the sidewalk.

This picture doesn’t do it justice, alas, but maybe you can see a little bit of how it’s going:

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Next summer I may have to try a labyrinth.

Wayback machine: July 2004

One of the great joys when we moved to our current neighborhood was finding that folks were running a block party on our street every year. We actually stopped doing it a few years ago because the volunteer support petered out, but in its heyday the block party was a solid day of fun for everybody in the family, and it was literally on our doorstep.

I found some pictures in our photo archive from 2004, one of the peak years of the block party. Here I am in front of our house with young Anna… can’t say why neither of us decided to smile for the picture:

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I also look at that picture and think, “Hedges! We used to have hedges around our yard!” It’s been a few years now.

Nick got picked out of the crowd during a magic show to serve as a helper for the magician. Nick isn’t kneeling in these pictures… he’s just five years old:

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Then we have miss Maria, who was entranced with all of the girly options at the party – face painting, flowers made of balloons, and hula skirts made of plastic grass:

Maria Face Paint

Maria Balloon

Two funny stories about the block party.

First, we had a noise complaint come in one year because the DJ was playing his music pretty loudly. The funny thing is that the complaint came from a homeowner nearly a mile (1.6 km) away from our street. The sound of the party was carrying out from the neighborhood and across a valley, and apparently the folks on the other side of the valley could hear the music plain as day.

Second, every year the more boisterous partygoers would bring fireworks to set off at night in the intersection at the far end of the block relative to our house. One year we woke up the next morning to start cleaning up and found a Roman candle, previously lit but unexploded, in the bushes in front of our house. I can only guess that it misfired and landed there instead of exploding in the sky. I’m pretty grateful it didn’t set our house on fire.

(Okay, that second story wasn’t quite funny.)

We miss the annual block party now, but at the time it was an ideal way for us to get to know our neighbors, and it’s nice to be able to greet people by name when we pass on the street. Looking at the kids in these pictures, I simply can’t get over how much they’ve grown in five years’ time.

Franklin Square and Old City

We had another chance to visit Franklin Square this summer, at the very end of the season – the occasion was a visit from Chelsea’s cousins. We didn’t play mini golf this time, but we rode the carousel and made a complete circuit of the excellent playground:

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We also took in the Liberty Bell, and briefly swung through the Betsy Ross House as well as Franklin Court:

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We love it when visitors come to town – it’s our best shot at seeing everything in the city!

Back in the home office again

Since we’ve been home from all of our travel adventures, I’ve had a few opportunities to work from my beloved home office. And since the kids just started back to school this week, I had a few little invaders coming into the office now and then during the last couple weeks. (Regular readers will note this is a recurring theme for me.)

Here is Nick, stroking his imaginary beard:

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And then we have Anna, the reigning queen of office invasion, looking too cute to shoo away:

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This one wasn’t in my office, but it cracks me up every time. If you walk up to Nick these days and tell him to hide, this is what he does:

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It’s a hoot to see an older kid playing with a younger kid’s notion of how the world works. (Toddlers often “hide” like this because they think if they can’t see you, you can’t see them….)

Soccer time

We kicked off our soccer season this past weekend, with Nick playing in a soccer tournament a few towns away from us. Anna is playing in her second season, and this is probably Nick’s eighth or ninth year on the ball.

Anna is a funny duck, and she doesn’t like people calling attention to her. (“Stop talking about me!” is one of her favorite refrains. If only she knew about this blog….) So when I started snapping pictures of her at practice the other night, she gave me the stink eye:

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My favorite thing about soccer season is the way it gets started – pulling out the folding chairs, last used at the beach, and dumping a pile of Jersey shore sand on the sideline.

Small town, big surf

We saw some excellent waves at the beach this year. Here’s Nick getting acquainted with several tons of salt water:

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With three kids now on the swim team and showing a healthy interest in self-preservation, taking everybody in the water is a much more relaxing experience.

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I’ve mentioned previously that the water was very warm that week… warm enough to entice my mom, a lifelong toe-dipper, into the waves:

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Anna is still wary enough of the ocean to spend her time either building sand castles or looking for shells along the water’s edge:

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The waves got rougher over the course of the week, as Hurricane Bill worked his way up the coast. By Saturday, the beach was pretty well deserted, except for some hardy surfers:

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