Back from Florida!

Hello, and happy belated Thanksgiving!

Just 10 days ago, Chels and I bolted town in advance of the kids to spend a few kid-free days on the Florida beaches before meeting up with the kids, my folks, and my sister Kate at Disney World. I’ll warn you that just on my own I have over 900 pictures from the trip, and I haven’t even checked on Chelsea’s memory card yet. So it’s going to be all Florida, all the time for a few days around here.


Today I’ll give you a quick outline of the itinerary, and then over the rest of the week I’ll review each day in detail. We flew from Philly to Tampa on the evening of the 20th, and then drove to the island town of Boca Grande, about two hours south of Tampa, not far from Fort Myers. There we met up with our friends Ginger and Richard, who had also ditched their kids for the weekend. A relative of theirs has a beachfront condo on Boca Grande, so as you can imagine we tolerated the squalor as best we could.


We spent Friday and Saturday nights on Boca Grande, and then parted company with Ginger and Richard when they had to go back to Tampa for work and the kids. Chels and I then went on to spend two nights on Siesta Key, which is also on the Gulf of Mexico coast and roughly halfway between Boca Grande and Tampa. Siesta Key is directly adjacent to Sarasota. We endured further deprivation there as we stayed in a resort about 100 yards from the beach.


Tuesday morning we woke up terribly, terribly early and drove up to Tampa, where we collected Ginger and Richard’s daughters, who are the same ages as Nick and Maria. We then trooped up to Disney to meet up with the rest of the Sperger tribe and to spend the day at Epcot. We got rained on a bit, but we had a nice time. The girls stayed with us Tuesday night and then Richard picked them up Wednesday morning.


Wednesday we went to Sea World, which I hadn’t done since I was 10 years old. It poured rain all day, so we nearly had the place to ourselves.


Thursday the rain cleared out and we had a good Thanksgiving, starting out at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). We went to dinner at a restaurant in the Contemporary Resort and then spent a late evening at the Magic Kingdom, which was open until midnight.


Friday it was time for us to go home. Chels and I drove back down to Tampa, had lunch with Ginger, and hopped on our flight home. The rest of the gang came home Saturday afternoon.

More to come! Stay tuned.

Hey now, you’re an all star

We’ve mentioned before that Anna has been having a pretty good season. Last night at her end of the year party, she got some validation of that from somebody not named Sperger. Her coach recognized her as the top player of the year from her team:


Anna was enormously pleased and excited, but I think Nick was even happier about it than Anna, if that’s possible. He was bursting with pride for his little sister! And yes, maybe even faintly worried about how they’re going to match up on the field in a few years, once she catches up with him height-wise.

Paging Nurse Joan

This is a public service announcement: My mom got a JOB. A nursing job, in neurology. Congratulations Mom!

Let’s have a look all the way back to September, when that fresh young thing was receiving her nursing degree:

Kodak C180 Summer 2009 216

If you live in our area and decide to have a stroke on a weekend or holiday, my mom will be there to look after you.

Star light, star bright

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a Christmas star that they would put up on the roof of their house every winter. It had been around for a long time – surely since before I was born – and it was lit up with those wonderful old-style big white bulbs. It was a simple, beautiful decoration, and I adored it.

My grandfather stopped putting up the star several years ago, and unfortunately he also got rid of it before we had a chance to stage a rescue.

No matter!

Last year Chelsea gave me a Christmas star of my own. This is the first season we’ve had an opportunity to hang it up, and it looks fantastic:

Neue Stern 2009 001

Neue Stern 2009 002

We had originally planned to hang it from our chimney, on the other side of the house. This placement was Maria’s idea – she said we wouldn’t see it much on the other side of the house (which is true), and that we should hang it so that we see it every day. Smart girl.

Wayback machine: Princess Maria, 2005

With our upcoming trip south, I have been looking through our archives to see what I have on hand from the trip my folks took with the kids over Thanksgiving in 2005. It was just Nick and Maria that time, since Anna was still pretty young. I haven’t found much in the archives yet, but I did come across our glamour queen posing for a fashion shoot back in her princess days:


I also found this photo of Nick in full Eagles regalia. Normally I clean up red eye in these pictures, but this time it seems to fit:


Look at that innocent young face and remember that this was the same year in which the Eagles had gone to the Super Bowl in Jacksonville. He has no idea that he’s poised to watch four anguished years of almost-greatness….

Sun and sky


A week from today, Chels and I leave for Florida for a week’s vacation. The kids are traveling, too – taking a weeklong trip with my folks to visit a certain world-famous set of attractions in central Florida. We’ll be kid-free for four nights at the beach and then we’ll meet up with the gang for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Meantime, it’s another gray November day in Philadelphia. That’s okay by me – work is fun right now, everyone is healthy for the moment, and we have some groovy weekend plans. Life is good!

Our poor scarecrows

It was a rough year for our kids and scarecrows. At home, we got a bale of hay and some old clothes to make a scarecrow, but it rained so much in October that the kids never got a chance to finish their work. We never had time on the nice days, and on days with free time it rained. Working with a wet scarecrow is not much fun.

The kids got to make scarecrows at school, and we had a great time doing it:



We helped out on this one, which is wearing a prom dress and a cape, carrying roses:


Sort of a “bride of scarecrow” theme.

You’ll notice this was a rare convergence of all three kids, including the tiny dancer:


There was only one hitch in the whole production. Each year the kids’ school organizes a night to make scarecrows, and then they display the scarecrows all over campus, including several along the road in front of the school. The night we put up the scarecrows, several of them were stolen. Stolen!

It’s a scandal.

At last: Nick in costume

Young man said he wanted to be a big fluffy teddy bear for Halloween. Chelsea worked heroically to make it happen, and as they came down the home stretch, the two of them decided that Nick was looking more like an Ewok than a bear. So they went with it:


Anna went a different, and even funnier, route. She told us she wanted to be a dog for Christmas. Chelsea bought a couple of starting materials for the costume but didn’t go any further; in her defense, it was still September. One day around then Anna went on a playdate to a friend’s house and came home with this costume. Let me be plain about this: The six-year-old went out and got her own costume.


That’s life as the third kid – have to do everything for yourself.

More pictures from Anna’s tournament

I’m catching up with Chelsea’s photo archive, so I have a few more pictures to share from Anna’s soccer tournament weekend before last.




We learned that a U-8 girls’ tournament is different from Nick’s tournaments in a couple of important ways. For instance, rather than watch the game, the substitute players on the sideline like to spend their time finding worms:


Picking up and tickling the subs is also permissible:


In fact, an air of general goofiness prevails:


You can also coax the grandparents out for a first-ever tournament:


Not much soccer left this season! Anna might play in another tournament, but we’re not sure yet. All depends on the weather, I reckon.

Winding down the soccer season

Nick and Anna are a couple weeks away from wrapping up their club soccer season, and Nick has just finished with his middle school soccer season. Anna will probably be done until next fall, while Nick will pick up indoor soccer over the winter.

After a lot of postponed games because of bad weather in October, we are watching a lot of soccer now, and we’ve been fortunate to have a few really lovely days to be outside watching the beautiful game. Here is Nick matching up on defense during one of his club matches:






Another shot of our man on the move:


As Nick goes deeper into his focus on defensive and midfield play, Anna is turning out to be a goal scorer par excellence. She has scored about ten goals so far this season with 3-4 games left to play. Very exciting!