Programming Note: Love to eat turkey

Gentle readers, last year on Thanksgiving, my crew was dancing in a street party, learning how to draw like an animator, and performing in a High School Musical show. Thanksgiving this year will be a little quieter for us. Blog posts will resume the Monday after Thanksgiving. In the meantime, all the best to you for a healthy and happy holiday.


One other note – today is the day when the John Spergers first traveled down to Florida back in 1986 to visit my uncle Mick, who was living in St. Petersburg at the time. That was 24 years ago! Amazing.

Wayback Machine: November 2009

It was just about this time last year that we were enjoying a dose of Florida sunshine before the epic winter that lay ahead of us. Look at all of us in our T-shirts and shorts!







It occurs to me as I write this that we have the same abrupt transition coming up that we do in the springtime. In a matter of a few weeks in March, we go from piles of snow to very warm weather. Likewise, in the next few weeks we will go from reasonably warm weather to the strong cold of wintertime. In most of the last ten years, Philadelphia has seen its first accumulating snow of the winter on or about December 5th.

Here’s hoping we get some great sledding weather for the toboggan and for Kate’s new snow tube, followed by another nice warm spring. As Chelsea likes to say, if it’s going to be cold, it might as well snow. And there’s no need for the cold to linger as soon as the snow is done for the season.

Another weekend, another trophy

Anna’s tournament team played their second and final tournament of the season this past weekend. We really lucked out with the weather – it was sunny and 65F/18C, and we even got to enjoy the advantage of having afternoon games rather than morning games. The tournament was smartly organized around morning and afternoon groups.

Here’s our girl in motion, with her back to the camera, getting ready to take a shot on goal:


In a quieter moment on the field, she was apparently thinking about flying:


The three games she played were back-to-back-to-back, another nice convenience from the thoughtful organizers of the tournament. There was very little downtime off the field for the girls.


Anna’s team won two games and lost the third, which was good enough for third place in this tournament. That actually meant she got a medal, not a trophy. Even so, she was happy – last week she was disappointed that the trophy was made out of plastic, not metal. This week’s medal was at least made from metal>.



Maria’s ballet rehearsal was cancelled for the day, so we actually had all five of us out there on the field.


After the tournament, we met up with my folks, my sister, and my Dad’s parents for dinner to celebrate my birthday. It was a fine ending to a great afternoon out in the sunshine.

Wayback Machine: December 2008

Almost two years ago, Nick and his friends were wrapping up their FIRST Lego League competition prep, which included a visit with our state representative, Josh Shapiro:

Josh Shapiro with the FLL Team

Josh was at the kids’ school for a visit with Maria’s class on Friday. I don’t have any pictures of the visit yet, but I thought it was funny that two of my three kids have now taken a meeting with him. Anna is presumably holding out until she has a multi-million dollar budget request for the legislature.

Also, it’s funny to compare the Nick of two years ago with the Nick of today:


You can see his face lengthening out and changing. Yikes. These kids are getting big.

Campioni del mundo! Sort of.

With a win against their fiercest rivals this past weekend, Nick’s soccer team is poised to complete their club season with a perfect 10-0-0 record. The last match of the season is tomorrow, against an opponent they already beat once this season. While you should never count your chickens before they’re hatched, this season has already been a remarkable one for Nick and the boys. Here’s another look back at their tournament win in October, and the big honkin’ trophy that came with it:


Nick’s team allowed two goals in Saturday’s match, but before that had gone 3+ games without allowing a single goal. Very impressive.

Happy weekend to all!

Give that girl a trophy!

Anna had her first soccer tournament of the season this past Sunday. (I say first, only because there are two.) The day was bright, windy, and cold as the girls warmed up before their first match:



On the sidelines during the match, the girls huddled under blankets to stay warm:


Nick and I fell into a nice routine of running onto the field during halftimes and between matches so that he could take shots on goal, with me serving as the goalie. I don’t mind telling you that I can stop a lot of shots when the goal is only as tall as I am, and less than half the width of an adult-sized regulation goal.



Anna’s team won two of their games, and lost the third in a close 1-0 finish. Those results were good enough for second place in their bracket. Trophy time!





Girlfriend then had to run back to catch the second half of her club team match. Because she’s tough like that.


I’m still defrosting from all that time out in the wind. And it’s only November….

Autumn hike on Appalachian Trail

So your kid comes to you and says, “I need to get some video of us out hiking as a family for a school project.” You might think, hey, there are some nice parks within a fifteen-minute drive of our place.

You would obviously not be a Sperger.

This past Saturday, we found a pocket of time in between our usual commitments and ran up to Hamburg, Pennsylvania for a quick hike on the Appalachian Trail. The weather was alternately sunny and cloudy, and breezy, with temperatures hovering in the 50F/10C range.


We have reached the time of year when Maria will be making only cameo appearances on the blog, thanks to her frenetic ballet schedule, but we were fortunate to have her with us on this day:


I believe you are already acquainted with our regular cast members:



Believe it or not, that’s a video camera Nick is holding in his hand. Will wonders never cease?

Chelsea scheduled the hike and found a spot where we could go for a walk on the Trail in a reasonable amount of time:


We hiked to the top of a ridge, which only took us about 40 minutes:




That left us with some time for horsing around on the ridgeline for a bit before we had to head back down:



It was a fine idea, and we should do it more often.

Trick or treat

We had a grand time on Halloween this year, despite the fact that the weather turned seasonally cold, and the holiday fell on a Sunday evening. These two things together seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of the trick or treating crowd a little bit. Even so, we gave out over 180 pieces of candy at our house.

Here’s our gang with some friends who came along for trick or treating:


Nick’s costume was the highlight of the season. Nick was a Rubik’s Cube, and the layers of the cube actually rotated, an engineering tour de force that is just one more accomplishment in Chelsea’s long career as Best Mom in Town:


Vegetables: Interview with John McPhee

One of my very favorite writers in the world is an essayist named John McPhee, who has been writing for the New Yorker for over 40 years now. I just re-read one of his collections, Uncommon Carriers, and so I was delighted to read a lengthy interview with him in the Paris Review. (No, I do not subscribe to such a highfalutin publication. I happened to see the interview mentioned elsewhere.)

I knew this already, but I was reminded again that the eminent Mr. McPhee is just around the corner from me – he lives and works in Princeton, and he still teaches a seminar in nonfiction writing at the university. Oh, how I would like to take that class! He’s 79 years old, and I’m going to have to win the lottery pretty soon in order to make that happen. I should be paying closer attention to see if he does any lectures in town there.

My very favorite part of the interview was this (emphasis mine):

“It may sound like I’ve got some sort of formula by which I write. Hell, no! You’re out there completely on your own — all you’ve got to do is write. OK, it’s nine in the morning. All I’ve got to do is write. But I go hours before I’m able to write a word. I make tea. I mean, I used to make tea all day long. And exercise, I do that every other day. I sharpened pencils in the old days when pencils were sharpened. I just ran pencils down. Ten, eleven, twelve, one, two, three, four — this is every day. This is damn near every day. It’s four-thirty and I’m beginning to panic. It’s like a coiling spring. I’m really unhappy. I mean, you’re going to lose the day if you keep this up long enough. Five: I start to write. Seven: I go home. That happens over and over and over again. So why don’t I work at a bank and then come in at five and start writing? Because I need those seven hours of gonging around. I’m just not that disciplined. I don’t write in the morning — I just try to write.”

The procrastinator in me is always deeply happy to read things like this.

Your regular programming of cute kid pictures will resume shortly.