A walk in the woods

On New Year’s Day, we went out for a hike at Valley Forge, where George Washington’s army famously encamped and nearly froze to death during the winter of 1777-78. The weather was gentler to us – though it was cloudy, temperatures were around 50F/10C.

100_4947

100_4945

100_4944

100_4950

As usual, we had our extra kid with us:

100_4954

100_4949

Though we didn’t take much of the formal tour – the buildings seemed to be closed because of the holiday anyway – we really enjoyed getting out for some fresh air and some beautiful views of the winter wilderness.

100_4962

Never stop dancing

Just when we thought we could get back to our regular schedule with Maria, she was invited on short notice to participate in a dance competition later this month. Her school is performing a Mazurka ensemble dance, and our girl has been asked to get ready as a possible alternate for someone who may not be able to participate in the competition.

0106111745b

0106111745a

This has been a good test of Maria’s ability to learn a dance quickly. The rest of the ensemble has been rehearsing this dance for several months; Maria has about four weeks to get ready. So far, she’s doing well.

Christmas morning

We had a lovely, quiet Christmas this year. As usual, Nick very sweetly had the girls in to sleep in his loft bed for Christmas Eve night:

100_4933

We wrapped the doorway to the living room so that little eyes would wait for Mom and Dad to wake up before attacking their presents… we couldn’t find enough wrapping paper, so we used kraft paper for the job this year, lending the holiday an industrial flair:

100_4935

100_4936

My folks and my sister came over for the festivities, still dressed in their jammies:

100_4940

100_4937

The kids had their usual great time opening gifts and putting together, um, memorable fashion statements:

100_4941

100_4942

We enjoyed a Christmas breakfast this year with my folks and Kate because Mom had to work at the hospital Christmas night, and would miss out on dinner. In the afternoon, we continued on to my aunt Mary Jean’s house for Christmas dinner and presents with the Spergers.

The Borrowers

During winter break, Maria took one of her best girlfriends to see a theater show to celebrate her friend’s birthday. They went to see The Borrowers, a show for kids that was playing last month at the Arden Theatre in the city:

100_4927

After the matinee, they went to one of our favorite restaurants in town, a place called Jones:

100_4928

Maria gets precious few chances to socialize during her winter break, because of Nutcracker, so it was a real treat for her to go out on the town one evening.

New Year’s Eve soccer tournament

Anna had her first-ever indoor soccer tournament on the morning of New Year’s Eve:

Anna indoor soccer tournament

She had a good time, but was pretty tired because we had Cousin Night the night before. Her team tied one game and lost the other three games they played. Since we got used to hauling home trophies in the outdoor season this autumn, the final standings were a bit of a letdown. Even so, they’ve got a great core group of girls who are turning out for tournament events, so we can probably look forward to watching this crowd play together for years to come.

Happy new year!

We hope your holidays were full of joy, and that your new year will bring health and happiness to you.

We had a busy winter break, running Maria to Nutcracker and getting ready for Christmas. As usual, Anna and I got some chances to hang out… here we are at a barbecue restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia:

downsized_1229101530

The kids are back to school today, and I have one last vacation day before heading back to work. I’m going to do some exciting things today, like… running some donations to the thrift store.