Pix of the Year 2011: Yellowstone

We had to end here, didn’t we? This trip was a towering experience for us as a family. It’s one for the ages. To have such a gift of time together, in such an extraordinary place – that’s going to be something we all treasure for life.



The trip started out with some rough moments – frightening weather in the Badlands, Maria and then Nick falling ill, and a maddening first day in Yellowstone driving around in search of a campsite. It took the better part of a week for us to settle into the trip and get past those hurdles. And when we reached that point, it was well worth the effort.



All five of us stretched our horizons on that trip. We had new experiences and learned to trust ourselves, and each other.



On this last blogging day of 2011, I wish all of you great peace and happiness in your lives. I hope you enjoyed seeing this year through our eyes half as much as we enjoyed living it. And I hope we’ll see you back here in the new year.

Pix of the Year 2011: Time Together

Just as the kids seem to enjoy their time together, the Spergers seem to get on pretty well as a family. It’s always a pleasure to come together for a meal with the whole tribe, all 20+ of us jammed into somebody’s house. There’s a crowd in the kitchen, somebody is probably asleep in an easy chair in the living room, and Gramps is carving the turkey:


With the schedule we keep in our house, it’s hard enough just getting the five of us together. We’re conscious, too, of how the kids will start to feel the pull of their own independent lives away from us. That makes our family time today all the more special.



Tomorrow: Yellowstone.

Pix of the Year 2011: Personalities

It has always been my hope that these kids would not only love each other, in a dutiful way, but also enjoy each other’s company. We see plenty of signs that beyond the daily squabbles, true friendship is a reality for them:


We get such a kick out of watching their personalities emerge with each passing year. 2011 was a year in which we saw Anna become much more willing to reveal the sweetly goofy side of herself to other people:


Nicholas has managed to sail into the teenage years with an easy ability to make fun of himself:


And we’ve never doubted for a moment that Maria is bursting with a feisty, playful, loving sense of herself and others:


They’re having fun growing up, and we are enjoying the adventure right along with them.


Tomorrow: Time Together.

Pix of the Year 2011: Getting Older

If I could summarize this blog in two words, they would be: Time flies.

Some years, that’s more obvious than others. And with our kids, the passage of time as reflected in their faces has come in fits and starts. Nick sailed through several years with a slow progression of age, and then suddenly transformed into the young adult version of himself over the last 18 months.


Maria has been creeping up on us, and is probably due for her transformation in the next year or so.


The real revelation this year, though, was little Anna, who suddenly looked much older, and more sophisticated. The baby is nearly gone from this face:


Tomorrow: Personalities.

Pix of the Year 2011: Out In the World

One of the great things about running your own awards contest is that you can enjoy the certainty of it all. You get to make up the categories, and you know you’re always going to win.

In that spirit of modesty, this week we’re looking back at 2011 with some of my favorite pictures and moments from the year. We’ll start with the world tour.

I did a lot of traveling for work this year, and as a family we had our usual year full of adventures. One adventure stands above the rest, of course, and we’ll dig deeper into that one later this week. For today, here’s a look at all of the amazing other things we did and saw:

The Grand Canyon: Breathtaking. Visiting in January was a real blessing. We had the place to ourselves, and the air was beautifully crisp and clean.



Oktoberfest, Munich: A real treat. I had hoped to go the year prior, when my good friend Kurt went there for his bachelor party. Didn’t work out. Despite being a year late, I got a real kick out of the experience, and have never felt closer to my German roots.


PPL Park, Philadelphia: What a marvelous place to watch a soccer game. We attended several games, including the Union’s first-ever playoff appearance. We’ll be back for more next year.


Mexico City: An unexpected gift of a trip, off the beaten path. I’m eternally grateful to my work colleagues for insisting that we use a little bit of spare time to make a visit to Teotihuacan. The pyramids were amazing, to be sure, but this little bit of sun and stone made just as much of an impression on me.


The American West: I’m cheating here a little, since I’ve already said this is about our other trips. But this moment of twilight at Dornans Chuckwagon in the Tetons felt like a better fit with this category than with the other one. And it’s my own contest, so I consulted with myself and agreed that it was fine.


Tomorrow: Getting Older.

Wayback Machine: First Christmas

This one is already a favorite of mine. Here I am with my dad and Gramps, just one month old, at my first Christmas:


Two things about this picture. One, I still have a First Christmas ornament from that year, which hangs on our Christmas tree even now. Two, there’s a version of this picture somewhere in our files which is me, Dad, Gramps… and Nick. Four generations strong.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wayback Machine: Zoo Elephant

Those of you who have been reading this a while know that I’m pretty fierce about family traditions. One of our longstanding traditions was going to the Philadelphia Zoo on Memorial Day – something which first came about in a fluky way, and then became an annual milestone. We’ve stopped going in recent years, but we had a pretty good streak running for maybe 30 years.

There’s a statue near the main entrance of two elephants, a mother and child, standing together. We used to take our picture at the statue every year. This is one of the first years:


Chelsea, my Mom, and Kate conspired a couple years ago to make me a book of Zoo Elephant pictures from over the years. (I think Grandma got in on it too.) It lives in a place of honor on my bookshelf at home. That book is one of the sweetest gifts I have ever received.

Wayback Machine: Long, long ago

My folks gave me a laundry basket full of random things of mine they found while cleaning out the attic. There are some rolls of pictures from high school and college, which are a hoot. I also found a photo album that my Grandma kept from when I was born until I reached high school.

First up: My school picture from 1st or 2nd grade, in which I am sadly wearing the same haircut I had until about five years ago. I’ve also got a pen in my shirt pocket, which hints at the proto-nerd tendencies that were already brewing in that bowl-cut head.


You don’t believe me about the hair, do you? Well, let’s look all the way back to the tender age of 18 months:


I have to apologize for the small size of these pictures – I did something wrong in scanning them and they came out much smaller than I expected. I’ll see if I can straighten that out.

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

Chelsea sent me out with the kids to get a Christmas tree this weekend. This was a terrifying experience. Not being out with the kids, mind you – that part was fun. No, the scary bit was trying to pick a tree in Chelsea’s absence. It’s like your driver license test and the finale of Project Runway all wrapped into one.

Fortunately, the kids were more than up to the challenge:


Maria picked out the tree – a good call, since she could telepathically bring us Chelsea’s sense of style.


I love the sight of a Christmas tree up on the van. I gave some thought to buying a second one and leaving it up there for a couple weeks, just to hold on to that Christmas spirit.


Happy Monday, everybody! Six days to Christmas….

Wayback Machine: Christmas 2008

We complete our look back at recent Christmases past with 2008, the first year we started writing the family blog. Way back then, it was Maria, not Anna, who was appearing on stage as an Angel:

Maria as an angel

Maria had a double role in The Nutcracker that year, serving as a Solider also:

Soldier with flourish

Anna was still sliding around in footie pajamas in those days:

Anna on Christmas morning

Nick could match Anna watt for watt in the smiles department:

Nick on Christmas morning

And Miss Maria was delighted to find a bike with gears waiting for her on Christmas morning:

Maria gets a bike with gears

We gave Nick a set of small screwdrivers, just to see how he would react. He did not disappoint:

Screwdrivers?  You gave me screwdrivers?

The next day, we took the kids out for a hike along the Wissahickon creek so we could expend some of that leftover Christmas energy in the woods:

Three amigos

Nick takes a moment to rest

It’s great fun to look back and see the kids getting older, taller, and more capable right before our eyes.

Happy weekend!