Just got back from a week in DC with the family. It was a very nice quasi-vacation. We stayed at the company condo (a bit cramped but great location and the girls loved it). We did quite a lot. We spent Saturday at the Air and Space museum downtown — they were having a kite special event, so the girls got to make and color their own kites, and watch kite dancing events, and all kinds of stuff in addition to the usual neat stuff at that museum. Unfortunately I forgot to bring the camera, so no pics of that visit.
Lots of pics of the next few days, tho. We had a nice breakfast with Lunn’s parents and some of his cousins. The girls got to meet Rose, their 18 mos. old new little cousin, and her mom Becky and her husband. Another one of Lunn’s cousins, Niles and his wife, were able to join us as well. It was a very nice visit. After that, and after a detour to the playground to let the girls burn off all the energy from behaving well at the restaurant, we went over to my friend Lynch’s house for a nice bar-b-que and visit with him, his wife and two boys, and of course their dog. The girls very much enjoyed playing with all the boys’ toys, and even condescended to play with the boys themselves from time to time.
The next day we went to the Reston Zoo, which we’d been told was a good petting zoo. It actually turned into one of those "good but totally not in the way you intended" kind of trips. The place itself was overpriced and an absolute tourist trap. The girls learned some interesting lessons, tho — like how to project physical dominance to scare off the omnipresent ducks, swans and geese chasing them looking for food. But Jenya got to pet a bunny (actually several bunnies), which made her week — and they all got pony rides, which they enjoyed.
We capped off the tourist-y portion of the trip with an afternoon at Mt. Vernon. The twins were really too young to appreciate it, and mostly just ran, played, and got bored, but Jenya seemed quite interested in the history. The best part was the girls’ visit with "Martha Washington" — they had an actress in full historic garb recreating Mrs. Washington, and she had a very interesting in-character conversation with the girls — told them all about life as a little girl in colonial America. Afterwards Jenya said "wow, she must be 170 years old."
I put an album with some of the pics from the trip up on the albums link.
Jenya has started her very own blog – you can read her first story here at http://rlestina.typepad.com/jenyas_writings/. I encourage everyone to comment on her entries – I know she’d love to see some feedback from her family on what she writes. If you don’t know how to do it, all you have to do to comment on a blog entry is click the comment link at the bottom of the entry and write your comments.
She looks pretty much at home here, doesn’t she?
In what has recently become a regular Friday ritual, I took the girls over to the local Y tonite for a fun evening. First we walked and ran on the indoor track for a while, then we adjourned to the indoor pool for the Y’s "float fest," which basically consists of them filling the pool up with all kinds of strage and colorful inflatables. They do this every friday for a few hours in the evening, and the girls absolutely love it. It’s also a nice way to cool off after the run.
A few weeks ago when we started doing this, Jenya on her own initiative decided to test for her deep water band. Basically the Y won’t let kids under a certain age go into the deep end of the pool unless they’ve passed this test, for which they receive the little plastic band you can see Jenya displaying on her right ankle in this picture. I was quite impressed – she found out she wasn’t allowed into the deep end, figured out what she needed to do to change that, and did it (a test involving swimming some laps and treading water for several minutes), all entirely on her own without my involvment (or even my knowledge, till the lifeguard came up and wanted me to sign off on it). Pretty neat.
Jenya went to her first real ballet performance last night – Grandma Bea took her to see the Nutcracker. Jenya very much enjoyed herself, and was practicing her twirls and pirouettes all evening after the show.
Lunn and I took the twins to the local mall while Jenya and Bea were at the show. They played on the playground and rode the christmas train, and generally enjoyed the extra attention.
So the girls’ Grandma Susan just left, after a two week visit. It was a very nice visit — the girls spent a lot of time with Susan at the park, library, and just playing together in the house, and Lunn and I had a nice break to do some non-kid-intensive things. One of their favorite haunts with Susan is Moon Park — Jenya has mastered a route on the climbing framework, and De really likes the run-around wheel. Ana can hang from the monkey bars and swing for quite a long time.
Lunn’s parents also stopped in for a couple days on their way back from Minnasota. Lunn took them to the Pittsburgh Aviary and we had a nice dinner at the Casbah, one of our favorite local restaurants. Jenya helped Bonnie learn how to play one of Jenya’s computer games, and Lunn’s old computer found a good new home with Dale.
Took the girls to get their hair cut, and the haircut place as usual gave them each a balloon. Ran some errands afterwards, and in the parking lot going to the car, De somehow got her balloon string off her wrist and lost her grip on it, and it flew away. We all stand there for a frozen moment in time, watching it drift upwards, and then De chokes back a sob and says "bye bye ballon," and waves at it up in the sky. Then she curles up in a ball on the ground and cries.
Ana and Jenya both try to make her feel better, but nothing works. Jenya tries to give De her balloon, but De refuses, and said she only wants her balloon. De is devastated — very sad, almost inconsolable, for quite a while. Then Jenya takes her balloon, presents it to De, and says "De — here’s your balloon — it came back and I found it." De is suspicious, and says "but Jenya, where is your balloon?" Jenya looks right at me, gives me a wink, and says "I gave it to Mama to put away till later." De believes her, and is absolutely thrilled, hugging the balloon, and saying "my balloon, you came back, I love you balloon" over and over. And I am stunned and overwhelmed at the maturity and kindness my oldest child has just shown to her sister. So much day to day petty bickering and small scale sibling rivalry, and then a moment like this comes along, and you just have to sit back and marvel.
Driving home, the sky gray and cold at 5:30 in early August. Light rain only, but the overwhelming sense of something held in abeyance, not here yet but coming. A primal sense of urgency wars with the reality of my modern protected climate controlled life. For just a moment I can almost touch something timeless. Then the rain comes crashing down and it’s just another storm, windshield wipers and taillights.
So, Jenya has had a loose tooth for several weeks now, and yesterday evening it finally came out, while Grandma was over babysitting. Fortunately Lunn and I had just picked up a couple of kiddie computer games with Jenya in mind, so these were pressed into service as tooth fairy stock. Jenya is very happy that the tooth is gone, but the computer games were something of a dissapointment — she wants to fight dragons like Daddy, not play word games. However, she has recovered nicely, and is impressing her sisters with her ability to whistle thru the gap in her teeth.