This is starting to get serious. Six years of blathering.
And now we are six. Well, Anna is. And I find myself so far behind this year that the only way to remind myself of what's been going on is to go through the digipix. How long before the kids can take this over?
Being six means having our own china tea set from Auntie Betty and a big red barn that Chips can sit inside. And for her party this year I was somewhat late getting things rolling, but managed to grab a spot at the Little Gym so that she and her buddies could go hang for an hour or so.
Jack is in his first baseball team. Or T Ball as it's know when they're this young. He seems to be enjoying himself, though with his big helmet on he kind of looks like a maroon mushroom running the bases. And at this point none of the kids know what they're doing, so whenever a ball actually gets hit, the whole team rushes en masse to grab it, an running amoeba. At least it's entertaining for us. And he got to march in the July 4th parade with some of his teammates. Actually, he rode in the back of a pickup while Jim did the marching for him alongside. Anna and I were parked on beach chairs at the curb to cheer them on. Then he had a bath.
And in April I embarked on a new hobby. I was led to understand that this is the perfect lazy person's hobby: no stress, hardly any work. Hah! I am now a beekeeper. I didn't mean to do it quite this soon and was just checking out the possibility because I'd heard so much about the honey bee population collapsing, but before I knew it I had a hammer in my hand and the makings of a hive on the table. I started out with two hives in the front garden, which were narrowly missed by a falling Maple tree in a June storm. I got 60,000 bees in packages from Georgia and installed them along with their queens. One hive has been going gangbusters, but the other just never got off the ground. The first queen was dead in her cage within two days. The second queen wouldn't lay, so I took her to a farm. By the time I installed a third queen the hive was low in numbers and getting progressively weaker. The week after I put her in I did a check only to find the whole thing riddled with wax moth larvae and no queen in sight. Wax moth larvae eat the pollen and honey supplies and the wax foundation that the bees use to build their comb, and left unchecked they can destroy a hive within days. So I took the hive apart and dumped the nasty worms on the nice hot driveway and we watched them trying to wriggle away but get fried. (heat and sunlight kill them. Kind of like vampires). The few hundred bees left I added to the good hive. Now here we are in October (how did that happen?). I've been feeding syrup every couple of days to help them build up their winter supplies. If they make it through the winter I should have a good strong hive next year that will also provide honey for us to use. Guess what everyone will be getting next Christmas! I am a bit worried that I seem to have a lot of drones still in the hive, and worry that they might be feral bees coming in for my girls' honey. Stress-free hobby? I worry more about the bees during the night than I do about the kids. Almost. I'm going to do a thorough check this weekend before the frost really arrives. In this pic you can see the hives just being missed by the falling Maple. The second is a frame full of workers and some capped brood.
Brought Anna's first dance recital. She had been taking classes with her friends since last Fall and this was the big show. It may well have been her last recital (check back on this, Anna). I know I wanted to poke my eyes out with a pointy stick. It's not that she wasn't cute up on that stage, but the damn show lasted four hours! Luckily we had planned to arrive at intermission so we only had a two hour session, but there were people there who were crawling up the aisles dying of cuteness overload and amateur production blues. Unfortunately (ahem) Anna is not really all that interested in continuing these classes, so it's on to brighter pastures. This was just an incredibly badly organized event, and I hear that the dance studio running it has lost a lot of business since. And I have a thing about putting grownup makeup on little girls. So there.
Anna's Kindergarten show and Jack's graduation from West Norwalk Nursery School.
Anna had minor surgery this month on her left eyelid to bring it more into line with the right. After this we'll leave it alone. If she wants to do anything more when she's older that's fine, but I don't want to put her through any more stress. Or me, either. She was fine right up till the moment they started with the anesthetic then she lost it. So I did too. And when she woke up she screamed and screamed, no matter that I was lying on the bed holding her. Apparently that's pretty common with younger children. So. No more.
Always on the lookout for a fun timekiller during the holidays. Along with the LeFevres and the Cheslers we took a run up to the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat on a humid sticky day. We got our tickets and went to the front carriage -- no windows on this one, and we thought it odd that everyone else sat further back. Soon enough we found out why: all the smuts from the engine were blown into our carriage and in no time we all had a fine coating of black dust. But an entertaining day out nonetheless.
Jack's Fifth. A Spiderman theme this year, down at Stew's Grill again. The day began perfectly, but halfway through the party we were drenched in a tropical downpour. So finished up the event under the tent. Jim got a lovely shot of the resulting rainbow (I know he was kicking himself for not bringing his "good" camera and having to use my pocket job). We had most of the Spiderman cake left when we got home so I gave Jack a spoon and let him have at it.
At the end of August we took a quick break and drove out to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. We took the advice of our hotel receptionist and spent the first day at Dutch Wonderland. It was somewhat tepid, though the kids enjoyed it. She had told us that Hershey Park itself was mostly for big kids and that there wouldn't be too many things that our littles could enjoy. Wrong. We spent the day riding and flying nonstop. They got on most of the rides and we dragged ourselves over miles of paths to make sure we missed nothing. Next time, if there is one, we'll spend every minute at Hershey. And we'll definitely hang out at the water park. Though I may have to take more rest breaks.
Then suddenly it was a new school year. Jack's first year at Fox Run and Anna going into First Grade. Jack will have Mrs. Malizia and Anna is going into Mrs. Botelho's class.
In September we had a visit from Deirdre and Carrie, my best friends from Jordanhill, and we had an absolute blast. I took Anna and Jack out of school for the day and we headed up to the Big E in Springfield, where the girls saw their first Corn Dogs. As well as a giant cow made out of butter. Actually food kid of became the theme of their stay. Pizza, pastrami on rye, nachos, and martinis in the city, chowder and margaritas in Norwalk. We had a lovely day in town for a double decker tour. And wouldn't you know it, in the line for the bus we met a couple from Ayr. And it turned out they had been on the same flight as the girls. We hopped off the bus to go to Ellis Island and then became convinced that we'd taken the wrong ferry when it looked like we were headed for New Jersey, but all was well, so we stopped for a snack. Sat in the second row for Hairspray on Broadway, then had a fun dinner at Ellen's Stardust Cafe where we were serenaded by the singing waitstaff. All terribly touristy, but a good laugh.
Halloween, and the by now standard "throwing up pumpkin". This year Anna insisted on being a witch rather than any current hip rockstar or tween girlie girl. Jack went with Batman. Jim and I partied as the Mexican Tequila guy and the Crazy Cat Lady.
And then there are the usual lovely maple leaves....
The Fall brought some day trips. I took Anna and Jack into New York just because. Just because we had nothing better to do that day and they could ride free on the train. We strolled up Fifth Avenue and spent an hour at Build-a-Bear before hitting Planet Hollywood for lunch and then a stop at the giant ToysRUs store in Times Square. There's a full size Ferris Wheel inside the store. Mental.
And Jack's Kindergarten class went apple and pumpkin picking up in Easton, while Anna's class went to the re-creation of an Indian Settlement at New Pond Farm up in Redding. I've never heard of this place before, but it's wonderful. Owned originally by Broadway actress Carmen Mathews, this is now an educational working farm. Off in the woods is an authentically recreated Native American encampment with a barked wigwam and thatched longhouse. Anna made some real popcorn on the open fire and used a sheep's jawbone to scrape the fur from a deerskin. And I was sidetracked on both outings by their bees -- the Easton farm had a great observation hive and New Pond Farm had maybe a dozen hives scattered throughout the fields.
Santa Claus paid us an early visit at the beginning of December on a fire truck. Clever guy that Santa. Coincidentally Kayla and Hakan were here that evening and he had packages for them too! Barbie Cars and Bionicles rule the day! Auntie Jane sent over the latest batch of her homemade Christmas cake decorations. Too bad she didn't send the cake with them.
Taking time out to try on a hat with Lilly (a small aside here: Jack has decided he and Lilly are to be married. Sarah and I think this is a grand plan and we have already picked out the wedding invitation -- a painting they did together at WNNS of the two of them at the beach. I'm not sure, though if Lilly is totally convinced of the merits of our plan. Check back in 20 years), then cookie baking with the Aunties and our Christmas traditions are now established. Or one, at least. And what did Santa bring us on Christmas morning? Not a terribly early morning -- yet. Next year may well be a different story. Hannah Montana stuff. And for all of us, a Wii game system. All of us, hah! Jack has taken it over and is obsessed with the Lego Star Wars game that had Jim's name on it. Anna isn't all that interested and I'm waiting for my WiiFit to arrive.