Monday, June 30, 2008


Monica, one of the "little" girls from my DC dance group got married this past weekend - okay, she's 22 but I still remember when she actually was little- how could I possibly know kids who are getting married when I haven't aged at all??!! Yeah, it makes me think I should feel old but really I still don't.

Anyway, the wedding was an opportunity for us to leave the kids behind - Josh had another action packed ( Bible School, batting cage, miniature golf, going out for dinner and playing with their neighbor's son) vacation with my Mom and Dad and Dima stayed here at our house with Chris's Mom and Dad since their house isn't ready yet. He did a lot of goofing around our yard picking new plants to go into our front landscaping and then and helping to water, water, water.

We stayed with friends and had a nice time hanging out on Friday night then on Saturday it was great to see everyone and to have a chance to catch up with people that I haven't talked to in a while. Even when we've returned to the area to do shows we didn't have that kind of time to sit around and talk since we're usually chasing kids when they're with us and when a show's going on it's hard to really talk.

Of course the bride was beautiful - she's always happy and perky any way and seemed to be having a great time. I was glad to be there for the wedding and later there was an after-party at the groom's house that was awesome and truly the meaning of Gemutlichkeit -a difficult-to-describe-in-words feeling of warm friendliness; amicability. The elder Joe Smeill (a world-class musician who teaches button box camps each summer) was playing his button box accompanied by our friend Mark Meuschke and his tuba and then the younger Joe brought out a clarinet. Wow, wow, wow what great, spontaneous music! For me that was one of the highlights of the day. They not only played the usual German stuff but a wide variety of music. Monica and I ended up dancing in the living room that really didn't have a whole lot of space. That was a lot of fun.

When the guys do this kind of dance they all face each other and I think it's a male bonding experience for them. For the girls you're definitely aware of the other girls but you don't see each other like the guys do while you're spinning so you have to do other things together to get to know each other. In my old group I had the little girls - they're STILL little to me - braid my hair whenever possible and I've tried to do that in the new group too cause it gives you time to sit together and time to talk and catch up on what's going on with each other. That feeling of friendship is really what Gemutlichkeit is all about.

We - the DC group - have hosted some German groups as they've come through town and as well as taking them to the touristy stuff we'd also host a regular American picnic of some kind and once the eating part and official welcomes and all that are done we tend to get the musicians to start playing informally and then people start dancing then that's when you see and take part in the real deal - people who don't necessarily speak the same language spinning and learning from each other. Learning all kinds of things from information about the dances and our costumes and even different ways to braid each others' hair.

The guys in Alt Washingtonia have gotten together for at least as long as I've been around to do the Gamsprung everytime we get together for a special event or visit someplace. The dance has been done at all kinds of locations - including Chris dong it on a glacier in Alaska, at the MCI center in DC, on the steps of the Capitol building and for lots of celebrations. One of these days I want to start a list of all the places it's been done since I'm sure it's pretty impressive. Anyway, as we were on our way out of he afterparty and I rounded up the guys to dance and the only place big enough was the cul de sac in front of the house and so the neighbors got a free show! After the bride and I provided the music for the dance (da-da-da-da dadada dadadadada dadadadada.... )I had to get going since the couple we were staying with drove us there and they were already in the car ready to go as soon as the dance was finished but I would have loved to stay since I saw them starting another dance as we were driving away. That's the stuff I miss about that group.

One thing about that area I don't miss at all is the humidity. Saturday morning when we got up the temp was 78 and the humidity was 81% oy, that's muggy! They said that the weekend was exceptional but I think especially since I'm not acclimated to it anymore it felt oppressive every time you went outside. I dressed in a dirndl for the wedding and couldn't wait to get out of it but didn't bring along anything to change into so I was literally looking up and down the aisles of the Giant grocery store for a Centreville, VA tourist shirt while the guys stopped for beer. Since there were no clothing stores handy and no tourist stuff either I thought I was out of luck until I remembered that the little girls from the group sometimes give me hand-me-down clothes. I asked once we got to the party and was glad that they think of me when getting rid of their old - sometimes still with tags clothes. At least I didn't have to wear the layers and layers of costume, slip, bloomers, and tights. We had our shoes off anyway - apparently a rule of the house - where the entryway full of shoes reminded me of the Sex and the City episode where they have to take theirs off at a party.

After the after party we had another gathering at out hosts house with another family from the group and one of Chris's former hockey teammates and his family - again a different group to talk to and lots to catch up on - for me anyway - Miss Sarah needs to start her own blog so I can read hers since she's a reader of mine and already knew what we're up to. Right now she's preparing for vet school and she should write down stuff to read through later and so we know what she's going through in the name of helping animals. And keep us up to date on after- midnight trips to the Alamo - or I guess whatever's local at the new school. Saturday night was full of some funny, funny moments and I discovered the magic of a flat iron - yes Sarah, I have one now and will think of you when I use it- it's great!!

I'm glad we'll be back to visit the group in August for the Hottestoberfest or Augustoberfest in Hagerstown, MD the kids will be with us then so the group can see them again and Josh and Dima can hopefully get up and dance with them again. Through the course of the weekend we did get to see all of our kids' Godparents and though it would have been nice for the boys to see them too it's just as well so we had time to pay attention to our friends.

Friday, June 27, 2008

There's a reason I don't sew

My apron project (see previous post) gave me a whole new appreciation for people who sew all the time. Liz, Idi, Kelley, Uta, Mom, Aunt Joanie and anyone who ever made or altered anything for me I'm sure I didn't thank you enough.

The apron turned out uhh... wrong.... for the most part it was going along just fine and the waist band was set to look great but then somehow the apron strings were sticking out the bottom of the waist band and I'm not sure what went wrong. I followed the directions on the pattern but ended up working with the sari fabric instead of the cotton because there wasn't enough of the cotton when my Mom and I unrolled it. And that was measured out by the professionals at Joann not me! I'm not sure what part or parts of the instructions I screwed up.

As far as sewing again I'm thinking about a class and if I can find one in Pottstown or between me and my Mom it would be great if we could do it together. The good news is I kind of liked the creativity of the whole thing and thinking about how the stuff fits together and then as I worked on the apron yesterday I got lost in the project - I guess in more ways than one judging by the end result - but felt like I was really thinking the steps through and using my brain. I'd be at it for a few hours and the time just flew which was ok, but then I was wondering if it should be taking me so long. The fabric did require careful handling and lots of steps to get the seams ready so they wouldn't fray. Six easy steps can take a long, long time.

Josh is up at my parent's place this weekend and doing Bible School both last night and tonight and I'm sure he's running around like a madman getting into the toys and stuff there. My in-laws will be staying here and caring for both the dogs and Dima and I'm sure that they'll be enticed up the hill to watch for hot air balloons. he's been coughing and sneezing for the last day and really wants to get out the sprinkler or go to the pool but I don't know if that's such a good idea with him seeming sick. I'm sure we'll take it easy around here today so he can rest up for what will be a super exciting time for him. He gets excited just thinking about a visit from either of the sets of grandparents.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

selvage?? seam allowance??

A friend of mine who I might add at this point actually has a PhD has been a very, very good friend to me as she's given me a dirndl that was hers but redone for me and she has loaned me hers at times. Recently she took a dirndl that I've had in a box since we moved here three years ago and re-did it to update it and make it fit me better. Since I'll be going to a wedding this coming weekend where our DC dance group will be wearing their dance stuff I decided to make a silky new apron in honor of the wedding. How hard can it be to make an apron - it's basically a big rectangle, right? Shouldn't need a PhD to get that done in two days. Then once I get going I can move into Halloween costumes for the kids and fun stuff like that. Bah!!

Well, I should have paid much more attention in Home Ec class instead of laughing with the boys who were putting pins into the teacher's blue hair while she showed us how to do this stuff. I now have a whole lotta respect for people who do this all the time. Off the rack is looking better and better to me at this point!

Being in Joann's sewing store reminded me of Vermont where the ski terminology and even the weird steps and the weird sounds of people clomping around in ski boots make me feel totally out of my element. During my first trip to the store yesterday I had Josh with me and he wants to see toys and cars everywhere we go and the fabric - except for the novelty Lighning McQueen and race car stuff - he did identify the NASCAR logo and the Home Depot car logo - doesn't keep his attention long so I really didn't have a lot of time to look around like I should have so I ended up going back in the evening.

I must have some brain cells left from middle school cause finding the pattern went well but then figuring out what twill tape was and where it was required asking around. During my earlier trip there I picked out I did find sari ( yeah SORRY to say I won't be sewing this stuff anytime soon ) fabric that will look great with the dirndl. When I went back I got cotton to try first. Then the back of the pattern mentioned twill tape for the cuffs / bonnet / apron part of the costume I was using for only the apron so I had to ask if I'd need it and lo and behold the lady pulls out the instructions and figures out that I don't need it for the apron whew! - I wouldn't know what to do with that anyway.

I brought the stuff home and had to sit down to read with dictionary and directions in hand - thank God the pattern people have a whole set of instructions for the lowest- common denominator- people but at the same time they're ASSUMING that you know what selvage is and that you've already got the basic stuff covered. As I'm looking at the pattern I'm noticing there are multiple languages on there and at least I can do this in English and don't have to translate then define these words.

My Mom and Dad are on their way here now to take Josh - he's soooo excited! - for the weekend so I've got a list of questions to ask when they arrive. I guess I should be trying to figure out the apron now but 1. my mind is getting boggled with that information and 2. Josh is still here and he's listening to our German music and sometimes NEEDS me to dance with him and 3. I'm also helping him figure out how to make his own recording on his little keyboard. I'm thinking I'll get back to the apron construction project once Mom clears things up and once Dima's settled in for nap this afternoon.

By the way: selvage (n.) The edge of a fabric that is woven so that it will not fray or ravel.

Friday, June 20, 2008

kids behaving well

My sister was here yesterday and described a mom who came into the restaurant she works at with three kids who were running around the place and yelling and being total brats and I was telling Andie that I blame the mom cause the kids are doing stuff and getting away with it cause she’s letting them – they even got dessert after not finishing their meals!!!

Anyway, I took my kids to see their Papa play hockey last night and explained how I expected them to behave ahead of time and said that we’d stay for as long as they were well behaved, like in no running around and just sitting to appreciate how much effort the players put into practices and how they try hard to work together as a team, well we ended up staying for the entire game cause they did unbelievably well.We did get up between periods to move around and I was armed with snacks and with answering their questions and them just talking I can’t say I paid a lot of attention to every detail of the game but for their ages they were great. I was still trying to tell Dima how to know where to line up and how to know which goal each team was shooting for cause I'm convinced that he still gets disoriented when his team is out on the ice. He actually asked me a few times what happens if you get it in the wrong goal!! I think if he took a second each time they go on the ice to think ahead that he would be more eager to go after the puck when they're out there, he's just not the thinkn' ahead kind.

Even today they both did well with playing with each other. We're hanging out here at home since this is one of the few days of this whole summer that we don't have to get up and out. I can't say they didn't have a few disputes but mostly they worked them out among themselves and we were all happy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Out of energy - in more ways than one

Last week Josh had an impromptu vacation to my parent's place. After our power went out last Tuesday night and was expected to be out until Friday they offered to take him to give us one less person to deal with while we were without power. The lights came back on earlier than expected but they took him anyway and he had a grand old time. Apparently he asked to take a nap last Thursday saying he was "out of energy". He had the next door neighbor (and his toys) to play with while he was there and had multiple excursions around town. He got to try his hand at miniature golf, batting in a batting cage, and riding rides at a fair. He also got to visit my sister at TGI Friday's and from what I understand he really chowed down. My Mom and Dad also took him to their church to see Coach Becky again and he got to be a part of the children's sermon.

One of the reasons I left time open on our schedule this summer open was so the boys could go do things like that and so that we'd have time to get out to Longwood Gardens and stuff like that - the visit to my parents was great cause each of the boys got some "only child time" and a change of scenery it was nice to not have to intervene to listen to disputes over who took what toy every ten minutes. Dima still had school so he had to stay around but he had a chance to go out to eat with us and he did a great job of staying quiet in the mornings if he woke up before us.

I had to take one of our cats to the vet this morning - Attias had been lethargic, definitely not himself and kind of moping around over the weekend and seemed to get worse on Monday afternoon, he peed in our shower stall and was spending all of his time under our toilet so we locked him in the bathroom - and gave him food and water in there and a litter box and he wasn't eating much so off to the vet to find out what's up and he's dehydrated so they're keeping him to give him IV fluids and antibiotics. The blood work had a few alarming things and they want to re-run the blood work in two days to see how he's improving. I got really tired while I was in the office I think from the stress of realizing he's really not doing well and he might not come home. It's just over a year since Farook died and the kids still ask about him once in a while. Pets are great companions but when it comes to this type of thing I wonder what I was thinking when I decided to get two kittens after Chris's old old one from college passed away a few years ago. Normally Attias had a great personality and was almost dog- like when we had guests and just over the last week or so he was markedly different and seemed very tired.

This coming weekend there's a hot air balloon festival not too far from here so we're planning to take the kids there Saturday afternoon - Dima's gonna loose his mind since he's practically obsessed with them. I'm looking forward to doing a tethered ride just to know what it feels like to go up in one. This past week we saw 5 of them from our back yard on one afternoon. My Mom got him a magazine about kites and hot air balloons and he looks at it every chance he gets. The boys have a Reading Phillies game on their schedule on Sunday so they'll be tired out. Josh has been sassy today and I think it's at least partly because he's still recovering from being so busy and skipping naps over the last few days. It usually takes a few days to recover once they're out of the normal routine.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I've said it before and had it confirmed again and again you can find ANYTHING on youtube. Including yourself sometimes!!
We took the kids to a friend's birthday party on Saturday at BounceU a place with inflatable obstacle courses and slides - Josh was a slidin' fool - going down a 20 foot slide again and again and again. On the way home was the Sly Fox a restaurant that we've danced at a few times. The place hosts goat races each Spring to celebrate their Bock beer and they have us dance during the event. Well, while we were eating an assistant manager asked how things were and in the course of conversation we mentioned that we'd been there for the fest and the guy said he thought Chris looked familiar and that he saw him on youtube. I was a little skeptical since guys in lederhosen can kinda look alike - thinking he had him confused with someone else. It was really him - during a video of the goat racing. so you really never know what you'll find on there.

Josh is finished with school for the summer and having a great time playing uninterrupted while Dima's at school and going on special outings with just me. On Monday I had to go to Avondale , near Longwood Gardens to up two ceiling fans I got from a woman on - gotta love the internet! - so since we were so close and it was a beautiful day I took Josh to see the treehouse exhibits they built there - those people never do anything half way these treehouses were beautiful- could almost live in them- huge - multi- level rooms! I'm glad we have the membership there and do intend to get down there more often since the kids love it and it's great exercise. Josh and I walked over 9000 steps - yes I wore a pedometer - in an hour and a half - and even though he complained at first about walking I told him that we didn't have much time there and once he started looking around at stuff he kind of forgot to complain that he was tired.

Every day Josh is still asking when he goes back to school and asking when we can go to the pool at Marsh Creek. I must admit I'm looking forward to it too that pool and splash park are awesome and some of the kids and moms we know from the neighborhood and school will be there. As thrilling as it is to talk about things like what kind of vehicles can pop "weewies" (wheelies) it's nice to have adults to talk to during the course of a day. While tooling around with Josh I do get to be the authority on pretty much everything - like the old Steve Martin thing where you could literally tell the kid anything or make your own language .... I haven't done it yet, just think it's funny that you could. One of my favorite responses when I really don't know enough about whatever he's asking is : "it's just the way things are" I'll save the let's look it up stuff for when he's older - by the time we'd look anything up now he's three subjects ahead of whatever I'm sitting there looking up - unless it's something visual on youtube.

On another great website the boys have been watching falcons with me: and we've seen them feeding the young ones while we ate breakfast - fortunately I was finished eating by the time I clicked on it and it didn't bother the boys. In case you don't happen to know: they kill other birds and dismember them to feed to the little - ok young ones- they're not really little. This led to a discussion about how birds of prey catch food and I went to youtube to find pictures of eagles swooping down to catch fish and stuff like that, forget encyclopedias it's all on youtube!! Last week we watched a video of the young falcons being banded and at the ice rink Josh got a little bird that kind of pops out of an egg and he pretends he's banding it. The way he does it is just like on the video. He actually has me hold the bird and he pretends he's banding it.

Well, it's supposed to storm this afternoon so today will definitely not be a pool kind of day but Josh has already asked anyway. He'll probably ask again after nap cause he still has trouble grasping that it's part of one day both before and after nap.

We have to go get Dima at school soon then back here for lunch and nap and probably some kind of indoor games this afternoon maybe painting or possible going out to step in puddles as long as there's no lightning.