March 3rd, 2013

Fiona, Brendan and I were at The Irish Walk in Old Town a few weeks ago getting dance shoes for Fiona.  As Fiona and I are looking at shoes Brendan is wandering around checking out the store.  He wanders over to me a few minutes later with a big grin carrying a baseball cap.  The had says Guinness in across the front and has a bottle opener built into the hat brim.  I’ve been known to enjoy a Guinness or two at times and this is a pretty nice hat actually, as such things go.

Brendan: “I found the perfect hat for you, Dad!”

Me: “Wow, that’s a nice hat.  Why do you think it’s perfect for me?”

Brendan: “Because it says Genius on it!”

Auto show

February 2nd, 2011

For the third year now Brendan and I boarded the metro and ventured into dc for the auto show. This year B was most interested in the race cars, especially the one rally car with mud all over it. The yellow camero and police cruiser from the transformers movies were also big hits.

Of course I am pretty much obligated to drop $10 each year on some crappy but much loved toy car or truck.

Practicing his winners circle pose


Suspicious Sandwich

March 23rd, 2010

Last week Brendan was playing at the dining room table and I asked him if he wanted a PB&J sandwich.  He turned around and gave me a look of shock and amazement that only four year olds can pull off.  It took me about five seconds to realize what he had heard.  No B, your dad didn’t just offer you a PP&J sandwich.


January 15th, 2010

Last Saturday Fiona, Brendan and I had a museum outing.  We haven’t previously take much advantage of the museums around here, which is a shame.  During the summer they are chaotic, but if you go at off-times of the year they can be fantastic for kids.

We took the metro into DC and walked in some very cold, blustery conditions over to Air and Space.  Both kids loved seeing real airplanes and real spaceships all over the place.  We watched an IMAX movie about the international space station which was fun.  Some footage of rockets blasting off was a bit loud and scary, but there was great footage, interesting stories and incredible shots of the earth from orbit.  We saw the original Wright brothers plane, which to my surprise the kids were duely impressed with.  On the way out we noticed a small stand near the entrance with a piece of moon rock mounted on it that you could touch.  “You touched a piece of the moon!” I exclaimed to F and B and they were quite excited.

Afterwards we treked over to Natural History to look at dinosaur fossils.  That of course was much fun and the kids identified the type of dinosaur for several of the fossils.  We watched another 3D IMAX movie, this one about the huge dinosaurs that roamed Patagonia.  Much of the movie was animated scenes of these dinosaurs.  Fiona would lean out on the edge of her seat and extend her hand seeing if she could touch the baby dinosaurs and such that seemed so close with the 3D glasses on.  On the way out we swung by the Hope Diamond, which none of the three of us was very impressed with.  It’s pretty, but not nearly as large as I expected.

It goes without saying that we hit the gift shops at both museums.  At Air and Space Fiona got an Air and Space patch that we’ll put on her backpack and B got a toy plane.  We also picked up some glowing stick-on-the-ceiling stars for their room.  Oh yes, and some gummi space shuttles.  At Natural History Fiona got a baby fox stuffed animal and B got safari truck.

We were tired and pressed for time to get ready for an event that evening, so Heather drove into town with Julia and extracted us.

Photos at


January 15th, 2010

Hmmmm…. it has been a while since I posted.  I think that’s an indication of and result of the craziness that is life with three young kids.

Fiona lost her a tooth for the 2nd time yesterday.  She actually has one or two adult teeth coming in too.  She put the tooth under her pillow last night.  Fortunately, the tooth fairy remembered to visit even though he was out until about 1am and was tired and the tooth fairy’s spouse (who is keeper of the fairy presents) was sound asleep.  Fiona reports that the Fairy left her a little velvet bag containing:

  • a bicentennial quarter
  • a Virginia quarter
  • a new penny with Lincoln sitting on a log on the obverse
  • a canadian penny
  • a wheat penny
  • 2 gold statue of liberty dollar coins

The tooth fairy’s spouse (really more of a tooth co-fairy) had the fantastic idea of leaving Fiona special coins and trinkets instead of a set amount of money.  This works great for Fiona because treasures excite her much more than money.  Also, it keeps us out of the whole “How much money does the tooth fairy give at your house?” debate.

Word on the street is that the fairies set aside an Indiana quarter last night because the know that Brendan will be very excited to get a coin with a race car on it when it’s his time.

Pohick Bay

September 21st, 2009

A couple weekends ago Fiona, Brendan and I went camping with our friends Linda, Kurt, Caroline and Peter. Caroline was in Fiona’s class at preschool and now is a 1st grader at a neighboring elementary school. Her brother Peter is a couple years older.

We chose a park just a half hour south of home called Pohick Bay Regional Park. Pohick Bay is perfect for introducing kids to the basic idea of camping without really suffering any of the hardships of more rigorous, minimalist camping. Our sites were next to a playground, a couple hundred feet from restrooms/showers and just a bit farther from the camp store. A short drive or hike gets you to boat rentals, a water park, mini-golf, the 7-11. You get the idea, this definitely was not roughing it.

The sites were great, the kids could play with other kids on the playground and still be within sight of the adults. We made smores, hiked a little bit, went out in a canoe, saw interesting wildlife (esp. the Five-lined Skink), inspected weird mushrooms and got poison ivy. (Actually, I think I’m the only person of the group who got any.)

Photos are up at

Secret Elves

September 21st, 2009

Back when I was a young kid my family spent spring break down at my grandpa’s place in Port Charlotte, Florida. One morning we saw a rabbit in one of the neighbor’s yards and my parents told us it was the Easter Bunny. I don’t actually remember whether or not I bought into that claim at the time, but the memory has stuck with me. At some point I related this story to Fiona and apparently it left an impression. Recently she asked me if I had really seen the Easter Bunny when I was little. I replied that I definitely saw _a_ bunny, but I couldn’t be sure it was actually _the_ easter bunny.

Now I realize that she won’t always believe in such things, but I really expected to enjoy these holiday myths for a few more years with her. I’m not quite ready for my little girl to face such harsh truths just yet. Stalling in order to formulate my strategy I asked her who else would bring Easter baskets to kids.

Her reply: Secret Elves

Hmmm…. I wasn’t expecting that one, but this sounds like something I can run with.

Me: “Oh, I see. Hmmmm.. Why do you think that?”
Fiona: “I’ve seen their houses.”
Me: “Really?!”
Fiona: “Yes. Plus how would a bunny carry easter baskets? Bunnies don’t have hands.”
Me: “Well, that is a good point. Maybe he carries them in his mouth though.”

Fiona was unimpressed with the mouth basket transport hypothesis and decided that since daddy couldn’t provide a definitive answer regarding the true source of easter baskets that the secret elves must be the true providers of easter delights.

A few weeks after this initial exchange I asked Fiona where she had seen the secret elves’ houses. She replied that they live in trees. She had seen the little round doors to their homes in several trees. I’m going to be on the lookout from now on.


August 5th, 2009

A couple weeks ago while the kids were in Ohio my folks took them to the Harpersfield Ox Roast. At the event Fiona won three goldfish at that game where you try to toss pingpong balls into fish bowls. We forgot them in Ohio but they made their way to our house via PA and Cowahen Farm a week or two ago.

The fish have been living in this clear plastic container on the kitchen counter and Fiona had been doing an excellent job of feeding them. But the water was getting pretty dirty, so yesterday morning I emptied about half the water out and replaced it with tap water. I had some remembrance that this was less than ideal for the fish, but I figured that since I was just replacing half the water it couldn’t be too traumatic for the fish.

I was wrong. When I got home from work all three were floating on the surface. Uh-oh. When the kids got home I sat them down and told them I had some sad news. I had prepared Fiona for the fact that goldfish don’t live forever, so she asked casually if one of the fish had died. When I told them that all three had died she broke into big tears. I held her and comforted her while we talked about why they died, what it means to be dead, what we would do with them. Brendan didn’t show much emotion, but he did eventually carry in his stuffed dog Florida, on her back, and explained that Florida was dead too.

Fiona asked what makes animals die, so we talked about how bodies have lots of things that all have to work for an animal to live: heart, lungs, brains, etc. And that sometimes when something stops working the doctors can fix it but sometimes when something stops working then all the other things stop working too and so the whole animal stops working. She seemed to grasp this as well or better than I could have expected.

I gave her the option of flushing the fish or burying them. Inwardly I was rooting for the flush so I wouldn’t have to go dig, but of course she wanted to bury them. She explained that she didn’t want the guys working at the factory that cleans the water (the wastewater plant) to have to touch the dead fish. I helped her fetch one of the large stones from the back yard so she could create a Memory Stone to place on top of the fish grave. She dictated while I transcribed in Sharpie on the stone:

Dear Pinkie Pie, Brownie and Orangie,
I hope you had a good life. I hope you have a good time in heaven.


August 5th, 2009

Monday was Fiona’s first day of kindergarten. The whole family drove to CPS, dropped off Brendan, then Heather, Julia, Fiona and I walked over to MVCS. Fiona was equal parts excited and nervous. We’ve been talking about kindergarten a lot the last few months, so there had been a lot of buildup to this day.

We found her room with Miss Pendergast, room 116. She put her backpack with all the school supplies over against the wall with the others and we found her spot at one of the little tables. We walked over to the corner where the kids were to gather and said our goodbyes. She was a brave camper despite being pretty nervous.

After school she gets taken back to CPS with some other kids for after-care. So Heather and I both went to pick up B and F around 5:30. B was playing outside and was all red-faced and sweating from hard playing. The three of us walked upstairs and found Fiona happily playing with legos next to Johnny and Emma. Heather and I of course can’t wait to hug her and ask her a thousand questions, but when we walked in she just gave us a big smile and continued her playing.

I remember my mom and dad asking me about school sometimes and my response usually being along the lines of “uh, nothing really happened.” I guess it’s my turn to be on the receiving end of that same exchange.

We eventually got a little info from her. She had a great time, didn’t like lunch, liked her teachers, and was impatient with the Spanish portion because she already knew all the words. And besides, as she told me later, she already has a Spanish grandma so she doesn’t need a Spanish teacher (my mom was a high school Spanish teacher.)

One other memory – at one point the day before or morning of kindergarten Fiona was expressing some apprehension about kindergarten and mentioned that she really wished her teacher had long hair. We asked her why, and she just explained that she likes long hair better. Turns out that Miss Pendergast _does_ have long hair, so that was a small bit of relief Monday morning.

Purple Butterflies

August 5th, 2009

After Heather and the kids got back from Cowahen Farm on Sunday I took Fiona to get a new backpack and school supplies for kindergarten. First we hit REI for a backpack. I was really hoping to get her a nice quality backpack rather than the lesser quality cartoon/movie/tv themed ones she has. Fiona frequently amazes me with her capacity to reason things out and make informed decisions rather than just knee-jerk, emotional reactions. I explained how these backpacks were more comfy and better built even though they maybe weren’t as exciting as a Dora, Thomas or Princess backpack. She entirely understood and agreed with me. We decided that she could decorate her backpack later with pins, etc if she wants.

Fortunately REI came through with something perfect. We quickly found a kid-sized Kelty backpack that was light purple with butterfly silhouettes. Of course we needed a fancy new water bottle to go in the mesh pockets too.