Thursday, May 31, 2012

You gotta have "Friends"

My neighbor is fostering a litter of 6 black kittens, and I thought I would pass out from an overdose of cuteness the first time I saw them. Said neighbor just went out of town for a few days, so Annabelle and I stepped in to help out.

There are 3 boys and 3 girls, and they have been named after the characters on the TV series Friends: Joey, Chandler, Ross, Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel. Each wears a different color collar, and there's a list on the door telling which one goes with which kitten. It seems like just when I was starting to get good at kitten identification, our kitten-minding gig came to a too-early end. Tonight is my first night since Sunday without a kitten fix, and I think I'm having withdrawal.

I took my camera over a couple of times and got some pictures, which was harder than you might think. Every time I went to get a picture of one, it seemed I had another dangling from my camera strap or climbing up my leg. Frankly, they reminded me a lot more of the title characters in the movie Gremlins rather than Friends.

Annabelle has a conversation with Monica:

Chandler likes to sit on heads:

Annabelle with half a litter:

The whole litter:

Rachel wants to whisper a secret in Annabelle's ear:

I told you Chandler likes to sit on heads:

I'm not sure which one this is:

I've got my hands and lap full:

We even convinced Fred to go over once for some kitten therapy:

Joey likes to make trouble:

Phoebe says, "Please take me home with you!"

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekend update

We enjoyed a lovely Memorial Day weekend here in Kansas. Friday was Annabelle's last day of school, and she made plenty of time over the next few days for hanging out with friends, watching Dr. Who, and working on her tan at the pool.

Saturday night Fred and I hosted the first neighborhood porch party of the season. Basically the porch party is the lowest-stress type of entertaining ever. The host supplies the ice, some starter beer, and a porch; the guests bring food and more drinks. Everybody brings their kids, and it's a strictly outside sort of affair.

On Sunday we attended the Celebration at the Station, a wonderful concert put on by the Kansas City Symphony in front of Union Station.

There was a big crowd gathered on the lawn between the Liberty Memorial and Union Station, but we had seats up front:

The USAF Brass in Blue kicked off the festivities:

Richard Gibson of the Kansas City Lyric Opera sang "The Star-Spangled Banner":

Who knew my dad was moonlighting as a camera man in Kansas City?!

Jim Birdsall hosted the evening:

One special highlight for us was the inclusion of jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson, who played "America the Beautiful" and "Amazing Grace." He is on the faculty of the jazz camp that Annabelle will attend next month, so it was great to get to hear him perform:

I call this one "Self-Portrait at Intermission":

General Richard Myers, USAF (Ret.), and Lieutenant General David Perkins from Ft. Leavenworth co-narrated the "Armed Forces Salute" and "Taps":

After the sun went down, we saw some pretty lights on the stage and on the station:

And, of course, some fireworks:

To cap off the weekend, here are a few photos from the Memorial Day ceremony here on post on Monday:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"For the Longest Time"

I meant to include this with my post about the senior awards night, but I got carried away talking about my camera and forgot. Another choir parent posted this clip of the guys from the acapella choir performing that night, and I thought it was really great:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Annabelle was among a handful of juniors chosen to help out with the senior awards ceremony last Friday. What neither she nor her friends knew though was that they would, in fact, also be receiving awards that evening. It was tricky to keep it from her, and I'm sure she thought Fred and I were the ultimate in helicopter parents, subjecting ourselves to a 3+ hour ceremony just for the chance to watch her pass out a few programs.

Her award was the Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award in recognition of her "commitment to understanding and addressing difficult social issues." It was sponsored by the University of Rochester, and in addition to receiving a nice certificate and medallion, she will also get her application fee waived when she applies to Rochester AND, if she's accepted, get to compete for the $7,500 annual scholarship of the same name. It's kind of funny because University of Rochester actually IS pretty high up on her list of potential schools, and it's almost like the universe keeps trying to remind her of that.

Here she is walking across the stage to receive her award from her guidance counselor:

Have I said lately how much I love my new camera? That is the ONLY picture I took that night, without flash, and hardly looking at the display at all, just kind of hoping that it would turn out halfway decent.

In fact--this has nothing to do with awards night--but we rescued a baby bird last week, and this too is a quicky shot that I took on a wing (ha ha!) and a prayer:

Canon PowerShot S100 for the win!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

All that jazz

The other night we went to the high school for the band BBQ and awards night. Annabelle was part of a little pep band that played before the dinner while people were arriving:

I got this picture of her with her friend Aimee (and their friend CJ photobombing from behind):

There's going to be a lot more bari sax in our lives next year, as Annabelle will be joining the jazz band. Bari for marching and jazz band, bassoon for concert band. That girl does love her some low notes!

Editing to add: My dad's comment below reminded me of another photo of Annabelle and Aimee that I saw on her Facebook wall:

One of her friends posted it, and Annabelle commented: "Our expressions are those of Superiority---just like the band scores :D"

Monday, May 14, 2012

A heavy topic

Mike spent this weekend down in south Florida, competing with the FSU powerlifting club. When I saw this license plate in the commissary parking lot a couple days before the meet, I thought it might be a good sign:

Turns out it was! In his own words:
Went 3 for 3 on squat. Per my coach’s advice, I stuck with relatively light weights and smoked all of them. 413 for my 3rd felt like nothing. My all PR is 425, so while it wasn’t a new record for me, it was reassuring to know that I have a lot more in me than that.

Bench was good until it wasn’t, and even then it was really close. Opened with 231- easy as pie. 248 for my next attempt- easy. The problem began with the fact that the lifting order got all screwed up and nobody knew who was up. I ended up getting called up for my 3rd attempt without enough to prepare and was a bit shaken. Long story short, I fought with 259 and missed it at the lockout.

Deadlift was good. By that point I was pissed about my bench and just wanted to leave. Opened with 396- easy. Hit 424 next- easy, but not super easy. Instead of going for 451 like I had planned, I went with 440 instead and smoked it. It was faster than 396.

Unwilling to settle for 440, I went into the warm up room and pulled 451 for an unofficial 4th attempt and 15lb PR.
For comparison purposes, here are the numbers from his last meet in October 2011:
Squat: 330lbs -> 413lbs (83lb increase)

Bench: 220lbs -> 248 (28lb increase)

Dead: 419lbs -> 451 (32 lbs increase)
His girlfriend Sarah went along for moral support for Mike and to get some photos and video for me.

Here is his squat:

Here is his unofficial fourth attempt at the deadlift for a 15-pound PR:

And here he is receiving (and eating?) his medal for winning the collegiate division for the 220 weight class:

Nicely done, Mike!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring choir concert, part 2

Here's the rest of the concert, or at least the part Annabelle was in. The women's quintet and the men's ensemble did a wonderful job as well, but I didn't record them. I'll have to see if I can find clips from other parents to share.

Anyway, here we have "My Heart with You":

And this is "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel?"

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Spring choir concert, part 1

I shot my first video clips with the new camera last night. It does a pretty good job, but these hi-def files are HUGE and take forever to upload to YouTube, so I'm going to do this in 2 parts.

Here we have the entire acappella choir singing "The Word Was God":

And here is the women's ensemble singing "Child With the Starry Crayon":

Annabelle is second from the left of the front row in the first clip and on the far left of the back row in the second.

Bye bye, birdies

Remember my baby birds from a couple weeks ago? Well, somewhere along the way, we went from 4 babies to 3. I'm not really sure what happened, as I kept a pretty vigilant lookout for birdies gone overboard.

At any rate, for the last week or so, there were 3 babies tucked securely into that nest. During the homes tour on Saturday, I started pointing them out to children but eventually worked them into my standard spiel: "On your way up the stairs, look out the window and back at the porch, and you will see a nest with 3 baby robins in it." Wildlife fun at no extra cost!

It's a good thing the homes tour wasn't a day later. When I finally dragged myself out of bed Sunday morning, I found only 1 little dude, sitting on the edge of the nest, flapping his wings, and trying to get the nerve to try them out. Finally he hopped into a nearby tree:

That picture is a little grainy, as I was shooting through the window screen. I ran outside and got a better shot:

I saw one of his siblings on a nearby branch:

And the other was on my neighbor's air conditioner:

I was a bit worried about that third one, as he just sat there for the longest time. I thought maybe he had hurt himself on the way down, but when I walked over to check on him, he flew about 30 feet away to the top of a tall fence.

So no more birdies for me, at least not for now. I still can't stop checking out the nest every time I go by that window. Maybe we'll get another crop before summer sets in!

Monday, May 07, 2012

All dressed up

When the last tour guest left our home a little after 3 Saturday afternoon, our day was really only about half over. Annabelle had a drama party to get to, and Fred and I went to the post-tour dinner, which was followed by a private showing of the homes so that those of us who were on the tour got to see everybody else's houses.

I was just going to put on boring, normal clothes, but Fred said, "No, it's Derby day. We have to wear our hats!"

It's kind of hard to tell, even when you click to expand the picture, but my earrings are little mint juleps. I start wearing them the day of Thunder Over Louisville and wear them right up through Derby but never after. That would just be tacky. Speaking of tacky:

Meanwhile, the theme for the drama banquet was to dress as a famous person. Annabelle chose James Dean as her famous person:

When she got to the party, she found that her friend Dylan had the same idea:

Today one of her friends tagged her on Facebook in this photo, and I thought it was so perfect that I couldn't resist downloading it:

That's my girl!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Step into my parlor

For those of you who were not able to make it to the Fort Leavenworth Tour of Hysterical Historical Homes, I offer the following look at what you missed.

We were the seventh house on the tour (out of 12):

According to the tour program:
This red brick double set of officers' quarters was constructed in 1901 at a cost of $15,937. This home is one of eight brick double sets, built for the students of the Command and General Staff School. It was constructed with limestone foundation, slate roof, brick walls, wood and cement floors, and electric lighting. It was originally heated using steam from a boiler and, in 1929, hot water heaters were added. As visitors drive up Grant Avenue, they receive their first impressions of the charm of a turn-of-the-century residential area.
4,398 square feet, according to the additional information I was given. I thought that felt like an awful lot of vacuuming. Still, we weren't the biggest house on the tour by far! The CG's house has a whopping 9,500 square feet.

The hanging ferns and the floral arrangement on the porch (barely visible behind a column) were graciously provided by Homestead Greenhouse:

Come on in!

The front entryway:

The living room:

The dining room:

Note the extra-sparkly crystal:

Now we'll leave the dining room for the butler's pantry. (Ignore the kitchen for now; you'll see that later.) Here's where I make a joke about about the gross injustice of having a butler's pantry but no butler:

Now, please go up the front staircase to see the second floor.

Here we have Fred's office:

If you continue through that door on the left, you will find yourself in my office:

And across the hall is our bedroom:

As you walk to the back staircase you will pass the bathroom:

Further back you will pass the guest room. Do NOT look inside that room! Seriously, that room is the only reason the rest of the house looks so clean:

Now, go on up the back staircase to the third floor. You will pop out in the man cave. Note the rug, which is a souvenir of Fred's deployment to Afghanistan:

The second half of the open area on the third floor is a combination of Annabelle's office and storage for the toys I can't bear to part with:

Here is Annabelle's room:

And here is Mike's:

Now, please go all the way down to the first floor to check out the kitchen:

Thank you for coming, and don't forget to leave your shoe-coverings by the back door!