November 2005 to July 2006 : Facelift

In November, everyone starts predicting what kind of winter we�ll have. Most quote the Farmer�s Almanac, and others use nature to determine-- if the squirrels are super busy stocking up on nuts-- that means we�re in for a long winter.

The Wolley Bear caterpillar has an orange stripe � the wider it is, the colder the winter will be.

Well, that stripe nearly covered his whole body, and the squirrels were acting like hyper preschoolers fighting over a cupcake�so we were all warned to stock up on firewood, get those shovels out and bundle up!

We waited and waited, but temperatures remained record breaking mild the entire winter.

We had only two snow storms this winter. One in the beginning of December, and a huge snowfall in February with 12-18 inches (depending on who you talk to) in a few hours. Just a few miles away, Central Park was dumped 26 inches!

But because of the warmer temperatures, it all melted in a few days. In fact, it was so warm, that the crocus came out in February!

Decorating the tree

Just before Christmas, Santa came to the town Firehouse to meet all the kids of Fair Haven. He even gave each child a gift! Then there was the tree lighting ceremony and hot cocoa for everyone.

the stockings were hung by the chimney with care ...

1st grade show.

The kids sang lots of songs and recited poems.

We were so lucky to have Bridgett�s sister, niece and friends come to visit all the way from Utah for a few days.

The Girl Scout cookie drive was a huge success. Madeline went door-to-door and recited her much practiced sales pitch. The neighbors were all very happy to oblige. But the de Quillacq family was her best customer!

We did a taste test and decided that Samoas are the tastiest!

The Boy Scouts held a Pinewood Derby. We were all new to this concept�basically you take a block of wood and carve it. Then you add wheels, paint and decoration.

Dad and Theo worked really hard on his car- they made it look like the Beverly Hillbillies truck. They won a ribbon for being so original.

For Valentine�s Day we decided not to give out candy to our classmates, but to make each one something special instead. We went to the craft store to got supplies and tools (the glue gun... The next best invention after the electric screw-driver).

We made heart-shaped jewelry boxes for the girls and personalized door hangers for the boys.

We finally redid the downstairs bathroom. We (meaning Gontran) did all the work ourselves: new toilet and sink, put up wallpaper, new beadboard and moldings, new light fixtures, etc.. He even made a gorgeous radiator cover.

before

during

after

Easter Came and went with the usual gluttony. Except this year, mom decided she was sick of having all that candy around for months. So the kids were given free reign on the candy for a week, and then what was left (surprisingly little) went to the �poor people� (AKA the trash can).

First graders are required to learn 103 �need to know� words, in addition to other basic words. Theo and especially Madeline had been performing pretty poorly in that area � they are the youngest in the class � still Madeline missed 29!

So, during Spring Break, we made it our mission to get all of them down. We practiced every word, every day. On the last day, they each got 100% correct. We celebrated with a �103 Cake.� They were so proud of themselves, and so was their teacher.

Daddy got a new job! He joined "a large Japanese financial institution" for an exciting new project, focusing on growing the firm�s US customer franchise, as well as developing new proprietary trading strategies.

We had balloons, cake, champagne and made signs for his Congratulations party.

The favorable working environment at his new employer enabled him to pass his 7 Series with a 96% score, a new Wall Street record!

But to really celebrate, we took off to Disney World in Florida for 10 days. This was very last minute (4 days to plan this vacation!).

We decided to keep it a surprise for the kids. So, on a regular Friday morning, the kids got up, ate their breakfast and got dressed for school. But instead of driving them to school, we drove to the airport. We wouldn�t tell them where we were going. Even on the airplane, they couldn�t figure it out. When we arrived in Orlando we boarded the �Magical Express� bus. As we got closer to our resort, a video started playing on the bus and Mickey said �Welcome to Disney World!� They were totally blown away.

We did EVERYTHING! Twice.

For Memorial Day Weekend, we went to Washington DC.

We had glorious weather and managed to hit all the major sights. It was one of our best weekend get-aways ever.

A few weeks ago we spent the weekend camping at the Delaware Water Gap with friends Margo, Andy, Eli and Aleyna.

My childhood friend Jennifer Schweickert came to visit with her gorgeous baby Mia. We showed them the good life in NJ because we are trying to convince them to move out here.

We have finally remodeled the kitchen! It took months of planning and many weeks of noise, dust, water leaks, blown fuses, and the kind of set backs that only a 90 year old house can give. But it is done!

An initially old kitchen ...

... minus its cabinets ...

... minus its wall plaster ...

... and SO much demolition refuse!

... minus a door ...

Replace the old concrete & linoleum floor ...

... with a new wood floor ...

and a new countertop,

Add new cabinets

enjoy the living room for a few weeks,

And with the irreplaceable help and experience of Dean the cabinet maker and of John the �everything else� man, you get ...

a new kitchen:

BEFORE

AFTER

Call us crazy, but we are doing the basement at the same time. It�s called �finishing� the basement, which means turning a dark cave of concrete walls and floors into a bright, clean, and cozy kid�s playroom and hang-out area.

Unfortunately, at the time of print, this project is not even near completion. Check in with us in a month or two for all the details. There�s sure to be a horror story or two coming our way. (Sorry, all we have so far is a �before� picture with John our contractor over there busily adding up the costs on his calculator.)

In the midst of all this remodeling, we decided to build the kids a swing set. It was a much bigger project than we thought, but it turned out great! Who�s better with the power tools�mommy or daddy?

THEO

Theo loves telling jokes, and likes to explain them to you, too. For example �Hey mom! Guess what a restaurant is called at the North Pole? Brrrrrrger King! Get it? It�s freezing cold at the north pole, so you say Brrrrrr, and Burger King is a restaurant! So you say Brrrrrger King. Get it?�

Theo went through a phase of being scared of the dark. Even though they share a room, we sometimes found him snuggled up in his sister�s bed.

Theo lost not one, not two, but three teeth this month!

But he hates hugs, kisses, or any kind of snuggle from his mom. He leaves me notes so that I don�t forget.

He still can�t differentiate between the �f� sound and the �th� sound. He labeled his school supplies and so had a �spelling tholder� to keep all his papers in.

On the artistic side:

Theo loves to make airplanes... a lot of them

He stacks them neatly, each with its �do not touch sign

Invitations to a party

Theo Loves to make book marks

Theo�s 100�s

MADELINE

Madeline lost her second tooth !

One day at 7:45 AM on the way to school we were listening to some music on the radio. Madeline got a troubled look on her face and said �my gosh, those singers on the radio sure do have to get up early in the morning.� She was shocked to learn that it was a recording, and that Usher doesn�t perform live each time.

They both have trouble understanding he difference between states and countries. When we go to Pennsylvania, they ask �are we in America?� �What state do Mamie and Bon Papa (French grandparents) live in?� �If Amelia Earhart was from Kansas, then how can she be an American hero?�

On the artistic side:

Madeline�s 100�s

A drawing and another

One of Madeline�s party invitations

A poem

Well, we�ve got to run-- we�re going with some friends to the Def Leppard / Journey concert.

I know my acid wash jeans are around here somewhere��

Have a great summer!

The de Quillacq family

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