The year 2007

January

Where did we leave you last time? Oh yeah. The last New Years Eve, when the kids wanted to stay awake ‘till midnight:

11:00 PM they are zombies on the couch, so we made them run in the backyard to stay awake.

11:57 we talked about all the great things that happened to us in 2006.

11:59 we gave each other “the last hug of 2006” and “the last kiss of 2006”.

12:00 we screamed “Happy New Year 2007!!!”

12:01: Theo looked at us with his big blue eyes and burst into sobbing tears saying “I’m going to miss 2006….it was the best year of my life! I just want one more day of 2006. I’m not ready for 2007.” OK, Theo, goodnight.

Could there be a better start for the year?

February

February began with a bang - actually several bangs, crashes and cracks. The now infamous “Ice Storm of 2007” really showed us the power of nature. The weather started out with freezing rain, sleet and snow. Then the temperature dropped and everything froze. It rained again and froze. Every possible surface was covered in thick ice. Tree branches became so heavy that they broke and fell, taking power lines with them.

No electricity meant no lights and no heat. Many people were forced to go to hotels with generators or, like us, camp out in front of the fireplace for a few days. Trees were down everywhere—it was like a tornado had passed through. Most streets were closed.

Just before the storms hit, my friend Loretta had been grocery shopping and filled her freezer with several paycheck’ s worth of meat. In desperate fear of loosing it all, she hucked the packaged meat like Frisbees onto her snow-covered front lawn. For the entire week, her yard was littered with ground chuck, top sirloin, rib-eye and filets. I wish I had a picture to show you!

Anyway, besides all the damage, the storm was quite beautiful. And Gontran finally got the chance to use his chainsaw. He went door-to-door offering to help clear out our neighbors’ yards. For hours I could hear the purr of the motor all over the neighborhood.

At the end of February, Theresa and I went on a week’s cruise! We were so amazed at how wonderful it was—the trip really exceeded our expectations. We ate, drank, slept, read, swam, toured, played, talked, shopped, laughed and had just an amazing time.

MARCH

Madeline wanted to sell Girl Scout Cookies this year. She set her goal to sell 50 boxes. After hours of walking the neighborhood, battling the freezing weather, we did it! When we got home, absolutely exhausted and frozen to the bone, she said, “I have a new goal—to sell 100 boxes!” I tried to discourage her, but she said, “You know, mom, when you reach

your goals, you need to set them higher.” Of course, the next day, and the next day after that, we hit the streets. When she made the 100 goal, she tried to pull the whole “set your goals higher” speech. I didn’t fall for it.

APRIL

The Easter Bunny sent the kids on a wild treasure hunt around the house, leaving clues that led to more clues….until finally!

Trip to the Statue of Liberty

Spring school show

At the end of spring, we went to Baltimore for a long weekend. We had a blast at the aquarium and museums. Dad’s favorite part was eating crabs!

MAY

When it warmed up enough, I decided to FINALLY teach these kids to ride their bikes. We had many disastrous attempts the previous summer…… So we went to the local high school and practiced, practiced, practiced. Success! After a few weekends of trials, they were finally ready to bike to school.

JUNE

For Father’s Day, we finally went digital (gasp! shock! horror!) What were we waiting for? This little camera/camcorder is a miracle! The only hitch is that instead of sorting through 50 regular pictures to decide which to put on the website, I now have 1,500 digital ones to sort through (I’m not kidding).

I’m also starting to get the knack of how to send digital photos through e-mail. (Sorry to anyone who I initially sent the whole file of 482 pictures and crashed your computer—I’ve learned my lesson.)

So, Father’s Day was celebrated (with new digital camera in tow) camping with Butlers.

The kids have discovered the camera as well... and we found it loaded with hundreds of artistic realizations like this one.

Second grade ended with a presentation of their class project—Theo did the hammerhead shark and Madeline studied the sea otter.

Goodbye Mrs. Angiolino! Good bye 2nd grade!

JULY-AUGUST

Hello summer! And the start of crabbing season.

We are SO impressed with the performance of the English team, that we have to emphasize their score here!

OK, it was different day, a different time, and they are not part of the editorial team. Still... Where are the promissed crabcakes, BTW?

Cousin Matthieu arrived just in time to go to the Gaviloli’s Luau party.

And to celebrate the 4th of July

Madeline’s face as she watches the fireworks

Madeline and Theo have some real issues going on teeth-wise. Upon the advice of several orthodontists, in July we had them both fitted for palatal expanders, which are based on a medieval metal torture device that are put into the roof of the mouth and then, using a key, turned to tighten every few days.

Summertime!

Digging holes

Beach with friends

For the first few weeks of summer, we hosted Alexa from the Bronx, through a program called “the Fresh Air Fund.” We did it all! Hiking, swimming, water park, beach, crabbing, playgrounds…

Our friends the Butlers had a tree in their backyard that needed to be cut down. The men agreed, that based on Gontran’s experience with his chainsaw during the Ice Storm of 2007, they could do it themselves. Check out the photo and see how Dumb and Dumber got themselves into a real pickle.

(Elizabeth, You are fired from the editorial team!)

Meanwhile, our next-door neighbor had it done the right way.

And Gontran got to keep all the wood for our fireplace!

On the first day of summer, each child makes a list of things they want to accomplish during the school break. On each of their lists was the goal to make a meal completely by themselves. Using the food pyramid, they went through cookbooks to find recipes.

On separate occasions, they went shopping, paid, unloaded groceries and started to cook! All alone, each set and decorated the table and served the meal (but they didn’t have to clean up!)

Madeline: Appetizer- shrimp with a spicy dipping sauce.

The meal was chicken, pasta and zucchini.

For dessert she made a chocolate fondue.

Theo: Appetizer- pigs in a blanket with mustard sauce.

The meal was ham and cheese crepes with zucchini and red peppers.

For dessert he made profiteroles with pears and strawberries.

I’m sure you all remember my BFF Bridgett—she’s from Utah, but currently living in Memphis, Tennessee.

Every summer she goes home to visit her family in Southern Utah and this year she insisted I come with Theo and Madeline.

So goodbye to dad for a month!

Hello Utah!

I cannot even begin to describe the fun and adventures we had: swimming, learning to dive, riding motorcycles, finding fairies in the forest, catching frogs, climbing canyons, finding a secret swimming hole, boating, discovering “gameboy”, slingshots, listening for rattlesnakes, and just hanging out with the Sorenson sisters and their 15-20 kids (depending on the day).

Theo left New Jersey as a boy, and returned a man.

“the Sorenson girls”

Madeline left as a girl and came home as a teenager, declaring her need for her own room, cool clothes and no more Barbies!

Bridgette and I reverted to children saying “rut roh” like Scooby-Doo, “the jig is up” non-stop and laughing so hard that we had to pull the car over.

3 short movies... (but big in file size!)

After three glorious weeks in Utah, Bridgett and I decided to test our mothering skills and do a road trip to visit good friends Jenna and Mike in Santa Cruz, California. We rented a minivan and loaded up on snacks for the 12 hour drive. 2 moms with 2 kids each, plus cousin Jax (“’cuz there’s room”) in a minivan with Utah license plates—polygamists, perhaps? We wanted to make good time, so allowed for only two 10 minute eat/gas/bathroom stops.

I was nervous how my kids would handle such a long time in the car, so I broke down and bought a Gameboy for Theo. He could hardly believe his eyes when I gave it to him.

This is him at hour 12.

This is a picture of Theo at hour 1 of the trip

We arrived safely after a grueling trip and still Theo would not get out of the car, saying “one more level, just one more level, mom, please”

The drive is incredibly mind-numbing. Basically, you pull on the the freeway, drive straight for 6 hours, then turn right and drive for 6 more hours. Needless to say, Bridgett and I played the ABC game a lot. One time it took us 3 hours to complete the entire alphabet—there are not many signs in the middle of the desert….

Ahhhhhhhh. California! We stayed at Jenna and Mike’s – and enjoyed the beach, boogie boarding, looking for sea anemones, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit, as did Mike and Barb.

Back at home; Madeline decided that she really, really, really needed her own room. So, for her upcoming birthday, the all white guestroom was to be transformed into a girl’s paradise. We spent several weekends shopping for every single thing in her room- from the paint colors, to the picture frames, to the pillowcases. She chose each item on her own, with absolutely no comment from mom (we have very different taste!)

We searched for weeks to find the perfect decorations for the walls, but couldn’t find anything she liked, so she made her own paintings!

and this is it after!

This is her room before

SEPTEMBER

Third grade began, immediately followed by their 8th birthday. Usually, we do a huge combo party with everyone from their class and lots of other friends. This year they decided to have small, individual parties with only a few of their favorite friends.

Theo took 5 friends out for pizza, a movie and ice cream.

Madeline took her friends out for a manicure/pedicure and then to dinner at Applebee’s.

OCTOBER

Time for a new car!

... and after!

Before

Halloween season started off with an adults costume party.

Gontran went as himself (a French Lieutenant) and I went as a geisha.

Grandpa came to visit!

He arrived just as the Halloween festivities were starting!

This year Madeline was once again a geisha, and Theo was a mummy.

They got the mother lode!

The next week, we took Grandpa to the Liberty Science Center and Philadelphia.

OCTOBER

We continued our tradition of having an “orphans” Thanksgiving—whoever has no place to go, gets together. This year it was held at the DiPaolo’s new house.

Madeline helped make the pumpkin-pecan pie.

The Kids’ table

DECEMBER

Winter is here! We love roasting marshmallows in our fireplace!

Other things to mention from 2007

We went to Princeton for a day trip.

I explained to the kids that if they worked really hard at school they could go to a university like this. I told them about the entrance exams and Theo insisted that we go and ask for the test and try it. I promised them that if they got a full scholarship to a school like Princeton; I would buy them each a convertible.

Madeline was ecstatic and started picking out colors (red), but then got really upset and started crying wondering what would happen if she didn’t make it. “Will I be grounded?”

When I asked Theo what he liked to do at recess, he said,

“play chess.” When I asked why, he answered “oh, because it passes the time.”

Mom sees Theo getting ready to pour himself a glass of

orange juice, and says “Hey, Theo, are you sure you can handle that?” Confidently he replies, “oh yeah! I can totally pour the juice by myself, it’s just hard to get it in the glass.”

Madeline has just opened

her own spa and is now taking appointments.

Shortly thereafter, she and Theo opened a restaurant.

Theo went to his first Pokemon Tournament. He was by far the youngest and least experienced, but he had such a great time.

He also won - again - the Pinewood Derby trophy for best looking car. Thanks dad.

Madeline and Theo are really into the toy “Webkinz.” They are stuffed animals that come with a special internet code where kids can interact with it. They can name it, make it a home, and play educational games to earn “ webkinz money” to buy things for their pet at the internet store. Last count they had a combined total of about 32 webkinz (mostly bought with their allowance, I might add.)

Earning, sharing and spending money in a common account leads occasionally to some interesting discvussion between the two:

“Madeline! I can’t believe you spent all our webkinz money on a bedroom set for your frog! I had to work for hours to earn that cash!”

Madeline has a real knack for facial expressions (she’s currently working on the eye-roll and sigh combo). My favorite is the “please Grandpa buy me an American Girl Doll because nobody loves me” face.

In other news, Mitsie ran 2 marathons

Cousin Allison is engaged!

Last, but not least...

The website update would not be complete without mentioning a major home renovation project.

We decided to finally tackle the exterior painting. The house hadn’t been properly painted in many, many years, and was cracking, crumbling and rotting away. We joked that it was our “crack house” because of the lizard skin look of the paint.

The entire house had to be stripped to the bare wood, repaired and then re-painted. A big project that took a big team 4 weeks.

Before and after!

From crackhouse to black house


Wishing you all a wonderful 2008