Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tree Topper

As per tradition, Margot put the star on top of the tree on Saturday. I say this every year, but this year's tree is really gorgeous: full, lush, and smells delicious.

She's getting so big I wonder how this will go next year. For fun, how about doing a flashback to 2006.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Foodie, Part II

After visiting Santa on Saturday, Margot and I went into William Sonoma so I could ogle the kitchen items. We stood patiently while a saleswoman demonstrated a fancy water pitcher, which she noted featured a German-made filter. She offered us sample cups of water so we could taste it. Since we were thirsty, we each took one.

Margot gulped hers down and loudly announced, "That German water tastes exactly like regular American water to me!"

And she was right.

All I Want for Christmas

Besides her two front teeth, of course.

Saturday, December 03, 2011


This morning, Margot offered the following gem on the quality of the chocolate in her Advent Calendar:

"It tastes good when you first place it on your tongue and let it sit there, but then it starts to taste like Chapstick."

I'm glad I'm raising her to have a discerning palate. It really IS terrible chocolate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

Straight from Margot's first grade performance the other day:

Friday, November 04, 2011

Reason 10,357 why I love Margot

Yesterday she used the correct version of "you're" in a letter she wrote to her friend Iris.

A girl after my own heart.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween 2011

This year Halloween was perfect. The weather was seasonably cool but not too cold. Margot had a parade at school and then trick-or-treated with a gaggle of friends while Brodie and I walked around with the parents. We tried to trick or treat at Carl Kasell's house but it was dark. (That's the funny thing about Washington, DC. While living on Long Island, the big thrill was trick-or-treating at the Amityville Horror House. In DC, it's trick-or-treating at the house of an NPR correspondent. It's certainly a different world here.)

So this year, Margot was a cowgirl.

Brodie was Taliban.

And I was Marcel Marceau (well, really just a generic mime).

Two front teeth

If she's lucky, they will grow in by Christmas!

Thursday, October 06, 2011


Margot has a mouth full of loose teeth. These teeth are hanging by mere threads, and yet she refuses to pull them (or have them pulled).

Yesterday I packed her some leftover pizza for school lunch. It was from our favorite pizza place, and so I knew that qualified as a good lunch. After I picked her up from school, I asked her about her day. That included checking in on the lunch.

"How was lunch today?" I asked.

"Stressful," she answered.

Well, that was not the answer I expected!

"Stressful?" I asked. "Why?"

"Because it's hard to eat pizza when there's only one or two teeth you can use," she answered.

I laughed and laughed (on the inside). I wish that was my biggest source of stress!

Reason 10,356 why I love Margot

She asked to listen to Johnny Cash yesterday. AND, she sang along.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Piano Lessons

Margot started piano lessons today and is in love. Her teacher is beautiful and engaging; she's the antithesis of every piano teacher stereotype you could imagine. Margot came home and immediately started practicing. Brodie is sitting with her. I imagine it won't be long until he starts recruiting her to play in his band.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

California Girl

Last weekend we took a whirlwind trip to California for a wedding. While there, we squeezed lots of fun things: SeaWorld, Disneyland, and a visit to one of Margot's earliest friends.

SeaWorld was a hit. It was there that we took Margot on her first roller coaster and she loved it! She is just tall enough (48 inches) to get to ride on all of the cool rides. We also watched the killer whale show. Despite sitting in the 'splash zone,' we did not get splashed by the orcas, much to Margot's disappointment.

She loved Disneyland, too, although not as much as I thought she would. Don't get me wrong, we all had a great time, but she's long past the princess stage so that kind of silliness had no appeal to her. She did delight in riding more roller coasters, though. Here we are coming down on Splash Mountain (I am tucked away behind Brodie):

If I were to sum up Disneyland in a few words they would be: hot, lines, fun, overpriced, and tiring. Still, I am glad that we got a check in that box. Now we can guiltlessly take vacations wherever we want to go and we can always remind Margot that once we took her to Disneyland.

Margot also had a few surf lessons in San Diego:

I was nervous about her swimming in the ocean with the waves, but she did great. She did get tumbled pretty good one time but she never lost her nerve and only emerged from the water when her lips were blue and she couldn't stop shivering. (Note that Brodie is wearing a wet suit and all Margot has is Brodie's rash guard.)

There may just be a California girl tucked away inside that little pale, East coast body of hers!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Structural Integrity Day

After yesterday's earthquake (two in two years!), I think I have a handle on my earthquake fear and am ready to move to California.

Margot has the day off from school today, a day that shall forever be known as Structural Integrity Day.

She handled the earthquake very well and thought it was nothing more than an adventure. I tend to agree with her; the quake didn't unnerve me and I knew what it was right away after last year's quake. My first instinct was to jump in the car and get home in order to beat the traffic. And it was a success - I got home in 30 minutes.

I'd also like to add that just last month Brodie and I were in Mineral, VA, the quake's epicenter. We visited the CVS and also had amazing, huge, delicious ice-cream cones at a roadside stand. I hope the resulting media coverage of this quake puts that ice-cream stand in the black for the rest of the year.

Final quake observation: I received an email from DC Public Schools this morning informing me of the school closings and noting that some schools were damaged, including School Without Walls. (School Without Walls is a charter school in DC.) The irony of School Without Walls being damaged in an earthquake was not lost on me, and I've been chuckling about it all day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of First Grade

Margot headed back to school this year this morning. She reported a great day and was very excited about her new teacher. At drop off this morning, she confidently joined her friends from kindergarten and strode off to the big kids' section of the building (no more early childhood wing).

So this is the fake smile

And here's a real smile

Friday, August 19, 2011


Just came across this photo of Margot on her homecoming day from the NICU. On Monday she starts first grade.

(Tearing up a little.)

Monday, August 08, 2011


One of the best things about being a parent is getting to share life's greatest joys with your child. And it's made even sweeter when your child loves that joy as much as you do.

Today Margot went on her first real horseback ride. It was a spectacular ride and a spectacular day. The weather was sunny and warm. The air smelled like sagebrush and dry grass. The wildflowers stretched forever. The Tetons rose in the background. In the 20-something years that I've been riding, I've never know scenery upon horseback like what we had today. And this was Margot's first ride that wasn't a sad pony-around-the-ring ride. (How can she top today? She can't.) She rode a steady horse named Mickey. Margot was in love. She had no hesitation; she hopped right onto that horse and took off with our cute cowboy guide. She tried to dress the part with a cowgirl hat, but it blew off atop this mountain (we retrieved it, but had to tie it to the saddle for the rest of the trip).

Today was truly one of the best days of my entire life.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


I'm working on a beautiful Saturday afternoon while Margot takes a well-deserved nap next to me. (She's had a hard day of swimming and sun, and we're both a little burned despite reapplying sunscreen.)

M is a champion sleepwalker and sleeptalker. I'm not surprised when she wanders downstairs in the evenings, eyes totally open, but she's clearly sleepwalking. And she'll hold nonsensical conversations with you late at night, too.

But I just looked over at her because she started to stir and saw something I have never seen before: She tried to get herself into a headstand in her sleep. I was torn between seeing if she could actually do it, and not wanting her to hurt herself. I voted for the latter. I told her to lie down again and she looked at me (eyes wide open), and flopped back onto her pillow.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

American Girl Day

Today dawned sunny and bright. It's a day that Margot has looked forward to since April. It's the day we planned to visit the American Girl store.

I will refrain from analyzing the cultish nature of these dolls and just report the facts: Margot had a glorious time. Her cousin Riley slept over the night before and they performed for me while I drank my coffee this morning.

We ate lunch in the cafe.

Margot saved $30 over the past year with the goal of blowing it all today. She admired items in the store for almost an hour before deciding to buy a pet carrier for her stuffed animal and hair accessories for her doll (total = $32. She owes me two bucks.). The value of the item truly is in the eye of the buyer; it was all I could do to not dissuade her from those items but I reminded myself this was her money and her choice.

I 'treated' her doll to a hair style in the salon (note the cape! and the chair!)

By the time we got home, the excitement of the afternoon caught up with Min. I saw this in my rearview mirror as we pulled onto our street:

Friday, July 08, 2011

Flashback to 2007

Our dear friend Vivian just sent me this photo that she snapped of Margot in 2007 on our trip to Italy.

I remember it clearly: We had just gotten gelato after dinner. We were walking in Positano, getting ready to head back to the villa. I pushed Margot up a cobbled hill in her stroller. Margot felt impatient and wanted to walk. She jumped out. Amidst the shops and restaurants there was an art gallery. The door was open, so Margot wandered in. And then she studied the art.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Independence Day

We celebrated the long fourth of July weekend with all of our favorite activities - boating on the Eastern Shore, fireworks, dinners with family (both sides!) - and a new activity: the Palisades parade. The parade has a small-town feel (it's nice to not fight traffic or crowds for something in DC for once) and had a heavy political presence (although the absence of several corrupt councilpersons was noticed by all - I suspect they feared booing). All of the floats - er, modified SUVs - toss candy out the windows and the kids end up with a haul that rivals Halloween. Margot had a fine time collecting candy with her friends Ella and Leah, and the girls traded and swapped candy with a maturity that surpasses their six years (18 years combined).

Summertime catch-up

Since I am so behind on posting, here is a quick catch up to get you up to date.

Friday night picnics are happening!

So is rock climbing in Rock Creek Park

Brodie did a triathlon and Margot and I woke up before dawn to cheer him on. He rocked it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who doesn't love kittens?

Margot and I had a date tonight. We ate pizza at Pete's New Haven Pizza (my current favorite pizza place in DC) and afterwards we visited the kittens at the pet store next door to the pizza place. Look at this picture. Just LOOK at it! It's all I could do to leave that sweet kitty behind.

Kite Flying

When Margot is really excited about something, her tongue escapes. That tells me she was thrilled to run this kite across the soccer field at our 2011 annual soccer game.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

Over Memorial Day weekend, we travelled to Long Island to visit Kate and Gabe's new house in Greenport, NY. Since it is so close to Shelter Island, we also has a chance to hop over to visit my cousin John and his family and Tim and his family. I spent all day Sunday telling Margot about the things I used to do on Shelter Island. Of course it will never mean to her what it means to me, but at least she will know it was important to me.

Here we are riding the ferry back to Greenport

And here is Margot floating in the same bay that I loved as a kid

And here she is with some first cousins and some second cousins (and an aunt!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Arts Night

We just returned from Arts Night, 2011. This event is a Big Deal to the kids at Margot's school, including Margot. She's been excited for weeks. Margot's school is an arts integration school, which means that all subjects are also intertwined with the arts. They work closely with the Kennedy Center. I saw some seriously amazing artwork tonight at the gallery show - especially some 3rd grade architectural drawings (integrating math and history [all of historic DC buildings] - see how that works?)

We began with a quick photo while Margot was clean and all dolled-up.

Then Margot sang three songs on stage with the other kindergarteners. Here's one.

Then Margot (sans sweater) took me to see her masterpiece at the gallery show.

And finally she burned off all her wiggles by running around with her pals, eating pizza, and doing the monkey bars. The rain held off - it was a great night!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Fair

Here is Margot last Saturday, in full Spring Fair glory, with one of her best girlfriends. Note: this was the first time she ever had cotton candy. She inhaled it in about 3 seconds and reported that it was as heavenly as she had imagined.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Margot invented this smoothie and now it needs a name! The ingredients are:

Frozen peaches
Fresh strawberries
Greek yogurt
Orange juice
Simple syrup

Proportions are to your taste.

Any suggestions? It can't be a Margot-cino (that's steamed milk with vanilla and cinnamon, created by the Acris in NY). But maybe a Margot-rita? Or a Margot-sunrise?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Historical? Hysterical!

Margot and I stood in the kitchen this afternoon and discussed a book project she wants to work on. It involves writing and illustrating a story and then sending it off to be "published." (A very clever gift from her Williamsburg cousins!) Ever the writing instructor, I am encouraging her to make an outline of her story and to then fill in the pages so that it is logical. Margot agrees this is a reasonable process.

"What do you want to write about?" I asked her.

"I don't know, can you give me some ideas?" she replied.

"Well, why not write a story about going to Fort Lewis or Lake Anna?" I asked her.

"Well, I wanted to write a fictional story, but I suppose I could write a non-fiction story about Lake Anna," she mused.

"It can still be fiction," I assured her. "You can use a real place as a setting and still make up different characters or things that haven't really happened."

"Can you give me an example?"

"Sure. Like historical fiction. Stories that take place during a certain time period but the characters never really lived."

"I love historical fiction!" Margot burst out. "And then my story will be really, really funny, too!"

She STILL makes me laugh every day. (In case it isn't clear, she mixed up the words historical and hysterical.)

Hysterical fiction: look for it in a bookstore near you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Celebration

Yesterday was a lovely and busy Easter Sunday. The weather was perfect - 83 degrees and sunny. All of the azaelas burst open - I think it is safe to say that cold weather is gone for the season.

Margot, Brodie, and I started with breakfast (quiche and croissants) and then went to church. We managed to snag seats, too. We returned home and awaited our guests.

Sixteen people came for dinner yesterday afternoon and we ate on the deck. Unfortunately, I was so busy running around I didn't take any pictures. But there was an egg hunt for the kids (one thing our large yard is good for is egg hunting! Also sledding.). The little cousins all looked so cute in their Easter finery. The adults relaxed and talked. Right as we finished eating, there was a close bolt of lightening and crack of thunder. We cleared the table in an instant and everyone moved inside, but 10 minutes later it all blew over with no rain and we could move back outside. Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Egg Dyeing

It's been a flurry of activity in our house this weekend, as we prepare to host many Rulands for Easter dinner on Sunday. Margot did her part yesterday by dyeing some Easter eggs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cultural Marathon

It occured to me yesterday that in a 36-hour span between Sunday morning and Monday evening, Margot participated in three different cultural observances. On Sunday morning she had Sunday school. Since it was Palm Sunday, her class focused on the start of Holy Week by making pencils with palm fronds on them (kind of a weak start to an important week; but, then again, you don't see me volunteering to teach that class so I know I should keep my opinions to myself).

On Sunday afternoon, we headed to Wat Thai in Silver Spring, MD. Wat Thai is a Thai Buddhist temple. Each April the Thais celebrate Songkran (Thai New Year). During Songkran, Thais throw water on one another to cool off (it is unbearably hot in April in Thailand) and visit a wat to pray and offer food to the monks. Wat Thai always has a huge celebration with dancing, music, and amazing food. Margot ate her way through satay, pad thai, and a snow cone, and then we visited the temple for a bit of quiet.

Finally, on Monday evening, we ate Passover dinner with good friends. Margot read the part of The Four Questions during seder and also found the hidden matzo. She patiently sat with the adults for a while, but later retired to the living room to watch a movie.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring Break 2011

Today is Emancipation Day in DC. For me, it means I don't have to feed the parking meters in town. For Margot, it signals the first day of a very long spring break from school. She is marking the occasion with a tea party. (Apparently, pandas don't like too much sun. Who knew?)

Friday, April 08, 2011


Learning to ride her bike without training wheels has been a challenge for Margot. Ever-cautious, she would often stop before she really got going and, as a result, she would fall over. Her caution was causing her to fall, but that's hard to explain to a six-year-old.

But then, last night, after dinner, she and Brodie headed out to take advantage of the lingering daylight (at 7:30pm! Oh how I love daylight savings).

And guess what! It just clicked. Off she rode.

What's the next milestone after this? Driving?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This morning, I gave Margot a pinch when I woke her up since she wasn't wearing green. She sleepily retorted, "Take that back! I have green eyes!"

Alas, she does.

She tumbled down the stairs, ready for the day and excited at the prospect of eating green jello at school. A crafty leprochaun dyed her milk green before breakfast. She guzzled it down.

I like to remember St. Patrick's Day six years ago when Uncle Tim and I took Margot to an Irish bar for a mid-afternoon pint. That was back on Capitol Hill. She slept through the whole thing. I wish I had a photo from that day.

But look at her now!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Margot's Reading List

Margot and I are huge fans of our public library. It's close by, and she loves to get books and movies every few weeks. She usually leaves with a stack of 10-12 books.

Recently she's discovered non-fiction. (A girl after my own heart!) And some people in our family (I'm looking at YOU, Aunt Carol and Grandpa Daileader) will be happy to know that she has an interest in American history. Yesterday Margot wanted to find books on the Star Spangled Banner and the origin of the American flag, so we did. We also checked out books on the oceans, glaciers, and polar bears. She also is in the midst of the American Girl series on Rebecca Rubin.

It's exciting for me to see her so excited about reading and learning. Also, the refresher on American history will serve me well (you would think I'd know more history with all of the historians in my family, but I can definitely use a refresher on the War of 1812).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Visit to The Homestead

In order to break the monotony of winter, we took a quick overnight getaway to The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. The trip down there was rough - windy roads and hills make Margot extremely carsick - but she managed to hold it together with the help of a ginger ale.

Once there, we threw ourselves straight into the activities offered at the lodge. We swam, we had teatime, we went tubing, and we stuffed ourselves silly at the buffet dinner. We slept a few hours and then ate again, went skiing, and caught some trout. For a 24-hour getaway, we were busy!

Skiing at The Homestead

Here is Margot skiing earlier today in Hot Springs, VA. (Skiing in Virginia seems rather counterintuitive, doesn't it? There wasn't much snow.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Long Winter

Time has dragged since Margot's birthday, but for some reason I've been unable to squeeze in an update. So here is a quick rundown, and I will try to be better about posting.

Strep has been Margot's most vile enemy this winter. She seems to get it every month, and is on yet another course of antibiotics. Her tonsils are constantly swollen and we're keeping an eye on them.

Swim team is Margot's new activity, and she loves it. She swims every Sunday afternoon and is always the last kid out of the pool. She's learning the backstroke currently.

Report cards came out a few week's ago and M's was glowing, for the most part. Of course, there was a note that her love of talking is occasionally problematic (my words, not her teacher's). This makes me smile a bit, as I was constantly in trouble for talking in elementary school, too. The apple doesn't fall from the tree at all.

M lost another tooth in January, and the top ones are very wiggly. I anticipate a gap-toothed summer this year.

Today it is 75 degrees. 75 degrees! But tonight it is going to drop into the 20s. Tomorrow we are going skiing. I will post pictures upon our return.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sixth Birthday Party

Last Sunday was Margot's sixth birthday party. We hosted sixteen kids at our house for her party. It was madness. Pure and utter madness. Very loud madness.

We played some party games - hot potato, pin-the-horn-on-the-unicorn, and ring toss. Brodie built an awesome obstacle course in the backyard and we ran them through it over and over even thought it was about 45 degrees and raining. (No one complained. They loved the obstacle course - especially the rope swing! They also loved running through and breaking the tape at the end of the course. Everyone got a medal.)

Margot requested a snowman cake and her wish was granted. I baked the cake and made the frosting and Brodie decorated the cake. In lieu of a pipe, Brodie placed a single candle in the snowman's mouth. Har har har.

Here are most of the guests in a photo. They look sweet, don't they? But there are many screamers in that group. Don't let the innocence you see in this photo fool you.

Finally, here are Min's friends singing happy birthday. All in all it was a great day, but next year we will definitely do something a little more low key.