Thursday, May 31, 2012

Some pictures of the Cologne cathedral interior










I traveled to Cologne to speak at the NoSQL Matters conference.  The conference started on Tuesday, so I planned to arrive Monday afternoon and have time for a little sightseeing before it started.  It also wouldn't hurt to have some extra time before my talk Wednesday, to get used to the local time zone.  My talk was scheduled for 1:30 PM CET, or 6:30 AM Central time.

On my flight from Austin to DC I got to sit next to a woman with a pissed three month old. The little girl had a tinge of hysteria to her cries.  The mother was embarrassed but nothing worked to quiet her.  After a couple hours I thought she might be desperate enough to let a stranger help, and I offered to take her.  The mom looked skeptical.  "I have four kids," I assured her.  I stood up with the baby in Corinna's favorite football hold and rocked back and forth.  She quieted down quickly, but it took about 40 minutes for her to actually fall asleep.  The other passengers were almost as relieved as the mom.

The first hiccup came as we descended to Dulles airport.  There was a ground stop because of an unusually strong storm, and we didn't have enough fuel to assume a holding pattern while waiting for it to leave, so we diverted to Richmond to refuel.  While we were doing this for two hours -- it didn't help that we were a small regional jet, and larger ones understandably take priority -- the storm died down and my flight to Frankfurt took off without me.

Fortunately the baby kept sleeping the whole time until we landed in DC, around four hours.

I spent the night in a DC hotel.  Last time this happened I just spent the night in the airport rather than spend extra money, but I guess I'm getting old, and United did throw in a 50% discount on the room.  I had the same flight out Monday, at 10 PM, so it was nice to not have to spend that entire time in the airport's vinyl seats.

As luck would have it, my flight to Frankfurt was late, too.  I disembarked at 1 PM local time, and there was no way to make my train at the opposite end of the airport at 1:09, even if I'd taken the most direct route there, which I did not.  My train ticket was an odd duck, since it was through Lufthansa instead of Deutche Bahn directly.  Even the airport employees weren't quite sure what to make of it.  The main Lufthansa counter sent me to the desk near the trains.  The lady there was unsympathetic: "Why did you miss the train?"  "Well," I said, "I started heading around through terminal 2, but then they told me I needed to go back through terminal 1 instead..." 

She wasn't buying it.  "You'll probably have to buy a new ticket.  Go talk to the ticketing desk."

The ticketing desk was very German.  I started walking up to the counter but I was reprimanded by a lady guarding the entrance.  She handed me a paper with my number in line, even though nobody else was waiting.  I duly waited for my number to be called.  Once at the the ticketing desk, I didn't make the same mistake twice.  "Why did you miss the train?"  "My flight was late."  The man gave me a ticket on the next train for no extra charge.

(Brian has a future in modeling for Lufthansa if the Air Force thing doesn't work out.)

So I finally arrived in Cologne, just in time for dinner courtesy of the conference.  They served a Thai buffet with recognizable Thai dishes, which isn't always to be expected in Germany, in my experience.
The weather was perfect. Maybe 78 degrees with a light breeze. It's a beautiful city, or at least it is near the historic center where I was:


A Belgian named Philippe heard me speaking French with our two Parisian employees who were also at the conference.  He came over and introduced himself.  Nothing like a common language!

Afterwards I slept from 11 PM to 2:30 AM.  Got up and did some work, then slept again from 6 to 11. I spent the trip kind of stuck between time zones like this.

My talk went fine.  I decided to play hooky after that and went to see the Cologne cathedral:


You can still see parts of a Roman house that once stood by the cathedral's foundation:


On the climb to the belfry the stone steps were worn down in the middle from thousands of visitors over centuries.  A tangible connection to the past.  I remember some of the buildings at Princeton University had steps worn like this... though not quite as dramatically.


It's almost 600 steps to the top.  That's a lot.  I felt bad for the dad I passed whose four year old had run out of gas and needed to be carried.  I definitely felt the burn in my legs just with my own weight.  But for the students lugging back packs up, I had less sympathy; that's just dumb.

At the top you can see forever.  There's close to a dozen Gothic style churches within eyesight of the cathedral.




Unfortunately, the view was covered by a wire mesh,  probably to prevent more graffiti like this:


When I left it was fun telling people wheezing their way up, "You're almost halfway there!" and getting groans in reply. Fun fact: the Cologne Cathedral was started in 1248, and not completed until 1880. That's some serious commitment.

Out for the summer!

School ended Friday the 25th.  The kids pretty much played the entire day.  Melissa's class had a water party and both Matthew and Melissa had an ice cream social.

Matthew is with his teacher Mrs. Tjon receiving an award for "Most Imaginative".  The class voted on the awards and really pegged Matthew!

Here is Melissa on the last day with Mrs. Beechinor.  She had a blast in 1st grade!  The only downside to the year is her best friend ever, Avery, is moving to Ohio.

Isaac said goodbye to Ms. Katelyn, Ms. Diane, and Ms. Rachel.  Not pictured is Ms. Debbie, his speech therapist.  He really blossomed under the care of these wonderful ladies.  By the end of the school year he started volunteering interesting things he was learning in school and sometimes he'd talk about his friends and teachers.  I love hearing him express himself!

After school many of the neighborhood kids met up at the pool and played some more.  Matthew and Melissa have already mentioned how they miss their teachers and going to school...but probably not as much as I do! 

May 2012

After the Austin Maker Faire, Matthew expressed an interest in learning more about electronics.  Jonathan bought 2 snap-on electric sets that could send disks spinning, lights blinking, or create different sounds.  This entertained Matthew for hours as he discovered novel ways to put the circuits together and combine the various effects.

Now he wants to move onto soldering and more complex electronics.

Isaac helped me clove the ham.  I'm wearing my muppet ABC shirt that Jonathan gave me, classic!

Isaac's breakfast of champions.  Oatmeal with cheese-its.  Mmmhmm!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Corinna is 1 year!

Our Baby Bubbles is growing up!  It hardly seems possible that a year has gone past since we were touching her soft newborn skin, admiring her squishy fat rolls, and nuzzling her downy fine baby hair.  I wrote about her entrance to this world here, and she's been a delight and joy in our home ever since.  

Jonathan was on his way to Germany on her birthday, so we kept it a low key affair and will really celebrate when he gets back.  She did have her first taste of cake on her birthday.  Chocolate, naturally!  On the day she arrived, one year ago, we feted with chocolate cake, so it was only fitting.  And tasty.  As an added bonus, Matthew made the cake.

 She wasn't sure at first what to think of it, and regarded it rather suspiciously. 

Then she decided it was fun to mush and squish before giving it a tiny taste. 

But when she tasted it, she was sold!

Then she attempted to lick her plate clean.  Num!

Please sir, can I have some more? 

For her gross motor skills she is now walking and even attempting to run!  She climbs stairs, ledges, and Daddies.  

She can throw, but sometimes forgets to let go of the ball at the right time.  Corinna also invented a game in which she puts her head down onto the ground like so:

and immensely enjoys it if you copy her.

For fine motor skills, the girl has a knack for opening things that ought not to be opened.  She's beginning to use a more refined pincer grasp when picking small objects up, but still often prefers to use her other fingers in addition to her index and thumb. 

Corinna babbles and says ma ma ma and da da da, but we don't think they are actual words yet.  Clearly she is understanding more of the world around her though.  When I say a word such as "Matthew" or "phone" she will direct her attention to what was named.  She also understands "No" and doesn't much like it!  Corinna loves to play peek-a-boo and to chase and be chased by her big siblings.  She bobs to music, and laughs and squeals when something pleases her.  

It is getting more difficult to hide things from Corinna.  If she catches you in the act of hiding an object away she is not fooled anymore into thinking that since it is out of sight it is therefore gone.  Oh no!  Even if she doesn't see the actual hiding space she is clever enough to start looking.  I took my phone away from her and quickly secreted it away without her seeing where.  She started ransacking my purse, my pockets and my hands looking for it.  

She is growing is so many ways.  I am really going to miss "baby" Bubbles, but I am looking forward to the antics of "toddler aka hurricane" Bubbles.

Monday, May 28, 2012

April Peanuts

  • Isaac is potty trained, but until he is more reliable at wiping after a number two I am lord of the stool. So I'm attending his Highness this afternoon. "Are you done?" Isaac doesn't answer. Instead he says, "knock knock." "Who's there?" "All done!"
  • Isaac sneezed in his oatmeal. The next bite had stringy boogers streaming from it.
  • Rachel: "I didn't think four was a lot of kids until we left Utah."
  • Rachel: "But I thought you didn't like sushi!" That was before I found out you could get deep-fried rolls.
  • Wednesdays I drive 2.5 hours. Isaac's preschool in the morning, then to work, then cub scouts with Matthew at night.
  • Melissa: "Look, Dad! In the tree, there's a bird party! Maybe a baby bird was born and they all came to see!"
  • Instead of chasing the kids to bed [April 7], I hid in Matthew's bed and waited for him to climb up the ladder. Gotcha!
  • Rachel was aghast at my suggestion that we get some lunchables for Isaac's preschool lunch. (Really more of a second breakfast.) Instead, she's packing him... cold pizza.
  • Rachel: "Isaac, are you three?" Isaac: "No, mama free [three]! Eyeash [Isaac] i s a a c."
  • Rachel: "something." Me: "Huh?" Rachel: "Did you hear what I said?" Me: "No." The men at my office are unanimous that this is a normal product of trying to get work done with kids around. Hamilton: "There's a support group for that. It's called other married women."
  • Matthew: "Maybe when you're a better programmer, you can help build the online game I designed."
  • Melissa: "Oh, no! Corinna has your laptop!" Me: "It's okay; she can't hurt it." Corinna proceeds to pry off the letter I.
  • Me: "You're right, it's important to distinguish between 'needs' and 'wants.'" Melissa: "Like if you want a baby, you need to get married!"
  • Rachel: "I don't want to go to bed, either. The sooner we go to bed, the sooner the kids will be up."

March Peanuts

  • Three times this morning, Melissa's made Corinna cry. Each time, Isaac came over to sing and dance to cheer her up -- and it worked!
  • Isaac learned to say his name this week. The first time I heard it was this morning: I was bundling the kids up in the minivan to go to the Home Depot Kids Workshop, and Isaac made a break for the Z4 instead. "No Mama car!" he said. "Eyeash [Isaac's] car!"
  • When Rachel told Isaac it was time to go, he started stuffing sand in his pockets. Who says you can't take it with you?
  • Pack meetings here are as bad as homework. Bring a talent exhibition table AND an artistically decorated cake!?
  • Sent Isaac to bed, but he crept into the room where Matthew and Spencer were watching a movie. Sent him to bed again, and this time I watched him tiptoe around the corner to the back door of the movie room. Gotcha!
  • Yesterday Isaac was running along at his usually barely-under-control pace, when he lost a shoe. He tripped and fell, and Rachel following along behind stepped on his hand. For the rest of the afternoon he kept showing his hand off, saying "Ow," and "Mama hurt me!"
  • Isaac teases Melissa: "'Issa yuck. Eyeyash [Isaac] yum!" Melissa was in tears, which caused her sensitive and protective father to crack up. A developmental milestone, to be sure.
  • Matthew was a big help at the store yesterday, so I bought him a pack of gum as a reward. Or do you still call 12 feet of gum tape a "pack?" Either way, Matthew was intensely pleased, and Isaac was intensely jealous. Last night Matthew his gum out. And Isaac found it this morning. Isaac was delighted: "Gum! Num num num num num num!" I'm not sure how much was left, but Isaac ate *all* of it. Matthew was pissed. Sometimes it is hard to be Isaac's brother.
  • I handed Matthew the toilet duck. "You know what to do with this, right?" He started squirting it directly into the bowl. I laughed and showed him how to apply it under the rim around the edge. I'm pleased to say he'll have plenty of opportunities to practice.
  • Matthew is a little stormcloud because he was assigned to study hall during recess after refusing an assignment to write about a field trip he'd been on. He didn't write during study hall either. "I hate writing. I'm not good at it. And that won't change."
  • Our minivan takes 19.75 gallons plus a few thousanths to fill up from completely empty. Fortunately I was able to coast to a gas station when I had occasion to determine this. Barely.
  • Corinna figured out where to find Mommy when she's trying to sleep. I put the chaise lounge in front of the door so she can't bang on it. She just discovered the obstacle: deciding now whether to complain loudly or go find something else to do.
  • Me: "How do you know it's yuck, if you haven't tried it?" Rachel: "I'm not going to eat anything that will turn my poop funny colors."
  • Matthew pulled Cake Wrecks off the shelf and started reading it. I had to explain why "Happy birthday you Pastard [sic]" was funny. Guess it's time to move Books We Don't Want Matthew To Read Yet into our bedroom.
  • Melissa: "Ms. Beechnor? I mean, Mom?"
  • How bad is our newspaper delivery man? I added the "report a missed delivery" number to my address book.

February Peanuts

  • Melissa: "You've never brushed your hair, Matthew." You know, I think she's right.
  • Brussels is cold in February. Also, Belgian waffles are really damn good. (This gave me a fantastic excuse to get out of meetings. "Sorry, I'm at a conference in Belgium." "Sorry, I'm on a plane all day Monday." Maybe I should make up a conference or two to attend.)
  • Matthew's aunt Christine Ellis is teaching him the physics of vision.
  • One of Dad's college friends was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. My parents are getting older.
  • It's Isaac's first day of preschool. Rachel: "Let's drop him off together. It's kind of like the first day of kindergarten." Me: "But I don't get sentimental about that either."
  • Went to Fogo de Chao for lunch with Brian, Kirsti, and Christine. Isaac had an uncharacteristically good meal, eating a slice of ribeye along with two sausages. When Kirsti's dessert of chocolate cake and ice cream arrived, Isaac let out the purest cry of three year old joy I can remember, and he enthusiastically helped her polish it off.
  • Melissa: "It's so easy even my dad can do it!"
  • It's hysterical watching Corinna figure out how her limbs work. Right now she's working on the difference between legs and arms -- trying to grab things with her feet is my favorite.
  • I'm not sure what Matthew's doing in the shower. It sounds like he's narrating the King Kong dogfight -- lots of "neeeeaarow" engine noises and thumping.
  • Rachel made the kids blueberries and (real, whipped) cream for an after school snack. Isaac loves blueberries. He loves whipped cream. But he wouldn't touch them, once they were in the same bowl.
  • Low moments in parenting: "Quit playing with your brother and go watch TV!" ‎(Trying to keep them quiet so Rachel can get some sleep.)
  • Pinewood derby night. Melissa took Matthew's car from last year, and they let her race it with the scouts. She had a great time! Next year she wants to make her own car -- a silver one.

Melissa writes to Grandma

(Was going to make this part of February's Peanuts posts, but it ran long.)

Melissa: "I like writing."

Writing stories?

"No, letters."

You know who would love a letter from you? Grandma!

"Daddy," [in her "Dad's pulling my leg, but I'm on to him" voice] "we can send Grandma a text message!"

So we did. Here is what she wrote:

Hi! This is Melissa! I had a good day at school. I got a pioneer pride award. Grandma I miss you. On Friday I will go have a good day. I love you grandma how was your day?

Friday will be "a good day" because she is invited to come early to a donuts and juice ceremony for Pioneer Pride recipients. Melissa got the award for making friends with a special needs girl.

Matthew has an email account now

I reserved Matthew a gmail address years ago and today I let him start using it.  His best friend Spencer is moving to Dallas so it seemed like a good time to start.

We gave him some ground rules (be wary of email from people you don't know; don't sign up for Google+ or anything else that asks for your birthday) and turned him loose.

One of the first things he did was send me this important question:

Why did you never get Terrai [Terraria] on your steam acount?  I could help you get more iteams [items]. It's a really fun game.
Of course, the first email I sent him was equally important: some deck-building advice.

As I write this, I asked him, "Did you read the email I sent you?"

"What email?"

"The one I sent you."

"No, Dad.  We've been gone all day."

"It was in your inbox before we left."

"Oh, that?  I didn't think it was important."

I think in literature they call this foreshadowing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

January Peanuts

  • Matthew was pretty indignant that we made him get ready for school today [Jan 2] when he *knew* it was closed. Turns out, there was no traffic near the school, no crossing guard... Matthew was right. I turned around and took Melissa and Isaac to McDonald's for Second Breakfasts.
  • Didn't hear Melissa for a while so I went to check on her. Found her hiding from Isaac on a stool in the bathroom, playing Crayon Physics.
  • Wrote something unflattering about friend A in an email to Rachel while mad. I was aware that it wasn't really fair, so I removed it via ctrl-X before sending. Then friend A asked me a question over IM, to which I thought I had the answer in my clipboard, so ctrl-V return. I think that's the most embarrassed I've ever been in my life.
  • I gave Corrina her pacifier one night as I started to bounce her to sleep. She popped it out and waved it at me, concentrating hard. "Rachel," I called out, "Corrina's trying to put her pacifier in my mouth!" "No, she's not," Rachel replied. I put it back in Corrina's mouth. She took it out again and tried to put it in mine. "You're right," Rachel admitted.
  • Isaac was quiet. Too quiet. Rachel found him in her bathroom, lighting matches that he'd pilfered from the cupboard. That's our three year old!
  • Rachel: "[X] doesn't have a mechanical bone in her body. She's like you. Maybe worse."
  • When we got to church, Melissa made a beline to the bathroom. Not to miss an opportunity, I asked Isaac if he needed to go too, and he darted into the ladies' room after her. I waited in the hall, until eventually I called in after them, "Are you almost done?" "Yes. Isaac had to poop." Uh-oh. "Did you help him wipe?" "No, he wiped himself." And that is why I ended up driving right back home after less than five minutes at church.
  • The line between "rolling with purpose" and crawling is a blurry one, but Corinna has definitely crossed it. Nothing is safe, especially not the books that Matthew and Melissa leave scattered on the floor.
  • Rachel told Matthew that before he could read Artemis Fowl she wanted him to read Harry Potter first, to calibrate how much intensity he was ready for. So Matthew complained for months that Harry Potter was dumb and he didn't want to read it... but he finally gave in this week and finished it in short order, diving back in whenever he had a spare minute. Now he wants to read the second Potter book before Artemis. [May update: he read the entire Harry Potter series. Still hasn't finished Artemis.]
  • We only had a pecan ice cream to go with the brownies tonight. Melissa: "I don't like this. I want vanilla!" Me: "This is Texas vanilla. It's so manly it's got nuts in it."

December Peanuts

Yes, I'm six months behind on Peanuts posts...
  • Me: "Do you want to play Angry Birds?" Isaac: "No brawk! My my my!" I have no idea what he means. So he takes my phone and opens up Chu Chu Rocket. "Mice."
  • Matthew left his camera down. Isaac found it. I wonder how many cows Matthew will have when he comes home and finds his memory card full of Isaac self-portraits. (Epilogue: we don't remember. I guess imagining it was funnier than reality.)
  • Rachel's keys were lost for several days. We thought Matthew had taken them from the counter to get the mail, but he denied everything. Today Rachel remembered that Matthew had been shirtless after getting the mail, and she sent him to get a shirt on. "What if he took the keys with him and left them in his shirt drawer?" Sure enough, that's where they were. Rachel: "What I don't understand is how you could put a shirt on every day and not notice them!"
  • The problem with Matthew doing a job is that if everything doesn't go perfectly he will throw a tantrum and quit. See: pancakes for dinner.
  • Life lessons: Magic Eraser has virtually no effect on permanent marker on a textured wall. However, rubbing alcohol + baby wipes cleans the living HELL out of it. Fortunately for Isaac's chances of living to see kindergarten.
  • [Jonathan's] Dad doesn't know what POS stands for, but he knows it's inappropriate.
  • ‎Jake at work: "Welcome to the most productive two weeks of the year."
  • Gingerbread house decorations on the 20th. Isaac ate so much candy that eventually he had enough and started actually putting it on the houses. Three year old heaven.
  • Matthew is discovering to his chagrin that little brothers can be every bit as much trouble as little sisters.
  • I hate the wii. Isaac wants to play World of Goo on it but the wiimote tracking is too imprecise for him to deal with without bugging me every 30 seconds.
  • Melissa, praying: "Heavenly Father, bless Jesus to have a good birthday on Sunday. Amen." She wanted a birthday cake, too. To celebrate properly.
  • Me: "Telitha doesn't look very pregnant in this picture." Dad: "You either are, or you aren't."
  • The USB drawing tablet is a bust as far as Isaac's concerned. He'd rather use the touchpad.
  • Me: "Matthew got an Erector set for Christmas." Mom: "[My brother] Kevin loved those growing up. When we were kids, we wanted to be engineers. Now they get PhDs in English Literature and occupy wall street."
  • Corrina is pushing herself backwards on the floor now, away from the toys she wants to get. Won't be long now until she figures out how to go the other direction.
  • Number of times Melissa has dropped her new camera since Christmas morning [2 days ago]: 3. So far it still works, but we might have jumped the gun on this gift.
  • Rachel, after fixing Melissa's camera post drop on the floor: "I'm good at fixing things. I get lots of practice."
  • One of the drawbacks of taking Isaac in the Z4 is that it's compact enough that he can reach a lot of controls from the passenger seat. But the minivan is getting its fuel pump replaced, so I buckled him in this morning for the drive to speech therapy. When I got back from grabbing a USB cable for my phone I was greeted with, "Thank you for calling BMW Assist. If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 911..."
  • Took Isaac to Burger King last night to get some wiggles out. After chicken nuggets and an hour climbing on the slides I told him it was time to put socks on and go. "No sock!" he told me emphatically, and ran off to the slide again. When he got down he came over, sat on the chair, and stuck his feet out. "I ree-e [ready] sock," he said.
  • Isaac helped carry in the groceries. Our dozen eggs is now an even 10.
  • Isaac found a show on Netflix called Dinosaur Train. It's about dinosaurs. On trains. For a three year old this is the most awesome concept ever.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Matthew's contract

Matthew's contract by jbellis
Matthew's contract, a photo by jbellis on Flickr.

Matthew has been campaigning furiously for his own room when we move.  Which I oppose on principle (a shared room was good enough when I was growing up; get off my lawn) but I can see the practical advantages, vis., Isaac actually falling asleep without fighting with his brother for half an hour first.

Today Matthew tried a new tack: promising that if he had his own room, he would keep it clean so help him God.  "Really?" I asked skeptically.  "So, if you don't keep it clean, we'll just move Isaac in because one messy room is better than two messy rooms.  I should have you put that in writing so that when your room is messy I can show it to you.  Because otherwise I know you'll deny everything."

Matthew saw his opening and came back five minutes later with this.  Done!

N.B.: Since he wrote "singed," I had him sing the contract to the tune of "shoo fly, don't bother me."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Corinna is walking!

Corinna took her first few intentional steps on Tuesday night.  Three days later she can get to standing without holding onto anything and can walk the full length of the room.  She has a lot of cheerleaders!

Isaac + Scissors

Sigh.  There was only thing to do...

Isaac's first summer buzz.  He was pleased.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sleepy Isaac

Sleepy Isaac by jbellis
Sleepy Isaac, a photo by jbellis on Flickr.
Isaac fell asleep on the way home from the store. It fell to me to wake him for dinner.

I scratched his back slowly. He woke up groggy, so I took him to the rocking chair. He was snuggly.

Then he peed on my lap.

Monday, May 14, 2012


HAPPY MOTHERS DAY, a photo by jbellis on Flickr.
At church people kept giving him treats and saying it was for Mother's Day. It became his greeting: "Hă mŭ day!"

After church he ate the treats himself. Isaac likes Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Austin Maker Faire

This afternoon I took the older two kids to the Austin Maker Faire. It was fantastic. Next year I want to take them for the full day and turn them loose to explore.

Melissa weaving on a frame loom.  We barely fit this in at the end of the day; the other weavers were already packing up but this lady was kind enough to let Melissa add a few lines to the rug.

This man built his own computer-controlled drawing machine, kind of a fancy harmonograph. I'm pretty sure he normally charges for his work, but Melissa charmed a drawing out of him for free. She's immensely pleased with it.

Matthew and Melissa both learned to knit. Here they are with their balls of "T-shirt yarn," which Matthew and I cut and stretched from an old shirt. Matthew was the more apt pupil; I thought the instructor was just being polite at first when she enthused about how quickly he was picking it up, but she was serious. Apparently his prior experience with crochet with Grandma Linda helped.

A machine to decorate CDs with paint via centrifugal force. One of the least impressive things at the fair in my opinion, but the kids got a kick out of it

This gentleman was showing off his life-size, remote-controlled R2D2. He's the one in the sunglasses in the second picture; you can kind of make out his very apropos shirt.

This was my favorite: a learn to solder workshop from the ATX Hackerspace. Matthew and Melissa both successfully soldered an LED and a battery pack to a decorative pin

Things I didn't get a picture of: the glass blower. The soap maker. The robot builders. The stop-motion movie studio.

Can't wait for next year!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Melissa is 7!

My darling, darling girl on the morning of her 7th birthday
She received her pretty new purple dress from grandma.

Melissa loves to laugh and is a bundle of fun.  She loves to "think aloud" and share her good ideas, and she has lots of them!  Many of our conversations begin with, "What do you think about....?  That'd be a good idea, huh?"  When Melissa is happy she fills a room with her joy.  She feels life passionately and can be a ray of sunshine or a little storm-cloud, but her default mood is happy and bubbly.  

My little girl is bright, determined, and spunky.  It would be easy for her to just go along with her strong-willed big brother's ideas all the time, but she has a mind of her own and isn't afraid to express herself.  Still Melissa and Matthew can be the best of friends, and sometimes enemies, and yet they always look out for each other.  

Melissa adores being big sister to her baby sister after years of waiting and wishing.  She loves Isaac too, but as she notes, Isaac can be trouble especially when he gets into her stuff!

This year her reading has really taken off.  She is enjoying beginning chapter books like the Boxcar Children,  and The Magic Treehouse.  This from the girl who not long ago insisted she didn't like to read and really didn't see the need for it- Mom, Dad, and Matthew could just read for her!  We are thrilled that she has discovered a love of reading during the last year.  

Melissa is still a friend to everyone and includes all children when playing.  She likes people, and she expects people to like her too.  And they do!  Everywhere she goes she makes friends.  

It is hard to believe that seven years have past since we welcomed Melissa into our home.  She surprised us by arriving so quickly that the midwife wasn't even in the room!  I stood up and she was born into the welcoming hands of me, her mother.  Her proud papa was right there, hands below mine to catch if needed.  It was glorious, and very unexpected!  

Melissa a few hours old and home from the birth center

Family of 4 with baby Melissa!