Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Omi Hiltraud!

October 4th, 2014 by ninja


Liebe Mami/Omi,

Wir wünschen Dir zum Geburtstag alles erdenklich Gute – Glück, Gesundheit, Liebe, Freude und Freunde – und feiern in Gedanken von Brooklyn aus mit.
Das sommerlich-warme Geburtstagswetter ist ja schon sehr vielversprechend, und wir hoffen, dass der Rest des Tages genauso sonnig weitergeht.

Bis nachher am Telefon, und schon einmal viele @@@@@@@ über den Teich!

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Cat Face

June 20th, 2014 by ninja


Mika loves to cuddle with Luna face first. This is how she looks when she comes up for air.

No Comments | Category: Daily Musings, Photos

First Recital

June 15th, 2014 by ninja


Mika and Tobin started taking weekly music lessons this past September. At first, they both went with piano. Mika had previously dabbled with a few group piano lessons in first grade, and could already read sheet music from her two years of singing in the school’s chorus. Naturally, she progressed much faster, and left Tobin rather frustrated. Luckily for him, our music teacher Nate is a singer-songwriter, who plays (and teaches) piano and guitar equally well. Three months into their lessons, Tobin switched to guitar, and has been happier ever since.

Today, all of Nate’s students came together for a casual end-of-school-year recital. Mika has made quantum leaps in the past 9 months. Tobin had to learn to read music in the first place, and after only 6 months of guitar practice, he sounds quite nice.

FYI: here are the original sources of  Rockin’  Robin, Aura Lee, and (Rockin’) Mozart’s inspiration, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. The Spider Dance appears to be specifically written as a teaching song for piano students.


2 Comments | Category: Daily Musings, Music, Videos

Kick Butts Day 2014

May 14th, 2014 by ninja

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All 4th and 5th graders of Mika’s school participate in the Annual Kick Butts Day event. After learning all the facts about tobacco, and why cigarettes can kill you, the kids design their own anti-tobacco t-shirts. Mika’s shirt points out toxic ingredients that are also contained in rocket fuel, rat poison, toilet cleaner, and auto exhaust. These kids are not likely to pick up smoking anytime soon! Instead, they proudly participated in a variety of track and field competitions. Mika ran a 60 m hurdles race, and hurled balls at shot put. Her class teacher brought home a sweeping win in the teachers vs. parents 400 m relay race. They were so proud of him!

No Comments | Category: Daily Musings, Photos

4th Grade State Testing (Round One) … Done!

April 3rd, 2014 by ninja


Three days of English Language Arts (ELA) testing are done, and our fourth graders had reason to celebrate! Four weeks from now, they will have to go through 3 days of tests for Math, and one more day for Science. But today, it was all about a well-deserved cone of ice cream!

1 Comment | Category: Photos

Sock Monkeys

March 6th, 2014 by ninja

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Mika has been our sock folder for many years now, often and willingly pitching in with the most tedious task of laundry folding. In the past year, Tobin has helped her match all socks into pairs prior to folding, and they have become a very efficient team. This past weekend, we had a particularly big heap of socks to go through, so I decided to use one of the generous coupons Mika gave me for my birthday. With great satisfaction, we checked off the little box after a job expertly done.

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Hosting Oreo

February 22nd, 2014 by ninja

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At the onset of Mid-Winter Break, we had a gerbil emergency: nobody had officially signed up to be the vacation host to Mika’s beloved class gerbil. As one of the class parents, I contacted the teacher, concerned that the little guy would run out of food and water. Thankfully, the teacher had planned to come into the classroom twice over the break, to prepare materials for class and provide Oreo with bare necessities. That was the cue, where Mika and Tobin urged me to open our house and host him for the week. My biggest concern was his safety. We figured out a pretty good cat deterrent though, so Luna could watch him from a safe distance, but wasn’t able to physically pounce on the tank. We changed his bedding, got him some fresh veggies along with the dry food, and let him exercise in his running ball every day … much to the delight of the kids and their friends!

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Swim 2.0

February 22nd, 2014 by ninja

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Mika’s favorite swim instructor, who has been teaching her for 2 1/2 years, is finishing up college and leaving the swim school to pursue his professional career. He single-handedly transformed our water phobic 6-year old into a confident swimmer, who is looking forward to her pool time every week. They had a great last lesson, with only two of the four kids of her group in attendance, due to Mid-Winter Break. Their new instructor joined in as well, for a smooth transition. He seems like a nice guy, and hopefully she’ll continue to thrive.

1 Comment | Category: Photos

Good Morning…

February 19th, 2014 by ninja

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Luna loves to cuddle a lot more during the Winter months. Her new, favorite thing is to be sandwiched between down comforters after we get up in the morning. Sometimes, she stays in her heavenly hideout for several hours, and we have trouble finding her.  Another highlight, on slow mornings: staying close to Mika, who likes to read on our bed.

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Sweet Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2014 by ninja

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For Valentine’s Day this year, we ventured into hard candy making. It turned out to be quite a science, and we have learned a lot along the way. For starters, light corn syrup is 100% glucose, and NOT the same as industrial high fructose corn syrup (the bad stuff). Glucose is needed to keep the candy from crystallizing and getting gritty. We tried various natural flavorings and essences, and ended up using raspberry as the flavoring for our red lollipops (with a pinch of citric acid for a lemon-fruity sourness). They turned out pretty good, but winners of the taste test were the less Valentine-y colored butterscotch caramel pops. Nothing beats good old sugar/cream/butter/vanilla. We had more than 40 caramel pops (2 batches), and set them out in the lobby of our house. They were gone before the end of the day!

3 Comments | Category: Crafts

More Snow

February 13th, 2014 by ninja

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Yet another snow storm hit the East Coast on Thursday. So far, we haven’t had any mega storms this season, but the accumulation of a whole series of normal Winter storms is beginning to take it’s toll on everybody as well. In the early morning hours, while the world was still pristinely white and quiet, it was still beautiful though.

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21st Century Knight

February 7th, 2014 by ninja

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Tobin loves playing with his Lego castle, but the little knights have come under fire by the much more powerful Ninjago and Chima fighters. What’s a modern knight to do? Of course, develop 21st-Century super powers himself! Meet the most powerful fighter in all of Legoland: standing on four legs, carrying six weapons in his six arms, and using one very determined mind, he is nearly invincible…

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