Monday, December 31, 2012

The end of a great year!

So I think "The Christmas Letter" is a great way to sum up 2012:

December 2012 I’m sipping coffee and sneaking cookies and trying to sum up our year – firstly, apologies if you did not receive a card from us last year.  I lost my address book – if you sent us a card I tried to keep your envelope long enough to transcribe the return address… and now I need to find that list.

Fall 2012:  K started High School. Tiger started Middle School. Dragon is in 5th grade, M-Lyons in 2nd, Bitsy started Kindergarten and Little Hawk hated preschool but we switched him and now he attends Bright Beginnings 5 mornings a week and rides the bus and everything.  Tim coached Dragon’s soccer team and Tiger played for his dad as well as his usual team with legacy.  We added two dogs: Molly Hogan the pretty yellow lab in the picture, is staying with us until late spring when we expect she’ll join her dad, P. in Indianapolis.  Thalia is the bat eared German Shepherd puppy that flew out to us from Oregon, having flown from Germany to Oregon not long before that.  In addition to being an experienced traveler, she is a digger and often digs under Tim’s nice new backyard fence to go play in the swampy ravine adjacent to our property.  Yay.  And (drum roll please) M- Lyons just finished her first Nutcracker ballet.  The Virginia Regional Ballet produces a Nutcracker every year and this year M- Lyons joined the cast as a “gingersnap” also known as Mother Gigogne’s children.  Personally I was sure that all the late night rehearsals would lead to a meltdown, or that we’d get through all those Saturday practices and then she’d decide she didn’t want to actually perform, but she surprised me.  She totally loved it, and she rocked it.  Go M!

This summer we broke tradition with the Sharks Swim Team and instead drove across country.  I commandeered DataXstream’s Sprinter, loaded it up with kids, ski gear, and lots of snacks, and drove to Texas.  We visited my brother Tony and family for a few days and then drove to Salt Lake City where we picked up Tim.  With Tim we drove to Mt. Hood, Oregon and spent a week skiing with our ski team.  I’ve never been to Mount Hood and it is the coolest experience.  Beautiful country.  From there we drove back to Utah, put Tim on a plane, went out to Antelope Island in the middle of the Salt Lake.  And then proceeded to drive home.  We stopped in Nebraska to catch up with Tim’s college roommate & best man, Scott and family.  I have decided to do a cross country trip again soon with just K.  She and I both kept seeing wayside places that we would like to stop and see  “if we didn’t have a 5 year old and a 2 year old in the car.”   Lincoln Nebraska looks like a town I’d like to revisit.

Last Spring Tim was on assignment over spring break so we drove to Florida to hang out with him.  While he was at work we went to the Tampa Zoo, and the beach, and once drove out to see Mama Kay.  I highly recommend the Tampa Zoo.  For an astronomical fee you can buy romaine lettuce (can’t bring your own sorry) and feed it to the giraffes. Totally cool.  And the kids rode a camel.  Another day we went to Sea World and hands down the sea lion show is the best.  We added it up, Little Hawk’s been in the country less than 2 years and he’s been to 10 states, and driven through 22.

We are gearing up for a winter with the Wintergreen Ski Team.  Tim plans to help coach again this season, the oldest 4 with be on the team, Bitsy will ski with me and maybe we’ll teach Little Hawk too. Our love to everybody- The Yates Family

Saturday, December 29, 2012

somewhere out near Suffolk, Virginia

Friday, December 28, 2012


Thalia, Dec 10, 2012, Thalia came to us via Vom HausReid

Thalia, Dec 10th. I took her to the Vet today for her shots. She was 40 lbs already!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

For my Cousin - there IS hope

playing in the rain
I'm lucky to be in communication with my cousin. He's younger than I am by enough that our childhoods didn't really coincide much - but thanks to things like facebook and twitter - I get to read his snarky remarks and respond with my own. And we've got a little bit of a feel for each other these days. He is many things. Snapshot - while he lives in the city making a living being literary and makes his way to work via mass transit (inspiration for many snarky remarks)- when he's home at his parents he'll often choose to sleep outside in a hammock instead of in the house. A particular concern of his is the growing trend of American children who do not play outside. There is a sense that there is a young America that is disconnected from where their food comes from, even from the planet they live on. So consumed are they by the world inside.

It is a topic that I am not as sensitive to as my neighborhood offers a haven for children who wish to be outside. It is not uncommon to see another mother and have a conversation along the lines of "I'm sorry he was such a mess when he left our house yesterday. They went down into the ravine and were gone for hours." And the retiree up the street shocked her friends by saying, "oh the kids on my street are always outside on their bikes" and even more wonderful are all the neighbors who indulge the summer "man hunt" sessions up and down the street. So for my cousin I took pictures yesterday-

yes, I'm afraid he IS tasting the water


I pivoted from the where I took the photo of the kids on "the bridge" and took the picture of my house.  Not quite literally "my back yard" - I don't own the property, past the fence up there, but still.

I'm not poo-pooing my cousin's concern.  There are kids at the preschool who only play outside at preschool.  (now there is an argument for longer -rather than shorter- recess sessions).  And then there is my nephew (who I see rarely and have little to no influence over) who made me shudder this summer when my kids went outside at Nana's and he smiled and said "I'm more of an inside person." (Dude, you're 10. Get your lazy butt outside.)

In our conversations my cousin has suggested the book: "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" by Richard Louv

As many of my blog buddies are outdoorsy kinds of people I'm wondering if they too feel there is a trend towards disconnect from "outside."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Town, Busch Gardens

This year the company Christmas Party was hosted inside Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Christmas Town.  They have a tent just past the Festhaus for private events.  Catered dinner.  Entrance to the park included.  Kinda cool.


Christmas Town, Festhaus, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Christmas Town, 2012

Inside the Festhaus, Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, Christmas Town 2012, Inside the Festhaus.  There is cafeteria style food, and a musical show

Busch Gardens, Christmas Town, 2012, The Holy Family, in "Italy," Christmas Town.  Busch Gardens, Williamsburg.

Christmas Town 2012, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Christmas Town, "Italy"

Christmas Town 2012, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Christmas Town 2012.  Escape from Pompey.

Christmas Town 2012, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Christmas Town, 2012. Escape from Pompey in lights.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Our First Nutcracker Experience!

every year that I have lived in Williamsburg, there is a Nutcracker Performance at Phi Beta Kappa Hall (William & Mary campus).  For the last several years it has been performed by the Virginia Regional Ballet, which continued the tradition started by Chamber Ballet.

This year my 7 year old joined the cast - as one of Mother Gigogne's children.  What an experience!  We had our moments - when rehearsal conflicted with a friend's birthday party she was disappointed - and when we had to shorten our Thanksgiving trip by a day my husband raised his eyebrows - but it was worth every minute!

Here we are experiencing our first dress rehearsal panic:

no curls! and trying not to cry

She lost her curls. Her what? Her curls. Each little dancer in the Mother Gigogne dance bought a hair piece, and mine lost hers. And "forgot" to tell me until the dress rehearsal on Wed. with the first show being on Saturday. Oh No! Unfortunately it was picture day, as she was barely holding it together, we didn't buy photos. But- the upshot is that she did hold it together, and rehearsed, and I hope learned a valuable lesson: When things aren't perfect, chin up & keep going.


That's mine, in the pink in her pantaloons. Missing hair was minor, some of the costumes didn't make it from the studio to the theater and the girls rehearsed in bits and pieces. Someone ran back & got them though so they did arrive. Just one little hiccup.


The studio keeps an emergency set of curls just in case. So on Friday we borrowed theirs. Saturday & Sunday too.

watching Act 1 on Friday

ready for make-up!

In addition to the students at our school, the cast in rounded out by the Margie Willams Studio of Dance, and the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet as well.

This year our principal dancers included, Lauren Fadeley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Francis Veyette as the Cavalier, hometown favorite Cornelius Bartlett, and Stan Evanstine continues his role as Herr Drosselmeyer.

As for us, I am delighted that my little "gingersnap" danced well for her three performances, and despite the late nights involved loved every minute of being a part of a big production.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Colonial Christmas

another day, another walk with the dogs along D.O.G. street (Duke of Gloucestor, but everybody calls it DOG) and I took a couple of photos to share: Love this one!

Colonial Williamsburg, Fife & Drum

There was a fife and drum wreath on every window of this house, and a more elaborate one on the front door.  I did not take a picture of the one by the door because this house is tucked in a bit, and I had two dogs, and it is a private residence.  The people who reside in these homes are used to people staring, and taking photos, but still... you have to draw the line somewhere.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

when mommy is away

a silly little dog video
sent to me by Will, who volunteered to take Molly over Thanksgiving so I could go skiing.  (I say "I" because we almost decided to just send Tim and the 4 older kids and I'd stay back with the 2 little kids and the dogs... seriously... as Marcia accused: Cailin you always think of reasons you "can't go" instead of just going.  And she's right.)

This is Molly - Thanksgiving weekend "Walking on Water"

Molly loves the swamp behind the house, Kat trying to get Molly into the bath
K & Molly

This photo is from early November.  Molly off to have a bath after playing in the swamp behind the house.  One of my favorite photos of K, ever.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg

Every December Colonial Williamsburg decorates with some of the most interesting and unique wreaths you will ever see.  I love taking walks in the Colonial Area and having a look.  Here are some from my walk last week:

The Peyton Randolph House

love this detail.  the long pine cones and dried sunflower make a star
detail of the star

Chownings, every Christmas Colonial Williamsburg "puts on the green" and they decorate. Often different shops and houses will add a theme to their decorating. This is Chowning's tavern.  If you look closely you'll see shells, and beer tankards, and pipes
Chowing's Tavern

The Weaver's Shop, every Christmas Colonial Williamsburg "puts on the green" and they decorate.  Often different shops and houses will add a theme to their decorating.  This is the weaver's shop.  Note unspun cotton and flax and strips of woven textiles.
at the weaver's

I am linking this post to Beverly's Pink Saturday featuring Holiday Porches

Skiing shout outs

my husband and oldest 3 kids are skiing Copper Mountain in Colorado today.  My little Bitsy is lying on the couch moaning (the stomach flu is going around) and I'm getting ready to decorate for Christmas.  Yesterday was the Christmas parade and I *still* can't find my phone.  My husband is not going to be impressed with me.  And I took my earnings from Sugar and Spice consignment to the bank and then wrote a check to Chelsea Marshall.

Last May I wrote a post about buying cookies from Chelsea to support her fundraising efforts.  You can read it *here*

There is something about the Marshalls that I am drawn to.  Both Chelsea and her brother Tucker write passionately about skiing, about giving their opportunity to compete everything they have.  If the older two brothers are as committed to their goals as the younger sibs are, I'd really like parenting lessons from their parents!  But in addition I just really like Chelsea.  Okay, I've never met her, but I read her blog and follow her on twitter and she found me on FB and there is a lot to like.  I mean, her blog is about skiing, good food, her family and her dogs.  How can I not like this girl?

She recently shared a really neat article from the Calgary HeraldHudec looks to build off of dream comeback season; Calgary ski racer’s career stayed alive on donations from friends, now he’s the one giving back

Read more:

I know it gives her hope.  I also think that it is important because it reminds a "public" that is used to NFL players arguing over large salaries that professional athletes in most sports rarely see that kind of financial backing.  These athletes are not in this for money (no one would ski anymore!) and they aren't doing it for the glory; I live in Tidewater Virginia so its a given that nobody knows who ski racers are, but I bet you if you walk down the street in Aspen Colorado 1/2 of that population cannot name more than 5 alpine athletes.  No, Alpine Racers do this because they love it and they are driven to do it.  I had an art teacher once who said "If you can do anything else, do it.  Only be an artist if it is the only thing you can be."

So I send off my little check to Chelsea because I want to encourage this Olympian and World Cup athlete.

And while I'm doing shout outs I want to link back to Megan McJames too.  Megan is another Olympian and World Cup skier (World Cup is bigger than the Olympics everywhere but in the US.  Europeans follow skiing like Americans follow football or baseball) looking to continue skiing and seeking support.  In her latest post she included an image that cracked me up Megan's blog

skiing! borrowed from Megan McJames's blog

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Homes for Our Troops

this morning I took Little Hawk, Bitsy & Thalia (the GSD puppy) to Duke Of Gloucester street for the Williamsburg Christmas Parade.  MLyons and her grandmother left the house ahead of us so that they could meet up with Virginia Regional Ballet and march with the dance school.

The parade was really fun - it always is - and I took some pictures to share and Thalia got her "socializing" in for the day (she does not like the drums in the marching band, or motorcycles, or bag pipes in case you were interested).  But somewhere between the dance school, the car, and the house I put down my phone... yes I know... I'm a moron... and so pictures will have to wait until I find my phone.

But what I *really* wanted to share today was that after the parade I met a young man named CPL Johnathan Jackson.  He was handing out flyers about the groundbreaking for his home, sponsored by Homes for Our Troops.

Johnathan Jackson is a Veteran who lost his leg at the hip while deployed and Homes for Troops is an organization whose mission is to build specially adapted homes for service members who have been severely injured in combat.  Please click on this link and listen to his story. *here*

Prior to today I had not heard of Homes for Our Troops.  I am so glad to have met CPL Jackson today and heard about this organization.  The ground breaking for his new home is on December 29th, that is in 28 days!

I do not wish to get up on a soap box or anything and I do not have a direct tie to the military so I *don't know* how things are these days.  But I do know that the veterans that I've spoken to from Afghanistan and Iraq feel disenfranchised.  They feel that the majority of the people in this country have no idea what they (the military) do, what they go through, and that the majority of the people in this country don't care.  And that is embarrassing to me as a civilian.  And upsetting. Because I do care. Having just read "American Patriot The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day" by Robert Coram, I am particularly sensitive to the care veterans are receiving.  So I am really thrilled to have learned that there is an organization whose mission it is to provide homes that are designed with specific physical needs in mind.  This is really wonderful.

So go to Cpl Jackson's site and listen.  And if you ar able to work, come help out, and if you can spare a dollar, donate it.

Thank you