Tag Archives: family

total eclipse of the sun

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Our big summer blockbuster this year happened in the sky overhead. (I desperately want to use the phrase) all the stars aligned and we were able to witness totality about an hour west of the city on a nearly cloudless August afternoon. We sent an invitation out to all the family offering up a place to stay and food to eat and, fingers crossed, a great spot for viewing. The cousins were all back in school, but the grandparents were up for the adventure.

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M and I debated our options for viewing for a few weeks – he had a few construction projects in the line of totality that might offer a place to park and picnic, or we thought we could just drive in the general direction and find a parking lot somewhere to hang out. But a random mention in a conversation on carpools landed us an invite to our friends’ family winery, and the rest is history. We nervously checked the weather forecast all weekend – the chance for clouds and rain keptĀ increasing – but in the end, our spot was perfect. Hot, but perfect.

We arrived early and staked our claim on a picnic table in the shade, and then we set up our chairs for the view. Watching the moon slowly move its way across the sun was far more exciting than I thought it would be. Those glasses really worked! But the real treat was observing the changes as totality inched closer. The temperatures dropped 10-15 degrees, and the cicadas’ chorus began. From our seats we watched the approach of darkness across the valley in front of us and the 360 degree sunset all around us.

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Photographing totality was impossible with my phone, and I didn’t have the correct lens for my nicer camera. But I did think this one shot was cool – you can see the small “sun spot” in the bottom of the shot shows the glowing area where we first started to see Bailey’s Beads. Viewing the corona was really remarkable. Everyone took their glasses off and just stared. It’s something I’ll never forget.

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Reading American Eclipse beforehand was really fun. I still recommend it to everyone I talk to. Even if you only read Chapter 16 on Totality, it’s worth it.

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And we bought these commemorative stamps from USPS for the occasion – plus I bought enough to use on my holiday cards this year. They used heat-activated ink for the first time ever on a stamp, so when you apply heat with you fingertip to the surface of the stamp the full eclipse reveals the surface of the moon before returning back to darkness. Really cool. I’ve framed a set for the gallery wall the girls and I are working on upstairs. 2017 was a summer to remember, for sure.

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summer girls, summer parties


Party 1

As I work my way backwards through our very full summer, I thought I’d highlight the birthday celebrations the girls planned this year. You might remember some of the more elaborate birthday parties when the girls were younger. I loved planning and throwing parties for them both, and we did this consistently for their first six birthdays, culminating in a shared party when they were six and twelve. But after #6, the parties got smaller, simpler, and sometimes were just celebrated with family or with a friend or two. And as the girls have grown, we’ve also let them take a bigger role in the party planning.

Since we didn’t have friend parties last year, we encouraged both girls to plan a group event for their friends. E and M looked around at several laser tag / arcade / go-kart places before settling on a new one out in the suburbs. E put together an agenda for the party, and the kids (and dad and granddads) did a couple of races and a couple rounds of laser tag. Since F was too little for the racing, she tackled the ropes course WAY up high in the space.

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E had a blast. She said a lot of her friends thought she was a little crazy to host a party like this, and they weren’t certain that they were going to enjoy it. But E loves these kind of adventures, and is really competitive and brave, and it meant a lot to her that all of her friends showed up for her and tackled some of their fears to help her celebrate. The special things they brought with them were equally amazing. It was fun for me to see her really enjoying her time with friends, and how much they all adore her.

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My summer girls, eight and fourteen.

When we were on vacation for Spring Break, F saw a preview for the movie Despicable Me 3 that was opening just a few days before her July birthday. She announced that she’d be hosting a DM3 party for a few of her friends, and she never wavered from that idea.

As the time drew closer, we put her plan into action. She found some old minion goggles from the original movie when we did the big cleanout of the third floor. She also found her minion stuffed friend, and started picking out clothes to match her theme. She wore the glasses all summer long.

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I picked up some black and white striped tissue paper and treat bags, and F decorated large round labels to look like Minion eyes for the bags. We filled the bags with small little movie themed trinkets, a big bag of banana shaped candy, and some minion tic-tacs. They were a big hit.

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F invited five friends to the show, and the kids sat in their own row with booster seats (apparently those are cool!) and little snack packs and lemonades. They giggled and laughed throughout the whole movie, and afterwards her friends presented F with homemade cards and letters – one friend even wrote and performed her a song. It was all very lovely, and sweet, and funny, and just exactly what she wanted.

We talked about the parties we might throw in two years time again – a big summer of birthdays – TEN and SIXTEEN! Yikes. Just like summertime, the years are flying by. I’m glad we took some time out to celebrate this new year in the way that we did.

still here

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I’m still here, floating with my headĀ just above the surface. We’ve entered the season of traveling, so the weekends are full to the brim, spilling over into the work weeks. The photo above was taken at my niece’s first birthday celebration. She’s studying her new plate that E painted for her.

I’ll be back soon, I promise. I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. We did.