Saturday, April 8, 2017

An Eventful Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, Sarah and the girls went up to Connecticut for the entire week.  John had a night class on Monday nights, so he didn't join the party until Tuesday morning.  That meant he missed out on a number of things, including a trip with the Hannens and Sport to Mystic Aquarium.  The girls couldn't wait to spend the entire day with Zoey.  Since they had been to the Mystic Aquarium before, the girls were able to show Sarah around.

A big crowd pleaser was the California sea lion show.  Everyone enjoyed the acrobatic abilities of the sea lions.  But the favorite part of the show was when Reese found out that one of the sea lions was named Callie.  We had to take a picture of the two of them.

One thing about the Mystic Aquarium that everyone should know is that a good portion of it is outside.  So it's a little tough for the patrons who visit in the winter time, especially if you want to see the penguins.  However, we made the trek to do so, and the girls were all smiles.

John did fly in just in time for another big event, a book talk and signing at RJ Julia in downtown Madison.  Through the wonderful efforts of Nana Banana, John was able to get on the RJ Julia calendar, and happened to appear at the bookstore just a month after Lindsey Vonn and two months after Abby Wambach.  With his hometown advantage, John drew pretty well, but we don't think he managed to have more people there than came to see those world class athletes.

The book signing that came after was definitely a new experience for John, and the whole thing was a bit surreal overall.  He had several of his former high school teachers show up in addition to both friends and family.  He would do it again in a heartbeat.

Among the folks who took the time to listen and then purchase a signed copy of the book were Chris and Ed Dowling, who have known John long before he could even write his own name, much less a book.  It seems only fitting that they would come to this event since they were pretty much always at John's soccer games, high school plays, and other major milestones.
As a history professor, you don't usually get too many people excited to both buy your book and be in a picture with you, so you have to take advantage of every opportunity.  Kim and Pete Chorney, who John has known since elementary school, were another couple who made the effort to come out for the night.

And then there's Dr. Jason McBean.  After all the times that he has provided John and Sarah with his dermatological expertise, it was nice to repay the favor (to a very small extent) with some historical expertise.  Not sure that this is really a fair trade.  Does a book talk equal a knee infection diagnosis via iPhone?

When the last person in attendance had a book, the good folks at RJ Julia brought out more for John to sign that they could have in the store for later sales. Reese decided she could help out...so be sure to check the signature on any book you purchase from the store.
The very day after his book signing, John had the good fortune to spend an hour at his alma mater, Jeffrey Elementary School, talking to the fourth graders about American Indian history.  The visit was arranged by Kristen Skonieczny, so John got to share all sorts of exciting stuff with Ethan and his friends.  And he did it all in the same classroom he was in for 5th grade.  Mr. Brucker, however, was no longer there.  Jeffrey has produced some solid people over the years, and by all appearances it continues to do so.

The day after Thanksgiving we went with Nana Banana and Sport to Essex.  We had a great lunch at the Griswold Inn and walked around a little bit, but not too much since Nana Banana was still two months into recovery from her ankle surgery.  Essex is not the best town for a grandmother on crutches.  Of course you would never know the circumstances from the smiles on everyone's face in this picture.

Later that day we popped over to the Skonieczny's to hang out with Mike, Kristen, Ella, Ethan, and Eli.  We had a lot of fun hanging outside watching Mike and the boys try and build a fire.  Eli was showing off his outdoorsman skills and Ethan was showing how hard it is to just leave a fire alone.  We all ended up playing a couple of games of capture the flag, parents against kids.  It was pretty evenly matched, especially because Eli is sneaky and Ella has really long legs.

We also took advantage of having another person around to take a picture we have been talking about for a while.  We figured this would be the one time our heights aligned perfectly, and Sarah wants to make sure the girls will remember a time when she was taller than both of them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cassidy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at an elementary school is always so special.  Honestly, the time with your kid is great, but the food is questionable, and John is always a bit on edge waiting to see if the school has dressed the kids up like Indians.  So this year when we got to do two separate lunches we braced ourselves for the three-hour adventure.  Stop one with Reese was fun and she truly loved having us both there.  It is important to note that her headpiece is a turkey, which made John extremely happy.

After a quick trip back to the house to eat some real food we ventured back to Cassidy to join Callie for her lunch.  It was another enjoyable experience, although Callie was less excited about posing at the Thanksgiving photo booth.  It's hard to believe that this was her fourth turkey day at Cassidy.  She is growing up a little too fast.

Election Day and Unlearn Fear and Hate

Presidential election days are always a fun event in the Bowes household.  Both Sarah and John typically get the day off, as do the girls, so we are able to walk as a family to our local polling station.  This year we were particularly motivated to cast our votes.  But perhaps in an indication of what was to come, we had a relatively tough time locating a Clinton-Kaine sign for the girls to pose next to for what we hoped would be a historical occasion.  I think we know how that turned out.

After we emotionally centered ourselves following the election results, we found a community project to get behind one hundred percent.  Two local college professors, community activists, and all around good souls have started a project in Lexington that focuses on the need for all of us to "Unlearn Fear and Hate".  Unfortunately this message is now as important as ever.

We feel blessed to be members of a church community who also resonated with this project and its message.  And what it led to was about 25 members of the church showing up on a cold November morning to help spray paint the message using large stencils provided by the project directors.  And although the paint wasn't permanent, the message will stick with us for a long time.  Sarah is also hoping to get this same message spray painted on our driveway  this summer.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Free to Breathe Run

Two years ago, Sarah and John ran the Free to Breathe 5K, a fundraising race that helps in the fight against cancer.  Two years ago, that November day was very cold and the race included some snow flurries.  This time around, a lot was different.  It was a warm November day, and it was not just Sarah and John who were at the starting line.  We figured that both girls had what it takes to finish a 5K as long as we managed to balance out the running with some walking.

Little  did we know that Reese would be the first Bowes to cross the finish line.  Sarah and Reese forged ahead in the first mile and Reese never looked back.  In fact, hours after we left the finish line we found out that Reese had finished in 2nd place in the under-9 age group.  She even got a medal, which put a very big smile on her face.

Callie's race day included a bit more of a mental struggle, both for Callie and her father.  While Sarah and Reese surged ahead, John and Callie tried to deal with Callie's complaints of cramps at mile .5.  The next 25 minutes seemed a bit longer for everyone involved.  Indeed the few highlights included a woman who came up to Sarah afterwards to tell her how wonderful a father John was because of all of the encouragement he provided under the circumstances.  In the end, though, the big story was we all finished and we helped support a great cause.  Thank goodness it wasn't freezing cold.

Reese's debut in Children's Choir

Now that Reese is in kindergarten she also gets to be part of the children's choir at FPC.  So when the children's choir sings at the Sunday service we now have two little ones who get to put on the robes and lead the congregation in song.  After three years of watching her sister, this was a major milestone in Reese's church experience.

We currently have a lot of little ones who are part of the children's programs at FPC, and that means our children's pretty impressive, at least when it comes to size.  You never know know how many of them will actually sing when the time comes to perform, but their parents are happy to see them up their looking angelic.

Now these four have been singing together for a long time, and they are some of the more dependable participants when it comes to knowing the words and singing out strong.  They have come a long way since their first Music and Arts Camp, that's for sure.

We wouldn't be able to talk about Reese's children's choir debut without talking about Mrs. H, who taught music to the pre-K kids at LOGOS for the past two years.  Reese loves Mrs. H, and always waves when she sees her singing in the church choir.  And Mrs. H always has a hug and a smile for Reese.  They are a fun pair.

Halloween

If you have been following us at all, you know that Halloween is a major event in our household.  We typically spare no expense, and we typically have some kind of animal theme.  This year we went cheap and insects.  However, the end product, we think you will agree, was nothing short of adorable.

And this year our classic tree picture was even more fitting than usual.  The weather was great and the butterflies were ready to flit from house to house.  Unfortunately, Halloween was on a Monday and John taught a night class on Mondays, so this year was the first time that trick or treating took place without him.  Fortunately, the girls agreed that he could still have some of their candy.

As usual, the girls ended up receiving a great deal of candy in a relatively short period of time.  In fact, they filled their pumpkins so quickly that we headed home well before the two-hour window for trick or treating was up. This was nice in the long run, especially because it was a school night.  Next year we will either have to focus on walking a bit slower or simply getting bigger pumpkins.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Fall Fun

You are entitled to your opinion, but we think fall is the best season out there.  And we love taking time to visit the local orchards to see all that they have to offer.  This time around it appears that Evan's Orchard offered the perfect setting for some great pictures.

And it's not every day that we get a true family shot, but in this case we were able to exchange family photos with a couple we ran into in the trees. They even let us use their pumpkin to add a little flavor to our picture.  Sarah certainly wants to maximize the opportunity to take family pictures while she is still the second tallest in the family.  It seems like that won't last too long.

The little one is not so little any more, but boy is she cute.  There is a lot going on in that head of hers, and when her ideas combine with her boundless energy you need to look out.  She is also at a stage where you can bribe her to take pictures like this.  Hopefully that stage will last for a while.

On the other hand, Callie is not so easily swayed.  However, if you catch her when she's not thinking about it, you can snap a good photo and see what a wonderful young girl she really is.  How could we not take a photo where a girl wearing an I heart Fall is sitting on a pile of pumpkins?

The afternoon was filled with a ton of activities, and Evan's Orchard always has things to keep the kids busy.  Of course, as Sarah often demonstrates, nothing is really just for kids.  Reese is more than happy to play along with most of her mother's suggestions, but Callie is a little bit more reserved like her father.  Don't worry, Sarah will never give up the fight.

And as you can see, Sarah wins more often than not!  Callie loved the idea of jumping off the tire for a picture and we got some good ones.  This one is so cool because of the colors, the background, and the joy on Callie's face.

Speaking of joy, these two had a great day giggling and enjoying the sunshine.  We feel extremely lucky when we get to witness two sisters who truly care about each other.  More than that, they want to be together and play together.  They love to make each other laugh and are willing to be as goofy as it takes.  We are truly lucky.