January and February 2019

It's been a wonderful beginning to 2019! We've kept busy, and the dominant themes on these pages are cellos, friends, games, food, and the Lunar New Year (Year of the Pig). Some fun pictures follow.

The second week in January, Helen, Samantha, and I helped Raz and his family celebrate baby Liam's pasni (Nepali "first rice" ceremony). It was at a K of C hall in Quincy, and we joined Max and his oldest to toast a cute baby and eat delicious Nepali food. Robert and Marcus were spending the night in the Mystic Aquarium with the Cub Scouts, meanwhile, playing cards and dissecting squid.

The following weekend, we all went to Arisia. Helen managed to sleep through a protest songs sing-along and a Disney songs singalong; Samantha and Robert did a soldering workshop together; Marcus spent a bunch of time in the video game room (sometimes with Helen making sure he didn't mess up); and we all hung out in FastTrack (the kids' area) a bunch, chatting with the swords instructor, the high school science teacher who does spoonapults, the friendly and skilled facepainter, and the guys who were playing Magic with the kids. We did the Banyan Tree for lunch and then walked over to Fire and Ice for dinner for a Back Bay day of it.

Also in January was the Mayor's State of the City address in Boston's Symphony Hall. Samantha's orchestra played at the beginning of the ceremony, and the kids were really excited about playing at Symphony Hall. They went over early from school, rehearsed, had pizza backstage, and then tuned up and performed. I watched their performance and the entire program from a free seat on the floor, behind all the city bigwigs but still able to see and hear. The kids got the first standing ovation of the evening (the Mayor got several). I'm not the hugest fan of Marty (Walsh), but it was very cool that he invited their orchestra--it made a big impression on Samantha, who happened to have been promoted to this ensemble less than a week before the performance, and who learned the piece (which everyone else in the ensemble knew, and had been playing for a couple months before) and managed to perform with her group anyway. What a new year's treat!

Her orchestra also performed at the BPS Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester, and that was another exciting opportunity. Marcus's ensemble meanwhile has been rehearsing with the cellist Mike Block and a couple other interesting Boston string artists, in preparation for an upcoming collaborative concert of their own.

It has not been a bad winter, weather-wise, but we have gotten the occasional small amount of snow, and the girls have had fun playing in it.


One Sunday we joined Samantha's friend Juna (in full kimono) and her mother at the Children's Museum for a Japanese festival honoring the 60th anniversary of the sister-cities relationship between Boston and Kyoto. There were taiko drummers, which Samantha watched from the play structure in the lobby; Japanese crafts and games; mochi-pounding; and then a sushi feast in the cafeteria courtesy of Juna's mother. Once Juna was allowed to shed her kimono, Samantha and Juna and a fourth-grade friend of Juna's all worked together in the bubble room and generally ranged around the museum enjoying themselves.

We've been enjoying the not-too-brutal winter to get around town, sometimes by subway, sometimes by bike. The kids love their Wednesday morning Starbucks runs with Robert, as that is the day their orchestra starts twenty minutes later, and Helen adores seeing Keytar Bear whenever we catch sight of him around the city.

Helen and I have been going to a preschool class at the aquarium on Tuesdays, learning about the ocean floor, making fishy crafts (pictured: an angler fish headband, complete with tiny glowstick), and visiting with the fish and turtles afterward.

Marcus had his last Pinewood Derby (last year as a Cub Scout) but felt that the post-race Magic game was better than the race itself.

Marcus completed his Arrow of Light by teaching a younger scout how to tie a certain knot and by planning, baking for, and running a bake sale to benefit a local charity.

We went to a couple winter events at the Boston Nature Center (Audubon Society site), including a winter birding walk and a maple syrup tapping event.


We celebrated Pop-Pop's birthday with a Lebanese meal out after the Nature Center bird walk, and then pie and cake back at my parents' house.

Robert and Samantha have gone skating a couple times and plan to try to squeeze in another couple. Neither is yet Riveter-level, but Samantha is working on it!

I made cookies for my students for the Lunar New Year, and then joined Robert and Max for a festive dim sum. It also happened to be the day of the Patriots' parade, so downtown was really jumping. We took advantage of the mild day to let Helen play in the playground, and we ran into lots of Samantha's classmates and their families, all home from school for the holiday, who were confused where Samantha was (in school, which was technically in session even though fewer than half the kids attended. I think she won a jump-rope contest, and Marcus's class watched some of the new Carmen San Diego movie).

In February, Samantha made personalized Valentines for her entire class in school, with a lift-the-flap heart on top of another heart, and messages such as "I really love sitting next to you in Mandarin class!" and "I love the color of your lunchbox!" on them. Her class in Sunday School also received Bibles in church, and Sean presented hers to her.

It's Girl Scout cookie season, and Samantha has been doing great as a seller. She made a sign for when we sell at subway stations, illustrating two of her favorite cookies. She's just as enthusiastic about art as she has always been, and when a book we have suggested making a cardboard and foil goat, after Pablo Picasso's, she set right to it and even made a musem-style mount with a description of the media.

We went to the Museum of Fine Arts on their Lunar New Year celebration day, and the girls loved painting on rice paper, sculpting clay tea cups, and making Chinese paper cut pigs. It was a glorious sunny day, though brisky (30s), so we rode to the museum and enjoyed the winter sunshine up and down the Southwest Corridor.

Samantha joined Aria and some other friends from school at Aria's birthday party at an Everett rock-climbing and ropes course place.

Marcus started playing Dungeons and Dragons in a small group of neighborhood kids. They rotate houses and have an extremely enthusiastic Dungeon Master dad.

One weekend, Emily and Nathaniel's family came to Boston and stayed with us, and we all enjoyed their company so much. We met at the zoo on a Saturday afternoon.

The next day we went to Chinatown for their New Year celebrations and for dim sum afterward.

Samantha and Lyla put on a talent show for us, with a wonderful gymnastics routine by Lyla, a cello performance by Samantha with Lyla accompanying on the drum, and small performances by the baby siblings. Then there were team games, boys against girls, with competitive (paper) cookie decorating and word scrambles and mazes and other games the big girls had made up, and then there was a baby race, Caleb against Helen, with a true photo-finish. Spectators got to sit in the stadium-seating area made up of bean bag chairs (Evie adored hers) and bigger chairs behind.

We all had dinner together, with my parents coming over to join us, and Marcus and Andrew and Logan had two nights of sleepovers in the basement with late-night poker or Monopoly, depending on the day. (Samantha and Lyla had two nights of sleepovers in Samantha's room with quieter talking and reading aloud.)

Breakfast was a feast of assorted delights, including some of the seasonal winter flavors from Blackbird Donuts.

We had all-you-can-eat hot pot at Spring Shabu Shabu, three tables for all of us. I have to say, our girls' table (Samantha, Lyla, Helen, and me) was incredibly peaceful.


In short, it's been a great winter!


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Created: 2/25/19. Last Modified: 2/28/19.