Tuesday, November 13, 2007

All Aboard!

We went to Trainfest in Milwaukee this weekend. We stayed at the Brookfield Suites, about five miles from the fairgrounds. Bubbie and Zadie went up with us and took an adjoining room. The hotel was perfect for us - plenty of space, big pool, hot tub, free breakfast and free drinks at night. Ari went to bed with gum in his mouth and managed to get covered with it. We are stil finding pieces on him...

The train show was amazing - acres and acres of phenomenal layouts. We got to see Grandpa and his buddies at their display. Ari had the best time walking around with his own stool, stopping to gaze at the various exhibits. Max and Zach tolerated it pretty well, though by the end, they were ready to get out of there.

On Saturday night, Julie and I went to an amazing German restaurant called Kegel's. I had the stuffed duck and Julie had the goulash. We both had high-test beers which put us both in a really good mood. Grandpa's friends were all there in one big group, as they go here every year after the train show.

On Sunday, we had to leave early as I had to get to the AMIA meeting, and Zaidy had to get to his school conference.

Pictures here.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Autumn Leaves

It really is beautiful around here. We had a terrific Halloween last night. On Tuesday, we carved our pumpkins, which was the usual slimy mess. We opted for more simple designs this year, in lieu of the complicated patterns of past year. I think they turned out pretty well, though.

On Halloween, we went trick-or-treating on Harper Street, which is some sort of Hyde Park yearly staple. It was quite the mob scene. The houses are all beautiful and decorated, and people line up in to get candy from each person. At one point, I saw this tall guy in a mask and a hat directing his kids around from house to house - his voice was pretty unmistakable. I took a picture of the back of his head. If you can't figure it out, click here.

The kids got a ton of candy, though not nearly as much as years past in Dedham. Zach was disappointed in the take, but I think he'll recover. Now it's on to Thanksgiving.

2007 Halloween Pictures
2006 Halloween Pictures
2005 Halloween Pictures
2004 Halloween Pictures

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Tough Run

I had no business doing it, but I ran the Chicago Marathon last week. My longest run in the last year was 12 miles (about two months ago), and I ran maybe a dozen times in the four months leading up to the race.

My plan for the marathon was to take it very easy - maybe do 15 miles. I had no preconceived notions of what it would be like past 15 miles. I mean, I've run many marathons, but none in the past 9 years.

I took it very slowly, right from the start - 11-12 minutes per mile. It was brutally hot, and there was a paucity of fluid at the first station. I actually saw hoards of people jumping into and drinking from the large fountain at Lincoln Park Zoo.

After 10 miles, I actually felt pretty good. I was trucking along, and at 12 miles, I made the decision to follow the course west away from the lake. Once I hit 13 miles, I was committed to doing up to 18, since that is where the course looped back. Apart from falling once and ripping the pad off of one of my fingers, I did OK. There was no water at mile 16, which was tough... it was in the 80's by then. But then some random saint gave me a whole bottle of ice-cold orange gatorade. That made all the difference in the world.

By 18 miles, I knew I was going to finish. It was just a matter of in what shape. I kept pushing along and was surprised at how many people were off to the side of the road getting medical care. The medical tents were all packed - I know this because I had to stop in each one and, er, lubricate up my nips. In any case, I saw dozens of people getting medical attention along the way. When I saw a Lincolnwood Fire and Rescue go by, I knew things were bad - what could they be doing out there. I would only find out later that they had run out of EMT's and were calling in all the suburbs.

Around mile 21, the police were shouting from helicopters and cars for us to stop running and walk. I didn't listen (stupid me) and kept jogging. At that point, I wanted to be done as soon as I could be. As it turns out, it is a good thing I did keep running, because at some point, they shut down the course and made everyone stop. I would have been pretty upset had that happened to me.

I finished in 5:23. The last time I ran Chicago in 1996, I did 3:50, and my best marathon ever (Twin Cities 1995) was 3:37. But given my training and the weather, I am lucky to have finished. Better luck next year!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Sweet New Year

We had a really nice Rosh Hashana in our new home. Everyone came down for dinner - it was the first time we seated everyone around our table in our home - moving boxes and all. The services were at KAMII... short and sweet. Then we went to the lake shore for Tashlich, which really just turned into, "Let's feed the birds."

Pix here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

First Day at the Lab School

The boys are off to a good start at the Lab School. The first day was hectic, but we got through it. Julie did a heroic job getting everyone's supplies together. Max was a little overwhelmed by the whole go-to-your-locker-and-get-your-books-for-your-next-class thing, but he will get used to it. Zach likes his class as well - he has a veteran teacher who is actually retiring after this year. We're wondering if it is a coincidence that Zach was placed in a class where the teacher is a specialist in spatial reasoning...

Max is playing Horn in the band - he had one lesson (from me) and has excelled mainly by just practicing on his own. He also had swim try-outs with the Midway Aquatics Club, and he made the highest swimming group that practices two hours every night!

It is going to be a busy year for both of them, but they are off to a great start.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Pretty in Pink

Sophie is such a girly girl. I took out the camera last night to grab some pictures, and she was all over it. After a few shots, she had to run and get her lipstick and fix her hair. Then she struck one post after the next. After each shot, she would say, "Can I see?" and run around to see the camera. She is going to be an expensive one.

More pix here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Getting Oriented

(written by Julie)

We had a busy day at the Lab School. After Sam walked Ari to the Ray School, where he had his second tearful drop-off, I prepared the other three kids for the new student orientation for nursery-4th grade. (Ari is always happy at pick-up and gave his friend, John a high five today.)

We walked to the Lab School, where we escorted Max and Sophie to the courtyard playground. Zach came with me to the orientation. We were introduced to administrators, parent volunteers and learned mostly about logistics, and Zach sat very patiently. Then we had a tour with the 4th graders. We found Zach's classroom, all the way up on the third floor!! We were lucky to find his teacher, Ms. Carrasco, there eating her lunch. She was nice enough to say hello and invite Zach and Hao (another new Lab student previously at the Ray School) in for a quick look. This is Ms. Carrasco's last year here. She and her husband are building a home on their property - in Chile!

We were there for almost two hours, and I carried Sophie up and down the stairs...

We walked home for lunch and then headed back over for Max's orientation. This was much more intimate, in size and attitude. These are parents of 5th-8th graders, after all. We met the administrators, counselors and learning consultants first. Then a group of established middle schoolers took small groups of new students and walked them around the school. For all of this, Sophie and Zach sat quietly! Max came back to us, and I asked the head of the middle school and an admissions associate how to pick up three boys within 15 minutes of each other in three schools. They were very helpful, and we decided that picking up Ari first and letting M and Z wait at the Lab is the safest option. Phew!

Next we walked a city block north to pick up Ari in the crowd of parents and siblings outside the Ray School. I really wanted Max to have a chance to find his locker today, so we walked back down to the Lab School. Max's intuition guided him straight to his locker, and it happens to be the first locker outside his advisory classroom. For an extra bonus, Max's (advisory and math) teacher was there! Ms. Hilarides met all of the Volchenkids and recognized my "handful". Max not only learned to open the combination on his locker, but he also discovered a relationship between his locker number and his combination. oooooooooooo! This brought a smile to Ms. Hilarides' face - "I'm going to like YOU!", she said.

We finally pulled ourselves out of the school building and realized that each of the boys has a classroom in the corner of a building this year. Max's is the corner closest to our home, too. We got home just after Dad arrived from the Metra station. Now Auntie Lisa is here for a visit, and Sam is giving Max a crash course on the French horn.

I'm famished -