Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Year in Review

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year from the Quirk Waring clan. Thanks to all of you who have sent greetings this winter. We love seeing pictures of your families and hearing your news.
We are doing well. 2013 marked our first full year in our new house in Orono, Maine. Having a full year in the house allowed us the opportunity to plant blueberry bushes and raspberry canes, to hang a tire swing, to plant our first summer garden, to decorate the walls with our international art, and to explore the trails in the woods that abut the back yard. We feel very fortunate to have such a lovely base for our family.
Reid is now three and rapidly approaching four. He is a chatter (the gift of the gab seems to be a big familial trend here).  He often kicks off conversations by saying, "I need to tell you something..." His joys in life include pretend play; book reading and storytelling; and time with family, especially with his much-adored Lemur. Reid loves patterns--puzzles and organizing his toys in arrays are a frequent activity--and collecting. At home, his room has turned into a magnet for all sorts of treasures (keys, polished stones, Lego heads, feathers) and at school, he spends his free time rolling a wooden truck around the room, filling it with toys and other loot, all the while weaving a narrative as he rolls. This was his first real year up on skis and swimming.  We rode our bike train to swimming lessons daily this summer, and Reid always cooperated with the life guards.  However, he would prefer swimming lessons to be abolished.
Liam started kindergarten this year, and his first foray into full-time school. He seems to be thriving. Socially he is comfortable and content, and his interests in reading, writing, monkey bars, drawing and art in general are taking off. He is also developing an interest in all things animals, pondering whether a basilisk lizard can run along the water faster than a walrus can swim, for example (the walrus turns out to swim much faster, in case you were wondering - faster than Usain Bolt can run!). After he and Tim started teaching themselves songs to play on our garage-sale acquired keyboard with a little tutelage from youtube, Liam started piano lessons this fall. A couple of days a week, he and Reid and Katie walk home from school through the woods. Reid takes advantage of the fleeting opportunity to ride on his mama's back, but the boys are both turning into adept, scramblers, tree climbers, and hikers.
Tim is as busy as ever at work as a pre-tenure faculty member, writing grants, advising graduate students, publishing papers and teaching. His research is increasingly focusing on the cultural aspects of local food systems (what leads consumers to go out of their way to buy their produce from a local farmers market or farm, for example; or what sorts of demographic patterns correlate with municipal food sovereignty, for example). His waterproof backpack developed a crack, so he did less commute swimming home this summer, though he continues to walk and run to and from work. He loves spending time playing, building and exploring with the kids, and this year he lead the charge in getting our family back into the regular habit of attending Quaker Meeting.
Katie continues to care for the kids full time and to commit regular chunks of time to write (this was actually the first academic year in which the kids were in simultaneous school, which gained her a whopping 2.5 hours of writing time/day). Her middle-grade novel set in Tanzania, A Girl Called Problem, was released last spring and received some great press, including a star from Kirkus, a fabulous review from School Library Journal, and a review in the New York Times. Mentions continue to roll in as bookseller associations and librarians compile their best of 2013 lists. Just like Aesop's tortoise, she slowly and steadily continues with revision work on her memoir about our two most recent years living in India (let's hope that things work out as well for her as they did for the tortoise).

Highlights of the year also included attending Katie's brother Brian's wedding to his wonderful partner Anna in a very meaningful and refreshingly simple ceremony, visits with our families (two of our parents retired this year), and meeting up with some Haverford College friends at Tim's grandmother's summer cabin in New Hampshire.

We hope you are all healthy, and wish you a fulfilling new year.

Love from all of us,
Katie, Tim, Liam and Reid

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Vermont

2013 was a Vermont year for Christmas.  We delayed traveling by a day to avoid a big ice storm, but ended up getting a half inch ice coating on the forward facing surfaces of the car during our drive out on route 2 anyway.  Then the Route 2 Diner was closed!  We nearly perished!

Later in the week Katie and Tim did some running when it was below zero.  One side benefit was the frozen beard:
Christmas itself was perfect and time in Glover passed like air through the screen door.  Relaxing a little, exercising a little, cooking and eating, socializing a bit.  Tracking turkeys.  Building trains and helicopters, reading, sleeping, laughing.

We also got to visit our old friends the Walsh Dalozes in Montpelier.  Maeve is so big and Hazel so irresistible!  They are all in great form, and doing very well.
We experimented mightily with sledding with the WDs.
See what I mean about Hazel and Maeve?  Wow and wow.  We like Susie too.
Grandma Marie and Grandpa Topher trudged along with us on our annual ski trip to Craftsbury.  They were the bad guys, naturally.
Four successful skiers.
Grandma Marie and Grandpa Topher taking turns reading books at night.
We realize in retrospect that we have been taking a huge quantity of pictures of little Reid as he dances between being a big boy and the last remnants of a babe.  And, so, here they are, because this won't last forever:

A Brownington sleighride!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas decor

My appreciation for Christmas decorations (even the kitschy variety) has gone way up with kids. We love unpacking the box of Christmas decorations every year. Some of my favorites are those made by people we know and love. Here's a random selection:

Liam's nutcracker painting from this year:

Grandma Marie's advent calendar:

Great grandma Betty's Santa and angel advent calendar:

Grandma Sal's felt ornaments from Mom and Dad's New York graduate school days:

The stockings I made for Liam and Reid in California out of old Christmas dresses from the free box in our community laundry room:

This mother and child painting from Tanzania:

The clay birdhouse I made in high school, which has now become part of our wild and crazy, multicultural, multi-species nativity Christmas scene:

All sorts of ornaments gifted from grandparents and Aunt Marcia in years past:

The beleaguered Santa I made in kindergarten (foreground) and the striped stocking made for me when I was a kid by my Aunt Kristen:

Ornaments from our Christmases in India (this one is a Rajasthani keychain):

Ornaments passed down to us from Granny Dody:

The salt cookie ornaments we made last year (this one is a Concorde airplane, naturally):

Reid's Christmas tree from last year – the dude likes bling:

Our depictions of "Bumble Man" and company – last year's obsession:

And this year's "stained glass votives":

Phew, pardon the extensive list! Thanks to all those who have helped us create our family tradition of Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Solstice Giving

This year as our holiday gift for neighbors, we made homemade stained glass votives.
We started with old glasses from the thrift shop. Then we glued on tissue paper and outlined it in permanent pen.
The kids were vaguely involved, and Liam soon started making more practical gifts: creature power disks with drawings of animals that give the wearers the powers of those animals when they put them on their shirts.
Yesterday evening we toured the neighborhood delivering our gifts:

Happy winter solstice!