Author Archives: rothlmar

About rothlmar

Father of one, another on the way.

First Day of School

The Number Field is moving to a new location!

When we arrived in England, we knew that Elena would be starting school at the end of the summer. We applied to our top three choices and I fretted for the next several weeks as if we were waiting to hear back from college. Our top choice, Grove Road School was only a couple (flat) blocks away and Elena had heard me talk about wanting to get into that one so often that when we found out they had room for her, she was ecstatic!…

Read more at the new home of The Number Field

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Twice in a Lifetime

I have been letting the days go by too quickly these past three months. My beautiful wife is the same, but the beautiful house and beautiful car that I find myself in are different from the ones I described during our last once in a lifetime experience. It’s again time to think and tell about, well, how did I get here?

I started writing this more than a month ago, while I was on top the water at the bottom of the ocean, cruising towards the European continent, looking forward to a week when we will frequently ask the GPS “where does that highway go to?” We prepended a few days of vacation to a business trip; it was our most adventurous adventure since last year’s long weekend jaunt in Italy. Jenny has already written some about the trip, and there’s more to come. She thinks that I should give up on writing about everything that happened between our arrival and that trip, but I’m not ready to declare blogging bankruptcy just yet. I still want to tell the story starting from where I left it off, a day in late May when we left the US to return to the UK, and work through the the highlights of the whirlwind of everything that’s happened since we arrived.

In hindsight, the seemingly dramatic six hour flight delay on our way over turned out to be inconsequential, despite how dramatic it seemed at the time; everyone we meet has one or more crazy travel stories, many of which made ours look tame. Upon arrival, we were well taken care of by our sponsor family–friends from when we were here last year that volunteered to help us with all the details, administrative and otherwise, of settling in. They’re very kind and helpful, and have two children that are great friends for Elena and Roman. Among the many nice things they did for us: they borrowed a high chair and Pack-n-Play for Roman to use, brought us food on the day we arrived, so we wouldn’t have to shop right away, and on the first full day we were here they took us to a beautiful, fun public garden for rest, relaxation, and sunshine to help us overcome jet lag.

Our living arrangements are significantly different this time around. We arranged to stay for several weeks at Daisy House, a holiday rental townhouse close to the center of town. It was a great place for us to start out, with two nice bedrooms, a beautiful master bathroom, and even a workout area in the cellar. Still, we were anxious to find a permanent home, and had begun to examine the local real estate listings well in advance of our arrival. Although we had high hopes, none of the houses on the market at the time were quite right for us. One that we loved decided at the last minute that no pets were allowed; the owners of another one that we loved decided to renew their effort to sell it instead of letting it out. In the process, the local real estate agents got to know us and tipped us off as soon as a new house came on the market–a huge, beautiful Victorian townhouse in a great location, close to the bus stop and just down the road from a good school for Elena. We arranged a viewing, then put in our application and deposit the same day, and everything was finalized shortly thereafter. We still had to wait a few weeks to move in, but we felt a great weight lifted once we knew we had a place to live.

Securing our means of transportation was the next big item on our list. We had shipped Jenny’s car just a few days before we flew, and we knew that it would take several weeks to arrive. We had sold my car and planned to buy a new one upon arrival, when the right deal came along. It wasn’t long before I saw a poster on a bulletin board advertising a silver sedan that was the right price. It seemed good during my test drive, so the owner and I shook hands and arranged on a day to make the transfer, just a day or two before he left to go back to the US. Knowing that we would both have cars soon, Jenny and I started to study for the driving test, which consists of 50 multiple choice questions about rules of the road, street signs, and roadside first aid. We both passed on our first try, and were good to go as soon as we got our cars.

And so, exactly seven weeks after we stepped off the plane, we took posession of the keys to our house and opened it up just before a moving crew showed up with all of our stuff. It only took a few hours for them to move everything in. By that evening, we had unpacked enough boxes that the house had already begun to feel like our home.

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Sport and Competition

Watching Elena and Roman, it’s clear to see that children have an innate urge to compete. It probably stems from the survival instinct of needing a mother’s attention, but while the initial manifestation–who can cry the loudest?–eventually fades, the underlying desire only becomes stronger as children grow. I’m particularly surprised how quickly they learn to feel the thrill of competition by proxy, becoming avid fans as soon as they figure out which side they should cheer for.




As spring arrived, Elena asked when we were going to another baseball game. Although it had been nearly two years, she remembered the last game we had attended and wanted to go to another one. She was in luck. The Orioles were closing out a home stand on a weekday afternoon and there were plenty of tickets available in the upper deck. I took the afternoon off and headed towards the light rail station, our chosen method of transport into the city. However, there was a bit of a mishap as Jenny and the kids left home to meet me there. Jenny had turned around to lock the door, and the pad of freshly-poured wet cement that had escaped her attention proved to be an irresistible draw for Roman–he stomped right in it before Jenny even turned the key. As soon as she saw what had happened, she redirected me towards home, changed Roman’s pants and shoes and rinsed off the concrete, and we started on our way, not as early as we would have preferred, but still arriving in time to hear the National Anthem.

It was a great day out, with warm temperatures and beautiful blue skies. Elena knew to cheer for the Orioles in orange and white, not for the Blue Jays. (For some time afterward she thought that any team in blue was the Blue Jays.) The Blue Jays hit some home runs to take the lead, but the Orioles worked their way back to a tie. We had some snacks from home, and got cotton candy as a treat. When I took Elena out for a break, The Bird was there and we had our picture taken with him. There were plenty of empty seats around ours for the kids to stretch and wiggle. We had to get going when the game went into extra innings, so we were already home by the time the game was decided–probably a good thing, because the O’s lost.


When Grandma, Grandpa and Mark came up from Virginia for a final visit, Jenny picked a very special activity: a visit to Medieval Times. I’ll admit that I was skeptical about how good the show would be, and despite the awesome coats of armor on display the lobby and gift shop did nothing to lessen my fears. As soon as the horses galloped into the arena, I was as transfixed as everyone else. The horses are truly incredible, and the knights who ride them come in a close second. Jenny worried that the fighting would scare Elena and Roman, but we reminded them that it was all pretend and said we would cover their eyes if it was too scary. There don’t seem to have been any ill effects. We were in the green section, and cheered for Green Knight as loudly as we could, even louder than we booed his rival the Red Knight. The Green Knight didn’t emerge victorious, but it was good way to get excited for our impending move to a country where they have real knights.

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Art and Culture

In parenting, there is always tension between the short term and the long term. I want Elena and Roman to be inquisitive and thoughtful, appreciative of the world around them because they’ve been exposure to great, amazing, and profound things. We have to lay the groundwork now, even though we know they aren’t ready for it, because if we try to start when they’re old enough to appreciate it all, it will be too late to get into the habit. And that’s why we keep making the attempts, even though we know that there will be tiredness and fussiness, complaints and breakdowns, and the very real possibility of damaging priceless works of art or irreplaceable historical artifacts.

Leisa and Sam suggested a trip to the Walters Art Museum, and Grandpa Dana and Gran Ann decided to come along as well. The museum had a good activity kit for Elena: she had to search for Degas’ Little Dancer sculpture, then dress up in a replica costume. Roman decided that he and I should roam the galleries, and we eventually found an interesting spiral staircase with some auditory art–a brief sound recording that plays only intermittently; if we hadn’t taken so long climbing the steps, we probably wouldn’t have noticed it. Jenny’s favorite painting of the day was Picasso’s Mother and Child, even though Picasso is usually too modern for her. The rest of us found our favorites in the contemporary art wing. Elena and Roman preferred art that they could treat as interactive, like the giant lips or a curtain made of turquoise beads. Roman reacted very strongly by growling at Andy Warhol’s self portrait; I don’t think he liked it. My favorites were geometric or otherwise mathematical, although I’ll need to do some statistical analysis before I believe Bochner’s numbers really are random. After the museum, we all shared in appreciating a different kind of fine art: the culinary masterpieces at Matthew’s Pizza.


On another occasion, we were very tired from our Boston trip but wouldn’t have another chance to see Grandpa’s band perform for a long time, so Elena and I went to his spring concert. Elena fell asleep in the car on the way, but woke up refreshed when it was time to go in; she was happy that Gran Ann had arrived at the same time so we could walk in together. This was her second concert, and she was very well behaved for the whole thing, although some of her whispers were on the loud side. Our favorite compositions were those by Eric Ewazen, who was at the performance and said a few words. He told us the story of Shadowcatcher, which is based on photos of Native Americans taken about a hundred years ago. One of them was about a dance done by one tribe whenever there was a lunar eclipse: they believed a monster had eaten the moon, so they made a fire and put awful smelling things in it, so that the smoke would force the monster to sneeze the moon out. We listened carefully to hear the sneeze in the music; Elena heard it right away and had to convince me that she was right.

The kids don’t have to participate in all of our cultural activities for them to have an influence. Thanks to the help of two Grandmas–one who gave us the tickets as a Christmas present and the other who took care of Elena and Roman, Jenny and I went on a date to see Hello Dolly at Ford’s Theater, where the presidential box is preserved in remembrance of President Lincoln. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance. When we got home, Elena wanted to hear all about it. She had already asked Gran Ann to sing her the songs from the show. I’m sure that Jenny will take an active interest in fostering Elena’s nascent love of musical theater.

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Playtime Connections

I still have a lot of catching up to do. We moved back to the UK about three weeks ago, and we’ll probably be here for at least three years. In the run up to our departure from the US, we did lots of fun things that I still want to chronicle, and we haven’t really slowed down since arriving here. However, there are some things that are too precious to leave at the back of the queue.

We’ve been working with Elena and Roman on self control, and specifically on reverence during prayers. We don’t have unreasonable expectations, but we know that they’re capable of being quiet for half a minute once in a while and want to unlock that potential. To that end, we’re isolating the desired behavior by having a “practice prayer” before our real family prayer, when Jenny or I count to a random number between ten and twenty while we ask Elena and Roman to fold their arms, close their eyes, and keep quiet. We praise them effusively when they do well, but when they struggle we can usually have a calm discussion about what went wrong, because it was just practice.

Roman usually struggles with being quiet, but a few days ago it was as if a switch was flipped and he was silent for the duration. Elena immediately put forward a hypothesis about the reason for the sudden change. She pointed out that we’ve been playing a lot of hide and seek recently, suggested that Roman had learned to be quiet while hiding, and proposed that he had transferred this skill to reverence practice. I think she’s right; they have both noticeably improved in their ability to stay quiet during hide and seek. We’re still waiting to see this transfer fully to better behavior during church, but I think we’re on the right track. This is not the first time that Elena has built an observation into a clever inference; I think it’s fascinating to watch her start to piece real-life events together like puzzle pieces.

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Marathon Weekend

It’s hard to believe how close we were. Already exhausted from cheering for the racers all morning and afternoon, we got on the subway and had just transferred to the train that would take us back to the car on the outskirts of town, where we would begin our long drive home. It was so packed that nobody could even get on at the next stop, even though there were crowds on the platform trying their best to squeze on. When the conductor spoke over the intercom and asked everyone to leave the platform because of an emergency, at first we thought he was just speaking to those who weren’t on the train. He had to repeat the message several times before we understood that the whole station was being evacuated. We didn’t get much more of an explanation when we emerged onto the street, right into the thick of things, although we did overhear some policemen confirming that there had been some kind of emergency.

We decided to walk for a while, hoping perhaps to board a subway or commuter train further out from the center. The crowd along the marathon route was still thick; there were still racers on the course, and the Red Sox game had finished not long before. News of the events was slowly spreading through the crowd–we knew that something had happened, but we didn’t know what, and then all of a sudden, a plain clothes police officer in a Red Sox jersey flashed us his badge and told us to get away from some unattended bags or boxes on the sidewalk; at first we thought he was telling us to turn around but then he said we could go any way we wanted, just to move away from that spot. Around that time we started to figure out that there had been explosions along the course; I think that I managed to get a cell signal for long enough to get part of a news site to load.


Since we still didn’t know what was happening or how long it would be before the subway opened, we decided to move away from the crowds a little bit. I decided to ride my new folding bike ten miles out to the car, which I would then drive back into town and pick everyone else up. In retrospect, things might have gone faster if we had just all waited for the subway to start back up, but our plan worked well enough. The worst part was being a part of rush hour traffic on the way out of Boston. Jenny, Gran Ann, and I all took turns driving through the night and we made it back home a few hours later than we had planned, but safe and sound.

But how did we end up in Boston in the first place? We started to make plans last fall when we found out that Matt had qualified to race, and confirmed those plans once we knew that we would be heading back to the UK a month after the race. We invited Gran Ann, and she was happy to go with us, all the more so because her brother Robert was also going to be in the marathon. We drove up on the Saturday before the race–Elena and Roman were happy to have a back seat companion, especially one so friendly as Grandma, who was always ready to play games and share her iPad with them. We got to our hotel in the early evening, just in time to meet up with Matt and Carrie for dinner at our hotel. Gran Ann had taken care of the meal–she prepared it in the morning and put it in a thermal cooker, where it stewed all day and was ready for us to eat at dinner time.

We scratched our sightseeing itch the next day, following a route mostly determined by Carrie. In the morning we walked around Harvard and the vicinity, stopping at the whispering arch at Sever Hall, Memorial Hall, where a Buckminster Fuller, grandfather of the famous inventor, is remembered among those Harvard alumni who gave their lives during the civil war, and striking out at an art musuem that is undergoing renovations. We also wandered past the Harvard Lampoon building on our way to the Longfellow House and Longfellow Park, where Gran Ann was happy to see that the chapel where she attended church many years ago had been rebuilt after it burned down a few years ago. We ate lunch at a cute little diner, before taking the subway across the river.

Our afternoon plans included walking the iconic Freedom Trail, but before embarking, we let Elena and Roman play in the playground next to the Boston Common frog pond. While we walked, Elena was vigilant in making sure that we followed the red line on the sidewalk. She couldn’t keep her eyes on the ground the whole time, because she also wanted to spot the American flags flying from many of the buildings. For her efforts she was rewarded with a big ice cream when we reached Faneuil Hall. We continued along the trail a little further, ending at Paul Revere’s house, where Elena and Roman chased pigeons in a park across the street while Jenny toured the house. We capped the day off at Regina Pizzeria, where the pizza was totally worth the wait.




I don’t think Matt slept very much that night; he was certainly excited when I drove him to the subway early on marathon morning, to begin his long trek to the starting line. We had a more leisurely morning before we started towards the watching location we had chosen, at about the 17 mile mark, right next to the western terminus of the green line on the T. We didn’t arrive until most of the wheelchair athletes had passed, but we still had plenty of time to find a good spot before the runners came through–first the small bunch of elite women, then the elite men, then the fastest of the regular runners, then more and more until there was a veritable flood of athletes making their way en masse on their way to the finish line. Carrie did an especially good job of cheering for all the people who had pinned their names to their uniforms. To me, the most amazing thing was seeing all the runners who looked like they had no business on the course, then realizing that they had already run seventeen miles at a seven minute per mile pace, and would for the most part finish the race in about three hours.

We were tracking Matt, Robert, and Steve–another friend–online as best we could, but there were so many people we weren’t sure that we would see them when they passed. But then they all passed by in the span of just three or four minutes. Matt was looking for us and stopped to give Carrie a hug, the other two were just a little bit surprised to hear us yell for them, as they weren’t advertising their names and didn’t know to expect us. After we saw them, it was off to the races. Everyone else hopped on the subway, hoping to make it close to the finish line so they could see our favorites one more time.


My plan was to bike along the course, stopping periodically to cheer for Matt. I had not thought this plan all the way through. There were so many fans along the sidewalks and runners in the street that I had to find parallel streets to ride along. Every time I cut back to the course I would pull out my phone to check the split times of the runners going by and compare them to Matt’s most recent split, and I could never quite catch up. No matter how fast I pedaled, my route was always too circuitous and I was always a couple of minutes behind. As the crowds thickened near the finish line, I abandoned my goal of getting ahead of him to cheer and turned towards finding Jenny and company. They weren’t too hard to find, thanks to the magic of Find my Friends, and I was happy to hear that they made it into town and Carrie was able to push her way through the crowds to see Matt and cheer him on in the final mile.

We found our way to the congratulations area around the way from the finish line, where we found Matt and Robert among the giddy and triumphant runners. Matt was clearly on a major runner’s high as he described his race–in the moment it was even more exuberant than his blog post on the topic. We eventually said our goodbyes and boarded the subway, thinking that we would have a straight shot home. Although we were wrong about that, it was a wonderful trip. Congratulations to Matt, Robert, and Steve, and thanks to Gran Ann for all her help!

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Easter Celebrations



Our Easter celebration this year stretched across two weeks and three main locations, but more than that, Elena and Roman really got into it. Elena really started to understand the religious significance of the holiday, and Roman figured out how to make the most of an egg hunt.

The week before Easter, we visited Grandma Nancy, Grandpa Kevin, and Uncle Mark. Jenny and the kids had gone down in the middle of the week; I took the train down on Friday. When I arrived, I found batch of sugar cookies that Elena had helped Jenny and Grandma make and decorate earlier that day. On Saturday morning we visited Amazement Square, which is one of Grandma’s favorite places to take grandchildren. There were fun exhibits for all of us. Elena and I spent a lot of time in a multiple-story maze of tubes and ladders in the middle of the building, which was fun at first, but I was just a little too big to be comfortable; I got tired of it much sooner than Elena did. Roman’s favorite exhibit had a lot of golf balls and tracks to run them along, illustrating some of the principles of physics. He especially enjoyed the golf ball roller coaster track.

In the afternoon, the Easter bunny visited and laid out a special egg hunt just for Roman and Elena. There were special football easter eggs for Roman and hard boiled eggs that Elena had helped to color. I think that the kittens joined in the search for the better-hidden eggs. The only problem with such a fun egg hunt is all the candy that goes along with it. We managed to put a dent in it the following day on our drive home, which started out in the middle of a freak spring snowstorm. We outran the storm and had an easy drive, but it followed us and left a surprising accumulation of springtime snow the next morning.



A week later, on Easter Saturday, I spent the morning helping Leisa and Sam move out of an apartment and into their first home. Congratulations to them! While I was away, Elena and Roman went to their second egg hunt, this one for all the kids in our neighborhood. They had a great time, and were happy to share their candy with Jack and Luke, who showed up only two minutes late–apparently the number of kids who showed up exceeded expectations.

The next morning, Elena and Roman woke to find that the Easter bunny had brought them baskets full of gifts and candy. Unlike the Esater bunny that came to my house when I was a boy, their baskets weren’t hidden. After church we made the trek south to visit Leisa, Sam and Vera in their new home. They did a good job with what must have been a big task getting it ready to host Easter dinner in the one day since we had moved all of their things. Sam’s parents were there along with mine, along with Luke and Jessica. The food was especially good; we contributed a Texas sheet cake that turned out well. Jenny found novelty sprinkles that made it look like a field with Easter eggs hidden on it. Although we didn’t have a full-blown egg hunt, Gran Ann and the kids took turns hiding and finding a few eggs. When the children started to cry almost as much as they were laughing, we decided to leave on a high note, before the ratio of tears to giggles tipped any further. All in all, it was a long and fulfilling Easter celebration.

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The Adventures of Flat Stanley

When I was a missionary in Russia more than a decade ago, I once got a very special envelope. It came from my college rowing coach’s daughter, who had read a Flat Stanley book with her class in school and received the assignment to send her very own Flat Stanley to some far-off place. My companion and I showed Flat Stanley around Moscow, then sent him back along with pictures and a couple of souvenirs (although empty candy wrappers might not have been as cool as I thought they were). Ever since then, I’ve loved the idea of Flat Stanley and hoped for another chance to host him.


One of Jenny’s high school friends that we visited while in Utah a few months ago has children in elementary school, and one of them recently received a Flat Stanley assignment. Our name must have come to mind because we had just visited, and they sent him to us for a visit. I certainly don’t consider Maryland to be nearly as exotic a place as Moscow, but we were given specific instructions that Flat Stanley wanted to see the water. One Friday in March, Jenny and I went to Annapolis for a dinner date and took Flat Stanley with us.

We showed him the State House, which is one of only a few locations that has served as the Capitol of the United States, then went down to the waterfront and took his picture with some boats. There was even a boat that had Stanley in its name, so we took a close up of that one. We ate dinner at Chick and Ruth’s Delly, a local greasy spoon that serves a three pound burger and six pound milkshake and has named most of the sandwiches on its menu after famous Maryland politicians, and liked it so much that we took a picture of Flat Stanley there too. Flat Stanley did not get to eat any of the yummy chocolate dipped marshmallows that we had for dessert.



The following weekend we took Flat Stanley to Fort McHenry for a final adventure with us before he had to go home. It was a beautiful spring morning, and the Fort has been well-preserved and seen significant upgrades since I was a boy, the last time I visited. Elena loved the movie at the visitor’s center that depicted the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. Ever since then, she excitedly points out the American Flags she sees wherever we go. We learned even more during a flag talk inside the star fort proper. A large group of Boy Scouts were visiting, so one of the park’s volunteer docents had everyone stand around and hold a flag as large as the original star spangled banner while he gave a talk. Elena and Roman eventually got bored, so they and I went to see the ramparts and take more pictures with Flat Stanley. We all enjoyed the beautiful views of the Inner Harbor, where Roman could show us all the boats and Elena could find all the American flags. I think we sent Flat Stanley home on a good note.

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Close Friends


Jack and Luke live down the street from us; we go to church together. Jack is a little bit older than Elena, and Luke is in between Elena and Roman. They have twin baby brothers who were born about six months ago, just before we moved here. Because the twins were premature, they weren’t allowed to leave the house much until recently and as a consequence Jack and Luke don’t really get out as much as they, or their mom, would have liked. Once Jenny realized that, she started to drop by their house any time she took Elena and Roman to the park, and offered to watch Jack and Luke whenever it would be helpful. This arrangement has worked out really well for everyone.

Going out to play more is certainly good for our kids; I imagine it’s the same for Jack and Luke. The greatest benefit I’ve noticed for Roman and Elena is just how nice it is to have friends that live nearby. They can just knock on the door and ask if Jack and Luke want to play, without having made any prior arrangements. We have to drive by their house on the way to and from ours, and Roman always perks up, points at it and says “Jack, Jack, Jack!” It’s obvious that he likes and admires the older boys. Elena, who is naturally sociable and friendly and frequently needs to give goodbye hugs at the playground to children she only met thirty minutes before, but who have become her dear friends in that short interval, enjoys this longer-term friendship just as well.

There is one possible downside: the toys. For one thing, Jack and Luke have more boy-focused toys than we do. Roman loves balls–basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, and more–but until recently when Jenny scored some on freecycle, we didn’t have many at home. Roman would easily become upset on the playground when other kids had balls and he was the one left with nothing. It was sometimes hard to remove him from Jack and Luke’s house peacefully while leaving their balls behind, but now Roman does have some of his own to carry around whenever he wants.

I don’t mean to imply that arranged play dates aren’t good. Elena’s and Roman’s friends Saoirse and Maeve live about twenty minutes away from us, but they enjoy each others’ company. Jenny and their mother Lauren have a longstanding weekly appointment for the children to have a play date. They alternate weeks, and while one of them takes care of all four kids, which can be exhausting, the other gets a whole free morning to do whatever she wants, whether that’s running errands, relaxing, or anything in between. It’s a good deal for everyone involved.

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March in Review


It seems like we’ve been jumping from one holiday or celebration to the next, with barely any time to clean up from one and get ready for the next. Jenny has been experimenting with theme dinners and Elena really enjoys getting ready for special days, so I guess I’m the only one who has been feeling any celebration overload.

For our seventh anniversary, Jenny had an idea for something special. Instead of eating our dinner with Elena and Roman, we just had appetizers–shrimp cocktail and a vegetable tray. I’m sure Jenny envisoned a peaceful evening and an early bedtime for the children, but that wasn’t the way things played out. It was my turn to tuck them in and Jenny wanted to finish fixing our dinner while I was doing that, but Roman decided to be contrary and fight vigorously for his desire to be tucked in by his mommy. He was so angry and loud that Elena started crying too, which rarely happens. Even with my best and most patient effort, I made no progress calming them and Jenny had to intervene. After sorting them out, she finished making dinner, because she is the best wife and mother ever. Eventually, we got to enjoy the fruits of her labor: pan-fried steak with couscous and root beer. We don’t have steak often, but Jenny had called her dad for advice and the results were great. I enjoy occasionally going out for dinner without the kids, but there was something special about enjoying a quiet meal alone together at our own table. It was the perfect way to observe our anniversary, especially since we finished it off with chocolate coated marshmallows, Oreos, and strawberries. Our anniversary evening was really just one part of a month-long celebration, during which Jenny and I went on a date every week. I didn’t really figure this out until the end of the month when Jenny told me how proud she was of our accomplishment.

Less than a week later was St. Patrick’s Day, which has always been one of my favorites because it coincides with my half birthday. We all wore green to church, although the thin green stripes on my tie were probably too subtle for Elena. Jenny made corned beef and cabbage for dinner, which we supplemented with green jello and green juice. Elena and I made the dessert–green Rice Krispie Treats. Less than a week later, we had the first of two Easter celebrations, but that deserves its own post. By the time April Fool’s day rolled around, I apparently had nothing in reserve. Well, I did do a little something at work that hardly anybody noticed, but I didn’t try to prank Elena. Maybe next year, when Elena is five, she’ll appreciate a good April Fools-ing. I should start to prepare now.

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