Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Big Reveal

Short of a cutesy blue\pink icing in the middle of the cupcake party, we trained Jericho to reveal the sex of our twins. Now how cute is that?

If you can't understand toddler talk, the proof is in the pudding below:

Looking from below Twin A, you can see thighs sticking out at 90 degrees and pronounced genitalia. The mass above\right of the thin line is Twin B.

Less clear, but you can once again see thighs with genitalia on Twin B.
Of course the tech could be wrong (but it sure looks like she is right on at least 1 count!)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Church Twins at 14 Weeks

Have you ever wondered what difference 4 weeks makes in the life of a baby in the womb?
Here you are!
Baby Twins at 10 weeks! This is pretty zoomed out, as to capture the womb and separate sacks, but  here the twins are still in a "blob stage," albeit with beating hearts and the start of digits!

At 14 weeks, we have fully formed babies! What isn't there are lots of internal organs that would allow for  life on the outside. Otherwise, the twins have fingers, lips, toes, and even baby sex parts... stay tuned for further news on that front!

   Thanks for your congratulations, thoughts, and prayers. Everything looks great! The twins are about 4 ozs each and 3 and half inches long, crown to rump! Laura turned a corner with her nausea and fatigue just about two weeks ago now, so that is a blessing. That isn't to say that she's not completely exhausted at the end of a teaching day!
    The current challenge is to gain the weight she is supposed to while downing over 14 full size vitamin pills a day. She was told that she is behind the game in twin-pregnancy weight gain, which should be frontloaded in the 1st and 2nd trimester to safeguard against low birth weight. She has been asked to consume 3000 calories a day! I'm trying to avoid sympathy poundage with all the extra food around. She's expected to gain 45 lbs. by D-day.
    The twin hoarding has already started. Baby food on clearance? I bought them all. Friends with twin toddlers are giving us their baby carriers. Perfect. And another set of friends are passing off a crib. We are still looking for another wooden full-size crib for Baby B. Let us know if we can help de-clutter someone's home!
    I leave you with this:
Wacky Day at School, the perfect opportunity to wear a bowl cut, pencil beard, and my  favorite sweatshirt.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A clear choice?

Candidates and pundits alike have expressed the idea that this election offers a "clear choice" and have suggested that a "healthy debate" about meaningful issues could be had. While perhaps a bit too optimistic, I do think that in terms of a clear choice, the candidates have done a pretty good job of revealing that they mean what they say (whether intentionally or by foible).
President Obama
in 2012, "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." And in 1998 "I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution - because I actually believe in some redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."  
Romney and Ryan
Romney's gaff- "There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what...There are 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing." And Ryan's explanation, "President Obama said that he believes in redistribution...Mitt Romney and I are not running to redistribute the wealth. Mitt Romney and I are running to help Americans create wealth."
The race to make Romney's comments a big deal is just another squabble over the so-called undecided voters in those dozen or so swing states. This race continues to be a battle for an electoral edge. While those who support the President heap ridicule on Romney, Romney's people are all the more convinced of their choice.
To be clear, this isn't actually a disagreement over taxes. Its a disagreement over the philosophy of taxes and their purpose. That's a meaningful issue.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Big Big News News

Laura and I are excited to announce that we are expecting TWINS in mid-March. While we were planning on our second child this spring, the news of twins at our first ultrasound Wednesday was quite a shock! The very smooth technician asked Laura how she had been feeling, to which Laura replied "Not very well." "Well that can sometimes be a sign of twins," he replied. At this point I was scrunching my eyes at what appeared to be a mirror image on the monitor screen. "You're kidding!" Laura gasped. "I never kid about twins," he said. "But that's impossible, there's no twins in either of our families!" Sagely, the technician reminded us, "Well there is now."

So yes, we're still absorbing the news. We are, or course, thrilled! As teachers and Christians, we believe that educating and raising children is the primary means of changing the world! We have been doubly blessed! At the same time, we can't help but be terrified. We realize our lives are about to change drastically. A new car, job\career decisions, an accelerated home re-model timetable, 3 under 3... the implications are endless! Your wisdom and advice are welcome. Knowing that we are are surrounded by an incredible community of support here in York, south Jersey, Virginia, and beyond makes us feel a lot better.

Lots of ultrasound and bump pictures to come! Praise God. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

We all fall down...

Fun with friends!

Jericho has been having a lot of fun around here!

Cousing Rachel and Jericho had a great time exploring the wonder of belly buttons and giving each other wagon rides!

Jericho has warmed up to classroom-pet-at-home-for-the-summer-only, Joe.

Couzin Tirzah found a great pal to rough house with.

Jericho loves popsicles (in hand) and saying "cheese," among other things.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jericho goes sailing (again!).

Last week was our "annual" family week on my brother's 34-foot Hunter, Miss Eve.

This was a more ambitious trip than last year- six days and five nights. Here's what our itinerary ended up looking like:

Sunday PM- Bohemia River to Wharton Creek
Monday- Wharton Creek to St. Michael's
Tuesday PM- St. Michael's to Crab Alley Creek (Kent Island)
Wednesday- Crab Alley to Annapolis Harbor
Thursday- Annapolis to Tenthouse Creek (West River)
Friday- Tenthouse to Knapp's Narrow (Tilghman Island)

2012- Jericho at 1.5 years
Jericho, one year removed from her last sailing trip was a ton of fun, if not a bit more difficult. Look at the difference!

2011- Jericho is approx. 6 months

We had overall great weather with the nights cooling off considerably and enough storms\frontal movement to give us some periods of great wind. Highlights were 10+ kts from Wharton Creek to Rock Hall in cool overcast skies and a banner day of 15-25 kts out of the SE sailing upwind and then reaching from Annapolis straight into the West River.

It was great having college buddy and Sigma Chi brother Steve Richter along with us from the Bohemia to Annapolis. We did a good bit of reading aloud from The Horse and His Boy.

Jericho stayed busy on the Miss Eve, coloring, climbing, and generally being silly. It took a few days of adjustment, but she was really awesome overall.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Pain, No Gain: How to Revive Old and Overgrown Bushes

The mantra of anyone attempting to resurrect overgrown bushes should be, "no pain, no gain." Unfortunately, that applies both to the bush and the bush owner. Just like trees, its amazing how much stuff ends up on the ground for cleaning up when you begin the process of trimming (in this case, more like extreme pruning).

After 40 years as citizens of York City, the former owners of 665 Madison weren't exactly on top of their landscaping . Beautiful flowering bushes had been neglected beyond a cursory "shape-up" far too long. In the picture to the left, the base of these bushes is on average five feet from the front of the bush, but a mere 2 feet from the back of the bush
Less visible in the pictures below, are "three" yew bushes covering well over 300 sq. feet of both our front yard and the neighbor's. After some consideration and debate, the verdict was passed. Our with the Yew bushes and radical intervention for the flowering bushes along the side of the house. 

Now that we removed them, the front is a lot more open.

The bushes are not attractive but are showing new growth, even in the midst of a hot summer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Roof Job Unwanted: Why You Should Fix It Now, Not Later

This spring, while we we were making wild plans for a privacy fence along our corner lot backyard, rain water was slipping between crumbling slate and nonexistent sheathing on our porch roof. Its sudden condemnation re-routed our plans and we immediately launched a semi-DYI roofing project. Go-week was June 14th until finished (one week to the day), and I hired friend Steve Williamson for the expertise and tools [I am likely the most tool impoverished DYI'er in the U.S.]. Happy to provide a contractor recommendation for anyone in York County!

As it turns out, most of the roof damage was a result of a leaky roof that had been fixed some time ago, albeit very shoddily. The fix had come a bit too late to prevent serious rotting.

Since our neighbor's had already shed the slate from their side of the porch roof and the slate on our side was in very poor condition, our decision was easy. Pull off the slate and anything rotted beneath (crossed fingers, crossed fingers...) and replace with asphalt shingles.

Here's a few pictures to show what we did:

Demolition day rolled around and we made fairly quick work of removing the slate. It's a job best done primarily with a small pry bar and your hands, working from the top down. We dedicated a significant amount of time huffing the 1/3 or so of the slate tiles that were in good condition to the garage for re-use on our slate main roof or for landscaping purposes. We found significant parts of the old planking completely disintegrated, and I fell through on one or two occasions!

Proving that TV ads do occasionally work even on those who don't have a TV in their house, I signed up for WM's "Bagster" for this project and was impressed by the amount of stuff we put in it. A few days after scheduling pickup, a large truck showed up and lifted the bag by remote control crane into the bed of the truck. I paid short of $40 for the bag and $144 for the pickup. Totally worth it.

After removing all the old sheathing, we found the beams to be in pretty good shape, save for some rotting on the tops of the wood beams as seen below. It was beyond irritating to realize that the rotting was all dated and now completely dry. The previous owners had let the roof become leaky for some time, before they finally decided to do something about it. Excited that we'd be able to sister a few 2xs and get on with the new roof...

We got held up by the middle section of the eaves shared with our neighbor. There the rotting was significant. This wasn't altogether surprising- we knew water was slipping between some broken tiles and filtering down into the eaves. We just hoped that there was something left to hold the new roof up.

In the picture below you can see a new beam we managed to wedge on the neighbor's side of the roof to prop up their sagging shingles, and then a second sistered beam on my side (the right side). In retrospect, I wish we had extended a new beam the full length of the roof for peace of mind. The reality is, however, if we keep water out by maintaining the roof, it really won't matter.

We also took a big dip out of the roof by slapping 2xs along the beams.

Here's the repair on the eaves and corner of the roof a bit further along. We put the aluminum soffit (just like the neighbor's on the right) back up once we were finished.

At the end of day 2, this is what the roof looked like.

The old roof had no true flashing. Here, we used a grinder and then tucked the flashing into the brick.

On a side note, Linden Painters finished our neighbor's house, which included portions of shared architecture. Below, the left window is our and the right window is our neighbor's. Interestingly, the neighbor's window opens into a closet, whereas in our house the closet was removed to make more space in the bedroom.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Early Summer Treats

We've gotten off to summer fun with  leaps and bounds. Here's a few snapshots:
Early spring digging led to...

...gorgeous April and May radishes.

Strawberries arrived early this year.

Jericho ate most of what we picked!

Jericho LOVES the water.

And watermelon!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SCOTUS and AZ Immigration LAw

As with most Supreme Court cases, there is often a lot of confusion regarding what the court is actually being asked to do. The majority of us are like my 8th grade history students who think the Supreme Court, like a common criminal court, gives out guilty and not-guilty verdicts choosing a winner and a loser. The reality is that the Supreme Court is generally ruling on a very narrow aspect of a legal argument. At the same time, and this is what is so amazing to me about the Supreme Court , the Justices are very much aware that narrow legal language has everything to do with regular people and real life. Rather than long harangues about so-and- so v. so-and-so, oral arguments seem to take the form of "what if"s and "a person would"s.
There's also a lot of general confusion about the facts. A majority of Americans are probably thinking that SCOTUS is being asked to decide whether racial profiling in Arizona is ok or not. What is actually being asked is whether or not the way AZ enforcement of existing federal immigratioin laws interferes with federal enforcement of those laws. The government is arguing that it does. The future of badly needed immigration reform is not at stake. In fact, the government counsel apparently conceded more than once in oral arguments today that S.B. 1070 does not involves racial or ethnic profiling. Should they be saying something different? I sense a legal strategy here. How can you prove profiling if the law hasn't been put into effect? Personally, I have to wonder if the way the AZ law is written will lend itself to widespread profiling and abuse. But today in court, that wasn't exactly the issue.
Jay Sekulow, an admittedly pro SB 1070 voice, writes:
In the run-up to today's arguments, there's been much written and said about how the Arizona immigration law is unconstitutional - that a provision that requires state law enforcement officials to verify a person's legal status when they're stopped on suspicion of committing a separate offense is somehow discriminatory and unconstitutional.
At the outset, the Chief Justice asked the Solicitor General if Arizona's S.B. 1070 involves racial or ethnic profiling. The government repeatedly responded: "No, it does not." The fact that the government conceded that the law does not involve racial or ethnic profiling is very significant because it undercuts an argument that's been repeatedly used to challenge the immigration measure.

The "when they're stopped on suspicion of committing a separate offense"  clause is a key bit of information easily lost in the din. So now the backroom debates begin between the Justices and we'll hear from them again in a bit. Prediction? This will be something between a 5-2 (Kagan obstaining) and a unanimous decision in favor of the right of Arizona State to enforce federal law.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


As one friend put it, "There was an unarmed teenager, and a man with a gun; the unarmed teenager died."

As facts and fictions continue to emerge in the explosive Trayvon Martin case, I have felt the powerful vacuum and a bluster of hot air that results from a thousand snap judgements. There was a tragedy. We all want answers. Hoodies, concealed carry laws, gated communities, self-defense, suspensions, black codes, skittles...

While watering my garden, the hopeful buds that survived last night's freeze, I saw the empty bag, torn and caught in the fence. I went inside to grab my camera, and came out. Two young boys skulked down the sidewalk, sought by two men, on the phone with the police.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Free stuff!

I've always had trouble accepting free things. Most fundamentally it is a pride issue. But here's a few free things that you can get without any one ever knowing.
First Energy is offering a number of incentive programs, two of which I recently took advantage of. If you go to you can fill out a home energy survey and they will send you a box of high efficiency light bulbs and a very nice power saving power-strip. I would guess the value of what they send you is over $50. The survey took about 5 minutes and now I can begin replacing all of the hot and in-efficient light bulbs in our old house.
The second incentive is that they will pick up your old refrigerator and pay you $50 for it. The idea is that they are getting an older and less efficient refrigerator off the grid. Since scrap prices for fridges are around $20, they are undercutting the market! I've got my pickup scheduled, which means I won't have to be the one to carry the fridge down my front stairs, out the front door, down the porch stairs and the sidewalk stairs and then all the way back to the alley, where admittedly, a scrapper would grab it in 30 minutes or less. You can sign up for the fridge pick up at the same web address,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mortise Lock Repair 101

Now the the big renovation is complete, I've been able to find some time to get to the finer details of owning a 92 year old home. A few weeks ago we installed a rice paper window film to the bathroom door off our kitchen. The previous owners had used a curtain to provide the necessary privacy but we wanted something a bit more modern. It looks great! One problem: the heavy solid wood and glass door naturally hangs about halfway open. Since it took about an hour of shimming, adjusting, and cursing to get the door to close at all, I wasn't about to try anything fancy. Another problem: the latch on the door was not working and I haven't yet been able to find the correct Corbin key for the mortise lock. If you haven't seen an antique mortise lock up close, see below. They are truly amazing little gadgets:

They just don't make stuff like this anymore. The lock that I am holding is close to 5 lbs. of probably brass. But something is missing... Can you find it?

The spring, which causes the latch to rebound after the door knob is released had broken. In the picture, you can see most of the spring attached to the stationary peg while a small part is still attached to the hook and lever controlling the  lock. Where could I find a replacement? Lowes had a few springs, the smallest of which was the correct diameter but more than twice the needed length.

The picture is fuzzy, but what you're looking at is the spring from Lowes, snipped in half and re-bent on the end to make a loop.

I slid the mortise lock back into the door, re-installed the door knobs and face plates, and...

Voila! The Bathroom door stays shut! You can see the privacy film clearly in this picture, although not really the rice paper pattern.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jericho is One!

Jericho wears her hat proudly as she reads a book. Books are one of her favorite toys now, besides the necklace beads from Grandmother (Christmas present) and her Melissa and Doug standard size blocks from Mama and Papa (Happy Birthday coconut!).

Jericho looks up to her friend Jonny. They bonded last Spring when Jericho spent each weekday at Jonny's house. "Jericha," as he lovingly calls her, seems perfectly at home there, even now!

A mother-daughter moment.

Cynthia and Jericho get along great. Jericho watches Cynthia very closely and is always curious.

Lorelei can fly! Also wearing the B-day hat loud and proud.

Craft time!

Jericho's first-birthday cupcake: applesauce cinnamon with buttercream frosting! Jericho didn't know how to blow out the candle, but Jonny did, and was happy to oblige. What a pal!