This past Wednesday night, when we got back from Boston, there was a lunar eclipse. Al o fus except Arianna got a glimpse of it before heading to bed. Aaron and I stayed out late to see the last stages of the ecplise. I tried taking some pictures with our camera, with moderate success. Here is the eclipse as we first saw it(partial), and several minutes later, when we decided to go to bed(totality).
Each year, we’ve taken a trip to the Boston area to visit our friends. Well, originally, they were Cyndi’s friends from MIT. Well, actually, they were Cyndi’s college roommates from MIT, but we all married our MIT college sweethearts and had children. During college, I was sort of adopted by them, since I spent so much time at Cyndi’s dorm. Anyway, some of you might remember them from our wedding in Florida: Justyna(Polish) and Vadim(Russian), and their kids Doran(9) and Danika(13); Tricia(Americanese) and John(Vietnamese), and their kids Andy(3) and David(8); and Christine(white American) and Tony(African American), no kids yet; and there’s us, a blend of Mexican, Irish, Italian. Overall, a pretty diverse set, and we are glad that all the kids get along and enjoy each other. It’s a evening and a day’s drive to Boston, and we always arrive about 7pm, where dinner is waiting as are the large group of friends. The kids have known each other since they were babies, and have forged strong friendships. The grownups share all sorts of funny and scary stories about parenthood and the previous year, and there is much drinking of Koolaid and card playing and soaking in the hot tub. We stay and spend a lot of time in Justyna’s house in Acton. Although we usually spend at least one day being slugs and doing generally nothing, we usually go somewhere together, like Boston, a science museum, etc. This year, Eddie and Vadim and John took the bigger kids skiing at Wachusett Mountain, about 30 minutes away. We had dinner at Tricia’s house in Arlington, with John’s home made pizza, where the kids played with a very large collection of legos, played hide and seek, and produced general chaos; Tricia is very good for chaos. Tricia gave us a personal presentation of her extensive historic embrodery work at the Plimoth Plantation. The older kids are now playing their own card games, and even joined the adults for a few rounds of Pinochle. And, of course, there was the amazing trip to the Flying Trapeze school, decribed in a previous entry. Here are a few pics of this year’s trip:
Dinner out with Tricia, Vadim and Justyna
Danika, Adam and Aaron playing cards
Doran and Arianna playing with Doran’s birthday present, Star Wars Lego Imperial Cruiser
We are visiting our MIT friends here in the Boston area. Some weeks ago, we got asked if we wanted to take flying trapeze lessons with some of the kids. Cyndi and the kids said yes, I kind of blew it off. So today, I went with them to watch, and to be ready particpate in case Arianna chickened out. This is a link to the trapeze school.
Sure enough, Arianna bailed when we got there, so I got the call. First, there was ground school, where we we took turns on the bar very near the ground and practiced hooking our legs around the bar with an instructor. After we strapped on the safety belt, we climbed several flights of stairs to the flying trapeze. An instructor up there connects the safety belt to the flying wires, brings the bar close, hangs onto your belt, and tells you to lean out and reach the bar. This is the scariest part, because you are leaning out over space and the only thing keeping you from falling is her grip on your belt. Sure, the flying wires really keep you from killing yourself if she loses her grip on you, but you really have to trust her. For us engineering types who need to be in control, this is very difficult to do. Ahem. Then she says “ready, HEP!” and you take a very small leap and fall with the bar into a very long arc. It’s amazing how much space you cover with this thing. At the end of the arc, you have to pulling your legs up and hook them on the bar. By now, you’ve swung back to the launch pad, and now you have to let go of your hands and reach out, hanging by your legs. This is catch practice. Now you have to reach the bar again and release your legs. A couple of well timed kicks, and you do a back flip and land in the net, hopefully on your back. Cyndi said it best: “some parts are a lot easier than I thought, and some parts are a lot harder.” Then, we did catches. Well, only I did. For some reason, the boys chickened out, and Cyndi was getting sore, so it was up to me to honor the family name. There is now another instructor on the opposing trapeze, who starts swinging, and when he says HEP, you damn well better GO. One arc, legs up on the bar, second arc, hands out, third arc, CONTACT, he’s got your wrists and you release the bar from your legs. WOW, this is soooooo cool! He swings you one arc, then back to where he caught you and says SIT, and you let go at the apex, and hopefully fall into the net in a sitting position. Not so with me; no matter what I did, I face planted into the net. I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW COOL THIS IS!!! I had so much adrenaline pumping through me. I am afraid of heights, and sometimes have trouble trusting people, but there is this indescribable feeling of liberation when you leap off that platform and go, then the backflip into space, then finally, the catch. Not only do you have to be there to understand, but you have to actually do it. WOW! This may become a regular thing for our Boston trips… You’ll have to wait until we get home to load pics of everyone, and try to load the short movie we took of me doing the catch.
I updated my music page, which has been in development, off and on, since Christmas. I wanted to upload the songs from our Blue Skies Trio Demo CD, and I wanted to reorganize it a bit for future uploads. You can see from redesign what these future uploads might be…
Adam had his 14th birthday party yesterday. As has become our custom, he invited kids from school and church for a sleepover/gamefest, and everyone had a good time. He made his special cheese/salsa dip that Grandpa Al taught him how to make, and he asked me to make tacos for dinner. I’ve not seen three pounds of ground bef disappear so fast! Dinner was a raucous affair with some interesting discussions. At one point, they were telling math stories and even mentioning the point slope equation y= -mx+b (which everyone at the table recognized). Yes, Adam has made good choices so far in his friends. Yet again, we were not prepared with an adequate number of candles, so Adam resorted to what is now becoming a Hernandez tradition: binary candle lighting. Using only four candles, we light the ones and not the zeros. Cyndi yelled out “ok, who knows how to write 14 in binary?” and Adam quickly yelled out “1110!”. They tried to explain to their guests how this works, but they didn’t quite grasp it and chalked it up to “some Hernandez thing”. Most of the night was spent with the Wii and lots of yelling and cheering and, occasionally, arguing. I had told Adam earlier in the day that I was counting on him, at his age, to control his friends come bedtime. Usually, we say go to bed, be quiet, stop talking, etc. several times until we have to kick someone out of the room and make an example of them in order to finally establish silence, but Adam did such a good job of guiding his friends that none of this happened. Cyndi got up early and made them breakfast(French Toast!), and took about half of the guests to church while the other half stayed to be picked up by their parents. Here’s a couple of pictures of the mayhem:
Yup, it happened: a rhythm section spontaneously erupted in my house. I was just minding my own business, and suddenly this happened. Next thing you know, we’ll start a band or something…hmmmmm. Next time I mind my own business, I think I will try to record this so you can hear it.
Well, you heard earlier that Adam is taking drum lessons after pestering us for some time. I didn’t get him drums right away because I wanted to see if he really liked it, and how committed he was to practicing. We did a similar thing when he wanted to play goalie, years ago. Adam has shown not only talent, but that he is committed to practicing what the teacher says, nearly every night and often in the car. So, we took the plunge and got him a drum set as an early birthday present. Learning from my brother Mike, we got Adam an electronic set. First of all, it is quiet. I suspect that Adam will want to play them pretty often, and this keeps the rest of us sane if he wants to practice for hours…and hours. Second, they are small. As you might be able to see, they take up a pretty small footprint, considering they are the equivalent of a 5-piece set with two cymbals plus hi-hat. Third, I think they are nicely portable. I would love to play in church with my kids, and carrying this thing around seems light and simple to set up and easy to plug into a sound system or amp. Fourth, Adam likes what the rest of us call Heavy Metal Music, which often uses double bass pedals. This thing can be programmed to mimic double bass pedals with a flip of a switch. Well, after listing all those things, now I feel better about laying out all that dough. Let the world know we’ve never bought any video games for them, or video consoles or computer games(they bought all that with their own money), but I was willing to underwrite their musical ambitions. I think this is what they mean by ‘priceless.’
As often happens in our household, Arianna has adopted an activity from the boys. Adam has ben practicing drums at home, including his practice pad and a couple of other improvised elements that he uses until his drumset arrives. Arianna wanted to make her own drum set, so she found several boxes, and we showed her how to arranged them from small to large. You can make out the practice pad/lesson book that serves as her snare drum. She is using sticks and a lesson book that was given to Aaron a few years ago as a Christmas present. Since she knows how to read music(from school, yeah Ms Pat!), playing from this lesson book is a piece of cake. I only had to show her how to reading the ‘sticking’, which describes which beat to play on which stick(right or left). She went through several lesson the first night. The sticks and lesson book seem to be a perfect fit for her.
Last month, on January 3rd, Eddie turned the big Four Oh. As is his recent custom, he took the day off of work to laze around at home, them went to play hockey, then came home to lemon merangue pie, his favorite. Saturday of that week, our neighbors Michele and Melisa(one ‘l’ and one ‘s’, respectively) threw a party for him. We had other neighbors over, and all our kids. We had loud music, dancing in the living room, presents, cards and, um, a few refreshments. Eddie had a good time and stayed out late like a big boy. In the picture of us drinking Koolaid, the brunette is Melisa(her kids are Mason, 11, and Lucas, 6) and the blonde is Michele(her kids are Gabby, 7, and Desi, 5). You’ll always find all our kids in one of our three houses, sometimes in all three house at once, sometimes, like this night, in the same house.