Leah’s 13th birthday party

Posted in Celebrations, Leah on October 29th, 2022 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Leah's party was supposed to be the weekend after her birthday in September, but she turned up Covid positive the day before. So, we celebrated on her 13 plus 1 month birthday instead.

Finally party day

For this birthday, Leah requested a painting party. Jen found online tutorials and allowed Leah's friends to pick the artwork they each wanted to create.

Painting party

Painting and drying

Molly was just as excited as Leah about the painting party. Molly has been taking Art electives in school for many years.

Sisters love painting too

The Step by Step Painting tutorials had great instructions and pictures to follow.

Technology and Art

Ice Cream Love

Tiny mushroom house

Starry Night interpretation

Pink Pig Painting

Serious concentration

A little face painting too

Adding all the details

After a couple hours, we took a break for some cake.

There were gifts.

Gifts from friends

Gifts from friends

Gifts from friends

Our artists were loving their painting time so much that we extended the party another 30 minutes. A group photo (minus 1) of the finished artwork.

Finished paintings

Here are Leah and Molly's final paintings.

Leah s painting

Molly s painting

Happy birthday Leah!

Old Ellicott City photoshoot

Posted in Leah, Molly on December 19th, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

As November arrived, we found ourselves without photos for a Christmas card. So, Jen scouted locations in Old Ellicott City (very close to our house) and we tried to get as many pictures as we could before the sun went down.

Old Ellicott City photoshoot

As the sunlight disappeared, we hiked up to the courthouse to catch the last bit of light peaking over the horizon.

Last bit of light

The best pictures are when Leah gets a little grumpy.

Grumpy Leah

Here are a few more of my favorites. Lots more available on our Flickr page.

Old Ellicott City photoshoot

Old Ellicott City photoshoot

Old Ellicott City photoshoot

Sharing space

Halloween 2021

Posted in Celebrations, Leah, Molly on November 1st, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Happy Halloween everyone! Both our girls decided to do group costumes with their friends this year. Leah and her friends are characters from My Hero Academia, and Molly and her friends are penguins (and King Kong). Costumes are fun!

Halloween 2021

Halloween 2021

Halloween 2021

Halloween 2021

Leah’s Hogwarts Party

Posted in Celebrations, Leah on September 20th, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Back when Molly turned 11, we put on an All-out Hogwarts Party for her, including special effects and hand-made wands. We'd planned to do one for Leah when she turned 11, but the pandemic got in the way. This year, however, we made it happen. And given that she's a September birthday, she wouldn't have started Hogwarts until this year anyway, so it all worked out.

As the kids arrived, they had their mug shots taken so we'd be prepared in case they escaped at any point.

Askaban prisoners missing

Once everyone had arrived, they went through the brick wall into Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley entrance

to Olivander's of America.


I again played Gerald Olivander, maker and seller of wands. I trained under my cousin Garrick Olivander before setting up my own shop in America. I even had an intern this year - Molly, who was very helpful during her summer break.

Wand maker's intern

We had a very enjoyable wand choosing experience. As always, the wand chooses the witch or wizard, and a wand chose all of them. Every wand was unique - each from a different wood. More info on that in this post.

Wand choosing

Wand choosing

Once everyone had chosen their wands, I left them in the very capable hands of Molly. Having been recently named a Hufflepuff prefect, she was the perfect person to guide them on their journey across the ocean to Hogwarts.

This included taking a port key to King's Cross Station,

Port key

running through a wall to get to Platform Nine and Three Quarters, and riding the Hogwarts Express to school.

After arriving at school, they met up with Professor Chitsom and Professor Cordelius. Of course, the first order of business for these first years was to be sorted into their houses.

Sorting hat

After being sorted, we had a quick-start Introduction to Magic class to give all of them a taste. We practiced the Locomotor Charm, the Summoning Charm, the Stunning Spell, the Severing Charm, Repairo, and Meteolojinx Recanto.

We also traveled to a nearby door to practice the Unlocking Charm as well as the Locking Spell.


After sorting and magic introduction, it was time to head into the Great Hall for a feast. This included a very fancy Hogwarts House drip cake (funfetti) made by Jen, as well as homemade ice cream (Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk and Buckeye Peanut Butter Chocolate).

Cake and ice cream

After cake and ice cream, the houses competed in some fun games. First up was Harry Potter Trivia led by Professor Cordelius. It was a tight competition, but Ravenclaw managed to squeak out a victory over Slytherin.

Harry Potter Trivia

Harry Potter Trivia

Harry Potter Trivia

Harry Potter Trivia

Then 2 houses played Tabletop Quidditch


while the other two houses played Harry Potter Pictionary.

Harry Potter Pictionary

All students left with treats from Honeydukes including Harry Potter cookies and Butterbeer fudge.

Harry Potter cookies

A good time was had by all. Even more pictures are on Flickr.

Happy birthday, Leah!

Happy 12th birthday Leah

Posted in Celebrations, Leah on September 17th, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Leah is 12! This age may not have been a milestone before, but this year it's become one as it means she's old enough to get a Covid vaccine. She did get that vaccine (the day after her birthday for the first dose), but first we celebrated her a bit.

For lunch on Leah's birthday, we went out to a fancy meal at Stanford Grill. Leah was very excited to have sorbet for dessert.

Birthday sorbet

Us and Grams

For dinner, Jen made beignets for the first time as a special treat.

Birthday beignets

And there were of course presents.

Birthday presents

Birthday presents

Birthday presents

Birthday presents

Starting new schools

Posted in Leah, Molly, School on August 30th, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Molly is now in high school and Leah is now in middle school. Hard to believe. We're glad they're back in school full time this year, and excited for the new adventures.

First day of 9th grade

First day of 6th grade

Starting High School

Starting Middle School

Starting Middle School

Summer Strings Institute

Posted in Leah, Molly, Music on August 7th, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

This year, the Summer Strings Institute put on by the National Philharmonic was back. Leah was accepted into the Prep week (elementary school week) and Molly was selected for their Junior week (middle and early high school). Then Molly was also asked to serve as an intern during Prep week, so for that week both girls were at camp together.

This video is of the end of SSI Prep, including both Leah and Molly.

And here's video of both the chamber music concert and full orchestra concert at the end of SSI Junior.

Both sets of grandparents even came to see the final concert of SSI Junior.

Grandparent attendees

Great job girls!


Off to camp

Posted in Leah, Molly on July 16th, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

The girls made it to Manidokan. They were sooo excited!! It was the first time they’d slept out of the house since Jan 2020. The last time was actually for a winter retreat at Manidokan. They had a great week, as always.

Off to camp

Off to camp

Off to camp

End of schools

Posted in Leah, Molly, School on June 15th, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

We're finally at the end of this unique school year! This is the end of the line for both of them at their respective schools. Here's to new adventures in the Fall (and being in school 5 days a week)!

Finishing out at two schools

And for a before and after, here are some girls starting middle school almost 3 years ago, and finishing it now.

Middle School Orientation

End of middle school picture

No braces

Posted in Leah on June 5th, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Leah got her braces off. Here's her new smile!

No braces

With no braces, Leah's ready for some candies she wasn't allowed to have before.

No braces