Monday, October 31, 2011


About two months ago, we began talking about Halloween costumes with the boys.  They both love to dress up, so we knew this year the holiday would be a big deal at our house.  Sam wanted to be a superhero, and thinking that this might be the last year we could dress them alike or in tandem, we suggested that Sam be Batman and Noah could be Robin.  Sam was thrilled at the idea.  Noah was at first.  But soon, he realized that Robin is a pretty sorry costume.

"I want to be Batman!" he soon declared.

We tried to convince him that being Robin wouldn't be that bad.  "He drives a cool motorcycle," I championed.  "He's just like Batman, only younger," Joy cajoled.  But Noah wouldn't hear our pleas.  Like Dick Grayson, he realized that being Robin was for suckers, and he was ready to be a headliner.  So Joy and I caved and agreed that we would have two Batmans - Batmen, if you will.

Sam, however, had other ideas.

"If Noah's Batman, I want to be a Ninja!" he decided, throwing our plans further out of whack.  And you can imagine Noah's reaction to this development: "I want to be a Ninja too.  And Batman!"  We pacified Noah with the sure knowledge that Batman is both Batman and a Ninja, and set about looking for costumes that would please them both. 

We found them, as with most things, at Target:

As you can see, there is no passive standing as Batman and Ninja, only ACTION!  That and wondering who would win in a fight, Batman or Ninja. We'll see if we can keep up with them tonight.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hat Parade!

Sam is loving Kindergarten, and I think one of the reasons rests on the community his school works so hard to build.

Friday was one of the prime examples of this trend at his elementary school.  All of the Kindergarteners participated in the Hat Parade -  each student decorated a hat that was supposed to in some way symbolize who they are or things that excite them.  Then, they lined up with their classes and paraded through each classroom, from the 6th graders to the 1st, waving like beauty queens and basking in the love of their fans.

Sam's hat, you may ask?
 It was a racecar hat.

Joy and Sam and Noah went to buy hats and as soon as the boys saw the racecar helmets, everything was decided.  They bought racecar stickers to put all over it and, most importantly, googly eyes.  Sam cleverly put six googly eyes on the back of his helmet so you couldn't tell which way he was looking (if you, I suppose, considered him an alien with six eyes in front and back).  Most exciting was that another friend in class got the same hat and hot glued Hot Wheels cars all over it, so they got to parade together and have fun talking cars.

And don't worry - Noah wasn't left out of the fun.  His good friend Micah was there to watch Cole, Sam's good friend, in the parade, so the two of them set up for tailgating in the hallway, just waiting for the parade to pass by.

All they needed was a cooler to put their feet on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Best. Facepaint. Ever.

Last week one of Joy's Kindermusik families wrote her with an offer of tickets to the Kansas City Zoo's annual Kids Jazzoo.  She had extra and thought that we might enjoy the event.  Joy mentioned the offer to me, I said "sure," not quite knowing what the event encompassed, and she accepted on our behalf.

On Friday evening, we began digging around online to see what Kids Jazzoo was and quickly discovered that we had been invited to bring our children to their idea of heaven - there were up-close opportunities with the animals for Noah (including handling reptiles and getting to touch fur and skin from various animals), crafts of all shapes and sizes for Sam, and all-you-can-ride passes for the carousel and train for them both.

On Saturday afternoon, we zipped the boys into their dinosaur raincoats to protect against the bit of drizzle falling and headed to the zoo.  Jazzoo was every bit as fun as we imagined and perhaps a bit more.  Sam, who often gets bored at the zoo, was entranced by having a booth with something new to do or eat every three feet.  Noah stared in wonder at the animals (which, frankly, is his steady state at the zoo).  Joy and I ate and wandered and took it all in.

By far the best part of the evening was the facepainting.  Sam loves to have his face painted, but generally you get a small design on your cheek and away you go. 

Not at the zoo.

The facepainting booths were doing painting called "jungle eye designs" where the kid's own eyes are incorporated as the eyes of the animals.  Since both Sam and Noah are obsessed with Cheetahs right now for their speed and looks, they both declared they wanted to become cheetahs.

As you can see, the face painters acquiesced to their demands.

 Unfortunately, Sam go an itchy mouth with his black lips and wiped his face on his arm, which is why it smeared a bit.  Still, the boys had fun playing at being cheetahs, and running fast, and growling at each other like prey the entire night.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sam First Day of Kindergarten

This morning we dropped Sam off for his first day of Kindergarten.  Actually, I shouldn't say that we dropped him off, it was more like we were dropped as Sam ran into his classroom, announced himself with a "Hello, Mrs. Flatley," and immediately went to work surrounded by new friends and experiences.  Joy and I went down to the "cry coffee" hosted by the PTA and tried to distract ourselves from the momentousness of the occasion. 

It didn't work.

Sam will flourish in Kindergarten - he has a wonderful teacher, a school that works to build community, and an unquenchable thirst for learning.  Our hope is that he's able to drink his fill and then come home every day to share with us.  That's he's allowed to follow his creativity while acquiring the discipline to shape it.  And that we can let him go while giving him a safe place to which he can always return.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Champaign Gang

Two weeks ago I had to run to Champaign to do a bit of clean-up research for a presentation and article I'm writing.  And while it might seem strange to speak of running a 400 mile trip, we did just that - there and back again in three days.  Although I spent most of my time in Harry Partch's archives there, Joy and the boys came along to visit dear friends from grad school that we manage to see at least once a year.

On the last day, we grabbed lunch with them all before heading out and snagged this picture on the benches outside:

Look at that line of deviousness.  I love how they all are sitting with their feet in different positions, clearly showing their personalities.  In a few years we won't be able to get together without them taking over our plans with plans of their own (and yes, Sam has a pair of chopsticks from lunch).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Noah's Third Birthday

Noah turned three last Saturday.

Three.  3.  Trois.

We decided that instead of overloading Noah with one jam-packed day, we would spread things out over the course of several, so we actually began celebrating on the Tuesday before his birthday.  That day, we went to the free play hour at Emerald City.  Emerald City is a curious place - it is clearly a gymnastics center with all the balance beams and pommel horses you could ever need.  But it also has a large area built up for kids to play in and they make extra money on the side by letting kids have birthday parties and come play on the trampolines and slides and zip lines and ropes swinging out over large foam pits.  Oh yes, there is a huge foam pit you can jump in, writhe around in, and jump on your brother in.  Obviously it was Noah's favorite part.

 Wednesday we rested, but Thursday we spent the entire morning at the zoo.  Sam has never been a big fan of animals, but Noah has long been obsessed with them.  Last year we traveled to the Omaha zoo for his birthday, so we decided to explore the KC zoo this year, especially since they recently acquired a polar bear.

Noah loved the polar bear.  We got to watch her swim and do huge back flips, touch some polar bear fur, and watch a short video on how polar bears are in decline.  Noah would have stayed there all day, especially since it was obscenely hot even at 10:00 in the morning.  In fact, it was so hot that besides the polar bear and the sea lion show, Sam and Noah both were more interested in riding the rides than seeing the animals.  So we rode on the carousel (Noah picked a lion as his steed) and all around the park on the train.

On Friday evening, we took Noah out for yogurt.  Perhaps you've seen these new establishments, but they feature self-serve yogurt, tons of toppings, and you pay by the ounce.  Noah piled his cheesecake yogurt high with chocolate syrup, blueberries, and sprinkles.  Three-year old heaven.

Saturday morning was Kindermusik for both boys (we took cookies for Noah's class) and then lunch back at the house.  After lunch, we cut into Noah's cake, opened presents, and began the dinosaur portion of Noah's birthday.  As you can tell from his new bedroom, Noah LOVES dinosaurs.  He picked out the cake he wanted (a dinosaur dig with sugar cookie bones) and picked out the place he wanted to eat that night - T-Rex.  What's better than animatronic dinosaurs and big mounds of macaroni and cheese to go with them?  As you can imagine by the time we got back home Saturday night, both boys were wiped out from all the birthday celebrating.  Happy Third Birthday, Noah!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Noah's Big Boy Bed

For Noah's 3rd birthday, we moved him into his big boy bed.  Joy's parents supplied Noah with a new quilt and pillow sham for his big day (with dinosaurs!) and I spent the afternoon taking down the crib (for the first time in six years) and putting together my old twin bed from college.  The bed is missing a few slats that I'll need to make, and we're still rearranging his room to git his new bed, but Noah has declared it "cool" and already sleeps like a champ in it.  But that may be because he sleeps with Buzz Lightyear next to him to protect him through the night.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


After a long year of waiting, I finally received word on Monday that I was awarded tenure at UMKC.  For those of you unfamiliar with the process, it involves the candidate putting together a hundreds-of-pages document that is then reviewed by people in your field outside the university, your colleagues in your division, your Dean, a campus-wide committee, and then the Provost.  All those people in all those levels make recommendations that are finally weighed by the Chancellor who makes the final decision.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic to be through the process successfully.

It also means that I need to put aside my long-held back-up plan if the job here didn't work out:

Or, photoshopped at the suggestion of a friend in the field:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Final Listening Journals

My students have finally reached the end of the semester (in fact, today marks the final exam for the writing intensive students).  Their final act in my class was to write about music since 1945, and they all gravitated toward music a bit out of the mainstream, including Anthony Braxton and Philip Glass's great opera Einstein on the Beach.  Watch a little early Braxton and then go read the journals:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sam in Disguise

You may remember that Sam loves to dress up.  Every day he's either a dinosaur or a super guy or a bad guy or an Electro-Sam or something else from his imagination.  Noah loves to follow suit, so we end up with these hilarious combinations of mismatched cast off clothes, bought dress up clothes, and bits of paper taped to belts, glasses, and vests.

So you can imagine Sam's excitement when, at the egg hunt last Saturday, he won Groucho glasses in a bean bag toss.  Added to his bunny face paint, he was completely in disguise:

Now, he'll regularly run upstairs, put on his glasses, and creep back to the table.  We rightly exclaim, "Where's Sam, and where did this man come from at our table?"  It's currently the most hilarious game in our house.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend

We've had quite the weekend, one that zapped our energy so much that the entire family (including Sam!) took a nap yesterday afternoon after church.

It started Thursday night, when I played the organ for our church's Maundy Thursday Service.  Then, Friday night, we went to hear Liszt's Via Crucis at a Good Friday service, and then Saturday night UMKC put on one of Joy's favorite pieces, Poulenc's Gloria.  The boys went Thursday and Friday nights and then had a sitter on Saturday, but were so wound up by then that they didn't go to sleep until almost 10:00.

They were also a bit wound up because Saturday afternoon we went to the Easter Eggstravaganza that Prairie Baptist puts on each year.  Since Noah is only 2 months from 3, he was among the oldest in his age group (1-2 years) and so got plenty of loot in the egg hunt:

Sam, on the other hand, had to fight it out with the bigger kids and so ended up with fewer eggs, but his eggs had cooler stuff, like a compass, stick-on earrings (which he promptly used to decorate his Crocs), and little popper toys (that Noah calls blow-pops):

All in all a good weekend (at this point in life, any weekend with a nap is a good weekend).  I even managed to get a few good pictures of the boys in their matching Easter shirts, but when you take 79 pictures, a few are bound to come out right.

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Listening Journals

If you are interested, another round of listening journals has gone up over at my class's site.  This time you can read about Zemlinksky's Lyric Symphony, Carl Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto, and Carlos Chavez's fascinating Xochipilli:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thoughts on Lee Hoiby

Perhaps you saw today that composer Lee Hoiby died. Knowing my musical proclivities, you might be surprised to know that I caught my breath when I saw the news. Hoiby's music, firmly in the Samuel Barber, mid-century mold, is outside my normal research and listening habits. But I've had contact with him several times over the last 15 years and always found him a gentleman and lively conversationalist.

My knowledge of Hoiby began in college and grad school when I worked on a project concerning the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition's commissioned works. Hoiby was the first composer commissioned, so I learned his work and read letters about the commission and spoke to pianists who competed that year and played the work. It was a pleasant work, but did not have the impact of later Cliburn works like Copland's or Corigliano's and did not stay with me for long.

Imagine my surprise a few years later when I discovered that Hoiby played in Partch's ensembles while studying at Wisconsin. I decided that I had to track him down, and so one day in grad school, I received a call from him in response to a letter I had sent. We talked for almost an hour about his experiences with Harry Partch and learning the instruments. I could tell that he was a bit miffed that a musicologist had tracked him down only to talk about another composer, so at the end began talking about his Van Clibrn work. A few days after the conversation, I received a package of music and CDs.

We talked one other time about Partch, and though my interest in his music never progressed from my Masater's thesis, I'll always remember the generous composer willing to talk about another composer with whom he had little in common aesthetically. I just wish that spirit carried over to his publisher who put out a statement today complete with this line:

"During the period immediately following WW II, he also performed in Harry Partch’s Dadaist ensembles, studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College and pursued a virtuoso career as a concert pianist under the tutelage of Gunnar Johansen and Egon Petri."

Dadaist ensembles? Alas, my musicologist's work is never done Somewhere two men are turning in their graves. God speed, Mr. Hoiby.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Noah vs. the Roller Blades, Part II

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words and thoughts and prayers towards Noah. Yesterday, we even had cards and cookies and ice cream arrive at our house from Noah's preschool and our church. Today, Noah is doing much better - he slept through the night and was ready to play bad guys vs. good guys with Sam this morning. He still looks a bit beat up, but the swelling on his head has gone down and he's moving with greater ease. He even feels well enough to going back to cheesing for the camera:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Noah vs. the Roller Blades

Yesterday was a gorgeous day - the first true taste we've had of life after winter.  The sun had a crystalline luster only possible after months of gray, and the warm outside made everyone want to sit down and never return inside.  Joy decided that the boys needed to move and run in the new springtime and so took them to Shawnee Mission Park for the afternoon.  They set out on the walking trail as it wound around the lake, the boys running far ahead of her until their energy, already spent playing at school all day, began to wane.  Towards the end of the walk, they were dragging a few paces behind, Joy exhorting them to keep up.

Joy later told me she thought nothing of the 40-year-old man barreling toward her on his roller blades at first other than a realization that he was traveling faster than usual.  In the time it took her to decide to turn around and tell Sam and Noah to watch out for the man, he had passed her and collided with the boys.

Sam took a glancing blow and fell to the side, scraping his elbow in the process.  Noah received all 200 pounds and went flying through the air, head over heels over head over heels until finally landing on his head.  Joy's protective instincts kicked in, and she scooped Noah up, ignoring the man who had returned to see if everyone was all right, a wise move given the string of invectives that surely would have knocked the man for the same kind of loop Noah had just endured.  She put both boys in the car and drove to the visitor's center, leaving the man and his roller blades far behind.

Joy hoped to find a nurse at the visitor's center, but only found a recommendation of the carefully placed urgent care clinic over the hill right outside the park's gates.  She hoped to have Noah examined at the urgent care clinic, but only found a recommendation to head to the nearest ER.  She hoped to have a doctor look over Noah at the first hospital, only to find that the hospital did not have an ER.

By this time, Noah was turning blue and starting to doze in his car seat, so Joy enlisted Sam's help and together they began singing, and telling jokes, and poking Noah to get him to stay awake.  Noah slurred for them to stop singing, but managed to stay awake as Joy stopped at home to grab the cell phone, call our pediatrician friend, and leave a note for me.  She headed to the hospital where Sam and Noah were both born and settled in to wait for the triage nurse.

I was teaching during this entire episode and so arrived home oblivious to the saga.  On the door as I entered our house was a note scribbled on blue paper that merely said, "Noah took a fall.  We're at the ER."  As I stepped in the house, the phone rang.  Joy called to fill me in and invite me to the ER, so I packed up toys and books for Noah, a bit of food for Joy and for Noah, and headed out. 

When I arrived at the ER, I could tell Noah wasn't himself.  He absentmindedly chewed on his fingers and barely offered me a "hello."  He was pale, covered in cuts and scrapes, and had a bump the size of a golf ball sticking out of his head at his hairline.  The triage nurse had seen him by that point and declared that it looked like Noah did not have a concussion and left Joy and the boys to wait on the doctor.  I took Sam home to have a late dinner and to wait for word from the hospital.  By 8:30, Joy was home with Noah, cleared by the doctor of all major injuries and provided a list of warning signs to watch for over the next few days.  I took Noah to the bath and gingerly washed all the dirt off him, taking note of the scrape that covered half his back and caused him to avoid walking and wince when picked up.  Fortunately, with a large dose of ibuprofen he was able to drift to sleep and rest until 5:00 this morning, when he was too sore to settle back into sleep.

It was a scary four hours, but this morning Noah seemed happy again, though sore and slow to move.  Well, I should qualify that it was scary for some of us.  Sam, on hearing Joy relate the story on the phone this morning, remarked, "Mom, Noah's double flip was awesome."  Joy asked, "But wasn't it scary for you?"  Undaunted Sam finished, "Well, it was a little scary, but it was mostly AWESOME!"

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscar for Best Song

With all apologies to Randy Newman, who richly deserves his Best Song Oscar last night, here is the best song performed on this year's telecast of the ceremony:

Now, if only they had used autotune on a few of the performances as well...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Noah's a puzzler

For the past month or so, really since Christmas, Noah has been Sam's mini-me.  In the morning I'll ask the boys what they want for breakfast and Noah will shout out "Oatmeal!"  Sam will casually look up and say "grits," which immediately causes Noah to proclaim "Grits AND Oatmeal!"  Or we'll ask the boys if they want to wear car shirts or dinosaur shirts.  Noah's preference is almost always swayed by Sam's decision.

The one area where Noah will always break with Sam is over the issue of puzzles.  Sam has always ignored puzzles, playing with the car pieces as cars instead of wondering how they fit into the puzzle's scheme.

Not Noah.

Noah is obsessed with puzzles.  For Christmas, his Aunt Heather gave him a box with four wooden Disney puzzles in it.  The puzzles fit into nice compartments under a sliding top that acts as the puzzles' frame.  Almost every day, without fail, Noah pulls the box out of his closet and systematically goes through each puzzle, carefully putting each puzzle back into its slotted container before moving to the next puzzle.  He dug through Sam's toy drawers and found all the puzzles we bought or were gifted to Sam that have languished for years and cheerfully took them to his room and added them to his collection.

Perhaps the best puzzle yet came from Aunt Misty and Uncle Stephen.  They gave Noah a giant dinosaur floor puzzle.  This puzzle is four feet long and features Noah's favorite animals.  The puzzle is a perfect storm of Noah obsessions.  He pulls it out and without any assistance (he will actually push me and Joy away if we attempt to help) covers his floor with dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes.  If we need 15-20 minutes of peace, all we have to do is pull out the puzzle and close the door to Noah's room.

But the puzzling is getting a bit out of hand.  I had never noticed before how many doctor's offices, banks, and play centers have puzzles until Noah started pulling them out.  He'll find any puzzle around and start piecing it together, not allowing any interruption until he is finished.  Just yesterday, I went to pick him up at PDO and after giving me a hug (usually a prelude to running out to the car), Noah turned and declared he had to finish his puzzle.  So if we are late in the next few months, you'll have a good guess as to why.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Time for Listening Journals!

My writing intensive students are at it again, exploring music outside the traditional canon of Western music and blogging about it on their personal sites.  Here's my class blog that I use to direct students to their colleague's blogs and where you can find the newest listening journals.  Each student looks into the cracks of the Classical period (1750-1810) and finds startling music that I think you'll enjoy.  Take a look!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Forget Punxsutawney Phil...

We have our own groundhogs around here.  And they are predicting spring is coming soon.  Of course, that doesn't mean they don't want to enjoy the snow while it's here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

In Case You're Wondering About Our Snow...

Last Friday after school, Sam and a neighbor boy up the street helped us dig out an ice fort for Sam:

But being inside the snow is only so much fun.  Much more entertaining for both boys (when they weren't throwing snow at me) was to climb a snow mountain and then slide down the other side:

Needless to say, we all were cold, wet, and happy by the time we came inside.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Experience with Craigslist Scams Part I - Arianna Emmert and TNT

Two years ago, we came back from Christmas break, powered up the computer, and nothing happened.  I cracked open the computer, cleaned out the enormous amount of dust, and replaced a bit of memory.  Everything went back to normal, we backed everything up, and went about our lives.

Fast forward to two weeks ago.  We come back from Christmas break, power up the computer, and nothing happens.  I crack open the computer, clean out the slightly less than enormous amount of dust, and fiddle with the memory.  Unfortunately, I discover that one of our memory slots is shot, meaning that instead of our normal 1 gig of memory we could only operate with 512 MB.  In other words, our computer became really, really slow.

I quickly began shopping for a new computer and since I use a Mac at school, thought about switching at home as well.  As part of my searching, I went on craigslist and found the following amazing deal:

2 Month Old iMac for sale running 3.2 GHz Intel Core i3 Processor, 4 GB Memory. $610.
Snow Leopard 10.6.4 Respond to post with any further questions regarding this computer!

I read the post and thought to myself, "Too good to be true," but followed up anyway, sending the seller the following message:


I was wondering if you still had the iMac for sale.


The next day, I received back this message:

Hi, I am getting back to you regarding the 21.5-inch iMac from Craigslist

My name is Arianna and I am now in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom.
I am selling the iMac for $600 USD. I have attached some pics with it to this email.
The iMac is still available and I hope you are still interested. The iMac was bought brand new from Apple a couple of months ago.
About the iMac I can say it's in perfect shape, as I used it only for a few weeks. Included in the $600 price is everything that came with the iMac.
The iMac is here with me.
I tried to be as thorough as I could with the presentation so you can have all the info if you decide to go ahead and buy it.

Please get back to me and let me know if you like the iMac if you're really interested in buying it.


Chief Logistic Officer 

She even included pictures of an iMac like this one:

Needless to say, a red flag went up when a transaction that was supposed to be local suddenly went global.  I decided to play a bit and see where this went, so followed up with this message:


Thanks for the e-mail.  Two quick questions.  First, why are you selling the computer and second, why did you advertise in Kansas City?  How would you get the computer here?


Now the story gets really interesting.  Since most people won't just send money overseas without having the object purchased in hand, "Arianna" responded with this option:


I posted the ad there because I live there. But now I have been relocated here with my work.
I am selling the imac in the US because the warranty is good only there. Because of that, nobody wants it here for this price.
I found a way to sell you the imac that will cover the both of us. It's a worldwide delivery company called TNT. They have a service that will allow you to test the imac before I receive my payment.
Please go to the TNT website below and read their procedure so we can be on the same page:

I will pay the TNT shipping fee and I can use 2 day delivery if you are in a hurry.


Arianna Emmert
Chief Logistic Officer

Hmmmm.  I followed the link and it was extremely well put together, and actually looked like the real TNT website.  But look through the two sites and you can begin to see small differences.  I sent a note to TNT's fraud department and then did a few searches for "Arianna."  Seems like she moves a lot, has had several last names, and tries to scam people on craigslist regularly.   So I thought I'd see how long I could string her along and replied with the following message:


I'm in no hurry and I need to talk to my wife about the computer today.  I'll get back to you.

By the way, where did you live in Kansas City?  In the city proper or in one of the suburbs?  Find some favorite BBQ while you were here?

She must have realized I was on to her because no messages since then.  But hopefully my posting this little saga will help someone else out who encounters "Arianna."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Criminals beware...

...because the Super Guys are on patrol.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day!

I was supposed to start teaching today.  I had the syllabus up on Blackboard, the powerpoints ready, new topical jokes to try out.  Then the snow started falling.  I don't have morning classes on Mondays, so I elected to stay in and watch what happened.  Slowly, the tally of school closing rose until UMKC could no longer hold on and it closed the campus at 1:00.

I hadn't even gone in.

What to do on a day with everyone home from school and the roads bad enough that going anywhere seemed silly (not that the roads stopped us from going to Target this morning for last minute Kindermusik purchases for Joy and new snow boots for Noah)?

These two had an idea:

After naps, We all bundled up and headed outside.  The boys immediately fell on their backs and began making snow angels, they ran from bush to bush and from tree to tree shaking limbs to make snow fall on them, they wrestled and tromped and had a generally good time.

Me?  I shoveled the walk.  And helped a neighbor up the street in her back-wheel drive, sport tire car that barely got any traction at all. 

And, of course, endured a barrage of snowballs from these jokers:

Not that I didn't retaliate some.  I mean, I did have a big shovel full of snow most of the time.