Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend Fun!

It's been a weird weather weekend here in New England...thunderstorms (severe ones!) have come through each day since about Wednesday or Thursday. On Friday, I left work just as a real doozy of a storm was settling in. I drove through it for the first few minutes, but by the time I got home, it was quite sunny. But it hit us hard a little while later as EJ and I were heading for dinner with some friends and a few games of bowling.

Yesterday morning, I took the girls strawberry picking. It was Sophie's first time, and she didn't even try to eat the berries, but she did enjoy poking her fingers into them and then squishing them in her hands! Lovely.

You can see that the girls have jackets on in the was in the low sixties! After lunch, EJ went to a pool party at a neighbor's house and the girls all had a lot of fun (I could hear them squealing at our place!). She came home saying that she spent most of her time in the hot tub!

Pap Pap showed up a little early and arrived in time for dinner last night (ribs and corn on the cob - hey, it's a holiday week!). When he walked in, he held open his arms and said "Give me a kiss, Sophie!" and she ran right to him. They've been good buddies ever since. Which is good. Because tomorrow, he's in charge while we're working!

Today, EJ and I and eleven others (8 more kids, 3 more adults) went to see WALL-E. A pretty good movie - good social messages, etc., but not my favorite. The animation is simply stunning, though, and until WALL-E blasts into space, you'd swear you were watching something filmed on a backlot. EJ says she's going to write a blog post about it tomorrow. We also watched an older flick, Matilda (1996) with that cute little Mara Wilson girl from the Miracle on 34th Street makeover done in 1994. It was a little scary during the chase scenes, but all in all a pretty good story. I'm sure you'll hear about this one on EJ's blog too.

As for summer books, we're working on the sequel to Steal Away Home, Soon Be Free. She has a pretty extensive summer reading list from school to work on too. I think she needs to read any two books on the list before 4th grade starts, but I'm sure she'll get in a few more than that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Last Day of School!

Yippee! Today was FINALLY the last day of school. I gotta tell ya - I am SO ready for this! The last 2-3 weeks of school are always filled with end of year activities so the schedule is nutty. I'm just glad it's done with!

This past weekend, we went to the lake again. We keep our camper there from Memorial Day through the 4th of July. It was a late start on Friday - we didn't get out of here until nearly 7 PM. We thought that Sophie might take a snooze in the car. In fact, we were praying for it, as she hasn't been too happy in the car for more than about 20 minutes.

Well, it didn't work out that way, of course. She was WIDE awake and buzzing the whole way there, and practically delirious and silly by the time we pulled in. I had to crawl in the back seat about 1/3 of the way there to help keep her occupied. She didn't get to sleep until at least 9:45 PM, at least 90 minutes after her normal bedtime. But at least she collapsed. For a while. For a very short while.

A few minutes before midnight, she started crying. I hopped up, rubbed my eyes to make sure I had really only been asleep less than an hour, and went to calm her down. Usually, if you just rub her back for a few seconds, she goes right back to sleep. Not the case on Friday. She wailed. And screamed. And wailed and screamed some more. There was no end in sight. There was NOTHING we could do to calm her down. None of the normal tricks worked. She didn't want us to touch her. It was almost like she was still sleeping and just couldn't snap out of it.

Our trailer is a hybrid...hard-sided all around with tents that tip out of the ends. K and I sleep in the queen sized tent in the front, EJ sleeps in the double in the back, and Sophie is still in the pack-and-play in the center this year. Well, the wailing wasn't very well contained in a trailer with tent ends. After 30 minutes of this, K took her out to the van, thinking it would contain the noise a little better. I got on the phone to call the dr's office. Earlier in the day, I had consulted them about a rash, which they diagnosed as Fifth's Disease, a relatively harmless rash that is very contagious about a week before the rash appears. I thought that perhaps she was being tortured by itching or pains from the rash. The nurse didn't think so. From everything we told her, she thought it was a night terror.

She finally settled a bit after about 1 hour and 15 minutes of wailing. I heard lots of other campers leaving their trailers and heading to the bath house. I'm sure they were interested in who was torturing their child in the middle of the night. I can tell you that in the few short steps between the trailer and the van door, her cries just echoed all around the mountains there. Poor baby. She slept until nearly 8 AM the next day and then took a 2+ hour nap in the afternoon (me too!).

We got home mid-afternoon on Sunday and we were too exhausted to do much. And then, to top it all off, the power vent on the furnace sizzled itself out at 3 AM (we heard it buzzing), so we had no hot water until early today. Fortunately, there is a gym with a shower in my office building, so I made good use of it (the shower, not the gym!) the last two mornings.

We have some more busy days ahead, but most of the schedule is FUN! EJ signed up for the library summer reading program, so we have a lot of activities ahead of us there. Friday night, she and I are going bowling with some friends (K has some other things to catch up on, so he's staying home with Sophie). EJ is going to a pool party on Saturday afternoon, but perhaps there will be enough time for some strawberry picking in the morning. And on Sunday, we're going to try to see the movie WALL-E with some friends.

And then, Pap Pap (my dad) and Mamaw S are coming to visit. Daycare (also where EJ goes to day camp in the summer) is closed the week before the 4th, so they are our official daycare providers Monday through Wednesday next week. In return, we're treating them to a weekend in the White Mountains over the 4th. They'll be staying in the lodge where we camp, and we're hoping to do a little swimming, hiking, and even drive up the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

EJ launches a blog!

Inspired by her cousin's blog, EJ has decided that she wanted a blog too. She said she's going to write about the movies she sees and books that she reads. You can check it out at:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Catching up for the last few days

Whew. It's been very busy here. The last two weeks of school are just a killer of a schedule. Let's see...where shall I start?

Last Thursday, K and EJ flew to southeastern Georgia to attend K's niece's wedding. They had a great time, and EJ had so much fun partying that she closed the place down. She hung out with family cutie, R, who lives in FL, and they were responsible for passing out bubbles to the guests. Congrats and best wishes, D and M!

Sophie and I stayed home and I did my best to keep her distracted so she didn't miss Daddy and Sissy too much. We visited the New England Aquarium on Saturday morning and then did some veggie shopping at Haymarket. On the way home, we stopped at my cousin's son's 5th birthday party. Happy Birthday, PJ!

Sophie and I had a lot of fun bonding. Like she needed to bond any more with me...she is constantly attached to me right now. It's hard to even get dinner cooked some nights. She constantly asked about "E?" wondering where her sister was. The only time she really asked about Dah Dah was in the morning, since he's the one who gets her warm milk for her in the morning! She did string together three words this weekend when I was putting on her pajamas: "Got Shirt On". She's a smart one...talking up a storm.

K and EJ got up at 4 AM Monday morning to catch the flight home. They were home in time for EJ to get to school before lunch. After school, I took her to her rehearsal for the piano recital. On Tuesday, I took a vacation day and chaperoned a field trip to the Museum of Science in Boston. When we got home, it was time to eat and get ready for the recital.

EJ did a great job at the recital. She played A.M. and P.M. by Grieg and Chopin. You'd know it if you heard it. Sophie was behaving so well until Emma came out on stage. Then she decided to hold out her hand and say "Hand? Hand?" She wanted to hold EJ's hand. After EJ was done, Sophie threw up her arms and yelled "Yeah!" while clapping along. After that, she was a goofy girl and had to be promptly removed from the church so that everyone else could enjoy the remaining performances. Here's EJ with her teacher, Miss A:

Today, we had some visitors after school, Dr. and Mrs. B, very good friends of K's family. It was so nice to catch up with them and for them to meet Sophie. EJ's art show also closed today, so K had to go pick up all of her pieces.

Oh well, I'm off to bed. I was up late all weekend while K and EJ were gone. I got a lot done...cleaned some of the kitchen cabinets, the basement, my closet, etc. And I watched two Celtics games on Thursday and Sunday, and then just HAD to watch all of last night's game to see them win it all.

I was REALLY into NBA basketball about 10-15 years ago...watching several games each weekend. While I was slightly partial to the Bulls during the Jordan years, I also really liked the Orlando Magic since we lived nearby at the time. I loved Shaq in the early years, Penny Hardaway, and Brian Shaw. I also rooted against Charles Barkley (just didn't like his attitude), the Lakers, and the Knicks. I was SOOO happy to see Paul Pierce FINALLY be a part of a winning team, and for Kevin Garnett to get a championship. I also like Sam Cassells, although I didn't really care for him so much when he played on other teams (was it the Rockets? can't remember...).

When Sophie and I were in Boston on Saturday, we parked near the Garden and hiked a few blocks. The street vendors were all selling Celtics shirts. I heard one vendor say that he's never had more people demanding Celtics gear than Sox gear. And in Boston, that says something.

And if those darn Patriots would've won the Super Bowl, Beantown would have had three world championships in the past nine months. Sigh.

I work right around the corner from the Celtics practice facility. For the past few weeks, there have been signs up heading to the office, including a giant board that checked off each of the 16 wins required for the championship. It's been satisfying to see them slowly be added up there. Today, the list was complete. A fine ending to a season that saw them in first place the whole way.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Panda Story

Sophie found this story fascinating on the Today Show this morning. It's about the pandas that were rescued from the panda center that was just 15 miles from the center of the earthquake in China. Luckily, K found the link online. I had to watch it again, because I missed some of it the first time through...Sophie was screaming "panda" and pointing at the TV!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Steamy Sunday

Today, EJ's art school had its annual art show opening. The teacher, along with each artist, selects 4-5 of each artist's pieces for inclusion in the show. The teacher honors one of each artist's pieces with a blue ribbon. Here's EJ holding up her blue ribbon-winning piece:

And here it is, up close...two giraffes, done in pen:

A few of her other pieces include her chipmunk etching...

...her cardinal in colored pencil...

...and her pastel:

The show takes place at a restaurant in town. The doors opened at 9:30 for a preview, followed by the awards ceremony in the parking lot, which only lasted about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, it was SO hot out there that one person in the crowd collapsed in the heat. It was brutal. About halfway through the ceremony, K took Sophie to the truck for some air conditioning. After the ceremony, EJ and I joined them and waited for the parking lot to clear out. Then, we went inside for a closer look at the art and lunch.

After we got home, I took some pics of the girls in their new matching dresses:

Sophie couldn't resist running toward the camera:

And I couldn't resist taking a few pics of Sophie while she inhaled her yogurt this morning:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June 4, 2007 - Shopping in Guangzhou and Pearl River Cruise

One year ago today, on June 4th, 2007, we had a mostly free day. K had to stay in the hotel room for a few hours in the morning in the event that there were any questions while our guides were representing us at an appointment with the U.S. Consulate's office, so EJ and I decided to do some power shopping. We had fun walking around the island and discovered a wonderful collection of bronze statues that EJ had fun posing with:

Then, we went for a swim in the beautiful pool at the White Swan:

Sophie was hangin' in the room with dad:

That evening, we went on a Pearl River dinner cruise with most of our travelmates. Here's our guide Rose with some of the big sisters:

It was a beautiful evening, and Guangzhou was all lit up:

We finished off the evening with a little shopping and a visit to the Shamian Island Starbucks:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June 3, 2007 - Buddhist Temple

On Sunday, June 3, 2007 - one year ago today, we visited the Six Banyan Buddhist template, the oldest Buddhist temple in Guangzhou. Inside the gate was this little structure (don't know what it's called). If you could get a coin through the little hole in the top, the Buddha would bring you good luck. Emma lined up, gave it a toss, and it went in. In fact, she got two coins in, so she'll be extra lucky I guess.

This was was engraved with all the names of people who donated money to help rebuild the temple after a fire:

Here's Connie, our fashionable local guide in Guangzhou:

This Buddha was from Thailand:

Inside the largest temple were three golden Buddhas. In this temple, the babies received a traditional Buddhist blessing from the monks:

Outside the temple, EJ lit some incense:

Here's one of the monks:

This female Buddha is one of the few in China.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a craft store. This gentleman carrved us some chops, rubbers stamps, with the girls' names in both English and Chinese.

This waterfall is in the lobby of the White Swan Hotel where we stayed: