Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A walk in the park...a post by Sophie

Wow...the fun just never stops in this house. Today, Mommy, Daddy, and Sissy took me and one of Sissy's friends to a local amusement park. After watching Sissy and her friend MG ride a few things, I got into the swing of things and started saying "My turn!"

Speaking of swings, I decided to start with one of those...I had the whole ride all to myself. I did fine for the first minute or so, then started getting a little teary-eyed. Luckily, it was over a minute later.

Next, we moved on to the boats. These were cool because there was a nifty bell to ring. However, when the boat started moving, I got all serious. Driving a boat requires a lot of concentration.

Next, I moved on to these cool fighter jets - I liked swinging the toy gun around:

Then, it was off to the kiddy merry-go-round, where I sat on a horse all by myself. This was fun, and I figured out I should ask "Again?" Mommy bought it.

After some other adventures on cars, trucks, jeeps, and firetrucks, I really liked these little pony carts. Once the ride started, I yelled "Giddyup", but I kept looking behind me to see if that horse was going to catch me!

As for EJ and her friend, they rode all sorts of wild-looking things, including a rickety wooden roller coaster that Mommy still has a headache from, two spins on a huge corkscrew roller coaster, and way too many things that went round and round and up and down. Mommy said she didn't know my big sister was so brave, but I've always known it! Mommy and Daddy agreed that having MG along helped - it meant they didn't have to ride all the crazy things with EJ! Here they are getting on a ride called "Wipeout"!

You can see them in this pic in the lower center:

And if you think the riding was cool, I also ate hot dogs, french fries, Italian ice, and that rockin' chick M introduced me to the joys of COTTON CANDY! A fun day was had by all, especially Sissy (the "Peace Princess") and M (the "Prep Princess").

Sunday, August 24, 2008

There's no place like home...

Ahhh, it's good to be home. After two long weekends away (and another one coming up this weekend), I'm wishing we would have come home yesterday to deal with the laundry and groceries, but it was a beautiful day at the lake.

We drove back up on Thursday evening after work. We didn't leave until about 6 and were hoping to arrive by 7:45, but after stopping to get gas, some milkshakes, and then to give Sophie her evening bottle (she just couldn't wait), it was more like 8:20. Luckily, the setup of the camper was pretty easy since we left the electric, water, and sewer hooked up. We just had to open up the tent ends.

On Friday, K graciously offered (or was forced) to watch Sophie from morning to mid-afternoon while I treated myself to a little retail therapy. Well, I didn't really treat myself too much - but the girls made out like bandits. Some new sunflower outfits from Gymboree, new yoga pants and leggings for EJ from Gap, and two matching outfits - one for Christmas, one for next spring - plus a back-to-school outfit from The Wooden Soldier. Gosh, I love that store. For Christmas, I got EJ a cute white and black plaid jumper and a matching skirt for Sophie. The spring dresses are blue and white checked with ladybugs. And the back-to-school outfit...well, you'll see a pic of that in another week or so.

That evening, the kids who are participating in music camp do a concert. We had written to EJ and told her we weren't sure if we would be there, since she didn't do music this year and it would be near Sophie's bedtime. It started at 6:45, and around 7 we decided to walk over and sit outside the hall and listen (they have outdoor seating positioned so you can look in the screened windows on the lakeside of the building). We found a bench near friends and hung out. Sophie enjoyed the music and jumped and clapped along.

You are not really allowed to spend time with your child at the concert, as they are on "camp time" and we're not. Last year, because she participated in the concert, we had about a whopping four minutes with her after the show. As luck would have it, EJ had to go to the bathroom during the concert and exited the side of the building near where we were sitting. As we saw her making her way around the crowd to go to the bathroom, we were able to catch her attention and she swung by for a quick hug. Sophie was ecstatic to see her big sis and screamed her name and hugged her so tight! Everyone outside LAUGHED! It was so cute that I was about in tears. We were able to get in another hug as she was being ushered back to her cabin that night. Security is very tight there, and as much as we wanted to spend more time with her, I'm glad they have good rules to keep the kids safe.

We picked EJ up on Saturday morning and then ran a few errands through lunchtime. After Sophie's nap, we went to the beach for a few hours.

We left around 1 this afternoon. Now, it's a mad rush to do laundry. We opted for takeout tonight and I'll stop to get a few groceries tomorrow on the way home. As I was sorting through the laundry, Sophie got into her new headband that I got to go with her sunflower dress:

And now, here is the mess in my living room...stuff to wash, stuff to put away, stuff to carry upstairs. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A letter from camp...

We received a letter from EJ today. It is dated Monday 8/18 and reports: "I've had a wonderful day at camp except for this morning when I took an ice cube water shower! The hot water ran out! My classes are:
  • First period: everyone takes swim classes unless music camp
  • Second period: sailing
  • Third period: nature bonanza

Grandparents and cousin H, have you had a letter from EJ? If so, would you like to share it in the comments?

Monday, August 18, 2008

EJ at camp

Well, EJ is away at camp this week and things seem awfully quiet here at the H house without her. We left just after lunch on Saturday and got the camper all set up just before a nice storm came through. Once we were settled in, we decided to take EJ out to dinner to a favorite Italian restaurant there. Later that night, she found her camp friend EB.

At 2 PM yesterday, the cars started lining up for check-in. She is in a different cabin this year, but one in the same row as last year, about 50 feet off the lake. We got her all set up and Sophie made herself at home. As much as she wanted to stay, we figured that a near 2-year-old in a cabin of 8-10 year old girls could wreak havoc so we bailed with the little one. Sophie is like a rock star at camp, though. We had met some other girls from camp that morning, and they spied her as we were checking in EJ and they came running over...she loved the attention!

Here's a shot of EJ, Sophie, and camp buddy EB on EJ's bed in the cabin. As you can see, there is a screened window at the foot of EJ's bed. The first thing she said was that she hoped it didn't rain or she would get all wet (there are no windows on the cabins, just screens!).

And I'm including this shot of EJ through the cabin door, because I want to prove that I've been working on my french braiding!

We stayed at camp last night and returned home this afternoon. We're going to work a few days this week and head back up for an extra day or two this weekend. Sophie and I might go back up on Wednesday night or Thursday morning, and K will return Thursday evening. We pick EJ up on Saturday at lunchtime, and we'll stay one extra night after that.

Then, there's one more week until school starts. We're hoping to visit a local amusement park one day that week and then we're going to go to Burlington VT for a long weekend to visit the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, the ECHO Lake Aquarium, and the Shelburne Museum, where I just noticed that there is a Warren Kimble exhibit (I have a Warren Kimble kitchen, complete with dishes and two signed prints!). We found out that the Jonas Brothers are going to be in Burlington that weekend for a concert, but the tickets are all sold out and going for outrageous prices online. EJ is still excited that she'll even be in the same zip code as them and is convinced that we'll see them out walking around the streets of Burlington!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Busy week

It's been a slow week for updates, mostly because we've been too busy here. Between dr's appointments (mine), piano class and dance class sign up (EJ - ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop!), and a sleepover a daycamp for EJ and the other older kids, plus packing for EJ to go to camp (starting tomorrow) and for the rest of us to just enjoy a few extra days away from home, I'm ready to get away for a little while!

EJ is packed and ready for camp. She can't wait to see her camp buddy, EB. We've arranged for them to be in the same cabin again this year.

More updates in a day or so!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Early holiday shopping

While enjoying my morning tea, I was browsing through the Toys R Us ad in the Sunday paper. They're advertising this year's "hottest toy"--some sort of Elmo doll that won't be on the market for at least another two months. However, for just $10, you can reserve your doll today. What a brilliant idea, I thought. Nothing like declaring something as the best thing since sliced bread and then charging people only $10 to avoid the crazy hunt and fistfights that have defined holiday shopping, huh? I'd do it in a heartbeat...well, not for this toy. I mean, Sophie LOVES Elmo (she'll be having an Elmo birthday just one month from today), but she doesn't know enough to WANT anything right now. Anyway, I digress. Back to the economics of holiday shopping. Another big advantage of pre-ordering is that it tells the manufacturers how many to make. That way, a toy company could maximize their profits rather than maximizing the chaos around demand for it.

Of course, you don't need to go crazy looking for the hottest toy when there's already all kinds of cool stuff to play with in your house! I mean, just look at what Sophie decided to play with this morning...POST-IT NOTES!!! Oh, she was in her glory, carefully pulling away each little sheet of bright blue list-making material! Being the little organizer that she is, she carefully arranged them on the floor in nice rows and columns and then put them all back together again. Of course, you can see from the photos below that it looks as though she rolled around in them first!

As I was chasing her through the family room to snap some photos, I decided to take a shot of the library card catalog that I bought at a yard sale a while ago. This is only about half of what I bought - the other 60 drawers are still in the basement, but will hopefully make their way up to a corner in the finished side of the 3rd floor to hold craft supplies this weekend. This unit in the family room is still empty. I'm afraid to put anything in it yet, as Sophie is fascinated opening all the little drawers. Perhaps I should put some of her little treasures in it...just think, I could have little labels on the fronts of the drawers for red crayons, blue crayons, yellow crayons! The thing on the wall above it is an antique typesetter's tray. I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to find all sorts of little things to put in my makeshift shadowbox, but the squares are so tiny that it's hard to find things!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"And this one time, at band camp..."

Ah, one of my favorite movie quotes (American Pie).

Why, might you ask, am I talking about band camp today? Well, between 1981 and 1987 (high school and college), I spent a week or two every mid-August at -- you guessed it -- band camp! Marching drills up and down the football field, doing left and right pivots, and marching 8 to 5. That's not 8 AM to 5 PM, that's 8 paces in every five yards. K is still amazed at how accurately I can pace off distances in the yard when doing landscaping projects!

Anyway, I'm talking about band camp because if you've participated in any activity where you try to get a large number of people all doing the same thing at the same time or trying to get to a certain point at a certain time, you know how difficult it is.

That's what made last night's opening ceremonies so spectacular to me...they were fascinating in their accuracy.

And these performers, inside blocks that moved up and down to create fantastic patterns, were unbelievable! I thought it was all automated at first, but then thought I saw some legs underneath. Nah, I thought. It's just getting late. Sure enough, at the end, the performers popped open lids on the top of the blocks and stuck out their heads! Unbelievable.

We did not watch the entire event last night, but it is recorded on the PC to watch later. Sophie was fascinated by the opening drumming. When they were done, she clapped enthusiastically and said "Again!" so I'll have to let her see it on the recording. EJ made it until about 9:15, and K and I stayed awake until about 11. We're too busy watching swimming and men's gymnastics now - maybe tomorrow?

Our 20,000th visitor to the blog: Who's in Cincinnati, OH?

YEAH!!!! Today, we had visitor number 20,000 visit the blog! The visitor, a fuse.net (Cincinnati Bell) user from Cincinnati, OH, stopped by around 6:30 this evening. I see that someone from Cincinnati visits our blog quite often. I'm not sure who you are...but assuming it's someone I know, I'd say it's our friends J.F. and A.F. from our days in Florida?

So, dear Cincinnati reader, when you see this post, can you PLEASE leave a comment and let us know if my guess is right?!?! Thanks!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

T minus 1: Opening Ceremony tomorrow!

There I was, trying to wrap up my work for the day. I just needed to check the status of a bug in our defect-tracking system. I launched my browser, and the photo that greeted me on boston.com was this one:

The Olympic torch made its way across a part of the Great Wall today...the Badaling section outside Beijing. The same section that we climbed! You can see the steep descent in the background of the photo. Here's my shot from a nearby location:

And here's one of us that shows the steep climb beyond us:

Notice the nice blue sky, unlike the mist that hung over the wall today. EJ received the most recent issue of Discovery Kids magazine last week, an issue fully dedicated to the wall. It said that the Badaling section has the highest altitude of the 4000+ miles built by the Ming dynasty.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hip Hop Sophie

Sophie loves to take a bath, but what she really likes is her bunny towel, a gift from my cousin C's family. It's a great bribe for getting her out of the tub. She wraps all up in it and hops around on my bed. I call her Hip Hop Sophie. She especially likes to hop to where she can see herself in the mirror above the dresser.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saturday stuff

Not much new here. A pretty quiet weekend for us - finally! Of course, we only have this one and next week, and then we're off to take EJ to camp. The following weekend, we'll be picking her up. And then, we're planning a little Labor Day excursion to Vermont. More on that later. Sophie and I may spend a few extra days in the mountains while EJ's at camp; it will depend on the weather. And we'd like to take a day off to go to a local amusement park before camp starts too, but I'm not sure we're going to squeeze it in!

Today started early. Sophie was up at 6:30. We wanted to go to a local town festival, so we got up and went to a diner for breakfast first. Sophie was a bit fussy - she wouldn't eat any of her pancake, despite the fact that she usually chows down. At the last minute, before we were leaving, she ate an entire sausage link.

We got to the fair, and despite the gloomy gray skies, it didn't rain. We enjoyed looking around the flea market, but didn't find any treasures there. EJ jumped around on a cool bungee attraction. We ate some fried dough, which Sophie agreed was yummy.

Once we got home, Sophie didn't want to take her nap after lunch (she took a little snooze in the car on the way home). I think some new teeth are bothering her - her eye teeth are coming in on the top, and right behind them are the first molars - her gums are all swollen. Poor baby. She finally napped between 3 and 5 and did better at dinner.

Sophie has a few new foods that she's loving...K picked some blackberries around our property, so she popped about 1/2 cup of them with her yogurt and apple for lunch. Her other new treat? Edamame. Loves it. Me too. I've had the pleasure of eating these yummy soybeans with some meals out lately and tried to find them at the grocery store with no luck. Someone at work recommended buying them frozen from Trader Joe's, so I bought a bag this week and we ate them all up. You just boil the frozen pods and then pop out the beans and add a little salt. You can also eat them cold on salad. Delicious! Sophie eats them like they're jelly beans. Guess I'll make another stop at Trader Joe's to pick up a few more bags for the freezer.

And speaking of food, I also made a double batch of Chinese dumplings today to put in the freezer. They're really not hard to make at all once you know how to pleat the dough. EJ helped me and did a great job. We probably made about 100 of them. After freezing them on cookie sheets, I'll bag them in batches of 12 or so. Then, I can cook them up whenever I get the urge - which is quite often. We will DEFINITELY be eating some of these on Friday night with our Chinese takeout while we watch the opening ceremony to the Olympics.