Friday, September 26, 2008

Sophie's Second Birthday portraits

Gee, should I get this kid an agent or what? Check out these adorable birthday portraits we got back this week.

They asked me to sign a waiver for this photo so they can include it in their studio portfolio:

But this one is my favorite. She was very shy and quiet and serious when the session started. The photographer snapped this one before she warmed up a bit and I think it captures her perfectly.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Welcome Autumn!

Grandma and Pap-Pap H arrived safely from Alabama on Friday evening. K and EJ went to the airport to pick them up after dance class. It was a little chilly on Friday, but yesterday and today have been just beautiful fall weather - low 70s and lots of sunshine.

We took advantage of the weather to do some outdoor activities yesterday. First, we went apple picking at our favorite farm, Apple Annie's. Sophie had a great time chomping on her apple. She needed a little help from Daddy to grab some of the apples:

EJ eats about five apples a week on average, so she was happy to be picking some too:

Here's a shot where you can see just how loaded the trees are.

They also had a small selection of pumpkins to choose from. Sophie was thrilled to see them...

Click here to see how much Sophie has grown since last year's apple adventure.

Last night, we ventured into Boston to go to dinner in the North End. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, Assagio, on Prince Street. Pretty good! Then, we tried to go to Cafe Vittoria for dessert, but there were lines around the corner, as well as long lines to even get pastries at Mike's and Modern, so we ended up at Caffe Paradiso. Everyone else had gelato, but I had to have the fruit tart...gosh, it was delicious! And definitely NOT on the Weight Watchers plan. And to top it off, we're working on an apple pie this afternoon! Yikes! It was a beautiful night for walking around.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Surviving through another week...

Poor little Sophie had a bit of intestinal distress yesterday - let's just say there were a few diaper blowouts at daycare in the first few hours, so K had to go pick her up and bring her home. And just when I thought we were done with our horrible colds! After a diet of bananas, rice, and toast yesterday, she seems to be back to normal. Let's hope it stays that way since Grandma and Grandpap H are flying in tomorrow night! She's ready for them. When I ask what she's going to give them when they get here, she says "Beeg hug and beeg kees" (big hug and big kiss). Then, if you ask what we're going to do with grandma, she announces "bay cookies!" (bake cookies).

We hope to do some fun things while grandma and grandpap are here...hopefully some apple picking and a trip to a fair.

EJ was very excited after school today. She's apparently been chosen to work on a video project at school, and can hardly wait until next week's session! Tonight, her homework was to write about her family. She had a really cute line in it: "Well, Sophie wasn't my sister until May 28, 2007 (Family Day) when we adopted her from China and pretty much changed my life forever." I thought that was so touching! She's really enjoying school so far, as usual! She's also excited to be a bus buddy this year, which means when they call for her bus, she has to go to one of the kindergarten classrooms and get the students that ride her bus and escort them to it. She thinks that's a cool responsibility.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

HA! Sox in first place again!

Look at sweet Sophie. She just KNEW the Sox would claw their way back to first place. Well, technically they're not in first place, but they aren't any games behind either...Tampa Bay has 14 games left to play and we only have 12, but stats-wise, the winning percentages are nearly identical. Let's hope that after Beckett pitches tonight, we'll be ahead and stay there for the next two weeks. Sigh...I love October baseball.

UPDATE: Never mind...they lost tonight....

Sophie wore her Sox cheerleader outfit today to cheer them on:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dancin' Queen!

Well, I'm feeling somewhat fever, but still awfully stuffy with watery eyes and sneezing and sniffling. I made it through most of a day of work.

EJ started her other two dance classes tonight - jazz and tap. She's still doing the hip hop routines from Tuesday night, so I have a feeling I'll be back to the dance supply store to get those hip hop sneakers in the next week (pictured below for Grandpap H, who can't imagine what a dance sneaker might look like!).

I forgot to show you my latest kitchen gadget, sent to me by my mother-in-law. She was sure that I needed one of these with two kids, and I think she's right. It's called a Cupcake Courier, and it safely transports up to three dozen cupcakes to school, and you just remove the extra trays that you don't need. The big lid snaps into place and has a nice carrying handle. Why can't I invent something cool like this?!?

We sent Sophie to daycare with 21 cupcakes on Wednesday and about 7 or 8 came back home. Note that there are only two left. Let's just say it is not safe to leave the cupcakes home with a sick mommy.

No big plans this weekend. A few chores to do--weeding the front gardens if the weather cooperates and maybe planting some mums. Perhaps a little fall decorating? And Sophie's 2 year old birthday portrait on Sunday.

Next weekend, Grandma and Grandpap H arrive from beautiful coastal Alabama for a 10 day visit! I don't think they intended it this way, but perhaps they're escaping hurricane season for a little while.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"I two!" (a post by Sophie)

Well, actually, I've been telling everyone who asks that I'm three today. I've decided (for mommy and daddy's sake) to just skip over the terrible twos!

Last year, mommy made me a panda cake. This year, it was ELMO! I love ELMO! And mommy said she loves something called eBay, which is where she bought the cool cake pan. Mommy is very sick today - she says I gave her my cold, but I don't think so, 'cause she has a fever too!

I was in awe of the pretty flames on the candles, but I behaved myself and didn't try to reach for them. I also controlled my urge to spit on them while I was blowing (see note above about my bad cold).

Unlike last year, I also resisted the urge to pick up my whole piece of cake (I ate Elmo's right eyeball!) and squish it through my fingers. Again, this was the yummy screwball cake that mommy makes. Honestly, I preferred the vanilla ice cream.

Then it was off to the family room to open presents. Glorious presents. I'm diggin' this birthday thing.

EJ got me the coolest set of wooden blocks. I LOVE to build things, so we'll have lots of fun with this. I've already knocked over one of her masterpieces...

AND I got lots of books. I LOVE books too! I got some Dr. Seuss, some Eric Carle, and even a bear hunt one that I rave about at school!

It was a great day. Sissy called my big cousin H, who also has a birthday today (how cool is that?)! I wish I coulda talked to her, but I was rushed off for my tubby...I needed it!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oh, and one more thing!

My new friend Jennifer is in Nanchang this week and met her cutie-pie daughter Julianne yesterday morning. Pics on her blog at All Things Julianne... I met Jennifer when I did travel training at the adoption agency and recently found out that she works near my office, so we had lunch a week or two ago. I gave her a letter and some photos and a small gift to take to Rose, our fantastic guide in China, who is also serving as her guide! One of the photos I sent was from this portrait session of the girls in their custom-made silk dresses from China. Jennifer reported to me that Rose was showing off the photo today to her travel group as they were meeting with the tailor in Nanchang!

Of bug bites, bee stings, and runny noses

Sophie's foot is much better. By Saturday morning it had returned to normal. Me? I'm still afraid that whatever creature decided to munch on her Wednesday night could still be lurking in her room somewhere, even though I've removed all the bedding and even crawled under the crib with a flashlight looking for spiders and such with no luck!

However, Sophie's nose started dripping on Saturday and by Sunday was running like a faucet. It seems a little better today, but she had trouble sleeping last night. So, she was in our bed from midnight on, which means we didn't sleep too well. Let's hope tonight goes better. I plan on retiring very early this evening...just as soon as I bake a birthday cake and finish icing the cupcakes for her birthday tomorrow!!!

On Sunday afternoon, in the midst of the glorious sunshine and lovely late-summer breeze we were enjoying, K decided to prune the overgrown forsythia shrubs in the front yard and the jungle that is our landscaping off the back porch. He got through about 75% of it before he came running in the house for an ice cube. Something had pursued him and stung him in the forehead, just above his left eyebrow. I didn't see a stinger, so he thought maybe a small branch or rock had kicked up, but he was sure that whatever it was (even an inanimate object) was pretty ticked off at him! He had a small little goose egg on his forehead that was there all day yesterday.

However, last night at 3 AM, as we were both lying in bed awake while Sophie was flopping around between us, he said he needed to get up to take one of his allergy meds because he felt like his left eye was swollen shut. Sure enough, by morning, it was about 50% shut, and even the other eye looked really puffy. It hasn't gotten any worse all day, but he's not happy about it!

And another little boy at daycare had his birthday today, so Sophie is now fully trained for what she should do tomorrow. She has been running around for the last few days announcing "I two! I two!" Cute.

EJ is in the full swing of real fourth-grade homework this week, and she also started dance tonight - ballet and hip hop! I got there a little early to watch on the closed-circuit TV, and she looked like she was having a blast.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bigfoot, the continuing saga

Well, Sophie's swollen foot looked a little better this morning and looked MUCH better this afternoon when I picked her up at daycare. Thank goodness. With only one car available in our house today and me really needing to get some stuff done in the office today, it wouldn't have helped me to work at home.

Speaking of my van, they called to say it was ready...$1700 later. Yeah, that's right. $1700. Ouch. That was the 100k mile tuneup, four new tires, and the correction of the scraping/creaky noise in the front passenger side (something called a brake shim was the culprit). Oh well. It's paid for and that's only four months of car payments. We're of the "drive it until it dies" mindset, so I fully expect to get at least another 120k miles from it. Hopefully.

No big plans this weekend. It's supposed to be cool and rainy. EJ and I are going shopping in the morning for this year's dance gear and we also need to get a birthday gift for Sophie, who will be turning two on Wednesday! I can't believe it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bigfoot Returns

Poor Sophie woke up with a big swollen left foot this morning. Apparently some horrible creature bit her in the middle of the night and her little foot was really swollen (to like twice the thickness of the other) and a little reddish when she awoke. We called the doctor's office and they suggested ice, calomine lotion, and trying to keep it elevated (yeah, right). It doesn't really look too much better tonight, so if it's not better in the morning, I'm going to have to take her to the doc. And we only have one vehicle tomorrow since my van is in the garage all day for new tires and a horrible scraping/creaking noise. Ugh. I just hope the swelling goes down overnight. We're going to try to elevate it for her when we go up to bed, but she's such a flip-flopper when she sleeps that I don't know how much it will help.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of 4th Grade

Sigh. EJ started 4th grade yesterday. And to think that next year, she'll be in middle school. Yikes. I'm not ready for that! She had a great first day - she got off the bus VERY excited--they organized supplies, have an assignment about their summer reading that is due on Monday, and even had homework for us!

Here are the pics...this is another new outfit from the Wooden Soldier in North Conway, NH. The photo makes it look like it's a long skinny skirt, but it's actually a pair of capris. Very cute! And check out her tan!

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Weekend in Vermont with the Jonas Brothers!

We had a wonderful weekend in Vermont - the weather was beautiful and we had great excursions each day! We left Friday morning and made two stops on our way to Burlington...the first for lunch, and the second for dessert at the Ben and Jerry's factory tour. We watched them make Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and we were able to sample ONE Cheesecake Brownie in the tasting room. Afterward, we visited the scoop shop for more yumminess. Sophie thought the Chocolate was good, and EJ had Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

After settling into our hotel, we grabbed some dinner at Nothing But Noodles, a great little chain that does all sorts of noodles - Asian, Italian, American, etc. We've never been to one before, but it was a quick and easy dinner.

The next morning, we enjoyed the Vermont Teddy Bear factory tour. Sophie selected this cute buttercream bear to take home.

EJ already has two Vermont Teddy Bears that were gifts when she was born, so she selected a VTB Friend For Life Bear (kinda like a Build-a-Bear). She named it Dark Chocolate, since that's what color it is.

Sophie and EJ both enjoyed climbing around in the stuffed bear pillows in the gift shop:

Next, we stopped at the South Burlington farmer's market for a snack (cookies and apples and peaches), and then we went to downtown Burlington for some pizza for lunch. We hit up that farmer's market too...they're both wonderful. If I lived near such wonderful farmer's markets, my grocery budget would be through the roof!

After lunch, we went to the ECHO Aquarium on the waterfront in Burlington. It was a great science-type museum that both girls really enjoyed:

Then we went for a little stroll on Lake Champlain:

We changed hotels on Saturday (more in a minute), so we checked in and then went for some Chinese food for dinner.

On Sunday morning, we went out to an awesome brunch where we had strawberry whipped cream belgian waffles and cinnamon raisin French toast. It was at a place called the Pour House, basically a biker bar that figured out how to draw in a crowd on Sunday mornings. I highly recommend it!

Then we were off to Shelburne Farms, by far our favorite tour of the weekend. If you have kids, DON'T MISS THIS! We had planned on doing the Shelburne Museum but thought it was a bit mature to keep the girls' interests for long. We're so glad we did, as this is an awesome 1500 acre farm with great educational programs, and reasonably priced...$16 for the four of us. Here are the girls on the tractor ride that gets you out to the barn:

EJ got to milk a cow. Sophie wanted nothing to do with it!

But Sophie did enjoy looking at the goats with EJ:

EJ even played that ever-popular game...Name That Poop! You had to guess which animal made the "patty".

Our little farmers:

We had to peel Sophie off the tractor crying so another little boy could have his turn! Then, she found some equipment that was more her size:

Here's Sophie with the three little pigs. There were seven piglets there that were born in July.

She also liked this little tractor. We had lunch at the snack shack there and spread out a picnic blanket while Sophie ran laps around us:

Then, EJ hopped on an Sophie was able to push her. We were surprised that she was strong enough to do this!

At brunch on Sunday morning, we told EJ about a big surprise we had for her. I had found tickets at the last minute (and finally, at a price I was willing to pay) to take her to the Jonas Brothers concert Sunday night. They were playing at the Champlain Valley Expo, a huge fair just east of Burlington.
When I called the fairgrounds for information, they told me they had sold all 10,000 seats to the concert and they were expecting another 10,000 people to be standing around the fence of this outdoor venue to listen to the concert. The venue was only about 15 minutes from the hotel, but since we were worried about traffic and parking, we went about 2.5 hours early. We got there in time for dinner (corn dogs and baked potatoes and fried dough!) and to walk around for a while before going into the show. She had to have a pony ride too:

We had really good seats, about 25 rows back from the stage to the right side. We were in the front row of the second section of seats, which was good because when everyone stood up it would have been tough to see without the aisleway right in front of us. We also had one of the huge video screens in front of us, so that helped too. This was our view of the stage:

The zoom on my camera did okay. Most of the shots were blurry because they moved around so much, but occasionally they would stand still enough to get a decent shot. That's Nick on the drums, Kevin on guitar, and Joe singing.

They did a nice video about when Joe was diagnosed with diabetes. Here he is singing a song he wrote about it:


Here, they brought out their younger brother Frankie (almost 8) and their dad (top left) who plays in their band:

We had a great time. Demi Lavato (also from Camp Rock) was the opening act, but all my pics of her came out blurry. She did a meet-and-greet after the show, but we figured the line would be too long, and we were tired and cold. And my head was ringing, not so much from the loud music, but from the screaming girls!

So, about the hotels. K and I haven't been to Burlington in about 12 years. We had been talking for months about maybe going up over Columbus weekend, but then decided to take Friday off of Labor Day and do four days. We were inspired to go sooner by an episode of Chronicle, a local interest show here in Boston. They featured a hotel called the GGT Tibet Inn and we wanted to stay there, but they didn't have an opening for Friday night.

The man who owns GGT Tibet Inn was one of 1000 Tibetans offered a special visa to come to the US in 1993. He started working in the Vermont Teddy Bear factory as his sponsored job and then worked several jobs to become the first of the 1000 immigrants to buy a house just a few years later. Four years ago, he bought a Rodeway Inn and decided he didn't want to continue with the franchise and wanted to go on his own. He is still a Tibetan activist and he has earned tremendous respect in the community. AND, the best part for a bargain shopper like me? The rates at the hotel were very reasonable - only $59 for one of the nights. When you just need a quiet and clean place to crash at night, this is a GREAT deal!