Sunday, July 27, 2008

Off and running......

Well, the little ones head back to school tomorrow. Anna Grace will only attend for a week or so until kindergarten starts. I officially go back on Friday, August 1 but really need the few days ahead of that to get organized in my room.

We are having Katie's formal drape picture taken tomorrow. She reminded me that I promised her she could wear the pearls we bought in China. Guess I'd better figure out where I put them, huh?

Dave left for China yesterday and returns September 6. He missed the end of the school year and will miss the start. Oh well. We have an open house the day before school starts so the kids can meet their teachers. Katie is going to bring Anna Grace to (my---our) school to meet her teacher and then head on to the high school with both AG and Alex to check out the ninth grade wing. Both K and A will drive AG to school on the first day and walk her down the hall. Guess I'd better give them a camera too! Even though Anna Grace is coming to my school, I wanted her to have a special start to the day. Big siblings to the rescue!! I think Katie is more excited about AG's first day than she is!

I can't believe our summer is at an end already. Since getting home from the beach, I haven't wanted to go to the pool or anything. I did take the girls there today for a bit. It seems that once I get back into "school mode" I don't feel like doing much else. I hope to snap out of that and still have some pool time with the little ones since the pool is open until the end of September!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Favorite shots

Here are a few favorites from our photo shoot--before Photoshop! I was very pleased with the outcome. We only did a few family shots, a few more of just the little girls, but the remainder were just Katie.

Day Four

Today (Tuesday) was our last day in NC. We spent the entire day at the beach. Our neighbors from home were actually in the area today visiting family so came to hang out for the day. The kids and adults all had a great time! There are no beach pictures today because I didn't bring my camera. It seemed whenever I did, I didn't take any pictures--so why bother?? Here are a few photos from back at the house.

Karen after dinner on our last night

Sean and Abby playing together

Dave enjoying time with the family

Katie and Anna Grace

The cousins

The weird thing is that my sister and I both woke up today (Wednesday) with swollen lower lips. We were the only ones in the house to have this affliction. We are wondering if it was due to too much sun/not enough chapstick or an issue with too much salt water. Very strange. She is feeling better now but my lip is still swollen (the kids keep laughing at me) and is sore. I can't stretch my lips to smile. :-)

Day Three

Today (Monday) was a total beach day! We hauled all our stuff down there for the day. Karen and Sean have a golf cart that they use to carry everything to the beach or pool. Whoever sits in the back pulls the rolling cart off the back of the golf cart, the top is loaded with chairs, skimboards, and boogie boards, and stuff is piled everywhere. They joke about looking like the Beverly Hillbillies when making the drive to the beach!

The little ones were happy playing in the sand, wading to their ankles, or being hauled out to sea by an adult. The big kids and adults kept busy boogie boarding, tubing, skimboarding, or jumping the waves. We had a great time!!

Alex sitting with Abby while everyone else is in the water. Someone had to do it!

Karen trying skimboarding----she was much braver than I!

After a day in the sun, we headed back to the house for dinner. We were supposed to take family pictures on Sunday but cancelled due to the rain. So, tonight was picture night. We only did a few of the family. Most of the evening was for Katie's senior pictures. I'll add those photos in another posting.

A full kitchen!

My dad (Grandpa)

My mom (Grandma)

Karen and Spencer

This final video is of Anna Grace tubing in the waves. She was initially unsure but grew to really love it. In fact, she and Abby spent lots of time in the tubes on Tuesday but I didn't have the camera with me. :-)

Day Two

We woke up ready to hit the sand but rain interfered. Uncle Sean got the idea to head on down to the beach regardless because, after all, you are getting wet in the water anyhow. So off we went. This was our first sight:

Yes, the dreaded red flag warning. Beach patrol actually came by and said they recommended no kids go in the water because the water was so rough. The kids really didn't get in the water but did do some skimboarding and shell collecting.

Anna Grace and daddy

Abby and her shells

Uncle Sean and the girls

Spencer skimboarding

The two dads hanging together

We spent a little bit of time at the beach in the morning, came back for lunch and a bit of shopping before heading back in the afternoon. The weather cleared up enough for us to enjoy a few hours. We couldn't believe how strong and rough the waves were. The kids were in heaven! The grownups all decided we'd be sore the next day from being pummeled by the water. All in a good day's fun.

The downside was on the way back from the beach. I was driving the golf cart with some of the kids while others rode bikes. When I got to the driveway, the sprinkler system was on so I carefully avoided hitting a sprinkler. However, I didn't realize that the umbrella post was sticking out the side of the golf cart. I nailed my van big time. I have a nice scratch/dent in my van. Yeah for me. But at least it was my car and not my sister's or my dad's!!

Day One in Emerald Isle

We have just returned from a few days in Emerald Isle, NC. My sister, brother in law, and nephews just moved there three weeks ago. My brother in law, Sean, is stationed at Camp Lejeune for a few years. They are renting a beach house in a wonderful neighborhood while they are there. I think we'll be visiting often. :-) In fact, I told the kids we may move in with them next summer when Sean heads to Iraq with the Marines!!

We left Saturday the 19th first thing in the morning for a 9 hour trip. What fun. The kids did pretty well. The little ones watched movies almost the entire time. But no matter how you do it, it's still a long day. On the way, Dave was surfing on his blackberry and told me we were heading right into a tropical storm. Ah, not good!! We wanted some beach time and really needed to take Katie's senior pictures while we were there. Rain would not be a good thing.

On the way there, the air conditioning went out in my van again. We knew there was a leak in the system but we were hoping the stop leak stuff the garage put in would stop it. I don't know what happened but for several hours we were hot. About 40 minutes from my sister's house, it all of a sudden started working again. Don't ask me why but we were pleased.

We pulled up in the driveway to be greeted by my sister and her family as well as my parents. It's a three story beach house. The ground floor has two rooms and a full bath; second floor has three rooms and two full baths (one being the master), and the third floor is the kitchen, living area, office, and another full bath. And, there are 32 steps from the ground floor to the top floor. 32 steps. 32 long steps. Whew. Let's just say they will all be in shape when they move out. And, don't forget something on the ground floor. It's a long way down. :-)

Here are two different views from the top porch. It was great just to sit up on the porch. The breeze was wonderful. No bugs and not too hot.

We did head to the pool the night we arrived (in between rain) so the kids had a chance to play. My nephews are entering 5th and 6th grades so are right in between my big ones and my little ones. Perfect!


Anna Grace and Joshua


Alex and Abby

I don't know where Spencer was during all this---maybe inside with the adults or helping with dinner. :-)

We had a great dinner and headed off to bed in expectation of a good beach day when we woke up.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

At the beach...

We are currently in Emerald Isle, NC visiting family. Unfortunately, we arrived with a tropical storm! But, things did clear up a bit today. The next few days will be filled with surf, sun, family, and friends. Once we are home, I will update with actual photos. We are also having some family pictures and Katie's senior pictures taken while we are here. I will try and share some of those as well. Keep your fingers crossed that we have good weather!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

An Inspiration

I was sent this video today by a friend from school. I don't normally forward videos but this one just touched me. There is music along with it so if you are at work, you may want to mute your screen. :-)

This is the story of a father/son team who completed the Iron-man. For those who didn't know, Iron-man is the toughest triathlon ever. The race encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile (3.86 kilometer) ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile (180.2 kilometer) bike ride, and ending with a 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometer) marathon along the coast of the Big Island.

No words necessary, just images.......

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Texting teens

Katie got up for work yesterday and asked if I'd heard she and Alex the night before. Ah no, should I? Turns out they had both gone to their rooms at 10ish (separate floors----Alex's room is the "guest room" on the first floor; the rest of us are upstairs). They started texting each other which continued for a long time. Around midnight, they decided to meet in the kitchen for a snack. I am so glad we have unlimited texting or that whole thing would have cost a fortune!!!

But, most of all, I am glad they are talking to each other and choosing to hang out--even for a little bit. That's more important to me.

Six Words About Me

My cyber-friend Mary tagged me today to share six descriptive words about myself. She chose to use a biblical quote of six words while another cyber-friend, Teresa, chose to list the six words individually. I like Teresa's idea so am going to use that layout too!

Teacher: This was an easy one to pick since it's my profession. I am going into my fourteenth year of teaching with six years off to be with the older kids when they were little. I have taught pre-K, kindergarten, special education (K-5), and an intervention program for lower level learners. I enjoy all aspects of teaching---especially when the light bulb goes on and the skill clicks! I currently teach kindergarten and have the sweetest little special needs child in my class (I had her last year too). She does not speak and cannot perform beyond a toddler level, yet she has grown unbelievably in so many ways. She has taught all my students compassion and patience.

Exhausted: It seems the days are never long enough. Life should be easy right now since we're not in school, yet I am still always tired and feel like I've been run ragged. Could be it's because I hang out with the big kids until late at night, or wait for Katie to get home from somewhere, or hang with Dave watching TV when I could be sleeping. Then, add Anna Grace coming in each nght between 3 and 4am just to see if it's time to get up. Or, Dave getting up at 4:45 to go running with a neighbor. So, I'm getting 5 hours of sleep a night if I'm lucky! Maybe once school starts and everyone is back into a routine, we'll do better. Which brings me to the next word.

Routine-oriented: I thrive on routine. I must be a toddler at heart, do you think? The routine does not need to be the same on a daily basis but I need to know what the "plan of attack" is for the day! This is especially important on days when the big kids have activities that I may need to attend or drive to. It frustrates the living daylights out of me to have someone announce to me, "Oh by the way, I told so-and-so I would come over tonight." I am trying to be more accepting and patient about that since I know teens plan things last minute, but aggh! Fortunately, I can be a little flexible right now since Katie can drive. But when she leaves us for college, I'm up a creek.

Sentimental: I love going through the kids baby boxes and reliving experiences. I can remember events, stories, and other fun things just by seeing a picture or hearing a song. I'm the one you will see crying in the movie theater, or at a commercial, or when reading someone's blog. I got teared up just today when seeing Denise's three babies finally together.

Stressed: It seems I am always stressed about something. Hmm. What is it right now? Our upcoming family trip to NC so see my sister/family, and parents; my husband's six week business trip to China the end of July; job changes for Dave which are being kept quiet for now--even from family (who I doubt reads this blog so I think I'm safe!); school starting in two weeks; Katie being a senior!; college searches; soccer schedules; Anna Grace starting kindergarten at my school; Alex as a freshman; Abby being at the daycare in the morning without her sister; and I could go on and on. I think it's in my nature to be stressed and worried about something. I don't think I've ever been stress free---at least for as long as I can remember!!

Thankful: I am very thankful for my husband of 19 years (been together for almost 23!) and my four beautiful children. My life and world really do revolve around them. I am thankful for our friends and family for being such a part of our lives. We are miles from family so friends play a major part of our lives--espcially on holidays. I am thankful to China for allowing us to bring home our two beautiful Jiangxi girls. And although I may not be the best at attending Mass each week, I am very thankful to God for allowing me to have all that it is in my life.

Now, the "rules" are that I now tag five people to post their six words about themselves. I tag the following people to share their six descriptive words!!! Ladies, send a comment to your "electees" so they know to check your blog for details!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rib night

Wow, three posts from me in one day! It's been a busy day. :-) Tonight was rib night. The girls LOVE ribs. Don't ask me why. They end up very dirty and very sticky. The rest of us like them too (except Katie) so we enjoy our rib nights. We just have to plan to do it when Katie isn't home. She's out at a party tonight with her boyfriend so we were okay. Whew.

Oh, and the girls have sippee lids on their cups because trying to hold a cup neatly with sticky, messy fingers is very challenging. They don't normally have lids!

Abby speaks...

Dave is heading to China on July 26 for 4-6 weeks (we're not sure yet of the return date). Anyhow, Abby just climbed up into Dave's lap and said:

"When you go to China tomorrow, I very miss you."

What a sweet baby.

A phone call from Anna Grace

Katie and I went shopping today about an hour from home so she could hit the Polo outlet for new clothes. While we were there, I had called home to ask Dave about shirt sizes since I found some things for him. No one was home so I tried his cell as well as Alex's. No one answered anywhere so I gave up. A little while later, my phone rings with the Caller ID stating "Dave's cell". Cool. Figured he'd seen my missed call. So I answer and to my surprise, it's Anna Grace. We chatted for a bit. Turns out they'd been to the pool which is why no one answered the phones. I asked her where daddy was; she said in the shower. Okay, no big deal. Who helped you call me? Alex did. So I ask to speak to Alex so I can at least pass along a message. But no, Abby has to talk next. I chat with her for a bit and then said to go get Alex. While the girls go looking for him, someone hangs up the phone. Can't say I'm surprised as it's a BlackBerry so they can easily hang up.

I reach Alex on his phone and told him I'd just talked with the girls and wondered if dad was out of the shower yet. He had no clue Dave was in the shower nor that I had talked with the girls. Hmmmm. What's the deal??

All we can figure is the girls were playing with daddy's phone (as there are new photos on the phone of the desk where it was supposed to be sitting!!) and somehow pushed call return or something. Thinking back, Anna Grace was a bit surprised I was on the phone with her so I don't think she expected a real person.

We're just thankful I was the last person who called and not one of Dave's business associates in Hong Kong. I'm sure they would not have appreciated being woken up at midnight by a 4 year old!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Trial of the Summer

Well, the girls have been sleeping together for the past two weeks--pretty nicely, I must add. When I tried this before, Anna Grace was taking naps in Pre-K and could not fall asleep easily. Therefore, she kept Abby up way too late. It was a disaster.

Fast forward to summertime. Neither girl is taking a nap (see Abby's comments in the post below!) so are pretty worn out at bedtime. They've been going to bed really well.

So today I decided to officially move Abby out of her room to make that room a playroom. I left Abby's bed in the room but not on the bedframe so it wouldn't take up so much space. All the toys are now in the playroom; the girls only have beds, dressers, and bookshelves in their room. They were pretty excited. I love having all the toys in one space where I can close the door and not see the mess. :-)

I'm hoping that once school starts the good sleeping habits will continue. With Anna Grace starting kindergarten, she'll have a short rest time daily (25 minutes or so) but I doubt she'll fall asleep. That should still make for a good bedtiime for her. Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Naps......only on Mondays

I just left the girls in bed. Abby has slept in Anna Grace's room for the past week. Anyhow, I rock them each for a few minutes before laying them in bed. I was rocking Abby and we had this conversation:

Abby: Mommy, I so tired.
Me: That's because you aren't taking naps right now. You are playing with Anna Grace instead.
Abby: I want you to put me for a nap.
Me: Okay, we can do that tomorrow.
Abby: On Monday, Mommy. What is today?
Me: Today is Wednesday.
Abby: Okay. On Monday.

Okay Abby! Whatever you want!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Go Fish with Alex

Katie is out for the evening at a local sports bar for teen night (do you see a pattern for the weekend??? Geesh!). Alex is home with us and challenged the girls to a game of Go Fish. They were SO excited to have him play. Suffice it to say, he was the loser in tonight's game (as Katie has been in the past). Hard to lose to a 3 and 4 year old!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A lesson in guitar

Alex has been taking guitar now since February. His teacher is wonderful and lives in our neighborhood----actually comes to our house for lessons! Tonight the teacher was playing at a local restaurant/bar for a few sessions. Alex asked to go hear Mr. Ken so we had no qualms about taking him. What was interesting is that Mr. Ken's girlfriend made a comment to us that they were both excited we brought Alex because not many parents would take their teenager to a bar atmosphere to hear music. Man, we didn't think twice about it. It was a very nice, upscale restaurant in town----not your typical bar. Think coffeehouse type setting.

Katie danced competitive Irish dance for six years or more. I can't tell you how many Irish pubs that child danced in before the age of 12. Sad perhaps, but true! It so much the part of the Irish community! She and her friends loved dancing to the music. We did make comments (the parents did) that it's great to see our kids dance but strange it was in a pub. Anyhow, to take Alex to this restaurant was no biggie for us. He was, obviously, the only kid in the room but that was okay. He got a chance to hear what his teacher does at night, listened music he hasn't heard before (James Taylor, Eagles, Buffett, etc), and enjoyed some good food. He's actually heard it all before but tuned it out!

Katie stayed home with the girls although I know she would have enjoyed hearing him also. BUT, she won't "allow" me to get a babysitter for the girls. No one can watch them except us therefore she stayed home. Maybe another time. She took the girls to McDonalds to eat and play at the Playland instead. I know the little ones had fun!

Guess we won't win Parents of the Year but our kids will certainly be well-rounded and have a life full of great memories!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July festivities

We hope you all had a great Fourth of July today. We were able to celebrate the day with our good friends Brian, Christy, Megan, and Mikey. We look forward to this day every year as we get to blow stuff up! We've actually spent almost every 4th of July with them for the past five years or so.

Anna Grace started off the night by getting whacked in the head by a swing---thus the photo of her with ice on her head. But she quickly recovered. We had a great evening of dinner, ice cream, cards, and fireworks. Brian and Christy went to AL to buy fireworks we can't buy here in GA. Shh. Don't tell anyone! We launched them up the hill from us in a vacant lot. The fireworks drew a crowd of neighbors as well so a good time was had by all.

Oh, and the cooler in the picture is just full of water. Christy and I insisted we haul water to the launching site in case of fire. I really is water! I even tossed in a bucket in case we needed to sling water onto something. None was ever needed but we felt better having it there. :-)

Happy Fourth of July!!!

Making Stromboli