Archive for May, 2008

Is it really this boring at our house?

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

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It may be.  Pretty sad when you not only fall asleep at the table, but you do so WHILE chewing a piece of meat.  Perhaps we need to look into more tender cuts of beef?

It hasn’t really been that exciting in the last couple of weeks, but I’ll try to summarize things here.

  • The mama had a birthday last weekend.  We won’t mention which one.  Knowing that just makes everyone associated with me feel old, too.  In any case, I was on emergency call that day, as well as the day before and part of the day after, so I didn’t get to really enjoy it.  The baba did his best to make it a festive occasion.  We had an outing for lunch at Olive Garden and shopping at Target the next day.  All three kids (including the 47 year old) were whiny and annoying, so I had to read them the riot act on the way home.  All in all, a typical birthday experience for me.  I have a long history of the “birthday curse.”  Just ask my mother. 5-30-08-11.jpg 5-30-08-12.jpg
  • I’ve got another batch of orphan kittens I’m trying to keep alive long enough to wean.  This little litter of 5 was orphaned when mama kitty was hit by a car and killed.  They were only 5 days old.  I never thought they’d all make it, but it’s 7 days later now, and they’re all fat little balls of fur, so I think we might actually get them through this.  Anna and Will are interested in them, but not nuts about it.  I’m a little surprised they aren’t.  I’m certainly nuts about them – they’re just so cute!  But I guess that’s why I do what I do for a living.
  • The kids had their first daycare experience this week.  We checked out a nice little in-home daycare a couple of weeks ago, and thought the kids might fit in OK.   Joe will be teaching an all day class this summer which conflicts with my work schedule one day a week, and it just so happens that this daycare was able to accomodate the kids on that one particular day.  They spent about 8 hours there this week, and seemed to have a good time.  They got a good report from the caretaker.  Will didn’t want to come home.  But, after some rapid-fire misbehaving and a quick time out upon his arrival at home, he settled down and had a nice evening.
  • Anna graduated from her high chair to a booster seat at the table.  We should have done it a long time ago, but she was very comfortable in her high chair, and there was no reason to change.  But, I started to notice that her legs were so long that she couldn’t really put them on the foot rest anymore (I noticed this because she was suddenly putting them on the table instead.)  So, we’re trying it.  Whether or not she gets to remain at the table with the big people depends on how insistent she is at continuing the monkeying around that’s been occurring.  The jury is still out, and the high chair is still in the living room, waiting to be pressed back into service if need be.
  • We washed the mama’s car yesterday afternoon, and my little helpers were very active.  I have some nice pics and video snippets I’ll get posted. 5-30-08-4.jpg 5-30-08-5.jpg 5-30-08-6.jpg
  • I learned that fat-free ice cream has come a LONG way since I last tried it.  It’s actually edible now, and tastes pretty darned good.  The kids like it, too! 5-30-08-8.jpg 5-30-08-9.jpg
  • Joe somehow managed to mow the lawn with his broken leg (we’d been investigating riding mowers, but he didn’t want to get one for the few weeks we’d need it).  He’s paying the price today of some soreness and swelling.  At least he got the lawn mowed before we have to shoot him.

5-30-08-21.jpg The parties (tea parties, that is) just go on and on at our house.  It’s party central around here.  There will be no more falling asleep during dinner!

In memory of Uncle Jim 1927-2008

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

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My mother’s eldest brother, Jim Bittle, passed away this evening at home.  He had a long, wonderful, full life, educating and helping to shape the lives of many young people in eastern Oklahoma.  Uncle Jim was a tall, imposing man, and I was always a bit afraid of his booming voice as a child, but he loved children, and teased and cajoled all of his many nieces and nephews. 

He was the second of the eight children my Grandma Bittle raised on a farm throughout the depression years in Oklahoma.  He was a family leader, and much beloved by my mother and her sisters and brothers.  Although my children won’t remember him, they did both get to meet him, and they’ll be able to enjoy pictures of him as they get older.

Here’s a little video clip from this March when I brought the kids home for a visit.  Uncle Jim is reading a book to young Will, who he met that day.

We’ll miss you, Uncle Jim, until we meet again.  My sympathies to Aunt Jean, and my mother and her siblings. 

The Earthquake

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I’m sure everyone has heard about the massive earthquake that ocurred in China’s Sichuan province on Sunday.  Sichuan is in the south central region of China, as is Anna’s home province of Guangxi. 

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Guangxi and Sichuan are separated by the province of Guizhou.  There are many news stories out there, so I won’t describe much here.  I will note that our adoption agency, CCAI, has had word from their Sichuan representative.  Most of the adoption activities in all provinces occur in the provincial capitals, and Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, was far enough away from the epicenter of the quake to avoid damage to all but the oldest buildings.  Any adoptive families in the area, and as far as we know, the orphanages, are safe.  The stories about families searching for children in the rubble of collapsed school structures are absolutely heart-rending. 

We are hearing so much more about China these days, most likely because China is gaining influence as a world power.  I’m sure the unpleasant things that are happening there are no more serious than one would expect in a very populous developing country, and have probably been happening there for many years.  But my awareness of those things has certainly increased, and all I can say is I am very grateful that I was able to go there and take my two little precious children out of there, hopefully to a better place.

On a totally unrelated note, our little Anna, with absolutely no effort by Joe or myself, has suddenly acquired the ability to go to sleep by herself.  A few days ago, I noticed that she was trying to kick me out of her room, saying, “good night, bye bye!”  I’m kind of slow to take those kind of hints, so it took me a few more days, but I got really tired of laying there by her waiting for her to go to sleep, kicking me, wiggling, etc.  So, the last few nights, I’ve been staying with her a little while and then coming up with some reason I need to leave.  She’s been OK with it.  Tonight I basically read her a story, then turned out the light and told her I was going to take my bath.  She said that was fine, and by the time I was done, she was asleep.  Amazing.

Now, if only she would potty train herself…

Happy Mother’s Day

Monday, May 12th, 2008

My second Mother’s Day was very nice, with homemade handprints and cards from the kids, and a pair of diamond stud earrings from the baba (and the kids, he tells me) purchased from my favorite jeweler.   I can’t post a picture of them here without posting a picture of myself, so I’m going to refrain, but they are very pretty and sparkly, at 3/8 c total diamond weight.  My jeweler assures me that this manufacturer sets the diamonds very deeply and firmly, and the backs that grab onto the posts are very stiff, so they don’t fall off.  Perhaps I can actually wear them without losing them!

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After church, Joe grilled some steak tips out on the grill, and I had fresh tomatoes in dressing for a side.  I managed to top last year’s supercalifragilisticexpialadocious expedition to Ocean State Job Lots with a trip to the nearest Walmart Supercenter with just my little daughter for company.  That really was a treat.  We shopped and laughed and bought lots of ingredients for low-calorie dishes so mama can continue her ill-fated, everlasting quest for svelteness.

In other news, we visited a local in-home daycare facility on Thursday, in hopes that we would like it, and that she might be able to take care of our kids on just one day of the week over the summer.  Daycare providers usually can’t do things like that; it is hard to find just the right combination of part-time kids so that you can still fill up your allotment and maximize your income.  It just so happens that she has someone on-board for the summer who has the day off on the day we need help, so it’s going to work out just right!  It was a nice home with a very kind and caring mama, so I think the kids will do fine there.  We’ll probably try to set that up in the next couple of weeks.

On Friday, both kids trucked over to Waterford School with Mama and Baba for their preschool screening.  How exciting!  They met the teacher, and sat and played with toys and interacted with a couple of other kids for about 30-45 minutes.  There was a speech pathologist there as well, listening for problems.  He won’t be there in the fall, but he’ll be passing his notes on to the next person, so they’ll be apprised of Will’s possible language issues.  The teacher thinks Anna seems very normal for a 3 year old, and anticipates that she will have her come just 2 mornings a week.  Four-year olds typically come 3 days a week, but if they need special help with socialization (check!) or language (check!), she’ll have them come 4 mornings to help accelerate their preparation for kindergarten.  And if that doesn’t work, Will could just stay another year in preschool and enter kindergarten when Anna does the next year.  Everyone we met seems very nice and competent, so I’m quite optimistic that it will be a good place for our kids.  When we bought our house in this town, everyone told us we were so fortunate that we would be able to send our children to this school, as it is the best elementary school in the area.  We weren’t concerned about that at the time, but now, we’re really happy the kids will have that opportunity.  We also thrilled we’re finally getting a chance to put some of our tax dollars to work in our favor!

Here are some random shots of Anna from this spring that I’ve never managed to get posted anywhere:

5-12-08-7.jpg Anna watching Piglet’s Big Movie

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Now, how am I going to convince Mr. Penn State that we need to move back to Oklahoma in about 12 years so I can send the kids to OU?

Some more swinging

Monday, May 12th, 2008

We’ve been blessed with some fairly decent weather the past few days, so the kids have gotten to enjoy their swingset a little more.  Is it too much to hope that summer might arrive sometime before July?

But first, a picture of the most wonderful dog in the world.  That’s my Porter!  He’s 12 now, but acts like a puppy most of the time.  He’s some kind of weird poodle cross, but when people ask me what he is, I just say he’s a “Benji-dog”.  Everyone seems to know what that is. 

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(If you’d like a larger version of this wonderful portrait of my wonderful dog, click here.)

Back to the kiddos:

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5-12-08-25.jpg Here’s a look that would curdle milk.  He’s in a time-out for sliding down the slide while his sister was still on it, and landing on top of her.  He outweighs her, so it’s not a very nice thing to do.  It wasn’t the first time for that infraction, as you might imagine.  I still cannot comprehend the tortuous machinations of the “little boy brain.”  It must be an absolute labyrinth in there, with many, MANY dead ends.

5-12-08-26.jpg 5-12-08-27.jpg So, Anna got to slide in peace for a few minutes.

But, never fear.  Will got plenty of time to play, and even tried out his new life as a dog for awhile.

Auntie Nicki visits

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Or Auntienee Nicki, or something like that.  Will never could grasp the concept of what Nicki’s name was, until the very last day, when Nicki finally had the brainstorm to ask him to call her plain ol’ Nicki.  Suddenly, he could do it.  Turns out he has somehow determined that “Auntie ‘Nee” (for Renee) is really all one word, and it is a generic term for aunt.  We’ll have to work on extracting the “auntie” from the “nee”.  Kids’ little brains are just weird sometimes.

Nicki had a very nice visit, I think.  I enjoyed having her here.  The kids had a ball, so much so that Anna was missing her naps and having evening meltdowns toward the end of her 5 day visit.  I think Anna’s terrible two’s were a breeze compared to what her three’s are going to bring us.  In any case, we didn’t do anything exciting while she was here; just our normal everyday routine.  Will got to help her make cupcakes (or “pupcakes” as Anna dubbed them) while Anna and I went to band rehearsal last Monday, and Auntie Nicki made dinner for us a couple of times, so Joe and I got to relax a bit more than usual. 

Without further ado, here are the much-awaited pictures from her visit:

5-12-08-8.jpg 5-12-08-9.jpg 5-12-08-10.jpg Armed with fresh flashlight batteries, Auntie Nicki and her crew of helpers go on a rescue mission down the hall.

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Our family isn’t quite goofy enough, so Auntie Nicki had to try to teach Anna how to hang a spoon on her nearly nonexistant nose.  She achieved it for a few seconds on one occasion.  Will was in his room doing time for some sort of extreme malfeasance, so he missed out on these festivities.  Since his nose is even smaller than Anna’s, I doubt he missed out on anything other than frustration.

5-12-08-14.jpg Anna thought that, given the size of Baba’s honker, he should be able to hang SEVERAL spoons on it.

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Anna modeling a cute little summer outfit that Grandma bought her before she ever came home with us.  It finally fits – she is actually growing!!!

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The requisite group shot.  Typical Winter family nonsense.  These were the best of the 824 pictures I took.  And, no, Will would not look at the camera for any reason that morning.  Will the Pill is not an inaccurate moniker. 

Even though Nicki isn’t in these shots, she was with us as we checked out the Powerhouse Mall in West Lebanon.  This adorable bench was sitting at the top of the stairs, so I had to make the kids pose on it.  I imagine that bench has been there for years, and I’ve probably walked past it 100 times, but until you have a monkey for a child, you just don’t notice things like this!

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We miss Auntie Nicki already.  We think she should come live in Vermont.  We have companies that could use her extraordinary accounting skills up here.  And we have less cold (albeit more snow) than Minnesota, so it might actually be a beneficial trade-off!

Are you kidding me???

Monday, May 12th, 2008

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Actually, this was April 29 (less than 2 weeks ago). With my usual tardiness in posting, I didn’t get the photos up until now. At least it didn’t stick, and there isn’t any more in the forecast as far as I know. But, we do live in the “north country”, and the first year I lived here, our final snow fell on May 18. We aren’t out of the woods yet!

Swingers! (And jumpers!)

Monday, May 5th, 2008

I’m a bit behind with my posts, as usual, so anyone who follows our weather up here in the frozen tundra of New England will wonder when my kiddos got to use their new swingset.  It was those two days a week or so ago when we actually had some nice weather.  Baba put this together all by himself (with his broken leg and 2 toddler helpers) while Mama was working on emergency call last weekend.

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You can see there is a cute little picnic table under the fort that is the top of the slide platform.  I tried sitting under there, but it appears that I am about a foot too tall.  If I could just remove my head…

In the same week, I ordered a small, kid-safe trampoline for indoor use.  It takes up more room than I ever imagined, so it can’t be a permanent installation in our basement, but it does use up a bit of toddler energy, which is the primary goal of all our activities these days!  I have some movies of it in action, but I haven’t edited them yet, so for now, you’ll have to enjoy these action stills.

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