Archive for October, 2008

A busy day

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Thank heavens I didn’t have to work today; there’s no way we ever would have gotten all these things done otherwise.  The day started with Anna and Will going to preschool and the mama accompanying them to drive them to the local fire station for a field trip.  Will had gone yesterday, too, because he goes to preschool 4 days a week.  One of the dads in the class is a member of the Waterford Volunteer Fire Department, and he made a very nice presentation for the kids, with a video, and a demonstration of all the gear the firemen wear.

10-30-08-1.jpg 10-30-08-2.jpg   Demonstrating how to crawl when in a smoke-filled building in order to see better and avoid inhaling too much smoke

10-30-08-3.jpg Mr. F wanted to make sure the kids understood there was still a normal person under all that gear so that they wouldn’t be afraid of a fireman if one ever has to come to their house in an emergency to rescue them.  Naturally, both my kids, who are afraid of no one, jumped up to give him a hug.  Not even his own kids were up there hugging him.  How in the world did this girl who spent most of her childhood hiding behind her mother’s legs whenever we were in public end up with two kids who’ll talk to anyone?

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After school, we had to come home and carve our pumpkins, given that Halloween is tomorrow.  Nothing like putting things off to the last minute, right?  I could have left Joe to deal with it tomorrow afternoon by himself, but something tells me the pumpkins would not have gotten carved in that scenario.

10-30-08-7.jpg 10-30-08-8.jpg Will was a good sport about degutting his pumpkin

10-30-08-9.jpg 10-30-08-10.jpg  Anna was not so impressed

10-30-08-11.jpg 10-30-08-12.jpg  But the end result was pretty good, don’t ya think?

Then, we got a couple of magical boxes from Wisconsin, containing nirvana of the chocolate and the cheese kind.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm . . . . . . . . . .


After that, it was finally time to eat lunch and then go out to do our errands.  Now that it’s cold out, I have to replace most of Anna’s long-sleeved shirts, because I watched her back hanging out of her little short shirt all morning.  If only her girth would catch up with her height.

Tomorrow they get to stay home and relax with the baba.  We’ll see about possible trick -or-treating tomorrow night.  It’s cold here (got up to about 34 degrees today), so I don’t know how long they can stay out.  We’ll decide tomorrow.

Happy Gotcha Day, William!

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

10-29-08-7.jpg 10-29-08-4.jpg October 29 of 2007 and 2008, respectively

One year ago today, Shang Guan Pan Pan of the Ningxia SWI in Yinchuan, China, became William Joseph Winter Casciari.  Congratulations, little man!  And congratulations to us!

We started the day with our first snow of the season, or rather, the first snow that stuck to the ground.  It’s still snowing, but the ground isn’t frozen yet, so it’s not staying around much.  We still have a dusting, or maybe half an inch, on the ground right now.   It’s supposed to be warm this weekend again, but I think this means winter has arrived here in the Northeast Kingdom.

10-29-08-1.jpg 10-29-08-2.jpg  Eek!  An escapee!

Will went to school, and Mama went to work, and Anna and Baba stayed home.  At the end of the day, we had a little party with a very special spider cake just for Will.  He had no idea what was going on, which was fine.  He’s happy as long as dessert is involved.  I kept trying to explain to Anna that her special day is coming up in about 2 weeks, but since she steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the fact that she’s from China, we may not have much of a celebration then.  In any case, here are a few more photos of the festivities!

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And Halloween begins…

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

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Today was the Waterford School Halloween Party, the first such party either of my kids has gotten to attend.  They got to wear their new costumes, and I’ll bet no one can guess what Anna chose to be!  Nope, not a princess, not a witch.  What?  You guessed a monkey?!  Who could have guessed that the child who recently announced that she was not from Vermont, but Monkeymont, would chose to be a monkey?  Go figure.  And Will chose to be a dog.  Another big surprise.  They were terribly cute.  I had bought these little costumes for them a couple of months ago, and I’m afraid that Anna must have grown since we got them, because she was definitely prepared for a flood today.  She was annoyed that the elastic straps on the bottoms of her pants legs wouldn’t reach underneath her shoes, so we had to find some brown socks and shoes so it woudln’t be so obvious that her legs were sticking out.

When we arrived, they both got their faces painted, and then we made some cute trick-or-treat bags and magic wands out of pencils.  They got their picture taken, and then we waited in line for the haunted house.  The older kids were all laying around on the floor in varying states of death and decomposition with the lights off, and Will was pretty scared.  I don’t know what Anna was thinking because Joe had her hand, but I had to hold on to Will so he didn’t take off running back out the front door. 

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Then there was a magician show!  Cute little kid level tricks, and Will got chosen to be the assistant for the disappearing and reappearing flowers trick.  He was pretty excited!


Then we had to somehow keep them entertained for another half hour while they got ready for the costume parade and contest prizes.  We finally all assembled into a circle that extended roughly around the perimeter of the whole gym, and walked around SLOWER THAN A SNAIL’S PACE about three times.  Finally, they were ready to announce the winners of the costume contest, and who should the judges have chosen for third prize overall?  Drum roll, please — the little monkey!!!   When they announced that, I spent several seconds looking around the gym to see what other little kid was dressed up like a monkey, because I hadn’t noticed one.  Sure enough, they were talking about Anna!  She got a little tiny trophy, which she carried around all evening, and I believe took to bed with her, bless her heart. 


Finally, they got to go through the line to get their candy, and after I wrested Will’s candy bag away from him in the car so he couldn’t consume all 5 pounds of it during our 2 minute drive, we made it home.  Three hours of mayhem.  I can only be thankful I wasn’t in charge.  I shall have to try to keep a low profile for the next several years.  But I think the kids had a fantastic time.

When we got home, a package from Aunt Cheryl was waiting for us, so the kids got to enjoy something non-candy related for a bit.  Some wonderful life-sized tarantulas were enclosed, and some very cute little flashlights with special lenses to display Halloween characters.  I was going to make them wait until next week, but they both are so wild for flashlights, I let them play with them tonight.  I think the batteries are defunct already, but they had a blast with them.

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I leave you with this horrifying Halloween image of the Hound of the Winter Casciaris:


(No animals were harmed during the shooting of this photograph.  I honestly don’t know how I got this view.  I was just taking a picture of Chip to make my camera display how much room I had left on my card.  I wasn’t even looking at him.  Apparently his jaw was dislocated at the time.  It appears to be normal now, though.  He must be possessed!  do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do)

Boots from Grandma

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

We all wore our cowboy boots to church today, but the baba managed somehow to combine a navy blue sportcoat with black pants, which the mama didn’t notice until we were already in the truck on the way to church, so I made certain not to include that particular fashion faux pas in today’s photo journal.

Here are the kiddos.  Nice facial expressions are getting more and more difficult to capture in posed photos, so I may have to give up on those soon.  We’re trying out different phrases to create a nice mouth position, and the winner today was, “Yay!”  It makes them smile to say it, but Anna still managed to pout at me while I was trying to get a side view of her boots.  She had just been awakened from her weekly “ride home from church” nap, and was both frowsy and grumpy, and anxious to take her nice clothes off. 

You might notice she’s wearing a jade necklace.  We bought that for her in Guangzhou on our first trip.  It’s a flattened donut shape (I’m sure there’s an appropriate geometric term for that I can’t remember at the moment) which has been reported to symbolize the circle of life, or the gods of the heavens, or used as a means of communication with the gods of the heavens.  I can’t seem to find a consensus definition right now, and my brains were too addled on that last trip to remember what I was told.  I do remember that it was the most popular shape for jade, and that many of the people we encountered throughout our journeys were wearing jade discs.  I’m almost certain I was told it symbolized the family, but I can’t find any confirmation of that.  In any case, I’ve been keeping it for her until she’s older, but I let her wear it today.  She was suitably impressed.

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News Flash!

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

After many agonizing years of waiting for hours to download a picture on the internet using dial-up, and then a few more years waiting for minutes using satellite internet, we are FINALLY hooked up to DSL!  Just tonight!  It’s so wonderful, it makes tears come to our eyes!

After being told by Verizon several years ago that our area was not even scheduled for the line upgrades necessary to carry DSL signals, we had given up hope.  We’ve been using Wildblue satellite internet service for the last three years.  They’ve been very good to us, and it’s a heckuva lot faster than dial-up, but nothing like broadband.

Finally, Fairpoint Communications bought Verizon’s northern New England operations, approved under the agreement that they would bring broadband to the rural areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  We happened to be one of the first areas they hit, and we’re thrilled!  Our monthly subscription will be less than half what we’re paying now, and the speed will be quadrupled, at a minimum.  Woohoo!!!

I am now promising myself that I will be much better about updating the blog because it won’t take 5 minutes to upload every picture.  I hate to give up excuses, but perhaps it might actually be true. 

I leave you with a couple of shots of the kids at Auntie Renee’s house tonight:

10-16-08-2.jpg Will trying to see his game using Renee’s reading glasses

10-16-08-4.jpg The face I got when I told him to “look smart.”  Hmm…

10-16-08-1.jpg Apparently, “looking smart” is genetic.  Actually, I think I might be wanting to get her a pair of those when she reaches her teen years.

10-16-08-3.jpg “Pet Pals” on the Leapster is best played while sitting in someone’s lap.

Happy Birthday, Auntie Nicki!

Thursday, October 16th, 2008
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Anna reads a story

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

On some nights of the week, the baba is off teaching and I get to put both kids to bed at the same time.  It’s a task that is getting easier as they get a little older, because now I can tell Anna to stay in her room while I read Will his story, and she sometimes actually does it.  So, last night, I asked her to read a story to her newest friend, Brown Bear, while I read Will and his leopard their bedtime story. 

When I got done, Anna was very involved reading Brown Bear the book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”  She was so cute, I had to run to get my camera to record the moment.  She hasn’t actually started reading yet, but I don’t think we are far from that day.  She will be amazed at how the world opens up for her when she can read.  Will is making progress with letter recognition now, too.  It’s still a struggle, and he can’t seem to concentrate on something like that for more than a few seconds, but we can see improvement.  One day at a time.

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This morning, Anna decided that Brown Bear needed shoes, so she worked very hard (and cajoled Baba into helping her) to put her older pair of little Bob Dog shoes from China on his hind feet.  It was exceedingly cute, and she was so proud of his shoes!  I told her I know a song about a bear in tennis shoes, so I’ll have to remember to sing it for her.  It’s one of those silly Girl Scout Camp songs that starts with, “The other day … I met a bear … A great big bear … A way up there,” and ends with, “The moral of … This story is … Don’t talk to bears … In tennis shoes.”  I don’t have any idea whether that’s the real ending for the song, or just the version that went around my camp, but the girls always loved singing that one, back in my song leading days.

Sunday goodies

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Anna and Will both had some new duds from Gymboree today, so I thought I’d take a few shots.  If you look closely, you can see that Anna’s tights have diamonds matching her dress, and Will’s camo pants actually have a dinosaur pattern on them.  I thought they were really cute.  We stopped at a little stand in Danville on our way home from church to pick up some pumpkins to carve in another week or so, and the very nice farmer gave each kid a little baby pumpkin of their own.  So far, they haven’t thrown them at each other or burst them on the ground, so we’re doing pretty good.  Anna was determined her baby needed to eat something at the table while we were getting lunch ready, so she grabbed the pepper mill (the salt shaker has already been removed to an undisclosed location) and ground up some pepper for it on her placemat.  Both nurturing and creative, huh?  I’m just hoping she’s a little older before I’m in need of her nursing services!

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After lunch, the kids were outside playing, but Anna had fallen off the swing and thumped her back, so she was back inside and Will was out alone.  He finally figured out the time-proven entertainment of twisting the chains to get a spinning ride afterwards.  I was inside shooting this secret video, so it’s framed by the door, but it’s pretty cute nonetheless.

And you might remember that I mentioned in yesterday’s post Anna had been to the ER a couple of weeks ago for angioedema. We do not know what she’s having allergic reactions to, but up to that point, it had always been restricted to hives. She’s had at least 3 prior incidents of hives. On this occasion, her upper lip swelled up and was quite itchy. This picture doesn’t do it justice. I don’t think we would have gone to the hospital if it had only gotten this big. I was worried that with facial swelling, even if it didn’t progress to bronchospasms or anaphylaxis, the swelling itself might extend to her mouth or throat and threaten her breathing. Of course, they sent us away with instructions to give a life-threatening dose of benadryl every 6 hours. Which I already had done, and I repeated for two more doses, until she became nearly comatose and I decided I’d rather have to give her CPR than watch her sitting there with her eyes rolled back in her head. We visited our regular doc the next morning, and got no further insights on what to avoid, although we learned that many children experience reactions like this to viruses, and she did have a cold at the time. We left with a script for an Epi-pen, so I’m prepared if we do get to the anaphylaxis stage. It won’t happen now that I’m ready, so that alone is worth the bother and expense. The second photo was supposed to demonstrate the hives on her wrist at the same time. It’s not a great shot, but I thought it was cute that Dr. Kotcha was helping out. He’s never far from the center of the action.
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Small updates on life

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

I have fallen even farther behind than usual in my blogging efforts, and most of my adoption friends have completely given me up for dead, I’m afraid.  In case anyone is still reading, I want to apologize for the lack of activity, and assure everyone that there is no correlation to a lack of activity in our household.  I really hate the fact that the busier I get here in my little microcosm, the less interaction I have with my friends, who are, after all, my main support group, after my family.  So, please believe me when I tell you I’m trying to keep up with everyone’s news, and I promise to keep this page updated whenever possible, without actually pulling out any more of Joe’s hair.  He doesn’t have any to spare (teehee.)

One of the reasons for my quietness is that my associate veterinarian of three years has left my practice to move south to be near her sister.  I really appreciated having her here all this time; her presence in my practice allowed me to take the necessary time to travel to China twice to pick up my children, and to take enough time off to begin the bonding processes with both of them.  But she was increasingly unhappy here.  It’s a tough place for a young single professional to live.  It’s a wonderful place to raise your kids, and go out and have fun in the beautiful outdoors, but the potential for meeting a mate here is lower than it would be in a bigger place.  We all wish her the best after her move, and hope that she is able to find everything she is looking for. 

For me, her departure means I have to spend more hours in the office.  We now probably have enough clients to keep 1.25 to 1.5 full-time vets busy, and I’m going to have to do it by myself for awhile.  I’ll be taking one day a week off, but working 4.5 days again, which I haven’t done since before kiddos.  It means they have to spend another day in day care, although Joe is going to try to adjust his teaching schedule next semester so they can go back to just one day in day care.  I’ll have only one day a week to spend time with them, when they’re not cranky from an entire day of playing, and I’m not cranky from an entire day of healing the sick, communicating with their owners, finishing the PILES of paperwork associated with each case, and trying to keep my staff busy and happy. 

I know the busy-ness will only get worse from now on, once the kids get involved with other activities, like music and sports, even if I do manage to fill the associate position at my clinic.  I’m hoping I’ll at least have a little more time to play chauffeur, so we can spend those few minutes in the car together between activities.

I have photos from a family dinner and our vacation to Maine in August, and a few random events throughout the fall, so I’ll be trying to get those edited and posted for everyone to enjoy.  Everything will be out of order unless I can figure out how to backdate posts, so it will be confusing for a bit, but bear with me.  I’m sure as I get used to my new schedule, I’ll figure out how to carve some more time out to keep up with this.  This is, after all, the only family journal we have!

The Winters visit Vermont – 2008

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

September was a busy month for the family.  The kids started school (and they’re doing just fine – hardly even look at us when we leave them in class), Anna made a trip to the ER for a grossly swollen lip (angioedema) in response to who-knows-what, and continues to have hives roughly every other day, and Grandma and Grandpa Winter came to visit, along with Aunt Ina and Aunt Cheryl. 

G and G rented a very cute little house in Dalton, NH.  It was quite a hike from our house, but it was a nice little place.  The kids got a kick out of going over to “Grandma’s house” for a visit.  We didn’t really have any exciting adventures this year, so the photos are just of every day life.  The second half of their visit, Grandma’s sisters, Aunt Ina and Aunt Cheryl, flew out from Oklahoma and Oregon, respectively, to see the kids in their “native environment.”  Which, apparently, is no longer China.  Thank heavens.  My kids were fed nothing but formula, containing the infamous melamine-tainted milk powder, when they were infants.  We don’t appear to have any kidney issues resulting from that, so hopefully they are safe. 

Before other random thoughts spill from my brain onto the computer keyboard, I will start uploading photos, which is what you all really want to see anyway.

At Grandma and Grandpa’s little house:

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At the Littleton fall art fair and antique car show:

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The three ring circus eats lunch at Applebee’s:

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10-5-08-17.jpg  Even in the rain, the foliage was gorgeous this year.  Which was fortunate, because there was very little opportunity to view peak color when it wasn’t raining.  Like much of our so-called summer this year. 

10-5-08-18.jpg Aunt Ina viewing the Mt. Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods

10-5-08-19.jpg Will and Aunt Cheryl eating Chinese in North Conway, along with the rest of us:

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A good time was had by all, I believe.  The kids miss Grandma and Grandpa, and they wish they would move closer so they could see them more often, because Mama and Baba just work too much to be able to travel frequently.  And Anna talks about Aunt Ina and Aunt Cheryl all the time.  Hopefully, we’ll get to see everyone again soon!