Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lots of soup!

A new record on number of pots of soup has been set in Dallas!

I have been making soup constantly since yesterday or at least it feels like it.

My friend Jamie has commented that rarely do things go as planned.

Today was definitely no exception.

Usually by the time my alarm goes off I hear at lest one of the girls in the bathroom and the other either singing or whistling. Grace whistles and Annabel sings. The dogs have usually come into my room several times reminding me that they need to go outside.

This morning there wasn't a single sound.

No dogs even.

I looked at the clock, just sure I had dreamed my alarm going off, but it still showed 6:00 a.m.

I pressed the snooze and thought we were all just a little slow getting up.

When the alarm went off for the thousandth time I realized that no one else was awake or at least until Annabel came in and told me her throat was sore and what should she do. Grace was still asleep and even the dogs could not be bothered.

I knew when I sent them to school yesterday that I really should have kept them both home as the sore throats and coughs that had started Sunday were getting worse.

I sent Annabel back to bed and let the dogs out and called in for a day off and went back to bed, not feeling too well myself.

Grace came and woke me up to let me know she was hungry.

My friend Holly, another mom to China girls sends me these great recipes to fix for my girls, but I am just not very adventurous or too scared to try, so I make up my own Chinese dishes for the girls, especially when they are sick

Today I scrambled eggs, tofu, bacon, rice, and hot chili oil for their breakfast. They ate all of it. Yuck!

It's funny how different the girls are in everything they do, even being sick.

Grace stayed in her pajamas and robe all day.

Annabel put on jeans and a t shirt, with houseshoes and robe for most of the day.

Grace lays on the couch.

Annabel lays on the floor with the dogs.

Grace moves slowly and coughs

Annabel finally is bouncing off the walls.

I made more soup for their lunch and then started new batches for dinner. Mom evidently has the flu and Dad had a tough time at the dentist today. Everyone was needing comfort food.

Hopefully everyone will feel better tomorrow. I have so much work to do and such a dirty house it is hard to take a day off, but my body did not feel like doing more than being chef today. Tonight I won't plan on how tomorrow will be, that way it can surprise me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Calgon take me away......

Ah twilight....

Ah evensong....

An vespers....

There is that small window of quietness between work day and the evening when you are allowed five minutes to not be mom, daughter, or employee.

Where you drink your cup of international delight coffee.

Or you soak in a tub of Calgon.

There are songs, prayers, and other rituals assigned to that brief time when you close the door on one life before opening it on another.

Most nights I don't have this time, but tonight, after being sick for the last two weeks, having an extremely long day, and finally getting my laptop back, I was determined to sit quietly and check my email without any interference.

You know something happened or I would not be writing about it.

This was one night that I knew my Rachael Ray soup leftovers were in the refrigerator and if anyone turned up their nose to those, I was going to yield to serving Chinese noodles, everyone's favorite, but if you are trying to eat healthier, you just feel like you missed the mark.

My brother had my laptop repaired last week but I have not felt like making the extra stop to go by and pick it up. Somehow your own computer feels like a well loved shirt or pair of shoes. You know right where your fingers need to be without looking at them. All of your favorites are saved in the files where you expect them.

With this "old friend", which know runs like a brand new one, thanks to Mark, I was determined to enjoy a moment of quiet.

Within seconds of sitting down, Grace found me and wanted me to help her solve

0.25 x 583 to the 5 power. (I don't know how to make the power symbol on a computer).

I really don't use math like this every day. Maybe I should, but I don't. I had asked her for the third time to explain how she had answered the other questions so I could have a hint on how to solve this one, when Nina came running in and jumped in the middle of us.

Grace immediately asked Nina what she had on her back. And what was that terrible smell.

A quick glance confirmed that it looked the someone or something's poop on her back, shoulders, and front and she was anxious to share with us.

Recently I have been looking at a variety of jobs and wondering if I would like to do them instead of what I do. Could I earn more money? Would my time be more flexible? Dog grooming was probably not at the top of the list, but today I can tell you I definitely will not be quitting my day job to do this.

I grabbed Nina up and threw her in the bathtub, the whole time she is looking at me incredulously that I did not appreciate her. It took a long soak to get her clean, but of course Ollie is usually the stinky dog, so he got his too.

If you are taking dirty and then wet dogs out of a bath tub the next event in that sequence is for you to get clean too.

My evensong....

My vespers......

My twilight......

Oh well. At least Mom is still with us and does not seem to have any really scary symptoms. The doctor did send out tamiflu and hopefully it will bring some relief fairly quickly.

Today was parent/teacher conferences and I had received one email telling me I did not need to come as my child was doing quite well. The next email said, please contact us for an appointment, as we need to talk about your child. I emailed the teacher back and asked if she meant Annabel, as I could not imagine Grace needing a conference. Of course if you have only known English for less than a year, you would expect to be having problems in 6Th grade.

The teachers are great but frustrated as they know she wants to learn, but have limited means to teach her. They have made amazing modifications like giving her tests orally, allowing her to bring work home for us to do together, having the ESL teacher help her with assignments, and also providing tutoring. She has made remarkable progress, but in subjects like history and science, these will take a long time.

So my break is over and it is back to being mom, homework helper, adviser, cook, and cleaner.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rachael Ray doesn't cook here!

While at work today, I got an email from Dad saying that Mom had a temperature of 100.7. He knew what it was because he went to Walgreens and bought a thermometer to check it! I begged him to call the doctor, but as expected, Mom thought she was well and did not want to bother the doctor.

For the last ten years in my job I have been dealing with the flu and flu shots! I put an exclamation point there because at times it has been a central point of all the work I accomplish for the year.

When I first started in 1999, Medicare and the Department of Health were really still trying to educate people about the NEED for flu shots. I was shocked to hear the high number of people who die from the seasonal flu each year. And this is something they can avoid by just getting a shot! That Medicare pays for! No out of pocket expense!

When we finally got people to believe they needed the flu shot, the next year we ran out of vaccine very early in the season. So people stood in line for up to 3 or 4 hours to get the flu shot that we had convinced them they needed! I really worried that they would die right there on the spot just trying to get vaccinated!

Thankfully the last few years there have been plenty of vaccine and plenty of people to get their shots. The whole thing has gone without a hitch. People called for information, came in, waited a matter of minutes, sometimes, just seconds, got their shot and went home. PLUS we have had extremely mild winters. No heavy icing, no blowing snow, no closed schools or highways, just an extension of the dog days of summer for months!

Of course as soon as we are secure in our ways, then it changes, right?

So the H1N1 is the center of attention, as well as the seasonal flu.

The H1N1, formerly known as swine, until it offended the pigs, I guess, seems to mainly hit a younger population. Right before I started typing I read a story about a healthy 14 year old that died on Saturday after getting sick on Thursday.

This did not appear to be a child that was neglected. She really does appear to have been a healthy child and now she is gone. It is really scary! Annabel has remarked a few times about her throat hurting and that her voice sounds different. I don't have to worry about Grace because she lets me know if she has a hang nail, a direct reflection of her mother's hypochondriasis! So I am constantly checking everyone's forehead. Worried that I might feel the smallest hint of a soaring temperature. Jana always gave me fits about my method. But when checked, I was surprisingly accurate! I just don't want Annabel to go too long without letting me know she is sick. So I am probably overly vigilant and will end up missing when they actually are sick. In the meantime, I just got an update that a classmate's mother passed away from WEst Nile! And a mosquito just flew by my ear. It is very stressful sometimes trying to keep everyone well!

But I digress.

I told Dad to tell Mom not to worry about dinner that I would make us tortilla soup. Last week Gloria, my co-worker sent her tortilla soup home with me and we chugged it down like we had been fasting for weeks. I found an easy recipe and emailed the ingredients to my phone so I could stop at Minyards on the way home. Just sure that I could whip that old recipe out in nothing flat!

The girls were late coming out of the school but I was intent on my plan for tortilla soup.

We rushed into Minyards, the very one where Jana got her start in retail, and quickly collected everything on my list, along with a few other impulse buys! The beauty of our neighborhood is it is almost impossible to go somewhere without seeing someone you know. This is great unless you are in a hurry. Brief acknowledgements were made and we made a mad dash out the door.

I recently purchased one of the knives like Rachael Ray and was sure that was all I would need to prepare my meal in 30 minutes like she does. PLUS I set up my trash bowl to avoid all those countless stops at the trash can. Right? See how smart I was?

Well, Dad is right.

Everything on TV is all smoke and mirrors!

For one thing, I never see Rachael Ray stopping to answer math questions or spell New Hampshire or information or maps. She also does not appear to have 2 dogs under her feet willing her to drop just a morsel to satisfy their unsatiable hunger! And you don't see her parents waiting patiently in the house next door, famished and malnourished and weak from their illness.

I threw one chicken into a pot and covered it with water and carrots, and celery, and onions, and bay leaves and started it going as quickly as I could.

In the other pot I started the extras for the tortilla soup, including two ancho chiles that had to soak, garlic, and more onion. At that point I decide there is no way that Dad will want to eat that soup as it would be too spicey, so I would have to come up with an alternative for him.

I rinsed and washed and chopped and stirred, and tasted and finally knew I was out of time. I felt more like I was on the show, "Chopped", where they are told to step away from their food as the timer has sounded. Of course they get 20 minutes, and I was well into the second hour!

Almost 1 and 1/2 hours later I had 2 big steaming pots of soup, an extra pan of rice, cheese and avocadoes in my pockets and we start the march across the driveway to deliver a hot meal to my ailing parents!

I had tasted the soup so many times I wasn't convinced that either had too much or too little salt and neither seemed to be something I wanted to eat.

After the blessing, everyone dove in.

I have always known that if you make someone wait long enough to eat, they will eat just about anything and I guess that happened tonight! We all found something we liked and sampled a little of the other too.

Then back home to complete the homework and face my kitchen.

I am almost sure that Rachael Ray does not have to clean her own kitchen either. I know she surely does not have to unload her dishwasher and then refill it, much less find room in the refrigerator for all the leftovers. Or figure out what to do with the chicken carcass you have left!

The new knife did work beautifully but maybe it needs to be in more skilled hands. My 30 minute meal took a lot longer! But I don't think her company or who she serves are nearly as enjoyable!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I hate Canada, no offense Doreen!

To explain my sudden dislike of our neighbor to the north, I have to back up to Thursday.

This head cold, sinus infection, whatever it is, just won't leave me alone and now a week later and a round of antibiotics, a ton of echinacea, vitamin C, and zinc, I'm not sure I feel any better.

So Thursday night I was not paying much attention to the girls progress on getting their homework done. Annabel has learned her grandfather will help her get hers done if she doesn't come in the middle of the better Law and Orders, so she had escaped over there to take care of some subject.

I had told them on the way home that we would start doing 30 minute assigned times on the computer to ensure that each had plenty of time getting their homework done.

But if you don't feel well all you are really doing is kind of a veiled threat about how things will work.

All of a sudden it is 8:10 and Annabel is asking me what are the landforms of Canada and has a map and colored pencils ready for me to spout off the answers and her complete her homework.

I've never known the landforms, much less what a landform is, or I completely forgot what it means! So I am no help and know I need to get on the internet to help her out. Only Grace is on there and when I tell her that her time is up, for the first time ever I saw Grace erupt! Tears flowed and dogs were being swept away by the flood and I reacted in the only appropriate manner :) and sent everyone to get ready for bed. I am sure she is upset only because she is too tired, cutting a tooth, or running a fever, as my Auntie Peggy always proclaimed when her children misbehaved.

When there was some calm I asked what happened and what we needed to do.

All 3 crammed around the computer as I searched desperately for a website that would show the landforms of Canada, as well as their natural resources.

BUT it is kind of like working with a 6th grader and a 2nd grader on these assignments, as Grace is color coding with charts and diagrams representing each province, and Annabel is lucky just to get the words somewhere on the page.

So I am trying to spell Appalachian to Annabel with Grace asking me what does timber mean and answering the phone with Dad asking questions about something that had happened at work. This went on for the next hour, only Dad had hung up pretty quickly when I confused him by explaining what mining was and that was not the answer to his question.

We all pulled in nice and tight and I break out into a sweat. This computer has a 22 inch screen but we needed more like a 56"!

We persevered and got everything completed and finally in bed by 9:30.

So it really isn't that I hate Canada, it's just that I hated that assignment. I am glad that I am having to use my foggy brain and learn something new!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What day is it?

The problem with getting sick is you are never sure whether it is the germ or the treatment that is worse. When you are stopped up you are willing to take almost anything to feel better, but then you just make that marshmallowy feeling in your brain worse! Maybe it is more like cotton or stuffing. I feel like Winnie the Pooh realizing my head is full of fluff.

Growing up in the house next door to mine, we always retreated to the den at night. From those windows we had a bird's eye view of my current kitchen windows.

Each night the lights would come on as the man who lived here would stand at the sink, washing dishes, feeding cats, or whatever he did. We would always announce that Laby was home. This wasn't his name, but what we called him. Maybe our family is just weird, but I can still hear all of us at one point announcing that he was home.

Eventually it was Jana that we would see standing at the sink.

Then of course it was too sad to look out the window as we knew Jana was no longer standing at her sink.

Now I am the one always standing at the sink and I am not feeding cats, but kids, which these days feels like a full time job.

I realize that I was also looking out and seeing if Mom and Dad were still up. Wednesdays, of course they still were. It is Law and Order night and both would be in their specific seats watching the crime be solved.

BUT Dad has his birthday and the one thing he wanted was a GIANT TV and since none of us bought it, he bought it himself. The den is full of windows so that would never do for this monstrous new TV and he relocated their Law and ORder watching to the Living Room. Now I never know if they are staying up late or not!

Monday was Grace and my anniversary of being mother and daughter.

Annabel wanted me to do something special for Grace to commemorate the day.

But if your head is full of fluff all you really want to do is go to bed.

No dining on top of the ball, just a home cooked meal of something, which was so impressive I cannot remember what it was! But Annabel kept after me that I needed to do something special.

I used to always have gifts on hand for Grace because I had SO much trouble not buying everything I thought she might want. That closet is so empty now just trying to keep up with the current celebration. I did have on hand a Nintendo game that I had never returned which I had bought for someone else.

That was all I had to give her and she looked at it like, huh???? Annabel tried to rescue me and say how wonderful that gift was.

I made a quick recovery and told her we would go to Pappadeaux's for a special celebration on Saturday.

Annabel announced she did not want to go as she does not like fish. I reminded her that lobster tails, crab, and octopus are all fish, but I think she wanted Grace and I to have a "special" celebration.

Grace also lost one of her last 2 baby teeth this week. So far the Tooth Fairy has not remembered. I hope tonight will be different.

From my niece Katie, who is proud of her Daddy!

We are proud to have Ken in our family. The last year has been difficult and I wrote about it on my old blog, but Ken lost both his mother and father in less than a year. Both due to cancer.

Ken and my older sister, Lisa, got married in 1980, the hottest summer on record in Dallas history. Within a very short time they had Casey, my only nephew, and then Katie.

Ken was state trooper of the year, fairly early in his career, which helped get him promoted and away from patrolling the long, dark highways of west Texas. While in West Texas though, he made some pretty good friends who have since been and still are governors of Texas. He was highly sought after to be part of the personal protection for George W when he was governor. He turned it down for the sake of his family.

One of the best things about Ken is he will let me ask all sorts of goofy questions about law enforcement. He did answer an important one recently about how to report someone who should NOT be driving.

Anyway, I was proud that Katie was proud and posted this and wanted to share with you too.
Katie Pittman September 23 at 3:39pm Reply
Today my dad was given an award for saving a mans life by giving him CPR. While i'm sure dad has been of assistance to the public before, this time was a bit different. He told me it was hard for him because it was very similar to his father, Wayne Pittman, passing away. I'd just wanted to share this with every one because it made me so proud. Dad has been through some very tough situations lately and never puts himself before others. I think what he did was pretty cool and realize it was also very difficult for him. I hope this makes y'all proud as well that was have such a fantastic human being amongst us.You can pass any kind words on to him via SgtTx@sbcglobal.netLove,Kate

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A very important day!

Five years ago I was in Nanchang, Jiangxi, apprehensive I am sure, but also exhausted, not sure what tomorrow was going to bring.

When I adopted Grace 5 years ago, adopting the older child was pretty unusual. In fact our case might have been one of the first. The orphanage was so worried about how Grace would react they almost insisted that I bring a child close to Grace's age to help with her transition, first from a foster family, back to the orphanage, and to her forever family.

I will always be so grateful to our anonymous benefactor who made it possible for Jana, Gillian, and Darcey to accompany me to China. If I had known then what a short amount of time we had left with Jana, I don't know what I could have done different, but that time together was probably the most important point in my life and to share it with her and her girls made it forever special.

We arrived in Nanchang late because of a missed flight. It was cold and rainy and I thought it would stay that way. Darcey and Gillian were real troopers, considering how young Darcey was especially. BUT she had reached her limit and had to have some apple juice. Jana and Darcey took off in that dark rainy night leaving Gillian and I wondering if they were gone for good. They finally returned, minus one of Darcey's shoes, and we all called it a day.

If the agency had known had terribly naive I was at that point and in way over my head, I am not sure they would have let me adopt Grace!

My first meeting with Grace was deterred by a HUGE dog she was carrying.

Those first few days are a blur and what surprises me the most is how quickly the time has passed. Looking through the pictures for Dad's birthday I was shocked to see how young and tiny Grace was! I wish there was a way to know what she was thinking those first few days here. She finally told me that the room scared her with the giant lady bugs I thought she would like! How many other things scared her?

The one thing I know for sure is that initial bonding with Gillian is still one of the strongest bonds she has. She loves Gillian deeply and thanks to Gillian, Grace's transition was fairly easy, I guess.

Mine took more time!

It's so funny that I thought that my life really would not change having a child! That I would just continue in my usual day to day routine only with a child tagging along.

Yea, right!

By now I cannot imagine my life being any better and it is nothing like it was before, or almost nothing like it.

Of course Grace led to adopting Annabel and each day brings new wonders and challenges.

For the first three years Grace and I celebrated at Antares on top of the big ball downtown. Last year it was closed, but we could not have afforded to even ride the elevator! This year, we took our trip to Mexico as a new way of celebrating our family. Grace had actually forgotten our date, or said she did. I hope I can find old and new pictures to post so you can see what a beautiful girl she is turning into.

As far as the rest of what is going on, I feel quite numb this weekend. Since we came home from school Friday, I have been sick with a yucky cold and have not felt like getting out of bed. I've tried to prevent anyone else from this germ and hope that staying low worked.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What a week!

My computer crashed last week.

Right before we were picking up Mom and Dad at the airport, I had just enough time to check my email before my computer refused to work any more. It's a Dell and just over a year old.

It helps to have siblings who know much more about computers than you do and to have "extra" computers! I dropped mine off for Mark to check it out and took over the one that Lisa had given to the girls to use for school.

So I have had enough access, just not the speed of my computer. Plus, it is kind of hard to take away the computer that your daughter is using for her homework, just so you can catch up with your blog.

All of these are excuses as to why there have not been updates recently.

But the difference in our lives between this Friday and last Friday are phenomenal.

First off, Mom and Dad were not home from their trip yet. Tonight, when we came toward our house and spotted Mom and Dad outside, a cheer came up from the back seat! The girls were so excited to see Mom and Dad out and almost as if we had a welcoming committee.

Last Friday I was facing working all day on Saturday at an event that had taken a year in planning with a 100% chance of rain. And of course, the event focused on older adults, so you are torn between wanting people to take advantage of all the fantastic program and staying home where they will be safe and out of the rain! Plus I did not have my usual back ups since Mom and Dad were still in Alaska. Thankfully Marcie offered to take over and I could leave without worry.

Enough people came to the event that everyone was satisfied, the girls had a great time with Marcie, and then before we knew it, it was time to pick up Mom and Dad at the airport. I put on a big pot of soup before we left since I knew it would be late and they had been traveling ALL day.

The drive to and from the airport was probably the most dangerous thing to happen with the rain coming down pretty steady, but it also caused the flight to be delayed just enough that Annabel started to get antsy. It seemed like all of a sudden they appeared from the opposite direction we expected, but it didn't matter, because they were home safe!

After soup, souvenirs, and a few stories I think the girls and I were satisfied and could call it a day.

I'm not sure if it was the fact that I had to work on Saturday or that it rained almost continually all week, but this was a little harder week to get up and out each day. It was so dark one day that we slept until 6:30! That day we ran out without breakfast or lunches, but thankfully a new McDonalds has opened on the way!

That night I knew I did not want to repeat the morning's mistakes, so I made a big pot of rice with bacon and vegetables for breakfast and started the lunches. Some of our days are really long, especially the days the girls get out at 5:00. So at that point we are still facing our drive home, dinner, and at least a couple of hours of homework. But the experiences they have had in just the first month at this school make it all well worth it.

Recently the ESL (English as a second language) teacher had asked if I would consider being the parent on the LPAC (language proficiency Advisory Committee). So this week I met with the other 2 members to go through the students' files to see who should and should not receive "special" services for language barriers. A big difference at this school is the large number of native languages. I was glad to get the opportunity to learn more about the process and each interaction makes me glad that Annabel will have the chance to learn here.

The one thing I came away with from that meeting is that Annabel MUST get on the computer. For one thing, all the class assignments are on the computer and she has to learn to check it to make sure she does not miss anything. Also, a lot of their assignments require computer interaction. As i mentioned earlier, Lisa gave the girls one of their older laptops. the only trouble is that Grace has pretty much claimed it. Plus Annabel needs help in learning the computer, much less reading and writing anything on the computer. So I went in search of a desk top, something I have been without since I first started working at the hospital 10 years ago. I bought one at the first place I looked and then went in search of a computer desk. Of course at the next store I found a much larger computer for the same price, but did not find a computer desk. So the computer is still in the box, but hope to find time this week to get it set up and teach Annabel a few things to help her with her home work and not just to email her friends and classmates!

The rest of the week feels somewhat like a blur of rainy days.

We were late getting home because there was a middle school social today. What a fantastic idea to build camaraderie among the students, but also among the parents who volunteer to help. Plus the whole thing was free! There were so many parents that no one had too much to do and could check on their children while the children chose not to recognize their parents! Pre-teen is a difficult time to be dependent on your parents!

One of the benefits of volunteering was meeting some of the friends I have heard so much about. Annabel wanted to make sure I met her friend from band, Cayla. Eventually I realized this very small boy with a shock of blond hair kept hanging out by us. This was Cayla. They are in band together and had a piece of notebook paper for her. Surely she doesn't think I am that dumb! When she got in the car she wanted to make sure I agreed that he was VERY good looking!

Tomorrow evening, I have been invited to a birthday celebration for a local literary icon, Emma Rogers. I am looking forward to an evening out of my usual Disney entertainment! Plus the rain is supposed to stop and looking forward to spending some time outside.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Four day work week!

Thank goodness this is a four day week because it has felt like a month! And no homecooked meals by Mom all week!

I feel for my girls as their school days are very long. I have to drop them off so early so I can get to work and then almost every afternoon they are there until late. BUT I am so excited about this school. They send an email twice a week with news, actually what is happening on campus! Can you imagine? Plus you get your own internet account to check assignments and grades. PLUS they offer tutoring even if you don't take the TAKS test. PLUS they read the tests to Annabel so she actually got a chance to be tested on what she could learn and understand! The TAKS Benchmark tests have been given all week and they had Annabel work with the ESL teacher who read her the test and then let her answer it. Wow!

Mom and Dad are having a great time! In Alaska the time difference is 3 hours so Dad is up and ready to go really early. But it has been really cold and I think that Mom has preferred to stay in instead! They have seen some beautiful scenery and had some fantastic food. I hope Dad is taking lots of pictures.

The hardest thing to believe is that tomorrow Dad will be 80 years old. My father just does not seem to be that old! I know a lot of people older than that but somehow that is different. Dad just doesn't act old. He has met just about everybody on the ship and explored every corner of the ship.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day, labor and fun!

Special note: spell check isn't working and I am too tired to check my spelling! Sorry!

Thank goodness that Mom and Dad could check in. Cell phones are great things!

Annabel had almost made herself crazy going to see if Mom and Dad had surprised us by returning early! Each time a car honked or seemed to slow down, she was looking for them.

Mom and Dad are also the only ones who seem to have enjoyed today too! What is it about Labor Day that makes us all think we have to accomplish our LONG to do lists? At least for most they only have a 4 day work week. Unforunately, not for me. I come up with these "brilliant" ideas at work and then when the planned day comes about, I wish I had not! We are expecting 300+ on Saturday for our Grandparent Palooza, a program to help grandparents remain active and healthy to enjoy their time with their grandchildren.

But back to Mom and Dad who will not be there for my big event. They had pulled into Juneau after a fairly bumpy ride the day before. It seems like most on the boat were affected by the constant rolling of the seas, including Mom. When she finally was able to get out of bed, she was told to eat a green apple. Thankfully this cruise takes good care of its customers and promptly provided mom with the apple. She felt better almost immediately! Good to know!

Dad was having a big time and "best friends" with everyone on the boat including the captain! When the two got separated in a long line, everyone was hollaring and whistling at Dad to get his attention and let him know where Mom was! In between buying souvenirs they have done a pretty good job of finding ALL the foods they like. For one meal Dad had steak, ribs, and salmon. The thought makes me sick! They were also enjoying fantastic scenery and overall enjoying Dad's birthday present!

We on the other hand, spent the morning trying to reclaim the flower bed from the Morning Glories. Now I love Morning Glories and used to be thrilled if I had one little bit come up. But these seeds must have been the turbo charged ones as they continue to come up EVERYWHERE, taking over all the other plants in the bed. So while I cleared them out, Grace and Annabel planted the new ones.

After we were through, I suggested going swimming, but Grace did not want to, she preferred to go the movies. Normally I insist that we go before noon for the cheapest rates, but I really wanted a nap first! Instead of doing our usual cereal for breakfast, I had made pancakes. Then for lunch had tried to make spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and broccoli, but seemed to have been too heavy handed with my salt and it was not too good! So I decided we had eaten so cheaply lately it was time to have fun.

This movie was so good. I had seen previews of it, but it did not do it justice. It is a Japanese animated cartoon, but the character had a lot of similar personality traits to Annabel! It was so much fun!

Afterward we made a trek to Central Market.

When grocery stores complain about a lack of business or sales, they should go visit Central Market. It has a HUGE produce section and some of absolutely everything. It also has a great meat, seafood, and bread selection. PLUS there is someone there who wants to help ensure you find just the right product.

The girls have testing all day on Tuesday and Wednesday and have to take a lunch that they cannot warm up. I fret trying to figure out something for Annabel in this situation. So we also went through all their "prepared" foods. She wanted Chinese dumplings, which I reminded her she would have to eat cold, but she did not care.

They had chicken wings on sale, so both girls got a pound of wings of their choice for dinner.

Unfortunately, by the time we finally got home, still without milk, I was afraid their stomachs could not handle the spiciness of the wings and they settled for Chinese noodles instead! I made a quick trip to Tom Thumb for their $.99 gallon of milk but had failed to read the small print which required you purchase $20! Not quite the same as Central Market!

The school has a website for parents and you can even subscribe for updates on the homework due the next week. Sweet! I love this school!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Holidays and vacations

Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean are my parents steaming towards Alaska. Mom worried at the last minute that she should have taken floaties like Annabel plans to for any trips over water. I told her I would just know she had gone to meet her maker if they crashed! Dad thinks he would drown trying to save Mom. Bad images of the movie Titanic keep flashing through my mind with Celine Dion droning on.

Of course it was a lot of work to get them on that ship!

Friday after I picked up the girls I had a list of errands for us to run only Annabel was STARVING! They had their field trip to a place called Group Dynamics. I am still not sure what they did because when I tried to compare it to a ropes course or wall climbing, it was similar but not exactly. At least they were not killed or paralyzed but Annabel did discover that she is afraid of heights. They had pizza for lunch and she did not get full!

We went by the bank specifically so Annabel could get popcorn! Thank goodness they had a few bags left. If you want a great interest rate that comes with free popcorn on Fridays check out Grand Bank on Colorado!

She made the popcorn sound so delicious that I had to sample it while picking up dinner for all of us!

If you want another bargain and in the area, check out El Fenix's take home special. You get 8 tacos, enchiladas, or tamales, rice, beans, a BIG bag of chips, and hot sauce for $19! So I bought that to share with Mom and Dad.

After dinner I proceeded to help get Mom and Dad packed. I have become quite the expert since I travelled to China for 2 weeks with all my clothes in a carry on that also held my laptop!

Dad wanted to take his suit coat on a big wooden hanger! He also wanted to leave all his laundered shirts on hangers. No wonder his clothes would not fit! Thanks to the packing bags that Marcie had put in his gift basket, they ended up with plenty of room for souvenirs too!

Saturday is not a day you want to wake up at 6:00 a.m. but if your parents' flight leaves at 8:30 a.m., you have to get up plenty early to beat the crowds!

We waited at the airport until we were sure Dad cleared the security check. He always sets off all the alarms due to the metal in his knee. It took a long time and we were glad to see them headed to their gate.

They called later to say they were on the boat and had gotten a hamburger and hot dog for lunch only to discover the ship had opened the buffet early. I think they might have been first in line! Today they are in the ocean and will reach Juneau tomorrow. I hope they are having a great relaxing day!

The girls and I stopped at Starbucks for coffee and oatmeal and on to Wal Mart for an oil change and dog food. From there we went to Lowes in hopes of finding a bargain on plants to recreate our flower bed. Then back home with a LONG list of chores to do around the house.

I decided we needed a break in the early evening and went to North Park so Annabel could finally use her gift certificate Gloria gave her for her birthday. Her initial plans for a panda were changed when she saw the new Portuguese Water Dog and its puppy! Since she would have to spend her own money for accessories, she decided she really did not need any! She is finally learning to save some of her money and not spend it all on junk so she has enough for the things she really wants.

We all felt so weird coming home without checking in with Mom and Dad. It was even worse at church today and our pew felt very empty.

Annabel has asked a million questions and just sure that they will come home early. Grace even got out her magic 8 ball to ask if they would come home on Saturday! We like to be the ones on the road, I guess, and not sure that we like it with Mom and Dad gone. Last night I thought I could stay up as long as I wanted without making Mom worry. Only I was so tired from clearing out the flower bed, I was in my own bed early.

We are all thrilled tomorrow is Labor Day, me more than them. When you work at a hospital, there just aren't a lot of holidays! Quite a change from working for the state when we even got LBJ's birthday and Confederate Heroes days as holidays!

The list of chores and errands is very long but hope we can find some time for fun too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Major problems!

Yes the news was covering all the major conflicts across the world, but they missed a couple that I had to deal with tonight.

In our house were major dilemmas.

Tomorrow, for one of the few days of the WHOLE school year, the girls are able to wear what they want to school!

Of course everyone will be looking at what they WEAR, right? No, but if you are a pre-teen, you are sure they are! PLUS the one t shirt that Annabel wanted to wear was missing. She immediately gives up! After checking the laundry baskets of clean and dirty clothes, she is sure it is just gone! I insist it has to be somewhere in her room then, which of course, it was.

Then next door, Mom and Dad are trying to pack for their cruise.

One of my parents is a clothes horse and really needs a steamer trunk! The other would make do with a couple changes of clothes. With the new costs of checking your bags it does make a difference. To check 2 bags will be an additional $80! But to carry them around the airport makes you feel it is well worth any price!

Something tells me that conflict has not been resolved! I'm just thankful that I will wear one of my usual "work uniforms"! BUT shorts and a t shirt sound better!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as quick as I could!

When Mom first Dad, he met her qualification of being tall. She was intent on marrying someone taller so we would not be short. Almost 60 years later, I am here to report that she made a decision that worked! Not only has the marriage lasted, but we all ended up an at least an average of their heights!

Since I don't have a background of birthing babies, I'm not sure if other mothers continue to connect through yahoo groups, but I can tell you that adoptive parents, especially parents whose children are from China, have LOTS of choices of groups to maintain connections with.

Events from this week have kept these yahoo groups buzzing. There is the discussion about an adoptive mother going with her son back to China to meet his birth parents. There is the story about the adoptive mom who has been charged with killing her daughter she adopted from China. There is currently a family going through some serious issues in the midst of their adoption and in another group, a discussion of how to handle the family roots question.

If you know me, you know I can't keep quiet on a lot of these discussions and on the family roots question, I told how I make sure my daughters understand that all of my ancestors are their ancestors. Not sure that is something to be proud of or something to want to hide from. Just kidding!

But when it comes down to it, it is sometimes difficult to remember that Grace, especially, was not my child from birth.

But if you put Mom, Dad, Grace, and Annabel together, you feel that they must share genes!

Grace and Mom are so much alike! If they could sit and read a book for HOURS they would be satisfied, UNLESS you are in the kitchen and they both will be in there working. They both would prefer not to have the spotlight on them but are glad to help anyone who needs their assistance. They are both kind and gentle and prefer some curl in their hair!

Annabel and Dad cannot imagine there is a need for a line ANYWHERE! They would go crazy if you made them stay inside all the time. They need to be outside and they have to have a job to do. They both can work circles around me and are tireless in their energy. BUT will sit down and watch their favorite TV shows and cannot be disturbed.

Genetics or environment?

It would be difficult to determine, especially since so much of their personality was "set" before they were adopted. The adoption community talks about a red thread that connects you to your child in China. It must have also connected their grandparents.

If you are not from Texas, the title line probably does not make sense, but it is a common bumper sticker down here!