Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat!

My bathroom and shower have a rock star, a Dalmatian, a cow girl, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, trying to get make up, hair paint, and an overdose of sugar out so they can go to bed.

The outside things are coming off with the water.

The inside accumulation of too much sugar will take a while to wear off.

This is the first Halloween that we have been wtih Gilian and Darcey in a while and it made it so much fun! This was just the second Halloween Annabel has ever had so she was especially excited about it. Gillian is so much like her mother, that Halloween is one of her favorite holidays. We discussed this evening that Jana LOVED all holidays, and I think Gillian is just like her. Any excuse to celebrate and be together!

Grace and Darcey are the quieter of the quartet when they are all together, but ready for whatever is planned and intent on a good time.

The Austin crew arrived last night. Lisa says she has returned to being chopped liver if she arrives with the girls. The fatted calf is no longer slain for her arrival. Now it is whatever Gillian and Darcey want, which thankfully is the same as Lisa wants.

Since our kitchen and breakfast room are now in our living room, there was no place for our usual sleepover arrangement, so all four girls stayed at Mom and Dad's. If I had not been so tired, it might have felt weird to be home all alone.

We started our Saturday at church for breakfast. Everyone had to comment on how tall Gillian is. She is going to catch me soon. All four really love all the older people at church and very patient with all the hugs and questions.

From there we had to go to Tom Thumb and buy two more pumpkins so when Marcie, the artist in residence, came to help carve, we would be ready. Only I forgot to buy her one! Yikes!

After I paid the two guys working on my kitchen yesterday, one called back to tell me the bank would not cash my check, as there was no money in there. Oops!

So we also had to make an emergency trip to the bank to cover the check and others that were quickly coming through. I HATE when that happens. The NSF fees eat my lunch!

Our next stop was Lake Cliff Park where I had volunteered us to help spread mulch. I'm not sure that we were much help, but we did what we could! I love for them to have the opportunity to do volunteer work and get that started early.

Lisa and I took off for the Bishop Arts District while everyone else chowed down on Sonic burgers. It is such much fun to show Lisa all the new neat stores and restaurants down there and it is even more fun that we don't have to go to North Dallas for something good to eat and places to shop.

Lisa wanted to find some flowy type of outfit to make pictures with angel wings. Not sure I knew what that meant, but there were several places to look and she find two perfect items at Zola's, a vintage dress shop.

The best was last and she treated me to the best iced latte that I have had in months from Espumoso. She had a guava and cream cheese fried pie looking thing and insisted it was the best dessert she had ever had. It was so good she had to bring one to Dad!

Time was running out to get ready for Halloween and we still had not put up our decorations.

Thankfully the cute boy from across the street, who is smitten by Gillian, came to help. When the plan for spider webs from the Lowes website did not quite work out, we all walked up to the dollar store.

What a flashback or deja vu or whatever! We were on the same route that we walked to Skillerns for the same kind of things! Only we never had a cute boy accompanying us!

Between all of them, we have a giant spider web across the porch, strobe lights strung through it and the pumpkins and we were ready, only no one had their costume on and we had not eaten!

After a quick dinner of Mom's world famous roast, we applied make up and hair paint, made pig tails for Dorothy, and ran to Evan's Halloween party.

We had been invited to several things, but Gillian really does not like to be too far from "home", so the invitation from Evan was just around the corner. Thank goodness we got to start the evening off on a sugar rush before we even started trick or treating!

We hit a couple of blocks around the party and Gillian was ready to come home.

Since I had to clean out last year's candy for them to reuse their trick or treat bags, I knew we did not need to do much trick or treating. Yes, I am on top of keeping this house spotless, except the trick or treat bags. Actually we still had valentine and Easter candy too, which I gave some of away. Well, some of the people who show up at our house are older than teenagers and I thought it would be ok.

The best part for all of them was being back home and passing out candy.

Zach, the smitten pre-teen, decided he would rather stay and pass out candy than go with his buddies trick or treating. I wonder why this was everyone's favorite part of the night.

We passed out all the valentine hearts, Easter bunnies, and Halloween candy bought this year while Zach entertained everyone pretending to be a ninja.

Tomorrow life returns to normal as the Austin troop leaves early and all the homework and chores we ignored today, have to be done.

NO, I do not have pictures of Halloween! Lisa took some and better post them!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One last laugh for the evening

With the new layout for the kitchen, the door is where the refrigerator used to be.

Annabel was the first to notice that I will be able to see her in her bed from the kitchen now.

And she was right.

Just then I was standing at the sink taking my evening meds and when I turned around, there was Annabel waving from her bed, mouthing, "Hi Neighbor".

A jumbled house!

Right now our TV is ressting precariously on the piano bench, which seems extremely wobbly tonight.

The piano is blocking the French doors into the dining room.

The China cabinet is in the middle of the dining room.

The entertainment center seems more wobbly than ever!

So I thought I would sit down and blog.

For once the day started off with no rain and actually seeing the skies lighten made it feel like we were in for a great day.

My day took me out to our other hospital with a presentation on breast and colon cancer and genetics, followed by flu shots.

The crowd was smaller than usual, but the number of treats was the same. At this location they serve pre-packaged goodies, like small packages of oreos, chips, nuts, etc. This was more than most of the crowd could handle and they were very much like kids trick or treating. Each uncovered an even more desirable snack than their seatmates, so many trips were made to dig in the goodie basket.

Of course, this was somewhat distracting to the speakers.

Before this program was over, people began arriving for the flu shots, which again distracted the speaker, as most speak in a "stage whisper".

The snacks were accompanied by a punch waterfall.

One of the women arriving for the flu shots complained loudly that there was no ice in the punch! Did not seem to notice the elegance of the punch waterfall!

I fielded lots of complaints that we did not have the H1N1 vaccine, even though the county has just now gotten the first doses in Dallas and still have not figured out a way to administer them. I guess they recognize that I am a miracle worker!

On the drive home, the girls were eating some chips.

Grace commented that there were LOTS of chips in her bag and wondered how many.

Without blinking an eye, Annabel answered, "23".

You just have to laugh when she comes up with these things.

We stopped at Sam's so I could price t shirts, but was so distracted by a crying, sccreaming boy, I lost my mind instead! I don't understand parents that will allow their child to be in such misery that they have to wail like that. Obviously something is wrong, whether is it real or perceived, something is wrong!

Anyway that made us in a major traffic jam and I was anxious to get out of the chaos and into the house.

I just thought I had seen chaos on the freeway.

There were 5 men in my house with various parts torn up, one supervising, Dad, of course, and 2 dogs barking their head off on the back porch.

Too bad I did not take before pictures so then I could post progress pictures, but hopefully will get some on here sooner or later.

There were two men moving the telephone line, so the girls could have a temporary work station on the computer and then put in the permanent line for when the construction is complete.

The problem with the initial remodel is we keep coming up with more to do! These guys have great ideas and are making it look great. But right now it has only been a week and expected time was two weeks. With all the extras, I hope they are through by Christmas! They are so careful of cleaning up each day and trying to keep the mess to a minimum, but today I had a BAD surprise.

When they had turned off the electricity to move some of the plugs, for some reason the plug for the stove and the small refrigerator did not work again. So for about a week, the little refrigerator has had my crock pot full of chicken and rice soup. That was quite an odor.

So I am trying to clear that out, take out the trash, answer questions about where I want what plug, and do I really want to move the water heater to the attic, and am I sure the stove has worked in the past?

The last one reminds me of when my car would break down and men would ask if it had gas in it.

Yes, I was sure my stove had worked prior to them turning off the electricity!

Each time the dogs hear my voice they bark more. We have trapped them on our tiny back porch and the men working are scared to death of them. So no matter how much they bark, they are not getting out. But they can sure cause plenty of annoyance. Kind of like the little boy in Sam's! Only I could not fix it for them either, since the men moving the plugs were in and outside, so they had to stay trapped.

Meanwhile, next door at Mom and Dad's, Mom has fried chicken and baked potatoes ready. I've had a virus and have not eaten much the last two days, so I was STARVING! Mom hated to start eating without Dad, but he had to supervise the work over here!

My plan is to move the TV into the dining room, the piano into the living room, andd all the pieces that go with each, plus set up the computer for the temporary work station.

So I started moving furniture and then felt I needed a break. Thank goodness Grace has the ability to put things together and while I have been typing, has moved the computer onto the table, put it all back together, and ready to move the DSL.

I just hope I can get out of bed in the morning!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

If I had not fallen asleep by 8:30 each night, I could have updated all the thousands of things that went on this weekend! Now I have to rely on my memory and will know I will leave out the best details.

So I will go backward and hope to remember it all!

The last thing on our agenda for the weekend was looking for Halloween costumes. I needed to check out paint colors and knew a way to drag the girls to Lowes was to promise Halloween costumes at the end at Wal Mart, my least favorite store, especially on a Sunday afternoon!

This is just Annabel's second ever Halloween. Thankfully she had been here a couple of months before last year's Halloween and caught on pretty quickly. She knew she wanted to be an angel and was so cute dancing around in her costume. The concept of going door to door and asking for candy was a little weird though. She asked me tonight what that thing is you say to ask for candy. I realized with my Texas drawl it comes out as one word, trickrtreat. She wanted to know what a trick was and why we say that. Good questions!

For Grace, her first Halloween came within two weeks of coming from China and my first two weeks of being a mom.

Halloween was Jana's favorite holiday and she had us at Target as soon as we came home from China looking for costumes. No waiting until the last week for her!

I was shocked at how much costumes cost and I refused to pay the price, so we opted for a "dress up" kit for Grace instead.

Grace was one of the few adoptees that did not come looking malnourished and instead wore a larger size than I expected. She had a foster mother that was still giving her a bottle of milk with sugar in it for bedtime.

So these "dress up" clothes were really way too small. I didn't know and she sure didn't know!

With no shared language and my lack of skills as a mom, I let her wear them to mom and dad's to meet Uncle George. I still get so tickled thinking about how she looked that day. The back barely met and it was velcro. The shoes were plastic high heels and the skirt was really short.

I called and warned Mom and Dad to be prepared. Thank goodness she could not understand what I said.

I learned a great lesson that year. Buy the costume they want, almost regardless of the price, so you don't waste a ton of money on things they won't wear or won't fit.

That being said, Annabel had decided she wanted to be Scooby Doo, or a dog, or a tiger. The main problem with those, the costumes are for toddlers! None for a size 10-12. I tried to talk her into a white coverall from Lowes and go as a hazmat person. At this point, she has no clue what a hazmat person is, but I thought it was hysterical. From there I talked her into turning it into a dog costume. Thankfully the woman at Lowes talked us into buying sweats and pinning on spots instead. Annabel would have been swallowed by the coverall and hopefully she can wear the sweats again.

BUT when we got to Wal mart she was not so sure about the sweat shirt. She felt it would be too hot, but I insisted she try it on. Then she wore it the rest of the time until Grace suggested she take it off. Then she was COLD! I hate to always be right but I am !!!

Grace on the other hand wanted to be Dorothy from Wizard of Oz. Wish i knew where she came up with that idea as she really does not remember the movie very well. Just that she called it Wizard of the Boz and that her cousin Marcie gave her some great ruby red slippers that are now 5 sizes too small.

It is almost impossible to find Grace a children's costume, so we looked in the adults. I guess I had not realized that most adults want to "enhance" their image through their uniforms, so the necklines are cut VERY low and the hems are VERY short! Even for Dorothy! We finally found just the right costumes!

Now we can't wait for Gillian and Darcey to come! We think Gillian is going to be a cowgirl. Annabel suggested that Darcey could be one of those people who take care of cows, like a cow mother or something like that. She wasn't sure what it was called. I told her I wished she had chosen to be a cow and I would have been a cow mom!

Gillian texted me yesterday that Darcey was getting her ears pierced! How brave is that?

Grace and Annabel enjoyed another stint of pet sitting, only they learned a LOT more this time. Last time was taking care of fish in a koi pond. This time was cats and that included the need to scoop the poop. GROSS! We won't have an indoor cat any time soon.

We thought we had lost one of the cats, but it showed up today. Yesterday we couldn't get the door to lock. I think Moms need a cut off the top on pay. Annabel is thrilled at the prospect of earning more money. She has a tendency to spend it as soon as she gets it and has a LONG list of things to spend it on.

Last night we went to Macy's for the end of the Clinique Bonus week.

Yes, they are too young for makeup even though EVERYONE else in 6th grade wears makeup! But I really wanted to get them on a skin cleaner routine to avoid what I went through as a teenager.

If you know Clinique products, they have a 3 step process. That's all, just 3 steps.

The lady was so sweet and showed them how to do each step, trying it out on them. She even put a little blush and eye make up on them which it was difficult to notice. They felt quite exotic! And mature! Annabel fought against it but it was quite obvious that she wanted to try it, just was terribly unsure of herself about it. Then she beamed with the end result.

For just 3 steps, there must have been a MILLION questions. Once we got home questions about using it in addition to washing your face in the shower, which product comes first (the bottles are numbered), how do you put it on, where are the cotton balls, etc.

Thankfully faces were cleaned, toned, and moisturized appropriately and everyone made it to bed on time.

Saturday morning was our first work day on our community garden.

Two years ago I started looking for a place for Dad to be able to garden. When Mom and Dad bought my grandmother's house, Dad enjoyed the hard work and results of a big garden. He planted gardens in everyone's lot that would let them.

Originally talk was about starting a garden at the girls' school, but it was taking forever to materialize. I have a tendency to be more pragmatic and just want to get something started. I knew if I could get it started, that Dad would make sure that it was taken care of! I never would have dreamed it could take a full 2 years. Or has it been more?

The members of the community garden group would meet regularly discussing potential sites. Soon I realized that the hospital had lots of empty space and began trying to find who would be responsible for giving permission for us to dig.

It took a while, but permission was granted and Saturday was our first day to work.

After Dad took a look at the lot we were going to use, I am sure he wished I had not done him any favors! But of course, Dad was willing to help and was the first one there with his lawn mower loaded and ready to tackle a very soggy, overgrown, fire ant infested, glass and gravel filled lot! This in spite of the fact that his back was killing him from tearing off their old deck and beginning the process of rebuilding. I wish I had that kind of stamina! After we finished, Dad came home and mowed our yards! I took a nap.

Rain is in the forecast again. I wish I had bought gas!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sometimes this is hard!

There are two choices of places to pick up the girls after school.

When it is raining, we go the paved route. The other goes by some barns for the equestrian center and are knee deep in mud.

When I dropped the girls off yesterday, we agreed that I would pick them up on the paved route since rain was expected the rest of the day.

Grace came out promptly.

After waiting 20 minutes, I finally parked and got out to try to find Annabel.

Yes, of course she was waiting at the other side of the building in the muddy area.

My mind just started working, trying to sort out the appropriate way to handle this. It would be different if it was the first time I had to go find her, but it has become more the "regular" for her to come dragging out late.

So the first thought is to leave her there. Teach her a lesson. Of course, that won't work. For one thing, I would have to go back to get her. The other is that would just be mean!

So do I yell at her? Punish her?

None of those seemed the right thing to do. It's not a major issue, but it is pretty inconsiderate. So we drove along in silence for a while and I finally told her she could apologize, as it was the right thing to do.

Her answer, "sorry". That was heartfelt!

About halfway home, she said, "Mom, I'm sorry."

So this morning, I asked her where did she want me to pick them up. It was pouring rain as I dropped them off but the forecast was for the day to clear off. She chose the muddier route.

This afternoon, within 5 minutes of school being out, here came Annabel.

She was grinning from ear to ear that she had made it out and that I was cheering!

But then Grace didn't come out.

About the time I was about to go looking for her, she came out.

Annabel said, "Isn't she so cute? I could just squeeze her! But Mom, you can't tell her I said that."

I have no idea if she was serious, but it was so funny I had to laugh out loud!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Poppa and his girls

Here is a recent photo of Poppa and at least 2 of his girls at the National Night Out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For those who wish to leave a comment

I think I have changed the settings where you only have to click on the word, comment, and can post a message!

Knock down that wall!

No more cooking! Yea!

Or at least I am going to say I can't for a while.

A house built in the 1920's needed a wall between the kitchen and dining room to keep the heat and the "help" out.

Today, I need the wall down so I can see who is at the door, what the girls are doing, and not feel so isolated.

Tonight's activities are clearing out things on both sides of this wall, which was way too much stuff and helping Annabel with homework.

Neither activity have I done very well, especially since I need to unplug and move the computer, but keep needing it to look up antonyms.

Sitting on my kitchen counter is the remains of our dinner. I thought I was being so brilliant putting chicken and rice in the crockpot before I left. Only our days are too long or my crockpot cooks too fast so we ended up with mush!

I will be glad to take a break from cooking.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The weekend ending with bragging!

The last few days have left me so tired that I haven't taken the time to blog, but hope I can remember everything!

Saturday was our Families with Children from China Culture Day.

My first time to attend one of these was right after Darcey came home and Gillian was taking Chinese dance lessons. Somewhere I have the video of this event. Such a proud aunt, who still had no clue that I would ever be a mom.

That culture day was in Austin and the first time I had ever seen the Lion Dance. If you have never seen the Lion or Dragon dance, it is what you think of from Chinese New Year's celebrations with all the people under a long costume and a giant dragon or lion head up front. What you probably have never seen is the orchestration of the performers or what a fantastic production it is, not to mention how loud with drums, cymbals, and other noise makers going.

So this is a picture of a lion dance

It's always terrifying to all the little kids! But adults can appreciate the hard work involved.

Jana was adamant about keeping the connection to China for her girls and I feel it made an impression on me.

For the first time, our culture day did not include lunch and started in the afternoon. But since I have been a member, I have either just returned from China or been about to go, so I have been limited on getting to volunteer much. This year I felt like it was important for us to get right in there.

So instead of lunch, the older girls had a snack stand, raising money for an agency that works with the children left in China. I had been asked to bring some "Chinese" snacks and another parent gave me directions to a Chinese market we had never been to.

That GPS that Mom and Dad gave me for Christmas is SO helpful when I head out to an unknown area! I do not waste nearly as much time being lost now!

This market was HUGE and had so many more things than the others. The only trouble is, it felt like we were almost to Oklahoma before we found it! It was a LONG ways from home.

My girls walk into these markets and their eyes just light up.

It's one of the few places they can go and feel back in China, but also know I will buy just about anything they want!

We bought a LOT of great snacks for the culture day and enough for the girls to have something for lunch!

We had a great time helping set up the events and I was so proud of how my girls jumped in and helped anyone who needed help. The man running the book store was especially appreciative of their help and gave Grace an extra discount on her book.

There were crafts, entertainment, classes, book sale, a wide variety of items from China for sale, but mostly a great time for all the kids from China to get together. We met several girls, close to the same age, who have just relocated here or were new to the activity.

Although it was a long day we had one more stop on Saturday.

My niece Marcie had some of her art on display at a place in the Bishop Arts District. She was also featured on the front page of the local paper. check out her story. Her pictures were definitely the best in the show!

I've been meeting with a potential contractor to do some work at our house. Ever since we moved in, I have wanted this one wall to have a door in it. The big problem is to get to the area to work on, LOTS of stuff will have to be moved out of the way and a new phone jack to get the girls on the internet for their homework.

So clearing out that area was my BIG goal for the weekend and NONE of it got done. Oh well!He didn't show up today and won't be here tomorrow either. I hate the idea of making this huge mess in my kitchen, but know it won't ever be easier!

Warning! More bragging!

By the time we got home Saturday, I was beat!

Annabel has put herself in charge of getting our "medicine", which is echinacea, zinc, and vitamin C. This is Dad's job and so I think she is proud to be charge of it here!

She brought me my vitamins.

I asked her if I had something to drink.

She came back with a glass of tea, then brought sweet and low and lemon! Wow! I am so impressed!

Then Grace had asked me about a million times what book I learned at the book fair. I wasn't sure why, until I got into bed and found she had used her own money to buy me a book about adoption that I really wanted. How incredibly sweet is that?

God has been so good to me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A WHOLE lot of bragging!

Warning! This post contains considerable bragging!

Somehow it doesn't seem like bragging since I do not feel I can take credit for my daughters' behavior! I mean a lot of their personality was set by the time they became my daughters.

So here goes:

Yesterday morning as I dropped the girls off at school, the wind was very high. There was a man pushing a container, appeared to be of trash, across the parking lot. A big gust took a bunch of the papers and sent them airborne.

When Annabel gets out of the car, I always worry that the weight of her backpack, her lunch, flute, and gym clothes, could easily topple her over. Yesterday was no exception. She looks like a mountain climber packed for the duration of the trip across Mt. Everest!

But when the papers blew by her, she ran after them, stomping them with her big old saddle oxfords, until she caught all she could. She managed to bend down, without falling over, retrieve them and carry them back to the man who had lost them.

I have to say I was so proud of her. No one asked her to do it and she just immediatley went into action to help.

Our Sunday school teachers always taught that a true test of your character is how you will act even when no one is looking. She did not know anyone was looking, but willing to help out.

Now bragging on Grace.

One night this week we were playing Wii Fit. I am bound and determined to start some sort of exercise to get these pounds off!

I struggle with everyone of the activities and am lucky to score any points. Annabel is just like me and we both go to extremes trying to hit the ball, catch the hula hoop, or whatever is required.

Grace on the other hand, has all the top scores, on all the activities. Whereas Annabel and I will almost break our backs trying to catch the ball (pretend one) they are throwing, Grace barely moves and scores a perfect score!

Then Annabel got out her flute to try a new song, Jingle Bells. I will just have to record it so you can hear. Let's just say it is still a struggle for her.

Grace picks it up, has Annabel show her a few notes, and she plays it beautifully, like she has been under the private tutelage of James Galway! Then she moves onto the piano and starts picking out church songs, with no music, just from memory.

OK, bragging over for now.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's a holiday!

Today was Christopher Columbus Day. What an odd day for a holiday! Of course if you work at a hospital it is not, but the kids were out of school. Personally I would much rather see them get Veterans Day off and do service projects, but not complaining about a day off today! Maybe they think there are too many holidays in November any way?

Oprah was at the State Fair today, which was where I intended for us to go until I heard that. When the Jonas Brothers were there a couple of years ago, I really toyed with the idea of taking Grace out of school and going to hear their concert. When I saw how crazy the crowd was, I was SO thankful that I did not. I used to not think I minded crowds, but the logistics of finding a place to park, walking miles, and then possibly not seeing as much as you can on TV does not seem like it is worth it.

When I heard that people had lined up at the fair before sunrise, I knew I had made the right decision not to go. It has been so chilly and damp and everyone seems just on the verge of getting sick, I did not want to risk it for that reason as well.

We had not seen the movie, "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs". So we made it to NorthPark for the first showing for the cheapest price. That movie was so funny! There was enough that the parents got to keep it interesting. The girls LOVED it. I expected there to be plenty of room and we did get there as early as usual. I mean it was not the weekend it opened and it was a MOnday morning. That theater was packed! We all had the same brilliant idea.

I had told the girls they could take some of their money since everyone is having HUGE sales, but when we got through with the movie and checked in with Mom and Dad found out the person hired to replace some plugs was already at our house.

One of our group wanted to pout, but she got over that pretty quickly. Yea!

It will be so nice to plug things in without getting sparks coming out of the plug. Dad had replaced almost all of the plugs while redoing this house, but some had remained hidden or whatever, so they are all ready to go.

BUT the best part was this man understands my desire to tear out a wall.

Dad thinks my whole feng shui problem with the wall between the breakfast room and the dining room is goofy, but my kitchen is the last room of the house. If the girls are outside or even in the living room, I feel too far away. And our kitchen isn't big enough to just hang around in. Besides, the breakfast room has been overtaken with computers and homework,

AND that home tour has had my imagination in overdrive! Everyone has taken out the walls from the front door to the kitchen. It just flows better and my feng shui is not blocked.

So Mauro is supposed to come back tomorrow with his helper and give me a bid. This would allow for a built in desk and counter top extension and a place to put the computer and more storage.

Since Mom is still sick, I made more soup!

This time I used a recipe my friend Holly had sent. It was especially delicious! It was a pound of ground beef, a chopped up onion cooked together, then add a can of garbanzo (or gazebo if you are mom) beans, a can of chili beans, a can of kidney beans, and a can of corn. Her recipe called for a can of green chilis and a can of tomoatoes so I put a can of rotel in. Then you add a packet of ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning. It was delicious! I had bought the mild rotel tomatoes, so I added just a little bit of red pepper flakes. Dad thinks he got all of them.

Mom makes a soup where you put rice and fritos in your bowl before adding the soup, which sounded good for this one. Plus you can add cheese on top.

Now the girls know what they are taking for lunch tomorrow and there might be enough left to drop off for one of our older church members. I really liked it because of the high protein content which we all need.

Being off for the day kept me from my work email. Sometimes I wish I could not check it but just paranoid enough that I always do. Glad I did since I am supposed to be at a breakfast meeting with our president in the morning at 7:30. Glad I had taken in dinner to help bribe DAd to take the girls to school.

Fun in Oak Cliff

What a great weekend! Now if you live in Dallas you know the weather did not help and we did not have the sunny skies we normally do at this time of year, but overall, it was really a great weekend.

Saturday we started off getting the dogs their medicine, picked up our tickets for the Oak Cliff home tour, and then on to the Bishop Arts District. There were so many great things happening at once in Oak Cliff that it was hard to fit it all in, but we tried.

The Bishop Arts District has seen a lot of changes in my lifetime. I am not sure I remember it from its original heyday, but do remember when there was a bowling alley and Mom and Dad would go bowling with all of us in tow. This weekend it was a hubbub of activity with the Urban Bazaar.

It seems like forever since we went shopping, especially just to see pretty things, so it was fun to look at some of the Bishop Arts stores. We found some body spray at Shambhala on sale for the girls to have after gym, since there is not time for showers. If you are not familiar with Shambhala, you should check it out. Here is their link .

We also wanted to check out Boomstick Comics. When the girls had spent the morning with Marcie, she took them there for a soda. They had the Ramune Sodas, which is something we had discovered in China and the Asian markets. They are really good and each bottle has a marble in the top. You can read about them here .

For next Saturday's Culture Day, I volunteered to bring some Chinese snacks for the older girls to sell to raise money for the Phillip Hayden Foundation. I hope some of these links work! . I was hoping the owner would sell me some of this beverages and other Chinese snacks at cost, so we could actually have a chance to make a profit. There the girls each got a REAL Coke Cola (in Annabel's language) and some Pop Rocks!

From there we ran into Marcie and Drew having breakfast tacos for lunch at El Jordan. It seemed like such a good idea, we joined them. Grace and I had breakfast tacos, but Annabel decided on pancakes. Sometimes I think she orders the first thing I suggest. But we were all remarking on how great their hot sauce is and Annabel didn't have anything to put it on, so she made something new, pancakes with syrup and hot sauce! She insisted that it was delicious! YUCK!

The main problem with the Oak Cliff home tour is you return to your house sure that you need to start knocking out walls, landscaping, and tearing out your kitchen. It is great seeing these homes redone and enjoyed!

We were supposed to meet some of the other families with children from China for dinner to drop off our donation for the culture day at the Purple Cow. We actually got there a few minutes early and while I tried to find something to donate for culture day, the girls went into Justice, where they had EVERYTHING 40% off! When I went to get the girls I asked if they had found anything good. Annabel took me to some crazy toy she wants for Christmas. Instead I suggested they find something new to wear to church. It does help wearing a uniform during the week as it cuts down on the need for clothes.

After much discussion we found really cute longer sweaters, tanks, and leggings for each. I need to get a camera so I can post their pictures!

We always enjoying meeting our friends that we have met with FCC (families with children from China). After dinner we followed on to the I Heart Yogurt store. It is supposed to be the shape of a heart, but not sure if I can put one in here! If you haven't tried one of these places, you get a BIG cup and then put in as much yogurt from 8 different flavors as you want. Then they have a huge variety of toppings, fruit, candy, nuts. At the end they weigh it for the price. It was great!

This morning when the alarm went off this morning, I wasn't sure if I could make it to church. I started the coffee looking for something that would give me that boost I needed. About that time Dad called and said that Mom was really sick again and had a hard night. Grace was also not feeling well, so we both stayed home with Mom during church. I fixed some lunch and afterward the girls worked on their homework.

This afternoon I had a meeting for our new community garden. I am so excited about the prospects and anxious to get started.

The girls have tomorrow off for Columbus Day and I am taking the day off too. I thought we would go to the fair, but with Oprah being there, I expect the crowds will be crazy! Annabel wants to go to the movies. As rainy and chilly as it has been, a movie does sound nice. We will see.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Homemade Hobo Dancing

Annabel jumped in the car this afternoon announcing that she was hungry.

From that came a conversation about what was for dinner, which I had not really even given any thought to!

Food stayed the primary topic of our conversation all the way home.

Next Saturday is our Families with Children from China Culture Day. It is a great opportunity for families to enjoy some education and fun, entertainment and shopping with everything focused around China.

Anyway, I was asked to get some Chinese snacks for the older girls to sell at a snack stand to raise money for children still in China.

So, since Annabel was on the subject of food, I asked what snacks she liked best from China.

Her first answer was popcorn.

I have only been to China twice, but did not notice any popcorn. I really thought it was more of an American invention.

Popcorn? Oh yes, she had it when she went to the movie theaters in China.

Really? Just trying to think of how you managed to go to movie theaters in China.

OK, what other snacks did you like in China?

Rice Krispies.

She was sure that China had also invented Rice Krispies.

The chance of getting some help on selecting snacks seemed shot when she went on to tell me what she would really wanted to do tonight - eat popcorn, drink coke cola, eat snacks, and watch movies of something I did not really understand.

So she decided she wanted to watch movies of homemade hobo dancing. Yea, I don't know what it is either.

When we got home, I popped popcorn, actually in a pan and not the microwave! Delicious!

Mom came over and while we tried to talk, Grace wanted us to see what they had learned in PE, a routine that goes with the Michael Jackson song, "Thriller".

All of a sudden, Annabel turned around in her chair with her big bowl of popcorn and announced she was getting to do what she wanted - eat popcorn and watch homemade hobo dancing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dim Sum for a celebration

First, I don't care where you are or who are you or how old you are, if you have not gotten a flu shot, please get it tomorrow. If you have never had a pneumonia shot, please talk to your doctor. If you have had a pneumonia shot and it has been more than 5 years ago, talk to your doctor about another one. Thank you!

When I sat down tonight, pulled the laptop on my lap and started to try to catch up on my blog, it obviously made me a magnet!

Grace brought a paper with answers of what impacted the development of the west in the mid 1800's. She needed a LOT of help on this. Dad thinks their homework is too hard for him now!

As soon as I got started with Grace, Annabel brought her flute and insists that it won't play D. So I move the laptop, take the flute, while trying to read Grace's answers. Is that multi tasking or what?

Yesterday afternoon on the way home from work Grace told me she is writing an essay on what democracy means to her. Annabel asked a few questions and suddenly I hear Grace explaining the difference of a democracy and a monarchy. And she did a great job of it!

I realize that I am not having as much time to write my blog because of the amount of homework the girls have. Before we started this school that was a recurring theme I heard, was the amount of homework was HUGE. They were not exaggerating. BUT the girls do not seem to mind. They accept it. But the type of homework they are doing requires help. I understand why this school can accomplish so much because the students and parents are required to help in the learning.

Tonight I dropped them off at the hospital for the National Night Out celebration and ran home, too tired to enjoy it. Now I did not just drop them off for an event helter skelter. Dad was volunteering at the event and that motivated them to go. They came home with bags of GREAT STUFF! Actually one thing was a new pot holder. Yea! But it did make dinner and homework go much later.

Because we had done so little for Mid Autumn Harvest Moon Festival, I decided we needed to go to a NICE Chinese restaurant for dim sum. I had always heard of Maxim's in Richardson and we headed there after church.

This was my first experience with dim sum and did not know how it worked. I was sure the waiter spoke English when we ordered drinks, but the explanation was definitely Chinese.

Actually I thought dim sum meant "small bowls" but Wikipedia says it means "touch the heart".

The food is placed on carts in small metal tins that stack up with the same item, in small servings, and a lid on top. Most dishes are steamed so the tins have holes in them. Each cart has a lot of these stacks of different dishes. As they come around they will show you what is on their cart and you decide if you want it or not.

The picture above was one of the girls' FAVORITES! Yes, that is chicken feet. Grace says they have lots of bones in them. I don't think I will ever know because I don't see me trying them any time soon.

There were so many of their favorites that our table was soon covered with small tins containing a variety of dumplings, ribs, and buns. About the time that Annabel thought she was full another cart came with more favorites. Some things were so good they had to have a second serving.

The one drawback is that each little tin is priced separately. Wow! It was not cheap. This week we are all taking lunch to offset that cost! But I am glad we got to celebrate!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Mid Autumn Moon Festival!

Today is Mid Autumn Moon Festival.

This is one of the most important celebrations in China. it is all about family and the most traditional food involved is the moon cake. After Jana adopted Darcey, I remember her buying moon cakes for us the first year. They are absolutely beautiful small round with lots of delicate designs and when you cut into them, they look somewhat like a pecan pie. BUT they are made of lotus seed paste and sometimes have a boiled egg in the middle or have red bean paste in the middle.

This is why I am not a good mother to Chinese daughters because I did not like any of the choices of flavors of moon cakes.

They are about $25 for a box of 6 and only available in the Chinese markets or from the internet.

I decided I would make my own.

we started the day at Calloways for the pumpkin celebratoin and a place for me to spend too much money on more plants that I hoped Dad would decide to help me plant.

From there we spent the Mid Autumn Festival at Costoc, of course! Maybe we can make it a tradition!

The next stop was for the traditional Mid Autumn Festival meal of Braum's hamburgers. At least they were round like the full moon!

After we got home, we tackled our dirty house. Probably to celebrate the festival we should have already done that! While the girls started their homework, I started planting my new plants. Thankfully Dad did take pity on me and made short order of them since it started to rain.

The girls are in charge of feeding a friend's fish while he is out of town, so I thought we should ride our bikes for a little exercise and then stop at the National Night Out for our neighborhood.

We can fit a lot into a day!

On our way back from feeding the fish and before we made it to the National Night Out, we passed a new salon that had opened in the neighborhood. OK, this probably sounds crazy, but I decided I had to have my eyebrows waxed right then and there. So after she got started I thought to ask if they took credit cards. See I never go without my debit card with my cell phone. But this time it was of no use. They did take debit or credit.

I asked the girls if they could ride to our house, get my money, and come back. These are the same streets my cousin and I rode and I thought it would be ok.

BUT my mother has become the grandmother and when they got to her house, she decided this was not a good idea. I think it is easier to let your kids ride their bikes in the neighborhood, than it is your grandkids!!!

Dad got called in ensure that everyone was safe, money delivered, and back home again. In between we did stop by the National Night Out and met some of our neighbors.

The rain started again so Grace went home with Dad and Annabel and I rode our bikes home. Thank goodness Mom had made soup which was just right for the festival dinner!

So back to the Moon Cakes.

I meant to buy pie crust and I could just see me rolling it out and cutting it into circles and filling them with peach pie filling or strawberry jelly. Only I forgot to buy pie crust at Costco and I don't have enough flour or whatever it takes to make a pie crust, so while at Braum's I decided the biscuits on sale would work just as well.

Tonight while the girls finished up their homework I went to work on my moon cakes.

I rolled out the biscuits, but it was not nearly as romantic as the pie crust vision in my mind. And the peaches were quite large, so I could either cut them up or use just one slice per moon cake. It was after 7:00 on a Saturday night, so one slice of peach was just the ticket.

I wasn't sure if they were going to work, but I put a little melted butter on the top and covered them with cinnamon and sugar.

The girls decided they liked these moon cakes! I have to admit they tasted a lot like a biscuit with peach jelly in them, but for traditions sake, I think they worked!!