Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Pool is Open!!!

Much to the kids' delight, we've finally opened our pool and it is ready for swimmin' fun!

Elise in her pink shades, new swim vest and pink sparkly flip flops. Stylin' as usual.

Elise is just a fish when it comes to water. She has no fear. She's trying to make waves with the boogie board.

And Carson is just a spaz in the water! He had a friend with him and they certainly burned some energy in the pool.

After supervising the kiddos in the pool, I decided to tackle the horror behind this door. This is what you see when you enter my house. I was inspired by my recent (and only) trip to IKEA. Who knew the nearest store is the one I stopped at...4 hours from my house! I thought surely there would be one in St. Louis, but no such luck. I had to resort to Target for some organizing supplies.

This is the nightmare that lurks in my front closet. Drives me nuts!

And this is what it now looks like. We'll see how long it lasts, but I'm a happy camper to have it cleaned out and organized. We ended up with a huge bag of trash and a huge bag to go to Goodwill.

Watch out, I'm in a mood to pitch and organize. Wonder how much more I can get done before this mood leaves for a while!

One lost doggie

Our attempts at finding Trixie's family aren't going so well. We've left a description of her with all the vets in town, all the shelters, animal control. We keep checking the lost board at our local pet stores and newspapers. We've posted an ad on No luck. :(

Someone has to be missing this beautiful and sweet natured dog.

Mollie wasn't too happy about Trixie's appearance last weekend, but they've become quick buddies. While it looks like they are in fightin' mode, they are really just playing. All of our dogs have always played this way and they end up covered in each other's slobber in the end (gross!)

And lest you think Trixie has an upper hand because of her size, Mollie's does her share of instigating and keeps running back to her own little hideouts. Mollie would torment Sneakers in her desire to play when we first brought Mollie home.

Trixie is quickly becoming a member of our family. I don't know how long to hold out hope that her orginial family might show up and claim her. If we don't hear anything by next weekend (she'd have been running loose for 3 weeks at that point), we'll get her to the vet to start the official process of making her ours (registered in our county, microchip, vacinations, etc.)

Lots of people have speculated on what might have happened. We live in a college town and some folks wonder if she was dumped by college students. I truly believe she was a family dog, not a college kid dog. She's too good with kids to not have had some exposure to them. Others have heard stories of people in foreclosure having to dump family dogs. That might make more sense. Our subdivision is off the beaten path, nice houses, lots of dogs, big yards. Maybe someone thought a family in our subdivision would be more likely to take her in.

We're all quickly falling in love with this dog. I would never deny her the opportunity to go back with a family who is missing her, but as time goes on, I would also love to her stay with our family.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There once was a time...

...when I really enjoyed travelling for work.

I've decided those days are long over.

I had a meeting in Chicago today. The drive up and back took longer than the meeting itself (which, frankly, was a waste of time.)

But, here's the biggest highlight of the trip:

I got to see my #1 year old nephew. I was a bit curious about the empty baby pool in their living room, but it serves as his "lounge" for when he watches Veggie Tales. Is he not the cutest kid?!?

Here are a few other highlights:

  • I drove by my first post-college apartment and favorite Dairy Queen (back in the days when I could visit DQ without ever thinking about the calories or having any regrets!)

  • The meeting was held very near the college I attended so it was fun being back in my old stompin' ground.

  • I drove by our favorite college liquor store (we had to sign a pledge in college saying we wouldn't drink, so I have to be discrete about admitting to this!)

  • I visited my first ever IKEA! After getting headed in the right direction to head home, I got off the highway to grab a bite to eat and discovered a huge IKEA store. Figured I'd just run in and experience it firsthand. HOLY.COW! Loved it! I'll be keeping that store in mind next time we re-do a room!

  • Discovered that it SUCKS to have a driver's side window that won't go do down when having to stop at a million toll booths in the Chicago area (with Chicago drivers being oh-so-patient behind you).

  • I was glad to hear that Elise's big worry about me being gone was who would do her hair! :)

  • It was wonderful sleeping somewhere knowing that I could sleep through the night without a kid waking me up.

  • It was fun spending some time with my sister-in-law without our husbands around. She's such a great and energetic mom.

  • I was french kissed by my brother's dog (not willingly, I'll add!)

  • It was shocker to realize the last time I'd changed cloth diapers was on the above mentioned brother.

  • I rented a book on tape so I actually feel like I accomplished "reading" a book during the incredible drive across Illinois.

  • I saw more dead deer than I've seen in a few years.

Now that I'm home, I'll get to cleaning up the mess this crew made of the house while Mom was gone. Sighhhh....

And...on the Trixie front (dog) one has claimed her yet. It's looking more and more like she might become a permanent member of our family. Elise has lengthened her name to Trixie-Pixie. My brother thinks the whole Trixie name sounds like a porn star even after I reminded him that 9 year old boys without knowledge of porn stars came up with the name (I think he clearly has unresolved issues).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Thanks

Thank you to all the men and women who have served to keep our country free. These are the men in our family who have served in the military (or in Ralph's case, still serving!)

My Dad!

My brother-in-law Shawn.

My nephew Ralph.

We live in a great country and we are grateful for the years and hard work you dedicated to keep this country great.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Elise's Birthday Party

Elise's birthday party was today. Oh My Gosh, it was heavenly NOT having the party at our house! Elise decided to have a gymnastics party at our local YMCA. She had such a good time!

I still have a hard time believing this little girl is my baby, she is growing up so quickly.

The kiddos started by having the full run of the gymnastics room. They danced, bounced, jumped, balanced, swung and hung to their hearts content.

We discovered this little girl (bright pink shirt) lives just down the road from us. She also attends kingergarten in Elise's school and they have gotten to know each other in the after school program. Her mother is Asian (Chinese) and her father is caucasion. She said their daughter is often mistaken for being adopted when she's out with her dad. :)
Elise loves, loves, loves pepperoni pizza so instead of cake and ice cream, we served cake and pizza! A little indigestion, anyone?!?

It was a great party (very low key for me!). Elise had a great time and she truly has some wonderful little friends.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

5 years ago (a day early)

I'm posting this a day early because tomorrow is Elise's b-day party and I don't want this day to pass in the craziness.

On May 25, 2003 (5 years ago!), Elise was placed in my arms in a hot, stuffy hotel hallway in China. Perry and Carson weren't able to travel to China so it was myself and Aunt Carol who first met Elise. Many adoptive families celebrate Gotcha Day, but we decided to celebrate Family Day instead and celebrate on the day the whole family was united at the airport when we returned to the US.

SARS was in full force 5 years ago and our travel plans changed several times before we actually landed in China. It was a tense time to be in China.

Here's an e-mail I sent from China 5 years ago:

We have officially adopted Elise in the People’s Republic of China!!! Yeah!!!

We’ve had a little bit of a rough time. Elise is definitely grieving and doesn’t really like me too much. That’s pretty typical of the little girls in our group. Some don’t want anything to do with one parent.

Elise was crying when we met her at 11:00 am and didn’t stop for about 4 hours. It was a rough day. I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast (lunch was served RIGHT after we got the babies and I spent the entire time walkingher). The air conditioning is still off, so we were both pretty drenched insweat by the time she zonked out! She refused any food or bottles and finallywore herself out and took a 15 minute nap. She did a little better once she woke up from that short nap. The hotel has supplied us with a stroller and we discovered she really likes that (she doesn’t have to look at us in it!) (The air was off because of SARS and it was HOT!)

She also HATES the elevator, which is a bummer because we are on the 17th floor!

She did finally take a bottle last night and drained it! Perry and Carson called last night and it was so good to talk to both of them!!! Elise was taking the bottle at the time, so she got to hear her daddy and big brother over the telephone.

She slept from 8pm until 7:30am! She woke up at 3:30 for a bottle, but went right back to sleep. Her sleep was a bit restless at first. When she first went down, I’d walk by her crib and see that she’d be laying there with her eyes open just looking around, then she’d fall back to sleep. She wasn’t too thrilled to wake up the morning and discover that Carol and I were still here! She’s been pretty fussy today, but is taking a nap at the moment, so that should help.

One of the little girls in our group has pneumonia and they had to visit the local hospital twice overnight. The hospital wanted to keep her there, but mom said no. She said it was filthy and they even saw a rat! Grace seems to be doing a bit better today, but keep her and her mom, Carol, in your prayers. (remember, we were in China during SARS so this was especially frightening news!)

The other little girls are all grieving in their own ways, some are fussy (although I think Elise is the fussiest!), some are just withdrawn, others are clinging for dear life to their new mommies.

We completed some more adoption paperwork this morning and finalized the adoption in China. I believe we also started the process for her visa…it’s hard to tell what you are doing because no one speaks English, you are just told to go here or there.

Our facilitator, XiXi, is wonderful!!! She’s an adoptive mom herself and knows so much about the process and what is important to adoptive parents. She made sure we all got a Chinese newspaper today and has been so helpful as the babies adjust to their new parents. Elise loves being around XiXi when she’s talkingChinese!

We are off to do some shopping this afternoon. Should be interesting!!! We should be quite the spectacle! Carol and another member of our group ran to the market yesterday to pick up baby supplies and she said they caused quite a stir. Folks kept coming over to see what they had in their cart!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from those first days.

This is Elise after she'd cried for HOURS and wiped herself out!

And this is one of the first smiles we saw. She loved this little walker (especially when it was turned to face AWAY from me those first few days!)

Elise, you are such an amazing little girl and we are so blessed to be your parents. We love you, Princess!!!!

Mom, can we keep her?!?

In the past week, my son found and helped an injured bird, took in a box turtle that a friend found and now take a look at what followed him and some friends back to our house....

She's a beautiful dog that has apparently been roaming the neighborhood for the past 4-5 days. Some neighbors behind us have been feeding her and would love to take her in but it's not a good time for them right now.

She has clearly been someone's pet. She's well behaved, very good around children and other dogs. She has a collar with a charm, but no registration tag or contact info.

We took her to a vet in town to see if she had a chip but nothing. The kids, of course, think she's now ours. It's a little too soon for me, but I hate to turn this beautiful dog into a shelter. We're keeping her in our yard for the weekend so she stays safe. We'll post signs up around town and see if anyone comes forward to claim her.

In the meantime, we're calling her Trixie.

Monday, May 19, 2008


We have new neighbors! Our cranky neighbors finally sold their house and moved away. See ya!

And in moved a really nice young couple. They are horse lovers and this beautiful critter showed up this weekend. They have 6 acres and our house looks directly onto their pasture. We were a little nervous about WHAT might be moving into the pasture. The cranky neighbors had cows (not quite legally, however!). We had contacted the county and learned that only recreational animals were allowed...and a limit of 2 animals (old cranky farmer dude had up to 5 cows and the flies were a MAJOR problem).

I can live with this guy with out my front window. There is one more horse coming. We've all taken turns just sitting on the front porch, relaxing while watching this gorgeous animal.

Our neighbor on the other side works with a local animal shelter and often has a foster dog at their house. She's a wonderful neighbor and I've really enjoyed getting to know her over the few years we've been neighbors. They were going out for the evening, so her current foster, Wrigley, came to spend a few hours with us tonight.

Elise and Mollie showed her all around our yard.

Mollie kept a close eye on her new friend!

At one point, they all ended up in the corner where we buried Sneakers. Elise just stopped and paused for a few minutes. We all still miss Sneakers so much. We never used to do much in that corner of the yard, but we find ourselves down there much more often these days. We typically find Molly laying down there. (OK, we have also found her digging around down there...that's a little too Stephen King for me!)

These pictures totally cracked me up....



And I just love the imp look on Elise's face in this pic.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

True to form

Carson's cub scout graduation was today. Put my kid in any setting in nature and he's sure to find some living, breathing creature that needs help. Sure 'nuf, he found this injured bird. What I didn't get was a picture of the group of younger boys following him around. It became quite a mission to save the bird and release him back into the wild.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Who needs big expensive toys when you have a box and Dad's lawnmower?!?

Carson managed to fold himself completely to fit inside of this box (he's inside the box, you just can't see him.)

And it also becomes a fairly comfy tv-watching "chair."

Elise caught a ride on the lawnmower with Dad. At the end of mowing, he lets her steer all around the yard. Yes, only Elise can get away with mowing the yard while wearing a dress.

I took the ones of Elise with my 300mm lens (from way up on the deck), my 28-80mm doesn't seem to be focusing properly :( Anyone have any ideas?!?

Friday, May 16, 2008


By now, everyone has heard of the earthquake in China. Words cannot express how saddened we are by the devastation.

Here are a few resources we've found that may be of interest:

NPR news blog:

Map of Orphanages affected (Elise's orphanage is located to the southeast of the area, outside of the areas affected):

Half the Sky:

We also heard from a friend of ours who returned to China on Sunday. He is from Sichuan. His family is safe but he mentions that many people are now homeless and/or have lost loved ones. Such a terrible tradegy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Princess Elise!

My baby turns 6 years old today! Happy birthday sweatheart!

She celebrated last weekend with my family. She opened presents from us this morning, along with the presents that had arrived in the mail. She's bringing treats in to share with her class friends today. And her friend birthday party is next week so she's really streeetttcccching out the celebration! :)

Her favorite gift so far? Daddy got her a gift certificate to have her nails done again! :)

We love you, Elise, and are so blessed to be your parents!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and future moms out there. Perry and I are both blessed to have wonderful moms so Happy Mother's Day to both of our moms.

Mother's Day used to be a very difficult day for me back before we had kids (but wanted kids). So, those of you on that long road to motherhood, celebrate your strength in enduring the long journey.

So how are we celebrating? We've all been feel under the weather for about 2 weeks and the weather is just nasty today, so we're skipping church and spending some much needed family time inside. We'll head over to my Mom's to for a Mother's Day/April/May birthday combo celebration (it hasn't quite dawned on Elise that SHE will be receiving gifts today).

My wonderful hubby got me this romantic gift! Before you rag on him, this is what I asked him to get for me :) We have a BIG yard with 6 acres of woods behind us and a 5 acre horse pasture in front of us so bugs can be an annoying problem. I love my new bug zapper, honey! Maybe we'll enjoy a few more romantic evenings outside without me slapping myself silly to get the bugs away.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Girly Girl

Let me start this post by saying that Elise told me that I could post the pictures on the blog. The kids specify nowadays when I take a picture if it's a picture allowed on the blog or not. Gotta love these days of technology. :)

Elise's 6th birthday is this week. She's ALL GIRL. A total girly-girl. Which just amazes me since I'm so NOT a girly-girl.

I took her to have her nails done today.

Now I have to stop and confess something here. I've had a few manicures and pedicures over the years. I've always had them done at spa-like places (some as gifts, some as my treat to myself). I enjoy them, don't get me wrong. But they've always cost $50+ for one or the other. Just not something I'm willing to do very often (come on, they are toes!)

My secretary enlightened me this week. There are nail places (not spas) that do only nails for very reasonable costs! Who knew?!? I feel like I'm just crawling out from under the rocsk! One such place is right next to my favorite grocery store (duh!).

So, I decided to venture into this world and took Elise today to have her nails done. My friend Sandra had taken her daughter recently and that got me thinking that Elise might like the experience.


Another little girl came in right after us, so this must be a regular market. Elise picked out the colors and the lady just did the flowers (which Elise loves).

Why do I think we'll be stopping at this joint more often?!?

And my girly-girl has purdy nails for her birthday this week (certainly prettier than I could have done at home!)