Thursday, April 30, 2009


I'm ending the week with these quotes about kindness. The world would be much better place if we could all remember to be kind to one another.

The kindest word in all the world is the unkind word, unsaid.
~Author Unknown

Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances.

~Saint Vincent de Paul

The best way to knock the chip off your neighbor's shoulder is to pat him on the back.

~Author Unknown

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.

~Og Mandino

One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him.

~Booker T. Washington

Love someone who doesn't deserve it.

~Author Unknown

Here's to practicing kindness!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Conversations with Elise and Kissing Boys

For the last few months, Elise REFUSES to kiss anyone on the lips. No one. And don't try it 'cuz you risk losing all kissing privileges. She'll literally cover her lips with her hands if she thinks you are going to try and trick her.

I don't know what the deal is with that, but as long as I can cover the rest of her face with kisses, I'm OK with avoiding the lips.

So, we had this conversation the other day:

Me (joking around): Are you ever going to kiss a boy on the lips?

Elise: Maybe when I get married.

Me: OK! That sounds perfect! Your daddy will like that answer!

Elise (giving it some more thought): Or maybe when I'm in college.

I guess that'd be OK, just don't stop giving your momma lovin' along the way. I really need it! Lots of it on a daily basis, please.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu, SARS, Pandemic

Remember SARS? SARS hit 6 years ago, exactly this time of year. I remember because I had this picture of a beautiful little girl waiting for me half a world away and the panic surrounding SARS was threatening my ability to go get her. Here are some of my thoughts from that time:

  • Our pediatrician advised us not to travel. To me, that was like telling a woman in labor to NOT go to the hospital.
  • I remember our yahoo group tracking the disease by province in China and watching it creep closer and closer to our daughters.
  • I remember having to add surgical masks to our packing list.
  • I remember landing in China and feeling unsure what to do or how to wear the goofy looking mask.
  • We had to make some last minute flight changes to get into China before the country closed down to international adoption. We watched some families have to wait an extra three heartbreaking months to meet their daughter.
  • I remember seeing all types of masks in China, including recycled bras.
  • No one in our group would admit to not feeling well for fear of being suspected of having SARS.
  • The hotel in Nanchang had sent most of their staff home so many services weren't available. The a/c was off and there were no screens in the open windows (we were on the 14th floor, I think!).
  • We couldn't do any sightseeing because of SARS. (That was the most disappointing aspect.)
  • Our pediatrician wouldn't see us until we'd be sequestered for 3 weeks upon our return to the states.
  • And, the news cameras that met us at the airport. Not to report on the wonderful world of adoption, but on the brave families that faced SARS (yes, that's how it was reported). Nothing quite as humbling as arriving home after a 14 hour overseas flight, a sleepless night in LA, another flight to St. Louis that involved a child puking through all the remaining clean clothes and having said child TERRIFIED at all the people at the airport to meet her (including this giant of a man calling himself Dad and another little boy who was suddenly clinging just as tightly to HER new mom!) Add to that scene having a TV camera crew stick a camera in your face and want to conduct an interview. Proud moment, indeed. I looked and sounded idiotic. :)

SARS definitely affected our trip and left a lasting impression. And, as quickly as it burst into the news, it slowly died down and went away. Yes, people got sick and some people died. Yes, the precautions help prevent many others didn't became ill. But there was a great deal of unnecessary panic.

So, the newest scare is Swine Flu. One of my co-workers was sent in to be tested for Swine Flu today. I do hope she's feeling better, but I doubt it's swine flu.

I trust that common sense prevails over hysteria this time around.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hair, Hair....Everywhere!

Elise loves having long hair...

Loves, loves, loves having long hair...

And her hair is just BEE-YOOO-TE-FUL! I just love it. Love running my fingers through it. Love looking at the various brown and reddish highlights. Just love it.

But about once a year, she gets tired of the morning struggles to de-tangle her hair. And, I think all of her sweat exits her body through her head, so it ends up a sweaty mess in hot weather. So, she'll decide suddenly to get it cut. Folks have tried to talk her into growing it to the required length for Locks of Love, but she has no interest in going through a summer with long hair. Maybe when she's older.

She'll tell the hairdresser EXACTLY how short she wants it and watches intently as it is cut. She never has any regrets.

And then she spends the next few days just flipping her new, shorter hair this way and that...

I think she likes her new 'do! :)

Good morning...

In a very unusual twist, I was the first one up and around this morning (hubs is an early morning person, I'm not!)

When I headed to the kitchen for my morning caffiene, I found this comic laying on the counter (you may need to double click on it to read it)! As moms, how many times have you found yourself in a similar situation! You try and teach your kids some respect and rules and it comes back to bite you in the arse! :)

And I got to enjoy a wonderful sunrise. We have the promise of a beautiful day ahead! Our church is doing a series called 30 Days to Live and I was able to read through the daily journal while watching the sunrise and reflecting on how I might live my differently if I knew I only had 30 days to live. What a terrific start to the weekend.
Here's sending thoughts of beautiful weather and meaningful family time your way for the weekend.....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just a little vent...

The hubs and I have started a 10 pound challenge. First one go lose 10 pounds and keep them off for a week wins. The loser serves as the chore slave to the winner (get your minds out of the gutter, the kids are involved with this...they are our "trainers"!)

Two days in and my husband has lost 3 pounds! What is it with men that all they have to do is THINK about losing weight and it comes off?!? Are you kidding me?!?

I've gained 5 pounds just in the 2 months that my knee has been out of commission. I tried to go for a short (ended up being VERY 10 feet short) run last night and my knee has ached all day long again.


I ~don't~ want to be the chore slave and have to clean the garage!

Even worse, I'd really like to lose these pesky 10 pounds!

I warned him that IF he does win, he'd be best to wait until a non-PMS week to announce his victory, otherwise he may be sleeping in the pigpen of a garage.

Monday, April 20, 2009


My brother has an odd hobby; he runs marathons. He pushes his body to run solidly for 26.2 miles. And he does this roughly once a year. In order to run a marathon, he trains for months and probably runs 1000's of miles in that training process.

I just don't get it, but I'll do my best to cheer him on.

Even at the crack of dawn on a cold rainy morning.

I think my sister-in-law Merry is the only one looking happy in this picture. I don't think it's the thought of cheering on her hubby that is causing the smile, I think it has more to do with the fact that grandma and grandpa are watching her kids all.morning.long!

I didn't bring my good camera because I didn't want to trash it in the weather. Hey, I'll support my brother but not at the expense of ruining my "good" camera! I marked him above so you tell which one is him.

Note the spectators with their rain gear and umbrellas. We were all soaked to the skin by the end.

Finally, a dry spot in an underpass to wait for Eric. This is the first time he's run the St. Louis marathon and we were still figuring out the best spots to cheer him on (and how to get to those spots before he would pass!) Eric has run the Chicago marathon several times and we have a good route mapped out to see him several times during that course. We were unsure how it would work in St. Louis, but we all agree that we enjoyed this one.

At this point (about half way), I'd have been thinking "boy, this was a really stupid idea and I'm tired of running in wet shoes and wet clothes." Not Eric, he ran by with a smile (which I didn't capture because I had my crappy camera.)
And while I don't GET the whole marathon addiction, I'm so proud of my brother for running 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 9 minutes. A time that qualifies him to run in the Boston marathon.
It took forever to warm up my bones after standing in the rain all 3 hours and 9 minutes of his race, but it was all worth it to have these 2 little boys in town for the weekend!

Wow, I got to spend time with my nephews TWO times in a month and I loved every second.
Congratulations, Eric, on a race well run! Now, can we offer to babysit these boys while you are in Boston?!? I think you and your wife need a good couples weekend; albeit a year from now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Easter has passed and I'm very late with this post. The nasty cold that has affected everyone in my family decided to pay me a visit.

We hosted the family dinner this year. I loved the way the table looked when it was all set. The lace overlay is one of my grandmother's. Someone commented that my crystal and silverware was very similar to a set my grandmother used often. I had never really noticed that before, but it is very similar!

I only got a nice Easter picture of Elise this year. She ~loved~ her dress! Carson spent the night with his cousin and attended church with them. By the time he got home, he was a little rumpled and by the time I thought about getting a nice picture, he was already out of his nice Easter clothes. Sigh....

We did our usual Easter egg hunt outside. Notice Elise directing her cousin to his eggs! So typical! (and don't pay any attention to the deck railing that is half painted....we've been working on painting that for 2 years now!)

Carson was consulting with Trixie on the location of his eggs?!? (See, he really did clean up nicely, at least from the back....I guess tucking the shirt in was just too much to ask.)

My dad took my camera and was taking pictures of the egg hunt. And this picture of the horse from next door. (?!?!?) I did get a chuckle out of the pictures I discovered when I downloaded them off the camera.

Like this one of my brother-in-law. What the heck is he doing?!? Kissing that chocolate egg?!? Guess we all now know he likes chocolate!

After the extended family left, Elise and I settled down to a few games of Connect 4. This girl is a whiz at this game!

And I just love her look of concentration.

Do you see that gleam in her eyes that says "I found a way to beat the pants off mom...again?!?" She does manage to keep a poker face and she does win most of the time.

After she'd exhausted my mental capabilities, she moved on to play with Dad. I love the way the dogs joined in on the game!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter celebration.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The day in the 'burbs

The last day of our Spring Break - Chicago trip was spent in the suburbs with my sister-in-law and my 2 adorable nephews.

We played with a very smiley and happy Peter (who wasn't so happy earlier in the visit as he wasn't sleeping too well.)

We then boarded the Metra trains and headed in a few stops to a train restaurant. This is Isaiah and he was THRILLED to be on the train. You can't see it in this picture but he is wearing a Thomas the Train shirt. He actually wanted to wear 2 Thomas shirts but his mom opted to just go with one at a time. :)

The restaurant was a hit with Isaiah. The tables are all around a train track and your order actually comes out on the train and it stops at your table. Lots of train memorabilia! This is my adorable sister-in-law with her 2 kids. Remember that my brother is 10 years younger and his wife is even younger (gasp...she's still in her 20's!)

We were also so fortunate to meet up with Becki and Addie! Elise and Addie are from the same orphanage and Becki and I discovered we attended the same college. It's been fun getting to know her online and it was great to actually meet her and Addie in person. It was also interesting to see the similarities between the girls.

Becki and I drove over to our alma matter for a chilly walk on campus. We had to take the classic picture by the main sign on the front lawn. It provided the kids a chance to run off some energy!

Carson was determined to climb to the top of the sign and finally made it. I told him that if he made it to the top, he'd have to attend Wheaton, regardless of what his father says. (Dad attended a rival college.)

After saying goodbye to Becki and Addie, the kids and I hit the Popcorn Store. It's a penny-candy store located literally in the space between 2 store fronts. Carson got a kick out of the address - 1114 1/4. 1/4?!? The kids stocked up for the train ride back to Aunt Merry's house. I was impressed with Elise's math skills. I told them they could each spend a dollar. Her bag came in right at a dollar; Carson's came in at $1.35. Sigh....better re-hire that math tutor!
It was a great trip but we're all glad to be home.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

American Girl Place

The highlight of our trip for Elise was The American Girl Place. Since getting her first American Girl doll at Christmas, she's been looking forward to going to the store.

She was adorable in the store! She took Ivy with her and carried her through the store with her. She just kept finding new areas that she hadn't explored yet.

She was hoping to buy some accessories for Ivy, but she kept being drawn to the display of Just Like Me dolls and examined them very closely to find one that most matched herself. When we first floated the idea of a doll for Christmas, she wasn't very interested in the Just Like Me dolls so I was surprised at her obsession.

We really didn't intend to buy another doll and talked about putting the Just Like Me doll on her birthday wish list. But, Carson realized she was just $20 short of the cost of the new doll and offered to give her some of his money so she could get the doll.

She was over the moon to be able to walk out with a new doll! And I was so proud of Carson for helping her purchase the doll.

After the trip downtown, we returned to Omi and Opi's house to show off the new addition to the family. She was quite the proud mama!

And has already started MAJOR hints to her Omi that some twin outfits would be a great birthday present. (Have I mentioned my mother-in-law is an amazing seamstress?!?)

It was a great purchase. She liked Ivy but she's in love with her new doll whom she's named Elise. Perry checked on her last night and she had falled asleep with "Elise" cuddled in her arms.

She will remember this trip for years!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Downtown Chicago

After celebrating with the in-laws, the kids and I headed downtown on Monday for a day of exploring, shopping and eating.

My sister-in-law was also on Spring Break and joined us. It was nice having some time to catch up with her and hear about her kids. Her kids were 2 and 4 when Perry and I first started dating. They are now both in college...yikes does that make me feel old! The kids enjoyed riding the "el" and a subway.

Betcha you'll never guess our first stop? Right on the tip of your tongue, isn't it?!? Yes, Elise experienced the American Girl Place (more on that in a future post).
After spending quite a bit of time in AG, we headed down Michigan Avenue to the Lego Store to satisify Carson. He is in awe of this Darth Vadar (made entirely of Legos).

Carson is just fascinated by the Lego creations. This was a replica of the Michigan Ave. block where the Lego store is located.
And we had to get a picture with Lego-man! I wish I knew how many Legos went into creating him!
On to lunch at Gino's East for pizza. You are allowed to write on the walls at Gino's and it's a Chicago institution. Carson was embarrassed by this point and wanted NO MORE PICTURES.

After leaving downtown, we headed out to the 'burbs to stay with my brother. On the way out of the city, we drove by Perry's alma mater and just had to stop and get a picture of the kids by the sign. (OK, not the main sign but we would have had to walk too far to the main sign and we were pretty pooped by that point!)
We had a great time, even though it was a bit chillier than we were expecting! The kids had a good time. I love just being in Chicago.

Happy Anniversary

Happy anniversary to my in-laws! They celebrated 50 years of marriage over the weekend.

We celebrated by going out to a German restaurant and Elise was thrilled to get a chance to wear her Easter dress one weekend early for this celebration!

We had a great time with Perry's family and enjoyed some authentic German food. Thankfully Perry was there to order for me since I couldn't pronounce anything on the menu! :)

More pictures of our trip to come. Off to change yet another load of laundry....

Sunday, April 5, 2009


We're in Chicago this week for spring break (the kids).

Can you stand this cuteness?!? (His baby brother ranks just as high in the cuteness dept but was sleeping each time I had the camera out.

Carson sat down and read to Isaiah. They are reading Mouse Mess, a book that their Aunt Kristin has given to all the kids and was Carson's favorite book when he was about Isaiah's age!

And, boy, it sure is cold in Chicago! I think someone forget to let this area know that it is SPRINGTIME! :)