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8 posts from August 2008

August 31, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

We spent Labor Day weekend in Santa Fe this year and the highlight of the trip was that we got to meet our new niece for the very first time!  Interestingly, she was born the same day as Michael at almost the same hour so they're almost exactly 20 years apart to the hour.  What are the odds of that!?  Her weight and length was nearly identical too!   And, like my firstborn, she's breathtakingly beautiful.

Gwen and Maddy were really excited to meet her.  They were excited about just about everything last weekend.  They love to fly in airplanes.  They love to sleep away from home (we bought two aerobeds for kids and we're very impressed with the quality!).  They were extremely excited to see Nana and Grand-dad again and were not at all happy about the prospect of going back home -- until they realized it involved another plane ride.  When we landed in San Jose, they wanted to do it all over again and they've already started asking about our next trip.

Here are some more pictures of pretty little Baby Paige. 


August 29, 2008

A zillion degrees (in the shade)

(Can't read the text?  Click for a larger view)

August 23, 2008

August 23rd

August 23rd is a special day for us.  First of all, it's my mom's birthday.  Then it's Maddy's Gotcha day!  This year, it also happened to be the weekend of Gwen's travel group's 3rd anniversary.  That presents quite a dilemma for me:  What do I pay tribute to first?

Keeping things even for Gwen and Maddy is never easy and usually not practical.  I created a lovely "3rd Referral Anniversary" collage for Gwen's special day but didn't do this for Maddy because of all the other stuff going on that weekend.  I tried and tried but we've had Doctor appointments this week and we have another trip coming up in three days and there's just no way I'll be able to create something truly special for her.  Even though she totally deserves it.

This will have to do.  I think she's incredibly lovely though!  I hope everyone else can see how much she's grown in the two years we've been blessed to be her Mommy and Daddy. 


While we were in San Luis Obispo for Gwen's 3rd travel group reunion we had the chance to meet up with a family who also adopted from Maddy's orphanage (Qinzhou in Guangxi province).  Their little Eva was born just 2 months after Maddy and they were certainly friends at the orphanage before being sent to foster care and and ultimately being adopted.  I've been to the orphanage and I've seen where the toddlers live so I know they knew one another quite well.    But what was really amazing about this meeting is that both little girls are so similar in appearance, had nearly identical birth notes and were found in the same village just outside the larger Qinzhou city limits.    We don't think they're sisters but there's something really amazing going on here.  Maybe some day we'll figure out what it is.

Here's Eva and Maddy discussing Disneyland (Eva's going on her birthday!) and here are the girls sitting up high on the shoulders of their very handsome daddy! 


The moms (Hi Lisa!!) had fun during this meeting too.  I hope we'll see lots of Eva and her really nice family in the years to come!

August 21, 2008

Gwenny reads

We're one of those families who don't fret about our kids watching TV.  Yes, we do monitor what they watch, and we don't let them watch brain-rotting crap but we don't ration their TV or force them to adhere to rigid viewing schedules.  However, to the greatest extent possible, we do try to pick programs with at least some educational value. 

Since our kids don't suffer for want of TV.  They have a healthy "Take It Or Leave It" attitude about television and can happily run out of the room while the TV is on without feeling like they're being cheated out of precious viewing time.   (I have relatives who can't do this -- even as adults!)

In our house, the TV is no big deal so our kids are happy to go about their usual business of fighting over toys, 'dewrappering' and munching crayons, mashing Play-Doh between their toes, throwing mud or just enjoying the simple joy of stripping nekkid and running crazy around the backyard. 

Meanwhile, the TV is blasting away and giving us audio we'll look back on someday and subconsciously designate as the soundtrack of our children's childhood.  Just The Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Josie and the Pussycats, Pink Panther, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Schoolhouse Rock, New Zoo Review, and Bananas In Pyjamas provided a soundtrack for ours.

So, what are our kids watching when they ARE watching the TV?

To our surprise (and delight), they almost always choose a Leap Frog or Sesame Street DVD and a nice side benefit of this is that both of our little girls know all their ABC and phonics.  They've had these skills for many months but Gwen has just recently figured out that she can use them to READ!  And she's pretty darn happy about that!

We've worked hard to encourage an affection for books and we're thrilled that our girls have a love of reading!  We read to them several times per day and we have at least 100 books (we'll feature some of our favorites in a post on this blog soon). 

There's so much to look forward to but there's plenty of time to get there and we're in no hurry because our girls are still so little. 

Miley Cyrus and David Archuleta will be "old" by the time my girls are able to relate to the music they're making popular today.  Until then, let's just look back at the moments that passed too quickly.  For example, here's Gwenny -- exactly two years ago -- sitting in the same car seat as the pics above. 

Today, she might be able to read but, back then, her best skill was simply looking cute.   Something she was really good at and still is! 

Can you believe it's been two years since this picture?


August 19, 2008

Busy (fun!) Weekend!

Collage_four_frame_moroccan_2Daddy came home early on Friday and took us to dinner at a really fun Moroccan restaurant.  The atmosphere was casual and it was surprisingly kid friendly.  Low tables, pillows on the floor, rows of low sofas, and the appropriate ethnic instrumental music piped in at a level low enough to comfortably chat over it but loud enough to mask the chatter of our two very vocal little girls!

We got there around 7pm and didn't have to wait for a table.  Over the next half hour, the place filled up and there were several other families with small kids. 

Dinner was very interesting!  The meal is served in courses and there aren't any utensils so you're expected to eat with your hands.  They carry an ornate bowl and pitcher to your table and pour water while the whole family holds their hands over the bowl.  Then you get a nice hand towel to keep as a napkin throughout your meal.

Maddy isn't a picky eater so she tasted everything.  Gwen was only brave enough to lick the powdered sugar off the chicken pastry that came at the very start of our meal.  As the meal progressed and new courses arrived, I'd break off a small piece of pop-tart and hand it to Gwen.  Yes, I fed my daughter a pop-tart for dinner!

I've never liked lamb but the one they served was just amazing!  It was simmered in honey and just delicious!  My mouth is watering thinking about it!

At 8:00, lights dimmed and the belly dancer arrived.  Her dress was so pretty and the music was really interesting.  The girls couldn't take their eyes off of her!

Collage_four_frame_d_los_gatos_2Saturday morning, we got up and went to breakfast at Holders then headed to Los Gatos for their annual Fiesta De Artes event. 

There were at least 100 art vendors and it was fun to see so many different styles.  Lots of other things were being sold as well. Gwen and Maddy liked the chair hammocks but really liked the bouncers in the kids area!

After a few hours of art and bouncing, we decided to go look at some Open Houses.   We're not looking to sell our house and move.  We just like looking at houses and the kids really love it!  They beg us to do this every weekend!  We looked at several houses ranging in price from 3 to 6 Million dollars and our amazement alternated between how splendid they were and how overpriced they were!  I mean, really... who buys a $6M house? 

Collage_four_frame_brigadoonAfter nap and dinner, we went to a park with huge slides!  It was getting dark so the photos are not very clear but, trust me, these concrete slides are just amazing!

The foot of the slide is littered with scraps of cardboard which serve two purposes:

1. Making you slide faster (the slide is steep but it's concrete so you don't move very fast).

2. Saving your pants!

When we first discovered these slides last week, we didn't take advantage of the cardboard right away and ruined four pairs of pants!  I also ruined my elbow by using it as a brake the first time I used the cardboard (Gwen was on my lap).  I don't recommend using your elbow for this purpose!

This time, we were better prepared.  We wore pants and shoes that we didn't mind trashing and we put elbow guards on the girls so they were better protected.  Mommy and Daddy stayed off the slides this time but that's just because we ate a big dinner and didn't have the energy to keep walking up that big hill!

By the way, I dated this collage wrong -- it was Saturday - Aug 16.

Collage_four_frame_circusSunday consisted of breakfast at Marie Calendars, a trip to Michael's apartment to deliver a Key Lime pie, a romp in a park or two, and several more Open Houses.  Then we headed to Oakland to take the girls to their first (and probably last) Circus.

Andrew and I haven't been to a circus in almost 20 years (and didn't like what we saw last time we went) so we did a bit of research just to make sure we felt okay about how this famous Circus is treating their animals.  We felt comfortable giving it one more try.

I know some people are passionate about animal rights but I'm really only passionate about animal cruelty.   I think it's perfectly okay to use animals for our convenience or entertainment -- as long as we're not being cruel.   Nothing about the treatment of any of the animals made me uncomfortable.  They looked healthy and seemed eager to perform for the reward of a pat on the nose or a small treat.  What DID make me uncomfortable was how incredibly stupid most of the show was!  The entire first half was a huge waste of time.  Painful to watch.  After intermission, the motorcycles, acrobats and animals were presented and it got 200% better!     Prior to that, it was just a bunch of lame clown antics and some cheesy singing by the Ring Master.

Maybe we're spoiled because we attended some amazing shows while we were vacationing in China.  The caliber of the performance was so much better -- so much more professional!  The Circus performers were good (some were great!) but the show couldn't hold a candle to the shows we saw in Xian, Beijing and Shanghai.

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