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11 posts from September 2009

September 14, 2009

A Wonderful World

Gwen pony sep 09 redo blog

This is my baby, Gwenny, on her very first *moving* pony ride!  Loyal followers might remember that there was poor ol' Popeye from last year's preschool photo shoot but he didn't get to walk around so that didn't really count an an authentic "ride".  This time, the Beast Beneath her Bottom actually trotted -- and she LOVED it! 

Now, instead of a toy firetruck for Christmas, we're a bit worried that we'll have to accomodate dreams of a real live horsey!  Sigh.... yet another opportunity to help our kids understand the harsh reality that you don't always get what you want. 

We have a bunch of photos of the apathetic old dude who was assigned the task of escorting Gwen and this poor old pony around the hot arena at Gilroy Gardens but I thought it would be more fun to remember the ride this way (click the pretty image, above, for a much more impressive view).  Ah, the beauty of digital scrapbooking!  (curious to see the original photo?  Its <here>)

The text, of course, is from the song "What a wonderful world", a lovely song performed by Louis Armstrong.  We danced to this at our wedding. 

September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

I don't care about birthdays very much these days but my kids LOVE them so I "celebrate" for their benefit. 

Maddy made me a sweet birthday card that was a hodgepodge of every little thing she knows how to draw along with her full name, printed in bold black pen TWICE, just so I don't forget who drew it.  In the middle of the card, she proudly featured my age but Daddy had to tell her how to write it, she said, because "I can't write numbers that big."  I hugged her and thanked her but told her to go back and inform Daddy that he told her the wrong age.  I'm actually 41.  Silly Daddy!

This year, I got a fabulous new toy for my birthday!   Don't you just love the pink jeweled case?


I'm enjoying all those cool applications (my favorite thus far is G-park and the Google Mobile app).  We also have a ton of kiddy apps so the girls love playing with my iphone almost as much as I do!  I think I read that there are something like 10,000 applications so I'd love to hear some recommendations.  Is there something you think is really cool or can't imagine not having on your phone?

My other present is a new kitchen table.  Well, it's not really *my* present but since we bought it last night, it kinda feels like mine :)


We're really excited that we'll have 10 adults and 3 small kids in our home for Christmas this year and we always seem to prefer the kitchen table to the dining room table so this new table will be much more practical for us. 

Plus, our old table was purchased for our old kitchen in our old house and that eating area was square.  Our new house (that we've been in for over 3 years) has a rectangular eat-in kitchen area so a bigger table has always been on our list of improvements. 

We thought we might need several months of shopping to find the perfect table but we started looking last night "just for fun" and were amazed to find the absolutely perfect table within an hour!  So we bought it!  We don't buy furniture very often and we tend to keep our furniture for an insanely long time (I still have the bed Michael used as a 3 year old and all of the furniture I bought for our living room in the early 1990's!) so this didn't feel like a frivolous purchase even though it was certainly not inexpensive.

I spent some time poking around ebay and craig$list to see what we might get for our old table and it was truly pathetic so we've decided to give it away instead.  If you want it, email me and if you've ever commented on this blog before -- or if you have a blog (or something else) that I can look at to verify that you're someone "normal", I'll let you have it.  But if you're a total stranger, please understand our safety concerns and don't even bother asking.  It's a really nice table (see it here and here) but we'll donate it to Salvation Army if we don't find someone local to pick it up and give it a good home. :)

September 07, 2009

Gwens 4th Gotchaversary

This weekend marked the 4th anniversary of the day Gwenny stole our heart.  We call this our Gotchaversary because it's the anniversary of the day all of us "got" one another.  Not the most poetic name for such a special day but it is what it is and I'm fond of the warm tradition in the adoption community of calling it this so this is what we'll, affectionately, call it.

Wanna see our Gotcha video?  I'm so glad that I posted this on YouTube because, during the course of several computer upgrades over the years, this video seemed to disappear.  Does anyone know if you can download your uploaded videos from youtube?  Anyway, it's not the best resolution but it's sweet and charming and I promise it'll make you smile. 

Here's the face I can look at for hours.  I took this one just before nap today. 

Gwen seems oblivious to stress.  She just drifts happily through life with the same relaxed expression on her face.  I have SO much to learn from her!

Be sure to click on the photo to see the larger size because, thanks to a spectacular portrait lens and some of Mother Nature's most wonderful natural lighting, I think this particular photo is truly amazing. 

Gwen portrait lens outside 004

Our new jacuzzi has a cover that leans against the fence for most of the summer.  Today, it served as the perfect backdrop for this photo shoot.

Gwen portrait lens outside 075

I found a pretty flower for Gwen's hair and she was happy to pose with it and even performed a little hula dance!  Too bad this fancy camera doesn't have a video mode!

Gwen portrait lens outside 102


We have so many friends who have waited all these years to add a much wanted child to their family and I'm always surprised at (and saddened by) how slowly the days pass during their wait.  But I look back at the same four years in our life and see nothing but blur of flying days.   Not sure how that can be possible!

Anyway, tonight, I'm making a favorite family meal and spending the evening snuggling with my girls and watching movies on the "big tv" in the family room.   It might sound weird but this weird recipe has been in our family for many years and it's really good.  It's our comfort food:  Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatos with Del Monte canned sweet peas and chunk light tuna.  I never mess with the brands and make it the same way every time.  Oh man, it's good!  I like mine with fresh ground pepper.

September 03, 2009

Maddy had a little dot - it's hue was yellow as snow....

Okay, I'm really bad to be making jokes about this and it's certainly not that I don't take class room discipline seriously but I just couldn't resist that subject line.  Someday, I'm sure Maddy will find it funny too.

Our new Kindergartners have a system at school whereby we, as parents, are kept informed of our child's behavior via a glorious system known as the Daily Dot. 

Every morning, I kiss my kids and smile and wave and holler "Have a wonderful, Green Dot, day!"  after them as they skip merrily off to class.  You see, if the daily dot is green, the day was good.  But if the dot is yellow, then there was a little problem.  At some point, there's a red dot involved but we believe that's reserved for kids who bring porn or guns or wear Sarah Palin t-shirts to class.

Yellow dot Today, Maddy had a Yellow Dot Day.   She clobbered another child at recess and rather than apologize, she opted to take the dreaded yellow dot.  Yep, that's our Maddy.  She would take the amputation over the option of opening her sweet tiny yap and mouthing the words "I'm Sorry" to another person.  Stubborn?  Ya think? 

Once the deed was done and recorded, she was pretty upset.  In fact, to say she was distraught about this is a tremendous understatement.  When she saw that yellow dot, it was all over.

Gwen got her first (thus far) yellow dot last week, she seemed to be rather impressed by it and ran back into her class at the end of the day to grab her teacher by the hand so that she might bring her to me and confess her sin with the largest audience possible. 

Maddy would have nothing of that.  When her teacher sauntered over to casually deliver the news, Maddy climbed up into my arms and buried her face in my neck and sobbed.   She takes these things SO hard!  She's not always tender in the way she plays with other kids but she's plenty tender in the way she responds to criticism or... (gasp!)...  correction.

Looking forward to only Green Days from here on out!

September 02, 2009

Raising Top Students?

Qinzhou school blog

When we were looking to buy a house back in summer of 2006, we restricted our search to homes with excellent schools even though our home-buying dollar didn't stretch very far in those areas.  At the time, Michael was finishing up his final year of High School, Gwenny was not quite two years old, and we expected to add Maddy to our family later that summer. 

We snagged the home of our dreams and moved in and settled into the groove of our crazy life with a kid in college and two in diapers and, somehow, the details of the girl's future K-through-8 school experience just didn't seem that terribly important. 

Until now. 

Now they're both in Kindergarten and I've been pouring over our State's School Ratings for several weeks in a mind-numbing attempt to draw some solid conclusions about what makes a top rated school produce top students.

Is our school a great school because families like us send our kids there?  Or do we live here because the school is great?  What came first?  The Chicken (the good school) or the egg (the good student)? 

What makes a good student?  Is it the teachers?  The child's ethnicity? Their parent's education level?  How much our house cost?

If you look at the big picture of schools in our area, the rankings are all over the map and there are plenty of patterns to examine.   Some made me scratch my head and others made my heart ache but the ones that applied most to me seemed to say that I am the secret ingredient of my children's success in school.   


Should my Kindergartners be reading at a 2nd grade level?  Should I be mixing fish oil supplements into their trail mix?  How many hours of homework should my 5 year old do each night if I want her to have a decent chance that she'll someday be known for something that doesn't include the terms "heinous" or "serial"?

Both of my daughters are smart and beautiful and funny and in every way AMAZING but I look at that photo at the top of this post and I can see Maddy there.  She has so much potential and would certainly be one of their top students so what should I be doing to make the most of the opportunity she has in our top rated school here in Northern California?

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