It was time for Mom to go home today, sadly (at least for me). The trip was wet and chilly, but the little ones stayed home with Daddy while Dana and I and my friend Misty made the 6-hour round trip. We spent a couple of hours in McKay's, THE best used bookstore in the country and maybe even the world. :-) Here's some of my haul from this trip. Karis has been asking questions about Anne Frank and even though she's too young at 8 to actually read the book, I bought it for her anyway. I also picked up The Phantom Tollbooth, which is also too "old" for her right now, and a little play about Molly, the American Girl. Afterwards we had dinner with my sister before we headed back to SC.
Four years ago today, we were in a remote province of China called Guizhou. Around 11 in the morning, we stood third (or maybe fourth) in line with the other families in our travel group waiting for our baby girl. We could see her in the arms of a caretaker and we recognized her right away. I could see that she must have been in the hospital because although her whole head was shaved, she had a section on one side that was shaved closer than the rest and I could see the bump where an IV needle had been. I couldn't wait to get my hands on her! In honor of Family Day, I'm posting our referral photo of Quinn. I love you, sweetie!
Last night Quinn woke up with a fever, complaining that her ear hurt. That's usually a foolproof sign that she has an ear infection. Off to the Dr. we went this morning, only to hear that her ears are clear and she must just have a virus. She's complaining of a headache and a sore throat and just laying around on the couch. Poor baby!
This is my poor mangled belly button after my laparoscopic surgery today. I spent most of the day trying to sleep off the anesthesia. I had forgotten how much I detest that foggy feeling! And how in the world do they expect you to get yourself dressed and leave the hospital when you can hardly hold your eyes open?? Anyway, it amazes me that my doctor was able to complete a laundry list of "repairs" through that little incision. I'm a little sore and pinchy right there, and I feel a little bruised inside, but overall I feel fine.
A little bragging is on the way! Yes, I really AM a Rock Star! At least, according to Disney High School Musical Sing It, I am. All those times Karis made me listen to the soundtrack have really paid off. :-)
I have been waiting for this days for months now! The new Ikea in Charlotte opened on Wednesday and today was the day I made the journey to see it for myself. Until now the closest one was in Atlanta, three hours away. Charlotte is only an hour away. Woohoo! Mom, Dana, Karis, Quinn, James and I loaded up in the van and made the drive this afternoon. According to MapQuest it was an 89 mile trip. Well, MapQuest was not aware that the police were directing traffic at the exit ramp and made us go up ANOTHER 3 miles on the interstate and backtrack to Ikea. I figured there would be no parking spots left so I parked along the side of the road to avoid the line of traffic going in the parking lot, but as we walked across the lot we saw plenty of empty spots. The little girls were great shoppers, although it was helpful that they got to stay in the kids area for an hour. After we shopped, we had $1.00 ice cream at the Bistro and then headed back home. Here's some of our loot.
Our house was full of rock stars this afternoon! Karis's birthday party was a blast for the kids AND the grown-ups. We played Disney Sing It and "did" hair and makeup for all the girls. Here's Karis in her rock star glasses grabbing a bite from the snack bowl.
I do wonder about RSVPs though. Are they extinct? Does anyone actually RSVP anymore? We invited about 8 girls and only 2 parents bothered to RSVP, and those didn't call until the day of or before the party. It's hard to plan if you don't know how many kids are coming, and even though there were only 5 of them, they had fun and I guess that's what matters.
Every marriage, no matter how stable, can always use a tune-up. Our church hosted a marriage conference this weekend so Jon and I went. We talked about the 5 love languages and what each other's language is (his - physical touch; mine - quality time) and how to learn to speak to each other in the best way. "Wuv... Twue wuv..."
...I was recovering in the hospital after giving birth to my precious Karis. I can't believe she's that old already! She's grown into such a caring and loving young lady. She's an excellent reader and although SID makes schoolwork a chore, she works hard to get her homework done in a timely manner. Karis loves Littlest Pet Shop animals and has about 200 of them, but she can always describe which one she wants next. For her birthday she wants the porcupine. I have a feeling she'll get it. :-)
Well, more accurately it would be over the mountains and through the woods. I don't think we crossed many rivers on our trip to collect Mom from Tennessee and bring her back here for a visit. My family is the one thing I've missed the most since we moved to South Carolina almost three years ago, but it's not the only thing. The drive takes about three hours, which is plenty of time for me to mentally peruse my options, since I can't possibly visit all my favorite haunts. This time I took a trip to McKay's, the fabulous used bookstore (which also sells CDs, movies and video games), and then I had dinner at Captain D's. I used to make a point of going to Krystal but we recently got one of those here. Ironically, I don't eat seafood at all - I go to Captain D's for the chicken!
I was at a loss for what to take a picture of today, then I remembered my trip to the hospital for pre-op testing this morning. I had to have some blood drawn for tests so I took a picture of a bandage. I surely wasn't going to take a picture representing the pregnancy test I had to take due to the nature of my upcoming surgery. I thought it was a riot that I actually had to take a pregnancy test (although I understand why they do it), considering that I haven't used birth control since 1997 and have only one child to show for it.
Our last remaining houseguest departed for Memphis today. Tracy's landlord would not let her bring their cat, Belle, with them to the new house, so Belle is moving to Memphis with Tracy's ex-husband. He was not able to come and get her until today so she's been staying with us for the last week. To be honest, she was a pretty good guest for a cat. She kept to herself mostly and her worst infraction was clawing at the upstairs couch, but she was considerate enough to stop if we caught her at it. ("Cat!!" was usually all it took) So today we said goodbye to Belle. I hope you have fun in Memphis and that your new home is as comfortable as can be.
On Thursday I read a blurb in the local newspaper about a barbecue restaurant that was offering a free Lovers' Lunch on Valentine's Day. The catch? To prove you're lovers, you have to kiss in front of your server for 20 seconds, and the servers use a stopwatch to time it. I happen to be married to a man who never met a PDA he didn't enjoy, and we're all about the free stuff, so we went there for lunch today along with Dana, her boyfriend James, Karis and Quinn. Before our server came over, we witnessed a smooch by the couple at the table next to us that ended up being captured by a photographer from the local paper. In the background of the shot was Karis with her hands over her eyes! A reporter came over and spoke with us for quite a while and took our names, so I wouldn't be surprised to find us in tomorrow's paper. And yes, the four "big people" ended up with a free lunch. Just for the record, 20 seconds is longer than you think! (Photo courtesy of James' cell phone - I can't believe I was caught out without a camera!)
Tonight was Karis' first ever fan event, meaning this was the first concert we went to for an artist SHE wanted to see and not one the adults picked. It was WinterJam 2009 and it included about eight acts, but the one she was wild to see was PureNRG. They were only the second act to perform and because they promised to sign autographs after the concert, we hung around for the whole thing. Poor Karis was sitting on the floor about to fall asleep while we were waiting at the merchandise table, but by George she hung in there and got her autographs. I kept telling her we didn't have to stay and she would growl back, "I want my poster SIGNED!" I was so proud of the way she boldly worked her way up to the front of the table to meet the group. I was worried that she might be put off or even afraid of the crush of people around the table but it didn't seem to bother her. I even bought her her very own concert t-shirt. I hope that she was able to look at these young teenagers and realize that she could one day fulfill her own dreams of performing, because she does love to sing and she's pretty good at it and that's not just my parental bias talking.
Karis' birthday is coming up on Thursday and I have been lax about getting the invites put together. Finally today Dana and I sat down and did the pasting/cutting/glittering needed to be able to hand them out, with only a week to go. Who ever said I waited until the last minute? In lieu of the expensive salon party she wanted, we are doing our own at-home version, complete with hairdos, makeup and karaoke-type singing with the Wii. It will most likely be a small crowd but hopefully it will be a good time.
I was busy all day yesterday and didn't see an opportunity to pull out the camera and take a POTD (Photo of the Day). I also didn't have any idea what to take a photo of, until I wandered into the W&W forum and saw the photo prompt. So.... here's a picture of the inside of my refrigerator yesterday evening. It's pretty messy, but God has blessed us with an abundance of food so I won't complain. It was hard to get a good angle on the thing because there's a counter right across from the fridge where I would normally stand to take a shot.
Well, at least she was mesmerized until she realized I took her picture! Quinn loves the cooking shows - Paula Deen is her favorite. Today we had DirecTV installed (which took forever!) and while surfing the channels we came across the Food Network. Quinn sat right down in the floor to watch as Giada made biscotti, totally absorbed. Maybe she is destined to be a chef one day! She sure does love to "help" me cook.
This is our bonus room, complete with cat on the sofa (left side - look closely). You probably can't see her very well, but that's Louise, who is almost 14 years old. We've had her since Dana was just six! The room looks pretty unremarkable until you realize that until a few days ago it was home to our friend Tracy and her two-year-old twins. On Saturday they moved into a home of their own and we reclaimed our bonus room. It's mainly used as an alternative TV/movie viewing room and the kids keep most of their toys in the closets up there. There is a bathroom attached which we let Dana stake out as her own, and she's glad to get it back. Next week I'm going to pick up my Mom and bring her back for a visit and this is where she'll stay, since this sofa folds out into a bed.
My husband Jon grew up in farm country in Wisconsin and as a kid the only vacations his family ever took were camping trips. (He was also an Eagle scout, but that's another story.) We camped a little when we were dating and early in our marriage but after Karis came along, we didn't go at all. To be honest, I'm not much of a camper, but if the campground has indoor restrooms I can make the best of it for Jon's sake. For years he has admired camping trailers and pop-up campers, even "window shopping" at the local RV dealerships for fun. A month or so ago I told him that it was time for him to just bite the bullet and buy a pop-up camper. Karis and Quinn are old enough now to enjoy camping, and we can take some weekend trips for very little money if we're towing around our own lodging. After weeks of watching Craigslist and the newspaper, he finally found one that fit his budget. Today we had it delivered to our friends' home, where it will be stored when we're not using it. Jon is so excited he can barely stand it! I'm sure that very soon he will start researching nearby campgrounds so we can break it in.
Our local CNY celebration was held today at a school not far from our house. It's a joint effort of the Greenville Chinese Culture Association and the FCC. I really should have had two pictures for today because today was moving day. Tracy and the kids moved into their own place this afternoon. In fact, while I was at CNY with the kids, Jon and some friends were loading up the trucks and hauling things to her new house. Anyway, Quinn surprised me by using her chopsticks for some of her food, but she was so excited by the Lo Mein that she was mainly using her hands. She tried the egg roll but she loved the rice noodles and the Lo Mein! Later there was a Lion Dance and the red envelopes were handed out. There was a raffle with the grand prize of a flat screen TV and although I didn't win the TV, I did win a gift certificate for a facial (prize value of $65). By the way, the Chinese outift Quinn is wearing is the one that Karis wore when we were in China!
Today was Quinn's "day" at school. Each week a child is chosen as the "Reader of the Week" and on Friday they bring in one or two of their favorite books, something for Show and Tell, and a snack that starts with the same letter as their first name. Now, you tell me just how many snacks you can think of that start with a "Q". Not many, right? Somehow it never occurred to us when we chose the name Quinn that we might one day have to come up with "Q" snacks. I knew our turn would eventually come so I had prepared a mental list of possible snacks, but for some reason I didn't discover the newsletter telling me that it was THIS Friday until Thursday morning. Jon had to be at school to hand out awards for the Kiwanis Club so he came to the classroom and helped me make fruit quesadillas (cream cheese and strawberry filling), which we served with Quakes (Quaker rice cakes) and Nestle Quik. Then I read Hello Ocean and Llama Llama Mad at Mama to the class. Quinn took in her purple spinning/singing octopus to show her friends, although she wouldn't talk about it. So this is me reading to the class, with a photo courtesy of Jon. You can see Quinn in the middle bottom of the picture wearing a pink shirt.
Karis has Sensory Integration Dysfunction, or Sensory Processing Disorder, whatever you want to call it, and goes for Occupational Therapy once a week. Today was OT day. I originally took her in for testing when she was almost 5, because every other kid in her preschool class could at least attempt to write their name and she couldn't. She also had trouble holding a pencil and using scissors. A friend suggested the possibility of SID to me and once I read up on it, it sure made sense. It also made sense of some of Karis' other quirks: her extreme pickiness with food, her strange sleep habits, her fixations on certain toys/movies/animals, her insistence on wearing knit pants and avoiding jeans at all costs, her love of spinning and swinging, her inability to sit still for very long, and so many more. Karis has made great strides with OT and her fine motor skills are right on par with her classmates now. She still struggles with balance, coordination, and a few other things but not to the point that she can't function normally for the most part. Most of the quirks I mentioned earlier will probably always be present to some degree but OT helps her deal with them as much as possible.
Every household has its rules and one of ours is that homework gets done right after the girls get home from school. In second grade Karis doesn't have much homework - it can usually be done within 15 minutes. After that they have a snack and they can play until dinnertime. Today Karis had to write her 10 spelling words in ABC order and complete a long-ish math worksheet, which she's working on here. Some days homework is a chore, for them as well as me, but today Karis had it all under control. She did it all with minimal input from me. I was very impressed with the way she went right to work on that math, asked me if the first one was correct (it was) and did the rest like she knew exactly what she was doing. It's not always that easy for her.
I've had my hair short most of my life; first as a child, because my mother said I kept getting gum and candy stuck in it, and later as an adult because it's just easier to care for when it's short. I have thick hair and while it has a wave, there's not enough curl in it to keep me from having to dry and style it, and it can be time-consuming. I found a flippy style that worked for me but after a couple of years wearing it the same way on and off I was ready for something different. My friends will tell you that I'm quite fickle when it comes to my hair, both color and cut. Last week I discovered that my layers had grown out enough to be shaped into a short layered bob so off to the hairdresser I went. I have had so many compliments on my hair since I had it cut! I might even let it grow a bit longer and see how it looks. (And can I just comment on how hard it is to take a good self-portrait? Sheesh! I must have taken almost 30 shots to get just one that I sort of liked.)
This year Karis went to a brand new school and we were able to get Quinn into the 4 year old kindergarten there. They only admit 20 kids and they offer it first to the kids who need some extra help. It probably helped that I registered her early. I like that both girls go to the same school and that it's free, but I don't particularly like that Quinn gets out at 10:30 every day. It doesn't give me much time to get things done before I have to get back to the school. I took this photo looking toward the door where Quinn comes out while I was waiting in the pickup line this morning.
Yes, the Super Bowl is on TV. I honestly don't have a dog in that particular fight since I have no allegiance to either the Cardinals or the Steelers. If I had to pick I'd cheer for the Cards just because this is their first trip to the rodeo. So instead of taking a picture of anything to do with the big game, I took a photo of Karis' cat Sally Hannah Juliana, whose facial expression (if a cat can be said to have one) reflects my ho-hum attitude perfectly. Karis named the cat herself. Could you tell?