Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Grand-Daughter Alivia

Auntie Cara sent out some pictures of Livi. Here she is dressed in her Maine Lobster L.L. Bean sleepwear; gift from Great-Grandmother Nana of the North!!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Cousin's Visit

We have had a special guest (first time visitor to our home) - Cousin Carolyn from Maine. Even though it has been freezing temperatures for a couple of days (it is winter here) we all braved a boat ride on the river and a walk on St. Augustine Beach.

Final Citrus Pickin'

We had to remove the late citrus from our trees Saturday. New buds are beginning to form and last year we left the fruit on too long which may have stunted this years crop.

We didn't pick all the grapefruit so we will have to by this weekend. Our lemons were half the size they were last year (the lemons are on the top left, the grapefruits are on the bottom left) and our navel orange trees produced a small crop compared to years past. We didn't pick our limes on the river side of the house though you wouldn't know they were limes. We've left them on the tree too long already and they've turned yellow. You would think they were lemons :)
We still haven't planted a Key Lime tree to replace the one we lost in Hurricane Francis (2004). We will. I'm sure we will. We're also going to plant a new grapefruit tree. Really, we will. How does the time fly by so fast?

Still, as you can see, we have the last of our lemons, grapefruits, oranges and tangelos to help pump some vitamin C into our bodies to help ward off any winter colds. Then again, we may just squeeze the juice and make a few enjoyable "beverages". You just never know.

Life is good. Enjoy. Peace. You wouldn't need any fresh citrus would you???

ac & fm

Sunday, January 28, 2007

WOW!! Las Vegas!

Our trip to Las Vegas was a different experience than we have ever known. I attended a business conference which was very informative and we combined some vacation days in order to see our niece and see the city.
What possibly can set Las Vegas apart from our other travels?

The good stuff:
We visited with niece Christina and her DH Aaron. We had not seen her in over 10 years! She is Bro #1's daughter. Her husband is handsome, thoughtful, humble, really sweet (did I say cute too? - I guess that may embarrass him!). Dear Niece is doing very well, travels back to her home city of SLC frequently and has always written letters to us and sends pictures. She had sinus surgery the week before we arrived so we didn't take as many pictures as we would have liked. They love to travel too so have had a very good life - and you can tell she loves her In-Laws too. It was good to meet her husband for the first time. We so wish we lived closer to family - why are we spread all over the country? We will have to remind sister Mia about a family reunion someday soon.

Walking: We walked everywhere. Reminded us of some areas of Europe where you can people watch for hours and explore buildings, towns and the "land". Not much history in Las Vegas but they make up for it in sheer number of hotel resorts, each with unique architecture, large casinos, theaters, shops and free entertainment. Walk through four or five of these and you have had a full day of fun and exercise. We loved the sidewalk show of music and "dancing" water fountain at the Bellagio - free - just stop walking and enjoy the huge display and roaring sound of water in motion. And where else can you see two Elvises hamming it up outside the Harley Davidson Cafe?

Great food: It does cost alot and we wondered if we were really getting a good value for our hard earned money, but you cannot get a bad meal in this town. However, the day of cheap food is a thing of the past.

Friendly: Everyone is friendly. All employees of a hotel or business have been to charm school. As tourists, we were greeted with old fashion "I am here to welcome you and help you". From Taxi cab drivers, the Harley Davidson retail store clerk, door-persons, wait staff, desk clerks (not sure of any new title for these people?) and the cleaning people.

Clean: The city is very clean - every morning, there were people walking the streets picking up trash - bottles, drink cups and advertising flyers. The sidewalks were perfectly clean each day.
It is winter there and the landscaping is fancy, fancy and more fancy! We walked through indoor and outdoor gardens that would put North-East Florida to shame.

Ready for the bad?
Crowds: Unbelievably crowded. Everywhere you go, plan on bumping into people, literally. They are all going somewhere, coming from somewhere and cruising the hotels and streets. Crowds at the airport, crowds at hotel lobbies (who ever saw so many people checking IN and OUT all day long).

Buildings: The older resorts look really old and dirty. Some are being torn down to make way for the "newer, larger and better". Low ceilings, dirty rugs and dingy. Our favorite places were also the newest - The Bellagio and The Venetian.

Money: You need money and lots of it! Don't be shy about spending and gambling. Food costs alot - no free buffets in this town - upgraded image with celebrity chefs everywhere. Join a gambling "players club" and spend the big bucks entertaining yourself! The rooms can be had for under $100 a night if you can put up with dingy and crowded.

Smoking! There is smoke everywhere and this place has a clean air indoor act - guess what is exempted? Yep, the casinos! Smell the smoke and smell like the smoke! We had not experienced this in a very long time as Florida is all smoke free except the outdoors and some of those areas are restricted!

Street Walkers: No, not the kind in sexy push ups and legs to the sky. I am talking about the short fat men roaming the street trying to shove "ladies for hire" advertisements into your hands. They get close to your body as you walk past them, they click the papers they are holding to get you to look at them and then start asking you how and when you want your lady for hire. Even though we passed by many of them quickly, arm in arm, they still tried to get DH's attention. Very annoying and intrusive - but hey - the sidewalks are public areas. Some of these advertisements had pictorials of the "goods" (ladies) and some men were collecting as many as possible - maybe for future pin-ups in their dorm room?

Sleep: When does anyone sleep? We arrived at our hotel and settled in about 10 p.m. Nevada time (1 a.m. Florida time) and were in bed sleeping about 4 a.m. Florida time. We could have wandered and stared and gawked for hours more. We were sleep deprived the whole time. You can hear the drunks having a hoot and slamming their hotel doors at all hours. The quietest time seemed to be from 10 a.m. until about 2 p.m. That's when the gaming tables lowered their minimums in order to attract the less risky crowd. Our skin dried and cracked due to no humidity and our mental time clock was way out of kilter. Other vacations we seemed to adjust better - maybe we are just older or maybe there is something about Las Vegas? This may not forebode well for our China trip!

Did I say we loved the Bellagio? The inside gardens celebrating the Chinese New Year was a pleasant surprise for us - and more meaningful during our long wait. The restaurant - the Olives - is where we had dinner with DN and her Hubby. The food and wine was delicious. Did I mention the amazing outside water fountain show? Yep, it would be our choice when we go back to Vegas! And, since we "did" Vegas together, what happened in Vegas, stayed together with us.

More on the pleasant activities about our trip in another post.....

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Right Here Waiting

Promise words & music by Tracy Chapman

Friday, January 26, 2007

Continuing To Ignore The 1-Year Club

Liar-Liar pants on fire.

We share the same LID date as Dave & Sandy over at Wren's Story. We like using Dave's Referral Estimator since we do share the same LID and it makes it super easy for us to project where we are in the "Wait".

Well, time to go back to ignoring tomorrow's date. Just another day. Sure it is.....


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Mystery of the Chinese Baby Shortage

Rumor Queen has an interesting link to a New York Times opinion piece...

Shortage of Paper Ready Babies

Do remember that this is only one person's opinion. In reality, only the CCAA knows the true workings of the Chinese adoption system. Makes sense. It's their system. We may grow impatient. Frustrated. Worried. Scared. Depressed. Jubilant! Still, the real adoption story is not about us but about the little ones. We profess to know what is best. Someday we may all get to put our hearts where are mouths are. Until then, we wait, we fret, we try to find something, anything, to occupy our time as we jointly journey through the Chinese adoption process.

You and I have done our part. Speculating the whys and why not's just leaves us dizzy. A feeling we all know and share all too well.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

We will have to tell you all about out trip to Las Vegas. Part business and part vacation. I was able to catch a business conference which paid my way (an obliging spouse, DH, paid his way for this sumptuous vacation). Stayed at the Venetian for the first two nights on our nickel, then moved to the Mirage for the conference. Such nice places.
We were able to visit with niece Christina and her DH Aaron. What fun to see her after so many years. We will have pictures and fun tales to tell soon. Since we traveled together, what happened in Vegas happened together, with us anyway....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So, How's The Adoption Going?

Any news? You guys getting closer? How long has it been now? Why is it taking so long?

Any of the above sound familiar?????

We are approaching our inclusion into the infamous 1 Year Club. Our LID is January 27, 2006. I planned a huge, happy post about this. I changed my mind. I just want it out of the way. It's a rotten anniversary. It has no joy. Thus, I'm posting now. Let's get this over with. Moving on.

If you are Chasing or Waiting, you know the deal. You have answered every one of the questions above. You will answer them again tomorrow to the very same people who didn't hear you the first time nor will they hear you the next time. This is our world and our world alone. They mean well or at least most do. It's part of trying to be nice. Problem is, we aren't feeling nice. They're not adopting. We are and the pain we're feeling is our pain. The kind folks don't feel it. Nor should they. But we do. For those with LID's near ours, who would have guessed we'd still be answering those questions. Who knew we would go through this past Christmas without our little ones. We're on an emotional roller coaster and you're expected to keep that plastered smile on your face. And to keep answering the questions. You know the ones I'm talking about.

By the way, don't forget to refile all your paperwork as required by our government that blew off our request for an extension. Remember that? They never even voted on it. China could care less. This is our government reaching into our pockets again. Not China. Ours. Just send in the checks and be prepared to answer that other question.

So, how much did she cost?

I know the first question I always asked folks with a new baby was how much was the hospital bill?. Yes sir, the first thing I asked. Oh well, this too shall pass.

The 1 Year Club... Who would have guessed.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Thank you - Baby Hat Swap

I joined a baby hat swap during this waiting time for Alyzabeth.
Thank you to the McCarty's (LID 12/09/05). The hat is cute and my favorite colors with the pretty apple green. The "purse" behind it is the cool card sent with the hat.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Salty Dog Ramblings

Good Morning... The sun is beginning to rise. It's still our wintertime as evident by the brown color of the Cyprus trees and cattails. The river is calm this morning and you can see the pelicans following the crab trappers looking for a free breakfast. Which reminds me, I haven't been fed. Gotta go.

Enjoy your day...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Gifts - Special Christmas Time

We are still packing up Christmas decorations and looking over the great gifts we received.

The "Giving Plate" was given to us by DIL Kelly. She thanked us for helping her family this past year and said the plate reminded her of us. So nice! It has been a tough year as she lost her mother five months ago and then I lost my Dad last month. We are still alittle weepy at times - I cry at happy and sad occasions - I blame it on my age.
The pie plate on the right was a personalized gift from my Mom. She knows I love making pies (I got my talent from her) and the blue/white colors are my favorite for dishware.
The two yellow depression wine glasses are a gift from our dear friends/family the Hollaway's who also share our love of wine and fine wine glasses.

These were just a few of the many special gifts we received. We will probably be "blogging" about some of the others: gift certificate to a book store and one of our favorite restaurants, Biscotti's, tickets to the Daytona 500 (yaaaa-hooo!!!!), a PictureMate personal photo lab, books for Lizzy, cookbooks, L.L. Bean shirts, slippers, gloves; 2006 mint coin set, candles, movies, magazines (Budget Traveler, National Geographic and DownEast), Mainegoodies, cold cash! and cookies - just can't name them all. Are we a giving family or what!?!


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Gator Basketball & Whitey's Fish Camp

We try to make it over to Gainesville at least once during the basketball season to catch a Gator game. This year I was joined by DS Justin and together we enjoyed a good game complete with a victory over the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks. An unexpected highlight was the surprise halftime visit of the newly crowned NCAA Division I National Football Champion Florida Gators. The Florida football team had just arrived back in Gainesville and delighted the gathered basketball fans and the reigning NCAA Division I National Champion Florida Gator Basketball team. Never in the history of NCAA sports has one University held the Division I National Championships in both Football and Basketball in the same calendar year. DS was suitably impressed (as was I) and I must admit it was the icing on the cake for what was a great "date" with my son.

Normally we host a dinner gathering of family and friends on Christmas day. We open gifts on Christmas Eve night so the kids can be home with their own kids on Christmas morning and then have the rest of the day to visit with other family members. As we were not home this Christmas, we didn't host a dinner this year but we still were able to hook up with dear friends Larry and Charlotte (who always attend the Christmas dinner) for what can only be described as a bit of "early Florida" dining at Whitey's Fish Camp. Alyson's dad loved the clam strips at Whitey's and we always made it a point to eat there during their annual visit. It's fried food heaven complete with smoked mullet and gator tail appetizers.

This last picture shows Charlotte looking over the menu with the flashlight she brought from home :) Charlotte lives and plays by her own rules most likely a direct result of being born and raised in New Orleans and married to a Yankee from Massachusetts. We sit outside at Whitey's as it allows Miss Charlotte to "light up" while enjoying one of the few non-humid times of the year along the banks of the St Johns River in swampy northeast Florida.

Is it too late to still wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year? Oh well. What the heck. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and a single wish and prayer for speedy REFERRALS IN 2007!!!


Monday, January 08, 2007

And A Grand Time Was Had By All

The Cousins - Kilee & Alivia

Big Pop & Nana Joy

We celebrated our Christmas a little later this year.

Justin, Kelly and #1 Grandaughter Kilee and Leaa and Jesse and #2 Grandaughter Alivia joined us as did Cathy and Werner along with Big Pop and Nana Joy. The weather was great, the food was great, the way too many gifts were great and of course the greatest gift of all - was our being with Family.

Peace Everyone...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thank You Sister Mia & DH Mike

This picture just does not do justice to how beautiful this floral arrangement truly is. Thank you Mia & Mike. All our love...

Dad's 76th Birthday

January 5, 1931 - December 21, 2006
Missing my Dad..... Remembering His 2006 Birthday.

My Dad, an only child, was born 76 years ago. He's not with us on this day but we had fun coming up with a list of 75 wishes for him on his birthday last year and some other sentiments........

75 Wishes for DAD in 2006

1. For a healthy year,
2. For many happy times,
3. To a good breakfast whenever out with Jr. Emmons,
4. To many good breakfasts with Mom,
5. To your truck to always start and run great,
6. To you to buy the truck Mom always wanted (what’s wrong with a back seat in a truck????)
7. For you always to have the energy to wash your truck,
8. For letting Andrew drive your truck,
9. For no vehicle accidents in the family,
10. To not having to replace lots of rotted wood on the houses,
11. To fewer snow storms than normal,
12. To a safe drive to Florida,
13. To a winning gambling junket in Massachusetts,
14. To spying a moose and having the camera ready,
15. To less expensive gasoline,
16. To less expensive prescription drugs,
17. For a NASCAR season full of our drivers winning,
18. For the yard to recover from all the snow & freezing weather,
19. For the grass not to grow too much,
20. For the riding lawn mower to crank on every time,
21.To fewer puddles along Cobb’s Drive,
22. For NDCC church dinners to be successful,
23. For dry basements throughout the year,
24. For no roof leaks,
25. For snow cleared roads on your errand trips,
26. For UMO to win the National Hockey championship,
27. For your college “book” fund to hold out,
28. No traffic jams on I-95 heading south,
29. For your hotel rooms be comfortable and reasonable,
30. For the best four seasons in Maine,
31. To enjoying Woodford’s Club one more year,
32. To winning every cribbage match,
33. To having lots of “24” hands in cribbage,
34. To never running out of mints,
35. To traveling to Ireland to see your “country”,
36. To quitting smoking,
37. To enjoying your “retirement” nap each day,
38. For the Morgan’s VCR recorder working this year,
39. For your generator starting when pressed into service,
40. For a Barnes & Noble to come to your area,
41.Your neighborhood to be one less unpleasant family,
42. For a fun trip to Boston,
43. For your creative side to start drawing again,
44. For Little Sebago Lake to remain “healthy”,
45. For you to have fun in the kitchen,
46. For more visits with grandchildren,
47. For the spring rains to water your blueberry bushes,
48. For a bumper crop of blueberries this summer,
49. For fun rides in the jeep,
50. To winning the Maine lottery,
51. For discovering the best breakfast diner ever,
52. For a moose standing in your yard,
53. To hear Loon’s calls each morning & evening,
54. For pine trees that don’t drip sap,
55. For pine tree needles that never fall,
56. Little Sebago Lake water temperature a constant 75 degrees,
57. The morning paper always early and always delivered,
58. A Whitey’s fish camp serving clam strips in Maine,
59. For coffee milk available in Florida,
60. To picking the winning horse at the Fryeburg Fair,
61.Elephant ears that get bigger with each bite,
62. No mosquitoes sitting on the deck at nights,
63. For Andrew and you playing games of cribbage,
64. For no power outages,
65. Gas under a dollar,
66. For free electric during the winter,
67. To a warm car in December, January & February,
68. Tickets to any NASCAR race,
69. Dale Jr. to join you and Jr. Emmons for breakfast,
70. Cats that don’t shed,
71. An always full bag of potato chips,
72. Summer tourist that don’t drive & hog the roads,
73. Neighbors you choose to have,
74. A continued long life with those that love you,
75. My Wish was answered – You’re my DAD!

To DAD - Happy Birthday - # 75!!!
January 05, 2006

E EVERYTHING you have built & fixed for us at each Florida home
D DAD, you are the BEST!
W WONDERFUL times with family at home & the lake,
A ARTIST that lives within you,
R RAISING three daughters the right way worked well,
D DIRECTOR of our childhood family movies,

W. WORK ethic, you set the example.

C COLD winters you provided heat & home, shoveled snow & ice skating rinks,
O OLD, you are not! You will soon have a new Granddaughter & Great-Grand’s to love & hug,
B BUILDER of garage shelves, docks, lights & chairs!
B BOAT driver each summer day, water skiing dreams came true!

Here's what I sent him for gifts..... Thanks to Ford who also helped when my brain gave out.....
E is for EATING 75 peanuts, your favorite snack…. (why do 75 peanuts look so few??),
D is for the 75 DIMES for the tollbooths in New Jersey (happy driving to Florida!!),
W is for 75 WOOD screws you will need to complete the Morgan’s project list,
A is for 75 ASPIRIN needed while completing the Morgan’s project list,
R is for 75 RAISINS, (healthier than the peanuts),
D is for 75 Dollars to spend at Home DEPOT,

W. is for 75 best WISHES for you in 2006.

C is for 75 COPPER pennies to check dates & roll (maybe put in the NDCC birthday bank????),
O is for the 75 ORANGE sections, right from our Green Cove Springs ORANGE tree (we are just guessing, we didn’t peel each one and count),
B is for the 75 BREAKFAST drinks to keep you supplied with your daily vitamins.
B is for 75 BALLOONS to celebrate your 75 BIRTHDAYS!!! (you are not expecting us to blow them up for you, are you????)

Happy Birthday!! Love, Alyson & Ford

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Little Ones Are Arriving

The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before January 31, 2006.

The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered with our office before September 27, 2005.

Congratulations to all the new families. We'd like to see an update for those in the Review Room. They have been waiting a looong time and would like to get out of there!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First Read for 2007

I read tons of magazines, so this should be titled my first BOOK reading for 2007.

I had heard about this book and thought it would be a good one to read getting ready for Lizzy.

After reading the first chapter, I think it will be useful especially to re-read as Lizzy gets older (into her teens). Not too bad - I already teared up twice and I am just starting Chapter 2!!!
Here's a book review on this one and the author's latest released book:

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew

Monday, January 01, 2007

Depth Finders Are A Must

Especially on the St. Johns River...

Each year the St. Johns River plays host to the worlds longest sailboat race. The race is usually held in May. We're not always home to catch the race but when we are it's great to head out to the end of the dock and catch the multitude of brightly colored sails gliding past. Unfortunately, the parade always happens on the opposite side of the river and we are left to use binoculars. Still, it's an impressive sight. So why do the sailboats avoid our side of the river?

Simple. Shallow water. Not good for sailboats...

We live on a sandbar. A giant sandbar. I'm talking two football fields in length from our dock before you begin to reach the channel. Deeper water. Sailboats require deep water. Which is why I'm writing this particular post.

Yesterday evening I noticed a fair size sailboat out in front of our dock. Not close but too close considering we were only 1 hour past dead low tide. I made a comment about it to Alyson and then went on with whatever it was I was doing. Later, I peered out and saw what I thought to be the same sailboat sitting motionless. I picked up our binoculars and took a closer look. Not good. I could see the sails full of wind, I could see the "captain" at the helm, I also could see the sailboat was not moving.

Grounded. As in stuck in the mud. In this case, stuck in the sand. Or shell bed. Bad. Very bad.
So I asked Aly to grab the binoculars and take a look for herself and offer up an opinion as to what she thought was happening. They've run aground she said. Not good.

With that I grabbed my cell phone and a camera and with an approving nod from Aly I headed off to the rescue. A small dinghy had made its way to the stranded sailboat by the time I made my way out to them. This long story shortened, the dinghy was unable to free our stuck on the sandbar captain and asked if I would take over. This is where I met Bob. Bob was the "captain" of said stuck boat. Bob was all for my giving it a try. Especially after he asked about the tide...

It took only a short time and one slipped line before I was able to break the sailboat free from its unscheduled sandbar stopover. Bob and I exchanged pleasantries and shared happiness that all was well and I putt-putted my way back home. I knew Aly would be glad we were able to help. I knew Salty would be mad he didn't get to come along. He always gets to come along. Not this time. I knew I would have enough to do without having to fish a wet dog out the river.

Breakdowns and such are common on the water. I always hope that when our turn comes someone will cast an eye upon the water, sense our distress and come to our rescue. I was too busy to snap any pictures except for this one as I was leaving Captain Bob and his once again bobbing boat. Bad pun. But not as bad as being stuck on a sandbar with a fast approaching setting sun in choppy water...

Happy sailing Bob. I hope he will remember to return the favor for another someday...