Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
So which Thanksgiving Day (after) picture would you print out for everyone?
We gathered up for the photo just before sitting down for our family dinner yesterday evening. Salty Dog was not too keen on posing with us but was still able to sneak in :) You may notice that GD Livi wasn't much more keen on posing than Salty Dog :)
Hang in there Livi girl - we're a crazy bunch!! :)
It was beginning to get dark so we'll have to do a little photo editing to brighten things up and remove some red eyes.
Ahhh,,, life is good!
ac & fm & aa
Friday, November 28, 2008
Grandpa and NanaJoy arrived on Wednesday for our Thanksgiving holiday. AA warmed up to them very quickly and soon was playing with Grandpa and reading magazines in NanaJoy's lap!
NanaJoy brought a quilt and pillow for AA. She decided she was ready to play make believe for the first time.
AA played "nap time" over and over again. So cute as usually anytime we try to put her in a horizontal position, she gets upset as she thinks we are putting her to bed. Well, that all ended! She was very comfortable playing her version of nap time with her new pillow and quilt.
Thank you Nana!!
We are thankful for being able to "Skype" our "out of State" families. Thanksgiving dinner is planned for Friday evening.
Hope everyone is rested after Black Friday shopping!
We will show pictures this weekend!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Alyzabeth's New Quilt!!
This is just so awesome!
A church member, TB, made a quilt for Alyzabeth. That in itself is special. BUT there's more. She lived in Japan for six years and collected Asian fabric and made Alyzabeth's quilt from these fabrics, trimming it with the softest, snuggest red fabric. I hope you can see in the picture the details and different fabric patterns. TB is such a blessing, and I had know idea she is a quilter! And she made the gift card as well!
We have been so blessed by the outpouring of gifts and love from so many.
The quilt is 48" by 36", perfect for her first twin bed. Right now, we will snuggle in the softness together!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
We visited with our friends across the river at a local Pizza restaurant last week. We had first planned to play outside at a local park but the NE Florida winter chill drove us inside. We enjoyed little Victoria's smiles and conversation. She is adorable!!
Victoria's Mom, Nancy took the great pictures.
Monday, November 24, 2008
With Thanksgiving in a few days, I am reflecting on our family, friends, our many memories from 2008 and of course, Christmas!!
What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year?
I would love to have a professional photographer to take some pictures of our family at our "Friday Family" Thanksgiving dinner (we are celebrating our meal on "Black Friday"!). We take a group picture every year. I need to give, friend of the family, Phyllis Redman a call!
Several post comments involve asking us questions; here's some answers.
Joannah asked (I don't think very seriously!) how do we get anything done each day with little AA running around and having so much fun? Because there are two of us, we get to tag team her. She always runs to both of us and one of is always talking and playing with her. Since I go back to work soon, DH will discover his own routine with her during the days.
Mommy of Kelly and Allison: we wold love to visit you near Orlando (we are south of Jacksonville, west of St. Augustine and north of Palatka!). Send us your email by our blog email link!
Several asked about our marriage certificate; JBOO, Dale at Fetching Frances, Don at Pregnancy by Adoption, The marriage certificate is not the official one issued by our county government. This certificate was provided by the Justice of the Peace who married us as a special memento. We have always loved the size, the Bible verse and ornate Bridal flowers (we planned our wedding vows less than a week in advance).
Elyssum Earth (read her latest post on China's One Child Policy) asked about Alyzabeth's name: What are we calling her? I did mess with the spelling of her name with only the intention of beginning it with an "A". Then I thought changing the "i" to "y" would match with my name too. I plan to call her Alyzabeth or Lizzy. DH has other ideas...... (I don't plan on calling her little "Aly").
Dawn at Courtney Mei invited us to Charlotte for a race! YAHOO!! We are there, just name the date in 2009!! Didn't think we would come? We would love to explore Charlotte and get race fever up front and center!!! Hope AA is ready!!
Lea at Oh My #6 asked about taking time off from work. DH is retired so he is the SAHD. I saved my paid vacation time and have been off work since September 10th (we flew to China on 9/11/08). I go back to work the 24th (today!!)! Boo-hoo!!
Monica at Dumplings, Three, commented about DH telling me to go talk to the NASCAR "guys". Actually, DH is the more chatty, conversationalist than I am, he just knows I am nuts about NASCAR and might actually go talk to the strangers (not me!!). So that is why I asked him to leave the table first from our dinner so that he would naturally talk to them while waiting for me (I know him pretty well); he can always strike up a conversation and is very friendly (I am not so!).
And last comment answer: CCAI travel family, Brian and Melinda, adopted Savannah, stated that time has flown! So true! We can't believe how well we have settled in with a 2-year old running around the house. It has been especially nice while I have been off work. They are growing!! AA grew 1.25 inches in the six weeks between Doctor's appointments. She weighed about 20 lbs in China, now weighs 23 lbs!
And to help everyone with their Christmas shopping, click over to 5 Minutes to Mom and enter in all their Christmas giveaways! Most are very cool and with only a few hundred entering, you have a great chance to win. Another giveaway is here: 3 P's Mama.
Another helpful Christmas Gift list is on Julie's organizing blog. I think the list includes some very thoughtful ways to say thank you and Merry Christmas! She stated:
"Here is a list of some fun, inexpensive, and cute Christmas gift ideas for neighbors, hostesses, teachers, and friends. As I have said before, consumable gifts are my favorites for this type of gift-giving! No clutter! Practical gifts to help out are a great (and novel) idea as well." Check out her very long list.
Don't forget to enter this raffle and help out Mia Hope's adoption fund! Ends November 30th. Plus buy some really cute homemade clothes.
And to spread around some more toddler beauty, look at the pictures of another little girl, Karsynn, who came from the same orphanage as AA. She is beautiful!! Love the pictures on Fairy Tales Do Come True, from the post dated November 13th.
I enjoy our comment chats!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
It was a sunny but chilly day, so after church DH was impatient to have the boat back in the water. We have been delaying the inevitable dock repairs but one of our neighbors found a repairer who was in the area and shot us a good deal. It only took them a few days of work so that we could walk to the end of the dock AND he was able to restore the electrical power with the existing cable! Yahoo! So, now we are able to have the boat back in the water.
It was WAY TOO chilly to actually go boating, but AA had her first glimpse of what a boat is and maybe on a warmer day we can enjoy the river again.
There are more repairs to be done but we are glad to be able to walk to the end of the dock now. In Memory of Tropical Storm Faye!
I took the two pictures below of DH and AA (with Salty rounding out the photo) then we tried a few "self" portraits. DH's arm proved to be the best length and angle, so the final picture is his doing! Yes, DH is wearing shorts and it is freezing outside (well, just 50 degrees, which is close to freezing in NE Florida!)!!
Final two weeks to buy a chance to win a Wii and help Kris' adoption fund:
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Happy Second Birthday Belated to Joanna Mei!
We were so very stoked to finally set a date to meet up with good friends, Don & Be with new daughter JM. This was a first time meeting of AA and JM.
Check out our picture in March "before our China trips". We were celebrating Don & Be's referral of JM! here's their post from the same day.
Saturday morning pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House were wonderful in the De Leon Springs park.
Why we didn't take any pictures while cooking our own pancakes........ oh well! The girls were both well behaved and ate their fill of fruity pancakes.
We played outside at their playground while watching people actually swimming in the springs without any wetsuit!! It was 40 degrees outside! Were they from Canada or Maine????
J-Mei is a cutie and she taught AA how to climb the stairs to the big slide much faster and safer!
Hope to have play dates periodically and meet for some Disney fun too!
You have to be a racing/NASCAR fan to appreciate what we went through..... in a little, very little, town south of Jacksonville...
Friday, early evening, DH decides after our once per week (or less) shopping trip, we stop in for an early dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant (alot to do with my begging too).
By the end of the dinner, AA is being very good, two trips to the "potty" and many happy giggles eating her vegetables with her fingers... yes, broccoli, peas, zucchini, carrots.... OK, I digress....
DH is over hearing a conversation at the next table (it is very early on a Friday, and 90% of the tables are still empty), he hears some words about "NASCAR" while two gentlemen are chatting with the wait staff.
DH says to me, "go over and talk to these two guys about NASCAR". Of course I answer with What???? What part of NASCAR? Are they Owners, fans, sponsor...? Give me a little more info.......
So DH says, well I don't know but it sounds like they are "in NASCAR".
As you may know at our age, neither one of us can hear very well, so I don't even attempt to try to get too excited or try to figure out who these guys are. I can only see one by face, the other has his back to me.
At the end of our meal, I am paying for the dinner and DH says again, "they are "in" NASCAR". Not sure what or how.
So I say, OK, this is interesting and I LOVE NASCAR, so I tell him, I will get AA ready to leave and have him wait for me while I finish gathering up our belongings and he can stand somewhat near the "NASCAR" table and see if he wants to say anything to the gentlemen. So he stands there with little AA and then I am not sure what happens. I finish gathering up our stuff (including climbing under the table to retrieve a bracelet of mine that AA was playing with and happen to drop).
Next thing I know I am being introduced to GEOFF BODINE!!
I know all you non-NASCAR fans have stopped reading this and gone onto better blogs, but hey, this is EXCITING!! Not until we reached the car did it sink in with me that this guy is a great racer, survived one of the worst wrecks in NASCAR (year 2000) history; I am proud to say my DH reminded me of that fact (I still think the worst wreck was with my FAV driver Ricky Craven) and has done so much for the racing sport including supporting the USA Bob Sledding Team AND has raced and WON in my home State of Maine at Oxford Plains Speedway AND knows my FAV driver Ricky Craven (did I tell you he said he knew my FAV driver??) AND Geoff has won the Daytona 500!! We just watched his brother, Todd, win the final truck race at Homestead last weekend!! He is fun to watch!!
I didn't lose it until I was in the car and asking DH "Why didn't we take a picture? Why didn't we get his autograph"??? At races, drivers expect it, but at a local restaurant, you hardly want to bother them..... but I didn't even think about it until I decided to call Melissa, my sister in Maine (she was the only person I could think of real quick who might be excited about our news too) and she said... sheesh...... didn't you take a picture with your cell phone?
OK, my excitement is decreasing, I am slowly un-winding. So exciting. Why do we always realize after the moment what we would have said, could have asked?
It was FUN, it was NICE, he was GRACIOUS! Thank you for our thrill!
Friday, November 21, 2008
We trekked down to Palatka yesterday for our weekly Family Day get together. The weather was great, one of those days where you can kick the front door open and enjoy a light breeze. Not too warm, not too cool and best of all, no HUMIDITY!
With Alyzabeth in tow, we gathered up granddaughter Alivia and headed to the neighborhood park. The girls (and us) had a blast running (Ok, they ran) from the swings to the slides and back! You could tell AA was trying to imitate her older and more daring niece. It is nothing short of amazing how playtime with other little ones like Livi and Kilee helps AA in her transition to becoming just your typical run of the mill two year old. What a blessing!
I've included a new recipe I tried out on the gang called Cajun Shrimp Casserole. It originally ran in the October 2005 edition of Southern Living Magazine. I came across it again at My Recipes. We had a huge bag of shrimp in the freezer compliments of DS Justin who netted them from the St. Johns River during the annual shrimp run this summer. The recipe just called out to use them :) And from the feedback, I think we have a keeper...
Cajun Shrimp Casserole
2 pounds shrimp
1/4 cup butter
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh or frozen sliced okra
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of shrimp soup
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups cooked long-grain rice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Garnishes: quartered lemon slices, fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
Peel and devein shrimp.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients; sauté 7 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in okra, lemon juice, and salt; sauté 5 minutes. Add shrimp, and cook 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in soup and next 4 ingredients until blended. Pour into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned. Garnish, if desired.
Yield: 6 Servings
Note: Unbaked casserole may be made one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking as directed. To freeze unbaked casserole, prepare as directed, omitting Parmesan cheese. Cover tightly, and freeze. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking. Bake, covered, at 350° for 50 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese, and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
While DH (Daddy) was out banking yesterday, we enjoyed a cup of hot tea. AA and I will do this often throughout the winter (it does get cold here, in the 30's this morning!).
We drank from my Grammie's china cups (1917 vintage, very British Asian-influence pattern). AA learned very quickly how to hold the cup once it was safe to handle. We did spend time waiting for the tea to cool.
We enjoyed one of Cliffreida's homemade brownies (didn't make the pictures but were yummy!!), cut in very small, dainty bite-sized pieces. Perfect with the cranberry tea!
AA really seemed to enjoy the tea, she wanted to drink every drop! Maybe she had hot tea at the orphanage or saw the adults drink tea?
Of course the cutest picture I wanted to use was blurry, but these will do for our first tea time!
Monday, November 17, 2008
I kept my maiden name with only one vow of ever changing it. I told DH (maybe asked, reached an agreement) that I would take on his name if and when we had children. Truth told, DH has always supported my use of my maiden name. I always thought we would have kids and that I would eventually change it. As you know from the blog, we did not have additional kids. We enjoyed 23 years of DD and DS's lives and the large extended family that came with that blessing.
With the arrival of Alyzabeth came the time to make good on my word. I now have a Florida Drivers license with my maiden name as my middle name and my DH's last name. I have conformed to society and have upheld my promise :) Next stop. Social Security.
It wasn't as traumatic as I thought it would be.
The funny thing is, everyone at the driver's license office all must be programed to congratulate new brides. Guess they didn't look at the marriage certificate date!! Twenty-three years late!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Congratulations to Jimmy Johnson on winning his third NASCAR Championship. He and his Team earned it! Also, congratulations to our driver Carl Edwards for doing all he could do to take the Championship away from the #48. Carl won last night's race but will finish as the runner-up to Jimmy Johnson.
Well, if football games only lasted for two quarters we would have won yesterday :) Unfortunately for us, they played all 4 quarters... As expected, the better team won, as in the Tennessee Titans. We grudgingly send our best wishes to all the Titan fans :)
It's true... We're raising AA to be a Florida Gator. She makes the sign for a touchdown already and our next lesson will be teaching her how to make the "Gator Chomp". You may recall the Car Seat we purchased for baby girl sometime back.
I'm not sure who taught her the purple bag was a purse. Maybe mom! :)
It has been quite the sports weekend. DS Justin and I caught the Gator's basketball season opener against Toledo Friday night and if all goes well, we hope to sneak over and catch another game later in the season, provided I'm given another "daddy's night out" :)
Today baby girl will be decked out in her special T-Shirt from Leslie over at Shark Bait proudly proclaiming AA's favorite NASCAR driver, Missouri born and raised, Carl Edwards!!!
Of course, Alyzabeth will insist we switch back and forth between the race and Jaguars - Titans football game :)
The Titans are a much better team but upsets do happen! GO JAGS!!!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
A Musical Virtuoso in the making?
Alyzabeth's BIL, Jesse, spent time at Ford's birthday party helping AA with her first piano lesson (!!). High notes and low notes, AA was intent on hitting them all. Her little fingers somehow knew to touch each key and not "hand bang" them! I wish DH had "Flip", it was so cute to see AA lift her arms and restart playing, she looked like a pro :)
Good teacher, Jesse!! Thank YOU!
Pictures taken on 11/13/08.
We are NASCAR fans and have enjoyed a successful "ride" with Carl Edwards for six years.
With the Cup Championship on the line, this Sunday's race will be a nail biter. Only Carl has a mathematical chance of winning the championship even though Jimmy Johnson seems to be the given winner. I have always liked the Hendrick Teams (Jeff Gordon being my fave) but CE has been our "No. 1" driver for a long time.
Wishing Carl much success in his bid to win the Nationwide (Busch) Race on Saturday and the Cup race on Sunday, at Homestead, Florida.
Read a good story from my favorite NASCAR driver (Ricky Craven) turned Sports Writer at Yahoo.
(at least I haven't heard alot of trash talk coming from here :)
UPDATE: Carl Edwards won the final Nationwide (Busch) race, came up 21 points shy of the season championship..... on to the Sunday final Cup (Sprint) race!!
Sunday: Carl won the Cup race! Yeah!! He did his best.
Jimmy Johnson came out on top for the season championship. Congrats to JJ!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
AA had a great play time today with neighbors, well almost neighbors :) they live across the river from us. Beautiful Victoria is 25 months old and her handsome older brother is 6 year old Danny. We met their parents through Don & Be. All of us are adopting families.
AA was a little shy at first but eventually popped out and played and had fun. Everyone helped with blowing bubbles and getting her involved. V & D have lots of great toys in their playroom as well as a huge play/swing set in their back yard!
The video below is Danny helping AA with her sliding experience!
Nan & Dan gave us a large bag of Victoria's "hand-me-down's". Outfits, PJ's and Shoes! We love them. So happy to have a new stash of clothes for AA. They also are sending along a box for JM as we plan to see Be and Don soon.
The photo is DH, the child-magnet-SAHD, with all three kids around him..... he's great with kids (and the dog, Maggie)!!
I would say this was a successful PLAY DAY! Thank you Nan, Dan, Danny & Victoria for such a fun time!
And to squeeze in one more line... a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to DH, Ford...... If you read this post on the 12th, that's his big day!! I love you!! Your first birthday with a gift from daughter AA! All three kids will be celebrating with you on Thursday Dinner. Enjoy!
Monday, November 10, 2008
We had fun in Maine when I suggested we have a "blind" beer tasting. It had to be blind as we hold an extreme bias AGAINST one of the beers we would be tasting.
Here's how it all started...
While on our driving vacation, we saw many billboards advertising the new Budweiser beer called "American Ale".
I'll be up front with all of you and admit that we do not like Budweiser beer, in fact we really dislike it even if it is the pride and joy of DH's home state :)
So, DH and I discussed the fact that neither of us have ever liked the taste of the B. beer. In order to give this new beer a chance, I said we need to have it served with a few others AND be blindfolded in order to pick which one we like or at least rate each one as to "drinkability".
Thus we began planning for a "blind" taste. We knew we would be seeing my cousin, HT, who we drank many pints with over in England a few years ago, and my sister is known to drink a few beers so she would be a good candidate. We decided to include our nephew, AT, as he just turned 21 to get a young person's perspective as well.
We purchased a variety of beers (not overly extensive) which included our favorite "Maine" beer called Old Thumper.
In the end, we only had DH, myself, HT and Melissa to take on this challenge (AT had already left for an evening out with friends). My Mom was the bartender who made sure none of us could see what beer she was pouring and had assistance bringing the "rounds" to the panel of thirsty and very willing judges (us!).
I would reveal our comments on each beer but you would soon realize how inept we are at judging beer. I don't think we could tell the difference from a lager or ale. We should have been describing the head, hops, any fruit flavors, the bubbles, the smell, whether it is sweet, bitter, sour; etc. We could only come up with "no taste" to "mild flavor" and "what after taste?". I guess, what really matters is whether you like it or not, but I do need to read up on the subject just so I could tell another beer drinker what I liked about a particular beer so that he/she would understand (I had done some researching here but must not have paid any mind to what I was reading!).
In suspense long enough?
Here's the results:
First place (most first and second place votes): Old Thumper - What a great tasting beer; not too heavy, great flavor and aftertaste.
Second Place: Oh, oh.... the "B" Beer - American Ale came in second place. Yes, we were really pleasantly surprised!
Third Place: Bass; surprised as we do like this beer (along with Sam Adams beers).
Bass Beer is very good; would choose it along with Newcastle Brown Ale. So we were surprised it ended up third place.
The bottom two beers were just horrible as agreed by our panel of "experts". Be wary if you buy them!!
Next to Last Place, really bad just because it has no flavor.
And with apologies to our friends from "Down Under". Coming in at last place was none other than:
So we leave it to you to decide how worthy our totally unscientific taste test was..... :)
Sunday, November 09, 2008
She'll walk up and hug my legs. Then look up with her chocolate brown "Hershey Kisses" eyes. Next comes the up stretched arms.
Heart melting, I gently swoop up my brown eyed girl...
* Yesterday was DD Leaa & SIL Jesse's anniversary. They're in NYC celebrating in a city they love. Happy Anniversary you two. Love, Dad & Aly
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Since we love the lobster roll, as our choice of eating lobster the lazy and least messy way, here's some links to the best lobster rolls, along with a few recipes. Yummmy!!
We did have a lobster feast our last night in Maine. We enjoyed our visit with AA's Auntie "M", Nana, cousin Andrew and girlfriend Britney.
I don't think AA knew what to think of the whole production:
Red's Eats is our favorite place to buy the tasty lobster rolls and they have been voted the best in the State on more than one occassion. One big difference is that they have the choice to use melted butter rather than the typical mayonnaise. We opt for the butter every time! They are served on a top split hotdog roll, toasted on both sides. This is an easy sandwich to make and can be tailored to suit your tastes.
Where to Eat Lobster Rolls: One Source of a few out of the way places. Here's a general article on the "rolls" and includes their best pick at Two Lights Lobster Shack (near State Park). One more on the famous rolls from Travel and Leisure.
The basic recipe: Lobster Roll Ingredients
- 4 (1 1/2-pound) cooked lobsters or 1 1/2 pounds lobster meat
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 inner celery stalks and leaves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 rolls, split and lightly toasted
- Line each roll with a small amount of lettuce if desired,
- Melted butter, for brushing
Directions: Remove the meat from the lobsters, chopping any large chunks into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, combine the lobster meat, mayonnaise, lemon juice, celery, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. We usually leave out celery and herbs (why take away from the lobster flavor).
Cook's Note: Place lobster salad in refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes. This allows the salad to absorb the flavorings. Brush cut sides of the rolls with melted butter and fill with the lobster salad. Many recipes at FoodNetwork web.
I ran across this blog called A New Yorker Talks to Herself About Maine. They write about my home State in a way that helps others enjoy it more as an "outsider". Of course, I love reading about Maine.....
Thank you for indulging my homesickness!
Friday, November 07, 2008
Continuing our travel journal from October 21st and 22nd: Decatur, Illinois.
More pictures on 10/22/08 and 10/28/08 posts.
Illinois was one of our stops along our "driving" vacation to see DH's sister and family. DS, Mia, is a professional "signer" (I must ask what her profession is called) and was our educator on helping communications with AA. We enjoyed our visit and AA was showered with love, hugs and lots of presents and great clothes.
Madison was so good to play with AA; as you know, AA wasn't ready quite yet to embrace playing but everyone continued to be patient with her. AA was mostly interested in going up and down all their stairs (up and down, up and down, repeat!).
It was a cool and very windy day at the pumpkin patch. I was still in denial and wanted to wear capris and sandals..... brrrrr.....
We couldn't quite get everyone on the couch for a group photo....
We were so happy to be able to see Troy and Amy with baby Ty. Check their story out on their blog and our chance meeting with them in China.
The picture below is of the gang with exception of grandpa Lester and Ginger. They were kind to take our group pictures. I hope they will pass on some good ones to us. We had a great visit!
Back row: Troy holding son, Ty, BIL Michael.
Front Row: FM, AC holding AA, Amy, MA and DS Mia with arm on daughter Madison.