Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Bet

There was a time when placing a bet was not all that simple. Oh, it could be done but still, for me it represented quite the challenge. For those with "connections" it was a simple phone call away. I lacked such connections. And then I remembered. I could make a phone call. To one who could make such a phone call.
Someone with connections...

The time was January 29, 1995. Super Bowl XXIX. San Francisco 49er's vs the San Diego Chargers in Miami. And while I didn't exactly have the fever, I had the burning desire to place a bet on the game. I was ready to pick The Winner. To put some money where my mouth was...

A little background. I am a lousy gambler. To say I am a good poker player would be to lie. To drive home this point. I was in Vegas last year on some family business. I stayed on the strip. I didn't play one slot machine. I didn't pound the strip. Concentrated on the family thing. Caught a show and a Great dinner.
Gambling is not in my blood...

The point spread kept growing larger as game day grew closer. I'll skip all the betting jargon that I openly admit to not knowing. Suffice it to say. I was willing to give points to the team I thought was going to LOSE. In other words. If my team does not win by more points than the spread, I lose even if my teams wins the game. Cover (beat) the spread, I win.
I am not a good gambler but then I digress...

The call was placed. To my guy with the connections. The one who could actually make the bet happen. Hey, I announced over the phone in my most cheerful voice, let's go together and put down a bet on the Super Bowl game. My "connection" is amused and then slowly comes to the realization that I am serious. He asks who we're betting on. Let's give them the points I say with confidence.
Silence... Then laughter.

The night before my calling, my connection had been out to dinner with a group of friends. Conversation had turned to the upcoming Super Bowl game and how LARGE the point spread had gotten. So large that each of them agreed only a sucker would give the points in making such a bet. And now, here he was on the phone with one of the suckers. How much you willing to bet my connection wanted to know. A little more laughter. He was in.
He'd make the call to have the bet placed...

The next day the connection called me back to let me know our bet was "down". He wished us good luck. I think he reminded me that this was not the smartest of bets. I think I said something about maybe not telling his friends. We could just keep it to ourselves. My anticipation in watching the game was growing. For the first time ever in my life I had a real, honest to goodness, bet on the books in Vegas! Yeah, baby. Big time action.
It's game day...

As far as games go, Super Bowl XXIX was just OK. The heavily favored team was winning throughout by a fairly comfortable margin. For them. Not for me. I needed to cover the point spread. Finally, I got my points. With the final game seconds slowly ticking off the clock, I clung to a winning bet as long as the other team failed to score. They had the ball and they were driving for the score. A score that could not bring them victory but would deny me mine. And that of my connection. I thought of what his friends had said. A sucker bet. Panic set in.
Time only for one last play...

The phone call came the next morning. I'll cut you your part of the winnings and mail you a check my connection said. Thanks, I mumbled, between a grin to wide to allow the proper formation of words. We exchanged laughter and replayed the final moments when our bet literally hung in the air. We laughed some more. Are you going to tell your friends about making the sucker bet I asked. Already did the connection replied. Did that the day we placed our bet. Better to have them share in the fun. I hung up the phone.
We had won The Bet...

The connection and I have never again made a Super Bowl bet together. Just the one. I think about The Bet each year when the Super Bowl rolls around. I still chuckle at having made that call. I still remember his laughter. That final pass play just out of reach of the receiver. But mostly I remember the spirit of the bet between the both of us. The Bet representing more than just a bet.
Much more...

And so, should your phone ring around Super Bowl time, don't worry. It's not me asking you to go in on a sucker bet. I have my own private connection for that. I'm sure you have yours. You can be sure I will be calling this weekend to reminisce about The Bet. And to share that laugh, that bond, all over again with.....
"my connection".

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year - Local Jacksonville FCC

Chinese New Year Celebration has begun. Our local Families with Chinese Children's celebration is Saturday February 7th, so we still have time to plan for the fun!
I liked the above greeting for CNY, so copied it from The Priceless Princess.
The picture below is copied from The VaChina Monologues, soon to be traveling to China!
Here's some CNY ideas at Kaboose.

Happy New Year - Year of the Ox!!

I am doing a "round up" of all the local families that have adopted children from China.
With the "First Coast" (Jacksonville) FCC Chinese New Year celebration on February 7th, I need to catch up with these families. We were in the "Waiting Families" group for over three years and now need to get involved in the playgroups.
I am hoping DH will have a periodic group play here at our two favorite parks: one we have blogged about: Spring Park in Green Cove Springs and the second one, I will have a post ready next week: Playground Project in Orange Park.

DH will also organize these local families blog links on our sidebar under a title of First Coast Families. If you live in NE Florida "First Coast", let us know so we may add your blog (whether you have adopted from China or not).

Here's my list of links so far.

Mischief and Mermaids with Carol and Taylor;
Our Little China Doll daughter Stephanie with parents Gigi and Mark;
Chopsticks and Tabouli: Carol with child Kimberly;
Blessed Beyond Measure with Melissa and Rick; children Natalie, Neeleigh & Aaron;
Waiting for Juliana with parents Jimmy and Maryanne;
Isabel Grace Delaney Mommy Laureen and daughter Isabel;
Dim Sum, Bagels and Crawfish: Lucia, Adam and children Camille and Noah;
Bringing Angel Home with Beverly and children Josh and Angel;
Baby Steps to Hannah: Laurie M (LID 03/20/07);
Journey to Mia Jade with Kelly & Mike and Zane (LID 09/12/06);
Chasing Kayla with parents Shannon & Robert and Kayla
Adoption by Choice with Pam and Steve, daughters Delaney and Kelli;
Plan to Adopt by Donna and daughter Emilee;
Handsful by Donna and Randy with their five children.

I am looking for these local families... some I know I have been to their blog and some I am not sure if they have a blog:
Joan & Chris R. along with children Jane & Julia (twins);
Gigi and Charles P. and their two daughters Sutton and Sullivan;
Shelley & Ken D. and their five fantastic children;
Stephanie and Paul C. and daughter Casey (Chongqing);
Kim and Bryan C. with Zoe and Olivia (Chongqing);
Trish and Peter D. at Waiting for Mara Grace
Matt & Melissa K. with Brooke and Tyler at The K Family.
Debbie and Barry at Chasing Our Sophie!

I am going to get more links at the CNY so we can easily check in with our FCC families.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fabulous Blog Award!

We received an award! Vivian with daughter Kerri received the award from The Monkey King, who received it from Lea at Lea's Musings (Oh My #6), who received it from Meredith Teagarden at A Mother Singing........... And check out Stories of Life in the Middle of Adoption who received her award from Seventh Diamond!
Love giving an award to our favorite bloggers. Our problem? We read so many adoption journeys, all with lovely family stories and feel a connection with so many; it seems that they are all fabulous!!
Thank you Vivian!

Here are the rules for this award:

1. Pass it on to 5 fabulous blogs, and include the one that gave it to you (and link them).
2. List 5 of your fabulous addictions.....

There are many blogs out there that I think are fabulous, I will probably not limit myself to five:

I already linked my Award giver above.....
Kristy at Franceskas Journey Home; she has a wonderful family and blog; waiting since LID 04/21/06,
Kris at Tell Her This is a wonderful photographer, very spiritual and seems to have the meaningful parts of life surrounding her,
PIPO at The VaChina Monologues is waiting for travel to China, yeah for PIPA!!
Lisa and family at the Long Road to China, love this family and her great pictures of two beautiful children,
Robin at Dreaming of Tea with Hope, what a story of patience! And you should buy some of her wonderful creations, she's generous and talented!

Also, want to add a few more for the Award as they have been troopers, blogging away while in China with their new daughters:
Stephe at Giorgia Danette,
Donna and Joe at Waiting for Lauren Elizabeth (waiting no more!),
Karen at Our Journey to Kaelie,
Kim & Joel at Ruby is Coming (and is here!).

And finally another waiting Mom, Catherine at Waiting for Hannah, LID March 23, 2006.... hurry up referrals!

And if she didn't already have the award it would have gone to:
Kim at Journey to Isabella, another great family, having fun while living a good life and waiting for Isabella.

My Five Fabulous Addictions are:
Coffee in the morning,
Reading blogs and email each morning,
the love of traveling,
time with Hubby and family,
I'm running out of ideas... need to ask hubby... he suggested "Maine". Yep, he's right! Maybe we should add American Idol since we schedule our TV time around this show!

And..... we just found out that we received another award, you guys are all so kind (more about that one in a future post).

My dream..... We wish we could all meet in one place, sort of a family reunion with matching t-shirts, children activities near a pool or lake, lots of grilled food (let's keep dreaming and invite Bobby Flay and Ina Garten too).... I can just see me trying to figure out who everyone's family is, who is who by their blog names! My vision of fun!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Princess Helping A Princess

Alyzabeth finally got to play "dress up" make believe.
We're such bad parents. DD Leaa dressed AA in one of Livi's fun outfits and presto we had a cheerleader Princess with her very own tiara!

Every Princess (even a cheerleader princess) needs a little Princess help every now and then. In this case it's none other than Niece Livi helping her Aunt Alyzabeth with her Princess shoes :)
Thank You Leaa! She loved it!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Grapefruit and Jerk-Grilled Chicken with Arugula Salad

Aly found this Best Life recipe from Bob Greene.
Along with DD Leaa and SIL Jesse, we prepared the recipe this past Thursday night. We all found it to be quite tasty and HEALTHY!

The flavors of the jerk chicken coupled with the twang of the grapefruit was a winner. And the reduced grapefruit/chicken broth/cilantro dressing was a perfect topper.

Unfortunately, Aly wasn't able to be with us :(

Which means I get to make the recipe again :)

Aly enjoys trying healthy recipes with interesting and flavorable tastes. Something tells us she is going to love this one!


4, 6-oz. boneless chicken breasts
Approximately 6 to 8 ounces of your favorite jerk marinade
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
Non-stick cooking spray
2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth
Juice of 2 Florida grapefruit
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

2 cups arugula
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Florida grapefruit
2 papaya (peeled, seeded and diced)
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
16 grape tomatoes sliced in half (lengthwise)
4 fresh 1/4-inch pineapple rings


  1. Place chicken breasts and jerk marinade in large zip-top bag, seal and refrigerate for one hour. (We did ours overnight. The recipe called for 1 tbs of marinade but we found that to be way too little marinade).
  2. Remove chicken from zip-top bag and place on hot grill. Grill chicken breast until thoroughly cooked, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, sauté garlic with non-stick cooking spray. (Careful not to burn the garlic. Cooks very fast).
  4. Add chicken stock and grapefruit juice. Bring to a boil, lower temperature to medium low and reduce to syrup. (This is a lot of liquid BUT it will reduce down. Really. It will).
  5. Add cilantro. Stir well and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, combine arugula, olive oil, chopped grapefruit and pepper together. Toss the ingredients to coat arugula. Add tomatoes and papaya.
  7. Place one pineapple ring on the center of 4 dinner size plates.
  8. Top each ring with one grilled chicken breast.
  9. Divide salad into 4 equal parts and place on the grilled chicken breast. Drizzle plates with sauce.

NOTES: Round this meal out with a cup of brown rice, a thick slice of whole grain bread or a large ear of corn.

*Photo courtesy of the Best Life website.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jordyn and Jailynn Blog

Please read this story of bringing home Jordyn's Mei Mei.

Those of you who help so many people, in the adoption world, at your church, neighborhood and especially family, here's a story that is so wonderful and I don't know how to help.
What is so special about this family you may ask? Their daughter is eight years old (I believe she was 6 years old when adopted) and they have been pursuing adopting her orphanage-friend-sister since then.

You all know better than I how to get the word out and get more traffic to Melanie's blog. You can rally the bloggy community around a worthwhile effort. If you can do that, I believe it would help raise the money needed to bring home this new daughter.
Ivy at Hunan Spice is hoping to help this family.
Update: There is a fund raising auction going on. Check out the great items for sale!

Anyone else have a connection to this family?
Thank you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rating the Playgrounds - Tillie Fowler Regional

Continuing our series of rating the playgrounds in our area (NE Florida), we visited a playground directly across from the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Since this park was named for a prominent Jacksonville politician, Tillie K. Fowler, we expected a very nice park. This is the opposite of what we found.

Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park
We read a few reviews that stated what wonderful trails and activities were offered. None mentioned the condition of the playground equipment which is what we were there for.

We will probably put together a check sheet in order to be consistent in rating each playground. We only mention/note the other features or amenities at the park that do not pertain to the play area. Our reviews are from the usefulness of the equipment and facilities for a toddler.

These pictures show an orange cone near some of the damaged equipment, but walking up to that play area, it is not evident as to why it is there. Usually, that type of cone would signify a hole in the ground or a ground hazard. There was none that we saw.

This park had alot of damaged equipment. Some slides had a yellow rope across the top of the slides but had been ripped down just leaving a small knot of caution tape. One slide was cracked so bad a child would be easily hurt using it and there was no barricade that would prevent a child from climbing up to it.
DH and I talked about the horrible scene that could happen: a family arrives at the park, the kids run toward the play equipment, a smaller child climbs up to use the slide; the parents are just catching up or focusing on getting settled at one of the picnic tables; the child uses the broken slide..... I don't know if most parents inspect the play ground before allowing their children to start playing.
I am going to send an email to the city to let them know about their equipment and the risk of a huge liability issue.
Most of the equipment was well worn in need of painting. The toddler swing was fine for AA.
We did allow AA to use one of the other slides (she loves to slide!)......... can you tell we have on our Florida winter coats (thank you to Auntie Jean for this one)! It was cool this morning with a threat of rain.

The park itself is spacious, has many trails for people to hike and can bring dogs on leashes. There is public restrooms that we did not go in, but as we were leaving a cleaning crew arrived and went into the building.

7000 Roosevelt Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL 32212Will we return to this park? Nope!
We rate this Park 1 Star out of a possible 5.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First Pig Tails Or Is That Pony Tails :)

Momma surprised daddy this morning with AA sporting her first pig tails!
It is quite the job keeping AA's hair out of her eyes right now but eventually we hope to have the bangs grown out and then we'll go from there :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Family Prayers - Breakfast With Elmo

Prayers and hugs for family loved ones... See you both soon.

We're posting this picture of AA with Elmo to show you how much she LOVES your thoughtfulness. We also promise to "hide" it when you visit just in case a special "someone" might not be as happy about your decision to share :)

Love you. Thinking of you this morning....

(update: All is well with family)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sesame Pork Roast - Slow Cooker

Who does not like a good roast? OK, maybe a few of you don't but you must be in the minority opinion :) The flavor and tenderness of this recipe will surely win you over. Enjoy.

This is so simple. A slow cooker (crock pot), the marinating pork Boston butts and the marinade reserve. We're ready to get started.

The Boston Butts in the slow cooker with the remaining marinade poured in. Set the crock pot to High setting for the first hour and then reduce to Low for the remaining 8-9 hours...

The finished pork roast.
This would have looked so yummy had I waited to take the photo after plating with the mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. No such luck. We were busy finishing the gravy and after that we were ready to EAT! :)

Sesame Pork Roast
3 to 4 pound boneless pork roast, trimmed
2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider or white wine vinegar
4 green onions, sliced
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
*3 tablespoons cornstarch (or flour)
*1/4 cup cold water

Cut roast in half. Place in Zip Lock bags or glass dish for marinating. In a bowl; combine water, soy sauce, sesame seeds, molasses, vinegar, onions, garlic powder and cayenne. Pour half of the marinade mixture over the roast, reserving other half. Refrigerate roast and the reserved marinade mixture overnight. We marinate for two nights. Place roast in a slow cooker, discarding marinade. Add reserved marinade to slow cooker. (I don't add salt to the recipe due to the saltiness of the Soy Sauce) Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce temperature to low; cook additional 8-9 hours or until meat is tender. Remove roast and keep warm.

Gravy/Sauce Mixture:
*Transfer the slow cooker dripping to a saucepan and slowly begin heating to a low simmering boil. In a small bowl or cup, combine 3 tbs cornstarch (we use flour) and 1/4 cup water until smooth (we use drippings instead of water). Slowly add this mixture to the drippings in the sauce pan remembering to stir continuously for approximately 2 minutes. You may end up not adding all the mixture depending on how quick the gravy/sauce thickens. Serve with the roast.
Be careful to not allow the gravy/sauce to become too thick while preparing. If your gravy/sauce comes out lumpy, pour into a blender, pulse until smooth. Works like a charm :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Conversations With Alyzabeth


Yes Alyzabeth.

Nothing. I just like saying it.


Yes, Dad.

Nothing. I just like hearing you say it :)

I know lots of new words.

Yes you do. Mom and I have noticed.

I understand lots of words too.

You sure do.


Yes Alyzabeth.

When you learn something new do you forget something old?

You will remember lots of things baby girl.

But I'm forgetting my Nanny’s face.

Even when memories grow small our Hearts remember for a long, long time.

I see Momma's face even with my eyes closed.

Because Momma's love fills your Heart.


I'm not Momma, baby girl.

No... I just like saying it...

The continuing imaginary conversations of a father with his daughter...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rating the Playgrounds - Riverside Park

*You may notice the jackets! It was cold! OK, maybe not cold but somewhat damp, dreary & chilly during our second visit...

Riverside Park:
This park is located near "down town" Jacksonville. It is in an older residential area called Riverside more closely associated with the shopping area called "Five Points". We have been to this park in our pre-AA days; they have a really nice annual Art show.
We also frequent a few restaurants in the area; the shops are very eclectic to say the least (we used to call this the artsy/goth area where "vampires" came out at night). Have the vision of the area?

The park has limited parking and what we did find is along a busy street, parallel style, no actual parking lot. So you are unloading your precious one with traffic zipping along side.

We first visited this park with AA last week after my work day. It was near dusk and the pictures didn't come out very well. We went back to have lunch at one of our favorite casual dining places, Mossfire Grill and to take pictures of the Park. AND because we had to let AA slide! She gets very excited about seeing slides (I think we have told you this many times!).

Our first visit went smoothly enough. We spoke to a grandmother out romping with her grandson and enjoyed looking at the large pond with ducks and fountain. There was also one small gathering of three men enjoying a "paper bag" happy hour.

The park is very "elegant" compared to your average sports/neighborhood park. There were older kids hanging out, people walking the pathways and a few kids on the playground.
The park has enough equipment to keep most toddlers very busy, has a "rock" climbing wall too.

The swing set has two toddler style swings but on closer inspection they are open in front; I have never seen a bucket style toddler swing with an open front. So this park lost a few stars as AA loves to swing but still slips out of any seat other than the bucket style.

The park also lacks restroom facilities or a covered pavilion. While it offers seating areas it does not have small charcoal grills. The grills are nice for roasting hot dogs or burgers for more of a picnic outing experience...

A picture of my DH and AA walking back to the car :)

Now the really not so good news:
When we went back during noon time to take the pictures, there was a drug deal going down and a man doing his business near a tree. DH observed all this going on and steered us clear. The park generally looks harmless but being so close to "downtown", there are things going on that are not to our liking! When there are organized events in this park, it has always seemed very beautiful and safe. Will we go back to this park? Only if we happen to be having lunch in the area.

Final rating:
2 Stars out of a possible 5. And it only received the second star because we like the area and AA liked the ducks :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Photos - Morning Routine

After bath time, we head to her bedroom to get dressed. Then comes the hair drying..... and a variety of faces......

Photos - Waking Up After Nap Time

I posted before on AA waking up after naps (when I was off from work); she still likes to snuggle, her back rubs and then ease back into her active afternoon.
I had previously posted Daddy doing his routine; even now when I am home we are consistent that Daddy has the before and after nap duties.

Salty Dog loves staying close by:
Rubbing eyes.....

Talking to Daddy...discussing the reason why the Giants are losing.... (lost!)...

AA explaining about her one handed touchdown:
Smiles! Ready to play! (Salty keeping a watch...).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Recipes - Hamburger Pie

So, do you like mashed potatoes? Me too...

The recipe above (unbaked and ready for the freezer) has been around in one fashion or another forever. It falls into the comfort food category as well as being very simple to make. Aly likes it well enough that we've added it to our make ahead and freeze list.
Granted, this is not a "gourmet" meal by any stretch of the imagination. Then again, every dinner out is not at a 5 Star restaurant :)

My hope is to post a new recipe each Friday beginning next week...



  • 4 medium to large potatoes
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed tomato soup
  • 1 (15 ounce) can green beans (whole, garden cut, french cut), drained
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Quarter potatoes (we do not peel), boil until tender. Drain and mash (using your recipe or ours). Set aside.
  3. Using a large skillet, cook ground beef and onion until beef is brown. Drain.
  4. Add tomato soups and green beans to beef mixture. Stir well.
  5. Ring mashed potatoes around a 9x13 baking dish.
  6. Pour meat mixture into center of baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle potatoes with shredded cheese.
  8. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes, cheese will turn golden to lightly brown.
  9. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Prep time is relatively short, about 20 minutes.

Boil the potatoes until tender.

While browning the ground beef and onions.

Drain and prepare the mashed potatoes. We add 4 ounces of cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter and approximately 1/2 cup of milk (sour cream in the place of cream cheese works well too). Since the potatoes will be baking, we make them a tad bit on the wet or barely soupy side.

Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Ring the baking dish with the mashed potatoes.

Remove from heat and drain grease from beef and onions. Stir in the green beans and tomato soups to the beef and onions. Mix well.

Spoon the beef mixture into the middle of the baking dish.

Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top of the mashed potatoes.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly brown...
NOTE* As with any recipe, this one lends itself to adding mushrooms, peppers, garlic, etc...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gators National Champs & Gators in China

2008 College Football Championship
Florida ended the game with a 24-14 triumph over Oklahoma on Thursday in the BCS national championship game.

As I am back to work full time, I am thinking about my morning and night-time routines (I worked partial weeks through December).

We stayed up and watched the Florida Gators play and WIN the Championship Thursday night but didn't blog about it (into bed after midnight, alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m.). We were excited about the win...... so I am slacking on my writing duties, just posting about it now. A family we are following in China had time to blog about the Gator's win - check out Gators In China.

I am always very tired by Friday evening, I usually get home from work around 6:30 p.m. but worked late until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday thus not arriving home until 8:00 p.m. I spend about an hour with AA while DH prepares our dinner; AA is fed her first dinner at 5:30 - 6:00 p.m. then eats a smaller dinner with us - Did I tell you she LOVES to eat? We then eat our dinner with her (some work nights we wait until after we put her to bed, then we aren't eating dinner until after 8:30 p.m.), play some more, then I begin the pre-bedtime routine of washing up, brushing teeth, putting on PJ's, snuggling, chatting about the next days schedule with her (I talk to her, she tries to babble back), we kiss Daddy night-night, then I rock her in her dark room for a few minutes. Since she is sleeping in her big bed, I can't rock the cradle like I used to. I hum and talk and we "wind down". She then willingly is laid in bed, we do some rearranging and she's off to sleep.
So now I need to plan my days better. Right now I have correspondence to write (about 15 letters, cards and packages to mail), plans for next weekend's trip to see DH's folks (about a 4 - 5 hour drive) and lots of household chores.
How do you all manage to keep up with the house and not feel guilty when you have projects that just never get done? I still have not put together AA's 100 Good Wishes scrapbook, something that has been on my list since the end of 2006!
I have read and know every organizing tip and method but just don't do it. Plus I am not reading or exercising any more. Can I just hire a few people to organize and clean my house and hire a scrapbook coach to complete the project with me? I am interested in digital scrapbooking (which I have polled you all before on that topic) but still haven't started. Since I read many blogs every morning and answer emails, my chores won't get done if I don't change something in my routine! While AA is still sleeping in the morning, we do have to be quiet as our house is not divided into separate rooms, nor is it soundproof even while in a bedroom.

Enough rambling. We will raise a glass of good cheer, safe journeys and love to all the families going to China or are in China; especially to the McClintock's! Soon to have baby (toddler) Anna in their arms.
It is Saturday morning and usually I can meet lots of wonderful people over at Seventh Diamond, but things are changing. Check out her latest few posts.
We will also "Skype" with family this weekend, visit our kids (hopefully) and take more pictures of our adorable, happy, inquisitive daughter. We are happy, healthy and NFL football is on TV today! Yeah!
See you at the playground!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Tagged! Fourth Picture!

We were tagged by Stephanie's Mommy at Our Little China Doll, known as Gigi, to post about our fourth picture in our fourth folder. Our fourth folder didn't have any photos in it (how did that happen) so I went to the next folder.

This picture was taken in January 2007 in Maine, near Moosehead Lake at the Ricky Craven (former NASCAR driver) annual charity snow mobile ride.
So appropriate for this time of year.

I can't find any evidence that Ricky is hosting the charity ride this year (he was up to the "10th Annual" having raised on average $100,000 each year).
So with a little searching I found he will be hosting the:
Moosehead Lake (Maine) Ice Fishing Derby with Ricky Craven, January 30th, 31st & February 1st, 2009.

Enjoy your winter weather!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Rating The Playgrounds - Murray Hill

We are visiting playgrounds in our area and rating them on suitability for AA.
Searching for all playgrounds resulted in a Wikipedia listing of 379 just in Jacksonville (we live in a county south of JAX so plenty more there, too).
Many of these playgrounds listed are at public schools and community centers. BUT, Jacksonville does have many neighborhood parks and playgrounds.

Here's our first review: Murray Hill Playground:
We liked the location of this playground as it is near our favorite pizza joint (Moon River on Edgewood). We stop at playgrounds when we are out running errands in order to give AA a chance to do her favorite activities; sliding and swinging. We have her climb the stairs and ladders in order to exercise her legs. They are stronger but AA is still learning to use them better. She getting there! :)

This playground has a nice little multi-purpose play set along with a large swing area. The swings (bottom picture in background) are for big kids and adults; none are the kind that have leg openings and a back for toddlers ("bucket" type).
We look for playgrounds with this type of swing.

Even though we will still stop at this one (mmmm, pizza), it is not high on our list since AA can't swing. We have always found the park to be relatively clean and well kept. No trash strewn about or cans overflowing. Still, we could only rate the playground 2 stars out of a possible 5.

Only 378 parks to go :) If you have a favorite playground, please let us know!