Monday, May 30, 2011

Surrounded by Love 134/365

This three day holiday thing is quite fantastic.  We didn't do much of anything... except eat, but it was wonderful to just hang out and talk and even nap.  Before everyone showed up we made a good plan for all our meals so that when everyone got here we knew exactly what we were going to feed them.  That cut out the "what should we have for dinner" question and it was great for making sure we had enough food for everyone to get stuffed (a MUST in family gatherings and good hosting).

In between meals every one played outside and enjoyed sitting around drinking ginger ale. William and my mom made homemade ice cream and baby and I took long naps. Everyone slept as late as they wanted, it was nice to not have to wake up early. It was perfect.

Last night we talked about renting a movie or playing a game, but then we decided to just sit around and talk and watch the boys play video games. Which was much more fun anyway since me and mom hate board games.

Of course Dad stuck with tradition and fell asleep before 9pm. It was just like old times. (he did also work outside all day and had some horrid allergies, so it's understandable)

Today, after sleeping in and eating a late breakfast (a MUST for holidays and vacations) everyone headed home.
Uncle Stevie was a huge favorite with Baby Girl. She always smiled and laughed when he was around.
She's a pretty big fan of Auntie Annie though too. Rosie loved getting her nails painted, watching Annie put on her make up, and even helping Annie pack. I know Baby Girl will miss them both.
She was very excited to see Papa and would say "PAPA" every time she heard him laugh and then go off to look for him. She finds him very entertaining and I think she loves having someone around that likes being outside almost as much as she does.
It was a very nice weekend, even if it was just a couple days. We laughed, we ate, we all gained five pounds and now it's back to work, school and real life.
Thank you for coming everyone! We will miss you and we look forward to seeing you again soon. Happy Summer!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A few of my favorite things 133/365

Happy Memorial Day weekend. May you have a restful weekend filled with family, fun, laughter  and ice cream.

Family Fun 132/365

This is the first Memorial Day we've celebrated in 3 years. There is no Memorial Day in China and we'd almost completely forgotten about the holiday. 

Then Stevie and Annie told us that they were coming down for the weekend.

Steak, BBQing, Family, and sitting outside drinking homemade ginger ale.  I think I love Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

New Toy 131/365

When we lived in Shanghai William and I both had really nice bicycles. I was really sad when we had to sell them but William promised we would get new ones again someday... even if we did live in America.

Most people in China have bicycles as their main form of transformation. Some people are lucky enough to have electric bikes or scooters. You can fit a lot of people on a scooter, a whole family really.

A few weeks ago my parents bought a new bike to help William get around on the 70 acres better.

It's not quite what William had in mind when we said we'd get new bikes, but we can and do fit the whole family on it.
Baby Girl loves going for a ride. She asks to be taken out on the bike every day.  If she's really tired she will even take a nap on it.
She doesn't like to fall asleep in her car seat, like most babies do, but she'll fall asleep riding on the ATV.  She's such a good little farmer girl.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Growing big and strong 130/365

Remember those baby goats that were born back in February? Well they are growing so big so fast! 
Here's a video of them playing with their mamas on one of the fallen trees.

Graduation 129/365

It's that time of year again. The time of year where school ends for the summer and students rejoice in a job well done (or at least done). For High School Seniors this is an extra special and bitter sweet time.

Graduating High School is always exciting but also a little sad and scary. It's a lot of work to get through those four torturous years and that's exciting when it's finally done. But it also means leaving friends behind and growing up... a little.

There's a great big exciting world out there waiting for these kids and it's always exciting to hear about the plans and dreams people have after High School.

Last week we attended a graduation at the local High School. We have a cousin, Hanna, who was graduation and we wanted to be there to cheer her on. She was Salutatorian of her class!

This was the best  graduation I have ever been too. It was well organized and short!  And best of all it was totally about the kids and their accomplishments. We didn't have to suffer through some teacher or preacher giving a long boring talk that no one cared about.

Hanna gave a heartfelt speech that left everyone teary eyed. She did such a great job reminding us of the excitement of the future and the sadness of growing up and leaving things behind. There wasn't a dry eye in the place.

At the end of the ceremony all the graduates did a victory lap around the gym and then made a circle, did a cheer and tossed their hats in the air. It was GREAT fun! 

 (William took these pictures with his iPhone)

The Gym was so full I think that every one in town came for this graduation!
Hanna looked beautiful and of course she gradated with lots of honors and a four year scholarship to the college of her dreams.  We couldn't be prouder of her.
On our way out of the graduation we found this car in the parking lot. I thought it was funny. It reminded me of people in Shanghai that would paint their cars in Transformers or Hello Kitty themes, except this car is owned by a high school student instead of an adult.
To celebrate such a wonderful gradation and official beginning of Summer we stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home and baby girl had her first ice cream.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rosie talks to the goats 128/365

Baby Girl is growing and learning so fast. I can hardly believe it's been just a few months that she's been walking. Now she RUNS everywhere and is talking. Here's a little video of her talking to the goats (it starts with her baaing at them) and telling me what the other animals say.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First Communion 127/365

Last Sunday was First Communion at the little local Catholic Church we've been going attending.  It was the first time I've ever seen a "First Communion" service and I thought it was sweet.

Communion is something that both Protestants and Catholics do, but we do it very differently. Actually, even within the Protestant faith there are many different ways and views of taking communion. Which I've always found rather ironic since the word "communion" basically means unity.

In the Catholic faith it is taught that the bread literally becomes the body of Jesus, and the wine actually becomes the blood of Christ. Catholics take Communion every time they go to church. To them, they are literally taking into themselves the body and blessing of Jesus Christ.  They go to great lengths and pains to make sure they never drop a crumb or spill a drop.

Protestants believe a wide range of things about Communion. Some believe it's just a symbol, an act we preform at church to remind our selves of Christ sacrifice. Others believe it's more than just a symbol, that something spiritual happen when we take Communion.  Some Protestants take Communion every Sunday, some take it on the first Sunday of every month, and still other hardly take it at all (I went to one church that only took it three times a year).

When William and I were in Prague on our honeymoon we learned that for centuries the churches in that city would fight and even kill each other over how to take communion and what to believe about it.
(Picture we took in Prague of a church that changed hands several times between "we want to drink the wine" and "only the Priest takes the wine" groups)

One thing we all do agree on though, is that it's a special thing we do to honor and show our faith and love for Jesus. 

The Catholic church has a very long process of classes one must take in order be presented to the Priest for their First Communion.  These adorable second graders have been studying and learning for about a year in preparation for this special Sunday morning.

Whatever you believe about God or Communion, you have to agree that these 
kids look so sweet all dressed up in their white dresses and tiaras and veils (some even had family veils handed down through the family) and suits and ties.

Shopping with Baby Girl 126/365

Last weekend we all spent the day "in town" shopping.  There are some good stores in the town about 25 minutes from us including a Peebles with a really great baby section. Baby Girl not only enjoyed browsing at all the pretty dresses she would look amazing in, but was very excited about kissing the stuffed animals and dancing to the music that was playing in the store. It was the best (and most productive) shopping trip ever.

PS. So sorry for the crazy camera action there... I hope none of you get motion sick.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Date Night 125/365

It's been a very long time since William and I have had a date night. It's also been a long time since we've have this much junk food.

Both were nice.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

First Rainbow 124/365

I don't remember ever seeing a rainbow when we lived in China. The sky was never clear enough.  Friday we saw our first rainbow in years, and baby saw her first rainbow ever. And oh my. What a beautiful rainbow it was. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Aaand We're Back...121-122-123/365

Blogger was down for a couple of days there so I couldn't post anything.  I have three days to make up here, but luckily most of our days look alot the same.  
One thing that was fun the last few days was the number of packages that came for me. That was very fun and exciting and made my birthday extra special. Every morning I had something new to open for my birthday. None of the packages, however, had a "From" name on them so it was a fun guessing game trying to figure out who they were from.  I was going to post a picture of all my goodies and tell people to let me know who sent what, but in the days blogger was down I got a couple emails and all was cleared up. 
My dear friend Julie sent me the box of Gluten Free goodies for mother's day from The Inspired Cookie, so freaking yummy!
William's parents sent me all the books and CDs. I feel very loved and spoiled.
And my darling Anandit sent me a designer t-shirt from the Demi and Aston Foundation (DNA), to raise awareness about child sex slavery. The design is called "freedom." It's a nice shirt. I love it.
On Wednesday a package came for Baby Girl. Her Nana loves buying her things, espeically things that she can use out side. One of our favorite things to do is sit out in the field with the goats. So Nana got Baby Girl her own chair. It looks just like Mama's.

Baby Girl loves her chair very much and get very upset if the goat knock it over. She likes to rest in her chair after chasing the goats around.
The goats, especially Charlotte, like resting in my chair. This is what I came back to once after I got up to take a picture of Baby Girl.

The majority of the last few days has been spent outside. It's the first thing Baby Girl asks for when she wakes up and she never wants to go in. We spend all day out there and some times eat breakfast and lunch out there. There are some day we only come in at nap time and as soon as nap time is over we go back out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Summer Arrives and so do late Birthday Presents 120/365

Summer has arrived in Tennessee and it pretty hot. It's not a bad hot so far. Not a stifling hot like Shanghai was... not yet anyway.  But just the same, minimal clothes are preferred.
Baby Girl doesn't seem to mind the heat though. As long as she can be outside she's happy. She was even happy enough to smile and dance with me.
Something else that arrived was birthday presents!
I love it when gifts arrive "late."  It makes the special occasion they are supposed to honor last that much longer.
William's parents sent me a pile of gifts, among them was a pink Snuggie! (it's a blanket with sleeves!) I'd been wanting one ever since my brother told me how awesome they were two Christmases ago. 
I was so excited to get it that I turned on the Air Conditioner so I could put it on for a picture.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Summer Reading 119/365

My brothers, reading in bed
When I was about 10 we loved down the street from the public library. Every summer the library would have a summer reading program. I don't remember what the prizes were, but I do remember the stickers I got to put on my reading chart.

My mom took us to the Library almost daily and when she couldn't my brother, Luke, and I rode our bikes to take part in story times, craft times, Charlie Chaplin movies, or just to sit and read.

That was the summer that I moved from the children's books to the "young adult" books. That was also the summer I read Beauty by Robin McKinley
and became totally obsessed with the Beauty and the Beast story. I borrowed every version of the story the library had.

Ever since then Summer has been a time of reading for me. I'm usually reading something during the rest of the year, but during the summer I just crave books. I crave stories and adventures and characters I can fall in love with. 

Last Summer I was home with an infant and had a ready reading summer. Actually I listened to the book on since I had a baby to take care of.  

 Here is a list of books I read last summer that I would HIGHLY recommend:
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (which is coming out as a movie this summer so check out. It was absolutely sublime.) 
Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen (which actually I read or listen to every summer)
Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite authors of all time!)
I'm not sure what I'll read this summer, but William's mom did send me Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon  for my birthday and I'm really looking forward to reading it. Also I'll be checking out some books on audible again.
 What are you planning on reading this summer?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day at the Ren Faire 118/365

 I've always loved dressing up.  It's something I've never grown out of and something my mom always encouraged me to do.  When I was a kid we had a trunk full of costume clothes. We were always dressing up and putting on little skits.

When I "grew up" I fell in love with the Renaissance Faire, a place where every one dresses up and play acts.

I was so excited to find there was a Renaissance Faire near Nashville, that William insisted we should go for my birthday. But going on Mother's Day seemed like an even better idea.

A lot of people get very involved with authentic costumes and trades from the Elizabethan Era. As we entered the Faire grounds we were greeted by authentic music from that time period.  (One of the minstrels even serenaded me and my mom)

 People of all ages get involved with dressing up and playing the part.

 Not all costumes are, or have to be, very authentic. One often runs into Jack Sparrow, Robin Hood and even the occasional Darth Vader at the Ren Faire.  The point is to have fun. Bonnie Rose thought the Forest Fairies were very fun.  They are always a Faire Favorite.
 Did I mention there is often great music at the Faire?

 This was the first time I had ever seen animals at the Faire. There were Horses and a bird of prey show and even camels! Bonnie Rose and I rode the camel.
 The Queen, Elizabeth of course, is always the biggest star of the Faire. We stopped an watch her Knight some young Faire maidens and lads.

 Did I mention that alot of the costumes are weird or silly? This lady was funny. She did word games and told punny jokes.

 Baby Girl thought she was really funny.
 What would Ren Faire be with out a sword fight and some pirates?! This show was great fun. They were very funny and good with their swords. I especially liked their "Geeks at the RenFaire? Who knew?!" jokes.

This character was Baby's favorite. The costume was really well made and the mouth on the bear head even opened and closed. I'm pretty sure Baby Girl thought it was a real bear. She kept trying to pet it.
As expected, it was a wonderful day of yummy food, great music and spectacular costumes.

Thank you William for such a wonderful Mother's Day.