Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And the Winner Is . . .

We did the drawing for the advent calendar yesterday and the winner is Soon 2 China! Just send me an email with how to get the calendar to you and I'll post it straight away! Thank you for taking the time to follow our ramblings!

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I know it's nearly Christmas, but we are just now getting to our leaves. It's not that we're super lazy (although we do at times lack the necessary inertia to get things done) but the trees have been hanging on to their dried out vegetation like the bald guy refusing to admit that his comb-over is a bad idea. Just get it over with and dare to bare. Well our trees in the past two weeks have finally given up any hope that their leaves would come back to life and have released them to our care. Fortunately it is a beautiful warm December day (that is just so wrong) and we've raked and gathered, and raked and mulched, and the yard looks much tidier.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Street Lighting

Last night was a great example of how fun our neighborhood is. Some very creative and festive neighbors decided to have a holiday street lighting celebration to kick off the holidays. The idea was to have all of your exterior decorations up and ready to go by Sunday night. Just before 6:30 we were to meet at the Cul-de-Sac halfway along our street, but leave one family member at home waiting for the signal! Everyone was to bring bells and their best holiday cheering voices, and when the countdown was over Dads who were left home, heard the ringing and shouting and flipped the switches and illuminated the street. The Dad's soon joined the festivities which included hot cocoa, cider and cookies, and a surprise guest performer Stacy Clearman , who performs weekly at a local coffee shop and is extremely popular with the preschool set (and their parents).

It was a nice evening chatting with neighbors, listening to fun holiday music (with some creative and interpretive horn accompaniment) and kids playing in the fresh piles of raked leaves. We walked home, with cowbell in hand, enjoying the first lights of the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I just revisited my earlier post and I think I need to shift my thinking. We are so blessed in our lives with family and friends, a secure and loving home, and our needs (and most wants) are able to be met. Our collective health, while not perfect, is very manageable and doesn't overtly affect our day to day. We have so much to be thankful for in our lives it feels very selfish whining about something that we have control over (emotional control, not so much).

Phil and I met while students at Virginia Tech and were both members of the national service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Giving and helping others is something that is a mutual joy. Whenever I felt stressed or was having a difficult week with classes (or roommates, lol) going and working on a service project, just giving to others, was such a boost.

In that boost-needing light, I'm taking an idea from fellow blogger Lori and am having an Advent Calendar Giveaway. I know that my timing is a bit off for this year, but to be honest I've had this one (plus 3) since purchased while living in France. I stashed them away with my holiday decorations vowing to keep one for me (someday, someday I might have a daughter) and send the others to various friends with daughters. Well, each year I open the tub of Christmas decorations, see the calendars, and sigh "next year".

The calendar is really far more charming than the pictures portray, a lovely raspberry color (not fuscia) and the detail on the fairies is lovely. If you would like to be part of the giveaway please leave a comment letting me know. I'll have Alex pick the winner December 10th!


What should have been so joyfully wonderful has opened such a can of worms . . . we received a video of our little guy last Monday afternoon. We knew it was coming; we had actually thought it would have arrived earlier. We couldn't wait to see him in action and hear his little voice. It turns out that the orphanage was not entirely up front with his medical information and we are now trying to decide how to proceed. Our agency is not satisfied with the initial response from the orphanage regarding the undisclosed medical status and is requesting more clarification. Of course, if we do not proceed with his adoption they will be trying to place him with another family and having accurate information is imperative.

This whole thing is just breaking my heart into pieces. I watch the video of him and an so enamoured and cannot imagine him not being part of our family, but the potential degenerative nature of his condition is more than what we had agreed we could knowingly handle. I vascilate between feeling like a horrible person for not continuing with his adoption, and a horrible parent for not considering the potential impact on Alex and his world.

Then, two days after we receive the video, we get an email from Alex' school that their building was sold to a consortium of banks and they need to find a new location. Not since our homeschooling days has Alex so flourished with his education. The school director is confident that there are many positives regarding the move and that the mission of the charter school will remain unchanged. They will be allowed to remain for the entire school year, but will need to have a new home in the fall.

I really hope it's not true that bad news comes in threes. I'm rapidly running out of tears.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving MySpace Glitter Graphics

We're heading to Chicago for the holiday. We are so excited and so thankful for the wonderful year we've had, the time we've shared with family and friends and the son we have waiting for us in China.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Small World

Yesterday I joined a yahoo group for families who have or are going to adopt children from the same children's welfare institute in Luoyang City, Henan Province. I immediately got an email from a woman who lives an hour away who has a six and a half year old son and a thirteen yo daughter from GuoXin's CWI! The son was adopted one year ago and the daughter just came here in September. I was amazed to learn that this family has adopted 3 children from China in 22 months!

Plus, we saw photos on the group site posted by families who traveled there in the past year, photos that included him! Apparently through this group we can make contact with families who are traveling there and they can look specifically for him and give us some first hand updates and photos.

The best part in looking at the pictures posted was seeing the orphanage and the children. It looks like a clean, cheerful place and the children seem to be happy and well engaged in school and play activities. It's comforting to know that he's in a good place.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Was there Life before You Tube?

I just love You Tube! It's amazing the things you can track down there, and then you find yourself skipping along memory lane! I'm not sure why I was visiting Sesame Street, but I found several clips that I loved as a kid and will be posting here on the blog.

Seemed like the Ladybug Picnic would be a fitting first video to post.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Shallots Are Lurking . . .

and Matt Damon??? No offense to all those Mr. Damon fans, but really??? Sexiest man alive???

We enjoyed a lovely dinner of chicken satay with grilled red onions, couscous with feta, cranberries and sundried tomatoes, and fresh green beans topped with toasted almonds, balsamic reduction and shallots. As Alex was commenting on the engineering marvel that is the green bean, he remarked "ahh, the shallots are lurking".

Parlez-Vous Mandarin?

Seeing as how we only have 4 to 8 months to get ready for meeting Sir Guo Xin, figured no time like the present to shell out the big bucks for the China travel guides and the language tutorials which promise that you'll speak like a (developmentally delayed) native. Actually I don't think Living Language promised that (especially the dd part), but they do sound rather optimistic on their packaging.

Last night I did some online browsing on Guo Xin's current city of residence, Luoyang. We can travel by train via Xi'an (Terracotta Warriors) from Beijing (we so love trains) so perhaps we can go that route when traveling to bring him home. I'd love a chance to see some of China's countryside; make it a bit more of a vacation instead of just this dream come true, life changing meeting our child journey.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lizard Update

The lizard was deemed healthy enough to be released into the wild yesterday and hopefully has reunited with his friends and family. He will be missed (by one large, grey kitty).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Corn Maze

So we pulled up into the parking lot for our day of fun at the corn maze. Remember, we've been under a severe drought now for months. Resevoirs are disappearing, brown lawns and dirty cars are a badge of honor. We looked out across the field of waist-high corn and thought, oh yeah, this is going to be a challenge.

It was planned a few weeks ago, a picnic lunch and an afternoon enjoying the maze and other diversions at the Dunn CornMaze. I guess a few weeks ago there was still some hope that we'd get that much needed rain and a miracle growth spurt would occur. Nope. Didn't happen.

Once we finished our picnic, we bought our tickets and got our instructions for the maze. There were seven mailboxes in the maze, each with an ink stamp. Each group was given a card with their start time. You had to go around the maze, find each mailbox and stamp your card. Once finished, you take your card to the Country Store to have them record your finish time and total time in the maze.

Amazingly, it was really tough!! Especially frustrating was when there was a row of corn seperating you from a mailbox, but couldn't easily get to it. You could almost reach it . . .but almost isn't good enough.

The weather was perfect and the kids and parents also enjoyed the various smaller, haybale mazes that we wrongly assumed at first were for toddlers and were actually very difficult, rule specific mazes. One you could only make right turns in (I was feeling a little dizzy after that one) and the other had you continue straight until you hit a wall; only then could you turn right or left. There was also trike racing, pumpkin chuckers and hayrack rides.

Definately something to remember for next fall. Perhaps the corn will be taller, but even if it's not we'll still plan a visit.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Our New Pet

A lizard has been found. An injured lizard that needs to be nursed back to health. I'm not sure that we're truly capable of such care as both his back legs appear to be broken. He also has two suspicious round grayish marks (burns?) on his back.

Some quick lizard research was done and we believe he is an anole, which apparently are carnivorous. I was really hoping he would turn out to be a vegetarian. I don't mind finding and storing food for a plantasaurus. But crickets and mealworms, LIVE ones at that. Ugh. We'll see how long he lasts.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It's Out Of Our Hands

Our first batch of paperwork needed for Guo Xin is on its way to St. Louis! In addition to what is already in China, we needed to send paperwork specific for this child indicating that we've researched his condition and have a plan in place for his care. Once China has had a chance to review it they will get our appointment for the American Consulate visit in Guangzhou and let us know when we have been approved to travel.

So now we wait.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dang Guo Xin

We have a son!! Dang Guo Xin is waiting for us in the Henan province of China! He turned seven on the 4th and has a brother in America eagerly getting a Yu Gi Oh deck assembled for his young padawan (I'm sure I misspelled that; I'll need to consult with the Jedi Master)!

I'm not allowed to post photos until we've received our Seeking Confirmation Letter which could be anywhere from 2 to 4 months from now, so you'll just have to take my word that he's got a charming smile and happy eyes (which so completely amazes us considering everything he's been through)!

Now I'm glad that I hadn't gone on that crazed shopping spree that I'd been so longing to do! Just a few yards of pink fabric . . . I'm thinking a pink guest room?

Sunday, October 28, 2007


More from the archives . . .

There was a merger of museums in Raleigh this fall. Exploris Museum and Play Space joined forces to become Marbles Chilren's Museum. The student's at Exploris Middle School were enlisted in both the early behind the scenes work and at the actual grand opening, September 29, working at the various stations.

Alex spent most of his shift at a painting station, helping kids get set up at the easels and finding places to leave their creations to dry. He got to work with Frank, the 8th grade teacher who is also the cross country coach, along with several other 7th and 8th graders.

The museum was packed! I'm sure the fact that it was free that day didn't hurt, but I know there was alot of interest from families with young kids eager to finally get a chance to check out Raleigh's first children's musuem. I think it's been a hit since that first day because it's next to impossible now to get good (read "free") parking at school!! Oh well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I'm rewinding a bit . . . since I've allowed weeks upon weeks to slip by without an update. Let's go back to the weekend Virginia Tech beat the living . . . , err , played Duke.

Fellow Hokies and APO (co-ed service fraternity) friends John Singer and his wife Sharon (honorary Hokie) and family (Christopher, Michael and Anna) drove down Friday night from Delaware for a weekend of game day fun and hanging out with friends. John was a bit looopy from jet lag and timezone issues . . . totally normal when you hop in a car on a Friday evening directly from returning from Belgium. Throw in some DC Friday evening rush hour traffic . . . Oh that beer on arrival at 1 am chez McKenzie, like manna from heaven!

Saturday morning up bright and early to load up tailgating supplies and meet up with two other Hokie APO families, the Donnelly's (also living in Delaware) and the Lang's (Charlotte, NC).

Loads of kids, loads of food, and the never ending soundtrack that was Maya's car horn (the Hokie fight song . . . I kid not) "push the button again, Maya". Which proved most humorous when the battery to her car was DEAD when we tried to leave post-game!

The Duke football stadium (stadium feels too grand a word, really) reminded me of a high school stadium. We realized that the track around the field was what really did it. It was also Duke's Homecoming game! Why? Why would you schedule a slaughter for your homecoming?? Actually, Duke played really well, better than what the final score reflects and it was a perfect sized venue for our huge group to be able to get seats all together. Much easier than the two table seatings of raclette at our house that night (save that for another entry).

Monday, October 22, 2007

What if Kate is Not a Kate?

How is it that time just seemed to scoot by this month?? We've been so busy with school, family and friends . . .

Every so often our agency is given a list of "waiting children", children who have some sort of special need. Some are severe, but many are mild, as mild in fact as "old" age. Each time the list has been posted, well at least since last November, we've found children that we'd love to parent. We've sent requests, but never been fortunate enough to have our name pulled from the hat.

This time around is no exception, but the majority of the children we have requested are boys! When we started this process, when I thought of China, I immediately thought "daughter". I thought "Kate". But perhaps Kate may turn out to be a Keane or Keifer? Or perhaps Kate will be a Kate, but an older Kate with her Chinese name that she would prefer to keep and a dislike of all things pink? I can toss aside the Hanna Anderson catalogue and instead the two of us can shop from Title 9 or Athleta or REI.

"Kate" is a child out there waiting for us as we have been waiting for "Kate". Could be a baby girl, but we've decided that just as likely "Kate" could be a ten year old girl or a five year old boy, or someone anywhere in between. "Kate" is our child. We'll meet eventually.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Man of La Mancha

We got a note last week that Alex' Spanish teacher was going to see Man of La Mancha on the 5th, and invited any of her students who might be interested to join her. There were about 25 students who took her up on the offer, Alex included. So we dressed him up and dropped him off, and he enjoyed a wonderful evening at the theater!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cross Country Updates

Our team continues to improve in their cross country efforts! The kids are really working hard during after school practice as well as putting in some time over the weekends and it really shows! Two weeks ago our meet was against Ravenscroft and last week we were up against Cary Academy. The course at Cary Academy was our longest, 2 miles, and the kids did extremely well!

Monday, September 24, 2007


Friday night is "pizza and a movie" chez-nous; it's something we have done "forever" although while living in France it was Tuesday night because they didn't have school on Wednesdays (but did 3 out of 4 Saturday mornings). Some weeks we rent, some weeks we find something on Disney channel and some weeks we rely on our old favorites.

This week Alex and I rented Bridge To Terabithia , a film we have both seen (and have read the book) but wanted to share with Dad, who had never been exposed to the story.

Such a beautiful story and the film did a great job of bringing it to life. It tops my list of films to watch alone when I need a really deep cry; I think it may have nudged Armageddon out of the top spot on Phil's kleenex list.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Random Meme

A fellow CHI blogger, Lori, sent this to me! My first meme . . . just random questions that have been sent through the blogging world and have made their way to me.

Favorite movie - Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
Last movie I saw- Green Street Hooligans
Favorite tv show - We like the Amazing Race (especially the first couple of seasons when they went to "normal" places, where we could sit back and say "oooh, we were there!), but I think I may enjoy the show House. Saw it for the first time last Wednesday night and Hugh Laurie does an exceptional job of playing a character Mr. Little would abhor.
Favorite type of pen- One that isn't dried out.
What do you struggle with - Remebering to be patient with Alex. (and apparently spelling, lol)
How many siblings-One brother.
You are the oldest/middle/youngest sibling - Oldest.
Pet's names - Peritas (Peri), our born in Ireland, raced in Spain, adopted by Americans living in France Greyhound. Tux is our black German Shepherd. Smokey is our grey fuzzy kitty. Pets who are no longer with us are Noire and Kodi.
Favorite breakfast - Yes. If I have to narrow it down, Nutella.
Favorite salad - Salade Chevre Chaude.
Favorite desert - Gateau Moelleux.
Favorite holiday - Christmas.
If you could do anything - Run a bed and breakfast either in Breckinridge, CO or somewhere in Oregon or Washington wine country. I love breakfast foods and I love meeting new people.
A living celebrity you would meet - Ina Garten. I don't know that she is exactly what one thinks of when they say "celebrity" but she is far more well known that I am!
A deceased celebrity you would meet - Joan of Arc
Your birthday - 01.23
Favorite pie - Lemon Meringue and/or Walnut and Honey.
Favorite pastry - Anything puff.
Favorite Christmas song - Muppet's 12 Days of Christmas.
Favorite soda - Orangina
Most annoying thing people do - Not saying thank you.
What did you do last night - Waited anxiously to hear how the first school dance went for Alex.
Any tattoos? - No.
Pierced ears? - Yes.
Eye color - Hazel.
Black or brown accessories (shoes/bags) - Both. Although mostly black for bags. And I do feel that everyone needs one pair of sassy red shoes. My favs are my Keen Barcelonas.
Favorite color - Green!
The walls in your bedroom are -Teal-ish. I can't remember it's official name.
You can't wait for this show to start this fall - (I'm borrowing Lori's) I'm looking forward to watching "Survivor- China" because of it's location.
If you could have one skill it would be -Painting, canvas, not walls.

Magellan, Elvis and A Slow Dance

Alex approaching the finish.

Being a pretty small school in the heart of the city with no sports fields or track or gym, Exploris doesn't have the typical extracurricular activities found at traditional middle schools. They have loads of clubs that revolve around academics and personal interests of the students (as long as they have a parent and/or teacher who will sponsor the activity and be there for meetings, they can make a club), but as far as sports they are a little lacking. For us, that was actually one of the benefits of the school as Alex has never found a team sport that he has been comfortable pursuing. So no pressure not being on the school soccer, or football, or baseball, or lacrosse team. None of the jocks vs brains stuff going on.

That said, they do have a cross country team! All you need is a pair of running shoes and off you go! Being a more solitary team sport, Alex decided to join. I've also "joined" as a running coach and have been out there running the streets of Raleigh (and the parking garage stairs) with the kids. It's been so great for Alex! He's made several friends and now knows some "upper classmen" that he'll talk to at school.

They had their first meet on Thursday after school, competing against Magellan Charter School and the Franklin Academy. It was held in a park about a thirty minute drive north of school. Running in fields and on trails, much different from our pavement pounding we do in town. The girls' team rocked and came in first place and our guys did a great job coming in second!

Go Exploris!

The boys at the start line.

That evening Phil and I had a date with Elvis Costello performing with the NC Symphony! So it was quite the rush showering, feeding Alex and getting to the show on time! It was held at a fairly small outdoor venue with seating, followed by lawn, followed by elevated tables with wait service. We were in the latter which helped us in not worrying too much about being late or getting dinner for ouselves organized! It was an interesting evening of music with both Elvis and the Symphony working with one another on combined musical arrangements, some of which had only been run through together that afternoon. They performed some Costello classics (Veronica, Accidents Will Happen, Alison, What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding) but mostly a variety of lovely pieces that combined both his one of a kind voice with the talented symphony members.

Lastly, and I am so not old enough for this, Alex had his first slow dance last night at his very first school dance!!!! It was quite the drama leading up to the dance with Alex asking a girl if she would be there (his way of asking her to the dance) and then being flat out asked by another girl if he would go with her to the dance (such a forward little thing!). He had a great time and already informed us of when the next dance will be happening . . . I am so so so not ready for any of this!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Baker's Dozen

Yesterday was our thirteenth wedding anniversary! It's amazing to me that we have been married that long; it seems like just yesterday when Phil was whisking me away from my teaching job in Chicago for the beginning of our life together. It is so true the saying about time flying . . . I'm looking forward to 13+ more years of fun together!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Fabric and Bunnies

I do have fabric that I've had stashed away, but I thought I'd pull it out and try to figure out exactly how to use it in Kate's room. The toile-esque garden print is for a window treatment (probably a lovely topper of some sort). The multi-stripe is for a crib skirt. The tone on tone stripe originally had been purchased for bumper pads, but apparently the collective wisdom on bumper pads has changed since Alex was a babe. Pads are bad is what I've been reading, along with quilts and those wedgie-things that keep jr in one position during the night. So I'm a little torn about the TOT-stripe's purpose . . . perhaps some panels to accompany the header on the window? Or perhaps if I make a skirt with knife-pleats, use it as a contrasting inside the pleats fabric? Hmm.

The two bunnies were must have purchases ages ago with the hope that some day they could adorn a little lady's bedroom. I love the Degas quality of the little basket-holding girl bunny! And the cute little guy in coveralls . . .I think maybe he'll be given the task of displaying a photo of us holding Kate for the first time!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Common Grounds

This time last year we were just a few weeks into our new life here in NC, still feeling like fish out of water and it was discovered that Alex has High Functioning Autism. In the twelve months that followed and continuing daily we've been on a journey of discovery, relief ("it's all starting to make some sense")and reaching out to other families in the autism/aspergers community. I found an asperger's parent group last spring and enjoyed the last few meetings until everything paused for the summer.

Feeling antsy with kids back in school and still two more weeks til our first official meeting, a group of us got together for coffee and chat time. I love how "normal" I feel when I'm with these other moms. When your child doesn't quite fit in with the "norm", moms can also have a feeling of not quite belonging. Nobody on the block has the same fears and issues that I have for my son. So I love being with a group of folks where my kid and all his wonderful quirks are normal!

Now if only I could find a group for owners of ball-obsessed German Shepherds . . .

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Four Days

We returned home late Sunday night from our neighbor's Grill Breaking-In party and decided to see if there was any news from China. On checking the CCAA website I saw that they had finished their matching for August. Congratulations to the families that have log in dates of November 22, 23, 24 and 25, the four days that were processed in the last month.

I'll admit that I did have a breakdown; the first time I've shed tears quite so exuberantly over referral news and my eyes were still sore upon waking Monday morning. I know that any progress is progress and I need to keep happy thoughts in my head. I have not allowed myself to do any Kate shopping until we are less than 6 months from a referral and I'm just itching to buy something PINK!!! Perhaps maybe just a small something??

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thanks RQ!!

As each month gets closer to the end, I find myself drawn to the Rumor Queen's website for whatever tidbit of info I can gather re referrals. This month I found such a treasure for blowing off steam when frustrated with the pace of the IA process. Virtual Bubble Wrap!! Copy, paste and pop!!!


Monday, August 20, 2007

It's 9AM. We can be in Blacksburg by 3 . . .

Friday night Chez McKenzie is our pizza and a movie night. We watched (along with how many million other folks?) High School Musical 2 and enjoyed our Homegrown Pizza pizza, and went to bed knowing that we'd be sleeping in Saturday morning!

Phil woke up at some point, not sure when cause I was still sleeping! Then Alex crawled into the bed with me at around 8:30. Around 9 Phil came up to see if we were up and moving (which we weren't, really).

Phil mentioned that the Hokies were having a free to the public scrimmage game starting around 3:30. Hmm. Don't really have any plans for today. It has been the summer of road trips. Summer's not officially over yet. Let's do it!

We were on the road at 11:15 (Phil wanted to mow the lawn and we had to wrangle a neighbor into letting the dogs out for us) and rolling into the commuter parking lot on campus at 3.

We visited my old dorm, even went up to my old room. Wandered through a remodeled Owens (dining hall), reminisced about the annual first snowfall snowball fight between the upper quad and the prairie dorms, passed loads of families delivering their newly minted Hokies to campus and wandered over to a much larger Lane Stadium.

The scrimmage was actually the best Hokie football game for Alex to watch because he has this annoying habit of cheering for the other team. Since the Hokies were playing the Hokies in this scrimmage . . .

After the game we went through Squires' Student Center, did some t-shirt shopping in town and then went to Mike's for dinner. On our way back to the car we went through the upper Quad and saw Phil's old dorm, went over to Turner Street and saw the parking lot that is sitting where my old senior year house sat, and showed Alex the Quick mart where we'd go purchase beverages for Thursday night's "Cheers and Beers" (and Noire, my old dog, would sit outside waiting for me). We drove past Stonegate and Terrace View, other former abodes, and fueled up at Starbucks for the drive home.

And we were home before midnight!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sixth Grade-Yikes!!

WOW! Can't believe that we're starting 6th grade! Today was Alex' first day at Exploris Middle School. It's a charter school with a very grassroots feel and an emphsis on global education and awareness. It is in the heart of downtown Raleigh, just a few blocks from the state capitol. He's been chomping at the bit since Janurary when he found out that he had been accepted. Enrollment was based on a lottery system with a little over 250 students vying for 54 spots.

I took the camera when I went to pick him up this afternoon, but didn't have the heart to start snapping pics a la kindergarten parent. I did take a picture of the giant acorn(Raleigh is the oak city; I think it's because we have a lot of oak trees?) in Moore Square, which is where the school is located.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Deathly Hallows

Surf's Up!

When Emma and William visited the one thing they really wanted to do was go to a beach. Since they were only here for 2 days, we figured a day trip to the closest (driving wise) would be our best bet. So Wrightsville Beach it was. It was such an easy drive that Alex and I decided on a whim to go for the day later that week, while Phil was at work. We packed the car with a boogie board, sand toys, sand chair, lunch, sunscreen, towels and more sunscreen! It turned out to be a great, sunny day. We surfed, swam, collected sea shells and built intricate canal systems. After about four hours of beach fun we headed home. A little salty, gritty, wind-tossled, a wee bit sun-touched and very much looking forward to our next impromtu beach trip.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Kentucky Horse Park

After our road trip, Alex spent time in Chicago with my parents and then had a brief visit with Aunt Adrienne and cousins Emma and William. Then Aunt Adrienne loaded the three cousins into her wagon and they all headed down to NC.

On the way down they made a few stops, one of them being the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. They got to see a parade of various horse breeds, learned their height in "horse" (Alex is 14.3 hands high), took a short trail ride and sat in some very large garden chairs. They arrived here with loads of fun stories and some great pictures!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Durango and Mesa Verde, CO

Even though our road trip ended 3 weeks ago, we've been busy with visits at relative's homes, with relatives in our home, beach day trips and a 3 day Williamsburg visit! Yesterday was the first normal day at home (aka-laundry, dusting, mopping, etc.) in a long while! We'll enjoy normal for another ten days then head back to the midwest for a 90th birthday party for Grandpa Allen!! We'll then have a week until school starts. Wow!!

These photos are from our last two stops on the trip . . . the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings and a brief stay in Durango, CO where we did our first raft trip! Alex loved it (so did I) and we hope to try to get out to some of the rivers here in NC.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Not much cell coverage, let alone wireless internet access in the "wilds" of Utah and Colorado. Sadly, we're back in the civilized world on our way to Chicago and now can post to my heart's content.

We spent Saturday and Sunday visiting Zion National Park in Utah. The Narrows, a hike along the Virgin River through a canyon, was a huge hit with Alex!

Bryce Canyon was Monday and Tuesday. We camped in a tipi, took a half day ride of the canyon (learned some interesting if not quite true history of the canyon, i.e. Sinking Ship Rock was the inspiration for the movie Titanic), took a ranger guided tour (learned a little more about the park; Mr. Bryce, park namesake, who lived with the park in his backyard and commented that "it's a hell of a place to lose a cow"), and went to an evening ranger lecture about the park in the dark (and got to see the Space Station and the Space Shuttle as they passed over the park!!). Oh, we also did some hikes down into the canyon as well.

Wednesday went to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon; stayed up top! It was very blustery and Alex declared "it's a heck of a place to loose a hat!"

Thursday and Friday we visited Mesa Verde and got to climb into and around several ancient cliff dwellings.

Saturday we moved camp to Durango and today took a class 3 raft trip on the Animas River (got sloppy wet!! Alex actually JUMPED off the raft INTO the river at one point (the guide asked if anyone wanted to . . .)!

We're now on our way to Chicago . . .

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tucson and Vegas

Although we had a great time there, we finally made it out of Texas! We stayed in Tucson, Arizona one night while on the way to Las Vegas. Before leaving Tucson we drove past a small portion of the many airplane graveyards that take advantage of the dry climate (no rust). Incredible the number of planes, from small military fighters to huge commercial planes, just lined up in dirt fields. Also passed what Alex dubbed Watto's Junk Yard (Star Wars fans will understand) with every size airplane part imaginable!

We also visited the Saguara National Park. Not only saw several different types of cactus and many birds (including two roadrunners), but a very scared bunny who stayed very still hoping we didn't see him!

On to Vegas. It was extremely hot. Triple digits remained late into the night. Alex loved the different hotels and their themes! We stayed at the Luxor; the twenty foot Jackals were Alex's favorite (think Night at the Museum). Recently introduced to the humor of Monty Python, Alex was thrilled to find out that we had gotten tickets to see Spamalot! Very, very (Alex feels that there should be at least 5 verys, just to give everyone the main idea) funny adaptation of the Holy Grail and a few other Monty Python skits.