Saturday, December 20, 2008

Kerbie's Visit

When we traveled from Beijing to Nanchang on May 11, 2008 it was just two families, the McKenzies and the Lathams. Jolie and Shawn met their precious daughter Kerbie in that same conference room just minutes after we had met Kate. We really enjoyed their company while we were in China and were thrilled that they live in Richmond, VA. We were certain that we would visit with them once we got back home.

We were so excited when they planned their trip down to Atlanta with a stop-over in Raleigh! Kerbie is such a sweet thing! She is 20 months old now and has started talking. She loved the dogs (she has a couple of her own) and enjoyed making sure they ate all their food. She also helped Phil work on his squatting (very important resting position in China).

After all the kids had gone to bed, we started swapping "horror" stories about the first few weeks back from China. All the adjustment issues. Trying to figure out how to be a working family again. Feeling totally disfunctional, disillusioned and afraid to let on how low some of the lows could be. It was reassuring to know that we were not alone in our stress. I felt like an idiot for not realizing that they were probably experiencing at least a little of the same and, even if they weren't, that they at least would be supportive, having made that same journey with us back in May.

It was great spending some time with them. Lots of laughs. Lots of stories. Good therapy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

He's Going to Hate This !!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

She's Going to Love This!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Elf Party

It is so easy to take for granted how lucky I am. I never give a second thought to the fact that I live in a safe and loving house, with all my needs met and a whole lot of my wants, too. And it's been a couple of years since I was actively serving in the community, so it's easy to have a kind of happy bubble existence. And easier still to put off new volunteering starts because we were "expecting". At any moment we would get word from China. I would need to be a full-time, kid at home, 24/7 Mom. Not that it would happen quite that dramatically, but I didn't want to commit to something that I couldn't follow through.

I realized last year that I needed to pop that bubble and find a way to contribute here in our "new" hometown. I got an application to begin volunteer training with Interact, an organization that helps battered women and their children in the Triangle area. Then we found out that we were picked to adopt Kate!

It's been a busy 6 months since our trip to China, but it's time to dust off that application and get moving. Wednesday night, Alex, Kate and I spent the evening at Interact's annual Elf Party. We organized toys, clothes, books, and other gifts for Interact's Holiday Bazaar. The bazaar is an opportunity for their clients to come with their children and pick out gifts for one another. We helped set up "shopping" areas for Mom's to "shop" for their children and another area for the kids to pick out gifts for Moms. The bazaar will be held this weekend and will have volunteers helping the kids "shop" for their Moms, helping Moms by keeping kids out of the way while Mom shops and getting all gifts wrapped up to keep secret until Christmas.

Both Alex and Kate had a great time and I had numerous complements on how helpful and hard working my two Elves were! Hopefully next year, after having gone through the volunteer training, I'll be able to help out during the bazaar itself! While we drove home Wednesday night, I had two tired kids both agree that we definitely need to do that again next year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Kate received a video of the Nutcracker performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov and was so inspired that she ran up to her room and put on her "butterfly dress". After posing for a few pictures, she danced around the kitchen, asking Dad to help her with the lifts!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Hey Yall! The leaves haven't even finished falling, yet there's snow falling! How groovy is that!

Hope you didn't strain your eyes to see the snow in the photos, but it's there. Promise.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Girl Party

A few weeks ago, both Phil and Alex were out of town so Kate and I decided to have a Girl Party! We brought out some lovely plates, lit the candles and dusted cupcakes with pink sugar crystals. We painted each other's nails and watched the bonus DVD that came with her High School Musical 3 soundtrack. We danced around and took pictures. We had a lovely time at our Girl Party and found that we didn't miss those boys one bit. Well, maybe we missed them just a little!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is It Too Good To Be True?? North Carolina Is Blue??

Our local stations are saying that we've done it, that we've gone blue here in North Carolina, but I haven't seen it yet on CNN or other National outlets. It's fantastic how much excitement there has been leading up to yesterday and I'm so hopeful for our State! I'm proud to say that my county, Wake county, voted for Obama. Just waiting for a decision to be made for the state as a whole.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today's The Day

If you haven't already voted, get out there and be heard.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Kate's first Halloween (that we're aware of). We had a Princess, a Psycho (Alex' friend, Nolan) and a Cereal Killer. Alex, Nolan and another friend, Jesse (Santa with a Scream mask), took off and did their own thing, while Kate and I visited some families on our street and just tried to take in all the sights. She definitely had the whole trick or treat thing down, and was thrilled to see the candy filling up her pumpkin!

Unlike last year where we were wearing shorts and tshirts, last night felt like a fall holiday. Cool and crisp. So it didn't take too long before our Cinderella was feeling cold and was ready for some hot chocolate and Disney channel. Alex returned home about an hour later with more candy than we'll ever know what to do with (especially since he still has candy left over from last year).

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fall Party At School

Games were played, pumpkins were decorated and lips were blackened (picked the wrong day for a white t-shirt). And while all this is going on, no school work is taking place. What more could a kid ask for?

Ireland Continued

While the purpose of our trip was to visit my Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and Granny, we did manage to get in quite a bit of sight seeing. On Monday we went into town (Dublin) and went to Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral and Dublinia.

The Castle is on the site of the original Dublin fortress and where the black pool which gave the city it's name was located.

Dublinia is very cheesy, but does a great job of explaining Dublin's history. You walk through Viking history, life in Medieval times and lots of information about the Black Death. Nice.

Christ Church Cathedral is the resting place of Strongbow (in the picture Alex is showing how he apparently died) as well as home to some beautiful stained-glass windows. Alex was quick to point out the Holy Hand Grenade found in one such window. Perhaps Monty Python is not the best roll model.

Wednesday we visited Kilmainham Gaol during the day and that night saw Ireland beat Cyprus in a World Cup qualifier.

Thursday we visited Trim Castle (location of the majority of the filming of Braveheart) and Newgrange, a very cool stone age passage tomb.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Boy is Home!!

Alex spent the past 3 days at an outward bound-style camp for a 7th grade class trip to foster unity, teamwork, whatever . . . it drove me nuts not having him home!!! Oh crap crap crap I don't think I can let him go to college. Maybe if I let him play video games instead of doing homework I can sabotage his academic efforts.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Off the Plane and On the Beach (Sunday, October 12)

Our flight from Atlanta was fab! I love it when they have upgraded the interior of a plane with the individual screens in the seatbacks so we can pick and choose films at our leisure. Plus we could pause, fast forward, rewind! How cool is that! Really could have used that kind of luxury on our trip to and from Beijing.

As an employee of the Irish airline Aer Lingus, Uncle Don was able to meet us at baggage claim and walk through customs with us to where Aunt Rita was waiting. It was a beautiful day in Ireland. Really. Blue sky and warm. Really. We walked out to the employee lot where Don had parked (he offered to go get the car and come get us, but after been cooped up like a sardine for 7 hours . . .) and I actually had to use my sunglasses. Almost didn't bring them. It is Ireland, after all.

First order of business when we got to their house was to turn on the electric kettle and have a cup of tea. Mmmm. Second, as our early arrival had thrown off their usual AM routine, was to get Dusty out for his morning romp. We loaded up in the car and headed off to the beach (Malahide), a five minute drive from their house.

We parked on the roadside and walked a bit on a laneway past a new golf course and up to the dunes.

Dusty was happy as a clam, racing along barking at the waves, chasing the tennis ball and fetching sticks. Alex was similarly affected by the sand and surf. He is like a child possessed when he gets around water (oddly the shower doesn't have the same effect) and has to get in it. Before we knew what had happened Alex as in up to his knees. Shoes and bottom half of jeans just soaked! I lambasted him and had him shed the shoes and roll up the jeans (yeah, yeah, barn door) before he went back in. Ah well, vacation.

Friday, October 17, 2008


We've only one more day here in Dublin with Rita and Don. Our last minute trip to Ireland has been a whirlwind visit; the fact that I haven't had time to post anything while here should speak volumes!

We'll be home tomorrow (happy and sad) and will hopefully get some things posted on Sunday!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tag Sale Saturday

Neighborhood sale. Was not planning on participating. Too much stuff to go through and not nearly organized or disciplined enough to get ready. Not that I didn't have advanced warning. There were weeks to prepare. I'm a bit of a procrastinator. And since I hadn't prepared I decided last night that we would not be participating. Like me, Alex is a procrastinator. Unlike me, he decided last night that he had stuff to sell and would be setting up shop in the morning. So we gathered up a few things in between our Friday ritual pizza and a movie, and at around 8 this morning set up our little table and waited for the dough to come rolling in. Although we didn't generate enough to bail out Wall Street (just enough to buy some milkshakes this afternoon) since we were so busy keeping shop, we had no time to shop at our neighbor's. Thus a win-win for the household account.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Love This

I saw this commercial tonight during the Colbert Report and I was so appreciative of technology that allows me to rewind and watch (and smile) over and over! Then I remembered the power of the ever generous YouTube . . . enjoy!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Seeing Pink

Just a quick post. Monday is generally laundry day for me. I like to start the week with this chore. Makes me feel like I've accomplished something big and worthwhile (I'm sure my parents had just this type of accomplishment in mind when they were sending those tuition checks to Virginia Tech).

And I like to sort. Really sort. I've got the basket for whites. Who doesn't? But I also have separate baskets for blues/blacks (dark), grey/tan, green, and finally, red/brights. The baskets are labeled. Even the dogs could sort out their dirties.

Pre-Kate, the blues and greens would tie for biggest load. The whites a close second. Many weeks the brights would get skipped; get an extra week to add to their numbers.

But no more. Not only do the brights now outnumber all others, they've now got a new majority color. Pink. Hmmm. Kate mentioned last night after she'd sorted all her laundry "I lots of laundry" and low and behold this morning I found lots of laundry. Lots of pink laundry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Projects

Trying to keep up with our scrapbooks has been both a joy and a curse. I love the process and the finished product, but it just takes me so dang long to finish albums. I've decided on trying a new approach to the instant gratification that scrapbooking normally doesn't offer me: mini-albums. I love the idea of something more accessible to the kids and a project that may actually get finished up in a day or a weekend.

My first project wasn't for me, but a baby gift for a neighbor who is due any minute now. A simple baby book that she can update with photos monthly and has pockets for stashing any little things she may want to keep. I think it's cute and I love that I was able to finish it so quickly. Now to get some started for us!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hokies and Pirates

First game of the season for our team was held at the Panther stadium in Charlotte. We didn't win, but it was a great game! We got to be with college friends Melissa and Rex, John and Sharon, and Keith and Maya (who graciously hosted all of us and our kids for the weekend) which is always fun no matter where we are or what we're doing.

Sunday we went out to Lake Norman where Keith and Maya's boat lives. We swam, skied and tubed, a first for both Alex and Kate, and they loved it!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Strange Fruit and Snowcones

This weekend in Raleigh was the third of four Arts Alive on Lichtin Plaza events. Art on the Edge brought us unique performers and collaborations of disparate art forms that managed to meld beautifully, and the installation, Levity III, which was like a circus tent gothic cathedral smoothie with some Islamic architecture sprinkled on top.

Friday night we went to see El Gleno Grande. He was hysterical. Street performer style humor and skills. A little juggling, some mime, some magic. Pulled unwitting members of the audience into his little world on stage. But his crowning glory, was his equestrian spoof. Apparently he has some links on his web site,, where you can see him in action.

Then we visited? toured? experienced? Levity 3. It is impossible to put into words and I think it really wouldn't matter much my interpretation because I think everyone is going to experience it differently. I will say that we were very fortunate to have visited it last night because there were so few people there and we were able to wander at our own pace. And for us part of the experience was just finding a little spot where we all stretched out and enjoyed the kaleidoscope of colors and sounds.

After that we went back into the Fletcher Opera Theater where a local (Chapel Hill) band, The Old Ceremony, was performing in conjunction with members of an Argentine Dance school and an aerial dancer. The music was incredible. Kate loved it! Kept saying "I like this song"! The music was bit too loud for Alex, so we only stayed for a few songs. I'll need to remember ear plugs for his next time out.

Today we went back to see Strange Fruit perform "Swoon!" Similar to El Gleno in that they reminded me of street performers, but perched 12 feet off the ground on poles that the artists would bend and sway as they "told" their story of love, jealousy and anger.

After sitting out in the sun it was decided that snowcones were in order. We weren't the only ones ready for some cool, so while we waited in line we had some time to chat with a fellow Exploris family we ran into and make a run for some water.

As we were getting ready to leave we stopped to thank a mom who we had sat next to briefly during "Swoon". Robin and her (Asian) daughter, Lucy, had given Kate a lollipop right as the show started so we didn't really get a good chance to say thanks. We chatted for a while, interupted every once in a while by either Kate or Lucy. At one point Kate pointed to Robin's t-shirt which had asian characters on it and asked "Chinese?". Robin told her it said Fu. I told Robin, "Oh, that is where Kate is from. Fuzhou." And guess what?? Robin's Lucy is a Fu, too! Such a random meeting half a world away from where they both started.