Monday, March 22, 2010

Saturday Night Louisiana Style

A few weeks back, a friend invited us out for a little get-together at his house. He had a large live shipment arriving from Louisiana and there was going to be a party.

That live shipment arrived and was tossed into a small plastic swimming pool full of salt water.

Can I just say, it was a phenomenal party? A wonderful mix of people hanging out in the backyard enjoying the beautiful weather and a table full of this.





Lots and lots of them.

Some people were a bit suspicious and confused about how one went about eating these things.

But there were plenty around to help out the uninitiated.

After spending some time cracking open shells and tossing extra body parts onto the ground, people stood around talking and laughing.

And spent time getting to know new friends.

Even Angel had a great time.

I caught her going after the crawfish parts on the ground so we had to have a lecture on the potential effects of crawfish shells on the digestive system. She got her disappointment quickly when she discovered that she was a prime target for the affections of certain small children at the party.

Everyone pitched in to clean up then we headed home as the sun set behind the trees. After the ballpark in the morning and a crawfish boil all afternoon and evening, Angel came home and our usually decorous houseguest crashed in a completely undignified position.

She was snoring so loud, Mr. at Home mistook her for an 18-wheeler jake braking outside.

Yep, I agree. It was a really big day and a really great party. Even if I don't eat crawfish.

(For those who asked for access to the pictures, I've uploaded as many as I can to flikr and you can get them at .)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Taking the puppy "somewhere interesting!"

We had a bowling meeting for the puppies scheduled for today, but something happened with our reservations and they had to cancel it. That stinks as what could be better than a good excuse to go bowling? The puppies get some training, I get to bowl; it's a win-win all around.

Since we had to cancel the meeting, our new instructions were to take our puppy campers on an interesting outing and we get to tell about it at the meeting next Saturday. As a meeter of fact, there WAS another thing I wanted to do today and since bowling was cancelled, my calendar now had a free spot to do it.

This morning we packed everyone into the van and drove over to the stadium where our local AAA baseball team plays. We love to go to minor league games and the Charlotte Knights are fun to watch. Today was their fanfest where they had lots of fun and free stuff planned. Who can beat "free"?!

Angel was very good through it all. She sat quietly at attention through the national anthem (she's very patriotic). She wasn't bothered at all by the mascots. She obediently went up and down stairs, waited in line, and sat quietly watching (and smelling) everything.

One really cool thing K got to do was batting practice out on the field.

She sat in the dugout.

(It's baseball. Something about baseball requires the antique lighting in the photographs.)

She warmed up on deck.

And she got in the cage to swing at a few balls.

It took a few throws for the pitcher to get the ball down to her level, but she made contact with the last pitch and got a good solid crack toward shortstop.

It was awesome! And definitely qualifies as "somewhere interesting!".

Friday, March 19, 2010

Without Heritage

As K and I talked about St. Patrick's Day and her Irish ancestors, a little voice piped up from the backseat. "It's not nice to talk about being Irish in front of people who aren't Irish."


I sometimes forget that L is adopted. As an adopted member of our family, our ancestors are now her ancestors, but it's not the same as with K. Even at 6, she knows this.

So we switched gears as she asked about her ancestors. Do you know how much it stinks to have to tell your daughter that you don't know who her ancestors are? Or even who her birth parents are? Or exactly where she was born or why they couldn't keep her? It stinks to not know any stories to tell her about the people who made her.

Instead of regaling her with family stories passed down through the generations, I told her her own story. I told her the little bit that I know about who she lived with and when. About who found her and where. About who took care of her and what she liked to do. I told her how we were chosen to be her parents and how we went to China to get her. I told her about her orphanage friends and promised her that she will get to see her best friend from the orphanage this summer.

She's going to China Camp this summer. Our adoption agency holds it every summer. For 3 days in Oklahoma, there's a gathering of children. A sea of shiny black hair and almond-shaped eyes, all with similar stories. A common heritage.

And she's old enough to have a need for that heritage.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I'm procrastinating on my housework right now because the to do is simply so overwhelming that I'd rather continue to sit here and write a blog post and listen to L's continuous commentary on her schoolwork as she colors "short a" words red and "long a" words yellow.

Today is St. Patrick's Day. K's teacher is making a big deal out of as she's "mostly Irish" and K went off to school today in kelly green pants, a St. Patrick's Day shirt that Grandma bought her last year, and a shamrock hair clip, also courtesy of Grandma. Thanks, Grandma! As we were talking about it earlier this week, I told K a story of her Irish heritage that my Grandmother told me about her great-grandparents.

A very long time ago, a man lived in Germany with his wife and children.

(Trust me, I'll get to the Irish part in a bit, but the backstory here is important, so bear with me. Anyway...)

The German family decided to come to the New World, so they boarded a ship to America. By the time the ship arrived in America, there were only the father and sons who had survived the voyage. They settled in South Carolina where the father changed his name so that it sounded American and at least one son fought in the Confederate War. But in spite of their dedication to the new country, they still held onto their German heritage.

One day, one of the sons met a beautiful young woman, who I think was named Anna. We'll call her that anyway. And we'll call the boy Frederick. Because that's the first thing that comes to mind.

Frederick fell desperately in love with Anna and the young couple was anxious to marry. There was a problem, however. Frederick was German, but Anna was Irish. It seems that was a major cultural no-no (she was Catholic, after all) and the families were furious with their uncooperative children. It was such a huge issue, that Anna's father moved his entire family from South Carolina to Mississippi to get his daughter away from that German boy.

As you can imagine, this did not sit well with Frederick. He wanted to go after her, but his family was poor and he didn't have any horses or wagons that he could take. He packed a few things in a sack, and he took off on foot after Anna and her family. Frederick walked from South Carolina, across Georgia and Alabama, and into Mississippi until he found Anna. Her family was impressed with the enormous effort that Frederick had given and they allowed the marriage.

Isn't that romantic? What woman wouldn't want a man who would walk hundreds of miles just to be with her?

The story goes on, naturally, but the only part I know is the ending.

The young couple married, had a family, and moved to east Texas, to the small town of Bristol. Frederick lived to be 99 and even then he would often walk to a neighboring town across a large collection of railroad tracks to the store where he would sit and play checkers with the other old men. He had gone almost completely deaf, but he still liked the company. One day he was headed home from the store and he stopped to wait on a train to pass. He crossed one set of tracks, but he didn't realize that another train was approaching on a second track. He was killed by that second train.

I called my mom to find out their real names, but she couldn't remember. So, Uncle James, can you please tell me?

So that's one of our Irish ancestors. I'm sure there are more because of the whole melting pot thing. K also gets it from her dad's side. Heck, her last name *is* Irish. She's got the reddish hair and freckles, even.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Tuesday full of sunshine

Tuesday was a beautiful day. Beautiful. The weather was absolutely perfect - warm, sunny, no wind. Everyone who could find an excuse to get outside was out enjoying the March weather phenomenon.

I called up a friend and we decided that a trip to the uptown children's library was educational enough to count as school for the morning and we met at the light rail station for a little adventure. Angel did well and had absolutely no fear of these big trains moving past just a few feet away.

The kids loved the train. Angel just sprawled out in the middle of the aisle, so I had to reign her in, but not until after I took the picture, of course!

We played outside the library.

And we played inside the library.

The children played on the computers while Angel took a nap. All these kids are exhausting!

By the time we boarded the train for the trip back, my friend's kids had adopted Angel, especially the youngest.

That's one happy dog.

We picked up K from school and came home, but it was just too nice of a day to go inside. We hooked Angel up to the tie-out, then we cleaned the car out before we all went out to the car wash to give the car a quick wash (rain was in the forecast) and a really good vacuum.

Back home, we again stayed outside while I wiped down the inside of the van and cleaned the garage. K did her homework sitting on her skateboard,

L drew on the driveway,

and Angel just watched it all with great interest.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A photo session with a sassy 9-year-old

Last Thursday, K had to dress up for her school music program and she had to do it right after school because L had dance class and K had to go, too. Seemed like the perfect opportunity since L was in class 45 minutes to get a few nice shots of K looking nice.

K was not exactly impressed with my idea. She wasn't mean or grumpy, just bent on making it difficult. What people who hate to have their pictures taken don't know is that those "don't do that!" photos are far worse than if they'd just sucked it up and smiled the first time.

So here's the photographic evidence of how difficult it is to take a simple picture of a 9-year-old, including actual commentary.

"Let me take your picture."

"No, really. Sit up straight, please."

"I'd like to take a picture of someone wearing shoes, if you don't mind."

"Yes, I'm wearing shoes. Fine, you can take a picture of me after I get a picture of you."

"Will you stop being silly and let me get a picture?"

"Seriously! I just want a picture!"

"Is that really what you want me to send to Grandma?"

"I'm glad you found that funny. Now can you just TRY to look nice?"

"You're a girl. It's okay to look 'pretty' every once in awhile."

"No, I won't wait until you have your softball uniform on. We can do those later. Right now I want a NICE PICTURE!"

"I just want a close-up. Just head and shoulders. No one will even see your skirt!"

"I'm about to make YOU cry!"

"So you found that funny? Come on! Just one nice picture and I'll stop."

"Better. But can I please see some teeth in your smile?"

"Emphasis on the SMILE part, not the TEETH!!"


Monday, March 8, 2010

Our First School Program

K was in her very first school program last week. The 4th and 5th graders put on a little musical and showed off their achievements on the recorder. K and I had a discussion early in the week about what she was going to wear, because as a girl, this is high on the priority list.

The music teacher had asked for "nice school clothes" and I suggested a dress. Well, that didn't go over too well. As much as K has matured and is taking more of an interest in clothes and appearance, she still think dresses are "girly" and she is not "girly", thankyouverymuch. It seems she has no problems with skirts, however, so I offered to finally make the skirt I had promised her...oh...a year and a half ago.

Thankfully, the pattern went up to the current size.

Grandma had promised her a shirt to go with the promised skirt and she had delivered the shirt in January. It was definitely time for me to get a move on. I pulled out the pattern and fabric and my machine and got to work. The whole thing took about 2 hours, which just goes to show how ridiculous my procrastination was.

Since I had everything out, I grabbed a piece of fabric from my stash and made L a skirt, too. I had to cut the pattern down and I made it shorter, and it ended up fitting rather slim on L. Which made her look very skinny and grown-up.

Doesn't she seem so much older?

But this post is about K and her music program. K got dressed and I spent forever drying her hair. It should not be legal for one child to have THAT much hair. Doesn't she look nice in her new shirt and skirt?

We arrived at the program early enough to spend some time checking out the book fair, then it was time to take our seats. I was happy to see so many parents show up that they had to go pull out extra chairs.

The musical was first and K came down and joined a small group in front leading the singing and dancing. I tried to take pictures with my little point and shoot, but they didn't turn out well.

I promise she doesn't go to a school full of zombies.

Then they played through their Recorder Karate series. K had practiced hard all week and just that morning took the tests to earn her last three "belts" so she could play all the songs with everyone at the music program. So K is a black belt recorder player and you mess with her at your own peril.

After the program we took a picture of K with her school best friend.

I'm so proud of K and all her hard work!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Puppy Camp

For the next 3 weeks, the puppies in our puppy raiser group will be "camping".

Not camping. Just "camping".

What's the difference? Well, "camping" is a puppy swap. The Great Puppy Swap of Spring 2010.

Yesterday, we had training at a police station where the puppies went through a few commands, then got to meet a police car with lights and sirens going full blast (Cindy Jae walked right up to the speaker and licked it; she's fearless!), a segueway, and a bicycle.

Then we walked over to the fire station and got to check out the engines and gear. Afterwards, we walked around the little downtown area and came back for the Great Puppy Swap.

Cindy Jae was handed over to a nice family whose senior daughter will be taking over her training for 3 weeks. She will have lots of fun "camping".

Don't worry, we won't be lonely for the next 3 weeks. We got a "camper" of our own.

Meet Cindy Jae's sister, Angel.

She's the only yellow lab out of a litter of 6 and she's having quite a time with our family.

She went with us to the library yesterday.

Then we went to some friends' house for dinner. I don't think there are any kids in her raiser's house, but last night she got to hang out with 5 little girls and they LOVED on her, taking her off to play outside and all over the house. I finally rescued her as it got late and she gladly curled up at my feet and fell promptly asleep.

This morning, Angel is a kid in a candy store as she's checking out all of Cindy Jae's toys. There are new bones to chew and a big ring to toss and chase (she does both her own tossing and her own chasing).

That ring used to hold a big set of puppy teething keys, but Cindy Jae chewed those right off. There are new smells to smell and nooks and crannies to explore. On the whole, she is much better behaved than Cindy Jae with a more subdued personality, but we'll see how long that lasts once she gets used to this "camping" thing.