Thursday, December 24, 2009


Here are some pictures of the snow in our neighborhood. The kids have had so much fun playing in it...building forts, tunnels and sledding. I think it we got 18-20 inches!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Halloween Has Come and Gone

I never posted pictures of the kids in their Halloween costumes. They were very cute...all of them. CJ was a civil war soldier, Amelia was Cleopatra, Clara was a gypsie, and Charlie was Thomas the Train. Amelia looked incredible as she was able to get her face painted at the neighborhood halloween party...they even painted a really cool green snake on her arm.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Adoption Day Charlie!

It is so incredibly hard to believe that we met Charlie one-year ago tomorrow (Sept 21). If the rest of my life goes as quickly as the last year, I am going to be hitting 80 in no time. I admit the year wasn't quite as I had anticipated with my mom's illness and death. And, I think I wasn't all here for Charlie (or the rest of my family) for a while afterward. But, I feel the fog lifting and I feel more in control of my emotions. Oh, our lives are very chaotic and hectic, but our lives are very full and fulfilling.

We celebrated Charlie's adoption this weekend since Pete had to leave for a trip today. Here are a few thoughts about Charlie then and now.

Last year he called me "ayi" (auntie)...this year I am "mommy" (or more appropriately...mmmooommmyyyyy...hear the whine??)

Last year he didn't really know how to kiss or hug...this year he loves to do both.

Last year he didn't know how to go up and down stairs....this year he flies up and down them.

Last year he cried at the sight of our dog...this year he pets her, helps to feed her and even commands her to sit.

Last year he threw about 5 (maybe more) gigantic temper tantrums daily....this year we get a good one only every couple days (that's progress in my book).

Last year he had to line everything up in a row or he'd get freaked out....this year he throws his shoes in a big pile with the rest.

Last year he would hardly let anyone touch any of "his" things...this year he almost always shares (with some prompting).

Last year he knew only China....this year he has been to Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, Delaware, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Minnesota, California, and Nevada.

Last year he seemed pretty clumsy...this year he can run, jump, ride a scooter, ride a bike with training wheels, kick a soccer ball, swing and lots more!

Last year he didn't speak a word of English....this year he never stops talking English.

Last year he didn't know God...this year he goes to church every week, says prayers before meals, and even went to Vacation Bible School last month.

Last year he didn't know a family's love...this year he likes to whisper in our ears "I love you."

Last year he didn't know what it was like to have a family...this year he has a mommy, daddy, brother, and two sisters that will be his FOREVER!

We love you Charlie and can't imagine our life without you!!

Charlie on his new bike

Celebrating Charlie's Adoption Day with Friends (and Chinese Food, of course)

Charlie's Cake (it says Happy in Chinese least we think it does)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

First Day of School

The kids are all back to school now. I have an 8th-grader, 5th-grader, 3rd-grader and a preschooler! Wow! This was the first year I really wasn't ready for them to go back. I really enjoyed our care-free, no schedule summer. We weren't home alot over summer as we spent about 5 weeks at the beach and took a 2-week vacation. In between there was Vacation Bible School and Lacrosse Camp (for CJ). So, I was enjoying being home and hanging out at our neighborhood pool.

But, the kids were actually excited to go back. Clara was super happy because she is in several classes with her two best friends. CJ just loves school in general so he was happy. Amelia loves to be with her friends at school. And, Charlie just joined in on the excitement and was ready for his 3 afternoons a week of preschool (de-boo-yo as he calls it).


The whole reason for the trip to CA was for our family to meet up at my brother's house and spread my mom's ashes in the ocean. That was what she always wanted. So, among all the fun we were having, we still had to face our last good-bye to mom. But, after going back and forth about where and how to do it, we decided to go to the local beach near my brother's house.

My mom always told my dad that after she died, she would come back as a seagull and watch over him (and poop on his head if he looked at another woman). Well, the evening we gathered to spread her ashes was quite memorable. We got into a circle and were holding hands. Dad read something he wrote and David walked out into the water to spread the ashes. Lots of tears were shed. As he was doing this a bird flew by and one of the kids said, "Oh look, there is Grandma." But, we said no that it was just a pelican. And then, Jackie looked back at the box up on the beach where mom's ashes were and there was a seagull pecking at it. We all screamed and ran up to it...turns out, the seagull opened the box and took out the little silver hanging pendant with mom's name on it. It flew into the air, circled around us with the pendant in its mouth, and flew off! NO KIDDING! It was the only seagull around, there was no food nearby, and it circled us! After all the tears we shed while we were gathered in our circle, there was almost a sigh of relief...and laughter! The kids all started running around saying "that was Grandma!" It was just a perfect ending (or beginning) for mom.

Friday, September 18, 2009

4 1/2 months since last post!!

When I started this blog, I thought it would be the perfect way to stay in touch with family and friends that we don't see very often. Well, the only way it will work is if I actually USE IT!! It's been since June 1st since I posted. Wow...the whole summer flew by and I didn't post anything. I won't go back and try to recreate all the things we did in the summer, except for one significant one.

In August, we took a two week trip to visit Pete's family in MN. We spent 6 days at the cabin in northern MN and had a blast! The kids absolutely love to hang out at the cabin, to fish, to waterski, jet ski, ride the motor scooters, and just to love the beautiful place that the cabin is. CJ got up on waterskis for the first time ever!! It took a little coaxing (ok, a lot...the promise of an X-Box 360 for his birthday), but once he got up, he loved it. Of course, with his little 68 pound body, he popped right up. Clara was very confident waterskiing this year and actually didn't even to be bribed to ski...she loved it. Amelia made our vacation very typical. She came down with a horrible case of swimmers ear and had to go to the ER because she woke up screaming in the middle of the night and her ear had nearly swollen shut! So, no underwater swimming for her. Charlie really seemed to like it. He liked taking boat and jet ski rides and exploring around the cabin. Of course, we all loved hanging out with Pete's family. Here are a few pictures of that leg of the trip.

The second part of the trip was to California. We spent 4 days in San Diego where I got to reunite with college friends. A big surprise was my very dear friend that lived overseas moved back to the U.S. and was visiting her mom in San Diego. So, we all got together and did lots of catching up! It was an awesome visit! We did Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, visited my Alama Mater (UCSD), and snorkled in La Jolla cove. What a blast! On the way to San Diego, we stopped by my old high school, the houses I lived in, the church where Pete and I got married and more! Here are some pics of that part of the trip.

The last part was the most memorable and was the whole reason for the trip. I will post that in a separate post as it deserves special attention!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Some Pictures

Time are some pictures from May...

My gorgeous Amelia on her First Communion Day!

Our family on Amelia's First Communion Day

The absolute best Mother's Day gift I could have received!

Charlie loves to make this silly face!

Charlie playing in a fountain

Amelia's bday party friends

Clara, Amelia and Vanessa with Dora (Charlie loves Dora so they HAD to take this picture)

See the long blonde and brown hair hanging down? That's Vanessa and Clara!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What Can I Say? It's Mother's Day

OK, it's now been a month since I posted! I kept telling myself that after this weekend, my life would settle down. And, it should. Not pictures for this post, just a quick update and more details later. We had several significant events over the last weeks. First, Amelia turned 8! My first post on the blog was when she turned 7 and now a whole year has gone by...(if I knew then what my next year would be like, I think I would have crawled under a rock.) But, day by day, we are getting through it.

Amelia had a great birthday...she is still incredibly committed to endangered animals. So, for her bday party, we took a group of friends to see the Disney movie Earth. It is the same footage from the Discovery Channel series Planet Earth (of which we watched every episode twice). But, it was a perfect way to spend her birthday. Then, just yesterday, she received her First Communion. A beautiful mass and an incredibly beautiful girl all dressed in white...of course, I jump ahead 20 years or more to when she gets married and the tears flowed!

Today is Mother's Day...I have never been that into Mother's Day...a definite Hallmark holiday. But, the fact that it's at every store, on the TV, on the radio, etc, it's hard not to think about. So, today marked my first one without my mom here. And, it happens to fall on the 10th of the month (she died on Jan 10th so I've come to dislike the 10ths of every month since it marks an anniversary of sorts). To top it off, my husband left for a business trip in the morning. So, I decided to just get out of here for the day. I took the kids to mass at 9 a.m. and then headed to to King's Dominion can I think about anything when I'm riding really scary rollercoasters all day! I'm really glad we went...I nearly had a breakdown at mass this morning. The first communicants participated in the May Crowning ceremony today and we sang lovely songs about Mary. I had to leave at one point to collect myself. I am trying so hard to focus on MY being a mother and not so much on my no longer having a mother (on this earth, that is). So, after church, we drove to the park and had a wonderful day...beautiful weather, no lines.
I am so blessed to have my 4 amazing kids. Because of them, our lives are busy, chaotic, and loud, but I wouldn't have it any other way...

More later...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Easter!

What happens when your 7-year old catches you stuffing eggs and Easter baskets at 10 pm the night before Easter? You discuss how the important part of Easter is not about candy and baskets, but about how Jesus died on the cross for us and rose again! And, you make up a really good story...we recycle the eggs for the Easter bunny so we don't add to the plastic in the landfills, you "prepare" the baskets so they are easier for him to stuff, etc Not very good stories, and really not even believeable, but hey, we couldn't think of what to say when caught in the act! This 7 year old also "noticed" that the things she saw the night before weren't in the baskets in the morning (we told her she must have been half-asleep and just imagined those things). We didn't use them to throw her off track (I think it worked).

We had a really lovely Easter weekend. We went to Good Friday mass, decorated eggs on Saturday, had our egg hunt Sunday morning, went to Easter mass on Sunday noon, and had a yummy Easter dinner with our family. I am really proud of my kids...they each gave up something important to them for lent and really, really sacrificed it the whole Lenten period (well almost). There were many moments that they wanted to give in, but we talked about what sacrifices Jesus made for us and how if it were easy, it wouldn't be a sacrifice at all. I will say, CJ is the one who "changed his mind" half way through. I couldn't force him to stay on course, but I think he learned his lesson because we praised the girls so much for really sticking to their sacrifices. So, Sunday was filled with lots of ice cream, candy, soda and gum (those were the things they gave up).

Of course, what did I think of most of the lovely mom. Yet another "first" that I had to go through without her. She loved decorating eggs with the kids, watching them hunt for their eggs, and always gave them a special little something for the day. I remember her smile while she watched them color eggs and get color all over everything. And, her laughter when they dropped one and it cracked.

I also passed another "10th". I really dislike the 10th of every month...Mom died on the 10th and every time a 10th of the month passes I think how I'm further away from having seen her. Sounds strange, I know...I was told that grief goes in waves...low lows and then you feel better and then the lows don't get so low the next time around...many of my days are better, but when they are bad, they still are really bad. And, I know why it takes a year to really start feeling better...because you have to go through everything for the first time without the person you love...I wish I could just speed through the next 9 months so that I will be through all my firsts without her....then maybe I won't dislike the 10th of the month anymore. Actually, I wish I could just rewind time 6 months and none of this would have ever happened.

So, although I know the Easter season is a time for renewal and new life, something was missing. Yes, we had a nice day, but my mom wasn't there...