Friday, June 29, 2007

new links

I've added a couple of links to my list. One is Suzanne's. She is pregnant with quadruplets and I found myself checking her blog frequently so I just went ahead and added her to my list. So fun to watch and see how she & her babies are all doing!

I also added my good friend, Mary Beth! I am hoping she keeps up with her blog. She is a fantastic, super-loyal, do anything for you kind of friend who I am blessed to know!

I have also added my friend Wanda who writes on a CaringBridge site about her daughter Caroline. Sweet Caroline has been through so much in her short 18 month life and it's about to get even tougher as she faces open heart surgery. Please keep them in your prayers.
It was good for all 4 of us to be back home together this week! Gracie went to a friend's VBS 3 days this week. We had playgroup "water day" Thursday which was lots of fun and today we ventured out to see "Ratatouille" together as a family. We dropped Gracie off at LA's house for a much anticipated sleepover and got home around 5:15. Chris asked if I wanted to put Katie down to which I replied, "No way, not at this hour!" I went out to run a couple of errands and when I got home about 5:45, guess who was passed out on the couch? Katie! Chris is now passed out on the other couch! Looks like the 2 of them will be up late tonight!
Last night, Gracie announced, "I want to call Mrs. Stauffer!" Since it was 11:00 p.m., I convinced her that writing her a letter would be better. Since I didn't have her "snail mail" address, she wrote her an email. She was pleased when Mrs. S wrote her back this morning! I know she liked hearing from her-and soon. Mrs. S said Gracie could call her anytime she wanted to, so I have a feeling she will request to do that soon!
One of my friends has been sweet to lend Gracie some of her "American Girl" books. She has read all of the 'Samantha' ones and 'Felicity' ones. Thursday, she brought her the 'Molly' ones. Of course, she was delighted and speedily read the first 2 of them. I helped her put together some paper to make a 'Molly' booklet and she has started writing a "book report" for this series. I have her using a page per book and writing 5 sentences about each book and putting an illustration. I'm sure I will post pictures of it when she is all done. She reads so quickly-which is great-but I want to make sure she is absorbing the content & doing well with comprehension as well. Of course, I want her to read just for fun as well......which she does plenty of!

I signed her up for art camp this week. She'll be going towards the end of July. She loves drawing and is actually really good so we're both excited for her to go! I also plan to sign her up for soccer for this Fall-busy girl!
My mother-in-law was in New York last week and she showed up on the Today show! Al talked to her & everything!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!

I will attempt to update our last few weeks of life. It may take awhile and I hope blogger cooperates with me!

First off, we had VBS a couple of weeks ago, the 10th-13th. We had all worked so hard on it, and it was really nice to see it all come together. I think the kids had fun and we had lots of visitors. Gracie had 2 friends from her school class come. One we knew was coming because I'm good friends with his mom and we talk all the time. The other one was a bit of a surprise, but a really good one! She had invited all her classmates while school was still in session, but I'd called this little boy's mom and left a message personally inviting him about a week beforehand and he came. It was nice to be able to spend some time getting to know her better throughout the week and I think he had a good time-he's a really sweet boy!

The day after VBS was over was Chris' birthday-35!!!!!! He's getting old! LOL We had a little breakfast celebration before he left for work then I made one of his favorite meals that night for dinner. Since we were leaving for San Diego pretty early Sunday morning, we went ahead and did Father's Day too. Of course, then I felt guilty and bought him a little something more to tell him about for Father's Day (I pre-ordered the new Harry Potter book) and ended up "giving" him that Saturday night.

Saturday, we headed to Atlanta to drop off the girls and spend the night with my parents. Sunday morning, we headed to San Diego! Chris had a convention to go to and I happily agreed to tag along! This was the 3rd time he's gone to this conference in SD, and I've loved going with him everytime. San Diego is so beautiful and has the most perfect weather! It was great needing to grab a jacket for the evening and humidity???? That city has never heard of the word humidity! I laughed when a lady said something about it being hot. It was probably 74 degrees with 0% humidity-I said that no, it was not hot!

One of the best things this year was that my friend, Kym, who used to live here was there with her husband and we had lots of fun hanging out together! We had no kids with us and it was so nice getting up when we wanted to and deciding what to do and then just.......doing it! We didn't have to worry about nap times or "child friendly" activities. Don't get me wrong.....we both missed our babies, but a little time away was fun, too!

Let me see if I can remember the highlights:

Sunday-with there being a 3 hour time difference, our bodies had some adjusting to do. We left Atlanta about 9:30 Sunday morning & arrived in San Diego about 10:30 their time! (It was a 4 hour flight.) We headed to the hotel and checked in then went out walking to find a place to eat lunch. We stayed downtown and I think I walked more while there than I have ever walked in a week before! I know it was good for me, but I was tired! We had rented a car, but honestly it cost to park just about everywhere and with so much pedestrian traffic and taxis speeding along, it was just easier to walk. We did catch taxis a couple of times and even a "pedicab" once but walking was the main mode of transportation for the week. This picture was taken while we were riding in the pedicab. This is the back of our "driver." He said he was from Turkey and had only been here a week!

We ate lunch then headed to the convention center for Chris to check in for the conference. We then went back to the hotel and sat by the pool to do a little bit reading. We met our friends Kym & Roger for dinner that night and went to The Cheesecake Factory. We did use the car then since it was not downtown and about a 15-20 minute drive. We were very tired since we didn't eat until about 7:30 which was really 10:30 our time!

Monday-Chris went out to exercise that morning while I slept in awhile. I actually didn't end up sleeping as late as I thought I would because of the whole time difference thing. He then spent a large portion of the day going to sessions and such. Kym and I met up and hung around "Seaport Village," shopping and eating lunch. It is just so pretty there. It's right on the harbor and the sky is almost always a beautiful clear blue and the sun shines on the water. I just really like it! We then spent some time sitting by the pool at the downtown Marriott. We weren't staying at that hotel, but it's so big I don't think they even care. I had spent lots of time there when we've gone to SD before. We later met our husbands for something at the conference that we were allowed to go to (some parts we couldn't go to because we weren't registered as attendees.) We then parted ways for the day. This is a huge statue of a Navy man coming home & being greeted by his love. So sweet!

Chris & I went back to the hotel then went to dinner with a guy he works with and his wife. Again, this time we took the car because we went over to Coronado Island. There is a ferry but we decided just to drive. We ate at Coronado Boathouse restaurant. It was a little pricier than what we had thought, but what Chris got was awesome!!!!! It was some kind of halibut and it was soooo good!

Tuesday-Chris again did "work stuff" and Kym and I rode the trolley to Old Town. I had walked quite a bit that morning just looking and enjoying being able to walk so far without sweating to death! We looked through the shops-it pretty much felt like being in Mexico. We then rode back and ate lunch at a Mexican place and she met up with her husband pretty soon after that. I went and sat out by the Marriott pool some more and enjoyed just reading for awhile. Chris met me there and we went back to our own hotel where we got ready for dinner. We ended up driving because I was so tired from all the walking, but we really shouldn't have because of the traffic and paying for valet parking. Oh well, live & learn. We ate at The Fish Market with his "boss' boss" and another guy from here.

Wednesday-Again, Chris did "work stuff" and Kym & I rode the ferry over to Coronado Island. We looked through the shops a little then caught a shuttle over the other side of the island, ate, then went to the Hotel del Coronado. Talk about a nice place! I would love to stay there sometime. It's an old hotel and so pretty. The beach is very pretty! It was quite cold on the beach that day though...very windy. I thought the sand looked like it had gold in it! We then decided we were pretty tired and didn't really need to shop anymore, so we headed back to the shuttle which would take us to the ferry. We made it to the ferry and back over to San Diego then parted ways again. She walked back to her hotel and I went back to the Marriott and met Chris by the pool where we sat for quite some time just relaxing. He then had a meeting to go to and I waited for him in the convention center until I decided to run (that is...walk) to the grocery store to get something I needed. I then found a downtown Border's bookstore which happened to be right diagonal across the street from the restaurant we were supposed to go to so it worked out perfect. When Chris was done with his meeting, he walked to Border's to get me and we met everyone we were eating with just across the street. We ate with a large group of "work people" that night-some from here and some from other places.

The place we ate at that night was called Buca di Beppo and I highly recommend it! It's a family style Italian dining restaurant. It was sooooo good!

Thursday-I wasn't moving too quickly that morning so Kym & I didn't end up meeting up until abotu 10:00. We ate breakfast at her hotel and were going to spend the day by the pool, but she & her husband ended up going to a Padres game. Chris had done "conference things" that morning but met me around 11:30. Since I had just eaten breakfast, I went and watched him eat lunch at one of the nearby outdoor malls. He said he had a session at 1:30 but didn't really think he would get much out of that one, so I convinced him to skip out and we spent the rest of the day together. We went on this really cool tour that we'd tried to go on earlier in the week but it was cancelled because there weren't enough people signed up for it. The tour was called "Make a Splash on the Seal." It was this funny looking bus that goes on land and on water! (We didn't actually take this picture, but this is what it looked like.) It was really neat. We saw some of the Navy things that are there and went to an area that attracts sea lions. It was a neat thing to do.One of the things they showed us on the tour was this restaurant. This is where they filmed the "Great Balls of Fire" scene in Top Gun!

We looked through a couple of the shops there at Seaport Village which is where the tour left from then I ate a little lunch at Anthony's Fishette since I hadn't eaten earlier. After I ate, we bought tickets to tour the Maritime Museum which consisted of 5 different ships. They were the Star of India, the Berkeley, the Medea (?), the H.M.S. Surprise and the the B-39 Soviet Attack Submarine. The H.M.S. Surprise was a "pirate ship" used in the movie, "Master & Commander." The submarine FREAKED ME OUT! Seriously, I don't really consider myself claustraphobic, but I had to get out of there and fast! I couldn't hardly stand it and I about ran out of there (as fast as you can run out of something so small!) and waited for Chris outside. I'm definitely not going to be signing up for a submarine tour again anytime soon! I told Chris if there'd been tour guides and lots of other people looking around and talking, it might have been different, but it was eerily still & quiet once we got down there. *shudder*

We then caught a taxi back to the hotel and relaxed awhile before going to the end of the conference party. Chris' $35 ticket was included in the "price" of him going to the conference and we were able to get one for me for free so that was nice! There were about 13,000 attendees for the conference and this party was for them + their spouses and kids, etc. They had it set up in a "Tour of America" theme. They had areas set up with food then different areas set up with entertainment......a Louisville "hillbilly" band with spray tattoos and caricatures, a New York "rap" band and a Coney Island game area. They also had a New Orleans area with a jazz band and a Tucson area with a country band and a Hollywood area with a band. It was quite the production. We stayed for awhile then started the walk back to our hotel. We stopped at Border's bookstore and spent some time in there then continued our walk. I was laughing at us because we were walking near the "Gaslamp Quarter" which was full of people "out for the night." We walked past at least one place where the big "bouncer" was standing as if letting in only the "special" people to his particular establishment. Chris & I were tired and just happy to be going to the bookstore! HA! We're not quite the party animal types!

We spent some time there then headed back to the hotel. It helped breaking up the walk that way-didn't seem quite so long. We relaxed then went to sleep.

Friday-Chris went to one last session that morning while I slept. We then packed up and left the hotel. Our flight wasn't until 9:15 that night which was 12:15 here! We headed out in the car to find some places we hadn't been yet-on this trip anyway. We were headed to La Jolla, but I don't think we ever made it that far. I think we stopped off in Point Loma and then ended up in Pacific Beach. We finally found a place to park for 2 hours where we wouldn't be towed (we still had to pay) then ate and walked on the beach and pier a little. It was so pretty. I was fascinated standing on the pier and looking down on the surfers. For one thing, that Pacific Ocean water is freezing so it's amazing to me that they'd want to be in it. For another thing, water isn't my favorite thing so it amazes me that they're so far out. It just seems like such a lack of control to me. *shudder again* At one point we could see a shark swimming near them. It was a small one, but still! Some guys hollered down to them that there was shark and one of the surfers looked up and said, "Yeah. They live in the ocean. It's okay, dude." I guess he knew what he was talking about 'cause it didn't eat them!

We saw the neatest little cottages on the pier. The front of them were on the pier and you could park right in front of it. The back of it had a little patio that looked right over onto the ocean. Very cute!

We still had quite a bit of time to pass before our flight, so we went to another of the outdoor malls and looked around some and ended up going to a movie. We saw "Nancy Drew." Chris was thrilled, let me tell ya! Then we headed to turn in the car and got checked in at the airport. We were way early but we ate and just relaxed reading while waiting to board the plane. We left around 9:15, which again, its 12:15 here. It was an almost 4 hour flight going back so with the time difference, we ended up getting into the gate about 4:15 a.m. By the time we got to baggage claim (we had to walk about a mile to get there-the train we usually would ride wasn't running!) and got our luggage and found the car and drove to my parents' house, it was 5:45. We "slept" a little. Neither of us slept very well because our bodies were so off from being up for so long. Chris had slept a little on the plane but I didn't at all. We tried to sleep then the girls came in around 8:00. It was so good to see them although we were both so out of it!

We ate breakfast and got them packed up and headed back home! I'm really surprised Chris didn't fall asleep while driving! We ate lunch then all 4 of us took naps then we got up for a bit then went back to sleep that night. We went to church this morning then the girls & I napped again today while Chris did some yard work. We had Life Group tonight where Chris & the girls got to swim afterwards.

Tomorrow Chris goes back to "real" work! He's not looking forward to it. Gracie will be going to VBS with a friend from school each morning this week while Katie & I have "Mommy & Katie time." She's sad about not getting to go to VBS, but it just starts at 5 years old. It's a HUGE church so I'm not sure I'd be comfortable letting her go anyway. I'm nervous about letting Gracie go, but I know her well enough to know that she'll be just fine and will have a blast! Last week, one of my parents' neighbors had "Backyard Bible School" that she went to each afternoon. Again, Katie was too young to go-poor thing! They had said Katie could come, but Mom kept her home and she took her nap since it was during naptime and the event wasn't really designed for someone as young as 3. I think Gracie was really one of the youngest ones there. I'll have to think of something fun & special to do with Katie while Gracie's gone.

We had a great trip, but I'm very glad to be back home and have all 4 of us together under 1 roof and get back to some sort of "normalcy." I'm grateful that my parents were able to keep the girls and that I feel comfortable allowing them to do so. They have fixed up one of the bedrooms as a "granddaughter room" and it's quite precious! They painted in pink & yellow and put in new carpet in a pale green and have matching lampshades and bedding and a cute little table & chairs. It's very cute and special. Katie kept referring to it as "our new room." I said if my brother has another baby and it's a boy, they're in trouble! I guess they figure with 4 granddaughters and neither my brother or me jumping at the chance to have another baby, they're pretty safe fixing up a girly room!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

sunny California!

So much to write but for now I'll just post a few pictures. We've been in beautiful San Diego, CA for the past week. It is so pretty-perfect weather-and we had a really good time sans kids! We missed them terribly and are so happy to be back together, but it was really fun and they had a great time with Grammer & Pappy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

a funny!

With this being VBS week, I am exhausted and don't feel like writing a lot. I thought I would post this funny picture I got from a friend this week. All in fun.....I love my husband!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


This past week has been chock-full of VBS preparations which begins TONIGHT! To borrow an expression from the curriculum, "WAHOO!" I am so ready for this to get going! I really hope it is a success for our own children as well as the many visitors we are hoping to have.
My cousin, Andrea, and her husband visited this past weekend, and I am so glad! We were supposed to see each other over Christmas but those plans didn't work out. She surprised me last week by calling my cell phone while I was in Atlanta and saying that they wanted to come visit while they were on vacation. I was excited and hoping it would work out this time. They showed up Thursday evening and it was great!

She & I have been mistaken for each other numerous times over the years. My dad & her mom are twins so I guess it makes some sense. The funny thing is that I have red hair which came from basically nowhere; I think my mom traced it back pretty far in her family-Mom is no blood relation to Andrea. Andrea also has red hair but hers came from her dad who is strawberry blonde. Her dad is no blood relation to me though; he just married my aunt! Pretty strange stuff. Our parent's names are Randall Roy & Sandra Joy---or Randy & Sandy. Whenever I would go to my grandmother's church, someone would say, "Now, is this Randy's or Sandy's?" (insert old people Kentucky twang into that question) We're about 4 1/2 years apart in age but Andrea is quite a bit taller than me so I guess she didn't look that much younger.
The funniest time was at the rehearsal dinner for her wedding. This girl came in and walked right over to me and sat down across from me at the table and just started talking. I didn't know her and I knew good & well that she thought I was Andrea. I just kind of smiled & nodded and finally she kind of gasped and jumped up and walked off quickly! She walked over to Andrea and I heard her telling Andrea what she had just done and how she had thought that was her! I think once we're together, the differences are more obvious, but seeing us apart it throws people off.
We had a good time visiting. It had been about 3 1/2 years since we'd seen each other. I hope it won't be that long again! Steve, her husband, is so sweet and the girls loved playing with him!
Summer has begun, so I guess I need to post some of the annual "playing with water in the backyard" pictures!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Reading Rainbow

Thursday was Gracie's last day of school for first grade. I went to help her enjoy the last part of her day by taking cupcakes while Mary Beth brought Capri Suns and another mom brought the end of year teacher gift that some of us had pitched in for.

She has had another good year and is still loving school, and we feel blessed because of the great school experience she has had thus far. We pray it continues into next year and beyond. I have a 2nd grade teacher "on my radar" for next year. We're not supposed to be able to officially request teachers, but I did tell this particular one that Gracie & I would be very happy if she was in her class. So....prayers will be offered up this summer. I don't know that I'll particularly pray for her to get "Mrs. R" but will pray that she gets the teacher God wants her to have and mention "Mrs. R" as one I feel would be good. God does know better than I do, so I'll *try* to leave it in His hands. I say try because sometimes that is hard to do! I do have faith & trust in Him.

After we left school, we went to playgroup where she got to play with her good buddies from church. It was really nice to see her playing with her friends that she has had since she was itty-bitty. One of them is moving this summer, so I really want her to have as much time as possible with him.

After playgroup the girls & I headed to Atlanta. We had just gotten back from our Nashville trip Monday so getting back in the car wasn't really on my list of things I wanted to do, but Gracie had entered the Reading Rainbow writing contest again this year and the Celebration was Friday.

Since the Celebration was in Atlanta, Grammer got to keep Katie which is nice! Chris had to work so it was just me & Gracie. It was fun to spend this day with her. She was disappointed that she didn't win, but I'm proud of her for entering the contest and for her attitude about not winning. She was disappointed, but not ugly about it.

We arrived at the Georgia Public Broadcasting building and got her nametag and were directed to the t.v. studio. We didn't have to wait too long before the program began. It was fun to listen to the winners read their stories. It was MUCH better than last year! Last year they had the illustrator winners read too and that made for a lot of readers and it really got old. This year we only listened to the story winners so it made for less to listen to.

They had a clown do a show afterwards. Gracie enjoyed her although I have to admit to wanting her to be done. For some reason, she really got on my nerves! After that we were served a box lunch which was really quite good. The sandwiches were huge-Gracie could have eaten on hers for at least 3 meals! She got a goody bag with a new book and some other things-no t shirt this year and she was disappointed about that. I think the winners got one. One of the "Between the Lions" characters made an appearance while we were there. I love to see children write, so it's something I encourage Gracie to do often. This contest put on by Reading Rainbow is a great thing because even "just" the participants get to feel special by going to the celebration. It's a great way to encourage kids to write!

When we left I really wanted to take advantage of being in a big city and not having a 3 year old in tow so I got a little adventurous. I decided to head downtown and take her up in the elevator at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. It goes from the 5th floor to the 72nd floor and is on the outside of the hotel so you're looking out onto Atlanta. After driving around & finally finding it and finding a parking garage that looked fairly safe and not too far away, we headed into the hotel. I was a little disappointed when I was told that it cost $5 for me to go in it, but I went ahead and paid it. I was also a little disappointed at how scared I was! Honestly, I really had to concentrate on not freaking out! I'm not a big fan of elevators so maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but I had done this one before and I've always done better with ones that I can see out of. Gracie was very nervous but she enjoyed it. She said she liked going down better than going up. I have to agree with her! It was fun to walk around once we got up there and see the restaurant that revolves while the patrons eat.

After we did that, Gracie wanted to walk around outside. We walked about a block before I decided that the 2 of us walking around with no real direction may not be the best idea. I've never really been that nervous walking around down there, but I guess before I didn't have one of my children with me and I had a pretty specific place I was going. With it just being the 2 of us I kept feeling like we were being looked at and I just got nervous. So.....we went back to the car (and paid $4.50 for less than an hour!) and headed to IKEA. Gracie thought it was just okay-"more of a Mommy store" so we didn't stay long.

She wanted to go to Barnes & Noble so we headed back towards where Mom & Dad live and went there. We stayed there for just a little bit then went back to my parents' house. I left both girls there with Mom while I went and picked up some things for Gracie's birthday. I had seen them the day before and wanted to get them while I was in town. The prices were too good to pass up!

That night, we left both girls with Dad (Pappy) while Mom & I went shopping for my birthday. We found one dress at Dillard's but decided to check out JCPenney's before buying. We ended up getting 2 outfits (skirts & tops) and 1 "unmentionable" for almost the same price as what we'd picked out at Dillard's. We then went to The Olive Garden. We ordered salad, alfredo sauce for the breadsticks and Sicilian Scampi. It was soooooo good! It was nice to have a "Girl's Night" with my mom. Not something we do often.

The girls had a great time playing with Pappy. They went on a walk and played up in what Gracie has decided needs to be a "clubhouse" for the granddaughters. They recently made the area above their garage a storage area. They built stairs and a door on the outside of the house to get to it. The girls wanted to know what was up there so Pappy showed them. They thought it was neat so they played up there. At one point, Katie had to go potty so Pappy took her. When he came back, he didn't come back up the outside stairs. He used this tiny opening in Grammer's closet for them to come back. I think he scared Gracie! She has decided though that this needs to be their "clubhouse" when she comes back this summer. We'll see how long that lasts when it's hotter because there's no air conditioning in there.

The girls & I headed back home to see Daddy yesterday morning. The girls slept a lot of the way home. It was good to be home!

VBS starts a week from tonight! I am sooooo ready for it to be here and be over. I hope that's not a horrible attitude; I'm just stressed! I really do hope it will be great!!!!!

My cousin is supposed to come visit me this week. I sooooooo hope it works out!