Thursday, March 29, 2007

Maddie is 13 Years Old Today!!

My precious Maddie turns 13 today! I can't believe how fast the time has gone. The photo above was taken when she was 8 weeks old. Even then, she had a ready smile and a sweet disposition. She has remained a lovely person. She is tender hearted and kind.

James attended an event on Capitol Hill last night, so I had the opportunity to have dinner alone with the girls. Maddie asked about the day she was born. After telling her about the weather that day and time she entered the world, I also told her that at the moment she was born, a lot of things became clear to me. Most importantly, that life wasn't about me anymore - it was about her. Providing for her, making sure she knew how to live a happy life, and making sure she had every opportunity in life that I could give her. I told her of the great love she had brought into my life, and how I still was SO proud to be her Mom.

This morning James went into work late so that he could wish her Happy Birthday and give her a special gift he had selected for her. It was a sterling silver necklace with her birthstone, aquamarine. She had 'free dress' today at school so she proudly wore it with her outfit. Josie and I drove her to school with a stop at Starbucks for her favorite drink - a non-fat hot chocolate! We'll celebrate with cake tonight at dinner.

Happy Birthday my precious girl! Dad, Josie and I love you beyond words!

Monday, March 26, 2007

One Weekend, Two Birthday Celebrations

This past weekend we celebrated both Maddie's and Josie's Birthdays with family and friends. We had a wonderful afternoon lunch with birthday cake and LOTS of presents! The girls were thrilled to see their grandparents, aunts, uncle and cousins. We were also joined by our neighbors, Brett, Nora, and Jason. Ed, Marty and grandson Joey were also on hand for the festivities. Here are some shots from Saturday:

Josie's reaction to getting clothes as a gift:

And Maddie's reaction to getting clothes as a gift:

Some other fun shots:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Josie at Two (Video)

I'm still learning all this spooky technology, so bear with me. I compiled my favorite photos of Josie from the past year and made this short video. It's actually a practice run for the video I am making for Maddie for her 13th birthday - which is March 29th. For that one I'm scanning a ton of photos - even got a new HP All in One for the task!

Just remember - I'm a rookie. Be Kind.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Out Strolling

The warm weather has returned briefly, so we're outdoors as long as Mother Nature permits. Josie decided to take her baby, JoJo for a walk. Of course, before going anywhere, I grabbed my camera. Unlike her gardening photos, Josie actually smiled a bit for her Mom today! Those smiles are elusive - but every once in a while we get lucky and capture them on film.

Here are a few more shots of our little outing:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Josie Turns 2 Years Old!!!

Josie's 2nd Birthday

I'm going to let you have a look at all the photos I took on this monumental day. If all goes well, you should be able to click on the photo above and get to see 44 photos of our small, but festive, party for Josie. We had a very busy day today. A lot of running around. But, by the end of the day we found the time to celebrate our little princess. Today was just for the 4 of us. Next weekend, Josie and Maddie will share a weekend Birthday party with her Grandparents (maternal), Aunts, Uncle and Cousins.

GungGung & MaMa gave Josie a call to wish her a Happy Birthday - in addition to being the first ones with lovely gifts in the mail for both our girls. We truly appreciate their generosity for the girls and all the love they shower on both Maddie and Josie. Enjoy the photos and know that there will be hundreds more next weekend!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Symphony & Tea with My Irish Girls

Happy St. Patrick's Day! We celebrated the Feast of St. Patrick by watching our Maddie perform with the Youth Symphony. Last year, the event was held at a smaller venue so there were 3 performances. This year, the hall used for the performance was huge, so only one. I did get video of the event, but it seemed like I chose the most simple parts to record. Once I turned off the camera all you could see was bows flying across strings. Oh well, have to work on my video timing. Yet another shortcoming to address!

Anyway, Maddie performed beautifully and, as always, we were/are so incredibly proud of her. We overheard a few complaints from other parents/attendees that the event was not as well organized as past years. Our experience is limited but we were thrilled to hear all the kids perform. I was a bit peeved when people walked in front of my video camera while I filmed my prodigy! Folks were returning from the buffet line during the performance, hence the whispered complaints...

This is Maddie's first full year with the symphony, having joined mid season last year. She will be auditioning for the higher group, Legato Orchestra, in late May.

On our way to the concert, we passed our little downtown St. Pat's celebration, complete with St. Pat himself, walking among the frozen revellers and blessing them for a safe journey home...!

Josie and Maddie were outfitted with their traditional St. Pat's Bling - "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" buttons, shamrock necklaces and, a special treat this year...flashing gel shamrock rings!!!! Josie's Kiss Me.. button caused a few long stares but no dumb questions from bystanders! Anyway, I'll end here because, for the first time in many, many months - I'm having dinner out with my husband. Alone. Just the Two of Us. Niccccceeee!!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Josie's 2 Year Checkup

We're starting the countdown to Josie's birthday, which is on Sunday. For all you Josie fans - you'll pleased to learn that she is in excellent health. Also, she is current with all her shots so we didn't need to get any today!

Here are the stats:
Height: 33.5 inches (45th percentile)
Weight: 26lbs. 4oz. (50th percentile)
Head: 46 cm (20th percentile - but on the curve)
20+ Teeth

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Josie is adored by her nurse practitioner, Laura. Laura is very well versed on international adoption so she is always quick to remind me that the American height and weight charts are much different than the ones for Chinese kids. Either way, she is thrilled, just as we are, that Josie has been so healthy. No ear infections, no doctors visits in 6 months! Our little Spice girl is just growing and thriving and for that we are just so thankful!

In other new, this weekend is a busy one. Tomorrow, Maddie has a performance with her Youth Symphony. It's called "Symphony & Tea". I'm hoping to get better photos than I did last time, maybe even some video. We are so proud of Maddie - she's first chair, Cello. Sometimes, she really hates the cello. But, we all get a lot of joy from hearing that beautiful music in the house - and on the stage!

On Sunday, we are attending an Open House for the new Catholic High School that opened last year. (GULP!) Maddie will have to select and apply to high schools in the fall, so this is a big step for all of us! And, in closing, here's some food for thought... The year that we send Maddie off to college is the year that Josie will be entering 1st. Grade. Sobering thought, I know.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Thoughtful Gardener

We have been having some wonderful, yet unseasonable weather the past few days. Yesterday, it was 83 degrees and sunny! Today it's warm again, but that will soon change. A cold front is supposed to push through this afternoon bringing with it thunderstorms and a 30 degree temperature drop. Over the weekend, the ever reliable weatherman is calling for snow showers. I wish Mother Nature would stop messin' with me!

Anyway, I decided to take advantage of this last warm day and do a bit of weed pulling, leaf raking and general clean-up around the yard. Josie was just adorable when I told her we were going to do our "gardening". She ran to get her shoes, ( which she is FOREVER taking off! ), her shovel and her pail. "Dig, Mom! Dig, Mom!" I couldn't get her out of the house fast enough!

Now, here is a girl that takes her work seriously. No messin' around for Josie! Stop and say 'cheese' for Mom? NO WAY! She was on a mission!

Josie successfully dug up a bucket full of dirt from one of the planters while I filled a bag with leaves, weeds and twigs. All the while, she was bossing me around... Mom, here! Dirt! C'mere! Spider! Bad Dogs! This is one funny little girl! I will leave you with a few more shots of Josie at work in the 'garden'. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Whirlwind Weekend Trip

This past weekend, while I was participating in a local scrapbooking event, James. Maddie and Josie took to the open road. On Friday night they travelled to Maryland to visit with Aunt Claudine. On Saturday morning they headed out to Reading, PA. We used to live in Reading. It was the home that I loved the most and a place where I was truly happy. Part of the reason why we all loved Reading was because we had great neighbors. Our neighbors right next door were Dr. Nick and Mrs. Barbara. Barb and I shared so many wonderful times - talking on our back deck and pulling weeds in our gardens. Barb and I shared many happy events in each others lives and she gave me some of the best parenting advice I've ever received. Both she and Dr. Nick hold a special place in our hearts.

So, it was truly a great day when Barb got to meet Josie. We haven't been up for a visit since before Josie joined our family. As is the case nowadays, we only get to share our joy via blog or email. Barb got to see first hand what a lovely, bright girl our Josie is. She also got to see what a beautiful young lady our Maddie is growing into. Maddie was thrilled to see Mrs. Barbara and Josie seemed to be equally enamoured! Alas, the visit was too short - Barb was headed off to visit her twin granddaughters and our clan was headed to a meeting with one of Maddie's friends at the Mall.

From Reading, the gang headed down to Philadelphia to visit with my sister Sue. Josie got to play with her cousin Liam, who she just adores, while Maddie and Zack caught up with each other. Josie had a great time playing with Uncle Greg's hat and getting to know Chauncy, their Airedale Terrier.

They stayed in Philly for a few hours and then hit the road again. They ended up back at Aunt Claudine's house in Maryland where they shared a nice dinner of Mexican food. I was thrilled to see them when they returned on Sunday. Both the girls were exhausted, so I guess James did a great job of keeping them occupied and interested. On Monday, both the girls awoke with colds so I guess there's always a price to be paid for having fun.

Both girls are on the mend and getting back to their daily routines. Which is great, because having two whining kids at home is not my idea of a good time ;-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The NEW Seven Wonders of the World

It's a slow news day here at Casa Chew (both kids sick at home) so I took a few minutes to check out the morning paper. I was reading an article in the Washington Post. Apparently, the 7 Wonders of the World are being reconsidered. I didn't even know what the original 7 were or who selected them. Let's consider this an educational blog entry for all of us.

Fact 1: The Seven Wonders of the World were identified by 'the ancient Greeks' more than 2,000 years ago.
Fact 2: The Seven Wonders of the World are as follows: Pyramids at Giza; Colossus of Rhodes; Hanging Gardens of Babylon; Pharos (Lighthouse) of Alexandria; Statue of Zeus at Olympia; Mausoleum at Halicarnassus; Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

Turns out, back in 2001, some guy with plenty of time and money decided that the list needed to be updated, since only 1 of the Ancient Wonders (The Pyramids at Giza) are still in existence. Hummm, I sense a documentary/travel log project coming on....

And, I'm right. Turns out same rich guy started a web site where you and I can vote on the NEW Seven Wonders. In addition, we can travel with him, via blog entries and video to the top destinations. To what end, you ask? Well, there's a foundation attached to the project that will collect money to save the sites listed. So, 'Cast a Vote, Save a Pyramid', is my guess. If you want to cast a vote you can visit New 7 Wonders.

I spend a lot of time daydreaming about all the incredible things there are to see in the World and wonder if life is long enough to see them all. I'd like to see them all. I'd like my daughters to see them. How about you?

Fact 3: The current top 7 vote getters for the New Wonders are: Jordan's ancient city of Petra; The Pyramids at Giza; the Great Wall of China; the Taj Mahal; the Easter Island statues of Chile (pictured above); the Colosseum in Rome and the Inca city of Manchu Picchu in Peru.

I'm happy to say that we've managed to see 2 of the new 7. I hope my husband will indulge my urge to see the remaining 5.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Story About A Bear & A Pig

On the Fourth of July Weekend, in 1998, I was helping James unload his worldly possessions into his new townhome. They had been packed in California and delivered to his new adddress in Alexandria, VA. James & I had only been dating a short time. But, he had already shown his great love and affection for both Maddie & Me. It was clear that he had accepted the "We come as a package deal" edict I had laid out when we first started dating.

We came upon his bedroom belongings and started unpacking boxes. There seemed no rhyme or reason behind the packing order, so we just starting stacking everything on the floor and the bed with the intention of 'figuring it all out later'. Then, James stopped dead in this tracks. It seemed we had come upon his most prized possession. It was his childhood Teddy Bear - called (what else) Teddy. On that day, Teddy was already about 36 years old. It struck me as funny that the stoic and practical James that I had come to know, would have held on to the little guy for so long. His affection for the bear was easy to see.

For those of you who know James personally, I'm sure you will easily agree when I say that he is one of the most generous people you will ever meet. He has knack for finding just the right gift, just the right thing for anyone. His love for Maddie was demonstrated clearly that day when he offered Teddy to her. Maddie was thrilled. She picked him up, gave him a hug, and... gave him back!

What? Scorned by a 3 year old? James had forgotten that there was only one TRUE love in Maddie's life. That guy went by the name of Piggyboy. Piggyboy had been Maddie's number one man since Christmas 1994. She was 9 months old when she received Piggyboy ( known to most of you as Pigling Bland) as gift from my brother Chalie. They had been inseparable since that day. Piggyboy went everywhere with Maddie and she was not trading him in on a bear, no matter how cute Teddy was! She stayed true unti she was nearly 6 years old. At that time, Piggyboy had, literally, been loved to pieces. He retired to Maddie's "Treasure Box", where he remains today - treasured and safe.

Flash forward to the present day. James is going through his closet, searching for a tie, and he comes upon Teddy. Should he dare offer his precious bear to his newest daughter? Risk rejection once again? He does. His generosity is rewarded by one of Josies famous " OOOOOO's" and then Teddy and Josie are off to share new adventures. Teddy is nearing 45 years old and is in the care of a loving 2 year old girl!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Another Celebration!

We received an email from my Mother in Law today letting us know that there will be a family celebration in July. That's when Cousin Zoe's Red Egg and Ginger party will be held in San Francisco! Here's a bit of information about traditional Red Egg and Ginger celebrations:

The traditional Chinese baby naming ritual, the Red Egg and Ginger Party, is a very old and honored ceremony that gives a child his/her name and serves to introduce the baby to the world.

Eggs were considered a delicacy in traditional China and were usually reserved for special occasions or guests. One month after a child is born, hard-boiled eggs (symbolizing fertility) were dyed red (for good luck) and given to family, friends and relatives who had honored the child's birth.

Given the complexities of modern life and the changing dynamics of Chinese American families, the party can't always be held within the first 1-3 months of a child's life. Zoe will be 7 months old at her party. Josie was 15 months old at hers!

However, a new child is always cause for celebration and James' parents have been so generous in seeing to it that all their grandchildren have had one of these celebrations. It is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to catch up with our extended family members.

We are very blessed in the fact that we have a very large extended family on James' side, most of whom reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. They have shared so much with both Maddie and Josie - Maddie is especially proud of her Chinese heritage. When she tells people she is 'half Chinese', she get a few incredulous looks...What part of the blond haired, green eyed girl is Chinese?!?!? James & I take this as the highest form of complement - we are successfully raising her in a dual culture family. We expect that Josie will have this same pride in her culture and in her family.

Zoe's Red Egg & Ginger party will be held at James' Aunt Hang Haeng's Pearl City Restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown in late July. We are looking forward to meeting the newest member of our family!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Making Plans

Right now in Virginia it's 25 degrees. Cold, to say the least. Local forcasters are calling for snow tomorrow. I don't mind though, because my head is in the clouds dreaming of August.

We've had a long standing invitation to visit with Mary, Nick & Ryan for a few years now, and we are finally making the plans for a visit! Is there anyway to speed up time? The photo above is one that Mary sent me this morning. It's the view from their home on Cape Cod. Wow, don't you wish you could wake up every morning to that view?! Well, for a few days in August, we will !!

Nick and James will spend a bit of time golfing, which should be a great photo-op in and of itself because both are new to the game. James & Nick grew up together in Lancaster, California. They have been friends since elementary school! As for Mary, me, the girls and other visitors, here's what Mary writes:

The kids often take a couple of bucks and walk down to the ice cream store during the summer. When they need a break from the sun and want to have a few minutes to themselves.

That is usually good for an hour or so break!

We'll have a blast. One night when it is low tide at dinner time, we can have a bocci ball game on the beach after dinner, That is a great time of night. The kids can run forever on the beach and not get in too much trouble.

Does that sound idyllic or what? It's times like these that you dream of when living in a crowded city - or in our case - too far from the shore. Is there any more beautiful image than your kids running freely on a beach? Or how about a relaxing evening enjoying conversation with dear friends? We are so thankful that we will be sharing these times with Nick & Mary's clan. Come on August !!!

Photos compliments of Aunt Mary R.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

What Are You Teaching That Kid?!

Josie awoke at 5:58 this morning. This is her usual wake-up time. Given that it was a weekend, James got up and went to get Josie from her room. He brought her back into our room for a little Sunday Morning cuddle with the folks.

After 10 minutes of kicking, nose pulling and general rowdiness, I decided to change litte Miss Jo Jo's diaper. Once the job was done, I laid back down. Our playtime deteriorated rapidly. Here's how it went:

I was reaching over to put her wet diaper on my nightstand, when I got one of those neck strains - the kind that feels like hot springs under your skin.

I yelped, "S**t!!

Silence, then a giggle from me. "Sorry"
JOSIE: "Sorry"
JAMES: "What kind of crap are you teaching this kid?"
JOSIE: "Crap!"

More giggling then:

JAMES: Oh well, there goes our Parents of Year award.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Having a Husband That Cooks...Priceless

While we were on the cruise - in Cozumel to be exact - James and my sister, Claudine, decided to break away from the pack. They signed up for a "Cooking on the Beach" class. They made 3 dishes and sampled wines to go along with the food they prepared. The rest of us were at the Dolphin Discovery Center participating in the dolphin swim and enjoying the swimming and snorkeling.

I asked James, upon his return, how he liked the class. As always, he was noncommittal. "It was fun, wine was good, Claudine wanted to go shopping so we left after the class." Apparently, there was an 'enjoy the beach' option that they both opted out of.

Flash forward to this morning. I received the photos my sister took on the cruise and found the class photos among them. How fun are these photos?!?! For those of you who only see James in his business clothes - I offer the following treats. Enjoy!!