Monday, February 25, 2008

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

I love watching the Academy Awards. It's like watching the Prom you'll never get invited to... which means that you can mutter any comments you like and no one gets offended or hurt. Maddie and I had a few good laughs last night - we even made up a few of our own fashion categories while watching the Red Carpet coverage on E!

First our Best Dressed Women:

Ann Hathaway
Jennifer Gardner
Keri Russell
Keisha Wittaker
Penelope Cruz

Nice, but didn't make our BD list:
Cameron Diaz's dress was spectacular but, for God's Sake, why didn't she do something with that hair of hers. Looks like she threw it back in a rubber band and ran out the door. I would suggest firing the guy who thought that look was a good idea.

Heidi Klum's dress was fantastic but WHAT WAS SHE DOING THERE? She is not in the movies and neither is her husband. I know she was auctioning off the dress for charity, but couldn't they have just stuck her in the lobby of the Kodak theatre?

Best Dressed Men:

Patrick Dempsey
Javier Bardem
George Clooney
Forrest Whittaker

That all was the Good. Now it's time for the Bad and the Ugly.

Worst Dressed Women:

Rebecca Miller - Daniel Day Lewis' wife. The red ribbons at the shoulder and the black shiny breast plate on a gown just made me do a double take. It got worse every time I saw it.

Tilda Sweedon - Okay, who ever advised her to go to the Academy Awards with no mascara, no eyeliner, no eyeshadow and then told her that going in a black silk sack was fashionable - well, let's hope they've run the moron out of town by now! I have to give her props though, her acceptance speech was the funniest of the night - and that's not really saying too much about the comedic threshold this year.

Marion Cotillard
Initially, I wasn't 'feeling' the mermaid dress. Of all the embellishments to choose from Jean Paul Gautier decided to use fish scales for this design. It grew on me as the night progressed, but still wasn't among my favorites.

So, in the interest of finishing this post, I will not link to the following award winners, but if you watched the Red Carpet or the actual awards you should know where I'm coming from...

The "Sounds most like Jakers the Pig" goes to Saoirse Ronan & James McAvoy. Ms. Ronan's Scottish accent was so thick, I was laughing myself silly.

The "Give that Lady a Sandwich" award goes, once again, to Calista Flockheart. For Gods Sake, girl, EAT SOMETHING!!

The " My trainer when postal on my bod" goes to Renee Zellweger who looked more like Hans & Franz than a movie star. Somebody "pumped, her up!"

and finally,

The "incredibly Hot Older Broad" award was a three way tie:
Helen Mirren - whom I have LOVED forever (Starting with Prime Suspect all those years ago..). She looked absolutely fabulous in her red dress with crystal sleeves. Flawless and very funny.
Faye Dunaway - she didn't get much coverage, but she was a knock-out.
Colin Farrell's Mom - His mom (the rude announcers never asked her name!) was a stunning Irish beauty. Clear, beautiful unlined skin; incredible smile; great, age appropriate hot dress; funny. I love the comment that Colin made where he said his Mom always said (about his acting abilility) "I didn't lick it off the streets.." Sounds like something a Mom would say...

The Red Carpet was a huge let down this year. Why did everyone stay home? No Kate Winslet, No Charlise Theron, no Brad Pitt; no Jude Law; There were very few bonafide 'Movie Stars' at the awards this year. Bit of a let down.
So, anyway, that's my run-down. Feel free to leave yours in the comments section.... Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Has It REALLY Been TWO Years?!

Why, Yes it has! Two years ago today I became a mother to my second daughter, James became a father to His second daughter and (hardest of all!) Maddie became a big sister! If you have 9 minutes, revisit the moment we met Josie. At the very end of the video, I tell Maddie "Get a picture of her feet, she's a little dancer." And, that she turned out to be...she has not stopped dancing since that day two years ago.

We had no idea back then how much love this incredible child would bring into our lives. Here are a few of my favorite shots from that day, two years ago:

It's overwhelming to think about how much Josie has changed and how much we as a family have changed because of her. We are all happier, we all appreciate each other A LOT more, and none of us will ever forget that wonderous trip that brought us to Josie. Here she is today, the "I-don't-want-to-wear-my-pants-Mom, Take-me-to-swimming-class-Mom" beauty that we all love so very much!

Nothing special planned for today. James is out of town so it's just the girls and me. Maybe we'll treat ourselves to a cupcake or an ice cream later... But, for now, the celebration is just the joyful routine of being a family.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kate & Josie

Wow! We had such a wonderful day today! The weather was lousy - foggy & rainy - but our spirits were brightened by our first visit with Ms. Kate Emerson Ru! 'Worth the wait' is all I have to say.

Kate's Mom, Kim, is the author of the 3 Peanuts blog. We were introduced through our social worker, the wonderful and fabulous Janice, in the summer of 2005. At that time, we had just submitted our dossier to China for Josie's adoption. Kim and her husband, Dave, were finishing up the paper chase after nearly 2 years of delays. We met in person at our agency's summer picnic in June of 2006 - just a few months after Josie had come home. I was instantly taken by Will & Harry - Kim & Dave's sons. They were SO handsome, SO polite and SO sweet to Josie. They were still waiting to meet their little sister then.

Kate Emerson came home in May of 2007. Today, I finally got to kiss her beautiful, round cheeks and listen to her speak in her tiny little voice. What a beauty! Kim was also just as kind and wonderful as I remembered. I cannot tell you just how wonderful (and chaotic!) it was to sit down - nearly 3 years after meeting - with our long dreamed of daughters.

Conversation was disjointed given we dined with two toddlers who are both used to their mother's undivided attention. So, the long and short recap of our lunch is this:

1. The girls got along famously
2. Kim and I are both married to great guys who are great Dads and really lighten the load for us.
3. Wow, this (raising a little one) was a lot harder than we both remembered!
4. Finding friends with toddlers that are in the same age group as we are is nearly impossible.
5. Both Kim and I are thankful for each other - even more so now that we got to renew our friendship.
6. Josie and Kate are just loved to bits by their siblings.
7. We won't wait another year and a half to get together again!

I only got the opportunity to take 4 photos of the girls during lunch and they didn't turn out that good. I'm hoping Kim got some better ones. I'm sharing the two best ones here, hoping we'll have more photos of Kate and Josie together again soon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

CNY Celebration

Maddie hangs lanterns in the dining room

Our "Year of the Rat" Cake...Yummy!

Red Flowers for Good Luck!

Everyone enjoyed the fantastic food - our favorite restaurant Full Kee catered the dinner for us. We had two whole (head to tail) fish - which are symbolic of community and togetherness; Beef and Green Beans; Tofu with Chicken and vegetables; Char Su (Chinese barbequed Pork); Lo Mein with beef, shrimp, chicken and pork; Pork fried rice; and steamed rice. We also had tangerines, fortune cookies and a delicious Rat cake. We served lots of Chinese beer and shared lots of laughs with our friends! Josie was the hit of the evening welcoming everyone upon arrival in her beautiful Chinese clothes. What a beauty!

Maddie was thrilled, as we all were, to see her friend, Monica and her Mom, Elizabeth. Monica is a page with the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond. She is staying in Richmond for the duration of the session and comes home for weekends. Obviously, she is very busy with homework, visiting her family, etc. We were so happy that we got to share a bit of that time with both of them! We're really proud of Monica knowing she is doing a great job!

I hope all of you have a Happy and Prosperous Year of the Rat!!!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gung Hay Fat Choy!!!

Gosh, hope my spelling is right on the title. (that's how they spelled it in yesterday's newspaper...) Anyway, Happy Chinese New Year!! The girls had a surprise waiting for them when they came downstairs for breakfast. James had left them their 'Lay-cee" ( as their Cantonese MaMa calls it) and a beautiful orange. Basically, it's the much anticipated and desired 'little red envelope' given to children on special occasions. They are also used for wedding gifts or any other event where you want to spread a little good luck. The orange symbolizes 'a sweet life'.

We will be having a New Years party this Saturday. Our neighbors and friends have been invited to share in a traditional Chinese meal. Should be a lot of fun. In the meantime, I will enjoy today, this first day of the New Year by not cleaning... To clean on New Year's Day would be to wipe away all the good fortune the New Year brings. Bring on the bon-bons !!!!

Our best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy and fortunate New Year!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

It's All Good...

This is what the sky looked like this morning about 10 minutes after Josie called my name, signaling that she was up and ready to start her day.

I love when she wakes up sweet. It's a toss up based on how she slept the night before. Lately, she has been waking up in the middle of the night and bursting into our room. That alone would be enough to wake the dead, but add to it the fact that when she does this, she is accompanied by her stuffed Rudolph who also spews out his famous "Red Nosed Reindeer" song. Quite the wake up call at 2AM!

Here's Josie this morning - being her adorable self...

And, no so adorable (telling her big sister to "Get Off" her bed!)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Long Time, No Blog

Here's a photo of 'Buddalicious Central'. The photos on my board bring me great joy. I love looking up to see everyone smiling at me while I work! Also, please note the stunning new Digital Rebel (10.1 MP) James got me for Christmas..Niiiiccce!!! (Thanks, honey!)

It has been a while since I've had the free time necessary to write a truly thoughtful blog entry. I guess that's a good thing.

Once the Christmas season is over most folks take it easy. For us, the New Year brought quite a few new challenges along with our resolutions. I rarely write about myself (besides how lucky and thankful I am to have such a wonderful family!) so I will share some of my resolutions that I have been working on and the other 'Mom Things' that have been consuming my time.

My first resolution for the New Year was to 'get healthy'. I have fought my weight for the past 20 years. I have gained and lost the same 40 pounds at least 10 times. So, this year I have decided to strive not for a number on the scale or a specific pant size. Instead, I am learning to embrace who and what I am RIGHT NOW while working on a set of 'baby step' goals that will add up to overall good health and well being.

So far, I have gotten 3 of my 'baby steps' into play. First, I quit smoking. Now - before anyone reading this gets all judgmental on me - please know that I have not smoked indoors (my house, a restaurant, etc.) in over 10 years. I always, even in the dead of winter, would step outside so my family wouldn't be exposed to second hand smoke. In addition, my nasty habit was limited to 10 cigarettes a day, period. So, now that's over. I have been smoke free for 6 weeks.

Second, I have been making healthier choices with our food selections. I am trying to limit processed foods and refined sugars and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in our daily menu. Maddie gets a whole wheat sandwich or wrap packed in her lunch; Josie gets whole wheat crackers and fresh fruits for snack (she really has always preferred these kind of snacks anyway...); and our meals are cooked either on the grill, in limited olive oil or baked.

Finally, I have been getting to the gym at least 3 times a week. I am shooting for 1 hour workouts at least 5 times a week, but I'm struggling with the "Me Time" concept. Even though Josie loves going to the Kids Zone at the gym, I find that laundry and other household chores haunt me while I attempt to go to my 'happy place'.

So, Enough about me. Here's what we've been working on with regard to the Girls:

Right now, Josie is nearly potty trained. It has been a struggle. I am determined to stay positive and encouraging. Josie must be the sweetest kid alive - how else could I just smile when seeing a huge wet spot on my carpet and Josie (standing bow legged) saying "Sorry, Mom. I sorry I had accident". I have a potty chair upstairs and downstairs for her - and I have for nearly a year. She goes for a few days with no accidents and then we have a few set backs. Oh well. we'll just keep up the good work and hope for the best.

Yesterday, Josie started piano classes!! We were able to find a Yamaha Music School that has a 3-4 year old class. A parent accompanies each child and it's a 45 minute class filled with songs, exercises and instrument playing. I was amazed to see how the kids are taught finger movements, the music scale and keyboard positions. Really fun and Josie just LOVED it!!! James and I both attended with her. Next week, it will be just Josie and her Dad.

In addition to finding the piano class, I have been focused on finding an appropriate preschool for Josie. James and I toured one of the local Montessori schools in November. Josie came with us and the staff told us that she was a great fit. However, we still have so many questions and there are 4 Montessori schools in our town. So, which one is best? Also, we're not pleased that ALL of the Montessori options only offer 'full week, half day' schedules. I don't think I want Josie in school everyday. Even if it is just for 4 hours. I really prefer the Tues&Thurs./ M,W,F half day options offered at our parish school. This option is also available at 3 of the local country day schools. So, the applications have been flying along with the required certifications. I just want to find a place where Josie will be lovingly cared for while being challenged intellectually. We'll see.

As all of this is going on, we've had a bunch of stuff going on for Maddie, too. Her big Science project is nearly due. We've had our bean growing station going for 2 months. She has been recording and measuring that whole time and now it's time to put it all together and present her findings. We will be working on her presentation board this week. Her written papers/research/data are all due this Friday.

We are also waiting to hear if Maddie was accepted to the new Catholic High School - acceptances will be mailed sometime in the next two weeks. She did pretty well on the placement exam, so we're hopeful.

Maddie is also gearing up to try out for the Girls Soccer team at school. (She took last year off from the sport - her first since she was 5!) So, between taking the tennis lessons and getting her to the gym for cardio workouts, she is managing to stay busy. Her grades are also great - something we don't take for granted. School work comes first, period.

I'll share the rest of my activities with you tomorrow - there's still so much going on - but I want to give your eyes a rest. I'm going to shoot for more blog posts this month so, stay tuned to see if I can keep that resolution!