Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Break

Pahrump, Nevada

We opted to keep things simple this Spring Break. Partly, because I am saving up money for a big adventure and partly because we just didn't feel like going anywhere. We did manage to fit in a few days for a much needed visit with my parents, who at ages 91 and 85, are due for as much family time as possible. The girls love visiting their grandparents and I think the grandparents love having them around.

My parents used to travel around the US in their motorhome while I attended college. I couldn't get ahold of them. I just had to wait until they called me. After several years of travel, they decided to settle down in a co-op in Pahrump Nevada with other like-minded retirees. They have remained there for around 21 years now. It seems like yesterday.

Grandpa is pruning his petunias

I also wanted to be productive during the break. I didn't spend any time trying to take great photographs, but I did manage to sew four simple sundresses and a new top for Effy, our exchange student-daughter. I am really trying to get up my motivation to give new birth to my pattern design business. I think this would be an easy way to generate income and spend more time with the girls. Unfortunately, I have to use some of my quality family time now in order to get this thing started. It's a bit of a Catch 22.

On Sunday, we just hung out at home and let the girls hunt for eggs in the yard. They sure had a lot of fun. Even our new cat Angelina wanted to get in on the action, but she wasn't quite sure what is going on. This is the first time I have ever seen her with a mean look on her face.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Pearl Turns 8

My darling Pearl is turning eight years old on April 8th. For her birthday, she asked for a visit to the American Girl Doll store and dinner in their cafe. So we are all headed to LA/Hollywood to spend a fun day of shopping, dining and time with the family.

On the night of her birthday, her best friend came over for a sleepover and we had a cozy time celebrating with a nice dinner at home and a cute Hello Kitty cake. I think between my two young girls, we have exhausted all the possible disney girls' characters for cakes from the princesses to Tinkerbelle to Tangled. I think she was happy with Hello Kitty.

She asked for a new pair of inline skates and some pearl earrings, so that's what we got for her. I'd really like to get the girls bicycles, but for now, they would rather ride up and down the sidewalks on their skooters and skates.
Below is the underside of a mastedon skull and just beside it is a wolf skull.

Below is a sculpture by Picasso entitled "Centaur". There were several Picassos here, mostly sculptures.

The weekend following her birthday, we had a fun dinner at the American Girl Doll Cafe. They not only serve the real people, but they also serve the dolls too (although their meals are imaginary). The food was delicious and afterward, we let the girls pick out some clothes and accessories for their dolls. Pearl's doll now plays the flute, complete with her case and music and music stand.

The next day we went to the La Brea Tarpits and the LA County Museum. It turned out to be a lot of fun. At the Tarpits, there are several "pits" still exposed where you can see the tar bubbling up out of the ground. Fences have been erected to protect the perimeter of the pits and lakes of tar. It is sad because you can witness firsthand as animals and birds become trapped in the tar and struggle to escape. It is just this process that makes these pits so important to the study of the Ice Age as they continually unearth fossils and creatures that were trapped in the tar over 10,000 years ago. The remains of mastedons and wolves and saber-toothed cats are on display and there are many other creatures bundled in crates still awaiting to be exposed.

The museum was next door and it was wonderful. Since we wanted to get home fairly soon, we only explored a very small part of the musuem. There was a good selection of Picassos and Matisse' and the girls really enjoyed learning about modern art. They had special art rooms at the museum, so that the girls could play with paints and find their inner artist. It was nice and the best part was that I didn't have to clean up afterward.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Planting a Vegetable Garden

Three weekends ago, I got the bug to plant a vegetable garden, even though we are currently renting our home. I remembered back to a time about 18 years ago when my husband and I were renting a small apartment with a cute little patio. We built a raised-bed planter and I filled it full of beautiful flowers. We also had a couple of vegetable plants including cherry tomatoes and peppers. I remember our house pet at the time, an adorable black English Angora bunny named "Raider", loved the cherry tomatoes. He would dance circles around our feet begging for them and we gave him so many that he got fat (or perhaps it was all the graham crackers-he begged for them too).

So I decided that it would be a fun project for me and the girls to grow our own food. I knew Pearl loves veggies and I hoped this would motivate Chloe to try some. The first weekend we built the planter and the next weekend we planted the little plants and some seeds. I know I got carried away and planted things a little too closely, but I am hoping some climbing cages will solve that problem. We planted tomatoes (four kinds), peppers (three kinds), zucchini, pickles, eggplant, yellow squash, pumpkins, green onions, basil, cilantro, radishes and purple carrots. They aren't all in that tiny planter. We also made some rows in the yard for the pumpkins and squash. I am a total beginner at this, so I am sure it won't all go just perfectly, but I do expect we'll have a bumper crop of tomatoes.

Throughout it all, my little Chloe has been helping me step by step. She planted the seeds and watered them. She was the first to notice that the onions had started to sprout. They are super tiny right now.

I think now is the perfect time for my girls to learn about growing things and healthy eating.

A few weeks ago, there was a stray cat at the elementary school. She wasn't friendly at first, but Chloe jiggled some marbles at her and she followed Chloe all the way home. Since we put some food out for her, she decided to stay and become another member of our family. She is so pretty..........don't you think? We named her Angelina. Angelina is our second cat. We adopted Sarafina last August and we still have her. Both of them have the typical tortie pattern, but Angelina also has some beautiful white patches.

Chloe was the first to notice the onions sprouting after only 7 days.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Family Day

Today is the 6th anniversary of my becoming a mommy. After months of preparation, anxiety, interviews, and paperwork, I finally found myself with my husband in Nanning China waiting for the arrival of my baby girl.

They brough Chloe in with the other 14 babies. It took me a minute to figure out which one was mine. I don't think she looked much like the pictures they had sent me. She was quiet, scared and curious. I was most in awe of her big round eyes (accentuated by her fear). She was brave and I later learned, sick.

Those first few days were really rough, but we bonded with our girl and became friends with our travelmates. Everywhere we went, we were approached by Chinese people who would look at Chloe and exclaim, "Big Eyes!"

Now she is 7. We often ask "Where did the time go?" I remember being so frustrated that I couldn't carry on a conversation with her. I was so eager and impatient to see her grow up. I wanted to know what she was thinking. These past few years have been so amazing, I wish I could freeze time......just for awhile. Even my sweet Chloe tells me she wishes she could stay little. How odd, when so many other kids just want to be big.

She has blossomed so much this past year. In Kindergarten, she was quiet and reserved and middle-of-the-pack. In First Grade, she participates, competes, excels and earned Student of the Month. This year she started gymnastics and is taking to it like a fish to water. Her teacher already wants to move her up to the next level. Every evening, when her sister is practicing piano, Chloe is practicing handstands, splits, and back rolls. She does cartwheels as easily as taking a step. She is self-motivated and only needs the slightest encouragement. She is my little sidekick.

Happy Forever Family Day my sweet Chloe ♥