Saturday, December 8, 2007

Will I Ever Blog Again?

Somehow six weeks have gone by without a single thing to say. How does this happen? Could living life actually be more important than commenting on it? Hard to imagine.

On another note, today is Bailey Belle's 11th birthday. She stole a pound of butter out of a grocery bag and ate it all on Thursday, and spent most of Friday under the couch, puking up greasy slime onto the carpet. I'm relieved to see that her senior status is not slowing her down at all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I'm not sure there could be anything cuter than Rina on roller skates. We went to our friend Drew's 11th birthday party on Sunday at the skating rink and the girls had a really great time. Juliana chickened out of the skating end of things early on -- but she learned how to shoot pool, burned some quarters in the pinball machine and ate plenty of pizza. But Rina...oh my! Turns out she's a talented and fearless little skater. (It helps that she bounces.) We're going to go back again soon and let her really show her stuff.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Washout at the Zoo

We spent yesterday at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Forecast called for showers, but as Tim's on vacation this week and the zoo is closing early Friday, Saturday and Sunday for their annual Boo at the Zoo event, we knew this was our only day to fit it in.
It turned out that "showers" didn't mean short bursts of rain with breaks of sun in between, as one might guess. "Showers" meant steady, misty drizzle from gloomy grey skies, driven by a cold wind. It turned out for the good in that the zoo was almost completely empty -- there were a few school groups in the morning, but by lunchtime the place was pretty much abandoned. The animals were more active than we've ever seen them (of course we usually go in the heat of the summer, so whether it was temperature- or rain-induced activity, I couldn't say). We spent a good deal of time in the indoor exhibiis, seeing more here than we ever have before. The volunteers were very eager to share! We were able to speak with volunteers and zookeepers about a number of species -- the naked mole rats were particularly amusing, but we also got to see the spotted spiny lobster being fed, learn about leafcutter ants, see a capybara skull up close and learn more than we ever cared to know about elephant dung. And it was interesting to see the keeper giving the red-tailed ratsnake a shower! He appeared to be really enjoying the bath.

We also hit the giant panda jackpot. We happened to be passing through the new Asia Trail exhibit at snack time, so baby Tai Shan was enjoying a plastic milk crate dripping with honey, Mei Xiang was entertaining herself quietly near the glass observation wall in the community room, and Tian Tian was playing with a ball filled with some kind of cookie treats -- as he rolled it across the floor, the snacks fell out and he scarfed them up. Ordinarily we're lucky to see one member of the giant panda family at a distance, but we saw them all up very close yesterday. It was a great experience. Our girls have a special fondness for these beautiful ambassadors from China, and we love any encounter we have with them. Yesterday was extra-special panda time.

Of course a good deal of our time was spent in Mommy's favorite places -- the Think Tank and The Great Ape House. The O-Line was not in use so we didn't see anyone making their way from one building to the other, but we did get some interesting one-on-one time with the orangs (or the "rango-tangos," as Rina calls them). Kiko, Bonnie and Batang were in the Think Tank when we visited. Batang was very pouty; she kept rolling away from the girls, tossing hay around and flopping down on her side as if she couldn't get comfortable. Bonnie and Kiko were more interactive -- the girls played peek-a-boo with them and they seemed engaged for quite a few minutes. When we got to the Great Ape House, we had a nice visit with Lucy and also saw Kyle. I am so enamored of these amazing creatures, with their expressive faces, distinct personalities and beautiful coloring, and I would spend my entire time at the zoo observing them if my family would let me.

My photos are dismal -- it was just so gloomy! Nothing photographs well through glass, and there was simply not enough light outside to capture the beauty and wildness of the creatures we encountered. I've uploaded a few pics that turned out so-so; I guess another trip will be needed in the near future to try to get some better shots.

Unfortunately, weekday traffic coming out of DC was even more dismal than the weather and my photos. It took us five and a half hours to get home (it ordinarily takes just under four). We were all done in by the time we pulled up to our house late last night! But the zoo itself was a great experience and we can't wait until we can visit again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Beaverful...uh, BEAUTIFUL...weekend

Read this very cowful...I mean, CAREFULLY. Trailnames used exclusively to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Stonefly and I spent a lovely weekend in State College, PA and its surrounding areas, hunting for boxes and giggling like idiots. Most of the boxes and many of the giggles were thanks in part to the contributions of our dear, debauched friends trueindigo and RGBisMe. Much more laughter was due to the adult (very, very adult) members of the jbzfarm team, one of whom should change his trail name to BRITA if he's going to need to have his filters replaced so often. :)

Friday it rained. It did not "blow over," they were not "passing showers," and I did not "have fun." I have very little more to say about Friday. I'm still shivering.

Ok, so there were some short breaks in between downpours. And we got to see some lovely places (when we weren't shielding our eyes from offensive rotting gutpiles left right on the trail by inconsiderate hunters).

Stonefly hates snakes, and welcomes any opportunity to poke a large stick into a suspicious snakey-looking hole.

We stayed Friday night in State College, and met trueindigo, RGBisMe, PAPaddler, HunterJumper and DaBraLady on Friday evening in Millheim for dinner at the Millheim Hotel, which is apparently renowned for it bathtub salad bar and balcony parties and puddin'. Dinner was good, drinks were yummy and the company was raucous. Couldn't ask for more.

Saturday took us to the campus of PSU. After a brief stop for nourishment of the tea-and-chocolate-roll kind at Panera, we began our marathon boxing adventure. Our heartfelt thanks to the CLPE for a spectacular expedition, complete with shuttle service. Stonefly had us, AMAZINGLY...well-organized, so things went quickly and smoothly, albeit with a lot of paper shuffling (I'm thinking a PDA for Christmas so he can just upload his clues and look like an even bigger nerd). HunterJumper's maps looked kind of pathetic next to Stonefly's "atlas."

"A says ah-ah-ah... B says buh-buh-buh..."

Stonefly: "Uh, FOLKS? We've been sitting here for 6.3 seconds. We're on a tight schedule here. Places to see, boxes to find. Let's move it along."

Stonefly: "Once again, people...less standing, more walking. Less talking, more boxing. HUP two three four. This is not on my schedule. Move it. Let's GO."

PA Paddler, "sportin' wood." Bittersweet wood at that. Ew.

Pirates! Ok, just one pirate. But he commands a tight ship. And his stamps are beautifully carved for one without opposable thumbs.

Yes, that is really an escaped cow standing in front of the Bryce Jordan Center. Yes, we chased it from Medlar Field all the way up and around Beaver Stadium and onto the BJC lawn (and yes, HunterJumper's ankle swelled up like a softball after that). Yes, it really did knock RGBisMe down. And no, I don't know what finally happened to the cow. But it was fun while it lasted. And the Cow Tails were delicious.

Whoa...back off, lady! I'm a happily married man.

Which way is north?

Local legend holds that if a virgin ever walks by this obelisk, it will fall to the ground. In a heap of giggling, adolescent silliness.

A few disclaimers:

  • I have never hung around a laser vision correction center. I am not that kind of girl.
  • I didn't know what the green shirts meant. Honest.
  • I have been fervently trying to recreate the Otto's red wine slushie since Saturday. Two days and four bottles later, I have determined that swishing copious amounts of cold Nittany Mountain Red wine around in your mouth is not the same. But it's been fun trying.
  • I have never taken part in the molestation of anyone's shadow. But I'm ashamed to say I've laughed really, really hard while watching it happen.
  • Kitty porn. Need I say more?

All in all, a fabulous weekend that makes me long for the days when my kids are grown and my time is my own again. It was so nice hanging out with grown-ups -- even when they act like naughty teenagers! Thanks for a great time, everyone. Can't wait till the spring event. Wonder what kind of guaranteed spontaneous event we can expect next time?

Monday, October 8, 2007


Nana and Pop-Pop sent us flowers for Rina's special day. Aren't they pretty? I love the fairy!

Happy Gotcha Day!

Today is the day we celebrate Rina joining our family forever. It was on October 8th, two years ago, that a young orphanage worker placed Rina in our arms and completed a journey that had begun in the heart of God at the beginning of time. We have been so abundantly blessed, and we thank God every day for the miracles He wrought in our two beautiful, unique, spirited and Spirit-filled children.

This was taken about half an hour after Rina joined us. She was one day shy of 9 months old, and she weighed a very solid 19.5 lbs. Her clothes were too small, she smelled icky, she had open sores on her neck and she was nearly bald at the back of her head (from pulling her hair when she cried). But she was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen!

This was taken yesterday.

Life has changed so much in two years. Things are very different with a nearly-three-year-old in the house! Rina is independent and smart and oh-so-fearless. She loves to read stories and play outside and make beautiful things with play-doh and crayons. She is good at pretending, not so good at sharing. She is quite familiar with the time-out step. She worships her big sister. She knows all of her colors, most of her shapes and many of her letters and numbers, and delights in pointing them out. She has an amazing smile, gorgeous eyes and the cutest little round Buddha belly. She has her mama's hands-on-hips stubborn pout, her daddy's goofy sense of humor, and her sister's love of all things sparkly and pink.

To those who tell us "what a wonderful thing [we] did," (adopting, that is) -- as if building our family was some humanitarian effort on our part -- I tell them about all the purely selfish joy I get out of the little drama queen that joined our lives two years ago. I'm thankful that Rina was spared a life of hardship and loneliness, but I am confident that she would have thrived in whatever situation she would have faced. She is strong and brave and resilient. But our family would have been smaller in every sense of the word without this child. We are the ones who are blessed!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Our Wreck

At 1:00 AM on Thursday morning (Sept. 13), the police were in high-speed pursuit of a stolen vehicle. At 1:05 AM, that pursuit ended with the stolen vehicle smashed into the side of our parked car. The thief took off on foot.

Fortunately the stolen car was insured, and their insurance company is covering the damages to our car.

Unfortunately, because the doors still open, the car is deemed "driveable" (never mind if it's safe or not).

Fortunately, once we get it in the shop, we can use a rental car.

Unfortunately, all of the garages in town are booked solid from the damages caused by the hail storm three weeks ago.

Fortunately, we have two cars.

Unfortunately, Tim needs the second car to get to and from work.

Fortunately, I don't have many places to go.

Unfortunately, I couldn't go to them even if I wanted to.

I'll just be glad when it's fixed and the whole mess is over!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What a guy!

On one of my email groups, the ladies have been complaining about their husbands' picky eating habits. One woman said her husband won't eat eggs, pasta, anything with sauce of ANY kind...another won't eat a meal unless it has a substantial amount of meat...another won't eat any vegetable other than corn and peas. Not even spaghetti sauce -- because tomatoes are vegetables.




Well, if nothing else this has made me very, very thankful for my husband! I've been slowly converting to vegetarianism and he has been more than supportive of my efforts. He's eaten every weird bean/tofu/noodle dish I've put before him, he's really encouraging the kids to try new things, and he really believes that the health benefits outweigh the temporary strangeness of our new menus. Don't get me wrong -- he'll still choose a Quarter Pounder over a salad at IckDonalds any day! But he's really adventurous and not the least bit picky (ok, so he's not crazy about asparagus, but he eats a Thank-You Bite just like the kids do!), and he's really cool about it. I think the best thing is that at the table, he's always very appreciative of anything I make. After supper he might pull me aside and give me a gentle "that can go to the back of the recipe box" comment, but in front of the kids he'll try anything and be really enthusiastic and grateful about it. He always says our grace and ends with "please bless the hands that have prepared this food for us" (mine!) and that makes me feel really appreciated, too. All in all, I just feel very blessed.

I would go NUTS with some of these women's husbands!

...No, not really. They'd just be very, very hungry at my house.

Friday, August 24, 2007

First Week of School


...and 2007

This was Juliana's first week of 2nd grade. Monday found us dodging raindrops in the front yard, trying to get the "First Day of School" photo taken. I'm posting last year's and this year's photos together so it's apparent how much the girls have both changed -- it's amazing. Time goes by so quickly.

A clerihew in honor of Juliana:

Second-grader Juli
Has never been the slightest bit unruly.
She's studying great works of literature
In hopes of becoming less immature.

And the decoration on our front door:

Monday, August 20, 2007


I grew sprouts. What fun. And very much a nearly-instantly gratifying experience -- from seed...

to edible crunchy bits...

in just three days. I'm sure my salad will be extra-tasty today.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why me? Why now?

I am an anti-blogger. My husband is forever coming home from work with stories from this person's or that person's blog (which of course leads me to wonder what he actually does at work all day). I really have little interest in the random thoughts and complaints of other people. Published works don't always hold my attention -- gray literature seems even less likely to do so.

So imagine my surprise when I decided that blogging was a sensible thing for me to do. I have thoughts that I'd like to journal, although I doubt there will be anyone (besides my husband -- only on his lunch break, of course! -- and perhaps my mom) who will care to read them. It will also be a repository for annoyingly cute photos of my family; again, of little interest to anyone besides the people in the photos themselves, and their aunts and uncles. I might read a book and spout off about it. I will probably post recipes. I will doubtless complain about endless piles of laundry and cleaning up dog vomit and why, oh why, can we only ever find one shoe? It will be redundant and ridiculous and a little bit bombastic.

Thankfully there's nothing that entitles a person to blog, so it is with relief that I can begin this venture with no pressure. This will not be a "good" blog. It's not the kind that will make you question the deeper meaning of your existence. It will probably not get you riled about politics or religion. It may offend you, but that will be due simply to its pretentious awfulness.

It will, however, have lots of big words.

Because my husband asked...

Codswallop: nonsense.

The origin of the term codswallop is unclear. The most widely quoted story has it that of Hiram Codd, an English soft drinks maker during the 1870s, who developed a technique for bottling lemonade. This process involved the insertion of a glass marble as a stopper into the neck of the bottle. When the bottle was shaken the resulting pressure from the fizzy pop forced the marble against the neck to form a seal. The device was called, not unreasonably, the Codd Bottle. Wallop is a slang term for beer, and beer drinkers would certainly be disdainful of bottled soft drinks. It's not difficult to see how a soft drink in a Codd Bottle could have come to be called codswallop.

There's no actual evidence for that derivation though. In fact neat plausibility without evidence is often the mark of the linguistic urban mythology known as folk etymology.

The most likely explanation is that it is a made up word that just sounds right for its meaning.

- from

HP fans will tell you that Hagrid often uses this word. I am not a HP fan, and yet I know this useless fact. I know many such useless facts. More to come.

Because my husband asked (Pt. ll)...

Clerihew: A form of whimsically biographical comic verse.

G K Chesterton called it a “severe and stately form of free verse”, but then he had been a close friend from schooldays of the man who invented it, Edmund Bentley. Indeed, Chesterton illustrated the first book of whimsical verses, Biography for Beginners, which Bentley published in 1905 under the name of E. Clerihew.

The form is slight but not slighting, conventionally consisting of a quatrain with the name of the biographee as the first line. The lines are of unequal lengths, rhymed AABB, often written in a flat-footed or mangled way more reminiscent of prose than verse. The first, which Edmund Bentley is said to have composed during a boring science class at St Paul’s School, was:

Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

Clerihew was Bentley’s middle name, which was given him (and which he in turn passed to his son Nicholas) to mark his mother’s maiden name, Margaret Richardson Clerihew, Clerihew being an old Scottish surname. It was applied to the verse form by others and seems to have first surfaced in its own right as the name in 1928.

- from