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 anally...um, 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!