Monday, June 28, 2010

More Colorado Pics

Here are our pics from the last few days.

At the top of the Keystone resort (Grace was one unhappy chica!)

Eating at our fav restaurant in Breckenridge (the motherloaded)

Lots of swimming (Grant's favorite activity)

At the Colorado Railroad Museum

At the top of Mount Evans (the highest motor road in the U.S.--read: almost a marriage ender):

Our visit to the adoption agency that we used for Grace's adoption. We showed up unannounced, received a full tour, and got lots of pics with Josh and Lily (the founders). It was very special to say thank you.

And finally, tonight we went to the Lakeside amusement park (think really old, but very cool, carnival). It's been around since 1908, and for $19.50 (four admissions, rides for Grant and Grace and five [you do the math] drinks), it was a great few hours. Grant loved every ride, especially the roller-coaster (he even held his hands up the whole time), which makes Mommy happy as I am a HUGE roller-coaster fan.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Last Sunday, we flew from Atlanta to Denver to continue our cross country, unemployment escape from reality. Upon arriving in Denver, we rented a car and headed for The Grand Timer Lodge in Breckenridge.

When I went to pickup our rental car, I told the kind attendant that I was the proud owner of a giant, white Kia minivan that I affectionately call "Big Whitey." I told her that it looks like a hospital van, gets 16-20 MPG depending on how much lunch I've had, and that I sorely missed it since it was sitting in airport parking in Atlanta.

She listened carefully to my story and agreed to rent me a vehicle which would keep the spirit of Big Whitey alive -- a 2010 Mercury Grand Marquis. All white.

The Grand Marquis was covered in dust in the rental lot, having been passed over in favor of SUVs, sports cars, and virtually anything else that rolled, but I took it anyway. It looks like a police cruiser, and people immediately assume I'm 95 when I come up on their bumper. The first tank of gas almost made it the two hours out to Breckenridge, but the kids like it because they can pass a football back and forth between their car seats.

Breckenridge is a great place to vacation, even in summer. The air is crisp and cool since it's in the higher elevations, and there is tons of stuff to see and do in the central Rockies. We've made a point this week not to do much, but some highlights have been:

-- The Country Boy Mine, where we got to go inside a gold mine AND pan for gold in a small pit where the mule's were peeing.

-- Vail, where we got to shop and watch other people spend money that we don't have. Plus we got to eat at the Vail McDonald's, which was disturbingly difficult to find.

-- Keystone, where we rode the gondola up to the top of the mountains. (Grant was the only person in our gondola not actively praying throughout the 15 minute ascent.)

-- Toy Story 3, which provided me further evidence that I hope this 3D craze ends soon. I enjoyed the movie, but by the end, I felt like I had stared into the sun for two hours. My eyes can't take it...

-- The Two Below Zero summer chuck wagon show, where Grant learned how to rope a steer, Grace learned how to play corn hole, and Daddy learned that even if the horse is only pulling you in a cart 1/4 mile from the parking lot to the show site, it can still scare him to death.

We've had a great time, and we're planning to spend a couple of days in metro Denver before we leave. I'll post some info on places we've eaten later...Erin informed me that I had turned our vacation into a list of restaurants, but it is what it is!

Friday, June 25, 2010

More Pics

Here are more pics from our Vail river fun and last night's chuckwagon show. Of course, we forgot our camera on the day we went to the gold mine (which I think was Grant's favorite activity); though, the calf roping from last night would also be a highlight for him.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Big Dog

After a fantastic meal at WiseGuys for our anniversary, we ate our final meal on Hilton Head at Marley's Island Grille. Again, they have an early dinner, so we got to eat our meal while the server's changed into work attire in the bathrooms and the cooks finished prepping the grills. It was delightful and more food than we could possibly eat.

One of highlights of the Hilton Head portion of our trip was watching Grant select a toy. He had acquired some cash from a grandparent or two, and he was itching the whole trip to find a toy store in which to make a donation. He ignored my repeated warnings that if daddy doesn't find a job soon, you may need that for lunch. But alas, the toddler thirst for toys cannot be quenched.

We found a toy store on Hilton Head at Coligny Plaza, so we let Grant peruse for a toy. He initially thought he might like a small airplane or perhaps another toy train. But then he discovered a collection of figurines, featuring knights, dragons, and, you guessed it, the three headed dog. Grant immediately decided that the dog was to be his. I pleaded with him to find a non-multi-headed toy, but it was no use. He purchased the three headed dog.

Grant has a history of making questionable purchasing decisions. He once purchased a giant plastic claw, and on multiple occasions, he has purchased foam swords which are immediately destroyed upon his return home. Therefore the three headed dog should have been no surprise.

My dad was with us when the dog was purchased, and he was almost unable to contain his laughter over the dog for the rest of the trip. He laughed so long and so hard over it that Grant became a little confused about it. We reassured Grant that papaw just thought the dog was funny, but after one night of sleeping with the dog, Grant decided he was afraid of it and asked that we sell it at a garage sale. Luckily, a couple of days later, he returned to loving his tri-noggin'd pal, and he's been guarding our condo in Breckenridge ever since.

After leaving Hilton Head, we made our way to Atlanta where we took in the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coke. We decided to do both attractions, which turned out to be a poor choice. Everyone with a child on the eastern seaboard was at the aquarium on Saturday, so our visit was cut somewhat short. Both places were still impressive though, and I suspect we'll make a return visit in the future.

For dinner on Saturday, we made our way to the Flying Biscuit in midtown Atlanta. We feasted on biscuits, sweet tea, sausages and chicken. It was a great take on Southern cooking, and we enjoyed it mightily. Here are a couple of pics from the past few days, and I'll post more on Colorado shortly.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grace

Our sweet (but a bit too spicy) little girl turns two today! She's growing up so quickly. We're celebrating it in Breckenridge with just the four of us, a night out and a birthday cake.

Grace is so full of life and spunk and sass. She makes us laugh all the time, and she is so smart and kind. I have a post on all her little sayings and such, but it'll have to wait until I get home.

For now, we just want to say happy birthday to the funniest-craziest-keep-us-on-our-toes two year old. We love you, Wei Wei. You are a gift from God!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hilton Head in Pics

I'll let Bret fill in all the details, but for now (and mainly for grandparents), here are some pics.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mid-Week Update

After arriving on Saturday, we got checked in at our resort on Sunday. We're staying (on points!) at The Westin, which is lovely primarily because it sits right on the beach. It's one thing to have to walk across a couple of streets to go to the beach when you're a couple, but it's a whole different ballgame with two crazy little people in tow.

Sunday night we at the early dinner seating at The Old Fort Pub. We had various plates of salmon, crab cake, shrimp, etc all in a quint setting overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. We celebrated an early Father's Day with my folks and went for a walk on the beach. Postcard delightful.

Monday we made our first trip out to the beach with the kids. After some initial tentativeness, they both ended up having a great time. Here are a few pics:

Monday evening we ventured out to The Sea Shack for dinner. Erin and I visited this place on our last trip, and it continues to be a favorite. It's been wicked hot the whole trip, so waiting in line outside for a half hour before dinner was a little rough. Once inside though, we loaded up on the freshest fish you can find. Grant is quite the fish eater, so he was in heaven.

Tuesday we decided that since the forecast was for 100 degrees in the shade, we'd go for a tour of Savannah. The trolley tour was great, but none of us could have imagined just how hot it was. To get out of the heat, we had lunch at Mrs. Wilkes' Boarding House. Oh my goodness. You've never seen so much food in your life. Vegetables of every type, the best fried chicken you've ever tasted. Wonderful.

After returning to Hilton Head, we lounged around for a bit and had a quick dinner at Fat Baby's Pizza. None of us really needed dinner, but we ate anyway.

Today has been a lazy pool day. It's We had a quick breakfast at a cute little bakery called Signe's. Their breakfasts weren't the usual "2 eggs plus toast" variety, which was nice. Grace rolled herself head over heels in a chair, which provided some momentary excitement. She was fine, although startled.

Tonight Erin and I are going out for our eighth anniversary. The kids are staying with the grandparent, and we're going out for tapas and drinks at WiseGuys. Where did eight years go? Unreal...

I know this entry was a little dry...I'm just trying to get it down so that we remember these places later. Lots of funny stuff has happened, so I'll try and post some of those things tomorrow.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hilton Head Arrival

We have arrived in beautiful Hilton Head; the kids are in bed, and I have the sole five minutes of free time to write a blog that I have gotten all day. Also, please note that I'm blogging via my dad's netbook, which has already proven extremely handy on this trip. Unfortunately you have to be a hobbit to type properly on it, so please forgive any typos. Sincerely, Bilbo B.

Yesterday we got to see our friends The Zottis who were with us on our adoption trip to China. It was great to meet the rest of their family, and they reminded us why it's always good to drop in on friends of Italian ancestry around dinner time. I have a special place in my heart for creamy sauces and garlic, and dinner last night was fantastic on both counts.

The Zotti girls ran Grant ragged, and at the end of the night, he was VERY upset at having to say goodbye. Luckily we're seeing them again in a few weeks, so he won't have to wait long. Here's a pic of two Jiangxi girls and their respective moms.

After a night's rest, we made our way on down to Hilton Head. We had a good day of driving...light traffic and sleepy kids. Grant became a spoke's person for Chic-Fil-A at lunch. One of the employees informed us that she thought Grant would become a model. Oy.

Once on the island, we met up with my parents who are joining us on this trip. We had a nice meal at the Wild Wing Cafe, followed by a brief stop at the pool. Before bed, Erin asked Grant if he was enjoying vacation. His response -- "Mommy, can we maybe go to the pool again?" It should be a good week.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Update #4: Facebook

Yesterday, I threw away four file cabinet drawers that were full of school materials that I had collected and created over the last ten years as an English teacher at the best school in the state of Indiana.

I loved my job. I loved teaching. I adore high school students. I love reading and writing, and every day, I couldn't get over the fact that someone actually paid me to talk to kids about books. It was a dream job.

But, on Tuesday, I turned in my keys. And as I start this next chapter of my life, I am ecstatic. Teaching is not a "once in a lifetime" opportunity. Being with my kids for the next few years--that's priceless.

I'm sure there will be days when I will crave and miss teaching. I'll miss students, great conversations, being challenged, but right now, I'll love the play-do sessions and afternoon dance parties more. I'd rather eat rice and beans than miss this time.

But, that leads me to the point of this post. Even though I said I would NEVER do it (see HERE), I'm going to start. I have no intention of EVER (might eat those words too) posting a status update, but you see, the young folk of today only keep in touch via texting and facebook. So, if I plan on keeping connected with the ten-plus years of students I've had, I have no other choice than to open a facebook account. I'm just doing it for the kids.

Like always.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Update #3: Cousins

Some of our cousins from California came out over Memorial Day weekend, and between cookouts, the Children's Museum and eating out, we had a blast. Both Grant (a little sad he can't marry his cousin) and Grace (surprisingly warned up to them very quickly) were so excited.

Here are a few pics.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Job Hunting

There are a lot of small things that I do not understand regarding hunting for new employment. It is highly unfortunate that some unemployed dude did not create a list of them on his blog so that I would be aware of them prior to my own employment going Titanic, hence the creation of the list below.

1. I was told that I needed special "resume paper." I went to Walmart and discovered such paper, but I found it curious that virtually every package of special "resume paper" had been opened. I found the only unopened package I could find and headed for the checkout. It cost $7.95 for 100 sheets. After purchasing the paper, I took it home, pulled a sheet out of the package, laid it on the kitchen table and stared at it for a while, waiting for it to take action. I figured for $7.95, it had better fill itself out with meaningful qualifications and all the appropriate buzz words. I now understand all of the open packages.

2. Is it "resume" or "resumè?" Every time I write "resume" on something official, like a job application, I feel as though I'm somehow offending a dead Frenchman somewhere.

3. Over the course of three days this week, I read "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy and watched the recent film based on the book. The book tells the tale of a father and son in post-Apocalyptic Appalachia, struggling to exist among the burned out ruins of our once thriving civilization. It features lots of decay, some occasional cannibalism, and a witness to just how unbearable a life absent of color, hope, and the occasional meal could really be. On day four, I went to a job interview and smiled and asked questions about how many vacation days I would be allotted and whether the soft drinks in the fridge were free, all the while masking the horrendous pit this book and film created in my soul. Perhaps I should have watched "Tooth Fairy" with The Rock instead.

4. Telling an interviewer that you've busied yourself by playing Little Big Planet on your Playstation 3 for hours on end might seem like a funny interjection in your head, but in reality it might not convey the go-getter spirit that you're trying to project. Saying that this is the first day this week that you've worn pants will not help the situation.

I'll continue adding to this list as I interview, and hopefully it'll be of benefit to someone else. Now back to the Playstation...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Update #2: Park Fun

We recently headed to a new park in the area. It's in the town just south of us, and we've never really been down in that area when we've needed a park, so we had yet to try it out.

But, it was fabulous. It had a playground, several miles of hiking trails, and--on the day we visited--touch a truck day.

Grant and Grace even got their pic in the local newspaper. Go HERE and look at the pics on the right.