Saturday, July 30, 2011

Children's Museum

We celebrated cousin Brakston's 4th bday at the Children's Museum. Grant and Grace loved every minute of being there with one of their best buds. We go all the time, but there is something extra special when you go with your cousin!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Whirlwind Fun

So, last week, we headed to our annual China reunion, a time where we meet with many of the families who traveled with us to adopt our girls from China almost two years ago. We had a blast, and Grant treated the event like speed dating as he flitted from girl to girl. The time was filled with backyard bbqs, waterslides, trips to the zoo, dinners together, and swimming in the hotel pool. I can't thank these families enough for continuing to come; our girls, in some ways, have lost so very much already in their young lives; it is so special to me that they are building bonds together that will last a lifetime.

Thanks for Georgette, Madeline and Lauri for these photos (can't quite find my camera yet...).

Grant's assault on the ladies begins with Sarah...
Then, he's showing off his "Where's Waldo?" skills to Allie and Julianna...
Then, he found himself "girl trapped" (as he called it) by Mia Zotti...
And, then, he was off to hug on Jaden...
Here is the beautiful Grace...

Here is Grace with friend Mia in China and now...

All her China companions then and now (well, seven of the families)

Other random pics of the kids

Then, it was off to Chicago to hang out with our cousins. We had a great time touring the city, heading to the Field Museum, swimming and eating lots of food. We were fortunate enough to stay at "Kaya and Ash's house" (as Grant called it), and we are ever thankful to the Longs for that option. Grant became highly smitten with cousin Andrea, at one point offering to buy her a ring, and Andrea was a trooper putting up with Grant's constant advances. Don't know what we are going to do about that boy. I have no pictures on my camera of our several days in the windy city, so I'll try to grab some off Bret's phone and post them soon (bad mama. bad mama.).

More to come...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Livin' off the Land

I grew up in Los Angeles. I say that so you know that I wasn't in 4-H because, let's be honest, 4-H doesn't exist in LA. There are no county fairs. No one is entering a pumpkin pie in a contest.

That's part of the charm of Indiana for me. Not having grown up around the "ag" world, there are a lot of cute things about living in the midwest. For example, my favorite building at the State Fair is the one where produce is judged... and, yes, actual ribbons are presented. I love looking at the lines of zucchini and tomatoes and string beans; there's a simpleness (in a good way) of knowing that a whole pavilion is dedicated to these blue ribbon, garden gems.

So, it shouldn't have come as a shock to Bret, who knows that I have a tendency to become fixated, that I wanted a composter. It shouldn't have come as a shock that the words "micro-farm" and "chicken coop" came up at dinner. I think there's something really exciting about being mostly self sufficient and organic.

And, now, I have the space to do so. I have acres of space to do so. If I want to sell produce at the farmer's market, I can. If I want beehives (another potential in my book), I can. If I want a chicken coop housing my pet chickens (Henny Penny and General Tso, if you're interested), I can.

I think part of Bret's concern, rightfully so, is two-fold. One: I have a tendency to start things without a whole lot of follow through when things get old, tired, boring or hard. Like the guitar. Or the bathroom floor in our current "master bath" (quote marks because to call the smallest bathroom in history "master" seems a tad bit off). So, I think he thinks that I'll leave my poor chickens to freeze at the first sign of snow or after the first coop poop clean. And, he might be right.

Second: I'm from LA. I'm not sure you can kick the city out of the girl, no matter where you move. And, he might be right.

But, I contend that I have amazing stubbornness resolve and amazing resourcefulness. I often amaze Bret with what I can accomplish (like picking up that 60" TV all on my own or hoisting large pieces of furniture up the stairs). I'm pretty self reliant (for better or for worse), and I don't ask for Bret's help all too often (for better or for worse), so at the end of the day, I think my micro-farm might really work.

But, I've decided to take it easy on Bret and start small (not a usual approach for my "I'm all in" attitude), so we might just start with a large garden next summer and a composter as soon as I can find one I like. But, I just don't think it should come as a shock when this California girl sees her prize eggs or giant gourd at the State Fair. Because at the end of the day, I'm a country-livin' Hoosier now, and I've made peace with that!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


On Sunday around 3pm, Erin looked at me and said, "I gotta get out of this 'house.' Let's go somewhere."

We had been planning on driving to scenic Colfax, Indiana to purchase a composter that Erin found on craigslist. (This is, in itself, a whole other blog. Sometimes I'm married to Betty Crocker. Other times I'm married to freaking Tipper Gore.) In the end, God intervened and gave the composter to some other poor sap, leaving us without a Sunday afternoon destination. I told Erin I was disappointed, not to lose the composter, but because I'd been thinking about getting a burger slathered in peanut butter up at the Triple XXX in West Lafayette, a short drive north of Colfax.

For those who remember, I spent the longest five years of my life in engineering at Purdue. West Lafayette is the surrounding community that turns its blind eye to the human atrocities taking place at Purdue, most notable in EE201 or the Physics building.

After contemplating the burger for a bit, Erin decided that we should go to Lafayette anyway and check out their little zoo at Columbian Park.

We arrived in Lafayette around 4:00pm, and the temperature was right around 100 degrees. It. Was. Hot. We spent about an hour wandering around Columbian Park, which turned out to be very nice for a small town park. It's strange that in my five years in Lafayette, I never made it out to the park. But given that I was trying to get out of Lafayette whenever possible, I guess it's not all that strange.

After the zoo and a ride on a train around the park, we made our way over to West Lafayette and the Triple XXX -- a restaurant name that is now un-Google-able in every possible way. Erin, Grant, and I got our cheeseburgers and Grace got her eggs. (You can't fight genetics. I'm sure it's the only time "Do they have wice?" (rice) has been yelled at 95 dBs in the Triple XXX.)

It's always very strange for me to return to Purdue's campus. By all accounts, it's a much nicer place that it was in the mid-90's. Largely dilapidated sections of West Lafayette have been renovated and now feature eateries, outdoor shopping malls, and nice, new apartment buildings -- things all sorely lacking during my tenure on campus.

I have little sentimentality for my college years. I know a lot of people look back at those years as their last gasp of youth, but to me, it was more like the first gasp in the coffin. I went from feeling like a relatively successful high school student to someone who understood virtually none of what was being presented in my engineering lectures, in part due to language barriers and in part due to absolutely horrible teachers.

As an adult, I can look back and see that me getting a 17% on a Physics exam (a "B" in that particular class) was not a failure all my own, but also an indication of a professor not doing his all. But as a student, I basically decided that I had to be an idiot since I couldn't do any better than 17%. I think those experiences had some long-lasting negative affects on my love of learning and self-confidence, which is unfortunate. So while I'm thankful for my career, I also wonder, in the end, if there wasn't a better way to get from point A to B. But alas.

In some ways, returning to Purdue with my family is cathartic. I can walk around campus without my stomach in knots, and I can just enjoy being out with the kids. Here are a few pics from the afternoon.

Mmm...The Duane Purvis All-American...
The kids who can no longer take a "straight" picture...
Gracie on the train at Columbian Park, followed by a few random shots from the day...

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th

We've been lame Fourth of July celebrators since Grant's arrival. His first year, we went to a cookout, and he was back in bed before 8 (he was only 6 months after all). One year, I don't have single picture taken (yes, our pics are cataloged by year and date--have you met Bret?). Then, one year, we went to Bedford for the parade, which was great, but that night ended in bed early too. Then, last year, we were just coming back from a month long vacation, and we were spent, so we were all asleep before dark.

So, this year, we decided to "do it up." We hit the morning parade and afternoon cookout, lit our own fireworks before heading over for an elephant ear and carnival rides before the big firework finale.

Grant and Grace were in heaven. There is real charm in small town Indiana 4th of July celebrations.

Here are Grant and Grace waiting for the parade to begin. Why Grace INSISTS on doing her silly face for every freakin' picture is beyond me.

Here they are grabbing candy as it is thrown on the parade route.

Here is their combined candy score--more than Halloween!

More random parade pictures...