Friday, July 30, 2010

Full House (Very Long Post)

The house is quiet this morning. This is rare occurrence. I got up at 7:30 and crept downstairs for a cup of java with a smile on my face. The sun is shining in the window, yet it's not as hot as previous days. It's gonna be a good day and I'm looking forward to a fun weekend in Hbg. with the family. Since I have some peace and quiet I thought I'd catch up a bit on blogging. Warning: this is a long one! I wrote the following post a month ago - June 10th to be exact. The next day all hell broke loose. I'll let you read this one first, then give you an update below...

Warm and fuzzy beginnings:
I believe that out of all things some good shall come. There is always a reason, a silver lining, an opportunity that we are given to learn and grow. So while I was VERY sad when my brother and his wife told us they were getting divorced, I am happy to report that my bro and nephews have moved in with us for awhile. We have a 5 bedroom house and 2 of the rooms on the 3rd floor are mostly unused unless we have guests over. I thought it crazy for my brother, Jason, to have to pay rent for 6 months when we have plenty of room here. We are all very excited! It's going to be a great time for our family. A great time for bonding, sharing, and for our kids to know each other even more.

We are going to be helping him save for a new house, but he will be helping us, too! Jason can fix anything and loves to do home and yard projects. He's already helped Jeff re-do part of the basement. It's now the "man cave", LOL. Jason has his couch and TV down there. They installed a new cabinet and counter behind the bar, put the fridge in the wall, sealed the wall, and painted. It's looks nice. Great for guy time and now he and his sons have their own place to hang. I think Jeff will be excited to hang down there sometimes, too! Oh, the game nights they will have. I am happy for him that he'll get some male bonding in. Ha, ha, I am also happy to not have to listen to football upstairs this fall! :-) Next the guys are going to build a much needed shed outside and Jase is gonna make some shelves for me here and there and help with the yard. With the extra cash he is giving us, I hope to get a cleaning woman again and with the extra help from Jason, I can get organized! It's a win win situation! Oh, and did I mention he loves to cook (and is good at it) plus he's a wine rep and is bringing his amazing collection with him? What great big family dinners we will have! I asked him why the heck he didn't move in sooner! I think I will benefit from this arrangement far more than he, although he seems to think we are doing him the favor!

But, seriously, the coolest part about it is Ruby having Ryan around 3-4 days a week. They had so much fun last weekend and it's so great to give her a chance to experience a sibling-like relationship. So far, she loves it. I'm sure they will fight over toys at times and there will be an adjustment period. Actually, I think it is gonna be harder on Ryan than Ruby. It will take time. But he has 2 wonderful parents who love him and are still friends. It will work out. I'm glad we can have this time together. We joke that by the end of 6 months we all may be quite sick of each other, but I am feeling confident that is it gonna be one amazing time in our lives in which we all learn, love, and grow.

Today, Friday July 30: We are still standing:
The day after I wrote that my brother and I had a serious argument. I was so bummed. Don't even remember why now (which tells you how stupid it was) but it took a few days to work out. Days later we battled again because he wanted to have some friend that I have never met come and party and crash at the house. I don't run a hotel around here! 3 more people was quite enough for us all to get used to. I just didn't feel comfortable with him bringing someone else home I didn't know. They had only been here a little over a week at that point. SO... it didn't exactly start like I had hoped. Instead of getting more help around here I was feeling like I gained 3 more children (including my brother!) to clean up after. The house was already a mess and my own disorganization was starting to drive me crazy BEFORE they moved in. From my brother's standpoint, I became a nag. In his opinion, much like the environment he left. "Please can you turn the lights off, put your glasses/dishes away, remove your stinky/dirty socks from my FRONT PORCH, be quiet coming in so you don't wake the baby, turn the tv down so you don't wake the baby, put your things away, empty your stinky ashtray and keep it at the far end of my front porch so I don't open my front door in the morning and smell cigarettes first thing!, etc." Let's just say, we have some different and unique habits that sort of clashed.

To be fair, he HAS helped a little around here. He will do dishes sometimes, empty trash and help Jeff with yard work. We've all had a very busy summer around here with vacations and outings plus and Jeff and Jason have both been super busy with work. So we are just now settling into a "normal" schedule. Jace has shared some fabulous wines (and this is not to be discounted!) and we've had some nice long talks lately.  Starting to get used to each others ways, habits, schedules. I am trying hard to tame my inner control freak and not nag so much. I want them to feel at home and not under inspection. My nephews are great. I love talking with Anthony and Ryan is a little sweetie pie. And I should say here that since the beginning of this arrangement there have been good times mixed in, too. It's certainly not been all stress. Just took some adjustment. Sometimes it feels like one big party. Fun dinners, big Sat morning breakfasts, fun times with the kids.

At times my bro and I still clash a little, but it's getting better. He had a cow when I hired a cleaning woman this week because I had them invade HIS space. Too bad. I wasn't caving on this one. The WHOLE house got a good, deep cleaning. I even went around after the woman and further cleaned (when she wasn't looking) so it was up to my standards. Haha, I guess I shouldn't say "my standards" cause it's been a mess the greater part of the last 6 months! Not dirty, but messy. Cleaning has been in quick little spurts and not a thorough job like I used to do. So I am content. For the 1st time in 10 months, my home is quite clean and organized. I've tackled projects I've been meaning to do and had a stellar play date here yesterday for 4 kids and it still looks good. It's taken so long for me to really feel like I got it together instead of flying by the seat of my pants. Still far from a supermom, but much better than I was months ago. Now if I can just get back to the gym and start cooking more I will REALLY feel good! But.... baby steps. Want to still enjoy my summer with Rubes. She, BTW, has adjusted fabulously to the guys being here. Loves Uncle Jay and enjoys having the boys around. Ryan took a few visits to get used to it and Jason missed him sooo much. I really had to take a step back and realize how hard this whole thing is for my bro. I wasn't thinking enough about the big changes HE was going through. Lots of life lessons around here. So today, we are all still standing and learning to live as one big, happy family. We are growing and sharing as I first hoped. It just took awhile to get there. :-)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Play Dough Pedicure

...and other fun stuff!

When the days are hot we get creative around here. One day we were oh so bored so I whipped out the mammoth Playdough set my brother got Ruby for her birthday. Ruby got some on her toe by accident and when I pointed it out she thought it very funny. This lead to me giving her a "pedicure" which she thought was the most WONDERFUL idea. Naturally, she wanted to give me one, too...
Pure Playdough silliness
We made animals and rings and bracelets and many fun things that day. Other days we are not so creative. :-)

And here is some art stuff we did a few weeks back...
Really into it.
This one I helped with a lot. She loves umbrellas and was very excited about this project.
This one I didn't help (except the "happiness is" at the top). She really likes to glue things.
And just being silly.

Fun stuff!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Potty Training Sick Day

Sounds bad but actually it is working out okay. Rubes has a cold (nothing major, just a little cold) and it is too stickin hot to do much outside. Except go to Sesame, but I don't want to spread her germs around. So I thought this is as good a time as any to get back to that potty. I told her we would not be wearing diapers today except for bed time. Didn't even bother with training pants. Just a dress. She protested a little, but to my surprise has been doing well. So far we had 4 hits and 2 misses. Not too bad! Trying to be as casual as possible when she pees on the floor and couch and reward big (with praise and gummies) when she gets it in the potty.

I gotta tell ya, I'm exhausted! Between potty training and entertaining her it has been non stop cleaning up messes, LOL. I laugh cause it's been fun, too. We did all sorts of arts and crafts and puzzles today. She has been so good and sweet. Really enjoys painting and the art stuff. At one point I just left her for a few minutes to clean something up and came back to find glue, paint, and paper in one big globby mess! She had fun though so I just cleaned that up, too. Finally, I resorted to the television. I resisted all day but quite honestly I needed a bit of rest and she begged me for Barbie Island Princess (her favorite movie ever) while smiling up at me with those big brown eyes. We both know every song to that one and she loves singing them with me. How could I resist? Well, watching TV actually led to more cleaning of pee-pee (that's the one that ended up on the couch) cause I was about 2 minutes too late to check on her. Try to check in or ask every 15-20 minutes. Ah. Trial and error. But, still, we are getting somewhere today. At one point she came in and asked me for a diaper. That's great! She realized she had to go and we got to the potty in time! I yelped for joy and did a little victory dance. She thought this was pretty funny. We had good lessons today - our puzzle time includes numbers, colors, shapes, and memory games - and a good start back on the potty. I'm tired but happy. Suppose we both will sleep well tonight. :-)

Gotta run! Time to do a potty check in!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fun in the Sun!

What a vacation! The hotel was far better than I expected. The ocean view was incredible. One morning Jeff & I got up early and watched the sun rise from our balcony. Breathtaking. Been so long since we've done that! The room was big, roomy, and very clean. Not 5 star by any stretch, but for a Wildwood, NJ hotel is was pretty good. I was more than content. We moved in our ten tons of luggage and got ready for fun! Oh and the fun we had! I can't remember the last time we all relaxed so much and yet at the same time we were always busy talking or eating or playing or running from beach to pool. It was a big, fun group and everyone was feeling jovial. The kids were REALLY excited to see each other. I let my hair down. Literally. Didn't touch the hair dryer the whole weekend. Didn't fuss over my hair or make-up or what I was gonna wear...which is rare for me. I even had too much fun to stop and get out the camera much or focus on getting "THE" shot. We all went with the flow and changed plans - sometimes 3 times - just to hang with everyone. And yet somehow it was all so stress free and fun.

We were greeted the first day by my brother, nephews, cousins, Dad, and uncle who had a ton of food out for lunch. They invited us over and we all ate and caught up and then hit the pool. Ruby is such a water baby. Had her arm swimmies and intertube on she was ready to go! She was all Daddy's girl in the pool since he is far more fun (and less paranoid) than me. He lets her go in the deep end (while my heart skips a beat) but he was always right there beside her. It was so cute to see her "swimming" around the pool. She'd kick her legs and scoop her hands like crazy but she would kind of pitter patter and not move much for all her effort. Wish I took a video cause it was so cute. She'd say "LOOK, Mommy! Swimming!" Yea, Ruby, you sure are!

After an hour or so we left and walked to the beach - which was steps away. And that's about how the whole trip went. Beach! Fun! GREAT time with family! Lots of pool and beach time. Our friends Charlsey & John came down with their kids also to join in on the fun. At times it was a little challenging to coordinate all of our schedules. People came and went. Sometimes - usually at the beach - we all huddled together and would talk and laugh and catch up with each other while the kids played. Other times we'd do our thing or hang with part of the group and meet up with everyone else shortly thereafter. Still, no one seemed to mind and everyone had such a blast. Really hated to leave!

Ruby and my cousin Angie's daughter, Nina, have formed a special bond on the last few visits. They were so sweet together and probably the best part about both of their trips. They were inseparable the whole time....both so excited each day they saw each other again. It was so wonderful to see everyone and we are already thinking of when we can all get together again. So lucky to have this great big family!

As for Rubes...she had such a blast. I'm glad I had my dark shades on cause there were a few times I teared up at the site of her. Just standing on the beach watching my daughter laugh her head off at the waves... or laugh and smile with her with her friend Ava.... splash in the pool... it was so beautiful to see. I just think of where she was last year and how happy she is now. I think of all the kids still not home and it hurts my heart for them and their families. And I think about how lucky and blessed and grateful I am to have this sweet girl in our lives. We are having the best summer ever and it's because of one awesome little girl my cousin Dino dubbled "smiley". Thank God for you, Rubes! And thank God for such wonderful family, wonderful trips, and times in our life.

A few pics...
Ruby and the view from our room

Chilling in the room before breakfast

Camping out with Ava and Logan in their room..watching Nemo for a bit before bed.

Hitting the beach. Doesn't look happy here but I assure you she sure was!

Ready to jump the waves!

Ava and Ruby loving the ocean

Daddy and Ruby ready to hit the rides. They had fireworks that night which was so great. Much louder and closer than 4th of July but Ruby didn't mind it one bit. She kept saying " LOOK! Firecracks!" Adorable.
Loving the rides.
Getting a hand from cousin Nina on the beach.
Happy cousins enjoying their time together.
Ryan gets some Nina time too. She is such a sweetheart and so good with the little ones.
Jeff, Ruby, Nina, Lessi, and (their dad) Dino
Our beautiful sunrise the last morning. View from our deck. Ahhh...when do we go back?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ballerina In The Making

My friend Dawn and I want to start the girls in dance class this fall. As far as I can tell, this is gonna be a big hit with Her Rubiness. We went to observe a class yesterday morning and they ended up letting them don some tap shoes and join in! Rubes was really into it and didn't even care that I was behind a closed door. Going to check out a few more dance studios in the area and make our decision.

Next we hit the Danskin outlets in Lahaska to buy all the ballerina gear she will need. Luckily, Dawn was just there the day before and told me of the sale they are having. INCREDIBLE! Leotards for $1.99! Tights for .99 cents! 70% off everything else! It was shopping heaven and Ruby was loving her new leotards. (This all before I saw the Gymboree outlet! Let's just say, it was a GOOD shopping day!)  But her favorite, of course, were the SHOES. Cute little ballet slippers for only $7.50! 

When we got home I  (I mean, SHE) was so excited to try them all on. But she was the excited one when she got to put her shoes on. Just started dancing around and begged to watch her Barbie in the Nutcracker movie.
A little peak at the miss dancing all the while clutching her Barbie DVD.


Mesmerized with the Nutcracker. How sweet will it be to take her to see the live, on-stage version this year? Oh, so many wonderful firsts. Each more magical than the last.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Little Piece Of Thailand

No, this picture wasn't taken in Thailand. It's actually a beautiful bit of Thai loveliness practically planted in our backyard. Only 10 minutes drive from our home.  It was built in the same fashion as the Wat's in Thailand. A walled in compound - this one walled in by trees and hedges - with several buildings and beautiful gardens.
We sought out and found it last summer, hoping to learn more about Thai and Buddhist culture in order to infuse it into our lives and add to our customs. What we found was so much more. A very large Thai community, a place for Ruby (and us) to make new friends, and some great Thai festivals! Not to mention some really great food!

Our friend Anna - fromThailand - was amazed that we have such a large Thai community here in Pennsylvania. Honestly, I am too. It's such a great thing for Ruby to have wonderful role models and to grow up knowing about her culture. It is always available to her there and she can even be taught Thai language. One of the monks is going to translate something for me which is great and a friend is going to help translate a kids kareoke video that I have for Ruby that I am dying to be able to sing along with her and teach her. I couldn't wait to go yesterday on such a beautiful sunny day and take some pictures for Anna.
The grounds outside the Wat are so beautiful! I love those bright colored flowers.
Ruby seemed to like them as well.
Inside the main building monks enjoy their lunch. Every Sunday they have a feast. First for the monks, and then for everyone. It is quite yummy! Aroy Mak!!! We try to go once a month and/or on special holidays. We've been pretty busy lately and hadn't been since April so I was glad to have time yesterday.
Also in the main building, people pray in chant form. It is all in Thai so I'm not sure what they are saying. Ruby was rather restless as it was a bit longer today, so we spent a good amount of time outside exploring the grounds. Pictured above is a typical alter type front with many beautiful Buddha statues. To the right of them are two famous monks. One for which the temple was named and another still alive (far right). I need to find out a bit more about them and their story.
This is the new building (also pictured above in the first shot). They don't use this one much except on special holidays. I suspect it is a place the monks use for meditation. It is really beautiful though. Much thought was put into the details...
...from the roof design, the colors, the position... this ornately decorated door.
Even the back view is beautiful.
Ruby particularly liked climbing up all the stairs and checking out the red doors. :-)
The grounds were also well thought out. New trees will supply a nice shaded area in years to come.
New flowers were planted this Spring to line some of the walkways.
Lots of paths for walking amongst the trees.
And my favorite is this beautiful wooded picnic area. Such a peaceful little oasis in the middle of North East Philadelphia! I like to sit out there with Ruby for a bit while she discovers sticks and rocks and spider webs (which of course we do not get too close to!!!), etc. When the weather is nice, they have their big festivals out here and it is really fun.
Back inside, Ruby got to know her new friend Tinha a little better and I with her parents. We have seen them here a few times before. Such a nice family! I couldn't resist a shot of the girls together and someone suggested we take it up front and decided I needed to be in the shot as well. So here we are together just before we all left.

It was a nice day and we will go back again on the 25th for a big celebration they are having. I am so hoping Ruby & Tinha will really get to be good friends. And with the other children we see there, too. There is another girl named Tinha and 2 sweet boys that she also knows there and plays with. The other Tinha came to her birthday party but we haven't been able to get together since. So busy all our lives are sometimes! Anyway, we are so lucky we are to have this community here! 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

Finally...FINALIZATION! I can't tell you how great if feels! To know the long process is over and our daughter is legally's a beautiful, beautiful thing. A very special day. 

We kept it low key and only invited the parents along. We didn't want anyone to feel obligated and also wanted to keep it simple. Our family and friends have done so much for us and her already. But my Aunt Lu and her daughter showed up with my Mom and it was a real nice surprise. After the proceedings, we walked to a nice little cafe 2 blocks down and had a great lunch together. It was 104 F Wednesday and kinda ironic that is was as hot as our first big day - the board meeting in Bkk on Sept 23rd. However, unlike the DSDW lobby, the courthouse was air conditioned. This, too, was a beautiful thing! :-)
Mommy & Ruby before we left Grammy & Pappy's house.
Daddy & Ruby's turn.
The Grandmoms walk Ruby in the Courthouse. She was so excited to see everyone she kept switching holding hands with all the grandparents. When we got in the room, she walked over to every one there individually to say hi. It was so sweet.
Happy -freshly legal - family with the judge. Nice guy.
Another shot without the lollipop in Ruby's mouth! As soon as the judge came in we had to be all quiet and of course THAT'S when Ruby got the hiccups. Mommy (who ALWAYS has water in her bag) had none that day. Luckily, Grammy produced a lolly from her bag and saved the day. Rubes turned around and gave her a very quiet and sweet little "thank you" then happily settled into my lap.
Our sweet pea on her special day.
Ruby kissing her new Thai Barbie we gave her. Since she is so into Barbies and her princess dolls lately I wanted to make sure she had a Thai one. She loved it and we talked about it being from Thailand and having beautiful eyes and hair and skin like Ruby. She seemed pleased with this.
Ruby plays peek-a-boo with Grandma at the restaurant window. Such a sweet moment.
Hanging out on Jeff's parents patio later. They surprised Ruby with a special present. A beautiful gold and diamond necklace and earring set that was a gift from Pappy to Grammy many years ago. They had been saving it for the first Grandaughter. We were very touched at their thoughtfulness and love for our daughter and Ruby was very excited to put the necklace on. 
Mommy & Daddy looking on with admiration.
Grammy and Pappy have a moment with Ruby.

Such a great family we have. A wonderful immediate family and big beautiful extended family. We get to see some of our cousins at the beach next weekend and are really looking forward to it. But most of all, we are grateful to have our sweet little girl home with us...forever. We are blessed beyond measure.