Friday, September 24, 2010

Bell Schedules & Bull$#!T (literally!)

I found this photo of Josie in my phone's memory - taken December 2009

It's been a really weird two weeks here at Casa Michele.

I've spent the past year pointing out the differences between California and everywhere else we've lived. I'm really getting to like Southern Orange County - the weather is near perfect and just driving the kids to school I get to see the most beautiful scenery. Josie is becoming the leader of the neighborhood tong (Chinese gang). Maddie is finally settling down into her school work and producing remarkable results.

The one thing I'm having trouble acclimating to is the darn bell schedules for the schools. This is the most unusual and frustrating thing I have encountered as far as the kid's schedules go... I checked Maddie's school calendar and there are only about 3 weeks of the whole year where she goes in at the regular time (7:35) and is dismissed at the regular time (2:40)! This past week Maddie had two one-hour late starts (Tues. & Weds.) and one two-hour late start (Mon.). In addition, every Wednesday Josie's school starts 15 minutes early and dismisses 45 minutes early!!

I don't know how working parents handle this situation. Last Wednesday, I was aware that Josie's school dismissed early - but I neglected to check the actual dismissal time. (I erroneously believed that since she went in 15 minutes early, that she would dismiss 15 minutes early...) A call from the Front Office (after I was 20 minutes late for pick-up) had me high-tailing it to the school and apologizing up and down and sideways!! One really nice thing though - Josie's new friend, Ava, insisting on waiting with Josie until I arrived. Ava's Dad, David, was kind enough to indulge her request. What a thoughtful child! Such a small act of kindness - it made a huge impact on both me and Josie. (We cut some roses from our side garden to give to Ava the next day - and thanked both David and Ava for the thoughtfulness.)

After a hectic week, the weekend brought more frustration. The on-going gardening dispute between me and my husband reared it's ugly head again. I'll offer a short explanation: My husband is a car guy. That's his thing. He buys them, sells them, maintains and cleans them. My car gets washed everyday - Detailed every weekend. (this is not an exaggeration - he will wash the cars even when there is snow on the ground!) I haven't had to fill the gas tank in my car in over 14 years! For this, I love and respect him. I don't mess with the cars.

I, on the other hand, am a gardening girl. I LOVE mowing the lawn, landscaping, growing, planting - you name it. I take great pride in having a great looking lawn. I used to do my best thinking on my riding mower. In fact, if I was having a particularly stressful day, I'd keep riding my mower and cut my neighbors lawn! Some of the best conversations I've ever had were with my neighbor Barbara while we were both pulling weeds. So, I am the lawn expert.

Imagine if you will then, my utter horror last weekend upon finding out that my husband had paid a ridiculous amount of money to have a bunch of schmoes spread 'steer manure' on my lawn!!! The guys were just driving around the neighborhood with a truckload of manure and my husband actually flagged them down!

I have heard of putting manure around plants to fertilize them, but I have never seen manure spread on a lawn. To add insult to injury, we have the AC off because the weather has been beautiful & Breezy. The stink is unbearable! The flies are unbearable! The neighbors are giving me dirty looks! My kids are just mortified! I'm just thankful that we only have about 20 square feet of lawn - otherwise our house would be declared a Super Fund site!!! MEN !! Can't live with them, can't shoot them.

Hmph! **deep breath**. I apologize for the rant and airing my 'dirty' laundry!

Anyway, this last picture is of a local landmark in our old hometown. (another photo that was on my old phone's memory) Take a good look at the bottom sign for the Chinese restaurant...

Of course, everyone in town has their own 'Fukien' expression:

"Hey, Where's my Fukien chicken?!"
"Honey, the Fukien delivery guy is here!"
"I ordered the Fukien Beef, not the Fukien pork"
or my new personal favorite:

"Somebody tell my Fukien husband to stay away from my Fukien lawn!!"

Until next time :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday from Josie's P.O.V

Daddy reading the Sunday L.A.Times

Lucky me! I was fortunate enough to get Maddie's 'hand-me-down' iPhone. I rarely use my cell phone. My last phone was 7 years old and I could have used it for 7 more. The basic idea of being available 24/7 doesn't appeal to me. So, my phone gets left behind, a lot.

Josie, on the other hand, loves anything Mac. She is a whiz on my iMac, has mastered the iPad in 3 short weeks and she's had the iPhone down for over a year. She asked if she could "bow row" my phone on Sunday morning. I didn't see Josie or the phone for most of the day. I found the phone this morning, tucked under Josie's pillow. I plugged it in to re-charge it and these are the photos that downloaded when I did... I'm sharing the photos she took with you now. It is a perfect photo essay of Josie's Day!

While Mom and Dad enjoy coffee and the paper, Josie plays with her dogs:

Josie's playmate, Naira comes over to hang out:

Watch a few videos at

Lets her sleeping teen aged sister lie:

When Mom tells Josie to clean her room, she decides instead to pose Bamboo (her webkin from Auntie Karen); Woobie (the little bear we sent in the care package to China before we met her!); Princess (her new PillowPet given to her by cousin Kate); Blue (the stuffed Husky dog Maddie got in Alaska for her); and Bear (Daddy's original teddy bear - now almost 50 years old!)

Our little one certainly knows how to amuse herself! I think the photos only covered about 3 hours of her day! Exhausting!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hellos and Goodbyes...

Ever have a memory triggered by scent? In the years to come I am quite certain that the smell of roses and freesias will transport them back to the first day of school. James hasn't missed a year yet - his girls all get fresh bouquets on the first day of the school year. They start things off on the right tone. We're always thrilled to have the heavenly smell of flowers in the house!

Maddie always gets roses!

Josie prefers mixed bouquets like her Mom

Josie and James with Casey & Carson - walking Josie to her 2nd day of Kindergarten

Just the beginning...

I don't have any photos of Maddie's first day because she was running late and James takes her to school on his way to work. Lesson #1 for the new school year: Don't keep Dad waiting!
I'll try to catch her this week - if she allows enough time for me to grab my camera!

While we were on the East Coast we received the disappointing news that Josie's dear friend, LoLo is moving to Colorado. LoLo is one of the two really close friends Josie made this year at pre-school. (The fact that I really like their Moms is incidental!) We are both really sad to have to say goodbye to our 'new' friends, but we know that Leah, LoLo and Ross are on to a new adventure. We wish them much joy in their new home and environment. We will miss them a lot!

Leah and I finally managed to get Josie and LoLo together for a day at our community water park. We met there last week and actually found two chairs for me and Leah to recline on. (no small feat - the water park is very popular and free of charge!) Josie is not a water-loving child. She doesn't like to get her face wet, doesn't like to get splashed, doesn't want to wear a vest or floaties... very frustrating. I thought once she saw all her friends playing and swimming in the water she would want to join in. I was wrong. Josie is her own person so for now, I will just have to keep trying to get her interested. God, I am praying this is just a 'phase' and that she comes out of it soon!!

As you can see, LoLo loves the water!

Leah and Josie: Leah has shown Josie a lot of love and kindness.

The dynamic duo: Josie and LoLo

Finally, I've been putting off writing about our last few days on the East Coast because our vacation did not end on a terrific note. Yes, I did win the big $71.00 Jackpot while playing BINGO with my Mom. However, on our bus trip the next day to Harrington Casino, my wallet was stolen. I actually knew the moment it happened... I thought to myself, "This guy is not observing my personal space, he's too close." At that moment, I saw my Mom and was distracted for a few seconds. I went to get some money out of my wallet not two minutes later and it was gone! First thought was: OMG my drivers license is in there - how will I get on the plane home tomorrow? Second thought was: OMG I had a hundred dollar bill in my wallet! Third thought was: get the security team to stop the guy who 'bumped' into me.

The security team at the Casino was not really what one would call 'professional'. Apparently, the guy who grabbed my wallet took out the cash and dropped it on to a slot machine. A 'regular' player at the casino turned it in to the Security Desk within 5 minutes of my notifying the nearest guard. I lodged my theft report with the supervisor and he turned over my wallet. All the cash was gone, but my credit cards and drivers license were intact. I did notify my credit card companies within 15 minutes, just in case the guy had written down the numbers. It was a relief to know that only cash had been taken, but the security team could have caught the guy if they had responded quicker.

My Mom's BINGO posse: the ladies are a great (and lucky!) crowd to hang with!

One really nice thing about being at my parents house is seeing the all the wildlife that we don't have here in California. There is a Blue Heron that has made it's home in the pond behind my parents house for the past few years. I just love herons, they are incredible. I managed to grab a few shots of the heron one morning...

Look at the wingspan on that guy!

So, I think I'm finally caught up with reporting the news from the West Coast. Our summer was very nice and we are expecting a terrific school year with both the girls. Maddie will be a 'leader' for the Freshman retreat at her school, so she has to keep her grades up to be able to participate. Josie will start back up with her dance lessons and piano lessons in the coming week. Like most Moms I know, I will be in my car for a good amount of time in the coming months. I hope everyone has a great academic year and a colorful Fall.