Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'd Like to Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Life...



I'll get the cuteness right up front, as my sweet Josie and her friends have been one of the only sources of joy for the past few weeks! There's been a lot going on here and most of it hasn't been great. I'm really not complaining - I believe that all the happenings are just a part of normal, everyday life. While most of the activity has kept me away from blogging or doing my genealogy research, it's not earth shattering or difficult.

Josie continues to blossom in kindergarten. Her teachers have identified her as being above grade level expectations in Math. So, I've been supplementing her weekly homework with Grade 1 Math workbooks to keep her interested. I'm not a Tiger Mom, so we work on the books whenever she voices an interest. She has also advanced quite quickly with her piano instruction. Her teacher recently switched from a duets book to one that has Josie playing with two hands. I'm quite impressed with my little one, because I have no talent musically or mathematically...it seems almost magical to me how she seems to just 'get it'.

Last weekend, we made the long overdue trip up to the Sacramento area to see James' parents new house. They have been commuting between their residence in Lancaster - out by Edwards AFB - to the newly built house for the past 6 months. It's a grueling task - a 7 hour drive each way between the two. James' Dad is retired from his job as an engineer at the Rocket Propulsion Lab at Edwards, so all of their retirement services (healthcare facilities, etc) are located in Lancaster. We, along with James' brothers and their wives, have been trying to persuade Mom & Dad to start scheduling these long standing appointment to a facility closer to their new home. I'm sure all of you who try to persuade parents to do anything can empathize with us!

Anyway, the house is lovely. It has beautiful stone work on the facade and the layout is really just perfect for them. It features granite countertops, a huge island in the kitchen and a downstairs master. Very nice. They are just now getting around to planting fruit trees in the yard. We brought the traditional tangerine tree as a housewarming gift, so we look forward stealing some of that fruit in the future!

From the new house, we drove to James' youngest brother's house. Ken and Agnes, cousins Alex and Brandon live about 20 minutes away. Maddie and Alex were down with slight fevers so we decided to order out from PF Changs and shared a nice family dinner. After dinner, we drove into San Francisco. We had planned to watch the Chinese New Year parade - the largest CNY parade outside of China - but the weather just didn't cooperate. We spent Saturday shopping at Union Square, going to the Kidzeum, and then walking into Chinatown for the street fair. Once the sun started to set, it really cooled down and got very windy and rainy. We decided to skip the parade and instead headed to the North Beach section of town to grab a relaxing and delicious Italian dinner.

I didn't take my camera out once! I was really trying to focus on being in the moment and 'present' with the girls & James. It worked... we all had a really nice time together.

Maddie is really into ghost stories and supernatural phenomena so she requested to visit the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. We met James' middle brother, Rich, and family for brunch on Sunday morning before touring the Mystery House. Josie loves being with her cousins Alicia and Zoe. Alicia is at the age (6) where she finds older kids just fascinating. So, Maddie obliged Alicia by showing her extra attention and talking about all the girlie stuff Alicia had questions about. Very cute.



The drive home was uneventful. Maddie drove a majority of the way and I rode shotgun. I finally took out my camera and tried to get a few photos of the beautiful scenery. It was difficult - moving car, cloud filled skies and darkened hills. Here are a few that turned out just okay:













On Monday (21st) I finally got around to investigating an issue with some standing water in our backyard. It seemed like a drain pipe had been leaking quite a bit for the past few months... it just never seemed to get dry in that one particular spot by our back door


Upon closer inspection, I noticed that our interior hardwood flooring was showing signs of water damage...


Time to call the plumber! I was scared to death that I had caused the leak when I hung a picture on the interior wall... I had done this once before (I hit a drain pipe in our powder room in F'burg while putting up wainscotting) and I was not looking forward to telling James I had done it again! But, thankfully, I didn't cause the leak! A pin-hole size defect in a copper supply line had been leaking - under pressure - into the wall for over 3 months!







So, the pipe got fixed. That was easiest and least expensive part of the job. Our Home Warrantee company covered the repair of the pipe, but not the associated damage. We kind of guessed that we were going to have a bit of a mold problem - everything the plumber pulled out of the wall was soaking wet, not to mention I had been seeing the water puddle outside of the house for months.

Enter: Mold remediation company. They will set up a containment area and tear out the drywall along the entire back wall of the family room:


(There's another window on the left, for a total of 3 on that back wall)

Funny thing is, the mold guys won't replace the drywall, so we have to hire a third contractor to that. Aie, Yie, Yie!! I'll let you know how this whole process goes - I have a feeling we'll be looking at wall studs for a while!

In the middle of dealing with all that mess, Maddie went in to have her wisdom teeth removed (Feb 24th). We feel blessed that it wasn't too bad for her. She doesn't have a tremendous amount of pain and suffered just a bit of swelling on the right side of her face. I followed all the surgeon's instructions regarding placing ice packs on her cheeks and giving the ibuprofen and it seems to have worked. She was able to attend her SAT prep course this morning, though she missed Thursday and Friday at school.

I'm hoping for a smoother time in the coming weeks. I'm a real stickler for schedules and routine - so I'm really out of my element right now. Fingers crossed, we'll have an uneventful and boring month of March!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chinese New Year - Disney Style!



No real explanation or journaling needed for this post! Sunday. James & Josie. Disneyland.
(Although James did say he was really quite impressed with how elaborate the celebration was...)



















We will be headed up to San Francisco again this year for the Chinese New Year Parade on February 19th. This time we'll also be visiting James' parents who have moved to the Sacramento area. We're all looking forward to the trip - there's no shortage of fun events in San Francisco - on any day!!

Gung Hay Fat Choy!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hello February!



Things here are returning to normal - whatever THAT is! My parents departed yesterday for Las Vegas and from there they will continue home to Delaware. It was wonderful to have them here. They were supposed to stay until the 19th but Mom got homesick. I fully understand her desire to be in familiar surroundings carrying on with her normal social routine. My Dad would stay here forever - he doesn't miss the snow and cold temperatures on the East Coast. He is happy where ever he is as long as he has computer access and beer in the fridge.

My parents took a cruise to Mexico from January 22-29th. Their port call in Mazatlan was cancelled due to the overwhelming violence of the drug gangs in the area. It seems there are fewer and fewer safe areas in Mexico right now.

On Saturday, James and Josie picked up my parents from the ship. The Port of Los Angeles (San Pedro) is about an hour away from our home. (I was scheduled to begin a photography course that same day and Maddie was beginning her 8 week SAT Prep course.) Since they were in the LA area, James arranged for his parents to have lunch with my parents. Needless to say, Josie was spoiled rotten in the presence of both sets of her Grandparents! They enjoyed Dim Sum in LA's Chinatown and then headed back to their respective homes.



While here, my Mom took great pleasure in meeting all of Josie's friends. She commented often on how lucky Josie was to have such nice little girls to play with in such a safe area. It's true. There is little to no crime in our area and we live on a cul-de-sac - so no cars screaming down the street. As I have said before, Josie is a 100% 'Grandmom's Girl'. My Mom has endless time for and patience with Josie. They color, play cards, dress-up, and cook together. Josie cried buckets when we dropped them off at the airport yesterday.





On Sunday, James and I took my parents up to Yorba Linda to the Nixon Presidential Library. I remember seeing Nixon resign on TV the summer before I turned 12 years old. Obviously, at that age, I did not understand the magnitude of the situation. I have to say that the curators of the Library had a challenge on their hands... How to frame all the good of a presidency that ended in disaster. It was well done and a beautiful tribute to a complex man.







And finally, I'd like to strangle thank my sister, Suzanne for overriding my parental authority and giving Maddie a gift certificate to have her ears double pierced and cartilage pierced.



I was especially thrilled with the accompanying card which promised a belly-button piercing for her 18th birthday. OMDB - (Over My Dead Body) is heard often in conversations between my daughter and I... She takes great comfort in having two 'cool' Aunts (don't EVEN get me started on Aunt Claudine!) helping her with her 'lame' Mother! HA! I am sooooo glad that Suzanne's son, Liam, will be coming with us on summer vacation this year ... paybacks are hell!!