Birthday Boy

July 31, 2007

Birthday photo from 2005

Since I didn't capture any photos of the birthday boy on his birthday yesterday, I thought I would share a few of my favorites. Ofcourse, selecting the photos took most of tonight because I got caught up in memory lane. I have known Adam for nearly twelve years and a lot has happended during those years. I feel so lucky to have shared so many wonderful moments with him, lucky to have him supporting me during the scary and challenging experiences,lucky to have children together, and lucky to dream about spending many more years together.

Happy Birthday, Adam!

July 30, 2007

Today is Adam's birthday! Happy Birthday to the best husband/daddy/friend in the whole wide world! May this next year be full of success, more soccer, easy "call" nights, and more amazing family adventures! We love you very much!

Noah was very excited to make cupcakes for his daddy and ended up sampling way to many of them during the decorating stage. Sorry I didn't get any photos of the birthday boy on his birthday (we forgot to bring the camera when we went out eat). I forgot how exciting birthdays are for preschoolers...Noah has been counting down until Adam's birthday for quite awhile and already starting to make plans for Camille's birthday in November!

This past week

July 29, 2007

I am happy to report that this past week we have not had any urgent trips to the hospital and we still have air conditioning! We have also had fun getting to know new friends, Ben and Ericka (thanks to my Dad's intro) and celebrating new life with the arrival of Cort (the sixth Solley). And to make the week even better we actually had periods of coolness (80 degree weather) thanks to some cloudy days. Life is good. And we are happy.

And one more thing this week that made me appreciate our good life is the book "Jesus Land". A compelling, but tragic memoir. I was drawn to it initially because it is a sister's account of her childhood with two adopted brothers (I haven't come across many adoption books from the sibling perspective), but as I started reading I was also interested in the connection to the Dominican Republic (where my mother spent part of her childhood) and the issues of identity, race, religion, family dynamics, and abuse boiling in the stew of adolescence. I gobbled it up in two days and it left me feeling very grateful for my own childhood, my family, and my children.

This book is one in a string of memoirs that I have read in the last few months. At our most recent book group (Families with Children from China book club) we discussed the book "Falling Leaves" and part of our discussion centered on the apparent increase in this genre of memoirs ("The Mistress' Daughter", "The Liar's Club", "Angela's Ashes" etc). It was interesting to consider why there has been an increase in their popularity. Is it a reader's version of "reality tv" that compels us to soak up others tragic stories as a point of comparison for our own lives? A way to connect? or to increase appreciation for what we have? Our book club struggles with finding monthly selections that aren't too depressing but our primary subjects of China and/or adoption aren't usually the source for humorous material (if you have suggestions please share them!).

To counteract some of my recent heavy reading, we watched a very entertaining/uplifting documentary called "The Journey" ...a guy, his dog, and VW van...a great summer film.

Sunday Adventure

Today we headed to the coast and visited Amelia Island. We spent most of our time in the town of Fernandina Beach. Instead of broiling on the beach we opted to stroll the quaint streets meeting friendly locals , checking out the local book store, admiring the architecture, and daydreaming about what life would be like in a small Southern coastal town. We enjoyed meeting Felix who sells small bags of chips from the back of his bike while serenading potenial customers with his harmonica. Today's trip already has us looking forward to future trips to learn more about the island's pirate history, Fort Clinch, and the beach.

Florida Fun

July 20, 2007

Here are a few more photos from our last beach week (I needed to do something to take my mind off of all the crazy stuff of this week and remind myself that we don't always have such bad luck). In addition to family fun while at the beach, we also met up with our good friends and neighbors from Okinawa who now live in Pensacola. Drew very kindly arrranged a special visit to one of the Blue Angel practices and we also spent a GREAT day out on on their boat. As always the kids had a blast together.....playing on the beach, having a sleep over, loving the time out on the boat.It is hard to believe how quickly they are all growing up. Noah was 18 months old when we moved next door to them. Noah was sad several days after saying good-bye because he worried he would never see his "best friends" again. I agree with Noah it was hard to say good-bye but I reassured him that we are already working on plans to get together again soon.

Bugs be gone

Camille is doing much better today. Her eye is still swollen but not as red. I am thinking we should try to make some kind of "bug suit" for her to wear when we venture outside. Sort of like a toddler style bee keepers outfit.

Also, Adam's car is now fixed...perhaps our luck with finding local professionals is getting better.

More stuff

July 19, 2007

Just when I mistakenly thought this week couldn't get any crazier, Camille woke up looking like this A very swollen eye and infection thanks to a bug bite (poor baby just seems to be loved by all bugs and spiders). Adam went to the pharmacy to pick up medication for her and his car stalled out in the parking lot. Which led to a crazy search for a local mechanic (and you have read about our luck with local recommendations...wish us luck!). After dropping Adam's car off, we drove Adam to the base. The highlight of the crazy day was when Noah and I sat on the edge of the flightline and watched a ton of different aircraft take off while Camille slept in the car (with the air conditioning on). I didn't realize how many different squadrons are based here. I also realized during our lunch near base that it has been nearly a year since we lived on-base. Which was very evident in Noah's excitement every time someone in uniform entered the restaurant. "Look at their outfits!" Having spent his first three years of life on a Marine base, I think he just assumed all men wore camouflaged "outfits" or medical scrubs. And now after a year of "off-base" living it has become a very novel concept.

Update on Camille. Her eye got worse this afternoon with increased swelling (eye almost completely shut) and spreading redness so we brought her in to the hospital. I was especially concerned because of her previous history with skin infections (MRSA). We are back home now with more meds and watching her through the night. Hoping things improve in the morning. Not fun. Send get well vibes and let those darn bugs know Camille is off limits!

Constructing Gratitude

July 18, 2007

My last whiny housewife post made me realize I should be more thankful. Our recent episode without air conditiong has made me very grateful for all those folks who work outside in the sweltering heat every day...the construction workers, road crews, landscapers, farmers, the Marines in the desert, roofers, ground crews at airports, and any others I may be overlooking. How do they do it?

And while on the topic of outdoor workers here is a link to one of my favorite aspects of Japanese culture: construction worker's outfit. Take note of the shoes and billowy pants. And also a plug to this wonderful site/blog "Okinawa Hai" created by a group of great mamas still living in Okinawa. I wish this had been going while we were there. It is an amazing resource for those getting ready to move there and for those still enjoying the island life!

And still in keeping with the construction theme. I recently came across this photo of my favorite little construction guy...I think he had just turned one. There was a lot of construction in our little Japanese neighborhood which Noah loved to watch. We were able to climb up on this vehicle one day while the workers took their break. hard to believe he was ever that little.

Watch what you say or think

July 17, 2007

So after posting last week about the intense heat and how air conditioning is such a big part of our lives these days....we are now without air conditioning. It started yesterday when I came home from the hospital. We were at the hospital because Camille had a serious allergic reaction but we're not sure of the cause. She's got some other possible food allergies so this just adds to my concern and also the feeling that I brought this on her. Because when we were living in Japan I was always struck by the huge number of American kids with serious food allergies especially compared with the Japanese kids. Which stupidly gave me some relief because our daughter is Asian and therefore wouldn't be as prone to all those problems. Obviously my faulty logic was justly noted by the cosmic forces and it seems that we are now becoming one of those families with food issues. Anyone out there have experience with allergy testing for toddlers? or advice?

Getting back to the source of our current discomfort....when we got home I discovered that our air conditioner had water gushing from it which was quickly filling up a corner of our garage. We contacted our home warranty people who said someone would be there in an hour. When it got to be 10pm we realized they had lied. But luckily we had some relief from the heat because of the daily afternoon storms. It was actually very nice to sit in our living room with all of the windows open listening to the sounds of a summer night. Sleeping without air conditioning was tolerable thanks to ceiling fans. But right now in the middle of the day it is not fun. The kids and I are cranky but hanging out in the heat hoping someone will come and fix it. Despite our frequent phone calls it seems that all of the air conditioning people are busy and there is only a slim chance we will be seen today.

Sunday Morning Tickets

July 15, 2007

My plans for a quiet, lazy Sunday morning did not happen. Well the first part did....Adam got up early with the kids and made pancakes which meant I was able to sleep late (such a luxury these days). And then Adam took Noah swimming while Camille and I hung out together. My only goal of the morning was to book airline tickets. While trying to do that on-line, Camille dug my keys out of my purse and pushed the panic button for our alarm sytem. I quickly shut it off and didn't think anything about it.

I then returned to the ticket booking which got more complicated so I had to call the airline directly which resulted in shouting at that dumb automated voice system. You know the one. The one with the robotic female voice who is extra patient, but seems to be hard of hearing because I have to repeat everything multiple times and then listen to her patiently and somewhat condescendingly repeat it back to me. While doing that song and dance routine, the doorbell rang. I ignored it because 1) I wanted to finish up the ticket business, 2) I was still in my pajamas (yes, I know it was 11am), and 3)I wasn't expecting anyone (except for those door to door religious folk who seem to love visiting our Jewish home).

The door bell rang again. So I peeked out the front window and was shocked to see several policemen looking in our bushes around the house. I quickly opened the door to discover they thought I was having a serious problem because of the earlier panic call through the alarm (which I already forgotten about). I was feeling pretty embarassed at that moment...disheveled housewife in ratty pajamas, screaming toddler in the background, and I am sure they overhead my shouted "conversation" with the robotic phone lady. By the time it all got sorted out and they issued a false alarm warning "ticket". I returned to the now dreaded ticket process only to discover there were only two seats left on the flight I wanted and the price had gone up $100 per ticket in the thirty minutes I spent dealing with the false alarm situation. UGH!!!!


July 13, 2007

I've been "tagged" twice in the same day (does that mean I have to do twice the tagging?!). There are so many parts of my life where I have to learn and remember new lingo/language (all the military stuff, adoption terms, medical language that Adam tosses around, the Hebrew that Noah brings home from his preschool) and the same extends to blogging.

Here's what I have been "tagged" to do:
1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they have been tagged, and to read your blog.

Here are 8 random facts about me:

1. One of my favorite jobs was working on a ranch in Colorado. If you are looking for an unforgettable family vacation (or a GREAT summer job). Visit Rainbow Trout Ranch!

2.I wasn't allowed to eat sugar cereals when I was growing up except for the one week each summer that we spent at the beach. I always chose Fruity Pebbles (you know that scary, neon colored cereal full of chemicals and sugar). And guess what? I still eat it once a year when we go to the beach (but I don't do it in front of my kids!)

3. I danced with Buckminster Fuller "Bucky" when I was in fourth grade. I met Paul Simon when I was in eigth grade and he was shorter than me. I met the Prime Minister of Japan when I was 23 and he was also shorter than me.

4.I am competitive and compulsive parker. I get great satisfaction from finding a good spot and will drive around the parking lot until I get a "good" one. How lazy am I? Perhaps this stems from my lack of participation in competive sports as a child (except for the one horrible summer of softball).

5. I also have a secret desire to visit Dollywood.

6. I have eaten raw horse meat and it did not taste like chicken. One of the many Japanese food experiences I had as a teacher in a rural part of Fukuoka prefecture (JET, ALT 95-96). I have also eaten Chiang Mai "french fries" in rural Thailand...fried bugs and they also did not taste like chicken.

7. I have never had any broken bones or major surgeries. But I have survived a Brown Recluse spider bite, a DVT in pregnancy, a man breaking into my room, and getting caught in a serious flash flood in New Orleans.

8. I have a horrible habit of renting movies that I believe to be comedies but that were actually horrifically sad and/or disturbing (Cast Away, The House of Yes, and several different Chinese movies (Adam now refuses to watch Chinese "comedies" with me).

Now I have the fun job of "tagging" :

Angi, Jessica, Amy, Amanda, Jenn, Jan, Morena, Sarah (no pressure to do this...I don't usually do those chain letter things,but I have to admit that this was fun!).

Muggy, Hot, and Buggy

July 11, 2007

I have obviously been out of the South too long. I have become a wimp. I thought living in Okinawa for three years would make our return to the South a breeze, but I was wrong.This past week has been so hot. But even worse is the humidity and the bugs. The kids,especially Camille can't play outside without getting covered in bites which then get infected and it looks like she has a terrible skin disease. Don't get me wrong. Okinawa was hot and it was humid, but being an island there also seemed to be occasional breezes and I don't remember the mosquitoes being quite so large or aggressive (perhaps West Nile does that to them?). We are now officially prisoners in the house, except for our daily library trips(we've all been gobbling up books and we are all happy to have an excuse to be out of the house). There need to be more indoor play spaces and I don't mean those insanely tall indoor climbing structures or scary bouncy things where the big kids could easily crush smaller ones. I mean an air conditioned tent set up over an outdoor park...somehow I don't think the local Parks and Rec Depart can afford that, but a mama can dream, right? And what about air conditioning the paths at the zoo?

I know I have really lost my southern endurance because I can not imagine living without air conditioning. But this wasn't always the case. I remember very clearly the day my elementary school got ceiling fans in each classroom. It was a big day. We did not have air conditioning at school or at home (except for one window unit that we only ran at night). My body is now so acclimated to air conditioning that the thought of being without air conditioning makes me cringe. Amazing how quickly a luxury can become an absolute "necessity"!

I realize how boring my life is to be writing about the weather (and central air) but it has really been a big factor in our lives this week (except for Adam who doesn't see the outside world between the hours of 6am and 8pm). The other big weather issue for us lately has been dramatic summer storms. The kind I remember from childhood. Those daily afternoon storms that blow in on huge, dark thunderclouds. Sunny one minute, ominous and dark the next. Followed quickly by a dazzling (and scary) lightening show. I have to admit to still being a little scared of lightening but I realized yesterday that I need to get over that really quick because both kids are picking up on it. Despite telling them everything was fine, they didn't buy it because I was cowering in the hallway when I was positive lightening had struck the house. I don't remember having thunderstorms in the northwest. And I thought for sure we would have them in Okinawa but I really don't remember that many storms with lightening. Certainly lots of rain and typhoons,but not much thunder and lightening.

So now that we are stuck inside more, we spend a lot of time by the windows observing the wildlife in our back yard. Daily breakfast appearances by the squirrels, lunchtime with the lizards, and yesterday we watched a pair of cardinals enjoying our birdbath. We have also had a snake sighting in our neighbor's driveway and of course there are lots of resident mosquitoes. Summer in the South...muggy, hot, and buggy.

Post-vacation report

July 6, 2007

One of the big negatives of having two wonderful weeks of family time is returning home. Wonderful to be back in our beds, but not so great to deal with the emotional aftermath. Both my kids are reacting to the lack of non-stop attention and action. Noah is now "bored" at home and jumping off the walls missing his cousins and friends (Sydney and Zoe). Camille wanders the house looking for people to hold and feed her non-stop. She has also perfected "hitting" and hits us in the face on a regular basis. Noah told me today "I want a baby that doesn't hit. Can we get a different baby that doesn't hit?". Amazingly this is the first time he has ever made a comment like that and at that moment I could understand his sentiment...Camille had just walked up to him and hit him directly in the face with a tire pump. Ouch. Yesterday morning I had a similarily frustrating experience with her. I took her diaper off and let her have some diaper free time in the kitchen while I got breakfast ready. She took that as an opportunity to squat down directly on my purse (hand dyed, hand sewn one I got in Thailand) and pee like an angry cat. She then stood up and slipped backwards in her own urine. I hadn't been planning on bathing her or my purse before breakfast, but that is what happened. I guess I am partly to blame for letting her roam diaper free, but did she really have to pee on my bag?

Random Mama Thoughts

July 4, 2007

How do you remove ball point pen writing from a computer screen? I discovered this artistic creation on the screen this morning. Any suggestions?

Why aren't there more drive-through windows for family use? I would pay extra just to use a drive through window for the post office. I always put off mailing things because I dread standing in line with my monkeys. Actually "standing in line" isn't the correct terminology since Camille doesn't just stand anywhere these days. She's climbing, jumping, and running any chance she gets. And Noah enjoys teaching her new tricks like how to swing on the ropes that create the endless lines at the post office. If there can't be a drive-up window, why can't there be a short line or special waiting area for frazzled mothers and restless children? I know it would make everyone much happier.

And is it really bad to give your children goldfish crackers three times a day in place of traditional meals (surely there are some omega oils in those bright orange creatures,right?)? Since returning from our travels I have not made it to the grocery store yet...another place that would be nice to have a drive-up window for those emergency runs for milk, bread and toilet paper. I think I have gotten much lazier since becoming a mother.....always trying to think of ways to make outings easier or ways to make our food supplies last longer to delay a trip to the grocery store. So rest assured we did not have goldfish crackers for dinner tonight. No, we had pancakes, chicken, and the last of the frozen peas.

Navarre Beach

July 1, 2007

My mom's family has an annual beach trip. This past week marked our 37th year at Navarre Beach. It was as always a wild and wonderful week. My mom is the oldest of nine children which means our beach gatherings are big. There are moments of complete chaos, loud laughter, crazy card games, and cajun dancing. But just like the ocean there are times of quiet and calm...puzzlemaking, book reading (no tv time allowed),shell hunting, late night talks, and early morning coffee/tea on the porch. Navarre Beach is one of my favorite places in the whole world. The surroundings are breathtaking, the sunsets are beautiful, but most importantly it is a place that will always connect me to my family. We spend the week re-telling family stories, creating new Florida stories and getting to know each other in a more intense way. Recognizing how much we have changed and also how much we remain the same. A strange duality that comes from spending time with the people who have known you the longest. Celebrating the beach, celebrating each other, celebrating the importance of family traditions. Watching Noah and Camille take part in this beach tradition makes me happy. I hope it continues for many generations.

Tie-Dye Family Style

My cousins and I made tie-dye shirts for everyone at the beach this year. It was a lot of mess, a lot of fun, and full of suprises. The best one was the Mickey Mouse tie-dye design that came out perfectly.
Towards the end of the week we all gathered on the beach for a big group photo followed by some fun in the water.

Beach walk

One evening I took a walk with Isabella and Noah. It was one of the highlights of the week for me. As we walked we watched the sunset and the moon rise. The light was stunning as it bounced off the waves and the white sand. The kids did just we what we used to do as kids on beach walks. They hunted for shells, sand crabs and jellyfish. They wove in and out of waves breaking on the beach. They climbed up and down sand "elevators". They laughed and chased each other. They are the fourth generation of our family to spend time in this magical place.
We started our walk by watching my dad work on a beach painting. He spent as much time as he could on the beach.

Cousin Fun
The Sunset
The Full Moon

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