31 Jul 2012

Why I love gift cards

I think that gift cards are the best gifts ever, well with the exception of diamonds cos we all know that diamonds are the best give ever. (i'm sorry bb but I really love those sparkly little devils). I love getting gift cards for presents and I squirrel them away in my bag and guard them like a ferocious dog. I never forget they are there and I love knowing I have them and then when everyone least expects it when we are out and about having a fun time I produce one that makes the fun even better.

This afternoon I asked the girls if they wanted to head North or South. They said North, So we jumped in the car and headed North. After that initial direction I have know idea which way we actually went as I have no sense of direction whatsoever. We drove through a horrendous thunderstorm and came out the other side to gorgeous sunshine. We headed into the Gables and wandered around with the girls directing where we went next.

After an hour or so we decided it was time for dinner and voila, out came the gift card collection and we headed to a restaurant and sat outside and had a really nice dinner. The girls were delighted to be eating al fresco, I swear they will eat anything if they get to eat outside. For those of you not familiar with the Gables, it's an upscale neighbourhood and we were right smack in the middle of the Mile. As we ate the girls were entertained by a homeless man going through a garbage can down the street. He was picking through a bouquet of flowers and making his own arrangement out of them. Lily suddenly got very worried that he was going to walk over and hand them to us so we high tailed it back inside. That kid thinks very highly of herself.

That particular gift card was a Christmas present. Just cos I saved it so long doesn't mean I didn't like it, I loved it, I just wanted the perfect time to use and today was that day. That's why I love them so much. I have some from my birthday, it might be months until I use them. One day I will be walking through a shop and something fabulous will catch my eye and I will be able to get it, guilt free. Shopping doesn't get better than that.

Mummy, I love it here, take my picture. Yes, she really said that.
take mine too
Before the live entertainment showed up.
On the way home we had to make a little detour cos someone made herself feel carsick by reading but we managed to salvage the day and more on that later because it was so much fun.

30 Jul 2012

What's a Mother to do?

Life in general comes down to common sense and I am a firm believer in the old adage, everything in moderation however with that being said when it comes to the kids or myself being out in the sun, sunscreen is not an option. Growing up in the UK we used to go on holiday abroad at least once a year and that meant that from the minute we arrived in the sun we were slathered in Ambre Solaire tanning oil and left to bake like the Sunday dinner until we were a beautiful scarlet colour. Then as a teenager I would go on holidays with friends, sans adults and we would use Hawaiian Tropic Oil and see how fast we could "tan". The redder the better, the worse the burn the better the tan was our motto. I shouldn't even admit this but there were times when we even used baby oil.

I have paid the price for that foolish behaviour and now of course we know much better. The girls know that sunscreen is part of their everyday routine. I even keep some in my purse. We have all sorts of the stuff and when Lily was riding I had this really nasty smelling stuff that had bug repellent in it. It was great, or so I thought.

So all this stuff that we slather all over our skin to prevent skin cancer is now being proved to cause different types of cancer due to all the chemicals that are in it? The chemical most used in sunscreen, oxybenzone actually disrupts the bodys natural hormones. Say what? I knew this was true but I wasn't concerned cos I use the good stuff. Hah. It's not so good apparently.

You can find the link here of all the sunscreens and how they are rated. It probably would have been more helpful if I had shared this at the beginning of the summer rather than at the end wouldn't it?

Badger is one of the safest, it's not cheap but nor is getting treated for cancer! Blue lizard is also good but it's hard to find around here. I like aveeno, phew, it's not that bad but the Bull frog that I used on Lily when she rode.....BAD. When you consider that it's something that we use pretty much year round here I have to think that all the chemicals will have harmful effects on the girls long term.

Hopefully my kids won't be on a first name basis with their dermatologist by the time they reach their 30's.

29 Jul 2012

Remember that beach I found?

Do you remember about a month ago when I raved about a beach I had found here that was gorgeous? We went back again today and about the gorgeous bit, uh, not so much. As we approached the sand I was happy to see that not to many people were there again at least not to the North side. (shocking isn't it that I am using north and south but when standing slap dab in the ocean even I can figure it out!) We trekked along the sand and marked our turf, so to speak. With great haste the kiddies gobbled some lunch and headed straight for the water and before I could catch them up they were heading back to the towels shouting, "ewwwwwww".

I marched down to the water, in my Mummy knows best stance, only to find this:

The ocean looked more like a skank filled river bed and was really disgusting. I scanned as far as I could see and noted certain areas were clear of the scummy weed but there were a kazillion people smooshed into the tiny pockets. ARGHHH.

I was not about to be outdone by a few million people and an ocean full of yuck. We walked along the beach for freaking miles a little way until we found nice crystal clear water and we played there. We ended up having so much fun that we had no idea we had spent nearly 6 hours at the beach today. It was gorgeous and this is coming from a person who thinks the beach would be a great place if it didn't have any sand.

Just as we were ready to leave, the tide was washing in loads and loads of seaweed so I showed the girls how the tiny little fish and shrimp live in it. Before long there was a large crowd of kids all washing the seaweed in the girls buckets and looking at the tiny marine life. They found all kinds of fish etc and loved it. Since I hate touching any life form my job was water girl. They touched and I just made sure they had buckets of water to put everything in. It was a perfect plan. Once we were done everything got placed back in the ocean. I was amazed at my bravery.

Rosie eating her lunch: a butter sandwich.
Lily with not to many people behind her....that's cos they have already noticed the skank.
ewww, see what they are standing near. That is nasty.
it's nice here and we had hours of blissful fun
oddball kid
Rosie wanted to take a photo and apparently also wanted to be in it.
Then of course Lily wanted to take a photo also....with some "dude"in the background
The girls washing the seaweed
Teaching a boy how to do it and what to look for. Moments later about 6 more showed up.
The kids swam for hours they really should be tired but as I write this at 10 pm they are in bed laughing and carrying on.

28 Jul 2012

Her heart will always remain

You can take the child out of her birth country but you can't take the birth country out of the child and that is how it should be.

When she was little, very little she wanted no part of being Chinese or anything Chinese but that slowly started to change and now she is extremely proud of her heritage. As we prepared for the Olympic party that we were having and we made flags, banners and that sort of stuff the first country that Lily covered was China. She made sure that Rosie and herself had plenty of flags to wave for their countrymen.

Last night during the Parade of Nations she stood in front of the telly waving her flag chanting, CHINA, CHINA, over and over again. She pointed out she beautiful the people are and how kind it was of them to carry Union jacks instead of the flag of their own country. The compliments flew out of her mouth. I agree with, they are indeed beautiful people. (as a child I always wanted to be Chinese)

Tonight we watched the mens gymnastics and the commentator made a remark along the lines of the Brits deserving to win the gold because the Chinese had been really unlucky. Lily jumped all over the guy from the comfort of our couch. She was upset that the Chinese had suffered such bad luck and that the commentator wasn't more compassionate about it. I agreed with her but compassion doesn't get good ratings when it comes to sports.

In the swim trials she was a child torn as her loyalty was divided. The American team who she has been watching so closely and knows so well or the Chinese swimmers who she only saw as they stepped out on to the pool deck?

With the exception of swimming, as that is her sport, her loyalty seems to lie with China, the Great Britain and then the US. Rosie on the other hand just sees a flag on the telly and runs over to our collection and picks up the one that matches and starts frantically waving it while yelling, mine, or Daddy's or Mummy's.

She also gets very worried that if the Chinese athletes don't do well that they will get into trouble when they return home. She knows how competitive they are. If you are Chinese you don't go to any competition to compete you go to win. She is so very competitive, the next 2 weeks are going to be exhausting for her. Most people only have one country to root for, she has 3.


27 Jul 2012

Let the games begin

The girls have been counting down the days to the start of this years Olympic games. To say they were excited is an under statement. I really don't know why Rosie is excited because I am not sure that she really understands the concept but then she is Rosie and any excuse for a party is a good excuse to get giddy. They have been busy making banners, flags and Olympic torches, we baked an Olympic cake, invited friends over to watch the opening ceremony with us and generally went overboard (and thoroughly disgusted my loving brother and many of his friends LOL)

 They hung their banner with the US, British, Chinese and Brazilian flags on it and marched with their torch for the opening ceremony. We were so very excited but then, but then, but then, the opening ceremony actually started and what in Gods name was it all about? I was totally lost. It started off OK but by the time they got to the music bit I was flummoxed. I loved the part with the Queen and Rowen Atkinson always makes Lily and I laugh but for the most part ? ? ? 

The good news is the parade of nations started and we were all able to get excited again. The girls frantically waved their flags for China and now they are waiting for the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. but I don't think their eyes will stay open that long.

Betsy Ross the flag maker
Our Olympic cake ( oh how I love Pinterest)
The flags representing the people in our house tonight.
The girls with their Olympic torch
watching the ceremony
I thought this part was great 
someone forgot to smile. (but she looked lovely)
Olympic fever.
Now all that is left is for the best athletes to win. We are going to be watching the swimming very closely.

26 Jul 2012

Roller skating

Lily asked this morning if we could go rolling skating today. I was blindsided by her question and didn't have a reason why we couldn't on the tip of my tongue so we went.

Lily can't stand not being good at something and for years she couldn't roller skate or ice skate but with her typical perseverance she has conquered both can now now at least stand up on both.

We took Maria with us. Maria just arrived from Weinan, China last Thursday morning and is here to study and will be here for the next 4 years. Too much studying isn't good for anyone so my job is to corrupt her. I think I will excel in that department.

Much to my disgust when we got to the roller rink they had a BIG sign that said, NO PHOTOGRAPHS on the rink. I thought that was really unkind as Lily and Rosie should be photographed while attempting to skate because they are just that funny. But I am not one to break the rules (often) so I left my camera in the locker, except for when I put it in my pocket to take photos of them standing away from the rink.

all 3 girls looking very happy about the idea of roller skating
hot sweaty girls still smiling. Maria has a big bump on her knee here.
Rosie spilt her water....can you tell?
Ahh, this might well fall under the heading, "don't break the rules often" I took this on the rink when Rosie fell for the kazillionth time.
I have no idea what was so funny but it cracked these 2 up. 
Yes, I skated too. I love it but more so when a certain little person isn't using me to balance and I can actually skate. We all had a really great time. Some of them acquired some rather spiffy bruises.

25 Jul 2012

Everyone stops for tea

Neither of my girls has ever been into playing with dolls. Neither of them has liked Barbies and neither of them has been a big tea party girl. Lily did have a few tea parties when she was little but not many.

When I came home from work today threw out some suggestions of things that we could do but they seemed quite happy just playing at home which was more than fine with me as I had lots to occupy myself. Later I mentioned that we needed to finish up the back to school shopping, Rosie still needed one particular type of journal that is only available at the teacher supply store, and they both took off in different directions looking for hiding places.

I left them to their own devices and was quite surprised when I discovered this:

tea for two
Lily is quite the hostess. Who knew?
Tea....quite possibly the nastiest drink on the planet. Yes I know that is just so terribly un-British of me. Just don't tell Queen that I find it foul.

24 Jul 2012

Back in the pool

Kelly sent me a text this afternoon, just one word: Pool? I sent just one back: Yes. We had a feels like temp today of 105 degrees. The pool felt really good. It took a few minutes to convince Rosie that the pool would be a lot more fun that a bike ride but she finally agreed once we stepped outside. Luckily she is a fast learner when it comes to some things.

Someone takes her water guns very seriously
Jacob, he is such a great little chap
triple chicken fight
CANNONBALL.......sadly the splash is pathetic.
I wonder sometimes what exactly goes on inside Rosies head. 
Rosie's been practising her Royal wave 
noodle fun
I am really going to miss these laid back days once you know what starts. We got a message from there today saying that the kids have a meet and greet with their new principal on Friday morning which must mean that it is looming just around the corner. ARGHHHHHH.

23 Jul 2012

Gotcha day

The other night the girls were reading books, well Lily was reading, Rosie was making it up so I decided to put the DVD of Lily's Gotcha Day in the player. Within seconds of hearing screaming babies both girls appeared and snuggled nice and close on the couch.

 I love watching their Gotcha Day movies and love seeing their reactions to them even more. Rosie is still quite naive to the whole dealio. We have told her everything but unlike Lily she just isn't so inquisitive. Lily, on the other hand, is starting to see different aspects of her adoption story and it opens up lots of avenues for conversations. I actually encourage Lily to watch it without her realising, just to see if it spurs any great questions, usually it does. This particular evening all they could see was the adorable little baby on the screen. Lily just couldn't tear her eyes off of herself for a second and decided that she was possibly the cutest kid ever. We followed the China DVD with the DVD of the first few days we were home. Lily has no image problems, ego problems or self esteem problems, that is for sure. She is madly in love with herself as a baby. 

Both the girls laughed so hard at some of the antics that Lily got up to. They laughed uncontrollably at the language that she spoke and how she would wait for a response to her scribble. The orphanage had given her a haircut shortly before we bought her home and her hair stood straight up on the top of her head, even that was hilarious. Nothing about the DVD stirred any questions at all this time from either one of them. It's Rosie's turn next, I wonder if she will be besotted by herself too. I am besotted by them both!

Day 3 in China. On the bus going somewhere. Her face was still looking pretty bashed from the fall that she tool just before we got her. She got stitches in the bridge of her nose.They were taken out right before we got her.   :(
Hong Kong airport preparing for the BIG flight home. She already looks 5 lbs heavier
This was taken on our second night home. It didn't take many hours for the big contagious, "Lily Smile" to emerge .

It seems like only yesterday but when I look at all the photos and DVD's I realise just how many details I had forgotten, like the fact that she had scabies and shared them with me!

22 Jul 2012

A quick car trip

It's raining it's pouring..........this is getting boring. I know that due to the drought like conditions in so many parts of this country that I really shouldn't complain about the rain but we are getting webbed feet down here.

We were supposed to head over to Marco Island yesterday but due to the girls going to bed really really late on Friday I postponed it for a day. Little did I know that a tropical something or other was due to make it's way across the southern tip of Fl starting last night and not leaving for a few days. Sheesh.

We had been on the road for about 45 minutes when I pointed out that everywhere was grey and it didn't look as if the weather was going to change anytime soon. We could hear the roar of the thunder over the sound of the car and the 2 little ones inside of it. The lightening was illuminating the daytime sky, it was that bad but we continued on with our plan. Once we arrived in Marco Island it was still dreadful so we found something to do for a while and once the rain let up we headed to the beach.

We weren't alone, apparently many people had been waiting for the rain to stop and we joined the pilgrimage on to the sand. Once over the boardwalk we stopped dead in our tracks. what sort of beach was this? A slimy little inlet with barely enough of a tidal change to stir up the slimy water, ewwwww.

We stood there mortified but Lily noticed that the people were walking away so we followed. She ran off and came back yelling, "there's the beach, hurry, it's over here and it's a real one". Well thank heavens for that. We trekked forever and came upon a beach but by then it was pouring again. Yes, really.

The kids didn't mind, we were in bathing cossies so we just got in the water. The beaches on the West Coast have the best shells and it wasn't long before the buckets came out and the girls went shell gathering. WE stayed in the water for quite some time. Each time we tried to get out it was so cold we had to get back in up to our necks. Finally even the water was cold so we had to brave the frigid rain and wind and 70+ degree temps and head back to the car.

We've never been to Marco before, we always head straight over to Naples and I'm not sure if we will go back again. Maybe it was the rain that made it so blah, I am not sure but it just didn't have anything special. (if you live there, I'm sure it's a gorgeous place on a dry day) We ended up driving over to Naples for dinner and then just as we were ready to leave and head the 90 minutes home the sun was shining beautifully. Nice!

We drove and hour and a half for this? Yuck
This is NOT a beach
Behind us where all the condos are, is the beach. (it's private access)
this is a beach
trying to stay warm and wet in the rain.
shell gatherer
silly people
hurry up and take the photo we are freezing!
seesters at dinner. Happy to be in Naples.
I think I should head out to all the States in need of rain. (Pam P if you read this, I agree with you about the beaches over there. Head straight to Naples, they are gorgeous there).


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