Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Simplest Things

I love how kids are so thrilled with the simplest things, even almost teenagers. We only had some clear mugs from Walmart - seen in the background - to drink our hot stuff out of. I had at the time not been able to find any pretty ones and decided it would make a good Christmas surprise. So I ordered us all one from online - Lang for the girls and Leanin' Tree for me because I fell in love with the little Shetland pony on this mug.

I think this was almost their favorite thing they got for Christmas. They have told me numerous times how much they love them. They get up an hour or so before I do because I get them in bed in time to get to sleep before daylight - on the nightshift I always see the sun come up before I go to bed. I worried about them getting hungry but didn't want to give up having lunch together, though I need to get them started making some meals, so I suggested they get up and fix a mug of hot cocoa. They love this new little independent pleasure and do it almost every day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Good times and no camera. Sigh.

This is Stone Mountain State Park, where the girls went today after a sleepover with friends. I was all primed for photos of their great time and they get home and inform me they left the camera in our car when they took their suitcases to our friend's car. I am SO disappointed! My friend said she would email me some photos but it won't be this great new experience from their point of view. The Flip video camera was in the same camera pouch so no videos of their fun with their friend Sarah either. Heavy sigh.

I took Lily to Stone Mountain when she was about 4-1/2 or close to 5. She loved Thomas the Tank Engine with a passion, so I thought I would take her and ride the train. Well I don't drive downtown Atlanta much and got lost and we took a tour of several highways. When we got there it turned out to be a holiday - I don't get any holidays off so the more minor ones I forget sometimes, and I had not realized it was Memorial Day. We got there with most of the day gone, and it was crowded beyond belief with a 2-1/2-hour wait to ride the train, so we didn't. The petting zoo I had built her up about was closed. We rode the riverboat and she was terrified and clung to me. The seats were full and I had to hold this heavy child for a long time while a row full of "gentlemen" watched me struggle. We went to the plantation house - such a thrill for a 4-year-old! NOT!

So I was excited about them getting to ride the tram up the mountain and walk down. They rode the cool train. They saw a 4D movie of the Polar Express but only 20 minutes long. They went to the petting zoo and the plantation house and went in some kind of barn where you shoot balls at each other. They had all sorts of fun but I have nothing to show for it. One more gusty sigh and a loud groan.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lisa Leonard Jewelry Giveaway

Simple Mom is giving away a gift certificate to Lisa Leonard, who makes beautiful hand-hammered silver jewelry, most of which is customized. I am longing to win the cute Chinese lantern necklace. I have all of one necklace and this one would be special as I could wear it for life and then Lily and Jing could each take their charm to wear. (Not to be morbid or anything!) Head on over and leave a comment on the blog for a chance to win the gift certificate!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Old Houses Repurposed = Happy Me!

The girls and I visited Old Town Morrow just past sunset - passing the No Trespassing signs to take a peek. A gentleman trespassing before us said they didn't seem to mind so we went on in and were met with cold stares, so we quickly left! This is a little pedestrian shopping and dining community being created across from the mall near us. There is a streetfront made of new buildings that look old and several old houses repurposed into a pub and boutique shops.

It was hard to resist the wooden bridge leading to the town and the sight of the old houses taken from the local area and fixed up to be new again. One of them I had sadly lamented when it was removed from a property near us - I thought torn down - to make a strip mall. I was so happy to see it freshly painted and covered in lights. I LOVE old houses and if I were wealthy we would be living in something at least 100 years old! We can't wait until it opens and we can visit without worrying about the security guards from the mall across the street booking us for trespassing!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

It's THAT week of the year! Pack a shoebox or two and take it to the nearest pickup location. Our favorite restaurant, Chick-fil-A, is accepting boxes this year AND giving away a free Chick-fil-A sandwich if you bring a box. It's a great way to give back and make Christmas a little better for children across the world who may not have as much as we do. My girls had so much fun picking out toys to put inside our boxes - you can choose boy or girl and different age ranges. We chose girls 5-9, and their AWANA class at church is filling boxes for 10-14-year-old girls, so they took some things for that too. You can find info at on how to send your boxes - they must be done by 11/23!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lily and Sadako

We read the sad but wonderful book "Sadako and the Paper Cranes" a few years ago and Lily just reread it and then sat and made one origami paper crane after another with some washi we had. (I am addicted to the beautiful patterns and will buy it on impulse even when I have no idea what I will use it for!) I think these are so pretty!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Six years ago today

This is Jing at the orphanage two weeks before her adoption.

It is so hard to believe six years have gone by since Lily and I arrived in a hotel room in Xi'an, exhausted, and an hour later a wild child was brought to our room - a child we were both terrified of and who was quite difficult in every way she could think of, a child who had lost everything in one day and abandoned yet once more in her short 6-3/4 years. Thus began a journey that began quite roughly but has taken us only to worthwhile places and given Lily the sister and friend she longed for and the second daughter I wanted. Six years ago today Jing became a Johnson!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Civil War anyone?

We had such a fun time today as well as a thoughtful glimpse of our country's history. We went to a Civil War battle reenactment - The Battle of Cheatham Hill. It was quite exciting! (Lily said, "Mama, why did they call it "Civil" when they did all that fighting?" Good question!)

At first they were mostly at a distance but at one point I was staring right at a horse's bum two feet away! It was a huge production and the cannons were quite convincing! I could feel the booms all the way up through my body and there were quite a lot of them! It was fun to wander around afterwards and see the tents and campfires, the blacksmith, the Ladies Aid Society offering medical car for the "wounded." Lots of tents with clothing, jewelry and even corsets for sale. We didn't want to leave but I was oh so late for work!

We ran into a guy who had actually been on the property we live on documenting a battle they recreated this morning - too early for this night-shift girl - Kilpatrick's Raid, which actually took place on the farm - Nash Farm - that we were watching the Cheatham Hill reenactment. After Kilpatrick's raid the soldiers ran all the way down where we live in one day - many miles - and crossed a bridge over the river next to our driveway, burning the bridge behind them. So much history in this area. It was so interesting to see a bit what it might have been like and wonderful tha the fallen soldiers could get up and walk away after the battle was over.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Looking back...

I found these sweet photos of Lily while cleaning out today and thought I would post this scrapbook page. We haven't had a working camera for a while and have just been having a challenging time so haven't been posting but I'm sure everyone who has my blog linked is tired of looking at Karl Malden LOL! The designers used are Studio Phong and Ptitesourus.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This man mattered, or, who are the heroes?

I came home tonight to catch the news and hopefully watch some clips of an old favorite fellow of mine who I heard, before I ran out the door, died today - Karl Malden. Needless to say, after listening through several news and entertainment programs as I worked about the house, I heard maybe one or two short sentences on each one, buried at the end of the program, and saw a flash of a picture across the screen, then it was back to more repetitive coverage of "The King of Pop." Well EXCUSE me, but this man mattered too. I admit I am not a fan of MJ and I do understand that others are. It is always sad when someone dies, especially a father with young children. But the obsessive focus of even serious news programs on this one human being leaves me feeling, hmmm, I'll call it "disgruntled" since I make it a point not to swear. And saddened.

Karl Malden lived 97 years, and even from my limited knowledge lived a full and active life up to the end. He was never accused of child molestation. He never had his lovely big nose altered and was known to be unhappy when asked to use a stage name rather than his given name of Mladen Sekulovich. I'm pretty sure he never did drugs or wandered through stores buying ridiculously useless and excessively priced items (excuse me, just a memory I have from a documentary of MJ). He served his country in the US Army Air Corps, he maintained a happy marriage for 70 years, he had children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. He worked hard and from what I understand was a gentleman who practiced kindness and humbleness. He made many acclaimed movies, he starred in a television program that earned him five Emmys and was one of my favorites of all time. He served in the Screen Actors Guild. He was fascinating to watch, a truly good steady actor.

So why does his life barely rate a blip on the screen that he gave so much to in comparison to that other person who died DAYS ago?

Who are the heroes of today and why? When you ask my girls who they admire, some of the names they mention are Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton. I am so happy about that and feel somehow I feel I did something right as a parent, though they are the ones who ultimately made their choices. I have to say they didn't even know who Michael Jackson was. Not that I purposely kept the knowledge of him a secret - it just never came up!

Who are the heroes of so many today, these people who rate countless hours of air time when they pass or do something stupid, such as Britney forgetting her underpants or Paris Hilton in jail or the beloved Miley Cyrus in a pose or situation that belies her age? Who do our children admire and want to emulate?

I will always remember you Karl, and maybe considering the mob mentality of today that rates "Speidi" as worthy of airtime, you can call it a compliment that your death went virtually unnoticed in media land. Long after the media obsessions of today have gone, you will live on through your work, as steadily and vigorously as you lived your life.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cat envy

Is it wrong to envy your cat?! I sit and stress over work issues, scrambling to survive, and I look over at the most peaceful, contented little being. Daisy spends her days being bathed by her mom (her birth mom, not me!), sprawling out in the sun in the grassy yard, being treated like a princess by her three human slaves, being fed no less than six times a day on demand and gamboling through the woods.

Oh yes, I have cat envy, but in my attempts to decipher something intelligible from Dr Taggart's dictations from her home with the phone lying on the table and her kids screaming incessantly in the background she also provides me a little oasis of peace when I look over and see her sweet contentment. Until I now have to go back to the hair-pulling-out madness! Anyone looking for a long-distance secretary!?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

LOVE the Asian Market

We had another unexpected day off work - there was none, again - and I was antsy with stress so we just set off in the car. We had been trying to get back to the Asian Market, which is a good ways away, for some time and on a whim decided today was the day. Before we even got in I had picked up a full-size seedless watermelon for 2.99 and Lily had whispered, "Even outside, it smells like China!"

Inside we got Napa/Chinese cabbage for 54 cents a pound! I still had the remains of our last head in the fridge that I paid 1.49 a pound for. I love Napa cabbage and it is very healthy. I chop some up and put it in all kinds of things.

We got some huge boneless chicken thighs, my favorite piece of meat other than rib-eye steak, for 1.99 a pound. We passed over the rabbit, beef tongue and cod fish heads!

We also nabbed a full pint of blueberries for 1.99 a pound and some nice onions for 49 cents a pound, as opposed to 1.29 a pound at Publix. I just am in awe of the prices. We had fun looking at all the noodles. I have finally come up with a serviceable Lo Mein recipe but we thought we might find some noodles like they use at the Chinese restaurants. We did not, but on googling once we got home, seems that is an American Chinese restaurant noodle, not authentic Chinese! Sadly the udon noodles were too expensive. I miss my Japanese friend's Nikku Udon, tender beef strips floating with the yummy noodles in broth. We got these rice noodles to try, which were 99 cents a package, and the girls love rock candy and this heavy box for 88 cents proved irresistable!

We never have time to look at everything and I always mean to write down some of the names of seasonings and noodles and things to look them up at home and see if we might like them. We don't have any play in our budget to experiment as I wish we could. Lily kept gloating - "Mom, you look so out of place here!" I told her that was fine, it was far past my turn to look out of place.

Friday, June 5, 2009

China Learning Kit

A fellow homeschool mom, who happens to be living in China, has paired up with a Chinese friend to help her raise some money to send her son to college. She is offering a little packet from China with goodies and some information sheets. The facts are really great, and even my well-versed-in-all-things-China girls learned a few new tidbits. If you'd like to take a look, click the buttom. Quantities may be limited so if you want one, order soon! We are about to read "Red Scarf Girl," and having much vintage art picturing the scarf, they were particularly tickled to have a real red scarf of their own and they loved the stamps on the package and the money.

China Learning Kit

While Jimmmie's blog deals mostly with homeschooling, she has some great photos and posts about China if you are willing to dig for them.

On her collage, if you scroll down on the right you can find some "life in China" posts to click on.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Proud mama today!

Tonight was AWANA graduation and the girls got a nice plaque for finishing their book. Unfortunately my batteries died at the church and I couldn't get any photos there. I still can't believe they did eight months' good work in two months and with no promptimg from me at all! I really love the program.

Their cousin Beth brought them this lovely book originally printed in 1960 - Chinese fairy tales translated from the Chinese. The artwork is beautiful but as Lily pointed out some of it looks more Japanese than Chinese. She used to amaze me starting about 5-1/2 being able to correctly identify art pieces, paintings and photos as being Thai, Indian, Japanese or Chinese. I had pointed things out to her at flea markets and we read together copiously, especially Asian themed books, but it still amazed and delighted me that she developed that eye at such an early age.

That kid has loved the whole wide world since she was a toddler - wildly excited about globes and maps and showing me places I myself had forgotten about on them before she hit 4! At our library, she just checked out a book on Pyramids, Japanese in internment camps, a novel set in Laos, a novel set in Thailand and a book on the Titanic! She just wants to know about everything everywhere! Jing, as usual, had all dog books except for one from her new passion - Star Wars. I looked with a pang at the rows of picture books - it seems just yesterday we were choosing from there and tonight I ran into both of them on the adult side of the library - Jing just to get her Star Wars book but who knows what Lily was looking up LOL! I love love love having bookworm girls!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Field Trip - Trappist Monastery

Wednesday night one of the girls' friend's grandpas told us about a monastery not too far from our house that we didn't even know about. We decided we needed to go check it out and Lily especially, ever eager for new experiences, did not let a rainy day deter her! Unfortunately we missed the sign for the Welcome Center and by the time we found it, it was closed, but we learned some from their web site. We are going to go back and watch their short film and peruse the bonsai shop, which was closed, but we looked at it longingly through the slats in the fence surrounding it. There was a peaceful lake with some geese and ducks that were very angry we had no food, and the monastery has a house they allow you to stay at if you need some time of quiet contemplation. Boy do I ever qualify! But I'd have to take the kids and all the pets with me, and I think it would defeat the purpose!

The architecture inside the church was lovely. Our jaws literally dropped when we walked through the unassuming little door and into the back of the sanctuary. Is that a nave? Anyway, we stayed a while and listened to the monks sing liturgy. We could not quite figure out what was going on in the sanctuary. There were individual seats lined up along the walls with long lecturns going all the way across covered in papers of some sort - maybe the words to the liturgies they sing? The monk's voices were gentle and beautiful to listen to.

We rounded out the day with an hour at the bookstore and dinner from our favorite Chinese restaurant, so it was a nice Friday before the weekend drudgery of work.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A peaceful place

We had an unexpected day off work due to problems with the server at the hospital chain I type dictations for, so the girls and I went to Blalock, a series of lakes with waterfowl everywhere and just an overwhelming sense of peace. I sure needed it at the prospect of the third small paycheck in a row! I can literally feel my blood pressure go down here. We saw scores of tadpoles and deeply regretted not having a jar with us, though we agreed they were probably happier where they were. The Canada geese were disappointed we had no cracked corn as usual but I expect they'll forgive us if we bring some next time! We are hoping to get a canoe this fall so we can go exploring out to the ends of the big lake here and also at some state parks nearby.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Artist in residence

I borrowed Jing's sketchbook and decided to scan a few of her drawings in tonight, and since I didn't take a photo for today, well, here are a couple of them! She has taken to drawing dogs, both purebred and mixes of her own design, that have an entire backstory, name, age, personality, etc. I love her imagination! Between the stories she types into her computer and her prolific drawing, I think she really will fulfill her dream of being an author/illustrator one day.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our wee little frogs

We released four of our five former tadpoles last night. They seemed unhappy in the bowl and we did not have a good place for them to rest, just a rather steep rock. Three still had good-sized tails but they seemed happy hopping away in the wet leaves. We all wanted to keep them longer, but I was afraid they were ready for insects and they are so tiny I did not know what to catch them other than mosquitoes that they could eat. I did not expect success at catching mosquitoes, though this year unfortunately we have an abundant supply. Last year, between the drought and our nearby colony of bats we had no mosquitoes, but rain has been plentiful this year and alas it brought a plague of the buzzing marauders. It was great fun watching these little guys go from tadpole to frog. I hope we can find another batch to raise this year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

The girls and I are finishing up this wonderful book and have expanded our learning into a little unit study on Afghanistan and Pakistan this last week. The book is the very inspirational story of Greg Mortensen, who was attemping to climb K2 and had to carry down an ill climber before he reached the summit. He got separated from his team and ended up in the little village of Korphe, cold, with no supplies, lost. Haji Ali, the village chief, took him into his home and served him sour yak butter tea - yum!

Haji Ali told Greg with the first cup you are a stranger, with the second a friend, and with the third cup of tea you are family. Greg was saddened to see that the children had no school and met outside trying to scratch words into the dirt in the freezing cold air. The village shared a teacher with another village so there was very little educating going on. Greg promised them he would come back and build them a school.

True to his word, he went home and tried to raise money. He sent out over 5000 letters. At first, only the children at the school where his mother was principal responded with a penny drive, raising something over $600. Eventually he got enough for the school and went back to build it, but ended up having to first build a bridge to the village, as the transportation being used was a rickety box being pulleyed across the river. This was in 1996 and after quite an adventurous story including at one point being kidnapped in Afghanistan, many schools have been built and many girls who never had the chance to be educated are now being empowered with knowledge.

Greg was in Pakistan when 09/11/01 happened and Americans were being rushed out of the area. He, instead, went into Afghanistan to see what he could do to help. The most moving thing was reading of the refugees of war who had nowhere to go and had to just set up a new life with nothing, and he helped bring education to their camps. I love the respect he has for these people and his message that it is not the Muslims that are the terrorists. They are a peaceful people overall and just want to live their lives like anyone else. He met some amazing people on that trip that have stayed in his life for years since.

I love to read inspiring stories about what one person or one kid can do and share them with my girls. This one was well worthwhile and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Greg M. is truly an amazing man as is his daughter, Amira, who in this kid's version of his story has a Q&A in the back of the book about sharing her dad with so many people. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mountain Laurel and Ticks

Today we braved our Field of Ticks to see if the Mountain Laurel was blooming and were greatly rewarded with mounds of the delicate sweet blossoms. We avoid this area of the property much of the spring and summer as we have to wade through a lot of underbrush to get there and come out crawling with little passengers. But to see the little star-shaped blossoms exuberantly blooming over quite a large area is worth the chore of tick picking later!

Last time we were up there, which is at a point of the South River, two canoes filled with adults and children, most of them Asian and one lady wearing one of those pointy straw hats, drifted by, pulled over a ways down on the opposite shore, and the passengers disembarked and carried their canoes off through the woods. We exchanged pleasantries, but I could see Lily literally quivering with desire to ask who they were, where their country of origin was, etc. (She wants to be a social worker when she grows up, saying this is the perfect job for her because she can ask all the nosy questions she wants and see inside other peoples' houses LOL!). This is our mystery for the month and we hope to see them again and learn more about our heretofore unknown neighbors.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A last look

Today was long. Back to the mechanic for yet another repair on the car, so we walked down the road to the cemetery at the girls' request, as we did last time. I was taken with these tree-trunk tombstones. Lily said they must have been nature lovers like us. The one on the right is for a wife, Carrie, who was born in 1987 and died in 1913 - 16-year-old bride.

We were very moved by this grave of a young mother, who is obviously still very much loved and missed. I am thankful the kids who vandalized our house and who I believe live in the shadow of this cemetery, have not destroyed or removed the sweet momentos left for loved ones. One grave for a 19-year-old young man who died in 1992 had a little frog statue on top and a silver cross necklace hanging from a stone placed on top of his headstone.

After reading numerous tombstones and wondering about their stories, we walked on down to our house. I can't believe it is 18 months since we moved out. It will be sold at auction on May 5, and the girls and I decided to take one last look. It was quite overgrown all down our long drive (we're sticklers for long drives into the woods).

They are looking out across our pond. There we were often visited by Great Blue Herons, and the girls watched a Canada goose pair make a nest and lay a clutch of eggs. She would actually take bits of twigs and things from the girls and tuck them into her nest, and loved it when they blew bubbles for her, nibbling at them with her shiny beak. They spent hours out there near her and she came to really like them. Just as the eggs were about to hatch the kids living across the pond destroyed the nest. The girls found one of the babies and the mother dead. We were all heartbroken, and that's when the girls got the finches they were wanting! There was a big old catfish who lived in the pond, looking like some ancient creature from another time, who became quite tame, and the girls fed scraps to him. He would speed over to the edge of the pond when he saw them coming.

We could never have fixed all that was wrong, and it was a disastrous place to live, with the pond above that overflowed, the very long drive that washed out every time it rained, the perpetually broken 2/10-mile-long water pipe, and very little that worked the last couple of years, but it was our first home together as a family, so it is special. I'm glad we bid it farewell.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't say "Cheese"

Well I have tried and Jing has tried to photograph this young lady for their China Digital Scrapbook trading cards, and these are some of the better results! Any photographers out there up to a challenge? Come on over and just try to get a good shot of this child! You get fake smile, then when you say please no fake smile you get a glower, then when you tell her to say "rubber underpants!" you get too much of a smile. ACK! But we love her anyway!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kudos to my girls!

I am SO proud of my girls! Tonight they finished their AWANA books for the year - despite missing more than 2/3 of the classes this year sitting home with Blind Mama! These books are a LOT of work and only two other girls in their class - who have all been there all year - have finished their books so far, and they have four weeks to go before summer break. They were able to do a bit of the book during the year with one of their teachers who took me back and forth to the doctor for a while but not a lot. I am really, really proud of their hard work and dedication to do all their memorizations and fill in their pages and do their assignments.

Here they are playing War (trying to hit each other with a ball, and at CHURCH of all places LOL) and friend Sarah is demonstrating a fun way to wear your hat on Hat Day! Jing loves the sports portion of the night, but Lily tries to hide or keep going to the back of the line. We can't all be athletes after all!

Spring has sprung

This was taken from our front porch a few days ago; I didn't get a photo for today. The azaleas and dogwoods are now fading, so shortly after this was taken. I sure wish the spring flowers lasted longer, particularly the wisteria and forsythia!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Georgie raises her hackles

This is Georgie before our walk. She's 11 months old now - look at those ears! This is just before our walk.

While walking we spotted a critter dashing down the drive. I thought it was a coyote. Jing thought it was a cat, maybe a bobcat. Lily thought it was a wild dog. At any rate, Georgie gave chase, and we gave chase to Georgie and found her in front of a huge pile of rocks and underbrush with hackles raised and a nervous look on her face - Can I handle this thing if it comes back out at me?!

The image of the day for me, too heartbreaking to take but etched in my mind forever, was of my old dog Matilda watching longingly out the window as we walked away without her. This week I finally had to stop letting her go on the long walk we take every day as she gets out of breath and just drags behind and sometimes coughs and chokes. We take her on a shorter walk of her own before we go but I feel like a traitor leaving her inside as we jaunt off, the puppy racing ahead of us. You could pack my sadness and guilt in a tractor trailer and still have some left over!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Reunion

What a wonderful surprise we had when our dear friends pulled into town from the state below long enough to have a quick meal and for the kids to all go to AWANA together, just like old times. I'm surprised these shots turned out at all as the girls ran ahead and I just snapped and hoped for the best way off in the distance. It was so good to see them and an unneeded reminder of how much we miss them.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Artist in Residence

Well if I can't do a photo a day, can I do a scan a day? Last night after the girls went to bed, I returned something to the girls' second room and found a stack of drawings like these on Jing's table. They had been watching a movie but Jing never sits idly - dozens of illustrations like these covered several pieces of paper. You can see other images bleeding through the paper from the back, a habit from China she can't get past. I told her she did not have to draw on the back of the paper or combine a bunch of pictures on one page, that I would always provide as much apper as she needed, but she is still a very economical girl; nothing is wasted. Not a bad philosophy for these days especially!

I used to draw a lot too, pretty much all animals like Jing. I could draw a horse blindfolded in any position because I was, and am, a horse fiend. But anything else I drew decently I had to look at a photo or preferably another drawing and copy it. What amazes me about Jing is she draws a multitude of creatures but there is no book in front of her - they are all out of the herds of animals living in her head, images from her own imagination. At times I find pages of, say, a lion face done over and over with multiple expressions, or legs and paws or hooves drawn flat, curled, in motion. It's a beautiful thing to witness, that God-given talent that is so strong and instinctive it flows out spontaneously and freely, if not involuntarily. A gift to be envied!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Woe is me!

The photo of the day is one I found on the floor yesterday. It must have slipped out of a file as I have been trying to go through things now that I can see a bit better. Today I had to rely on a scan as I can no longer get my HP PhotoSmart scanner to send photos from my memory card to my computer. Which is NOT FUN!

I have googled myself silly and even paid $$$ I could not spare to load one of those file cleaners, which found almost 1200 things to be fixed. My computer is moving faster but I still get the same error when I stick in my memory card - "Application has generated an exception that could not be handled." Then it gives some codes.

I googled those and found two other people asking about the same thing on computer boards but no one had answered them. It says to click cancel to debug the application. Then it says, "Registered JIT debugger is not available." I found the RegCure program when googling this error but it has not fixed it, though I have not rebooted since I installed it, so I have a tiny bit of hope. I've actually had this error for a while but my Microsoft Wizard for cameras and scanners would pop up and take over and did fine. Now it doesn't, and when I try to run it manually it only reads the scanner as opposed to where it used to default to the memory card. It's a very old machine and very much used but I sure wish I could get it to work! I was just about to put some things up for sale and now I can't scan in my photos!

My computer does seem to be a good bit faster already! It was CRAWLING, and scanning through my files to get down to current photo files took so long. Now it is moving along. So I guess I won't ask for a refund! I will have to be frugal with our smallish memory card and save my photos on there for a while. At least I can catch up on my layouts, which are badly behind.

If anyone has any idea how to fix this, please email me!

The photo is from about six years ago, probably almost exactly, just a few months after Jing came home. That sweet smile she has is very deceptive of what was going on behind the scenes, but it's very cute!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Princess Leia Hearts Santa Claus

Lily had the funniest dream last night, especially considering Jing is the Star Wars nut and neither have ever believed in Santa Claus. She dreamed Princess Leia had a major crush on Santa and was sending him notes, pleading with him to be her boyfriend, saying "Be Mine" and "I Love You!" It was a long dream but it ended with Santa going back to the North Pole but leaving Leia a snowglobe with a little plastic sign inside saying something like "Love Always, Santa" to remember him by. I about drove off the road I was laughing so hard! We are vigorous dreamers but that one is dadburn eccentric! Jing once dreamed there were cowboys riding around on horses trying to lasso the Disney princesses that were flying around in the sky above them. The cowboys were real, the Disney girls animated. Maybe I need to move snacktime up a bit LOL!

Today was our last day of Freedom/Splurge Week, next week back to once-a-week eating out max, and we went to our favorite eatery - Truett's (Chic-Fil-A). They have the best fast food ever. McDonald's, BK, Wendy's, et al, taste like junk next to "Chicky-Fay" as Lily used to call it when she was a preschooler begging to go. This one opened during the time Lily was madly in love with Thomas the Tank Engine, and she was thrilled to see that it had a little train track running around the ceiling with a little working choo-choo doggedly circling the restaurant again and again.

She loved eating in this real vintage trolley. Now we eat outside at a sole umbrella table behind the restaurant, even on a rather blustery cool day like today. We got our exercise bounding after napkins that kept blowing off the table! Unfortunately, my batteries died as I was trying to take their picture on the bench made out of the backside of an old Chevy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cemetery and Return to AWANA

What a day we had! We had to get up early (2:00 p.m.!) so our car could be worked on while we waited and we could still make it to AWANA in time. There was not much near the auto shop to explore, so we walked to this old cemetery. It is at the end of the drive we used to live on, so it was familiar stomping grounds. It was poignant to read the older stones, the sweet sentiments loved ones placed there. Many were war veterans. One said, enigmatically, "She did all she could."

The saddest thing was all the babies and toddlers that were there from the early 1900s. It was a good opportunity to discuss advancees in health care and the importance of the discovery of antibiotics.

From there we went to the Betterway Christian Bookstore and I picked up next year's history text used at a great buy! The tests too! It was gratifying to see the girls excitedly flipping through the pages of the book, crowing over chapters on Japan and China history and the Mayans, who Lily has a weird fascination with. I've found her more than once curled up at the bookstore with a huge tome titled "Aztecs and Mayans." From about 7 to 9-1/2, she was utterly enchanted with Ancient Egypt, mummies, pyramids, the Book of the Dead. Jing's interests never waver - dogs, cats, animals, drawing, cars.

Then we spent an hour at another branch of our library, then off to AWANA for the first time since the year started in August. The girls were a bit nervous but it went fine and their friends welcomed them back. Lily had memorized eight verses and Jing seven, which is amazing. I enjoyed some time to myself grocery shopping and then we went for Chinese! We love China House as they serve on paper plates and you take your own food to the table so no tip, and the price is the same as a fast-food meal - and it's delicious! As you can see we are eating down the last few bits of Almond Fried Chicken! A great day!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Growth from old Limbs

I so dread the heat that comes after the all-too-brief spring, but it is hard not to be moved by the beauty of new life in spring. These old peach trees (we think that's what they are) looked dead, but our landlord hopefully pruned them year before last when we moved in. They put out branches last year and this year there are shy little blossoms popping out to charm us, a beautiful juxtaposition against the gnarled old wood.

Monday, March 9, 2009

L and J Discover More History

Today's photos were supposed to be out and about, but as we got out, our car refused to start back up. We had quite an adventure hiking over to a nearby mall in search of a phone and finding they had removed all the pay phones in the mall! We went begging at the Sear's auto and a nice man drove over where we were and banged on the starter with a tool and it started, but he said to go home as it would probably do it again, so back home we came. We went on a lovely walk by the river. The frustrating thing about living with this river is there are no good places to get down to it, especially for arthritic knees! My little mountain goats, however, manage quite well and found some rocks where they could walk out onto the river today. The bridge you see is part of the highway we live off of.

As they were gazing around at the water, Lily said, "I see human-made rocks!" There was a sawmill and store on the river in Civil War times and I believe these are part of the walls of one of them, coming right out of the river! We had no idea these were down there!

Another nice surprise today was getting Grace Lin's newsletter email and finding she had featured Lily's letter with her little Mandarin dress made out of handmade Japanese paper. It was so neat! Unfortunately I didn't see it on the web link to her newsletter but if you get it by email, that's Lily's letter!