Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Becoming a Pro
After weeks & weeks of a couple steps here... PLOP! A couple steps there... PLOP! More steps here... PLOP! Even more steps there... PLOP! It seems like Little Miss Dreamgirl has finally got the hang of walking down. And when she's holding a hand... watch out... she can really get movin'! It does get a bit complicated when she tries to walk with a cup or one of her favorite activities... putting a bag over her shoulder & saying "bye bye"... copying myself and her big sisters walking out the door with a pocketbook or bookbag... it's so dog gone cute I could pinch her little cheeks off. I finally captured some shots this afternoon of my two-legged baby in action!

"Hey there Dreamgirl... come see Mama!"

Here she comes!

Walking with a ping pong ball in her hand does not apparently cause a problem in balance or stability.

"Now... let's go back the other way."
She wants my camera so she's happy to oblige me.

Good girl! Back and forth... holding an object... with no PLOPS! BRAVO!

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend Round-Up
I'm still here. I've had some inquiries as to my well-being and location... but I'm here. Remember... Big Daddy T leaves me here alone... A LOT... so I'm basically raising 4 yungin's and trying to run a household BY. MY. SELF. It keeps my busy... just a tad. Anyhoo... we survived the weekend alone... me & my chicks and have successfully begun a new week. Fall around our house not only means football Saturdays, it means SWIM SEASON! We're swimmers 'round here... keeps my jolly, round chicks in shape & off the couch. This past weekend we kicked off the Fall Swim Meet schedule and here's how things went down...

Saturday's swim meet was My Baby Boy's very first meet. Awwwwwwwwwww. Here he is about to head to the blocks for his first race ever... still with nacho cheese on his right cheek as he gobbled up a "pre-race" snack... leave it to my kiddos to always make the healthy choice... NOT!

Here he goes...
He was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room of rockin' chairs. He gets a final "you can do it" pat on the back from Coach Wendy.

"Take your mark..."

And off he goes!
Smooth, clean water out in front of him... lookin' good for a 25-yard freestyle!

Like a good, competitive boy all he cared about was "winning!" He didn't quite grasp the whole meet divided into heats concept... he just cared about coming in 1st place.
Well, looks like he did it! In his heat at least!

My Dreamgirl is a ROCKSTAR at swim meets. As soon as the girls hop out of the pool, the swarm around Dreamgirl like she was one of The Jonas Brothers. Swimmer-extrodinaire Miss M. helped me with Dreamgirl for a while so I could cheer on my swimmers & snap some pics.

Even though Pretty Kitty is a member of the swim team, she's still a bit too nervous to compete... no shocker there. She much prefers playing games with the other swimmers in between their events.

Here's My Firstborn getting some last minute instructions from Coach Y. We've just undergone a coaching change and our new "interim" staff is AWESOME! We're never letting them leave.

And here she comes doing the butterfly leg of her individual medley race.

Looks like all her hard work paid off... she won her first meet trophy! Way to go Firstborn!

I hope whatever you did and wherever you were this past weekend you were safe and productive. Have a great week & check out the N*E*W*P*O*L*L!

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chillaxing in the Arizona Desert

Our group flew out to AZ on business... football business baby... and the Dawgs got the job done. But before Saturday's big game we headed out into the Arizona desert on Friday for some R & R at The Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa. Now I'm not saying I want to live in Arizona, but it was a very cool place to visit. It was my first time out there and I do want to go back and definitely want to return to The Boulders. Good call, J.M... good call. I had never been in the desert before... never seen cactus up close or sandy gravel in yards instead of grass. The sky was so blue and the mountains were amazing. I was in awe of the beauty and diversity of the world God created. Thanks S.H.C. for the pictures... since I brought my camera ALL the way out to AZ only to leave it in the hotel room... smart!

The Arizona landscape was nothing I had ever experienced before. We all loved staring out the windows as we drove out to The Boulders taking in all the new sights!

Upon entering The Boulders property you quickly come to The Golden Door Spa. Ahhhh... I love the spa. I do. I'm that kind of girl. I could spend a month's salary there in one day. The Boulders Resort were built to blend into the landscape... little casitas for rooms, adobe looking building only 1 story as not to interfer with the view. The Golden Door is THE NICEST spa I've ever been to. First class... all the way. Anything you need, they provide... from fresh organic snacks to razors in the showers to little plastic bags for your wet bathing suit. NICE.

After our massages and tiny tea cups of potassium broth (ick!) we headed out back to soak up the sun at the pool. And here is what we walked out to. Nestled in between big, amazing bolders was the pool. It was gorgeous.

Notice all the elements for a P*E*R*F*E*C*T afternoon poolside:
  1. A beautiful sunny day, crystal blue sky and gorgeous surroundings.
  2. A pool AND a hot tub.
  3. An umbrella for when you think you're getting too much sun.
  4. A menu & a waitress who will bring food & drinks to you at the pool.
  5. Friends.
They had big, lush towels waiting in each lawn chair... complimentary sunscreen for our fair skinned friends, glass carafes of lemon ice water & iced green tea... we could've just had the kids shipped cross country and lived there.

Before we headed back to Scottsdale we decided to hike around a bit to check out the views from the top. See if you can spot a house built into the mountain in this picture! Did you find it?

And in typical accomodating fashion, The Boulders has a nice cleared trail for visitors to use.

Up we go...

Very cool to walk THROUGH the boulders.

I loved this giant cactus we found 1/2 way up the mountain. Did you know that this type of cactus doesn't get it's first arm until they're 70 years old??? These old giants have been around a while! Look how beautiful the view is... the bright green golf course was a pretty contrast to the brown rock.

Keep going up!
I really look dressed for the occasion in my Ann Taylor capris and flip flops!
Am I a dork or what???

Amazing how rocks can be amazing. Doesn't this one like it would just topple over at any second?

And here we look out from the top. I love seeing how the clouds cast shadows on the mountains. Cool, huh? Hiking was fun. Maybe I should become a hiker. Where to hike around here? I'll just have to go back to AZ regularly I suppose!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Mama Ree is Gonna Die!
A shocking people magazine will hit stands this week that will knock your socks off. Well, if it doesn't yours it will my Grandma's. Poor Mama Ree thinks Clay Aiken is America's sweetheart and may very well gasp a horrified "Well, I declare!" when her copy hits the mailbox later this week. My Mama Ree has become a habitual magazine subscriber in her old age and now receives everything from Shape (I don't know why) to Country Living (which I steal) ... with the giant-sized Reader's Digest and T.V. Guides in between. She was just telling us at dinner last night all about seeing Clay Aiken on American Idol Rewind a couple days ago (she's also a t.v. fanatic) and how he should've won over Rueben Studdard and how much "prettier" the song Clay sang was than Rueben's. Well it turns out that Clay's even "prettier" than she thought... even though we've all known it all along!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Guys and The Girls
Going on vacation with Big Daddy T and his friends isn't exactly what some would call a "romantic" getaway. Fun? Yes. Crazy? At times. Romantic? No. Why you may ask? Because when "The Guys" get together they're thicker than thieves and that leaves little room for us womenfolk in their shenanigans. (That can be a good thing.) It was even suggested once during the trip that the girls room together and the boys room together. Lucky for me Big Daddy T's friends married some nice, fun & funny girls... that makes the trip a success when "The Guys" are walking 10 steps ahead of y'all all weekend. Let me give you an example:

Here we are at dinner Thursday night in downtown Scottsdale... which is a very cool city by the way... and by "cool" I mean as far as atmosphere... not temperature. Our friend and tour guide, J.M. made our group reservations at The Old Town Tortilla Factory. Notice how we all are seated. "The Girls" sat down while "The Guys" parked the car. There were empty seats next to each of us. Did "The Guys" come in and sit next to their sweethearts? Uhhh.... NO! See 'em all huddled down at the end of the table together? Only one couple ended up together... Tour Guide J.M. and his wife B.... there on the right. Oh well... the girls were super cool & I had fun hanging with them for the weekend. I'll have more from my trip as the week goes on.

Now, let's talk P*O*L*L* R*E*S*U*L*T*S from last week. Seems like most of you suffer from the same incurable disease I do... Sugarholicolitis. It's a sneaky, wicked, dangerous illness... one that has held me in it's grips for years. Throughout those years I have been besieged by half-baked chocolate cookies with scoops of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream on top (the agony!).... Heath Blizzards from Dairy Queen with extra Heath (the shame!).... Peanut Butter M & M's (the horror!)... and don't forget the Chic-fil-a Cookies-n-Creme Milkshake (oh my aching hips!) Sugarholicolitis has ruined wardrobes on beautiful size 8 clothes, it has zapped my energy and it has created a belly pooch I may never get rid of. In order to be successful on my new diet I must conquer this great foe once and for all! How will I do it??? I'm not quite sure. Stay tuned. But I do know I have found some G*O*O*D "diet food" that I can share with you today.

Now... this ain't no Snicker's bar but the new GoLean Crunchy bars from Kashi are pretty good. At 170 calories, they're my new choice for breakfast (especially great when I'm on the go) and eaten with a cup of coffee they go down pretty easy.

I've got 2 suggestions for lunch and they're terrific for working gals and those who stay at home. The Oscar Mayer Deli Creations are my fave! For around 300 calories you get a hot, cheesy sandwich that tastes G*O*O*D! My faves so far are the Buffalo Ranch Chicken and the Chicken Bacon Ranch. They fill me up... paired with a Diet Coke & a yogurt... I'm good to go until dinner... usually.

My second favorite "diet" lunchtime meal are the sandwich wraps from South Beach Living from Kraft foods. For around 230 calories you will get 2 wraps and a jello cup... bonus! Eat 'em cold or hot, these are equally as convenient as the Deli Creations and cheaper than heading through the drive-thru. For these I'm recommending the Southwestern Style Chicken and the Grilled Chicken Ceasar.

*Check out the N*E*W P*O*L*L and have a great week friends!

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I'm Back!
I'm back in good 'ol Georgia after a 4 day trip to Arizona to watch the UGA Dawgs beat up on Arizona State. I've got pictures to share... but laundry to catch up on... will post later & be back with a new poll!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

China Trip Tuesdays: The Pearl Market
Next to jade, Chinese pearls are a hot souvenier for parents to buy & bring home for their new babies. Pearls for My Dreamgirl to wear on her wedding day were #1 on my "MUST BUY IN CHINA" list. Like cattle going to market, us adoptive parents were herded onto the tour bus during our stay in Guangzhou and shipped off to a huge building filled with nothing but wholesale jewelry stores. We wondered how much our guides were getting paid on the down-low for bringing eager American shoppers in by the dozens.

This shot was taken on the first floor looking up. I can see at least 5 floors.

Here's another view. You can make out directions to different departments... silver, pearl, turquoise, etc.

Here's a look around the ground floor... jewelry kiosks lined the center of the building. In these, like the stores you could buy jewelry already made or choose from loose stones & have something made for you while you waited.

Another look...

Our guide, Connie, recommended a couple different shops for us to buy from. Wonder how much free jewelry she's getting for sending folks to these shops? Now, that is just not nice... why am I so skeptical about that??? Anyway, the shops were nice & the salespeople were nice to us.
It is really too late & I'm really too tired to write about this subject accurately tonight so if this sounds like blah! blah! blah! please forgive me. Anyhoo- we went into the store and told the girl helping us we wanted a strand of pearls and matching earrings. There are different quality of pearls and we asked to see medium & high. Not high high, like Mikimotos, but medium & high of the "regular" grade pearls. In this picture, the girl has laid out many different strands for us to look through. You look for shape (you want them well rounded... as spherical as possible) and smooth (they can get grainy and scratchy looking.) Once we chose a stand for the necklace, we chose from loose pearls for Dreamgirl's earrings. We sifted through an entire quart sized bag looking for just the right size, shape & color.
In this photo it looks like Big Daddy T is trying to joke around with our saleslady and it was confusing her. Poor thing is trying to speak basic english & Big Daddy T is trying his best Jerry Seinfeld on her. If I remember right I think he was asking her how much if he wanted to buy the entire bag of loose pearls. And she couldn't figure out if he was serious or not.

Then after choosing a strand you choose the clasp. There are all different classes here too... silver, gold, real, fake. Oh... there's our amazing national guide Chen Chen in the background... "Hey Chen Chen... we miss you! How were the Olympics?"

We splurged on the gold.

And lastly our little sales lady adds up our ticket. I'd thrown in a black pearl pendant for myself... and then added the mathching earrings... and then I found some fresh water pearl earrings to match a necklace I had back home... and then My Firstborn found a bracelet... and you can tell by the way he's standing, Big Daddy T is beginning to sweat as the number keep piling up! Oops!

But he was a very good sport and I came home with what I went there for. My Dreamgirl and a strand of Chinese pearls for her to wear on her Wedding Day from her Mama... and Daddy too.

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