Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Christmas, Ian!

It's hard to believe that this is little baby Ian. He looks like a little man!

Happy Christmas to our little English/American man!


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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

New beginnings

The new school year has begun. Summer just flew by. Zoe started fourth grade at a brand new school. We're working with her to get on track with her homework and staying on schedule. She is trying her best, but some days are tough.

Here’s a photo of Zoe on her first day of school. My sister Leesa sent her a box full of new clothes from Old Navy. Thanks, Leesa!

Owen started Pre-K this year. It's a dual-language program with half the day in English, and half in Spanish. I hope he absorbs the Spanish like a sponge. I think its essential to know Spanish, and that it is much easier to learn it when you are young.

We've been struggling to stay on schedule. We are not morning people and Zoe’s school bus is at 7:05! Due to first the Olympics, and now the Presidential party politics we’ve been sleep deprived. As responsible parents, we have to make things work. You do what it takes.


Bob was in Denver visiting his sister Amy just days before the DNC. He snagged me a few Democratic momentos. I'm a proud Democrat and I am hopeful for a new administration next year. Just think of the new beginnings we can celebrate together.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Remembrance

Yesterday was the anniversary of our son Benjamin's death. We lit our candle and thought about him. We wondered what he would be like and who he would look like. We still wonder why, oh why? So many unanswered questions remain. It is always a tough day to get through.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Silly Owen

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Yesterday I stayed home with my kids all day on our staycation. Actually, they played together while I worked from my home office.

Owen and Zoe had fun hanging out together. They did things that they haven't done for a while like playing with Playdoh.

They ate Popsicle (orange mustache!).

They got a hold of my camera. The footage is classic silly Owen.

They have been playing their Nintendo DS games.

Now, it's time to play outside.

Boxes of stuff

I have too much yarn, and my husband has too many wires. And, we both have too many books. Of course, all I see are his things, and all he sees are mine. I was a bit upset when he came home yesterday with four boxes of wires. Normally, I put up with it given that I have a lot, no a flock of sheep's worth of yarn. Sigh.

So, since we have another day or two left of our staycation, I am going to continue to work on my stash, and encourage Bob to work on his.


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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Staycation update

Well, the first day of our staycation was not a vacation at all. It was hard work. We uncluttered the house, cleaned up the yard, cleaned up the deck, refilled the birdfeeders, did laundry, paid bills, and generally put our affairs in order. It’s all the things and more that we’ve been meaning to do for a while, but didn’t find the time or energy to do. By the end of the day, my back was hurting, but things were in much better shape.

We hosted a sleepover guest for my daughter. That did force us to order pizza for dinner. At least after all that work, we didn’t have to cook and clean up the kitchen after dinner.

Our daughter Zoe is turning ten years old on August 3. Where has that time gone? As dutiful parents, we have been trying to organize a birthday party for her. She wanted a sleep over with all her friends, and a traditional birthday party with streamers and balloons, and naturally a big cake.

Alas, most of her friends are actually away on real vacations. My guess is that the bad economy hasn’t hit the well-heeled crowd of Chapel Hill, NC. So, we’re taking her available friends throughout the week for smaller get-togethers. Last night, we had a sleepover, today a visit to Kanki, a local Japanese restaurant, tomorrow a trip to the museum, a trip to the water park, plan to see a movie later in the week, and maybe another sleep over. Phew! A weeklong birthday is more work and more fun for all.

Happy (week-long) Birthday, Zoe!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Taking a "staycation"

This year we are spending our vacation time on a "staycation" in our home in Chapel Hill, NC.  We would love to go to Boston, like we did last year.  It would be wonderful to take a cruise, or finally bring the kids to Disney, but we are wary of spending too much.  We are not feeling deprived altogether. We do have a short get-away planned for Labor Day weekend and another in early November.

 

We do plan to take a day trip or two to the beach or the mountains.  We plan to see more of our beautiful region. The list includes taking a hike, riding our bikes, and hanging out together. We are scheduling a visit the local museums and zoo.  It will be enjoyable and we’ll have a few hundred dollars saved.

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Inflation

Hey, I was interviewed last week because the cost of school lunch is going up by ten cents. Sadly, I end up sounding rather pompous. Here's the full story.

I can handle this minor increase of ten cents. It's just one of the many costs of having children. You are obliged to buy or make their lunch.

I think about the women who work to prepare these meals. To me, they are heroic. I could not cope with 600 children every day. I do hope that these workers are given an increase so that they can feed their children. On July 1, the minimum wage in North Carolina increased to $6.55 per hour. Let's hope that these working women earn more than the minimum wage.

When I grew up, one of six children, our family was eligible for reduced-fee school lunch. They were horrible lunches. We were served mystery meat, hot dogs and beans, sloppy joes and canned corn, and fish sticks with tater tots on Fridays. Remember Regan's draconian cuts in food stamps and school lunch programs? Remember, catsup as a vegetable?

Today, we know better. Now, kids are given options, with fresh vegtables and fruits. They don't always select the healthy stuff, but at least it's a choice.

Now, don't get me started on the price of gas.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My mosaic


Tonight I decided to do a meme. It looked like fun, so here we go.

The Instructions:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

The Questions:

What is your first name? Susan
What is your favorite food? Thai food
What high school did you go to? Boston Latin Academy
What is your favorite color? Teal
Who is your celebrity crush? Thomas Jefferson
Favorite drink? Lemonade
Dream vacation? Hawaii
Favorite dessert? Mocha Mousse Cake
What do you want to be when you grow up? Knitter
What do you love most in life? Family
One word to describe you? Yarn
Your flickr name? knitfix

Here's my results:


1. Black-Eyed Susans, 2. Hot &Tasty Thai food, 3. BLA, 4. so swollen, 5. Moon over Jefferson, 6. If life throws you a lemon - make lemonade., 7. Turtle Numba Two, 8. coffee and chocolate mousse cake, 9. Knitter, 10. Family Portrait, 11. The Colour Wheel according to Wollmeise, 12. Tooth Pillow

I want to do that again! -- Hillsborough Hog Day

Yesterday, we went to Hog Day in Hillsborough. We went two years ago and this year was much better. Now, Owen can enjoy rides. Alas, Zoe has grown so tall, that some of the rides are too small for her. Bob & I just pay for everything and try not to loose the kids. Owen emerged from every ride shouting, "I want to do that again!"

There's an annual BBQ contest that is taken very seriously. We sampled bbq pork sandwiches with cool coleslaw and lively vinegary sauce. We needed cold drinks after that. We gladly paid $5 for a large home made lemonade. The hog was very yummy, even for us yankees.

We tried a few more rides, and talked to the local political groups and candidates.

We even managed to vote early before we left Hillsborough.












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Owen sliding down the big ship slide!

Riding the mechanical bull was scary.



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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flying solo at the library

Last night, my kind husband brought the kids to their swimming lesson. They take swimming on Monday and Wednesday night at our neighborhood pool. I went on Monday, dragged my visiting mother along, and we sweated for over an hour. During swim lessons, nobody else is allowed in the pool.

With this nice bit of freedom, I went to the Chapel Hill library BY MYSELF for only the second time since we moved here four years ago. Going to the library solo is such a gift. I was able to browse, look up several books that I've been meaning to read, and actually read at the library. I returned all but three books, extended the three that are outstanding, paid off our overdue fees, and replaced my card with the nifty key-chain version. It's amazing what simple pleasures there are to be had.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Father's Day Brunch at Crook's Corner

In honor of Father's Day, and my visiting parents, we all went out for brunch at Crook's Corner. Crook's serves authentic southern food. Naturally, I had to take my yankee parents there.

After shrimp and grits, pancakes, bacon, and strawberries, we all had to take it easy for the afternoon.


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ice skating in the heat wave


Early June has been very hot. We've had four days over 100 degrees Celsius, and more over 90 degrees. Our tempers are flaring along with the temps outside. So, on Sunday, we were very happy when the Brownies field trip was scheduled for the local ice rink.

Owen had his first time on skates. He had lots of help and was very brave. Ms. Katie was a trouper and helped Owen around the rink twice.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Soccer warm up

Owen is learning to love soccer. His coach is a such nice guy. I have to try hard not to laugh at the kids. Coaching four year olds is like hearding cats.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Soccer Mom


Owen and Zoe have joined the local soccer team. They have caught on pretty well with the basics of the game.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Well, I am now officially a Soccer Mom. We have the house in the suburbs. We have the mini-van. We have the two soccer playing kids.


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Back from Mexico with new teeth
























Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Off to Mexico, for dental work

Tomorrow, I am flying to Phoenix, AZ. Then I will drive 200 miles to Yuma, AZ. Yuma is a border town with Mexico.

In the past, I have enjoyed visiting Mexico for several wonderful vacations. This time it's purely economic. I'm going to Mexico for dental work. I need four root canals with crowns and a couple fillings done. Sadly, given the state of my teeth, I need either a second mortgage on my house or a trip south of the border.

In North Carolina, a going rate for one root canal and crown costs around $2,000. My dental plan will pay for a small part. But, it does not cover crowns, and has a cap of $1,500 per person per year. I need at least 4, maybe a few more. That would cost me $8,000.

In Mexico, a full root canal, x-rays, build-up and crown cost $375!

The Mexican dentist that I'm going to comes highly recommended by my mother-in-law who has been to see them a couple times. She lives in AZ, and has had fairly complex work done with them. I trust her opinion. Even so, I'm nervous.

I'll update the blog with my progress. While I prefer to head south of the border for some real guacamole (and maybe a margarita or two, too!) Wish me luck and think of me under the drill, not under a sombrero.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our trip to Build a Bear Workshop

Owen was the lucky recipient of a gift card from Auntie Amy for Build a Bear Workshop. He was thrilled. He picked out a cheetah and named him Charlie.


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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Zoe cuts Owen's birthday cake

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Here's some footage of Owen after he blew out his candles. There are days when Zoe is such a little kid, and others when she shows her maturity. I think this shows how grown up she is becoming. Fittingly, this was at her little brother's party.

The kids had their faces painted at the Purim celebration at our temple. It was a nice way to celebrate Owen's birthday.

Since he was sick the previous week, and Bob became and continues to be very sick with pneumonia, it's been a tough couple weeks. Bob is still quite sick now. As a result, we could not plan a big birthday party for Owen.

When I was about six or seven, I remember the entire family was sick for my mid-January birthday more than once. I remember my mom pulling out a frozen cherry pie for one birthday. That was a big huge disappointment. It was certainly not what I wanted.

Another year when I turned ten my birthday was missed again. I brattishly insisted that my name be added to my sister Leesa's cake. Her birthday is a month after mine in February. We had the bakery lady to pipe in pink frosting: "Happy Birthday Sue-Lee!" The bakery lady asked us if the recipient was Chinese.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Owen!



As you can see, Owen is doing better. Tomorrow is his forth birtday. My sisters sent him this terrific T-shirt. Good for a Boston boy nearly born on St. Patrick's day.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Walking Pneumonia

 
Poor little Owen has been sick with walking pneumonia. He's been running high fevers and has a very bad cough. We've each been suffering with something bad for the past few weeks. In this picture, he's climbed into my sweater for some comfort and warmth. He actually looks pretty good considering.

It's nearly his birthday. We're not sure if he'll be up for a party. These germs are running rampant in the area. So, I'm hesitant to schedule anything.

It's been a rough winter with lots of challenges. Let's hope it is soon forgotten with the upcoming Spring.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

k. d. lang at UNC's Memorial Hall

Wow, that’s all I can say. Zoe and I went to the k. d. lang performance at UNC's Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill.  It was a thrilling event for me. 

 

The last time I saw her was in Boston before Zoe was born.  It’s pretty clear that k. d. lang enjoyed herself last night.  I was amused to see that she can smile while singing. She had a wonderful response from and connection with the audience.

 

The concert featured songs from her latest album, Watershed, and several from Hymns of the 49th Parallel album.  Her amazing voice, transformed Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah."  She brought tears to my eyes.

 

Zoe was very upset that she did not sing her personal favorite, "After the Gold Rush" (Neil Young).  Still, she was happy to have a night on the town with mom.

 

Memorial Hall is a beautifully-restored venue. The opening act touring with k. d. lang is a very accomplished pianist, Dustin O'Halloran.  As far as piano instrumentals go, it was excellent.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Adult Education

I am a firm believer in life-long learning. Perhaps it’s my publishing background where I collaborate with such smart authors and publishing professionals.  I try to challenge myself to try new things, and even allow myself to experiment and fail.

 

In Carrboro, we have a great art school called the Artscenter.  I’ve taken two courses and plan to take more.  Sadly, most of the classes that I am interested in are on Tuesday nights when my knitting group meets.

 

Here are the courses that I’ve signed up for this spring: 

 

2011: ADVANCED WEB WEAVING WITH DREAMWEAVER AND FIREWORKS

 

Explore advanced methods for creating Web sites using these two popular applications, with the emphasis on Dreamweaver.  Increase your familiarity with the HTML codes that underlie every web page and learn how to manipulate blocks of content through the use of common tags.  Go beyond the basics to learn how to use cascading style sheets and server-side includes to enliven your pages and easily control the look of an entire site from only a few files.  Learn how to incorporate media objects in your pages, and how to create and add graphic buttons and simple, layer-based animation.

2066: ABSOLUTE BEGINNER SEWING

 

Are you afraid of your sewing machine?  Do you try to sew but can't get past the tangle in the bobbin?  This class is even more basic than basic sewing.  Bring your sewing machine (or use ours) and learn how a sewing machine sews, all about thread, needles and much more.  You will learn how your machine sews and what to do when it doesn't work.  Turn that repair or costume project from a chore to a joy.

 

 

2021: WRITING AND DRAWING CARTOONING FOR ADULTS

 

A course for both writers and artists. Learn to write and illustrate your own stories or write and draw your own editorial cartoons, comic strips and comic books. We will explore the history and development of cartooning and learn the chemistry of humor and drama told in both words and pictures; learn how to visually design your characters so they fit their parts; caricature your favorite (or least favorite) public figures and visually editorialize your views of them; and study the direction and timing that goes into creating sequential art-from greeting cards and multi-paneled comic strips to comic books and graphic novels.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Our recent visit to Boston

A few weeks ago, I took my kids to Boston to visit my family. My dad's health is not doing well, so it was nice to see him.

My sister Marianne was very generous to buy us all tickets. We spent time with her and her boyfriend. My kids were very excited about the snow and her dogs.

We went to the aquarium together. It was hard to manage Owen there. My sister doesn't have kids, and she was surprised by my two. She offered to bring them to an orphanage. They are a handful to say the least.

We went to Tricia and Mick's house next. It was great to see them and their amazing baby Ian. Zoe had a great time playing mommy with Ian.



I left the kids with family for a night on the town. Four of us went out to the theater. It was very nice to do something adult for a change.

We took the kids on the subway. Owen loves trains so it was a special treat for him. It's amusing to me that my kids are such country bumpkins. I grew up in the city and my mom didn't drive until I was 10. She used to take us "downtown" on the bus and subway.

We went to have lunch at my friend Christine's place. She lives in the finacial district near the waterfront. Owen climbed on their sofa, tried to jump out the window, licked their windows, and nearly broke their blinds. Luckily, my kids didn't break anything. It wasn't for lack of trying. We walked to the Children's Museum. My kids were pretty rotten, and my friend who also has no kids was very tollerant. Very.

We had a family birthday party with cake and candles. The cake was amazing, from my favorite Boston bakery.

It was nice to see everyone and have a few days back home.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

 

 
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Owen's Diner

 

There's a little cute diner in Chapel Hill called Owen's 501 Diner. It's located on the 501 highway. We point it out to our Owen as we drive by. And, a few weeks ago we all went there for lunch. Now our Owen calls it "my diner." Every time we pass by it he says, "Mom, I want to go to my diner."

Some people think diners are greasy spoons. As America evolves into a place with a Subway franchise (28678 Restaurants In 86 Countries) in every strip mall, unique places like diners are few and far between. Give me a diner any day over the usual sprawl. To me, a diner is a welcome sight. You don't know what you miss until they're gone.

Recently, I was surprised to see the Englewood Diner in a movie scene. The diner used to be located in my neighborhood in Dorchester, Mass. When I worked at a local community newspaper, I used to sell ads to the owner of the diner. It was adorable. I used to visit it a couple times a year. The movie was featured in The Road to Perdition with Tom Hanks, Jude Law, and Paul Newman. While listening to the director's commentary, I was interested to learn that the Englewood Diner had been purchased on EBay for $20,000.

So, when I get a bit homesick, I can pop in the Perdition DVD and remember my favorite diner. It is nice to see the Englewood Diner forever captured on film, but I'd rather be able to have their home-made corn beef hash and poached eggs.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What is a Democrat to do?

What is a liberal, white, working class female Democrat to do?

Of course, any Democrat would be better than the current occupant of the White House. I would be delighted with Obama, thrilled with Hillary, and pleased with Edwards. It's fabulous to have three terrific top candidates. But, you have to pick one. It is a hard decision. Especially for someone like me.

Obama is very smart. I admire him. I would be so proud if America elected a black man President. I do wonder if his style has enough substance. Does it?

I read his memoir of his childhood. It was very moving. He has youth on his side. He could run again in four, eight, or twelve years. How wise is he?

Hillary is amazing. She is a woman. It's high time we have a woman. That could be reason enough for me, but there is so much more. She survived the Republican scourge and humiliating scandals. Clearly she is brave, and smart. She has wisdom. She has Bill.

A first lady normally concerns herself with writing books about dogs, or wearing nice clothes. Hillary tried to fix our health care system.

Edwards is a local. We live in the same town. As Tip O'Neill said, "All politics is local." He is a self made man. He is a champion for the working class and poor. He much like Al Gore was robbed last time.

Spoilt for choice for President?

Since today is the New Hampshire Primary, I'm getting excited about the race. One of my sisters lives in New Hampshire and we frequently compare notes. She is not very politically active, but she does vote. She has been called repeatedly for weeks. She has been invited to many political events. On the other hand, I have not been contacted by anyone.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa do us proud

Why the fate of this nation is to be decided upon by some, um, yahoos in cornfields is beyond me. Why does one state get to decide? It's just like hanging chads or the electoral college. Our country is diluting the power of the voters to actually decide.

And, we wonder why people don't bother to vote. I see people more interested in American Idol than the election. Maybe it's because they actually believe that their individual votes count.

Now, I do vote, and don't watch American Idol. So maybe I'm the exception?

All I'm asking is that you Iowans to do the right thing. I ask that you do us proud and remedy the sickness we've been under. And, I'll try to stop calling you yahoos.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Phone home

I'm not much of a phone person. I used to be, but it seems to have evaporated like my ability to congugate Latin verbs. It's not quite as bad as going to the dentist(a whole other aversion), but it's rare. So, if you are lucky enough to get a phone call from me, be grateful and kind. I probably had to talk myself into it and then push myself to do it. I blame e-mail and the internet, but it is really me.

It's been a very cold day with actual flurries. We were all delighted. Everyone left the office to look at the snow. It didn't stick but still snow is so rare an event that it stops the normal routine. It's now very cold (23 degrees!) and we're finally digging out our winter clothes.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year to all



First, we want to wish our friends and family a very Happy New Year. 2008 is going to be a great year. I'm sure of it.

We had quiet holidays spending time with the kids and resting. We snuck in some work too. We caught up with a stuff in the house. Since Bob is self-employed he has lots of trouble slowing down.

Bob worked too much and we squabbled about it. The kids alternated between being very demanding or becoming zombies by television. We rented DVDs and tried to fit in some time outside when it wasn't raining. We limit them to 1/2 hour or less a day with more on the weekends. It's just not feasible on a very wet long winter break.

We did more cooking and eating than usual. We made some treats and some traditions. We made Latkes to instill the tradition even though neither of my kids like them. We made cookies and brownies--big surprise--they do like them. I made a few experimental journeys in the kitchen. Thanks to Cooks Illustrated, I learned how to make French Onion Soup from scratch and Almost No-Knead Bread. The soup was amazing and I will make it again. The bread was still too much fuss for me. Since bakeries with good bread abound, it is better to leave bread to the professionals.

We caught up on some reading and crafting. The kids did some painting with watercolors and of course I knit. I'm catching up on several projects and trying to resist starting new ones. Even so, I started a simple Aran vest for Owen. I'm nearly done with the back. And, Zoe is really enjoying the Harry Potter books. She is deep into book five.

Bob & I celebrated the anniversary of our marriage in style with two kids in tow at a local fish restaurant. No, it was not romantic, but at least we were together. We will have many more with just the two of us. Our kids will have their own agendas. For now it's the awesome foursome.

Of course there were some missing things, first we missed all of you. And, we wished for snow. Even though we desperately need the rain here, we were sad that it didn't snow.