Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Original Maine Girl

I have to post this for my huge family of Mainer diaspora. I am mainegirll with two "l's" because another lady already claimed mainegirl. I've been checking out her blog and it turns out she is a younger, thinner, cuter, smater me with no kids.

Seriously, check out the blog. She posts some great pictures and has some interesting things to say.

scroll down

Scroll down to the last picture (the first one I posted) to read the captions in order. I need to learn to post the last pictures first when blogging...

This puppy puts up with a lot from Marcus and Bernie. Marcus teases him and Bernie hauls him around by the armpits with his body hanging down. He doesn't seem to mind. Posted by Hello

You can't see it very well in this picture, but Georgie is brushing Frodo. He loves to be brushed. What he doesn't love: being left in the laundry room at night while his new family goes upstairs to bed. He has cried for hours all three nights, though we think it was a little less last night. Posted by Hello

So far Frodo seems to have a very sweet personality. Like any new baby, he loves to be held. He's getting used to his room--the gated laundry room. Our laundry room is on the main level of our home, so he can still be near us and see what's going on when he's there. He is being litter trained so we won't have to let him our all the time. Posted by Hello

We met the breeder in the parking lot of "Tobie's," a restaurant/bakery/ice cream parlor. We had some ice cream before heading home. Frodo got lots and lots of attention from the other customers who all seemed to be at least 70 years old. We got lots of advice. At one point Marcus leaned over, looked in Frodo's face and said in a conspiratorial voice, "Hey. You're my best friend." Posted by Hello

On the way home we voted on a name for him. Some of our name ideas were: Niles, Yoshi, Frodo, Copier, and Likatung (last two were Marcus's). We quickly narrowed it down to Frodo and Yoshi. Lidia really wanted Yoshi, but the rest of us thought Frodo fit him better. L was sad about that. She hasn't read Lord of the Rings, so the name was meaningless to her. After I talked with her a few times about the character Frodo from Lord of the Rings, she felt much better. It also helped that the neighbor girl thought that was the perfect name for him. Posted by Hello

We picked him up Saturday afternoon. He is a Yorkshire Terrier / Poodle mix. The breeder lives in Duluth, but met us half way in Hinckley. He is almost 9 weeks old. It was a surprise for the children--they had no earthly idea they were getting a dog. We have video of when they first see the dog and that's when we tell them we're keeping him, but they were just stunned. They couldn't believe it. Posted by Hello

Our new baby! Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 26, 2005

YW's Camp 2005

I had the opportunity to go to Young Women's camp Friday and Saturday. The girls had been there since Tuesday. There were about 250 girls there from our stake, 8 from our ward. The 250 girls were split in 2 groups, alternating between the primitive camp and cabins. The first two nights our girls were in primitive camp with tents, and the second two nights in cabins with nice bathrooms, hot showers, kitchen, and dining hall.

Several things impressed me about this camp experience. I'd never been to girls' camp in Minnesota. These Minnesotans know how to do camp. There were many people in our stake who contributed hours of their time to make it a great experience for the girls. I had such a good feeling there. Everyone worked hard and with smiles. It made me feel proud to be a member of this stake.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Cute one of Georgie and Bernie, Nov. 2004. Posted by Hello

Lidia December 2004. Is anyone wondering why I'm not putting recent pics? I lost my digital camera right before we went to Europe. With it I lost a TON of pictures. I'm still hoping I might find it. :-( J does have some more recent pics downloaded on his work computer--I'll see if I can get those up. I can't believe how different the kids look now compared to 6 months ago! Posted by Hello

Georgie took this one of Marcus December 2004. Posted by Hello

Bernie from Christmas 2004. Posted by Hello

This is a picture from a few months ago of Georgie with a mask she made. Posted by Hello

backyard camping

My neighbor had told me she'd be camping out with her kids in the backyard Friday and we were invited to join in, but I'd forgotten about it with my hectic week of painting, swimming, gynastics, tennis lessons, the pink eye, etc. (Last week I had a first: I forgot to take Bernie to her 3-year well-child appt. Completely slipped my mind. In ten years of these appointments I had never forgotten one.) So Friday afternoon my kids see the neighbor setting up her tent. In fact, Georgie was very helpful there. The neighbor says she couldn't understand the instructions, but G could. I came out and saw my neighbor and her children, all excited about their camp out, and my poor deprived children looking on longingly. They asked if we could set up our tent too, and the neighbor said we could set up right beside them. I yawned and said, "We'll see what Dad says."

My neighbor laughed and said,"So you're basically like, 'Yeah, I don't care, as long as it doesn't involve me too much.'" She's got me pegged! J came home from work exhausted. He'd been up since 3:30 am. He was at work before 5 and didn't get home until past 6. He went upstairs and took a nap and we still didn't know if we would camp. He got up close to 7 pm and we decided to go for it. We set up the tent and the neighbor girl from the other side of our house joined us. We have a huge tent that includes two little side rooms, so the kids have fun with that. We ate lots of junk food and played Monopoly on the neighbors' new deck. The little kids exhausted themselves running in and out of the tents.

We all slept fairly well. Before midnight Bernie had left her sleeping bad to join us on our mattress. She got 1/2 of my space, so I was left with just a sliver. Georgie kept getting up to use the bathroom, then she was coughing, then she was cold and had to find another blanket. I never heard a peep out of Marcus and Lidia.

It was fun. And if we are unable to take a real camping trip this year and the kids complain too much, we can always remind them of our backyard camp out.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A few things

I have Marcus and Bernie in the tub, so I need to stay upstairs instead of going down to make dinner. I have a good view of them from here at the computer so I thought I'd take advantage and jot down a few happenings.

Georgie has been sick and has had this pretty bad cough for two weeks. We've all felt "off." Bernie has had pink eye. Yesterday afternoon I was in the middle of painting my two-story entryway. (I finished it today and the upstairs hallway, too--it looks fabulous. It was much needed, wasn't it Mum? :-)) So this friend from church calls to see if I can watch her grandson for a few hours while she did some last minute things before going out of town for her son's wedding. I surveyed my mess of paint supplies and wet walls and said, "Sure I can!" I felt very virtuous as I quickly got in a few last minute swipes of paint before the kid came over. I glanced out the window and noticed my neighbor and her children were out. "Oh, " I thought to myself, "I bet Bernie would like to play." But then I remembered that B had pink eye and was still contagious. Whoops! My friend showed up two minutes later at my front door and her grandson was very excited to play with Marcus. I explained that B had pink eye and I'd forgotten about it when I said the little boy could come over. She was very nice about it of course, but I felt terrible because she'd come all the way over to drop him off and now she'd have to go right back home with him. I'd wasted her time. I still feel bad about it.

The other night I said "goodnight" and "I love you" to Bernie. She always tries to draw that out as long as she can. "Good night, I love you, bye-bye," she called out. And then she added, "Don't be a stranger!" It really cracked me up. I don't know where she heard that. And then the other day I asked her to go get something for me--I think it was a book. Right before she handed it to me she spit on it and rubbed it in with her hand. At first I thought, "What is she doing?" And then I realized--spit shining! B is such a character. She is a mighty fine dancer. She comes up with some very original moves. I have some video of her but I need to take more.

I have more to write but will have to stop now. Things are getting out of hand in the bath tub.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Milan, Italy, 15 May 2005

Today I didn't feel well. I slept very poorly last night. This morning we left the hotel in Grasses very early since we couldn't sleep anyway. We went to Gourdon, a tiny tourist town perched on the edge of a cliff. It was stunning. None of the shops were open because it was so early, but it was a lot of fun looking at the windows. The rest of the day was spent driving to Milan. I tried to enjoy it but it was hard because I felt so tired and sick. The views around the France/Italy border were really something. Big mountains against the shoreline. The driving, however, was not conducive to a happy stomach for one prone to carsickness! Lots of tight curves, plunging views, and tunnel after tunnel. But I was impressed by the gorgeous countryside. Many houses clung for dear life to the sides of the mountains where they grow crops on terraced land.

Since it was Sunday, the streets of Milan were relatively quiet. Our hotel was near the center, so we went to see La plaza del Duomo. It includes a large, ornate cathedral with many statues. It's the third largest church in Italy, and took almost 500 years to build. I enjoyed the dinner we ate in the Mall off the plaza. Let me tell you, if we must have malls they should all look like this one! It is a beautiful, if ornate, 19th century structure with a dome, arches, statues, and frescoes. A line of statues of the Greek gods started down at me imperiously from high on the wall as I ate my delicious risotto milanese.

Grasses, France, 14 May 2005

This morning we saw the Pont du Gard, an aqueduct built by the Romans. It was very impressive and in a beautiful natural setting. The views were gorgeous. The aqueduct spans a river with steep banks and hills around. We also saw some very interesting olive trees at this site, brought over from Andalusia in the year 906.

After we saw the bridge we drove south toward the coast. The landscape changed quite dramatically. It became rocky and rugged. The flora changed too--many more cypress trees and others I don't know. I type of very tall pine with a huge canopy. I wish I had a guide to identify the trees and learn more about them. As we neared the coast there were large, almost un-real looking palms. The part of the Cote d'Azur I loved the most was the contrast between the reddish-orange cliffs, vibrant green vegetation, and blue water. The very developed part of the coast is not as interesting to me. Lots of hotels, shops, and people.

We're staying in a hotel in Grasses, the perfume capital ofthe world. We ate escargots tonight. They were a little tough. I had better escargots in Caracas. For dessert I had a lavender custard and lavender ice cream! It looked so beautiful, like a piece of artwork when they set it before me, I felt bad digging in.

Villeneuve, France, 13 May 2005

We are at a little town across the river from Avignon. We stayed at this hotel last night and are here again tonight. I really like this place. It is quiet and charming. Last night we ate at a great restaurant! It was the best meal I've had so far. Both Jorge and I ordered the same "starter," which is the first course. That was what we liked best. It was a crostini topped with very thin sauteed onions, fresh sliced tomatoes, tapenade (black olive paste), tartar of tuna, and avocado. It was one of the most delicious things I think I've ever eaten.

This morning we walked around Avignon. We toured the Papal palace, which had some beautiful artwork, the little that wasn't destroyed by Napoleon's troops during their occupancy of the palace. We then went to Arles and walked around the narrow, cobbled streets. Then we drove to St. Remy. The drive there was especially beautiful, with the gorgous plane trees that line the streets. These trees we've found all over, sometimes tall and towering, sometimes squat and crooked, depending on how they're pruned. They have funny, mottled bark.

Today was a bit too much walking for me. I got a headache.

Welcome to Kansas--Update

I've had such a busy few weeks here, I haven't had a chance to update my blog. Today I hope to finish posting my Europe journal, but first I wanted to tell what happened to my poor in-laws.

What they went through was really terrible. They didn't understand what was going on. They were especially freaked out during the interrogation. My mother-in-law said the police told her that they'd found "something" in her car, and that either she or her husband were going to have to spend the night in jail. She seriously thought that some drugs had been planted in their car by the police, like something you would see in the movies. She was terrified, but managed to keep her outward composure. I am proud of them that they were very dignified through the ordeal. They were held from 2:30 until 7 pm.

One of the policemen told my brother-in-law, a border patrol agent, that a dog had "smelled something" in their car, which was why they had to perform the search. But my father-in-law says the dogs didn't show up until later. The policemen started taking the car apart before they even looked in the luggage. In fact, there was one bag they didn't even open until my in-laws were standing in front of their car ready to go. The policemen found copies of information from a few of my husband's patents. This seemed to make them very exited. One of the policeman ran over to where my father-in-law was waiting, waved the copies in his face, and yelled histerically, "What is this? What are these papers?" My father-in-law pointed at the header and said, "Can't you read that? It says 'U.S. Patent.' These are products my son invented. I asked for copies because I am very proud of my son!" The policeman suddenly looked mortified and he walked quickly back to the car. He spoke to the other policemen and they started putting everything back in the car. They looked very ashamed of themselves, according to my in-laws. Before they left, my in-laws tried to get the names of these policemen, but they wouldn't give them. A little later, after my sister-in-law convinced them they should, my in-laws returned to the police station and insisted that they be given a list of names.

Jorge's parents' car was left with a lot of damages. These "mechanics" completely took it apart and didn't put it back together very well. They had planned on selling that car and getting a better one as soon as they returned to Mexico, but now they need to get it fixed first. They are working with an attorney from the Mexican consulate to seek compensation for the damage to their car.

I've told my husband that I don't understand how this happened or why. Drugs in the United States are moved in U.S. cars by U.S. citizens. It simply doesn't make sense that the police would think my in-laws were transporting drugs. Jorge says it is obvious from how these policemen conducted themselves that they are ignorant people who don't know their job. They saw Mexicans and they thought drugs. What I think is that they let their imaginations run a bit wild. I mean, these poor guys are policemen in Emporia, Kansas. How exciting must that be? They long for a little action, like what they see on those cool cop shows on t.v. Personally, I feel a little sorry for these guys.