Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I love this picture, even though the youngest of the kids is missing from the photo, because I think it shows their personalities so well! We had our annual holiday party with our good friends early this year because one family is quite popular and was all booked for the month of December, except for the first weekend. It ended up working out well because the weather was perfect to go to Candy Cane Court to see all the amazing lights they do each year. I won't bore you with photos of the lights-- just that picture above of the kids, at the start of our walk.

This weekend, in contrast, it was cold and rainy. I don't mind it so much for the winter. Yesterday, we mostly stayed indoors. I whipped up some salt dough, and Casey and Marcie used cookie cutters to make some new ornaments for our Christmas tree.

That's not all we did on our "lazy" Saturday. Marcie had swim lessons (it's an indoor pool, thankfully), and after swimming, we stopped by our favorite nail place. The ladies in there are always so good to Marcie, who loves getting her nails done. And they were slow. They only charged $3 for her nails-- and look at their amazing work (it's a little blurry, but that's a snow flake and a snowman on her thumbs). Yes, yes. I tipped ridiculously well.

We'd hoped to make it to our local Winter festival, where they light the big tree, offer train rides for the kids, and have a variety of live music entertainment, but the rain just didn't want to let up in the evening hours. Instead, we drove to Del Mar's Holiday of Lights. It was a conglomeration of lights all over the internal portion of the race track (we drove the outside). The kids oohed and ahed and drank hot chocolate from Starbucks while we drove slowly along the path.

Then this morning the kids got all gussied up for our special event-- How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Old Globe. Casey was a little anxious about seeing the Grinch. We'd read the story (he actually read it to me) a couple times this weekend, and we watched the cartoon TV special (purchased at Target, if you're looking), too, since that's the true story and the version the play follows. It was really a great show. The actor who played the Grinch was fantastic. And a kind family even agreed to do some "photo swaps" with us, so we managed to get a picture of the whole family together. (See below)

Then this afternoon, we headed out to watch Casey play indoor soccer. For the first time this team season, his team lost a game (to the other undefeated team), which caused Casey to cry. And it was against the team that has the player Casey used to play with every season, before we started him in a recreational league. Poor guy. But he played like a champ-- we were all especially impressed when he took a ball directly to his left eye, which definitely fazed him for a moment. But he was tough and he kept on playing. We iced it and gave him some Tylenol, and I don't think it'll bruise. But we'll know for sure in the morning.

We ended the day by building a fire in our fire place.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Marcie's Holiday Show

Well, we had a repeat performance of last year. Except she didn't stand there and cry the whole time. Instead, she chewed on her new mitten. And that was with Casey sitting next to her the whole time. Later, she said she would've sung if Casey had sung with her class. Which is, of course, ridiculous.

Here's a sample:

I admit, I didn't photo or video much-- how much can you tape of your child standing around doing nothing while everyone else is performing? . . .

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Explaining God

Casey has a long-standing tradition of playing with the family nativity set. Even though he has his own nativity set for kids (made by Fisher Price). He's gotten a little better about it with time, but not much.

This year, he and Marcie helped set up the nativity scene on the front table. Then we took out Casey's nativity scene and he arranged it right next to the grown up one. We talked about why we leave the Baby Jesus up until Christmas morning, when we place him in the manger in the scene to represent His birth. And then the kids went to bed.

The next morning, I heard Casey yell across the house: "Mom, I found God!"
When I got to the nativity scenes, Casey was holding up to statues of Joseph. He had taken the one from the family set and was comparing it to the Joseph from his Fisher Price set. Proudly, he explained to me that we had God in our family set and he had God in his set, too.

"That's not God, Casey," I said. "That's Joseph. That was Mary's husband."

"No," Casey replied. "Jesus is the Son of God. God is Jesus' father. So this has to be God."
"You're right, Casey," I said. "God is Jesus' father. But this is Joseph."
"Then where is God?" Casey asked, exasperated.

Marcie, who'd been standing by and observing our conversation, responded: "God is everywhere, Casey!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Glorious, Wondrous, Long Weekend

I haven't taken a lot of days off this year. I started to once in June. But it didn't work out. So having 4 days off in a row this week has been, well, pretty glorious.

We spent Thanksgiving with family. Eating, watching football (well, they watched football), playing mah jong and other games, and generally enjoying each other's company. We let Casey do the toast this year. He began by clearing his throat several times, followed by an "um" or two or five (sure couldn't tell his mom was a speech & debate coach from the slow start). And then, he began: "Um, my birthmom died? In a car . . ."
I cut him off at that point and reminded him that we were toasting something he's thankful for. He restarted, and this was his toast: "I'm thankful for food!" Who couldn't raise their glass to that?

And on Thanksgiving, we were risky-- we let the kids stay up until (gasp!) 10pm, knowing that it typically backfires on us and causes an even earlier wake-up than the usual 6:30 a.m. weekend wake-up calls we get. But this year it didn't. And we slept in (again, gloriously) until 7:00 a.m. the next day.

Last year we spent Black Friday at a nearby mall. We didn't get to the mall this year, but we did hit the movies. No crowds. We saw Fantastic Mr. Fox. We brought along two of Casey's best friends, and they played Indiana Jones Wii for a while afterward, while Marcie and I picked out pictures for her birthday card thank you notes.

On Saturday we woke up to rain. Again, glorious. It hadn't rained in something like 160 days days. That's insane. Even for Southern California. We headed out in the rain to a nearby bowling alley (doing recon for Casey's birthday party in January), and we played some ball. Our lane glitched, and it kept clearing the pins after the first bowl. And even with the bumpers, a 9 or 10 pound ball didn't always make it all the way down the alley without some help. But the kids still had fun:

Then today we braved the mall. And we were pleasantly surprised. We hadn't planned to go to the mall, but we had some returns and the kids practically begged. So there we were. We went to the mall last weekend, too. And caught up with Santa early this year. Marcie said hello to him but refused to take any pictures. Casey was a bit braver:

And we put up the Christmas tree early this year, too. I suppose it's not that early. I mean, Christmas is only a month away-- not even a month away.

This year flew right by me. Must faster than any year before. Jason says it's because the older we get, the smaller the percentage of our lives each year is. Maybe that's it. But it does feel, sometimes, like it's going too fast. And I need to remember to stop and enjoy it-- to tell people how grateful I am to know them, to make sure I take pictures (at least mentally), to enjoy and experience what the world has to offer. And remembering all this on Thanksgiving weekend is perfect.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Few Things I Am Thankful For . . .

  • The freedom to choose when it comes to just about everything;
  • A warm roof over my head;
  • Plenty of food to fill my belly;
  • A soft pillow and plenty of sheets and blankets to snuggle into at night;
  • The love of a good man;
  • The sound of laughter and bickering filling my car and home;
  • Good-night routines;
  • The company of a good book;
  • The option of watching television on TV or online;
  • Cuddles and hugs and small arms wrapped around me even when I don't ask the kids;
  • Fresh water to quench my thirst;
  • The health of family and loved ones;
  • Medical and dental insurance to help keep us healthy;
  • An engaging job and interesting people with whom to work.

I am truly, truly blessed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Marcie's Birthday Cakes

As you might well imagine when it comes to me, there is a saga behind each of Marcie's birthday cakes. She has two because she asked me for a Dora face, and I knew it wouldn't be enough to feed a full party of kids. So then I bought a Costco sheet cake and threw some decorations on it.

No time to write about the sagas, but here are my "masterpieces" for you to enjoy:

Monday, November 02, 2009

Ten Bullet Bio

Johnny over at So It's Come Down To This has sort of challenged me to complete a meme. It's pretty easy because it's not too long, and it's all about me. (Two great things!). To help readers new to this blog (and there sure can't be many given how terrible I've been about posting), I'm summarizing my "life story" in ten bullets.

Here goes:
  • Met (my husband) Jason when we were freshmen in high school. We were friends, but we didn't date in high school or while we were in college.
  • Taught English and Spanish at my high school alma mater right out of grad school.
  • Reconnected with Jason when I planned to set him up with a friend in 1997.
  • Engaged a year later. Married a year after that, in 1999.
  • Did the fertility treadmill and a couple months later started the domestic adoption process in 2002.
  • Son Casey was born in January 2003 during a snowstorm in Ohio. Three days after I ran a marathon in Florida. We fell in love with him (and his birth family) pretty much immediately.
  • Started law school in August 2003. Because I'm crazy. Finalized Casey's adoption the next month.
  • Gave up on fertility drugs for good in 2005 and headed for China. Adopted Marcie my last year of law school, in 2006.
  • Began paperwork for #3 even before Marcie's adoption was finalized in our home state (in July 2007).
  • Got lucky and started a job as a big fancy lawyer.

That's my life in a nutshell. (But boy could I embellish if the bullets didn't limit me-- I suppose that's the point.)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Good-bye October

October was a relatively quiet month. It started with a birthday celebration for my brother. Let's not talk about how old he is now. I'll just say he's my younger brother, and I'd prefer not to think about his age, mainly because I consider myself frozen at that age. In any event, we were treated to the Pope room at Buca di Beppo. And I caught this great shot of Casey and his cousin Joey:

We also headed off to a local pumpkin patch relatively early in the month this year because of soccer and church commitments. We've traditionally used our family photo at the pumpkin patch on our Christmas card, but Marcie got brave (and got her face painted), so we probably won't this year. Still, it's not a bad photo of us:

We were invited to a fantastic bicycle birthday party in October. The kids made name plates and rode in a bike parade. One of the crazy things about October in Southern California is that you just never know if it will be freezing or we'll get a heat wave. Last week, it was in the mid-60s one day and then it hit almost 80 degrees the next. We got lucky most weekends, and that birthday party weekend was one of them. This is me and Casey getting goofy at the party (and it's not lost on me that I'm pretty lucky that Casey isn't embarrassed by me already, let alone that he will still act silly with me in public):

Casey picked out his Halloween costume weeks (and maybe months) ago. Marcie was less settled. At first she wanted to be a zebra. Eventually, though, she settled on a panda. She was adamant, though, that she did not want to be Kung Fu Panda because she wanted to be a girl panda. Finding a regular panda costume proved to be difficult. And taught me not to trust the pictures on the ads. Because the picture was of a regular panda costume. But what we got was a Kung Fu Panda costume. Which we modified by giving the panda a skirt to cover up the shorts and make it truly girly. I must admit, I was especially proud of Marcie when I arrived at her school's annual Halloween parade to discover that she was the only girl in her class who did not dress as a princess of some kind or as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Don't get me wrong- if Marcie had wanted to be a princess, I would not have fought her. It's her costume after all. But I felt a little bit proud that Marcie was more creative than that (and I'm sure it doesn't hurt that she's got a big brother for a role model around).
Here's me with Marcie at her class Halloween parade:

And here is Indiana Casey . . . I mean Indiana Jones and Marcie as a panda the weekend before Halloween, when we took them to a Parents' Night Out costume party (while we went to dinner and go-kart racing):

When the big day finally came (and it was a big deal- Casey counted down the days all week), Marcie decided she didn't want to wear her hood. Which was fine, because it turned out it was a pretty warm night. So we painted her face like a panda to match the costume instead. Jason and his dad took the kids trick-or-treating, and they had a blast. Here they are, just a little before the sun set:

Today, of course, marks All Saints' Day. Both kids dressed up as St. Patrick for church. I dressed as St. Clare, sporting my mother superior nun costume, which I used for a work costume contest (and won with!). And now these costumes reside in our costume box, where I hope they get plenty of wear and tear over the next 12 months.
As a side note, Casey is getting quite creative. Today, he stood at the front window and narrated what he saw across the street (a gentlemen visiting the girls who live there). The funny thing was that he used voices for the guy and what he anticipated the girls would say. And the window was open, so not only did Jason and I get a good chuckle, but I'm pretty sure the guy could hear the whole thing-- and laugh along with us, too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shameless Promotional Post: Meetings at the Metaphor Cafe

Before I was a lawyer I was a teacher.
I loved teaching.
I felt called to it.
I was passionate about it.
I could hardly imagine ever doing anything else.
And I was pretty decent at it.
How I got from teaching to lawyering isn't a particularly long story.
Or a very interesting one.
I miss teaching some days.
But not every day.

And I remain inspired by those who taught me and those I taught with. One man in particular. He's an award-winning, National Board Certified English teacher in San Diego. He is beloved by his students. And he just finished his (first) book. I read the original draft, but I haven't read it in final form yet. I just bought it, though. And you should, too.

It's called Meetings at the Metaphor Cafe.
The coming-of-age story is told by four high school students contemplating what it's like to live in post 9-11 America. Maddie worries for her father, whose been deployed to the Middle East. Mickey is afraid to tell his parents that he does not share the dream they have for his future. Rhia is reeling from her father's decision to abandon her family without warning. And Pari must face the difficulties of living as a Muslim woman in America. Brought together by their English teacher, Mr. Buscotti, these four teens gather at the Metaphor Cafe, where they learn from each other that as long as they keep their minds open and their eyes focused on their True North, they will never be lost.
You can buy a copy of the book here (and support one of my all-time favorite teachers and mentors):
Oh, I forgot to tell you his name. Robert "Bob" Pacilio.
And please, spread the word . . .

Monday, September 21, 2009


Casey's Indiana Jones Halloween costume arrived in the mail today.
It's pretty cheaply made (IMHO). But he doesn't care. He loves it.
He put it on immediately.

In fact, he's sleeping in it now.

He cracks me up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

They Really Can Swim

Our summer swim experiment was a success, by the way.

Casey, who'd worked his way through five previous swim program/schools and was terrified of any water over 3 feet deep can now swim. In 8-foot-deep water. By himself. After jumping in the pool. Even if no adults are in the pool with him.

Marcie still needs a grown up in the water, but she, too, loves jumping in, and can swim pretty far without even taking a breath.

I admit it. We're impressed. With the kids, too-- but especially with their swim teacher.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Casey and Marcie participate in far more verbal jousting than I'd like. Not particularly intellectual conversations, of course (they're only 6 and 3, after all). It's irritating none the less.

Here are a couple samples of typical "discussions" I hear when I drive them to school in the morning:

Casey: Marcie, I'm older than you are, so I'm in first grade and you're not.
Marcie: I'm old, too. I'm in pre-K.
Casey: No you're not. You're not old. I'm just old. You're young. You're like a baby.
Marcie: No I'm not. I'm a big girl. I'm big like you. I'm not a baby.
Casey: Yes you are. You're a baby. I'm just big.
Marcie: (now whining) I'm not a baby. I'm big. I'm a big girl. MO-O-O-OM, Casey says I'm a baby, but I'm not a baby, I'm a big girl.

Casey: Marcie I have brown hair, like Mommy. You have black hair.
Marcie: No I don't. I have brown hair.
Casey: Nuh uh. It's dark. It's black, not brown.
Marcie: I have brown hair Ca-sey. I'm telling.
Casey: Then I'm just not going to invite you to my birthday party.
Marcie: Yes. I want to go to your birthday party.
Casey: No. You're just not invited.


I never said these were intellectual conversations. Mind you, no one's birthday is even for another couple months, and they discuss these imaginary parties that one or other is or is not invited to all the time.

It's not the kind of bickering to which I can just respond by telling them to work it out or I'll take away whatever it is they're fighting over. I'm not sure what it is they're fighting over. And though Casey started these two example-arguments, Marcie starts her fair share of them, too.

I'm not sure what to do about it. No, I haven't read Siblings Without Rivalry. I expected bickering. I just didn't expect it to irritate me so much. At home when they argue like that, I just separate them. And they pretty much don't do it in public. But stick them in a car together and it's a different story.

They're so competitive with each other. I don't know if it's something I've fostered. Or even if it's a bad thing. Maybe they're just figuring out their relationship. Whatever they're doing, it's irritating when I'm driving. (And music doesn't drown it out- believe me, I've tried.) Do you think they'll ever grow out of it?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Adoption News

We haven't actually posted about the adoption in a while. Not because it's stalled. Or forgotten. It's just a very. long. wait. Very long.

Our log-in-date was October 9, 2007. Which means we'll have officially been waiting for two full years come next month. We waited 6 months for Casey. 12 months for Marcie. And even if the trend were simply to double the wait time for each additional child, we'd at least be getting a referral in another month. But that's not the case. In fact, recent "predictions" put us getting a referral in 2015.

When I see numbers like that, I wonder why anyone would want to adopt from China. Since you can't submit your paperwork until you're 30, it means that you'd be getting your child at 37. Of course, as an almost-37-year-old myself, it's not that I think that 37 is too old. It's just not that young, either.

So who knows what we'll do. But for now, we're still standing in line.
We actually renewed our I-171H last spring. It was set to expire in March 2009. Because we knew we'd be waiting more than another 18 months, we had the option of letting the paperwork expire and then just updating everything, under the new Hague rules, when our turn gets closer. But it seems easier to just keep things current, so that's what we've opted for. We had to do additional parenting/international adoption classes to meet our homestudy agency's Hague requirements, but we're still filed under the old I-600A regime, which will expire again in another year.

Renewing the I-600A was a little bit confusing because our local USCIS office has changed how it does things but directing people to different office based alphabetically. Using Jason's last name, it would have meant sending us as far south in the county as possible. But because we filed under my full last name (my maiden name and my married name), we kept our "central" location, which is a couple blocks from my office. We filled out the paperwork, wrote a letter, met with our homestudy agency to get the updated homestudy, and walked in all the paperwork. They gave us a new fingerprint form, and once we completed it and turned it in, they processed the new I-600A. A little time consuming, but nothing too painful. And because we were "grandfathered" in and this is our first extension, we even got a waiver on the renewal fee.

In other news, it appears that our paperwork has finally made it through the review room in China. We didn't get any questions, so I think we're in the clear. On the one hand, I'm a little disturbed that China is making decisions on information two years old-- which will be somewhere around 5 years old when we ultimately adopt. On the other hand, I'm grateful we don't have to update it because it's a super big hassle. And the United States requires us to stay current on the information with the State every 18 months, so it's not like we can have a major life change that isn't tracked.

We don't talk much about the China adoption anymore. It just seems so distant, it's easier not to dwell on it. The kids understand it, vaguely, but it's really not worth emphasizing. Some days I think that we're just meant to be a family of four, and I'm okay with that. But deep down, I just don't feel like we're "done" yet. So we wait. And wait. And wait.

Worms and Trojans

I haven't posted in almost a month. And it's the fault of technology. Truly.
See, a while ago, Casey was playing a Cars game on my computer. A children's game.

But, as happens from time to time, he either clicked something or a pop-up window appeared that he clicked. And shazam, my computer got infected. Despite the fact that I do have some sort of virus protection software. Or thought I did.

Anyway, my computer was running irritatingly sluggishly, so I mentioned my frustrations about 3 million times to Jason. Who finally pushed me aside to take a look (against my initial protests). Turned out there were something like 300 worms or trojan horses or some other such viruses on my computer.

So we wiped it. Wiped the hard drive, eliminated everything (thankfully I'd just recently backed up all my pictures onto CD) and reinstalled a newer operating system. But on the newer operating system, everything is GIANT. Even at its smallest resolution. And I have a very small screen. (Like 10" or 12" or something.) This made doing work on my laptop-- or doing anything-- a frustrating experience.

Add to that the fact that I couldn't find my power chargers for either of my point-and-shoot cameras and, well, forget it. It was just easier not to turn on the computer at all. Which is what's been going on. My nephews came for a visit last week and I don't have a single picture of it. (Thankfully, I was able to borrow Jason's camera to take some photos, and I do have a couple shots of Casey's first day of first grade in August.)

Well, this morning I found the charger. Sitting on the shelf-- literally in front of my face-- right where it's supposed to be. And then I mentioned the irritating resolution to Jason, who confirmed that I'd done nothing wrong. So now we're looking for updates so I can get the screen resolution smaller than 1024 x 728. (After all, what's the point of having laser eye surgery if you can't take full advantage of the 20-15 vision?)

So you can look forward to posts again (I know, you've all been just dying in anticipation of my posts!). In fact, today is Casey's first outdoor soccer game. And I'll be armed with a charged-up camera. . .

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

104 Days of Summer

I actually have no idea how many days of summer break there are. Phineas and Ferb say there are 104, and that school comes along and interrupts it. Oh, how I relate.

This summer was the shortest. summer. ever.

I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because we did little resting and relaxing? Maybe it's because time passes more quickly as we get older? Whatever the reason, I can hardly believe Casey's first day of first grade is this Thursday.

His school supplies are all purchased. We've poured over his class list. His teacher's two sons are actually two of the before/after school care staff members, so we think that bodes well. About 1/4 of his new class is comprised of kids from last year's class. And we know a hand full of others through the neighborhood or before/after school care, or for some other reason.

Tonight at dinner, Jason was telling Casey how he'd be at his elementary school until he was 11, then he'd go to the middle school next door-- and then we'd decide what to do about high school when the time comes. (The high school Jason and I graduated from is an open-enrollment school and Casey's aunt teaches there. So even though it's not our "neighborhood" school, we might consider it. Who knows what life will be like in another 8 years, though-- so, we'll see.)

Then Jason told Casey how the friends he's making now will probably be his friends for a very. long. time. To support Jason's point, I piped up. "Casey, do you know who my oldest friend is?"

Casey played right along: "Who?"

"His name is J____ P_____, and I met him on the first day of first grade, on the swings. We've been friends ever since."

"Where is he?" Casey demanded.

"In New Mexico. He lives in New Mexico."

Casey screeched in laughter and delight: "He can't live there. You can't live on another planet!" He turned to Jason incredulously. "PLUTO! You can't live on Pluto!"

"Not Pluto, Casey. New Mexico. It's a state."

But the moment was gone. He has no idea that we were trying to explain to him that the relationships he forges now may very well last him a life time and shape the person he becomes. I hope he's as lucky as I was. I have remained in touch with a couple of my elementary school friends (and not just through Facebook- I have in-person interactions with a couple of them!). I hope his experience will be as positive as mine, that his friends will stand by him. That they will experience adventures together, learn from each other-- rely on each other. I can't believe he's in first grade already. Wow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Own Personal Zoo

Sometimes it feels like I live in the zoo.
No, really.
I got home from work early tonight- almost 45 minutes early. So I beat the kids home. I was shocked at the state of the TV room. Random shoes tossed about. Pillows askew. Toys strewn across the floor. And the sad thing about it is that I was the last one out the door this morning, which means it was exactly as I'd left it. No secret gnomes cleaned while I was away at work today.

The kids were so happy to see me, plopped on the couch, that Marcie did a head-dive into my lap and Casey immediately started fake-karate-chopping me as he danced across the room throwing karate-like punches.

But nothing tops their reaction when I said they could watch an episode of Phineas and Ferb. They love that show. They don't exactly know all the words to the opening, but they sing at the top of their lungs anyway. While mimicking the actions of the cartoon characters on the TV screen. It's hilarious. It's crazy. And I love it.

If I could just find my battery charger, I'd make you smile with a video of it. Alas, my charger must be hidden in the piles they occupy our computer room. Another space that's exactly as I've left it. Perhaps my zoo enclosure is my own fault and the animals, uh, I mean kids, aren't really to blame at all. . ..

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Caught- Chocolate-Chip Handed

This past week was Casey's last at summer "camp." (He didn't go to camp- he attended our local public school's summer ESS (Extended School Services) program, which was fantastic.) As a thank you to the staff, I wanted to send Casey in with fruit this week. Stuff they could enjoy at work or take home. The timing had to be right- because they already had an ice cream social, a trip to the movies and pool, and a field trip to the beach planned on three of the days.

So I called our local Edible Arrangements store. They deliver, but their business hours were only 8 to 5. And it's too hard to explain where to deliver on an elementary school campus during the summer. Especially when the location doesn't really have a room number.

So I went to Plan B. There's a local pizza place that makes amazing "homemade" chocolate chip cookies. Seriously. They are incredible. Way better than whatever break-and-bake I'd probably spend three or four hours making. So I bought some. They gave them to us on a restaurant-looking tray, and Casey and I transferred them into those disposable Tupperware containers, which we then decorated the tops of with thank you notes.

A couple days later, as I was dropping off Casey for his last day, one of the staff members cornered me, in front of the lead coordinator of the program. "You have to tell us your secret," she practically begged.

I tried to change the subject, "They're really good, aren't they?"

"Yes! What's your secret?" she implored me to share. . .

Hmm. What to do? Lie? Tell her it's a family secret? Feign ignorance (I just add extra chocolate chips to the regular Tollhouse recipe)?

Nah. I just couldn't look at these people who care for my son day in and day out and lie.

So I told the truth. I'd thought about baking, but I knew this great place to buy them, and I figured they'd enjoy something I bought that was delicious more than something I'd spent hours and hours on that was just so-so.

I think they were disappointed.

I hope it doesn't change the taste for them. We really did pick them out with the very best intentions. They really are good cookies.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I've been secretly wondering when Marcie's personality would become apparent to me. That's not to say she hasn't had a personality all her own up until now. She's quite aware. And articulate. She isn't afraid to assert her own thoughts, ideas, wishes into conversations with us.

Marcie is excruciatingly clingy and shy around people she doesn't know. I think it used to be that she really was a little frightened by strangers. But now I think it's just for show. Like at the pool, how she only starts squawking and carrying on if she notices I'm watching her through the observation glass. But when I'm not there, she's this crazy dream student who follows directions and swims. Or like how she endears herself to my parents when I'm not around, but the minute I walk in the door, she buries her face in my shoulder and refuses to give them kisses good-bye. In other words, it's a show.

But last week, I got to see the real Marcie. The one I don't usually get to see because she acts differently around me. (I'm having flashbacks to conversations with high school juniors in American Literature, discussing Hawthorne and Salinger about how -and when- we learn to wear masks to cover our true selves- ugh!) It was . . . well, I guess enlightening is the word. I've heard that she can be bossy. And I've heard that she can be persuasive among her peers. But I've never actually seen it.

Then, last weekend, I took her to a birthday party. Marcie was like a little ringleader. "Come on, guys!" she yelled. Let's play in the bouncy. Or, "Come with me, D___. I have to go to the bathroom, you can help me find it." Or, "Let's go get a lollipop at the table over there." And after her toddled along a gaggle of other little three-year-old and four-year-old girls. At one point in time, I caught her sitting at the top of the bouncy-house slide, with her legs blocking the entry to the slide down. She was requiring each passing preschooler to give her and her friend D__ a high five before lifting her leg-gate and smiling and giggling as they flew down the slope.

She knew right where she wanted to sit for the cake (across from the birthday girl, where she could see her). And she waited patiently for her cake, which she devoured in like three seconds (and said thank you to the cake-giver). When it was time to leave, she didn't just scuttle out the door. Oh, no. She announced that she was leaving. "Guys! Guys! I have to go now. I'm going home with D___ (who was coming over for dinner)." She wanted to make sure everyone knew it.

This must be what she's like at school. Not unlike her older brother, Marcie (secretly?) likes being the center of attention. She may be a little more coy about it, but Marcie is a bit of a ring-leader. I'm glad, actually. As long as she uses her people skills for good and not evil. Seriously, I'm not expecting a life of lollipops and rainbows with her. I mean, I was a teenager myself once. But I feel like she's off to a good start. And now I just have to help her keep her self-confidence right where it is now.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Headaches and Tummyaches and Earaches, Oh My

Casey came down with a fever last Tuesday. Eight days ago. It was really just at night. Wednesday morning, no fever. But by Wednesday night, 102.4 (or something).
Then Thursday, I stayed home with him. He was listless. His tummy hurt. His head hurt.

Lucky for me, Casey is super easy when he's sick. He just wants to lounge around and watch movies and play video games. Come to think of it, that's what he's like healthy, too. Regardless, it makes working from home very easy.

But Thursday night he wasn't better.
And Friday morning, another fever.

Off to the doctor, we went. She assured me it was not the flu. His ears were clear. Lots of rest. Lots of fluids. I was doing the right thing. Back-up care sent a nurse to stay with him Friday.

Saturday, Casey stayed home while his sister went swimming. And he lounged. He didn't really have a fever Saturday-- around 100 (which is so. . . hard to determine when you have a kid who runs warm).

Sunday morning, he seemed like a new kid. Off to the zoo we went.

But by Sunday night, he had a slight fever again. Into a tepid shower. Tylenol. And off to bed.

No fever on Monday- and he said he wanted to go to school. By early afternoon, he was exhausted. Monday night, another low grade fever.

Today, we returned him to the doctor. He looks like he's lost 5% of his body weight. Actually, I'm sure he has-- that would only be like 2 1/2 pounds.

Anyway, long story short-- ear infection. Lungs are not totally clear.
At least the doctor was a little apologetic (how did she miss this on Friday?).

Lucky for me, my parents are in town this week and offered (!) to keep Casey home with them. So home he'll stay again tomorrow. But I hope he's better by Friday. His camp is going to the circus.

Poor guy. I hate to see him so tired. And he can't hear out of his left ear at all.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Today we took my sister and brother in law with us to the zoo to see the new Elephant Odyssey exhibit. Jason brought along his anniversary present- a new Nikon D60. I have to admit, it takes pretty nice pictures. Check us out:

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Yesterday we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.

In many ways, ten just isn't that big of a deal.

But in other ways, ten years is no small thing. A lot can happen in ten years. For instance, in the last ten years, we:

  • bought two homes and sold one
  • bought four cars
  • worked eight regular, full-time jobs between the two of us
  • lost three pets to doggy and kitty heaven (so to speak)
  • went through at least 4 laptops between the two of us
  • replaced two sets of fences
  • laid down sod in four yards
  • installed two backyard patios and one front yard patio
  • replaced flooring in our homes three times
  • installed nine ceiling fans
  • added to our family through domestic, open adoption
  • added to our family through international adoption
  • worried about sick family and friends
  • went to the hospital three times (and not just for the kids!)
  • visited more than ten U.S. cities and two other countries together (and not for work)
  • read the Harry Potter and Twilight series books and compared notes
  • climbed the Great Wall of China, swam with sea turtles in Hawaii, and hiked to a waterfall in Mexico

We've certainly had individual accomplishments, too. But even those accomplishments are the result of teamwork. Recently, I was being introduced at an event, and they were describing how I arrived at lawyering. The person introducing me asked how I managed to work, go to law school at night, have a preschooler at home, and adopt a child from China-- and still perform so well. Without hesitation, I replied: "I have an amazing husband." She was shocked-- because no one sees the person in the shadow. But it's true. I could never have run a marathon or three half marathons, or completed law school, or survived my first year as an attorney without Jason. Someone is there, behind the scenes, giving me pep talks, reminding me why I'm doing it, building me up. Every day.

I hesitate to jinx myself, but our lives have been very blessed. We live in a modest home, in a nice San Diego suburb. We (currently) are employed. We have two beautiful children, who fill our home (and our hearts) with laughter and love (and tantrums and whining). We know the love of extraordinary people whose friendship we value. And we have each other.

If you'd asked me ten years ago where I thought I'd be right now, I would not have guessed most of my life. I wouldn't have pegged the job change. I wouldn't have guessed we'd be so lucky to have Casey and Marcie because of the love and generosity of their first mothers. But one thing I knew then is that in ten years I'd still be married to Jason. He is my rock.

Here we are, on the beach where we first played as teenagers twenty years ago, renewing our wedding vows yesterday:

I actually didn't think to get a picture of the two of us, smiling at the camera. Here's the closest thing I've got:

Monday, July 27, 2009


Casey has had Thomas trains on his walls since he was two. I've thought about removing them (they're those fantastic peel and stick wall stickers), but I was never sure what to replace them with because his interests, since trains, has changed often and quickly. With Marcie, going with the Hello Kitty motif was a pretty easy decision (the other option was Dora- who I have no problem with but, like I said, Hello Kitty was a pretty easy choice). But with Casey-- well, it's just hard to keep up with all the super heroes and action starts. And whatever else he's into. One week it's Mario Brothers. The next it's Bakugons. And then Indiana Jones. You get the point.

So here's what we (finally) came up with:

The entry to the room

Above the dresser

In the corner

over the bed (you can see a little Thomas on the valance). Further down the same wall is Spider Man and Transformers.

I mentioned in the last post that I thought the walls were too busy. The Transformers freak me out a little. But he loves it. He loves his super-hero, action-packed walls. And they aren't permanent, so it's easy to remove (and replace) them.

Please ignore all the clutter in the photos. It's embarrassing, but, well, who am I kidding? I'm a pile-maker, a packrat-- a clutter bug. It's not good. I'm working on it. And hoping it's a habit my kids don't pick up.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Marcie's New Look

Today I'm trying something new.
I'm going to see if I can upload photos and text to the blog from my gmail account.
Last week, Casey redecorated his room (more coming on this soon).  He didn't want to share any of his wall stickers, but he had too many for his own room (IMHO; he'd disagree I'm sure), so eventually he relented and agreed to share.  As long as he could help her decorate.
Their efforts turned the pretty, serene Hello Kitty motif that's been occupying Marcie's walls for a few months into something--- well, less pretty and serene (IMHO; they'd disagree I'm sure).
Hopefully the pictures show up and you'll see what I'm talking about.
The third photo is one of my favorite pieces of art. We really should get it framed (and heck, maybe I will with the Michael's 60% off sale next week).  It's a finger-painting she did last year in preschool.  When the teacher asked her what Marcie painted, Marcie answered truthfully.  And, to her credit, the teacher wrote down exactly what Marcie said:  "I painted nothing."  Cracks me up every time I see it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


This summer, instead of soccer or baseball or basketball or gymnastics or whatever-else-the-kids-might-be-interested-in, we made an executive decision. This summer they would learn to swim.

We both grew up in homes with swimming pools. I've been a pretty strong swimmer since the summer I was five. That summer, we had moved into a new home in San Diego and joined the local pool. (Don't be too impressed- it wasn't like a country club pool or anything. No restaurant or beverage service. It was just a pool you could join for the season.) My older brother, who was 8, dared me to walk all the way to the number 3 painted on the side of the pool, while in the water. I didn't know it meant 3 feet. I didn't know I wasn't 3 feet tall yet. Or if I was, I barely was-- because to "walk" that deep meant to go under the water. Which I did.

And then I panicked.

And then the lifeguard jumped in an pulled me out.

I remember sitting on a lounge chair, with a towel covering my head and face afterward. My mom had her arm around me. I was embarrassed. I couldn't believe I'd just had a lifeguard pull me out of the pool. Even at 5 I knew that was embarrassing. So I made my mom promise to get me swim lessons. Which, of course, she did. And before the end of the summer, I was swimming.

So I just assumed that's how it worked with all kids.

Well, we all know that assuming isn't wise.

Casey has been in swim lessons since he was 6 or 7 months old. I'm not exaggerating. Not even a little. But he still wasn't swimming. AND he was terrified of the pool that went deeper than 3 feet. AND he was terrified of swim lessons. Last year, he worked himself into a fever any time he knew he had lessons. Literally. We went to the doctor because we couldn't figure out why or how he spiked a fever only on Tuesdays and Thursdays after nap at school.

So we decided to go somewhere new this time. And indoor pool. 90 degree water. Near our house. Lessons without parents. Twice a week. Kids in groups of three. When we signed up, they asked where we'd had lessons. We listed all the places: city pool, local Y, local gym, fancy pants swim school where everyone else's kids learn to swim very young. So the list went. They instructor's eyes grew (just a tiny bit) wide. He wanted to know what went wrong.

It wasn't the schools though (except the Y- those guys once commented that they were going to just chuck the kids in the deep end, and that was the end of it for Casey. He didn't understand- or care- that they were kidding). It was the incidents. The first time, Casey fell in the pool at a party. The second time, he was pushed in. Ever since, at pool parties, Casey prefers to hang out in the "little pool." You might know it as the spa.

Anyway, long story short, Casey is swimming. For real.
He's not comfortable doing it without an adult right next to him.
He still "panic" swims by flailing his arms a bit.
He tends to gasp for air instead of breathing.
But, by George, he really is swimming. He can swim in circles. He can jump in and swim. He can swim to the bottom of the 3 foot section and find a ring.

They told us not to expect miracles in this first, 6-week session. But it's only been 4 weeks so far, and he has amazed us all.

Now if we could just get Marcie to stop calling out for me when she should be swimming, we'd be all set.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Congratulations to our dear friends, or What Does It Feel Like to Adopt a Child?

We have very good friends who have been waiting a while for their daughter from China. They turned in their paperwork a little over two years ago, and were delighted to receive a referral in late June (almost exactly 3 years after we learned about Marcie!).

They leave on Friday for China. With their four-year-old son. Our kids are, admittedly, a little jealous. They'll get to go to China, too. Just not this summer.

In the meantime, we've been reveling in the excitement of Lila's referral and pending arrival. Watching my friend Grace go through the experience has reminded me a little of what it was like, and it got me ruminating the other day about how foreign the concept of a sudden "birth" in the family must seem to some people. Here's what I came up with:

I don't know what it feels like, emotionally, to give birth. Do new moms feel an overwhelming love for this child? Or does the love slowly develop over the course of the pregnancy, and you love him before you meet him? Are you stunned and overwhelmed, and you know that you have great things in store together, and so you love him at birth, in anticipation of really getting to know him?

I don't know that you can define the moment you first love your child. Really love him. And I don't you have to give birth to love a child at the moment he is born. Otherwise, we would say that fathers don't love their children from birth. But we know they do- and probably even before that.

And so I think it is with adoption. You don't really have the months of living with becoming a parent. Yes, you wait a long, long time. There is a lot of paperwork. And even after you see the pictures and learn about your child's daily routine, you still must wait to meet her. Some adoptive parents say they love their child the moment they see her. Maybe that's true. But I don't think it has to be that way. And I don't think it's that way for a lot of people. I remember the day after we met our girls in China. I was sitting in the bank waiting to give our orphanage donation. Only two mothers were there (all the rest were dads). The other woman was a single mom, in China alone with her new daughter. I could see the look on her face, the almost-vacant stare of total fear in her eyes. So I started talking to her. (I'm paraphrasing below, of course- it was several years ago, now.)

"There's no right way to do this, you know," I told her. "Love doesn't have to be an immediate, intense, all-consuming feeling. Sometimes it comes slowly."

She looked at me, a little startled. And I knew it wasn't my business, but I couldn't help myself. "When we adopted our son, the adoption counselors told us we might not love him right away, but that we had to go through the motions, that the love would come. It's not that you don't love them right away, though. I think you're just in shock at first."

There was a long silence, and then she finally spoke. "I feel terrible," she admitted. "I have this beautiful daughter, who I've been waiting for for so long. But all I can think about is my cats. It sounds awful. But I miss them."

It's weird how we cope with these sorts of events. I knew Marcie was meant to be mine from the moment I saw her picture. But once I got her and held her in my arms, I immediately missed Casey more than anything in the world. I knew he was safe at home, and in my head I felt like I should be the happiest woman on earth. But a part of me was in shock. With Casey, who was already 3 1/2 by then, I knew what to expect, even if it wasn't always easy to parent him-- and I loved him. But Marcie was an introduction to the total unknown. And as ready as I was, and as happy as I was, I was still a little freaked out.

Love comes in all forms. Sometimes it's immediate and overwhelming. Sometimes it sneaks up on you, suddenly. And sometimes it takes a while to grow. But the important thing is that you're open to it, and that the love endures. And that we acknowledge that whatever kind of love we feel for our children, it's okay.

That's what becoming an adoptive parent means. It's probably what being a parent means, generally, too. There's just, ironically, less time to emotionally prepare for this child who is yours already and soon joining your family. Less time to grow into it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I have a lot to say lately. Just haven't felt like getting online to say it.
But today I. Am. Furious.

Last night my local television news station (which I pretty much never watch and probably never again will) reported on the deal reached in the ongoing California budget talks. The reporters explained that a deal had been reached. That no taxes had been raised.

I quietly thought about what that really means. I thought about the tax this budget crisis is charging my kids. Their future. Our future.

Then the reporter went on. There would be borrowing from local governments. There would be cuts in social services. But education would be spared. I was surprised. Pleasantly so. I called my sister-in-law this morning and told her what I'd heard. She's one of the pink-slipped teachers, waiting to learn if she'll be re-hired for the fall. This was good news for her. I thought.

Then I saw this on NPR:

Although the cuts will prove painful, Schwarzenegger tried to put the best face
on the cuts, saying the money taken from education "will get fully refunded" and
that the budget would prove "more efficient" as a result of the tightening.

Huh? Money. taken. from. education.
Again? (You see, I have a long memory when it comes to stealing money from kids-- this isn't the Governor's first time "borrowing" from education.)

And then the truth (also from NPR):
The agreement
calls for no new taxes and $15 billion in cuts, with the remainder of the
shortfall to be closed by borrowing from local governments and one-time
accounting measures. Education took the biggest hit, with $6 billion in cuts to
K-12 schools — money state officials have promised to reimburse when the state's
fiscal health recovers. Another $2.8 billion will be cut from state colleges and

Call it what you will. We have put our kids at risk. Again. In the name of not raising taxes. But it's all semantics. You say a $6 billion cut to public schools is a spending cut. I call it a tax on education. I call it increased class sizes. I call it fewer classroom days. I call it less money for special education and general education. I call it less opportunity for growth and enrichment. I call it a tax on children.

See Dick. See Jane.

I had this t-shirt in high school. It read:

See Dick drink.
See Dick drive.
See Jane die.
Don't be a Dick.

I was reminded of it the last night. Tuesdays are bike day at school. The kids at Casey's summer program can bring their bikes and ride them around. There is, as you might imagine, a whole saga around getting Casey the right bike so he could share this experience (which resulted in us buying Casey a new bike because the one he got for Christmas is just too much bike and also resulted in us buying Marcie a new bike to be fair). He was thrilled to bring it to school last week. Thrilled.

We'd gone to the park and practiced. And even though it still has training wheels, Casey had been apprehensive. So we just figured one step at a time. I'd been scoping it out. Lots of kids still had training wheels at school.

Then, this week, the night before bike-riding day, Casey announced that he just didn't want to bring his bike. I told him I'd bring it and leave it, just in case he changed his mind. "No, thanks, Mom," he said. "C_____ said, 'Your bike has four wheels last week and laughed at me.'"

"Well, your bike does have four wheels, Casey," I said. "But that's okay, you know. What do you think you could say to C____ if he tries to make fun of you tomorrow?" (This strategy does not work so well with a 6-year old lamenting the teasing of a fellow-six or seven year old. I know. But I think it's good to go through the motions of attempting to use these problem-solving skills so that when he can negotiate these situations on his own, he has the tools to.) Casey came up with nothing.

Jason, sitting at the table with us, says, "I know what to tell him, Casey. Tell him he's being a Dick. Tell him: 'Don't be a dick, C____." I almost choked with laughter when he said it. But I wasn't quite sure he was kidding.

So I said, "Nah. Just tell him four wheels is better than four eyes." Gosh, I crack myself up. I don't even know if C____ wears glasses. And since Jason and I both have had laser eye surgery, we're not really ones to talk.

Of course, we didn't mean it. Of course, we told Casey he can't call anyone at school a dick. (And he doesn't even know what it means, thankfully.) Of course we told Casey that the word was not a nice word and that he would get in trouble if he used it at school. Of course we told Casey that he should tell C_____ to mind his own business-- and we pumped up Casey by telling him:
  1. race cars have four wheels
  2. monster trucks have four wheels
  3. when he's ready to ride his bike on two wheels, we will be there to help him

He was in good spirits when he left for school this morning, with his bike. He put on his helmet and rode it onto campus. I can't wait to hear how his day went. . .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Open Houses

Ok. First, there was the whining. Mine.
The preschool open house was at 5:00 p.m.
The school doesn't even close until 6:00 p.m. And it's kind of a daycare slash preschool. So I was surprised. After all, they rely, at least a little bit, on us paying for full time care to keep the place open and running. And 5:00 p.m., really?

So I had to leave work at 4:00 p.m., to make sure I'd get out of the office by 4:15. And I did.
I raced to Casey's school to pick him up. We flew over to the preschool, where we met Marcie, playing on the playground with all the other bazillions of kids whose parents also don't show up before 5:00 p.m. She was happy to see us. We cut on lines, played with a puzzle, did a lace-up activity, and then the class danced. Well, most of the class. Not Marcie. Because she's not into actually participating in group activities when "outside" adults (including me) are watching. So I watched the other kids dance, while Marcie stood in her spot in the circle. It's not a big deal. I mean, the important thing is that she does what she's supposed to do during the school day. But still. It's irritating. Or maybe it's a little endearing. Honestly, I'm tired and I can't decide.

Then, in a moment of horrible parenting, I took the kids to (gasp!) McDonald's. It's a pretty rare occurrence. I think I might be able to actually name all the times I've ever taken the kids there. Even just for ice cream. But we were in a hurry. So to McDonald's we went.

Where Casey whined because he wanted two cookies for dessert. Puh-lease. Isn't McDonalds kind of like having greasy dessert for dinner, anyway?

At Casey's school, Marcie announced she had to use the bathroom. Which was, of course, locked. Fortunately, Casey could show us where the kindergarten bathroom was, in one of the other teacher's rooms. It smelled of urine. Probably all over the floor. I guess that's not a huge surprise since it's a kindergarten bathroom. But it was still gross.

Casey was thrilled to show off all his school work-- and with good reason. The thing about kindergarten is that the kids can't help but improve over the course of the year. Sure, Casey isn't the most advanced kid in his class. But that doesn't matter. He's learning. And he likes school. And that's what matters.

That's one of the strange things about open houses-- you can see what everyone else's kid is doing to. So it's hard not to compare-- or at least to wonder-- how your kid stacks up. I'm actually pretty good about not doing that. Like I said, my primary concern is Casey.

But then a mom mentioned that she'd like to have Casey over for a play date one of these Saturdays, now that t-ball is over. Casey didn't play t-ball. Partly because somehow we weren't even aware sign-ups were going on. But more honestly because we couldn't figure out how we'd get him to practice during the weeks. And this is our problem now, too, with soccer. How does he play community soccer if we can't get him to practices? How do we get to practices when we both work at least 30 minutes from home (did I mention Jason started a fabulous new job this week, the only down side being the commute?)?

I seriously don't think a month goes by that I don't sigh and think to myself that I wished one of us could be home to take care of these things. And picking up. And taking out the trash. And doing dishes and folding laundry. And mowing the lawn. And weeding. Seriously, how do people do it all? I can hardly find time to do any of it. It's a miracle I have clean underwear every week. (It's all about prioritizing, I suppose.)

And so now I've turned my kids' open houses, celebrations of their academic and social accomplishments, into a pity party- a guilt festival. That's so sad. Parenting at its best (and by best I mean worst). Some day. Some day we will get it all worked out. Some day one of us will be home after school. We will be poor. But our kids will have enriching, meaningful relationships with us because of it. And that's worth more than money can buy.

Some day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mommy, My ______ Hurts

No, I don't mean to tease you with a fun fill-in-the-blank activity.
And let's face it, we could find some pretty funny (or gross) words to fill in that blank.
And if we're honest, I've probably heard just about all of them, and my oldest child is only 6.

But this is a post devoted entirely to my Marcie.
She sort of gets short shrift on this blog, I think. Other than her initial arrival, it feels to me like I spend a lot more time obsessing about Casey than Marcie. But I digress.
Back to Marcie.

Marcie is pretty smart. Especially when it comes to manipulating situations to get what she wants. Like how she pretends not to know the letters of the alphabet, just so we'll spend more time quizzing her. Or how she'll ask questions she already knows the answers to. Or how she'll begin meals negotiating her vegetable quotas. She knows what she's doing. She is a pretty savvy three year old.

And one of her ploys is tell complain that she is in pain. This last time, she complained her head hurt. And she insisted she needed medicine. The purple kind. It's "gwape," you know.

But every time we asked her to point to where on her head hurt, the location changed. It was a moving target headache, of the preschool kind.

Nah, we didn't give in. I tried to tell her the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. But I think it was lost on her.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Camping We Will Go

Our friends Ann & Mark loaned us their motor home for the weekend to head off with the kids for some beach camping. We had never been motor home camping (actually, I think we've both been in an RV in the past- my family rented on for a camping trip up to Yosemite and the Red Wood Forest when I was younger). Okay, we had never been motor home camping together.

Jason was in charge of the trip. I did, literally, nothing. I had been working such long hours at work that I just simply didn't have the time to help.

And, despite the fact that we'd never been motor home camping before, we bravely invited some family friends to join us. Lucky for us, they are good-natured and easy to be with. Because the weekend wasn't what we were expecting. Actually, to be fair, I'm not sure what we were expecting. For those of you haven't been motor home camping before, though, it's kind of like a giant tail gate. Without the big game.

They don't give you much room in those RV parking lots. Lucky for us, there was no one on either side of us, which let us spread out a bit. And it gave the kids some space to ride their bikes:

Okay, so it was just Casey riding Marcie's bike. With no helmet, because we forgot it and left it at home. I know, parents of the year.

When the kids weren't riding around without helmets on, they got to spend time at the beach:

Though they actually went in the ocean, I didn't have my camera with me at the time. But here they are are running along the shore. And below, they are "sand swimming."

And some nice, older kid showed them a giant hole he'd dug. And that brought a great deal of entertainment for the kids.And when they weren't playing in the water, they were snacking:

or hanging out inside the motor home, playing:

(Okay, I admit it- we forgot the kids' toys and books! Good thing our friends brought stuff for the kids to do!)

And at the end of it all, we were just as tired as if we'd gone tent camping! You can tell just by looking at us:

But don't be fooled- I think we're just not as photogenic as our friends-- for a weekend camping at the beach, they look pretty amazing: