October 27, 2008 - Love handles...

Ok - so everyone in my family has them - it doesn't mean we don't try to get rid of them. Caelia has a lot of problems with her tummy muscles so this is a common sight at our house. Lera has awful posture too but mostly she just likes to help Caeli with her exercises.Caelia and Randy have a lot of fun together - I wonder who burns the most calories, though? Just one more picture - the last warm one you are likely to see on this blog for some time. The temperature will dip into the teens tonight with 40mph wind gusts so here is a favorite warm weather photo. Can you believe that it was taken a week ago?

October 25, 2008 - A beautiful night for a party...

We had a wonderful group turnout for our annual Halloween party. We saw friends and relatives that we haven't seen in much too long. Everyone had fun and ate lots of treats. We had some very adventurous kids and a few that were a bit put off by the spooky creatures inhabiting our yard - by the end of their stay, they were quite at ease with everything though.

I love seeing the kids in costumes! We don't dress in costume ourselves - not because we don't want to join in the festivities but because some children would be too scared if we were scary looking. I think that having us look normal helps them relax a bit.

We have a couple of structured activities and then we let the kids be kids. Running around in the darkened yard, playing tag and socializing. The first thing we do is hand out treat bags and let the kids explore the house and yard, then we make caramel apples.

Randy is in charge of activities - I spend my time getting things ready for the Pinatas. We have 2 pinatas - one for the little kids and one for the big kids. I love watching Randy with the kids - he is so patient with them and so much quicker than I am! I have failed to get out of the way of the swinging pinata stick in previous years so I get to take pictures now. This year we had some really excellent batters. Caelia and Lera both enjoyed this activity but Lera looked confused when all the kids descended on the scattered candy. She figured it out quick though!

Another favorite game is our Bite a Bat game. This was my answer to replace the bobbing for apples game. Disgusting game - not to mention too cold for Minnesota. Our game involves hanging a row of sugar cookies (shaped like bats) from strings suspended from the ceiling. The kids attempt to eat the cookie without using their hands. Whoever finishes their cookie first, gets to pick a prize.

I will post more photos of the house later this week. We need to use a special camera to take the pictures of the house in the dark. I may get a few of the girls in their costumes (fingers crossed). They refused to wear them for the party. I didn't want to push it too much because I think this was a bit overwhelming for Lera especially. She disappeared for into her room, popping out occasionally to swipe grapes from the bowl on the treat table but became more socialable when the kids had thinned out a bit. Caelia waited for the end of the evening to liberate an apple for herself

October 22nd - Get a strep test!

I wanted to share this story with everyone I know and stress the importance of getting a strep test if you have a sore throat. It's truely unbelievable what happened to a friend of ours:


Rick's wife Jill was my boss when Caelia was born and I will never forget the things she did for us. We didn't know Caelia had DS and weren't prepared for it, it terrified us and was a confusing time. Jill told me to take as much time off as I needed and to not worry about using my vacation up, she made sure I got paid, even when we had to take Caelia back in to the hospital when she had jaundice.

We had the opportunity to meet Rick a few times and he is a great guy and a wonderful dad. You can read more about Rick and everything that happened to him at this site:


They are having a benefit for him to help pay for prostetic legs this Saturday, I wish we could go and give them support in person, but our annual Halloween party is scheduled at the same day and time. Please read Rick's story and think about sending a donation. Keep him and his amazing family in your prayers.

Thanks, Randy

October 10, 2008 - Have you seen this?

This is the bag that I carried all through Ukraine. It can hold amazing amounts of stuff. It held my medication, passport, some money, a bottle of water, cell phone, camera, makeup and Russian phrase book. It straps across the front so it was always safe from pickpockets but easy for me to grab what I needed without digging. I love this bag and now that I have my new laptop - I love it more. My laptop fits in this bag. It pushes the flap up a bit but it fits and so does all the stuff from before except the bottle of water. Yes, the laptop is in this bag in this picture.Oh- this will make airport security go so much quicker and I don't have to carry Randy's impossibly heavy (after 22 hours) backpack around like some beleagured turtle. The laptop in the raffle is exactly like this one. The keyboard works great for me but I did have to get used to having a smaller control keys.

And that is a Curious George standard DVD (One of Lera's favorite!) just to give you a reference to the size.

October 9, 2008 - An unusual holiday

Those of you who know us well are aware that we like Halloween. I mean really like Halloween. I like any holiday that I get to spend celebrating with my family. I love Christmas, adore Thanksgiving, rejoice on Easter and celebrate with the best of them on Independence Day. Halloween, however, has a special place in my heart.

I was 6 years old the first time I went trick or treating. It was wonderful. I was out at night (well past my usual curfew), I got to go door to door and collect candy and treats. I was Tinkerbell. I had the little green dress and wings and one of those awful plastic masks and a bright orange pumpkin to carry my loot home in. I remember walking up to one house that I had visited before and the guy at the door (not scary looking) reached out with a huge stash of candy in a (gloved) gory looking hand. He made one of those monster/villain laughs as he dropped it in my pumpkin. YAAA HA HAAAA! I said thank you and ran for the street where my dad was waiting and SMACK INTO A PARKED CAR! I have been hooked ever since. I was 6 years old and decided that good things aren't always easy to recognise, that my Dad was always there to dust me off and that the things that go thump in the night aren't always something to fear (trust me - a lot of people who witnessed my flight, laughed themselves silly once they realised I wasn't hurt).

Moon Pies are a great motivator for a 6 year old but you would think that I would have outgrown this love for Halloween. Not so! Every year we throw a Halloween party for all the children we know. We have lots of kids and adults that come to the party. Anyone can dress in costume who wants to - but its not mandatory. There is lots of food and games - even a pinata. The children run about with glow bracelets and drink Dragon's Blood Punch (a putrid looking mixture or grape juice, orange juice and Sprite that tastes pretty good) All food HAS to have a disgusting name to be Halloween party worthy. Most of all, I like that it is not at all solemn - it is a night when everyone is a kid and acts like a kid and no one thinks twice about it.
These are our Halloween Party invitations for this year. I made them from a photo we took of our house a few years back.

October 7, 2008 - Our walkway

Randy and I spent a large amount of effort and time repairing our front walk. It was in pretty rough shape and we decided that it was better to do it ourselves and use the money for Masha than have someone else do it. We still believe that this was a good use of our time but if you had asked us mid-way through we might have given you another answer!

We decided that pavers were a better look for our house and I have to say that I am thrilled with the results (and no, we have no plans to do this with our driveway - 22ft was long enough)

This is the almost finished project. I forgot to take a picture of the finished version before we started decorating for Halloween (more on that next post)but what do you think? Does it look better than a concrete sidewalk with our house?