Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Time to Reflect

It's that time again, end of the year. Time to think about all that's happened this year, and all we hope the next year to be.

I think we should be feeling like this was a bad year, and we're glad to see the back side of it. Getting 2 cancer diagnoses is enough to ruin any year.

But as I look back on the past year, I see only what good it brought us. Yes, two major surgeries for Frédéric, recovery time, medical expenses, worry, fear.

But it also brought us strength.
Strength in ourselves and as a family.

It brought us tears and laughter.

It brought pain and joy.

It brought hope.

It brought friends.

It brought us community. Without hesitation, our "village" stepped in to help before even being asked. The year has taught us how wonderful our lives really are, how lucky we are to be surrounded by so much love and support.

Not just here, locally, but amongst our friends and family around the world.

Goodbye to 2011. As always, we're lucky in our bad luck.

Friday, December 09, 2011

And so it began...

Two years ago today, the Wild Man of Devine Street was BORN. So calm and peaceful, so easy going....we were in for a surprise.

He is anything but calm, but that's what we love about him! Happy, crazy, laughing, mischievous, full of spirit. That is Lenaïc.

Happy Birthday Monkey Boy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First baby tooth lost! 5 yrs, 4 months, 24 days old.

Introducing Chico Chocolate Allegrini

In October, our friends discovered this little pup, maybe 4 weeks old at most, sitting on their porch. Best guess is he was dumped, as he was too small to have ventured there on his own. After a week or so of looking for a home, I said we'd foster him, maybe adopt. Wasn't really looking for a dog now, but given the strays around here, figured sooner or later one would follow us home. This guy was just too sweet to ignore.

I took him to the vet the next day, started on vaccinations, de-worming, all the while saying "I'm not sure we'll be keeping him, but he needs to have all his shots." "Fostering" lasted all of about 24 hours. I think there was a small window we could have given him away, but after that, Angelina was already attached and Lenaic not far behind. She named him "Chico" (pronounced with a heavy Spanish accent 'CHEEEE- CO"). We tried offering new names, but no. She was set on Chico. She did decide to give him a middle name "Chocolate."

Like 90% of strays here, he had worms. Angelina being my daughter, she was fascinated by the worms. Once given medication, he pooped them out. She insisted she had to "see the poop" so she could check out the worms. On one occasion I picked it up before she saw it and she was so upset "Mommy! No fair! You're not supposed to pick up the poop before I see it! That's not nice!" Glad to know she's not grossed out by much....

And now, a month later, he's home for good. Even Chakapu tolerates him. Or rather, she sits in front of his crate at night and taunts him...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Angelina this morning: "When's Papa going to be back?" (we were at his hotel when he went to work)
Me : "Very late tonight."
A: " But just one person has to take care of two kids"
Me: "But that's what I do everyday!"
A:"I know, but then it gets hard for you. "

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Wisdom of Her 5 Years

Tonight Angelina talked to me about friendships as she was describing her day at school with various kids. She named a few kids she played with and said,

"I like ____, and ____, and ____, but they're not my BEST friends. That's because it's not nice to make someone your BEST friend."

I interject "Why not? Don't you want to have a close friend?"

Her answer:
" Yes, but if only one person is your best friend, the other person who's not the best friend feels bad and left out. Then what if the two friends fight? Then the other friends feel bad too. No, it's better to be friends with everyone, then everyone can be happy and have love. Because I have love. Because I am a Lovable Me.*"

(*We've been reading the series of Lovable Me books.)

While there's something to be said for having 1-2 close friends, and I hope she finds that over time, I must admit I like that my child is more inclusive than exclusive. That she wants to love everyone, and make sure everyone feels loved. That everyone she meets is a potential friend, and that everyone should feel welcome in her world.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cancer Survivor, Super Dad

It was only 7 months ago Frédéric received his first cancer diagnosis, quickly followed by the second cancer.

Today, so far, he's cancer free, and being Super Dad.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Camping Again, More Friends, and Lost Maples

Believe it or not, we get seasons here in Texas. It's not quite New England Leaf Peeping, but we try. Lost Maples State Natural Area has a unique combination, allowing wonderful Maples to grow.

In theory, they change colors to beautiful golds, reds, yellows....but we were a tad early (and the drought probably has had an effect). So only a few colors, but still a wonderful camping trip with good friends.

For more pictures (minus Fredo's night sky photos, ask him for those directly), go to HERE

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Camping With Friends, and Why I Love Lavaca

The kids love camping. And even better is camping with friends!

Our neighborhood group "KWAKs" (King William Area Kids...I like to call the parent component "SAPs" - Southtown Area Parents) decided to take a group camping trip. Thanks to our good friend Jen Morey for coordinating. about 15 families descended upon Mo Ranch, a lovely place on the Guadalupe River, about 2 hours away.

Among the highlights of canoeing and playing in the river,

was the giant slide

And lots of food, drink, and general good times. To see pictures, click HERE

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life is All About Chocolate

Frédéric is on travel again, this time to Switzerland. Angelina was VERY teary this morning, but managed to pull away eventually. When picking her up, her teacher asked what kind of work Frédéric did. I told her space science. She said "Oh, I thought it was something to do with buying chocolate. Angelina told everyone today her daddy had to go to Switzerland to buy chocolate."

On other quotable quotes:

Angelina:"Lenaïc loves me SOOOOO much! He loves me more than anything!" This is true, he's so excited when he sees her and always wants to be with her.

After thinking awhile, she said, "Lenaïc loves me, but you know what he loves even more than me? A boob." (yes, trying to wean,but it's not going very well)

And Classic Lenaïc. give him a beer and he's set:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our First Rocket Launch!

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 BLAST OFF!

ok, so they said "Lift Off" instead of "Blast off," but we yelled BLAST OFF.

I'm very late in sharing this. In August, we all joined Frederic and the Juno Launch Team to see, live and in person and up close, our very first rocket launch.
Juno is a project Frédéric and his colleagues have been working on for awhile. The instrument will go to "unlock the secrets of Jupiter"

To say it was exciting would be an understatement. We were at Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was hot and humid. As "Special Guests" of NASA (along with a few thousand other scientists and their families and friends), we had access to a special viewing area. We listened to the control room over loud speakers. As the lift off window approached, we kept hearing "5 more minutes," and at one point "recommend waiting as long as possible." As the technical problem was resolved, another problem arose - a person in a boat was in the water nearby! They got him away. The window was just over an hour. If it didn't go off Aug 5, we'd come back the next day, and the next, and the next. Fortunately, we didn't have to.

Finally they said "4 minute countdown ready." Then assorted systems checks followed each by "Go. Go. Go. Go....." until finally 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and we have LIFT OFF!"

If I was a kid seeing it for the first time, I'd be so hooked on space science I'd want to do nothing else. And so it is, Angelina has declared she will be an astronaut (even though this rocket carried no humans) .

And just to add to the cool factor, that night, we were invited to a special party at "The Beach house." This is in a restricted area and only accessible by special pass (they took us all on buses). An amazing stretch of beach. The house is where the astronauts would spend time just before launch. It happened to be very near the launch pad, so we could see the after effects of the launch (lots of charred stuff).

For more pictures: HERE

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Mad Scientist

Tonight, Angelina kept saying "I'm doing something." It was clearly meant to be a science experiment of sorts.

Then she spilled all over the floor, making me slip. As I was cursing under my breath, I was trying to embrace her scientific curiosity.

The Frédéric asked her what she was doing.

Her response: "I'm making a disaster!" 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Week of School

4 days in to Angelina's first week of school and so far I have learned I've totally underestimated my daughter. I know she's bright and confident, but I also know she's a bit hesitant, sometimes overwhelmed, and let's face it, a new big school can be scary. Throw in the teacher speaking 100% in a language she barely understands (Spanish - what little she knows is from her one week Spanish camp in July), and I expected her to beg not to go to school, to cry, to not want to leave.

As you can see, not an issue. She woke up extra early Monday morning, then had too much time to kill, so we put on a Backyardigans episode. However, we had to leave before it was done. She initially asked to stay until then end then asked "Oh? Is it time to go to Bonham?" When I said yes, she quickly turned it off and ran out the door.

We had to stop her so we could take some  First Day of School pictures.  

And one of the reasons she's so excited about Bonham, is that it means going to school with her "big brother and big sister" aka neighbors Wiley and Felice. 

When we arrived, she ran up the steps. Again I had to pull her back so we could get a picture!

She came out of school at the end of the day arm in arm with her new best buddy, Ava, bursting with Spanish words. She's in a dual-language immersion program, where in Kindergarten the teacher speaks 100% Spanish. Someone does come in with some English here and there, but mainly it's Spanish. She struggled a bit with Spanish camp this summer, so I figured she'd have a hard time when school started. Not so, she's loving the Spanish, and though she doesn't understand everything, she says "I just look at the teacher and try to figure out what she's saying." And she does! 

Each day she's so excited to go to school, and so happy when I pick her up, if a bit tired. She's quickly making new friends and loving walking to school which is just around the corner from our house. I am sure sooner or later the exhaustion will come out and it won't all be a piece of cake, but for the first week, I am so impressed and very proud of how well she has handled this transition. 

btw - the schools in our district all have "uniforms", all the bottoms (pants/shorts/skirts/jumpers) have to be khaki color with some specifications on style and shirts white or the school's color, in our case green. There are pros and cons to uniforms, but Angelina loves it - as far as she's concerned, it's all part of being a big kid and going to the "big" school. Also means we have a dresser full of clothes she'll only wear on weekends...

As for Lenaïc, he doesn't know it yet. but he's enjoying a more routine day with sister gone from 8-3:10. But he's oh so happy when she's home. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Day of School!

I am wondering how this little baby is suddenly old enough to start Kindergarten tomorrow.

I blinked, and FIVE years passed. If I blink again she'll be off to prom.
It still seems like yesterday we were praying she'd make it through her first 12 hours alive.

And on my one first day of school, Sept 1974. I tried to show her this picture, to show her Mommy also had a first day, and she didn't recognize me. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quotable Quotes and Rockets

Our lives have been revolving around space lately.

Last week Angelina and her School Coop buddies went to the Scobee Planetarium on a field trip. This past week, she attended Space Camp where she learned all about the solar system, rockets, planets and then some.

And it's good timing, as one of Frederic's missions, Juno, is about to launch next week. And we get to see it in person, by special invitation from NASA! Angelina can't wait, and I'm pretty excited too.

After a week at Space Camp, she's an expert. She asked me to draw some planets. When she saw the one with rings, she asked what it was. I said "Sa-TURN" she said "No Mommy. That is not right, it is Sa-DURN. D-D-D DURN."

We'll be going to Cocoa Beach, FL to watch the launch. Today she asked "What language do they speak in Florida?" (so she could practice, she's had a week in Spanish camp as well).

Whenever we travel, she wants to know how many airplanes it takes to get somewhere. Today she asked "I want to go to Mars. How many airplanes does it take to get to Mars?....Oh wait, it's not an airplane, it's a ROCKET!!!!"

For more on Juno, click JUNO.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Homebirth on NPR

Just a small plug - if you missed the Diane Rehm show today, you can listen online -

to Ina May Gaskin, THE midwifery expert.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lemonade for a Cause

102F in the shade. What better than a little lemonade and cookies?

Angelina and her friend Maddie (with help from Maddie's mom), set up a lemonade stand outside Maddie's house in King William. They decided they wanted to donate the proceeds to the no-kill Animal Shelter.They also had a sign up "Free for the homeless," but alas, they didn't have many homeless walk by.

They earned $25 for the shelter! And had a blast doing it.

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