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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Abbie's Holmes Family Slide Show

[Click twice to play]
This is a slide show with music that Abbie Dillard (Jim's cousin, our flowergirl, Aunt Carolyn's daughter) made of lots of Holmes and Patterson family photos. It's long (10 minutes) but if you look closely you will see several of Emma, a couple of me and several of Jim at various ages (note the boy in the orange T-shirt -- and also the teenager by the piano in the background with grey tinted glasses). Lots of the photos are of Nannie-Mom who is Emma's great great grandmother and who we all knew as she died at the age of 1005 in 2005. She was Robbye Patterson Holmes and was married to Calvin Bedford Holmes. She's is the handsome one with regal bearing. They were the parent's of Jim's grandfather Robert Holmes. There are also lots of photos of Robert at various ages. When you see twins it is mostly Jim's Dad Ron and Uncle Bob, but a couple are of Jim's brothers Mike and Steve. Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Letter 2007

Here's a sort of year in review by family member. In case you don't get all the way through the text I'll wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year right up front ... and yes I do enjoy reading Christmas letters -- really I do! We will go by age so I'm first.

Athens, GA. Last January seems so long ago that I can hardly remember it. The photo at the top of the blog was taken last New Years at the park near my Dad's house. We welcomed 2007 in Snow Hill at the community New Year's party which was lots of fun and all Dad's Snow Hill friends and neighbors were there as well as my "God-sister" and Godfather. Then it was back home to Athens, GA for work and play. Not long after we got home in January Jim was offered a terrific job at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. More on this later -- the impact on me of course was that I had to say yes to the move -- after all Jim moved to Athens for me to take the job at the UGA Law Library as Head of Cataloging. So, my year started off with getting a house ready to sell, selling a house, house hunting in Rhode Island, giving notice at my job, and getting ready to be a single parent for a couple of months, as Jim started his new position in March and Emma and I joined him in early June after school was over. I was in denial most of the Spring and didn't really internalize the move until after we were in Rhode Island. It was a good Spring. I very much enjoyed singing swing tunes with Meridian Women's Chorus which culminated in an early May dance/concert in an old 1940s era gym where we performed with a local Swing Band -- the Artie Ball Swing Band. Folks of all ages came and some danced and some just listened and we even had some UGA students teach a short swing dance lesson. In March, Emma and I got to see my favorite movie of all time -- The Sound of Music -- on the very big screen at the Classic Center as part of Robert Osborne's TCM film festival. The opening mountain top scene was just fabulous seen on the huge screen and of course I love the music and story. Thankfully our house sold in record time -- 3 weeks -- so we celebrated Easter in two places -- by signing and faxing a contract. And we got our asking price (we tried to be realistic with what we asked for!). We actually closed on the Athens house on May 31st and closed on the Barrington, RI house on June 1st. My work was very busy throughout all this as we had received year end money to spend by June 31st and I was trying to get all the projects up and running before I left. I was extremely sad to leave my colleagues at the UGA Law Library. What a terrific group of people to work with and have fun with too. In my 6+ years there the library had come so far as an organization and a collection -- we jumped from the mid 20th century straight to the early 21st century in 5 years! I rounded out my Athens time by taking photos of things I didn't want to forget and eating and drinking in my favorite places with my favorite people. Mom spent a week right before we moved helping us with the movers and watching Emma's Spring dance recital. Then it was off to Rhode Island -- via Dad's house -- in early June. Emma, Maggie and I made the trip uneventfully together.
Barrington, RI. The move went smoothly and we love our new house [click here for photo of house taken in March before we moved in]. It's small, but perfect for the three of us and I love the large finished room in the basement which has all of Emma's toys and stuff in it at one end and the computer and exercise equipment for the grown-ups at the other. There is plenty of storage in the unfinished part of the basement too though it is a total mess right now. We painted some rooms, [click here for photo of our living room post paint job] bought some carpets for the hardwood floors and did a bit of gardening this Summer. Vacation was a week at Mom's Stone Harbor Beach House with my sister, brother-in-law and their 18 month old twins -- and a fun long weekend at Dad's house. Then it was back for school and work. I started work as the Librarian at the law firm of Partridge Snow and Hahn LLP in Providence in July. I have terrific hours -- just Mondays-Thursdays from 8:30-2:30. I get home by 2:45 and meet Emma when she gets off the school bus. The job itself is pretty good. I am the only Librarian so it's lonely at times and quite a different atmosphere than the academic library -- but I am enjoying doing more research and collection development and the pay is very good. To keep up my cataloging skills I am doing some freelance cataloging for Cassidy Cataloging Services. I do this from home so it's flexible and I'm only giving them about 5 hours a week right now. So, working 29 hours a week is much better than working 40 and I have more time with Emma which is what I wanted. I haven't found anywhere to sing yet, but have been doing some things with the Barrington Newcomers Club. I am on the social committee and help plan activities and I joined their Book Club -- this is my favorite activity so far and is a great small group of women with the love of reading in common amongst other things. Let me know if you want any book recommendations! So -- all should be fantastic here and mostly it is very good, I just miss all my Athens friends and activities and I am always slow to settle in places -- but am looking forward to 2008 and seeing more of you that are now closer.

Jim spent the first two months of the year in Athens as a Senior Research Associate at the Center for International Trade and Security, part of the School of Public and International Affairs at University of Georgia. In January he was offered his "dream" job as a Professor of Strategy and Policy at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. Without much deliberation we decided he should take it and he moved in March to start work up there. (Emma and I stayed in Athens through the end of the school year). He stayed with our friends the Winners until Emma and I arrived and we closed on our new house on June 1st. He likes the new position but has been very busy keeping up with all the reading and preparation for his course since it is his first time teaching this course and material. He has had time to publish some op-ed pieces in the Athens Banner Herald, some articles published in several journals, and he had two new books published this year! Asia Looks Seaward: Power and Maritime Strategy which he co-edited with Toshi and wrote a piece in. The other, Chinese Naval Strategy in the 21st Century: The Turn to Mahan, he co-wrote with Toshi (who is also teaching at the Naval War College now). In fact his two best friends and co-writers are at the Naval War College now. He also remains affiliated with the Center for International Trade and Security. In his spare time he has been doing lots of biking on the great bike path we have between Providence and Bristol which runs 1/3 mile from our house. As well as great exercise it is his time to think. He also did the lions share of the painting around the house.

Maggie (the Pug Dog)
Maggie is 13 [click here for photo] and still hanging in there. She made the trip up from Athens just fine and is now back in the state where she began her life with us. She sleeps most of the time, but still enjoyes her food with whole hearted gusto and likes to have her belly rubbed and to sleep on the couch with us -- the left hand side of the couch only and the pillow must be in the correct place! She seems to like her new smaller fenced in yard and I like it too since I can leave her out for a bit and not worry about her wandering off and not finding her way back. We "lost" her once in Athens and found her waiting patiently at the door of our nextdoor neighbors house. Before the weather got snowy and icy she was enjoying her daily walk up to meet Emma at the school bus and socializing with the other parents and kids. She went with us on our travels to Snow Hill and Stone Harbor and tolerated the other family dogs -- including my Dad and Hazel's west highland terrier puppy [click here for photo] who stayed with us here for a month this Summer. By the end of the visit we did get some photos of them curled up together on Maggie's big dog bed.

Lots of exciting events for Emma this year [click here for photo of Emma from November].

  • Sleep away camp for three days with her class at the Athens Montessori School in April. They went to a YMCA Camp Greenville in the mountains on the South/North Carolina border, and learned all about nature, independence, etc...
  • Ballet classes and performance in Athens in May where she was a blue fish in a recitial performance featuring music from Seussical.
  • Going to Georgia Gym Dogs home games and watching them win the NCAA Women's Collegiate Gymnastic championship for the third year in a row. (Mommy loved this too!)
  • Spending two and half months living with just Mommy and Maggie while Daddy was in Rhode Island.
  • Living in motels in Athens and Rhode Island for a couple of weeks while we moved houses. This was a highlight for Emma much for than for the rest of us! They both had swimming pools!
  • Having to leave two good friends one of who lived next door. But trading them for a new house with a basement playroom and bigger bedroom and on a cool dead end street with lots of kids and new friends.
  • Summer camp at the local YMCA, learning to swim much better, and winning a prize at the cheerleading two week camp there.
  • Spending a week on her own with Grandma in Stone Harbor, NJ at the beach and another week on her own with Papa and Ga in Snow Hill, Maryland where she met a new friend and fellow only child -- around the corner from Dad's house and learned about and got her first WebKinz.
  • Starting second grade at a new school -- Primrose Hill Elementary -- and riding a bus there for the first time.
  • Turning eight years old and having a few neighborhood friends for a sleep over party.
  • Reading lots and loving the library at school.
  • Taking ballet and jazz dancing at a new school in Bristol -- auditioning for and getting a part in their production of the Nutcracker.
  • Lots of playing pretend in her new bedroom or the basement playroom.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Majorettes & Polichinelles

Last weekend was a whirlwind of guests and Nutcracker ballet rehearsals and performances. Emma had two parts and had been rehearsing them every Saturday afternoon since early October so it was exciting to be at show weekend for both of us. She had two roles -- one as a Majorette (usually soldiers, but the director tamed the battle scene a bit and wanted to use a female role since all the dancers were girls). They fought off the mice with large wedges of cheese (made out of foam). The choreography was neat as the mice were played by slightly older children and one of things they did in the "fight scene" was lift the majorettes up and twirl them around. In the second act Emma was one of Mother Ginger's Polichinelles (or gingerbread "men" cookies). There were six of them and they emerged from under Mother Ginger's skirt mid-stage and did a very cute dance. The costumes were made of foam and were slightly stiff so their movements, while graceful looked like cookies trying to dance. They lots of laughs and aplause. I helped out backstage on Friday at the dress rehearsal and at Sunday's performance mostly helping dancers with props and quick changes. It was fun -- much better than "babysitting" a whole class of young dancers while they wait to perform for a few minutes -- which was what I had done for Emma's recitals in the past. I felt a part of the show. Then on Saturday I got to see the performance with Jim and my Dad and Hazel who were visiting and our friends Karen and Mark who drove an hour from Connecticut to see Emma dance (which was really sweet). I was enjoyed the whole show -- and particularly enjoyed the pas de deux at the end with the only two professional dancers in the show who played the Nutcracker and the Sugar Plum Fairy. The lifts and positions were amazing. I snuck out to watch it again on Sunday after everyone was in their final costumes. I also learned this year -- thanks to a handout Emma's teacher gave her -- that the Nutcracker ballet story is based on a book by E.T.A. Hoffman called "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice." This explains some of the creepy/wierdness of the character Drosselmeyer and the whole dream scene since Hoffman is a German writer and in my experience as a German minor a lot of their literature is a bit odd, or creepy or depressing.

Anyway, the photo below shows both of Emma's costumes on the rack in the dressing room. I love her new ballet teacher, who also runs the studio and directed the show. She is so organized! All the costumes were rented and had the performers names taped in the them and on the hangers. All the dancers had their own assigned chair and space. All the props were layed out on tables backstage and labelled too! I wish more of you could have shared this experience with us.

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Nutcracker Ballet Madness

Here's Emma in her Majorette costume.

Emma's photo of several fellow cast members.

Here's Emma holding up her ginger-bread cookie costume. I forgot to take a picture of her in it and they were rental costumes so you'll have to use your imagination. They were all really cute in them and looked like big cookies.

Emma took a photo of her name tag on her chair in the dressing room. All the performers had their own chair with a name take and that was their place to keep there stuff and sit down before the show and during intermission. Mostly during the show they were waiting in the wings for their turn to go on.
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Mom visited us for the whole Thanksgiving weekend. One of the things we did was go Christmas shopping in Newport on lower Thames street. We met Jim at mid-afternoon and then we all had an early dinner at a yummy seafood restautant called Scales and Shells. This photo is of Emma sitting across the table from me sporting her new hairband and still wearing her scarf. It was very cold that day!

My sister and her family spent the first few days of Thanksgiving weekend with our friends Karen and Mark in Hampton, Conn. only an hour from Barrington. We drove there and joined them for Thanksgiving day. On Saturday morning they all loaded themselved in their car and drove to our house to spend about 24 hours. It was a whirlwind visit, but they got to see our new house and town and we got to spend time together. Kate and I snuck in a sisters out lunch and at least an hour was spent before lunch watching Amelia and Nikolas pushing their toys up and down our deadend street while Emma and her friend Kayla rode bikes or helped. Our street is such a great place to play. As you can see in this photo -- Amelia found one of Emma's dolls and didn't put it down the whole time she was here.

Here's Nick pushing around his dump truck.

Lastly -- here are Emma and Kayla on their bike and scooter.
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