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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Big Snow Storm

Front of our house in the snow.

Emma and her friend Ally playing in the snow outside our house this morning. It was/is still snowing lightly.

Here's my car -- just a reminder that we are definitely not in Georgia anymore.

Here you can get some idea of how much snow we had -- you can see it pilled up on the ladder in our back yard.

View of the back of our house after I finished filling up the bird feeders.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holmes Family Annual Christmas Letter: 2008 edition

It’s the Holmes Family Annual Christmas Letter: 2008 edition.

The big news this year was Miss Emma’s first extended trip away from home, to Chimney Corners YMCA camp in the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts. She was there for four weeks! Emma stayed in a cabin with seven other girls her age, along with two college-age camp counselors. Her activities included Colonial Living—there’s a Revolutionary War vintage house on site—swimming, horseback riding, arts & crafts and the musical. The camp doesn’t allow any electronic devices, or cell phones or TV so they got to do lots of other non wired activities which pleased us. Her Mommy went up for the weekend the third week, and they stayed in a tent together and did lots of activities together. We could tell Miss Emma was having a great time, as she rarely kept in touch. Her Mommy got kind of weepy when she didn’t answer our letters after the first few days. Emma is clamoring to go back again this coming summer, and I think we can swing that.

Emma remains busy now that the school year has geared up. She played soccer in the Barrington Youth League’s fall season, she is taking ballet two days a week, and she is helping edit Magical Magazine, Primrose Hill School’s literary magazine. (Who knew elementary schools published their own literary magazines?) No doubt that’s only a partial list of her activities. I have a hard time keeping up. The third-graders started out with astronomy this fall and have also made a study of the Wampanoag Indian Nation, one of our local tribes. It’s a little-known fact that Massassoit was a resident of Barrington, Rhode Island, before there was a Barrington, Rhode Island!

I managed to weather my first year of teaching at the Naval War College, but it was touch-and-go for awhile there. This academic year it’s a lot easier, thankfully, since I’ve been through the curriculum once and have all of my notes and materials in place. The class-preparation burden has dropped off dramatically. Additionally, I’ve been working on assorted writing projects as time permits. I and my buddies Drew and Toshi finished a book on the Indian Navy this October. That should be on the shelves next April or thereabouts. The Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University flew me out to Taiwan for the annual Taiwan-American Conference. It was good to be on the island again—the travel bug had returned! We got to spend an hour with Taiwan’s new president, Ma Ying-jeou, at the Presidential Palace. It was beastly hot—August in the subtropics will do that to you—but there was some time to revisit the old sights around Taipei. My conference paper is about to be published in Issues & Studies, the Institute’s scholarly journal. What else? Oh, in December, the China Maritime Studies Institute held its annual conference in Newport. I presented a paper on Chinese fleet tactics. That should be in print shortly as well. I intend to slow down sometime….

I don’t believe the bit about slowing down! Yes, this is Beth writing now. Jim only forgot two of Emma’s other activities: third grade chorus and Chimes club (something like handbell-ringing I think?) Their first performance for both Chorus and Chimes is this coming Friday so I will find out more then. Highlights of my year included: a trip to San Francisco in March, where Jim was attending a conference. We stayed an extra day and had a great time exploring and eating yummy food – this was an early 20th wedding anniversary celebration – it was great to have some time for just the two of us. I stayed on for an additional day and spent time with two school friends from my St. John’s/ Belgium days. We celebrated our actual anniversary (June 11th) too – with dinner at Rue de L'Espoir, a cozy French bistro in Providence. I really don’t feel old enough to have been married for twenty years! In August, I also spent a weekend at a Scrapbooking Conference with my college-friend Wendy. We had a great time learning lots of techniques, buying lots of supplies, and then scrapbooking the night away. I can’t remember the last time the two of us have had so much time to talk uninterrupted by our children. I enjoyed several visits with my niece Amelia and nephew Nikolas. They are growing up so fast and will be three in January and I love spending time with them as does Emma – though she is sometimes jealous of the attention they get. We all went to Stone Harbor, NJ to my Mom’s beach house in July and enjoyed the usual Summer beach things: waterpark, boardwalk, sandcastles, Springer’s homemade ice-cream and Bradley’s cheese steaks. While Jim was in Taiwan, Emma and I spent a relaxing ten days with my Dad and Hazel in Snow Hill, MD where we spent most of our time by their pool. I got to meet my “Step-sister” Caroline and her boyfriend joel for the first time as our visits overlapped by a day.

I am still working part-time as the Librarian at the law firm of Partridge Snow & Hahn. The hours and pay are great and I work in a neat part of Providence near downtown, RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), and Brown. I still find it lonely being a “solo librarian” as I miss the collegiality of working with other Librarians, but I am learning lots of new skills. I’m now the Treasurer of the Barrington Newcomers & Neighbors group which I am enjoying and I am still loving the Newcomers book group. My favorite books of this year were two non-fiction ones: What is the What about one of the lost boys from the Sudan, and Three Cups of Tea: one man’s mission to promote peace … one school at a time about building schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. I highly recommend them both. We have a great girls night once a month where we discuss the book and then move on to talking about our husbands and children – all while enjoying a glass of wine. I’m still not singing anywhere – I can’t figure out how to fit it in, but am really missing it. I got sick of my back -- hurting from an old horseback riding fall -- in April so I tried physical therapy again – only this time with a really good therapist, who worked one on one with me for several months. At the same time I started going to a Personal Trainer who works with the physical therapist. I “graduated” from physical therapy in September and am getting stronger and in better shape by working out and am virtually back pain free – as long as I keep doing my exercises! I also love having more time with Emma and we cook together sometimes and reading books together.

Maggie, the Pug Dog is hanging in there at the ripe old age of 14. She came with us on our Summer trips and still enjoys belly rubs even though she can’t really see or hear anything.

If you are interested in more news and photos check out my blog “Aufenthalt” at: http://jimbethmag.blogspot.com.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Playing around on ScrapBlog

This is a cool site where you can create cards, scrapbook pages, etc... and then turn them into books, calendars, slideshows, print them, etc... There are literally TONS of templates and themes and accents. Way cool!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Tree Decorating and First Snow

I like this photo of Emma by our tree right after we finished decorating. She is wearing the poncho I had just finished knitting for her as an early Christmas gift. We put up the tree earlier than usual this year as it was a nasty rainy dull day on November 30th and we were stuck at home since I wasn't feeling great (bad cold). Putting up the tree and getting out the Advent wreath and Nativity scenes/Creches actually cheered us all up.

This Sunday instead of rain and fog and wind -- we woke up to a nice coating of snow -- and it was still snowing too. It never changed to rain as they had predicted. It was perfect snow ball snow so Emma and I got our outdoors stuff on and went outside. We ended up taking one of Emma's neighborhood friends over to their school to sled as there is a hill there. The photo about is of our house -- I never took a photo of it in the snow last year.

Here's Emma -- very proud of her snowball.

This is the view looking down our street towards the dead end. Our house is on the left where you can just see the two cars parked in the driveway. At the end of the street we back up to the wooded part of a state park which is great.
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And ... finally Emma at the end of a sledding run.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween and a Field Trip

I chaperoned Emma's Third Grade class trip on October 24th. It was on a Friday and I have off on Fridays so I thought it would be fun to go on the trip. It was fun actually -- if a bit loud on the bus. We went to the Biomes Marine Science Center in North Kingstown and did all kinds of fun activities in small groups. I was in charge of Emma, her friend Katie and 3 boys from their class -- who were really pretty well behaved. One of things we got to do was pet a baby shark. Then we all got back on the bus and headed off to the island of Jamestown in the Narragansett Bay to go beach combing with a guide from the Marine Science center. We found all sorts of neat sea creatures and then we walked back along the beach collecting things we found and then separated them into flotsum and jetsum which are actually different -- something I learned that day. Here's Emma on the beach. It was a gorgeous sunny day, but a bit chilly.

Here's a shot of Emma dressed as a cheerleader for Halloween. It was the night before the big Florida Georgia football game so the Georgia outfit seemed appropriate. She was going to be Hannah Montana, but after a test run of that costume at a Newcomers Club party she decided that the wig was too hot and uncomfortable. That was fine with me as I like the cheerleader costume better anyway. The other girl is Emma's friend Kayla who lives down the street. All the kids on our street started out trick-or-treating together on our street and then we headed across the road to the bigger neighborhood. It was fun for us parents too as we got to see other kids dressed up and chat with parents while the kids went up to the houses.

Finally ... here are our three pumpkins for this year. I did the one on the right and Jim did the other two. Emma didn't want to carve or design one this year.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Soccer, Pumpkins and Indian Summer

It's been a fantastic Columbus Day weekend here in New England. We are having Indian Summer with temperatures in the mid seventies during the day and cooler -- in the forties at night. All the trees are turning and look gorgeous and the weather has been so fabulous that we wanted to be outside as much as possible. Luckily we had an excellent excuse to spend an hour outside watching Emma's soccer game on Saturday. It has become a tradition to take Maggie with us to the soccer games. She enjoys lazing around on the grass and being admired by all the kids.

It's hard to get good shots at Emma's soccer games as they are always on the go. I did manage to get a few this past Saturday. Emma is in the shot below, second from the left. She was captain this week. The team is playing better individually and together every week.

Today Emma and I did another shift selling pumpkins at our church. We were busy today as it was a Holiday for lots of people. Once again the weather was fantastic and we had a great time helping people pick pumpkins. Emma enjoyed helping the little kids and also making change. Back to the regular grind tomorrow -- back to school and work.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Birthday Party Sleepover

Last night was the big sleep-over party. Emma had five friends over, and four stayed the night. They ate pizza, and cake and danced and opened presents and then watched a movie. It was a manageable number and we actually got them to go to bed by 11:00pm. Well, Jim did anyway. They got up around 7 and we feed them more sugar in the form of frosted donuts. Emma and I made the cake -- and decorated it. We got the idea from a kids cookbook. I actually cut the top layer to make it smaller around and managed to do so without messing it up! A big accomplishment for me.

Here's Emma wearing the tiara (after I washed it off of course) and eating her cake. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tour of Four Town Farm

This afternoon Emma, my mother-in-law Brenda, and I went on a tour of Four Town Farm which gets its name from the fact that it is located where the two towns of Barrington and East Providence, RI meet the two towns of Seekonk and Swansea, Massachusetts. So, as the tour guide said to the kids - two plus two equals four. The tour was organized by the Family committee of the Barrington Newcomers & Neighbors group which I am the Treasurer off. Most of the kids were younger than Emma, but there was a first grader there and she enjoys playing "older sibling" to my friend's kids. We rode in a wagon attached to a tractor and took a drive through the fields where we saw lots of things growing such as: red peppers, onions, pumpkins, flowers, corn etc... Emma was actually more interested than I thought she would be since they are just starting a unit in science on "living things" ie: plants and animals. One of her assignments this week is to bring in a fruit or vegetable with seeds inside.

We also got to go into one of the farm buildings and see how they get the carrots from the back of the truck and into bags for the store. They go up a conveyor belt and then into a big rotating tub where they get washed by running water and then they pour out onto the conveyor belt you can see in the photo above. The kids got to bag some carrots each and use the machine that tapes the bags shut at the top. It was a big hit with all the kids and it was particularly amusing to see two of the little toddler girls clutching their bags of carrots to their chests as if they were baby dolls. I was almost wishing that Emma was littler again, but it's also fun to enjoy friend's kids and then send them home.
Here's the sign outside the carrot processing area.

Some flowers from the cutting area, with a view of the fields beyond. It was also a great Fall day to spend outside. They also had a corn maze we all went through -- some of us more than once -- I think Emma and some of the kids went through three or more times.
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Emma turned Nine yesterday!

Here she is opening presents from the family yesterday evening before dinner. She put on her favorite new outfit and the tiara we got from iParty. She got a couple of DVDs and some books and some money and she had already received some really cool Hanna Andersen clogs and a nice watch. Then we had her favorite dinner: cheese tortellini with red sauce and parm cheese with carrot sticks and ranch dressing on the side. We followed that up with a Carvel ice cream cake, candles and singing. My mother-in-law is in town and it's the first time she has been visiting for Emma's birthday so it was neat to be able to include her. The big sleep-over party is on Friday so I am gearing up for that. Enjoy the photos -- the last one is of Emma talking to Aunt Kate and Uncle Ron who called from their 10th wedding anniversary trip to the Bahamas!

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Square Dancing and Barbecue New England Style

This past Saturday we had a big gathering at our church featuring Barbecue and Square Dancing. The BBQ wasn't really up to Tennessee standards, but it was pretty good. A lot of us had fun dancing too and lots of people dressed up in western outfits. I always enjoy events where there are people of all ages from baby to elderly and this was one of those. Here's a photo of Emma and her friend Katie who is also in her class at school as well as in her Sunday school class. We finally got them to try square dancing before it was time to head home. I made Jim dance with me a lot too!

Baking for Pumpkin Junction

This past Friday Emma and I had a great time baking and decorating cupcakes for the Pumpkin Junction festival at our church -- St. John's Episcopal -- here in Barrington. We got the idea from a kids cookbook which Emma checked out of her school library. They were initially going to be sun cupcakes and the pretzels were the rays of the sun, but the pretzels were making the cupcakes fall apart at the top so we abandoned that and just made them into funny face cupcakes. I decorated some, but Emma did most of them -- she is so creative -- she came up with things I wouldn't have thought of at all. The recipe book had several ideas and gave me the idea of using mini M & M's and regular M & M's, but the candy canes were our idea. You can see the cookbook picture in the first photo. The other photos are pretty self explanatory. The festival at church was lots of fun and if I do say so myself -- our cupcakes were some of the most interesting looking things on the bake sale table. There were kids games and craft vendors at the festival and then the church members were selling food, baked goods and lots of pumpkins. Emma and I did a shift at pumpkin selling this past Wednesday and had a great time -- we had lots of customers and Emma enjoyed adding up the amounts on the receipts and helping little kids pick out pumpkins.

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Here's a shot I took with my phone while we were selling pumpkins. The whole lawn leading up to our church is covered with pumpkins -- it looks very festive and gets me in mood for Fall and Halloween whenever I drive by. The church is on the main road through Barrington so lots of people can see the display.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'd rather be a Ballet Mom than a Soccer Mom, or Coming to Terms with my Inner Stage Mom

If I needed a 19th century novel title for what I was feeling a few days ago it would be the title above. I ran into a fellow ballet Mom on my walk and after I got home this post title just came to me. She had been talking about what parts her daughter has in this year's Nutcracker production. Emma is not dancing in the Nutcracker this year as the rehearsals conflict with soccer games. I am glad she is trying something new, though I keep calling practice rehearsal, and I confess that watching games in the glorgeous Fall weather has been fun so far -- but I was sad that I wasn't going to get to be a stage Mom this Christmas time -- still, I guess I could still volunteer to help out backstage. I also have to come to terms with my competitive nature -- I want her to be the best at whatever she does and to do lots of things. I actively hold this back so as not to put undue pressure on her -- wonder if it's working. It's her life -- and getting the balance between pushing and encouraging and giving space is not the easiest thing to do. I am glad that she is getting lots of free, unstructured time to play outside and in with the other kids on our street and her friends.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A day in the Life Of ... (Part 2)

Yes, it has taken me over two weeks to get back to this. Life and computer access intervened.

So, we were at:
Leave for Dermatologist apt. in Providence. I thought I had left plenty of time -- 30 minutes -- to drive the 12 miles to the doctor's office, but I underestimated traffic around our state capitol between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. After getting off the jammed highway, I made my way over the city streets where at least I was moving and arrived at the appointment by 4. That's an average of 16 miles per hour. The dermatologist is always running late so that was no problem. We needed to get out of there by 4:45 so we could get back to Barrington for soccer practice. A miracle occurred and we were done by then and managed to actually get back to Barrington before soccer practice started at 5:20. Somehow there was much less traffic at 5:00pm. Go figure!

Arrive at soccer practice at Barrington Middle School. This is the first of the bi-weekly special practice sessions with the British Challenger coaches. It was fun listening to their accents, plus it was a fabulous day and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out and watching. I even offered to drive our next door neighbor's daughter home too. I ran into our friend Ann who was picking up her son James from his earlier soccer practice and had a nice chat with one of the other Mom's on Emma's team. When practice was over we stopped at the Del's Lemonade Truck -- parking very cleverly just in time for practice to end -- and the girls got frozen lemonades. By the way -- Del's Lemonade is one of the two state drinks of Rhode Island, the other being Coffee Milk (yes, that is just like chocolate milk, only with coffee syrup).

Drive home from practice and drop off Diana.
Pre-heat oven to cook frozen pizza. Cook pizza and put out carrots and ranch dressing.

Eat dinner together with Jim and Emma. I can't remember the details of that particular dinner, but we probably talked about Emma's school day, soccer, the Dr. apt., what was going on at work for both of us, what was on TV. The usual...

Emma takes a shower, while I do general post dinner clean-up in the kitchen and dining room (which is also our entryway -- mudroom -- and general dropping point for things).

All sit down and watch a sit-com re-run together. It was probably Two and a Half Men, which, if Emma understood half of what was going on, would be definitely inappropriate for her. I guess we are "bad" parents. But we enjoy the relaxing time together and the laughs.

Emma and I sit down to read a bedtime story. Sometimes we share reading, sometimes I read, sometimes she does. This evening I continued reading a book that was an absolute favorite of mine when I was Emma's age and lived in England. It's called First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton, and is all about a girl who is going to boarding school for the first time at age 12, and about everything that happens at boarding school. I read it in about 1973 and it is actually pretty dated and I have to explain the British English language usages. For example: torch = flashlight, maths = mathematics, cloakroom = closet or changing area, crisps = potato chips, chips = french fries, prep = homework, etc.... She's enjoying it and often begs me to read "just another chapter" please. I get to reminisce about being Emma's age and my then obsession with boarding school. I even drew floor plans of Malory Towers based on the descriptions in the books when I was her age. The great thing is there are 5 more to go in the series and I still have all of them -- though they are in very acidic yellowed paperbacks. Emma drew floor plans of the Chimney Corners Camp dining hall before she went to camp there -- based on her memory from the open house and the website, so I guess she has some of the same genes as I do!

Emma's bedtime. Mom and Dad's free time. Again, I don't know what we did that night, but we often hang out and watch TV (Food Network, HGTV, History etc...), or read, or sometimes I go downstairs and work on the computer, or if we want to watch different things on TV or one wants to read and the other watch TV I will go out to the sun room and hang out there. We might have been power watching Session Two of Heroes on DVD in preparation for the Season Three premier which was last night.

Mommy bedtime.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Day in the Life Of .... (Part One)

Monday, September 8, 2008. Second week of school year.

I am one of those geeks who loved the beginning of the school year -- all those new books and fresh clean notebooks and stationary supplies. All the excitement and status of moving up a grade. All those neat new things to learn.

So, as we start the second week of the school year I thought I'd document at least a day in the life of me. So here it is:

6:30 am
Wake up, let Maggie (dog) out, feed Maggie, wake-up Emma, take a shower, get dressed, make lunch for Emma and for me, make sure Emma is ready and has her school stuff ready, get my work stuff ready.

7:40 am
Walk up the street to wait for the school bus with the other Milton Road Moms. I enjoy this chatty time where we catch each other up on what's been going on and what's new in town/street, parenting stories, tips and techniques, and sometimes even national/world events (but not often). I also enjoy chatting with the kids -- particularly the little brothers and sisters who are waiting for older siblings to get on the bus. My favorites are: Patrick, Elizabeth and Owen. Sometimes this is the most social part of my day!

7:50 am
Bus #2 arrives and loads up with Milton Road kids for trip to Primrose Hill Elementary School (K-3). When everyone is around we have: William (gr.1), Sophia (gr.1), Kayla (gr.2), Olivia (gr.2), Emma (gr.3), Tommy (gr.3), Ben (gr.2). Wave to kids as bus leaves and have final chat time with other Moms as we head back home. I was taking the bus to work on this day so I continued across the main road to wait for the RIPTA (public bus) to Providence which stops across from the end of our road. There is a large church there (St. Luke's) so I can wait back from the road at the edge of their parking lot which makes it a nicer place to wait than right on the road. I read my book and drink coffee from a travel mug while I wait.

8:06 am
Bus arrives. It always arrives at 8:06 because this is the second stop on the line. This particular route only runs at several times in the morning commute period and then again in the afternoon, every hour. I spend the ride again reading my book. Right now I am reading Crashing Through by Robert Kurson. It's our September book club book and is a non-fictional account of Michael May who regained his sight after being blind most of his life -- though I haven't gotten that far yet. It's really quite interesting because it raises lots and lots of questions about the difference between our sighted view of the world and the way blind people perceive the world. I was particularly struck by the idea of what it would be like for all of us to know and judge each other by criteria other than what we look like -- I think what we look like -- no matter how hard we try otherwise -- is a HUGE factor in our response to and assesment of other people.

8:35 am
Arrive at work and change my frame of mind from the big thoughts raised in Crashing Through to the smaller more mundane world of managing information and library resources for a mid-sized law firm. I was working through my "to do" and "follow-up on" lists and piles on my desk, including the ones I have been avoiding.

12:30 pm
Take a break and go for a 10 minutes walk along South Main and Water streets. It's a gorgeous New England Summer day, not too hot, not humid, breezy, sunny. I do some window shopping and then walk back along the river and stop to read one of the historic information signs posted along the riverwalk park. Again, I am a geek and I really like to discover local history facts. I found out that the brass plaques along the walk mark the original shipping wharves and are the exact width of the wharf itself. I don't really get a lunch hour or half hour since I am squishing 6 hours of work into the school day, but I do try to take a 15 minute break -- I should go for a walk more often as it was refreshing. Here's a photo of the exact view I had while walking along the river.

12:45 pm
Back to work and eat my sandwich at my desk while reading library related and other blogs. Then do some research for my boss on foreclosure rates in New England. We do a lot of foreclosure and bankruptcy work.

2:20 pm
Leave to catch the 2:25pm bus home. Bus only goes once an hour and I have to get home for Emma. I like to take the bus because as I said earlier I can read and relax not pay attention to the morning traffic. I also can save the $12/day it costs to park downtown (that's the cheapest rate I have found). This is the first day I have taken the bus this school year because my bus gets me home by 3:00pm and Emma's bus arrives at 2:55pm. This was a good day to test this since Jim was working from home and could meet Emma at her bus. We are thinking about letting her walk home and let herself in for the 5 minutes until I arrive. In reality it usually takes us 5 minutes to walk down the street to our house after her bus arrives since we are catching up with each other and talking to the other Mom's and kids. So, as I got off the bus I saw Jim and Emma walking up our front steps. That gives me an idea of how much time she would be alone. Also, there are at least 3 other Mom's at home at that time of day with their kids on our street who she could go to as a resource.

3:00 pm
At home getting ready to drive Emma to a dermatologist appointment in Providence. She needed to get ready for her soccer practice which we would go to immediately after her appointment, and I changed my clothes into something I wanted to watch soccer practice in.

3:15 pm
Leave for Doctor appointment

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of Third Grade

Today was the day. Everyone gathered at the end of the street to wait for the bus -- which was so late that Emma ended up riding to school with Miss Miriam and her daughters Elizabeth and Kayla and with Olivia from next door. The bus came right after they left of course. So, here are some shots of our morning. There is a huge crowd of kids in the K-5th grade taking the bus together. All on our street with only 16 houses on it!

Maggie and I met Emma at the bus stop after school -- by all accounts the first day went well. She has 8 girls and 11 boys in her class, including her two good friends from her class last year -- Katie and Ally and one of the boys on our street. So, here's to third grade -- I think Mom is ready.

Home from camp and to the Shore

So we headed off to pick Emma up from Chimney Corners on August 16th. We got there at 9:45 and she was one of the last to be picked up from her cabin so it was very very quiet compared to Mom's weekend. We said goodbye to her counselors Dana and Ally and to Chimney Corners for this Summer. We headed home with a stop for lunch at Friendly's to mirror our trip up 4 weeks earlier. I then spent two days doing laundry -- that's finished, but there are still some things to go through -- mostly Emma's mementos from camp.

After a short two days at home Emma and I packed up again and headed off to the Jersey Shore to my Mom's house for a couple of days. We wanted to break the journey to my Dad's into two parts and to catch up with my Mom, my sister and of course the twins Amelia and Nikolas. They are really talking all the time now and I was being called to read and play -- I am "Aunt Beouf" pronounced as in the French for beef.

Emma spent part of a day with her new friend from camp Erin who spends the Summers in Stone Harbor on 105th street just a few blocks from my Mom's house at 110th street. I had a great time playing on the beach with Nicky and Mia and then reading and talking with Mom and her friends when they went in to nap. It was a absolutely gorgeous day with no humidity. I even swam -- though the water in the Atlantic never really warmed up this Summer. One of my Mom's neighbors -- a woman in her 90s (she looks like she's in her 70s or early 80s) came down to swim as she does everyday with her thermometer and informed us that it was only 68 degrees and to cold for her. I found her an inspiration -- I want to be that active and look that great in my 90s.

Here are the twins on the beach that day.

After a couple of days there Emma and headed for Cape May to take the ferry to Lewes Delaware and then drive the to Dad and Hazel's house on the Eastern Shore or Maryland in Snow Hill. They are about a half hour from Salisbury, Ocean City and Chicoteague, Va. We were greeted by their two dogs -- who both jumped into the car to welcome us -- Bella was wet so that wasn't the greatest welcome, but you have to admire her exuberance.

Here they are relaxing after a long hard day -- Bella is the black lab on the chair and Pumpkin is the white west highland terrier on the footstool.

Dad has a swimming pool so we obviously spent a lot of time hanging out around it. We had several fantastic days of lower humidity and sunshine. Emma had a terrific time playing with her friend Hannah who she met last Summer when she was at Dad's. Hannah lives around the corner from Dad and just started 4th grade today and she's only about 6 months older. They play really well together and I get lots of time to read or do whatever as they entertain each other. Hannah's an only child too so I know she enjoys it. They had several sleep overs -- some at Dad's and some at Hannah's. Here they are playing in the pool -- this is actually at Uncle Larry's pool also in Snow Hill where we were for a crab feast (hard shelled blue crabs steamed in old Bay seasoning which we picked the meat out of ourselves).

One night Emma helped Dad (Papa) make pizza. He bought the dough from Trader Joe's and they rolled in out into circles and then put all the toppings on. It was really good!

We also got to meet Hazel's daughter Caroline and her boyfriend Joel. They arrived a couple of days before we had to head back to school and work. They live in Paris. Joel is French and Caroline is Irish, but has been living in France for many years. After hearing so much about them it was really great to finally meet them and hang out by the pool and share food and wine and a trip to the water park and a boat ride on the Pocomoke with Uncle Larry and Aunt Sue on their boat. It was another gorgeous evening and we enjoyed wine and snacks. Larry let Emma drive the boat a lot of the way!! Here she is:

Here are Caroline and Joel on the boat. Emma asked Caroline if she could call her Auntie Caroline and she said yes so that's what Emma called her the rest of the time! Well, she is my step-sister so that makes her an Aunt.

I will probably post some more photos on Facebook or Snapfish, but enjoy these in the meatime!