It is snowing out again-this time a beautiful, fluffy, steady snow that will result in half a foot-perfect for the last day of Massachusetts school vacation, and then we'll get our road back.  Friday we got a foot and had no school, starting our break a day early.  Here are the boys playing outside.
Yesterday was a very exciting day!  Have I mentioned how much I loooove Scouts?  It's so wonderful to have Aidan involved in something where God & country mean something, where good deeds are the goal, and where the boys are not competing with one another but are practicing fraternal cooperation.  He had his first badge ceremony.  Here he is with me pinning the badge on him.
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This is the Tiger Scout group lined up alphabetically.  Our first son is just short of 6'2" and Aidan is expected to be the same height or taller than him.  It's not really obvious in this shot, but he is far taller than the other boys.
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In our pack, the badges stay upside down until a good deed is done, and then they can be affixed to the shirt right side up.  Aidan did his good deed after the ceremony by helping to put the chairs away, even though he didn't take them out :-)

But the fun wasn't over with this award!  It turns out that he was one of the three top sellers for popcorn.  So he got a pin for his lapel, which of course he couldn't leave alone and by the time we left the back had rolled off into one of those places where little things hide for decades.  He didn't find it quite as exciting as the Wal Mart gift card that came with it, anyway!
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Ugh

2/19/2011

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That word about sums up the last few days for me.  Wednesday afternoon I couldn't get warm, but the heat also hadn't been working on my side of the building (a very chronic problem) so I explained it away.  Just after midnight I woke on a wave of nausea and barely made it to the bathroom in time.  About every two hours after that until 11:30 in the morning I was making the same rush.  Although I know it was a bad stomach bug that is still bothering me today, I will probably never eat homemade macaroni and cheese again.  It will join lobster and rum on my list of never to be touched, smelled, or looked at again.

Mom also began a quick decline this week.  On Wednesday she was "stuck" in her hall, unable to use her feet to move.  So we are now on 24/7 detail to keep her company and make sure that she can get about, etc.  My sister who is one year younger than me has been doing the bulk of the work, but she is now on a much-needed cruise (in addition to caring for Mom every morning she is in her 20th and last year of teaching kindergarten twice a day and also running a bakery, catering, and nutrition counseling business).  So last night I spent the night on Mom's couch and will be doing it again tonight.  There are plenty of people to take care of her, but only three daughters nearby and only two of us in town, and Mom is extremely modest so she's much more comfortable with one of us attending to personal needs (I'm just like her that way).  So while I'm more than happy to be able to care for her, and consider it a privilege in fact, it is still a big Ugh!
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30 Years Ago This Summer
(I graduated at 16; Mom would have been just short of 52)

 
 
Today is the day that we get the dossier off to our agency.  Can you say tons of copying?  Not only do they need a photocopy of everything but also a copy of each authentication page-geez!  Anyway, we went this week to get the all-important photos to accompany the package.  The family shots were created through Walmart's one hour photo on-line, and they randomly scramble them for size.  The smaller ones for visas-well, you know how that goes-my husband had been wearing his baseball cap so of course his hair comes out flat and I look like I always look when it's 8:30 and past my bedtime-so I won't post those here :-)
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I've been playing with the photos at the top of my pages, but when I try to stretch them out, they stretch down as well as to the side, and I can't find a way to title them-could just be limitations of my service provider.  Anyway, the photo on my front page is the ski area on our road, so the view is actually looking down at our house-we're about two to three miles from the base.  The picture on the top of this page is the lake in the town where our middle and high schools are located, and where our son lives.  We swim there as well as at other places in the summer.  This lake is cold but the beaches are great and it's one of the ten cleanest lakes in the world.  When I was young it was the fourth cleanest, but it goes up and down in the top ten now.

FedEx came today!  Very exciting, but you know how it is, it also makes you a wreck.  Deep breaths help to concentrate so I don't screw anything up!  He was bringing our dossier all authenticated, etc., from the State Dept. and Chinese Embassy in DC.  Tomorrow night we'll get our visa photos.  We tried to this weekend but had one of "those" customer service people-first she asked if she could help me, then when I told her what we needed, she told me she had to turn the machines on and wouldn't be ready for us for an hour, so I said we'd shop, and when we came back, she told us it hadn't been an hour and she was too busy to take care of us then even though no one else was in line (it had only been 56 minutes-shame on me for not checking the time).  So we'll either get them done at a "real" photo shop where we can get in and out in a few minutes or we'll get them at a different Wal-Mart when I pick up the photo collage to go with the dossier.
 
 
Today's post should have been about the Lion Dance parade in Boston's Chinatown.  I woke my husband and son up bright and early so we could make the drive to the bus station and then take the bus to South Station and walk to Chinatown.  But, since it was a surprise, Aidan wouldn't have anything to do with it.  He doesn't like surprises.  I couldn't tell him in advance, though, in case the weather was bad.  Can never tell what's going on 100 miles away, right?  So we ended up shopping instead.  And since I can't entertain you with lovely pictures of Chinese festivities (next year we'll go the night before and stay at a hotel), here are some goofy shots of me.  How many of you have tried to take pictures of yourself with the camera only as far away as your arms will reach?  If you have, you'll know why these probably aren't the most flattering shots in the world!
What did I learn from this?  The roots are showing.  Make-up is my friend.  And the camera (still) never lies, darn it!
 
 
My sister's son has been on tv a few times.  He is a professional poker player.  Sometimes he's on American tv, sometimes on tv in other countries.  But now his wife has done her first television spot which is exciting!   She was on CBS Austin today decorating Valentine's Day cookies.  In the summer she is here in NH with my sister running their organic bakery.  In Texas she is teaching cooking lessons to girls.  Here is her short video clip:  http://weareaustin.com/entertainment-story/?nxd_id=120466
 
 
I bought gifts for Aidan to take in to his classmates for Chinese New Year.  The kit came with 12 hare coloring cards, 12 paper lanterns in different colors, 12 red envelopes, and 12 gold wrapped chocolate coins.  To say that he was thrilled would be an enormous understatement!  It is obvious that he remembers celebrations in China even if he doesn't remember the exact nature of them.
 
 
It is the year of the rabbit, and we've been gifted with a snow bunny.  He wants me to go sledding with him every day, and if I don't, he whines, "You never do anything with me," which is his mantra whenever he thinks that it might help-it doesn't.  So today I told him I would watch him from the window and this is what he did.
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He "sunned" himself between two snow banks for about half an hour, even though it snowed on him for most of that time.  He also wanted me to see him sliding down one of the banks on his snow pants.  Here he is about to take off:
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We just had some sleet and freezing rain and will probably have more before it snows again near morning-expecting about 8" of snow before it stops-and I went outside to take a picture, only to discover that our lilac branches were completely denuded by the rain.  Here is what they looked like last night.
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We're going to get more snow on Tuesday and chances are we'll get another big storm this week, but it might actually skip Wednesday this time in favor of Thursday.  Aidan will be psyched if that happens, since Wednesday is snowboarding lessons and when there is no school, there is no lesson.  We'd take him on the snow day  if he had enough experience, but it's still new to him.
 
 
Well, the little rodent came out despite the storm and said that spring would be early this year, but you would never know it from these photos.
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This is Aidan taking a break from shoveling with Dad.
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It was such a nice day, though, that I had to take a walk up to my mother's house.
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Unfortunately, last night/early this morning, there was a fire across town and the family lost everything.  He is our son in-law's best friend.  She is my cousin's first grandchild.  They have two daughters, seven and two I think, and another one on the way.  So here are the fire trucks refilling their tanks across from my mother's house.
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