At school I run a Women's Studies Group and the first thing that we do is look at how women communicate with one another, how they communicate differently from men, and how they can be biggest supporter or biggest saboteur to one another.  We progress on to trust building activities for the group, guest speakers from different careers and vocations, etc., and this year our focus is on women around the globe and trying to help those less fortunate.  One of the girls is going to Kenya in December for a week and returning next year for six months to volunteer at a home for children who were orphaned because their parents died of AIDS. 

It is because of the strong and special women in my life and our open communication that I am able to be friends with other women; a rare thing sometimes.

This isn't the best photo (Mom was sick with cancer and I had been washing dishes, hence the odd hand pose), but this is Audrey on the left, Ruth in the middle, me on the right, and Mom last winter.
Picture
This is us back in 1979 or 1980 at my cousin's wedding.  (I've got the long hair.)
Picture
These are my girls.  Lauren will be 28 while I'm in China.  Farran will be with me in China.
Picture
Picture
I do have two older sisters.  Kathy was 16 years older than me and we spent years going to the grocery store together, trading babysitting, walking at 5 a.m., going to fairs, to the beach, etc., but then she had grandchildren and I started teaching....and our schedules didn't match up.  In 2004 I found her dying of a stroke on her living room floor.  I will never stop missing her.  She hated having her photograph taken, though.  My oldest sister June, 18 years older than me (I'm the middle sister), has the mental age of a young teenager and we love one another but we don't really connect.  Still, she is as responsible for shaping who I am as Kathy was.  Here is a picture of the two of them as children (with my first and second brothers):
Picture
Two weeks from today, I will meet another female destined to change my life!
Picture
 
 
Our daughter goes to college in Vermont.  Sunday was move-in day but the college is just re-opening today.  We still don't know when she can get there because the roads in and out and around the city where her school is are closed.  So today we'll call the state police and see if there is an alternate route.  We may be able to drive another hour to hour and a half north and then come back down, but we're not sure.  Here are images of the road we normally take-one of the most traveled roads in the state.
Picture
Picture
 
 
I don't like shopping.  Or bargaining.  Or yard sales.  I used to like grocery shopping before the prices went up so much.  I do like antique shopping but only if I am actually looking for something. 

But every now and then I get excited by something, and that happened this weekend when I went to a church fair in town (not our church, but another one).  Here is where Aidan keeps his "little things" in his room:
Picture
I had been looking for something like this for Eva, and this is what I found at the fair for a whole five dollars!
Picture
Our oldest grandson and Aidan sit on the porch in canvas lawn chairs so the little boys needed special seats of their own.  For $3 I came home with this:
Picture
Now I'll leave you with the image of what our house looks like when all four grandchildren are over and all of the big kids are home (and Aidan retreats to his room; he still dislikes "crowds" and he also dislikes having his picture taken, in case you hadn't noticed, though I did manage to get one in here)
Picture
 
 
We do have a new modem but the modem was fine.  There is a lot of noise on the line every afternoon and evening.  The tech who was here can't climb the telephone pole because the pole is marked condemned-to be replaced-so no one can climb it.  He is sending the line tech to check it out to see how much spillage he can detect and what else they can do.  So I'm not spending much time online-sorry to those I follow for my sporadic posts.

I'll keep my posts short and limited since I have a bunch of pictures to share of recent happenings but too many for one post.  Here are some lake shots from yesterday:
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
I didn't get any shots of our first grandson in the water since I was in the water with him, but his transformation from a year ago has been amazing!  Last year he screamed, cried, bucked, and totally broke down at the thought of water.  After a year of occupational therapy for his sensory processing disorder, he has discovered a love a water!  (I've added a July 4 picture of him at the bottom to show just how much he loves it now.)
Picture
Picture
Picture
 
 
Picture
We finally got snow.  After only having snow on December 26 and most of the state having a brown Christmas while the rest of the country got hit, we are making up for lost time.  We've had three snow days and a delayed opening in the past two weeks.  This coming week we will have either heavy snow and winds or a blizzard-depends whether or not the storm tracks along the coast or further out to sea.  And the temps?  They'll be frigid for at least the next week.
So what do you do with weather like this?  Yes, there is sledding and skiing and snowboarding, but there is also hanging out around the house playing games and going out for pizza with the whole family when Aidan's first badge ceremony for Tiger Scouts gets canceled due to heavy snow (how many of you learned to spell cancelled with two Ls and get frustrated that one of the rules that made sense in grammar has been changed?).  Here are some pictures from the last couple of weeks:
 
 
Picture
I took today off because this was THE DAY to get our dossier certified at the NH Secretary of State's office and I was worried that if I rushed there after work they would not have time to do it.  Smart choice.  We ended up with 15 documents total, I got all the certs and then went to FedEx where I sent the whole thing, plus a copy, to the US State Dept. in DC with an envelope for them to forward it to the NYC PRC consulate when they were done with it and with an envelope for the consulate to then send it all back to me!  The longest of the three steps will be the DC one, but hopefully by the end of the month I'll have it all back.  It's amazing how paralyzing it is when you hit a big stage like this because there are just so many places to mess it up.  I was in the den making the photocopies of the dossier for the PRC consulate and I was running my hands over the papers to make sure that the copies with seals ended up in the right folder.  All I can say is phew!

My (currently) youngest daughter is doing okay at school.  I think that in the end she will be better off but it sure was rough.  The president wrote to me, the dean and I spoke this morning, and the traumatic return to school is the result of a late decision on her roommate's part, a miscommunication to us by the R.A., and a bad policy regarding housing.  So I will address the policy later in the week because I don't want the main complaint diluted-that my daughter was unnecessarily hurt.
 
 
I am a fairly unemotional person without many highs or lows.  Easily irritated by little things but rarely upset by much of anything.  Think of a bear swatting at something annoying but generally not roaring or anything.  Then picture the bear when she is actually mad, and you have a complete change from the rather lazy, placid creature that might look round and cuddly to the sharp teethed, sharp clawed, ferocious beast.

Yeah; that's me.  And today, due to some nasty manipulations by a small group of mean, dysfunctional girls, Mama Bear was a-roaring.

We were taking our daughter, LB, back to college.  She was pumped.  Had Christmas gifts for her roommate and another friend all wrapped.  Packed up her new clothes, movies, and electronic games.  Was excited about her new classes.  We were excited for her, and very proud of her.  She finished first semester with one A- and every other grade higher than that.  She is on the student government association and in the business club.  She works in the division of arts and sciences with professors that she really admires-she is majoring in English with a minor in marketing and is considering a second major of history.

So imagine what transpires when we get a message 45 minutes before arriving on campus from her roommate that tells our daughter not to unpack when she gets to campus because she'll be moving out.  Her school has a policy, apparently, of moving people out of the suites if anyone complains about them.  Two girls complained about our daughter and, without any substance to those complaints (one of her wrapped gifts was for one of these girls, who spent Thanksgiving break at our house) and without any hearing about these complaints-made in her absence while they remained on campus over the break. 

I'll make the long story short.  The president and the dean of student have a letter of complaint in their inbox for the morning.  Our daughter is in a room of her own, crying, surrounded by new stuff that we bought to replace the stuff her roommate had brought-they had talked this summer and agreed on who would buy what.  And this Mama Bear is not done yet.
 
 
We got Eva's physical exam results from a couple of weeks ago.  She is 41" tall and weighs 33 lbs.  So she is a size 4, while her brother who is just eight weeks younger than her wears a size 8.  He's pretty psyched.

A new child comes home soon.

My mother feels well but is not well.  She will be leaving us sometime this year or next.

Next month my nephew and his wife will move to Texas.  Fundamental Christian readers won't like this, but my nephew is a professional poker player and makes a decent living at it.  In NH our taxes are set up so that if he brings in $2.5 million he is taxed 90% of that, even if he loses $2.4 million in the same year.  There were only five or six states where this would not be the case.  He and his wife considered moving to her native France, but in the end they chose Austin, Texas.

My nephew is leaving us.  We will have a new place to visit.

My other nephew from the same family, father to a seven month old son who is just adorable, married for a couple of years and enjoying a new home, has cancer.  He will find out more on Thursday.

My nephew is fighting for everything.  All that he is.  All that he has.

Little Baby loves college.  The life.  The social life.  The classes.  Everything about it.

Little Baby has finally found a place where she can be happy after an adolescence plagued by unhappiness.

Life is change.
 
 
I took the week off before returning to my regular job as a high school social studies teacher-in the summer I watch the grandsons to both save my big kids money and to spend time with them.  Here is what we did with our week:
Picture
Monday-the ocean with Aidan.  Four hours of boogie boarding and on the two hour ride home, he kept saying, "that was cool, Mommy" and "when can we go to the ocean again?"
Picture
Tuesday-I'm not really clear on this day, though I think we did some school shopping. 

Wednesday-I just couldn't spend a week without the little ones, and Matthew and Aidan get along so well that I asked my daughter if he could spend the day with us.
Picture
Picture
Thursday-Brody hung out with Aidan and me fand since he cannot stand to be next door to "the farm" (Great Grammie's house) and not go there, we went.  We saw the cows, the piggies, and even picked some of my tomatoes on the way.  Aidan eats them like apples, so Brody tried that as well, only to say, "It's not very tasty, Grammie," and give it back to me.
Picture
Ricky and I had two summers alone together before Aidan was adopted and I know that sometimes he and I both miss that alone time.  So I asked my daughter if I could take him out on Thursday afternoon.  He was so excited that he didn't nap at daycare.  We went first to mini golfing (see the Pirate booty he got, above) and then to a farm where he chased a rooster and wanted my help.  I told him that I have chased enough chickens in my time and asked if he knew what that rooster was going to do to him if he caught it?  We then had a big cup of chocolate milk before leaving the farm.  But do you know what he really wanted to do with our afternoon together?  Just come to my house.  So we came home and he and Aidan played and he was happy.
Picture
So on Friday Little Baby, Aidan and I went back for more mini-golfing.

Saturday was the annual fundraiser for my nephew's memorial scholarship.
Sunday was Brody's second birthday party.

It is raining-Hallelujah!  The well has been dry for almost two months.  I'm sick of doing one load of dishes a week and two loads of laundry a week and only one or two of....everything else!
Picture
Now I have five days of in-service training, meetings, a little bit of time allowed for me to actually work in my room and get ready (my room is used all summer and then at the very end, maintenance on that end of the building is done, so there is no way to get in and get ready ahead of time).  Wednesday I'll be skipping the day, though; Little Baby will be off to Vermont for college.  So Golden Baby went to Maine and Pretty Baby went to Massachusetts, and Little Baby will go to Vermont.  When you are accepted there, at least at her school, the governor sends a letter to you and your parents along with a Vermont guide, travel map, and information about the state.  I think it's really nice.  Maybe Aidan will go to college in Quebec? 
 
 
Picture
First it was the beach with LB, PB, her sons, Aidan and me. 
Picture
Picture
Then it was Storyland with all four of our children, our daughter in-law, and three grandsons. 
G wasn't there this time, though he does like that kind of thing.  He's busy getting an antique stock car ready for a show next weekend.
Picture
Picture