Sunday, January 29, 2006

Twins 2nd Birthday Party

Birthday Cake for Two
You can see the rest of the party photos here.

We invited some families from our church with kids our kids are friends with and had a party in the co-op's common room.

All our kids had a great time. It was a Dora the Explorer theme. The kids watched "Dora the Explorer" videos, had Dora the explorer coloring sheets, and played with our huge box of Duplos. The older sibs - including Melissa - played cards.

Allan also showed a video he put together with slides and video clips of the twins' first two years. They really have come a long way. Then, of course, there was the evening's highlight - the Dora piñata! It was stuffed FULL.

We had a ton of food; we have frozen a lot, gave away some to guests, and will be eating it for a while. Part of me thinks we should have invited more people, but it would have been SO crowded that there wouldn't have been much room for the kids to play.

Here's the menu:

~ home-made egg rolls
~ vegetarian pancit (flour stick noodles)
~ meat pancit (with rice stick noodles)
~ honey garlic chicken wings
~ lemon pepper baked salmon
~ coconut rice
~ Filipino-style coconut fruit salad
~ bean dip and tortilla chips
~ vegetable platter with dip
~ fruit platter
~ deli slices and cheese platter
~ cheezits
~ apple juice, orange punch, and lots of pop
~ a Dora the Explorer cake with ice-cream to go with!

After cake and ice-cream, we handed out the Dora the Explorer gift bags and the twins opened their gifts. Well, the older kids helped the twins open their gifts. Megan and Maribeth were exhausted and also clueless about how to rip the paper. So we let all the kids help them open the presents.

It was quite an evening!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Out of the house all day

Long day - we are just back! I drove Allan to work this morning and then came back to pick up Beth and the 5M's. The itinerary:

  • Vancouver Aquarium (For 3 hours catching 3 shows and seeing most of the exhibits!)
  • A sight-seeing drive around Stanley Park (while the twins napped)
  • Sightseeing drive around and about Vancouver including through Chinatown
  • Lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory
  • Walking around Gastown and seeing the steam clock
  • Walking around the mall in Langley
  • Kids riding the rides in the mall lots because we happened to be there when the guy was collecting the $ and testing the rides
  • Getting bubble Tea
Now I'm heading off to a finance committee meeting. The kids are eating leftover food from the Spaghetti Factory and drinking leftover bubble tea smoothies. Auntie Bethie has to do laundry and start packing for her trip home early Sunday morning. Daddy will bathe the M's and they will go to bed early - it's been a long day.

Tomorrow will be even longer -- we'll be cooking and cleaning for Sabbath and the twins' birthday party Saturday night.

The sad part was Beth's camera battery died and so did mine. I had spares BUT only three spare batteries - we lost a rechargeable AA battery somewhere along the way. So most of the day didn't get documented.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Computer games with Auntie Beth

Computer games with Auntie Beth
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Auntie Beth has spent a lot of time playing games with the twins online. They love the online Dora games.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Day at the US Consulate

As Beth is here to watch the M's, I spent the day at the US Consulate in Vancouver. I was there 30 minutes before opening and was 1st in line for US Citizen Services. Unfortunately, I neglected to take my Swiss army knife off my key chain, so that was confiscated and I did not get it back. The purpose of the trip was to complete the applications for "Certificate of Birth Abroad" for all five M's and to apply for social security numbers for them. As I still hold US citizenship, our children have the right to US Citizenship as well.

We had made a prior trip to the Consulate in November when my parents visited to fill out the preliminary forms and get the instruction sheets. We had to get the actual "Registration of Live birth" documents from the Department of Vital Statistics in Victoria. Their birth certificates just would not do as apparently, they can be amended to show adoptive parents and US citizenship is by blood, not adoption. Those were $55 each. Then I needed high school transcripts, as well as other proof of residence in the USA for a total of 5 years, with a certain number of which had to be over the age of 14. So I had to send off for those. I also had to have my marriage certificate, birth certificate, passport, former passport, document of landing, former marriage certificate, divorce certificate, Canadian stamps for registered mail for each certificate, the kids passports, and care cards. It was quite the stack of documentation!

Once cleared through security (minus one knife), I had no wait, but spent the next THREE hours at the consulate: filling out paper work, 2 forms for each child, waiting for them to photocopy and notarize EACH document for EACH application, then signing in the presence of the Consul. Applications were approved and the 5 M's will each receive a "Certificate of Birth Abroad" document AND a social security card with social security number by registered mail sometime in the next 3-8 weeks.

I also got a stack of forms about dual citizenship. This informed me that as US Citizens they MUST enter the USA under proof of USA citizenship NOT Canadian citizenship. Until the end of 2006, the "Certificate of Birth Abroad" will be sufficient, but new legislation has been passed recently and as of 2007 they will have to carry American passports when crossing into the USA. So much for their Canadian passports! We will need to get them all US passports. For travel to other countries, they can pick whichever passport they want but going to the USA, they will need BOTH as the United States AND Canada will be requiring dual citizens to enter the country with proof of citizenship for both countries.

We can apply for the kids' passports at the consulate in Vancouver after we get their Certificates of Birth Abroad. Only for that, both parents AND all the children must appear in person. They gave me the forms to fill out in advance, so we will just have to bring in the photos, completed forms, all our ID and then just sign the forms there in front of the officer. So we'll need to plan a day to do that later.

I'm a little put out that our kids are going to have to carry TWO passports to cross the border. Whatever happened to the days of just having a drivers license or birth certificate? Keeping two sets of current passports for FIVE children, is going to be expensive. But it's balanced out by the advantages of dual citizenship. Our children will be able to go to school in the USA if they choose, to live or work in the USA if they choose, to immigrate to the USA and even bring spouses in if they want to. That's something that one can't put a price on.

They also explained to me about why I can't have dual citizenship. The American government does not encourage dual citizenship. According to their handout "Persons my have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice." Meaning, because my children were born to a American citizen, they have the right to U.S. citizenship. Because they were born in Canada to a Canadian citizen, they also have Canadian citizenship. So because it was different laws, they can have dual. I can't have dual citizenship because I would have to APPLY for Canadian citizenship. I can live here in Canada and work with my permanent resident status while maintaining U.S. citizenship. But if I want to apply to become a Canadian citizen, I would have to renounce U.S. citizenship; something I am not prepared to do right now. My being a U.S. Citizen means we have the option to move to the USA sometime in the future, should we want to. It's enough to make one's head hurt.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

End of the Baby Stage

This weekend marks the bittersweet end of an era: the baby years are over. The twins aren't babies anymore - they are well into toddlerhood. This weekend marked the move into the next stage for our family.

For the first time in six and-a-half years we have no one sleeping in a crib. We've picked up our babies out of their cribs in the morning for the last time. From now on they'll be getting out of bed on their own. This weekend the twins got new beds and their room decorated in their chosen theme: Dora the Explorer. They have: Dora sheets, Dora blankets, a Dora laundry basket, and Dora appliques on their walls. When we brought them into their newly docrated room Megan and Maribeth were thrilled and kept squealing "Dora beds! Dora beds!"

Unlike our older children, this transition has gone remarkably well. They are still taking naps; still going to bed more or less on time. The only difference is just that we have to sit with them a little bit longer than before.

The other sign of the end of the baby years was that Saturday night I took Michael to the store to buy him several sets of regular Legos: little Legos, choking hazard Legos, Legos that I said years ago I would NOT buy until the youngest child didn't put things in their mouth anymore. That time has come.

Michael has been frustrated by the twins knocking over his Duplo creations in the living room. He's a sheltered boy. He didn't realize there were smaller Legos and kits to build things, like cars. He's now got a Lego workstation set up on the desk in his room. We brought a lamp in so he would have more light. He can work on his Lego creations there in his room and let them sit on his desk or shelves now; without worrying about either the twins knocking them over or Melissa and Maddy swiping the blocks to build a house.

It's the end of the baby stage... and the beginning of life with kids.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Vertical Mouse

I have been remiss in reviewing this! My father sent out an Evoluent Vertical Mouse 2 with Allan, and he installed for me when I got home from surgery last Thursday night.

I admit I was skeptical, but after only several times using it I have decided that I really, really like it. I've battled tendonitis on and off for years, and this mouse really takes a lot of the strain off my wrist and hand. I found that it didn't take very long to get used to it either.

Techno-Baby Maribeth took a little bit longer to get used to it than I did. It flummoxed her for a while until she figured out to run it using BOTH hands together - one on each side. Not that she is SUPPOSED to be using it; she just sneaks in here and likes to play on my computer!

Other tech stuff done this week includes setting up the kids with their own user id's and passwords on their computers with certain sites only bookmarked for them. So Michael and Melissa have been enjoying going online to work on their reading at starfall reading or going onto cbc kids or pbs kids to play games.

Next will be getting them set-up to download photos off their digital camera (our old canon A30 - now left at kid-height for their photographic education) directly to one of their computers and then possibly uploading to their own flickr account.

We also now have an inexpensive computer desk from IKEA so that the 2 living room computers aren't sharing the same desk anymore. Which means they can both be used at the same time.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sabbath aftternoon Beach walk

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

We went slowly - but it was good to get out on the first sunny afternoon in just under 1 month!

Melissa January at Cresecent Beach Beth Self Portrait Riding in the wagon Going for his camera Winter Sun


Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Created with fd's Flickr Toys. The quote is from Victor Hugo, and the photo by our friend Richard who passed away from cancer/kidney failure in 2002.

Our dancing bear

Our dancing bear
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Beth stayed with Maddy for dance class this past Wednesday and it was costume fitting day. The Kinderdance class will be dancing bears. So adorable!

At just-turned-4, Maddy is the oldest in the very young kinderdance class. It's been good for her to be the oldest and the best behaved. It's also helped her with her balance and co-ordination. She's our child who is always knocking things over, falling down, and banging into things so we are amazed at how much dance class is helping with that.

I will have to get Beth to take some video clips this coming week. She'll be taking both girls to dance classes again.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I'm home!

I'm home!!! Surgery went well after an initial mix-up of the surgeon wandering off with my chart and leaving it an another operating room! He did say my gall bladder was really bad: covered in scar tissue and adhesions with them also being all around it. He did manage to get that all out laproscopically.

Beth did awesome! Allan came home from work early so she could have a nap before he picked me up, but we came home to a CLEAN house (cleaner than when I LEFT IT!!!) with kids all bathed and in PJ's being read to!!! Even I don't do that well.

Maribeth does have a new tooth. I checked! I'm glad that's all it was. Of course now she is fussing because Daddy carried her off for bed.

I'm not going upstairs today or maybe even tomorrow. Allan is setting up the sofa-bed in the living room. I actually slept most of the time in recovery because I got Zofran to counteract the nausea from the anesthesia. They gave me morphine in my IV for pain even though I told them it makes me itch. Then they gave me Benadryl for the itching. So I was emphatically OUT! Now that I'm on just T3's, I am a little more aware.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm going under the knife tomorrow and M5 may be sick

Tomorrow I'm going to be having surgery to take my gall bladder out. Allan is going to the dentist, then is supposed to be going to work. The problem is that Maribeth seems to be sick or in some sort of pain. She has been fussy all day and getting worse hourly; to the point of screaming for hours and hours this evening. I laid her down in her crib and she fell asleep exhausted, but she still keeps waking up crying every little bit. We have tried all the usual things like Baby Tylenol, rocking her, and Zantac (in case it's her reflux acting up again) but so far nothing really seems to help much.

It is a hard call sometimes. How sick is sick enough to take a child in for medical attention. It's embarrassing to take a fussy baby in and be told they have a "case of teething". At the same time you don't want to run the risk of there really being something wrong and not going in. This isn't to "ER" proportions QUITE yet.

Without clear medical indications (like vomiting to the point of dehydration), I'm reluctant to take a crying baby/toddler into an ER. I made that mistake once with Melissa years ago. She had cried all day, all evening, for hours in the waiting room, and in the ER exam room. "Inconsolable crying", as they put it. She had no vomiting, no fever, and as it turned out no ear infection. They did X-rays and an MRI, all the while sending social worker types to question me away from the baby in closed rooms about if I had shook her at ALL. I hadn't. The next day we took her to our family doctor and found out she had hand-foot-mouth disease. The ER had missed the sores on her hands, feet, and mouth completely! So you can see why I'm in no hurry to go in again for "inconsolable crying".

My sister is here to watch the kids, but she can't take Maribeth in as she is not a parent. (Add to this the fact that she won't have transportation, as Allan will have the van to drive me to the hospital.) This is simply (yet another) case where family may have to come before work. So if she NEEDS to go in earlier, then Allan is going to have to do that because I have to get my surgery done. I suppose I could no-show the surgery but I've been having quite a lot of pain so this really needs to be done.

We would appreciate prayers that whatever is wrong with Maribeth is over by morning; prayers too that the kids will be cheerful and co-operative (and not sick!) for Auntie Bethie tomorrow and Friday. Because if she can't handle all 5 kids - Allan is going to have to come home and care for them. It's one thing to have me as a parent dealing with kids that have me at the end of my rope. Asking someone else who is volunteering to do that isn't terribly realistic. So also pray Allan doesn't have to skip work and of course that my surgery is complication free and that I can recover quickly.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Time to brush off the resume

A self portrait
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Starting next month - I'll be looking for a job. I'm 30 years old with 5 children ages 6 and under and have not worked since August of 2000.

I'm glad I've been able to stay home with the kids - I think that is important and the kids have benefitted. But the thought of having to go out and apply for jobs now terrifies me. I don't know why as had p/t jobs in high school and college. But now - with 5 kids - it's nerve racking.

But the fact is - our expenses are going up. We've had a year FULL of unusual expenses and a review of our financial situation, while not yet dire, shows we need to take some measures to prevent things from getting dire.

I've spent a number of evenings with spreadsheets and Thursday night was the final straw. The co-op board meeting where we disussed the budget. Lots of co-op expenses have gone up. The bottom line - our rent is going up a LOT effective either in Feb or Mar and it was a stretch for us to move here in the first place.

Life is going to be changing - last year we did a lot of adventures, we did a lot of travelling, bought a lot of things. This year is going to be a year of hard work and not much play because when we aren't working, we'll need to be taking care of the myriad of household chores that come along with having 5 children. Stuff we barely keep up with now! Gone will be the days of going to Vancouver, out to Manning or Golden Ears. This won't be the year for those trips. This will be the year where we'll mostly go out to Crescent beach for walks now and then - or take the children to local parks.

Now with 5 kids - I'm not looking for a day job. I'll be looking for something part-time that is either nightshift or evenings/weekends. I'll still plan on homeschooling the kids at least for the balance of this school year. So post-surgery - I'll be looking for p/t work and would welcome any tips on who might be hiring!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I am writing from the Marriott in Houston. Yesterday turned into the weirdest travel day I've ever had.

I got up at 3:30 am so the GMP could drive me down to Portland to catch the Trailways bus to Boston. The roads were clear and we got to Portland without any delays.

I got onto the bus and napped most of the way down. We pulled into Boston at 7:00 am after a quick stop at Logan. Everything was going smooth until I found out at 7:45 that Greyhound / Trailways had suspended service to all points south and west from Boston due to bad weather. I called the GMP to let her know what was up and she suggested I try the Amtrak. (Which was a fantastic idea, and one that I completely missed. I was thinking of trying to find a flight from Boston to NYC or maybe another bus line. Both of my ideas really weren't that good.)

I managed to get on the 8:20 train headed to Washington, D.C and it got me to Newark Liberty at 1:30 pm. I'm glad I went up to Maine to visit Cheryl's parents because apparently the same snow storm that hit Massachusetts and Conneticut also messed up the roads in NY and PA. I might not have been able to get a bus or train from Scranton as we had planned. As it was, the even though the train stayed close to the coast, there was a lot of snow flying around.

At Newark-Liberty I got through security just fine, though it was really busy, and the settled in to wait for my 4:30 flight. 4:30 came and went and then Continental told us that our flight crew had been delayed on their flight into Newark by bad weather. 90 minutes later they landed and then started getting our plane ready to go. We finally boarded at 6:30 and pulled away from the gate at 7:00 pm.

And then we sat on the taxi-way. Apparently the ground-crew noticed an access panel on one of the engines was open. There was another delay to close off the panel. And then another delay after the Captain informed us that the panel was in fact damaged. We sat there for about an hour until word came back that we were being reassigned a new gate and Continental was going to figure out if they could fix the problem or even assign a new 767 for us. We sat for almost two hours during which Continental decided to fix the access panel, had the fix inspected, filed a new flight plan, and reboarded everybody.

We finally took off at 10:00 pm Eastern. We arrived here in Houston at midnight Central time. They put us up for the night here at the Marriott, but it turns out the next flight from Houston to Vancouver isn't until 9:00 pm tonight.

The good news is that I least get a chance to recover from a really long travel day, and also now have a place to get an internet connection so I can catch up on all the e-mail I missed at home and at work. If all goes well, I'll be home in Vancouver around 2 am tomorrow morning.

Best of 2005

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

With a couple from 2004 thrown in. I really want to go play with this utility some more - the photos didn't come out where I expected them to!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Allan's not going to be home tomorrow either

He has no interent for now. They have him put up in a hotel. The only flight they can get him on (if it leaves as scheduled) leaves Houston at 9pm tomorrow. He wont' be home until probably 2am at the earliest.

Allan is stranded due to bad weather

I'm sure at some point he'll post the sad story of a day that will have turned out to be almost 24 hours on bus, train, airport terminal, stuck in airplane on tarmac. There were airplane mechanical problems, snow storms, flight delays and missed connecting flights.

However the bottom line is - he's not going to be home tonight. He'll be stuck in Houston, TX. He doesn't know when he is getting a flight from Houston to Vancouver - but it'll be some time tomorrow. He will definitely not be to work on time and it remains to be seen if he will even make it to work at all. I'm guessing he's got stacks of work waiting for him at work.

He also has stacks of projects and things to deal with here. I can't see his desk here for the stuff piled onto it for him to deal with. I've done my best solo but the 5 M's can produce mess and mayhem faster than I can clean it up. On his "home" to do list here:

~ Get our in-house wireless network working again; which is necessary if he is to have any internet access at home. Right now only my machine has internet (see previous post). So if he needs to work from home, he has to fix our wireless troubles first. Who knows how long THAT could take? (o.k., I know he could switch which computer is plugged directly into the interent or work from MY computer .. but eventually the networking issues will have to be sorted out. It'll be like the cobbler's kids family going barefoot. The IT guy's family will go without a wireless network...)

~ The kids broke the TV and the VCR and the door to the entertainment center and lost the remote. (I'm currently resisting urge to run out and buy new TV with DVD player and remote and happily freecycle all VHS videos ..)

~ Since I can't put the kids to watch a video so I can clean up, the general mess level is increasing. I'm working on it - but it's a losing battle. I pray I NEVER have to be a single parent of 5 small children. I think I would go insane. This situation could be solved several ways: (a.) Helping me clean up the hosue. (b.) Fixing the TV or buying me a new one so that I can put them in front of it and run around like mad cleaning.

~ 5 small children who want Daddy time. The twins have been waking up in the mornings and saying, "Daddy here?" When I say no - they cry. They seem to handle about a week with no trouble and then all 5 start getting cross about no Daddy time.

~ They got into his CD's: there are CD's opened, cases mixed up, piles of what has been ripped to the computer and what hasn't has been mixed up. All jumbled in a box and probably some other useful computer disks in there too.

~ The slave flash for his new camera came and is here waiting for him. It's going to have to be checked and make sure it's o.k. (Right. Of course. Top priority that.)

~ Church responsibilities and housing co-op committee meetings and things to prepare for those - that's plan A. (Plan B - practice evasive action .. and prepare the Sad Tale of Woe.)

~ Myriads of other small things here and there - that I just can't get to. Though, looking on the bright side, I suppose I have more time to get to some of them since he's not going to be coming in tonight.

That all said - he's going to be swamped at work too and my gall bladder surgery is just one week from Thursday. I'll be glad to get the next month so behind us.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Tech frustrations

Part One - Wireless Network

Yesterday we had a sudden power outage. It unexpectedly turned off my computer and the kid's computers. When the power came on, there was NO internet access. Nothing. Panic. I can't be here solo and 5 children and no internet! That's a prescription for insanity. I phoned Allan at my parents house. Allan calmly told me to do exactly what I would have known to do if I had thought about it. Connect my computer right up to cable modem. Then I would know if it was Telus that was out or if it was our wireless. Bother. It's the wireless network.

I know from past experiences that my attempting to fix problems with the wireless network only leads to frustration and usually more problems that Allan has to clean up. As fate would have it, this sort of thing tends to only happen when Allan is out of the country. So Allan gets to come home and fix our network. The kids will have to live with out interent and I'll be stuck in the office if I want internet.

So now I had internet but I had to re-register this computer with Telus to actually access it. Allan said, "you need to manually register the MAC address."

The WHAT? WT-Heck is a MAC address?

Allan changed to tech support mode and started offering directions: "Go to the Start menu..."

"I don't know where to find that," I said, still thinking of the MAC address.

A confused Allan continued, "the Start menu is down at the bottom ..."

"I KNOW where the start menu is, it's the that address I need to find"

"That's what I'm trying to tell you!"

I could tell I was starting to become an annoying support caller and decided to just listen to his very basic instructions. Then the light dawned, "Oh ipconfig. I've done that before."

So I'm online and Allan knows he's got a networking issue when he gets home. Much as I hate to admit defeat. Allan said I was sounding like I was upset at him. (Not really - at me for not being able to figure it out and for forgetting things I already knew.) Next time - he ought to leave me a backup copy of his brain before he leaves.

Which still all comes back to - I NEED to know how to do more with the network. Because if - God Forbid - anything happens to Allan, I'm going to be stuck administrating it.

Part Two - Tech Frustrations

We moved almost a year ago. Our mail forwarding expired in July. Last night I got a whole stack of mail (mostly junk mail)that had come for us to our old address over the past 6 months. This included a holiday sale flyer for Something that's just as well I didn't get when they sent it out! Now I've bought from Dell before - but at the old address, with our old e-mail address, with a password I no longer remember. I tried every one I could think of - no go. So I figured "no problem - I'll just call them and get them to change my info on their end".

Well after a calling and talking to both customer support and tech support at Dell I have discovered something:

If you don't have your password and that e-mail is defunct, (thus rendering password retrieval useless)- it does not matter what else you have - they cannot change your info and you have to have a new account. Old address, customer numbers, old invoice numbers, former phone numbers, credit card numbers...nope. If you change ISP's and have forgotton your password - you just became a new customer. Well not QUITE a new customer - I haven't bought anything. A fact - I think they were a bit put off about.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A New Chapter

The new year is here and as always there is no going back.

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

Dickens' words seem appropriate to me in describing this year for us. As Cheryl mentioned below, it has been a year where she and we shifted from recovery into new growth. We walked the kids up a real mountain this summer and did some real camping in the woods. Michael and I went to the Philippines and learned more about my family's history. Gail was getting to know David, as were we, and he was bringing a whole new dimension to her life. And then came the events of this autumn, winter, and the holidays .. Well, I think that Gail's letter to David about his memorial service describe best what and who we collectively lost.


Time and tide wait for no man .. or woman, child, pet, etc. This is a fact yet to be impressed sufficiently on the minds of Melissa, Michael, Madeleine, Megan, and Maribeth. Cheryl has been telling me that while I have been away they have not been paying much attention to their chores and other household rules. They have in fact, been wasting a lot of time and effort. I guess I have some work to do when I get home.

Resolutions? I think Cheryl's list is pretty comprehensive, and I don't have much to add.

We both have bicycles now and riding them more is one way we will be working towards better fitness. We will be walking more too.

Building friendships this coming year is also important to us. One thing that was reinforced to me at David's memorial was that true wealth is found in the relationships we build and the lives we touch. No one on their death-bed ever regrets not having spent more time at the office. They regret not having spent time with their family and friends.

On a related point, I resolve to enjoy my children more. I want to be more encouraging and more involved in developing their characters. They each have incredibly unique personalities, skills, and gifts, and I am looking forward to participating in their growth this year. It has been exciting to see Melissa making the leap to reading and Michael is not far behind. Madeleine is also shifting from being a pre-schooler into a child who is ready to learn. The twins are making leaps and bounds in their ability to communicate.

Cheryl is determined to declutter and to organize. Well. I guess that means I'm in. :-)

Right now, no one quite knows what is going to happen next for Gail (and Hugh). Those of you who pray, please pray that Gail will be able to stay in Pennsylvania to carry out David's will.

Whatever happens, what an amazing year this is going to be.