Monday, July 28, 2008

Our New House

Our family at our new house

The door to our new home

4th of July
Michael's department at work had a 4th of July picnic, so we were able to meet many of his new co-workers.

Gabi climbing a Wisteria vine wrapped around a large tree

Gabi checking out the badminton with some other kids

Michael's co-fellow, Hadi, and his wife, Nisreen, and baby, Tameem

Gabi pushing Mommy on the tree swing

Bella loves swinging

Gabi playing with a giant ball

Ready to watch the fireworks

Gramma Jane and Grampa and Uncle Brian came to visit over the 4th of July weekend. We very much appreciated having extra hands around to play with the girls, but we were too busy unpacking boxes to take any pictures.

Aunt Lisa stopped by on her way from Tennessee to Texas

Living just 10 minutes away from Lolo and Lola is great, as they love to take time for our girls.

Gabi reading her "Wildlife Camp" album to Lolo and Lola

Gabi has missed all of her Atlanta playgroup friends. She pretends to talk to them on her play phone, and she invites them over to swim or play. Gabi helped me write a couple thank-you notes and enjoyed it so much that she has continued to write letters to all her friends. I spell her friend's name, and she writes it at the top, then signs her name at the bottom. She was ecstatic when she got a letter from Kira in the mail! We had to write Kira back immediately. When I mailed some official forms for Michael, Gabi asked to put the stamps on. I told her I was going to put these two on, and she replied, "But the mail is for Gabi to do!" She loves to lick envelopes, place stamps, and carry letters to the mailbox.

Gabi writing a letter to Kira

New Kitchen
We love the color we finally selected for our new kitchen. Isn't this kitchen fantastic?!?

Snack time in our new kitchen

Happy baby


Gabi eating breakfast

Flowers in my new kitchen

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Last Week in Atlanta

Gabi and Ava swimming at Glenlake

Our last week in Atlanta, the girls and I tried to take time for fun activities and playdates every day.

My last Moms' Night in Atlanta

We tried out the new McKoy Pool with zero-entry. I was sad that we were leaving this fantastic pool until I found out that our new neighborhood has a wonderful zero-entry pool where we can swim for free! We've also met some new friends at the neighborhood pool. Yesterday, a nice lady down the street from us came and gave Gabi some water wings and taught her how to swim while I played with Annabelle. (She would have carried Annabelle, but the baby is a bit clingy to Mommy at this age. Speaking of Annabelle's age, she is now 11 months old, as of yesterday.) At any rate... our last week in Atlanta, we went to McKoy Pool with Gabi's Filipino friend Jackson and his little brother Benjamin.

Bella dipping her cup in the water

What silly faces you make! Did you try to drink it?

Jackson and Gabi running through the fountains

More fountain fun

One of Daddy's co-workers has already completed some very impressive (and directly-applicable) research involving an African disease called Rift Valley Fever. Daddy helped Gabi draw a picture of this virus and them framed it and presented it to Anita as a goodbye present.

Gabi's drawing of Rift Valley Fever virus
(with her signature in light pink)

Then Martin gave Gabi fantastic new crayons and paper so they could be pen-pals (or at least "crayon-pals"), and Gabi immediately wanted to write Martin some letters. She created a crayon-and-paper representation of Martin... as well as something that resembles the Bunyavirus from Anita's drawing. In the second picture, the black in the foreground with the four corners is a picture frame, inside of which Gabi drew a picture.

Gabi wrote "MARTIN" and "GABI" on her letter

Gabi writing letters to Martin

In Martin's couch-bed after delivering his letters

We also got together with Daddy's best friend from high school, John, and his family, who live in the Atlanta area.

These two goofy guys are now dads?!?

The "cool guy" pose

On our very last day in Atlanta, the girls and I went to the Atlanta History Center. Some of Gabi's friends braved the summer heat to spend this final morning with Gabi.

Martin, Gabi, and Ava on a playhouse porch

Best Friends

Gabi and Ava enjoying a lunch break in the A/C

Bella by a tall fountain at the Atlanta History Center

Martin and Gabi check out the fountain from above

Splashing in the water is especially fun on such a hot day!

Martin: "There are rocks in my shoes."
Nicholas: "I'll fix it!"
Gabi: "Here, let me help."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Help from Gramma Jane

I keep telling myself that at some point I will be posting contemporary pictures, but I've been a month behind for a while now. So we are now approaching the end of July, right on track with [only] two posts worth of June pictures left. Then I can show you pictures of Annabelle signing!

A little more than two weeks before our scheduled to move, in a moment of panic, I called and begged my mom to come help me. Annabelle was cutting two teeth, Gabi spiked a 104 temperature, and I needed to pack. I promised that she wouldn't have to do any packing, if she could just take care of the girls. Mom asked around and discovered that my high school band director would be driving through Atlanta on Monday, so she caught a ride (15 hours in the car!) and came to save us. Moms will do anything for their kids, and especially for their grandkids, but my mom probably deserves a special award for this one.

Gabi and Gramma Jane painted their names on the driveway

Trying to stay in the shade, where it's a bit cooler

Even though Gabi didn't end up having anything besides an ear infection to go along with that ridiculously high fever, I couldn't take her to playgroup or on playdates with friends. And the best way for a full-time mom to avoid going crazy is to get out of the house, but I needed to be home packing. Plus, our baby is a mischievous little monkey. In short, having an attentive grandmother around was definitely a huge help.

Michael and I had the difficult chore of selecting a carpet color for our new house without being able to see it first (two of the three sample boards were not available in Atlanta). Thanks to Ninang Sylvia and Cousin Steven, who drove to our new house and looked at all the color swatches and even took pictures to email us, we now have beautiful carpet of the perfect color.

Annabelle climbing up the carpet sample board

Yep, this one is trouble.

I fully intended to keep my promise about not making Mom pack, but she saw how much I had already done and yet how much still needed to be done (we were definitely behind schedule on packing, as is usual for Michael and me), and she voluntarily started packing up our kitchen and then our garden tools and probably lots more. Thanks, Gramma Jane!

On Friday, June 20th, we had completed our packing of the POD and sent it away. We were exhausted but decided to go to the Decatur Beach Party to celebrate the completion of the worst moving chore. Unfortunately, we arrived just as Gabi's friends were leaving (the story of my life...), but we had fun just the same.

Playgroup Friends at the Decatur Beach Party

Mom and the girls playing in the sand

Our family at the beach party

Annabelle shows Mommy her sand tool

Daddy and Gabi laughing in the sand

Where are Annabelle's legs?

Saturday morning we went to watch Gabi's friends (Martin, Jonah, Jackson, and Nicholas) play T-ball. Every Saturday they have one hour of T-ball; the first half hour is "practice," and the second half hour is a "game." The game is only two innings (or less), and each inning consists of everyone batting. Each child hits the ball and runs to first, and then continues to the next base after each subsequent hit. After all teammates have been up to bat, all runners on base run around the bases to home. When fielding, the only rule is to get the ball and throw it to first (which usually involves running most of the way). Oh, and all the dads and many little siblings were on the field as well. Jonah liked catching the ball so much that he tried to field his own ball both times he was up to bat. No outs; no score. Very amusing.

Martin is more interested in Gabi's book than in his T-ball game

Martin and Jackson sitting with Gabi on the sidelines

We took Gramma Jane up to the hospital to see the residents' temporary call room (an old NICU ward).

Gabi liked pulling Daddy in a wagon

Ooh, Daddy; you're heavy. My turn to ride!

Gramma Jane stayed a few extra days after the packing was done so she could help us fix up the old house and make it attractive for potential buyers. One big improvement was scraping the old paint off the garage door, sanding, and priming and repainting it.

Gabi helping scrape off old paint

Tuesday a full week after her arrival, Gramma Jane drove my car back to Texas (and visited us in Little Rock over the 4th of July to return the car).