Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 ~ A year of Maisie

JanuaryJanuary was a pretty laid back month for us as we sort of needed a bit of “down” time after December being almost a full month of travel between two weeks in Aruba and then two weeks in England.  January wasn’t a month without fun though as Maisie enjoyed play time with friends, we did a lot of cooking together and we even spent a fun day hiking up Kennesaw Mountain.  It was also fun for Maisie to return to her normal schedule of school and gymnastics as she missed both of them as well as all her class and team mates while we were away.

FebruaryFebruary was a busy month filled with play dates, birthday parties, Chinese New Year parties and celebrations, playtime in the snow as well as fun times at school with pajama day and a great Valentine’s party.

MarchMarch brought more snow which I wasn’t thrilled with but which Maisie loved.  The weather caused some school delays and cancellations but that didn’t stop Maisie from getting her work done as she adored doing homework.  March was also the month where we found out that Maisie was accepted on to team at her gym.  And of course no month is complete without plenty of play dates and time with friends.

AprilApril was a great month.  We started the month by beginning our garden and then Maisie had a fun Easter party at school.  If that wasn’t fun enough, our month ended with our trans-Atlantic Disney cruise where we visited Castaway Cay then had six sea days before visiting Funchal, Cádiz, Gibraltar and Barcelona.  The cruise was such a great experience for Maisie and we really did it at the perfect age as she just adored the Princesses and characters and found it all to be magical and fun.

MayMay brought the end of kindergarten for Maisie and the beginning of summer.  Maisie had a great year at school but we were both ready for a change in our schedule and a bit more free time together.  Unfortunately I had a few medical issues which put a bit of a damper on the beginning of our summer break but we did find a few fun ways to fill our days.

JuneJune was an extremely busy and super fun month, it’s what summer is all about.  There were play dates, birthday parties, fun times with friends and in the garden, time at the pool, pool play dates, Maisie’s first Elite Gymnastics Team Camp, regular gymnastics camp, lunch dates, Maisie’s first bowling experience and days that Maisie referred to as super-spectacular-wonderful-fabulous days.  What a fun month!

JulyOther than Maisie coming down with a stomach virus the highlight of July had to be our annual trip to Salt Lake City to spend time with our adoption bloggy friends, it’s always so much fun and we love spending time with everyone.  July also brought the end of gymnastics camp and the realization that it was almost time for the school year to begin again. 

AugustEven though August meant back to school and a regular schedule it was another awesome and fun month filled with some wonderful firsts. Maisie started first grade and competed at her first gymnastics meet where she did great and had a blast!  The month wasn’t all work as there was still time for lunch dates, play dates, birthday parties, partying with friends and as always, special time with friends.

SeptemberThe highlight of September was our western Caribbean family cruise.  When Maisie wasn’t off cruising, at school or gymnastics practice, she was spending time with friends and having busy weekends.

OctoberOctober is Maisie’s birthday month so I tried to make it extra special for her.  Leading up to her birthday, Maisie celebrated her birthday at school with her classmates, enjoyed high tea with Mama, attended a cooking class at a local restaurant and met up with friends for our annual trip to the maize maze.  On the day of her birthday we celebrated at her favorite place in the world, the gym.  Maisie also spent time with her favorite pals K & A and weekends were fun with pumpkin carving parties and trips to the apple orchard and a Halloween weekend of a birthday party, neighborhood party and finally a trick-or-treating party, a month of parties!

Maisie competed in her second gymnastics meet in October and it turned out to be her best meet of the year as she medaled in all events, taking first place on vault and first all-around.

NovemberThe things that stand out the most to me from November are Maisie’s school presentations as I am just over the top so proud of how well she presented.  Maisie’s Abe Lincoln presentation put tears in my eyes as she did so well and the courage she had to sing her water cycle presentation before her class, well that gave me goose bumps.  I just love my girl! 

November was filled with so many fun activities.   Play dates with friends, two birthday parties in one day and getting to try out Tae kwon do, a super fun and very long day at Rock Ranch, Maisie’s third and final gymnastics meet of the year, a class field trip to the library and cooking time with Mama.  Then there was yet another birthday party and good time with friends before Thanksgiving and time with Grandma & Grandpa.  November had a great ending with the arrival of Maisie’s elf Mortimer and a video from Santa as well as pajama day at school, what a fun life for my little five year old.        

[IMG_4840a[3]December was another fun month for Maisie as it was filled with holiday celebrations,  two weeks on the beach in Aruba with Grandma, Grandpa & friends and then when we returned home, we experienced a white Christmas.  While in Aruba we celebrated our four year Family Day anniversary.  Time just seems to be flying by, another year older and another year gone. 

2010 was a very good year and everyday Maisie brought joy to our lives.  Now we look ahead to all the new adventures and changes that 2011 will bring. We wish everyone a wonderful New Year and happy 2011!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A white Christmas in Georgia!!

Christmas eve was a nice family night for us.  Because of some plans we have for the upcoming week, which depending on the weather may or may not happen, we decided that we would have our Christmas dinner on Christmas eve so that’s what we did.  Then after dinner we opened our stockings which to Maisie’s delight were just filled with some candy.

IMG_4781Maisie loves PEZ and she thought that the reindeer dispenser was so cute.

IMG_4785What really made her eyes light up though was the candy cane Christmas tree, she couldn’t wait to get started on eating it.  After the stockings we went out for a drive to see some lights.  There’s a house near where we live that goes over the top decorating for not only Christmas but every holiday.  Lights, blow-ups, displays, moving items and even music, a very fun house to check out.  While we were there I commented that it was like a Christmas shop exploded and Eammon quipped back “at least it’s done tastefully” to which Maisie responded “yes, because it has candy canes”…too funny that little girl!

IMG_4793aOnce home again we set out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.   Maisie was quite tired and knew that Santa wouldn’t make his appearance if she was still awake so she changed into her pajamas, we tracked Santa on NORAD and then Maisie quickly went to sleep.

IMG_4795aThis morning Maisie was up early (but what else is new) and she was excited to see that Santa and the reindeer had eaten all their snacks.

IMG_4824aThis Christmas is the first time that Maisie has really enjoyed or gotten into opening presents and it was wonderful to see her reaction to everything.  Her biggest reaction was to the gift she was hoping to receive from Santa and did, her new “iPod.”

IMG_4829aAfter all the presents were opened and a bit of breakfast we played with some of the other gifts and all of us had fun dancing trying to dance to our new Wii gameOh and by the way, Eammon cheats because when he’s dancing behind me and gets tired, he just moves the controller to try and rack up points!  I love that Maisie was wearing her new princess shoes and bathrobe whilst dancing.  While we were dancing away we noticed that it started to snow! 

IMG_4840a K & A were soon at the door asking if Maisie could play outside in the snow with them.  The three of them had fun dancing around through the snowflakes and trying to catch them on their tongues but they soon were cold and wet so hot chocolate at Steve & Anne’s was the next order of business.  The children then exchanged gifts and then I brought Maisie back home for lunch. 

IMG_4846a We had a couple of hours before we needed to head out for the evening so Maisie entertained herself listening to her iPod and playing her new guitar. 

IMG_4850aMaisie looked adorable as we headed out even with her choice of footwear.  We joined with Steve, Anne, K & A at a friends home for a lovely dinner and evening.  The children had a blast playing together and the adults enjoyed the food, drinks and company.  When we finally started home there was measurable snow not only on the lawns but on the roads too but thankfully the roads had not yet started to ice so it was an easy 3 mile drive home. 

It’s been a long and wonderful day but now on this snowy night it’s time to snuggle into bed.  Hope that everyone had a merry Christmas.  Night night!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cookies and a letter from Santa

This has been a bit of a crazy week.  Coming home to the aftermath of the burst water pipe in our garage left me without a clothes dryer as that 220 line was being used by the heater and blowers which were drying out the garage so all the vacation laundry had to wait. In addition one of our three HVAC units decided to only blow cold air and before I left for Aruba I had scheduled to have some solar lighting installed in the house this week.  Needless to say, contractors have been in and out of the house all week long.  Then on Monday afternoon Steve and Anne had a small grease fire in their kitchen which managed to ruin some cabinets and fill their entire house with soot but thankfully no major damage and no one was hurt.  So this week while their house was being cleaned from top to bottom they kept us company and watched me bake…Stress baking I’m calling it and baking I did, making fifteen different cookies. 

IMG_4772b1) chocolate mint layer bars  2) speculoos   3) oatmeal coconut raspberry bars  4) lemon squares  5) almond glazed sugar cookies  6) cranberry cinnamon chip bars  7) cranberry almond & white chocolate chip biscotti with dark chocolate glaze  8) chocolate cherry walnut meringues  9) sour cream apricot roll-ups  10) chocolate crinkles  11) peanut butter blossoms  12) Hungarian allspice poppy seed cookies  13) buckeyes  14) Mexican wedding cookies  15) chocolate dipped candied cherries.  

IMG_4760Tonight we had dinner over at Steve & Anne’s in their freshly cleaned home and after we ate we went out to the mailbox to find letters from Santa for Maisie, K & A.  The children were very excited to read their letters. 

IMG_4770Then K & A received email videos from Santa like the one Maisie received back after Mortimer made his report.  It was a fun evening.

Maisie’s very excited for Christmas this year and I can’t wait to experience it with her as I know it will be great fun. 

From our house to yours, we wish everyone a very merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Aruba 2010

Mom & Maisie Maisie and I just returned from two nice weeks on the beach in Aruba with my parents. 

Maisie & Bob Maisie had lots of fun playing with friends and Bob was a good sport going on the seesaw with her.

DSC00126 (Photo by Christina)

Maisie spent many hours feeding the birds and would hold still for ages until the birds would eat directly from her hand.  Everyone was amazed with Maisie as she would sit so patiently for an hour or more at a time just waiting for the birds. 

Maisie, Carl, Sandy & Allan 12-10-10 Maisie couldn’t wait to see our friends Carl, Sandy & Allan and I’m sure that it had nothing to do with the treats and M&Ms that they spoiled her with everyday.

Breakfast with GrandpaMaisie loved starting her day by first finding her elf Mortimer and then eating breakfast with Grandpa 

Maisie feeding the birds with Jim Maisie has lots of friends on the beach and everyone is so nice to her.  Each day Jim would feed the birds and most days Maisie would join him.  It was cute this day when she went over to feed the birds with him and just laid down making herself comfortable.

Maisie and I had a really nice time and it was great to see so many friends.  This is the first year in ages that I went down to Aruba healthy but by the second day I had a bad head cold which unfortunately is still lingering.  Maisie too was sick one day so we spent that entire day in the room as she was running a fever but thankfully she soon felt better. 

It’s taken me a while to get this post up because of what we returned to when we arrived home.  While Maisie and I were away Eammon wasn’t having as good of a time at home as Georgia had some extremely cold weather which caused a hot water line in our garage to burst.  Eammon was dealing with the water leak, the mess, the insurance people, adjusters, plumbers and restoration contractors, all while also working…not fun.  Eammon did a good job of saving and drying out important items but it still was a shock to come home to all those important items scattered and drying around the house.  About half the drywall ceiling is down in the garage and after five days the heaters and blowers that were drying everything in the garage are finally gone.  After the first of the year the drywall will be repaired, everything will be put away and life and the house will return to normal.  Winter and the cold weather just started and I’m over it already, I’m not ready for the cold winter that the forecasters are predicting. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gotcha 4 year anniversary

Gotch 12-11-2010aFour wonderful years with my amazing Maisie Miao Miao!  Maisie and I spent a great day together on the beach in Aruba with my parents and many friends.  Just like last December, Eammon’s work schedule prevented him from traveling with us so he was back home in Georgia.  Happy Gotcha, Family Day, Forever Day to all our travel mates and also our special friends Julie & Tess

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Vinings Jubilee Tree Lighting

Because Maisie doesn’t have school tomorrow…or for the rest of 2010 for that matter, tonight we were able to head over to Vinings Jubilee to watch the Vinings’ 40th Annual Christmas Tree lighting.

IMG_4712Maisie was obviously a bit tired on the way over as she crashed out in the car and slept for about half an hour.

IMG_4716Maisie in front of the tree.

IMG_4722Today it got really cold so we were both bundled up in our warmest coats.

IMG_4729aMaisie loved riding on the reindeer ponies.

IMG_4733All the merchants at Vinings Jubilee provided food and drinks so Maisie and I sampled cookies, cake, candy, soup, cider, chips, dips & cocoa.  There was also pizza, cupcakes and appetizers of various sorts which we passed on…obviously we only went for the really “healthy” stuff  ;-)  Here’s Maisie after a good amount of sugar, a very happy girl.

IMG_4740bThe balloon man  suggested to Maisie that a flower hat would look lovely with her coat to which she replied, “thank you but I’d prefer a candy cane because it’s not summer it’s Christmas.”   I don’t think that he was quite expecting that response but he obliged and made a candy cane for her.

IMG_4743My girl and her Christmas candy cane.

IMG_4746They also had a little train ride and though it was at the very end of the evening and well past Maisie’s bedtime, Maisie really wanted to take a ride and patiently waited in the extremely long queue and was thrilled with the little ride. 

IMG_4753Maisie with her candy cane in front of the lit tree.

IMG_4756Earlier in the evening Maisie sat on Santa’s lap and told him what she wanted but only the professional photographer was allowed to take a picture of that meeting.  But just before Santa left for the evening we were able to snag a picture.

We had a really good time tonight but were both happy to get into the car and turn the heat on as we were chilled to the bone.  On the drive home Maisie told me that Santa loves all children, even the naughty ones.  I said yes but the naughty ones don’t get presents from Santa.  Maisie then said that they get coal and that’s sort of like a present because you can draw with coal.  I asked her if she wanted coal and she told me that she’s been a good girl and would prefer a good gift.  I have to agree as Maisie has been a great girl this year and deserves a wonderful gift from Santa, which I know she’ll receive.  She then told me that she wished that we lived in Aruba because it’s warm there all the time.  Maisie is definitely my daughter, two days of cold weather and we’re both chomping at the bit to get out of town.  In just over 36 hours Maisie and I will be dipping our toes in warm waters of Aruba…Not that I’m counting the hours or anything.  Maisie, along with my tired and cold bones can’t wait! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First Grade Pajama Day

On the last school day of each month, if all the children in Maisie’s class have done their homework each and every day during the month, they have a special day at school.  September they had an ice cream party, October they had a cookie and dress-up day and this month was pajama day.  Last year Maisie wasn’t too thrilled to wear her pj’s to school but this year she was super excited.  So excited that this morning she ransacked her pajama drawer deciding which would be the perfect pj’s to wear to school.  How funny that she chose the exact same pj’s that she wore when her kindergarten class had pajama day!

pajama day at schoolMaisie this morning with classmates Olivia & Rachel all looking cute in their pj’s.

IMG_4706After school today mimicking the picture I took on pajama day last year.  These are the exact same (size 3) pajamas but the purple socks are new and the shoes, though they look the same are a size bigger as she’s now almost in a size 9!!

Kindergarten PJ Day 1Maisie last year hamming it up for the camera before Kindergarten pajama day.  She looks so much taller this year but these pj’s still fit and have held up great!  I was asked  last year about them so here it goes, they are Carter’s brand and they’re that microfiber fleece.  I bought them at Costco about 2 years ago and they have held up great through hundreds of washes…gotta love them!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mortimer made his report

Mortimer made his appearance Friday morning and must have reported back to Santa that night because Saturday morning there was an email and video from Santa to Maisie.

IMG_4672It’s amazing how much Santa knew about Maisie, Mort must have told him a lot!  Maisie must have watched her video from Santa two dozen times…at least and was totally thrilled each and every time.  Take a peek at her video and if your child hasn’t received one you should make it happen.

IMG_4691Today at gymnastics the girls received their little gift bags for State Meet.  Each girl on Maisie’s team received a water bottle, a little silver gymnast charm and a fun tee shirt.

IMG_4699Maisie loves that the names of her teammates are on the back of the shirt.  All the girls on Maisie’s team qualified for State (each gymnast had to achieve a score of 32 or above at two or more meets) which is very exciting especially for such a young team.  Maisie and I are a bit sad that she’s going to miss State as we’ll be basking on the beach in Aruba but we wish the North Metro Girls lots of luck and we’ll be thinking about you and can’t wait to hear the results.  Go North Metro!! 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving and more


After a fun weekend of partying and boating we’ve had a nice Thanksgiving week.  Our week has been filled with fun activities and of course lots of delicious food.  Monday I had a doctors appointment in the morning and Maisie decided that she wanted to go along with me so she tagged along and then I took her out for a little girls lunch together.  Once home Maisie had a bit of playtime with K & A before we headed to the gym for her gymnastics practice.  Because it was a holiday week her practice was later than usual, starting at 4:30 and ending at 7:30, just a few minutes after my parent’s plane landed at Hartsfield so once Maisie was finished we headed straight to the airport.  Maisie was very excited to see her grandparents but exhaustion won out and just minutes after my parents got in the car Maisie was fast asleep.  Once we arrived home though Maisie was up again so it turned into a late night as she was happy to have her Grandparents here and didn’t want to miss out on anytime with them.

Tuesday morning Maisie had a swimming lesson so my Mom and I went along and watched.  Once home Maisie had lots of playtime with my parents and even played school with my father with her being the teacher and teaching him all about math.  Come mid-afternoon the late night caught up with Maisie and she was completely knackered and asked if she could just rest instead of going to gymnastics…so I knew she was really tired.  

Wednesday was a major cooking day for me as I didn’t want to have much to make on Thursday so Maisie spent the majority of the day playing with my parents.  I started cooking just after 8am and I don’t think that I finished and sat down until close to 9PM, thirteen hours of cooking but I got a lot accomplished.  I made an appetizer of chicken liver pate as well as sides of sweet potato casserole, corn soufflé, shredded brussels sprouts with bacon & walnuts, apple cranberry slaw, sage & onion dressing and for dessert dreamy apple pie with hard sauce and I didn't even cheat with the crust as I made that too!  Then if that wasn't enough cooking for one day I also made roasted garlic potatoes, oatmeal coconut raspberry bars (one of my faves) and then Maisie, my Mom and I made eggnog meltaways.  While I was so busy, to get out of the house Maisie and my Dad took a nice little walk together (something that they love to do together everyday when we’re in Aruba) and then after lunch I dropped the two of them off at a local playground where they stayed for quite a while before making the almost 1.5 mile walk home.  (I would have picked them up but Maisie wanted to walk)  Late in the afternoon K & A came over as I had a craft for the three of them to do.  My Mom helped Maisie, K & A make cute little Pilgrim men & women as place markers for the Thanksgiving table. 

Thursday morning we all slept in a little late…well 7:13 is late for Maisie!!  Once up Eammon played with Maisie as I finished up the Thanksgiving cooking making a spiced rubbed turkey with cognac gravy which made the house smell wonderful and also produced a gorgeous looking bird.  Just after noon we headed next door to Anne & Steve’s house where the eating fest began.

IMG_4618Thursday was a gorgeous and warm day so we spent a few hours enjoying the appetizers and watching the children play outside before we sat down at the table for dinner.   

IMG_4596aMy turkey looked gorgeous when it came out of the oven.  I would definitely make this recipe again as the turkey was super moist & juicy and the flavors were wonderful and I don’t even like turkey!   Yes I roast my bird dark meat up as I find that roasting it that way produces a much moister and juicier bird.

IMG_4606Shredded brussels sprouts with bacon & walnuts.  Oh my gosh were these wonderful and I have never enjoyed brussels sprouts before…but then again if you sauté anything in bacon fat it’s bound to be good!

IMG_4609This is one of Eammon’s favorites and he always requests it, onion & sage stuffing.  Everyone said that it was wonderful but I’m not a stuffing person so I’m just glad that everyone else enjoyed it.  Funny as I’m writing this post I realized that I do a lot of cooking of things I don’t actually eat.  I don’t care for turkey, I don’t really enjoy gravy, I’ve never liked brussels sprouts and I don’t like or eat stuffing…hmmmm.  I did actually make some things that I do like.

IMG_4620I have been making this corn soufflé for years as I just adore it but I limit it to once or twice a year as it’s definitely not low fat, low calorie or particularly healthy but oh my is it delicious.

IMG_4624This sweet potato casserole is another one of my favorites and I have been making for years as it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it.

IMG_4612This apple cranberry slaw was a new recipe for me and it’s different and we really enjoyed it and I’d make it again.

IMG_4629This apple pie is appropriately named, dreamy apple pie as it truly was dreamy and the hard sauce which I made a wee bit lot harder really put the pie over the top.  This was also the first time I’ve made a pie crust from scratch and it was easy and turned out flaky and delicious.

So you see all the food that I brought over to Anne and Steve’s but what I didn’t photograph were all the appetizers, the butternut squash soup with shrimp, the traditional turkey, gravy, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, string beans, yams with marshmallows, sweet potatoes in bourbon & butter and salad (and probably a few other dishes that I’m forgetting) which Anne made!!  To say that there was a lot of food would be an understatement but no one went home hungry!  It was a fun and delicious Thanksgiving and it was great spending the day with family and friends.

Today Eammon and my parents had a lunch of leftovers and my Mom made sandwiches for them to take on the plane.  I then packaged up six “Thanksgiving” meals to put in the freezer for Eammon to eat while Maisie and I are away and with the bird carcass and the bits remaining I made turkey soup for Eammon, some of which will also end up as freezer meals that he will eat.  I ate the one remaining slice of dreamy apple pie and now all the Thanksgiving food is done, finis, finito, terminado, 完成, klaar, päättynyt,  outta here, so long, sayonara, see ya again next year.

IMG_4637This morning Maisie woke up and spotted a friend waiting for her. 

IMG_4631Mortimer has returned.

IMG_4640Maisie was excited to see her elf sitting high up on top of the curtains.

photo (1)This morning Maisie’s gym had a “shop till you drop” gymnastics play day so she had fun playing with her gymnastics friends and I enjoyed a bit of quiet time.  Thankfully I’m finished with my holiday shopping so no black Friday drama for me!

IMG_4644After gymnastics Maisie and my Mom did a craft project together.  They had fun adding sticker decorations to to a pink & purple foam tree.

IMG_4651They then made a snowman garland to string on the tree.

IMG_4656Maisie & Grandma with their completed tree.

IMG_4665Grandpa joining in the picture.

Maisie enjoyed her time with her Grandparents and will miss them as very early tomorrow morning I take my parents to the airport as they’re heading down to Aruba.  But it will only be a week as next Saturday Maisie and I fly down to join them for two weeks!!

Hope that everyone had a wonderful and filling Thanksgiving.

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