Friday, August 1, 2008

Empty Nest Syndrome

It's been about two weeks (maybe more now...I'm losing track of time, lately) since our baby birds all left the nest. The last time I saw them (see posted pictures), I was surprised at how big they were getting. At first, I actually thought I was looking at Mama Bird, but it was the babies, and they were stacked on top of each other. Then a day or two later, I peered into the nest to check on them and they were gone. Even now, I can't help but peek into the nest when I walk past, hoping I will see little beaks poking into the air. But the nest is empty, and Mother Nature doesn't slow down for anyone. I miss the sound of little bird squeaks and cheeps when I walk out my front door. Al says that as soon as we get settled into a new place, he plans to build a bird house. Hopefully some mama bird will find it as inviting as our flowery wreath. Farewell and best wishes to our bird family.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

3D/4D Ultrasound

On June 24th we went to Little Sprout Imaging in Towson, MD and did a 3D/4D ultrasound. Our little one in-utero was not the most cooperative, as Baby had one foot on it's forehead and an arm across the other side of it's face. And despite the fact that I ate a snack on the way there, Baby didn't want to be awake for the ultrasound. Apparently, this child is a night-owl because it wakes up and pounds on me as soon as I lay down to go to sleep! Oh well. It was still a great experience, and the best part of all was that we were able to have a few family members go online and watch it LIVE with us on a web-cast as we were having the ultrasound. They were also able to call in and we had a conference call, so it was like I actually had my family in the room with me here in Maryland even though they all live on the West Coast! So... I guess I have to admit that technology is really terrific sometimes! The baby's face looks a bit "squishy" in the photos, if you can make it out. I chose the best "face" picture and also a picture of one of Baby's feet to post here. I guess I now only have about 7 or 8 more weeks before I find out if Baby looks anything like on the ultrasound. Gavin looked just like he did in his 3D ultrasound, but I'm not so sure about this one. Time will tell! ;o)

Pre-4th Celebration

On July 3rd, we had a Fourth of July Celebration. We invited some of our new friends (neighbors) over for a little barbeque and a few fireworks (sparkler's and pop-its). Al had to work on the 4th, so we celebrated a day early. It was great fun, and the kids all had a terrific time. The weather could not have been better, so it was perfect! On the 4th, after Al came home, we watched "A Capitol 4th" on TV (you can't beat the seats we had! And air-conditioned, too!), and then the city of Laurel did fireworks on the 5th, so that was perfect. Al, Gavin, and I parked in the Best Buy parking lot across the street from Laurel Lakes Park and watched the fireworks from there. Considering how tired we all were, it was nice to not have to sit out much ahead of time to watch the show, and then we got out of there before the traffic got too bad. Maybe next summer (when I'm not 7-months pregnant) we will go hang out at a park or try a trip to the Mall. Hope you all had a wonderful 4th!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Baby Belly

I know some of you have been dying to see my "baby belly" so here it is. I'm not exactly "Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition" material, but I think this picture is fairly safe (just ignore the farmer's shoulders hadn't seen the light of day until swim season arrived). Now you can also see my cute maternity bathing suit. It's very comfy and I like it a lot. Al says I'm trying to influence the sex of our baby by wearing so much pink. He's still rooting for a boy, but everyone else in the family wants a girl. I guess we'll find out sometime around the 9th of September!!!

Gavin's Swim Lessons

Here are a few pictures of Gavin taking swim lessons at the Russett Swimming Pool. His instructor's name is Corbin. When the water is not too cold, Gavin absolutely LOVES to swim. He's really improving, and now just needs to get better at taking a breath and then continuing forward. Once he figures out the breathing, he'll be swimming EVERYWHERE! He can now also dive down into the water by himself to get his dive rings or Spiderman dive sticks.

Baby Birds

We officially have a nest full of chirping, hungry baby birds! How exciting! I have now seen four of them, so I'm not sure if there is a fifth or not -- only three are really visible in the pictures (there were five eggs). It is so neat to have a little family of birds just outside our front door. This morning, Mrs. Bird was probably out gathering food, so I was able to peek in and see four little birds. I also lifted up Gavin so he could peek inside, and then I was able to snap a couple of pictures. We try to not disturb the bird family too much. I think they have a prime piece of real estate as they are completely out of the wind and rain and sun. Lucky them!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Father's Day

Just posting pictures of Al and Gavin from Father's Day (last Sunday). The night before, they both received haircuts, so the back-of-the-heads picture was showing off their new do's. I'm happy to report they were both very good and held still for their haircuts, so they actually ended up looking quite handsome...if I do say so myself! ;o)

Bird Nest

On our front door, we hung a flowery wreath made by my mother-in-law, Cece. I had this wreath hanging in Las Vegas, and now it has traveled cross-country to Maryland. One day recently, Al was looking at it, and noticed what appeared to be a little tunnel into the basket that resides in the middle of the wreath. He said he thought a bird was building a nest in our wreath. Sure enough, a couple of days later, a bird flew right past Al's head as he walked out the front door, and gave him quite a scare. A day or two after that, I opened the front door and the poor bird flew into our house after flying right past my ear and making me squeal! Fortunately, we were able to get her out of the house without too much trauma, but we decided to relocate her nest. Next to the door, on the siding of the house, there was a screw already in place, so I carefully attached some wire to the back of the wreath and hung it on the screw.

During the moving process, I looked into the nest (Mrs. Bird was not inside while I was moving her house)and saw eggs!!! How exciting! So we now have a resident bird and hopefully one day soon we will hear the little chirps of five baby birds.

Since we have to walk past her nest each time we go in and out our front door, we are now careful to prepare ourselves in case Mrs. Bird launches out of her nest and nearly into our heads. It makes coming and going from our house much more exciting. Quite an adrenaline rush can be obtained when a bird flies right past your nose!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

First trip to the Smithsonian

Here are pictures from our excursion to the Smithsonian on June 11th. Al had to go into work for a picture with the White House Military Office PPR (Policy, Plans and Requirements) Section, so we decided to make a day of it. We rode the Metro to D.C. (Gavin's and my first time on the Metro), and then Gavin and I got off at the Smithsonian Station while Al went on to work to have his picture taken on the North Portico of the White House. When Al was finished, he changed out of his Blue's and called me on my cell phone and we met-up at the National Museum of Natural History.

Gavin and I had lunch at the museum's Atrium Cafe while we were
waiting for Al and then we looked around a little -- mainly at part of the dinosaur exhibit (see Gavin in front of the giant skeleton) and then we went to see the butterfly exhibit. Gavin wanted to go into the live butterfly house, but as that costs $, we decided to wait until another time. Actually, I wanted to wait until we became Smithsonian members because then it is less expensive. soon as Al arrived (he found us upstairs still looking at the butterfly exhibit), we went to the information desk and became members of the Smithsonian. It was only $19, and since we decided to take Gavin to see the IMAX film, "Dinosaurs in 3D", we saved $4.50 on those tickets as members. I'm sure the membership will pay off as we continue to visit the Smithsonian museums over the course of the next year. We did not go back to the butterflies that day, but don't worry...we will.

Following our time at the museum, we got back on the Metro and headed for home, but we were all tired and hungry (and I knew it would be a long time before dinner if I waited till we got home and then tried to prepare something), so we decided to go on an adventure in China Town. We made a last-minute decision to hop off Metro at the China Town stop and then we went looking for a place to eat. A nice lady in the elevator, as we were leaving the station, (she happened to be an officer in the Coast Guard who lived in that area) was more than happy to suggest some restaurants. We, of course, thought of China Town and Chinese food, but the first one she suggested was Mexican, and the next one was a Greek restaurant. When we asked about a good place to have Chinese food, she told us to try one called, "Burma." Well, as you can probably imagine, "Burma" was not exactly Chinese, it was Burmese food, but it was VERY good, and we love to try new things, so it was perfect! Gavin loved the rice noodles, as you can see in the pictures.

We finished off our meal with a "coconut" cake made of baked cream-of-wheat with coconut milk and palm sugar and topped with ice cream. It was very yummy, but Gavin wanted to eat all the ice cream and leave us with very little ice cream for the cake. I guess we should have ordered him a dish of just ice cream! Oh well -- live and learn!

For those who have been dying to see my "baby belly" -- I had Al take a side-view picture of me standing on the steps in front of the museum. I'll take more "baby-belly" pictures later. Hope this will suffice for now.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Visit to the National Mall in D.C.

On Saturday, 17 May, Al, Gavin and I finally went to Washington, D.C. to check out the National Mall. We did LOTS of walking, but the weather was absolutely PERFECT and we enjoyed the afternoon. We visited the World War I D.C. Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. Since Al works at the White House, we were even able to park in the Elipse (the parking for gov't. employees in front of the White House), so we also walked past the White House, but didn't try to get too close. One of these days, Al will take us for a tour, but we'll wait until he learns his way around better.

The funniest moment of the day was probably when Al was trying to explain to Gavin about Pres. Lincoln and what a great man he was while we were in the Lincoln Memorial, and Gavin asked, "Daddy, why does he have such BIG ears!?"

Later, we also walked to Constitution Avenue which was closed off for the National Asian Heritage Festival. We enjoyed some entertainment (Gavin LOVED watching the dances and didn't want to leave the stage area), sampled a bit of food (young coconut juice is probably not something we'll spend the money for again, but the chicken teriyaki was excellent), and had Gavin's name written in Chinese Characters by a lady from Taiwan.

We rounded out the day with Al and Gavin playing a game of tag on the lawn below the Washington Monument as a gorgeous sunset graced the sky. It was an enjoyable day and we look forward to LOTS more family outings.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Grand Canyon Adventure

In December 2007, Al, Gavin and I traveled to Williams, AZ. We went on the Polar Express to the "North Pole" where we saw Santa Claus and one of his elves. On the way to the "North Pole" we drank hot (or maybe I should say, warm) cocoa, ate chocolate chip cookies, and sang Christmas carols. It was wonderful. It was even snowing that night so there was a beautiful blanket of white covering the ground and the trees. Once we arrived at the "North Pole" we saw Santa and one of his elves, as well as a few "buildings" and the North "Pole" itself. After a brief stop there, Santa boarded the train and met with each child and gave them a sleigh bell from his sleigh. Despite us all being tired, we had a magical time.

The next day we traveled back to the Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railway. We then spent the remainder of that day touring the south rim of the Grand Canyon (fortunately the fog lifted after a little while and we were actually able to SEE the canyon), spent the night at the Maswik Lodge, and returned to Williams the following afternoon.

It was a terrific trip and the Canyon was absolutely breathtaking. Gavin's favorite part of the Grand Canyon...not the view, not the amazing colors...the SNOW! All he wanted to do was build snowmen and have snowball fights. So Al and I took turns checking out the view and staying back from the rim and playing in the snow with Gavin. We all had a great time.

Moving to D.C.

A couple of months ago, Al and I found out that we have received an assignment to Washington, D.C. We are still awaiting final dates for our move, but it looks like sometime in April??? Al will be a military maintenance person for the White House and surrounding government buildings, so we are still going through lots of security clearance stuff. If you get a phone call from some investigator asking questions about Al...this could be the reason.

We are EXTREMELY excited about this move. Of course there is always WAY too much do and way too little time to do it, but we'll manage. Wish us luck!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Starting to Blog

Jamie Braithwaite is posting for Melinda's first blog. We ARE going to get her blogging....soon