Wish I was there . .
My passport is ready and I can be packed in minutes.

31 July 2007

Bad Day

Woke up panicked that a year is a really long time and that we still have a year left before we can leave.

Tried to shake off feeling of dread by taking kids outside to ride bikes. Neighbor kid set off fire crackers at 9:00 A.M. Since July 4th when Hew was exposed to very loud cannons going off randomly, he has panicked every time he hears a loud bang. Needless to say the bike ride was immediately abandoned. Didn't care cause it was already 90 friggin' degrees and humid.

PH sent email that he is having a crap day at work.

Am either going to crawl back into bed and pull covers over head or cash in savings and buy a one way ticket to the coldest place I can find. Suggestions people?

30 July 2007

Just for Antipo and another random picture

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake

1 9 oz package chocolate wafer cookies

3 Tblsp butter melted

12 oz Semisweet choc chips

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup Raspberry jam

2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

4 Eggs

2 tsp vanilla

Fresh raspberries and powdered sugar to decorate

Grind cookies to a fine powder, mix with the butter and press into the bottom and up the sides about an inch of a 9" spring form pan (or 2 7" pans). Refrigerate while making the filling.

Combine the chips and cream in a microwave safe bowl and heat at high for 3 to4 minutes or until smooth. Stir every minute. Mix in the jam, stirring until dissolved, let cool 10 minutes.

Mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Add the vanilla and the chocolate raspberry mixture. Mix well. Bake 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours at 325 or until cake is set around the edges but still jiggles slightly in the center. Cool and put in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Before serving decorate with fresh raspberries and powdered sugar.

28 July 2007

A Birthday Celebration

This week was PH's birthday. His only request was a cake. So the kids and I made a chocolate raspberry cheesecake which was delicious ending to a meal of garlic scallion chicken lo mein and sweet plum wine. Yum!

And now a random picture of Norway because I'm refusing to admit the vacation is over - So there!

26 July 2007

Le Tour - R rated, Not suitable for children?

****WARNING - Soapbox rant to follow

Hew: Why are the men on tv mad?

Me: Why do you think they are mad?

Hew: They sound really mad? Why are they really mad?

Me: Well . . . (should I have even turned on the race this morning with the kids or should I have censured the race and checked the results at nap time?) . . .the man in the yellow jersey took some medicine that didn't belong to him and the men are mad he did that.

Hew: Why?

Me (definitely should have left the tv off this morning) : Well, he wanted to win the race so he lied to his team about where he was?

Hew: What about the medicine? How did he take someones medicine?

What I said: The man wanted to win and he did bad things to do that. You never lie and you never take someone else's medicine. Okay?

What I wanted to say:

First, Hew I'm not some crazed athlete or fan. When I was home on maternity leave with you, I was bored out of my mind and then I found this race on tv - Le Tour. While I sat nursing you, I was transported to quaint French towns and steep Alps and these insane guys were biking it all. Soon I was hooked, cheering for Lance and Leipheimer, admiring Hincapie for his dedication and self sacrifice, feeling Ulrich's frustration - we spent the days cheering at the tv, reeling from the beautiful scenery.

Last year when visiting your Uncle in France, we had the opportunity to attend the Prologue - the opening day of the Le Tour. It was exhilarating and fun and your father and I swore to each other that one day we'd rent a camper and follow the entire tour one day. The physical strength and mental determination needed to complete this race is unexplainable and overwhelming. All in such a gorgeous place that if I were racing I'd stop just to look around at the snow capped Alps. At the end of the Tour when Landis tested positive I suspected foul play with the lab. Yet when the B test came back positive, it became harder to deny he'd cheated.

This year has seen lying, positive drug tests, an arrest, whole teams withdrawing, and an increased distrust in all of the riders. The sport has been declared dead. In a society that is know for the promotion of win at all costs, this should not be shocking. Yet for the cheesy fans like me, it's horribly disappointing. I am more impressed with those racing clean - not only are they enduring physical pain and mental hurdles, but they accept having their integrity questioned due to other rider's actions. I hope Hew that by the time you actually understand these scandals this sport has cleansed itself, but I fear that instead, the drugs will become more sophisticated and more difficult to trace.

So to those racing clean - thank you for the fun and the excitement. It is amazing to watch what the human body is capable of performing. And to those choosing to taint the sport in which they participate, you tell me how to explain your shameful behavior to a three year old.

**** climbing down now

24 July 2007

A Beaching

I apologize now for this post. We arrived back in Florida yesterday and I'm a bit off balance. I'm happy to see my home after being away for the last month but being back in Florida is . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . disappointing, frustrating, overwhelming, hot, humid, and periodically tearful.
We're lucky - we have a stable home, jobs, healthy kids but I really dislike it here. And then I take a deep breath and remind myself one more year - one more year and we can look to move, find jobs elsewhere, and get the hell out of here. Yeah I'm whining.

I also didn't blog nearly enough. I have pictures and stories and memories and a lot of laughter from this trip. The last week was spent with my parents at their golf course in Northern Maine. Generally, when people talk about golf, I tend to think of snotty country clubs and a dress code, but this is Maine and the course is at the base of a mountain on a peninsula only accessible by boat. It's smack in the middle of a forty mile lake and no one lives on the peninsula in the winter. The course attracts a beer drinking, flannel wearing sort of crowd. There are some high and mighty types trying to buy up the property and build giant summer homes, but periodically they are reminded that there is no way to run out the true Mainers.

Right before we left, PH and I went into "town" for dinner one night as my parents watched the kids. (Town is populated by 1600 residents and we were in an unincorporated township of less than 300 people) As we returned, one of the property owners on the peninsula was headed into "town" for a night out. This is a guy who is from Maine but has made it "big" and now lives out of state. However, leaving the state doesn't mean you forget your roots. This guy and his buddy helped us untie our boat and we headed towards my parents as they headed to town.

Fast forward twelve hours and this is where we see this guy's boat the next morning

Seems this guy and his buddy had a few
drinks in "town" and couldn't find the
docks which are on the other side of the

They guy claims he didn't know how close he was to shore until he hit the beach and went airborn, landing at least a hundred feet up the shore into the trees. By the time I got down there in the morning, half the population was already there with cell phones and cameras clicking away. People were standing around murmuring that he was "friggin' lucky" no one was hurt and it's a "god damn miracle the boat wasn't damaged." After these statement, a chorus of "Ayup" was uttered in response. For the boat owner, the shame continued as the only way to get the boat back in the water was to use a crane. There is no crane on the peninsula so one had to be brought over by a barge.

Of course the entirety of the unincorporated mainland heard about the crane being brought over by barge in order to put a boat back in the water. Additionally, my parents, who run the boat shuttle to the peninsula, expanded the boat tour for the tourist, motoring them by to see the beached boat. The boat owner insists my parents owe him a cut of the shuttle fees for the day since he provided the entertainment.

Yet, the excitement did not end with the boat being put back in the water. Once the boat sped of to hide, the crane got stuck in the wet rocks of the shore. The crane was freed by my father, who used his tractor to pull the crane to solid ground.

After such an exciting morning, I had to wonder if I need my head examined for missing this place or is it truly as the sign says when you cross into the state "The Way Life Should Be"?

12 July 2007

Norway photo tour continues

And then there were the flowers . . .

Let's go peek in the garden . . .

09 July 2007

During our trip to Norway, I was fascinated with doors. Brightly colored doors intrigue me; the idea that there are different and interesting options behind them. Plus PH had one of those days at work - not a bad day, just a reminder that when you work in a family firm and you are not family, your opinion counts less - even if you are a "partner." So PH, here's hoping these doors will inspire you to dream about what comes next . . .

Religious Doors

Old Doors

Double Doors

Blue Doors

05 July 2007

Back from the Midnight Sun

Well actually I've been back for a week now, but for the first part I had to pay the piper and keep my two nieces along with my two rug rats. Even with PH's help, four children under ten is a bit crazy, especially when suffering from jet lag. I expected I would be able to get by with just pictures from the trip for a few days but alas my mother's computer does not appear to be compatible with any other system. My beautiful photos are on my laptop and my mother's computer refuses any sort of interaction. Since it is a a rainy day here in Maine, I hope to drag the children into town and try to find a disk to download the photos and see if that will please the giant ancient machine my mother calls a computer.

So Norway . . . it was a wonderful trip. A quick run down

  • We arrived in Stavanger after a wonderful flight on Northwest/KLM. After my disastrous flight on DELTA to Maine, it was nice to be treated courteously and kindly as that certainly was not the case on DELTA. In case you haven't figured it out, I will no longer fly on DELTA as their uncaring behavior made the flight even worse than the time I was stuck in D.C. with a barely three year old and six month old and was told it would be faster to drive from D.C. to Florida than to wait for a flight (15 hours in car that I have chosen to block from my memory - shudder).
  • Slightly groggy we drove to Haugesund to meet with the family that PH stayed with as an exchange student nineteen years ago. This ride included a ferry ride which is a fun way to travel - park car and exit upstairs to watch the boat cross the water. Very refreshing after having been in an airplane all night.
  • We drove around Haugesund a bit as PH had not been there in nineteen years and seemed a bit stunned that it had changed - go figure! Finally with the help of some kind Norwegians and PH's language skills we arrived at the home where we would be staying.
  • The family PH lived with nineteen years ago were beyond kind and hospitable. We had the bottom half of a house to stay that they were not using, dinner was arranged every night at different family member's home, the father of the family was our personal tour guide for two days, driving us and chatting away with John in Norwegian but making sure that I was included even though my language skills were abysmal. There was a night out on the town with PH's "brother" and his wife, a BBQ, a bonfire, a boat ride on the fjords, a hike to an abandoned lighthouse at 10:30 P.M. to watch the sun "set" at 11:45, gifts exchanged for our various children, a promise to make traditional sweaters and send them to us in the U.S. in exchange for some "spirits" that we had brought with us. We saw a part of Norway that very few tourist would see and "tusen takk" seemed to be an inadequate way to thank them. I can only hope that at some point they will come to the U.S. so we can return the favor. I know we will certainly visit again.
  • After the three days in Haugesund, we were off to Bergen.

  • We stayed outside of the city at the lovely Solstrand. We visited Bergen using the Bergen pass which allows you a days entrance into the museums, funicular, churches, and various other discounts including for parking. We also biked, hiked, swam in the fjord - well, jumped in and got out, used the wonderful pool and spa, and ate delicious meals at the Solstrand. This was a wonderful hotel for us as we prefer to be outside the city and enjoy being outdoors.
  • Our last day we drove and ferried back to Stavanger and visited Stavanger and again had a lovely flight on Northwest/KLM.

Fingers crossed that pictures will be available tomorrow.