Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy Happy Birthday Lola!!

Lola is still bouncing everywhere because today is her 11th birthday!!!! She was so excited about the party this evening, and she got to see her birthday cake and help put the flowers on it.

The party was a blast, in spite of threats of thunderstorms. Jeannette & Phil (Nastya and Masha's parents) arrived a few minutes later than expected due to a huge downpour they had to drive through and we were a bit in the breath-holding stage for fear the rain may decide to visit the birthday party. Luckily, it only sprinkled and the heavy rain part of the storm was going around us!

Here are photos from the party. Everyone had a wonderful time and the horseback riding was very fun!!

Lola chose a horse named Sam I Am, who looks very much like Apache, her lesson horse.

Jeannette & Phil "horsing" around (literally!)
Masha, who is quite the little ham in front of the camera
Anastasia (Nastya), who was a little scared at first, but rides like she has done it all her life

Kimmi, who was a little apprehensive at first but found her horse, Dexter, to be a big sweetheart
Lola and Mama ready to hit the trail!

Hannah, who runs a really amazing riding and equine training program at Wildewood Farm

There are many types of horses to ride at Wildewood Farm
Ohhhh, COOL! The Pink Panther!!

It's always nice to have friends help open the gifts...
For Lavinia and Nastya meeting for the first time, they were just like old friends later!

I think the other girls were having fun helping Lola!

Lola and Nastya with a new plush friend

Thursday, June 26, 2008


CRCT day has finally arrived! Lola wanted to wake up at 5am to study a bit more for the test, which commenced at 8:00am. She realizes she knows more math now than the first time she took the test, but is still very apprehensive. It makes me wonder if she is one of those people whose fear manifests itself whenever a test is placed in front of them. We'll have to see, and if that is the case, we can get some study habit help for her to ease her apprehensions.

The good news was she got to be in her ESOL teacher's group to take the test, and she absolutely LOVES this woman. I must admit I am quite fond of her myself. Once the test was over, Lola and I went to Waffle House to celebrate her hard work during the summer so far. Then later that afternoon we went to Six Flags White Water to see what fun we could have. Season passes are the best!! We have been there enough times to have made good use of the passes, and we both have loads of fun!

Tomorrow is Lola's birthday and we have planned a horseback riding party at the farm of a friend of mine with whom I boarded my horse, Whisper, for a couple years. I no longer have Whisper (she is now living with a nice lady from Griffin and loves to go on trail rides) but Hannah and I have kept in touch from time to time over the past seven years. When I realized her farm does birthday party trail rides I thought that would be great fun for the kids and adults as well! The party is set for 7pm and we have a small list of invitees - - Boris and his parents (who couldn't come due to their being out of town that weekend), Anastasia (aka Nastya) and Maria (aka Masha)and their parents (who are coming), Lavinia, Kimmi and Chris. Kimmi is making Lola's favorite cake - red velvet - - and Lola and I have rolled out gumdrops of various colors and sizes to make flowers and leaves for the top of the cake (my mom used to do that for my birthday cake every year when I was around that age, so I thought I'd pass the tradition down to Lola). We have decided on pizza and chicken for the meal, so we are almost all set to party!! Lola is so excited to be having her birthday! She decided long ago that she wanted an MP3 player and a fuzzy bathrobe for her birthday. She has told me that in Russia her birthday never had a surprise (gift) when she was living with her mother, and in the orphanage they had a cake and perhaps a small surprise for many children at once each month. During the month of June they celebrated the birthdays of Lola, Boris, Misha and Lera. I think part of Lola's big excitement is having a birthday celebration just for HER and no one else. I'm sure that is the world's best feeling for her!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Study Study Study and Swim Swim Swim

We have still been working hard on the CRCT criteria - - we take a different task each day and Lola is now telling me "Mom, this is easy!! Can I do some more?" She has been able now to feel comfortable with multiplying fractions, converting improper fractions to their proper form, and she's really quite good at geometric concepts. We are working a little harder on algebra, but she is beginning to see that 'x' is not to be feared just because we may not know what number it represents. Isn't that ironic - - - all our lives we have been taught in finite terms - - - that certain numbers added or multiplied together equal certain other numbers, and now this 'x' thing is thrown into the mix. She knows what pi is and how to use it, and she suddenly realized that she now knows more than a month ago because the worksheets she gets to practice on now make sense! She does not like tests, but perhaps this next one will be a little easier to cope with.

We are also getting ready for the big 11th birthday (which is the day after the CRCT re-take) and we have decided to have her party at the farm of a friend of mine who used to board and train my horse, Whisper, back in 2000-2001. At the party, any parent or child will have the opportunity to go on a trail ride atop one of the farm's many lesson horses. After that, we will have pizza and chicken, beverages and birthday cake, then open the presents and finally clean up and go home. Lola has decided to invite Boris, Nastya (Anastasia) and her little sister Masha (Maria), all of whom have been adopted from Russia, with Boris and Nastya being at Lola's school there) and Lavinia, her best friend at school here in Atlanta.

We have been having issues with our beloved goldfish. Tom the fish died while we were in Mexico. Chris e-mailed us while we were there to tell us the sad news. We knew he was sick, but he seemed to be better just before we left for Mexico. When we returned home, Jerry was still ok, so we decided to get him a buddy. Unfortunately, the buddy fish (dubbed Pinky) was sick when we bought him and began to show signs of parasites once he was home, and then of course Jerry got the parasites and in spite of treating them with the proper medicine, raising the temperature of the tank and doing everything but CPR both fish have sadly passed on to Fish Heaven. We now have an empty tank. We will change the water and make it ready for a couple new fish (hopefully HEALTHY fish) when Lola feels she is ready.

We have been swimming almost every day and Lola is now taking swim lessons at the pool. She had swimming instruction in Russia and loved it, and is really quite a good swimmer. We also have season passes for Six Flags White Water and she loves it there! With many water slides, fun ocean wave pool, the lazy river and a ride called "the Tornado", it makes for a fun afternoon. I am not sure who is more excited to go to White Water --- hmmm, that is a toss-up...

Scooter is still the steadfast little buddy. He absolutely loves Lola!

Boo Boo is still going strong at the advanced age of 18-1/2. He's quite the trooper and still loves to eat and be brushed. He has taken up homestead on one of our living room sofas. His 'home' has two plastic mattress covers, a towel for him to sleep on, two big adult bed incontinence pads, one of which has a litter box with wheat litter (wow, there is NO cat box odor with this stuff - - it's easy to clean and amazing!) on it and the other with his food. He makes several trips out to the kitchen for water and to see what everyone else is doing, so he seems to be in pretty good shape. I do make sure to look for any sign of pain or anything that may indicate he is in any discomfort, but so far he's appeared to be a happy little cat.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Re-Playa del Carmen and Adios, Mexico

We loved the beach at Playa del Carmen so much we decided to go back again the following afternoon to swim. The weather forecast was to be mostly cloudy with chances of light rain but that didn't stop us. After working on multiplication with Lola in preparation for her re-take of the CRCT later this month (we have been hitting the multiplication tables every day in Mexico so she knows them well, then we will be prepared to move on to the required skills for 5th grade CRCT), I walked around the resort to take photographs of the pool and other places sans people. It truly amazes me how a pool bar can be packed with people even on a rainy day. See photo...

After that, we had lunch and then hopped on the bus to Playa del Carmen. Once there, we found the waves to be wonderfully big and perfect for wave-jumping. After a couple hours, Lola decided to play in the sand so she made use of what sticks and rocks were on the beach and built a sand fort with a moat to catch the water once the tide was back in. I helped her while Kimmi was still having fun with the waves.

Once we were done swimming and needed to dry off, we trekked up the beach to a tapas restaurant, had a coke,changed our clothes and made it to the bus stop with time to spare. During the afternoon it only actually rained a couple times, and even then just sprinkled. It was a fun way to spend our last day in Mexico! The bus was scheduled to leave at 6pm, so we needed to eat dinner back at the resort and hop into bed early to get up at 2:30am to get on the 3:45am shuttle and fly home on the 7am flight to Houston (whoever booked this for us must have been a sadist. This is not normal to do on the last day of a vacation). However, the plan changed and we all decided to just stay up until we got on the shuttle and then try to catch sleep there and on the plane home. I fell asleep at midnight. I'm not sure when everyone else conked out. But at 2:30 we were up and packing the toothbrushes and jammies in our suitcases and were ready to go about 15 minutes early!!

The flight home was fun and Lola slept on each leg of the trip, so she was ready for action when we arrived in Atlanta. I was sleepy, but happy to be home, even though I love Mexico and want to go back! Kimmi was the one who was not feeling so good. Her rash had spread to her other arm and back so she was going to the doctor to see what could be done. Needless to say, I think all of us had a nice, wonderful time sleeping in our own beds. The cats were so happy to see us, and Scooter was following Lola all around the house to make sure she really was home for good. It really is true - there is no place like home!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Playa del Carmen

After about five days exclusively at the resort we decided to hop the shuttle bus to see what Playa del Carmen was all about. The intent was just to do a little shopping there and then wander down to the beach to take a look at another sandy shoreline and later catch the bus back to the resort.

I must interject here by saying Lola HATES shopping. Yes, my little soon-to-be- eleven-year-old girl HATES shopping. The only two places she likes to go with me are Wal-Mart for groceries and to the Dollar Store because it has "cool stuff". I do realize I should be thankful because she does not want everything she sees, but on the other hand it is a huge struggle to shop for any necessary clothes (she has grown an inch and has gained some poundage since coming to America, and in some cases it was necessary to get her a couple new pairs of jeans and a few new scooter skirts) and she really despises trying on anything to see if it fits properly...

Luckily, in this case we were not shopping for clothes, but Kimmi wanted to get a couple things to commemorate her trip to Mexico. Lola and I patiently waited (well, I did, anyway) but there were some fun things to look at outside the shops as well. We went to Senor Frog's and that was fun because there are frog figures outside and inside the shop, and I'm sure we followed the tourist handbook to a tee by taking photos of each other with these silly frogs! Lola tolerated the rest of the shopping for as long as she could - - which was about ten minutes - - so I told Kimmi to meet us down at the beach. I figured Lola would enjoy wading around down there for awhile and would give Kim a chance to look at what she wanted.

Once we got to the beach, I realized I should have kicked myself for not bringing our swimsuits along. The sand was smooooooooooth and the waves were awesome!! I told Lola she and I could wade and play for however long she wanted because it was wonderful!

Kimmi met us at the beach empty-handed - she didn't find anything she wanted to buy that didn't seem hugely overpriced, so she came in to wade with us as well. Once we were ready to meet the bus, Lola was pretty soaked but at least she had fun! We decided the beach was so awesome that we wanted to go back again the next day to spend the afternoon swimming. Kim is still dealing with her allergic rash, but she was game to swim in a rock-less beach!