Oh this past weekend was wonderful! What a break from winter.
Last Monday, we had a snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow here. On Saturday it was sunny and in the 60s! I chased everyone out of the house - no inside play for us.
Granted it was muddy as all get out in the yard, but the girls and the girls next door played on the swings, played tag, threw a little of the snow that was left around and generally had a good time.
It was so wonderful to feel the warm sun on my face. Of course, Richard (the punk) ended up with a sun tan from just a few hours in the sun.
But it's back to reality now - rain, sleet, snow and cold temps. Sigh. I almost wish we didn't get a warm break like that because it is such a tease knowing we won't see weather like that again for two months.
One thing keeping us going is the girls and I planted the seeds for our garden. We have two trays inside the house in our garden window in the kitchen with tomato, pepper, pumpkin, squash, cucumber, cantaloupe and watermelon seeds. The tomatoes are all about three inches tall now. Every day Joelle wants to look at them to see how "her" 'maters are doing.
Speaking of growing, Richard took Jonna for her 6-year-old physical today. She has grown 2.5 inches and put on 4 pounds in the past year. On the US growth charts, it only puts her in the 25th percentile, but when compared to girls from Southern China, she is in the 75th percentile for height and 50th percentile for weight!
Silo is settling in. He still does some puppy things like chewing on the end tables or the arms of chairs, but overall he's a happy boy.
Although he was very confused by the amount of time we were outside this weekend!
This is just a quick update here since you'll all be looking at the pictures (sorry there's still some old ones on there).
I've been home sick (flu-like symptoms) for the past week. Both girls had some version of it. We know Richard is next.
Unfortunately, at the start of this year, Richard joined one of the growing statistics nationally when he was laid off from his job at Nerac. They let go more than 20% of their staff at that time. So he's now pounding the pavement (so to speak) looking for work. Send good thoughts - or job opportunities! - his way.
For the first time in 30 years, ESPN is also talking layoffs. I am hopeful that I can be spared, but just in case, keep your fingers crossed for me!
This weekend we are having a small birthday party for Jonna at our house. She's turning 6! We will definitely update the site with photos so come back soon.
We are all tired of the snow and cold weather. But signs of spring are around - pitchers and catchers report next week and we'll plant our garden seeds next weekend.
I know it's been a while since we've updated the blog. This is especially bad to all you new readers out there who received the Christmas card sending you all to our website! Oops.
I take the blame for that. I've had pictures to update and news to share, but have spent my late Sunday nights (my usual update time) trying to wrap presents! Silly me.
Anyway, we are going to give you multiple updates here!
The girls had a great Christmas. Every night leading up to Christmas morning, Jonna would ask if she could open up a present. We held out until Christmas Eve, when she was allowed to open one package and of course, it was Christmas Eve pajamas! As you can see in the pictures on the photo page, both girls had matching princess pajamas.
On Christmas morning it's so funny to watch them. Jonna wants to tear through everything quickly, tossing paper to the side and then moving on to the next package (regardless of whether her name was on it or not!) Joelle on the other hand, would slowly open her package and then wanted to play with whatever toy it was right then. Although after a while, she really got into it and started opening them up quicker. She even started opening mine and Richard's for us as well.
They were so excited to get their toys from Santa. Jonna got a Barbie styling head, a lot of books, a Little Pets pet shop and a Grady Sizemore fleece blanket (yes, we indoctrinate them to the Indians early!). Joelle got a baby doll and stroller, V-tech learning laptop and a little toy vacuum. She wanted to use the vacuum to pick up Jonna's papers all over the floor! Of course, mom and dad, Aunt Kris and Uncle Dude and Grandmere got them clothes as well and Rachel Chi sent some faboo chocolates. Yum!
Dad got an iPod shuffle to use when he works out now, a new cordless drill and some books. Mom got her runner's watch, some clothes and, ta da! Diamond earrings! A first in nearly 17 years of marriage (I guess all the hints worked!)
This week while we are on vacation, we hope to take some day trips to NYC and maybe Newport, Rhode Island to see the decorations but we'll mainly hang out around here on a "staycation." That is, until we all start to drive each other nuts!
In November, we did a little family project. National Geographic has on their site (www.nationalgeopgrahic.com/genographic
) this project where they are charting human migration through history by DNA markers. Here's from the site: "We're collaborating with indigenous and traditional peoples around the world to learn more about where we came from and how we got to where we live today. But participation is not restricted to indigenous and traditional peoples; we're also inviting the general public to join us on the journey. Together we can tell the story of us all. … Your results will reveal your deep ancestry along a single line of direct descent (paternal or maternal) and show the migration paths they followed thousands of years ago. Your results will also place you on a particular branch of the human family tree."
They send you a kit where you do a cheek swab (very "CSI") and through your mitochondrial DNA will show how your ancestors migrated out of Africa 150,000 years ago! It doesn't show where any of the Kudravis or Urbans are specifically from, but does show how our ancestors traveled the world.
What we found was, as you could imagine, both Richard and I are in haplogroup V. What that means is our ancestors left Africa in the first wave to leave the continent around 80,000 years ago. Descendents of that group moved into the Mediterranean and western Asia before moving to the Caucasus Mountains. When the last great ice age happened (I am drastically condensing the report here) they moved into the southern areas of western Europe, places like the Iberrian peninsula, Italy and the Balkans, where they remained until the ice retreated about 15,000 years ago. Most people of this haplogroup are in western, central and northern Europe. So all of you Kudravis and Urbans out there, this is where our maternal ancestors came from.
Jonna's test revealed she is in haplogroup R*. Her DNA revealed that unlike Richard and I, after her ancestors left Africa, they went a different route, East. According to the test, her "common ancestor can be described as a western Eurasian lineage, the descendants of whom live in high frequencies in the Anatolian/Caucasus and Iranian regions." Some of these people migrated back into northern Africa; some went to present-day Turkey and north across the Caucasus Mountains of George and southern Russia. Still others headed east into the Middle East and on to Central Asia. "In particular, descendants of haplogroup R dominate the European mitochondrial genetic landscape, owing to over 75 percent of the lineages found there. While some groups of R individuals moved across the Middle East into Central Asia and the Hindus Valley and some moved south back into Africa, others moved north into Europe for the first time by the Cro-Magnon." The arrival of this group signaled the end of the era of the Neanderthals!
Bottom line is Jonna has more western Eurasian DNA.
Joelle falls into haplogroup D. Her lineage follows ours, but split off when her ancestors reached the Arabian Peninsula. These were likely the first humans to leave Africa around 60,000 years ago. And they likely headed east, and went to parts of Southern Pakistan and northwest India. These decendants are the first inhabitants of southwestern Asia. That group had several subgroups, one of which is found in southern China. One group broke away from the Central Asian steppes, following herds of animals across east Asia. Joelle's ancestors likely arose on the high plains of Central Asia between the Caspian Sea and Lake Baikal. From there, the group began migrating into the surrounding areas and headed south, throughout East Asia. Because of it's age, it is considered the first humans to settle Asia.
The interesting thing here is, this group was the one that crossed the Bering land bridge about 15,000 years ago and populated the Americas! Genetically, Joelle is related to Native Americas.
It is pretty interesting to see this migration pattern. I have to figure out how to link these results to this site, so you can see what we saw.
It's been a very busy weekend for us here, with a big day to end it.
Halloween is always a big day with the kids. We were very lucky in that it turned out to be a beautiful day. Earlier in the week we had highs in the 30s with a lot of wind. Friday was in the upper 50s and sunny. Jonna had a parade at East Farms Elementary school. Of course, she was dressed as a princess (Ariel to be exact). She was very excited to be allowed to walk around into the big-kid rooms to show off her costume.
After dinner, we took the girls (Joelle was Belle) into the neighborhood with our next door neighbors, the Sticcas, to Trick or Treat. They loved running house to house getting candy, although Joelle did take advantage of Beth Sticca's wagon to "rest" for part of the walk.
Afterward, they came over and we put a fire in the fire pit. The girls all played on the swing set or colored while the adults had, um, adult beverages! It was a beautiful evening. Of course, we had to give Richard a hard time since the last time we had a fire in the pit, he managed to dump the still warm embers onto a leaf pile, setting off a small backyard fire. Naturally he wasn't home when it went fully to flame, so I had to run out to the locked shed, open it, grab a rake and then proceed to do my best Fireman Sam impersonation. And of course, while I was doing this, Jonna was in the house shrieking about the fire. Now, this leaf pile is a good 75 yards from the house, but that didn't stop her. And yes, I could hear her from that far away.
Saturday morning, the girls went to their first concert. (Hmmm, I think I was 16 when I went to my first concert - Michael Stanley Band. All you Clevelanders remember them!) We took them to see the Wiggles, yes, the Wiggles. They were so excited when the show started. Jonna sang along. Joelle kept yelling "Hey Wiggles!" and waving to them to try to get their attention. I finally had to tell her they can't hear her when they are singing. Both sang along to "Rock-a-bye your bear" and the "Monkey Song" and of course, were dancing throughout "Hot Potato." There was even a little something for the adults when between numbers, Anthony and Murray played a little "My Sharona" and then "Stairway to Heaven."
And I have to say, both Richard and I also enjoyed the show as well. Those guys really work it during the 90 minute show. We made a banner that said "Jonna + Joelle love Anthony" and Murray read it from the stage. They walk out into the crowd and kids rush up to meet them. They definitely play to both the kids and the grown ups in the audience.
The weekend wrapped up with a big deal - Sunday was the fifth anniversary of Gotcha Day with Jonna. While I had to work, they went to Chinese school and then met me for dinner. It was so much for them that Joelle fell asleep in the car but was awake in time for her bath, but Jonna fell asleep before her bath and that was it.
We took the girls apple picking this past weekend. It was a beautiful fall day - in the low 70s, blue skies and the trees changing colors.
We drove to Lyman Orchards where the girls had fun picking and of course, eating all the apples they could get. We are big fans of the Macoun, Jonnagold, Spencer, Ida Red and Empire apples we can get there.
We also got their pumpkins for Halloween. Notice the plural there. Our original plan was to get two pumpkins but once they saw the "princess" pumpkins mixed in with the regular ones, both of them had to have one. Each time they found a "perfect" gourd, we had to bring it with us to the stand. So now we have seven pumpkins for our front steps.
They are also very excited about Grandmere's impending visit later this week. Joelle still doesn't want her to sit next to her in the car, but she's becoming that way about everything - telling me she doesn't want me to get on the airplane (even if I am coming home from a trip), she doesn't want me to wear a certain shirt, dad to drink his water, Jonna to carry around one of her babies...
But back to why this is titled "Joelle's favorite word." For the past month or so, she has really latched on to one word and she says it as often as possible, even inserting it into her favorite songs whenever possible. Normally this wouldn't be a problem considering most toddlers' favorite words are "No."
Well, of course, Joelle has to be different. Her favorite word?
Yes, she walks around saying "nipple" every chance she gets. Always great when she yells it at the store or at daycare. I can't wait for her to announce it at Chinese school.