Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 was an eventful year

I thought I'd end the year with a recap of some of the excitement experienced by the Stopper Family in 2005 - this replaces the "Christmas newsletter" that I failed to complete and send to all of my family and friends.

January - We started off the year slowly. We were preparing for Samantha's 8th birthday party (which I convinced her to have at home, thinking, erroneously, that it would be LESS work for me). I had recently been diagnosed as Gestational Diabetic, so I had started extra appointments with an OB specialist for the last couple of months of my pregnancy. We had Samantha's Lizzie McGuire birthday party and it was fun. The next day, I was placed on bedrest because it was discovered that my amniotic fluid was extremely low. By the end of the month, after numerous trips to the specialist and one trip to the ER with contractions, I was admitted to the hospital to raise my fluid levels.

- The OB let me go home from the hospital about 4 days after I was admitted. I was thrilled!! As I said to the OB, the hospital was just "bad food, bad TV and bad allergies" (they were doing construction on the maternity floor). I was discharged with the understanding that I would return to the hospital EVERY DAY for fetal monitoring and bio-physical profiles. That continued for a couple of weeks, and Emma finally decided that she had enough, and on Feb 16th, the Doctor decided it was time for Emma to be born. So, at 4:56pm on Wednesday, February 16th, Emma Grace Stopper was born via c-section!

March - My sister Emily brought her kids to visit at the beginning of March for their Spring Break. Since Emma's due date was March 7th, she thought her timing *would* be perfect - but alas, she visited a 2 week old baby!! Emily was amazed at how much Emma ate - she had a growth spurt OVER NIGHT while Emily was here. Emma has finally started putting on the weight and we began settling into a new routine with a newborn in the house.

- Soccer season has started up again. Both Samantha and Michael are playing soccer - thankfully, Michael's soccer is just games on Saturday with no practices.

May - May is always a busy month for us. It always goes so quickly. Michael's 5th birthday was celebrated with friends this year at the local Fire Station. It was such a great party. I had called the Fire Department to ask if they could bring a fire truck by our backyard party (they will do that if they aren't on a call). Because it was their annual "Open House", all of their trucks were planned for, but they invited us to use their party room for our party, and enjoy their free hot dogs, moon bounce, fire truck rides, and everything else they had planned. What a perfect birthday party. Michael always seems to get "lots" of birthday parties, because we actually gave him gifts from us on his actual birthday, and then we went to Smith Mountain Lake and had another birthday cake (Lemon Cake, of course) with Granny and Granddaddy!! We also took a trip to Norfolk in May to attend Samantha's dance competition. She really enjoys dance and had a great time at the competition.

June - School's Out. We were all looking forward to school being out and summer vacation. Samantha's dance recital in June was, as always, quite nice (and getting more efficient every year). However, our summer plans were thrown a wrench when 3 days after school let out, I fell and broke my foot. I knew the minute that I fell that it was broken!! I spent the rest of June (and into July) in a cast and on crutches. Thankfully, I have some great neighbors and friends who helped out with the kids and dinners during the hardest time.

July - After Mike returned from his business trip the last week of June, we all headed to Smith Mountain Lake for July 4th. The entire trip was challenged because I was unable to drive or carry Emma while on crutches. My sister Emily and her kids drove us back to Northern Virginia from the lake a few days later, and Samantha, Michael, and Emma got a few more days to play with their cousins. I also got my fiberglass cast off and a walking cast, which helped me become more mobile and able to DRIVE!!

August - Summers always seem hotter in Northern Virginia, and 2005 was no exception. It was extremely hot this August, and we didn't make many trips to the pool due to my foot, but the kids had their annual swimming lessons. They are both quite strong swimmers and Michael is becoming more comfortable in the water where he can't reach.

September - Schools In!! Michael and Samantha were both pretty excited about the new school year - Michael starting Kindergarten and Samantha in 3rd grade. School started 10 minutes earlier this year, so we all stumble through the morning bleary-eyed to get the kids to school at 7:35am when the doors open. Those extra 15 minutes to get unpacked and settled really help get the school day moving well. Fall sports have also started and Samantha is back into soccer while Michael is giving T-ball a shot. If you have never witnessed the chaos that is 5 year old T-ball, consider yourself lucky. We would by NO means have Michael playing this young if he weren't so athletically talented.

October - Following Samantha and Nancy's trip to New York City over Columbus Day weekend, we embarked on some of our favorite fall traditions, including visiting Cox Farms pumpkin patch, the South Riding Halloween Parade, and Trick-or-Treating for Halloween.

November - November felt especially busy this year. Nancy got to meet many of her internet online friends in REAL LIFE while attending a Scrapbook retreat in Pennsylvania. We decided that we would spend Thanksgiving at home since we would be seeing Nancy's parents the following week. It was nice to have a quiet Thanksgiving at home.

December - What a wonderful way to start off December - with a trip to Walt Disney World!! After 8 days in Orlando, we realized how quickly Christmas was upon us. We spent a nice Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at home, and then headed to Roanoke to visit Nancy's parents and siblings, Emily and Larry, and their kids. We ended the year with a visit by Mike's Dad and step mom and Mike's Grandmother on New Years Eve. What a nice ending to the year.

Now we are ready for 2006!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

There's no place like home!

At least that is how Emma feels. Despite many naps taken in our own pack-n-play, as well as the pack-n-plays of friends in my babysitting co-op, Emma doesn't seem to want to sleep in a crib or pack-n-play while travelling. We had struggles at Disney World, but most nights we were able to get her to sleep and then put her in the pack-n-play, where she would sleep until 4 or so and then we'd put her in the bed with us where she would finish out the night.

But, at Granny's house, she would have NOTHING to do with the crib. I tried to put her to bed awake, which we normally do at home, but no luck. I then tried to put her to sleep after she had fallen asleep with me on the bed, but no luck. I even tried putting her to bed after she had been asleep for an hour on the bed with me, but no luck. I was even unable to put her down on a sleeping bag on the floor after she had fallen asleep. Something about being out of town, I guess.

So, Emma has 2 very tired parents from having to share a bed with a very wiggly 10 month old who likes to kick when she wakes up in the middle of the night!!!

She was so happy to see her own bed - she has slept in there for 2 naps and now tonight with NO PROBLEM!!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Which of my children couldn't wait for Santa Claus?

You would think maybe Michael, or even Samantha, but NO, Emma was the one that decided at 4:30 that she wanted to be awake. We couldn't get her back to sleep, so she watched cartoons on TV. She finally fell back asleep around 6:30, but all the excitement of Christmas morning just after 7am, she wanted to see what was going on!!

So, through bleary eyes, we watched our kids open their presents and Emma is FINALLY thinking about taking a nap!

Merry Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

(in our new Christmas jammies)

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

by Clement Clarke Moore

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve - what do we do?

For the past few years, we have had Christmas Eve dinner with family friends. We have alternated houses each year and its been nice. We have dinner, we open gifts to each other, and then the kids typically open a gift of Christmas jammies for them to wear to bed. Then we each retreat to our own homes to put on jammies, put out cookies and milk for Santa, and read "Twas the Night before Christmas" before going to bed.

We had dinner with our friends last night - because her girls are going out of town with their dad today. We don't know what to do with ourselves. Two days ago, Mike looked and me and said "So what do we have for dinner on Christmas Eve". After having dinner plans for so many years, we feel lost...its kind of funny.

So, we decided to go "easy" and have pasta. Mike bought Shrimp Cocktail because he feels that you need to have "nice" dinner for Christmas Eve. We will then, as always, have the kids open their Christmas jammies (Emma even has matching ones this year), and we will put out milk and cookies for Santa, and read "Twas the Night Before Christmas".

The kids can't wait for Santa - neither can we - we see Santa in the kids eyes every Christmas morning and they come down and see what wonderful gifts they have under the tree.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I'm too cute to take a nap!

Our household is on a schedule - it always has been. This schedule makes for a happier mommy and happier kids. Emma takes 3 naps most days - around 9am, around noon, and around 4:30.

But now that she had learned to sit up, and start pulling up, she has started a new game. I will lay her down for nap and she is very still. She allows me to give her a snuggly blanket, and then cover her legs with a warm blanket and then give her her baby doll. I do the same thing every time I put her down and then I tell her to go to sleep (using the sign language for Sleep, as I am trying to teach her to sign). She smiles at me and I leave the room. Not five minutes later, I hear sounds from her room. After giving her sufficient time to go back to sleep, I realize its not going to happen. I go in her room to see her sitting up in her bed and when she sees me, she gets this huge grin on her face. Often it is because she has thrown her paci out of the bed and is hanging over the railing looking for it. Other times its as though she is saying to me "but I'm so cute, how can you possibly leave me in the bed to sleep instead of immediately hugging me and playing with me". Its one of the more difficult things I have to do each day - leave my *poor child* in her bed to take a nap - I'm such a mean mommy.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

My wrapping is almost done!!

I'm almost done wrapping all of our Christmas presents. The only reason I can't be done now is that I'm home here with all 3 kids and there is no way I can sneak the last three presents out of the trunk of the car and into my room for wrapping. I'll wrap those tonight after the kids go to bed, and I retreat to my nightly "locked door" session in my room.

What surprised me so much is how many presents I ended up wrapping for "non-immediate" family. I define "non-immediate family" as those that do not live in our house!! As our kids have gotten older, the list of gifts for non-immediate family has grown. And, it was added to when I offered to wrap gifts on behalf of both sets of grandparents (not that I mind, I'm just surprised). And, in the interest of NOT forgetting to take gifts out of town, like I have done in years past, the gifts for "non-immediate" family are under the front Christmas tree, and gifts for the kids are under the back Christmas tree.

But, I'm almost done. I have a new "system" I'm working this year where Samantha has one style of paper, and Michael has another. There are no gift tags on the gifts - simply a number written at the top on the back. I have a sheet of paper that lists what is in each numbered box. This way, the kids can't try to guess what's in the boxes, and I can try to remember what we've bought, and I can have *some* feeling that I have *somewhat* balanced out the gifts this year (each year, for some reason, you find it easier to shop for one child more than another - this year, Samantha seemed easier to shop for than Michael)

And, Emma is easy. We have been pulling out old toys of Samantha and Michael's for her to play with, she is getting two new toys and three new outfits because she is much bigger than Samantha was at her first Christmas!!

Three Days until Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

We have a beautiful house!!

I can say this lots of times throughout the year - because I love our house. We built it 6 1/2 years ago and we were really pleased with most of our choices. There are a few things that I would do differently if I had the chance, but all-in-all, I am very pleased with my house. I am pleased that we expanded many rooms and added extra bathrooms, and that we finished the basement.

But, our house is especially beautiful at Christmas. My husband likes to decorate and I have left it to him to do each year. This year he has added window wreaths to our decorations - we had wanted to do this for year but never got our act in gear in time. Mike bought bare wreaths and actually added ribbons and decorations onto each wreath, and then hung them from each window. So, our house is beautiful both day and night.

The picture at the top of the post is a photo of the house during the day. When you come in the door, this is how you are greeted!

Here is the house at night

It really helps to put us in the Christmas mood to see all of the decorations.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Our tree is up!!

Well, our Christmas tree is now beautifully decorated in our family room. We have adjusted the couch at an angle so that the tree is not "behind" the couch. I really like the room this way, especially for the holidays when there will be lots of activity in the family room. A couple of things I thought I'd share that we don't ever seem to learn while picking out a Christmas tree:

- Measuring poles, regardless of how close they look, are NOT accurate. Our tree was cleary taller than 9' - good thing we put it in a room with a valuted ceiling.

- The gaps in the tree are NEVER visibile while you are looking at it on the lot. The good news is that we can usually hide the gaps in the tree in the corner.

The photo above was taken about 1/2 way up the stairway in our family room. The other photo taken from standing across the family room!!

Mike had to use the full-size ladder to get the angel on the tree, and used our "ceiling light bulb grabber" to hang the high ornaments, as this is clearly the largest tree we have had. But, I really like how it looks and I can't wait to see it with presents from Santa underneath!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Happy 10 months Emma!!

Emma has reached her 10th month birthday. This has been an exciting month. Emma had her first visit to Walt Disney World - but I assure you - not her last. She has finally mastered crawling, which means I WILL never get anything accomplished again while she is awake!! She initially used her new skill to simply reach her toys that were out of reach, but now she has started exploring. I have cleared the coffee table twice - but it seems to "grow" clutter - and Emma LOVES it. She pulls herself up until her mouth is at the edge of the table - and then she chews on the table while smiling at me, proud of her accomplishment. She loves to grab her shoes and play with them. She loves to play with diapers out of the diaper basket. She loves to "read" magazines - which means, she loves to pull them off the table and rip the pages and put them in her mouth.

She doesn't understand Christmas yet. When I put her under the tree tonight, she simply tried to grab for the train track of the Christmas train under the tree. I'm sure she'll figure it out soon enough - especially once Santa visits.

Mike was just asking tonight where our baby went? He feels like this one has gone so much faster than the others - yet, I feel like I have experienced so much more. The pleasure of being able to be home with her all of the time has been wonderful. Even when I'm exhausted and just begging her to sleep so that I can nap, or sweep the floor, or even go to the bathroom - its very worth it. I can't believe its been 10 months.

Happy Birthday Emma!!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmas Tree in the mud!!

For years, we have always tried to check the weather, and work our day of getting a Christmas tree into the schedule when we knew the weather would be nice - when it hadn't rained or snowed in a few days so that it wasn't muddy, and it wasn't too cold. Well, we finally realized that our expectations were just too high. Regardless of our good planning, it seems that it would always rain or snow or do something awful on the day we had planned to get the Christmas Tree. I remember one year standing in a Christmas Tree lot in the pouring rain trying to get a tree. So, a few years back, Mike and I decided that we would "realign" our expectations. We have decided to pick the worst weather day possible and go get our tree on that day - we'll strap on the boots and the hoods, and go out in the cold and get a tree. Of course, yesterday in the snow and ice would have been perfect but Mike was still out of town. So today, in the piles of mud, we decided to go get our tree. Not nearly as messy weather-wise as we would have liked (LOL!) but messy none the less.

As we are putting the tree in the family room with the valuted ceiling this year, instead of in the living room, we had some flexibility with height. Our tree is 9' tall this year, but had great shape and form. Its currently sitting in the stand in the garage settling the branches, but it will be in tomorrow and I'll post photos.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Emma is crawling - and curious

Well, life just got a little more difficult. Emma is finally crawling forward. She has been trying for a while, and probably would have a week or so ago if she hadn't spent the past week in a stroller - literally. So, she has figured out how to move her knees to go with her hands and she gets to where she wants to be. The problem is, she wants to get to the basket of diapers that I have recently put ON TOP of the coffee table (instead of underneath) and the toys that the older kids leave on the table. She has also crawled herself under the table a couple of times and can't get out - I hate to laugh because she is so mad, but its funny. Now I have to worry about closing the door to the basement just to run to the bathroom - ugh.

Right now, Emma has pulled her face up to the level of the coffee table and she is using the edge as a "teething ring" - goofball!!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Emma can FINALLY sit herself up!

Twice today, once in the morning and again after her morning nap, I was greeted by Emma in her bed in the following way:

Its fun to see her when she wakes up this way, and even better because she had become SO frustrated that she couldn't get up when she falls down while sitting - so now she can!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a nice, quiet Thanksgiving Dinner at home this year. We got much of the dinner pre-made from Giant, simply needing reheating, and then added some of our favorite family goodies to the menu. We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV, had a nice dinner, and then just relaxed the day away - its not very often that we get to do that!! Emma got to enjoy her first tastes of some real food - she wasn't quite sure what to make of Turkey and Mashed Potatoes!

All in all we had a nice time and look forward to our upcoming vacation!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy 9 months Emma!

Happy Birthday Emma. You had your 9 month birthday. It feels outside a lot like the day you were born - its getting cold outside. That is about the only thing the same between then and now. You are certainly a lot larger, weighing in at 22 pounds and 29 1/2" long (off the charts tall). The Doctor was quite impressed with your "Buddha Belly", as he called it! You are into everything now - I can't keep my basket of diapers under the table, nor magazines on the table because even though you can't crawl, you sure can "scooch" and "roll" and get close to where you want to be. The crawling will come soon enough - too soon for me. I'll have to get back out the baby gates and put everything in the family room away. You have much more hair than you did 9 months ago - and its forming a little curl on the top of your head. We also love the way you interact with your world. You have figured out that if you cover your face with your blanket, and then pull it down, we will laugh and smile - and that makes you smile - and do it again!! And, you certainly love your brother and sister a lot. 9 months is a very fun age!!

And, of course, I couldn't resist sharing this great photo of you and your brother!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey?

subtitle: My child is the smartest kid in class!!

In Michael's Kindergarten class, each child had to write how they thought a Thanksgiving Turkey was prepared. All of the "recipes" were sent home in our own special "cookbook", with favorite recipes of the kids in the class and teachers at school.

Some of the kids wrote, as part of their instructions for cooking a turkey:
- Put it in the oven 60 or 90 seconds
- Shove it in the oven for 2 hours
- You put it in the oven for 80 seconds on hot
- Cook the turkey for 5 minutes
- Cook it for one hour at 50 degrees

But, my insightful son wrote:
"I would cook it until the timer goes off"

I think he's the smartest kid in the class!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Emma's update is coming

Yes, I'm a little behind. Emma's birthday was Wednesday. Haven't been able to get her birthday picture yet this month because it has been an absolutely CRAZY week.

But, I wanted to share her newest game: "Where's Emma?" (well, the rest of the world calls it Peek-a-Boo but "Where's Emma?" elicits the result we want)

Emma takes both hands (always both hands) and picks her blanket up over her head. We say "Where's Emma?" and she brings the blanket down and smiles, looking for who asked where she was. We laugh and smile because its funny and because it shows that she is clearly interacting with her environment. She LOVES the attention of the laughter and does it again. A self-fulfilling game

I'll get her birthday photos tomorrow and HOPEFULLY some action shots of "Where's Emma?" to share.

How I will possibly make it to Christmas, I'll never know.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I realized that I never shared the kids Halloween costumes with all of you. I had it easy this year - Samantha was a "go-go 70s dancer", wearing last year's dance costume. Michael was a baseball player wearing his T-ball uniform and Emma was a clown, which each of my children has been their first Halloween.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Baby Smiles!!

Possibly the best thing in the world - Baby Smiles. They light up a room and they light you up. Whether its the first smile or the hundredth one, they still have that effect. Emma smiles every time I go get her out of her bed. As soon as I walk in the room, she gets a HUGE smile on her face and starts kicking with excitement. As soon as I pick her up, she gets this huge smile on her face that stays there the entire trip down the stairs. She is always SO happy after a nap!! And, so patient. Often she will be playing in her bed and talking after she wakes up, which is nice if there is something I'm trying to finish up before I get her (you know, like going to the bathroom!). Today I found her playing with a small pair of her shoes - how she got those, I don't know. But still, the cheek to cheek grin came out as soon as I picked her up and she was very ready to come spend some time with the rest of the world.

Baby Smiles!!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Soccer season is finally over!

Soccer is a funny season. I'm always happy when its over. But, the girls always seem to get so much better in the last 2 or 3 games that you almost wish the season were a little longer so they could really ENJOY playing like they do in the last few games. Today's game was exciting - the girls were playing tight and after 3 quarters it was 1 to 1. Samantha had two VERY CLOSE shots on goal - one was from a beautiful pass that just missed right. The other was grabbed by the goalie. The team, however, in the last quarter, really broke out. Our defenders were doing a GREAT JOB of clearing the ball when it came close to the goal, and our offense was passing from side to center - we scored 4 goals in the last quarter. And none of them were "lucky goals" either - they were intentional and planned. Its fun and exciting to watch when its like that.

And, true to form, the weather during this season was wonky. I have photos of Emma last week at the game in her winter coat, winter hat, and 3 blankets. Today she was wearing a hand-me-down 18 month old spring outfit with short sleeves and was sweating. I never understand the weather. The weatherman says you can't call it "Indian Summer" until you have had an official frost, and since there has been no official frost in DC, they just call it "unseasonably warm". Call it what you want - I can't change out the seasons of the kids clothes until the weather settles in. So please, weather, give me a break and make up your mind.

Kids are off from school on Monday or Tuesday - it can stay nice until then so that I can "kick them out of the house" as much as possible. I dread when its too, too cold in winter and I can't send the kids outside. Cabin fever sets in pretty bad.

Election Day is on Tuesday. We have some rather contentious races in our area - the VA Governor's race is in a dead heat, and the Republican and Democratic candidates for House of Delegates race in our district is very tight - the Republican beat out the incumbent Republican in the primary back in May, and we are typically a Republican district, but I think that maybe the Democratic candidate might win. He's one of the more moderate Democrats I've seen in the area in a while, and his daughter works at the elementary school my kids attend. Tuesday night will be interesting TV.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Samantha is a great student!!

I just returned from Samantha's Parent-Teacher Conference for 3rd grade. I met with both of her teachers and they both say that she is a great student. She is reading above grade level and comprehending what she reads. She is developing good writing skills. She is well above grade level in her math skills and is continuing to be challenged by her 4th grade math lessons. Her reading / social studies teacher even told me she got a "1" (highest grade) on her government test, which was REALLY HARD (which is great considering I forgot her test was this past Monday so we forgot to review). She said the only advice she would offer me is to enjoy her and give her lots of praise - that she needs no pushing to do her work - she has great work habits and love school.

I'm quite proud!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy Birthday Granny!


Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday Dear Granny --
Happy Birthday to You!
Have Fun in Houston - we miss you!!
~Samantha, Michael, and Emma!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Halloween Came Early in South Riding

After several years of conflicts with soccer, Samantha was finally able to march in the Halloween Parade with the dance school. Heather decided that the Jr. Elite company would dance to "Werewolves in London" while the Sr. Company would dance to "Ghostbusters." So after searching the internet, and buying a "mullet wig" and monster hands at Target, and cutting up an old pair of Samantha's jeans and an old T-shirt of mine, we came up with a pretty creative costume for Samantha - I thought she was the best werewolf in the group!

Back to the parade - although I think calling it a parade is an overstatement - it is a massive throng of people walking down the street from the sales center in South Riding to the Town Green. The parade was headed up by the fire trucks from the Arcola Fire Department, followed by the dance school and then the neighborhood's first marching band - the marching band from the new Freedom High School. Perhaps the worst part was the weather - it was 45 degrees with 15 mile per hour winds, which put the wind chill at freezing - and boy was it ever. I think Emma was the only one sufficiently dressed. After the parade reached the Town Green, we quickly retreated to the warmth of the van and headed home for showers and on to the next event of the day - Samantha's soccer game!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Emma FINALLY cut a tooth!!

After fussing and drooling for months, and being especially uncomfortable for the past week or so, Emma FINALLY cut her first tooth - at 8 months and 1 week old. We can't really see it yet (yeah, like she lets us into her mouth that easily!), but we can clearly feel it when we feel her gums. Its her bottom left tooth. Hopefully her bottom right one will come in soon and they will give her a break from all of the discomfort she has CLEARLY HAD while these teeth were trying to come in!!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Happy Birthday Emma!!

Emma had her 8th month birthday on Sunday. Hard to believe its been so long - we have all commented that this one has gone much faster than the others. At a Drs appointment about a week ago, she weighed in at 21 1/2 pounds - whew. And that is solid and dense - so she is a HANDFUL to carry. She sits well on her own - when we place her there - but if she falls, she's stuck. She pushes up onto her hands really well when on her tummy, and yesterday got up onto her knees. But she is showing signs of imitating Samantha and crawling BACKWARDS before forwards. I'm appreciating the "non-mobile" phase as long as possible because it won't be long before I'll have to empty the coffee table of magazines and pull out the baby gates to contain her!!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cox Farm!

We made our annual trek to Cox Farm on Sunday. At least it wasn't raining!! But because it had been raining the week before, the place was PACKED - even first thing in the morning. The kids had a great time on the hayride, and the slides. Michael even went and fed a goat!! We went with family friends the Fryes, Mary Ann, Savannah, and Allie. Its always a nice way to "work out some energy" having them run around in the field for a while, and everyone took nice long naps when we got home!!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

New York State of Mind!

We had an eventful weekend, as Nancy and Samantha headed to NYC for the weekend. It had been raining at home in VA for a couple of days, and was still raining at 6am on Saturday morning when we drove to the Amtrak station in DC - boy that was a tough drive. We took the 7:35am train to Penn Station - Samantha had a good time and bugged me the entire time to go to the Cafe Car.

When we arrived in NYC, we immediately headed to Samantha's highlight of the trip - a day at the American Girl Place. This is an entire store dedicated to the American Girls. These are dolls that each have a story behind them set in a historical time of American History. Samantha's first doll, Samantha (given to her by her Great Aunt Linda when she was born), is based in 1904 North of NYC. Samantha now has her second doll - Felicity - who lived in Williamsburg, VA in 1774. The store was CRAZY but we had a great time. Samantha had her Samantha doll's hair styled into a fancy new doo, we saw a theater show put on by "the American Girls", and had lunch in the American Girl cafe, where Samantha and Felicity (the dolls) were able to join us at the table with little doll sized high chairs!! We also added a couple of "historically based" outfits to the wardrobe of both of the dolls!!

After spending most of the day at the American Girl cafe, we headed to the hotel. This was quite a challenge, as it was POURING down raining. So, not only were all of the tourists in the city using taxis (remember, it was Columbus day weekend), but so were the residents. And, trust me, a woman with a child, a suitcase, and a huge shopping bag were NOT an attractive fare to pick up. But finally, after getting completely DRENCHED, and about losing our shopping bag that was coming apart because it was soaked, we got a cab to our hotel, which was at 6th Ave and 57th street.

Our hotel was a converted studio apartment building. We had a nice room with a little kitchenette with a refrigerator. We checked in and then Samantha wanted to go to dinner, so we headed to the restaurant where I planned to eat dinner - the Jekyll and Hyde club. It ended up being right around the corner, basically part of the same huge building. It was a "haunted restaurant" where the entire restaurant is decorated like a big "Halloween" party. There were lots of kids there, so I figured I made a good choice. After dinner, we tried to go to the Empire State Building, but because of the rain and the clouds, we weren't able to see anything from the top of the building, so we didn't bother to go up. We then headed back to the hotel to get some sleep since we were up at 5:30am

On Sunday morning, we headed to Battery Park to take a Ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty. It was drizzly, wet, and cold. Didn't make for a great ferry ride, but Lady Liberty was as beautiful as I expected. We walked around the island for a while, and then headed back to the ferry for a trip to Ellis Island. The immigration building was quite interesting, and I tried to imagine what it was like to be one of those immigrants, standing in line with just the bags in my hands. After riding back to Battery Park, we got a cab back to the hotel. This cab driver was nice, and drove through the streets of town and pointed out many of the notable sights, including the WTC site. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant right up from the hotel that had GREAT pizza. Afterwards, we walked the 1 1/2 blocks north to Central Park and we took a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park. Afterwards, we walked around Midtown Manhattan, and just looked around at some of the buildings, including Carnegie Hall and Trump Tower.

Sunday evening included dinner at the new Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. After dinner and looking around at all of the lights and sights of Times Square, we walked a few blocks up Broadway to see our Broadway play - Beauty and the Beast. It was GREAT!!

Monday morning was quiet, as we wanted to make sure we made the train on time. We ate breakfast at a little corner shop called Get a Bagel. Granny would have LOVED it. They had every possible thing you could imagine putting on a bagel, and then some you probably never imagined. Afterwards, we walked down to Rockefeller Center, saw the ice rink, and even saw where they were filming the Today Show. It was a bit crazy because there was a concert on Monday, but we got to peek through the screens in the building and saw the indoor set. Pretty cool.

We took a cab back down to Penn Station - what I thought would take longer only took about 15 minutes. We had some time to kill at Penn Station and spent it sitting in the large hall in front of the departures board. Penn Station is a little nuts. They don't post the track that you will be departing on until they are ready to board the train, so everyone stands in front of the departure board waiting to see the track number, and then there is a MAD DASH to the gate so everyone can board - all about 15 minutes before the train is due to depart.

After an uneventful train ride home, I was looking forward to driving home and relaxing, but to no avail. The car wouldn't start (a side effect of an elusive electrical short we have in the car that rears its head from time to time). I had trouble getting it jump-started because of a smart-mouthed Amtrak police officer who told me to "call AAA" because they would have to push the car out in order to jump it. Finally the Amtrak police came around and jump-started the car and we were FINALLY able to head home.

A quite exhausting but fun trip!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Had a great weekend!!

We had a great family weekend this weekend. It was busy but good. Michael and Samantha both had games. Michael did a great job in tball - he's getting better every week and maybe one of these days he'll go an entire inning without kicking dirt. Samantha is also doing great in soccer - I think she has scored a goal every game this season.

We finished out the weekend with a Nationals Game. It was great to end their season with them. Weather was perfect and had the game not been almost 4 hours, we wouldn't have had the sun on our seats at all - as it was we had some sun for the last inning, but we moved into the shade for that. Emma had a great time and loved "riding" in her new front carrier.

Photos to come soon!!

Monday, September 26, 2005


Welcome to the Stopper Family site. We'll share what's going on with all of the Stoppers, as well as some photos of our adventures out and about. We invite you to come back often and check us out!