Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Christie and Matt went to a wedding in the Outer Banks this weekend - poor things. Was I jealous? No way! I had three full days to hang with Lauren and Kyla!

Goofing around on Saturday morning

Lauren reached into the drawer and said she needed her "piggy nose..."

See? You never knew that a safety plug for an electrical socket could serve as a piggy nose, did you?

Kyla didnt' find another nose in the drawer, but was content to laugh at Lauren's.

Aunt Crazy took the girls to Harris Teeter for "a coffee" (i.e. vanilla frappuccino)

There weren't any benches in the shopping center so we made do with what was handy.

Then off to a neighbor's birthday party!
(Party started at 10:30 AM ... can you believe it's only 10:30? I couldn't!)

Landree (birthday girl) and Lauren

Janet (Mom) and Landree

Kyla and Landree with their cake


Lauren with cake mouth

Kyla had just turned 2 the week before, and I swear she thought it was her birthday all over again. She had the routine down ... sing as loud as you can, smear cake all over your face, even unwrap the gifts! (We stopped her in time.)

Playing with the water table on Sunday morning; I forgot how much fun squirt guns are!

Kyla dipping her elbows in the water

I was able to head off an "I miss Mommy" meltdown with fudgecicles.

Yep, that worked.

Time to walk off the popsicles with a walk around the lake.

Kyla with dandelion

Lauren and dandelion

Kyla looking cute

Lauren looking adorable

OK, after the rain ended our walk around the lake, it was time for fingerpainting.

Fingerpainting without a shirt for Kyla (I learned my lesson after the popsicle!)

Over to Mom's house for dinner on Sunday night ... the girls loved the puddle.

Lauren on her tricycle

Kyla and Lauren

Back in Crazy's car to head home!

On Monday morning, Lauren wanted me to take a picture of her in her dress with a flower from her ballet recital. It was a good opportunity to play with my camera settings. I'm trying to practice portraits because I am photographing our friends' wedding in July! So bear with me - some of these aren't that good, but the moments are cute!


Lauren laughing

Kyla and Lauren

Kyla, Mema, and Lauren

I like this one ... I tend to like the ones with a lot of action.

Smell Mema!

Back outside for more sprinkler time!

Kyla let the sprinkles hit her a bit, but she was more interested in running around than getting wet!

The same could not be said for Lauren! :)
What a blast! I can't wait until everyone comes to Richmond in a couple weeks to see Uncle Bill, who is returning to town!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Two Churches in Two Towns

This post is so late, but better late than never! On Sunday, May 17th, my nieces were baptized in Cary, NC. No better reason for Aunt Crazy to make a daytrip down from Richmond!

My brother-in-law's family all flew up from Florida for the occasion (and Kyla's 2nd birthday the day before), so it was a really a family reunion!

The Swartz grandchildren - Dylan, Lauren, Amelia and Kyla

The Swartz grandchildren when AUNT CRAZY tells them to pose!!

Dylan and Kyla hanging out before church ... Dylan is really the greatest cousin of all time. You'll see why in a few photos!

My beautiful, hilarious TWO YEAR OLD niece, Kyla!

The family preparing for the service.

Kyla chose to prepare for the service by coloring on the floor. On a paper on the floor, that is!!

The Swartz girls get baptized! Lauren, Matt, Christie and Kyla
(nevermind that boat behind them ... that was for a Jonah and the Whale skit that came later in the service!)

This cracked me up! Matt's sister Jen stands and dances when this unusual Methodist "sermon" called for it, but her two catholic children were NOT used to this activity at church! They just sat still in amazement as the crazy Protestants all but Hokey Pokey'd during the service. It was pretty funny.

Clapping hands during one of the songs. (Notice Dylan and Amelia are still frozen!)

The newly baptized girls greeted the congregation in a receiving line after the service.

Amelia, Mom Mom and Lauren on the way to Maggiano's for lunch. Mom Mom was a trooper to slide into the 3rd row seat - that's no easy task!

Why are the Swartzs smiling so big?

Because Dylan - best cousin EVER - agreed to put on this costume of Mike Wazowski (from Monsters, Inc., Kyla's favorite movie of the moment.)

Then Mema gave her a stuffed Sulley. That was it - Kyla was in heaven!

Dylan (err, Mike!), Kyla, Sulley, Amelia and Lauren

Kyla just kept pointing at Dylan in the costume and saying "MIKE WAZOWSKI!! MIKE WAZOWSKI!! MONSTER! DYLAN! MIKE WAZOWSKI!" Dylan also attracted more than a little attention from a toddler passerby in the hall, who walked right in our room.

Uncle Mike, Pop Pop and Mom Mom

Kyla, Ashley (Lauren's good friend), Lauren, Amelia and Dylan eating their pasta.

The kids hung out, played with toys and watched movies. It thought it was cute how Dylan put his hand on Kyla's back.

Mom Mom and Amelia chose stickers.

The Swartz family - Working diagonally from the upper left, Lauren, Matt, Pop Pop (Steve), Mom Mom (JoAnn), Dylan, Amelia, Mike, Jen, Christie and Kyla.

The Swartz grandchildren

We got back home and Dylan put the costume on again. Kyla was just as curious the second time around. So cute!

The day before ...

On Saturday, May 16th, I joined the Lual family at a reunion of Sudanese Refugees. It was a lot of fun, and very interesting to see everyone reunite.

Nyabol (another Nyabol, who is friends with the Middle School girls) and Achan

Deng and Duk

Mama Awut

I'm still not 100% sure why there was a stuffed lion above the cabinet in this church, but it seemed appropriate for this gathering of native Africans, actually. The kids thought it was cool, too.

Nyaring and her daughter Adeng

Flossie with Duk and Adeng (and a random baby she acquired at some point in the day!)

Cute picture of Duk and his niece, Adeng (I'm not kidding!)

Yay and Muloh

Muloh and Awut

Deng playing soccer

Hmmm... what do I spy inside this slide?

Ah! It's Nyabol!

Deng and Anger helping Muloh and another little boy with their cozy coupes

Aunt Crazy (with Deng's cap in my pocket!) and Nyabol

Duk, Aunt Crazy, and Anger

Achan working the information booth.

The adults watching a documentary in the sanctuary. As I listened to them laugh in unison at times and maintain solemn expressions at other times, I really wished I spoke Arabic or Denka so that I could understand why. Still, I looked around at these faces in wonder. How many have seen family and friends killed? How many were almost killed themselves? How many were trying to be grateful for the security and the opportunities offered by the United States, but secretly knew they would certainly trade it all for the opportunity to go home?

I am so fantastically lucky that I AM home, living with comfort and ease among my own people, culture, and policies. I have never experienced an existence WITHOUT the security and opportunities of the United States. Incredible, really.

The documentary on a favorite Sudanese leader prior to al-Bashir.

Ayak and Nyaring watching the documentary.