Since my last musing, the leaves have all changed to their various autumnal colours and fallen to the ground and the weather has turned quite cold. We have also had a wonderful holiday with my sister Sally and her family, and Rosie has had her first birthday.
Sally, Ashley, Oliver and Zac stayed with us for four weeks over September/October and we had a lovely time as we always do. The children all get on famously, which is a bit surprising given the numbers and ages. The adults seem to quite enjoy each other's company too (although Nick and Ashley would never admit that to anyone!). After the initial jet lag and establishment of territory (which are the favourite toys, what are the rules about the trampoline etc etc), they played very well together and Beth and Jess still talk about Olly doing this or Olly didn't like that. Sometimes it seems like Olly is still here the amount he features in conversations.
Zac is a real cutey. It was great watching Rosie and Zac together and seeing them learn from each other. Zac arrived standing up and waving. He left walking and clapping. Rosie is still working on the walking, but she mastered the standing and waving and already could do the clapping. Zac is a very smiley, good-natured boy and we miss both Oliver and Zac very much.
During their visit, we all ventured down to Florida for the great Disneyworld Adventure. What a fantastic time we all had. Sally and I were very emotional the first day when we saw all the princesses and friends at Cinderella's Castle in Magic Kingdom. The children were a bit overwhelmed by it all to say the least. Not to be daunted, however, we kept bombarding them with Disney characters and rides until they got the swing of it. By the end of our visit, the children were hugging the characters, had loads of autographs and fully expected every meal to be accompanied by at least 4 Disney characters. They were somewhat disappointed upon our return home to have to resort to the souvenirs they had. Although Jess, Rosie and Zac will not remember much of it, the trip was well worth it and Nick accepts the fact that we will be going to a Disney resort again. Secretly I think he enjoyed it immensely, except, as Ashley will agree, for "Itís a Small World".
Sally and Ashley have loads of energy so for one day, and yes I mean ONE day, they flew to New York using frequent flyer miles. I looked after Oliver and they took Zac. It gave them a glimpse of another part of America and despite being exhausted, they thoroughly enjoyed it. Other excursions included Ahmish country in Pennsylvannia, Philadelphia, shopping at Potomac Mills (apparently one of the largest outlet shopping malls in the world), Washingtons Air and Space Museum, Potomac Mills, the Zoo, and more Potomac Mills. There were many things we had talked about that just could not be done, including a visit to Lora in Michigan.
It was very hard to say goodbye yet again, not least because I had to get back to normal life and do horrid things like clean the house, pay the bills etc etc. I managed to put it all off for as long as possible. However, when the house appeared to be a bit of a health risk, I faced up to it.
The end of October saw us celebrating (?) Halloween on base. Beth and Jess were Eyeore and Tigger respectively. We walked aroung the lettered appartments which were all decorated in various themes. Loads of lollies/sweets/candy was collected by the girls and a fun, albeit cold, time was had by all. We could have had our treats X-rayed at the Medical Center to ensure they were safe, but we declined, feeling that was a bit over the top!
Since then, the year end festivities have begun full swing. We went to two USMC birthday balls. One in Washington which was very formal and huge. Another on base which was more relaxed. Both were great outings. Next week is Thanksgiving and then it is all downhill to Christmas. Before we get to Christmas, though, my parents arrive for 4 weeks. A fantastic surprise and we have promised Dad that he will see snow. I am hoping that will be on New Years Eve in Michigan if not before. Very exciting and only 27 days as I write.
The girls are all doing very well. Rosie had her birthday and attempted a chocolate cake face mask quite successfully. She took her first three steps two days ago so she is almost a real toddler. Jess and Beth just seem to grow before my eyes. Jess no longer needs a nap every day (which messes up my schedule no end). Beth is becoming quite American in her self confident attitide. Or maybe it is just Attitude. Lots of talking back and defiance, but often she makes me laugh with it so it can't be all bad. Jess continually tries to make us laugh and is often successful when doing something naughty.
Nick's work has still been very busy, but I am sure he is enjoying it. I think the days go very quickly which is never a bad thing at work.
We are now staying here until the end of 2003 (we were initially due to go back January 2003) so still many opportunities for visits. So book yourself in!
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