Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Leah & Bill Wed

Matt's younger sister Leah got married over the Christmas holiday. Leah & Bill Rietveld were wed in a small ceremony on St. Pete Beach. The entire Lavelle family was in attendance for the occasion.

Afterwards we danced the night way!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas

We found ourselves back in Florida again this Christmas. We are spending a few nights with Pam on the west coast before heading inland to my parents. Santa was very generous this year and brought Sydney and IPod Touch and Andrew a DSI XL. Both were very pleased.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our Little Gymnast

The gymnastics season is in full swing now. Sydney is practicing at least 6 hours a week. We are very pleased with how well she is performing for her first year. Her technique is improving everyday.

She has placed on uneven bars at every meet so far. Here is a video clip of her bar routine at the North Canton vs. Ashland meet. It was not her cleanest routine but earned her 5th place.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Its Thanksgiving time again! Mom and Dad hosted this year in their new home. We love having them so close by. Jing & Cheng also joined us. This was Jing's very first Thanksgiving and she jumped right in and helped with preparations. I taught her how to make mashed potatoes while dad schooled her in how to carve a turkey. Everything was delicious. I think Mom has officially broken her holiday meal curse. We even convinced Andrew to try out turkey. Until now he insisted that turkey breast lunch meat was somehow different that turkey breast.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

Our Halloween weekend was jam packed this year! Jing & Cheng joined us for pumpkin carving on Saturday. Jing did an amazing job on her very first pumpkin!

Sunday was filled with Halloween parties and Trick or Treat!! Sydney decided to be a cat and Andrew was our little referee.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Summer Reading Award

Way to go Andrew!!! The school announced the winners of the summer reading program today and Andrew placed 2nd in the 1st grade. He read a whopping 3572 pages. The 1st place winner was his BFF, Claire!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sydney's First Concert

The evening was full of excitement as Sydney and friends Kate, Caroline & Mackenzie attended the Selena Gomez concert. Moms & girls headed to dinner Red Robin before heading over to the Wolstein Center. This being Sydney's first concert I don't think she quite new what to expect. She quickly plugged her ears as the venue erupted with the shrill screams of prepubescent girls. Surprisingly, she didn't sing a single note just sat contently throughout the entire concert.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

First Gymnastics Meet

Today was Sydney's first official gymnastics team meet, North Canton vs. Riverside & Dalton. With her broken toe she was unable to compete in all of the events. But toes are not needed on uneven bars and Sydney took home 3rd place with a score of 8.10.

Friday, October 21, 2011

First Broken Bone

Sydney racked up her first broken bone. She decided to move some free weights in the basement and dropped the 25 pounder on her big toe. Ouch! Much to her dismay, the doctor drilled a hole in it to relieve the pressure build up from the blood. She will eventually lose the nail and only then we will see if she damaged the growth plate.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Gone Hiking

We couldn't let an 80 degree day in October pass us by without doing something outdoors. We decided to take the kids to Virginia Kendall Park for their first hiking experience.

I think they really enjoyed all the caves & slot canyons. Tiny Sydney bent herself in just about every crevasse we came upon.

We wrapped up the afternoon with lunch on the overlook.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Welcome Winnie

Our family welcomed a new member this weekend; Winnie the guinea. A friend of ours was moving and needed a new home for her guinea pig. The kids were thrilled and spend the whole weekend showering him with love & parsley.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Akron Zoo

Today we met up with our international students Jing & Cheng. Matt had the idea of taking them to Golden Coral. I know, an unusual choice but what better place to try an array of typical American dishes. They were both great sports and tried an assortment of new flavors; beats, mashed potatoes, pot roast, chick peas, stuffing, green bean casserole. The idea came about when we were discussing how overwhelming just picking a salad dressing can be when you are unfamiliar with any of the options. The server at the restaurant happily provided us with little sample size cups for taste testing. Turns out Cheng likes honey mustard and Jing is a french. :)

We wrapped up the afternoon with a trip to the Akron Zoo.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Day Of School

Another school year has begun! We are very pleased that Sydney & Andrew will both attend Northwood Elementary. Unfortunately, if the school board proceeds with proposed changes this will be the last time they are together until Sydney is a senior in high school.

Andrew was siked to have Mrs Melert for a teacher. At orientation he quickly snatched up a front row seat next to BFF, Claire. Both Andrew & Claire have been visiting Mrs Melert's classroom regularly since their siblings were 1st graders in her class.

As predicted, Sydney was much more reserved. She was apprehensive about her teacher, classmates and leaving mom & dad. But that is all normal for her. She was excited about her new outfit, school supplies and the new schedule change placing recess before lunch. She also decided it would be a nice gesture to give her new teacher a gift and picked out some colorful Sharpie markers for her. I think they were well received as she already received a thank you note. :)

Now with both kids in school all day what am I going to do with myself? Today I hit the gym, cleaned the house and ran some errands. I wonder what tomorrow might bring?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer Wrap Up

Summer is winding to a close. The Hall of Fame Game was canceled this year but the parade must go on. This year we scored bleacher seats on parade route thanks to the American Red Cross. The kids and I along with Grandma Franny work up early and with doughnuts in hand watched all the units march down Market Street.

You know summer is almost over when we make our pilgrimage to the school doors to see the teacher postings. I can remember when I was in elementary school and how exciting it was to race up the doors and frantically searching for my name. My children are no different. Sydney was on the edge all day; at 3 o'clock exactly she was on my case to leave. Upon arrival she was deflated by the news that she was not with first choice but I think she is slowly coming around. Andrew on the other hand is on cloud nine! He scored an awesome teacher, Mrs Melert. I have a feeling they will both have great years.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Florida Fun

The remainder of our vacation was spent at St. Pete Beach with our neighbors the Napholz's. We stayed at family friendly beachresort the Tradewinds Island Grand.

Most of our time was spent on the beach. The resort had a great inflatable water park a short swim from the beach with slides, trampolines and jungle gyms.

Disney Pit Stop

A visit to Florida wouldn't be complete without a pit stop at Disney. With only one day to spare we decided to hit Disney's Hollywood Studios. Matt graciously handed over his credit card for the admission that rang up just cents shy of a car payment. But, as always we had a blast!

Oh how we've grown! This was our first visit without a stroller! Gone are the days of princesses & Playhouse Disney. Hello, Star Tours & Tower of Terror. There wasn't a ride the kids wernt ready to tackle even if they wernt quite tall enough.....

Andrew was really bummed he wasn't tall enough for the Rock'n Roller Coaster. His pouting did not go unnoticed by a Cast Member who presented him with an express pass which will take him to the front of the line whenever he is tall enough. But no worries, theres nothing a little Angry Birds cant fix.

Despite is being high season we managed to hit just about every attraction we wanted & even had time for a terrific lunch at the SciFi Dine In!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

After my last post I decided I couldn’t end without also giving all of you (my blog readers) the human face of CP. Here are just a few faces of Living Tree………

This little guy quickly melted my heart. Jing Wa was abandon in a cardboard box at a mear 2 pounds. He is now 4 years old and struggles with both CP & CF. He always sounds like he is breathing through a water filled snorkel but the therapy ball really seems to help.

This amazing young man is David. He is one of Tina's many success stories. David has tremendous drive and has learned to walk with the assistance of the walker. He also attends school in Beijing 5 days a week and now speaks fluent English.

Mom had her favorite too! A sweet young lady named Yu Fong. She had beautiful eyes and the longest eyelashes.

This young man also struggles with CP and moved to Living Tree from a state run orphanage. While there he was placed in scalding water by another patient. With burns from the waist down he needed the additional care Living Tree could provide.

Living Tree

For the final three days of our trip we worked at the Living Tree Orphanage in Yanjiao. This special needs facility is broken up into three groups based on age & ability. The majority of the 35 children suffer from cerebral palsy. On day one the director, Tina began with an orientation and tour before giving us our assignments.
First stop was Love Home where we found a rambunctious group kids between 4-10 with the most mobile & cognitive abilities. Next was Peace Home which homes twelve babies & toddlers. Finally, Joy Home where Mom & I would eventually be assigned, housed 10 children between ages 4 – 16 who were considered the most severe needs. I will admit at first I was disappointed I was hoping for the Love Home but, I knew if I was going to get the most from this experience I needed to be open minded.

For the next two days we worked full time feeding, cleaning, engaging, massaging & and lots of physical therapy. At first I was uneasy being so far out of my comfort zone. But, the kids were completely unaware of my apprehension & inexperience. They were simply happy to be acknowledged. We quickly learned the ropes and began to understand their different personalities and the compelling stories of how they came to be at Living Tree.
As our time at Living Tree came to a close I learned that my first cautious reaction was well worth overcoming. Before Yanjiao I would have likely avoided similar situations but now CP has a human face. I learned to look at these children with compassion rather than pity. I do hope to return someday with my own kids. It is important for young people to help others less fortunate than themselves. I want them to see it does not take super-human qualities only a change in attitude.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Light of Hope

Our first day of service would be at the Light of Hope Orphanage in Zhao Xian County, south of Shijiazhuang, about a four hour drive from Beijing, China. Home to 56 children from infants to college age. We arrived at the gate and before we could even unload the children began pouring out and their excitement was infectious. We had come with new shoes & socks for every child and like any child they were very eager to help us with the packages. Kids between 2 and 8 buzzed about; we came to learn the older children were still in school and would arrive later in the evening. Some warmed up to us faster than others but I quickly gained a few friends with my camera.

En Mei a spunky young lady probably 3 years old was fascinated by her image and soon took over the camera snapping her own shots. En Mei was abandon at the orphanage with a minor cleft pallet which has now been repaired.
Andrew’s kindergarten class collected socks which I presented to Moses the director. He was very pleased as socks are always a must. Little did I know the kids would find such pleasure in tossing the bagged socks around and creating games with them.

We were taken on a tour of the orphanage and shown the construction project our previous groups had done. The kids proudly showed off their rooms.

As evening approached it was nearly time for us to leave. The middle school & high schoolers began to arrive home on their bicycles and the little ones cheered. We watched as they each received their new shoes and then they lead us to the gate and waved goodbye.

Check it off the bucket list.

This feat has been at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember and I can now officially check it off. Our group traveled to the Badaling section of the Great Wall on Wednesday.

First build in 7th century and stretching over 4,000 miles it truly is an incomprehensible feat of engineering. A breathtaking sight, snaking up and down mountaintops as far as the eye could see. Our bus dropped us at the bottom of the mountain and our trek began. If you stretched your neck all the way back you would see our goal, a watchtower in the clouds.

I prepared myself for a lot of steps but until I was standing up there I never realized how but I steep terrain was. We did not walk the Great Wall we climbed it. Up the mountain the steps ascended, each a different height giving your body no opportunity to find a rhythm. It took us over an hour to reach the first watch tower but the views were magnificent.

It is included on almost every list of must-see sights around the world and rightfully so! And who would have guessed going down was more challenging than going up!

Ode to the Squatty Potty

I observed this lavatory delight in Korea but not to the extent I have seen them here in China! My instinct to research & organize everything paid off. Before leaving on this trip I did a little squatty potty research and found several YouTube videos on the subject. It was only a matter of hours into the trip when I encountered my first set of squatty only restrooms. Thankfully my research paid off and I successful mastered it without getting anything on my clothes!!  I also remembered to bring my own toilet paper and enough for the rest of the ladies. Our group did joke that it would be an entirely different experience should one be intoxicated.