Full Speed Ahead!

Welcome back to our website! Lots has happened since we left you last spring. So hold on to your hats and we�ll try to update you in 15 minutes or less.

Mom got to go to Memphis to visit Bridgett and the gang. We rented a cabin on a lake in Arkansas and had a fabulous girls weekend. We have decided to make it our annual tradition!

The Fair Haven Fishing Derby. We didn�t catch any, but it was still fun!

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In the early spring, we took the kids to Sesame Place. It�s like Disney, but based around the Sesame Street characters (duh!). It�s mostly a water park, and luckily we were blessed with 85 degree weather.

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Baseball season was a success as usual!

Summer is here! Time to buy a big blow up pool.

New bikes!

Still working on the training wheels...

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New House !

We moved! We finally found a house and it is just down the street from where we were before. It is really cute, but needs some work! We affectionately call it �The Crack House� because the exterior paint is extremely warped, cracked and peeling. We plan on doing some minor renovations and then we�ll let you all see the before and after pictures.

We were able to have access to the house about 10 days before we moved in, so we got a lot of things done. We had a team completely repaint the inside, and that in itself made everything seem fresh and new.

Our first guests in our new home were the plumbers! The sink and toilet broke only 10 minutes after we moved in.

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We ripped out the white shag carpet (yikes!) to reveal beautiful solid oak floors. But that turned out to be a huge job. After you pull up the carpet, you then have to spend days tediously prying out each of the hundreds of carpet tacks and staples.

Then you have to clean, polish, wax, buff the newly exposed floors.

Then Gontran spent days sanding, staining, cutting and installing new shoe moldings.

The floors look great, so it was worth all the effort.

We then got the bright idea to �quickly� restore all the door hinges and door hardware that were covered in 100 years and 14 layers of paint.

That was a major undertaking and way more than I bargained for. We had to take each door off it�s hinges (making sure to record which hinges went with which door), then soak the hinges and knobs in paint remover, scrub, dip in acid, scrub, repeat. We sat outside in record breaking 100 degree 100% humidity for 3 days doing that.

But it was worth it. The doors look great, and the original glass door knobs look like new.

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The next major task was getting the 500 gallon oil tank dug up from our yard. We switched the house over from oil heat to natural gas.

So, we had to get all new piping and plumbing - and a new boiler and water heater. That was our 10th wedding anniversary present to eachother.

in with the new.

Out with the old�

So many boring things to spend our money on. We already have most of our gifts for each other picked out for the next few years. My birthday: dishwasher! Father�s Day: repaint the exterior! Mother�s Day: new gutters! Groundhog�s Day: new windows! For Christmas, I�m asking Santa to finally put up some curtains in the front porch. It�s a glassed in one, so it�s basically like living in a fish bowl. Drive by around 9 PM and you can watch me watching TV.

Since becoming first-time home owners, we have already learned many valuable lessons that we would like to share with you:

Lesson 1. If your electric bill is $780 for one month, there is probably a problem with the air conditioner.

Lesson 2. Air conditioners need to have the freon filled once a year in order to avoid $780 electric bills.

Lesson 3. No matter what your excuse, you still have to pay the $780 electric bill.

We�ve also realized that you should never take something out unless you have already bought the replacement. Case in point is those damn porch curtains. I took the hideous things down the day we moved in, but still haven�t found the �perfect� replacements. So in the mean time, I�m stuck with being the town peep show. Or what about the hideous 1970�s bathroom light that I ripped down that first day? Well, for the last three months I�ve had a bunch of wires hanging out of a hole in the ceiling.

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Another important fact that we�ve learned (the hard way) is to add 2 days to any time estimate for a do-it-yourself project. For example: Change the ceiling light in the hallway. Estimated time to complete project: 20 minutes. Actual time required:

2 hours at Home Depot to find the right light fixture, get home and realize that the hole in the ceiling left by the previous fixture is way bigger than you remember.
1 hour to patch and plaster the ceiling.
3 hours to dry
10 minutes to repaint
3 hours to dry
20 minutes to hook up the new light
1 second to blow a fuse
20 minutes reading �The New Homeowners Guide to Easy Repairs�
25 minutes to go to the hardware store and purchase new fuses.
20 minutes to re-wire the light
1 minute of cussing because the new light doesn�t work.
20 minutes to go back to the hardware store to buy light bulbs
1 minute to realize that you really don�t like the new light fixture
3 minutes to decide to just forget about it.

But on the flip side, some things need to be dealt with immediately after you move in. Otherwise, after a few months, that disgusting faucet in the bathtub that you vowed would be �the first thing I�m ripping out of there� kinda grows on you. It doesn�t look all that bad anymore. And I�ve gotten so used to the bucket under the bathroom sink, that I figure if it ain�t fixed, don�t fix it.

This now leads us on to new words we�ve added to our vocabulary: sink hole (don�t ask), cord of wood, pedestal sink, freon (remember?), and avian flu.

Now, on to the crickets. Those little chirpy things are the sweet sound of summer� unless they are somehow getting into your basement, and worse, when one gets under the floorboards in the living room. I looked for that guy for over a week. Finally one night at 3 AM, I had enough! I was going to find him or die trying. I sprayed in between the cracks, stood still for 8 minutes at a stretch just to try to pin point his location. I knew I�d gone too far when I whipped out the crow bar and seriously contemplated ripping out the solid oak floors. It was like out of a scene from Caddyshack (remember Chevy Chase and the gopher?). I didn�t resort to permanent damage and did eventually find him. He is no longer with us. God Rest his soul. And mine.

Block party! Our neighborhood has a fun summer tradition of blocking off the entire street, putting all their lawn furniture and barbeques in the middle of the road, and organizing games for the kids. What a great way to meet all of our new neighbors!

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This summer the kids went to swim camp.

On day one they would only get in up to their stomachs (they were afraid of even just a drop of water on their faces).

By the end, they were swimming under water, and Theo�s favorite was jumping off the diving board.

Hanging out with friends every Wednesday evening for music concerts at the beach

Hiking in the woods

Dad and the kids went to a baseball game and got to camp overnight on the baseball field

(�The bestest day of their life�)

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Most of our summer activities revolve around the beach. In New Jersey, most beaches are privately owned by Beach Clubs (like country clubs with pools, snack bar, beach access and parking). It�s really hard to get into one, and waiting list are usually several years. In the meantime, we love to go with our friends to their beach clubs.

Playing at the beach. You�ll find Theo in the middle of a hole with a shovel for hours.

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Older kids like to set up stands and sell things like bracelets, cookies, toys, or manicures. Madeline and Theo were really intrigued by this and kept asking if they could set up their own stand. I helped them think of something unique that they could do. Madeline decided to draw people�s portraits and Theo created mazes. They charged 5� each and actually made about 75 � each that day. My little entrepreneurs!

Summer ended with the annual Fair Haven Fireman�s Fair. Lots of rides, games and activities.

1st day of school-1st grade

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The kids birthday was just a few days after school started. We decided to invite everyone from their class (20 kids) plus their favorite friends from last year (15 kids). We kept it very simple and held the party at our local playground. We had a clown to do face painting and animal balloons. The kids drew on the basketball court with chalk and played a few old fashioned games. Theo chose a birthday cake shaped like a volcano (look closely-it�s a little suggestive if you ask me!) and Madeline chose a Barbie cake.

Our new house has a much smaller basement playroom, and so we were petrified about receiving gifts from 35 guests x 2 = 70 new toys! So, on the invitation, we requested that our guest did not bring a present, but instead, make a card and if they wanted, enclose $5. What a huge success! We came home with a pile of amazing hand-made cards and about $175 each.

First we decided to give 10 % to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. We went online to Oprah�s relief effort-you can purchase items just like a wedding list. Theo bought some mops �to help them clean up all the water� and Madeline bought a telephone �so they can call 9-1-1 for help.�

We then took them to the toy store and let them choose one big gift each. Theo decided on a metal detector, and Madeline bought a complete doll�s nursery set (high chair, bouncy seat, crib, car seat, etc.).

With the remainder of the money, they each opened a savings account and had a major financial lesson about interest, or �free money� as Theo calls it.

They add to this money every time they earn a little doing chores.

Thank you Peter for the coins...

Madeline is certainly more of a spender than Theo. She loves to go to garage sales and find bargains. She�s quickly learning the different coins after a few embarrassing mistakes-- When she asked how much a Barbie dress was, the seller replied �it costs a dime� Madeline, taught to negotiate, offered �How about a quarter?�

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Theo bought Madeline a microphone so she could fulfill her dream of being a rock star, and Madeline got Theo some Magic School Bus computer games.

Mom and Dad got Madeline dress-up gowns. Many months before, I went to a huge flea market and bought 10 of the gaudiest, flashiest, frilliest ex-prom dresses I could find and put them all in an old trunk. She loved it! We got Theo an antique printer�s drawer, with lots of compartments to organize his rock collection. He was thrilled!

We are members of the Newcomer�s Club (and I�m on the Board of Directors)-it�s an organization for all new residents of our town. There�s lots of parties and activities. For Halloween we went to the 70�s party. Check out Gontran�s wig! He won first prize for best costume!

We played quarters like we did in college, but unfortunately, none of us could hold our liquor like we did back then. So we�ve decided that a few of us (me included) need to go back to college for a semester to increase our tolerance. Spring Break, here I come!

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In the beginning of the fall, we went camping in Connecticut.

We found a secluded spot next to a gorgeous lake. We did some hiking, canoeing, and made lots of s�mores!

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At the end of October, we went to France.

I am always eager to turn on French radio and check out the �rock� stations. You�ll be happy to know that the theme song from �Ghostbusters� is still in the top ten. That country needs me to come and DJ a radio station for a while until I can at least get them into the 90�s.

Anyway, first stop was Paris. Gontran took the kids for a day of sightseeing, and I met up with Theresa for a few days. Theresa and I went sightseeing and ate some fabulous meals.

Then I went down to Bourges to meet up with Gontran and the kids at his brother Jerome�s home. What a beautiful town!

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Then on up to Lille for a big family reunion to celebrate Mr. And Mrs. de Quillacq�s 50th wedding anniversary. We all stayed together (more than 30 of us!) in a huge farmhouse.

Those 12 years old and under stayed in one huge dormitory, where they built big sleeping forts out of blankets. We enjoyed many big family meals together. We did a few daytrips, including a visit to the snail farm, and skiing.

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The day after we got back, Auntie Barbara came to visit for Halloween. It�s a big holiday around here, with two parades-- the school parade and the town parade (which consists of everyone meeting at school, marching down main street and ending at the firehouse for hot apple cider and donuts).

Two days before Halloween, we did a little �ghosting�-- where you put a bag of treats on your friend�s front porch. You also tape a picture of a cute ghost on their front door to show that they have been �ghosted.� The next day at school, all the little kids are running around trying to find out who �ghosted� who. It�s truly adorable.

October 30th is Mischief Night, where the kids are allowed to roam the streets (until 8 PM) and toilet paper their friend�s houses, or put shaving cream on the sidewalks. Everyone turns a blind eye as long as it�s fairly harmless. My friends and I agreed that our kids were too young to do that-except for Mrs. Kinnelly who said she might let her kids do a little. That night we took Auntie B out to the fondue restaurant, and when we got home we saw that we�d been nailed! Toilet paper on the bushes and shaving cream on the windows.

We knew who did it, so we grabbed some supplies and headed over to the Kinnelley�s. Half-way finished with our job, Mr. Kinnelly came outside, so the de Quillacq�s all jumped in the bushes. Poor Auntie Barb was stranded in the car. In our rush, and due to a lack of recent experience with defacement, I left the can of shaving cream on the sidewalk. Mr. Kinnelley picked it up and noticed that it was a French shaving cream. Busted!!

Oh, and then we found out it wasn�t even the Kinnelley�s who did our house. It was the Butlers, who are now on our hit list for next year.

Madeline was a bride and Theo was a police man

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Soccer is always so much fun. Go Madeline!

When spring came, I was sure that was my favorite season. Then when summer arrived, I was absolutely certain that summer was the best. But then fall came and I can now say that is my very favorite. The only problem with the autumn is that it is followed by my most dreaded season-winter!

Fall Colors

Welcome baby Grace

to the Wigington family

Jennifer Schweickert had a beautiful baby girl Mia

We went to the Butler�s (the one�s who got us on mischief night) for Thanksgiving. Delicious food and great company as always.

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Funny things the kids said

On a Sunday, we spent the afternoon at the beach. We had a big, late lunch, so decided just to have a snack for dinner. Theo was not at all happy with this arrangement, and pointed out that �most parents give their kids 3 meals a day!�

I caught Theo up on the kitchen counter with a huge gallon of milk getting ready to pour some into a tiny cup. I asked him if he might need a little help. He replied, �oh, no. I do know how to pour milk all by myself-I just don�t know how to pour it in the right place.�

Mother�s Day was fast approaching. Madeline plopped down on the couch next to me and said �so, mom, Mother�s Day is coming soon. Do you want an airplane made out of popsicle sticks or what?� Ummm, let me think about it.

Theo�s joke: Why do lizards have spikes? To stay off the menu!

Mom�s favorite phrase this summer was �Don�t splash pool water in mommy�s Cosmo!�


Theo�s number one obsession is Pokemon cards. He had two cards given to him by a friend, and then when we went to France, he got to buy a pack of genuine FRENCH cards!! And then his cousins Thibaut and Simon offered him his huge deck of cards!!!! He�s now the only kid in Fair Haven with French Pokemon cards. I think Santa is bringing him some more, too.

He also loves playing computer games, especially Magic School Bus. He�s learned a lot about the ocean floor, volcanoes and animals. He will spontaneously spew random facts at any given moment. This summer, before school started, very early in the morning he would go to the office computer and put in his favorite game. An hour later, totally bug eyed, he would burst into my room and stand four inches from my sleeping face and blurt out

�Hey Mom! Did you know that there are three kinds of rocks? Metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous!�

�And mom! Did you know that the yak is the only animal that can survive at high elevations?�

Thanks, Theo, for the facts, but it�s 6 o�clock in the morning.

Theo is a Cub Scout! He loves going with Daddy to the meetings on Friday night. His first big fundraising assignment was selling Christmas wreaths door-to-door. I tried to prepare him for rejection, saying that most people didn�t need a wreath, and if he can sell just 3, that�s great. Well, once again this town blew me away. Everybody listened patiently to Theo�s sales pitch and EVERY house bought a wreath-even the lady who�d already bought 3 wreaths from another cub scout. It still amazes me that towns like this still exist.

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Now, he is fascinated with a French game called Moria. It is a very simple game inspired by Tolkien�s mythology, based on fighting monsters with spells, potions, wands, swords and armour. Dad and Theo play for hours on the weekend.

Theo�s favorite expressions are �what cha mean� and �sssshhh-yah!� Want some ice-cream? Sssshhh-yah!

Theo does Tae Kwon Do

Theo loves math (addition and subtraction). Here�s the face he makes when we give him a hard problem to solve.

Theo lost his two bottom teeth!

Full set�

minus one�

minus two!

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Madeline loves writing. Some letters still confuse her, and so she often writes �b� for �d�. Therefore, my daughter often changes into the well known cosmetics line Mabeline.

Madeline is obsessed with snapping her fingers. She snaps constantly- especially at her brother, which drives him nuts.

Madeline lost her first tooth several months after Theo

In the spring, Madeline decided to stop ballet and go for tap dancing. She loved the cool music and especially the costume she got to wear for the end of the year recital. But in the fall, her love affair with tap was over and now she�s into gymnastics.

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I took Madeline and her friend Shea to New York City to have lunch at the American Girl Caf�. We did a little shopping and then had a very girlie lunch, complete with special chairs and food for the dolls.

On the artistic side

Just guess which drawing belongs to whom

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Well, it�s Christmas and once again, it has caught me totally off guard. You may recall that last year I marveled at all the holidays bunched up together, whereas in England there�s no Halloween and no Thanksgiving, so the Christmas season starts slowly in October with plenty of time to do everything. I was foiled again! I got totally wrapped up in all the Halloween festivities. And then with Thanksgiving I got all excited making autumn leaf art with the kids, planting mums and making pumpkin soup. Wham! It is December 10th and I feel like I�ve been caught unaware again. Next year, I will not get tempted by the fall foliage nor will I be swayed by handmade cranberry centerpieces. I will have all of my gifts purchased by September.�� my New Year�s Resolutions already look daunting!

We would like to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a very happy 2006!

(and a little peace on earth for crying out loud).