Saturday, December 31, 2005

Gary Ewell a.k.a. Gear Head or Pretty Boy

Unless your sentence starts with the word “Mustang” Gary will disregard your words as background noise. Yes, he has discovered cars, and not just any cars, cars from the 60’s or 70’s.
Since we moved to Virginia, Gary is attending public school again after 2 years of home schooling. We live in one of the best School Districts in the State and Lee-Davis High School has an actual Art Program. “Gary is a very gifted Artist”, his art teacher Ms. Hanky told us at his conference.
Gary continues to face challenges with keeping his school papers organized, and also being able to see the floor of his room, as many teens do. Gary should be experiencing a growth spurt shortly, as he is eating and sleeping constantly.
Gary gets teased by his jealous mother. “Oh, you’re so pretty”. Usually his little brother Zach will start singing around the house, “Gary’s so pretty.” He has shiny, thick, naturally curly dark hair, with wide blue eyes, framed by long dark eyelashes, and a beautiful wide smile that is almost straight according to Dr. Jolley, the orthodontist.
Gary likes staying up late, making model cars, Pizza, Ramen Noodles, Whole Milk, Kix cereal, Pepsi, & talking about Harry Potter with his parents.

Anna Elizabeth Riley a.k.a Princess Buttercup or Banana Bear

As most may know, Anna remembers each of her birthdays and the age she was by their theme’s. Its no surprise that her 5th Strawberry Shortcake birthday was a raving success. Lots of guests noticed her love of a theme and complimented her by supplying her with tons of Strawberry Shortcake Merchandise.
Anna is an unusual child in the fact that when she gets clothes as a gift, she is very happy. Where most kids would be disappointed and throw the clothes to the side, she has a tendency to model her new attire for everyone.
Our daughter was quite disappointed to find that we would be moving. She was excited about the house and her new room and the size of the yard. Leaving her friend, Rachel, behind was the hardest for her. Luckily, Rachel and Anna get to talk on the phone and play together when we visit Trish’s parents.
Anna & Zach made fast friends with our next door neighbors. Our yards are connected so they don’t have to cross a street to knock for Olivia. Alexia is Olivia’s little sister who is 2.
The three of them can frequently be found climbing a dogwood in the front yard, or playing on Olivia’s swing set or playing in the play house or tree swing out back.
Anna loves her Hello Kitty Room, and will eat almost anything but green beans. She loves to scribble in her journal and is learning her letter sounds quite well.

Thomas Zachary Riley a.k.a Zach Attack or Zachy Tacky Too

Zachary has had one heck of a year complete with some staples in his head. When he was jumping on our futon, daddy told him to stop or he would get hurt. So he flopped to lay down and hit his head on the arm of the futon. (Pictured)
He also had to purge through his toys for our move. He very generously let other people have some of his toys to play with, with the exception of a loved duck that got a second chance. He snatched it away at the swap meet and insisted it was his. It took him a little while to learn to say was coming out Ah-ginia, but he could say Pennsylvania very clearly.
Zach’s parents established that he’s a little off… since he can be found climbing and jumping off of things with no fear. Of all the children, he’s got the best sense of humor. He can see the humor in many things that other people might miss. He is very bright, sneaky and very charming.
His mother is teaching him to give her compliments, like “You’re pretty mommy.” He has figured out the timing as well, when he’s in trouble he’s sure to give out the kisses and compliments.
Zach love waffles, broccoli, butterfly shrimp, and all candy, a toy called snaky and anything Spiderman.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas 2005

For the holidays the Riley’s headed North to Pennsylvania just like Perry Como sings about. It was nice to be around our family again. This year was even more different from last year…This year we traveled around to people’s houses instead of hosting our own. It felt weird, not bad weird, just different weird. I had been hosting the Christmas open house since 1998, that’s six years of wonderful family memories in our home.
We stayed with my parents who made many comfortable accommodations for our group of five. Trish and the kids arrived in town Jan. 20th at about 11:30 pm.
On the 21st we settled in and visited with Grand-mom McBreen and Aunt Elizabeth. On the 22nd we went to the Birthday Party of Katie Edmonson (Dec 25th) hosted by Jenn Rullmann and her girls, and partook of a wonderful Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream cake. After the party, we hot footed it over to visit with Grammy and Papa Riley.
On the 23rd we visited Grand-pop Buss then headed to a birthday party for Grammy (Dec 23rd). Luckily Thomas was able to join us and surprise his mother for her birthday. Tom’s wrestling tournament in Washington D.C. ended a little early getting him back on the road to PA sooner than anticipated.
Christmas Eve was spent with Grammy and Papa Riley, like usual. With all the brothers, sister, & cousins in attendance gobbling up the Shrimp Cocktail and chocolate candies, while tearing apart tenderly wrapped packages.
On Christmas Morning we shared the holiday with Mom-mom & Pop-pop McBreen, Aunt Elizabeth & Mike, his brother Brian and our little clan with all the anticipation sitting at the top of the steps can hold. (pictured left) As always, accompanied by the musical styling of Perry Como. (A McBreen family tradition)
Christmas after noon was spent at James & Beth’s house, followed by dinner at the McBreen’s with the addition of Uncle John.
Sadly, sickness struck after the holidays but we were well and able to travel home on the evening of December 30th.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween 2005

"Sweet Home... Virginia?" We have gotten the house unpacked and even put a coat of paint on a few things. We celebrated our new roots by dressing up and harassing our neighbors and begging. Most didn’t mind giving a hand-out, we even found a family that likes to get all ghoul-y for the holiday and look forward to next year. We have been meeting lots of people and making new friends. Especially the children, who have a friend right next door to play with at a moment’s notice. Riley Manor has had its fair share of Northerners come down to visit. We want to thank those who helped us to create some fun new memories in our new home. We look forward to more visits.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

"Which one do you like?"

Wow...what’s that buzzing noise whizzing past my ears? Oh, that’s just a year in my life zooming by.
Ok, so I am at work at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Public safety typing up Police Reports. I get a call from Thomas, who is in Virginia LOOKING for a place for us to live when we get there.
He says something to the effect, “I bought a house”. Now after I picked my jaw up out of my lap I asked some questions.
Such a sweet companion I have, Tom takes a load of high resolution pictures and runs to CVS to get the pictures put on a disk, so that my Realtor in Virginia can email them to me.

"Which one do you like?" Apparently, from all the houses in Virginia I only get to choose between two! I look them over for a few minutes and he calls me back and says, “Do we put a bid in on it?” *Big Sigh* We do.
Come to find our bid was not the only one, there were two others.
Keep in mind, this is our second house we have put a bid in on. We lost the other bid for some reason, though it was a full priced offer.
So our bid on the pictured house allowed the seller to live in our house a full 5 days after we closed on it rent free. Hoping that would entice them to accept our offer. I was upset about the clause but, Wow, it did. We closed on the house on August 31, 2005 and we moved in September 10th for good.. We sold our house in PA on September 27th.
Once again, the Lord blessed us and sent us the Perfect Realtor, Al Robertson . He knew the market and found the house he didn’t think existed. He did his research about the seller and our “5 days” fit their personal NEEDS.
We love our new house, we love our new yard, we love the area. A Little country & A Little City.

I have to love the ladies of my Church. The Relief Society can mobilize better and faster than any Government organization. Did I mentioned we moved in a Month?
When I mentioned we were going to move and needed help cleaning up the house there they were, The Philly 1st Ward Relief Society. They helped me purge and pack seven years of accumulated junk. This was a full week of 3 ladies rotating in and out to help me clean and pack after work.
Then we needed to get everything in to the 16 ft truck that we rented with the help of our good friend got us a good deal. When we finished packing the truck we still had a full basement and various oddments that still needed to get to Virginia.
So off we went, heading to Virginia to our new house. Where we were met by the Men of the Chickahomny Ward to unpack our truck. Thomas departed bright and early Sunday morning to get the rest of our CRAP!
Wonderful brothers from both wards helped to make Thomas’ second trip less painful.
In Philly, he was met by and upon Thomas’s return to Virginia, Mike Brady was here to help unpack the truck into the garage in the dark and rain.
Please keep these generous brothers in your prayers in the months to come.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

“I’ll just apply to know what the process is like…”

July 2005-Hanover County Public School called today. Thing is, Gary was being home schooled and South East Delco School district is our school district of record. Turns out Hanover County Public School District is in Ashland, Virginia. Apparently Thomas applied online for a teaching job, though he was not finished getting his teaching degree.
They, the school board, wanted to interview Tom the next day. So Tom heads down to Virginia. It’s a four hour ride there. It was a four hour interview. He had to travel to three different high school and interview with 3 different principals and the school board officials. Then he got to drive home four hours, and get up and take care of the children again. Luckily school had ended for this semester.
Well, don’t you know it turns our that 4 of the 6 classes he took the previous semester he directly needed to get this job. One class was personally enriching and faith building and we have yet to discover the relevance of the other class. I am sure the Lord will reveal that in due time.
They called to offer Tom a job in Virginia. We accepted.
Looks like we will be moving…

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

2005 Birthday Highlights

Much of this year has passed in a blur with work and school and just trying to get by.
Thomas celebrated his 31st Birthday (March 19th) in conjunction with Anna celebrating her 5th birthday (March 22nd) in Strawberry Shortcake Fashion, with her favorite thing being “the balloons and all her family and friends.”
We get a little reprieve in the month of April (no Apryl , Tom’s sister, was born in June. *Wink*)
May brought Gary’s 14th birthday (May 8th) to which he spent the day playing Paintball with Uncle John D. and a sleepover with some friends.
They stayed up until the wee hours in the morning eating crap and playing video games.
Zachary’s 3rd birthday (May 29th) brought him a Spiderman Party with a Thomas the Tank train, for which Thomas, his father and budding carpenter, built a wonderful train table. All the boys have had hours of fun at this table.
Trish celebrated her 5th Annual 29th Birthday (August 17th) anticipating a life altering experience… read more in the next story...