August 30, 2015

52 Project: 35/52

Week 35
August 24 - 30, 2015

Top:  Burt's Bees Peppermint & Rosemary body wash plus a jetted tub equals three solid inches of foamy bubbles.  These three were in heaven!

Bottom:  Annie called this her "bubbles hat."  Girlfriend wanted to see each and every picture as soon as it was snapped.  She laughed like a maniac at every single photo.

August 23, 2015

52 Project: 34/52

Week 34
August 17 - 23, 2015

Top:  Oklahoma livin', ya'll.  Every evening the cows come up to graze just beyond the fence in our backyard.  

Bottom:  Classic Annie.  Wearing Ella's jammies, drinking water with a straw, and clutching all three guys (Peanut, Hop Hop, and Eddie) as though her life depends on it.

August 20, 2015

American School Girls!

I was nervous about switching to American school.

(That might be the understatement of the year.)

Thankfully Ella and Kate didn't seem half as anxious as I was.  They got dressed (in regular clothes), donned their backpacks (not school issue), grabbed their lunches (packed at home), and bounced out the door with huge smiles on their faces.  We took a few pics to commemorate the occasion, then we got in the car and went to school (in a car).  So many differences...and it was only 8:15am!

Ella Mae and Lizzie Kate.  First day of American school.

Kate the Great!  First day of first grade!

Ella Bella!  First day of second grade!

7 years, 6 years, and 22 months.
Thank goodness one of them is still home with mama.

PJ 5
When we got home and began our annual first day of school debriefing session, the girls were elated.  Kate met a "very kind girl" called Sophie!  Every girl in Ella's class is "super nice!"  The playground equipment is "so. much. fun!"  Their teachers are "amazing."  Their only complaint is that they didn't do "even a single bit" of school work.  :)

The day was a roaring success.

And since I'm writing this blog post almost two weeks after the fact, I can report that each subsequent day has only gotten better!  They bounce out of that school with huge smiles on their faces.  Ella and Kate hug each other while shouting goodbyes to their precious little friends.  Both girls are able to find their classrooms independently — a feat in their huge rabbit warren of cobbled together buildings.  Each day they have adorable stories and favorite bits to relate.  They've even started to do a little bit of school work.  :)

But here's where it gets real.  The first day of school ended in tears.  Like a waterfall of tears.  Screaming, gasping, sobbing tears.

Our plan was to collect the girls via the "parent walk-up" method.  That's where the parents walk into the cafeteria and collect their children in person.  Due to the size of the school, pick-up procedures are extremely specific and complicated.  None of us felt up to the challenge of a complicated collection, and we all agreed that collecting them face-to-face would be quickest and easiest method on the first day of school.  So I walked in to the cafeteria and located Kate immediately...but Ella was nowhere to be found.

Right there I'm already panicking internally.  Where is my child?  Surely it's just a mix up...  How did this happen?  I hope Ella isn't worried...  It's been a long time...  Where is my child??  I wait in a queue to speak to an adult (apparently there were lots of other first day mix-ups much for specific procedures...) and they get on the radio to find that Ella Mae is in the car pick-up area.  They assure me they will walk her over, and tell me to go wait by the west door.  So I wait...and wait...and wait...

At that point a harried Ella ran around the corner and burst into tears upon seeing us waiting for her.  She was upset, friends.  In that moment, all the emotions that had been pent up her little body all day — anxiety, excitement, nervousness, elation, anticipation, happiness, etc — combined with a huge dose of disappointment and frustration.  Ella is my calm, cool, and collected child.  She's unfailingly optimistic.  But when she saw me at the end of the day, the dam burst.  The tears started to flow and she just couldn't get them to stop.

Eventually she got herself together, but it was a rough hour.  I just held my big girl while all those emotions found an outlet.  She sobbed her way through the entire story.  She told her teacher that we were going parent walk-up on the first day, but her teacher's list said we would be car riders.  She went to the car rider area knowing all along that she was in the wrong place.  She was worried that I wouldn't be able to find her.  She was afraid I was going to leave her.  When a teacher finally took her over to the cafeteria, she couldn't see me right away because I was waiting by the west door.  It was a rough way to end the day.

By dinner time Ella Mae was all smiles.  Her day was A-MAZ-ING (except for that last bit).  She couldn't wait to do it all again tomorrow, with the CORRECT pick-up procedure.  :)

I'm beginning to understand that those emotional outbursts are very much a part of who Ella is.  All that optimism and upbeat shake-it-off attitude are her natural defence against stress and anxiety, but that does not mean that she does not feel stress and anxiety.  She feels it all, but she stays upbeat on the exterior.  When the crisis comes (for her this was a crisis), she stays calm, alert, and positive.  Until it's all over.  And she positively crumbles.

But then she puts her game face back on and can't wait to do it all again tomorrow.

Geez.  I absolutely LOVE who this child is.  What a resilient, positive, strong little girl.

Meanwhile, Kate watches and learns.  When I tucked the girls into bed that night, Mo-mo pointed out that Ella's mix-up actually taught us an important lesson: even if one of us is in the wrong place, Mom will never leave until she finds us.

Mom will never leave until she finds us.

Such profound truth from my thoughtful middle daughter with the beautiful old soul.

August 18, 2015

A Place to Call Home

A momentous event occurred yesterday, friends.  After seven years, every thing Nick and I own — all our worldly goods — is officially under the same roof.  I'm going to go ahead and say it: WE ARE OFFICIALLY MOVED IN!

Does this mean our boxes are unpacked?  Heck no.

Does that mean that all our rooms are furnished, put together, and decorated?  Not a chance.

Do you think we've gotten started on landscaping and improving our abysmal curb appeal?  Nope!  (Say it cheerfully.  Just like Olaf.)

But we're getting there.  S-L-O-W-L-Y.

Usually I find it difficult to shake that unsettled I'm-not-at-all-organized feeling, but this time I'm cutting myself some serious slack.  For one thing, we're going to be here for the foreseeable future.  In other words, I have all the time in the world.  I don't have to rush to find a quick solution to storage problems.  (Our England house had one closet, our Germany house had zero.)  I don't have to buy furniture that I wouldn't mind having damaged in an international move.  (I'm 34 years old, for crying out loud!  So. Sick. Of. IKEA.)  I am allowing myself to live in this house for a bit and figure out what will best suit our American lifestyle.  (Hellooooo highway.)  I need rugs, chairs, tables, and an entire bedroom suit for Annie.  (We tripled our square footage with this move.)  The only thing we DON'T need is artwork.  (I need more WALLS!)  We're taking this slowly and making sure we get it right.

For another thing, we simply have not been home since we closed on this house.  We have been visitors in the homes of family or friends for seven out of the eleven weekends we've called this place home.  One more time in case you misunderstood me.  That's 7 out of 11.  We've been away 64% of the time this summer.  Am I the only one who thinks this is insane?!  Don't get me wrong.  It's awesome.  We are making up for lost time, ya'll.  But sheesh!  I am exhausted.

To boggle your mind further, three of the four weekends we have been home, we've had houseguests.  If you're doing the math here, you know that we've been in our home on our own one weekend since we've lived in this house.  ONE WEEKEND.  No wonder I feel like I'm losing my mind!

School starts Thursday and we have plans to spend our second weekend on our own in our home.  I am actually excited about the prospect of unpacking boxes and organizing the garage.

We're going to make this house our home, people!  Just you wait and see!  :)

See what I mean about abysmal curb appeal?  Ick.
It is the only thing I do not love about this house.

August 16, 2015

52 Project: 33/52

Week 33
August 10 - 16, 2015

Top:  Happy hour slushes at Sonic.  Tastes like summer!

Bottom:  Teensa ran an errand with Daddo at Walmart.  For the record, this errand did not officially involve sunglasses, yet this is the text I received while they were away.  :)

August 9, 2015

52 Project: 32/52

Week 32
Aug 3 - 9, 2015

Top:  A rare week at home with my ladies.  No scheduled activities (other than gymnastics and dentist visits) and lots of time at the pool and around the house.

Middle:  They call this game "Luxury Limousine."  :)

Appearances to the contrary, they actually know what I limousine is now.  I had to set them straight after Ella Mae pointed to a 15 passenger van and exclaimed joyfully, "Look Kate!  A limousine!"

Bottom:  Be still my heart.