Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sounds like life to me. . .

Well, this post is for my friend Jane, who mentioned to me that she kept up with my family this summer through my blog and thought that I needed to write another post. I'm so flattered that someone actually reads this stuff, how could I refuse?

Yesterday morning I got up and had lots of deep thoughts running through my head and I thought, "Hey! I should go write a blog entry about this!" but instead I laid there fifteen more minutes and then go up and started my usual day. You can't really write a good blog entry on deep thoughts in fifteen minutes anyway. So this morning, I got up early (for me) at 6:00 and thought I'd go write a blog entry. Two things got in the way though - first, two other family members got up with me, and second, I have no deep thoughts this morning. Oh well. So, here we are, with only light and fleeting thoughts for today.

Well, we are now two weeks or so into school, and the girls seem to be enjoying it. It has been super crazy around here though, because our church postponed VBS to this last week, from 6:30 to 8:30 at night, which meant that the girls came home from school and we had to cram homework, dinner and playtime in so that when they got home they could go straight to bed. They really enjoyed the VBS though. They took our neighbors across the street with them, so we got to know them a little better as well.

Gracie's first couple of weeks at school have been a bit up and down. She seems to have a good time most of the time, although when I ask her about her new teacher, her overwhelming impression is that she's "loud." Mrs. B does have a rather low, booming voice, but I don't find her overwhelmingly loud. I've heard that she is a fun teacher though, so I'm hoping Gracie will warm up to her soon. Gracie will certainly get the chance to know Mrs. B. - she got moved to a desk near her because she is having trouble keeping focused on tasks. I got a note about that already. Still, she seems to be doing just fine in class for now. On the playground though, she had a bad day yesterday. She was put in time out for part of recess for chasing another kid that didn't want to be chased. She apparently was so upset about it that she cried until she had a bloody nose, for which she had to go to the office. So, when she got home, our conversation went something like this:

Me: "How was your day at school."

Gracie: "Good. Except I got a bloody nose."

Me: "What? How did you get a bloody nose."

Gracie: "Well, I was playing and chasing and got in Time Out and crying and sad and Ben and Edmund and . . . "

So we sat down and talked about what exactly happened. Then I said, "Okay, well, what else happened today that was the good part?"

"What?" asked Gracie.

"You said you had a good day when I asked how it was - what was the good part?" I replied.

"No, that's all I remember. I guess it was a bad day."

I suppose it's all in the details.

Maggie is a busy girl in her new class. She hasn't talked very much about her teacher, but seems to be just as enthralled with her as she was for the last few teachers. She gets 40 minutes of Spanish each week for this first semester and is excited about that. So far she's learned how to say, "Gimme Five!" in Spanish - very, very useful stuff!!! (No, really, in our house, that's useful!)

Maggie's first two weeks have been marked by social angst. She got off the bus last Friday swearing that she would never ride again. Why? Because one of her friends hasn't sat with her since school started, of course. Her solution? "I will never speak to her again, and then she'll know I am mad!" So we had to sit down and talk about how people can't read minds, and this friend probably doesn't even know how she feels. She spoke with this friend the next morning (after some coaching) and they sat together on the way to school, so that crisis was averted. Of course, that afternoon she found out that a friend was having a sleepover with six friends, and she was not among the selected six. Sigh. . .

I know that this is a life lesson that she needs to learn, and yet, as a mother, I wish I could shield her from anything that would make her tender heart ache. Still, it's a part of building character and all, so I wouldn't truly want to shield her from that either. It's a fine line between raising a well-mannered child and a real spoiled brat. I hope I get it right.

Other things that have been going on are of course, my birthday. The girls and Jerry brought me presents in bed and we had a nice little party before the day got started. Jerry took a photo that he posted on Facebook, so I'm not sure that there's anyone in the world that hasn't already seen it, but here it is:
That night we all went out to dinner and then tried a new frozen yogurt place. When you walk in they give you a tub to fill up with the 20 or so flavors of frozen yogurt and a wide assortment of toppings. Then you get to the register and put it on a scale and pay by the ounce. We had been warned by friends though, so we didn't fill our tubs up to capacity - just got a modest amount, and got out for about $10. It was quite delicious. Maggie got PB and chocolate, Gracie got strawberry and banana, Jerry got cookies and creme, and I got a smidgen of chocolate, vanilla, cookies and creme and orange. The orange was so orange-y it made my eyebrows want to leap off my face! It was tasty though, so I see a return trip in our future.

One thing that threw me for a loop on my birthday was finding out about the death of the father of one of the Girl Scouts in my troop, David. He did just about everything with our troop. He went on our camp outs, our field trips, came to every award ceremony, provided snacks when it was his daughter's turn - he was a wonderful father, and a good man. He had a massive heart attack and died the Tuesday before my birthday. It used to be that things like that happened to my parents friends, but now I'm getting up there, and it's people I know. Quite a sobering thought to have. Even more sobering is the thought of his daughter, going on without him. I can't imagine going through the loss of my father at my age, much less being 9 years old. My heart just aches for her.

Several such things sobering have happened in the last few weeks - one friend's baby being stillborn and another friend whose water broke at 28 weeks who is now looking at a long hospital stay. These occurrences present challenges that can be difficult to resolve in my mind. How can a loving God allow these things to happen to folks who love Him? I know it is natural to have these doubts, these feelings of uncertainty, even anger, but the thing that makes it harder is when my children, so young in their faith, have the same questions. When I told Maggie about David's death, she got upset, understandably. She was sad for her friend, she was worried about something like that happening to me or Jerry, but she also wanted to know, "Mom, who decides when these things happen? Is it God, or is it the Devil?" Sometimes I wonder too.

Well, that's about all the Saturday time I can take for blog posting - Jerry and I are tackling the clutter that is on our bookshelves, and has been since we moved here a year ago (broken tea cup anyone?) We may be able to have another garage sale by the time we finish. If anyone is in the market for a large china cabinet, let me know - it's still hanging around!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Day of School

Well, we woke up to a gray and rainy first day of school again this year. Maggie is so excited about school though, she didn't mind - she was up, dressed, bed made, and ready to go before I even got to her room - about six minutes after her alarm went off. Gracie, on the other hand, was just rolling out of bed, looking through the blinds, and ready to return to bed. She is NOT ready for summer vacation to be over.

We did our school routine - breakfast, make lunches, get ready, brush teeth, brush hair. . . Maggie, however added one more step essential for fourth graders - put on lip gloss. Ummm. Well. Ok.

We took our traditional first day pictures, and I asked the girls if they wanted me to drive them to the bus stop or would they rather walk with umbrellas. They looked out and the rain was pretty light, so we headed out with our umbrellas. Of course, the first day, the bus is always a little late, but today it was about 15 minutes late. The rain picked up quite a bit before the bus got there, so we all huddled under the eaves of the house that the bus stop is located at. Gracie got more excited about things as her friends got to the bus stop. By the time the bus got there, she was, I think, ready for the school day to start.

Once the girls left, I walked back home and the silence of no kids. And now I've uploaded photos and made a blog entry, without a single interruption. While I do miss the girls, I must say, school days have their perks. Now, I'll go see what else I can get done, and perhaps make a fresh-baked cookie or two so that when the girls get home we can sit down and enjoy a special treat while they tell me about their first day of school.

Monday, August 10, 2009

California Dreamin'

Well, we are (reluctantly) back from our vacation. We had a great time. It's nice to be to the point where the kids can do things for themselves, and it is really a vacation, instead of just a change of location, but still having to do all the feeding, cleaning, entertaining, etc. Jerry and I were talking last night about him not wanting to go back to work, and me not wanting vacation to be over, and I asked him what his favorite part of vacation was.

"The beach." was his reply. "What was your favorite part?" he asked.

"Not having to cook. Or clean. Or do any of the usual things." Was my reply. He just laughed and called me practical. I suppose it was just the opportunity to fully enjoy all the things that we did. And being around an uncle that the girls dote on just made it better. They constantly wanted to be around him, hold his hand in the parking lot, sit next to him in the booth at the restaurant and so on. I'm sure that it probably got tiring for Aaron, just like it does for me, but it gave me the opportunity to have some closeness with Jerry without a lot of maneuvering to do so.

So here's the post vacation synopsis:
We didn't particularly want to get up super early on any day of our vacation, so we scheduled afternoon flights. This put us into California a bit late, so we checked into the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat, and visited Aaron's place for a small birthday celebration for Gracie. Aaron had found these super cute cupcakes for the girls - lots of icing and lots of smiles!

Since our first full day was a Sunday we headed to the Santa Monica pier, figuring that the traffic would be lighter than on a weekday. We took in the sights of the pier, and then the girls rode the roller coaster with Aaron and Jerry. Gracie was aching to put her toes in the water, so we walked along the beach for a while - getting a bit sunburned in the process, because we failed to apply the sunscreen we had just bought before heading to the beach. The water was nice and warm on our toes, but after we were done the sand on the way back to the boardwalk was super hot! After a quick lunch we stopped by Old Navy on the 3rd street promenade and got us some flip-flops so our next beach adventure would not be so painful!

The next day we were feeling pretty roasted, so we headed to the California Science Center for a nice, sun-free, air-conditioned day. It had lots of hands-on exhibits, and we had a really good time. The only down moment was when Maggie realized that she had lost her purse. I had tried to convince her to leave it in the trunk of the car, but she had insisted on bringing it with her. Luckily, an honest person found it and turned it in with her souvenir money intact. Hopefully she learned a valuable lesson - time will tell. At the end of our visit we stopped by the gift shop, which was filled with neat items. We got the girls and Aaron the old-fashioned whirly-copter things, and they flew them around before we got into the car. We headed back to the house, and I made chicken and dumplings for dinner while Jerry, Aaron and the girls went swimming at his neighborhood pool.

The next day we were ready for some more beach fun. We headed to Zuma Beach, which I had read about in a magazine, and was supposed to be a very clean, family friendly beach. What that article didn't say was that this beach faced the north currents, and it was COLD!!! The lifeguards were wearing jackets! Still, it was a very sunny day, and literally, within minutes, Gracie was buried in the sand. Aaron and his friend Jason were with us, and they had brought boogie boards. The girls and the guys braved the waves - they were pretty tall. After a few waves, Maggie got hit by a big one and toppled off her boogie board - a traumatic experience for her, to be sure. She was soaked, and spent the next 30 minutes warming up on the blanket, swearing she would never go in the ocean again. Eventually I convinced her to take a walk on the beach with me, and pretty soon she was wading in the waves again. On the way home we stopped at a seafood place and Jerry got to enjoy the fresh seafood that he so rarely gets to have (being married to a seafood-hater.)

The next day was our Disney day. We got up earlier, but still didn't make it to Disneyland until around 11:00. Back in 1986 my family had gone to Disneyworld and had gotten five-day park hopper passes that never expired. We only used four days of those passes, so I brought them along with us on this trip to see if we could use them. They said we could, so Jerry, Aaron and I got into the park on day five of those passes (they cost $81 for five days in 1986. The price for a one-day pass that day was $97 dollars!) We only had to buy tickets for the girls, so that made this the cheapest Disney vacation ever!!! We really expected a crowded park and long lines, but it wasn't bad at all. We used Fastpass on the two really crowded coasters, but even the Matterhorn was only a 20 minute wait. Maggie and I walked right on to the teacups while Gracie, Jerry and Aaron rode that one. I think we rode everything we wanted to. The girls even tried Space Mountain - Maggie loved it, and declared it her favorite, but Gracie found it a bit scary. We hit Denny's on the way back to the hotel, and it was 1:30 in the morning before we got back to the hotel.

The next day we didn't do anything. We hung out at Aaron's house - the girls played with the dog, Booker, we all played a card game, "There's a Moose in the House!", did a little laundry, took a nap or two, the girls went swimming with Aaron again, and then we had a nice dinner and some ice cream before we headed back to the hotel to pack up for our return trip home. A nice relaxing end to our vacation. I don't think any of us wanted it to actually end though. I guess that's the mark of a good vacation!