30 Aug 2011

So now I know what it takes

This has been my morning so far. A little bit crazy, a little bit nuts, and very silly but what the heck it was a day that produced no tears for Rosie.

Beep, beep, beep....that was the wonderful alarm clock telling me that it was 5.50 and time to spring from my slumber. I wanted to smash it with a sledgehammer but instead chose to turn it off and head downstairs. I love my quiet time in the mornings when I am the only one awake, actually it's more of a necessity than a love. As my eyes fought with my brain to stay open I shuffled into the kitchen for a tall glass of ice water, for me that is breakfast and then plonked my cranky self down at the computer to catch up on the worlds happenings. As it does every single week day time flew by at break neck speed and I had to leave my quiet place and head for a shower as it was already 6.30. I don't move very fast in the mornings...EVER.

Just as I finished my shower the door opened and a sleepy Lilipop came to join me. I checked the time and it was 7.00am, time to wake up Rosie. Lily and I crept into her bed with her and slowly woke her up in the kindest gentlest way possible. Once she was all smiles we headed down to the kitchen for breakfast. Now this is where things went nuts. As the girls sat eating their breakfast and I sat drinking another glass of water we started to talk about school. I offered another bribe for Rosie if she wouldn't cry. She told me that Daddy had already promised her something as had Mrs. Katz. Lily decided to throw her hat into the ring and offered her a prize as well. I told her if she kept her eyes dry when she got home today she would get the Mother load of prizes.

Now somewhere around this time Rosie started singing a song, I think it was Mary had a little Lamb, and from their I started making up rap songs about the girls and Lily's Bunny and Rosie's dog Gypsy. We were laughing hysterically. I had no idea I could even string 2 words together at 7.15 am let alone make up not one but many rhyming songs. Things just got funnier and funnier and at one point my poor Lilpop shot cheeri0's clear across the table as a preventative measure against choking caused my laughing with food in her mouth. This is a home where you will always hear lots of laughter but this mornings antics truly raised the crazy bar.

I realised that Rosie was all smiles so as I herded them up the stairs to get washed and dressed I felt as if today could be the day for Rosie to pull it all off. Once everyone was dressed, clean, had their lunches in hand and backpacks at the door we said good bye to Daddio and hit the car running. The tomfoolery continued all the way to school. I parked got the girlies out and we headed into the building. I said goodbye to Lily and then she came running back as I was still carrying her lunch..oopsie. Rosie and I walked into her classroom, I signed her in, she put down her lunch box and backpack and then we said our good byes. We say exactly the same thing every single day and usually by this point Rosie is a blubbering, clinging mess but today she was still smiling and she even commented on it. Mrs.Katz and I usually only make a quick visual exchange and I bolt for the door. Today was no different and I heard her call Rosie over to help her and Rosie skipped off as happy as a clam.

I walked out the room and nearly shouted, hallelujah. We did it, she did it, who knows what part of it all made everything OK but there was not a tear to be seen.

All I know is if this is what it takes to make her day start out OK then I had better start learning some rap lyrics and fast cos I was running out and the noises that I had to make, well let's just say they weren't the best.
By 9.00 am I was at work and felt as if I was finally able to breathe for the first time in over a week.

Yeesh. Crazy day in my house and that was before 8am. Please tell me we don't have to do this every single day. One of my motto's is repetition is key, but surely not this.

28 Aug 2011

First week done

We made it to the end of the first week of school. Getting back into the groove has been eye opening in more ways than one. Who knew that an alarm clock going off at 6am could cause such pain? I was really loving sleeping until 8.30 everyday. I have had to wake both girls up everyday which I don't like doing. They are going to bed at 8pm and they are sleeping until 7. School must be tiring. On Wednesday I put Rosie to bed at 7 as she nearly fell asleep at the table during dinner and I still had to wake her up the next morning.

Lily had a fantastic week. She thinks her teachers are really great and is just as happy as a clam. Happy to be back with her friends and to have a new one. For the first time since she started this school she is not in the same class with five of the other faculty members children. This is a good thing a very good thing, 'nuff said. Her homework load has been especially light this week but I know that is about to change. It took three more trips to the supply store for various lists that kept coming home well into the first week but now we appear to have everything we need not to mention all the remaining supplies from last year that remain in perfect condition as they were never used but she HAD to have them on the first day. I am so proud of her. Nothing fazes her and nothing is insurmountable to her.

Since Rosie has had so much of the attention on her this week I felt that Lily had been left in the sidelines so yesterday morning her and I spent some one on one time together. I took her to get a pedicure and then we had a St*rbucks treat and bumped into a friend before heading home. It was really nice to just be with her she even admitted that sometimes she feels like the second fiddle because Rosie is always so needy. After our morning together she felt much better. We are going to be alone next Saturday morning also as she has a well check up at the Dr.'s but that probably doesn't count in her eyes.

Lovely grainy picture compliments of my phone! As an aside the lady in the chair next to Lily also has a daughter from China and she is also from Hubei. She is 13 and was getting her fingernails done.

Rosie survived the first week of school also but I could add the word, barely, to this sentence. Monday we both took the girls to school but on Tuesday I had an early appointment so Jacob took them. Now this is nothing new but it is a new school for Rosie so I knew it would be "traumatic". The rest of the week I was on drop off and pick up duties. By Wednesday Rosie's drop off's weren't getting any better and the madness in the classroom was really over the top so I sent a little note to the teacher all about Rosie and asked if it would be possible for her to give her a job first thing to help distract her. Rosie loves being in school, she tells me each day when I pick her up how much fun she has had , all about her new friends, all about circle time, etc, etc. On Thursday Mrs. Katz met her a the door and told her she needed her help. Well guess what? It didn't help at all. I had also forgotten our tattoo's so she really hit the panic button. I quickly drew a tat' and hightailed it out of there. I know once I am gone she is fine. When I picked her up her teacher pulled me aside and asked me if I remembered her husband? We talked and it turns out I know both the teacher and her hubby from about 10 years ago but I didn't recognise her as she has gained a lot of weight and looks so different but once she said it it all clicked.

Friday I bribed her with a sugary treat that she has always pined for but never been allowed to have. No tears and you get that lolipop. Sad to say the lolipop is still sitting on the island. Lily got hers cos she hasn't shed a tear over school in a few years. Rosie was mad.

We have established a routine for the actual good bye part of the morning. It isn't helping to much yet but repetition is key. I just hope that on Monday when it is Jacob's turn he doesn't quaver and or linger a little bit to long. I have done dress rehearsal after dress rehearsal with him so I think he knows the routine by heart. The problem will be his heart and how fast it folds when he sees those great big Rosie tears.

I met the new Principal on Friday morning purely by accident. As we walked into the school I was saying good bye to Lily and asked her where she wanted to go to celebrate (gotcha day) M1shas or C0ldstone. A lady who was in front of us bending down to talk to a child turned around and said, "ohh, what are you guys celebrating? I noticed she was a faculty member by her clothes and she was really nice but I had no idea who she was. I said that we were celebrating that 8 years ago we became a family and she just gushed about how wonderful it was and that we were so lucky. When Lily made her decision she told her it was a good choice. With that I kissed lilipop goodbye and Rosie and I turned to walk to her class. The lady then stood back up and on her walkie talkie I saw her name so I introduced myself. She then looked at Rosie and said, is this my Rosie? She said that when she went in to the classroom first thing yesterday Rosie had just been dropped off and she was crying so she went back 2 more times just to check on her but she was fine. I like the new principal alot. For 2 years we had the most non approachable nothing as a principal and he followed the best principal in the world. Things are looking up.

We are ready to march into next week with our heads held and dry eyes! Rosie may not agree with this.

26 Aug 2011

A day like no other

Today marks the 8th anniversary of the day that Lily was placed in our arms.
That day is still as clear today as it was 8 years ago. I love reliving it, every second of it. Well, perhaps not the nerves and abject terror that was coursing through my body but everything else. It is the most wonderful day of my life, the day that fulfilled a lifelong dream.
Until that day all I knew was that I wanted to become a mother I really didn't know what being a mother involved. Lily taught me that and because of her I knew I could do it again.
Lily, I love you, everything about you. I would shout it from the roof tops if I could........ but lets face it I am a bit of a klutz and would probably fall off! You made my dreams come true and I thank you from the bottom of my bottom.....(it's bigger than my heart).
Love you forever and ever, all the way to China and back.

Tonight we are going to celebrate with a trip to C0ldstone Creamery and then we will traipse down memory lane as we watch Lily's DVD from Gotcha day. It's my all time favourite movie, well Rosie's to of course.

23 Aug 2011

Let's call the whole thing off

Today was Rosie's second day at school and it was much worse than yesterday. I thought it might be but I silently hoped I would be wrong. I had to wake her up this morning, which wasn't a good thing and no sooner were her eyes open she started to cry. She didn't want to go back to school. She wants to go back to Ms. Maria. Can't blame her for that, that woman was amazing. I laid with her for a few moments consoling her and talking about school and then we got up.
I had to work this morning which meant Daddio was in charge, never a good thing in the mornings, so I made sure everything was ready and set up before I left. She ate her breakfast in tears, she cried like her heart was broken when I left and Jacob called me in the car to tell me she was still crying......but not to worry he could handle it. Urghhh, what is a mother to do?
Since my Father decided this summer that I am an over protective mother I followed my heart, drove to the school and withdrew her for the year. Why would I want to watch her suffer so? She isn't required by law to attend school until next year and I just don't ever want to see her so sad. I gave in to her little games. I went through this last year and even with a therapist things took forever to improve. She can stay home with me and we will fight this battle next year when she is 5.
KIDDING! But that isn't to say that I didn't want to do that.
We even had more tears at the dinner table. She just hates being away from me, her words. She might need me, also her words. I pointed out that she went to school last year and lived to tell about it and that I am always in her heart.
Being the Mother of a child with abandonment and separation issues makes you a mother with a broken heart. It's really awful telling them they have to do something and being so strict when all you can see is the anguish in their faces and the tears running down their cheeks. We have tricks from the therapist that we are still using but this week is not going to go down in mother and child history as a week we want to relive.
I didn't feel like a helicopter Mum today I felt like the cruelest b*tch alive.

22 Aug 2011

First day of school

Lets start with Lily's first day: Lily went to bed last night with no anticipation, she just nodded off to sleep knowing her uniform was laid out for her, her book bag was filled to capacity with all her new supplies and her lunch of choice would be awaiting her in the morning. Yes, that's Lily. She just marches full steam ahead with little fanfare. She was a little concerned last year when she found out that she would be having the "strictest" 4 th grade teacher but after talking it through and listening to other teachers she has accepted it all. We met the teacher at meet and greet and she didn't disappoint. She said, hi, from the doorway, barely allowed us in the room, asked Lily if she had been a student at the school in previous years and then started firing multiplication questions at her, machine gun style. When Lily answered them all correctly she finally smiled and said, you are going to do fine. So much for meet and greet, it was more like see and be interrogated. LOL

We all went to Lily's room and after she chose her seat and made herself comfortable we said bye bye. Lily saw a new girl at her table and introduced her and tried to make her feel comfortable. That's the Lily way. Now it was time to drop off Rosie.

Rosie's first day: Rosie also went to sleep with no problems and was fine when she awoke but she did however ask if she HAD to go to school today. Her teacher from last year Ms Maria called the house to speak to her and from what I understand told her it would be fun and new and she would love it and not to cry. OMG...this woman is a saint.

Rosie was fine strutting through the hallways, chatting to everyone, feeling like a big kid in her new school but as we kissed Lily good bye I felt a wind of change. As we went back down the stairs Rosie's steps got slower and her hand pulled in mine. I knew she was starting to get worried. I talked her up again and we walked into her classroom. Well, that was it! Tears, fears and snot everywhere! Everything that Rosie doesn't like was hitting her all at once. Lots of noise, lots of people and it was HOT in the classroom. I surgically removed her from my neck long enough to put down her things and then she jumped back on to me. We walked to her seat and I convinced her to start drawing. I was trying to engage the little boy next to her into a conversation but he was ready to cry himself so I thought it best to leave him alone.

I had no choice but to tell her I was going to walk out of the room but that I would be back very soon to pick her up. I reminded her that she had a special tattoo for the day and if she felt sad of lonely to just look at it and Mummy would be right there looking back at her. (I wrote her a note on her leg this morning and she wrote me one on mine, neither can be seen). Her teacher looked a little bit confused and unsure what to do and asked if she could pick her up. I told her that would help and we kissed her goodbye and headed for the door. She was not happy. She wasn't alone as there were other little ones crying as well. I have been through this with her before, and it doesn't make it any easier but I know that hanging around does make it worse. My heart feels trodden on today. I headed straight to work and counted down the minutes until I could go and rescue, I mean pick her up.

My big 4th grader ready to tackle the year
My Pre K'er all ready to take on the world
Matching uniforms
Running down the hall into Lily's classroom
Looking a little pensive
Aww, look at that big smile.
One sad little Rosie doing her work
see that...kids a genius. LOL
No NO don't leave me here.

The clock ticked, oh so slowly until we were finally able to head back to school. As is commonplace here the afternoon storms rolled in right at the moment of release. A quiet little girl followed her line out to the parents but didn't spot us so Jacob was able to spy on her for a moment. Once she saw us she smiled the biggest smile and ran to me. Turns out her new school is OK but she cried on and off all morning. Some of the kids left immediately after lunch and when she realised she wasn't one of them she got teary eyed but stopped again quite quickly.
I'm not sure if she realises this is now a daily occurrence. We have the option to only send her for half a day but have chosen to send her for the full day. If it seems that this really is to much for her after a a couple of weeks we will start sending her half days only.
Lily's day finishes an hour after Rosies so we headed back, still in the rain and waited and waited for Lily's class to be dismissed. I was not a surprise to hear Lily gush about her day, her new friends and say that the teachers weren't as bad as everyone said they would be. (not about to tell her this but....that's not what all the parents were saying in the pick up line! All of Lily's friends with older sibs have had these ladies and this is not going to be a fun year, for sure) But I'm ready and so is she. Bring it on.

All in all a good day. It definitely ended on a better note that it started. Oh, Rosie barely touched her lunch today but I didn't think she would. By the end of the week I think she will hungry.

21 Aug 2011

Why does it have to end?

Oh gosh, it's this time of year again. The time of year when I complain that the summer just flew by and now we are about to head back to school and routines and worst of all the crazy rush.
I adore my children, I am not happy to see them go back to school. If I thought home schooling was an option I would do it. But for us it is not. I will miss having them with me every single day. Miss the idea of just being able to fly by the seat of our pants when a whim catches us. Miss hearing them chat, and shout, and laugh, and bicker, miss playing M0nopoly with them and Snap, miss the pool and the playdates, even miss taking 2 hours instead of 1 to do the grocery shopping because they are both in tow and every single thing in the store evokes a question. Most of all I will miss the pace that we have set ourselves over the summer. I don't think I have uttered the words, "hurry up, we are going to be late" in a couple of months and definitely not during breakfast.

Rosie is not at all happy at the prospect of a new school year. She has told me so many times that she will cry. I have reassured her, I have brushed her off, I have talked with her, I have done it all. I have talked with the therapist and right now I know that tomorrow morning is going to be awful for her. If there was a way to make it easy, to fast forward to the second week so I could show her how much she is going to love it, I would. I have made it as exciting as possible. I even printed out lunch menu's for her so she can "order" her lunch and slap it right into her own lunch box. Her uniform is the same as her sisters, well almost the same. I always buy their uniform shirts directly from the school but they have stopped carrying extra small (duh) so I had to buy her polo shirts at the uniform store and sew on the logo myself. She picked out her clothes tonight and ran into Lily's room to check they would be dressed the same. As you can imagine, Lily is thrilled, not! Now she is in bed but I don't think she is asleep even though we went swimming today for hours just to wear her out.

We had a fabulous summer vacation, we really did. From the moment school got out we started travelling and having fun and it didn't stop until last Tuesday when we got home from Seattle. The kidlets have had the kind of summer that makes you want to be a kid again.

Last night I was talking to a friend on the phone and she and I share the same feelings about summer ending and she said, "Oh why cant we just have a few more ........" I thought she was going to say weeks but she said "months" and we both cracked up laughing. Yes, that's it we just need a few more months of this life, it really would be fabulous. Right about now I'd make a deal with the Devil just for a few more days with the girlies without the rushing and god forbid the freaking homework. At least this year the FCAT won't be new so hopefully the pressure will be lifted, at least a little.

I am going to go now and count down the days to our next vacation. I'm just a rebel!

20 Aug 2011

Summing up the sisters

As we prepare to start the new school year and in Rosie's case prepare to start school full time I wanted to take a few minutes and jot down a few things about them both.

The big sister.

Lily makes me laugh, she always has. Her and I have the same sense of humour. Actually we are very much alike which is both good and bad. The older she gets the more alike we get and that is where the bad comes in to play. Child can push my buttons like nobody I have ever met. She knows it too. Lily has energy, lots and lots of energy and is always up for what ever is going, just like me. She loves to be active and yet loves to sit still with her head in a book. It is a rare instance when you will see her without a smile on her face, it is almost a trademark as she has always been that way.

At 9.5 years old things are making her laugh that used to go over her head. This is something that I find so very very funny. She loves the fact that she is older than her sister and that she knows more about life. It's her own special arena and one she is not expected to share. Certain words just leave her in fits of giggles and being the unfit Mother that I am I just laugh right along with her.

Her face hides very little. At her schools meet and greet one of her friends came bounding up to her and started shaking her by the shoulders. Lily just stood there with her eyes rolled back in her head and a look of utter disgust on her face. As much as I felt badly for her for being shaken by this friend a felt even worse for the friend for receiving the death scowl. The eye roll is somewhat new but really overdone!

She still has her heart of gold and her old soul. She is touched by many things and always willing to help the under dog. I hope this doesn't change. I am still very surprised that she hasn't chosen a vegetarian lifestyle and won't be at all shocked if she does at any moment. She finds the treatment of animals just appalling. Maybe she hasn't figured out yet that she can be a vegetarian.

She is still my happy go lucky girl with a wild streak that craves adventure. Nothing seems to scare her other than the dark.

She loves her little sister and is her greatest protector but at the same time finds her annoying beyond all belief quite frequently. I'm sure this is an older sister trait as I suffered it's perils to no end when I was little but the girl is BOSSY!

I know if all children were as lovable as Lily the world would be a better place.

The little Sister.

All of a sudden Rosie is eating like a horse. We have waited 3.5 years for this to happen and it finally has. She must be growing taller as she isn't getting any bigger around though.

Rosie remains the child with 2 personalities, the one she shows us and the one she shows the rest of the world. She is still so very timid and wary of the world in general and still worries that we are going to leave her. She has made huge strides in this area over the past few months but as this new school year approaches we have seen so many old fears awaken. Nuff said.

Rosie does impressions of people all the time and they are hilarious. Sometimes they are of people we know and sometimes of people on the telly. Either way it cracks me up. She is good at them too. She plays for hours at imaginary games and is often heard using a really gruff voice. It's her man voice. I think because she is little and wants so badly to be big she always plays the role of "daddy" and then of course uses his voice.

She loves to play school and be the teacher. She takes a notepad and scribbles away for ages writing notes. She loves to write her name and trace all the letters of the alphabet. Her other favourite games are, snap, monopoly, and anything using a cash register and credit card scanner. She loves money.

Rosie is a very gentle soul and if you look at her wrong she will cry. I really would have thought having a sister as tough as hers would have taught her a thing or two but it hasn't. She will never try something new without much cajoling from us but then usually loves it and goes again and again. If we waited for her to do everything on her own time we would still be waiting for her to learn how to swim and she would miss out on so much fun. Rosie has to be pushed.

She is very much into how bug she is at the moment. Everytime she gets in the car she is convinced she has grown since the day before and that her head is higher up her car seat. Each meal at the table she thinks she can reach further across it. We have a wall upstairs where we measure the girls and she wants to be measured daily, it's a bi-annual occurrence. She keeps telling me that she is eating so she must be growing.

She is and has always been very loving and makes me laugh if she gets into trouble because she will say, "mummy, I love you" and everyone knows you can't be cross with a child after they have told you that.

Rosie is a gentle giant. Not giant is stature but in personality. Her cute little face can melt even the toughest exterior. The world is a sweeter place with Rosie in it.

18 Aug 2011

Oh my frazzled brain

Dear Dade County Public School System.

I am sure what I am about to ask is thoroughly unfeasible but I am going to ask anyway because my OCD little self cannot take another year of this madness. I would like to suggest that we have "meet and greet the teacher" at the end of the school year. Yes, that's right, at the end of the school year. That way you can give all of us parents the supply list for the next school year at the beginning of the summer vacation and not 3 days before the start of the new school year.
Yes, I do know that you post a list on the each school's website but lets face it that is a skeleton list. I purchased everything on that list a week into summer break and had it all properly labeled and tagged and placed into my kidlets new backpacks months ago. Tonight however both girls met their new teachers and we left those meetings with supply lists. MY FREAKING HEAD ALMOST IMPLODED! How on God's green earth is anyone supposed to find 2 bottles of glue on any store shelf 3 days before the start of school, huh? Let's not forget the 17 new items on Rosie's list.
Peeps, I am way to organised for you to throw me a curve ball like this. I have their uniforms laid out already. Everything is labelled, well not their socks and knickers cos that would just be silly. We were ready to roll. Lunch menu's are ready to be selected from and you hand me a list of supplies which at this time of the year are harder to find than batteries during a hurricane watch. So help me, I won't be able to sleep tonight as I worry about where I can find, washable markers, not just ordinary ones but the fat ones for little fingers, 3 days before the new school year begins. And let's not forget the fat pencils.
I do understand that you as a school board has budget woes and other more important things to worry about than my OCD but seriously, give a mother a chance.....please.
Twitching in Dade County!

16 Aug 2011

WACAP picnic and dinner with the WRC

Saturday was our adoption agency's annual family day picnic. This is something I have wanted to attend for 8 years and this year when the opportunity arose I knew we were going. We were able to meet up with other members of Lily's travel group there plus people from our agency so it was really extra special.
John, Nancy and Karen with Ariana, Karens youngest daughter
The lady on the left is Elizabeth Rose. She made our referral call with Lily and recognised my voice before I had a chance to speak to her directly. That call was nearly 8 years ago!!! I love our agency. We are not just people to them we are families and they care.

After lunch we headed to the centre of Seattle to spend the afternoon. We trolled through a crazy and fun joke store called Archie McPhee's. Honest to goodness I have never in my life seen such weird stuff. They had such a strange assortment of emergency undies and undies in a can that had I known what Sunday had in store for me I would have bought some! Once we left there we went to a park and walked around a bore witness to one of the most peculiar weddings I think I will ever see. It included swords and shields and lots of men in kilts. Nancy thought the groom was the father of the bride cos he was so old. Love is very odd you know. We went to the waters edge and gazed at the Space Needle and all the busy things that happen at a sea port. The girls played and played.
See, we really were in Seattle, that's the Space Needle
The growing group

We had dinner reservations at 5 at Noble Court, a Chinese restaurant of course and were meeting more of our travel group. Driving from the park to restaurant involved passing Bill Gates house. Did you know that when he built his house there was a large Cedar tree in the way and he had it moved 18 inches? No I didn't either. I also didn't know that it took him 5 years to build his amazing house and as a thank you to his neighbours for putting up with all the noise and mess, he paid off their mortgages. I know this now cos John and Nancy are amazing tour guides and they don't miss a fact! I also now know all about Katabatic winds (...LOL that one was for you Maddy!)
We arrived at the restaurant first and met up with more of our fabulous travel group. Now there were 6 kiddies and they were in heaven. They had their own table, all apart from Rosie who got hit by a shy spell. Seeing these girls together again after so many years was priceless. They are so big and so beautiful I haven't seen Laura Li since the day we left China. I've seen loads of photos but not seen her in person. I had never met any of the younger siblings and they had never met Rosie. Lots of catching up to be done and lots of fun to be had. We talked about what we remembered of each other in China and oddly enough everyone remembered me as the nervous one...bwa ha ha. They pegged me right. Some families couldn't make it and we missed them. Karen's oldest daughter, June, the one from our trip, was sick so she missed it all too which was a shame but Rosie and her little sis Ariana became fast friends.
can you tell how much fun they were having?
This one sadly came out blurry but I love it anyway. I call it, 6 kid pile up.

Maddy and her party piece...the skinned chicken. Makes me giggle to just look at it. She taught Lily how to do it too.
5 of the 6, having just a tiny bit of fun!
party hats or princess crowns?
The last time we were together none of us were this relaxed. We were all first time Mummy's
Some of the WRC.

After dinner we noticed a park right behind the restaurant so we let the kids run about for awhile so that we could chat some more. As all good things do, our time together had to come to an end and we said our good byes. We all drove away promising to see each other in China in 2013. I have suggested we all take the same flights, I think it would be brilliant but probably not at all feasible. Wouldn't the kids love it? The other passengers, well not so much.
When we got back to the house I had to pack and bath the kids. I had to leave the house at 3.30am. It was all over so very fast but worth it.

Thank you John, Nancy, Maddy and Sonja for having us. We enjoyed ourselves so much. I hope the cats have come out of hiding. Let us know when you are back this way, our door is always open.

Oh what a fabulous trip.

We had the most amazing time in Seattle with the most amazing and fun people. We stayed with a family that we travelled to China with in 2003 and have seen twice since then. The girls picked up as if they see each other every day of their lives and considering we were delayed in our travels by a few hours, and didn't arrived until 10.40 at night, that was a sight to behold.
They changed into their matching pajamas instantly and set about having a marathon sleepover. Lily and Sonja had a tent in their great room and Rosie slept upstairs with me. At midnight Rosie told me she couldn't sleep cos Lily was talking so loud. Yes, it was the truth and John has to get up at 4.30 to go to work. Thankfully she didn't disturb him.

The sleepover has begun. Are they not the cutest ever?

Bright and early the next morning we had breakfast and headed out to Mount Rainier. I think I was possibly more excited than the little kids about the prospect of this trip. Breathtaking scenery, mountains, snow and fantastic friends....heaven on earth. Nancy drove us up and up along windy roads with sheer drops on one side. I was glad she drove and not me. How can you not just breathe in the beauty of our planet and appreciate your life when visiting the Pacific Northwest. I think it is one of the most beautiful places on this earth.

This sign was nailed to our picnic bench. Bears are a novelty to us Floridians we only have to deal with alligators.
Enjoying a lovely lunch before going for a hikeMaddy, Sonja, Lily and Rose
Nancy, Maddy and the 3 little ones

A view...something I NEVER take pictures of. My photos always have people in.

Snow bunny
Another one
the girls on our hike

the 3 muskateers

That evening we ate dinner at the house and finished it off with 'smores cooked over the fire pit. The girls entertained us by singing very loud songs....to ward off the bear that is known to wander in the woods behind the house.

15 Aug 2011

It had to happen at some point

You are not expected to read about our day from Hell but it was part of the weekend and quite an adventure so I want to write it down for the girls......not that they will ever forget it.

This is the part of our trip that wasn't planned, it wasn't fun even though we tried to stay perky and it isn't something I ever want to do again.
The girls and I were listed for an 8.00am flight on Thursday. American Airlines (AA) doesn't fly directly to Seattle (Sea-Tac) so we had a layover in Dallas, Fort Worth (DFW). When you fly stand-by layovers are not something you want, E.V.E.R. they can really mess things up. The flight, if direct, is approx 5,5 hours so with baggage claim, check in etc etc it would be a long day under the best of circumstances. Our day was a total of 19 freaking hours. Yes, 19 hours long. We got bumped from so many flights and walked so many terminals it wasn't funny. Once we were finally strapped into our seats and heading for Dallas, 5 hours late, I questioned my sanity. At one point Lily said to me, "Maybe this is a sign". I answered her in a fakely chipper voice and said not to be silly and that we had started this whole reunion idea and that we were going to be there. HAH.
As we approached DFW the pilot said we were trying to beat a weather system there and would be in a holding pattern for a few minutes before we could land. A few short minutes later he came back on the P.A. system saying that the bad weather had beaten us there and that we were being redirected to Love Field where we would refuel and wait for clearance to head back to DFW. I can't tell you here exactly what I said in my head as it is really rude. We stayed at Love Field for 2 hours on the plane just killing time!
When we finally made it back to DFW Jacob's friend Jeff who also works for AA met us at the gate when we landed, ran and got the girls a bottle of water, told me he had listed us on the next flight out, told me he didn't think we had a cat in hells chance of getting on it and then proceeded to show us where the best restaurant in the terminal was after we were bumped. He then came back up to see us and told us our chances were good and if we needed anything we could ring him. He was fantastic, he has 4 yr old twins and knows exactly what we were going through. We made the flight. We would be arriving in Sea-Tac 7 hours late. Our friends were waiting. Jeff also gave me a tiny slip of paper that the employees print out of the computer all the time. It showed the flights for Sunday, all 15 of them and it showed every single one of them, full. Fuey, I would put that out of mind and enjoy the weekend.
The Eastcoast has been having really bad thunderstorms and they were messing everything up. Even though our flights were all listed as "open" as the weather changed and flights were cancelled more and more people were being backlogged, onto the very flights we were attempting to get on.
When we arrived at Sea-Tac we located the rental car and took off in the dark through the twisty lower mountain roads to our destination. I loved that part. No street lights, a place I have never been and windy roads that just disappear in front of your eyes. Thank goodness for GPS systems.We finally arrived at John and Nancy's at 10.24pm. and didn't even get lost.
At this point I had no idea that this day was going to be a piece of cake in comparison to our return voyage.
On Sunday, after the fantastic weekend you just read about, I set my alarm for 2.45am and got myself ready. At 3am I woke up the girls and we said goodbye to our lovely hosts. I drove the same windy roads back to the airport with nary a SNAFU and returned the car. As the kidlets were getting out a lady approached and asked if we enjoyed the car and before I could answer she gasped and asked if I had noticed this damage when I picked up the car on Thursday. Damage, what damage? You see I was so glad to have the car on Friday and finally be able to get where we were going that I just threw the kids in, buckled them up and jumped in the drivers seat. I took a few minutes to find the lights, wipers and set up my GPS and then we were gone. It was so dark in the car park that I had to use the light on my phone to find the light switch so even if I had looked for this damage I wouldn't have been able to see it anyway. The car remained parked all weekend until I drove it back to the airport on Sunday.
Miss Snippy Pants, with great drama, produces an accident/incident report and asks me to explain how it happened. I ever so politely told her I was not filling out that form since I had no idea. She said it may have already been reported and that she was just doing her job since she didn't know if the person who had it before me did it. I had no choice. Alrighty then Miss Snippy Pants since you are not being very friendly and since I DO NOT do mornings at a normal hour I guess we are going head to head on this. I placed the girls a safe distance away and I filled out her form but not before carefully scratching out the part where it states I know how it happened. Then I gave it back to her snippy little self, explained it's not always about doing your job but how you do your job and took the girls and I to the terminal. It was a sign.
The check in lines were bad, really bad but we trudged through. Finally after the usual security drama we were at our gate and saw ourselves listed as 17, 18 and 19 on the list. Say what? The furthest down a list that I have ever been, until this weekend is 4th. I knew we were not leaving Sea-Tac at 6.00am. Turned out we didn't get on the next 5 flights. We just kept hopping from gate to gate. Jacob and I were in constant contact and he told me to find a code sharing airline and ask to get zed listed. He didn't know what was involved but to just get on it. Yes siree.. We went to another carrier and talked to them, they sent us back to AA and then with the necessary forms in hand we went back to the other carrier (TOC). We shot through security, ran through the terminals and arrived at the gate just as they closed it up tight, as if that was a surprise.
So we rolled over to the next one and we made it. As we were boarding an older man boarded to, also flying stand by. He started chatting to the girls and kept touching Lily's head. I hate that. He noticed we were all in separate rows and offered to help with Lily. So not going to happen buddy! Now in this mans defense I am sure he was just a good old boy from the south but I am not turning my kidlet over to ANYONE. Thankfully the crew fixed it all before Mr. Touchy Feely could touch her hair again. During the flight he came up to me and gave me his phone number and offered us his house to stay in. Now I am sure he was being sweet and I was being sweet to, he even offered to ring my husband and speak with him. I thanked him profusely and explained that my husbands Uncle was going to meet us and take us to his house. (all lies)
We would be landing in Atlanta at 10pm. The girls were amazing this whole time. Every now and again one of us would get snippy, or down but it lasted minutes and then we were back to our usual selves. There is one problem with this Atlanta flight, there are no more connections that night and we need a place to stay. After we landed I rang Jacob and he told me to find and employee from TOC and ask them if they had a stress Hotel. They didn't. They did however offer us a voucher for a hotel, yeah no kidding pretty darned nice, huh, and gave us over night bags. You see our luggage had gone to Miami on that very first flight.
We made it to the airport and 11ish. I gave Rosie the room key and told her room 326. She kept trying and the door wouldn't open so finally I started slamming the card in the lock. Thankfully Lily noticed that it was the wrong room we should have been at 316...oops. By now the girls have been up for 20 hours and once we got in the room we got the giggles really bad. After a bath and a quick look through our over night bags we changed into our handy dandy sleepshirts. At midnight Lily decides she is hungry so I fed them right there in the bed. All I had were granola bars, raisins, chips, and some chewies. Nice dinner. Do I need to add that they loved it. With the detergent from the overnight bags I washed all our undies and then wrung them out them the best I could before realizing that heat dries things much faster so I ironed everyones knickers dry and Rosies socks. I was going to use the microwave but figured the way my luck was going I'd probably set them all on fire and then we'd have to fly home commando.I set the alarm for 4 hours later and went to sleep.
This morning I woke up, cursing life in general and jumped in the shower. No straightening brushes for my hair, no lovely moisturisers etc etc. I drank some God awful coffee and woke up the girls. They were not happy but got dressed in yesterdays clothes and their nicely pressed undies! We headed back to the terminal. It was Hell. The world and his brother was there and going through security. Once we were cleared I fed them some tasty airport treats and we walked to our gate chanting we're going home today. WRONG! Bumped off of another flight. I rang Jacob and told him I was renting a car and driving. The voice of reason said it was a very bad idea. After checking the flight status for todays flights with TOC Jacob told me to cancel myself from their list and head back to AA. We headed past the do not re-enter sign and crawled to AA's check in line. There was a small line so we checked in electronically and butter my buns and call me a biscuit, we got seat assignments. I swear we nearly started to cry. We knew we were going to have to run because we had to go back through security again. The line was even worse. It took 40 minutes. We got to the gate and boarded almost immediately. No sooner was her seatbelt fastened Rosie fell asleep and I woke her when we landed in Miami.
Lily on the other hand learnt how to blow bubbles with gum and spent the whole flight blowing them. It's a right of passage as I kid and after 34 hours of travel I found it really funny. It was funny watching her face, funny when she spat everywhere whilst blowing and funnier than anything ever before when her gum shot out of her mouth and into the aisle. Yes, I know it isn't funny but it was then.
Hubby met us at and said he had bad news. We had no luggage and both airlines were denying ever having it. Did we want to go home and he would work it out or did I want to deal with it now. Well, I thought now was a great time so off we went and whaddayaknow, our luggage was there. Some people do their jobs better than others. It took the lady I approached all of 2 seconds to find it for us. The guy Jacob used tried and tried.
I'm not flying again EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE. Yes, I know that's not true either.
I have a total of 19 boarding passes for our troubles, 19. Geesh that's alot.

Our lovely sleeping attire courtesy of TOC
One little hobo sleeping in the airport on a bench.
Another tiny hobo sleeping on an airport bench.

And finally I give you bubble girl in all her grossness. It's really loud because of aircraft noise. I frankly, was happy to hear that aircraft noise.

We have flown stand by for many years without anything like this ever happening. Sure we have all heard the horror stories but people are always more willing to share their horror stories than their happy ever after stories. The airlines were fabulous, all of this was not their fault at all. I mean lets face it, do they control the weather? No, they don't. Did they need to offer us a hotel voucher? Again, No, but they did. The price was right on these flights, if you get my drift. We were not missing school, an adoption, a funeral or anything, so there you have it. Now the time they put our plane out of service when we were flying to China to adopt Rosie and we had paid full price for all of our seats, well that was hairy but it didn't change anything, we were still powerless and they still offered us a solution and we made it on time and all is well.
I will do it again. Probably quite soon I am sure.

11 Aug 2011

see you on the flipside

The girls and I are headed to Seattle for the weekend. We are meeting with the families that we travelled to China with in 2003. I'm not taking a computer......shocking, I know. If I can blog from my phone I will. Otherwise. I'll see you on the flip side.

Hasta ya pasta.

9 Aug 2011

Summer fun

Grace and I met about 3 years ago at an FCC luncheon, she had a son Rosie's age and a daughter Lily's age. We said that day that we must get the kidlets together for a play date. As you can see we didn't exactly rush in to that commitment. We have met many times since then at many other gatherings but never had that play date until today.
Rosie took a few minutes to warm up but made fast friends with the cat, Frances and from there decided life was great and before to long was very happy playing with Grace's lovely children. Lily and Natalie became fast friends and wasted no time getting to know each other. After lunch it was time for the pool and they had a fabulous time which allowed Grace and I lots of time to talk.
As is always the case here in the summer the thunder clouds rolled in and we had to roll out.
I do hope it won't be 3 more years before we do this again, I think the children would be upset.

This is my absolute favourite photo of the day. It captures them so perfectly, Double Trouble.

5 Aug 2011

More unsleeping

True to form the girls were, up and at 'em, bright and early this morning. I heard them in their room but skillfully and stealthfully (I think I may have just made up a word) I shot past their door and down the stairs without them hearing me. I am not a morning person, my girls are used to it but I really don't like to terrifying small unassuming children who are staying with us so I needed to get downstairs and have some "me time" before they found me.
After about half an hour they bebopped down to the kitchen full of the joys of childhood. One by one they announced they were hungry and of course every single child wanted something different. Lucky for them I had had some quiet time. LOL One of them even asked for Taco eggs. What on earth are taco eggs?*** I asked for a description but I still have no idea so they settled on pancakes instead. I made a huge batch of pancakes which, horror of all horrors, they covered in Nutella spread. Hey I never said they had a healthy breakfast I just said they had breakfast. Actually they ate lots of fruit with them and tonnes of cereal and yoghurts and lord knows what else. They were packing it in cos they had planned a hectic day which judging by the way they were eating didn't include any food stops.

This is really way to much cheer for me at this time of day.

We went back to the pool for a few hours and they had so much fun. I had initially planned on taking lunch but decided that that would be a good way to get them back home again so I just took snacks. It worked well. That and a promise of taking the Jeep out for a ride once it cooled off a bit.
I wonder what they were plotting
So beautiful

These 2 got benched for 5 minutes for diving into the deep end near the drain. I know that the drains have the "special" covers on now but I do not let the kids go near them. They actually dove down and were looking at it....duh! They know the rules and broke them anyway so here they are on bench time! THey look really bothered don't they.
Joie and Lily having a gossip. They were talking about another family that was in the pool and it was none to kindly I might add. They did not care for the way the Mother spoke to her kids. Funny little fishwives

AFter lunch they all just sort of faded and landed on the couch watching T.V. I left them their and stayed clear. After a while they perked up a bit and played but by then it was nearly time for Hollis to arrive. Just as they remembered the Jeep Hollis did arrive so we made it quick and I failed to take any photos.
I had a blast having them here, I always do. I love that her girls treat this house like their own. It isn't as if I have kids staying that i don't know very well. I love all of them dearly and we just always have a great time together. We already have another one planned for next week. We have to do as many as we can before school starts because then the homework schedule kicks in and other things start happening and it gets so hard.

****I just got off the phone with Hollis and it's no wonder that I don't know what Taco eggs are! Trevi made up the name for a certain style of eggs that Grandma Grace cooks for her. It is quite simply a sunny side up egg with grated cheese on top that Grace then rolls up and to Trevi it looks like a taco. Geesh...well I'm ready next time. Hmm, bet she won't even ask for one.


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