Monday, August 29, 2011

1st Day, #2

Katherine FINALLY started 2nd grade today.  She was SO ready to go!  She was the only 2nd grader in school wearing a skirt that she made herself!  She went over to Granny's to sew yesterday afternoon and came home with this new skirt.  Not everyone can make their own clothes at age 7.  I'm impressed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Katherine's Big Day

Katherine is going to "Granny School" this week.  This means hanging out with Granny and Poppy until Monday rolls around and she can finally start 2nd grade.  Today they had all sorts of big plans and ended up experiencing even more.

My parents bought a new-to-them vehicle this week and stopped to pick it up today.  That meant that Katherine got to be the first to ride in the "new" car AND it had a TV and DVD player.  They then drove the new car to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson.  Katherine had a grand time exploring the museum and learning all about space.  I had given her my old camera and she took all sorts of remarkably good pictures.  (She even remembered what they were all about this evening.)  They stopped in Yoder for lunch and to have a quick lesson in Amish culture.  Kate was quite fascinated by all of the old fashioned tools and buggies.

But the best and most exciting part of the day was totally unplanned and it is a marvelous story!  Over the past year Katherine has discovered the American Girl book series.  She's not been particularly interested in the American Girl dolls, but the books enthrall her.  She has read all the books she can find and is so interested in the history they describe.  Her favorite character is Felicity, a girl from colonial times.  We have looked up information and talked about colonial life often.  Last week Kate discovered sewing patterns for colonial style dresses.  She immediately decided that she wants to dress like Felicity for Halloween.  Today, Mom decided to stop at a quilt shop so Katherine could pick out fabric for this Halloween dress.  And that was when the magic started...

The shop keeper was a young woman who struck up a conversation with Granny and Katherine.  Granny mentioned that the gold fabric she was buying was for Katherine's colonial dress.  The woman's face lit up and she asked Kate is she had read the American Girl books.  Then she asked if Kate knew about Felicity.  When Katherine said that Felicity was her favorite, the woman explained that she had some American Girls books, mostly about Felicity, that she was getting rid of and did Katherine want them?  Kate, of course, said yes.  The books were at the woman's home, so my parents agreed to stop back on their way home to pick them up.  When they retured to the store, not only did the woman have a stack of books for Katherine she also had a Felicity doll and a large trunk full of clothes and shoes for her!  The woman said that she had decided that it was time to get rid of some of her childhood things.  The American Girl doll had been one of her favorites and she wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate it.  Just last night she had prayed to God and asked for some sort of sign as to where the doll should go.  And today Katherine walked into her shop, looking for cloth to make a dress like Felicity's.  Isn't that amazing?

Katherine is absolutely thrilled with her new doll.  When I got home she was talking so fast that I couldn't understand.  She finally drug me in the house and pointed at the doll and trunk and her face just shone.  Granny told her that she had "found a gold mine" and Kate understood that.  This was an amazing gift and Katherine is so appreciative and so delighted.  There will be many, many hours of Felicity playing at our house!  And that sweet quilt shop keeper will know that her beloved doll has found a good home.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hanging Out with Friends

The girls' good friends, Hannah and "Buddy Isaac" were over last night.  They were so excited to have them here!  I'd set out some different things to play with and pretty much knew which kids would play with each thing.  I was wrong!  Hannah and Rachel made a beeline for the crafts table.
Rachel stayed at it for a remarkably long time and Hannah cut and glued and drew all evening.  This girl loves crafts!
Katherine was Isaac's playmate/boss for the evening.  He didn't seem to mind.
Later, there was a dress-up show, some singing and dancing, and several tiny stretchy frogs getting wild rides in the doll stroller.  The evening ended with popcorn and a little Dora watching.
And four happy kids!

Monday, August 22, 2011

1st Day, #1

Rachel started her new "daycare school" today.  She has moved from a little home daycare to a larger preschool/daycare that is the lab school for the early childhood majors at our local college.  She was very excited to go and quite proud that she was the first one of the family to go back to school.  Katherine is rather jealous.  And I am kind of relieved - it has become evident that Thing One and Thing Two need some time apart!

Katherine came with me to work in my classroom this morning.  The kindergarten teacher next door put her to work sorting and cutting for her and then paid Kate $2 for her work.  That made Kate's day!  I go back to work full-time on Wednesday and Steve on Thursday.  Katherine will have "Granny School" for the rest of the week - sewing, cooking, and a few adventures.  She finally starts back next Monday.  So, the journey back to school has begun.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer's End

Summer is almost over...
And, quite frankly, I am glad.  I'm not looking forward to getting up at 5:30 AM again, but we're all ready for more routine in our lives.  And we're all pretty sick of being cooped up with each other.  This morning, Steve contemplated yet another day at home listening to the kids squabble and suggested we make a quick trip to Oklahoma.  So we called up Granny and Poppy and headed off.

We had lunch at a terrific Mexican restaurant at the airport.  We ate our tamales and gorditas and watched planes taxi down the runway just outside the window.  That always makes for an entertaining meal!
We did a little shopping and drove back home.  One last little summer fling!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Big Cook

We are getting ready to go back to school (which also means going back to work).  Today was part of the going-back routine.  Today was my Big Cook.  I am a passable cook - I rarely burn things beyond recognition and my family happily eats what I put in front of them - but I don't love cooking.  I don't mind it if I have plenty of time and energy.  But when I get home after a full day of wrangling preschoolers only to face my own kids demanding supper, preferable half an hour ago, cooking dinner is about the last thing I want to do.  Several years ago, I heard about one of those businesses where you go in and make a month's worth of meals in an evening.  I thought "Hmmm... I could do that."  So began the Big Cook.

Every August (and usually again over Christmas and at Spring Break) I send the girls to my parents' house [We love you Granny and Poppy!] and spend a whole day cooking.  I shop the day before and cram the pantry and refrigerator full of food.  Then I get up early, crank up the stereo (or just enjoy the quiet), and cook meal after meal.  I prepare and divide everything into meal-sized portions and put it in the deep freeze.  Today I made burritos, enchiladas, lasagna, calzones, two different casseroles, pizza, and pre-cooked, chopped, and bagged chicken and hamburger.  It was a lot of work, yes, but not at all stressful and there were no kids hanging on my leg.  I can stand in front of the freezer and feel satisfied by a good day's work and blessed by the bounty of food.  And the best part of the Big Cook?  There are 29 meals that I am not going to have to cook later!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Zoo Statues

We finally made it to the zoo this week.  We had not been all summer, because it has been too darn hot.  But we found a day where it didn't hit 90 degrees until noon.  We saw a lot of animals (the year old chimpanzee baby and a trio of Galapagos tortoises nosing each other's bowls of "salad" were our favorites) but all of our pictures were of the girls and the zoo's wonderful statues.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Children's Garden

The botanical gardens we visited this week have a brand new Children's Garden that is just fabulous!  There were SO many fun things to do with kids aged 1 to 12 and even the adults though it was great.
The entrance is through a cool rainbow.
Rachel loved the little water pumps and watering the flowers and vegetables.  There were lots of great water activities at the garden.
Katherine loved the giant Swiss Family Robinson style tree house in the Monster Garden.
I loved the giant Very Hungry Caterpillar sculpture.  It had doors in the back with compartments full of dress-up clothes and a cocoon sculputre with writing and drawing supplies inside.
Both girls adored the fountain.  The water flowed in a thin layer over the sculpture, but if you leaned on it frontwards and backwards it was possible to get totally drenched.  So they did!
We left through the rainbow tunnels, but we'll be back.
After all, we'll need to spend more time in the treehouse and hanging out with the Very Hungry Caterpillar.  And then there's the playhouse and the dinosaur sandbox.  We hardly touched the chimes and drums.  And we haven't yet explored the giant dragonfly or the painting center by the stream or...

Friday, August 12, 2011


Mom and I took the girls to the botanical gardens for our annual photo shoot yesterday.  As always, we got some great pictures.

Rachel wore her favorite dress.  She just loves it, and I can see why.
Although I get tired of the endless comments from well-meaning strangers, I have to admit that they are right.  She is so CUTE!
And Katherine is suddenly so grown up...
Whatever happened to my sweet little baby?
I still love seeing pictures of my girls together.  Just thinking that they are sisters makes me smile.
Even when they're goofy.
At the butterfly house, there was a monarch that had just hatched? out of her cocoon.  She was so tame that we could hold her in our hands.
Rachel was completely entranced.  She would have stayed there all day.  And so I.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hand Stories

Rachel has become aware of her hands this summer.  Obviously, she's known about them since infancy but now she understands that her hands aren't like everyone else's.  She has realized that she is different.
There have been lots of hand incidents over the summer, some good and some pretty bad.  In June, we were at Katherine's soccer practice and Rachel was playing with a little girl about her age.  They'd been running around for 15 minutes or more when the other child noticed Rae's hand.  "What happened?" she asked.  Rachel glanced at me and answered "I born that way."  The little girls shrugged and they skipped off to look for bugs.  I was startled at first, and then proud.  That was the first time I had heard Rachel explain her hand by herself.  I had spoken for her many times, but now she could handle it herself.  That was a good day.

A few weeks later, Rachel and I were sitting in a summer class.  The teacher was distracted and there were too many kids and not enough adults and even Rachel looked a little daunted by the crowd.  A 4 year old boy at our table suddenly shouted "Hey! She has a little hand!"  Rachel clung to my arm.  I stepped in and told the boy the usual yes-she-does-she-was-born-that-way story.  But he wouldn't let it drop.  The kid kept trying to grab Rachel's hand, stared at her, asked endless questions.  I noticed that Rachel was hiding her hand, pulling it behind her back or wrapping it up in her dress.  My heart sank.  Rachel looked up at me and her eyes were full of tears.  I turned to the kid, moved so my face was at his level and firmly told him that it was NOT nice to stare or touch people and that I did not want to hear him say anything else about Rachel's hand.  He shut up.  After class Rachel and I talked.  She thought "that boy" was mean.  I tried to explain that he was just curious, but he had bad manners and was really annoying.  That was not a good day.

At China Camp Rachel met a little boy with a hand very much like hers.  She was SO excited!  She ran up to him at the hotel pool, held out her hands, and shouted "You have hand like me!  Same!"  She talked about that boy for days, always with a tone of awe.  I realized that although I know there are lots of people with hand differences, she didn't know.  She just thought she was alone with her hand.  Meeting that other child made her understand that she's not the only one and that was a big deal to her.  She's hold up her hands and say "I have one big hand and one little hand.  Just like that boy."  That was a really good day.

We are so used to Rachel's hands that these little incidents are startling sometimes.  We just think of her as "normal".  I'll admit that I dread the questions from other kids.  Sometimes they are so hard to deal with.  And we're traveling without a map.  No one exactly explained this part of parenting.  And, hard as it is, I have to step aside and let Rachel learn to deal with all the questions and stares.  This is the reality of her life.  So we'll move along and try to find our footing and discover ways to deal with the hand issue.  Rachel reminds me often that she is brave.  And she is.  Way braver than I am.  Today we made  books about Rachel's hands for her to take to daycare and preschool.  She loves them.  Maybe they will help.

Last week we were on a playground when some kids came over.  One little girl noticed Rachel's hand.  Rachel just said "Yup.  I got one big hand and one little hand.  Let's swing!"  And they did.  That was a good day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Snow Cones

Katherine has been begging to go to the local snow cone/shaved ice place all summer, but it has been so hot that I've never had the enthusiasm to take her.  Tonight it was still 104 degrees at 6 PM, but cooler temperatures are forcasted for later this week.  So, in celebration of the possibility of cooler weather, we went out for some shaved ice.
I can't remember if Rachel had ever had snow cones or shaved ice, but she thought it was great.
Of course, we all had to taste each other's ice.
Rachel's Hello Kitty flavor (cotton candy and wedding cake syrups - chosen because it was pink) was so disgustingly sweet that even Katherine wanted only one bite.
Rachel, of course, didn't care.  And Hello Kitty made for a great overly pink tongue!

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way