Saturday, August 31, 2013

Shoe News

Rachel has been trying to figure out how to tie a shoe for months.  Learning to tie your shoes is always complicated and frustrating and doing it one-handed has been especially so.  I looked up one-handed shoe tying videos on the internet and practiced and practiced so that I could help her.  Neither of us ever mastered it or even kind of made it work.  Then a friend sent me a video of an entirely new way to tie that was incredibly easy and did not use "bunny ears" or any other sort of loop.  Rachel figured out how to tie after only a few tries. I had long promised to buy her tie shoes once she could tie them herself.  It proved remarkably difficult to find them in her size and in our budget, but we finally did.  And what fabulous shoes they are! And Miss Rachel is one proud shoe tying kindergartener.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

1st Day

Today was the first day of school.  The girls were absolutely giddy with excitement!  This year is the first and only time both girls will go to the same school.  And both of them will be in the same building as me, which I love.  (The half hour drive to and from school with both of them in the car is not such an exciting thought.)

Katherine is in a very small class this year (10 kids) and is sitting next to her best buddy.  Every time I saw her today she had a huge grin on her face.  She came home talking about the cool science experiment on circuits that they'd done and was already worrying about the late policy on homework.  Nevermind that she has never, ever turned in a late assignment!  Katherine is finally back in school, her favorite place to be.

Rachel was both excited and anxious to start kindergarten today.  (I thought I might be a bit sad about that idea, but she was so happy to finally be big that I could only share in her delight.)  She is in a huge class - 26 kids!! The girls go to a small, rural school with one session of some grades and two sessions of others.  This year the administration did not guess well on which classes would need split! Rachel handled it all just fine.  She charmed the special reading teacher.  She took her lunch and ate in the cafeteria. (I saw her polish off her cucumbers and peppers before touching anything else - the only kid in the room to eat the veggies first!)  She went to PE.  She was thrilled to wave at me all 20 times that I saw her.  She came home very proud that she had followed all the rules and remained on the best color on the behavior chart.  She was also a bit annoyed that her teacher "didn't even notice my shirt and pants were pretty!"  She fell asleep about 3 minutes after her head hit the pillow tonight.

It was a good first day.  And tomorrow we get to do it all again!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Love Bug

Summer has meant lots and lots of time as a family.  Which has meant lots and lots of time holding Rachel.
Katherine was never a "huggy" kind of kid.  Even as a baby she was reserved and kept her distance.  That is okay.  She is who she is.  We just learned to relate to her intellectually, not physically.
But Rachel?  She's a hugger.  And a kisser.  And a lover. 
Her bubble of personal space is approximately 1/4 of an inch wide. She crawls up on my lap dozens of times a day...
for a hug,

or a kiss,
or a tickle,
or just to cuddle.
Rachel is the most affectionate child I have ever known.
And I love this.  From the day she arrived, Rachel has shown me parts of myself that I never knew I were missing.

But I know theses snuggle bunny days are numbered.
Some day she will get too big to fit on my lap.
Or she'll decide she's too old to cuddle.
So for now, I'll just treasure these moments.
And keep lovin' on my Rachel.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New Friends, Flowers, and Chinese Food

   We had a roller skating party yesterday with our Families with Children from China group.  Two other famillies came, neither of whom we had met before.  The kids had fun skating (or trying to skate) the dads helped, and the moms sat and chatted. Katherine has been skating several times before and can circle the rink without falling down.  She was not impressed with all the flashing lights, though.  Rachel on roller skates is pretty much a disaster in waiting.  Luckily, she was far more interested in shmoozing with new friends than in actually skating.
   The botanical gardens were having an Asian Festival last evening, so we headed there next.  There were all sorts of vendors set up, serving food and selling trinkets.  The girls and I tried something labeled "pudding".  It was a sort of custard with lychee and grapes on top.  I have no clue what was in it, but it was quite tasty!
The weather was beautiful (not 105 and not raining!) so we explored the gardens a bit.  Rachel the Butterfly Whisperer managed to entice a butterfly to sit on her finger in the butterfly house.  She would live in there if she could!
Milder temperatures and plenty of rain this summer means the gardens at Botanica are lush and gorgeous.  My favorites last night were these blue water lillies with striped leaves.
The girls were delighted when Gracie and Abby, their new friends from the skating party, showed up.  All four kids had fun climbing in the Children's Garden.
When Gracie and Abby (who are older than either of my girls) decided to climb a tall arch, Rachel insisted on climbing, too.  She talked Kate into giving her a boost.
She made it!
Do you think she's proud?  She's certainly a determined little daredevil!
We had eggrolls and rice for dinner and ate in the gardens, under Chinese lanterns.  What a fun day!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rae's Room

When it came time to paint bedrooms, Rachel wanted hers to be pink.  Of course!  I, however, couldn't stand the idea of an entire room covered in bubble gum pink.  So we compromised.  There is enough pink to please Rae and enough character to suit me.  Rachel's room can't help to make you happy!
I found the quilt on Rachel's bed two years ago.  Of course, we couldn't actually use it until we got her a full sized bed this spring...  In any case, I love the quilt.  It was the basis of the wall color scheme.
Rachel has loved seeing her name in print since she first learned to recognize letter R.  I knew I wanted to put her name on the wall some where in her room.  I found this name banner on etsy (what a wonderfull place to waste time online!).  The letters are made of quilting fabric that has been mounted on some sort of stiffening material.  Rachel loves it! So do I.
I found this tree on a sale table at a craft store around the time I bought Rachel's quilt.  It is made to use as a coat tree, but we're using it as wall sculpture.  I may add some birds or butterflies around it later.
My Mom made the curtains.  I wanted polka dot fabric, but suitable fabric was difficult to find.  Mom ended up buying another set of the polka dot sheets on Rae's bed and using that - much cheaper than quilt fabric and just as cute!
Rachel is so proud of her big bed.  She insists on showing it to anyone who visits the house.  Despite that, many nights she ends up sleeping on the floor!  Her favorite sleeping spot is this narrow area between the bed and the wall.  It's also where she stashes her blankie assortment and random stuffed animals when I tell her to clean her room.
The chest of drawers tends to collect odds and ends.  A preschool plaque, a Chinese umbrella, a fabulous castle craft from Princess Class, and the ever present hair bows.
There is even a little room for playing.  Most of the toys moved to the basement when Rachel got her new bed.  But the important stuff, Barbies and princesses, stayed!
Rachel had to make do with a rather plain, hand-me-down nursery for nearly four years but now she has a fabulous girly space all her own.  Miss Sunshine loves her room and so do I!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Turquoise Refuge

Just over a year ago we had some insulation work done on our walls and had to repaint many rooms.  We promised the girls they could re-do their rooms and we let Katherine choose the paint color.  She picked turquoise, her favorite color.  We shopped for bedding and found something she liked, although I was surprised by how modern and grown up it looked.  We painted, moved her bed, and put on the new bedding.  And then stopped.  We never got around to putting things back on her walls, finding curtains, or anything else to finish the room.  For a year. [Decorating is not one of my greater skills...] At the beginning of this summer we made it a goal to actually finish the bedrooms.  Last week we finally got around to it.  So, here is Katherine's room.  I'll admit, I had my doubts about a very turquoise room, but it turns out that I love it.  So does Kate.
Katherine's old room had red magnetic strips mounted on the wall so she could hang up art projects and cards and odd little momentos.  She really wanted to keep these, so Steve repainted them and put them back up.
I had seen paper lanterns used as room decorations and liked the idea, but Katherine was unsure.  Once we put them up, though, she decided they were great.
I spent a lot of time on the internet looking for something to hang on the wall that would tie together the turquoise and lime green color scheme.  I found some interesting print sets, but didn't want to pay $45 dollars for them, unframed.  So I went to the craft store and made my own, with scrapbook paper and sale table frames.  I love these!
Kate's old dresser had ladybug drawer pulls on the top drawers.  She insisted that those had to go! (So sad...) We looked for new drawers pulls for months and couldn't find just the right ones.  Katherine and I were walking through a craft store this spring when she pointed and said, "There they are! That's what I want!"  And she was right.
Katherine's room is small, with a lot of furniture, but it has a lot of storage space.  That's a good thing, because this girl loves to collect stuff!
There are lots of shelves to store her favorites, like legos and books.
We even used the space behind the door to store bags and some of our hair bow collection.  Yes, I am aware that we have entirely too many hair accessories!  But don't they look cool arranged in rainbow order?
Over the past year, Katherine has begun spending long periods of time in her room.  She reads.  She weaves.  She draws.  She writes stories.  She invites Rachel in to play and then gets mad and kicks her out.  She daydreams.  She reads some more.  The turquoise room suits her.  It has become her refuge.  And it looks pretty cool, too.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sunflower Love

We planted an assortment of sunflowers in our vegetable garden this year.  They have grown in Jack and the Beanstalk fashion and are now 10 foot high with leaves as big as my head!
We have a variety of colors.  There's the usual golden...
...and some pale, lemony yellow
...and even these dark, rusty red ones.
But I think my very favorites are these, that are a sort of combination of them all.
There is just something happy about a sunflower!
I love watching new blooms appear.
Well, hello there!
And then there is that marvelous evening light...
That's enough for now.  I need to go admire my sunflowers.

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