Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Carly is 5.

Our girl turned five a few weeks ago.
She is a fun, smart, imaginative, emotional 5-year-old.

Carly is fun. She is a good player, if that is a thing. She likes to ride bikes while singing (loudly). She likes to adventure on our backyard terraces. She likes to listen to stories. She likes to tackle and giggle with daddy. She likes to be silly. It is my favorite whens she laughs so hard she throws her head back and snorts. Carly is smart. She is a realist and a thinker, almost to a fault. I was telling her about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and we watched the first cartoon episode from the 80s. She was asking so many questions. "When they turned into turtle-humans, did they already know how to talk or did they have to learn how to talk?" What?! I don't know! Chris's sister is expecting her first baby, and when she was visiting Carly asked, "Did you want a baby? Because babies are a lot of hard work, you know." (That is her mother coming out of her. haha). Carly is imaginative. She makes up a lot of games and scenarios as she plays with John and Quinn. It is amazing to watch her organize them and get them to play right along with her. She teaches them a lot through play. Often she'll come to me and spell out a complex imaginary situation and I can't even keep track. Carly is emotional. She has been easily upset and easily spooked lately. Her poor primary teachers were giving a lesson on obedience and told a story about kids playing with matches and Carly ended up in tears. We had to have a long talk about matches and fire. Similar things seem to be happening a lot. She has always been an emotional being, but the fear is a new one (we're familiar with impatience and hyperactivity!). I'm hoping it is a phase that passes quickly or it will be an interesting Halloween. 

As she always has been, Carly is a really amazing big sister. John and Quinn are becoming such kids, and it is so fun to watching them be friends and play so much together. They make each other laugh and make each other crazy. Carly has a real soft spot for Quinn. They are sweet sisters. She and John have amazingly similar personalities, and that is why there is a real love/hate relationship there; they play hard and fight hard. But Carly loves her babies, and they most certainly adore her.

Carly's birthday was 3 days after our arrival in Pullman. We pulled together a little party, and luckily her grandparents were on top of presents. She wanted a "Elsa-y and Wonder Woman-y" birthday cake. I came across a "blue velvet" cake at the store that I knew would be a hit, topped it with yellow and red candles and blue and gold sprinkles and somehow it fit the bill. The night before her birthday the house was filled with boxes. I decided to clear it out so we could have a nice day, and moved everything in to the spare bedroom. I was setting up her Elsa and Wonder Woman balloons when I realized a tragedy: the Birthday Clown was in a box, and I had no idea which one. I felt so sad, probably more sad than I should have. Chris helped me reason though which box it might be in. I took a guess . . . the first box I opened, and there he was. It was a birthday miracle! I'm so glad he didn't miss it. She woke up the morning of her birthday and saw everything set out and said "Thank you! It is just like I wanted!" She's easy to please.

We finally got around to the annual birthday interview the  other night. Carly at 5:

What is your favorite color? "Blue, purple, and silver."

What is your favorite toy? "Honey." (Her stuffed puppy from Grandma.)

What is your favorite fruit? "Strawberries."

What is your favorite show? Movie: "Frozen"  TV: "Jake and the Neverland Pirates"

What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? "Peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich."

Favorite outfit: "Blue dresses." (She has a collection.)

What is your favorite game? "UNO. And my Frozen game."

What is your favorite snack/treat? "Chocolate  . . . chocolate rice krispies with fudge inside!" (Girl after my own heart.) 

What is your favorite animal? "Baby seal."

What is your favorite song? "Let It Go." Church song? "The Golden Plates."

Who is your best friend? "Carlyn."

What is your favorite book? "My Wonder Woman book. And Frozen seek and find."

What is your favorite cereal? "Cinnamon Chex."

What is your favorite thing to do outside? "Color chalk and ride bikes."

What is your favorite drink? "Root beer!"

What is your favorite holiday? "Christmas because Jesus gets born." (Sweet girl.)

What do you like to sleep with? "Honey."

What is your favorite breakfast? "Cinnamon Chex." (Girl still loves Cinnamon Chex!)

What do you want to be when you grow up? "A scientist that discovers animals and finds real live cheetahs."

What is your favorite thing to do? "Get chocolate at the chocolate store."

What is your favorite time of year? "Summer because its my birthday."

Favorite part of the day: "School time."

If you could go anywhere in the world: "Carlyn's new house." (Her friend from Michigan who moved away too.)

If you had one wish: "Making snow and ice with Elsa!"

Favorite thing about being 4: "Playing with Carlyn in preschool and going home in her van."

Thing you are most looking forward to about being 5: "Going to school and meeting new friends."

Carly's first day of school. J and Q REALLY thought they were going to school too. They were so sad.

You heard the girl, she is excited to go to school and make new friends. So here's a story: We registered Carly for Kindergarten the last possible day before schools closed in Pullman. Having an August baby is the pits, as she seemed too old to wait, but too young to start. I felt like she was ready in so many ways, but the thought of how young she'd be, now and the rest of her life, was gnawing at me. I was asking everyone under the sun if they waited or went, and I came to a frustrating realization: it totally depends on the kid, and Carly would most likely do great whether I sent her or held her. How are you supposed to make a decision with information like that? I became increasingly unsettled as the summer passed by, and upon our arrival in Pullman I decided to explore our options. I went to tour a Montessori school and really loved it. The class is a mixed age class, from 3 to 6. They teach each child individually from where they are, rather that teaching the class as a whole, and the kids have the chance to teach younger kids and learn from older ones. This would cater to Carly, who excels is many areas but perhaps needed fine-tuning in others. Montessori also teaches a lot of real-life skills, and stresses interdisciplinary and self-guided learning. Don't get me wrong, I'm a public school girl, and Pullman has amazing public schools that Carly will begin attending next year. I just really liked the idea of Carly having this learning experience.

But there was one over-riding feeling, the feeling I couldn't let go of: she's only a kid once. Why send her off when I have the chance to hold on for another year? Kindergarten here is half-day, which is great, but then comes first grade. And it doesn't stop. I just wanted her home more. I wanted to have an extra year of her childhood. Its not because I didn't want her to grow up, but because I honestly feel the very best place she can be right now in her life is at home. We put Carly on the waiting list for the Montessori school. We were 10 days out from the first day of school, and she was fourth on the list. I had just about ruled out Kindergarten, so we started seriously discussing a schedule that would allow me to homeschool her a few hours a day. Thankfully, we found out she got a spot in the school on Thursday, met her teacher on Friday, and started school Monday. She goes half-day, 5 days a week. It was a whirlwind, but I'm grateful we are giving her an extra year. I'm not saying its the best choice for everyone, but I feel really at peace that it was the best choice for her.

So far she is doing great. Montessori has some quirky things about it that she has to get used to, but she has already met a list of girls around her age and is happy. Today I heard her singing a song of the days of the week while she played. Her first day of school was also Chris's first day as a professor. He was looking pretty gorgeous in his professor clothes. I'd take a class from him any day. After Carly's school we met Chris on campus and got Ferdinand's ice cream (from the WSU Dairy). They have a huckleberry ice cream that is to die for (and that is saying something, because chocolate runs in my veins). I think we might just make that a back-to-school tradition.

I love Carly. I mean, I just really love the heck out of her.
She is just a really great kid, and I'm so grateful to be her mom.
What a blessed 5 years it has been with her in our family.

She's our Carly, full of life with a heart of gold.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

we're here.

Oh, my, I don't even know where to begin. There are so many things I'll want to remember. The last few months have contained our last days in Lansing and our stay in Idaho that culminated in a weekend of white dresses and my baby brother taking a bride, as well as my baby turning 5 years old. But today, I'll start in the present.

Tonight I sit in Chris's office. It's a nice size, is all set up according to his preferences, AND it is above ground, so he has definitely moved up in the world. I sit here because though we've been in Pullman a whopping 10 days, our estimated internet installation date is September 3rd. Say what? We're working on talking them in to coming a wee bit sooner.

Long ago, but not so very long ago, the kids and I were partying in Idaho. Chris, his parents, and some friends readied the house, packed the truck, and Chris drove our car across the country all by himself. He met us in Idaho for the wedding, and a few days after that, we packed our party and headed to Pullman. 

Let us address Pullman, shall we? We came here in May on a house hunting extravaganza. Chris had told me it was small and hilly, but what he failed to mention was that it is SMALL AND HILLY. I almost cried when we arrived. And I almost cried when we arrived 10 days ago too. Because I knew it was the right place, it was just different. And small and hilly. But in the last few days, a peace has filled my heart. We have discovered parks and a swimming pool and shopping and Qdoba. Qdoba, people! I seriously had tears in my eyes. I swear God put that Qdoba in Moscow as my saving grace. So Pullman/Moscow and I are learning to get along. I think, after all, we'll be quite happy here.

 We arrived at our house the day before the truck and camped out in our basement. The truck arrived the next day, and so did the missionaries to carry the heavy stuff. John was so obsessed with the truck. I think he thought we got to keep it, because he was beyond comfort when it was empty and we closed it up. Since then we have been living in chaos, stuff strewn about and boxes half unpacked. Moving will make you crazy, filling boxes and then turning around and emptying them. Today to have a limited number of boxes remaining, but stuff all over because I started to just empty their contents on the floor, because HEY! at least I was getting rid of boxes, right? I'm hoping we'll be settled by Christmas.

We left our table so we've been keeping it classy around here. 
Our house. In the middle of our street. (Really). I love our house. In May we came house hunting. I had such a vision for what our house would be. The selection wasn't enormous, and I think we had like 6 houses we really wanted to look at. I wanted a newer house in a newer neighborhood. We looked at all my top choices and one after the other after the other I just wasn't feeling the love. Too small, too weird, too whatever. There was one  house I loved in pictures but we couldn't get in until day 2. This house was perfect, except it was way above our price range. I chat with our lender let us know that we could actually get a loan that big, but the thought was unsettling. Our realtor, knowing we had kids, said we really needed to see the backyard. So we took a peek: this backyard was about 6 feet of grass followed by a steep drop off that ended abruptly at a fence. Totally worthless, if not dangerous. I was crushed. So we saw the last house. And it was the one. The sellers were particularly motivated, as they had a job waiting for them, and we got a great deal and a situation that was in our favor. It was perfect.

Our house is a 1978 split level. It is updated enough to make it void of any seriously major projects, but just a "work in progress" enough to make it fun. There are three bedrooms and two and a half baths. There is a living room upstairs and a good sized basement. This second living space was a deal-breaker in all the new houses we saw that only had one. We'll be painting, updating fixtures, and eventually doing a new backsplash (the kitchen is pretty new, but the backsplash they chose is not my favorite, to say the least). The mint-pistachio green paint is my major complaint. I mean, it tortures me, really. It appears the previous owners had a real fondness for the shade because it covers the master bathroom (even the ceiling! Ahhhh!), and random areas in the kitchen. Chris took some shelves down in the kids room and THERE IT WAS. They had painted around the shelves, heaven help me. Then I was messing with the kids blinds (the whole house needs new blinds) and I realized they had painted the inside of the windowsill the same color. I screamed. Like, literally a scream of terror. But all our updates are easy and fun ones, and we are so excited to make the place our own. I was worried about having only three bedrooms, but we just decided to keep the three kids together. Honestly, I don't think we could have split them. They really are the three amigos, and within days of setting up their room Carly had made an "open" and "closed" sign for the "Kid's Club". And I knew they were happy to be together.

We're exploring our surroundings. We found a park in our neighborhood where the swings go really high. Quinn loves it: "Me high!!!" It is two streets over from our house but, I kid you not, you go down a hill, up, down, and up again. And not Michigan "hills", I mean REAL hardcore hills. I thought we'd take a little walk/bike ride over there but Carly couldn't even ride her bike and then I ended up putting it on the stroller and scaling those hills pushing about 100 lbs. It was insane. I think we'll get used to it . . . and just leave the bike at home.

 Last, but not least, our house has a yard. It was completely unexpected, but I find myself most in love and excited about the yard when it comes to home ownership. Our house sat empty for two and a half months, and the yard was already not really to our liking, so it needs a lot of work. But it is fun and we're in no particular hurry. The kids and I have spent mornings out digging up weeds and dead plants (though John pulled up one of our only surviving flowers as he mimicked mom's weed pulling -- he got the whole root though so you've got to give him credit). They will ride their bikes around the garage and driveway while I work. Tonight we didn't worry too much about our dinner and bedtime schedule. We worked outside as a family and it was chaotic but picturesque at the same time. 

I feel like we've been waiting a long time for this. Life is crazy and I'm stressed and impatient all too often, but sometimes I look out the window at my kids playing the the yard and can't believe we're here. Sometimes I walk into my kitchen and wonder who's house this is. Sometimes I pull into our driveway and an overwhelming rush of gratitude washes over me. 

I'm so happy we're here.