Halloween to Thanksgiving 2018

Halloween to Thanksgiving are always such a frantic rush of activities. I mostly love this, but it can be hard to take a breath. Pumpkins, festivals, and parties to the end.

Halloween was great fun. For the first time ever, Zac did not trick-or-treat with the rest of us, but since he was with our dear friends, I thought that was the next best thing. It was so fun to see him with his lifelong friends dressed up as the Scooby Doo gang.

Drew was Scarlet Spider (Spider-Man’s clone), Hannah was an astronaut (thank you Space Camp), Kai was a Dragon, and Kaitlyn dressed up as her dad (I don’t think there could be a higher compliment than your child wanting to dress up like you for Halloween. It was amazingly cute, and I had just the smallest twinge of jealousy. Dads get all the glory).

I have to hand it to her, she had it down. Black t-shirt, Dragon Army hat and name tag, iPad, black watch, and even a wedding ring. Love it!

At any rate, it was a fantastic night of candy, family, and friends and a good time was had by all.

This was quickly followed by going with the girls to Girl Scout Camp. I was a girl scout growing up, but this is actually the first year that my girls have been scouts. I have been SO happy to be back in the scouting world and quickly raised my hand to be a camp chaperone. I’m so glad that I did.

First of all, the cabins we stayed in and the dining hall that we got to eat in were drastically different (ahem, better) than the tents and fire-cooked meals that I remember from camping growing up. It was also just great, positive, fun. Singing, dancing, crafts, skits, and laughter. These girls offered me a lot of hope for the future. They were so thoughtful and kind to each other, and every time I started to intervene in a conversation or event, another girl would step up and say whatever I had felt like I needed to say. They held each other accountable for being kind and thoughtful friends, and I loved every minute.

I had only two days to recover from that before we left to take Drew on his Harry Potter trip. Just as we took Zac by himself when he finished reading the series, we took Drew after he finished reading the books a couple of weeks ago.

One on one time with any of the kids is always a treasure, and this was no exception. We had an absolutely fantastic time enjoying all things Harry Potter with a few Spider-Man rides in between. Highlight of my trip was riding the Hippogriff roller coaster with Drew, 17 times!! We laughed and we laughed as we rode over and over and over again.

Going to the Blue Man Group was Drew’s favorite part of the trip. And maybe the 10 butterbeers he consumed over the few days…

This was quickly followed by both boy’s birthdays. They were well celebrated, and I can’t believe that they are now 14 and 12, which is just parallel universe kind of crazy.

That led us right into 5 days at the mountains to celebrate Thanksgiving.

We had 23 of our favorite people there to celebrate. We ate, we laughed, we told stories, and played some “Heads Up”.

As always, we were acutely aware of how much we have to be thankful for!

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The “Lockdown Drill”

I suppose I was in a lucky generation. At school we had tornado drills and fire drills, but I missed the “duck and cover” drills that my parents had to do at school, and I missed the “lockdown drills” that my children currently have to do.

I was free to have nightmares about my house burning down without any added baggage of larger terrors in the world.

Like most parents, I have a lot of feelings about this practice. On one hand, I understand the requirement living in our present day and age. On the other hand, I wonder if it actually provides any more usefulness in an emergency than the “duck and cover” drills would have provided if the actuality of a nuclear bomb had occurred. There are so many different variables, so many “what if’s”, that this drill might not end up being much help if the unthinkable did occur.

This year, I was very worried about my new kindergartener who already has trouble going to school. I was afraid that he would just find a new (huge) reason not to want to get out of the car in the morning. Frankly these drills also have a bit of that effect on me. Luckily he was blessed with a loving and understanding teacher, who presented the situation beautifully. He came home telling me that they practiced what they would do if there was ever a “tornado of butterflies” coming through the hallway. As he laughed, he told me that they would do the same thing if some baby tigers got loose in the school. He found the whole experience quite fun, and I was relieved, even as I was sad knowing that this innocence will be temporary.

My third grader, however, had a different experience. She didn’t realize it was a drill. I feel sure that her teachers did emphasize that it was a drill, but she doesn’t always process important details, and apparently this was one of them. So she was terrified. She told me that she was saying, “I’m too young to die”. She said she felt so scared that she was frozen. She didn’t realize it was a drill until it was all over. She then told me that she knew that if she was in the bathroom when this happened that she was supposed to lock the stall and stand on the toilet, and then said there was a chance that she would have to jump out of a window and asked if I be mad if she had to do that.

There are a million occasions as a mom that I have dreamed of putting my kids in a safe bubble and never letting them out, but this conversation made me seriously consider the practicality of going through with it.

For several days after school, they have wanted to play “lockdown drill.” They take turns being the teacher and reporting the threat level. Then they quickly close the blinds and gather up together quietly in the corner. I’m trained in play therapy, so I understand the use of play in children as they try to make sense of big things in the world, so I let it play out without interfering, but it hurt my heart. It hurts my heart to watch them go through it again and again and to have to know that this is part of their formative childhood experience.

This is not the reality that I want my children growing up in.

Being a parent is so hard. It is hard in a million different ways. But for me, I think that the growing understanding that I have to continue letting go in thousands of ways as they grow has got to be the hardest so far. The growing understanding that I have to send parts of my heart, parts that feel as much a physical part of me as my arms and legs, out into this terrifying world shatters me.

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Space Camp

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to fulfill one of my own unfulfilled childhood dreams, I got to go to SPACE CAMP!!! I have wanted to do this since I was 11 years old, and I was beyond excited when I found a flyer advertising for family weekends at Space Camp and realized that my dream could actually still come true.

This particular weekend had an American Girl theme, so we made it an all girls’ weekend.

This experience absolutely met and exceeded my expectations. The entire weekend was thoughtfully planned with interesting and exhilarating activities, and it was so much fun sharing it with my girls (and their dolls 🙂 ).

We got to hear from a real astronaut who told us his first hand account of the hard work and many years that it took to become an astronaut and then his experiences in space.

We got to participate in two space missions. The simulators for these missions are amazing, and went through a realistic feeling take off, space mission, and landing. We all had different roles, both on the shuttle and in mission control.


The girls even had the important role of repairing tiles that had been damaged during our take off.

I think they enjoyed it. 🙂

We got to do the Multi-Axis Trainer, and the 1/6 Gravity Chair. So fun! And interesting fact- although it looks like you would get incredibly dizzy in the Multi-Axis trainer, it is designed in a way where your center of gravity and the fluids in your ears remain stable, which means you do not feel dizzy or sick to your stomach at all!

We launched rockets that we built, and dabbled in robotics.

We had a great time exploring the museums.

Learning about the Space Station.

Practiced hitting the “target” in the smaller sized space shuttle toilet.

And even got to ride some outside rides just for fun.

We had the option of staying in a hotel, but decided to get the full experience, and we stayed at Space Camp.

We certainly weren’t roughing it, but they weren’t exactly luxury accommodations either, lol!

At the end we had a full graduation ceremony, complete with diploma and certificate to earn a Girl Scout Badge.

None of us wanted to go home! We could have stayed another few days for sure. 🙂

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First Day 2018

Back to life. Back to reality.

It is hard enough coming back to the real world after the most amazing July in Scotland, but to have to come back and jump right into school is just mean.

As usual, the kids are handling the shift back much better than I am, although I think every one of us has said, “I wish we could just go back to Edinburgh” at least once in the last few days.

So now I have an 8th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, 3rd grader, and kindergartener. We decided on two years of kindergarten for Kai. He has been through so much physically and emotionally in his six years, it just seemed like a good time to let him be little a bit longer.

So it is the first year for Kai to be in real school. He is there all day, doing Mandarin emersion like Hannah. He seems happy after school each day, but it is proving to be a difficult adjustment. He has been crying on his way to school and today he began screaming and tried to hold onto the car instead of getting out at carpool.

Shortly before he seemed happy to go to school and I was feeling so relieved. Then he confided in me his plan to pay the police officer at his school with his $1 so that he wouldn’t have to go to school any more. He figured that since it was against the law to not go to school he would be able to get around it by PAYING OFF THE POLICE! Yikes! Now I’m thinking he maybe needed to skip a grade instead of repeating kindergarten…

Hopefully the pain of the adjustment will be short lived and he will find himself happy again soon. My momma heart needs that to happen!

How many days until next summer????

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Journey Home

Looks like Paris was just a warm up for the comedy of errors that occurred on our trip home. Let’s just say we had hours and hours and hours of this in several different cities.

The trip that should have taken us half a day, getting us home at a regular US bedtime, ended up taking a full 24 hours and we got home at 4 in the morning. I want to say that I am so happy to be home. I’m DEFINITELY happy that we are not on an airplane or in an airport right now, but mostly I just wish I could go back!

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