Thursday, October 04, 2012

Today was the day - Kindergarten honeymoon is over

Only two weeks into school and we had our first illness. Jackson woke up with a fever on Monday so he stayed home Monday Tuesday and Wednesday.  I figured Madison had whatever bug he had even though she wasn't fighting it off yet so I didn't want to send her to school and spread whatever it was.  She ended up getting the fever on Tuesday but she went to school on Wednesday and Jackson was still sick.  We were thinking that Jackson really should go on Wednesday because he seemed to not have a fever anymore but he had a huge meltdown and we figured it was because he was still not feeling well. So now this morning Thursday morning I was getting them ready to go and Jackson was on board he knew he had to go to school but he was giving me a hard time about getting dressed and talking about how he didn't want to go.  They both talked about how they missed their old school and how they really liked going there because they got to see Nana.  The only way I got Jackson out of the house was giving him the impression that he wasn't going to go to school that we were just going to bring Maddie.  When I brought them up to the door Madison went right in the Jackson hid behind me because he didn't want the teacher to see him.  I let her know he was having a really hard time coming to school and that he didn't want to be there so she came and talk to him and tried to get him excited and talked about that it was Joey's birthday and they had cookies.  He seemed interested but he was more interested in going home with me.  She asked if I wanted to come in with him so I did and he just clung to me he wouldn't let go.  I stayed in the room for a little while.  Madison was just sitting drawing a picture of her and grandma while this is all going on.  The teacher suggested we get the guidance counselor to come and help because I wasn't sure if I should just leave or try to make it easy on him (somehow).  Once she arrived she tried talking to him and he wanted nothing to do with her.  He was hysterically crying and clinging to me for dear life saying "I want to stay with you mama!  Don't leave!!".  I burst into tears and hugged him so tight and told him I loved him.  I literally had to peel him off of me down to his little tiny fingers clinging onto my sweater.  I turned and walked out of the room sobbing and out of the building.
I cried all the way to my car.  I just feel so sad that he has to feel like this.  It breaks my heart.

I wasn't home for 10 minutes when the school called to tell me that he stopped crying immediately after I left and was happy and engaged.

I just got back from picking them up and Jackson was fine but he just said to me again "I just wanted to stay with you".  Hopefully he got it out of his system and doesn't do the same thing tomorrow!!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

First solid week of Kindergarten

Over all school is going well.  From what I can tell they are very happy and when it all boils down that's all that I care about.  For me I still have a pit in my stomach about it all.  We have 7 days under our belt now.  M&J are both very excited for all the new experiences.  Computer class was a huge hit with Madison.  She also loves art class and they both loved music class.  When we went for our orientation last spring the music teacher (guy with big fuzzy beard), was not someone they were excited to meet.  That all changed at the first class.  "He's SO silly!  He even forgot his own name!  How funny is that?"  They even had "healthy" class!  There is a boy in their class who is on their soccer team and he and Jackson seemed to become friends on the first day.  He talks about him a lot.  Yesterday we saw a boy at gymnastics who is in their class too.  He has cried at drop off every day this week :-(  He did better today but when I saw him start to well up I said "Hey!  Give me five!"  He did and I made a big deal like it hurt which made him laugh :-)  Luckily there have been no tears at all (at school...more on that later) for Madison and Jackson.  They have told me about their behavior chart.  There is purple, blue, green, orange, and red.  They all started on green and M&J have remained there (since writing this they were both moved to orange!!  I can't get a straight story out of them why).  Three kids have moved up to blue (not really sure what you need to do to move up) and one kid had moved to orange and now is on red.  I've heard a lot about this boy all week.  He is ALWAYS being spoken to and disrupting class.

Every day they get ready and go to school willingly.  I suspect this will change for Jackson within the next week.  I think when the honeymoon phase is over he will start to protest.


Monday

This was my first day all on my own so I had a lot of hopes for the day.  After dropping them off I went right home.  We are having construction done on our house so I had to chat with some people about that then I went for a 2.5 mile "run" (intervals).  I haven't run in almost a year due to a horrible pain in my legs but this was a very serious goal of mine for back to school.  As I stated over a year ago when I committed to running, I NEED to lose weight!!!  So the run/walk was rough at first but it got better.  After that I took a shower, went to the bank, the grocery store, walgreens, target, came home to put dinner in the crock pot, and even did a bit of editing.

So after school Monday they were clearly tired and whiney but it was gymnastics day so we took the 40 minute drive (only two towns away literally on the same street we live on) to the gym.  Last Wednesday was the start of their new session in which we made a pretty major change for Jackson.  I was faced with the decision of going to the gym 4 days a week so they could both be on pre-team (I'm just learning all the lingo here...they were both in "hot shots" all summer two days a week at the same time but different coaches).  Both of their coaches said that this fall they could move up to pre-team and if it didn't work out they could go back to hot shots.  The problem is that boys pre-team practices 2 hours on M W and girls pre-team practices on T TH for 2.5 hours.  I knew immediately I was NOT going to drive there FOUR days a week and have one of them with me every day, so I had to make a decision.  I decided to put Jackson with the pre-team and Madison with hot shots that practices at the same time as boys pre-team.  So Monday was his second day with his new coach (who he has interacted with for almost a year now) and practicing with the older boys.  1 hour and 15 minutes into the class Jackson taps me on the back.  I turn around to the saddest, biggest, doe eyes filled with tears he was trying so hard to hold back.  I scooped him up and he just let it all out.  I asked him what happened and he said, "nothing...I just miss you".  I started to tear up myself.  He said, "I can't stop thinking of you".  I took him into a quiet room and just held him and let him cry.  The poor kid...*I'm* feeling overwhelmed by all of this so I can only imagine how he feels.  He ended up confessing that there was a boy in class that always stares at him and it "creeps" him out.  Madison finished her class after that so we all just left.  I found out when we got home that Jackson told the coach that he was going to the bathroom so then I got to thinking that the coach must have wondered where he went??  Right??  I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe he saw Jackson with me up on the balcony.  I called the gym that night to let them know about the boy in class.  The plan was to find out who he was on Wednesday and we would ensure Jackson that it was taken care of so he could go back to class (he said he never wanted to go back again... he just wanted coach B his old coach).



Tuesday
 Tuesday morning I had a newborn session and on my back home I called my mother to see if she wanted to go to lunch!  We were so excited!  She said "I've been waiting 5 years for this!!!"  It was funny.  We went to Victoria Station in Salem and sat on the patio overlooking the water.  We took our time even perusing some shops after.  Rather than having her drop me off at home to get my car to go back out and pick up M&J I had her drop me off at the school and I would walk them home.  They wanted to play on the playground so they did that for a good 45 minutes before making our way through what I thought would be a shortcut.  We live just over a mile away by driving on the roads but if you look at a map there is a way to walk a more direct route through fields/yards.  I figured we'd wing it and see what happened.  We had a nice leisurely walk but unfortunately couldn't cut through an area I was hoping we could.  That ended up adding a bit to our walk which they were already complaining about.  We stopped to sit twice which was a really nice time to chat about school.  We made our way back to our street which is where the traffic gets bad.  There is one major intersection we need to diagonally cross and at that time of day it's incredibly busy.  I wasn't comfortable crossing it WITH them let alone EVER letting them walk to school alone.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning I had a meeting with a local daycare regarding doing school pictures for them.  It went well and we even scheduled the date for next week!  I've been looking for an opportunity like this for a while so I'm very excited to offer parents a better option for school pictures.  After that I came home and worked on the documents for the parents and did some more editing.

Wednesday after school we made the trip to gymnastics and Jackson pointed out the boy who was staring at him.  He REFUSED to go into class.  He just clung to me.  The place is an absolute zoo at 3:30 so I couldn't find anyone to help me!  After wandering around for a bit I finally saw his new coach so I went out in the gym and told him we had a situation.  Turns out he had no idea Jackson left class on Monday.  Oh.  I had to let that one go at the moment.  We told him the problem and he called the kid over.  I took this opportunity to walk out of the gym so the only thing I heard was the other kid say was, (in response to "why are you staring at him?")"I only did it because he kept hurting me".  I'm so annoyed with trying to get straight answers out of kids.  All this time I'm thinking Jackson is innocent and feeling so bad for him and now it turns out he's been hurting another kid??  I don't even know what to believe.  Jackson managed to stay in class but about 45 minutes later he came up to the balcony again.  I brought him back down and tried to get him back in but he refused to go.  At that point I made the decision to swap days so that Jackson could go back with coach B for hot shots and Madison will go to pre team.  Luckily Madison won't be switching coaches so there shouldn't be any difference for her.
Thursday

While they were in school on Thursday I did more editing at home but then I needed to go out to buy some frames and pick up prints at Costco.  I contribute these frames to a welcome basket for new home buyers in Lynnfield.  The frame has an advertisement in it but obviously they can use the frame for whatever they want.  I ended up getting to school a little early to get a close spot and opened and cleaned frames while I was in the car.  That day we went right home and relaxed.



Friday

Friday morning the kids were more relaxed and were all playing and chasing each other before it was time to go in.  When I went back to my car there was a psycho mom screaming at people for parking in a small lot that is for an apartment building.  I was pulling THROUGH the lot (not parked there) and she stopped her car in front of mine so I couldn't get out and screamed at me out her window, "YOU CAN'T PAHK HEEAH!!!"  I stupidly attempted to tell her I wasn't PARKED there but was just pulling through but there was no way I was going to reason with this woman.  After I dropped them off I went to Lynnfield to drop off the frames then went to Courtney's house to go to the beach with her and my niece and nephew to do some photos of them.  After that I went to to lunch with a new friend from gymnastics.  We both have boy/girl twins who were conceived about a month apart at the same fertility center!  We both are convinced we must have seen each other there at some point since we were there so much!
I walked around the mall for a bit after lunch then went right to pick them up.  We stayed at school again to play at the playground.  After running around a bit with a boy from their class who happened to stay Madison came up to me and said, "You know the girl that has the same backpack as me?  I wish she was here to play with".  It cracks me up that she still doesn't know her name.

I would say I have two stand out issues with this whole new experience.  One is the parking/drop off situation which I've been told is only worse in the winter.  Awesome.  The streets around the school are tiny and with all the people dropping off you have to park a ways away unless you get there really early to get a close spot.  For Madison and Jackson to take the bus (which I'm not sure I would want them doing here anyway) we would need to pay $600 so I guess I will just need to suck it up.
The other thing is me not knowing/not getting straight stories of what happens in school.  I am NOT a control freak but I really don't like them having all this time away from me where I can't know it all in detail.

I've been writing this post for four days now so I'm going to call it a wrap!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Kindergarten

I figured everyone deserved an update to know that I'm not still rocking in a corner by myself.  We all survived the first day and even better than I could have imagined.  I didn't cry ONCE!
It really was all so hectic.  We parked the car and walked the kids up to the door that their classroom enters through.  There was one other class at that door too so there were 50 littles and at least 50 parents although most had two grownups with them.  It was hot and muggy!  Jackson said quite a few times through the morning, "I wanna stay home with you mama." and of course I feel guilty for telling them that I would miss them because now I don't know if he just doesn't want me to be sad.  We got there 10 minutes early and they didn't go in the doors until 10 minutes late so there was a lot of time to whine about how heavy their backpacks were.  While they were in line their teacher came out and said hi to all the kids individually.  When I stepped back to take a picture of Madison with her Jackson stuck like glue to me.  Once the line went in he followed right in.  I was able to sneak a picture of them all on the floor once they were in their classroom.
Chris and I walked back to the car and went to breakfast.  After that I had a meeting with a bride and after I got home I actually took a nap!  Then Chris and I had to get ready to go to a wedding.  We had to be ready to go when we went to pick them up because we needed to leave for the wedding right after we got them.  My mom came up and picked them up with us so we were able to leave as soon as we got home.  The quick conversation we had with them was that they both loved it.  I asked Jackson if he still would have rather stayed home with me and he said "yes."  AWWW!












Friday, September 07, 2012

On the Eve of Kindergarten

These are the moments that are surreal.  Kindergarten has come out of nowhere and slapped me in the face.  I've really been feeling like I want to write about all of the things that are going on in my head regarding this day.  It's hard because I feel very guarded here since so many people I know read this.  I don't want to come off as a "drama queen" and yet I don't feel like I could even do justice to how I'm feeling because of my lack of writing skills.  So I feel pressure to write something really moving but even if I come up with it my family (and by family I mostly mean my husband) will just roll their eyes at me for being so dramatic.

I also feel like I owe it to Madison and Jackson to document how I feel.  I have no idea how my parents felt about anything except for my high school graduation and dropping me off at college for the first time when my mother and I cried our eyes out.  This is a major transition in our lives and they deserve to know how I feel about it.

Anyway, I'm a wreck.  I can't remember if I posted about their last day at pre-school in June but I was a sobbing mess picking them up that day.  I adored that school and their friends, and their teachers will never be topped.  Ever.  Seriously.  They were over the top phenomenal.

I think there may have even been a time maybe a year ago or so that I thought I might not even be emotional over them going to kindergarten.  I would think of all the crying mothers dropping off their kids and sincerely didn't think I would react that way.  After the last day of pre-school I knew I was completely wrong.

Shortly after pre-school ended we went for an orientation at their new elementary school.  The four of us went.  As we sat in the cafeteria listening to the principle chat with us all and telling us what we could expect I found myself welling up.  I was completely caught off guard.  I was CRYING.  Not on purpose.  Not to get attention.  I was just overcome with realization that this would be the school that they could potentially spend the next 6 years of their lives.  This was a special place and it was very overwhelming for me.  I could see the little cafeteria line inside the door to the kitchen which of course brought back memories of my elementary school.

After that I focused on soaking up every minute I had left with them as my constant companions. Of course I had my moments over the past 5 years when I seriously needed a break from them.  There were times this summer when I seriously needed a break from them but the thought of them not being with me all day every day from now on is so traumatic and depressing for me.  I tried so hard to have them, I put my foot down about staying home with them even though it wasn't always financially comfortable, I spent so much time making memories with them.  They mean the world to me and they know it.  To go through that much effort over the last NINE years and to have it all taken away tomorrow (OK, that may be a tad dramatic right there but it's how I feel, damn it!) is devastating for me.

Yesterday I took them to their school for their screening which will determine which students are in what class.  When we arrived in the room it was a little hectic with all the teachers and students and parents there.  We were greeted by a teacher who after pulling their files and going through the whole "you must be twins" thing, confidently stuck her hand out to Jackson to shake his hand and said "You must be Madison!"  Laughter ensued.  It was awesome.  Another teacher came and took them into the next classroom where the testing was being done and another teacher brought me to a table where I had to fill out two sets of paperwork.  After I was done I had nothing to do but observe the room and by then Madison was already out at a table decorating a star that was to be hung on the wall.  Once again the tears were streaming down my face.  I had to get up to get a tissue.  I was at least glad to see I wasn't the only one.  I even saw a dad wipe away a few tears!!  Eventually Jackson came out to decorate his star and the two of them sat at a table with some of their potential friends.  They were all very quiet.  I ended up chatting with the teacher that took Madison and she had glowing things to say about her.  She's so eager to follow direction, very articulate, and drew the best person she's ever seen at any kindergarten screening!  I didn't talk to the teacher that took Jackson so I didn't get any inside information on him.

On the way home I somehow made reference to the fact that I was sad about them starting school.  I'm always so worried about what is too much to tell them and with this I don't want to put any negative ideas of school in their heads.  I made a snap decision that telling them how much they mean to me far outweighed giving them a reason to not want to go to school.  I told them I loved them so much and I loved spending time with them and that it made me very sad that I wouldn't get to see them all day every day.  I cried.  In front of them.

Since screening we've done a lot of talking about school and turns out Madison is VERY excited.  She is very vocal about wanting to go back and learn everything she can.  She loved the classroom.  Jackson on the other hand said "I don't want to go.  I want to stay home with Mama!"  Uh-Oh.  After explaining that he was going to bring his lunch box he was on board.

So tonight I spent hand-writing a list of 100 books that they/we have read (2x50), writing their names on their towels for rest time, their lunch boxes, their back packs, their pencil cases, their composition notebooks, their folders, as well as packing my first ever school lunch.  (whole milk vanilla yogurt, peanuts, and snapea crisps for Jackson and whole milk vanilla yogurt, raspberries, blueberries, and peanuts for Madison and water in their water bottles)  They had a bath before bed and after I put Madison's hair in curlers for her to sleep on.  I bought her new bows.  I haven't picked out their outfits yet which is the one thing I envisioned doing way ahead of time.  I don't even have any thoughts now.  I'll have to wing it in the morning.

Chris is on vacation this week so he will be with us for the big day/drop off and he sure as hell better muster up every ounce of patience he has for my picture taking because there will be lots!  Hopefully we will get some breakfast after?  Then I have a meeting with a wedding client so I'm really hoping that will distract me from wanting to curl up in a ball and cry.  Wish me luck!


Like it was yesterday...


Thursday, August 23, 2012

I hate it when the kids get hurt!

I wrote about what happened to Madison tonight on facebook but wanted to share more of my feelings and how it all went down here so I'll start again.

At the gym the kids go to there is an upstairs balcony that looks down over the whole gym.  I always sit up there and watch them/work/chat with other moms.  Every time they have class they have to go to the bathroom in the middle of it.  There is a single bathroom inside the gym that we all can see but there is a larger bathroom that has a couple of stalls in it in a back hallway.  I don't know why but they always seem to leave the gym and go to the one in the back hallway.  So today I saw Madison leave the gym so I was keeping an eye to see if she came back.  It had been too long so I went downstairs and leisurely looked around for her.  There were a couple of coaches behind the desk and a bunch of parents watching kids from that room (directly below where the balcony is).  As I'm standing there looking out in the gym to see if she made it back out there while I was making my way down the stairs I hear screaming.  I hear it again and this time I realize it's really really bad.  I realize it's coming from the back hallway and then recognize Madison's blood curdling scream.  I said out loud in a panic "What is that?" as I ran past parents who could clearly hear the screaming yet just stood there.  I have to admit I 100% expected to find Madison in the bathroom with her leotard stuck and just screaming because she needed help (which would have been sad enough).  I burst through the heavy door to find her behind it holding out her hand to me.  As I looked down I seriously almost passed out at the sight of  the tip of her thumb as flat as it could be and white.  I was desperately trying to get her to tell me what happened but all I could get was that it was stuck in the door some how.  I whisked her up and out of the bathroom (where still no one had followed me to see what was going on), back past the parents who asked if she was ok.  I said "she crushed her thumb".  I went back around the front of the desk with a screaming child and no one that was behind the desk even looked at us!  I went around another corner to go to an office where I know someone usually is but saw it was closed up so I came back to the desk and finally had to say the words, and not in a nice way "I NEED HELP!"  That finally got peoples' attention.  One of the moms came right over and started talking to Madison.  She had me put her up on the counter and she took over.  I was nauseous and weak and since someone else was taking control of the situation (and doing a great job) I just had my arms around her with my face buried in her chest.  The lady was so good with her...telling her she was so brave (ugh, makes me cry just to write it), asking her to move it, etc.  Jackson's coach was with us too.  I think he had been off getting ice for her. Then I remember Jackson coming over to me and saying "Mommy, can I have a cupcake?"  I said, definitely no and he actually whined for it.  He's lucky I didn't go off on him.
Madison eventually stopped crying and I brought her down to a table with me where I sat in a chair with her wrapped around me just hugging her.  I was really trying to hold back the tears.  Jackson's coach sat down with us and as he put a bandaid on Madison's thumb told me a story about how when he was a toddler his mother  left him in his crib to go to sleep.  She was making him cry it out but it was taking too long so she went in to find him dangling on the outside of the crib because his arm was stuck!  He was trying to make my mommy guilt feel better.
I felt so horrible that I hadn't gone down sooner.  I still don't know how long she was stuck there unable to move.  Ugh, the things my nightmares are made of...
Eventually I brought her back to the bathroom to see if I could get a better understanding of how she got stuck.  She walked me through it all...She was in a stall.  When she was done she needed to pull up her leotard but didn't have room in the stall so she went out in the main part of the bathroom.  The big heavy door to the bathroom was propped all the way open with a door stopper.  Since it was open she wanted to not be visible to the hallway so she went BEHIND the door.  While she was in there she was leaning on the moulding of the door with her thumb in the small opening at the hinge of the door.  She inadvertently kicked the door stopper out and the door shut crushing her poor, teeny, adorable thumb.
When we went back out to gather our things a lady said "I hope she feels better!"  I realized it was the lady who had been helping us.  I said "Were YOU the one helping us?  I had no idea who it was! Thank you so much!"  She said "I know what it's like, you're knees turn to jello!"  I thanked her again and we all left.

I really hadn't looked at it and figured I should take a peek before she went to bed.  It certainly wasn't flat anymore!  It didn't look too bad but when I compared it to her other thumb you could really see the difference.  I gave her some tylenol before she went to bed so hopefully the swelling will go down.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cape Cod August 2012

I'm just going to post about my most recent adventure with the kids and maybe work my way back since I'm so far behind!

This week I had a photo session scheduled in Falmouth.  Since Nana Fitzy lives in Falmouth I asked Nana if she would come down for a few days with the kids and me for a little vacation.  Might as well stay a while if I'm going to drive all that way for a session!  The session was on Friday so we left Tuesday after gymnastics.

That night we had dinner at home with Nana Fitzy, the kids went to bed and we watched the Olympics.  When I went up to bed this is how I found them on the cot.

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The next day we packed up and went to the beach with Nana.  This is the first beach M&J ever went to.
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On Thursday I suggested going to Martha's Vineyard (I can't believe it was two years ago I went with them!) so Nana came with us.  We had lunch at the Black dog.
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We decided to hop on a public transportation bus to Edgartown.  They were handing out shark hats in celebration of shark week in honor of the movie Jaws being filmed there.
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Main Street Edgartown
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We ate ice cream with a view of Chappaquiddick Island.
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The harbormaster gave us some bread to feed the ducks.  That was fun.  We ducked in and out of a few shops then got back on a bus to Vineyard Haven to take the boat back to Falmouth.

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Waiting for the boat
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We were all pretty beat when we got back home.  When I put the kids to bed that night they were in separate beds.  When I went up to go to bed this is how they were!!  They just melt me sometimes!

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So turns out my client's family had the stomach bug and had to cancel the shoot on Friday.  So we packed up early and were on the road around 12:30.  We made a stop at Ikea to check out furniture and had lunch there.  That place is just amazing!  By the time we got back on the road we were stuck in lots of traffic.  :-(



Jackson's first floor routine

I just couldn't be more proud of my boy :-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gymnastics update

Since starting at Yellow Jackets in October-ish Madison and Jackson have both improved incredibly.
They were both in 1.5 hour class once a week and they actually look like budding gymnasts now!  The last session ended in June and I planned on taking the summer off so we could have an open schedule to do fun stuff.  I was also looking forward to a financial break.  Then their instructors asked if they would stay on and do a "team prep" session for the summer.  I said OK because they both said they wanted to continue with class.  Then I found out the class was TWO days a week.  I said yes again and even though my bank account is not happy about it it's been such a great thing.
For Jackson, he has gotten so incredibly strong over the last year that he is capable of so much more now.  I didn't want him to lose any momentum by taking time off.
For Madison, this team prep class focuses so much more on technic.  She eats it up!  She adores following directions and takes it very seriously.
Plus the classes are very small so they are getting a lot of attention.  In fact today and this Thursday Jackson will have a private lesson because the other two boys are on vacation.

Here is Jackson on the rings:
 
 Jackson learning the pommel horse:
 

This is Madison doing a pullover which I thought she would never be able to do because it looks so hard:
 

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Japan and Los Angeles (links to photos)

After a pretty big scare I settled into my 10 hour flight to LAX.  I think I mostly listened to the hunger games, ate some food and tried to get some sleep.  Now since I had left Japan on Monday afternoon and my flight was 10 hours I told my cousin, Maria (actually my father's cousin who is closer to my age) that I would be arriving on Tuesday morning (I knew I was going to have a 24 hour layover in LA so she agreed to pick me up and hang out with me and let me stay at her place and bring me back to the airport!).  As we landed in LA the pilot said "Welcome to Los Angeles on this beautiful Monday morning".  My jaw dropped.  Remember that day I lost when I went to Japan?  Yeah, I found it on my way back.  I frantically called my cousin who asked me if I was just leaving Japan and I said "NOOOO!!!  I'm in LA!!!"  Thank god she was around that day and was able to come straight to the airport to get me.  By the time I got my suitcase and got to the curb she was right there waiting for me!  She was such a trooper for not being prepared for me.  She took me back to her house in Long Beach so I could freshen up then she took me to lunch at a mexican restaurant on the water.  It was so nice to have a margarita and catch up with my cousin.  We walked around the area a little bit then drove south to Huntington Beach where I got to put my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time!  We walked out to the end of the pier then had dinner at Duke's where we met up with Maria's brother, his wife and two little boys, another cousin and her husband, and my grandmother's brother.  It's wild to spend time with him (I've only seen him once since I've been an adult) because he looks just like her and they have the same Spanish accent.  They are so cute!  On our way out of the restaurant we ended up seeing the bassist for Van Halen.
After that I really wanted to see Hollywood so Maria was nice enough to drive me there and show me the main tourist stops.  Outside of Grauman's Chinese Theater I saw Darth Vader, Iron Man, and Spider Man.  I just hopped out of the car to get my picture taken with them.  I felt like a goof but it was fun.  We got back to her house around 12:30 and chatted for a while more.  Plus I didn't want to go to bed because I knew we had to wake up at 4:30 to get ready for the airport and that meant saying goodbye to her FOUR dogs that I was in love with!
The flight from LA to Boston was great.  I got in around 5pm and Chris picked me up.  Since we all thought I was coming in on WEDNESDAY, we decided to surprise the kids.  They had been with Nana that day since Chris was at work so he picked me up and brought me there.  I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited to see them.  I kept day dreaming of what our reunion was going to be like.  It didn't disappoint.  It turns out Chris didn't tell anybody I was coming home that day so it was a surprise for everyone including my parents who happened to be visiting the kids at Chris's parents' house when I got there.
When I hugged Jackson he was on fire!  He had just come down with a fever/cold that day so lucky me got sick the next day followed by Madison.  We were all miserable for a week.  Although it stunk that we were sick it couldn't have come at a better time because we were leaving for Disney World in less than two weeks!

As far as pictures go you can see my official blog post about the pre-wedding pictures I did with the bride and groom.  I haven't done the wedding day yet.

Maybe some day I will specifically post my favorite images from my trip but for now you can see my personal pictures in a flickr album

My LA pictures are in this flickr album

The pre-wedding pictures are in this flickr album

And the wedding pictures are in this flickr album

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Some firsts

I wanted to talk about some firsts for Madison and Jackson while they were fresh in my mind.

You know the monkey bars at the playground?  The ones that you hang from and move one hand to the next?  Yeah, up until today I thought I was going to have to hold them up until they were 10.  I just couldn't see how they would ever develop the strength it takes to do it.  Well, today (7/7/2012) Jackson decided to try by himself and he did it!!!  I was so proud of him!!

video


Then Madison decided that she could put her face in the water, hold her breath, and "swim" under water!  Again, something I thought they'd never figure out how to do.  Once she started she didn't want to stop!

video

I hope these videos work for you guys cause they sure as heck don't for me.  And they are terrible quality?  Am I missing something?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Japan cont.


(This has been in draft since I was in Japan)

Since I had left my house on a Tuesday I was shocked to realize it was Thursday upon my next waking.  So weird to lose a day.  I woke up at 6:30 and facetimed with Chris and the kids.  I don't think they had a chance to miss me yet so it was a good chat.  I went down to the lobby for breakfast then decided to go for a walk alone.  I walked back to the train station then up another main road that took me to a massive covered fish market.  I've never seen anything like it.  Booth after booth of crazy looking fish stuff.  There were some produce booths mixed in but it was mostly fish.  Kanazawa is a very large city and is a very famous tourist city, but only for other Japanese people.  I don't think I ran into anyone that spoke english.  After the fish market I decided to wing it and just started walking back to the hotel through little neighborhoods.  I had no idea where I was going.  I couldn't find wifi anywhere but my hotel so I just kept walking back a different way than I came.  Eventually I looked around a corner and saw my hotel.  I was walking through small alley ways which is where all of the residences were.  Everything was impressively clean everywhere I went.  I went back to my room for a bit and was able to message Dave to see what was going on.  He suggested I try to get to his place since I hadn't seen it yet.  He gave me directions so off I went.  I did what I thought he said but clearly I misunderstood his directions.  I ended up back at the fish market.  I tried to find wifi at starbucks but there wasn't any!  No one spoke english so they couldn't help.  He said he lived across from a 7-11 so I asked where that was.  They were able to tell me where that was.  I walked for a while more and didn't find it!  Finally I asked for a pay phone (translated on an app I had) so off I went to find that.  I somehow managed to get the pay phone to work and Dave met me back at starbucks rather than trying to give me directions again!  We ended up getting lunch at an American restaurant called Blue Moon.  We met another American there and chatted with him while we were there.  When we were done we  walked to a car rental place and met Miho.  They rented the car and we drove back to their apartment which turned out to be about 5 buildings away from my hotel on the same street!  How we messed that up I have no idea!  Their apartment was on the 8th floor and had a stunning view of the city and the massive mountain range that surrounds the city.  I was even to see from the roads below that I had walked right by their building earlier in the day and didn't realize it!  I waited for them to get dressed up all fancy for a pre-wedding photo shoot.  We drove to Kanazawa Castle and I was in awe at the beauty.  The grounds were surrounded by cherry trees all in full bloom.  It really was breath taking.  We did a bunch of pictures there then we got back in the car and drove up into the mountains and took more pictures up there.  The view of Kanazawa and the Sea of Japan in the distance was so beautiful!  They dropped me off at my room.  I tried to look at the pictures but absolutely couldn't keep my eyes open. I   fell asleep.  We had dinner plans so I had to wake up to go get indian food in the katamachi section of Kanazawa.  We went with the same large group I had gone to dinner with the night before.  I kid you not the Indian food was the best I've EVER had.  It was a tiny hole in the wall in an alley.  We never would have found it if they hadn't brought us there.  When you walk in there was room for two tables that fit 4 people then a counter with 6 stools that faced the tiny kitchen.  In the back was a room with a table that we had to sit on the floor for.  I always get chicken makhani and I would have been perfectly happy to eat this dish every day for the rest of my life.  It was unbelievably good.  Everyone else seemed happy too.  I was so happy to get back to the hotel and go to sleep!!!

On Friday I woke up 8:30 and facetimed with Chris and the kids.  I believe this may have been the chat that Jackson cried during.  It was heartbreaking and I cried right along with him.  Then I went to the lobby for breakfast, edited for a bit.  Dave and Miho wanted to put some of the images we took onto digital frames as gifts for her parents and Dave's mom so I went to their apartment for a few hours.  I managed to finish editing and put their favorites on the frames.  We had a late lunch at a place next to the hotel with Miho, Dave and Dave's mom.  It reminded me of a Denny's.  We took taxi to the shrine to learn some things about the ceremony.  Dave and Miho and I walked to the restaurant where the reception was going to be to drop some things off.  We sat with Dave while he got something vegetarian to eat so the rest of the group could be free to go anywhere for dinner.  We met up with the rest of the group and went to a restaurant in a basement after walking around for a good hour trying to find a place that could fit us all.  Dave helped me order food which was absolutely delicious.  I think they were dumplings of some sort.  I was so tired I couldn't wait for everyone to be done so I got a cab back to the hotel at 8:30.  I was absolutely beat!

Saturday was the big day! Unfortunately I woke up at 4:30 couldn't get back to sleep :-(  I updated my blog (with the previous post) until it was time to get ready.  I also facetimed with the kids again and this time they were both HYSTERICAL.  It sounded like their limbs were being ripped off.  So I cried then too.  Then I had to get ready for the wedding!  I went to their apartment where Miho and Dave were getting ready.  Miho was getting her hair and makeup done.  I took some pictures there then we went to the kimono shop so they could get dressed in their outfits for the ceremony.  I thought it was interesting that they needed to be dressed by someone.  I never knew it wasn't something you could do yourself!  It was so awesome to watch the whole process.  It probably took about 45 minutes just for Miho to get in hers then Dave had to go.  Once they were dressed we got in a taxi and went to the shrine.  One thing I found interesting was how they stayed together until just before the ceremony started.  When we got to the shrine they went outside where someone from the shrine followed them around with a large red umbrella while all of the guests gathered outside and watched them.  Eventually they brought them back in to sign some documents and then separated them.  The guests were brought into the room and then the immediate family came in followed by Dave and Miho.  The ceremony was so interesting even though I didn't understand a word of it!  It was such a privilege to be included in it.  I will most likely never see anything like it again.
After the ceremony everyone filed outside once again and paraded up the hill next to the shrine to Kanazawa Castle, Dave and Miho under the red umbrella.  When we got up to the castle it was so crowded with tourists!!  We tried to get some photos on the bridge where I had done some of the pre wedding photos but it was so crowded I needed my wide angle lens because I couldn't get far enough away from them!  It was a little hectic at that point.  We went inside the castle walls where there was a festival going on and took a group shot of everyone. At that point there was a couple hour break before we needed to be back at the restaurant for the reception.  I ended up staying at the castle and waited there.  I took some crazy pictures of a hawk that was dive bombing peoples' food.  Then I was hungry so I went across to the tourist area where there were vendors set up.  I got some noodles.
During this time Dave and Hiho had gone home to change into a suite and white wedding gown then we all met up back at the Italian restaurant for dinner.  The wedding was small, around 40 people which made for a nice intimate gathering.  They had a large screen where they were showing a slideshow of pictures of each of them throughout their lives.  I was so happy to see myself in a couple of them :-)
After the festivities at the restaurant (around 8pm) a group of people were heading to a biker bar with karaoke.  As much fun as it sounded like my body just couldn't take it.  I don't know if it was jet lag or just all the walking I'd been doing but I just couldn't keep my eyes open.  I took a taxi back to the hotel.

Sunday was my last full day in Kanazawa.  I decided I wanted to explore alone!  I chatted with Chris and the kids, then breakfast they off I went to Kanazawa Station to catch a loop tour bus.  There are about 13 stops throughout the city and you can just get on and off all day long for 500 yen (roughly $5).  I rode the bus the entire loop first to see where I wanted to go.  The second time through I got off by the river in a quiet residential area.  I walked on a path along the river to a main road where the loop bus ended up.  I was trying to wait for one to come by so I could get on because my back was bothering me but the traffic was so bad I just didn't see one coming.  I decided I'd just walk to the next stop (which was the castle) since I knew where I was.  I sat for a while and watched people and did some shopping for things to bring back for the kids etc.  That whole area was so crowded it was hard even to just walk.  Thinking back to the first day I went there I was amazed at how few people were there then.  Once I said goodbye to the castle I went and waited for the bus.  At that point I didn't care how long it took to come, the next place I wanted to go was way too far to walk.  One eventually came and the next stop I got off at was again at the river in a residential area.  This area had a huge bank of grass all along the river where people were having picnics.  The cherry trees were lining the banks and on the other side of the river was the mountains.  The view was spectacular.  I sat there for a long time just soaking it all up.  At that point I knew I was close to the indian food restaurant that we ate at earlier in the week and I HAD to go back.  I sat at the stools in the front room where there was one other person.  I didn't want to leave it was so good!  I pried myself away and went back to the closest bus stop and rode it back to the station.  I was definitely exhausted.  I hung out in my room (which I loved by the way...it was tiny and perfect for me) for a while until a group of us were going to go to dinner at a tongan restaurant (and by restaurant I mean someone's house).  We ate at a coffee table in an upstairs bedroom.  That wasn't my favorite meal I ate while in Japan but I had a great time.  I went back to my room for my last night in Japan.  
In the morning I had my last breakfast in the lobby, checked out and walked to the train station.  I had some time to kill so I sat at starbucks and edited pictures while I waited for Dave and Miho to meet me. I wanted them to help make sure I got on the right bus to the airport!  We exchanged gifts which was so funny.  They wanted to thank me for doing this for them and I wanted to thank them for giving me this experience.  I was pretty emotional and cried as I said goodbye.  Once on the bus I was sobbing!  Since this bus ride was during the day I was able to see the amazing scenery I had missed on the way in.  We drove along a shore highway.  The Sea of Japan was on the right and the amazing massive snow covered mountain range was on the left.  I got to the airport, got off the bus, walked into the lobby, got in line to check in and realized I didn't have my suitcase!!!!!!!!  I left it in the under part of the bus!!  I ran back out and thank god the bus hadn't left yet!!  I made my way back in.  The check in process was a little confusing because my ultimate destination was Boston but my layover was in Tokyo and then LA.  So I kept saying Boston but they only cared about Tokyo.  It all worked out and I made my way to the gate (1 of 3 in the entire airport).  The view from the gate was the mountain range.  Komatsu is definitely the most beautiful airport I've ever seen.  The flight to Tokyo was really fast but it DID land late.  While I was still on the plane I decided to look at my boarding pass for my next flight.  Boarding started at the same time my current plane was landing!!!  I started to panic.  Luckily the lady sitting next to me spoke english and tried to keep me calm.  She kept saying they would wait for me but I didn't know if she really meant that or if she was just trying to make me feel better.  We had to get on a bus to the terminal then wait in line for immigration which was bad enough to have to wait for but when I was done with that I had to find the gate.  My back was killing me and my asthma had been bothering me while in Japan.  I kid you not the gate was a mile away.  I saw a sign for the gate number that pointed down the longest tunnel I've ever seen.  I literally couldn't see the other end.  Then I started crying.  I was the only one in the tunnel and I was running.  Even with the people movers I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere.  Seriously 10 minutes later I made my way up an escalator that brought me right to the gate where there was still a line!  I was so relieved!! 

I'm going to break here and write more later.  My wrist is killing me!!


Friday, April 13, 2012

I made it!

So I made the trip just fine.  Chris dropped me off at the airport and since I had stayed up most of the night to ensure I fell asleep on the plane I was a bit emotional.  I couldn't stop sobbing.  He felt so bad.  It went mostly smoothly and the flights went by much faster than I thought they would.
First I flew to Washington DC and I barely got a chance to do anything.  I think I listened to a little bit of the twilight audio book and then they said we were getting ready to land!  I easily made my way to the gate for the flight to Tokyo.  While I was waiting to board I was able to get on wifi and chat with people.  That flight took off about 40 minutes late because they were installing an electrical outlet for someone who needed it for a CPAP machine.  I needed it for mine too but because I didn't tell them ahead of time I couldn't have my own but they were nice enough to let me share with the other person.  HAHA!  So we get on the plane and it's a cigarette lighter plug which neither of us could use so they spent more time trying to find an adapter but couldn't, then the person who did arrange for this ahead of time was pissed and wanted to know what they could do for her so they kept leaving to find out something and coming back to tell her there was nothing they could do.  She handled it very well. We finally took off.  The lady next to me and I talked quite a bit which made time go by.  I listed to a little of catching fire, watched girl with the dragon tattoo, slept on and off for 6 hours.  There was no way for me to get comfortable since my tailbone still bothers me from when I fell off the horse last year.  We had two meals during the flight.  not the best food in the world but it did the trick.  Sooner than I thought it was time to land in Tokyo 14 hours after we took off.

Once I was off the plane I went through immigration which was really simple then I was off to find my gate.  I definitely got lost doing that but was able to ask someone where the gate was and I found it just fine.  There was a food place where I got some lo mein to eat.  It was yummy!  I tried to find wifi but couldn't get any there.  I started to watch a show while waiting and then it was time to board.  I was shocked to walk past the agent to see a bus.  We got on a bus and drove out to the tiny airplane.  At that point I wasn't nervous about flying anymore.  I got on the plane and immediately fell asleep until we landed in Komatsu.  I was a little worried about how I was going to manage at Komatsu because I needed to find the bus to Kanazawa Station but I also needed to find an ATM!  The people didn't speak english but were easily able to help me.  I got my money, went out to the bus and as soon as I got on it took off like it was waiting for me.  The bus ride was about 30 minutes and when I arrived at Kanazawa in the evening, dave met me at the bus, checked me into my hotel, then we went to dinner at mall near at station where Miho, his brother, sister in law, and two other friends were already eating.  I got a salad type thing since I wasn't feeling overly hungry.  After that we all walked back to the hotel and I went to bed!


Monday, April 09, 2012

Going away

I'm leaving in the morning for Japan. I'm nervous. I wish I wasn't because I'm old enough to know that worrying doesn't help anything. I'm nervous to fly. I'm nervous hat I will forget something. I'm nervous to leave the kids and of course chris. This will be the longest I've ever been away from any of them
But I AM looking forward to solitude. The 24 hour trip each way is going to be so nice to just be me.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

5th Birthday Party

We had the kids' party at the same play place we've had it the last two years.  They love it there and we literally can't beat the price anywhere else...not even having it at home.

Here are the cakes.  They were about $17 each.  I adore my cake lady.  Every year before the party I have to drive to Gloucester to get them then to Haverhill for the party but it's well worth it.  I send her some general ideas and this is what she comes up with.

Madison adored the crown on her cake.

Jackson's cake had all of HIS favorite superheroes on the side.

Madison's very special guest Rainbow Dash

Now that's how to eat cake!

Jackson and Madison (and Chris) have been very into superheroes lately so we were all decked out in our superhero shirts.  You can't really see my batman shirt though and Maddie's Supergirl shirt isn't overly obvious.

Busy with Madison


In the last week I've taken Madison to casting calls three times!
The first was last Monday for an Alfresco chicken sausage commercial. We got there and Madison wanted nothing to do with it. She wouldn't take her head out of my arm or talk to anybody. I was flipping out mad on the inside. We literally had to leave because she refused to go in. There was a very strong voice telling me not to leave. I had to figure out a way to get her to go back in. I ended up calling chris's mother to see if she could convince her to go back up. She promised to take her to the Museum of Science and she went back up there like a different person. She did awesome and they actually called her back. At the callback she was super happy to be there. I think they had called back 8 girls. They told me that night that they want her for the shoot but she is the alternate so she might not even be filmed. She has a fitting tomorrow and filming is Thursday at 6 AM?? Who's idea was that?? So this one job will consist of 4 trips into Boston for me. Not really sure it's worth the money she'll make as an alternate :-S

The other audition was for a baby alive commercial. What a cattle call that was! The place was crawling with adorable little girls. I haven't heard back on that one yet but it's been a while so I'm assumed she wasn't called back for it.

I must admit I think I like the print work better!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March 17th in iphone photos

OK, this was actually the 16th coming out of school.

This was another product that Madison shot last summer.  I found it at Walmart.  It's just a small sticker on the product so the image isn't very impressive but still very cool!

These were the pancakes they ordered this morning.  They even put food coloring in Jacksons to make it look like a real light saber.  Yeah, I know, it resembles something else too.

After Grandma took Madison to build a bear for her birthday (where she built a hello kitty ballerina bear) she is all about hello kitty.

Jackson at the comic store.  I love how interested he is in them.  Not much makes this boy sit still (well, except for TV and video games) so I love to see him sit and study them.
Our pints
Kids goofing around while we drink our pints