Wednesday, August 27, 2014

And we arrive to this day...

Our Emily started kindergarten on August 25th. I know it's cliche to say it, but I can't believe our baby girl is now in school. She just turned five years old so that makes it harder because I feel like I got "cheated" out of a few more months at home with her just because she was born in the summer instead of a different time of year. If her birthday wasn't right before the cut-off, I would have had her home with me another year. Emily has attended part-time preschools for the past two years (three days a week for 3-4 hrs. each day.) She was ready and excited to start kindergarten this year!

We made our decision to start the enrollment process last winter. Jeremy and I both felt pretty good about our decision, but every now and then I would question myself. Once we found out that I was expecting again, we definitely felt that it would be better for Emily to go to school. Pretty soon, my life is going to revolve around the needs of a newborn and a two year old. Emily would have been left to fend for herself in a lot of areas, especially with entertaining herself. I think it is far better for her to get regular instruction and daily social interaction at school. And kindergarten is free! :) I keep expecting to have to make a monthly payment to someone. 

One of the reasons we wanted her to start school this year is because of the awesome neighborhood school that is on our street. We chose to live in Alameda partially because of the good schools. She attends a school that is just three blocks down the road from us and it is one of the best in the district. That's right, y'all. Emily gets to WALK or BIKE or SCOOTER to school every day! Growing up in a very rural area where we couldn't walk to anything other than the next house (or field), I think this is so cool! Every time I told someone where she would attend school, I always got very good feedback. Being new to the area, it made me feel so much better to know that her school was highly respected in the community. However, we are renting our home and while we are planning to extend our lease another year, there's no guarantee that we will be at this same house for all of our years in California. Part of me would LOVE to find another home that is larger and meets our needs better. However, I do really like our neighborhood and community. Buying a nice house in our city is extremely expensive. So, I often wonder if we might just stay here for several years--especially if we're happy with our school. Time will tell. 

Emily and Mommy (31 weeks pregnant!)

Love this of my sweethearts! 

Skipping/walking to class

Caleb is not ready to say any "good-byes" to sis.

Walking to morning assembly

Line up kiddos! 

Morning assembly time with the whole school (K-5). Emily started tearing up a little during the morning assembly time. I'm sure it was overwhelming to be surrounded by strange kids, teachers, and parents. Jeremy and I were too far away to make eye contact with her. Once Jeremy caught a glimpse of Emily upset, he started crying. Then, I was next. As she walked back to class, I caught a glimpse of her "brave smile through tears" and that tore me up! Aggh! These milestones are hard for mamas and daddies! 

Jeremy, Caleb, and I walked back to our house after saying our "good-byes." It was a contemplative walk home and both of us felt emotional. We treated ourself at our local coffee shop and pretty soon our almost two year old had us laughing and feeling better. Caleb missed Emily that morning, but he didn't cry for her as I expected. He just kept coming up to me and asking about her. I told him we would go back to get her soon!

Kindergarten is not a full day here and I'm thankful for that! I couldn't stand it if she was gone all day every day! I think it would have been a very rough transition for her. Our school district lets the kindergarteners out early, but it's a little more than a traditional half-day kindergarten. The hours are 8:20am-12:40pm three days a week and until 1:40pm two days a week. On her longer days, she will have specialized small group time with just half of the class to focus on reading and math. I like that they will have smaller groups for focused instruction. Also, for the first two weeks of school, the kindergarteners get out at 11:40 am, so she will have lunch at home with us during her adjustment period. As a SAHM, this suits me just fine. I wonder if it drives working parents crazy to keep up with all of these scheduling differences? Anyway, even though the kids don't get out at the same time every day, the reasons for the schedule make sense to me.

When I returned to pick-up Emily for the day, she was all smiles! She hugged me and declared that "Kindergarten is awesome!" We are looking forward to a new exciting year! We've bravely entered the school age years and a whole new world is opening up to Emily and us!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Visit to KY and Emily's 5th Birthday

This year we took a vacation to visit our family in KY Aug. 2nd-12th. We decided that it would be nice to go at that time since it would overlap with Emily's birthday, my cousin's wedding, and Jennifer's birthday. Jen, Ed, and Elizabeth were finishing up their KY vacation during our first three days in Louisville so it was really nice to go home and see everyone (except for Laura and Will who live abroad.)

The summers in Alameda have been very pleasant, but it hasn't felt much like summertime for most of the past few weeks. The highs each day are mostly in the 70's. Occasionally we have a "heat wave" in the 80's. It's wonderful weather for a pregnant lady. :) Not so wonderful for swimming although the pools are heated making it more comfortable until you get out of the water. Anyway, I was starting to pine for a real summer with sweat! ha! My southern summer wish list included a good thunder storm, warm summertime nights when you don't need a jacket, swimming in a pool that's as warm as bath water, eating homemade ice cream, catching lightning bugs and lots of family time.

In order to make two cross country plane trips in one year somewhat affordable for our family, we did this trip on the "cheap." Caleb turns two in September and although he truly could use his own airplane seat/ticket, we decided to take advantage of the last time we can fly him home as a lap baby and buy just three tickets (instead of four or gulp FIVE!!!) The good thing was that for this Southwest flight, our whole family took up one row of three and didn't  bother anyone else. On our next trip, we will have to divide up and sit with strangers. :( We saved nearly $1000 by buying our tickets at less than convenient flight times. We took a 4pm flight out of Oakland and arrived in Louisville at around 1am local time, but it still felt like 10 pm to us. The kids only slept about an hour on that flight. On our way home, we took a 7 am flight out of Louisville. We were back in Oakland at 10:50 am! Crazy! That flight was rough because we had to get up around 4:30 am to get to the airport by 5:30 am, but the first flight was super easy since everyone was still tired and groggy. Even though we arrived before lunchtime in CA, everyone felt pretty crappy and tired for the rest of the day. Still, it was worth the sacrifice of sleep on one day. I have to give a BIG thanks to Jeremy's parents for the airport pick-up and drop-off at such inconvenient times. Also big thanks to both families for shuttling us between Louisville and Bowling Green so we didn't have to rent a car. My parents hosted Emily's birthday party at their house this year. What a blessing! I made the arrangements for her cake and outfit, but Mom and Dad did the food, decorations, and set up the pony ride. Jeremy and I were extremely thankful for their help.

Here's a few highlights from our trip!

The Reiss Family Circa Aug. 2014! We are about to add some members! 

The grands

Working for their supper

Wagon ride for the littles

No summer trip to Louisville is complete without a trip to LAKESIDE! 

Goofing around with Poppy

August Birthday girls exchange gifts

Emily loves her Aunt Jen! 

Cousins dancing at Nathan and Sarah's wedding 

Emily and Daddy posing at the wedding. She was so adorable.
The rest of us were sweaty messes before the couple even said "I do!" 

Nathan and Sarah Lee!

Emily had a My Little Pony themed party. I found this cake idea on Pinterest and modified it a little.
Thanks to Jennifer Shuffett for making it! It looked great and tasted better!

Lucky girl

Another Pinterest idea that was super easy!

Tearing into the birthday presents!

Our baby girl is FIVE!

Mom and Dad with the birthday girl

Dinkney and Poppy with the birthday girl

Emily really wanted a pogo stick. She had seen them on her cartoon shows.  This one is designed for 5-8 year olds and the extra green piece can be removed as their balance gets better. (We returned it because we didn't have room to pack it!) Not sure if I will replace it now or find something else for her since it is still pretty challenging even for my athletic girl. 

Getting loved on by Dinkney

Playing with the big kid toys

Family Birthday Pic

Homemade ice cream? Yes, please!!!

The Birthday Highlight: Mr. Gary brought his quarter pony to our house! 

Gary talks to the kids about his pony, Weaver

I was worried that Emily would balk at riding the pony, but she was all about it! She rode him four times, even trotted a little! Cooper rode him next, then Mom and Caleb, then cousin Sam. I can't believe I don't have a good pic of Mom riding this horse with Caleb! (It's on my phone.) 

Why oh why did I take out her cowgirl boots that she packed for the trip? That would have been even cuter! Emily was a natural. So surprising considering she still gets spooked by carousel horses! ha! 

This trip went by way too fast. We were thankful to be able to attend our hometown churches in Louisville and Oakland, KY. We enjoyed a date night with friends and a play date and gelato treat with the Jackson kiddos. We managed to see a lot of family and friends during our short trip, especially because of the wedding and a brief family reunion after church one Sunday. We did a fun trip to Huber's orchard with Jeremy's parents, Ed, Jen, and Elizabeth, but didn't take photos since we were still pretty jet lagged! We visited my brother and sister-in-law's new beautiful home and enjoyed some casual summertime suppers, backyard playtime, and driving Cooper's electric car! Emily LOVED that! It's hard to imagine that next time we go to KY, we will be a family of FIVE!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Thirty Weeks

Wow! 30 Weeks! Where has the time gone? This pregnancy is going by extremely fast. Maybe I should write a little bit about my thoughts and feelings during pregnancy #3 before it's over! A few weeks ago I wrote about my initial thoughts upon learning that I was expecting again. It still sits in my draft folder. I'm not sure if I will ever publish it since it is personal--maybe a little too honest.

My sister is expecting her third child October 1st. I'm due October 25th. I found out that she was expecting a little bit before I knew myself. I knew that Laura and Will wanted a third child so I was truly happy to find out that they were expecting. However, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to thinking something along the lines of "Oh my goodness! Are they crazy? They have no family to help out where they live. They are barely getting by now!" So, it was a little ironic that I found out I was expecting a few days later. (Hello, we have no family here either. We barely keep it all together with our kids, too!) I think that's probably the status quo for all young families.

My first and second trimesters have passed quickly and uneventfully. Thankfully, I don't normally experience nausea and vomiting during my pregnancies. During the first trimester, I occasionally felt queasy, but it was usually brought on by having an empty stomach. Some fresh air and a small snack would make me feel better until the symptoms passed. I did experience increased fatigue, but it was hard to pinpoint if it was due to taking care of two young children every day nearly all day or if it was because of the pregnancy. I felt great during the second trimester. I began to feel the baby's fluttering movements at around 16 weeks. I started really needing maternity clothes around 18-20 weeks.

We waited until Mother's Day to share our news when I was about 15 weeks pregnant. I decided that I really wanted to wait to find out the baby's gender this time around. I have always said that if we had one boy and one girl, we should wait and be surprised on the third child because we would not have a strong preference for the gender. To his credit, Jeremy let me decide about it and was supportive, but I think he would rather know in advance! It really wasn't hard to wait to find out for the first 20+ weeks. Even at the 20 week ultrasound, it wasn't that bad walking away without knowing. The baby was healthy and checked out great and we were happy!!! That's all that mattered.

It is getting harder to wait now. Jeremy and I have NEVER been that couple that just KNOW what they want to name their baby. Now that we are getting down to the wire and still have no definite name for a boy OR a girl, it is making me feel a little anxious. I have never felt so unprepared to have a child and yet I know now that so much of what we think we must have is not needed or can be bought later at any time. (Diapers--check, breasts--check, place for baby to sleep--check, swaddling blankets--check. THE END.)  We don't have an extra room for the baby. Caleb still needs his crib for a few more months. There is NO WAY I want to jeopardize good nighttime and nap sleep to transition him early out of his crib. So, we are planning to use a nice pack-n-play with a raised bed and changing table attachment for the baby. There are other issues to figure out like, "do I need another dresser for the baby? Where will we put it??? Should I just clear out some space in my walk-in closet? Buy a few small plastic drawers for storage?" I have no idea. I hate to make a big furniture investment before we figure out if we're having a boy or girl. It might dictate what I would choose. Eventually, I imagine we will get bunk beds, but at this point Caleb is too young to bunk. If we have a little boy, Caleb and baby boy would be great roommates at just two years apart. If we have a girl, I don't know. Maybe we let Emmy and Caleb share a room for awhile? Ugh. Just don't know. I know that a lot of these decisions will work themselves out in time, but it still makes me feel unprepared and anxious.

At 30 weeks, I definitely FEEL like I'm in my third trimester. I have less energy. I don't like to walk or stand for long periods of time. Bending over to pick up the always-there-toys-on-the-floor, is getting more uncomfortable and annoying. Still, these are normal feelings and I'm thankful for the important things--like good doctor's check-ups, normal weight gains, predictable baby movements, comfortable sleep, minimal swelling, minor aches, and most of all, a negative cystic fibrosis screen from Jeremy (after I tested positive as a carrier.) I didn't know until this pregnancy that I apparently have a cystic fibrosis gene. I had never been told that and it bothered me quite a bit the first few weeks. We just got Jeremy's blood work back a few weeks ago and so it was with relief that we learned that he did not have a carrier gene. It's just a reminder that nothing is really in our control when you submit to the unknowns of child bearing and rearing.

The next few weeks will be busy as Emily starts kindergarten and we adjust to that new earlier routine. Caleb's birthday is next month and I need to start planning if we want to do a party or do something quiet and low key. There's two year old photos to think about and booking a newborn photographer for October. There's mini vans to test drive and baby clothes to wash. I have lots of "house things" I would like to tackle, but little energy, motivation, or inspiration. Once Emily is in kindergarten for half a day every day, it may make it easier for me to check off some of the things from my list. Or I may just take a good nap.

PS One of these days, I will add a pregnancy photo!

36 weeks pregnant at Golden Gate Park