First Day of School

Reed and Lena had their first day of school last week. The night before had been the school’s annual school kick-off event, so they had already met their teachers and reunited with their friends. They were ready to go!


Lena has Reed’s teacher from last year. I truly feel that she goes above and beyond for her students and parents, so I’m glad that Lena has her. Reed has a teacher I had never met before. But, fun fact: she told us on the first night that her son is a Russian major in college. 🙂 I love that. It only came up because Big L was with us.

With school back in session, Big L gets some strange comments if we are out and about during the day. Fortunately, telling people that she is “just visiting” normally is enough to stop them from further questions. Lots of schools across the country haven’t started yet, right?

Big L is wonderful with Gus. He will start preschool the week after she goes back.


Right now, I’m glad to have her around to help keep him busy. These two are definitely becoming good pals without Reed and Lena around all day.

And of course, everyone wants to know how school is going?

Even 3 full days in, they still seem to be enjoying it. No complaints so far. 🙂

The Scrapbook

Last week, I blogged about the goodbye we’re all dreading. 😦

One of the gifts I was most excited to give Big L is a scrapbook.The kind of scrapbook she can pull out whenever she’s lonely or missing us and at the very least, know that she is loved.

I filled it with all of the cards everyone has sent her, along with a photo of that person or of her with the card, and a translation.

And, I included the affirmations I made for her.

Each page is filled with reminders that she is loved by many. Reminders that she has value.


It’s also been a great way to give more permanent life to some of the special things we’ve done this summer, like the affirmations and card shower.

We had a special day today and I gave her the scrapbook. But, I’ll share about our special day in another blog post!

13 days

Last night, Big L told me “my friend say she wants to go back to [home country]. I do not want.”

This morning, Big L looked at the calendar this morning and counted down her full days left with us. 13. Ugh.

This evening, I asked Big L to leave me alone for a few minutes. I thought this upset her and I went to apologize, reiterating why I just needed to be alone for a few minutes. She wrote back to me:

“All good things with me. You did not upset me. I regret that it was 13 days. I love you and I’ll be in [home country] when I will worry for you and miss you very much. I love you very good. This poem is for you. Mom Super. Mom Star. The Best Mom here.”

How do you even?

None of us are ready for that goodbye. When Reed heard what we were talking about, he grabbed onto her and said “NOOO! YOU CAN’T GO BACK TO [home country]! YOU CAN’T GO BACK!” While I think he was being a big dramatic just for fun and maybe to make her smile, I think he was genuine that he’s really going to miss her.

And, Gus, who didn’t nap today, walked around the grocery store like this tonight, snuggled against her while she pushed the cart.

And Lena. Lena loves having this girl in her life who is sort of like a mom and sort of like an older friend. A “sister”.


I’m just struggling with the words to let her know how much we all love her. And, I’ve got nothing. Nothing that is going to make August 26th any easier.

My Lighthouse

There’s a contemporary Christian song that is pretty popular right now called My Lighthouse.

On Saturday, Big L just started singing “my lighthouse, my lighthouse”.

So, I put the song on for her, and this happened. Impromptu dance party.

I decided to put the lyrics in Google Translate for her so she could read what the song was about. Well, she read them, until she got to word Lighthouse. It was translated properly, but she said “I don’t know this”.

So, we looked at photos of all different types of lighthouses. No clue. Her country has a fair sized coastline and apparently many lighthouses, but her home is not very close to the coast. I translated a bit about lighthouses. How ships use them to find their way safely to shore, etc. Still looking clueless. So, I pulled up the Wikipedia article on lighthouses in her language. Okay, better.

Well, on Sunday, the morning after this conversation, Aaron took the kids to visit his parents for the day. When Big L got home, she told me, “Mama, I saw a lighthouse!!!”

Most of you probably have some clue… we live smack dab in the middle of the Midwest. No lighthouses for probably about a thousand miles, or more.

Except, this one.

On the way to Aaron’s parents’ house, someone with a small pond in their backyard has added a lighthouse. I’m usually the passenger on this trip. One day, I mentioned to Aaron that we were coming up on the lighthouse and he said “WHAT?!” In all of his years of going by here, he never noticed the lighthouse.

Thinking he was just terribly unobservant, I asked my sister-in-law. Her husband’s family lives on the other side of the lighthouse, so she’s gone by it many more times than I have. But, nope, she was clueless when I mentioned the lighthouse, too.

Aaron teased me much. “Sure, there’s a lighthouse.”

But, Big L saw it.
Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 11.55.43 PM

[from Google Streetview]

Bathtub Paint

I’m interrupting my regular blogging about hosting and/or photography to share about something random: bathtub paint.

Gus hates taking baths, but loves to paint. Put the two together and you have a winning combination. Bribe bath time with painting time.

This particular concoction is liquid soap of your choice + cornstarch + food coloring. [My mom just sent me this great video on making your own natural food coloring.]

It was a HUGE hit. He kept telling me that the picture he was painting was a slide.

Ah, I do see a slide in the middle of those squiggly lines.

A couple of days after we first did bathtub paint, I let Lena and Gus take a bath together. Well, actually, I started off with just Lena taking a bath, but Gus pretty much demanded to join her since it meant painting. They played nicely(and quietly!!!) together for about an hour, covering the bathtub walls in this soapy “paint”. 2014-08-09_0001

Super easy. Super fun.