When I last wrote last week, I had an inkling that we’d be busy for Labor Day weekend, with something planned every day, but it went by in a heartbeat. To be honest, looking back on these last 3 weeks, which at times seemed torturously slow, it’s hard to believe they’re gone and tomorrow our brave young lady will board the big yellow bus and roll off to meet her destiny at Stafford! I remember last year, we watched Penny board the bus and I said to Mike, “That is the bravest thing I think I’ve ever seen”. I know I’ll feel the same way tomorrow morning!
Anyway, to get back to our busy weekend and to quit rambling…
We had made plans for Thursday night to go out with our neighbors, Mark and Sherri and Sherri’s daughter Katie, who has been hanging around with Kristin a good little bit. Mark and Sherri are good friends with the owners of a Thai restaurant in town and we got to know those folks through Penny’s being here, which was nice. They are a really lovely family. I was excited to take Kristin for Thai food, since I felt like it was kind of bringing her and Penny together.
I specifically made plans with Kristin and a girl from our neighborhood that Friday we would be going to Kings Dominion, a giant amusement park here in Virginia about 30 miles south of F’burg. I told all contractors to hold it and off we went. It was important to me that Kristin have someone her age to go with, as I knew I’d be taking Leah along and it was important that she be able to ride the rides with someone other than me. Additionally, I wanted her to have some fun with someone who was willing to go on roller coasters and drop rides, and I am not. I knew from talking with Taylor in June that she is a real daredevil, so I asked her and she accepted. We were off! We picked her up at around 10:00 and were at Kings Dominion before 11AM. We were accosted in the parking lot by a lady who had an extra ticket to sell and so we got one ticket for only $28 and got a second for $29 since Taylor is a season pass holder and can get one person in at a reduced rate. Leah was free!
We stopped to get some pictures with Snoopy and then walked over to the kids section to the Ghoster Coaster or something? It used to be a Scooby Doo themed ride but then KD was taken over by a different company and no longer has the rights to Scooby so they renamed it. It’s a children’s roller coaster—more than just for young kids, but not much more than 9-10 year olds would be too scared of it. Leah was predictably too short, so we let Taylor and Kristin go on and we stood and waited to take a picture (they are in the very back car).
I tried to get Leah on a couple of rides, but we kept getting kicked off. The people who work at KD informed me that unless Leah was willing to sit on the actual seat, not my lap, and not be screaming her head off while doing it, they could not allow us to continue to ride. In the first 3 hours we were there, the only ride we managed to ride was the carousel, and only then because we could sit in the sleigh with her on my lap. I also took her to the top of KD’s Eiffel Tower and we saw the park from up there, and it was a pretty cool vantage point!
The large tower in the second picture is a ride called “Drop Zone” I think. The ring you see around the middle is actually chairs, and it rises up to the top and then plummets a couple of hundred feet to the ground. Kristin loved that ride, although she was terrified of the roller coasters. Taylor did manage to get her on 3 or 4 roller coasters while we were there, however!
After lunch at Chick Fil A, we got changed and headed to the water park. Leah LOVED the tidal wave pool, while Kristin and Taylor hit all the big water slides and tubing adventures. They came back as things were winding down and I was attempting to get Leah to take a nap, and offered to take Leah swimming, so I let them and curled up on a chaise lounge and snoozed for the better part of an hour. When the girls brought her back, I took her to get changed and we met up with the girls again at 5:45, only to find out that in one of the tube rides, Kristin’s sunglasses fell off and she tipped out of the tube onto her head and had a pile of lifeguards rushing to her aid! Thankfully she was fine, as were the sunglasses. We were supposed to leave the park at 5:30, but wound up having pizza for dinner and then going over to the SpongeBob 4D movie (which Leah was not allowed to “ride”, so we sat in the motionless seats!). As we were heading out, Kristin was all sad that we hadn’t done the log flume ride, but Taylor refused, saying she didn’t want to get wet again, so I took Kristin on it. We had a nice time and at least I got to do one ride, but at the end, Taylor dropped a quarter into the water cannon and blasted us with water! AUGH!
Saturday was a well deserved morning of rest and then I announced my intention to catch up with school work for the entire afternoon, which I did. I got a TON of work done and was so proud of myself for figuring out some XML! Hooray :) Afterwards, I decided we should all go out together and we headed to Chuck E. Cheese. While probably not terribly appealing to a teenager, going there as a family of 4 is FAR cheaper than going to Funland. You can see in her little face that Leah is not terribly sure about this big sister business, but Kristin is making an effort to win her over after a bit of initial resistance! We played a ton of games together—got our pictures taken, fought fires, shot hoops, played Skee Ball, and more. It was a ton of fun and we brought home one exhausted toddler, more importantly. We got home around 8:30 and at 9:00, Kristin and I headed back out to go see “The Help” at the local movie theater. It was an absolutely brilliant movie and on the way home, we discussed if things are getting better in race relations in America, what Leah’s future will look like as the adopted child of white parents, who the new minorities are, and a riveting discussion on the situation of the Portuguese in Iceland. Apparently much like migrant workers in the US, the Portuguese flock to Iceland to work in the fishing industry and ship their money back to Portugal. Many Icelanders don’t like the Portuguese for this reason. I had no idea about that at all! We discussed my time living in the deep south, we talked about OJ Simpson (who was apparently friends with the Kardashians, whom Kristin ADORES), and more. It was a great movie, a riveting history lesson, and led to some frank and amazing discussion.
I had decided that on Sunday we would have a welcome party for Kristin. I sent out invitations but neglected to tell my husband about the party (oops! Sorry honey!). I had asked everyone to bring potluck but also decided to provide meat, drinks, and a couple of sides, so I sat and debated what to do. I finally hit on grilled chicken, hot dogs (we have one friend who resolutely refuses to eat chicken, and since I got chicken with bones my hubby wasn’t eating it either!), fiesta corn salad, fruit salad, and ramen salad. I got a cake for dessert and let the chips fall where they may. And people were so generous. We had an amazing collection of friends arrive—about 20—and they all brought many amazing things, including peach pineapple casserole, green bean casserole, fruit, cheese logs, cookies, pound cake, cobbler and more!
Kristin spent the morning on Skype with her family and then as I started preparing the food, for the first time ever, she asked me if I wanted some help. I was so excited that she wanted to help me out, so I put her in charge of the fruit salad and I was blown away at how beautiful it looked when she was done. It was like a work of art!
It was a nice day, very very hot, but everyone had a great time and it lasted till nearly 6:30.
In the first picture, the girl to the left in the Abercrombie shirt is an AFSer from Italy—I am her liaison this year. It was my first chance to meet her, so that was amazing! And for my part, I was pleased that some of my new friends I’d never had over before had come! It was great to hang out with new friends and old.
One of the families who came to visit mentioned an interest in hosting and even volunteered on the spot to be Kristin’s family for the year! I introduced her to our local rep and they were going to get things going, and Kristin was pretty excited. Unfortunately just a few hours later, they emailed me to say they didn’t think they could do it this year. I dreaded telling Kristin that news, as while we’d been making all the food, the AFS pool party had been canceled. After the party was over, I checked my email and learned that the pool party was back on, so I steeled myself and went up to Kristin’s room and said, “There’s good news and bad news, which do you want?” She asked for the bad news first and I told her and she actually took it quite well. I gave her the good news that the party was back on and then invited her downstairs to watch a movie, so we watched Matthew Broderick and Meg Ryan plot against their exes in Addicted to Love and then turned in for the night.
Yesterday morning, we left about 11:30 and drove up to Vienna for the AFS pool party. We stopped en route to pick up a fruit tray and fruit dip to bring with us and then arrived at the party just as it was kicking off. There was a really good crowd of kids—not everyone made it but there were still about 15 AFSers in attendance. Most of them had their parents drop them off, but I stuck around since it was an hour’s drive there, and there were a couple of other host moms to chat with and two members of our area team were there. It was nice to connect and we got to talking about things and I wound up volunteering to launch an AFS Virginia Facebook page, which I did last night. The kids took all the food to the other side of the pool, ate, swam, and chatted for a long time, and then a downpour began so we went inside the community center. The kids all started playing cards and soon a hot game of “Spoons” started, which resulted in a pile of AFS kids killing each other to get their hands on a spoon. It was pretty hilarious.
We drove back to the Burg and stopped at the grocery store to get our food for the week. Kristin wanted to stock up on goodies for her lunch, and decided to make herself tuna salad as well as a regular salad and bottle of water. We brought home frozen pizzas and had that for dinner last night and then she started her laundry and getting ready for school. We chatted about setting her alarm and I showed her how to do that, gave her some school supplies she needed, and at 10:00, we enforced bedtime for the first time. Things have been pretty loosey goosey around here since it’s been summer, but now it’s time to tow the line, so in addition to helping put all the groceries away and doing her laundry, Kristin also helped take out the trash last night.
We had a lovely chat on the way home from the BBQ about her confusion over why the other family backed out after only a couple of hours, and Kristin said she really had mixed feelings about leaving. She had just talked herself into it, that it’d be fun to have a sister the same age and at the same school, and then the plug got pulled and she started to think about being a welcome student. She said, “I’m so scared AFS is just going to put me somewhere just to put me somewhere. You are so nice and I don’t want to go somewhere with a family who is not so nice as you.” Darn it if that didn’t just make me want to cry! So I re-assured her that they wouldn’t put her anywhere that she couldn’t give her input on and that if she really, really desperately wanted to stay with us, then we’d consider that possibility. I hope that puts her mind at ease. She’s a lovely girl and deserves to not have to stress about these things!
So that was our Labor Day weekend. Kristin left this morning at 6:45AM for school—she declined to let me take a picture of her getting on the bus, so I grabbed one as she was walking out the door. I know she’ll have a great day—she is worried about the strange schedule and about lunch and who to sit with, but I told her to just find someone who looks friendly as she is leaving to go to lunch and to attach herself to them. I know she’ll do well, the first few days will be a challenge and then we’ll probably just see the back end of her from there out!
Hope everyone else’s kids have a great school year!!!!!!