Tuesday, September 2, 2014

7th Grade!

In many parts of the US, school start after Labor Day. Not here in Yuma. Cassandra went back to school already August 11th, but I haven't had time to blog about it until now. A few days after we came back from Sweden, it was time for Open House at her Middle School. Very exciting ofcourse, to meet all the new teachers. She had already gotten her schedule online and in the mail a week prior, and she was on the phone constant the days before with her friends mailing schedules and comparing lessons to see who would have the same lessons together. Fun times, as some of her best friends now share some lessons during the days.

It's always nice during these Open Houses, to have the chance to say hello and get an impression of all the teachers, as they are all new to her for this year. Also important to find out what extra supplies each and every teacher requires as they all have different lists and demands.

Cassie outside her school on Open House. 

 In the 7th Grade Hallway.

After meeting all the teachers and also going back to say hi to her teachers from last year, (and receiving big hugs from everyone of her old ones) we also ran into one of her best friends. They hadn't seen each other since June, so they were very excited to see each other in person instead of online when they were Face-timing each other.

 Happy girls!

Later in the afternoon and the day after we had to do some more school supply shopping, as there were many additional items that different teachers wanted them to have that weren't on the list. It's always the same, every year. One teacher wants Composition Notebooks, another ONLY wants College Ruled Notebooks, another one ONLY wants loose papers...So much to carry around all day, every day, as they don't have any lockers. 

Yes, all of the above will be put into the binder and backpack and hauled to school every day. It's heavy, and some teachers thankfully now after a few weeks, lets them leave some Composition Notebooks in the classrooms, but when they have homework, they have to bring them anyway (which is almost every day..) but still, better than no help at all.

Then on August 11th, it was time for her to get back into the routines of getting up at 6.45am. The bus leaves around the corner from our house at 7.40am. As always, I wanted to take some pictures before she left in the morning.

 So excited for this new school year! Yes, I'm very lucky to have a girl that loves school!

I couldn't wait to have her home in the afternoon to hear how her first day was, and I was very relieved to see her come home with her best friend Emma, and they were hanging out and having a great time all afternoon. They haven't been in so close contact over the summer, and Cassie was happy to see that they were still so close. Cassie has had so many disappointments when it comes to friends here in Yuma, so it's nice to see that she has a few really close ones. You never know if the best friends have been hanging out a lot with other friends over a long summer when we have been gone, and she could have been "forgotten". So, great to see that she had been missed!! The first day in school went wonderful too, all teachers seemed nice, and it was great to meet everyone again. We couldn't have asked for a better start of the school year!

 Cassie and Emma

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hello September!

August is over and done. Labor Day is here today, which also means for most Americans that it's end of Summer. Not here though. Today's high will be around 110F/44C...sigh..

I wish that I could spend the day with a good book, bring out the blankets, light some candles or why not a fire, drink some warm tea....or why not open up a bottle of of red wine with a friend..

 I just love these two outdoor fireplaces. One day maybe..

It's not really the same to welcome fall when the outside is still in the blasting heat of summer. I guess the tea and blankets will have to wait another couple of months.

I also realize that I'm way behind on the blog again. I really wanted to get into blogging now and catch up, but then I got sick and the kids got sick and then nothing got done around here. On Thursday I started to get a sore throat and then I got a headache worse than normal. Body ache, headache, sore throat and just so tired. Couldn't have come at a worse time, as this weekend would be the only weekend that my husband would be able to come home from his 7 week away training, as it's for the Marines is a 4 day weekend. BUT, as this training is almost worse than boot camp, as there is so much physical training, he just can't afford to take the risk of getting sick. There is no excuses for being sick and if you can't keep up, you get sent home..To get sent home and not finish this Staff academy class, this leadership course would be a dead sentence for any Marine. A Marine that can't finish his leadership, can't possibly lead his marines, and what use is he then for the Corps? So, as you understand, I highly recommended him to stay away, and he stood on stand by for Friday, Saturday to see if I would feel better, but Cassandra started to feel ill too, and the little ones have snotty noses, so there was no choice but to stay away for the whole weekend. He had a lot of work to do anyway, so he has been busy studying anyway.

Such a shame, but with no doubt the best decision. We had looked forward to see him again, and ofcourse the kids had looked forward to do some fun things this long weekend, instead we have been hanging around the house laying around on the sofa trying to rest..But, there will be other times.

Anyway, later on there is a lot of things that has happened that I need to write about, I just need to find the time. I hope you all had a great Labor Day Weekend and I wish you a great first week of fall!

What a great space for a family dinner...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Amazing Contrasts

Arriving in Sweden, we were all very tired, but something that hit me and the kids was how green it was everywhere!! Mid June, maybe the greenest time in the Swedish summer, before anything has dried up from the sun. It was amazing, and for the kids that are used to our dry desert landscape to drive through this green new landscape was spectacular. For myself, not seeing the Swedish landscape for 5 years, it almost took my breath away, and even if I was very tired, and chatted with my dear friend Linda that picked us up from the airport, i couldn't help myself but to just stare out the windows and snap a few pictures. The green fields, the many different shades of green trees, flowers and blue lakes, red little houses and small roads that don't disappear in the distance but in the next turn into the forest..

 How I missed these trees!!

A very big contrast to what we left behind driving to the airport just two days earlier back in the desert. No green fields, not many different shades of green, wide open landscape with big roads leading into nowhere in the distance, cacti instead of birch trees. The contrast couldn't be bigger. 

Still, there is one thing that we have in Arizona that they don't have as beautiful in Sweden most of the time, our blue skies!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Welcome To Sweden!

After getting settled on the plane in Chicago, the kids started to draw, read their books and play some games on the monitors. They also watched "Rio 2". They were tired, but I knew that they better stay awake, as they needed to eat!

As I have some picky eaters, and as I knew that I needed them to really eat on the plane too, and knowing that it's not often very kid friendly meals that they serve, I had pre ordered two kid meals for the twins. Chicken nuggets. I know, might not be the most healthy choice, but hey, it would be something that the kids would eat! When they stewardess came with the drinks I had asked if they would start serving the kids meals ahead of the other meals, and she said yes! I was relived, the kids were hungry, and that would mean that if their meals came soon, I could help them and then get them settled with a movie, upon I could maybe eat myself. 

Well, no meals came. I didn't reflect on it right away, as the kids were busy with other things, but when I spotted the wagon further down the aisle, I asked one of them if the kid menus were about to come. No, we don't have any more, she said. Only three that they had had this time, and they were already given out! Seriously!!?? I had asked ahead of time, I had booked and showed her the printed out copy, and she just said, I'm sorry, but there is nothing we can do.. Really?! I was so upset, the kids were hungry and no they were supposed to eat rice and some meatballs that had more cilantro in them than meat..plus in some sauce. Really? I tried to talk to them and convince them that they would have to try, but with nothing but frustrated and angry kids. It wasn't good either, and Cassie and myself tried to eat some rice and some breads at least. I asked again if they would maybe have something in first class that would be more suitable for the kids, as the menu would be different, and as this was clearly not MY fault but THEIRS, it would be in their interest to "fix the problem". But no, they served some fish in lobster sauce, and no, the kids would not eat that either. Still, she came with some fruits, and the kids had some banana. Not much of a dinner, but better than nothing.

To cheer the kids up, I promised them that they would get the little dogs that SAS were selling in the duty free shop on board. They were really cute, and the kids asked me again after the "dinner" if they could please have them. I asked the stewardess when she walked by, if they could please get me two of these dogs, and she said that I'd have to wait until the duty free wagon came around. That took some time...

When they came around maybe two hours later, there was only ONE dog left. They just sold the other one out of TWO dogs that they had on board for this flight. Seriously!?? She tried to talk me into buying one dog, for two kids...clearly she didn't have any kids herself. Cassie had looked at a bracelet that she wanted, and surprisingly (not!) they didn't have that one either.

Well, one can understand that I was NOT impressed with SAS after this flight! The tickets are so expensive anyway, and then you can at least hope that you get good service, get the food that you have ordered etc...

The kids were not happy either, and started to get really tired, but with so much light on everywhere, it was not easy to get them to rest or to sleep. All four seats in front of us had their reading lights on, so did the row on our back, so it was bright everywhere. Then they were of course uncomfortable, and couldn't lay the way they wanted. Not easy, and no sleep. I sat with Isabella in my lap for a long time, trying to get her to sleep, Ben was slowly drifting off to sleep, but then we were already flying over Iceland, and not much more time to go..

Isabella finally fell asleep, somewhere over Norway, and after 30 minutes of sleeping, where I finally thought great, I get a brake, they switched on all the lights again, and it was time for breakfast! To get the kids to lay on the seats, I had to stand up or sit on the very edge on my seat, with the little ones laying next to each other across three seats. Poor Cassie didn't sleep much either.

Finally sleeping, see that spot on Isabella's seat where her red blanket is? That's the spot I got to sit on trying to get them to sleep...here standing on the other side leaning over Cassie that was resting on the other part of these 4 seats in a row..

Well, got a coffee and the kids woke up after all the commotion all around and were not happy as they didn't sleep more than about 1-2 hours. But when I told them that we were finally there, soon we would land the plane and we would be in Sweden, they were happy and were waking up to sit up in their seats again.

Soon, time to land!!

We made it, and luckily so did all our luggage! What a relief it is every time when you fly and your luggage is there. We were finally in Sweden! The first time the little ones step on Swedish soil, and somehow that felt pretty big. They got their stamps in their passports, and they thought that was pretty special. Got these pictures from them when we had gotten our luggage and were leaving to get out in the terminal looking for our friend Linda that was picking us up. Tired, but very happy to be there, we finally had arrived!

Welcome to Sweden my darlings!

Hello Chicago

Chicago O'Hare International Airport from the sky.

O'Hare is the fifth busiest airport in the world, after Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, London Heathrow and Tokyo Haneda Airport. It was pretty nice weather and clear views over the airport and over Chicago's skyline, which made me want to take pictures. The camera was of course stored in the carry on the overhead compartment, so the cellphone had to do it, therefore not the best quality of the pictures.

Chicago Skyline by the waterfront.

I tried to get a good shot of the Willis Tower (former Sears Tower) or the Batman tower if you like me have a little boy that is all into the Superheroes. Here I just got it within the picture, the black, tallest building in the background, just by the wing. The Willis tower is a 108-story, 1,451-foot (442 m) skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois, United States. According to some facts about this building, it's the tallest building in North America and the number 10 tallest in the world. 

(click on image for bigger picture)

As we were making a loop over the skyline, before turning in over the airport, the sun was coming against us making the light hard to adjust in the picture taking. Still, it was fun to see this skyline, as I've actually never been to Chicago before. The kids were happy to finally be there, surviving their first flight. Now in my plan, we had a couple of hours to spend, but with this big airport, there was no time for a lot of shopping, but to make sure to get to the right terminal and gate as soon as possible. I don't even exaggerate when I say that we had to more or less run to get to the right place in time. I had thought that we would have time to sit down and eat something in peace and quiet, but with the 3 hour layover that I had planned for, I somehow totally missed to take in consideration that there is 2 hours time difference between Phoenix and Chicago, which made our layover just about an hour!! After getting on the train to take us to the right terminal, we literally ran all the way to the gate. The kids did great, considering that they were starting to get really hungry and tired now, only having breakfast and a snack and no time for lunch.

Waiting for the train.

We're in Illinois!

Boarding this plane went so much easier, we were tired after all the running and from the stress, but at least the kids knew what to expect and Ben was not scared anymore. So no tears getting on this plane!! More about the last part of our trips later as I have to download the pictures from the iPad first. The cellphone died, and the only power we had left was in my iPad, and after downloading and saving so many photos, I just realized that those are still to be saved...to be continued..

Next stop Sweden!