Saturday, October 25, 2014

Parent-Teacher Conferences

So, the first time for the little ones. Their very first Conferences, and it did feel a bit special, and I was happy that Chris was off and that he also could come and take part in the meeting, as he has been gone for his school while they started school, and has missed a lot of what's going on there.

It was a very thorough walk through for each child and it was great to hear what the teacher had to say. I had filled out a questionnaire for each child in preparation for the meeting, about concerns or questions that I had and we went over that, and their progress in school.

It was also interesting to see the results of the "tests" they did with the kids in one room, when I wasn't there to watch while we had the home visit before school started. While I was talking to the head teacher, the assistance teachers made the kids do certain tasks to see on what level they were at that point. The different tasks were things like:

- Sorting different "counting bears" in size or color.
- Continuing making a pattern of blocks and make their own patterns.
- Colors/Shapes
- Alphabet
- Counting to as far as they could. Answering questions on what comes before 8? What comes after 15? What is the amount?
- Writing their name. If they can name all the letters in their name.
- See if they were using just capital letters or if they were using lower case aswell.
- They had a test on a book. They had to show the teacher how to hold a book, explain what is the cover, what is the title, what is the author, what does illustrations by mean? Where do we start reading, top left to right etc. to bottom right. What is the illustrations?
- They had to give rhyming words to several words.
- They had to show the understanding on words like, under, over, behind, in front of, between, inside, outside etc.
- They had to use scissors and cut out some figures as good as they could.
- They had to draw themselves.

They both did very well on these tests, and the teacher said that they were advanced in a few things and on task with a few. They did not see any concerns on that they were behind on any skills that they should master at this age. They are both very detailed in their drawings, they have good alphabet knowledge, they can recognize numbers and count well up to 20, with a few mistakes here and there sometimes in the upper teens.

Both Isabella and Benjamin scored highest possible on the rhyming and book skills. One could see that we have been reading a lot with the kids she said and that they were used to make up their own stories, that their knowledge of books and interest in reading were ranked very high. Great to see that it actually does make a difference to read a lot to the kids, something that I've done a lot every day since they were babies.

Now for the progress so far since these tests and what they have learned since they started Preschool, they are academically doing great. Socially, they have to work on a few skills. The teachers have to encourage especially Benjamin to speak up for himself, if someone is bothering him instead of just getting angry or walk away. We are practicing more and more to use words instead of getting Isabella has had a hard time sometime to accept that one thing is over and they have to clean up to start another activity, she has wanted to continue to play and gotten upset a few times when it's time to clean up. Normal, and no big deal, it is something that they both have to learn about school setting, that it's important to listen to the teacher and follow directions.

So in all, their process is good, and even if they sometimes are a bit shy and don't talk too much with their friends, they start to open up more and one good sign that they are becoming not so shy anymore of the teacher is that they have started to greet her with a hug instead of a handshake, that was the standard greeting for about 2 months.

I got a few lists on things that we could work on more here at home to help them get ready for Kindergarten. Good to have, especially as they will loose 4 months of their Preschool time when we move, and we don't even know how soon or if at all we can get them into school on Okinawa so it's good to have extra work we can use here at home!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Superhero Day

A week ago today, there was a Superhero Day theme in the twin's school. The school had taken away the School uniform policy every Friday this month, and put out different themes for the kids. This was a theme that my kids loved to participate in of course! Note- Preschool does NOT have uniform policy, but Kindergarten-6th Grade does.

A few weeks ago, when we bought Cassandra's Halloween costume, we found this cute Supergirl dress for Isabella, that I bought even if I didn't know about this theme in school. The kids always play superhero anyway, and Isabella never had a good costume until now.  Anyway, when this theme in school came up, it was the perfect opportunity for her to use it for the first time! It was extra fun that Benjamin actually wanted to be Superman too, as I had thought that he was going to choose Captain America or The Hulk, but no, he wanted to match his sister, and this mommy thought it was extra cute with the "Super Twins", so I didn't try to talk him out of it!

Rushing into school to see the rest in the classroom. There were many little superheroes and all the teachers had dressed up as "Wonder Woman" - really nice!

As the kids had early release from school all last week, due to afternoon Parent-Teacher Conferences, more about those later, the kids finished school already at 10.30am, which gave us time to drive right from school to the local library for their Story time. Fun for the kids who loved going there, and haven't been able to participate in anything there since they started school!

 A Princess Fairy and a bright shining Sun!

After this, it was time to go back home to eat lunch and later the same afternoon, we dropped the kids off at my friend Pamela's house and Chris and I went to our first Parent-Teacher Conferences for the twins.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

No Internet...

This week has been frustrating to say the least. They were working on our street and somehow they happened to dig through some fiber and put the whole street without internet access. Really! That's not what one need when there is so much to do! But, thankfully, today it's back and I can get back to things to do on my list. Isn't it amazing how hard it is to get anything done without internet?! Scary really.

Anyway, I have a lot of emails to take care of, but will try to get to post some pictures from our past weekend later tonight. We happened to get some nice family time together at the Pumpkin Patch.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oki Preparations - Medical Records

Even if I really try to find the time for the blog, it seems that the day just have to get more hours, or I have to stop sleeping..I'm hardly ever in bed before midnight or 1am anyway.. During the days it's a constant running around and we're very busy, and when the evening comes along, I got the dinner, bath and bedtime done and finally get around to clean up the kitchen etc after 9pm, I finally have extra time to fold laundry or sorting more paperwork etc. Then later, I'm just too tired to start up the computer and download pictures etc. I will try to get better and sneak in more time here, as I also find it important to document what is going on and I know that family and friends are interested in hearing what is happening.

So, to keep track I thought I'll make a weekly summit of what's going on and what we will be doing regarding the move to Okinawa in February. I thought of making a list for the Friday's, but I think as when we get down to it, most work or decisions will be made over the weekends when my husband have off (every other weekend that is) and therefore I decided to make a Monday list regarding the preparations. So here we go:

- Medical Records. This has taken/is taking some time..The last weeks, I've been preparing and been gathering information, calling around for updated printed records from all Doctor's Offices that we have been seeing since we moved to Yuma. NORMALLY, all family members of a military family have a Medical File, which stays with your Primary Care Manager and where ALL information about your health, your visits and treatments are put in with the updated copy at the top. It's normally a thick- a very thick- file. Well, as we don't live on base, and I hardly have been to my Primary Care Manager, I have no updated file for myself or for the kids. All my appointments with different doctors, Spine Institute, Screenings and Physical Therapy, was just regarding my back issues last year. I need papers from all of them, copies, x-rays, reports, and when I have gotten them, they all need to be sorted and put into my file. This week I'm getting more medical history printed out from other offices, and hopefully by the end of the week, I will have my file somewhat updated and complete.

- Then, I haven't been on top of this at all since we moved to Yuma. When we lived in KS, me and the kids never went to the Dr. on base, as there was no base close, and all our appointments were from non military facilities. When we left KS, I had all Medical history for me, which was A LOT, remember I was pregnant with twins, hundreds of appointments and tests, and then all the paperwork from the hospital, and then everything from the Pediatrician and the hospital when the twins were born. I got all the medical history for all three kids and myself in big envelopes from the three years we lived in KS, and then never sorted them out to create a Medical Record. So it's hours of sorting papers...

Picture borrowed from the internet. 
(This could easily be me though, with a huge pile of files to organize!)

- Now, the kids need their files complete too. So it's records from Pediatricians, Dermatologist, Allergy testings and and and... it's a lot. BUT, most offices are very helpful and print them out for me, I just have to put it all together and divide the paperwork right for the kids and then hopefully I have it all prepared and ready for when we are called to come for the Medical appointment in the screening process.

- Screening process. There is a lot of paperwork to fill out and get ready and prepare for, before one get called to go to the screening. This I haven't completed, as I was missing dates and documents from all kind of appointments that I have to back up information with. These I hopefully will get this week.

- Then when we have everything complete, we can go to the Medical appointments, and hopefully we will all get the "OK stamp". It sounds like a lot, and it is. If you have always lived on base and never gone to any other doctor than on base, you are so ahead of the game and they already have everything, now everything has to be updated, proven, documented...The Medical appointment can only be done later, as there is a time limit on how far ahead you can get the papers signed off. Meanwhile, my job is to make sure that there are no issues and that we have everything complete to make it a smooth process when we do get the appointment. With the holidays coming up, we don't want any delays of any kind.

- Another thing on our minds right now is what to do with our cars?!? We can't take them with us, so the options that we have is to sell them, or store them. None of the options are ideal, and we are not sure what to do right now. To store them here in this hot climate, is really not good, and we might have an option on taking them to San Diego and store them in a much better climate, where it's not so hot and dusty. Luckily, THIS part is one that I really have to say would be my husband's responsibility. I have no idea about cars, and he has bought both cars and done a great job in researching before buying them, so this one I think will be up to him. Either way, I'll miss my car so much!!

There are many other things going on, but these are the immidiate things right now. A lot more will happen next month, when we are officially "90 days out", as the military so nicely put it. Then, we will be able to get started with the movers, get the medical screenings taken care of, which is a big part. Then we also hopefully will get more details about where my husband will be stationed. There are several bases on Okinawa, and we don't yet know on which one my husband will work, and therefore where we most likely will be put in housing. When I know that, then we can notify schools etc that we are coming and start getting more information about the area where we will live.

Then, we also have to start taking care of a lot of things here at home, a lot of planning is already taking place in my mind and on my lists, on what to bring, what to sell, what to put in storage for three years. Not easy, but more about that another time!

When it feels a little bit overwhelming, as it does from time to time, I try to take a deep breath and remind myself that in less than four months,

I could be walking on this beach...

looking for this:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Columbus Day Playtime

Yesterday, it was Columbus day here in the US. Some schools depending on school district, are closed, and my kids had the day off. Chris was working over the weekend, and therefore he had his day off yesterday and today. It was nice and warm, which means that it wasn't too hot for us to spend a few hours in the park before we had to go and get Cassie's allergy shot and another appointment to the dermatologist. To make more of the day, we decided to grab lunch on the go and the kids had a picnic in the car (with available A/C) before hitting the playground. These are some pictures from our afternoon.

 "Leaving on a jet plane...don't know when we'll be back again.."

Look! This week we even will even see and eight in the front during the day..
THAT was long ago!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wedding Chapel Now & Then

Something that I really wanted to do while visiting Sweden, was to stop by our Wedding Chapel to show the little kids where mommy and daddy got married. As Cassie was 4 years old at the time, it was especially nice to be able to take Benjamin and Isabella there when they are 4 years old too. They have seen plenty of pictures and even seen the DVD from our wedding, but still they didn't really understand that this was where it happened.

When my brother and my sister-in-law came to pick us up, I asked if we could stop by there on the way out of town, and we did. It was a chilly and windy day, and not at all warm, and the rain was lingering in the air, so very different from the day I last was here, where we had a great sunny summer day.

Walking up to the Chapel, we actually saw that there was a wedding party taking pictures outside, and when we walked closer, they walked in and started to take pictures inside the Chapel, before their ceremony was about to start. So, we couldn't go inside, and we didn't want to wait for about an hour or so, as we needed to get back on the road, but it was nice to at least be able to get some pictures from outside the Chapel.

It felt very special thinking about that last time I stood outside these doors, I had just married the love of my life and we walked out with little Cassie on our side greeting family and friends. Lovely memories!! Now, Cassie is almost as tall as me and instead of one four year old by my side, I now had two!!

This is outside the Chapel where we had our Champagne toast 
and drinks before our photo session started.

There is also a nice option to have an outdoor wedding just here by the water. I thought that this was such a wonderful place, but I didn't dare to take the risk of booking the wedding outside, in case of the weather. Another reason to why I decided to have the wedding inside in the Chapel instead of outside, was because I really wanted to have live music, and that was not an option outside. Looking at it now, I wish that we at least would have taken some pictures here on our day, but somehow, that was not done, and still, I'm very happy with the wedding pictures that our photographer took with us outside.

Before we got back into the car, we let the kids play a little. It was really chilly and windy, so we soon decided to leave. It was so much warmer and nicer weather when we were here last time, August 26th, 2006:

Goodbye's & Hello's

After over a week with my friend Linda, it was time to say goodbye for this time. It was wonderful as always to see her and her family, and we enjoyed our stay so much and are so thankful for their hospitality! To make it easier for me and the kids, my brother and sister-in-law made the decision to borrow their neighbor's car and drive the 4 hour drive to come up to Vasteras to get us!

Linda & I - Friends for over 20 years!

It was so wonderful to see them, and there were plenty of tears of joy by the reunion! So long ago, last time we saw them, was when Benjamin and Isabella was only 2 months old... Linda and Roger had been busy making a great lunch for everyone while I was packing up the rest, and it was nice to sit down together before the drive.

It was bitter sweet to say goodbye. It was wonderful to see my family again, and still sad to leave so soon. But what made it easier was that we knew that we soon see each other again, as we would travel with Linda up to Vasteras again before we were going home 5 weeks later..

Unfortunately, her oldest son A was not at home at this point, as he was busy at a soccer tournament. It would be great to once also have both our families complete in the same picture, maybe next time Chris will be able to come with us!

The car was empty when they drove up, but we filled it up with suitcases and bags going back to my brother's house!