Friday, March 30, 2012

Picture Post

Here are a bunch more pictures of our first few weeks here in TX, to get me all caught up - phew, I can't even remember the last time I felt caught up on my blog!

Little cowgirl

On a walk with Cory one afternoon, she brought her bucket of stickers so that she could hand them out to anyone we might see along the way

Bubbles on the patio

My new co-worker - this guy comes around and hangs out on our patio every day, I can see him out my window from my office while I'm working.

We went to the pool last Sunday afternoon. Here she is ready to go, first trip to the pool!

Very sleepy on Monday morning, and see her snuggling with her baby monkey stuffed animal from the zoo, all wrapped up, she asks us to swaddle him for her :)

In front of our magical 'lake' - it fills up after a big rain, and completely disappears a day or two later

Too cute!!

Dentist appointment for Kludo, and yes, this dentist dresses up like a princess :)

Beauty parlor for Cory, lucky dog

There is a Mexican restaurant that we've gone to where you can sit outside to eat, and the kids run around and play together. Here she is hanging from a tree there tonight.

Houston Zoo

We went to the Houston Zoo with the Burtons on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and we got there early in time to be there right when the gates opened.

Ella and Jake very excited for our big day (Ella is holding her camera that she brought to take pictures of the animals :))

We had a great time. The zoo is great for kids - easy to get around but lots of animals close up and easy to see, and since we got there early, most of them were eating, which was fun to watch.

Texas Longhorns!

Silly monkeys :)

One of the neatest things we saw was the elephants getting a bath. The big elephant really liked it and did all kinds of tricks during his bath - the coolest thing of all was that at one point he went up on his front legs, and had his back legs up in the air, like he was doing a handstand. The baby elephant didn't seem to have a lot of tricks yet, but was really cute to watch.

The highlight of the visit was that Ella was able to feed the giraffes. She got to feed them some lettuce - they have a big long black tongue that comes out and grabbed the lettuce right out of her hand, it was really neat and very memorable (a first for me too!)

After the zoo we went to Rice Village which is the neighborhood where Rice University is, had lunch and walked around a little bit. Then, back to our apartment for a big nap for the little lady!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New School

Ella started at her new preschool last week. I took her the Friday we got here for a quick visit, so she could check everything out, see the classroom and meet the teachers, and she talked about it a lot over the weekend so I know she was definitely a little nervous for her first day.

My precious little pumpkin, ready for her first day of new school!

I went with her and stayed for circle time and then a few of the centers. They worked on a computer program, made an art project of a blooming tree, and then worked on their letters. I left for about two hours and picked her up before lunch. She made a new friend, Alex, on her first day, and they've been buddies ever since. We gradually extended her time each day and she went for a full day on Friday.

They wear uniforms Monday through Thursday and Ella said annoyed after a day or two, "so all my clothes have to have a rooster on them?!" , but I really how easy it is to get her dressed in the morning, and they are adorable, and she still has several options to choose from each day. The school makes lunches, so no more lunches to make at night, plus I don't have to make a lunch for me any more since I'm working for home, so my nighttime prep has gotten so much easier.

I really, really like the school. I did a ton of research, then visited three to check them out, and this was hands down my favorite. Because she is 4 already, they put Ella in Pre-K instead of the preschool class, and I didn't know if she'd be 'behind' but her teachers tell me she is doing great. The curriculum seems outstanding and is very structured, although Ella did tell me she doesn't get enough time in housekeeping :). Her teacher has been there for 6 years, and there are 2 co-teachers as well.

Steve drops Ella off in the morning and he said every day when they get to the classroom, several girls run up to say hi and give her hugs...which warms my heart to hear. I ask her tons of questions about her day but mostly she tells me about what she had for lunch and maybe a few anecdotes here and there, but it seems everything is going really well. Her teacher called me this afternoon just to chat and see how everything is going.

I know it'll be a while until Ella is as comfortable as she was at her school, but for one week in, I am really happy with the school and so proud of Ella for doing so well in a new environment.

St. Patrick's Day

Our first Saturday here was St. Patrick's Day, and we went to a little get-together. One of Steve's roommates from college, Josh (who I met the same night I met Steve!), lives about 45 minutes away in Missouri City, and they had us over. They have a little boy Jake, who is about 10 months younger than Ella, and we've been enjoying spending time with them. Another of Steve's classmates was also there, he and his wife and three children live in the same neighborhood. We had a really great time and so nice already know a few people in the area.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Kerri had told us they were going to set up the water slide for the kids so Steve went out and got Ella a bathing suit that morning - so she officially has a 4T now :)

Playing with the baby Hudson. She told everyone all about "her baby" Cameron, who lives in Charlotte.

Once it got dark, Josh found two frogs hanging out on the slip and slide and Ella and Jake were incredibly excited. At first Ella just wanted to supervise the operation and boss Jake around to tell him what to do to catch them, but after awhile she got brave and held one herself. We were laughing so hard watching them.

Holding their frogs

The frogs eventually wised up and hopped away, but I don't think I will ever forget watching Ella hold a frog for the first time, she was just so excited.

Ella and Jake really played great together and I was really happy for Ella to have such a good time with a new friend. The next day I asked her what she thought of Jake and she said "he's awesome!"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kemah Boardwalk

The Friday night of our first weekend here, we went to the Kemah Boardwalk. It's about 30 minutes away and right on the waterfront, there are rides, restaurants and shops,and even an aquarium. What we did not realize is that Spring Break is the same week for all of the schools in the area, and happened to be that week, and many, many, many other families had the same, it took us forever to get there because of all the traffic crossing the bridge, and was extremely crowded. Lesson learned, we will not be attempting to go back during spring break again!

Ella before we left, she insisted on getting all dressed up and had picked out the dress on a recent shopping trip with Grammy

After waiting in line about 15 minutes to try to get ride tickets and realizing it was going to be an hour before we went on a single ride, we decided we'll have to come back again when it's less crowded to go on rides. Ella was disappointed because she loves rides, but was a really good sport.

Here she is playing the strongman game, where you take a hammer and hit the thing to see how high it can go...I have no idea why she wanted to play this one but once she saw it, she couldn't take her eyes off it and just had to try.

She got to pick out her prize, and picked this monkey and happily put him right around her neck. Funny enough, when we were at the Raleigh airport the day before, we were in a store getting a bottle of water and a snack, and she really wanted almost this exact monkey. There was a whole display of them, she had taken one off, wrapped him around her, etc. I told her we weren't getting any toys and she put him back, but I knew she really liked him and so I was happy she got to "win" the exact monkey at the Boardwalk.

There is a big splash pad area where there were tons of kids running in and out of the water, some in bathing suits but many just getting soaked in their clothes. I had no change of clothes for her, and didn't want her to be getting wet, have soaking hair, clothes, be uncomfortable at dinner, in the car later, etc, so I told her we could watch the kids but she couldn't play in the water, and that next time we would be prepared and bring a bathing suit. She said okay and still wanted to watch, but I know she wished she could have gone in the water because it looked like so much fun. Then we saw a bunch of kids with these electronic bubble blowers, and she instantly wanted one of those and asked if I'd get her one. Steve was getting a drink or in the restroom so it was just the two of us. I told her I needed to check if I had cash in my wallet and if I did, we could get one of the bubble blowers.

So we went over to a big step where there were a lot of people sitting, I found a spot for us near two elderly ladies, and started looking in my purse. They started talking to Ella and as usual she gave them her interview - where were their kids, what were they doing there without them, did they wish they could go in the splash pad?

The ladies were very sweet and said they came so that they could sit and enjoy the beautiful weather and watch all the out people having fun. They asked Ella if she was going to go in the water and she said "No, my mom says I can't. Next time we'll bring a bathing suit. But I don't even have a bathing suit that fits me, I'm a 4T now and my bathing suits are all 3T." (In my defense, who knew it would already be bathing suit time in March?!)

Then they said "did you ride on any rides?" Ella's reply: "No, it's too crowded, we'll have to come back another time to go on the rides." The ladies (probably feeling sorry for her at this point) said "Oh, well what are you going to do next?" Ella's reply: "My mom needs to look and see if she has enough money to buy me some bubbles" -- sheesh, I'm sure these ladies probably felt very sorry for this sweet little child with a mom who won't let her ride rides, won't let her go in the splash pad, doesn't give her her a bathing suit that fits, and has to scrounge in her purse to buy the poor kid some bubbles... Fortunately I had some cash and we were able to head off and buy the bubble blower before Ella told them that I hadn't even fed her dinner yet!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Texas, here we come

I had to make the title of this post "Texas, here we come" because a few days before we moved, Mom, Ella and I were in the car driving back to Mom's house and out of the blue, Ella said from the backseat "Texas, here I come!" - it was so funny, I have no idea where she heard it, or what made her think of it, but I don't think I'll ever forget it.

We had an 11am flight on Thursday the 15th. We had a few hours in the morning before we needed to leave for the airport, and of course Mom and Glenn were extremely helpful in getting us packed and out the door. Even though I had given as much as I could to Steve when he drove out a few weeks before, I still had way more to bring than what was going to fit in two under-50 pound suitcases, and so Mom ended up having to ship several boxes for me and my suitcases were well under the limit at 40 pounds each :).

Ella with Grammy and Grampy the morning of our flight

Mom and Glenn took us to the airport, and it was hard and sad to say good-bye. But they have already booked their first trip out here so it's very nice to already have a date that we know we'll see them in just a few weeks.

Mom texted this one to Steve of Ella and I in the security line

On the first flight, the only two seats together were the two in the way back, beyond the windows, so Ella couldn't look at the window, but well worth it in order to be sitting together

Ella did great on the plane and was really funny talking to the flight attendant. She was young and pretty and Ella instantly liked her. She gave Ella a pin of flight wings, and Ella wanted to see hers so I could pin hers on the same way. I pinned it on her and the flight attendant asked about her necklace.

Ella said "I made it, it's from my friend Tess's birthday."
Flight attendant: "Oh that is neat, how old was she?"
Ella: "She turned 4, just like me, I am 4."
Flight attendant: "When was your birthday?"
Ella: "January 5th, when is yours?"
Flight attendant: "Oh wow, mine is January too, it's January 31st"
Ella: "I had my party at BounceU, where was your party?"
Flight attendant: "I went to New Orleans for my birthday."
Ella, "Oh, you couldn't have a jumping party because you're too big and would pop the jump houses?"
Flight attendant: (Suddenly remembered something she had to do somewhere else on the plane...)

The downside of sitting in the very last row is that we were the last off the plane. Ella was very ready to get off once we had landed...

When we got to the airport in Atlanta, I had to wait at the gate counter to try to get our tickets changed so we could sit next to each other and I let Ella sit in the row of seats right by the counter. There was a girl on the phone for several minutes sitting a few seats over. When she got off, Ella walked right up to her and said "who were you talking to on the phone?" The girl, surprised but amused, said "my mom". Ella said "Oh, what's her name" The girl said, "her name is Shria." Ella said "oh, what's your name?" The girl said "My name is Shria." Ella said "NO - I said what's YOUR name?" The girl said, "Yes, my name is Shria." Ella (annoyed) said "but that's the same name!" The girl said "Yes, me and my mom have the same name." Ella: "oh"...and moved on to her next victim.

The lucky person was a girl in her late teens or early twenties who wasn't wearing any shoes. Ella wanted to know why she had taken her shoes off and had she asked her mom (who she was not traveling with) if it was OK before she took them off. Then she wanted the names of the girl's Mom and Dad. She used to ask everyone what they were having for dinner, but lately she is much more curious about the names of everyone and the names of their family members.

Our second flight Ella got to sit by the window

Very excited about the trip

We landed around 3:30 pm and Steve was waiting for us at the airport. Ella was so excited to see him and really eager to check everything out. She kept saying "Is this Texas?" We drove to the apartment and she wanted to see Cory, but was mostly interested in where all her toys were.

In her new bedroom

We took Cory for a walk and walked all around the apartment complex. It was in the low 80s and there were already people swimming in the pool, and then we stopped at the playground for a few minutes

We were all exhausted that night and went to bed early, here she is sleeping on her first night in the apartment

So - we made it safe and sound and all is going well. I have lots of pictures from our first week that I'll be posting soon!