Officially a kindergartner

Thursday, August 22, 2013

HJ's 1st day of school
So HJ's first day of kindergarten has finally arrived and passed with surprisingly little drama. And I'm a little embarrassed to admit that the only tears on her first day were mine.

I did my best to play it cool, of course. The last thing I wanted was for her to wonder why Mommy was crying when I had been talking up kindergarten for the past 6 months! So I tried hard not to think about how strangely significant this moment felt and focused on getting HJ to school on time, pretending like it was just any other day.

We had a couple moments of, "I don't want to go to school, Mommy!" but they were quickly eclipsed by her desire to use her new purple polka-dot backpack with the matching pencil case. Of course, she ended up choosing a backpack more proportioned for a third-grader than my little 3 foot 4.5 inch, 35 lb kindergartner. But what can I say? The girl loves school supplies. I literally had to hide the pencils and glue sticks from her before the first day so that she wouldn't use them all up at home.

Another incentive for her? Her new BFF/future husband Mason, who sits right next to her, and her new girlfriend Mahi, who she met in summer school this year. Though I had worried endlessly about her transitioning to a new class with new kids and a new teacher, so far (and yes I know it's only been two days!) HJ seems to be adjusting amazingly well.  The hardest part has been figuring out what she'll actually eat for lunch. Yes, the drama has been reduced to, "Should she buy milk from the cafeteria or will the line take too long?" and "Will chicken nuggets still be warm enough for her to eat after 3 hours?"

It's only when I stop to think about what it all really means, when my mom says things to me like, "I can't believe you have a daughter in kindergarten!" or my friend asks me if I'm enjoying the "empty nest," that I start to get that choked-up feeling I had when I watched her walk happily through the front door without looking back once.

Lila pretending to go to kindergarten
Lila is definitely going through her own adjustment to having her big sister gone all day, but it's a good thing I still have her with me at home or I would be a complete wreck! And while I'm sure she's loving the opportunity to have Mommy all to herself, my guess is Lila seriously thinks she is going to kindergarten any day now. According to Lila, she is already four years old, and it is absolutely necessary for her to pack her own lunch bag, snack, and backpack in the morning.  Little does she know how excited Mommy gets when she conks out for a two-hour nap at 11 mind literally starts racing thinking about how much I can get done without any interruption!

The funniest thing is that so far Sol and I are pretty clueless as to what HJ has been doing all day at school. We have a general schedule outlining the day's activities, but the mysteries remain... How much of her lunch did she really eat and what did she throw out? Did she really like gym class for once? And did she really get a sticker for listening well, or is she stretching the truth a little when she says that only the girls got the stickers and not the boys?

I'm sure in a couple weeks we'll all have a better idea about what life with full-day kindergarten really means, but for now, I'm just happy that there haven't been any tantrums, tears, or meltdowns... yet... I'm just really hoping this drama-free thing lasts for a little while longer.

10 years & 1000 moments

Sunday, August 4, 2013

St. Luica, August 2003!
Lately HJ has been really into talking about weddings and getting married. At the end of the school year, she "wrote" (i.e. dictated to her 5th grade buddy) a story about rainbow kitties and weddings. And apparently she is marrying her friend Mason from school. They are planning to move to Tennessee and live in an apartment so Mason can push the button in the elevator every time. Hmmm, Mason, not sure how that's going to work out with HJ...

So when I told her this weekend that 10 years ago, Daddy & Mommy had their wedding and got married, she pretty much just gave me a look that said, Mommy, I have no idea what you're talking about, but if that means you and Daddy are going out to dinner and not taking me and Lila with you I don't like it.

Thanks to my wonderful sister, aka best aunt in the whole wide world, we did manage to go out for a fancy dinner and a movie (our first since before Lila was born, maybe since HJ came home??), and it was lovely of course, but not exactly what we had planned 10 years ago. When we went on our honeymoon to St. Lucia 10 years ago, we had vowed to come back for our 10 year anniversary. Fast forward 10 years, and we found ourselves celebrating in Northbrook, Illinois, a bit closer to home than St. Lucia.

Not sure what we were thinking back then when we first got married. Did we think that we would have kids? I'm sure we did. But did we realize what that would mean in terms of things like traveling to a faraway tropical island or even going out to dinner and a movie once in a while? I doubt it. We were young, naive, and pretty much 100% clueless!

One thing that changed our plans was thinking that we would have kids right away. I mean, maybe we thought about waiting a couple years to enjoy married life as a couple, but if things had gone "according to plan" we would probably have an 8 year old and a 6 year old who would happily be independent enough to stay with their grandparents for a week. It's funny how much things don't go "according to plan."

Although Sol and I had always thought about adopting in the back of our minds, for me, it had always been somewhat of a distant possibility. I had grown up visiting my grandparents and aunt and uncle's orphanages in Korea, so the idea was never completely foreign to me, but I had no idea how long and agonizing the entire process would be. It seems so long ago now, but in those first few years when things were not going according to plan at all, I remember wondering if I would ever become a mother. It seemed to be the only thing I wanted and the one thing I couldn't control. And then when HJ arrived in our lives, there was hardly a moment to reflect, to really understand that this was everything I had been waiting for. After that, it was wondering how and when HJ would have a sibling, and then Lila was born. And now, here we are, 10 years later, our two beautiful girls, and I can hardly remember what life was like before.

While we were eating dinner on our anniversary, I told Sol that if there was one thing I felt at that moment, it was lucky. Maybe lucky is not the right word. Fortunate? Blessed? Thankful? In any case, happy to be where I was at that very moment. Because even if I could never have imagined how things would turn out 10 years ago, all the moments, both good and bad, and as Sol put it, more than our fair share of drama over the years, there is nothing, absolutely nothing I would ever trade for being right where we are today.

Happy 10 year anniversary, Sol. I love you more now than I did the day we got married. Maybe we can go back to St. Luica for our 20 year anniversary :)

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