Houston, the first week

Wow, it’s hard to believe we are going on our Fourth week being in Houston.  In a way it has felt so much longer and in another way it hasn’t felt that long.  I tried to make myself vow to stay up to date on the blog because there is so much happening and I don’t want to lose it all, but then all of a sudden it has been three weeks since we flew the kids back.  Each week has felt SO Long.  The kids aren’t adjusting all that great but it hasn’t been unexpected. 

We flew in the night of Easter, somewhat late.  What I remember about that night is how WELL behaved the kids were.  It was incredible, they were up late but I think they were just soaking everything in.  I think it was on the plane or maybe slightly before when we finally told the kids we were going to be living in “Sugar Land” and Gretchen got pretty excited.  Hehe.  Up until that point we had just kept saying “Houston.”  Even on the plane when we landed and I turned to Wes and was like “we’re here” He was looking out the window going “where’s Houston?  Show me.”  Hehe and I kept saying this is it, this is Houston he just kept asking where Houston was. 

The drive from the airport to our apartment was only about 30 minutes long and felt quite short.  The kids were still being cute.  Wes spoke up from the back “where’s my dogs?”  which was kind of sad, and when Dada replied, they’re still in Alaska, Wes said “My Alaska?” and that made me even more sad. 

The next day, being a late night for them I knew they would be out of sorts.  But it was Monday and it was supposed to be an “observation” day at their new school.  Gretchen was really excited, I was pretty surprised and Wes I am not sure he understood that he wasn’t ever going back to Alaska and his old routine yet.  In a way, for Wes, it was a pretty bad age to move because he is old enough to remember what it was like.  He’s at that age where they can really start remembering things so he has something to compare too, but still too young to accept reason, or be comforted by reasons.

We went to the new school, which is a Montessori school, and Gretchen immediately got shy.  I tried to drop her off in her new room for a few minutes letting her know it was just for a few minutes but she didn’t want anything to do with it.  So we went out to the playground with Wes’s new class and Wes just takes off playing.  Again, I’m not sure he clued into this is where you’re going to spend your days.  I took Gretchen back to her room and we just sat together in a corner watching the teacher and the kids.  I helped her find the things that were the same as her old daycare.  Everything was going okay with her when Wes peed his pants and we had to go (I had brought a change of clothes with me but we decided to stop at the bank to open a checking account on our way to the daycare and Wes conveniently went on the floor there before we even made it to the daycare so then I felt like an unprepared parent not having a change of clothes at the daycare. )

That afternoon the kids slept well, of course, Gretchen even put herself to sleep which was so odd.  She was eating lunch, declared she was tired and asked if she could put herself to sleep. 

Unfortunately from there the week’s details get blurry.  But I do remember dropping the kids off at their new daycare being horrible.  Gretchen did remarkably well most of the first week.  But Wes was a maniac.  Steve and I felt absolutely horrible.  We knew it would be hard, but it’s just so hard to anticipate.  We both wanted to sit around with the kids the first few days but the teachers were recommending us not to.  Dropping them off and leaving is the best way to get them adjusted.  And the funny thing is we know this ourselves.  We’ve seen it with our kids, we’ve seen it at the little kid’s classes at the church, I have been one of those telling parents, just leave, he’ll be okay.  But it is definitely SO hard.  And I guess for us we weren’t being illogical, it was us not necessarily trusting these people either.  I felt so awful watching a teacher I didn’t know, who Wes didn’t know try to comfort him.  How is he supposed to be comforted by someone he doesn’t trust either.  It was evident every day we went to pick him up he had been crying most of the day.  And the mornings he would wake up and his first words would be “where we going” and if you even mentioned the “new school” he would start bawling before he was even out of the crib.  When we managed to avoid or bypass this question he would start crying the second the school came into view.  We seriously began to diagnose our selection of daycare.  This school was actually not our initial daycare choice.  We had picked one out when we were here in February and had sent in all the paperwork to enroll but when we found our house was not zoned to one of the schools that daycare provided before and after care for Gretchen when she starts kindergarten and it was a bit out of the way from our new house.  So we changed our minds at the last minute and they had to do some rearrangements to fit our kids in.  We were more leary than we probably would have been with the daycare we first picked because this was not the one “our gut” chose.  I was mainly interested in it being a Montessori school, for Wes, because I think his determination will thrive in the way they teach hands on concepts.  Gretchen will just be going to Kindergarten in the fall and her school is right next to this daycare even if she participated in the before and after program at the school or went back to the daycare they are so convenient to each other it will just make life easier.

And to make things worse, Wes was just not himself at home after daycare.  He is usually so happy and spunky.  All the things we love about him.  None of the “OH” after you answer one of his questions like he’s never heard the answer before or his “good job Mama” after I do something little like follow his request to sit next to him or pour him some milk.  No dancing, random singing, clapping, smiling.  It was probably worse than seeing him cry in the morning.  And in all that’s place was “I don’t like my new school” and “I want to go to daycare” which took us some time to figure out really meant he wanted to go back to his old daycare.  We started calling his new daycare “school” and so he associated “daycare” with his old school”  And “I don’t like this apartment” “I don’t like my new crib” “I don’t like our new fan” (that’s how he says van, we were renting a mini van until our car arrived and Gretchen calls the apartment the “repartment” for some reason I don’t know.)  He was just mister negative which is so unlike him.  He also started telling us his “teacher was scary.”  Which at first I was a bit concerned about because I don’t know these teachers, you assume they aren’t doing anything bad, but you always here the stories.  The teacher we were dropping him off with is Indian and she did seem a bit less affectionate than the young white teachers we had in Kenai.  His other teachers were black, Gretchen’s teachers are Hispanic and Chinese.  In fact our white kids are now in the minority at their new school.   And until he started saying his teacher was scary I didn’t think about how much harder it may be for him to get adjusted because his teachers look different to him.  Even dogs are naturally scared of black dogs whether it is warranted or not.  It’s not that he’s prejudiced it’s just he’s never even seen a black woman before.  Coming from an area surrounded by white people and Alaskan native people, which are still pale, it has to be scary. 

Anyway, we were beating ourselves up, not without reason.  That whole first week was awful.  I think maybe Thursday or Friday was the first day Wes wasn’t crying when we went to get him.   We tried to do fun things with the kids after daycare each night.  Tuesday and Wednesday while the kids were at daycare we stayed at the apartment to stick close in case anything happened.  And they were shorter days for the kids.  We let the day get progressively longer as the week went on.  Steve and I finally headed into the office on Thursday and Friday getting our first taste of the commute.  It was kind of funny the first morning we actually got dressed to go to the office, Gretchen was like “why are you wearing church clothes Dada?”  Becuase she has never seen us in business casual clothing to go to work.  I so miss working in the field.  It isn’t even remotely fun to dress-up. 

Our apartment is right on a little pond with some ducks so a few afternoons we went to feed the ducks. 

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The first afternoon we fed them some cheerios but after that I did some research on what is better for their diet so we’ve been feeding them thawed peas (which sink by the way, the ducks need to be quick or interested in diving down, which these are not)  and quick cooking oats. 

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The kids really enjoyed that, I was a bit scared the ducks were preparing an attack.  I think I’m really skittish about wild animals and crinkling bags ever since the ape attack on the Rock of Gibraltar (which is a story all in itself and those that know it know what I mean, and those that were there with me know even more what I mean).  I kept making sure I was between my kids and the ducks whenever they got close.  There is one particular breed of duck that looks like a cross between a turkey and a duck, they’re really ugly and big and they make a hissing noise and most of the time they are on the ground when we walk by and not in the water and they don’t really move when you approach like the mallards do.  They are the ones I am the most wary of. 

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Turtle!

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Some baby ducks we have seen sometime during the month of April, they weren’t there when we first got here, but maybe towards the middle of the month:
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And we took some walks at a local popular park.  It’s a really cool walking trail with a fountain and some nice open green space.  The first time we were there there was this in the park fitness boot camp thing going on, I’ve only seen them in the movies.  There were at least 100 people participating in this one, it was huge and they were playing music and doing aerobic moves.  So now the kids call it “the dancing park.”  They have asked to go back to the dancing park a couple of times.  There was also a bride getting pictures taken there one of the times we went as well.  Gretchen was fascinated.  She wanted to go over and watch her.  Hehe.  Another time we were there we brought a soccer ball for the kids to kick around, they seemed to like that as well.  That day it was actually chilly out because there was a breeze and so the kids didn’t last too long.  I think maybe the second or third time we went to the park Steve finally read one of the signs we had walked casually by before and it said: “Beware of alligators”  I just couldn’t help but have a huge sinking feeling.  Like seriously?  I thought the only thing we had to worry about here were fire ants.  I didn’t know there were alligators in Texas, I don’t know why I never thought about that before.  And as we walked over the bridge, I looked down and sure as crap, there was a freaking alligator.  He was little and just floating there with his eyes above the water.  Steve didn’t even believe it was an alligator, he thought it was a stick, but when we walked over the same bridge to go back to the car, the “stick” was gone. 

And we played at the playground at our apartment complex.

Taking a rest at the playground by our apartment

Taking a rest at the playground by our apartment

Gretchen lost her first tooth!  I do remember that.   (it’s funny how when I start typing all this starts pouring back)  It was hanging on by a thread and so the night after her first full day at daycare, I asked if she would let me twist it and she said yes.  It didn’t take a big tug at all and out it came.  She cried, of course, we iced it, she didn’t bleed very much at all.  And the whole time and for the next week she kept saying, “I can’t believe you pulled my tooth out Mama” and I wanted to be like, I can’t believe you let it hang in there that long.  But I know Gretchen, she needs to be ready or it’ll be a holy terror episode.  The tooth fairy left her a dollar coin. 

The Missing Tooth

The Missing Tooth

She was pretty excited.  She also has no concept of money right now, just seems way too early to be losing teeth.  But her teeth came in early and I was always told if they come early they lose them early.  Her second bottom tooth is pretty loose now too, she’ll be losing that one soon. 

That Saturday we went strawberry picking.  I was SO excited!  I have been dying to go strawberry picking forever.  I have such fond memories of my Grandmother picking me up to go strawberry picking with her so she could make jam.  Mmmm….One for me, one for the basket….yum.  Just to be able to go is awesome. 

 

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With the human strawberry:

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It was fun, until Gretchen got stuck in the mud, then it was game over.  But it was a whole produce stand and as we walked through to pay for our strawberries I was enjoying checking out all the fresh veggies.  We came home with a few mangos and some sweet corn.  YUMMY.  In fact we’ve had corn on the cob every weekend since we have been here.  It is SO good and SO cheap compared to Alaska.  I missed good corn on the cob.  And you know this might not even be “good” corn on the cob.

Gretchen and I also checked out the local library on Saturday and got a library card.  It was so exciting to go to a library that had more than one copy of the same book!  And when we went to look for the Arthur books we were disappointed to find none available only to find a few minutes later they had a whole Arthur section!  With lots of Arthur books we’ve never seen before.  I had a really hard time not getting out every book that was on my list that they didn’t have in Kenai.  But I stuck with getting the first Ivy and Bean book because she loves those and we never knew how they became friends.  I also found a book for Wes about Truckers and the main character’s name was Wesley.  He was really excited about it.  He kept calling it “his book.” 

Here’s Gretchen a few days later in the car with a chapter book she picked out, declaring “I’m reading in my head”  and a few days in a row she would just sit around staring at the words on the page, no pictures, just the words, simulating real reading.

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Then my car arrived! 

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Yea car.  I was really excited.  I love my car.  It had the front seat on the rig all the way from Seattle so it’s rearend was disgusting. And the guy had to unload ALL the cars to get ours off.  The kids had a good time watching him.

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And there really aren’t any “self” car wash drive thrus here.  Not like Kenai, they were everywhere.  Here you have to hand over the keys and wait for someone to drive it through and then wait for them to wipe it all down.  It’s kind of a pain.  It was kind of a foreign concept to Steve but I remember doing this when I was younger with my Mom a few times.  We used to watch it go through from the viewing windows and every now and then we got to stay in the car when it went through the wash bay. 

And some other pictures of stuff that happened in the first week:

Dada reading Wes a night time book:

Dada reading Wes a bedtime story amidst all his cars and trains

Dada reading Wes a bedtime story amidst all his cars and trains

 One thing I have really enjoyed is the closeness of everything here.  It is so remarkable that we don’t have to go more than 2 or 3 miles in any one direction and we can get anything we need.  It’s crazy how much is here.  I just spend a lot of time gawking. But I have really started loving the ability to walk to the grocery store (we won’t be that close in our new house) we have walked there several times just to pick up one or two things.  I think maybe more for the novelty of it.  I have stopped buying two gallons of milk on the weekends knowing one of us can just walk there to get a gallon in the middle of the week when we need it.  It’s really such a concept for me.  But on Sunday morning to kill some time before church while Dada was getting ready the kids and I walked to the grocery store to pick up a few things for that night’s dinner and the cashier gave the kids stickers.  I couldn’t beleive they were the SAME stickers they had when I was in college.  “I’ve been Krogering!”  I gave a silent shout out to my roommate from college, Amanda (if you ever read my blog) I was thinking of you!  I paid and turned around and Wes had them all over his shirt and on his arms, it was hilarious.  I was like “I guess you’ve been Krogering” and the cashier laughed….hehe. 

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And Sunday the kids were exhausted I actually had to wake them up from their naps they were sleeping too late.  Gretchen who “didn’t want to get in bed” passed out on the floor.  I take pictures of my sleeping kids any chance I get.

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And that concludes the first week in Houston.  Like I said, it just felt SO long.

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