This whole having-elementary-school kids thing is exhausting! For all involved!
Here she is in her school uniform on the first day of school! Shirt and belt are mandated, bottoms must be among a couple of variations approved by the school and shoes need to be solid black, brown or white. The knee-high socks were her own design inspiration.
Natalie had a great start to the school year, then once the first few weeks of honeymoon phase were over, she didn't want to go back, but now she accepts that it's an every-day-thing and seems to really enjoy it. Her teacher is wonderful and she's excited about all the stuff she's learning. She does come home pretty mentally and emotionally exhausted, though, and we're having lots of breakdowns between returning from school and Daddy coming home from work. Angela is finishing her last session of swim lessons for the year and joy school is going well. Angela thinks it's awesome that Mommy is home with her all afternoon and believes that my sole endeavor during those hours each day should be to sit beside her on the floor and help her do puzzles. Angela has been having a little trouble falling asleep in the car ride to pick Natalie up for school- it's a 45 minute round trip! Car loop so far has been rough but bearable and getting better- seems things have sped up a lot since the first week now that everybody knows the system. In the mornings, we sometimes park at the post office down the street and walk up to the school. She had breakfast at the cafeteria last week for Take Your Dad to Breakfast day and enjoyed it so much, she wants to eat school breakfast every day, which is awesome, cause it's free. Lunch is also free for a month as a relief effort folowing Hurricane Irma, but I don't want her in the habit. Instead, I pack her nutritious lunches so that she can throw them away and complain how starving she is.
This is Natalie choosing between options that I offered on how to get to school from the post office. She labeled her and Angela. They are working on labeling things in school and it's awesome. She now draws pictures with all kinds of 'kid words' pointing to the different things, like a My Little Pony scene with labels for 'ranbodath', 'spic', and 'tilitsprcl' (rainbowdash, spike and twighlight sparkle). There's a lovely one of 'mom' working in the kitchen, surrounded by 'cuvrb's, a 'senk' and an 'uvin', with the 'silleg' overhead and a 'windo' in the back. I love seeing her making connections between sounds and writing!
Before Hurricane Irma, we got pretty well prepared- stocked with essentials to last us a while in case of catastrophic infrastructure collapse, most of our ground-level windows boarded up and all the potential projectiles from the yard stowed in the shed. We spent the storm with my Mom at her place in Tavares, FL. It was nice to spend the time with some company. It was stressful, but I felt pretty peaceful that everything would be alright. We went back home the day after the storm and our power had already been restored- many of our friends- and even our neighbors 2 doors down- had no power for 5 or 6 days. And it was HOT. I'm SO grateful we didn't have to go without air conditioning. We had quite a lot of tree debris- two medium trees down and lots of branches, but the house managed pretty well. Lost one fascia panel from the roof over the back porch. One additional issue that we didn't notice- 2 of our windows have shifted a bit around the edges and now have big cracks where the frames meet the house. We need to get some foaming caulk or something to seal it up, but haven't gotten around to it. This weekend we had a huge rain system move through, dropping over 10", and things were already so wet, it hasn't drained well. We've got big puddles all over the yard. I'm just grateful that we didn't have any flooding- LOTS of people we know around here have water damage inside their houses from the hurricane. We've spent a lot of our weekends cleaning up the yard and helping others who have made volunteer requests through Mormon Helping Hands, then yesterday Micah went out to Orlando for a conferance and will spend the week there. I am just doing my best to keep up with the kids, the house and the animals. We've got 2 cats that I agreed to take during the hurricane because their normal foster had to evacuate and couldn't take them, then she came home to a lot of damage, so they have stayed with us. They're pretty sweet, for cats.
All the chickens survived the storm, but then just last night, I arrived home late around 9:30 and went to lock up the chickens and one of them was gone, feathers were all over the coop, so we lost one more. The reddish one with the white tail, Speck. She was one from our first batch, so she was nearly 2 years old, a decent life for a chicken. Angela is certain that a polar bear snatched her. I can't bring myself to disappoint her by insisting that polar bears don't live here. I wish polar bears lived here. That would mean it was cold. There's just something about sweating in the 93* sun in October that makes you yearn to be farther north.