August 30, 2017

Back to School

For the last three months, Fox's school situation has been nothing but a nightmare. Actually, it probably all started back in April, when his school told us that they were moving to a new location, because the rent was cheaper. His school had been at that location for about 25 years, so we were shocked to learn the news and not too happy about it. There were some issues with the school before and we had considered leaving, but then decided against it, because we wanted to keep him in the same environment, with the same kids and same teachers.
Fast forward to May, about three days before school was out. Summer camp was supposed to start the following Monday and all of the sudden I was told by another mom, that she heard rumors that summer camp was canceled. Not even from the school, although just that morning I had asked the Preschool Director some questions about summer camp and clearly she knew what was up and straight up lied to me (or didn't disclose the information...however you want to look at it). 
I was furious when I picked him up that day and gave her my two cents when she admitted that summer camp was indeed canceled. Here we were, without childcare and two full time jobs. 
We decided it would be best for me to take some unpaid time off work, since we would be leaving for Europe two weeks later.
But if that situation wasn't stressful enough, two days after said day, we received an email from the school, stating that they were filing for bankruptcy and the school would not open again. Say what?
While we felt incredibly angry to be kept in the dark for so long and stressed to not have daycare lined up for after our trip, I also felt some sense of relief. For the last few months we had contemplated over and over again to take him out of the school and always backed out, because we were scared of throwing him into a new environment, but now the decision was made for us and we had no other choice. 
We were heartbroken about not having his amazing teacher anymore, but felt especially sad for all of the teachers and staff members who had just lost their job without notice.
We were on a mission to find an amazing school for him before we left for Europe, so we only had two weeks to accomplish this. It felt like we had toured so many schools in the last two years and didn't love any of them, but we received some recommendations from friends and Facebook groups and scheduled some more tours. We had to rule out any christian schools because we are a same sex sounds ridiculous, but the sad truth is, that it's not. In Arizona, schools are allowed to legally discriminate against you if you're gay and we didn't want Fox to grow up in an environment where he might be told that his family is not okay and accepted. 
After we toured the first one on our list, we felt like we had hit the jackpot, but did our due diligence and toured the other ones as well, but of course, no one could compare.

We not only signed him up for the coming school year, but also for summer camp, starting the week after we got back from Germany. 
It honestly all sounded too good to be true. The staff seemed amazing, they were very accepting of our family, the facility was top notch including an art studio, super fun playground and splash pad and the curriculum was exactly what we were looking for.
We toured some schools where they wouldn't have a curriculum and "just" play...and while we want Fox to play and have fun, we also wanted a place where they foster his interests and start preparing him for Kindergarten.

They offer so many amazing opportunities for the children: Yoga, Sports Classes, Splash Pad Days, Art Class, Music, Spanish and Hebrew (it's a jewish school and while we are not jewish, they were so welcoming and accepting of our family).
We lucked out big time when we found out that his teachers would be exactly the ones we were hoping for and that he already knew from summer camp. It was such a huge relief for me and I was so happy!
School has been in session for about two weeks now and honestly, I can't say enough great things about it. 
Every morning, he runs in with a smile (at his old school he mostly clung to me and didn't want me to leave) and he learns so many new things there every day! Today, we were driving home from the grocery store and he was singing jewish songs to me..granted, I have no idea what he is saying, but listening to him sing with such joy just made my Mama heart so happy. 
I am so grateful that things turned out the way they did and we are looking forward to the school year!

August 19, 2017

Ice Cream Truck

Just some pictures our photographer took of Fox this month!
She had an Ice Cram Truck set up in her backyard and she got all of these smiles by saying "Don't you smile at me...!" Ha! 

August 14, 2017

Pool Party

A few weeks ago we celebrated Jake's 3rd Birthday with a pool party!
It was a hot day (like every day from May until October in Phoenix), but the pool felt amazing and we all had such a great time!

Jake's Mama Kristy and I actually take the boys swimming once or twice a month. She has access to an amazing pool with splash pad at her gym and the boys get along just as great as Kristy and I, so it's a win-win! Fox's personality hasn't changed since he was little, he does much better in a one on one situation with another child compared to a big group - just like me!

All of these pictures were taken by Kristy's photographer she had hired for the party!

We stopped Fox's swim lessons last December when he was getting sick too often (he had lessons at an outdoor pool) and never picked it up again this summer. When we ended the lessons, he was so brave in the water, would dive and float on his back. Now, he is terrified of even going under, which is such a bummer...we'll definitely have to start swim lessons again at some point. 

We came inside after lunch to cool off a little bit and have some cake! I know I say this often, but I'm seriously so grateful for these ladies and the friendships I made. It all started out with a Mom's group on Facebook that I joined when I was pregnant, it was a group just for first time moms of babies that were born in the year 2014. I went to my first playdate when Fox was 8 weeks old and the rest is history. They're the best!

Like always, I brought Fox his own special vegan cake. He never cares that he can't have the cake everyone else is eating, which is such a relief. 

Love these boys!
We had an amazing morning and swam for over three hours. Such a fun party and great company!
Happy Birthday Jake!

August 10, 2017

Fox's 4th Of July Pictures

I know, I know, it's the middle of August and I'm just now getting around to posting these pictures.
Turned out my vacation re-cap took a little longer than expected.

We had a great and low key 4th of July with a Family BBQ and swimming at our house. We didn't watch any fireworks because the next day was a school day for Fox, so we couldn't let him stay up past his bedtime.

August 05, 2017

Our last day in Germany

During our last day in Germany we went to my cousin's wedding. It happened to work out that the date was during my visit and I was so excited to see the girl, that I grew up with and was my best friend for so many years, the girl, who said she was never going to get married, tie the knot. 
It was a courthouse wedding and there was no celebration after, because they had the reception planned for a couple of weeks after the wedding, but it was great nonetheless and she was so surprised that I showed up, because I had already said my goodbye's a few days earlier and she had no idea I was coming. And I failed to take any pictures because I was too busy with a certain three year old who kept asking me every 15 seconds if we could go home now and didn't want to leave my arms. 

That night, I took him to one of my favorite spots in the village, the same spot where I had taken his pictures two years earlier.
I have so many memories from this place!

Love the pouty lip

There might have been a lollipop as an incentive in the car, if he would let me take his pictures...and he really worked it for that lollipop, I love all of these!

My mom showed him how to throw stones in the river and he loved it and didn't want to leave.

We met up at my aunt's house afterwards and my uncle rode the lawn mower with him, which was probably one of his favorite things ever!

See, there's that well earned lollipop...ha! 

While I love visiting my hometown, seeing my friends and family and eating good german food, I always leave more exhausted than before.

Like I mentioned before, Fox never went to sleep before 11pm or midnight, which is when I had to start my "work day" for Etsy. 
I know a lot of moms do this single parent thing all the time, maybe because their other half travels a lot for work or maybe because they are a single parent, but dang, this shit is hard. So if you are one of those supermoms, I applaud you. It would've been much easier single parenting him at home, in his regular environment, but this right was hard at times. 

My friends would see our pictures on Facebook and comment to me about how fun this trip looked and how much fun all of us had, but what they (and you) didn't see was all the behind the scenes stuff.
The hours we spent laying in bed where he would ask me 136,983 questions about the world so he wouldn't have to go to sleep, the tantrums when I wouldn't buy him another toy, the clinginess because he was so shy and uncomfortable that didn't allow me to leave him at times, the struggle with food, because he is so picky and has so many allergies that made it so hard to feed him in Germany, where everything tasted and looked different to him and he wasn't going to try anything new.
He also was sick for about seven days (just a bad cough and general cold) and this Mama was tired. 

Our travel back to Paris was the worst though. It was the one and only time I was on the edge of crying because I was so overwhelmed. If you have ever been to the Paris airport, you'll know what I mean. If you've never been, you should avoid at all costs going. It is so big and so spread out, not to mention confusing! So here I was, with a kid in the stroller, thinking I just rocked our flight and everything that came with it (driving to the airport, checking in, know what I'm talking about)...until I have to pick up the rest of our luggage. In fact, including hand luggage, we had seven freaking pieces of luggage, four of them suitcases. Katie kept scolding me for bringing so much crap, but in reality, one of the suitcases was filled with his special food, we had to bring wedding attire, summer clothes, winter clothes, jackets, toys, you name it. And granted, I always like to bring back some of my old stuff when I go to Germany, because I still have about a million boxes there. 

I was ok pushing the luggage cart with one hand and the stroller with my other hand (although I was drenched in sweat doing so), when all of the sudden, I was told to get on a bus and I had to leave my luggage cart behind. So here I was, with a crap load of shit and a kid who was begging for snacks and they had just unloaded me at a terminal and I had no idea where to go. We went up and down elevators, across the halls and all of that in a snail like pace, because I wasn't able to push all of our stuff without luggage cart. I almost lost it. I was ready to ditch all of the stuff and just take my kid and run. Eventually, some very nice people who saw my break down coming, hunted down another luggage cart for me and I wanted to hug them because they had no idea how much they had helped me. 

Traveling to Germany is so much different than it used to be. I have german friends in Phoenix who love going back every year for 4-6 weeks and I'm just sitting here thinking "You are crazy!". To be completely honest, after ten years, Germany doesn't feel like my home anymore. I love all the memories I made there and I love seeing all the places and people again, but it's not my home and it never will be my home again. I can't imagine living there. It's a strange feeling to be back, especially when you realize that the people you once knew so well, you don't know at all anymore. You feel like a stranger in your own "home" if that makes any sense. 
And traveling there involves a lot. Not just a lot of costs, now that we have to pay for Fox's seat too, but also the costs of unpaid vacation time like I had to use for this trip. It takes two days just to travel there and although Fox is an excellent traveler, it's not like you can take a nap or read a book on the flight like you probably do when you don't have kids. It's stressful and tiring to me. 
I'd rather pay for my mom to come visit us every year instead. 
So there you have it. We had a good time, but it was hard work. I'm not sure when I will be ready to do this again, maybe next time Katie will have to suck it up and come with us! :)