In February of 2012 the family was separated by nearly 3000 miles for over 2 months! Russ stayed in Virginia to work & the girls and I went to California so I could have some help with the kids because I was so sick in the beginning stages of pregnancy.
In late January, Russ got a huge promotion at work. He is now the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary at the Department of Energy (this means that Russ is an advisor to the #2 guy at DOE. There are over 100,000 employees at DOE and he advises the #2 guy). This is a really big deal! What an accomplishment. He's such a stud! The good thing is that it's a fantastic career opportunity. The bad thing is that his working hours went waaaaay up. Instead of getting home at 5:15, he gets home anywhere between 7:45 - 8:30. When you've got little munchkins at home wanting their daddy and a very pregnant/sick wife...those hours are life changing! He leaves before we are awake and gets home after the girls are in bed so there are days that we don't really even see him. It's hard, but we know that it's a great opportunity and we are beyond grateful for his stable job and his willingness to work so hard for us. Also, after 6 years of living as a one-car family...Russ purchased a used Honda and is able to drive to and from work! Every morning for several years Russ would catch a ride with our neighbor to the bus stop, take the bus to the metro station, take the metro into DC, and then walk from the metro station to work. At night he would walk back to the metro, take the train to the station, and then we would either pick him up at the metro station or he'd catch a bus and we'd pick him up about a mile from our house at the bus drop off. It was a 90 minute commute each way! Awful!!! Now his commute is about 35-45 minutes and he doesn't have to deal with metro trains or smelly commuters. We're so happy for him!
When he started his position, I was still in the throws on the awfulness that is the first trimester, so we flew to Cali for some help. We planned on staying for 2 weeks and we stayed for 2 months! We were so unbelievably blessed that our families (my parents and brothers, Russ' parents/siblings/nieces) were so willing to help with our kids and take such good care of us.
Since we were in California for so long we ended up enrolling Jayda in Kindergarten at Circle View Elementary School! She was in absolute heaven! Kindergarten in California was such an amazing experience for Jayda and we were so happy for the opportunity she had to go there because she hated, despised, and loathed her Kindergarten class in Virginia. Unfortunately Jayda's teacher, Ms. Ito ran the class like a super mean dictator and treated her kids like crud. I was always shocked when I would volunteer in the classroom and hear how she spoke to the kids. She was mean, she would yell, she would give dirty looks, and she would call them names (for example, one little boy wanted his jacket zipped up and so he held the coat up in a gesture asking for help. Ms Ito yelled "I don't help mutes" loudly in front of the whole class and then left him standing there sad and humiliated). I told Ms. Ito that Jayda was not enjoying class and was stressed to go each day. Jayda developed insomnia and wouldn't sleep at night. Instead, she would get tummy aches and come in our bedroom at all hours of the night saying she didn't want to go to school the next day. She also developed little ticks where she would blink really heavily and shrug her shoulders when upset. The teacher told me she'd make sure Jayda felt comfortable in the classroom and would help make it a better experience for her, but I think I just made her mad by bringing that to her attention so things got even worse. The icing on the cake was when I picked Jayda up from school one day and she was crying. She said she had a pain on the top of her head all day long and it was hurting her. I asked her if she told her teacher or asked to go to the nurse and she said "no, I was too scared I'd upset Ms. Ito so I was afraid to ask." When I parted her hair to see the area she said hurt, there was a decent size black spider biting her & burrowing into her scalp! It had been on her head biting her all day!!!
Anyway, Jayda went to school in California where kindergarten is 2 hours shorter, they have an extra outdoor recess and the teacher adored her. It was a great experience and helped her have a positive outlook on school once again. After 2 months of great experiences at Circle View we decided to homeschool Jayda for the rest of the school year when we returned to Virginia as opposed to putting her back in Ms. Ito's class. I was able to home school for 3 months (April - June) and loved every minute of it. What a cool thing to see her learn and soak up the lessons. It was so neat to watch her grow and develop and learn during our lessons and outings. It was a great few months and a wonderful way to spend last few months of having only 2 kids!
Here is Jayda on her second "first day" of kindergarten!
Her first day at Circle View was the 100th day of school so she got to celebrate on her first day there.
While we were in California, the girls were lucky enough to be serenaded by their Uncle Dallas who would sing and play the ukulele to help get them to sleep.
They had super fun dance party's with their cousins.
Poor Lilly got an ear infection while in Cali. One of the kids gets sick EVERY single time we are there. This time she got a high fever and I could see liquid leaking out of her ears so off to the ER we went. She may be have nearly 2 months premature and tiny...but that didn't last long! She's as strong as an ox - here's a picture of 4 adults (1 doctor and 3 nurses) holding her down so the doctor could look in her ear. They kept having to call in reinforcements to help hold her down. Yikes!
The girls enjoyed spending time with their uncles.
We played at the beach as much as possible.
We went to Knotts Berry Farm when daddy came to visit us during our 2 month stay.
The Wee Little Leprechauns visited us at Grammy's house on St. Patrick's Day. They turned the milk green in the fridge and toilet papered the bathroom. They also turned the toilet water green and left little green footprints on the toilet seat. The girls were happy to learn that the tricksters would still come visit them even though they weren't at their own house.
One of my favorite things we did was hang with our Nammy. Can you believe she's 85 years young? I was too tired to swing with Lilly, but Nammy had enough energy to pump away with a toddler on her lap! She's so amazing. The girls sure love their great-grandma!