Festivals, Conferences and Schedules, Oh My!

This week marks our first full week of school since the girls began on September 2. The first was a half week, the second chopped short by Labor Day, and the third slightly truncated by our trip to Indiana. Plus swimming has started, which is making this week seem really quite long.

Ilsa had a follow-up appointment last Thursday that produced very good news on all counts. It looks like she may be off her current medications by the end of February, and she gained two pounds in just under five weeks. Considering that she only gained two pounds between December and July, that's a huge jump!

After school on Thursday, the girls and I drove to Indiana to help my mom with her craft booth at the Nappanee Apple Festival. Mom weaves and sells floor rugs and very cool tote bags, which you can see here in this photo (where Mom is trying to hide behind her dried lavender).

I'm very proud of her. Not only did she teach herself how to create these beautiful rugs and bags--learning from scratch by using books, the Internet, and trial and error--but now she's taken the added, scary leap of putting her work out there for people. It's no longer just a hobby, but a source of income--and also a source of apprehension that always comes when trying to put a price tag on an artistic creation. I know it goes against her grain, so her initiative and success on this front have been very gratifying to witness.

That and I sold eight books! Wee!

The girls were very patient as we spent roughly 11 hours at the festival. They ate funnel cakes, went on rides--that took all of four minutes, total--and generally occupied themselves by coloring and make-believe for the rest of the time. Juliette gave me a scare, though. While she went with my brother and his wife to secure snacks, I thought she had gone with Ilsa and their cousin, Lily, to watch a puppet show. When Ilsa and Lily came back and didn't know where Juliette was, Mom and I went running around trying to find her. It was dark, kids and people were everywhere, and I was a little freaked. But then Casey and Jess returned. Just a miscommunication that took three years off my life.

We returned to Wisconsin on Saturday evening, and Sunday was Keven's birthday. It was a low-key affair because we've been on a budget for the last three weeks. I made beef stroganoff and peach pie, both from scratch, which severely tested my rusty cooking skills. But our plan is to go out to The Melting Pot for a double date fondue with friends on Saturday. Babysitter (on your mark), money allocated in the budget (get set), fondue!

On Monday I had a conference with Juliette's first grade teacher. We discussed how my goals for her year are less academic than social. Seems she's having a little more trouble adjusting to life without Ilsa than we'd anticipated. She doesn't exactly know how to deal with a group situation without her sister in tow, approaching people hesitantly and backing off at the slightest rebuff. I would really like to see her become more comfortable in groups and with change in general. She also has a hard time acknowledging her teacher's authority--testing, testing!--and keeping eye contact. But then, as Keven said, she's English.

Another goal is for her to be able to honestly assess her strengths and weaknesses. At the moment she claims to be good at everything, which isn't always the case. It's like any admission of weakness is a source of embarrassment, but in truth the constant boasting diminishes those skills she has in spades. I'll be curious to revisit this topic in three months, or in a year.

Otherwise, we're just plugging along. I've been cooking more, which only adds a little extra burden to the day as long as I plan for it. If I don't plan, then it's a nightmare production that generally results in macaroni and cheese. The leaves are changing, the temperature rarely strays above 70, and autumn is definitely making itself known. I like this rhythm. This is a good rhythm.

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