From the second that I picked up the girls from their summer with their Mom in Texas, the only thing that Elaina has wanted to talk about has been her birthday party (Gabriella had her birthday party at her Mom’s house in July). Little did she know, I had already been planning it all summer, and thankfully, she did not change the theme. So it was just time for me to bear down on the finishing touches to ensure that I stuck the landing, because this was the first of their birthday parties where I was going in as the primary planner.
It is really funny how fast things can get out of hand. When the girls came home from Texas on Sunday, I had Halloween sugar cookies waiting for them. This led Elaina to ask if we could bake and decorate cookies next weekend. Sounded like a plan, one that would be fun and fairly easy. While we were eating on the patio on Monday, my neighbor let me know that this was going to be their last weekend in Arizona before the Army shipped his family to Italy for three years, so it seemed right to invite them over for some cookies (and because their household goods are already packed up, their house is pretty much empty). As we were leaving for school, the girls spotted our other neighbor (whose son is in Elaina’s kindergarten class) and begged that they could come too. It still seemed to be manageable, so I did and they accepted. Elaina then told her best friend at school that she was having a cookie party, after which her friend begged to be invited. After I told Elaina that we could do that the Saturday after, her friend wrote a handwritten card to Elaina asking to please come to her cookie party. Like I was going to say no after that. So, I started planning for a Halloween cookie decorating party… for 17 (Note: One of the families cancelled the day before, so while it did not change the spread, the event itself was a lot more manageable).
So everyone knows by now that my daughters and I do everything together. Baking involves having my trusty frosting testers available. Hiking means more than just walking in the wilderness, in that one girl is usually on my shoulders and the other is in a carrier backpack. And a nice, quiet trip to the zoo involves me answering endless questions on why animals look and act the way they do. It is the way our family works and I love it. So why would my big promotion be any different?
So the girls and I have been to numerous zoos, normal or petting, but rarely do they ever intersect. Tigers and bears stay in regular zoos, while horses and goats are usually reserved for petting zoos. So the girls were very surprised to learn that there is an Ostrich Ranch right outside of Tucson and that you could actually feed them (they regularly see them from a distance at the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson). While initially a little reserved (their mother has a surprising fear of ostriches), they eventually gave in and ended up having a great time feeding (and sometimes petting) miniature donkeys, fallow deer, rabbits, and yes, even the ostriches.
So I picked up the girls from Texas almost a month ago and I am just now getting some time to write. And a lot has happened in that month. Elaina started Kindergarten and Gabriella started Pre-K. The girls are signed up for soccer. And I am crushing my new job and about to be promoted. Things are going well in the Calkins household. But as far as getting back into the routine of writing, I figured we should start with something small, like going to the movies. Good thing that The Lion King (live-action) was playing at the on-post theater… and that it was Pajama Night.
Family Game Night seems like a weeknight staple in the United States, but it can be a little difficult when you have a five and three year old. We still find time to get in a game every now and then though, as they are finally getting old enough to understand the rules and develop a seemingly coherent strategy. Coming from an avid board and miniatures gamer, it is good to see my girls get into the hobby, and it is great to have another activity we can do as a family.
“Dad, will you stop blogging and just pick a card with some colors on it?!?”
One day when my daughters and I were making sock puppets, Elaina very casually asked me to make her a puppet theater. She wanted it to be pink and purple, with pink curtains. Challenge accepted. While I am not much of a DIY person, this seemed like something fun that we could all do together as a family.