It is hard not to notice that it has been over a year since my last post on the rettareport. What can I say? I’ve been busy, but a good busy. It would be impossible to describe all of the things that have happened in the last year, so let’s just move forward and hope for the best. We are settled into our new house in Scarborough, Maine. It was an incredible journey to move a family of five 2700 miles across the country. We went from big city life in the desert to small town life on the coast of Maine. Let’s just say that life is full of changes and new adventures. We love the neighborhood and have had the opportunity to meet quite a few of the neighbors and make a lot of new friends. We can’t say enough nice things about the folks that we have met thus far. Our neighbors are friendly, welcoming and just wonderful people. We feel lucky to have landed on High Point Road. Retta and Clara have enjoyed a two week break from 1st grade and preschool. Before the holidays, Hughston visited us during a break between his work schedule and we just had such a great time with him. We mostly hung out with him around Scarborough, but we did get a chance to drive to Cape Elizabeth and see the Fort Williams coastal area and lighthouse. It was so lovely to have a family member visit around the holidays. Our neighborhood is part of an HOA and neighborhood activities are year-round. During the holidays, we participated in the horse-drawn carriage and caroling activity and we also had a surprise visit from the man himself, Santa! The girls were so shocked to have Santa at the house that they all attempted to run at some point. Luckily, they were able to get close enough to him for a picture and a present. Since all three of my children have been scared of Santa in person since birth, I am always astounded to see a child who willingly sits on Santa’s lap and smiles for a photo. This scenario is not possible for the Humbles, but I am cool with that. So let’s get caught up on what each of the girls have been up to…
Retta is in first grade and is 7 years old. She seems to have more missing and loose teeth than solid ones. She is doing fabulous in school and has an appetite for reading and working math problems. She says that her favorite subject is math. She told her class that she wants to be a singer when she grows up. Since she most likely has inherited my singing voice, I don’t think a singing career is in her future, but who I am to smash a young dream? She recently learned how to play chess and loves the game. She loves to play card games as well. We are so proud of how strong a student she is at such a tender age. Future engineer? Maybe! Retta also loves to play in the snow. It has been such fun to watch her experience her first snow falls and snow play at her own home. She is making lots of new friends both at school and in the neighborhood. Retta is eagerly awaiting her first time ice-skating at the outdoor skating area in our neighborhood.
Clara is in preschool and is 4 years old. She is making those solid steps and becoming a more responsible child. She seems to really enjoy her role as the older sister to Julia and has recently started to ‘be a grown up’ and will help get snacks and drinks for her younger sister. After getting Julia an after nap snack the other day, Clara looked at her and said “Isn’t she just the cutest little thing in the whole, entire world?” It really just warmed my heart to hear her say that. These are the memories I’ll think back to and I’ll just discard the memories of the fighting. One of the tricks of a happy mom. Clara loves to play pretend with her ponies and other toys. She loves to play with Retta the most. Clara is outspoken and bold and according to her speech teacher, ‘she doesn’t have any problems with her vocal chords.’ She is a great sister and constantly looking out for Retta and Julia. She will alert me if she feels Julia is in any danger, like if Julia is dangerously close to getting a swat or hiss from Maggie. Clara also loves the snow play, but is not fond of the layers of clothing required for the activity. Clara loves our bigger yard and the wooded areas surrounding it. She is happy to walk through the woods on her own, so I have to keep a close eye on her! She loves to play board games and computer games.
Before I start my discussion on Julia, let’s preface this by saying that the 16 to 22 month age is by far my favorite age of a small child. I have enjoyed this age the most with all 3 of the girls. Toddlers at this age are beyond the grips of teething, but too young for the saying no and stubbornness of the twos. So they are in this perfect zone of being utterly adorable in almost everything they do. So there you go. This is my disclaimer so that the reader understands that I am not favoring my third child, but simply enjoying every bit of her adorable cuteness at this point in her life. Julia is 19 months old and staying at home with me. She is an absolute joy and a very easy going toddler. Julia has reached the repeating every word she hears stage and the outcome is really stinking cute. She sings songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Wheels on the Bus”. She recently learned how to say words like sleeve, outside, Retta, and popcorn. She loves popcorn. She loves playing with her big sisters who mostly enjoy it too. She has a hysterical laugh and I have realized that she learned her laugh from me, so I guess I am flattered. Her version is much cuter than my version. She opens her mouth wide and exaggerated and then bends at the waist so much so that she is looking at the floor. It is a full-body laugh that just makes you want to hug her. Julia loves to have the music turned on and to dance. Of course dancing at this age involves a lot of spinning. She has this adorable and funny way of walking away from me sometimes with her head cocked back and arm extended forward and silly grin on her face. It is just her way of being silly and getting a laugh from me. It works every time. Julia loves going to the bus stop to pick up Retta on school days. She also enjoys Tuesday story time at the Scarborough Library. She happily sits in my lap and listens to the stories and songs and watches the other toddlers run around. She is an observer and a bit shy. But she loves to interact with a kind grown up that takes a liking to her. She thoroughly enjoyed all of the attention that Hughston bestowed upon her during his visit. Julia doesn’t seem to mind the cold weather so far. She is not a huge fan of mittens, but is beginning to learn their purpose in life. She often asks to go outside, even in the wintery weather. Her favorite things to eat are hummus, blueberries, and squeeze applesauce. Of course, she won’t pass up a piece of dark chocolate, that’s for sure! Julia is a great sleeper at this age. She sleeps a solid 12 hours at night and then takes a 2+ hour nap, so there are no complaints on that front. She recently learned to enjoy bath time, which has been a great relief. Oh, and she is wicked smart too. She can skillfully manipulate the iPad and is a whiz at the toddler puzzle game. Julia can now also say her name…she pronounces it Ju-lee-aaaa, with exaggerated syllables.
We started the girls in swim lessons this past week. It will be nice to keep up with the swimming techniques that they learned in Arizona. So far they all love to be in the water. Julia had her first day of playing in the snow today. Francis loves his new job and we both love living in a small town in Maine. I never thought we would end up here, but now that we are getting to know Maine, it seems like a great fit for us. Now if we could just convince some family to move up here…..any takers?
October was a fun month filled with Retta’s birthday party, a trip to Missouri and Halloween. We celebrated Retta’s 6th birthday on Saturday, the 12th with a party in Mamie and Pappy’s backyard. We rented a big jump house and Retta invited all of her new friends from Kindergarten. A terrific time was had by all and highlights included a butterfly piñata made by the Nosovs and golfing on the mini golf course. Then we headed to Lexington, Missouri for Fall Break. We had a fantastic visit with Ahma, Pawpaw, Nana, and Grandma Walkinshaw. The girls got to enjoy the cold weather, but mostly they had fun with their family. Ahma took them to the pumpkin patch and Pawpaw took them for rides on the lawn mower! The girls had a good time at children’s mass at church and then Retta visited a friend who lives on a farm. She liked the bunnies and chickens the best. The flight out was good, but the flight home was a bit rough since Julia was working on pushing out her new teeth. Francis and I vowed to not travel again for a while! At the end of October, the girls dressed up as cats for Halloween. They looked so cute walking around the neighborhood to collect candy. Clara made sure to say thank you to everyone!
November brought us relief from the heat and the return of wonderful weather! We are back outside again after having been trapped indoors for way too long. The girls love to spend their afternoons swinging, playing in the sandbox, and running around. We had a nice Thanksgiving feast at our house. Mamie, Pappy, Clay, Helen, Sergei, and Faya joined us for the big day. On Black Friday, in lieu of shopping, I took Retta and Clara to the zoo. We met our friends Matt and Jack Balven for the outing. The girls and Jack had a great time. Retta and Jack went on their first camel ride! The kids loved the Monkey Village enclosure. The monkeys were very active and showing off their incredible acrobatic skills right in front of us. It was fun to be in the exhibit with such active creatures.
Retta continues to love school. She is doing well and in the advanced reading group. Clara is growing up so quickly too. She is getting tall and shedding some of the toddler antics. Clara is learning her ABCs and numbers and we are also teaching her to ride a big kid tricycle. Retta and Clara are both very sweet with their baby sister. They always bring her toys and Clara will even wash the toys off for Julia first! Julia is 6 months old now. She has had a busy and active couple of months with a lot of firsts. At the end of October, she got her first two teeth (bottom, middle). She also said Mama for the first time in mid-October. It is possible it was a fluke, but she wanted me to hold her and said it! Julia started to army crawl around 5 months old and then around 5 ½ to 6 months started the real baby crawl. The amazing part is that at 6 months she has started to pull herself to standing. Now she is pulling herself up on everything, even things that aren’t very stable. So needless to say, Francis and I are busy baby proofing the house once again. Julia weighed 18 pounds, 14 ounces and was 28 inches long at her checkup.
We have put up our Christmas tree (no lights or decorations below the Julia line) and we are preparing for the big holiday! It is so much fun watching the girls enjoy this time of year! We are also awaiting the arrival of the Nosov twins which are due any day now. There is a lot to look forward to in the coming months.
I am staying extra busy with rallying my neighbors together to fight a rezoning effort at the shopping complex next to our neighborhood. The rezoning would allow for some seedy business enterprises. We had a great showing of neighbors at the local planning meeting. I know we will be successful!
The weather is finally changing in the desert Southwest. We may have our first week of temperatures below 100 degrees since March. We put down the winter grass seed this past weekend and are looking forward to getting out in the backyard for swinging and hanging out on the deck. August 17th was a big day for us. Clara had her 3rd birthday party at Ultimate Gymnastics. She had so much fun running and playing with friends. She loved her princess cake too. Francis snapped a lot of nice photos of the children in motion. Right before we left the house for the party, Julia rolled over for the first time! Julia was in Retta and Clara’s room and rolled over from back to tummy. A few days later she was rolling over from tummy to back and now she is all over the place. At 4 months, she is able to sit up for a minute or so when placed that way. Julia seems so eager to catch up with her sisters. She also had another first…oatmeal! She had her first solid foods on September 8th and loved it. At her 4 month visit, she weighed 15 lbs, 13 ounces and was 26.25 inches long. The nurse retook the length measurement a couple of times because she thought it seemed too long and that she had incorrectly read the tape. I assured her that it was correct and that I am birthing a women’s volleyball team.
Retta is doing so wonderful in school! Francis and I are overjoyed at how much she loves school. She is making lots of friends. Her favorite things about school are P.E. class and recess! Speaking of P.E. class, Retta has become quite a pro at jump roping. It is impressive how many times and how fast she can move. The most impressive thing of all is that she is reading now!! She knows quite a few sight words and sounds out the other words. With guidance, she can read basic books. We could not be happier.
Clara is growing like a weed. She is always telling me about how big her arms are getting! Clara loves her days home with me and Julia. The other day, she said to me, “Mama, you member when we had mollys, wice, and chocowate beans?” I said, “Do you mean tamales, rice, and black beans?” and she said, “Uh-huh, I like dat!” Clara has also started back with swim lessons at Hubbard. She is getting back into the groove of swimming after a long break over the summer. Retta is taking a tumbling class right now as well. Julia is busy jumping in her jumperoo and trying to think of new ways to move like her sisters!
Retta started kindergarten on Monday, August 5th at Madison Simis Elementary. She has completely amazed us by being brave and happy throughout her first week. So far she loves it, especially the bus rides, recess, and lunch! The past two mornings she has been ready to go and by the door at 6:30 asking Francis to hurry up and get ready. She has made some new friends and her teacher, Mrs. Weflen, is fabulous. Overall, we couldn’t be happier with the whole process. I have to admit, I did follow the school bus on the first day and then walk Retta from the bus to her classroom. Retta had asked me to do that on the first day. It is a lot of fun for Clara, Julia, and I to pick her up in the afternoon. She bounds off the bus and then eats the rest of her lunch on the drive home.
Clara had a ballet/tap recital on August 3rd. Mamie and Pappy went to the recital with me, Francis, and the girls. Clara did such a wonderful job. Of course all the little ballerinas are extremely cute. Clara was the most vivid dancer during the last song of the event “Shake Your Tail Feather.” She smiled and laughed at Retta who was sitting in the front row. The first week of kindergarten has been bittersweet for Clara. On the one hand, she has lost her playmate for a large chunk of the day and is a bit sad. On the other hand, she gets more attention and is going on special outings with me and Julia. I think the start of school has been good for all.
Julia is of course the most wonderful little baby. She had her first belly laugh yesterday while at the Children’s Museum. She was sitting in my lap across the table from Clara, who was eating a snack and talking up a storm. All of sudden she just started laughing while looking at Clara. Big sisters are great! Julia has also tried out the exersaucer and she enjoys it. She is also desperately trying to roll over from back to tummy. I think she will be able to do it in a few more days. Julia has had some allergy type symptoms lately. We are hoping it is temporary. More on that issue after we take her to the doctor.
Francis and I are a bit sleep-deprived, but overall happy. I have recently become an hourly employee instead of part-time. I am hoping to keep this status until Julia is about a year old. It is hard to take a break from my career, but I know that it is the right decision and that I will not regret it.
Julia is two months old and a fabulous little baby! She is sleeping for 6 to 7 hours at night! She had her two month checkup last week and was 12 pounds, 4 ounces and 23.5″ in length (about 90% for each). Julia is very healthy and the doc says she has strong legs. Just in the last couple of weeks she has started to become much more awake and active during the daytime. She smiles constantly, in fact, she is smiling at me as I write this post. Julia is holding her head up on her own for a minute or two at a time. We even got the high chair out of the attic and she now sits at the dinner table with us, even though her tray is empty she enjoys watching us devour our food. Retta and Clara are doing great too. Retta and I went back to school shopping for the first time. We picked up all of her kindergarten supplies for the start of school on August 5th. I can’t believe it, just can’t believe my baby is old enough for school. She will be riding the bus and everything! We go in next week to meet her teacher and see the school. Clara is taking a ballet and tap class on Saturdays. She is so adorable in her tutu and shoes. She loves the active class and tackles every task with vigor. I especially enjoy watching the ‘free dance’ at the end of the class where Clara is by far the craziest of the dancing girls, shaking everything that she’s got! We can’t wait to see her end of class recital in a few weeks. Clara’s vocabulary is quite impressive. The other day while looking at a picture from her San Diego trip with Ahma and Pawpaw, she correctly told me about a statue of ‘humpback whales’. The girls had an excellent time on their trip to San Diego. Clara loved dancing at Kathryn and Jason’s wedding. Retta loved the rides at Sea World. A good time was had by all. We also had a nice Fourth of July. Francis and Clay grilled about 400 hot dogs at the neighborhood celebration at Royal Palm Park. Clara, Retta, and I enjoyed walking around the park, eating free food, playing, walking in the parade, and also running around in the hose spray from the firefighters! Mamie enjoyed the air conditioning while she babysat for Julia! We have a lot of changes happening in the next few weeks with Retta starting kindergarten, Clara’s 3rd birthday, and Julia starting new adventures like the exersaucer and jumperoo.
Julia is 4 weeks old today! I knew the time would fly by quickly. Julia was 8 lbs and 15 ounces at her 2 week checkup. I am sure she is close to about 10 pounds at this point. She is sleeping pretty good at night. I think she realizes that the house is very noisy during the day and she better get some sleep at nighttime! Julia sleeps for about 4 hours and then nurses and sleeps again for about 2 to 3 more hours. Retta and Clara are excellent big sisters. They are both very gentle with Julia and like to put blankets on her and give her a bath. Julia had a first on June 10th – she smiled a real smile for the first time!! She was in her swing in the kitchen and I was getting a bowl down from the cabinet. The bowl slipped out of my hand and banged on the counter. This startled Julia and she let out a little cry. I walked over to her and gave her a kiss on the forehead and told her everything was okay as I smiled at her. She returned a big grin! And I promise it wasn’t the gassy smile that is typical at this age, it was a real open-mouthed happy smile! So it turns out my third daughter is as advanced as my other two (not bragging at all here…) Retta is growing up so fast now. She lost her first tooth on cinco de Mayo and her second tooth on June 4th. She was so thrilled to have loose teeth and to have visits from the tooth fairy. Retta is swimming on a summer rec team with Hubbard. She is having fun with it and seems to do really well with the freestyle. She even won her heat at the first swim meet. Retta proudly showed off her blue ribbon to me when she arrived home after the meet. Retta also had her pre-Kindergarten graduation from LLC on May 22nd. She is pictured above with Teacher Carol. I just can’t believe that she will be starting kindergarten in less than two months. Clara is also doing great. She recently started her ballet and tap class. Clara was so excited to be taking a big kid class by herself, after watching Retta get to take so many. She is in the class with 3 and 4 year olds, but is doing quite well. She loves to learn new moves and to jump in those tap shoes! I can’t wait to take her again on Saturday. Clara has made such advances in her language the last few months. She is getting out of the toddler habits and into the preschooler ones. She is even making controlled, small, letter-like sketches on paper for her name. Her teacher at LLC was very impressed by this! I have been trying to make special time with each of the girls individually so that they will not be sad about the amount of time that I spend with Julia. Thank goodness for Francis and my Mom. It takes a village! We found out some exciting news last week – Helen is expecting twins in December! Ahma and PawPaw are coming to visit us next week and the girls are really looking forward to it. They are all going on a trip to San Diego together!
I have to admit, it has been a while since the last post. The website has finally recovered from a virus of some sort and things are looking up. We have been very busy with baby preparations lately and according to my doctor today, Bumble should arrive any day now. If she arrives tomorrow, she will share a birthday with Ellah! What have we done recently? A little bit of everything, including trips to the zoo, swimming lessons, and visits from old friends. Big Mike and Shannon and their two girls, Afften and Lauren visited with us a few weeks ago. It was so great to meet their girls and see Mike and Shannon again (after 9 years!). All four girls got along beautifully. They ran around the house playing while the adults chatted on the deck. We also had a great visit with Matt, Rachel, and Jack Balven. They are moving to Phoenix very soon and Matt is going to work at Gannett Fleming! I can’t believe what a small world it is sometimes.
The girls are doing great. They really enjoy each other’s company now and often play teacher or puppy together. They declared their love for one another in the hallway a couple of days ago and then hugged. It is those moments that completely overshadow the occasional fight or hair pull. The girls have been enjoying their swim lessons quite a bit. Their last lesson before our summer break was on my birthday. Retta is signed up for summer rec team which starts in May. She is such a terrific swimmer now. Clara loves Coach Ed, her instructor, and is proudly displaying her ‘floating by herself’ ribbon in the attached photo. The other big news is that Retta is officially enrolled in kindergarten and starts on August 5th. I can’t believe she is already old enough for school! She is about to lose her first tooth (lower, left middle) any day now. Both the girls are so very excited about the new baby arriving soon. Francis installed the infant car seat in our van over the weekend. He buckled one of the girls’ baby dolls in the seat. When Clara first saw the doll in the seat, she looked at me with such amazement and asked ‘Is this your new baby?, Is this the baby from your tummy?’ She is so cute, it is unbelievable. She is always asking me ‘why a baby in your tummy?’ and ‘what your baby name?’ We are keeping the name a secret until the big day. Retta has also been very inquisitive about my growing belly and asked me the other day if the doctor was going to cut open my tummy to get the baby out. She was quite surprised and disgusted at my answer and then promptly asked if she could be there to watch the baby come out. Maybe she will be a doctor some day. Right now, she claims that she will be a diver when she grows up. Retta just finished a couple of months of gymnastics class. She has mastered some of the front rolls and flips that are so fun to do as a child. We are going to sign Clara up for a summer ballet class.
On the work front, the project that I have been working on for the last 10 years is finally open to the public. The PHX Sky Train (Stage 1) opened on April 8th. We took the girls to ride it and they loved it. It is really nice to see a project come to fruition and to be a part of the design team that makes it happen.
The pregnancy has been a bit challenging for us at times. But the baby is healthy and she should be arriving any day now. We can’t wait to meet our newest little girl.