The Last Unicorn - Or The One Where My Niece Graduates

Once upon a time, a long time ago, my eldest sister had a baby. And the entire family far and wide welcomed our first little girl to the brood. My grandparents have five grandsons-but just the one granddaughter.
She hung tough with the boys, she played in the dirt, she wore skirts but never let it slow her down. She's a tough little cookie. We babied her, but we didn't. We played with her hair, but just let it be a mess when she was having fun.
And that baby girl has gone and done it...she's grown up.
I have a handful of videos from when she was little, but for some reason I got stuck on this clip:
She had been trying to inch her way closer and closer to touch the bird so many times prior to this clip, but she just never stopped trying, and didn't care how many times we told her the bird would bite her -she had a good spirit and just kept pushing on with what she wanted...and that's how she still is today!  
We are all extremely proud of this little sprite - she's just wonderful, so smart, compassionate, beautiful, etc etc...but we miss our little girl. She's just no longer that wee one, she's a full-grown lass. Ridiculous how life works that way, isn't it?
My parents went on this whirlwind US-tour and hit twelve states in 5 days (or something crazy like that). My other sister had a son graduating the week prior, so my parents drove from Iowa to South Carolina to be with him and then they drove to the other side of the US and joined us in Washington for my niece's graduation in less than a week! Crazy retired folks!
Anyway, my niece's graduation was nice - under 150 students, not a lot of songs or speeches, and it wasn't too horribly crowded. It was quite warm and toasty in the pavilion, but it wasn't plane-stuck-on-the-tarmac stuffy.  She actually graduated with an AA from the local community college, thanks to the wonderful Running Start program and now she's heading off to college in the fall. We're so proud of her!!
For those who are entertained by pictures of other peoples kids, here's some photos:
Just one of many "walls of Alyssa" - there is no shortage of photos of this girl!

So pretty!!!
My favorite photo of any graduating friends ever. This setup is awesome.
Eye spy....there are 9 of the 10 graduation attendees pictured. This is before we started sweating.

Proud parents!!!

And proud grandparents!!

This is my family! (plus one girlfriend and one dog)
Nothing strange about this photo.

Grandma love!!!

This little boy won my heart.

And this little girl has my love. Clearly Andrew approves.

Foster Child Visit - Five Year Olds Are The Best!

I had a new foster child this weekend. Another five year old girl - which is turning out to be one of my favorite types of house guest.

Five year olds are old enough to be able to follow most directions, while able to figure out some things on their own. They aren't a helpless age like the pathetic 3&4-year olds, but they aren't super-independent "I can do this on my own stop trying to help me attitude" that you get with 8&9-year olds.
Five is still easy enough to impress with super easy crafts or just a box of craft supplies in general.
Five is silly enough to laugh at easy things.
Five is not yet old enough to be completely stubborn about things and you can sometimes sway them to just do what you say.
Five is still young enough that you can sometimes convince them to take a wonderful-for-you afternoon nap.
Five year olds are still young enough to want to take bubble baths, but can do it alone without the constant fear of them drowning.
And five year olds say some really funny things.

My new five year old girl and I were talking about going to some event at a horse farm where kids can paint a horse - which is the most absurd thing I've ever heard, in addition, they provide lunch and horse rides for the $5 entry fee. I was explaining to her what to expect, as kids in therapeutic foster care really need to have a sense of what to expect as much as possible,and I told her they are even giving us free lunch! And this is how the conversation went:

Me: They will be serving hot dogs tomorrow.
Girl: Hot dogs?
Me: Yes, hot dogs.
Girl: Oh, I'm not hungry there.
It just made me laugh...she doesn't like hot dogs. Instead of just saying she doesn't like the food, she was going to just declare that she's not hungry in the future. And she could predict that if someone tried to feed her a hot dog, her appetite would be gone. Smart girl!!!

Hold On To Your Hats,Folks - I'm Headed to Asia!!!

I've been in my new role for close to three months now and I am loving it!

I love working from home.
I love the work I'm doing.
I love the organization I work with.
I love the software I work with (Workday).
I love not having to get up, rush to get ready only to then sit in my car for 20 minutes to commute to work.
I love wearing anything I want every day of the week.
I love all the money I'm saving on gas and parking and eating out.
I love having my cats as officemates.
I love the low stress lifestyle I now live.

Lovin it all.

And I love the day I had yesterday - planning a trip to Asia! I'm spending 12-13 days in Bangkok, Thailand, and then 8 days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In a short time, I will be visiting new worlds, seeing new sites, tasting new foods, drinking new drinks, learning new cultures, and loving being out in the world.

I'll have a watermelon half, a papaya and 3 fresh pears please.

I think a river tour is a great idea!
I'm certain they will arrange fireworks just for me!

Baby monkeys with orange fur? Yes, please!
On the way back from my travels, I'll be flying through Amsterdam. No matter how I plan it, it looks like I will have a ridiculous layover-over 4 hours-and so I figure if I'm going to be stuck there...I should be stuck there! So I'm considering spending the weekend in that city.

My only concern is how exhausted I will be...3 cities in 3.5 weeks is a long time to be away from home!

I will miss my home. My cats will miss me like crazy...Andrew might miss me a tiny bit.


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