Wednesday, November 22, 2017

swimming in West Fargo

Whoa!  This was a big weekend for the girls.  They have participated in some swim meets in Asia, but nothing on this scale, ever!  I'm just proud that they got out there in that big (brand new) swim complex and found their teammates and dove in.

There were definitely a few "deer in the headlights" moments - ha!  I'm thankful for a fellow mom who has graciously walked me through the new-swim-mom process and kept me from floundering, at least most of the time!

Once the girls located their friends on the team, and found their coach, and got in the water for warm ups they were in the groove.  The pool was packed with swimmers during warm ups!  I couldn't believe how many kids there were!  The most popular event (50 free) had 19 heats of swimmers!

Here's Lydia in lane 2 (second swimmer from the bottom) at the start of the 50 back.

And Julianna (randomly in the same lane) at the start of one of her races but I honestly can't remember which.

Between races with their swimming buddies.  They really had a great day!  and the boys played hard in the stands, and really enjoyed watching the races too - especially the older boys who were just so fast!

One more pic of Lydia!

And then it was finally over and we drove home and everyone was pretty wiped out from a long day (the girls and I left the house at 7am!).  We all collapsed onto couches with noses in books to reset our energy banks (except Luke, who opted for an audio book).  A late lazy dinner of peanut butter toasted bagels and our day was over!

I'm not sure how much longer he will be happy to sit in my lap and read so I'm enjoying it now!  and taking pictures to prove it!

One more swim meet in a few more weeks and the girls time on the Wahoos swim team will come to an early end - but we are enjoying it while it lasts!

Friday, November 17, 2017

pre-swim meet week

Julianna and Lydia are gearing up for their first swim meet this Saturday - they continue to enjoy swimming and now that I'm mostly sharing the driving with a fellow Riverside mom who's 6th grade daughter also swims it's even better :).

On Tuesday the girls had a mock meet (in-house races) to prepare for Saturday and they came home feeling confident and ready.  I'm just impressed with the coaching staff and their definition of success and the attitude with which they lead the team.  

As soon as swim practice was over we drove over to school for Turkey Bingo.  Y'all, it was so fun.  There was a big crowd and the room is full of classmates and parents and teachers - and with kids in so many grades it seems that I have a connection with just about everyone :)  The girls and I got there a bit late and it does my heart good to walk into that room and see my boys spread among their friends and my girls run off to join their buddies, and I'm just so thankful for this school for this season!

And our family held our own in the bingo competition too - Lydia won a game of 'four corners' bingo and I won a Bingo and even though we didn't come home with a turkey, we were pleased with our pockets of prizes!  

When my bigs were younger we played a lot of bingo (I may or may not have called it "math class") but we haven't played much in recent years and I'm motivated to get our bingo cards back out again.  Sure, it's low strategy (arguably it's no-strategy)... but it's a lot of fun!  

the weekend {girls edition}

Friday after school Jan and the girls and I started our trip to Minneapolis (with a pit stop in Fargo to get Kaelynn and Kristi).  We snuggled into our hotel beds and went to sleep with a forecast for a beautiful Saturday.

and it was!

After breakfast we drove to Minnehaha falls which was absolutely beautiful!  It was starting to freeze over and if I lived anywhere nearby I would make it a goal to visit once a month for a full year.  I bet the scenery changes with each season and I'm not sure which one would be the prettiest!

There is a really pretty park area with paved paths and stone bridges and it was fun to explore!

Then we were off to the mall and we did it all!  Lunch at Rainforest Cafe, a trip to the aquarium, a ride on Fly Over America (I highly recommend it!) and a little shopping too!


We even "ran into" one of Matt's cousins at the mall and I was so thankful we got to see her (and the baby boy just waiting to be born)!  Special treat.

Grateful to get to do this trip with these ladies!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

the weekend {boys edition}

So our girls/boys weekend was really fun for everyone.

Friday night Matt took Isaac and Simeon to the hockey game and they were thrilled - six rows from the ice and the Hawks won the game and it was basically everything Isaac was hoping for and more!

I was so excited for Isaac to be there and even checked the score throughout the game because I knew he was going to be so pumped every time the Hawks scored!  Grandpa watched the little boys here at home which was perfect because late night hockey for the 5/6 year old crowd is a once a season kind of event and they got their game in October - ha!

Then Saturday morning Grandpa and Matt and all three boys headed to Fargo for some basketball watching

and gun shooting

and bear meat eating

and other manly events :)

Everyone liked the bear, especially John Paul.  He even makes bear faces while eating it!

and then it was a dark drive home, with some tired bears in the back seat.

(This might be the third time Luke has fallen asleep in a car - I was glad Matt took the time to document the event.  For the first 12 months of his life Luke screamed the entire time he was in his car seat, and I mean the ENTIRE time, from the first click of the buckle until I took him out.  It added a nice layer of stress to every car trip and was yet another reason why I mostly just stayed home - screaming infant plus newly adopted toddler for a grand total of five children ages 6 & under meant that I wasn't incredibly mobile!  Luke did stop the screaming, but even today he is not a mellow child.  John Paul, on the other hand, is a rock solid car sleeper and the family all-around sleep champion.)

And all those little people grew up and our 5, 6, and 8 year old boys had a dream weekend with their grandpa and dad and uncles and much-admired cousins!

Friday, November 10, 2017

a few from the week

Well we went from record setting highs in mid October to record setting lows in early November.  It's been just perfect for us.  I guess we like records :).   Our entire fall was gorgeous and it felt like a special gift just for us to see all that sunshine and so many beautiful days on end.  And now? To have snow play for days is just what the kids were hoping for.... talk in the van on the way home from school mostly centers around recess and snow forts!

Our school days are still a huge blessing to all of us, though Julianna did mention it will be good to get back to home schooling!  It's always good to have a little break - for mom and the kids - and it's good to want to get back to schooling together too.  I have a lot of book ordering to do before we are ready to start up this spring!

Last weekend we celebrated getting through a big chunk of catechism memory.  I've so enjoyed this question and answer format and it's thick, meaningful theology that I'm thankful to have stored in my own memory and glad to be putting into these little hearts as well.

And then Sunday was our kids second children's choir performance.  We still remember the songs they learned last time we were in the States - hand motions and all.  So it's good to have a few new ones to add to the repertoire.

This weekend we are splitting the family - girls and I headed to Minneapolis with Grandma and Kristi and Kaelynn, the boys have their own plans here and in Fargo.  Isaac is counting the hours until tonight's hockey game - he was hoping and praying for hockey tickets and a friend offered theirs last weekend!  Such a sweet gift for Isaac!

Monday, November 6, 2017

to the sledding hill

Friday we celebrated our day off school with a morning trip to the gym for basketball and swimming and then an afternoon hosting Matt's aunt and uncle.  Such a treat to have them visit us here and I just loved watching my kids animatedly telling Aunt Bev all kinds of Asia stories - and hearing some of her own international travel adventures.

Then Saturday we woke up to plenty of snow and perfect temperatures for sledding!  It was gorgeous!

Luke was in his snow gear by 9am!  ha! He's getting more adept at getting all his stuff on, and when I asked him what his kindergarten teacher does with 12 little ones needing gloves he very seriously told me, "Mom, she's been teaching a long time.  She only does one glove."

Side note: it's not the only thing his teacher is doing that's working... my little Luke is rocking kindergarten and the big sibs are holding their own in their classes too - such an encouraging night for Matt and I at parent teacher conferences last Thursday.

So we played in our own backyard and worked on a snow fort and freshened up our snow man and then headed for the sledding hill.

That's Matt, John Paul, and Isaac on the big sled.

We invited our neighbors to go along, and then of the fifteen or so other people at the sledding hill, we knew some of them too - small town love!  Lydia and Isaac joined in and helped build a jump at the bottom of one route and everyone just huffed up the hill and slid back down over and over and over again.

It was so pleasant out and even with a few dramatic face plant landings we stayed out there for almost two hours!

I love weekends even more with the kids in school!  The time together is so precious and it was especially fun to wake up to all that snow.  Now it's Sunday afternoon and another week on the horizon...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

candy night

We haven't chosen to do much when Halloween rolls around but this year we were in America and decided to jump in and collect a little candy.  The kids and I went to our neighbor friend's for play, then dinner, then a raid on her dress-up box and out to ring doorbells.

I texted this picture to Matt and he responded "which ones are our boys?"  It was great fun - Casey and I laughed and laughed watching these kids run up and down the sidewalks.

{Isaac is the red ninja, John Paul a ninja turtle and Luke is spider man.}

Then it was Wednesday, first day of November and the day Matt was coming home!!!  And it started snowing midday and I was not in the mood to think about a delayed flight but he landed in a light snowfall a little before 10pm and we were all together again! yay!

Thursday was early dismissal and the kids bundled off to school eager for recess and an afternoon snowball fight with Daddy!

It was perfect timing for Matt to be home - afternoon snow play, and a day off school on Friday too!

We also had to establish a few snowball ground rules, and hitting someone else in the face (intentional or otherwise) is not going to go over well.

John Paul's disgruntled face is the result of being sent to the snowball fight penalty box for firing a poorly aimed snowball :)

We lit a fire and roasted some marshmallows to celebrate the first good snow dump of the season.  Delighted!

Monday, October 30, 2017

just a little snowfall

The kids heard snow in the forecast and started praying!  They might be the only folks in town who are anxious to see an early snowy winter!

And Thursday they got what they were hoping for, along with 50 mph winds.  It was..... windy!  But that didn't stop the boys from heading out to enjoy the weather, even though they could barely get the door closed behind them!

Three days later and the snow is practically all gone, only smaller spots remain in the backyard.  But there's more in the forecast for this week :)

Matt's on the tail end of his trip and I'm grateful for a sweet weekend with the kids.  We had the perfect slow Saturday morning, and at lunch Isaac said, "this is the best kind of Saturday, I'm still in my pajamas after lunch!"  We did eventually put on real clothes and went swimming before coming home for dinner and to watch the Hawks play some hockey.  Several other kids commented too on what a sweet laid back day it was - just what we needed!

Tomorrow is another Monday, and this week's highlight will surely be Matt's return!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

leaves and pumpkins and all things fall

Last Saturday Matt and Isaac and the grandfathers had tickets to the UND football game.  On the way to the game Isaac invested in a little screen printing.  Best money he's spent in a long time :) 

Pretty fun stuff for all of them, especially my Isaac to be surrounded by those men and watching his favorite team, and all of it from the 2nd row, 30 yard line spot.  

So they had their fun, and we had ours :) Joined Grandma and Kristi and the cousins for a little pumpkin patch outing.  

cousin pictures, but no grandma pictures :(. there were no grandmothers climbing hay bales, and the two of them had a cup of coffee while the kids roamed the pumpkin patch!

That evening (Saturday) was our last as a group of 9 - Matt left Sunday on a trip, and my parents left Monday morning.  The house felt empty.  quick.  But not before we partied hard Saturday evening watching UND hockey and WFU football.

Sunday afternoon and it was time for yet another game of football.  These guys have played hours of football.  and I mean HOURS.

In one video you can hear Isaac calling "Luke, rush him, rush the quarterback" and Luke got that Granddaddy of a quarterback - and my dad wasn't making it easy for him.

Mom opened one last treat that arrived in her luggage - will be special to have one of these to light during the holidays!

We had a great visit!  And I'm so so thankful they could come!

After a warmer few weeks we are looking ahead at colder temperatures here - ten days ago the trees looked like this...

and Monday afternoon at the park the trees were looking a little more like this

The squirrels are bustling to gather their loot for the winter, and I'm soaking up every minute of cool crisp sunshine.  Pure bliss!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hello, Winnipeg

We were all so excited for this trip with Grandmama and Granddaddy - especially the kids who were pumped to go to Canada and add another country to their list of places visited.  Winnipeg is just a few hours north on the interstate, and we took advantage of fall break to get out of town! 

First stop once we arrived in Winnipeg? The zoo!  And every good zoo visit needs a lot of map consultation :) 

The best exhibit at the zoo was called "Journey to Churchill".  Churchill is a town on the Hudson Bay in the far northern reaches of Manitoba.  It's known as the Polar Bear capital of the world and is currently accessible only by air.  It's remote remote remote, and the chances that we ever really get to Churchill are slim, so the zoo exhibit was very appropriate.  {Julianna is in the middle of a semester long study of Canada and she knew more about Churchill than anyone else!}

Seals, arctic foxes, snowy owls, reindeer, caribou, and the best? Definitely the polar bears!  The exhibit was designed so the bears swam overhead, and it was amazing.

Luke sat down in the middle of the tunnel, he would have stayed for an hour just watching them swim and play.

But the rest of the zoo exhibits beckoned and on we trekked.

The day was just perfect - still way warmer temps than typical for the area and we are enjoying the sunshine!

A short walk from Journey to Churchill was the Asia loop - tigers and yaks and camels too.  That evening we walked from our downtown hotel to a nearby Indian restaurant for a delicious meal (we do miss ethnic food and there was much discussion and one disappointed Julianna that we didn't choose Vietnamese!)

Day two the kids hit the hotel pool with Mom and Dad while Matt and I visited the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  It was amazing!  so worth a visit if you are anywhere close by!

{The spire in the photo behind us is the Human Rights Museum.}

Lunch at an old fashioned drive in just a few blocks from our hotel and we spent the afternoon at the Manitoba History Museum before starting our drive back to America.