Wednesday, September 2, 2015

first day of school pictures

Here they are... love love love these kiddos and I am so proud of them!

First day Julianna.

First day Lydia.

First day Isaac.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

first day!

It's that time of year again!  Local school is starting.  Many mixed emotions for me - and the kiddos!  I love so many things about local school but it's a big commitment that is not easy to navigate and adds to my stress level.  Argh.

Sunday morning (August 30th) was registration and orientation.  The big three headed off with big smiles and empty backpacks.

Isaac's smile was starting to fade as the big moment approached.  There is nothing easy about starting first grade and the school system here is decidedly lacking in the warm fuzzy department.

But he did so well!  He's assigned to the same classroom that Julianna used as both a first and second grader!

So Matt dropped him off and the girls found their new classrooms (north building, fifth floor!) and we picked them up again at lunch.  Orientation day success :) [And the girls got 14 books each, with more to come!  Ack!  The academic load here is incredible!]

Then today, Tuesday September 1, was the big first day!  So proud of these three!

Sweet big sisters escorted Isaac to his classroom door and then turned to head off to their classrooms. [The grounds look empty .... my kids only attend in the afternoons so most everyone is in their classroom when they walk onto the school grounds.]

And here he is at pickup!  The big first grader!  I love his huge grin!  He had a great day and is ready to head back tomorrow!

It's been a crazy few days here though, after a tough end to last week and then Sunday registration, then the start of our school week.  I'm realizing I need to compensate for these challenges and relax some of my home school expectations but I pretty much totally failed in that area these past few days.

good thing tomorrow is a new day.  second day of school!

[i got some really great first day pictures that I'll post soon!]

Sunday, August 30, 2015

rolling with the changes

I might never get tired of taking pictures of them reading :)  

As we head into September changes are rolling down the pipe.  We are entering our third week of home school.  Our first week of Chinese school.  

These long summer afternoons are over.... until next year.  

But pretty soon the days will get shorter and the house will get colder and we will head to bed earlier and snuggle under thick blankets to finish the day with a book.  

Summer reading.  Winter reading.  Changing seasons around here.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

one happy valley

This is our second year joining a group of friends for a late August trip to the theme park.  As the kids get older and taller this day just gets more fun for everyone.  I'm still too chicken to attempt doing this on my own but with Anna it was easy.  

I have such clear memories of last year, Lydia waiting in line to ride the swings and when she finally got to the front the ride operator stood her next to the height marker and gave a merciless "too short".  The tears started and her blond curls quivered but the operator stood firm.  No riding for Lydia.  [In defense of the ride operator Lydia was ever so slightly under the height requirement and she knew it was possible she'd be turned away, but it was still a sad moment.]

Well this year there were no lines (yay!) and when Lydia trotted to the front and the ride operator pulled her aside to check her against the height marker she stood tall and proud and knew she was tall enough!  

[The swings were our third ride and I was already wondering how I would ever attempt this without Anna.  We split into two groups for the ferris wheel and here at the swings she rode with the girls while I comforted John Paul who was heartbroken to learn that he was too short :)  ha!  He missed the requirement by about 25 centimeters!  It'll be a while, buddy.]

No worries, there was plenty of fun for all children of all heights.

Yes, they all wore their tie-dye and Yes, it was amazingly helpful. [thanks Caroline!] I made the decision on behalf of the little boys but gave all three older kids the option of tie-dye or no.  They all chose to join the crowd.  I know these days won't last and I'm thankful for them while they are still here!

Did I mention the park was not even one bit crowded, and it stayed overcast all day long, making for nice coolish temperatures?

We weren't the only family with small fry at the theme park :)

We all got in our fill of thrill - the littles riding the tea cups and carousel, Anna and some others on the craziest fastest rides :)  And when it was time to call it a day, Luke got the best ride of all.  Out to the parking lot on Anna's shoulders :)

Neither of the girls are big roller coaster riders, the only one they are tall enough for is pretty tame (and they weren't so sure they enjoyed that one!).  But maybe that'll change before next year.  Isaac tends to ride everything he's tall enough for, none of which involves much tossing and turning.  He and his buddy Zeb rode this cool airplane ride over and over and over again, Zeb just tall enough and Isaac not quite but he managed to wiggle his way on once and after that it wasn't like anyone could stop him!

Friday, August 28, 2015

swim-bike-run, run-bike-run

Well it's been an eventful few days here and we are learning (again) the necessity of flexibility and resilience.  Right this very minute I'm grateful to be home.  Grateful that we managed to get through a bit of school this morning.  Grateful that both little boys fell asleep during reading time and are catching up on some missed sleep.  Grateful that Anna is playing cards with the big kids.  Grateful for a husband who sails through high pressure situations with grace and calm.  Grateful that we serve a good good father who is wholly trustworthy.

So, on to other topics.  About two weeks ago I heard that a foreign friend here in town was hosting a kids triathlon/duathlon.  Basically his company is partnering with a race management company in the States and hoping to start doing event management here in our city.  They were wanting a small event and a chance to test out some of their equipment.  What we got was SO COOL!

Only 13 kids (ages 6-10) signed up for the duathlon and 8 kids (ages 9-11) for the triathlon.  In other words our three big kids made up 1/7th of the competitive field :)

But, because this friend is launching a race management company the event was so "professional".  The kids got bibs, and timing chips for their ankles!  It was definitely cool.

The field was 100% expat home schoolers.  These are familiar faces and we are getting to know some of these families better as we participate in more events like this.

Lydia and Isaac both did a 1km run - 2km bike - 0.5km run.  They stayed together for the run and entered the transition area together.  Helmet on, push your bike over the timing mat, and then ride like the wind!  

Here's where Isaac's competitive bones came to life.  He went after it!

As Matt and I talked through the race later that night we both realized Lydia was the true success story of the day!  She's not a natural athlete and doesn't really like to run, but she did awesome!  [Here she is leaving the transition area headed out for her last run.]

Isaac crossing the finish line - 3rd in his age group (out of 8 competitors!)

The timing (Monday morning in late August) could not have been trickier for Matt.  He went to work hours before the rest of us rolled over just so he could be here to cheer for the kids!

After the duathlon kids finished it was on to the TRI.  I didn't even know if Julianna would want to attempt the triathlon (75m swim, 3km bike, 1.5km run) but from the moment I mentioned it she was ALL IN.  Even when it looked like she would not only be the youngest participant but also the only girl, she never wavered in her desire to race.

Such fun for her that her good buddy Hailey decided to join the fun.  Hailey's father and Matt spend a lot of time together.

There's some triathlon blood running deep in this little lady's veins!  Her Granddaddy, her great uncle, her Daddy, and a pile of other relatives have all competed in triathlons.

Her transition times might need a bit of work!  But goodness gracious, she got out of the pool, got those shoes on.....

pulled on a tank top (with her bib number) and snapped her helmet before heading out on her bike ride!

By the time she got to the run it was clear she would be the only girl (out of three who started) to finish the race.  In the middle of the run Anna and Lydia joined her and she later said that they kept her going when she wanted to quit.

And she crossed that finish line!  29 minutes of racing!

I love this picture because you can see her weary body, wrapped tight in the arms of her Daddy!

This was such a great morning!  Julianna's already talking about next year (and she's scheming to ride a geared bike!) and I think Lydia and Isaac would do it again in a heartbeat.  Much fun for all of us.

Monday, August 24, 2015

these last few days

Well, here I am, playing catch up again.  But it's worth it, to document the little moments of the days that add up to the weeks that morph into years and before I know it Luke will leave for college so I better at least include this picture, right?

My baby boy almost never naps.  But when he does it's angelic.  It helps that his hair is white, and glows halo-like in the afternoon sun.  This day I laid down beside him to listen to a podcast and he was out within minutes.

Isaac is the newest fan of these books from the Childhood of Famous Americans series.  I adored these books as a child and many of the ones one our shelf are actually third generation - books first read by my father in the late 1950s.  Dad has been a faithful book-sherpa, ferrying books across the Pacific and filling our home with great reading material, much of it with oodles of history in the pages and on the pages.

Anna and Luke.... Luke is truly our caboose, often lagging behind the crowd as he attempts to cover the same amount of ground that his siblings do, and finding he just can't (or doesn't care to) keep up.  With Anna in town this is a common sight, me turning around to make sure Luke is still on his way, and finding Anna as his caboose-side-kick ;)

Not sure what to say about this one, hoping it speaks for itself!

Sunday afternoon, both these girls sporting gray tees and denim.  [Side note that it's so nice to have someone else to help Julianna with her hair!  Also I should document that after years of Julianna insisting that her hair stay long and questioning every centimeter that hit the floor during a simple trim she randomly said, "Maybe I'll cut my hair short" one day last week.  I couldn't believe it!  No commitment yet and she hasn't mentioned it again, but times are a-changing if this girl is even considering short hair!]

Home school math on the iPad.  Bonus that he gets to lay with his feet on the back of the couch.  As a first grader Isaac spends about an hour per day in "formal schooling' - and I include this chunk of time he spent on the couch in the formal category :)

This photo could be captioned "without Anna this never would have happened".  Super busy morning, running behind on dinner, should be packing for a trip and the kids want to make ice fruit pops with four different kinds of fruit.

And my favorite picture in this whole post.... my boy John Paul wrote his first word.  HELICOPTER.   It's not the first time he's asked me how to spell a word, but it is the first time that the result was clearly legible.  I called these letters his direction while I flipped quesadillas on the griddle, and when I turned around to see what he had done I couldn't believe my eyes!  Usually the letters are a jumble, and not in a straight line.  [He even told me that he wrote the C wrong and it looked like a D.]

I doubt helicopter pilot is a potential career but I have no doubt he could (and would!) dismantle a helicopter, bolt by bolt.  Give him a few more years and he might even figure out how to put one together :)  [Maybe I should apprentice him to his Uncle Andrew?!?]

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Seriously cute.

We had a long day of rain Monday, and when the winds picked up early afternoon it got pretty yucky.  I got drenched picking the boys up from school - which is not even a block away, and I was carrying at umbrella!  But the umbrella kept getting blown inside-out and even whipped John Paul's umbrella right out of his hands!

We woke up the next morning to several downed trees in our apartment complex, including the one right outside our dining room window.  We have a big window seat at this window, and also in three of the bedrooms.  The perfect perch for watching workers with heavy equipment clean up a fallen tree.

And if you are wondering how much we love our house guest .....

the answer is VERY VERY MUCH!

We did a bit of school Wednesday morning and then took her on a little neighborhood tour.  At the end of the walk we picked the little boys up at school and walking out the school gate Luke slipped his hand into Anna's... he's smitten :)  It's good for him to have a new audience; Luke has a big need to talk, and he loves good listeners!

And the girls, well, Anna lets them cuddle under the guest bed blankets while she reads to them.

John Paul and Isaac are big Anna-fans too.  I'll have to get some more pictures tomorrow.

I've so enjoyed getting to know her and it's just plain fun to have a new friend in the house.  So grateful for these weeks we get to share with her.