Tuesday, February 21, 2017

vacation photos (a very random selection)

I have a terribly random assortment of vacation photos.  We are rarely near our phones - yay!  but that means we are also rarely near our cameras - boo!

In the evenings the tide pools are huge and the hermit crabs abundant and the sunset is gorgeous and the breeze is refreshing - in other words, it's worth a trip.


At the pool - a little frisbee catching.  Isaac and Lydia love this game.


so does their daddy :)


Matt has taken each of the kids on a special date (I got a date too! - ha!)

With Lydia on a beach bike ride and ice cream outing


with Luke and a gigantic watermelon shake


He took John Paul and Isaac kayaking (on different days).  He and Isaac kayaked two hours - around one of those islands (inhabited by monkeys)!  The water in this bay is super calm (except our first few days were windy and rougher waves).  Normally it's like a lake - not even a large lake! The waves hardly make a ripple.  Pretty great for kayaking - kids can team up and take a kayak out on their own.


Yesterday we went to a waterpark near Hua Hin (about 45 minute drive from us).  We all had a blast - so many great slides to choose from, and a super nice wave pool too.  So fun, we will definitely go there again.  {also, bonus, the three largest slides were closed for maintenance so we got half price tickets, which saved us $$ and I'm not sure any of our kids would have dared those three slides anyways!}


The retreat center where we live is full board - three meals a day (Thai lunch, western supper, served family style) with the exception of Sunday dinner.

Pineapple fried rice (crucial that it is served in a pineapple!) is probably Julianna's favorite Thai food.


And John Paul, my fish lover.  If only we lived near the ocean and owned a dog, his life would be complete.  He eats fish every chance he gets.... and in Thailand, he's got plenty of opportunities.


We eat outdoors, of course, because every minute we spend in beautiful sunshine and clean air is worth it!

One more day here then a few days in transit and home midnight Saturday.  sigh

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A few more from our last hotel -  king size hotel room beds provide lots of room for reading snuggles!


[Life with big brothers and sisters has it's perks - and a few downsides, to be sure, but I'm confident the perks far outweigh the other.]


And, yay for e-readers!  We normally stick to paper books but on the road it's just not practical (that's two kindles and one iPad in the pic).


Our drive to the beach was long and arduous and traffic-y and longer than we hoped.  But NO ONE puked!  And the whining was moderate and the drive was WORTH IT!  I'm unofficially collecting pics of the 5 and this is a new one for the collection.  (living room of our bungalow, drinking cold water from the fridge after a hot unloading of the vehicle)


Now after a few days here we are in solid vacation mode.  I have nothing to do!  Our spot is so sweet and our kids roam free with little need for supervision (unless they are in the pool, or waves, of course).


Matt's engineering skills hard at work on the beach - perfect late afternoon activity :).

I'm only turning my computer on about once a week, so it might be a bit til I'm updating again.


Friday, February 10, 2017

catching up

Whew.  These are some big days for everyone!  Matt is in his element - surrounded by his people and loving it all.

But wow it's long days for him - these weeks are so much easier for me now that our kids have some years under their belts.  They love (and I mean LOVE) their programming and when they aren't in structured stuff we hit the pool.

I've also tried to stick too a bit of regular routine and get some nice quiet book/reading time in the early afternoon before we change into swim suits.  ahhhh, so much peace in a quiet room with everyone reading.

End of last week we had a day off and went to sticky falls.  Water falls that you can climb???


The rock is porous limestone which creates great traction for bare feet.  You can literally climb the falls - up and down - and your feet will not slip!


The weather was hot, the water was cool, and we had picnic supplies in tow.  Nice times for everyone.


Then it was back to the airport.


The kids all weighed their own carry-on (Julianna, my pack rat, carries a bag that is twice as heavy as mine - ha!).  Then we weighed Matt's bag.  OH MY GOODNESS!  We have a strong Daddy!  [He tends to end up with a lot of the electronics -]


With her elephant pants and Chacos I think Lydia looks like the 9 year old version of a European backpacker!


Delayed flight?  FaceTime opportunity.

Now we are hitting the final day of our second event and the stomach flu is raging through our entire community.  Isaac was up in the night throwing up and I've pulled all the kids out of programming.  Julianna and Lydia are playing cards with a friend and the boys are watching a show.  But Luke is starting to look a little green.  oh dear, I need a LOT of grace to navigate puke in a hotel room.

We have a 6 hour drive tomorrow on roads that will make the most iron-lined stomach feel queasy.  We could really use some down time.  We are so looking forward to having our Daddy back.  God loves us and has good in store.  Oh Jesus.  we need you

Friday, February 3, 2017

down south

We made it to sunshine and blue skies and all kinds of friends.

After a decade of travel with kids we've navigated some pretty tricky situations, but our first night here ... one hotel room, two single beds.  For all seven of us.

Whew.  We were exhausted and hungry and past ready for bed and I needed a few "just take a deep breath moments" but we did it and everyone slept much better than I did (mostly I was up shuffling people and re-arranging blankets and realizing that our cramped hotel room would be paradise to the thousands of refugee mamas trying to protect their precious little ones).

{Also, when I write a book there will be a chapter titled "Big Family Hotel Living" and I will share all my secrets - most of which involve befriending the housekeeper on your floor and also the many wonderful bedding options hiding behind the door at the end of the hall labeled 'staff only'.}

So the next morning we scrambled over and under one another and bedding and luggage and got everyone in clean clothing and Matt took the kids to breakfast while I tackled the tornado-hit chaos of our hotel room.  Still a bit groggy from lack of sleep and tempted to complain about my circumstances I opened the bathroom door to these silly faces drawn on the foggy mirror.


I love travel with kids.

Our days here are none too quiet, the kids in programming and many old friends to see.  Matt is a busy man, but with all the kids occupied for different pieces of the day, I'm able to join him quite a bit.


This was my view a little after 6pm when I was waiting to get the kids and head to dinner.  When you haven't seen the sunset for months you enjoy colored clouds even when the best part of the view is blocked by a hotel high rise!


By the time I gathered my people and headed to find dinner it was getting late.  Sleepy boy with a big plate of street food Thai noodles.

Sleepy or not, the six of us (minus Matt) managed to devour plate after plate of food :)


I wasn't sure how much to order but the lady cooking could churn out food almost as fast as we could ask for it - so I ordered a few, and as the plates got emptied we kept asking for more.  I only know about six Thai phrases but one is "it tastes good" and we got to use it tonight!

More of the same schedule tomorrow and then Sunday we are back to the airport, flying farther south following Matt and finding some more adventure.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

teacher appreciation day

It's the final week of our J-term, and we are all needing some fresh motivation.  We've been making steady school headway since mid-August (23 weeks into a 36 week school year) with not much of a break.  Many of our friends have already flown south towards sunny skies and sandy beaches.  We board an airplane next Monday and the kids are already clamoring to pack their carry-ons.  

I truly truly truly LOVE schooling these kids.  It is a privilege and passion and exactly how I want to spend my days.  But on Monday morning with friends at the airport, and friends texting pics of sunshine and me in my winter jacket, battling miserable pollution on my walk to school with the little boys  - ugh!  I was grateful to come back to a warm apartment and the big kids, diligently plugging away at yet another school assignment.  

Then we made hot chocolate and spent an extra long time on our history read-aloud.  

And totally unknown to me, my precious students were planning a treat for their teacher!  I went for a walk after dinner.  This is one of my absolute favorite ways to spend a half hour.... I stand up from the kitchen table and out the door to walk off the day - and come home to a cleaned up kitchen and (usually) a family-sized wrestling match, or chess game, or the little boys sprinting from the shower to the bedroom for pajamas!  It's an amazing way Matt serves me in giving me that time, and I try to do it once a week - 

anyways, Monday I left to walk, and I came home to some suspicious whispers and a few "don't say anything" reminders thrown at the little boys.  

Tuesday morning I woke to breakfast in bed :). 

It was teacher appreciation day!  


Julianna was the gas pedal behind this project, and I later learned that she had been asking Matt for a good time to do it.  This week was perfect!  


We did some school and then left to make a few purchases to beef up our school points store (our simple incentive system and I had let the pickings get pretty slim!). On the way we played with Julianna's fake snow!  


In the afternoon I took a little break from reading aloud and the little guys listened to Ramona (they prefer Henry Huggins but it was checked out of the online library we use most - so we settled for Ramona).  


With no Chinese school in the afternoons the girls and Isaac have spent H-O-U-R-S listening to audio books.  Isaac has a bit less tolerance for auditory input and would honestly rather just read it himself, but Julianna would listen to audio for 8 hours a day if I let her.  


After audio books - a little dress up action.  Luke wants to be a policeman when he grows up.  

And then, the icing on the cake of teacher appreciation day - date night.  Everyone, everywhere is getting ready for the big Lunar New Year celebration.  


This Saturday we welcome the year of the ....... ROOSTER!  (or maybe it's the chicken?  depends on how you translate it - regardless, poultry is the dominate theme in decor these days!)

Monday, January 23, 2017

three days, three pictures

Thursday, outside the international school library.


Friday, brothers working on puzzles.


Monday, best seat on the bus.



Friday, January 20, 2017

boys and their weapons

Weaponry.



My boys believe in lots and lots of weaponry.

Bows and arrows.  Nerf guns.  Light sabers.

and these boys talk about bad guys all the time.  There's something buried deep in our hearts that yearns to be part of the battle, to see Good stand victorious over Evil.  And these guys are aligned!