Wednesday, November 25, 2015

reason #563 to get your Christmas up early

creates great atmosphere for home school mornings

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

the most wonderful time of the year

I've never been one to advocate for delaying the start of the holiday season, but this is definitely the earliest we've ever gotten our tree up.  Thanksgiving weekend is quite full for us, so I knew that if the tree didn't go up last weekend it would be well into Advent before we really had our Christmas stuff out.  So with just a wee bit of convincing, I managed to talk Matt into it :)

This singing snowman mesmerizes Luke.  Perfect, since it managed to keep his eager little hands out of the Christmas decor for quite a while.  The hanging of the ornaments is quite chaotic, but the glee and delight and excitement make it all worth it.

This wall-hanging Advent calendar is really special to everyone - it's one of the few things we take with us when we spend Christmas in America, so in a lifestyle full of transition and change it's a sweet tradition for all of us.

And this year we are hanging it in the same spot that we hung it last year! Yay for two Christmases in a row in the same place!  [This is our fourth apartment since Julianna was born, add in two Christmases in America and that's a lot of "where should we hang it this year" for a not-yet-ten-year-old!]

Matt the official lighting guy, with his lighting buddy.

and the stockings were hung....

One of the things I very much want to do this year is make something that I can hang on the wall to hang our stockings on (seeing as how it looks like we are still decades away from living in a home with a real mantel!)  We shall see if I can figure out how to get it done - I need a long board, and some paint, and maybe I'll order some printed script and then hooks for each stocking?  My creative bones might not be up for it, but my motivation is high :)

The finished product, after the little two were already in bed :) Julianna is happy, this is her new picture pose.  Go figure.

Isaac woke up the next morning talking about our "need for presents".  Luke left for preschool asking if "Christmas will still be here when I get home?" and John Paul proudly told a friend that "its already Christmastime at our house".

We might put the tree up even earlier next year :)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

all these little athletes

We bookended the sports week at school with two sports heavy Saturdays... last weekend's soccer tournament, this weekend's cross country races.

I'm so thankful for opportunities like this for our kids.  I'm also ready for a change of pace and something different to do on a Saturday morning!  (as luck would have it, next Saturday we'll gather with a big group of friends to watch the guys play football - )

Isaac's first year old enough to run and he's still learning a lot, but enjoying himself and feeling great. Pacing is tricky, he starts at a trot and he can run forever at that same speed.  One of these weekends I'm going to take him with me and see if he can finish 3 miles, I have a strong hunch he can.

Lydia is my girl who is still not sure she likes all this cross country stuff.  I don't want to force her to do what she doesn't want to do, but I do want to encourage her that she can do it!  Fine line to walk as a momma and I'm not doing it well all the time, but this weekend she saw big victory.  She's still talking like she will run again next year (when she bumps up to the 2.7k distance) but we shall see.

And this was Julianna's first year at the longer distance and only two homeschool girls ran her race and she's sold on running.  She doesn't like it every day or all the time, but she wants to run and enjoys the races.  She wishes she was faster (don't we all?!?) but she enjoys herself and I'm thankful to have a running buddy daughter.

The little boys will have their turn on the starting line at some point, one day all too soon I'm sure.  Luke spent the afternoon muttering under his breath "go homeschool go homeschool"!  Two weekends of homeschool athletics and he is officially indoctrinated!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

like no other field day

The annual sports meeting is a big thing around here.  Every single school, from preschool to university level, hosts a sports day.  And it's quite the shindig.

This is year three/round three for the big girls and it's so amazing to see them comfortable and settled and 'right at home' in this environment.  Local school has been an uphill battle on many fronts (not the least of which was pulling them out ten weeks into their first grade year and taking them to America and then dumping them back in the following September for second grade.... in retrospect that was a tough transition and we maybe should have considered having them repeat first grade, but anyways....)

Julianna giving me the "Mom, are you really going to take a picture" face.  She loves me :)

This happy faces picture was posted to Isaac's class group chat.  Made me smile to see it

And here he is marching - this marching stuff is the real deal.  Isaac complained that the first few weeks of school every P.E. class was spent practicing lining up and marching.  And I will say that it paid off.  With a few short words his teacher can call out "line up" and those kids scramble to their places and left/right/left/right like little soldiers.

More marching, with Lydia leading the pack.  She's definitely the easiest to pick out of the crowd, with or without her class sign!

So this week we've been in and out of our regular schedule, with the big three at school all day Wednesday and again tomorrow (Friday).  Since my little two are also at school MWF mornings this meant I had an entire morning with zero children at home.  Ayi and I went to work in the kitchen and churned out an amazing amount of provisions (cooked black beans, roasted pureed pumpkin, and over 100 tortillas) - tomorrow I'm planning to take it easy and get some time reading, resting, reflecting, and maybe doing a little bit of shopping too.

With Thanksgiving on next week's calendar it's full speed ahead towards the holidays and I'm excited to get up our Christmas decor! (maybe maybe this weekend?!?!)

Monday, November 16, 2015

soccer times THREE

There are some big perks to living in a smaller community.  And even though our city is home to millions, when you narrow the crowd to "international homeschoolers".... well, you've got yourself a small community.

And then when you look for a group of elementary kiddos (age 6 to 10) and try to form a soccer team, well.... the community is small enough that all three of our oldest can join the same team!

[You can see in the above photo that our competition (international schools in the area) had a larger pool of kids to draw from, and our team was ever so slightly smaller than our opponents!]

I was so proud of our kids - every single one of them!  They played their hearts out, against teams that were older, bigger, tougher, and more experienced.  They never quit, and they came off the field smiling every.single.time.

Matt and a few of his good friends lined up as coaches.  I'm dead serious when I say that coaching soccer was one of the highlights of Matt's fall.

He just loved it - a few hours on Saturday mornings to focus on kids and soccer balls.

Team Homeschool divided into two teams for the tournament, and played in different round robin brackets.  We spent a lot of time on these fields - and I was able to keep a close eye on both games (Lydia on one team, Isaac and Julianna on the other) while the little boys roamed free, collecting bugs and berries and asking for snacks :)

There is no shortage of younger siblings to enjoy and these Dads have a coaching job lined up well into the next decade!

And last picture of the day, our team K photo.  Doing life with this group of seven is my favorite thing ever.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

my last few days

I spent three days this week in our old city.... it was wonderful! Long, sweet conversations with dear friends, some of whom I see often (but rarely get chances to really really talk about anything on our minds) and others that I see not-nearly-so-often.

A highlight was certainly seeing Xiao Li and her son (already five years old!)  Cannot believe how many years we have enjoyed a friendship!  Over a decade now :)

Matt was on a big trip too and sweet Amanda stayed here with the kids while we were both gone (Matt headed way north, me a shorter trip south).  The kids LOVED their time with their "Ms. Manda" and she is so great with them!  Truly truly a gift to our entire family to have her in our lives!

She schooled, she cooked, she did it all!  Amazing!  And then on Friday night we were all seven together again.... (with a few extra guests in the house, ha!  our guest room is a busy place!)

This morning it was early wake up calls and loading the van for the big soccer tournament.  More on that to come. After all the travel and guests and soccer-ing I'm needing a slow evening with an early bedtime!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sunday dinner, Monday dinner

Matt's been on the road a bit which gives me good reason to spice up our dinner routine.

Sunday we went with the "twilight picnic" theme... Subway sandwiches at a mall with an outdoor playground.  With the sun setting earlier every night this is not a great option for much longer!

And Monday, well Monday we went out again :)  [I cooked tonight! We usually only go out once for a longer trip, but oh well.]

The boys were so interested in this lady making 煎饼.  We had already eaten and they pulled up chairs so they could see well and just watched :)  It was a restful end to a quick dinner and then we were off - scooter riding home to BED!