Tuesday, July 7, 2015

summer days, pool days

My walk to the print shop took me over this highway.  I had the girls along and we enjoyed a quick errand outing before picking the boys up from school.

Today we crossed again, on the way to the pool (and on scooters, not roller blades).  Our new favorite pool is a short walk from our apartment and it's the perfect length for scooters and getting hot on the way there and drying off a bit on the way home.

Tomorrow is a big day for Julianna.  She is going on a work trip with Matt!  After so many many times of watching Daddy leave for the airport/train station she's joining him.  She told me tonight that she's a bit nervous because she doesn't know what to expect.  She's a travel whiz-kiddo, with thousands of miles of experience, but a trip 'on her own' with Dad is a new thing.

They fly out tomorrow morning and return on an overnight train Thursday.  It's a short quick trip and perfect for her to join.  Isaac is already clamoring for his turn, but it'll probably be a while.  Most of Matt's trips would bore any child to tears, but this is the perfect one for her to join and he's excited to take her along - and it should be plenty entertaining (i.e. not too many meetings!)

I'm bummed for two reasons.  One, I'm just not a fan of the travel.  It's my reality, and it's a big part of Matt's role, but I don't like it.  And he hasn't travelled much recently, but this short trip is the beginning of a short bit of crazy that will lead into plenty of travel crazy this fall.

Two, Matt is taking my sidekick-helper-daughter who is just gift to me.  Yes, she's nine.  She struggles, we struggle... but she's also just tremendous blessing.  And I will miss her.

It'll be interesting to watch the family dynamics sort themselves out over the next few days.  And we'll be thankful to be together again when the traveling duo returns home.

Monday, July 6, 2015

oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave

This Fourth of July will go down in history as the day I realized my kids did not recognize the national anthem.

Ack!  But of course they don't!  The number of U.S. sporting events they've attended can be counted on one hand.  I think we've only spent one 4th of July in the United States since Julianna was born (2010).

So I sang it to them today.  [glad you missed it, huh?]

We spent a big chunk of the morning playing with these craft sticks I ordered online.

My little American flag creation is what inspired the singing.

This is the first time I've ever seen colored craft sticks.  We're hooked.  Simple easy fun that even the littlest can participate in.

Matt did a little 'crafting' of his own, but traded the glue for power tools and the craft sticks for a quick trip to the home improvement store.

This is our entry porch.  It's one of my top ten favorite things about our apartment.  The brown door on Matt's right exits to the 2nd floor landing.  The door in front of Matt is a closet that holds outdoor gear for a family of 7.  It's full, but Matt has engineered a few creative fixes that maximize the space.  

I took the picture standing in the doorway to our apartment.  The floor is usually a bit more cluttered but Matt picked up the debris before he started drilling.  The rest of the porch is littered with shoes and roller blades and two spots to sit while putting on shoes and a wall full of hooks (backpacks, jackets, hats) and even a utility sink.  The whole spot is just heavenly.  And now it's decorated with a  hanging road bike :)

[Clutter-free floor.  The hooks wall is opposite the closet.]

We finished the day at a little friend's birthday party.  And then yesterday went searching for a park with fountains to run through.  Our first try came up empty but at the second spot we struck gold.

I'm looking out my window at beautiful blue skies again today and planning to walk to a nearby print shop and get some things printed and ready for home school to start up again this fall!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July 3rd: the zoo

We have never been to the zoo here in our city.  Crazy, huh?  Yesterday was our first trip.  And we will definitely go back again!

It's somewhat close to our house, very affordable, and while the animal enclosures aren't everything you might hope, there is a silver lining - it's easy to skip from one exhibit to the next.  No crazy long walks or tram rides or anything... even Luke walked over 90% of it (and hitched a ride on Matt's shoulders towards the end).

It rained hard all morning and we were wary of continuing in our plans, but off we went and the rain stopped on our drive there and not one more drop fell from the sky all afternoon!  Yay that the rain really made for a nice (even somewhat cooler) afternoon.  We just bought these new rain jackets and everyone was excited to wear theirs, even though it wasn't raining!

Two camels and two horses.  I'm not quite sure why they share this enclosure but one of the camels got nice and close to everyone.

Happy walking buddies.

The tiger prowling around; he was pretty incredible.  They also hard a gorgeous jaguar.

And this baby giraffe - born on my birthday :)  She was already taller than Matt, about six weeks old!

Tired Luke on Daddy's shoulders.  Matt had the zoo map on his phone and I think at this point he was plotting our exit route ;)

Kinda funny that the child I missed a photo of was Isaac.  He is definitely the biggest zoo fan in our family.  He loved it!  We got home and he closed the door behind him, leaned back against it with a dramatic sigh and said "I cannot wait to go back to that zoo."

Me too buddy, and we will go back again soon!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

practice makes perfect (thank goodness for some progress)

I am a big fan of the afternoon reading hour.  It is a heathy habit for our family.  For years I've structured our day around some downtime after lunch.  Julianna napped well past her fourth birthday, so there was a nice stretch where I had three afternoon nappers.  Now I wonder what I did with all my free time!  

As each child got older they gradually dropped the nap and started "reading".  John Paul was the toughest to this transition, since he just loves to nap.  I was motivated to keep him awake since I didn't want him to nap all afternoon and night-owl his way into staying up late with Mommy.  [In an ideal world I wouldn't dream of deliberately keeping a child from sleeping when they wanted to, but I gave up on ideal and reality is that I have limits.  Sorry John Paul, it is what it is.]

Well, right about the time I realized challenge numero uno (John Paul = does not like to give up a nap) another wrinkle developed - Luke, age two, dropping his afternoon nap.  No one was surprised, since Luke hates to sleep and still... to this day.... sleeps less than any of our other children!  So I had John Paul to keep awake and Luke to try to keep still and quiet, every afternoon.  Oh joy. 

And thus began the year that afternoon rest time actually added to my stress level.  It was a harsh transition for this momma.  But, oh happy day, we have persevered and the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter than ever.

One happy side effect is that I now choose to "police" the afternoon rest.  For months this involved a lot of correcting "jumping on the bed is not restful" "if you climb the curtains..." "books are not for throwing".   That was not the "happy side effect" part.

But now that we've successfully come through the hardest months the boys are still in the habit of resting with me.  And I, well, I'm not one who comes by rest naturally.  I'm usually moving, going, doing.  And the list of what needs to get done is long and distinguished and never lets up.

So the happy part is the little-boy-expectation that Mommy sits on the bed in their room and reads while they do their afternoon rest.

That's something I'm happily getting used to.

Monday, June 29, 2015

the girls, lately

I cut Lydia's hair short for the summer.  I cut off a lot of Julianna's too, but it's hardly noticeable since hers is just. so. long.  It's beautiful though, both of them have great hair.

and this one is looking more and more like me every day :)

And then I took both girls to the optometrist this morning.  If it sounds simple, trust me, it's not.  The health care system here is a crazy mess.  I dread, dread, dread trying to do just about anything involving medical professionals.  But this particular task worked out spectacularly well.  I was concerned Julianna needed glasses but she doesn't, at least not yet!  Both Matt and I wore glasses early, so I'm assuming they are in her not-too-distant future ... but it's nice to scratch this concern off my list, (for now)!

Our weather these days is incredibly muggy, humid, wet.  It's not super hot, but the air is so moist.  Not my favorite.  Tonight after dinner Matt went out to play soccer with the older three while I read books to the littler two.  Isaac especially loves to play soccer, and he especially loves to do it without the mini-brothers at his side!  Our days aren't nearly as long as ND summers, but the late sun sets are nice and it's fun to get outdoors after dinner.

I love changing seasons.  And I'm excited about our summer.  This time last year we were landing here, re-establishing a home and place and routine for our family after seven months in the U.S.  The year flew by.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

today's uniform

The boys are pretty big fans of dressing alike.  On those mornings I hear them calling out to one another to "wear this" or "find that" and at times a concerned "you should check the dirty clothes pile".

Isaac sometimes joins in, sometimes opts out.  But these two are faithful.  If one of them suggests a match, the other is always game.  [On the other hand, many many many days they don't match at all.... but when the idea strikes, they jump.]

I can't help but grin when I look at these two.  In so many ways they are the unlikeliest of brothers.  But there's a lot more than just matching clothes - the Lord orchestrated a beautiful brotherhood, matched or not!

And right down the hall the girls were doing their own match.  Julianna and Lydia are less likely to wear the same thing (unless you count their school uniforms, in which case they wear matching clothes every single week day afternoon during the school year!)

Crazy that they ended up in UND gear the same day my littlest two were in UNC gear.

They can be pretty ridiculous.  Especially at the end of a fun-packed day when bedtime looms and the crazies tend to come out in full force.

Isaac was a wardrobe lone ranger today.  I only have one picture of him, taken at an ice skating birthday party this afternoon.

Another busy summer day, written in the books.  I accomplished a few big-o house projects in the past two days.  Moved furniture in the guest room, relocated a bookshelf, bought a new (used) shelf for our school porch, pulled every last thing off the school porch and put much of it back where it belongs.  I still have a few things on my list (ha!  or maybe more than a few!) but it feels real good to have those behind me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

riverside bike rides

Matt is always on the go.  Always.  He wears many hats, juggles many roles, leads many leaders, and loves his family so very well :)

Saturday afternoon he lead a super-duper bike ride along the river.  I love these pictures.  This is the world my kids are growing up in - urban urban urban!

We had Luke on the back of my (borrowed) bike and John Paul on the back of Matt's. [John Paul is technically a bike rider but he's not really into it, rarely wants to ride, and is not ready for this kind of adventure!  Everyone's blood pressure is lower when he's safely strapped on the back of Matt's bike!]

With the littlest two off the ground we can really cover some serious territory.  It's so fun!  We were running a bit late and only had a brief moment to stop and rest, but this bridge was irresistible.  We crossed four or five bridges and next time we'll maybe even picnic on this one.  So much to see :)

Isaac is a bit of a study in contrasts.  He is chill, laid back, calm, easily content.  But there is a very intense part of his personality too.  It really comes out on the soccer field, or when he straps on his roller blades, or when he's climbing the bridge supports :)

We biked home, and declared it a big success.  Hopefully we will do this exact same ride next weekend!