Sunday, October 4, 2015

the weekend

Friday: blue skies, mild temps, sunshine everywhere!  We walked down to the river and the boys were entranced by this man and his dog.  My Granddaddy had a dog like this, the most amazing frisbee-catching dog you ever saw!  This dog wasn't nearly as good as Muggs, but it was still fun to watch him catch the frisbee.  [the pic is perfectly mis-timed so it's hard to see pink frisbee flying past John Paul's orange helmet!]

Saturday morning I had a couple of extra boys in the house :)  the big kids were at soccer practice and these little guys kept me entertained.

That afternoon I went for a run (trying to keep up a little bit and run every Saturday.... my goal is to be in good enough running shape that I can always crank out a 5k, so I'm hoping running once a week will keep me there.  Maybe one day I'll have the time again to train for something longer, but for now I'l call this good.)

The kids were all playing outside and Matt had organized a little soccer game action on the basketball courts, so I walked up to the market and picked out a veggie to go with dinner.  I'm so thankful for this market, just a block from our house!

The kids and some neighborhood friends ... big school holiday here so the older kids (like elementary age) tend to multiply!  Usually they are so busy with their studies that we rarely see them outdoors, but these past few days have been different.  

Matt is taking the kids a few hours out of town tomorrow for a hike.  The camping plans got shelved when we couldn't find a suitable location - I wish that wasn't the case, but there is just so little free green space.... camping is challenging.  argh.  This hiking spot might turn out to be camping potential though, so Matt and two buddies are loading up the kids and heading out!  After much swaying this way and that I decided to stay home.  I'll miss out on a good chance to get out of the city, but the day at home alone was just too tempting.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

it's the last day of September

The leaves are changing color

and we might be going a little bit crazy!

(at breakfast)

I cannot believe tomorrow is October.

Matt's Grandma Ruth died last week.  It was expected, and blessed, and we rejoice that she is with Jesus.  But it is hard to be away from family during times like this.  The weddings, the funerals, the new babies, the birthdays, the holidays.... they all pile up and then you realize that after 15 years overseas ..... it can feel like you've missed it all.

But we haven't.  For now our hearts live on both sides of the globe, and no matter where we are we won't be missing it "all".  This week it just feels like a lot of missing the America side of the ocean.

(our last visit with Grandma Ruth, May 2014.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

biking the weekend

These weekend bike rides are becoming a habit :)  I sometimes can't believe that we are 'old enough' for outings like this!  It wasn't that long ago that a family bike ride involved multiple sets of training wheels and was slow enough that I could walk alongside pushing Luke (or at times, Luke and JP!) in the stroller.

The biggest news of the past three months is that John Paul (after months of ignoring his bike)  hopped on, decided he really liked it, and took off riding, never looking back.  He got good, fast.  And he's such a grown-up little man these days, seeming more like a 5 year old than 4 (and he is only three months from his 5th birthday!).  He's definitely ready for rides like this - not just physically, but maturity wise too.

So he's on his own bike, and Luke graduated to Matt's, and I'm riding solo.  We have a 7 mile loop that we really enjoy, only a few road crossings and 95% of it is greenway riding.  It's perfect - Isaac can race to the front, John Paul can bring up the rear, Matt and I even get in some nice conversation riding side by side, and there's space for everyone to enjoy the ride in their own way.

Our 7 mile loop skirts right along the edge of the river and crosses 4 different bridges!

Thankful for this greenway that passes our apartment complex, for rivers to ride along, and for healthy bodies to do it.  Oh, and for a Daddy who is faithfully training up a generation of bike lovers :)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

goodbye Anna

Monday afternoon we threw together a picnic, picked up the big three from local school and headed to a park for some fun.

These huge letters are fun to climb in, and photo-taking opportunities abounded.  And it was a good beginning of the goodbye-Anna week.

Our best photo of the week is definitely this one!  Everyone worked hard to personalize the mat and I'm thinking this one is a keeper for Anna :)  [I'm also wishing I had done more photos like this over the years... for me ... to keep.  It's a fun way to capture a moment, and the signatures are priceless.]

Luke can't write his own name but he has mastered the 3.  And if I hold my hand lightly on top of his he mostly gets the letters, some of the time.  ha.  John Paul is a name-writing fool, the J is hit or miss and the N a bit of a train wreck, but he's a proud do-it-yourself-er on this activity and I'm not going to rain on his parade.

I know in a few months even those two and their skill levels will change, so it's good to mark this moment in time.  For so many reasons.  Our kids experience so many goodbyes, so much transition, so much relational change.  Their grief is real, and their life experiences intense.  I'm grateful that we worked hard to commemorate these special weeks with Anna.

We all miss her.  She became a dear friend to all of us in a very short time.  I'm really going to miss her, and we are anxious to keep up our friendship.  I expected that our time would be blessed in many ways, but I did not expect to enjoy such deep friendship with Anna... our age difference is significant (ahem!) but not an obstacle.  I'm blessed to count her as a friend.  And so are my children!

The week marched on, Matt returned home from a trip (perfect timing as the rocking of the family emotional boat was needing his steady presence) and we transitioned towards the weekend.  Next week is a big holiday here which throws the local school schedule for a loop, but we will carry on with home school and hopefully squeeze in a camping trip?  I'm reminding Matt that this is the big year that he can take ALL FIVE kids and he's thinking that means I'm camping too.  Typically its a dads and kids trip (Moms home with the little ones) but I'm not sure what to do if there are no little ones to stay home with?!?!?  This October camping trip is a tradition dating back to the year he took Julianna - at 21 months old!  and left me home with 2 month old Lydia!  I'll have to pull out some old photos.

Monday, September 21, 2015

books and games

So here we are Sunday morning... needing to buy a bigger bed, obviously!  ha!  As the older kids woke up they found me in bed reading and each grabbed a book so they could join me.  [I was reading The Rest of God (kindle app on my phone), Lydia reading Babysitters Club, Julianna reading Mary on Horseback, Isaac reading Paddington.]

We are in a great Sunday morning group that is a tremendous blessing to our whole family.  Sunday I had little kid duty and I love being with a group of kids that I know so well.  Later in the day Lydia (who's in the older class) declared that "sunday school" was her third favorite part of the day.   It's just a good Sunday experience for everybody.

After lunch together with our Sunday morning people we all wandered outside and never got much further.  It was another gorgeous day and we stayed out until 5, when a brief rain shower drove us indoors (plus I needed to get started on dinner!).

The girls were on roller blades again for the first time in almost a month (it's just been too rainy to be outdoors).

The "biking with roller blades" challenge was fun, but it's apparently almost impossible to get off your bike without falling :)

John Paul's hat from our summer trip plus my sunglasses make for a pretty sassy look, huh?

Matt brought out some tools and started a little bike repair stop.  With a fleet of bikes and other friends in the neighborhood... somebody always needs a seat raised, a chain repaired, air in the tires.  John Paul LOVES the tools, so this is a fun way to pass the time for everybody.

Lydia isn't the only one who will be missing Anna.

We attempted a family picture but the rain was starting to fall and the boys were distracted.  But here's proof that we all spent the afternoon together :)

And then today, Matt came by the house at noon (on the way to the airport) and had time for a short game of Skip-Bo and walked the big three to school.

John Paul loves to think of himself as old enough for this game but he needs plenty of help.  Luke is a solid team player, who tends to defect to the role of card-sorter.

The older kids are all on a Skip-Bo kick but these little two can't get enough of Too Many Monkeys.  If it's conceivable that a child could be addicted to a card game then these two are diagnosable addicts.  Their excitement is contagious, and I'm actually still enjoying the occasional game with them, mostly because Anna has taken a lot of the hours with Too Many Monkeys, meaning I'm not tired of it yet!

I'm making lists of Christmas ideas - some new card games will definitely be near the top!


The rain dissipated and the sun came out and the sidewalks dried (first time in how long?) and we needed some sunshine :)

Off to a favorite stop of ours - a business park that is teeming with businessmen during the week and practically deserted on the weekends.  Oh, and it has a McDonalds for easy lunch-feeding.

Julianna cannot resist this little baby Addie, neither of my girls can!  She's pretty perfect for cuddling.

Pre-lunch pick up soccer game, post-lunch frisbee, everyone was needing some ice cream.

Julianna carried my phone around taking pictures :)

She loves the selfie :)  ha ha.  child of her generation, I guess.

And I'm starting to take lots of pictures of Anna - these final days are going to fly by :(

It'll be a difficult transition for all of us when she leaves.

Matt and I spent Saturday night at a friend's birthday party - getting out of the house when Anna is here is a breeze!  Easy date nights is one of the many many things I'll miss when she is gone.

[one last pic of Luke painting while Anna made dinner.   For no other reason than because he's super cute and I don't have any other pictures of him in this post :)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

the rest of the week

Wednesday morning I trudged through the rain (again!) to the train station and caught my 8:43 train to a nearby city.  These bullet trains are fast, and punctual.  It's a restful ride for me and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there immensely.   It was easy - I love the people there, and I was resting easy about my people at home!

Anna got the little two off to preschool, and then spear-headed the painting and assembly of this model of the solar system.  Science is a bit of a lightweight in our home school but we are thoroughly enjoying our Apologia Astronomy.  Mostly we just read and then take some notes in our notebooks and occasionally enjoy a little extra project.  Tonight we watched Louie Giglio's Indescribable video on youtube.  [If you haven't seen it and enjoy astronomy, I highly recommend!]

The big kids aren't the only ones who enjoy time with Anna.  She reads to the little boys almost every afternoon.  Piles and piles and piles of books.

Thursday flew by and we capped the week with a girl party :)  Our dear friends sent three of "their" girls - two daughters and a college aged friend - to spend the night.  It was so super fun!  Matt took our boys out to dinner and the girls ruled the house for a while.  There was a little line dancing session and mucho giggling and so much delight everywhere.  I tried not to notice that I was the oldest person by about, oh, ..... too many years :)  ha!

We woke to more rain Saturday (boo! cancelled soccer practice!) but by mid morning it was obvious that we were headed towards what might be the prettiest day this month.  So we decided it was time to load up the troops (at this point there were 11 of us in the house) and get to some green space.

More on that next time, I must be off to bed.  Mondays take a lot of energy around here :)

Last minute photo-addition (fun pic from Matt's camera of the boys with Daddy while the girls line-danced!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

fun Sunday

This is one of my favorite times of year... I just love the change in seasons, a new crispness to the air, a bit of cool breeze, an occasional long-sleeve tee, no more streams of sweat running down your back :)  

Bonus if the sky is actually blue!

Sunday afternoon we had some extra energy to burn.  A long walk (across our favorite bridge and down the greenway to a new playground) was just the ticket.

The traffic on the highway below was moving at the perfect speed for 'racing' - i.e. traffic was just heavy enough to slow the vehicles but not bring them to a complete standstill.

Matt and I stood here and watched the kids 'race' cars and trucks and buses!  Sooooo fun, especially if you manage to 'beat' the vehicle (meaning you start running when the vehicle disappears under the bridge and the you get to the other side before the vehicle reappears).

This game brings ridiculous amounts of joy and happy shouts of "I won!"

We returned home for homemade pizza and much needed showers.  Tonight the kids are laughing at Prince Caspian (Matt reading).  We've had lots of funny read-alouds recently and I love the giggles.  All three big kids laughed so hard at Best Christmas Pageant Ever (read by Anna) that they could hardly breathe.  I'm now reading Isaac an abridged version of Dr. Dolittle which always tickles his funny bone.  And Anna is about halfway through Trumpet of the Swan with the girls ..... plenty of laughter from that one too :)

Tomorrow morning I'm off for a day trip while Anna manages the fort.  So thankful she is here (not much longer... sniff!) and so looking forward to the time with friends tomorrow.