Monday, February 8, 2016

stop #2

Our first week in Thailand has come and gone.  It was quite full, but not exhausting.  The kids loved it all... the camp activities, the pool, the friends, everything.

They picked up a ton of loot too, good thing one of our duffels was half full when we arrived because they filled it up!  My absolute favorite are these bridges - symbols of the many transitions they navigate and cultures they cross.  I'm hopeful these will make it home relatively unscathed and I'll search for frames.... would love to have these hanging in our home.

and all too soon it was time to say goodbye to our conference buddies (some new, some old)

and we were on the road again.

Today was the first day of vacation!  woohoo!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

and here we are

Our travel day was smooth as could be. Hong Kong was wet and overcast which is a bummer since it's such a pretty place to fly through.  We landed in Bangkok right on time and got to our hotel by 6pm local time.  Not too bad.

How'd you like this seat on the airplane?  These little people were awesome - and I actually only sat here for takeoff and landing, Matt was here for the bulk of the flight :)

All that travel is totally worth it when sunset looks like this...

And the kids spend HOURS in that pool!

This week all of us are in different programming during the days but the big four kids are probably having the most fun.  They are in a kids camp designed specifically for kids that spend their childhood outside their passport country.  Their leaders are college-age and recent grads who grew up all over the world.  It's a fun place for them to learn more about their 'normal' and start to embrace the gifts and challenges of a highly mobile childhood.

And the leaders brought all kinds of fun snacks and treats from the States, including these nabs.  Luke loves them (he snags them from the big kids since he is not yet old enough for camp)!

Today was free day and the boys spent several hours on the beach this morning.

The girls too :)  It's a pretty spot to spend a holiday, and we are back to 'camp' and meetings tomorrow for a few more days.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Matt is home, we're heading out!

Daddy's re-entry is almost always celebrated with a good wrestle.  Lydia and I sit on the sidelines and laugh til we cry.  Lydia is not much for wrestling and I'm in the no-way-jose category.  John Paul has been known to sit out a few too (though not this time).

But Julianna and Isaac and Luke are intense.  And they love it.

[see below for JP (in the blue pants), and perhaps one reason why he is tempted to sit out a round or two!]

We rallied for a victory pyramid - Daddy is home!

It was a full afternoon with Daddy-wrestling and last minute packing and getting most of Matt's laundry through the washer/dryer.  He came in from the far north and tomorrow we head south, so the loads full of long underwear and layers upon layers are switched out for shorts and swim suits.  perfect.

Late afternoon the crowds were restless.  We walked to the mall for dinner.  Actually, we ended up snacking on street vendor food en route and it became a progressive dinner of sorts, topped off with bits of brownie cake for dessert.

And now the kids are all in bed, the luggage is zipped by the door and we have a driver picking us up at 5:30 tomorrow morning.  It'll be a bit of travel, connecting in Hong Kong to Bangkok and then a bus ride to Pattaya (on the coast east of Bangkok).  I'll be surprised if we make it door-to-door in less than 14 hours.

Good thing this little band loves to travel :)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

dinner on wheels

We are cruising through a longer Daddy-less stretch and also prepping for a few weeks away from home.  And what that means is we are scrambling to make meals happen :)  I'm aiming to just cook once a day (apart from breakfast, which is both cooking and not-cooking, depending on what label you use for things like big pots of oatmeal and dozens of fried eggs).

This afternoon I found myself without a dinner plan (ha!) and five hungry kids to feed, so we headed outdoors on a combination of bikes and roller blades and scooters.  First stop? picking up some photos I had developed.  Next stop?  something for dinner!

We ended up at a little hole-in-the-wall type place for 包子 and 稀饭 (fist-sized meat-filled dumplings and watery rice soup).  But it wasn't quite enough to fill all the tummies all the way, so we planned a little extra stop right at the gate of our complex.

Deep fried potatoes, hot hot hot.  (temperature-wise and spicy-wise!)

We rolled up to this rolling cart and wheels = convenient, whether they are roller blading kiddos or carts full of deep fried potatoes and all the fixins'.

We bought our potatoes, rolled on inside the gates and settled down on benches just outside our building to munch our second course.  We had a beautiful view of newly-lit-up trees as the skies darkened - the maintenance staff here is busy decorating for Chinese New Year and we watched them put those lights in the trees before we left for dinner.

All in all, dinner was a win.  Now I just gotta figure out what we are going to do about tomorrow :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

two pics to love

So our temps dropped another ten degrees and it's a nice crisp cold with snow flurries one day and sun shine on others so I can't complain.  I'm loving the slower pace of our days with Chinese school done for the first semester and out for a month long break.  My little two are still in preschool three mornings but other than that we are home and it gives the big kids so MUCH MORE TIME to just play and I love it!  Chinese school has a ton of perks but I'm a big fan of more time at home too.

My home schooling highlight from last week (and honestly, maybe from the whole semester) is this sweet little note Julianna attached to her Astronomy book.

And proof that our days are chilly and our home is much warmer than outdoors- foggy windows!  

This was clearly written early in the morning before one sister had reason to temporarily 'forget' her love for the other! ha!  they are sweet friends but they can drive each other (and me!) bananas at times!  I'm thankful it's mostly love, and that they took the time to write this message during one of those moments.  

I wanna be more of an encourager, quick to point out what's right, eager to find the good in my kiddos... so this little note was a good start to my morning too.  I saw cold gray skies and poorly insulated windows - they saw a little spot to spread the love.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

already wearing sunglasses?

and this afternoon we went....

to the dentist!

Matt was able to go along (big win!) and we cleaned teeth for all 7 of us!  [Well the little boys don't quite count but they did get a fluoride treatment.]  We have a new place quite near our home with western-standard care and they can clean three sets of teeth at one time.

We came home and went for a long bike ride by the river.  The city continues to improve the riverfront area and recently connected two long stretches of greenway (that previously required a detour to a tunnel under railroad tracks and a surface level road crossing... now it's a finished continuous underpass, so nice!)

I'm still amazed that we can ride for miles and never leave greenway!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

those five precious heads

Sunday evening Matt and I teamed up for haircuts times 5.  He buzzed Isaac and John Paul, I went to work with the scissors on the girls and Luke.  And now our heads are officially ready for Thailand!

And one of them, well she's looking a bit like me :)

At this point our heads are just about the only thing that's ready.  I just pulled out summer sandals and had all the kids try them on for size.  And a lot of the clothing I packed back in September when I was putting away summer clothing (this is my happy habit, to pack for winter vacation when I'm putting summer clothes into storage, and it does make for easier packing when January rolls around).

but there is still plenty to be done, and with Matt heading out for many days on the road, I'm feeling a little pressure to be ready early.  we shall see.....