Saturday, October 25, 2014

date night in the smoggy haze

Remember my post about the pandas?  Well Matt and I were back in the same area last night (yay for date night!!) and I got more pictures of the panda climbing the mall wall.

See him there?  We rode our electric bike downtown and both the haze and the traffic were terrible.  Thankfully, when we are on the bike, terrible traffic doesn't slow us down much.  I was so grateful we weren't in a car.  But the pollution numbers yesterday were gross.  We need to get masks (it's on my to-do list, but so are a few other things!)

When the light changes the intersection fills with electric bikes.  We love ours.  Apparently so does everyone else.

It's a super fancy mall and the road here dead ends at a traffic circle - the rest of the area is a walking street that covers at least three or four city blocks.  It's huge.

And popular.  And a great place for a date!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

time to celebrate

We are only ten(ish) weeks into the home school year but it's never too early to celebrate, right?  I declared today "grammar party day" because who doesn't party when they think of grammar!?!?

We finished the first of our grammar books for the year (don't worry, the second one will take a bit longer to sludge through), so it seemed most appropriate to celebrate.  And there's nothing like a celebration to rev one up for more grammar.  Or at least for a solid morning of school work.

It's not coffee.  It's home made hot chocolate.  Y-U-M-M-Y

The party was all-inclusive, no use restricting the guest list to just the grammar girls.

Breakfast hot chocolate in your pjs is always a win.  I even dumped a bit into my coffee :)

The rest of the morning wasn't nearly as smooth but now it's late afternoon and Matt is home from a trip (!!!) and wrestling with the kids so life is looking good.  We've got more to celebrate!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

soccer love


It's unusual that I go this long between posts but computer time is scant these days.  I often get online in the evening but we've hosted two sets of overnight guests so I'm busy visiting :)  And then last night I did have some time but our internet was wonky and I couldn't get access.  Oh well.

I'll just jump in and get back to the habit of keeping tabs on our little crew in our little neck of the woods (or perhaps better said, our little crew in our little neck of the concrete jungle!)

The biggest news-maker of the past stretch is definitely the soccer tournament.

This team includes some of our dearest family friends.

Folks that have been in our lives for ages.... and in my children's lives for, well, their entire lives!

We knew that our home school team was at a pretty steep disadvantage.  Only three practices.  No facility.  Our coaches are (awesome) volunteer dads, but it's different than someone on paid staff at an international school!  We scrambled to buy uniforms and pull together a team.  My girls learned the concept of positions on a soccer field at the third and final practice!

So when we pulled out a win in our second game of the tournament we were ecstatic!

And if we look little, it's because we were little :)  Turns out that when you pull from an entire school of children "mixed elementary soccer" turns into a group of solid 4th and 5th graders who "made the team".  We homeschoolers took the field with more than one 6 year old on our roster!

And we won two games!  The whole day was just super fun for everyone.  The weather was overcast and smoggy but our spirits were high and it was a great group to spend time with.  The homeschool team tends to arrive with a stacked crew of little sibs - plenty of fun for those who roam the sidelines.  

Speaking of sidelines, Isaac is dying to get his name on the team roster!  Next year he'll make the big move up to 'real' status, but this year he scored a jersey since Mom and Dad are softies for a little bro who wants to be on the team.

Best 13 bucks we spent in October.

And one last pic of the girls with their coaches.  Matt's hoping to join the coaching staff next fall (his travel schedule this fall didn't allow for it - but he said next year he's gonna schedule his travel around the soccer tourney!  we shall see....!!)

So thankful for this fun experience for the whole family!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

an apple a day

The local school administration gives each child a piece of fruit as they leave school.  Almost. Every. Day. 

[I'm not sure why it's not every day, but it's unusual if the fruit isn't given out, and I'm guessing it has something to do with a faulty delivery truck route or something.]  

I know at least one other local school where this happens, so I'm assuming it's common practice, and likely government funded?  It surely isn't funded by the students, since tuition is free.  

I love this practice.  I love watching the children marching out of school munching on apples (or bananas, oranges, pears, whatever the fruit of the day happens to be).

I love that my little boys clamor to see what snack the girls are bringing, and I'm grateful that (most of the time) the sharing of bites of apple is a happy time of day for this little band of five. 

I wonder about the logistics of 2000 pieces of fruit a day!  I imagine a big delivery truck making it's daily rounds, leaving behind boxes and boxes of fruit in it's wake :) 

Yesterday we waited til we were back inside the complex to start in on the fruit consumption.  It's a pretty peaceful place, huh?  The building beside the fish pond is ours.  In the photo below our windows are just on top of Julianna's head :)  

The afternoon 'pick up the girls walk' is a new routine for us.  Sure, at times the not-quite-one-mile-round-trip can feel long.  It's hard to cover much ground when you pick up every bug, jump on every loose sidewalk tile, stop to look at every interesting vehicle.  Add in the "together five of us are sharing two apples bite by bite" and it can take us 20plus minutes to get home!  

But it's a great late afternoon activity!  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

zoo coffee and a night away

One last highlight from our October holiday break..... the girls got such a special night away with precious local friends.  They were beyond thrilled to do this!

This sweet auntie of theirs is a long time friend of our family and she is so great with the kids, all of them, and was so kind to suggest this little night away.

Although we live in the same city, our homes are very far apart - about an hour in a private car, two hours by public transportation, so this was quite the trip for the girls!

There were many highlights - but a trip to zoo coffee was one of them :)

I've never been here but it seems like a unique place to get a cup of coffee (or ice cream!)

The girls just loved this trip.  I'm so thankful for friends like these.

Now we are full swing back into local school.  Although a super long break right at the start of the school year isn't my favorite... it seems like such an awkward way to disrupt the routine, right as everyone is getting settled in the routine!..... but I did really enjoy the freedom it allowed our normal schedule and for the fun experiences we chalked up during the holiday!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014


This year's camping trip's biggest boasting point?  Great weather and solid sleep! After last year's downpours and lost sleep I think Matt went into the event with fairly low expectations - and was pleasantly surprised!

{and they picked the best weekend to go - today it's cool and rainy but last Saturday was absolutely gorgeous!}

Matt and three other dads teamed up for the experience.... these families are sweet friends of ours.

Car camping at it's finest folks :)  There is little in the way of official park service here but we have a friends who own land out here - about an hour from our home - and this place has proven itself a great camping spot.  Bonus that the "road" dead ends at this flat patch of ground.  It's part of an old youth training camp or something, no one seems to be exactly sure of the history but we do know that the old fire pit that comes in handy!    

The morning was plenty cool - a little taste of fall weather to come.

These boys are every bit as fun as you think they are...

Matt said John Paul was a camping legend.  He was the youngest by a long shot, but held his own.

I love this picture -

and I'm so glad our kids get experiences like these with people like these.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

cut and glue

There's nothing quite like illustrating your own story :)

Both my girls enjoy it, but Julianna's whole body practically sings when she's engaged in some kind of creative endeavor.  It brings me much joy just watching her.

Of course the boys are never far away.  John Paul is becoming a cut-and-glue fanatic.  He's been a scissoring-fool for quite a while - he will sit and just cut cut cut til the floor is littered with paper scraps.  Now he's added some Elmer's school glue to the occasion and he is becoming quite a craft-y little man!

I love this photo of Isaac working.  (from earlier in the week.)  He is standing with his feet in two different chairs!

Today was a full day (aren't they all?) at the end of a full week.  But while the days are full I don't feel exhausted or overwhelmed or discouraged.  Mostly I'm thankful.  Our home school days are really (mostly!) smooth.  Our local school is experience is gobs easier than it was last fall.  Isaac seems to (finally) be in a solid spot with his preschool and the little boys are rolling through their days, learning and loving and learning to love.

The last weeks of October and then through November will be very full for Matt.  We looked at the calendar and counted travel days a few nights ago.  I had to take a couple of deep breaths :)  But for now I'm still feeling optimistic!  So we'll run with that :)

[The picture above is from earlier this evening - it seems that all of a sudden the skies darken early and streetlights are on and some of the kiddos pulled up stools to watch a man washing restaurant pans (in the plastic tub by the curb).  They were fascinated by him, he was fascinated by them.  win-win-win