Monday, May 31, 2010

soccer saturday

Saturday, May 29, I woke up early to begin recovery-- Bethany had hosted a sleepover Friday night. We packed up the tent that had been set up in the entry way, rolled up sleeping bags, and tossed out soggy bowls of Chocolate Magic Stars. Olivia and Mary had to be at ISB by 8:30 for their soccer tournament. The medal was Mary's favorite part.

A bit of Beijing haze.

Saturday evening the embassy hosted Ozomatli in concert at Chaoyang park, so Rob was working. I took the kids back to ISB for the Beijing International branch closing social. Here are Sam and Brenda the shaved ice machine, a yearly tradition. Brenda was our neighbor in the old house, our good friend, and Sam's sixth grade humanities teacher.

There is my favorite broccoli and bacon salad.

Grant was in heaven. He loved all that the ISB playground has to offer and was especially happy to play with Diego.

He loves to "say hello to the fish."

And he couldn't resist the wading stream.

Sunday was William's first day of nursery.

Bethany has been waiting all spring for these Irises to bloom

Sunday, May 23, 2010

too freaky

I'm fascinated with close up pictures of the kids. Their skin is so clear and eyes so bright. So when I showed Grant his picture he wanted to see one of me. "Okay Granty" I said, "but it will be scary." Thirty-eight years just don't look so good close up. I showed him my self-portrait. "Oh mommy," he said. "You look too freaky like a skeleton." He was absolutely right. It was even worse, if you can imagine, than the one below. To this one Granty said, "Mommy, you're the skeleton and I'm the ghost."

I think I look pretty stressed out. Not from kiddos, just transition. Sometimes so much that I don't recognize myself. Big change is too freaky. To be absolutely honest, I've been too sad to write much these past ten days. I've spent my productive hours separating our garage things from Rob's, which seem to consist of mostly 1990's CDs, uncharted baskets of twisted black cable, a stray childhood baseball glove, and some still loved philosophy books, since most of his life is invested in his work, his guitar, or his ipod, oh yes and kid business.

For those waiting for news, so are we. Nothing official so far, though still the expectation that Rob will stay here and we will move to Utah. My dad and Judith have spent many hours touring houses on our behalf. They found a lovely white house that they call lilac cottage. The kids would love it, but as of this writing I am still debating, managing sticker shock, wondering how much money we really have after food and fun, clothing and gas to spend on housing costs, something we haven't had to worry about for years. Like many state department families, we are courageous in travel, timid in home ownership. And I'm thinking about what my wise father told me years ago, "Remember Remember my daughter...(I added that part).. I've never stayed awake at night worrying about how to pay for something I hadn't yet purchased." Insomnia is a big issue for Tourneys. Sam and I got the curse too. But where to house 10 children? Insomnia again, though we have warm welcome to Grandma Julia's basement and I am calculating the savings, at least for the summer camp out-in-the backyardable months, until the medevac money kicks in. That could work and could be quite memorable, hopefully happily.

Enough rambling about sadness and/or confusion. More about happy distractions at ISB. Field days at ISB. A week ago it was the upper grades. I noticed that Kyle's strongest event was the hurdles, which I contribute to his methodical nature. Then I spent Friday, the 21st out on the field with the three girls in the younger grades. They were up to relays, water games, bouncey house bouncing.

Friday Ben and Sam returned from their two day away class field trips. I won't try to spell where they went. Sam was exhausted from a lot of hiking, but woke up early Saturday morning to bike twenty-five miles with the boy scouts. Friday evening I took the kids to the pool. Sam helped me manage Grant, since I had William too, and a couple of the girls' friends. We ate their yummy french fries. At one point I looked around for Grant and found him and Sam dancing by the speakers to the Gypsy Kings. It was a nice evening and I thought how I would miss the pool.

Saturday afternoon,I took the girls to a birthday party with arts and crafts, Subway sandwiches and more bouncing. Another welcomed distraction.

Rob has been working long hours due to the SNED conference. We had time to go out for a bit Saturday afternoon. I wish we could avoid the what next discussions, but they seem inevitable these days. Saturday evening Rob had another work event and I took the kids back to the pool for swimming and dinner, french fries and Caesar salad.

Sunday evening Rob was back to another work event, as was Travis, so Lindsay and her kids came over for dinner, barbecued chicken, watermelon, and Sam's incredible homemade potato chips. Ben made some delicious chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I think that I shall never see....

I'll miss our playground when we leave China. I've looked out the girls' window on cold dusty days to watch one lonely, bundled child on a swing, being pushed by an obligated ayi, and other mornings to see the bright yellow slide sparkle with dew and the new determination of the almost summer sun, and summer evenings to see moms passing the witching hour chatting in bunches, surly adolescents twisting the chains on the swings, and no-shoed, barely diapered babies (those would be mine) making a quick dash to the spinner before anyone notices they've left the house.

So last week, one evening, as most of us were heading in to figure out dinner, a group of Chinese workmen showed up with thick rolls of white tape and closed off a section in the center of the playground. "Oh please," I thought. Don't let this be like last summer when they made a futile attempt to grow grass on the soccer field right when summer began. The men started to dig big holes, so when Olivia came in for dinner she announced that she was sure they were building a swimming pool. The next morning the mystery was solved when two all-but-grown trees arrived in the bed of a large white truck.

I grabbed my camera and Grant, who was a bit feverish that day, and therefore less enthusiastic than I had hoped. But, he made some interesting observations. He pointed out that Bob the Builder was driving the crane and said "that scary tree go to the park." That summed it up.

So in China there's always some person in a suit standing around looking important but doing nothing. This one recognized me from the Do-re-mi. Then later some guy at the bus stop pointed to me and said "you...t.v." and made some almost obscene gesture that was supposed to represent singing in a microphone. So I wish all this notoriety would pan out in to something more lucrative, but at least the public reaction has been entertaining.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

birthday needs, rules, realizations

Sunday Caitlin turned officially four and proved that she was quite capable of expressing her birthday desires. "Everyone is supposed to wait downstairs, hide, and then yell happy birthday to Caitlin," she said. And for breakfast she didn't need the cereal buffet, she wanted "toast and chocolate milk." Swimming was also a request so we did that Saturday in the icy cold, just opened outdoor pool. Ice cream was included.

Caitlin is a Sunbeam this year, so she was looking forward to being sung to in Primary and getting to choose her candy from the birthday basket. After church we opened presents. Grandma showered Caitlin with The Princess and the Frog gifts. From Mom and Dad she finally accepted the pink stroller I had bought her before Christmas, that she insisted I save until her birthday.

I asked Caitlin if she wanted mashed potatoes for dinner. That's what Bethany suggested. "No," she said, "and you can't make me eat them." So....we decided on macaroni and cheese and beans, and barbecued hot dogs. Lindsay and Mayah Sevy came to dinner.

Monday morning Caitlin asked me "Am I still four?" Later she just asked, "And tomorrow too?" Then later it was, "And the day after?" Then by lunch it was, "So for lots of days?" By dinner she reminded me, "'re not the boss of me 'cause I'm still four."