Spring Time Fun

So, the last month and a half has been full of fun activities, some not-so-fun sickness, but evidence of Father’s grace and love are everywhere.

We were sad to say goodbye to some of our close friends who moved back to America.  The little boy was Nate’s best friend here and he still talks about how much he misses Benjamin.  We helped them move a few things their last day here…East Asia for the win right up unto the end, haha!

Other than that, we’ve been taking advantage of all the beautiful weather and play outside any chance we can!  A boy from the complex gave Nate a wooden sword to play with and it is of course his favorite toy.  He shares with John-Alan and so that makes mama’s heart proud and happy.

Here are some other fun pictures of the boys’ antics as we live out our life here in East Asia!

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Mother’s Day 2016

As we get ready to return to America on June 14th, we have a lot of things to finish before then and of course it’s the end of the school year which has its own level of craziness!  On Mother’s Day Philip was preaching at our international church and so I was not planning to do anything but take care of the boys in the morning so that he could focus on that.

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My handsome preaching husband…he did a great job!!!

 

Then the worship leader contacted me and said all five other pianists were not available and would I be willing to play?  So I asked one of my friends if she would help watch the boys that morning and she graciously agreed. And of course they had a blast going to McDonald’s to eat with Ms. Ashley!!

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We had to have a Mother’s Day Family Photo before church.  And after church I wanted to have one with just my boys…but John-Alan was pretty much done since we waited until AFTER lunch to try and get the picture, haha!

Fruit of the Spirit Decoration

So this year I’ve been trying to emphasize a Fruit of the Spirit each month with the boys.  It’s not been super formal, but we just try and talk about that character trait whenever appropriate throughout the day, learn a Bible verse, sing a song and maybe color a picture about it if I feel particularly creative, ha!

Our school has a prom committee and they are always looking for ways to get donations for prom.  Some students came to a staff meeting one day and offered their creative art services for anyone wanting to create a project.  Since my art skills are severely lacking, I decided to hire them and have create something for Fruit of the Spirit for the boys to look at…wow, was I impressed with their final product (somehow, we lost Joy in transit…whoops!)!

John-Alan had a high fever one day so he stayed home with me and we put the posters up in his room.  He loves to take pictures and had fun taking pictures of mommy, haha!

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Mommy putting up the posters

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Fruit of the Spirit Decorations!

A Trip to TJ

During a holiday at the beginning of May, some friends and I decided to take a trip to a nearby city, TJ.  What a day it turned out to be!

We met, subwayed to the train station, grabbed some coffee then went to buy our tickets.  This city is only 30 minutes away by train and there are trains going back and forth between the two cities every 10 minutes or so.  That being the case, we usually don’t buy tickets until we get to the train station and we just wait until we’re ready to leave, go to the train station in TJ and buy tickets to head back home.

But this was a holiday.  We had forgotten to take that into account.

First of all, Philip wasn’t with us (down with the stomach bacteria), so it was up to me to find the ticket area.  I can now tell you that foreigners can’t buy tickets at the automated areas because scanning your passport in a scanner that’s intended for a local ID card actually doesn’t work (who would have thought it?!?!???!)

So we wander around, eventually finding the ticket area and my friend, Ashley, and I split up to see whose line would move the fastest.  She was almost to the front until a bunch of people pushed past her…victory snatched at the last minute!  But I got to the front of my line with minimal pushing and then the fun really got started!

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We tried to buy tickets and had to buy tickets for a train that was leaving in an hour because there were no more seats…that was already unusual!  Then, we decided to ask about tickets coming back in the afternoon – and boy, am I glad we did!  There were, LITERALLY, no seats left in ANY of the trains coming back to our city…wow!  So we bought standing tickets (yes, that meant we stood all the way on the train coming back).

After arriving in TJ, we found a fun area to walk around…

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…then the rain started.  And it did not stop raining all.day.long.  So we explored in the rain as long as we could stand it, then gave up and went to a McDonald’s to wait for our train.

We got to lean against the wall in our little standing area (whoohoo!), then arrived to a mass of people in our train station and a crazy long line for the subway.

But we eventually got home and realized that while the day had been a little crazy and not what we had expected, it was fun to get to hang out with friends and we really had laughed and enjoyed our time together!

The Boys’ Preschool

The boys’ preschool proves over and over to be just the right place for our family to be invested.  The boys are both thriving there and love their teachers and friends.

One of the things I appreciate most about this school and the teachers is that they are willing to be honest with me about my kids’ behavior.  Many teachers feel it is impolite, or may reflect poorly on them, if a child misbehaves in class and so won’t talk to the parents about it…especially foreigners!  But after having been at the school for a while, they understand that I really want to know if my children aren’t behaving well so that the teacher and I can work together to correct and adjust the behavior in a positive, healthy manner.  I’m so thankful for this and for the positive changes that come about in my boys’ because of their teachers’ commitment to helping them grow in all areas and I don’t take it for granted!!!

We continue to do monthly activities on the Fruit of the Spirit at the preschool – I teach about the Fruit of the Month, tell a story from the Bible that highlights that character trait then ask them questions about how it was highlighted, I teach them a song or poem about that Fruit and then we usually eat some fruit =) We used to do these activities with all four classes together and that was a little crazy for everyone! Now, we go in and do them separately in all four classrooms.  I love getting to know the children a little better and can adjust the activities for the various age levels.

Each year for Children’s Day (June 1st), the preschool has a celebration where each class presents something.  All the parents come and it’s a big event.  This year they asked if our whole family would present an item on the program!  So, this should be interesting!!!  I’ll probably do something related to the Fruit of the Spirit activities, but we’ll see what eventually happens =)

We also love seeing how the boys have made friends, have learned the language so well and this just helps them build relationships out in our community.  They love to play on the playground after school and have no trouble jumping right in to games and conversations with the neighborhood kids.  And Nate has two friends at school in particular that he likes and he kept asking me if they could come over and play.  So his teacher sent me the parents’ contact info and we’re working on a time for them to come over.  Knowing our kids are happy makes Philip and I feel so much more confident and at peace with our life here.

THIS – My School

I’m so thankful for my teaching job over here.  There is always a fun activity going on at school and the school atmosphere truly is one of a family.  Some of my best friends work at the school with me and Father has given me so.many.opportunities to reach out to others in His Name.  I just love it!

Professionally, it’s also a great place to work because of the curriculum we use.  I teach from a series called College Prepatory Mathematics (CPM) which is entirely inquiry-based.  My students work in study teams and instead of me lecturing during class to disseminate information, they answer guiding questions to develop the math ideas, concepts and formulas on their own.  I serve more as a facilitator…making sure all the students are on track, ensuring they know how all the math works together, leading whole-class discussions about the work they’ve done and modelling an example or two as needed.  One of the best parts of this, is that the students are doing all the work during class – not me! – so when I leave work, I’m not exhausted and I still have enough energy to be with my family.

Our school is also a project-based school, so we do projects in mathematics so students can demonstrate authentic learning.  Other grades and content areas also do lots of projects and the best part is when the whole school celebrates what a particular class is doing.   The first graders had a post office and a cafe, my class did a Probability Carnival, the drama class presents their plays each year, the English classes give speeches, the Science classes have experiments on display, the art students create murals on the hallway walls and on and on…it’s just fun to work at a place where learning is fun and exciting and students and teachers and principals all have a positive attitude about what’s going on in the school!

Healthy Habits

Some ladies at work and I made a little exercise group and we set goals each month for exercising.  Xiao Bai is pretty strict and she stays on us if we don’t report, haha!

But it’s been good to have that accountability and our whole family has tried to make some positive changes – exercising more regularly and eating healthier.  The best part is that it’s spring and so the boys and I can go outside in the mornings.  The ride their scooters around our little complex and play on the playground while I run (well, more of a jog, ha!).  These mornings are so fun and are the highlight of my day!

I have to send in a picture when I’m done exercising…

Then I have to share some of my exercise helpers who really get into it!

I reached a big milestone!!!!

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I finally ran for 30 minutes!!!! This has been a goal since BEFORE John-Alan was born!!

AND, in other amazing news, Philip – of his OWN accord – suggested that we start eating salads for dinner several times a week!  This man has NEVER eaten salads (because he likes his vegetables cooked and doesn’t like dressings), but we decided to add meat to the salads and try some tstatsiki sauce for dressing…and he ate it all up!  So proud of him!!!

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It’s a miracle!!! He ate a salad!!!