Saturday, January 12, 2019

Christmas 2018

Christmas has come and gone and we are not likely to see another one like that…until the twins’ senior year. This Christmas holiday, including the lead up and a few days after, were spent on polishing and sending college applications. Tori worked hard. We watched and crossed our fingers. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the last one was sent in. Now it is a waiting game but much better than having the deadlines hanging around.
Despite Tori working hard on college apps, we all had some fun this holiday. We had a number of winter concerts at the high school. A favorite was Tori’s Jazz Band concert on Friday December 21, the last day before the school holiday. We all noted the enthusiastic 4th and 5th grade audience. All excited by the holidays, they cheered loudly for every jazz song. As the band started in on a piece, the fifth-grade boy next to me leaned over and asked “was this song in Toy Story?” I said no. He went back to listening in no way dissuaded.
We took the girls for an afternoon of ice skating and one quick shopping trip. We got our Christmas trees (yes, we have officially expanded to two trees!) from the same farm we have gone to now for a year or two. Adam came along on the trip but fell asleep in the car en route. Because he had already worked 8 hours at another Christmas tree lot in town, taking trees to people’s cars and tying them on. We missed his expertise due to his exhaustion but we’re glad to know we have an expert in house for use some day.
On the Sunday before Christmas, we all went to the Packers/Jets game at the Meadowlands Stadium, about 25 minutes from our place. We bought the tickets ages ago (at top dollar before both teams’ seasons collapsed) and were excited despite the cold. Adam pulled out all our Packer gear and we all went wearing either Packers or Cal (for Aaron Rodgers) gear. Adam wore the cheesehead and got it autographed by Packers after the game! Anyway, the Jets were winning but the Packers came back to win in overtime. I said Aaron needed to start running and then he did with two touchdowns (one called back) and a two-point conversion. My next and last football statement was that the Packers’ former coach might now end up at the Jets. We will see! Regardless, Adam has already told us that the Packers play the Giants at the Meadowlands next year. A new Christmas tradition?
Despite all the activities, our favorite part of the holiday was our Christmas Eve church service with the twins acolyting this year. We sang our hymns and watched Baby Yuri run around as a sheep in the play until she fell asleep and had to be carried back to her pew by her dad. At home, Tori played more carols on her sax. We ate our enchiladas and were thankful that though much has changed some things like the excitement and love of Christmas stay the same.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Camping: cabin style

Things are busy at our house this fall but somehow the stars aligned and all three kids were free on an early fall Saturday. We immediately packed up the car, forced them into the car and then told them we were going camping! Everyone was a bit confused and we made haste for Jenny Jump State Park about an hour north of us.
We camped (one night) with the kids earlier in the summer and developed a streamlined approach to the whole thing. In addition to springing the idea on the kids, we also decided not to cook. In June and again this October, we simply threw snacks into a cooler. Cheese, crackers, apples- you get the idea. Not fancy but good enough. We lit a fire but only for smores.
Our October camping was even easier than before. We rented a little cabin! There were bunk beds in there for all of us, plus a wood burning stove. With our sleeping bags on mattress, and off the ground, it was all pretty easy. So easy in fact that we slept in. We all got up around 9am to find Phil sitting outside with donuts and coffee (yet another easy camping tip for camping with teens).
The added benefit of Jenny Jump State Park is that it has an observatory up there, with a number of different telescopes from various astronomy clubs, including the one we belong to. We had never been up there, though had heard much about it. Another man from our club was there and showed us how to use it, explained the history and made it all seems very do-able. The only problem that night was cloudy skies but the welcome from fellow astronomers made up for it. Waiting and waiting for clear skies this fall…but someday soon we will make a trip back up.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Back to school

Yes, the kids are finally back in school! Finally, because in our town school doesn’t start until after Labor Day. I should add that we finally figured out the late start here and that out this year- squeezed in a quick trip over that long weekend. It is all a bit funny here with high school sports starting in August and competitions starting before school does. In fact, Tori had her first varsity tennis match the day before school (a win in tie break).

All a bit funny too as we realize this was Tori’s last first day of high school!Her teary-eyed parents held on tight to most traditions. We had the schuletutes and lots of photos. We forgot to write the poem for each kid’s first day but we copied an internet thing and made a sign that said the year. (All those first day pictures with the same schuletutes was getting confusing). The only real difference was that Tori invited 10 of her friends over for brunch as school had a delayed opening. We loved seeing all the senior girls dressed up. Adam didn’t mind all the fuss. He came downstairs, saw all the food and said “a houser breakfast!” He meant the big breakfasts we used to make with international student athletes housed with us in Munich. Definitely more fruit, bacon and baked goods than the usual morning around here.
The other big difference is that senior girls drive. Tori drives she just doesn’t have a car. But as they all drove off to school and she climbed into our car, I could tell she wanted to. All of a sudden I realized the school day was different with the seniors leaving campus to eat lunch. The twins are thrilled as they move up the lunch space ladder at the high school. I think they are now in the gym and aspire to the cafeteria as juniors. But Tori is a free bird. And as it should be, I suppose. Every thought that pops into my head is along the lines of- she will be even more free next year.

Of course, she is ready and of course she will do fine. Somehow it is lunch that pulls at my heart strings. Thinking of the kids first eating in their classroom in Hong Kong and graduating to the cafeteria for the later years. Of Royce writing me the note- “I am the one who doesn’t like pesto in my lunch!” In our Munich cafeteria, I used to peek from the cappuccino bar to see if the kids had someone to sit with for the hour-long break. In the states, lunch is more fluid, with kids sitting with different friends on different days. And now apparently so fluid it is no longer at school. But I will keep writing notes on their napkins. They don't need a note but I need to write one.