opening summer packets with matching water bottles
after dinner journal time
the baby, hanging out and happy as always
chicken pot pie: it's what's for dinner
I will now shamelessly confess I received an ipod touch for Mother's Day. It is the most advanced piece of technology I own, and I'm happily planning to make good use of the camera function- which is a considerably lighter way to document the moments of the day than my Canon DSLR. Plus it has fun functions and I think my fingers look cool and trendy and maybe even graceful sliding across the screen in quick little confident strokes. So now you know.
Also, we are four days into our "summer schedule" which is going quite well, 96 hours along. It is going so well in fact, that the kids, excited by the presence of fun little details like a color-coded "summer packet" filled with sketch pads and journals and memorization cards and chore charts and gum packs and water bottles, get a little bent out of shape if we deviate from the daily routine I have mapped out. It's flexible, I keep reminding them. It is okay to go to the bathroom, answer the door, or spend five minutes without asking me, "what's next now, mom?" But truly, I am glad they've taken to it so well. It is certainly helping my peace of mind and I think I may even have become a nicer mom.
I heard someone say the other day that summers for children living overseas are not the idyllic summers we remember growing up as North Americans. As a typical kid in the USA, I looked forward to summer as a time when school was out, friends were free to roam and play at will, there were pools to swim in and neighborhoods to roam, and our family usually had at least one or two vacations planned with the Jayco pop up camper hitched up to our station wagon.
Here, as member of a community of expatriates who are living far from their home countries and families, summers are typically marked by slightly less jovial experiences. Most people and many of your friends, leave town. There are always people who are leaving town for good as well, so summer typically is a time for heavy goodbyes, for friendships that are ending in the "everyday" sense. Some people you may not see again in this lifetime. Watching some of the older kids who have lived here for some time now, I can see the toll it takes on them, this time of year so heavy with change and loss. They lose friends year after year after year.
It's easy to see the downside in all of this. The important thing to remember is that there is also a lot of good. There is a strength that can come from this kind of experience. And there is no perfect, truly idyllic way to live life anyway... so even if we were rid of these negatives I'm sure there would be others we would be dealing with.
So we are taking the quieter pace as a gift to spend time as a family, to get creative and not wasteful of the time we have been given. It is also a time to invest a little more in the people around us who are still here that we typically don't have as much interaction with. My upstairs neighbor has had the kids up a few times now, treating them as her honored "foreign" guests and we both try awkwardly to polish our language skills with one another. My Chinese tutor took me to the store today to buy a knife sharpener. We talked about raising kids and how silly I look driving around a scooter that is typically only used by very old and infirm people. I think I count as infirm- what with four small kids and no minivan and all.
I won't say I don't dream of a pop up camper and four little sets of feet around a campfire sometimes. But I think where we are can be okay (and with the help of those cool apps like Instagram) a little dreamy too.