the beginning of the end of an era

today is the first day aly’s last year of high school.  and – if no one in my family changes their mind – it’s also the first day of our family’s last year of traditional school.  i’m finding dealing with both has me feeling all kerfuffle-y.  it hasn’t been all that long since chan went through his last year of high school and i still remember how raw it was.  how all year long the coming change felt so close to the surface.  i’m trying to not protect myself from those feelings this year.  i want to fully experience this whole year with aly (appropriately, of course, i have no plans to go to prom).  i don’t want to fall into a been there done that attitude, either.  this is her experience and while it will have its similarities to chan’s it won’t be the same at all.

aly

at the end of the last first day of high school.

she and michael were in the states this summer and she toured college campuses.  she even found one she wants to apply to.  she also wants to apply to a college in japan.  so much change to come.  so little time to savor and no way to stop the clock.  i wouldn’t really want to.  she’s gonna have an awesome year.

along with her last year of school is our family’s decision to not send sam back to school this year.  over the past few years it has become more and more apparent that traditional school is not the best for sam.  we’re taking the road less traveled (so to speak).  he’ll come out of it with a high school certification and he won’t be shutting any doors he might want to walk through in the future, but for his well being – and the well being of our family – this is the best path we can find.  we are very thankful that the school will allow him to audit drama this year and that they have left the door open should he decide the classroom really is where he wants to be.  it’s scary for me.  i’m a rule follower and this isn’t how high school is supposed to be done.  (this is a little funny because we homeschooled our oldest two for several years, and that’s not how elementary school is supposed to be done.  even better?  it was my choice to do it.)  i also think it’s good that we live abroad as we are making this decision.  not that there aren’t plenty of people who support homeschooling in the states (i think that’s what you would consider what we are doing).  at this age it feels like it’s more sam schooling with a some parental oversight.  many of the non-american westerners around us have been very encouraging of our decision.  they’ve told us it’s not uncommon in their countries for how a kid is educated to change at this age.  it seems only us americans have a one size fits all attitude when it comes to education.

so big changes ahead for us and i’m just holding on to the knowledge that we’ll come out okay on the other side of all this.

sort of like a field trip

…but without the adult chaperones.

this summer the kids headed to their grandparents’ house in america.  and to get there they had to fly. unaccompanied.  by themselves.  without parents.  i would say without adults, but one of them is an adult. (wow – i have an adult child).  but he’d never flown alone, much less with his siblings in tow.  to get to my parents house they had to manage four different airports, in three different countries.  but at least they were together.

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ticket counter in chiang mai

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security

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passport check

one of the airports was in frankfurt, germany.  where the drinking age for beer and wine is 16 and hard liquor is 18.  and since they were flying lufthansa that was the drinking age on the plane, too.  go c18.

they were there five weeks.  five weeks.  that’s a long time to be childless.  and it seems a long time for my parents, who have been childless for quite a while now, to have kids around.  but i wasn’t worried about that.  they all coped.  and they made memories.  and then they returned.

the oldest two returned together.  they left d/fw a little late.  which put them into washington d.c. a little late. a little too late to catch their connecting flight to germany.  so they stayed overnight.  the airlines put them up in a hotel and gave them vouchers for food.  but at 1am they decided it would be a good idea to head out looking for a 7-11.  i haven’t heard a lot of positive things about the streets of our nation’s capital.  but they were fine.  got some snacks.  made their flight the next day.  instead of germany they went to tokyo.  and instead of about 8 hours in the air they got to fly for 14.  and they got to spend the night in the airport in bangkok.  they arrived in chiang mai a day later than planned, but they arrived.

the youngest returned with michael.  they had flight issues, too.  but nothing major.  their biggest problem was arriving without luggage.  but the luggage had all made it by the time we picked the big kids up.

all three kids made great memories.  my parents were awesome.  they really tried to find something that each kid would enjoy. however… if the occasion every rises for us to send the kids to the states again, we will definitely ask permission before booking the flights.  but i sort of think this was a once in a lifetime kind of thing.  next summer we’ll all be in the states and we’ll most likely be leaving one behind.  and then who knows what summers will bring.

april break

april break is coming to an end. and we did a bunch of nothing. or at least i did. the oldest two, c16 and c13 went on a mission trip. they spent a week in two villages in northern thailand. they played with kids, assisted with vbs and returned with packs full of stinky clothes. c16 also got sick. he spent a day and a half puking his guts out. probably better he was there than here. because a) i’m not one for the puking. and b) there he had aircon and tv, neither of which he would have had access to here.

april break is 2 weeks here. two very hot weeks. for the first week and a half, michael was home. that meant for the first full week it was the five of us home. it’s been a while since we’ve all been here, together, with not much scheduled. we played games. helped michael with some projects. finished getting a music room together for s10 and slept in. the second week started with the c16 and a13 headed out for their trip. leaving 3 of us here to play songkran. what could be better than the biggest water fight in the whole wide world? especially when they are very fond of using ice water. and throwing it on you by the bucket full. wednesday michael left. that left s10 and me. alone. s10 was certain that the few days between michael leaving and the return of his siblings would be the most boring time in his entire life. i proved him wrong. we made a day trip to the flight of the gibbons – where we had our fill of ziplining and waterfall hiking. and we were not bored at all.

c16 and a13 have returned. monday it’s back to school. and then the countdown to the end of the school year begins.

and none of the same symptoms

it’s 9p on nov. 10 and i have to post something because of noboplomo.  so here’s nothing something.

today all three kids were home sick.  two – a12 and s10 – stayed home and the nurse called to ask me to pick up the the other – c15 – before i’d made it off the school campus.  i think a12’s is sinus related.  c15’s is maybe tired related and s10?  i think it’s best if you hear read it in his own words.

i have a stomach ache and my head hurts.  but it’s definitely not a food thing because i ate breakfast and it’s stayin’ down.

i didn’t let it alter my plans.  still did coffee, ran to the store and went to the orthodontist.  and only had 4 calls to “report” the happenings at the house.  of course, i was only gone 2 hours.

i get real jittery when i think about it

this time last year the summer loomed in front of us.  a tortuously long summer with no idea what we would do with ourselves.  we did have that trip to penang to be excited about – we were wrong to be so excited.  but this summer!  this summer i can’t even think of the goings on we’ve got going on.  this week will be all about holiday bible club – hbc is just a fancy name for vbs – preparation.  but that preparation time is going to be slightly interrupted by a 2 night/3 day girl trip to pai.  we leave wednesday and get home friday.  saturday there are meetings to attend and a 17 year anniversary to squeeze in…  oh, and i start single parenting it again.  i’ve been a bit spoiled.  michael’s been home 3 weeks.  3 whole weeks. 

the next week will be holiday bible club.  monday through friday every morning.  i hear there are like 200 kids and i’m heading up the crafts.  should keep me busy.

the following thursday c15 and i get on a plane for india.  india.  i can’t believe we’re going to india.  10 days there and then the states!  texas and colorado.  friends and family.  and we’ll probably discover 4 weeks is not enough time.  especially since that 4 weeks might have to last us another 3 years. 

if i believed in to do lists – or rather if i were capable of making one and keeping it – i would have to include get visas for india (c15 and me).  get reentry permits for kids and me – so we can return to thailand.  locate backpacks for c15 and me.   pack for all of us.  and all that intails…  i’m trying not to think about what that could be.  and – because it’s not going to do itself – get the stuff for hbc crafts.  but it is sort of cool that once i get it it will sort of magically get sorted and prepared.  and by magically i mean all those hbc helpers will do what i didn’t finish while i’m gone!

busy summer ahead, but sure beats a boring summer stretching out into eternity.

i’m not a sentimental person

i’m the kind of mom who thinks kindergarten graduations are stupid silly.  i mean, i didn’t see my children’s completion of their first year of school as a reason to go all cap and gown crazy.  i sort of expected them to make it into first grade.  i know there is alot accomplished during kindergarten, but really, a graduation?  this could also be because only one actually went to kindergarten.  the other two spent several years being tortured taught by me.  perhaps they deserved a celebration of sorts when they gained their freedom reported to a regular classroom.

so when the kids’ school had a meeting for the 6th grade families about the upcoming bridging ceremony (bridging ceremony:  a ceremony to mark the end of the elementary school years and the moving on to secondary school) i might have rolled my eyes and i’m certain i thought, “really?  that’s stupid silly.”  because i don’t see the completion of 6th grade as that big of a deal nor the moving on to secondary school – which, i think it is important to note, is on the very same campus as the elementary school and not only that it’s in the very same building.  but because i’m an involved parent – which is really not true, i’ve only just recently gotten involved and i have a whole other post all about that (it’s a bit of a downer) – i volunteered to head up the food bit of this shin dig and to try to find someone to take on the decorations – since noone else seemed to be willing.

i think it’s a little funny that the person in charge of getting the ball rolling on the parent end of this thing doesn’t see the point of doing it.

so today was the day. the program was kicked off by the whole audience standing for the king’s song.  which – i believe – is how it goes at all public gatherings.

then the students performed a virtue rap they had written themselves.

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there were performances by a few students – including a12 on the harp.  no picture, batteries were very low.  speeches were given by the top student from each 6th grade class, they were very funny and charming.  much more confident than i remember being at 12.

the final thing was the actual crossing of the bridge.  the leaving behind of elementary school

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she seems pretty determined about getting across that bridge

into the jasmine lei bearing arms of secondary school.

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then all the other elementary kids were kicked out – unless they were a sibling of a 6th grader – and the party began. many parents volunteered to bring in finger foods from their country.  we had swedish meatballs (switzerland), suishi (japan), chicken tandoori masala & nan bread (india), chicken satay (thailand), custard (europe – don’t remember the nation), brownies (america), chips & queso (texas – which is totally a nation), sticky rice (thailand), tempura veggies & spicy dipping sauce (burma), some crusty bread topped with veggies and ham (germany), some pickled veggies – not kimchi (korea), sliced roast beef (america) and there was more, but that’s all i remember.  there was also a very lovely cupcake set up.

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this amazing 100 cupcake cupcake creation was made even more amazing by the price.  baht 700 – which when converted into u.s. dollars came to $20.35.

and as silly as i think the notion is – i will admit it was a lovely ceremony.  and the purpose was better explained to me by the person who thunk the whole thing up.  (whom i happened to be sitting by and it’s very possible i mentioned that i thought it was an unnecessary (and i might have even said stupid) thing to do – but, of course, that was before i know it was her brain child.)  she told me the purpose wasn’t really a graduation but more to allow closure and to make for a better transition for the students into secondary school.  it seems that tck (third culture kids) have difficulty with transition so anything that can be done to assist them is a good thing.  i’m not sure what i think about that.  i guess i’ll see as my kids become third culture kids.

oh, and i just have to share with you what i think is the most fascinating tidbit from the tck wiki link – dr. ruth hill useem, the sociologist who coined the term third culture kids, named her three children flopsi, penny and dipsi.  it’s possible the whole third culture kid thing wasn’t her children’s biggest issue.  or maybe i shouldn’t believe everything wiki has to say (you can find her obit at that link.  and it seems her kids aren’t the namesakes of the teletubbies.)