Schools out for summer! {what now?}

Whew! What a week. Tomorrow the kids have a half day for their last day of school, and I can’t believe the year is finished. Next Wednesday, 22 June, we will have been in London for exactly one year. I can’t believe that’s here already (and thank goodness, one year down, one to go). As always at the end of the school year, it’s been kind of nuts with school parties, birthday parties, award ceremonies, field trips etc etc. I am looking forward to sleeping in come Monday morning {which basically means until 7, because let’s face it, the sun comes up at 4:30 and when you’ve been getting up at 6:20 for a year, your body just doesn’t let you sleep anymore}.

DAY !LONDON

Arrival in London, 22 June 2015

Today was the 9th grade awards ceremony at school {proud mom moment: The Boy was recognized for excellence in chemistry}, and looking at the kids it made me realize what a different experience my kids are having than when I was in school. Not just the mix of cultures and languages they are around everyday going to an international school with students and faculty from over 50 countries represented, but how small the school is. For the entire Kindergarten through 12th grade there are only 570 students. In just my high school graduating class there were over 360 students. I think there are a total of 50 kids in the 9th grade, and my daughter’s 4th grade is one of the largest grade in school requiring two classes. Most of lower school has only one class of about 16-20 kids per grade.

Kind of crazy. In Seattle they both went to public schools which were the typical big affairs of 100-200 kids per grade, but I think the small nature of the school has been nice for them {at least I hope so}. The education they are receiving, half the teachers have Dr in front of their names if that gives you a hint, is pretty damn incredible and the choices of what they get to study isn’t have bad either. In high school they can chose psychology, business economics, geography, printmaking, fashion design, film…definitely a lot more choices than my pubic high school where I think we could chose community service, home economics, pottery, or keyboarding.

The private {highly competitive} London school circuit is no joke. In that sense I wish The Boy would come and say he wants to finish his high school career here. Because the benefits of an IB degree on a college application looks very good. And it’s definitely rigorous, the seniors take an entire 3 weeks of doing nothing but studying for their exams which last about two weeks. It’s no joke, and I’m not sure I would have survived it! I know The Boy does want to go back to Seattle after next year, but if he came to us and said he wanted to stay I think we’d have to figure it out to finally give him a choice {instead of moving him whether he wants to or not. he most definitely did NOT want to move to London}.

The Chick, she’s ultra flexible. So long as she has her pencils and books, she’ll live anywhere!

I haven’t captured any outfits this week simply because I’ve been busy and the weather has been awful, and not optimal for photographing (and I didn’t wear anything exciting because of the rain). I have come to the realization that wide leg linen pants are lovely, lovely things, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to feel the same way again about skinny jeans {thanks to Lee at StyleBee, whose wardrobe I would love to steal}. I’m also that bit in love with my jumpsuit. Totally comfortable, and lounge worthy.

33 days until we fly back to Seattle for ten days, then The Boy goes to tech camp (where they are making laser tag thingies; seriously, all I did at summer camp was swim, canoe, and get lost in the forest, things have changed), then another 30 and the school years starts all over again. We aren’t even one day into vacations and already it feel’s like it’s almost over!

Are your kids out for summer? What plans do you have to keep them occupied?!

A little legal action, and a little hiking action; Typical Monday

It was a typical Monday around our house yesterday; a little time at the courthouse, a little hike in the forest. Obviously, not exactly typical! Let me back up and explain. Back in 07 we adopted the Chick from Taiwan. Completely legal, official, and binding.

Fast forward to January/February of 2015. Upon providing our documents from the adoption to the immigration lawyers in the UK responsible for obtaining our visas, we were informed that the UK did not recognize adoptions from Taiwan, and therefore, she would be denied a visa. This was definitely not something we were expecting. The only way to actually get Chick a visa was to re-adopt her in the state of Washington, and obtain a US birth certificate. Then the UK would give her a visa; which is good because she’s gosh darn dang excited to move to London.

She is under the impression we will be lunching with the Duchess of Cambridge, or at least popping by to see the children, and say hi.

I’m not entirely sure she understands that the likelihood of us even standing in a crowd to see the royal family is unlikely. Though if the Duke and Duchess need any help with the babies, Chick is happy to volunteer!

Yesterday, we walked into the courthouse and received an official, legal, binding adoption decree….again. All the proper documents are now in the hands of the UK, and hopefully, we will have our visa’s in hand by June 21 when we plan to fly to London. Seeing as we just rented out our house here in the US and our tenant moves in June 22, lets hope there are no more hiccups in this process.

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Since that pretty much took half the day (since the court we went through was in Everett), the kids took the day off from school. Don’t they look super-duper upset about that? Of course, the one snap our lawyer took of us looking at the camera, the kids both look utterly unhappy. For the Boy, that’s normal, he’s a teenager. I don’t know exactly why Chick looks like that except that maybe she finally realizes what a looney family she’s stuck with.

That’s life my little Chickadee!

So what do you do after spending the morning driving to and from court? Go hiking of course!

We had been to Rattlesnake Lake last year just to check it out, but we hadn’t gone up the hiking trail before. It seems it wasn’t for the faint of heart, and Chick stormed right up that mountain with nary a complaint. Which is remarkable considering we’d never taken her hiking before, and it turns out to have been a bit of a hike.

Rattlesnake Ledge

LOCATION

Snoqualmie Region — North Bend Area

LENGTH

4.0 miles, roundtrip

ELEVATION

Gain: 1160 ft.
Highest Point: 2078 ft.
We were probably about .1 mile from he viewing ledge (though we didn’t realize it, all we saw was more serious uphill hiking, so we turned around). It was very, very pretty though.
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It was definitely a good hike. If you are ever in the North Bend, WA area I highly recommend checking it out. Hopefully we will hike it again, and make it to the view point this time!

An open letter to my children

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Dear Children,

Happy Saturday! Aren’t you lucky you survived another week?! Aren’t I lucky I survived another week! Here’s the thing, it’s Saturday morning. I haven’t even had time to decide if I’m going to need another cup of coffee (it’s looking very likely at this point), but I’ve already had to ‘suggest’ several times that you leave each other alone.

Teen Boy, stop telling your little sister what to do, and how to do it. If she doesn’t know how to play whatever wii game she’s playing, let her figure it out on her own. We will all be much happier for it.

Chick, I get that you are only almost-nine, and for you that’s the trial of the century because your older brother Has Already Done Everything. Stop telling me that he’s better, smarter, more-awesome than you are. You know it’s not true and you are driving me Up The Wall saying it, and whinging, and crying over it.

A temporary single mother can only take so much.

I get that your dad is currently living thousands of miles away in London (I so wish we could reverse roles for a few weeks), and that we are moving thousands of miles away in two months (again), and that is scary/anxiety-filling/not-what-YOU-want, but it Is Happening. So figure out How-To-Deal-With-It. Because you are all making me nuts. Certifiably crazy cakes with your spring fever. Three cups of coffee on a good day, and a bottle of wine with binging on tv kind of crazy.

Please children, just chill, get along, don’t talk to each other, clean up after yourselves, don’t give me That Face when I ask you to do something, and above all Play Nicely.

Or mummy will go off the rails. I promise.

Much love and Kisses,

Mum

Could you say no?

Today on Facebook, that axis of a time-suck, a friend of mine posted the fantastic news that her daughter got into University of Notre Dame. She is a wonderful young woman, and it is truly an amazing accomplishment. Any parent would be off their head proud of a child like that.

Heck, I’ve only met her a few times and I feel proud of her! She’s an accomplished athlete, and an honor student, and a great person to boot.

I took a moment and thought about what that would be like, to have my own child reach such an amazing goal. It was a good moment…until I thought about how much that has to be costing. Even if she received scholarships (which I’m sure she did for athletics or academics, or likely both), I looked up the tuition.

Flabbergasted is one word that comes to mind.

Tuition, room & board, fees, books, etc. clocks in at $62,461 for one year at (non-ivy league) University of Notre Dame. I don’t even know how you go about paying for one year let alone paying for 4 (provided she doesn’t pick a 5 year program, or worse pre-med or law).

But how on earth could you tell your child no? Sure, you could tell them they can’t even apply to such a costly school, but that feels like you’d be a crusher of their soul. I know this family has a history with UND (I can’t remember if one of her parents went there but they are huge UND people). So I imagine they knew exactly what they were getting into.

My son doesn’t quite have UND dreams (at least not yet, he’s only in the 8th grade, but we did attend the high school college fair in October…that was eye-opening). I think, as he’s already said, he’d want to stay closer to home (which as of a few months from now will be in England for the next two years, and who knows beyond that?) He thinks he wants to go into engineering, probably mechanical or something. There are so many different types I can’t even name them all. But he is heavily interested in science and math, and thankfully, excels at both.

If he came to me and said he wanted to go to an aeronautical school for example (one of the brochures we picked up at the school fair), or MIT, that’s an exceptionally large chunk of change he would need for his education. And could I tell him no?

Probably not. I don’t know how we would pay for it (and I would say we are upper middle class), but even I balk at $50,000 a year for college. That’s like buying a BMW 5 series every year for 4 years, or a vacation home. It’s a hard task being a parent when you have a child who is definitely going to have dreams. But looking at the picture my friend posted of her daughter holding her acceptance packet from UND, how on earth could a parent deny a child that kind of excitement, accomplishment, and one-of-a-kind moment?

I know I’ll be smiling right along with my child when the moment comes, even if my mind is swimming with how on earth to pay for it.

Parenting Tips and Tricks

Lately I’ve been busy playing mom and I’ve learned some valuable tips in the past weeks.  I thought I’d share them with all of you.  (These are even helpful for dealing with co-workers or family members if you don’t have children.)

1. Never color Snow White’s dress blue when it is supposed to be yellow.  You can have your Princess Coloring Page Privileges revoked like that.

2. Don’t mistakenly introduce your child by the name you call them on your blog (or a nickname, that doesn’t work out so well either.)

3. If your child has the flu, especially the stomach flu, and they have bunk beds, insist that they sleep on the bottom bunk.  Just trust me on that.  You don’t even want to know how I know about that tip.

4. Incidentally, if your child vomits on a white stuffed lamb, front loading washing machines will work wonders on getting it out.

5. If your child is moody all day, never attempt to leave them with even a beloved babysitter.  They will go bat sh*t crazy and scream at said babysitter, forcing you to stand next to them while they eat dinner.  Then you’ll end up putting them to bed yourself anyway before leaving for your night out.

6. Olive Garden will give you the remainder of your purchased bottle of wine if you can’t finish it.  So after you get home several hours later and your children are still awake, you can go ahead and drink the rest of said bottle in the comfort of your pjs.

7. Never take two children, 4 & 8, into the post office to mail a package the week before Christmas.  You may not live through the experience.

8. Never promise a child anything unless you are prepared to go through with it.  They will drive you bat sh*t crazy if you don’t follow through.

I hope you found my tips and tricks helpful this holiday season.  Do you have any you can add to my list? Feel free to share in the comments.

Facebook: Just how young is acceptable

When I was in Idaho visiting family last week, my 10 year old nephew asked to be my Facebook friend.

Let me back up.  For those here who are my friend on Facebook, you’ll know I never use it.  Like ever.  The other night I posted baseball pictures because someone else had tagged me to see a baseball video (and I was actually in it, twice!)  But before that I hadn’t been there since…August maybe?  I’ve just never found the value in Facebook that others have.

I’ve professed my conversion to Twitter and that’s primarily where you can find me wasting time throughout the day.  I’ve just never gotten into Facebook.

I was more than a little shocked to hear my nephew uses it.  Admittedly, I haven’t been to his page yet, but what would someone that young possibly post on there?  I thought you had to be 13 to get on the site (and this is no knock against my sister.  He has an older brother who does everything and has a cell phone.  Once the first kid does something, fegettaboutit.)

It does lead me to wonder what the site can offer a young person.  Wouldn’t it be the perfect spot for creepy people to try to get at kids?  Is Facebook more protected than other sites like My Space?  I know you have to ‘friend’ someone on Facebook to see their information but it just seems scary to me that a child would be on the site.

Even someone like me can accidentally type in the wrong address in the web bar and bring up a whole lotta things they never planned to see. (Just FYI, Dick’s Sporting Goods…not the address you’d think.)  I guess I wonder how closely we should monitor our children’s internet use.  Obviously we need to approve of what sites they can go to.  Thor is only allowed to go to the Chess Foundation website that was provided by his school.  Even then, I type the address and never allow him to do it himself. 

I don’t know what to do when he wants a Facebook account.  He doesn’t know what it is currently but I’m sure that will be changing in the next few years.  He certainly knows what Twitter is, not that I’d let him anywhere near it.

What age do you think is appropriate to let kids start wandering the internet? What sites do your kids use and do you monitor what they do there?  Sound off in the comments.

*Some comments have gone missing. I don’t know why but I’m working to fix it!