Monday, January 13, 2014

Our neck of the woods

It's been awhile since I simply wrote a post updating ya'll on what is going on in our lives.

Speaking of ya'll ... a friend recently directed me to this New York Times online language test. You answer twenty questions and then it tells you were your hail from in the USA. Good fun and very interesting!

 I thought I'd split up today's update by people in our home. Here goes:

Currently, I've been really sick. Some sort of feel-like-a-train-knocked-me-down-full-body-achiness sort of bug. It's been a week now. I'm better but not much. Thank the Lord for my in-laws helping me during this past week or I'm not sure how I would have managed. In all my years in the work force (1999-2008), I don't remember ever taking a sick day. I imagine I probably did take 1 or 2 here and there, but I can't bring a single one to memory. However, this illness would have required one. So that shows you how nasty it was and still is.

Thankfully, most of the house has avoided contamination. Abigail definitely got it, but everyone else has appeared fine.

In other news, the boys had their first tennis lesson this past week. We've been contemplating putting them in some sort of athletic opportunity, especially since they homeschool. But we haven't been able to find the right one or the right time. This one was perfect. It is taught by a local Portuguese man (who has a five-year-old daughter of his own) at a gym in a town very close to the Base. It's one hour on Tuesdays and one hour on Saturdays. Saturday, we gave it a try, and the boys loved it!

I've always found that teaching kids at a young age is more about whether you know how to successfully corral cats (i.e., five-year-olds) more than being able to teach the sport. This guy could do both. He had great equipment (smaller net, bigger and slower balls, and smaller rackets) for all the kids. And he had good strategies for keeping them engaged and attentive. We'll definitely be doing this for the rest of our time here on the island.

I really think sports is over-emphasized for children. I ended up being a college athlete, and still, I didn't participate in my first sport until I was almost nine-years-old. However, I do think learning how to use your body correctly, follow directions, and have fun, are never bad things. And the boys were taught all of these things during their lesson.

Other than Sidge hitting himself in the face with a racket midway through, there were no tears.

There are seven kids in the class. Five of them are Portuguese girls who speak no English. And two of them are American boys (mine!) who speak no Portuguese. It's funny to watch the teacher give an instruction in Portuguese. The girls go scattering to do as they are told, and my boys stand there, looking clueless, until he repeats the instruction in English. Suddenly they scatter.

I love these cultural opportunities for me and my kids. I'll definitely miss these opportunities when we return to the USA. I know some of you will say that bilingual opportunities exist in the USA. And while that is true, there truly is something different about living in the middle of another language and culture totally not your own. It's an amazingly challenging and wonderful experience. We get to bypass it slightly with a Base and Americans galore to support us. But still, it's quite powerful.

Still on the topic of the boys, they are doing so well with homeschooling. They are really starting to read and add and subtract very well. They are learning money too. One added perk of homeschooling that I never thought of, was the sense of accomplishment I get as a mother, to help them learn these things. If my child was not homeschooled, I would pass off teaching them to read, to someone else. But instead, I get to truly partake in this amazing learning with them. It's very rewarding!

A-bee-gail as she now calls herself, is talking like a fiend! Unfortunately, she has given up most of her signing, and because we can't understand half of what she says, there is more frustration then there used to be. But that will continue to improve every day.

She has also nearly perfected potty-training. Number one is down. Number two still needs work. But either way, the process went MUCH smoother than I planned on it going. I really thought that little spitfire would dig her heals in. But she embraced the procedure entirely, and has done a fantastic job. Only one in diapers again! Sweetness!

Hannah is leaving infant-dom behind and is turning into a baby. She is grabbing things, rolling over (continually, and then getting angry), and starting to work on solid foods. She is very easy and great fun.

John has a lot going on right now. Not only is he trying to do all the paperwork required of leaving the military, he and three partners are preparing the launch of a permaculture business/website (that I'll tell you more about once it goes live). In addition, he will be returning to American in March. He has some job interviews in Tennessee and will be looking for a place for us to rent for about a year.

He has also been invited to speak at a huge permaculture conference in California. He's going to tie these two trips together so that he only has to return to the USA one time. This is a huge honor, and I'm so stoked for John getting this invitation. He truly hopes that medicine and permaculture will be duo-careers for him in the future. And it is certainly heading in that direction.

John's parents are preparing for a return to the USA. They will be leaving sometime in the next 1-2 weeks and will be gone for around six weeks. They have a lot of work to do on their home in South Florida, preparing it for selling, and trying to tie up thirty years of their life in a neat little bow! No small task. Their plan is to return to the island sometime in March, finish out our time here with us, and then relocate to TN with us. Most likely, we will all be in one home in TN for a period of time, but eventually, they hope to have their own little place on JB's land.

Having them here with us during the last five months or so has been incredible. I have loved every minute of their presence in our home. Not only do my kids get to spend time with their grandparents, but we get to share our overseas life with people we love. I truly believe families were not designed to be so separated from each other, and I know that I've done so well with PPD, etc. following this baby because of their support and presence in our home.

Don't want to leave out the pup who is ... in ... heaven with Grampa here. He follows Grampa around all day. He "helps" him take out the recycling and garbage and chop wood for the fireplace. When Grampa here, he is not my dog. He's Grampa's.

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