Thursday, August 26, 2010

"I'm six, I'm six, I'm six, I'm six!"

Totally six!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yay Schoolbus!

The gang just before the bus arrived, Rosie helped me walk the kids to the bus stop.

Ahhh.... the first day of school. I was so happy to welcome that bus and get back to a regular, if maybe a less fun then summer routine. While I love the idea of the kids going back to school-Rosie is having a tougher time of it. For the first few days she was really out of sorts...very insecure and insisted that I hold her all day while she bossed me around. She also refused to nap, which was a huge bummer because I was really looking forward to her naps to give me a break from the clinginess. Do you remember when Yoda had Luke Skywalker in Jedi boot camp and built his Jedi endurance by hanging on his back and giving him orders? Well, Rosie is my Yoda... she even sounds like him. "No sit mommy- no sit no sit- get kids... get kids, readygo- readygo-readygonow readygoNOW!"
However...she does begin preschool soon which will give her school buddies and structure and a chance to wear a very cute backpack a few times a week.
Yay preschool!
Oh and the report from the big sibs is that school is cool. Mary is happy to be a sophomore and more importantly- not a freshman- Lily loves being in the 4th grade- the big cheeses of the primary school, Jamie is crazy about his 2nd grade teacher and Henry is embracing kindergarten with happy enthusiasm.
I love school.

And they're can just barely see Rosie wistfully waving her pink pony in the corner. She is far less happy with the start of school then I am.

Imagine Luke as a cranky middle aged housewife, and Yoda looking a lot less pleasant and a lot more frantic and you will get close to my back to school week with Rosie.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just bopping along, figuring stuff out...

Here is Anna on the school quad, just outside her dorm- she was bidding me adieu but I wasn't so sure about leaving just yet.

Anna started college last week... I mean how is that even possible? But it's true. It seems like it was just a few years ago that I moved into Bradley Hall at OSU... not 25 years...sigh.

Anyway... Anna is going to school in Charlotte, NC which is 8 hours and 23 minutes from our house. This meant that I had more or less 9 hours (counting lunch) to either remind her or bring her up to speed with tons of important stuff. She was a captive and mostly uncomfortable audience as I hit on every major life lesson I could think of...and I know she was faking sleep at least part of the time. While I let her "sleep" some of the time, I did wake her up with a start two times. Once to look at a rainbow and again to see a gi-normous wild tom turkey at a truck brake hill. I took both sightings as good signs, although I am not so sure yet how to read the wild turkey. As we drove along, some of her friends were moving into their schools and texting Anna every now and again. One of her close friends had just moved into her dorm and Anna asked her what she was doing "...just boppin' along figuring' stuff out" was her reply. I really loved that answer.

Here is Anna bopping along in her dorm, anxious for me to go and eager to start a new chapter in her life.

The cool rainbow that I had Anna take a photo of...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Road Tripping

Karl and I, seven kids (our kids+a pal) and a parakeet... journey to the beach.
This photo was taken at the midpoint of our trip home from Hilton Head- Lily looks rough, Jamie, dangerous, and even Harry the bird looks a little frazzled.
Only 3 more states to go... that is in the United States, not mental or emotional states. Who knew how many of those kind of states we had to go...

This is a happy picture of the teenager car passengers +Rosie enjoying the charm of a Wendy's in Tennessee. Rosie traveled in the family truckster but she was so delighted to see her big sisters who rode together in the little car, every time we made a pit stop.

Here is the whole team trying not to be blown away on the very very windy last day. For some reason, Rosie, who was very nervous about the beach seemed very relaxed and happy in the windstorm. Harry the parakeet tried to make the beach family photo but was almost blown away and had to be returned to the condo.... poor little fellow

Henry, (aka H-Bomb) was thrilled to go fishing one day... I think he looks like he could have his own Sunday morning fishing show in this photo.

Miss Mary and Rosie on the very windy last day.

Henry and Jamie with a washed up jellyfish...much like the one that stung their sister.

Miss Lily... digger of sandcastles, before her run in with the jellyfish.

Rosie loves sunglasses... probably her favorite part of the beach was the abundance of sunglasses to steal. In spite of some of the inevitable family vacation bumps... sick kids, jelly fish stings, kid crankiness from togetherness overload, it was a great vacation.
The best part of the beach trip for me was getting to spend a whole week with our own whole family and my very cool OSU pal Terry, and her amazing family.
Can't wait until H.H. 2011!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Some More...

Guatemala is a gorgeous country... it's nicknamed the Land of Eternal Spring because it is often sunny and 70 degrees. The natural beauty of Lake Attilan, (named as one of the most beautiful lakes in the WORLD), and the vibrant colors of the countryside provided some wonderful photo opportunities. So, here are some more pics.

A little family band in Antigua. I loved that the smaller drums were made of turtle shells.

In a church in the town of Santiago.
A student at a high school that we visited working on her weaving.

The "Wedding Cake Church" in Antigua.

The view from a school in the Highlands.

The old cathedral ruins in Antigua

We took a boat to visit a school on the other side of Lake Attilan. Here is Mary with Katie- one of the forever energetic and completely dedicated staff members of CoEd.
A fisherman working from a boat on Lake Attilan.
A little fellow watching from up high... I have no idea how he got up there or how he got down, but he was very happy in his perch!

The view from The Posada Santiago... the inn where we stayed the first two nights.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sandra and Maria

Cooperative for Education also has a scholarship program where they will connect committed students to a sponsor who pay for their school tuition and fees. In return, the students agree to ten hours of community service a month as a way of giving back to the community. The students keep parts of the town clean and establish in town produce gardens among other things. Additionally, the scholarship students spend a couple of hours hosting the tour participants during the tours. If you sponsor a student, then the staff of CoEd will arrange for you to spend time with that student if possible. Our family has sponsored a diversificado (high school) student named Sandra for a few years now. Mary and I had the pleasure of spending time with Sandra and another scholarship student named Maria.

After we returned from lunch and were getting ready to leave, Sandra asked one of the Spanish speaking participants to translate. She had prepared a little speech for us and she wanted to make sure that it was translated properly. At first Mary and I felt like she was kind of uncomfortable thanking us, and tried to stop her and tell her that everything was ok. Then, at the same time, we both realized that she needed to say her piece...this is some of what she said. "I am grateful to you for giving me an opportunity to have a good future. Without an education my life would be very difficult, but with an education I will be able to provide for my family and contribute to my community in a positive way. I will study hard so that you are not disappointed and think that you were wrong to believe in me. I thank God that you are able to help me. Thank you for giving me a chance to stay in school and learn. I am thankful that you have faith in me."

I believe that Sandra is about the most gracious, determined and just plain brave teenager I have ever met.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Mary being welcomed at a grade school in the Highlands.

Mary and I had the pleasure and honor of traveling as tour participants with Cooperative for Education- an organization working hard to break the cycle of poverty in Guatemala. The founders, brothers Jeff and Joe Berninger have developed innovative and sustainable strategies for reaching out to the children of Guatemala and have hired the most committed an energetic staff ever to help them do so. Co-Ed bases their programs on community based revolving funds which have proven to be effective, but even so- they continue to examine every new development, get more efficient, and reach more kids each year.

Their basic mechanism is a simple one. For example, if a single textbook costs $5.00... Co-Ed will help the school fund the initial cost of that book. The students then pay 1$ to the school each year to rent the book and after 5 years the school has the money to purchase new books. Most of the teachers in rural Guatemala are expected to teach without books. Imagine that... a school without books! When this is the case, the students spend their class time copying text into notebooks. Completely boring for the students and a really not so effective way to teach.

One of the really great parts about Co-Ed is that they make it possible for anyone to travel with them and see firsthand how the children benefit. The schools begin their programs through an inauguration, a kind of school party with ceremonial dances, speeches and a whole lot of grins and hugs from the kids. Karl has gone on these "Snapshot Tours" many times, but this was a first time for both Mary and I, and we loved every minute.

One of our welcoming committees.

A student demonstrating her backstrap weaving skills to Mary during a school visit.

It was pretty cool to be welcomed so warmly.

The excitement that the kids felt about their new opportunities was completely inspiring. To see them giddy with the thrill of receiving new textbooks and supplies was quite uplifting. In fact I would highly recommend a Snapshot Tour to Guatemala with CoEd as good for both the heart and soul of anyone with an interest in education, kids, Guatemala or all three.