Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Big Ben's Big Day Part I

Big Ben turned 6 on Friday! He anticipated it for a very long time. He even asked me early in the week questions like, "How many minutes are in 1 day?" I knew exactly where his math-geared brain was going.

When he got to school on Friday, his teacher had a big sign on his locker. (You remember that getting a locker was his big thrill for moving up to first grade!) I'll just stop here and say that his teacher is amazing. She is calm, in charge, creative. Wow. I taught 1st grade for 9 weeks in Singapore, all the while throwing up in my first trimester of pregnancy with my first baby, and realizing the school was going under financially. CC, newly appointed to being the director and appointed to somehow save this situation, quickly pulled me out and made me his non-paid secretary, then combined 1st and 2nd grade and gave it to the 2nd grade teacher. The school pulled through and is now up to 400 kids plus. Praise God! But all that to say...there was NO complaining on my part to let 1st grade go. It is, in my opinion, the hardest grade to teach. And she does it with flying colors. (His smile here is just...well, a first grader who is not quite sure what to do with all the attention.)

She had a mini-lesson that morning on how to behave at a birthday celebration, complete with the rule that no one ate the cookie before the birthday boy took a bite. Such self-control.

I offered to make chocolate chip, peanut butter, or lemon cookies. He voted for lemon. Feeling like a Pinterest-fail mom, I decided to at least add something to my plain sugar-lemon icing cookies. So I put 2 candy corn pieces like eyes, then a little chocolate chip mouth. I told Big Ben they were ninjas. He was strangely silent after I said it.

He had a few extra, so he offered one to "MoonLight" my sweet friend at the front desk. She knows Big Ben well enough to assure him that he would only get a hug, not a kiss from her. See the cookie? Doesn't it look like a ninja to you?

It was simple and special. Our young teacher's aide volunteer grabbed my camera and took this picture of us, which was so sweet to me. Mom's usually behind the scenes.

And Big Ben did not even get his discipline clip moved that day (which I am sure was due in part to his teacher's mercy.) After the weekend was over, he came to me, in all seriousness, and said, "Mom, can I tell you something?" I said, "Sure." He said, "I didn't want to hurt your feelings, but they didn't really look like ninjas. But they were good." I laughed until I cried! Long Live the Non-Pinterest Moms!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Volleyball Awesome

Last week CC traveled to China for administrative meetings, and I single-mommed it all week. The girls had a volleyball tournament. This year, Firstborn is playing for her 3rd year, Twinkle Toes also earned her way to a solid spot on the team, and even Miss Middler is on the team! Originally 7th graders were not going to be on the Varsity team, but the coach agreed to let them come and just practice to build up skills. Miss Middler worked hard, got her serve spot on, and she was allowed to have a uniform.

We showed up early to watch the competition, which scared our girls to death. The other teams were dominating the court. They walked out for the pre-game pep talk with looks of fear.

Here's Firstborn and her awesome coach.

Before the game, the girls huddled to pray.  This was the neatest thing of the day, considering where we are.

And then our girls came out and acted like one of those dominating teams! They shocked us all. Serves in, bump-set-spike. They had REALLY improved. Firstborn has nailed her spike this year. Twinkle Toes served and bumped it back so well, I kept wondering what she ate over the summer. A new rule is that you can kick the ball to keep it up (can you imagine if we had tried that back in the 80's?!) Twinkle relies on that when she can't get to the ball, and believe it or not, it works for her sometimes. Her coach tries to suppress the grin and reprimands her for the very unreliable kick. But once that day her foot pulled the ball up and saved the day. Her face went into her hands, the giggle started, and I told her later maybe I needed to run a reminder in the morning news at school that she was in volleyball not soccer.

They did not win, but they came very close with scores like 25-18. They played a 3rd extra game with subs only and beat 'em!

And then on the last game, the coach subbed in my little baby!!! She pulled her in to serve, but then let her play some. I can't tell you how much fun it was to watch my 3 Singapore girls all playing together. It was a first.

I told them afterward I had to have a picture to commemorate it. They quickly lined up in 'baby order' as we call it.

And their sweet Papa flew in at 8AM after spending the night in the Istanbul airport, but he wasn't about to miss the Saturday game. He treated his volleyball girls to a US Base Baskin Robbins ice cream.

Way to go, girls!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Things That Have Been Keeping Us Busy

The school year is off to a great start, but we've been busy. I have a new teaching assignment, which technically took me to part time, but so far I have felt as busy as when I had a full time load. I've moved into Secondary, my subjects are new (with new curriculum), and I'm serving as the school's curriculum coordinator, which happens to entail a lot right now. But I am not complaining...I LOVE what I am teaching, I love the kids. I wish everyone loved their job as much as I do!

The kids have jumped right in with their new grade level and stay busy studying and hanging with friends and playing sports. Still, we are together every night for dinner (even on the nights Firstborn has volleyball, then her tutoring job...we save her a plate and she makes it home in time for the tail end of dinner.) We try to gather most nights for family devotions and a short prayer before bed. The weather is turning colder, which is so nice.

Also, we let Big Ben and Miss Middler join a Saturday morning soccer league. They have enjoyed getting to play games on Saturday mornings. I told CC I would be responsible to take them so he could still keep his Saturday morning free. This week he was up at 5:45 to ride 25km on his bike, get home in time to go to soccer, and see the kids play, saying, "I'm not missing their soccer game."
What has kept you busy lately?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Guiness World Book of Records Attempt

T and I stole away for a quick coffee and to buy soccer shin guards at the mall and discovered this happening in the middle of the mall!

Upon further reading (she is good at reading in Turkish), we found that a team in our own city was endeavouring to build the world's largest profiterol dessert and be listed in the Guiness World Book of Records. Profiterol is delicious! It's soft, sweet pastry balls filled with sweet cream and chocolate poured over the top...mmmm. The team came so close...over 2 meters...when it toppled.

I hope they try again. I hope they seek taste testers.

Here's a picture of a profiterol with yours truly.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Henna! A first for us!

My 2 older girls were invited to a birthday-day-over for a sweet homeschooled friend. Her mom was in the US, putting her first daughter in college. I had seen the mom at church, told her I was praying for her and that I was just right behind her in the process and had admired the courage she had in all of it. She cried. Sigh. It's not easy launching them.

So, while she was away, the next daughter had a birthday. Dad was caring for the kids...they have around 8 or so. He offered to cook dinner for her friends (girls said it was delicious!) He allowed her to invite friends over, and the next thing you know, they'd come up with the idea of doing a henna party. Disclaimer: HENNA is not a tattoo! In the middle east, it is used to decorate a bride on her wedding day or for a special occasion. It is a symbol of her joy. It is said, "Where there is joy, there is henna." It is a natural dye that can be painted onto skin in beautiful designs. It usually lasts a couple of weeks. I knew Papa would not say yes unless I put a good spin on we approached it from the "very temporary" standpoint, the "cultural standpoint", the "girls just having fun, no harm" standpoint. And he agreed!

I thought they made beautiful designs.

And for whatever reason, it only lasted a couple of days. But it was fun while it lasted!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back to School 2014

On the first day of school, we had our annual launch! CC offered 5TL to any student who could list the 5 Expected Outcomes (O-Outstanding Character, A-Academic Excellence, S-Servant Leadership, I-Intellectual Curiosity, S-Sportsmanship).

Then he led the march around the school, with 2 elected seniors carrying the Turkish flag and the Oasis flag.

The Kindergarteners and Pre-Kers bring up the end.

We all gathered for an Oasis cheer! (They are yelling "O!")

And so the tradition continues and the year began! I am so thankful for this place!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

10 Years Ago Today

10 years ago today, Oasis International School opened its doors for the first time! The Lord has been so faithful!

First Day of 2014!

Here are my precious kids! (Bear with to put these in the record each year!)

Sometimes I wonder how I can be so blessed.

Here's my handsome (only) son, entering 1st grade. He was especially intrigued by the machine his teacher has, which projects anything under it, up onto the screen. (I subbed in there one day and discovered my coffee cup being projected up on the screen, whoops!) Everything has changed this year...he gets his own 1/2 of a locker, he sits at a desk, he has homework! His teacher rocks. She runs marathons, is a techno-genious, always patient.

Here's my sweet "last rose" as they say in Turkish...the last daughter. She finished up 3rd grade with me and is launching into 4th with a new teacher. She is going to have a great year! This past week, she came running to me and out of breath, exclaiming, "Mama! I get to be a library helper this year!" Don't you love this age? Her teacher is my good buddy, extremely organized. I've launched her into good hands!

This sweet baby started Secondary. She was 18 months old when we moved here and learned within a week that she could bounce high enough in her springy crib to almost propel herself out. Now she's changing classes and getting books out of a locker. You can tell the sunlight is different in her picture. Hmmm...someone was up earlier and dressed for school first!

Daughter #2 starts 8th grade. How can this be happening? Same sweet heart, but the little body and pigtails are gone and have been replaced!

My firstborn was not quite ready for her first day picture, so I assured her I would find her at school and get it. It was all a fun, dramatic scene. She asks if we can just get this over with, her friends say it's so sweet that your mom wants your picture. And all I can think is....Kindergarten...I taught her in can I be down to 3 more years??? !!! I pinch back the tears and ask the Lord to lengthen the days.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Meanwhile....While We Were Away

While we were gone on our retreat, the kids stayed alone. Of course, I did not FB or blog this at the time. It was the first time they'd ever stayed alone. My good friend T was right down the street, ready to be Mama at any need they had. She blessed me so much by picking my kids up each day and taking them to the base so they could attend/help with VBS. She had them for dinner, too, so Firstborn just had to get them breakfast, lunch, and squared away at bedtime. She house was perfect when we returned. I was speechless. The girls worked together and did a great job. When I came home, I asked if they were scared at all. All I got was, "Wow, Mama, your sleeping in your bedroom is a LOT cooler than ours!" (No AC and the upstairs is hotter!)

Here are the kids doing the motions to one of the cool VBS songs.

This year all 3 of my older girls qualified to be workers. Twinkle Toes was happy to help with a preschool class. Miss Midd and Firstborn were on the worship team.

Here is their team of 4 song leaders. When we moved here 11 years ago, Firstborn was deeply feeling the effects of leaving 'home' (Singapore). She was the only one old enough to go to VBS, and I took her each day. She was scared and cried when I dropped her off. It was a full-circle, thank-You-Lord, for all He has done in her life to see her up there in charge of the worship for all the kids. She didn't cry a bit. :)
VBS comes at the perfect time...the week before school starts, when all the kids are rolling in and needing to remember how to get up on time after summer! It was a blessing to me, too, to be able to leave them in good hands while we were gone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Retreat's End

We really had a great time together. We ate, played, prayed, and cried together. We all had take-aways that God was speaking into our hearts. For me, I sensed God telling me I needed to forgive rather than just stuff some things way down deep in my heart. The small acts of kindness in this new staff (like immediately friending me on Facebook and treating me ...the boss' one of the gang) went a long way in healing some things in me.

We all left feeling like the amount of time we had missed in getting our classrooms ready and meetings finished was replaced by a spiritual bonding that was ever-so-much more important.

The last night we made a bonfire.

Here's my sweet friend B. If you wonder why she's wearing a blanket, it's because she gave me, who brought no jacket, her jacked to borrow. Did she ask for it back when she got cold? No. She just wore a blanket to the bonfire. That's just the way B rolls.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Scenes from the Retreat

I had fun with my new camera while at the retreat.

You could literally see the clouds roll in over the mountains.

I took this shot for his wife, a friend I made last year.

 My sweet Turkish friend, Moonlight (the literal translation of her name!).

Cowboys and Redskins fans hanging out together, it truly was a unifying trip.

A village teapot.

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