Friday, May 31, 2013

2 of 10

This goal of ten posts for ten consecutive days is proving more challenging than I'd expected. It's 4pm on Friday afternoon. Charlotte and her friend are playing house. Tman is playing wii. Madi is at a slumber party, and Meya is somewhere riding bikes in the neighborhood. Finally a free minute...

I spent the majority of my day with Leasie. At Jakarta International School, in place of parent-teacher conferences, they have Student Led Conferences (SLC). Students invest many hours to prepare a google document as a "map" of their academic year. The document contains links to projects, tests, and slides shows.

Today, Leasie and I went to her classroom for her SLC. She completely directed the meeting. For forty-five minutes, she took me through the progress she's made on math, writing, and reading. She shared her goals and accomplishments. She also shared her "reflections" about the year. What a thrill to see independence, classroom technology, and the fostering of responsibility in students! I was very impressed.

Next she showed me her favorite rooms: the art room and the music room. I discovered that Gamelan is much more difficult than it looks!

We celebrated the day with lunch at TGIF (Yes, one opened a couple months ago close to our house and we love it!).

In five days, Leasie will graduate from elementary school. I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic today.

Here's a picture of Leasie a couple months before she started Kindergarten. I think a part of me will always picture her this way.

I'm so grateful to have spent the past eleven years with this sweet girl.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

1 of 10

I'm sitting down to eat my breakfast (oats, nuts, ground flax seed and yogurt - my favorite!) in front of the computer. It is the first time I've slowed down enough to eat breakfast outside of the car in more than a week. Even last Sunday, I brought my bowl and spoon in the car on the way to church. But I digress...

...the end of things (and the beginning of somethings)...we're at that time of year when activities are wrapping up and new adventures are just warming up. I realized this morning, if I don't take a moment to sit down and write about them, they'll be lost - mostly because my memory is just not so good anymore. So for the next 10 days, I'm going to do a small post a day. To catch and bottle up these memories.

Here is 1 of 10.

The End of Preschool. Not just for Charlotte and this academic year. But for me too. Next year Charlotte will start Kindergarten. And since she's my last child, this was the last time for me to teach preschool.

We ended on a high note. Thanks to some incredible insight, effort, and zoo-phonics, we took this group of five kids from non-letter-recognizing status, to reading. Quite an accomplishment.
 This year's group of preschool moms is probably one of the most over-qualified collection of "teachers" I've ever had the pleasure of working with. One of the moms even has a PhD!  (Matched only by the year in College Park Maryland when Madi's preschool teachers consisted of a lawyer, a nutritionist, and a masters in early education). So to preschool teachers past and present - Chelisa, Lyndi, Julia, Cherylyn, Lisa, Shannon, Shanadee, Karen, Corinne, Jenni, Jodi, Erin - Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love these ladies. I am indebted to them for the gift of their time, talents, and nurturing. I get misty-eyed just thinking about these incredible ladies.

The truth is, I've always kind of had to resign myself to doing preschool (I've never been a good babysitter) and so I've appreciated the example of my fellow at-home-preschool-teaching moms. But this year, I really tried to embrace preschool and enjoy my time with Charlotte and her friends. And as we completed our last worksheet and took our last walk to the park as a preschool group, I realized how many things I love...

glue sticks and construction paper
round-edged scissors 
walks to the playground followed by pink lemonade 
circle time with flannel board nursery rhymes 
sharing and kindness
mid-craft-hugs from my brown-eyed girl
"One more book please!" (my favorite request)

Yes, I will miss these things.

Monday, May 13, 2013


There was a time (about 9 years ago) that my ideal Mother's Day weekend consisted of much pampering - a mani-pedi, brunch, dinner out at my favorite restaurant, maybe some solo shopping, and a long nap on Sunday afternoon. It was my weekend to take a break and recharge. Absence makes the heart grown fonder, and it seemed that if I had a little time to myself, I came back a much happier mommy. I've decided not to judge myself too harshly. I'm simply owning up to that phase of my life. (Reminder to self that this was the 3 kids in diapers phase, no one yet even in preschool, and husband was gone 12-15 hours a day).

Fast forward to yesterday. Mother's Day 2013. Now that my kids are older (and all potty trained), all I wanted to do for Mother's Day was just BE with them. And gratefully, they were extremely accommodating.

Here are some moments that probably won't make much sense to anyone but my kids and I, but for the record, I just want to remember:

Broiled tomatoes with pesto - a little taste of my favorite English breakfast (thank you dear husband for remembering).

Cradle-carrying CJ to the shower in the morning. She decides to make her body go stiff like a plank, and we both laugh at her "trickery."

Singing the opening hymn with Madi. I have to stop singing because I am overwhelmed with gratitude. "What's wrong Mom?" she asks. Then she sees my eyes and just knows. She rests her head on my shoulder.

A game of Dominion on the dining table. Madi won. Truman got second. Amelia third. Elise and I high five across the table for tied-last.

A walk in the late afternoon through the neighborhood to see the parrots at the end of the cal-de-sac. Truman reaches out and takes my hand. A few moments later, Amelia takes my other hand.

Banana bread, hot from the oven with sticky pecan sauce poured over the top. We all dig in. I LOVE baking with my children.

An impromptu concert by my favorite musicians. Even their rendition of "Twinkle twinkle Little Star" makes me proud.  

In pjs, all the kids pile onto my bed. They don't fit the way they used to. Elise has to lay across the bottom of the bed. Truman nearly falls off the side. We read our favorite books: What do you Love?, Sophie's Masterpiece, Weekend with Wendel, Angelina Ballerina, and of course, Goodnight Moon.

And I know sitting there surrounded by the best part of my life, the part that matters the most, there is nothing more beautiful, and no where I'd rather be.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bowling in Jakarta

With a little help from friends...we successfully found a Bowling Alley in Jakarta!! Yay!
We took advantage of having Thursday off from school and work for Ascension Day, and went bowling. This made up for our epic failure two weeks ago.

Madi and Leasie shared a lane with friends Grace, Lillian, and Emma. I had to intercede only once when they thought it would be fun to send two balls down the same lane at the same time (ah teenagers!)
 Dad helped Charlotte - they got a strike! Followed by much fist-pumping and high-fiving.
 Tasi and Lyndi with the kids.
 CJ and I bowl...alas, gutter ball.
Every once in a while, I experience a surreal out-of-Jakarta moment. This is usually when I'm at a mall or restaurant. It is when my immediate surroundings seem so non-Jakarta that I can easily imagine being in America. Today was one of the those days. And as much as we love our experience in Jakarta, it is so very nice to have an American-like outing.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lessons From Losing

Nobody likes to lose. From board games to soccer games, losing is never fun. And over the past couple weeks, my children have encountered loss.

I confess, it's much easier for me to parent a child when they win. It's easy to cheer them on, give them a high five, and dust a place off the shelf for a new trophy. Celebration is easy. The irony, of course, is that I believe good parenting is more crucial when helping a child with a loss than a win. Right?

Consolation. Looking on the bright side. Resilience. Those are things I struggle with as an adult, let alone help my children understand.

This week, Tman made it to the finals in the elementary school chess tournament. As the defending champion from last year, Tman had high expectations of himself. He had practiced over the year with his Dad (even beating him twice). He studied a book about chess strategies and played online chess games whenever I'd let him. He was pumped, excited, and prepared for the tournament.

He won all his games and earned himself a spot in the finals. The first round of the final game ended in a stalemate. But yesterday, in the final game, Tman's opponent won.

There were tears. Of course.  But Tman reached across the chess board and shook hands with the winner.

Last night as I talked to Tman in his room, I told him how proud I am of him. I tried to remind my son that what makes him amazing is the person he is. Not the accomplishments, accolades, or collection of trophies. I tried to remind him how much courage and strength of character it took to shake hands with his opponent and congratulate him on the win...while inside his own heart was breaking. That is a measure of a greatness.

I also made his favorite dessert (chocolate mint brownies) because I'm his mom, and that's what moms do.

I remember the soccer season when Madi's team lost every single game. Yes, every game. That was hard. But thank goodness she didn't give up. From that experience I learned that what we choose to do in the midst of defeat not only defines who you are, but helps you truly align your priorities. Do you play to win? Or do you play because you love what you're doing?

Life is full of loss. And I know there will come a time for all my children when they will face loss much more challenging that a soccer game or a chess tournament. There will come a day when chocolate mint brownies won't help at all. My hope and prayer is that because of what they've learned as children will make them better prepared to deal with loss as adults.

Never give up. 
Keep trying. 
Love what you do. 
Remember that what is on the inside, is what truly matters. 
Shake hands with the winner.
And call home (me or Heaven...or both).