Monday, December 16

An update

This morning the kids all climbed into our bed to snuggle and giggle with us. I hated to be the one to get everyone moving, it was one of those fleeting moments where we were so happy to be a young family enjoying each other. Half an hour later as I was hustling kids through breakfast, lunch making, brushing teeth and hair, and finding shoes - Ryan was scrolling through old pictures, strolling down memory lane with a wistful look on his face. He posted an adorable picture of the kids from five years ago when we spent our first Christmas here in Stuttgart still in the hotel. All day long I've been thinking about this little golden time our family is in and how I need to do better at writing it up. They are my treasures!

Easton turns ten this week. 10!!! WHAT?!?!?! He knows about Santa and the Tooth Fairy. He's made it a study over the past year he told me. I asked him if he'd wished we'd told him earlier and he said he thought it was a good secret to keep. He's such a good egg. Tonight he gave me a hug and thanked me for a good lunch box although nothing in it was new or interesting in my opinion. He will be playing "Silent Night" on the guitar at his school's Christmas concert this week. I am amazed at how quickly his fingering is developing for both hands! YAY! He's so close to earning his Bear in Cub Scouts. I'm a Cub Scout flunk. I've got to jump into this more, it's such a great program and he enjoys it.

We're starting to see a bit of tween attitude and stubbornness in Easton which startles us each time. He and his two buddies, Henrique (from Brazil) and Jay (Chinese but grew up mostly in the US til now), formed what they called the "Mischievous Club." They made a circuitous maze map of boys and girls in their class by observing who they think likes who. Each of the boys has a secret crush so Easton got a little worried when I picked the map up before he could get to it one day. I didn't intend to snoop, I was just picking up stuff. It did recently accidentally go through the wash in his pocket and he was really frustrated with all that lost work. We had a fun chat about what one does with all that reconnaissance.

McKay will be a prince at his medieval market at school tomorrow. It is the end of their research unit on medieval times. He has really enjoyed looking at the different social strata, available technologies, and the class visit to a castle to be given a tour and eat lunch with a knight. Bonus of living in Europe where there are castles and palaces every 10 miles or so! When I was helping him come up with a costume for the market tomorrow (I am NOT a costume lover), he was in tears because I was starting to make him into a modern prince, not a medieval one. Ugh. But he was so right!

McKay is always surprising us with his observations. As we were reviewing some of the early Old Testament stories, he ran through a rather detailed account of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel, Noah, and Abraham and Sarah. His reading is coming along really well, still gaining confidence in his own abilities.

Recently he was talking with Ryan about different movies and he said, "Well, this movie's better because it actually has 88 tomatoes and that one only had 54 tomatoes." At first Ryan was stumped but then got it. He was referring to the Rotten Tomato ratings :)

McKay's ball handling skills are quite good I've been noticing. He and Morgan are participating in a little indoor practice group this winter. He loves any chance he gets to kick the ball around hard! He's got a solid one touch shot on goal that really surprised me a couple weeks ago! How fun! We hope we can get him on a German soccer team in town this spring because it will challenge him more than the garrison teams.

On Thursday, Morgan's class began making gingerbread men to bake. Well, those gingerbread men escaped from the oven somehow! Luckily, they left a note - a clue! Morgan spent the entire evening at our Relief Society night for all women of all ages telling anyone who would look her direction about this crazy escape of the gingerbread man and what the note said: "Run, Run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!" Her eyes were big and incredulous, her mouth grinning wide, eyebrows raised. She just couldn't believe it!!! It was the cutest, most adorable thing! Her joy was infectious! We've had many discussions about how they might have escaped. The next day her class got to go searching for the escapees all over the school following clues. Man, she's just so cute! Her primary teacher recently told me, "She's exuberant!" She sings herself to sleep and demands songs or music in the van. I love hearing her sing for no one but herself. While she loves having McKay as her favorite playmate, she also retreats to play on her own with her "aminals." And she loves eating "matatoes" (tomatoes) any time of day. She's a creative little gal, loves to paint and draw. If I weren't such a scheduling miser, I'd get her in classes of some sort but her school day is too long to demand much else of her and us.

Jake is still our baby but loves to be with the big kids. He loves to wake up early which is not our favorite. He is a Lego Ninjago warrior in training, much to Ryan's delight and my chagrin. Always fun to be the mother of "that kid" who whacks someone as a way to say hello. And he hates naps but I got him to take one today for the first time in forever! I've gotten into many bad habits with him - meals on the go, naps in the van between errands or picking up kids, allowing him to point and grunt rather than enunciate words, discipline . . . but he's such a cute little man and snuggler! I'm working on all of those, but habits die hard and we're having growing pains. His favorite books right now are Winnie the Pooh, 5 Monkeys on the Bed, and Goodnight Gorilla. He squeals over his favorite parts which is just so adorable!!! I have struck up a close friendship with my Primary secretary who is a recent empty nester. She loves on him as if he were her own grandchild and he laps it up! He does things for her he won't do for me - like walking to the bakery holding her hand the whole way to and from. She speaks to him in the most loving, kind voice you've ever heard. All my kids love her and have dubbed her their favorite babysitter!

Ryan and I took a quick trip to Köln last weekend to take in the famed Christmas markets there. We have been able to enjoy quite a few markets this year closer to home and it's been so much fun, largely because we were without kids! Ryan has just been called as the early morning Seminary Teacher. I am so excited for him and the kids he'll be teaching, I know he'll do a great job! It'll be quite a shift for our mornings since now I'll have to drive them to school AND we're going to a 9am church schedule. Shoot me now!

I tell ya, life has felt like a sprint since last March! Good heavens! But I was so glad Ryan and I took the quick trip to Köln without the kids and on the train this weekend! We had such a fun time traipsing all over Köln and eating just about anything we deemed delectable. Ryan declared a strategy after we'd checked into the hotel. We must only order one of whatever we want to eat at the markets so we have more room to try more things! I think we had potatoes in every shape and form! The goulash was really good but there was some substandard fare too - like a mazipan nutella crepe that was just bad. Meh. It certainly was one of the more charming markets we've been to in Europe but we both weren't sure we'd have thought it worth the trip without the markets. My Rick Steves guide wouldn't load back onto my phone so I can't argue that point yet with any certainty. We loved the river front!

The trip was actually a blessing in disguise for me. I was uptight about getting the kids taken care of and all that I needed to get done this weekend. But on the way there and back I got to hammer out details for an in-service meeting our presidency was doing on Sunday. I was able to accomplish more in those two days than I had been able to manage all week with the demands of motherhood. And I got to enjoy Ryan rather than be anxious and frustrated with our family while I got my things done. The kids stayed with our Primary secretary I mentioned before. I am loving my new calling and learning so much! And I have grown rather attached to the ease of the smartphone, digital world!

Now time for bed! Too many late nights recently!