Monday, September 9, 2013

5 years old!

Wow! The birthday we have been anticipating for months, finally arrived. We had been made aware of the impending celebration for a very long time... particularly as Mietta had been (verbally) inviting guests to her birthday party since mid-May! 
Mietta's birthday celebrations started with a birthday party two weeks ago, then a restaurant dinner the night before her birthday (venue chosen largely due to the family having a late afternoon swim at the gym)... then some 'treats' for Mietta's new classmates... then a birthday dinner at home, on the actual day, with requested Tacos, 'kid's wine' (sparkling cider) and a 'double chocolate fudge cake'. We were able to share Mietta's party with her grandparents (my parents) - via Skype!
I didn't get around to making a cake for Mietta's birthday as I was too busy trying to track down some type of 'treat' for her classmates. I was hard-pressed to come up with a treat as new school guidelines mandate that it CANNOT be homemade, cannot contain nuts, must avoid any known allergen, cannot be processed in a facility that also processes nuts, etc. I also had my own guidelines of no artificial colors or sweeteners and preferably sugar-free. I had to throw my healthy fruit kebab option out the window! I ended up buying some mini-meringues (one child had to avoid due to an egg allergy), that I skewered together with fresh raspberries using toothpicks I'd decorated with some big 5's and a birthday message. I had to present all items, in original packaging, to the school nurse for approval. Mietta helped hand the treats out to her class friends with some 'safe' lollipops. At least the pure joy emanating from her smile made the running around worth it :-) 
This fleeting childhood thing... sure is fleeting by rapidly. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

a big day!

Another huge life changing day. On Tuesday, we bid farewell to THREE children as they boarded the big yellow bus on their way to school. WOW! Mietta has been waiting for this day for such a long time and was super-excited. The boys seemed content with the idea of more routine and were more than excited at catching up with friends. All were up early, enthused and ready to get out the door. 
Our Summer vacation was even longer this year. At 12 weeks, this was far too long for the little ones to be without the routine of school. I was always led to believe that the long US Summer vacation time had an agrarian history: with all family members needed to farm and harvest. I have since found this is not the caseThe long vacation time here has been blamed for the 'summer slide' that is so talked about and is said to contribute to the widening knowledge gap between affluent and underprivileged children. I do like Australia's approach to school vacation time - with a longer summer period and several extended vacation breaks to split up the school year.

Coinciding with the kids first day at school, was a visit from Chris and her partner Keith. The impending arrival of house guests kept me busy on the first day of school. Chris and I had both worked at EDAW as landscape architects and hadn't seen each other for a very long time. Chris left EDAW to pursue her career in local government and a masters degree in criminology (specifically CPTED - or crime prevention through environmental design). Chris and her partner Keith were halfway through a 4 week tour of the states - Chicago-New York-DC-Atlantic Coast - and stopped off on their way through Virginia en route to Florida. Chris's intention was to observe American 'parks' and gain an understanding of their design, management and use - and of course, to celebrate her 40th birthday with aplomb. Keith came along for the ride and was made happy with the promise of driving a V8 muscle car and lots of boat-viewing along the coast - with the intention of buying a boat and having it 'shipped' back to Australia!

What a lovely respite for us. We loved learning some news of 'home', hearing travel experiences and catching up on the past decade or so. Our gracious guests arrived proffering chocolates, strawberries, cupcakes and wine - so of course they were welcomed by all! Mietta was still on a high from her first day and could not be quiet. For. A. Single. Moment. She and Nic had a new audience to express their obsessions with Hello Kitty and Slender Man. We so miss the uncomplicated and worldly perspective that Australians seem to be imbued with.

Chris paid me the greatest compliment - in saying I hadn't changed a bit. Sometimes I fear I may compromise myself... but so glad to hear that marriage, kids, living abroad, etc. haven't necessarily changed my outlook or sense of humor!