March 14, 2009

Emily's 11 and Cub's Back

We now have a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old.

Emily enjoyed a pottery painting birthday party today with a dozen girls from school, church, and community drama class. It's fun to see how gregarious she is. The girls painted little pieces of pottery: a teddy bear, a toucan, an owl, a cat, a turtle, a lion, a duck, a butterfly, dogs, and masks. They seemed to enjoy it.

God's kind gift to Emily for her birthday was sending back our friendly neighbourhood cat whom we had not seen for a few weeks. I was really concerned about our little "Cub" - she had been visiting every day and letting us pet her, with full purring appreciation, and then she suddenly disappeared and we had no idea what had happened. Then yesterday we caught sight of her again, in the street, so we finally knew she was okay and still living in the area. Then today she actually showed up at our house again, and we got to pet her - and figure out what had happened - she apparently had surgery and was recovering from it, as we could discern from her shaven belly and purple stitches! I think she probably got fixed so she can't have kittens. We were careful to avoid her abdomen while caressing her today. I was so happy she's back and okay. I had felt like we might never see her again. What a relief and blessing to touch her extremely soft fur again, and see her sweet face.

It's March 14th and we still have a little snow in the back yard, which is rapidly melting in the 13 degree C (55F) pre-spring warmth. There are a few mounds left where Emily and her sleepover friend had built forts from which to assail each other with snowballs.

Jason's having a weekend full of play rehearsals. It's only about two weeks until MacBeth opens at his high school, and so the drama teacher is having the full ensemble practicing all day Saturday AND Sunday... that's a new one on me. They were let out earlier than advertised today, however, so that's nice. Jason is playing a minor part, Lennox, so he brings plenty to occupy himself during the rest of the 5 acts when he's not needed. It's just as well, since he's been busy working on his 10th Grade "Personal Project" in which he is writing a computer program in Python - a Battleship game. It's coming along nicely. I beat the computer today for the first time. I keep asking if he can make the colors adjustable, with a little color palette for me to pick what color I want the background to be, but he thinks I'm the only person in the world who would have any interest in that, so it's not high on his list. I suppose water should be blue, after all.

March 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 29, 2008

Confused Class Locations

My son is in 9th grade in Switzerland, at an international school in Zug.

His P.E. class meets in the English Room (for theory lessons).

His English class meets in the Humanities Room.

His Humanities class meets in the Math Room.

His Math class meets in the Physics Lab.

He's taught German in the Library.

His tutor group gathers in the Computer Lab.

Drama erupts in the Dance Room.

Science meets in the Chemistry Lab - wow, one that makes total sense! Except Jason says he's not doing chemistry, it's biology at the moment.

His French class meets in a room called "Aula East" which is neither here nor there, as these things go.

I don't know how he keeps it all straight. Habit, after a while. But I do find this class placement hard to fathom. I think it has to do with the fact that the school building is small for the number of classes, and it has been growing fast. The school is in the process of building a new, larger facility, which I am sure will have less confusing classroom names! As long as the teachers keep straight what they're teaching, everything will be fine. A rose by any other name...

September 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 14, 2008

8th Grade Graduation and More

What a big day!

- In the morning, we all attended Jason's 8th Grade Middle School Graduation/Celebration Ceremony, to transition to High School next year. About a third of the graduating class was chosen to deliver excerpts of speeches which they had written for the occasion, and Jason was among them. He did a great job, and looked wonderful in his coat & tie. We're so proud. A delicious buffet reception afterwards with all the families.

- In the afternoon, Jason went off to New Day "Local" at the Oakwood Youth Challenge adventure centre, where they offer climbing, abseiling (=rappelling), high ropes course, fencing, archery, riflery, etc. The New Day Local event also includes rocking worship time and talks about God. *Update* He just got back, and had a great time - his chosen events were archery and riflery, and he loved them. He brought back his target papers to show us. Interesting, as there is a local annual holiday in Zürich all about teenagers and riflery, called Knabenschiessen. I don't know whether they let foreigners participate. It looks like it, from the rules, but I'm really not sure, as they are in German, and the Google Translate tool just puts me into giggle fits:

e.g. a few excerpts of the translation:
"If you have missed the deadline, post-registrations during the Knabenschiessen directly in the shooting gallery Albisgütli up on Monday morning at 09:00 clock still possible! Communist simply over..."

"SPÄTESTES ANTRETEN PROTECT THE 15 MINUTES BEFORE EACH SCHIESSENDE! The shooters who use for its own benefit selected the best times."

"How is shot? It is lying with an "assault rifle 90» official said. There are no sample shots allowed and there must be only one person per Schiesskarte be resolved!"

"Another possibility again without shooting, but additional prices wet, is the class competition."

"Not Forget: The program may only 1x shot!"

"More schmatzige delicacies from all over the world are opposed to money to the various sales booths."

"Who is Gabenberechtigt?
Results of 28 or more points are gabenberechtigt hits. Entitled gift-sign immediately after the shooting for "controller" of Schiesslinie for the purchase of Abzeichens and Gabengutscheines."

- Meanwhile, Emily was at a friend's house celebrating her birthday with about six girls, with a "Makeover" theme! Imagine these six ten-year-olds putting on as much mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, sparkly gel, blush, hairspray and nail polish as they wanted! She had a ball. Not only that, but she actually looked nice enough at the end of the party to go straight out for dinner with David and me. I felt a little underdressed sitting at the table with Emily. She did a nice job with her make-up. Wow. I was impressed.

- While both our kids were out at their fun events this afternoon, David and I went on a nice walk together in Windsor Great Park, on still more paths we hadn't yet explored. This is the 5000 acre park attached to Windsor Castle and starting only 5 minutes from our house. I've mentioned it before several times, with pictures (e.g. the Long Walk on Jan 17th 2007, Sixteen Pheasant on Nov 24th, '07, and the Punchbowl floral extravaganza on May 14th, last month). Today we saw a number of deer again, as we were mostly in the "King's Deer Park" section. We got up close to the Copper Horse statue and looked down the Long Walk at Windsor Castle, then turned our backs and walked along lush green alleyways and through wooded areas instead, with fewer people. A nice hour and a quarter of exercise and fresh air together.

Yesterday we got the house rental contract back in the mail, now signed by all parties, hurrah. However, the Swiss Embassy informed David that only his visa is ready, not the rest of the family, and that we all needed to fill out some more forms and provide some other stuff that he didn't have prepared. So there is a little delay on that. But at least he is now familiar with where it is, and we know what we have to do. Four steps forward, three and a half steps back? Progress, anyway!

4.5 days of school left
6 days until the packers arrive (which is the last day of school too)
13 days until we fly away from England
Momentous times

June 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 14, 2008

Acrostics by My Daughter Emily

F inally
I 'm
R ipping the
S tripy finish ribbon
T he crowd goes wild

* * * * * * *

L urching
A cross the finish line
S adly realizing
T hat I'm last

* * * * * * *

M agical sounds fill the air
U nder a lovely
S tarry night sky
I ntentionally keeping quiet
C areful not to disturb the moment

* * * * * * *

A ncient Culture is what made places special
N owhere else was just the same
C ulture nowadays makes places special
I nteresting and
E ngrossing
N owhere is ever just the same
T he world is full of culture

C ulture is a valuable thing
U nder outside appearances, everything is centered on culture
L ove and marriage is differently approached
T ons of places have different traditions
U ganda has different customs than
R ussia, and vice versa
E verything is part of culture, ancient or not

Acrostic Poetry by Emily, age 10

May 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 17, 2008

Ways to Maintain Control of a Classroom

I know a perceptive school lad who has noticed that there are different approaches teachers take to try to maintain control of a class of students:

- Some use "Control By Fear" - they scare the students into submission

- Some use "Control by Ridicule" - they embarrass the students into submission

- Some use "Control by Love" - they make the kids love & respect them, which leads the kids to seek the teacher's respect in return, by behaving well

Then there are the teachers who don't seem to care whether they have control or not. They make empty threats which are never carried out, losing any respect they might have had. Or they talk down to the kids, not treating them like intelligent, real people. Or they hand out treats whether the students behave well or not, effectively making it useless to behave well.

Lord, let me learn from these observations my young, thoughtful friend shared with me.

April 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 29, 2008

Salmon Caesar Salad à la Jason

SalmoncaesarsaladOn a roll with his Chicken Caesar Salad last week, this week 13-yr-old Jason made a delicious variation for the family: Baked Salmon Caesar Salad, with sweet cherry tomatoes, perfectly ripe avocado, cheesy croutons, and fresh slices of wholegrain baguette on the side. So now he knows how to sauté chicken and bake salmon. What a good start on life :-) I think his wife will appreciate this. I know I do. He's even learning how to spell Caesar (for the dressing on the shopping list), whilst enjoying the cash reward and the compliments to the chef. I can't wait to eat what he makes next.

January 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 22, 2008

Other Art in the Kitchen

Emilyschocolatecakeartage9Jason's salads in the previous post were a form of culinary art.

Meanwhile, on the wall in the kitchen is Emily's latest artwork from school: chalk pastel chocolate cakes!

And on the window sill is an orchid plant I haven't managed to kill yet (happily living with us since November 3rd when we received it as a thank you gift for some volunteer work related to school).

January 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Treated to "Dinner In" Last Night

ChickencaesarbyjasonIt has been made clear to our kids that if they ever want to plan and cook dinner for the family all by themselves (and clean up after themselves), I will pay them (shall we say it is not my favorite part of my job, and it's also great experience for them to find out how much work it is all on your own).

Last night, Jason went for it and made us a delicious Chicken Caesar Salad. I think it was his first time sautéing chicken all on his own. He did a great job! We all cleaned our plates. Thank you, my son!

January 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 01, 2007

Good Second Performance of The Little Prince

CurtaincallprinceeveryoneLast night was the second and closing night of Jason's middle school play, "The Little Prince" by Antoine de St. Exupéry. It went very well. We had a packed audience both nights, which was encouraging. I am so thankful to God for answering all our prayers for good health and plenty of energy (and thankful to you if you prayed [Mom and Helen at least!]. Now after months of memorization and rehearsals into the darkness of these early winter nights, Jason is having a well-deserved rest this weekend. It was so lovely to awaken this morning and find it was Saturday.

Not only that, but there was something outside I didn't recognize: oh! That blue stuff is the sky! And everything was bathed in a peculiar light: oh! It's sunshine! Glorious! Finally, an opportunity to get that car wash that never happened a week ago - it's been rainy since. And hopefully we'll get a walk in later today, after working on the DVD of the play, maybe some Christmas cookies, and definitely some Christmas card work...

Happy December to you!

December 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2007

Great Opening Night of The Little Prince!

Yay! Thank you to all who prayed for Jason - his sore throat went away after half a day, he went back to school, sailed through the dress rehearsal yesterday, and had a great opening night tonight of his middle school play! God honored my pleas and yours, and Jason worked hard. All the cast and crew did a great job, and it was a success.

Now he's taking off make-up, showering the stiffness out of his gelled hair, and off to bed to restore enough energy to do it all again tomorrow night.

Emily got the treat of staying up until 9:45pm on a school night...and she's very proud of her brother, too.

November 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack