We are home from our vacation which turned out to be one, if not the best, trip we have had to visit Jay's parents. Maybe it is the kids getting older, I don't know. But, the trip was easy, the weather great and I came home pretty satisfied with what we did.
It is a little strange to come home and see that summer is in full swing. School was still in when we departed. It is hard to wrap my head around our summer schedule. I have a few updates regarding the kids and will forgo writing about any more travel details for now.
Miss Lily has completed her first year of school with flying colors. Her teachers felt that Lily had a tremendous year of growth in terms of behavior and adjusting to school life. She went from asking not to go every morning to crying that it was over and she wouldn't see her friends and her teachers. At the year end assembly, Lily was given the "Loving Heart" award for her class. She was thrilled with this award as she said, "No one else got Loving Heart as their award." On her last day of school, the teacher had her sit in front of the class and her classmates were asked to make a comment about Lily. The teacher said they all talked about Lily's loveliness and sweetness.
Lily took her first standardized test this year as well. We do not have the results, yet. However, when I asked how she did, Lily announced to me, "I got them all right." I asked how she knew and she said, "I answered them all and they were right!" I love her confidence. She loves to color, do anything musical and spend time looking at books and reading.
On our trip, Lily lost her first top tooth. The tooth fairy came all the way to France to visit her in the night. Unfortunately, the tooth fairy misread some Euro coins in the dark of night which resulted in Lily receiving quite a bit more than what is normally doled out to the Dumoulin children! The other front tooth is extremely loose so I imagine it will be out within a couple of days. Sometimes it is difficult to understand what Lily is saying, so I predict no front teeth will put me in the position of translator.
She was fantastic on the plane ride on our trip. No whining, crying, or any other issues. It was so completely opposite from our last trip. Of course, that was three years ago. What a difference! She loved being with Jay's parents and despite many requests to sit beside me in the car or sit beside me at the table, she was open to whatever activities they had planned for the day. One note on the trip - a slightly bizarre one at that - Lily, age 5, had a day of, hmmm, how do I say this delicately? Well, she had a day where she stunk, literally. Body odor. I was so taken by surprise. I have no idea if this is a permanent situation or some freaky, I have had too much cheese intake, sort of thing. I can hardly get her to brush her teeth every day so I can't fathom deodorant. But, at 5 years old?!?!
Lily' favorite parts of the trip were the Efteling (European-type Disney) and kinder eggs (a hollow chocolate egg with a little toy surprise in the middle).
My Ethan turned 10 while we were on our trip. Double digits. Growing too quickly for me, of course. He finished out the year strong being identified by Duke University's TIP (Talent Identification Program). Despite this, Ethan could work on staying a bit more focused. His teacher diplomatically says, "I could deal with Ethan being a bit more present in the classroom." However, I am most content with his spiritual growth. He was walking around France reciting the verses he learned this year. He discovered his favorite verse and has claimed it for his own.
The trip to Europe was an eye-opening one for him. He was much more aware of the differences between our countries and asked countless "why?" questions. Many times I couldn't quite come up with a well-thought out answer particularly when he wondered why the teenage girls in France wore only speedos to the lake and not tops. Yikes! His favorite parts of the trip were his trip to the Efteling (a sort of European Disney) and the Romange '14-'18, a museum in which everything in it was found within a 3 km distance from the museum, all from WWI and recreated to look like battlefields and bunkers along with many interesting tidbits about life during the war.
Despite growing up, I still get requests for some snuggle time and time alone with mom. However, I am not allowed to show him any public displays of affection beyond a nice little side hug. Ethan loves to play his DSi, build with Legos and of course, swim. He is always more interested in hanging out with his friends and is starting to find his little sisters somewhat of a pain if they follow him around or copy him in any way. Many times this is the source of their arguing and fighting which at times escalates to WWIII levels. It should also be noted that his interest in the opposite sex is beginning to grow. This should be interesting.
His heart still leans toward servanthood, but I am beginning seeing a bit more resistance lately than I have in the past. In the personal section of his North Carolina notebook, Ethan wrote that he hopes to be a pastor when he grows up. I don't know that this will materialize, but I do know that he has a heart of mercy that Jay and I do not. He is compassionate and sensitive to others' feelings which are essential to that line of work. Who knows?!?
Ethan is quite excited about swimming this summer. The unknown and anxiety of the swim team is long over, replaced by competency and confidence. Our first day at the pool yesterday yielded quite a bit of self-assurance as he reconnected with old pool pals and found a comfortable place.
Sadie is still very much Sadie. She finished the school year very strong academically and received the Leadership award. She also received the National Fitness Award for achieving certain physical standards for her age. Still quite my challenging child, I see much progress being made in her ability to self-control. I am understanding that much has to do with the excitement level of the situation and how much preparation I have given her before the event or circumstance she is going to have to deal with. However, I also know that this is Sadie and as much as we practice and teach, she will always have to deal with her highly impulsive nature.
I have had second thoughts regarding homeschooling her. I don't know why, but I am sure that it is normal to go through these cycles. The school made it clear they will not be able to offer Sadie any additional work, academically. After seeing her tests scores, Jay and I know another year languishing around is not good mentally, and certainly not behaviorally. Some of our school books for next year have been purchased and we are waiting for a call from the store to let us know when the next ones have arrived.
Sadie makes friends very easily and finds it natural to talk to kids, teenagers and adults with ease. She loves to draw, play outside and swim. She is very determined and has an incredible ability to learn visually, picking up details and clues most miss. She is eerily similar to Jay in that she dreams and imagines these great scenarios along with solutions..and then actually executes them.
She loves, loves, loves animals and is currently going through an obsession with birds. She combs through books identifying the birds outside and wants desperately to catch one to "observe" it. I completely envision her house filled with animals when she is an adult.
She also loved the trip to Europe. She cried the night before we had to leave. There is so much about Jay's parents place in France that fits her perfectly. So much area to explore, many places to walk and fill her senses to the brim. She nearly caught a duckling at the lake on our last day. Thank goodness she didn't as she honestly thought she would be able to bring the duck home to the U.S. to raise!!! Her favorite part about the trip was having hot tea with Oma every day.
Overall, the trip served as a fantastic bonding time between Jay's parents and the kids. Slightly overindulgent, i.e. three ice creams and chips for dinner on the last night, Oma (grandmother) was exactly what I expected for a grandmother who deeply loves her grandchildren and wants to makes up for lost time. The house in France, in particular, is filled to the top with pictures of the kids on every wall. The kids love her and Opa just as deeply and it warmed my heart to see that even though they may only see each other once a year or even less, they do have a close relationship.
Now, let the summer officially begin!