Have I told you that G is rocking a goatee these days? He looks good with it--a little like Steve Jobs with maybe a little Lenin thrown in there as well (?), but in a good way. I like it. Originally he said "I'm just going to keep it until Sunday and then shave it off" but then when Saturday night came he said with a grin, "What I meant to say is that I would re-evaluate on Sunday." I need to photograph it for show-and-tell purposes. He just bought a stand-up paddle board for us to use on the lake but it's starting to get a little chilly. Thank goodness for our supersuits, guys!
Lauren has found a job as a waitress here, mostly working the lunch shift (which is perfect for both sleeping in and having a social life, I hear). As soon as we figure out what's wrong with her computer, she'll start writing up her paper on her India research. (Fingers crossed they can get the computer to work...it has all her interviews and data on it.) She's also finishing up her mission papers and will likely be able to submit early next week. Woohoo! We're excited for her and proud of the openhearted, searching way she approached the decision. I was chatting with Sarah, whose daughter is heading to the Paris mission soon, and she mentioned that they're paying particular attention to matching language skills to calls with the new, shorter training time. What do you think 4 years of Latin, a semester of Arabic, and a semester of Telegu (an Indian dialect) will mean, mission-call wise? Ha! She definitely didn't choose practical languages, that one, but they have been interesting.
Maddy is in the thick of IB pressures and assignments: oral presentations, research papers, exams--so much so that I don't have a photo of her lately (besides the games one below). She's juggling it well, though. Her favorite place to study is the National Library and she makes her way over there 3-4 times a week, usually by bus or bike. Since the school doesn't offer Spanish (which she had taken since 6th grade), they arranged for her to have a private tutor in place of a language course. I love listening to their conversations floating in from our dining room every week. Sometimes a little editorial observation about our family slips into Pablo's lessons: last week, he included in his dictation a passage about how "your sister is very happy." (If you've ever heard Lauren's loud contagious laugh, you'll appreciate that one.)
Sam--oh my goodness--he's growing rapidly. We about look eye-to-eye at this point. He's playing tennis for his school sport and gamely wearing his winter uniform to school now, which includes suit coat and tie. (I'm not sure which is more dreaded: shorts with knee-high socks in the summer or suit and tie and v-neck sweater in the winter?) He's going to sit for piano exams in the spring (such a different system here from what we're used to) so he's been practicing up a storm lately. And singing with school choirs. And doing scouts, as troop leader. He recently got invited on the DaVinci decathlon team, which is an Australian academic competition program (like a more junior College Bowl, maybe?). Coming up soon: braces, round two! (This time I'll make sure to give him notice, though.)
I'm enjoying this full nest period. So much. We've been through the coming-and-going process enough times that I do not take this for granted. Game nights. Just everyone chatting and laughing, piled on the sofas. Singing together, even, people! I think we all just realize that these are golden, fleeting months for us so they're game and open to togetherness requests. Like the singing.
Let's see, what else? There have been lots of errands and together time with Lauren during her reentry here, job search, and mission papers prep. I've been writing quite a bit and feel a renewed pull to spilling out words. (I just wrote about our beloved mother/daughter middle school book group on Nest & Launch with an interview with the fantastic Sharon the librarian. It made me teary just remembering about those days.) I recently finished reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, which I LOVED. You should read it. And, if you don't mind some strong language and a little racy-ness (some of you do, some won't), I also highly recommend The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (Angela Hallstrom's review of it was spot-on, here). Now I'm reading or re-reading Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, depending on whether I actually read it before. It feels kind of familiar but I can't really remember it for sure. Oy.