Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Miscellany

Spring is springing in Michigan!


Babies are smooshing other babies:


Boys are being silly in boots:


And some people are attempting to dress up as Star Wars characters for Star Wars day: 



Other babies are being friendly (mostly):


And some boys are getting very dirty on dirt mounds:


And one little boy went to free comic book day (and had a BLAST) and subsequently wrote his own comic:


The characters are saying "No"* "No" "Yes" and "Science," short for "Science Museum." Later some characters were added that, unsurprisingly, said "No" and "No" 

*The only word Niko can spell without help. It's particularly fitting because it was his very favorite word when he started talking!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Lasts

After Jesse's Master's graduation, we took off to Toledo to use our Zoo pass once more before it expired (and got stuck awful pointless traffic on the way there, not that I'm still traumatized...)

It was great to go one last time. It's been such a lovely place to take the kids, and we resolved to make sure to do things like this in the future. 


Nikolai was ridiculously cute with those animal masks on!


Also, any secrets to getting a four year old to look at the camera? It's like he thinks it's going to steal his soul or something...


This next last is really sad :( Our neighbors moved back to Korea! I'm happy for them--Gunho has a great teaching job lined up, and they'll be back near family again, but I was so sad for us! Nikolai and Juwon have been best friends this past year, and I am at a loss as to how to survive this summer without him as a playmate. 

Nikolai made him a going away card (and I made some cookies):


Nikolai drew pictures of them riding bikes and making magic mud.


On the back, Jesse wrote down Niko's dictation (more or less) which said: 

"I'll write letters to you cause you're my best best best friend. And you're my brother. -Niko

(he has started calling Juwon his brother on his own)"


We got one last picture of the best friends before they left:


We gathered some email information from them and we hope to help the boys keep in touch. I think it would be fun for them to be pen pals! Nikolai is already talking about wanting to go visit them in Korea sometime (I guess that's what happens when your parents are already planning on dragging you all around the world--you get used to the idea of traveling abroad being possible). 

He does keep talking about "When Juwon comes back, we'll do X" and it's always sad to have to say, "But buddy, he's not coming back...." Perhaps we should tentatively plan a trip after all....

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Graduation part 2

Next came the Law graduation!

Jesse's parents sweetly arranged to come for the weekend to celebrate with us, and we were more than happy to welcome them into our home. 

It was especially nice to see them interact with our kids, who love them a lot.


Juli and I share a love of cake, so obviously I had to check out a graduation cake pan from my library to use for the occasion. It was so fun!


I was a little nervous about having the kids there for the ceremony, but ultimately I decided I wanted them to be there (even if they won't remember it) because it is so important to us as a family. I don't know if that was the right choice or not (we spent a LOT of time and energy wrangling and entertaining the kiddos) but it was still a lovely event.


Dave took a great video, in which you can hear me shout embarrassingly loudly (ok, maybe I'm the only one embarrassed...) and see Jesse get his hood placed and shake the Dean's hand. 

video

The graduation was held in the lovely Hill auditorium, so afterwards we all retreated to the even lovelier law quad for a fancy reception and photos. 

Nikolai had a brief meltdown over what he was going to eat, before being cajoled by his incredible father to have a couple carrots (with the promise of ice cream later).




Oh, I forgot to mention that Jesse got to dress like a fancy Elizabethan scholar/monk! Seriously, those were some cool robes. 

Our awesome friend Margo helped us out by taking some photos of all of us (and I've only just realized I neglected to get a photo of us with her... :( :( ).




It's been nice to have time to reflect about how much work we've both put in the last two years. I don't say "we" to overly lay claim on this experience--Jesse went to all of the classes, read thousands of pages of assignments, and tirelessly wrote papers (some of which I proofread). But we definitely got through this together. There were definitely times (especially during finals) when more of the burden of household things (chores, childcare, groceries, etc) fell to me so that Jesse could have time to study. When I started working last fall, the balance swung again, and Jesse sacrificed some of his study time so that I could take a chance on my dream of becoming a librarian. In many ways, this was a family effort. 

I can't say that we're coming out of the experience without any scarring--there were definitely some times where the stress was massive for both of us and we were a little worse for the wear mentally. But we got through those experiences and learned from them, and it is easy to say that we are better people for it.

In fact, looking back at who we were when we first showed up in Ann Arbor 3 years ago, I can see distinct growth. We are both more confident, more sure of ourselves and the things we want out of life, and more willing to take hard risks to get there. I think that's one thing the last three years definitely taught us--we can do hard things when we're together! So obviously learning that meant that now we're planning on moving for a year to a post-soviet country where we don't yet speak the language ;) It also doesn't seem so preposterous to think that I can work on an online Library Science degree while taking care of two kids, or that maybe one day we'll start our own legal NGO in Russia (or maybe even a library-themed one!)

But in all seriousness, those things don't seem so scary when the last three years have taught me that we can muscle our way through hard situations and come out better for the struggle. 

Alright, I'll end with some levity. For some reason Nikolai got it into his head that he wanted to take some pictures of us (which I've never let him do with my nice camera before), and at first I said no, which made him mope:


Well, that was obviously too cute to resist, so I relented and he went on a photo shooting spree. What follows are some of the best of his creations.


Jesse being silly


Grandma Dolly in her vibrant blue dress

Oh look, I did get one of Margo! ...Just not her face. Sorry Margo! We love you!



Papa retrieving Miri for us


Blue paint on the sidewalk


Boy in motion


Boy in dirt




Graduation part 1

Last Friday we started the Time of Many Graduations, aka the 1 week period in which Jesse had two graduation ceremonies for his Master's and Law Degrees, respectively. For those that don't know, Jesse has been working on two degrees over the last three years. A Master's degree usually takes 4 semesters and the law degree takes 6, but by double counting some classes and having lots of jam-packed semesters, he packed it all into 7. 

First graduation up: The Master's! 

There were so many graduates that they didn't call out their names, just had them process across the stage (I massively underestimated how many people would be graduating!).


Niko and Miri were about as patient as they could be--Miri spent most of the time asleep (it was during nap time) and Niko was mostly appeased by snacks and miscellaneous entertainment. 



We met Jesse outside afterwards for a nice little reception, and I got teary-eyed thinking about all of the hard work he's put in for this degree over the last 3 years. The Master's degree was significantly less rigorous than the JD (and required much less extracurricular activity) but it still required stretching and growing on Jesse's part. 




I am especially proud of him for pursuing a Master's in Russian studies even though, at the time, we weren't sure how that would get used career-wise. We still don't have any certain plans, but we've got some big dreams that will make it a big part. When that time comes, we'll both be glad he put in this time and effort.


Happy family selfie!




Sunday, May 1, 2016

Spring in our neighborhood

Spring where we live means:

Nikolai and Juwon play in the mud (lots and lots and lots of it):


My little rosebush comes back from it's winter hibernation (and makes me so happy every time!):


EVERYTHING gets covered in dandelions (ok, I know they're a noxious weed, but I just LOVE the sight of all of that lovely green grass interspersed with jolly little spots of yellow!):


It's also the time of year that friends finish school and move away :( But it is also a nice excuse to get our vast community of friends together to see them one last time and wish them well on their new adventures. This time, we tried to take a picture of all of the little 'uns (it went about as well as could be expected):


After this photo, they all started rolling down the hill, and then someone started blowing bubbles. Sounds kinda like an idyllic childhood, amirite?

video

I am trying not to mourn this too soon (we have 3 more months here!!) but words cannot convey how much I am going to miss this incredible community.