The “Lockdown Drill”

I suppose I was in a lucky generation. At school we had tornado drills and fire drills, but I missed the “duck and cover” drills that my parents had to do at school, and I missed the “lockdown drills” that my children currently have to do.

I was free to have nightmares about my house burning down without any added baggage of larger terrors in the world.

Like most parents, I have a lot of feelings about this practice. On one hand, I understand the requirement living in our present day and age. On the other hand, I wonder if it actually provides any more usefulness in an emergency than the “duck and cover” drills would have provided if the actuality of a nuclear bomb had occurred. There are so many different variables, so many “what if’s”, that this drill might not end up being much help if the unthinkable did occur.

This year, I was very worried about my new kindergartener who already has trouble going to school. I was afraid that he would just find a new (huge) reason not to want to get out of the car in the morning. Frankly these drills also have a bit of that effect on me. Luckily he was blessed with a loving and understanding teacher, who presented the situation beautifully. He came home telling me that they practiced what they would do if there was ever a “tornado of butterflies” coming through the hallway. As he laughed, he told me that they would do the same thing if some baby tigers got loose in the school. He found the whole experience quite fun, and I was relieved, even as I was sad knowing that this innocence will be temporary.

My third grader, however, had a different experience. She didn’t realize it was a drill. I feel sure that her teachers did emphasize that it was a drill, but she doesn’t always process important details, and apparently this was one of them. So she was terrified. She told me that she was saying, “I’m too young to die”. She said she felt so scared that she was frozen. She didn’t realize it was a drill until it was all over. She then told me that she knew that if she was in the bathroom when this happened that she was supposed to lock the stall and stand on the toilet, and then said there was a chance that she would have to jump out of a window and asked if I be mad if she had to do that.

There are a million occasions as a mom that I have dreamed of putting my kids in a safe bubble and never letting them out, but this conversation made me seriously consider the practicality of going through with it.

For several days after school, they have wanted to play “lockdown drill.” They take turns being the teacher and reporting the threat level. Then they quickly close the blinds and gather up together quietly in the corner. I’m trained in play therapy, so I understand the use of play in children as they try to make sense of big things in the world, so I let it play out without interfering, but it hurt my heart. It hurts my heart to watch them go through it again and again and to have to know that this is part of their formative childhood experience.

This is not the reality that I want my children growing up in.

Being a parent is so hard. It is hard in a million different ways. But for me, I think that the growing understanding that I have to continue letting go in thousands of ways as they grow has got to be the hardest so far. The growing understanding that I have to send parts of my heart, parts that feel as much a physical part of me as my arms and legs, out into this terrifying world shatters me.

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Space Camp

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to fulfill one of my own unfulfilled childhood dreams, I got to go to SPACE CAMP!!! I have wanted to do this since I was 11 years old, and I was beyond excited when I found a flyer advertising for family weekends at Space Camp and realized that my dream could actually still come true.

This particular weekend had an American Girl theme, so we made it an all girls’ weekend.

This experience absolutely met and exceeded my expectations. The entire weekend was thoughtfully planned with interesting and exhilarating activities, and it was so much fun sharing it with my girls (and their dolls 🙂 ).

We got to hear from a real astronaut who told us his first hand account of the hard work and many years that it took to become an astronaut and then his experiences in space.

We got to participate in two space missions. The simulators for these missions are amazing, and went through a realistic feeling take off, space mission, and landing. We all had different roles, both on the shuttle and in mission control.


The girls even had the important role of repairing tiles that had been damaged during our take off.

I think they enjoyed it. 🙂

We got to do the Multi-Axis Trainer, and the 1/6 Gravity Chair. So fun! And interesting fact- although it looks like you would get incredibly dizzy in the Multi-Axis trainer, it is designed in a way where your center of gravity and the fluids in your ears remain stable, which means you do not feel dizzy or sick to your stomach at all!

We launched rockets that we built, and dabbled in robotics.

We had a great time exploring the museums.

Learning about the Space Station.

Practiced hitting the “target” in the smaller sized space shuttle toilet.

And even got to ride some outside rides just for fun.

We had the option of staying in a hotel, but decided to get the full experience, and we stayed at Space Camp.

We certainly weren’t roughing it, but they weren’t exactly luxury accommodations either, lol!

At the end we had a full graduation ceremony, complete with diploma and certificate to earn a Girl Scout Badge.

None of us wanted to go home! We could have stayed another few days for sure. 🙂

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First Day 2018

Back to life. Back to reality.

It is hard enough coming back to the real world after the most amazing July in Scotland, but to have to come back and jump right into school is just mean.

As usual, the kids are handling the shift back much better than I am, although I think every one of us has said, “I wish we could just go back to Edinburgh” at least once in the last few days.

So now I have an 8th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, 3rd grader, and kindergartener. We decided on two years of kindergarten for Kai. He has been through so much physically and emotionally in his six years, it just seemed like a good time to let him be little a bit longer.

So it is the first year for Kai to be in real school. He is there all day, doing Mandarin emersion like Hannah. He seems happy after school each day, but it is proving to be a difficult adjustment. He has been crying on his way to school and today he began screaming and tried to hold onto the car instead of getting out at carpool.

Shortly before he seemed happy to go to school and I was feeling so relieved. Then he confided in me his plan to pay the police officer at his school with his $1 so that he wouldn’t have to go to school any more. He figured that since it was against the law to not go to school he would be able to get around it by PAYING OFF THE POLICE! Yikes! Now I’m thinking he maybe needed to skip a grade instead of repeating kindergarten…

Hopefully the pain of the adjustment will be short lived and he will find himself happy again soon. My momma heart needs that to happen!

How many days until next summer????

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Journey Home

Looks like Paris was just a warm up for the comedy of errors that occurred on our trip home. Let’s just say we had hours and hours and hours of this in several different cities.

The trip that should have taken us half a day, getting us home at a regular US bedtime, ended up taking a full 24 hours and we got home at 4 in the morning. I want to say that I am so happy to be home. I’m DEFINITELY happy that we are not on an airplane or in an airport right now, but mostly I just wish I could go back!

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Adventure to Scotland- Final Week

Our final week in Scotland was absolutely as majestic as the first few weeks.

To begin with, we had a set of grandparents join us. To say that the kids were excited to see them would be a tremendous understatement. It was so much fun to see them excited to show off “our” city, and tell them all about everything we had done so far.

We missed our last opportunity to go to church in Scotland because Zac urgently wanted to participate in a 5k race that we learned about. A few of us had been running in the mornings, and he was excited to challenge himself in a race.

The race took place around Arthur’s Seat, which is an absolutely beautiful location. I was excited to run with him.

We started the race with an excited mix of people of all ages. Zac immediately took off so fast that I couldn’t see him anymore. It was probably about five minutes into the race when I realized that we did not seem to be going AROUND the mountain, we seemed to be going UP the mountain! I kept thinking that any minute we would level off, but no. It ended up being the hardest race that I ever participated in. At the finish line I was so excited to see Zac and see how he had handled the mountain run. Turns out he didn’t even NOTICE that we ran a mile and a half completely UP the mountain, and he came in fifth place overall in a race of more than 500 people! Absolutely amazing, and it is an experience we will remember forever.

Monday and Tuesday of this week we took a tour to the Highlands. We saved this trip for near the end to share with the grandparents, and we were so glad that we did. Although we had many many hours in buses, vans, and trains, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. We had one gorgeous day of sun and one day full of rain which helped us to feel like we were getting the true Scotland experience. We saw sheep and cows aplenty, took a cruise searching for Nessie in the Loch Ness, saw the highest peak in Scotland, countless locs, and several castles.

The “Fountain of Youth.” We were told that you had to hold your face in the water for seven seconds for it to be effective. These are the 3 that accepted the challenge.

We wanted to spend our last days in Edinburgh doing a mix of the things that we had most loved during our trip and a couple of the things we still definitely wanted to do. We shared another picnic on top of Calton Hill, continued our search for the best “Millionare’s Shortbread” in Edinburgh, and walked around the Royal Mile. Kaitlyn and Hannah showed off their new Scottish kilts, and Hannah asked if she was now a “Scottish Chinese American.”

We also traveled to the town of Linlithgow to attend a “Scotch Hop.” This was basically like a square dance, with a caller and instructor teaching the Scottish dances as we went. I am NOT going to share the videos here, but it was a lot of fun and absolutely a unique experience.

For our final day, we decided to climb Arthur’s Peak. It was something we had wanted to do the entire time, but we decided that one might be best with just the 3 oldest kids, so we had to wait for Grama to keep our littles. I’m so glad that we saved that experience for our last day. It was breathtakingly gorgeous. It was somewhat strenuous in places, but altogether a very doable climb. It was the perfect place to sit, admire the city, and reflect on this incredible month.

The biggest festival in Edinburgh begins today, and the crowds were already noticeably bigger everywhere we went. The one thing I had been kicking myself about was that we booked our tickets to leave Edinburgh on August 3, not realizing that the famous Military Tattoo began on August 3. Early in our trip I tried to change our flights a day later so that we could attend, but it was too cost prohibitive, so I have regretted that all month. Late on Wednesday I found out that they were going to be having a half-price preview show on Thursday night. I went quickly to buy tickets, and bought the last ones that were available, but they only had 6. Thank goodness Grama was there again, and volunteered to stay home with 2 of the kids. It was going to be our two littles again until Kai burst into tears saying, “seeing the ‘bandpipes’ was the ONLY thing I even wanted to do in Scotland!” Oh my. Luckily Kaitlyn volunteered her ticket since loud noises and crowds bother her a bit, and everyone was happy.

The crowd walking into the Tattoo.

It was the perfect way to end an extraordinary experience. It was majestic and glorious and felt like the ultimate celebration of Scotland. We could not have planned a better send off.

We had some tears this morning as we were leaving our flat. Part of the problem of having such an incredible experience is the equivalent sting that occurs when it is over. We are all richer from this month together in countless ways. It is hard right now to articulate what this month has truly meant to me. I will keep working on that. Right now we will work on getting home, and hope that the full happy hearts that we currently have will sustain us as we adjust back to our lives at home that move at quite a different pace than the bliss we have had during July 2018.


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