Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Middle of the Fairway

Today's Beijing weather is like my golf game. That one shot that
makes me feel like I will enjoy, and possibly be successful at, golf -
that one shot that makes me come back out for another round. Just a
few out of about 95 shots, but man does it feel good!

Bases Loaded

It's Back To School Night Week at ISB and this year we are spread
around pretty well; Tuesday Night - Lower Elementary School, Wednesday
Night - Upper Elementary School, Thursday Night - Middle Schoo- wait,
what!?! MIDDLE SCHOOL!?!

"Dad, can I have 20 kuai to get a ticket to the Back to School Bash?"

"Uh, what? What is that, a dance?"

"C'mon Dad," Parker glared, as Devon, wide-eyed, inquired - well
jested - if Parker was going to ask a girl to the dance.

Along with the various middle school transitions underway, Parker is
also embarking on a new experience in trying out for the badminton
team. Yes, meiguoren, it is a sport; in fact, 100 other middle
schoolers are trying out for the yu máo qiú team as well.

This week also marked the second week of varsity baseball practice at
ISB - Go Dragons! We are preparing for two tournaments - China Cup,
September, Hong Kong and Asia Pacific Athletic Conference(APAC)
Tournament, October, Hong Kong. Yep, two trips to Hong Kong this Fall
with our roster of 14 hard working young men, Coach D, Coach Li, Coach
Reed and Coach me - Go Dragons!

Along with the high school team, we also open the Dynasty Youth an
Dynasty Prep programs next week. Based on the calls and emails from
interested families it should be another good season for those
youngsters, including Devon and Parker, as we take on Coach Wang from
JuYi and the other programs around Beijing and beyond.

So busy, ballin' and back to school, we are settling into our routine
and planning to make the most of what is, most likely, our last Fall
in BJ!

Sent from the iPad of
Paul R. Koch

Bennett's First Reading Memory - Thanks Meemaw!

Mrs. Lawn shared Bennett's first reading memory with us at Back To
School Night. He remembers reading at Meewaw's house.

Hutong Road

Smoke on the Wall

Friday, August 10, 2012

Jetlagged...but home

Well, it took coming back to China, but finally we get to view the
Olympics live - actually live, before twitter spoils the primetime
results. Problem is that we are watching the games at 2am. Bennett
is suffering the most from jet lag and he wakes up at 2 each morning
saying, "Daddy, what's for dinner?"

Parker started 6th grade on Thursday and Devon and Bennett met their
teachers as well; the younger boys start class on Monday. Hopefully,
by Monday, Benne will be on a better schedule and not falling asleep
sitting up at his desk in Mrs. Lawn's classroom.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Topsail Views

Road Trip

When we decided to make this trip home for the summer, the initial plan was to come to Topsail, spend a few weeks on the beach, and then return to China rested and ready for the start of school.  

Well, the last part of that equation is upon us as Monday we head back to Beijing and Thursday the boys resume school at ISB.   While the end of vacation predictably aligns with the original plan, the front end of the trip turned out to be far more than we ever conceived; nonetheless, this has been the perfect summer vacation.

When the boys and I arrived at Dulles on June 25th - Devon's birthday - MeeMaw, Pop Pop and Granny were there to welcome us home. We shared birthday cake and a hotel room, and the next morning mom and dad took the boys to Philadelphia for a week of visiting, learning, nature-ing and playing. They went to a Phillies game, Meemaw's Nature Center, took a day trip to the Statue of Liberty, played badminton in the back yard, spent time with cousins Matthew and Lexi, and tested out all of their new Nerf guns which had been sent ahead as birthday gifts and will surely take up a majority of our suitcase space as we pack today.

Granny dropped me back at the airport the next morning and I was off to Boston, well, more specifically, Norwood and Brockton, Massachusetts to spend a few weeks with Ted on the coaching staff of the Brockton Rox in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.   More on this to come in an upcoming @RoxBaseball post, but while the boys frolicked in the yard at Meemaws I had a much needed return to the yard myself.  I stayed the nights at Ted and Sue's home, and spent the days touring most of New England on our motor coach road trips.  While Boston did mark the initiation of the seafood eating frenzy that I have been on while on American soil, more importantly, I kept in contact with that age group of players that I have loved to coach throughout my career but have missed out on during our time overseas. 

Joanne returned to the US on July 3rd and reunited with the boys and Meemaw and Pop Pop.  They all spent the fourth with family and friends in DC then set off for Pensacola Beach and Granny home at Portofino.  I spent the fourth on the beach in Falmouth on Cape Cod. God Bless America!

After 15 games of coaching first base, a steady stream of BP fastballs, the dissing of Rheal Cormier, checking in nightly on who was sitting in section 919, debating the legality of HGH, attempting to discern which day was "the best ever" and all the time making sure the Rockies were blue, I said goodbye to the team and boarded a plane at Boston's Logan airport on the 15th of July; when I landed in Pensacola, I was met by Joanne and the boys, all well-tanned and beachy blonde.  I had a blast with the Rox, but I sure did miss Joanne and the boys.

We spent a week livin' the dream Granny Style.  Pool-side, sound-side or beach-side by day and piles of crab legs, shrimp, clams and oysters at the dinner table.  

Another amazing week: we met the Argentinian Rugby Team, saw the world from atop a giant Ferris wheel, cheered on a seaside wedding proposal from Granny's balcony, and ordered a lot of white sangria from our server at the pool.  In small-worldly fashion the server explained to us that she once taught in an international school in Brazil and recalled a student who was the child of a US Dept. of State Doctor.    Yep, Dr. Quinlin is now our doctor at the Embassy medical center in Beijing.

We repacked, loaded the rental car and...Road Trip!

A few hundred miles from Pensacola to Savannah where we stayed on the river and watched big ships come in and out.  Crab Cake Benedict, Po Boys, Shrimp and Grits. 

A few hundred miles from Savannah to Myrtle Beach.  That place is crazy, but they have some good miniature golf.
A few hundred miles to Topsail.  We parked the car for two weeks.  

A two minute walk to the beach, family dinners, cousins, walks around the point, fishing, body surfing and boogie boards, the Olympics, porch sunsets; this place in heavenly.  

Last beach day today, we pack it up and head North to Dulles in the morning. 

While it took us a bit longer to get to Topsail then we had originally planned, it was again easy to see why for 19 years this has been the place we choose to vacation.  Not more or less than we expected, just perfect.