Friday, January 12, 2018

A New Year

 The kids are back into their full routine of school again after Christmas.  They all got some Christmas money (and some still have some saved from birthdays) and were eager to spend a little.  Where? They asked to go down the street to buy a hot dog on a stick. :)
 They enjoyed it!
 And this guy. Look at that smile!  All he could talk about was how he wanted to spend some of his money to "get his picture made" He wanted to get passport photos so he could make himself a badge. The others he put up on his bulletin board. :)
 Oh, he was just too excited.  The lady taking his picture said that they wouldn't work because you couldn't see his eyes because he was smiling too big. I told her it was fine. I don't think she believed me, but I decided it was best not to try and explain that the photos were just for fun.
 Check out this awesome black belt!  She got promoted to assistant coach for some of the classes!!  She LOVED it!  She got to work with these two and had a great time. Some of the kids have even started calling her Coach instead of Hudie.
 Shadow. Enough said. I knew it was too quiet!  I walked out of the school room to find this site. He froze in his tracks in hopes that I would not see him.  Sorry dog. The evidence is still in your mouth.
 Finally got our dryer fixed! YEAH!! It's been several weeks since our dryer quit working.  The place that fixed it in the past is no longer there, so I asked our neighbor to help call a repair guy. I should have asked my neighbor in the first place, but when I saw that the weather was going to be raining and in the 40's for the entire next week, I decided I better hurry!  I just couldn't handle that much laundry all over my house trying to dry for days.
 He came and fixed the dryer, but in the process he accidentally broke off the water pipe!  Water was gushing and spraying everywhere!! He yelled for me to cut off the water to the apartment (as he was trying to stop the water from coming...which wasn't working) but I had no idea where to do that.  I sent three kids running to find a neighbor who might be home and I went running outside to find a guard in our complex to get help.  Turns out that there is a closet looking thing on each floor in the hallway near the elevator where you can shut the water off for each individual apartment.  So, we had to do without water for the day while I found someone to fix this problem...which I had to pay for. Hmm. I'm glad we have water again and a dryer again! :)
 There's a show at the seashell building and lots of traffic to go with it...
And this girl is SUPER excited!! One of her dance friends gave her a ticket to go see Swan Lake!!!
 They made it to the seashell building in time.  I love the dresses and tennis shoes :)
 The mom of the other girl sent me three pictures for Lauren from the ballet.
 We have been waiting for this day to come!  It is finally out here!!  We bought our movie tickets for the brand new theater in town!
 Star Wars 8
 (in 3D hence the glasses on Lauren and Hudson)
 WE are moving up in the world! Look what just opened near us!
Katherine said it looked so good and she was pretending to eat the beef off the picture! We were already watching a movie and could splurge for Burger King as a meal, but we got some fries to snack on while we walked home.
 Once all the stores open up in this mall, it looks like it will be pretty nice.  Time will tell.

 Check out the size of the screen!  The kids were going nuts!  I'm sure this is a normal size screen in the States these days, but it's been awhile.
 The movie theatre was really comfortable and the sound was excellent!
 We had the entire place to ourselves until about 2 minutes before the start of the show.

 Ok. Lauren's face cracks me up. Maybe she should go into acting. haha!
 The view these days isn't so great.  I have a love hate relationship with winter in this country. I love the cooler weather, but I really hate the pollution.  This day wasn't one of the worst days, but you could feel it in the air...harder to breathe and your eyes burn.  Thankfully, the weather forecast was right and it rained for a week, so the air is really good right now.
 One day a year, they let the parents come to class to watch what the kids have learned.  It's the week right before they test.  So, Lauren is level 4 about to test into level 5 for ballet (I think there are only 8 levels)
 She loves it so much!

This is one of my favorites because of the smile on Lauren's face.
 Tippy Toe Shoes! Unfortunately, I only have a video of her pointe shoes exercises and dance.  It's quite impressive.
 We baby sat for our friends so they could go see Star Wars 8.  I was thinking that it would be a little extra work adding two more kids to the mix, but not at all.  Lauren was so glad that she was "old enough" to take care of the baby.  She held Phineahs for at leas on hour and then played with Naomi and read her books.
 Katherine was a huge help, too!  She played with Naomi (3yr) at the beginning and then she was on protection duty to make sure no one stepped on the baby ;)
 Anyone need a bike?  I think there are plenty! It's like this all over the city now.
 Jonathan was gone for a week and I got to do more errands than usual. One of those was buy meat. I really wanted some ground beef.  They didn't have any, so I asked if they would tomorrow. Nope. The next day? Nope. When? Because that's what I want.  He sent me to talk to the manager on duty and she said she would have it for me tomorrow and save it so that no one could buy my meat! YEAH! (This is really a big deal because beef is hard to come by here. It's mostly pork in the meat section.)
 This is the picture we sent to Jonathan so he knew that they were being fed ;)  They ate every bite.  The next day is when we fixed vegetable soup.  Lauren said, "Poor Daddy.  He's missing all the good food." Score for Mommy! :)  (The kids all think that only Daddy can cook good food)
 It was pretty windy so Katherine asked for a break to go fly a kite.
 Hudson started taekwondo with his sister!  He loves it. Regan loves taking him. And the coaches love Hudson, too!
 These are the kinds of pictures I love finding on Regan's iPad :)  Sisters. They are so much fun!
 Here is Regan's black belt!!! I know. It doesn't look like a black belt, but it's the real deal! Kukkiwon rules (in Korea) state that if the black belt is earned before the age of 15 that it looks like this.  The gold letters with her name and the Chinese characters on the other side of the belt and the one gold stripe showing that she is a first degree black belt.  When she turns 15, they will automatically send her the solid black one with the same gold lettering.
We had some girls come over.  Hudson made them all a card (and apparently gave them all money...which I didn't find out until later) They all thought it was so sweet. He even wrote the time down on the cards so that they knew exactly when he finished it.  He's a giver.  Sweet boy.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2 Weeks in December

I tried really hard to be selective in these pictures, but it was just so hard! I think I did a decent job considering that I took 2,597 pictures in this two week period :) Happy 14th birthday, Regan!  I'm glad my friend took this picture for us. I love it! 
Her theme was taekwondo (surprise surprise) So the kids decorated little taekwondo sugar cookies.
Regan and her coach (We lovingly refer to her as Saturday girl coach at the house, but her real name is Zhu Jiaolian)
Regan and two of her classmates. I'm so glad these girls were able to make it to the party!
Benjamin said he was trying to make himself on the cookie. We all think that it looked a bit like Elvis.
Regan got a 12mm kicking board for a present. A couple people tried to break it and hurt their hands. We were beginning to think maybe it was too thick/not what we thought...
Then Regan did one of her punches and it snapped right in half. I don't think I want to try!
I wasn't real sure how to do a TKD cake this time.  I decided to do a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.  It was almost a disaster because the icing turned pink!  You can't have a pink uniform! So, this cake got an extra layer of icing!  It was rich! (The characters on the small cake say Jun De, which is the name of the center that she takes classes from)
That's good looking bunch of kids!
Only her coach could get such an awesome pose ;)
I love when we have a full house. It's so fun!
One of her birthday presents
Regan always makes the party sign (even for her own). She has cute ideas.

Ayi made her a special birthday dinner.
"I'm a taekwondo girl, just a normal girl, except much cooler."  :)
Her party was actually after her real birthday, so I made her a fruit pizza on her real b-day.
I think she was a little happy....or maybe my flash blinded her, I'm not sure ;)

 It's been a happy 16 years with this guy right here! I love that he humors me and tries on silly things like this. I think he should have bought it...haha!
 We took the entire day just for the two of us!  We got lunch AND dinner! Who knew!  And finally a chance to Christmas shop with no kids!  This seems to be our anniversary for Christmas together.  I'm glad he likes to shop! :)
Dinner was amazing!!! This has got to be one of the best restaurants in town!  I love authentic Indian food!
 I LOVE this one! These girls are such good friends.
 The puppies love this field.  They love to play here (and Katherine loves to run with them)
 We were so blessed this year with Christmas gifts from family and friends! Thank you so much for loving on us! There are pictures sprinkled throughout!  Benjamin got this vest/bullets.
 Scout getting a little snuggle time with Hudson.
 The girls playing with their dolls.
 I found this cute artwork on Katherine's chalkboard.
 Ayi got several gifts this year as well!  She was so happy.  She smiled and told my phone "sank you" so many times. I guess she thought I was taking video.
 Lauren's dance gave them a gift...two apples.  One box said 圣诞节快乐 (correct) and the other said Messy Chriismas (not quite, but nice try) :)
 Our neighbors invited us over for hot pot.  It was good.  We had so much food, we finally had to not cook the last two dishes. We were too full.
 This was a first for me. Spinach wrapped jiaozi.  They were excellent!
 So sweet.
 Not so sweet.  Poor birdies (and bunnies) being sold on the street for someone's dinner :(
 Christmas party at their class...well, at least a Christmas photo.
 Random.  Really?
 This is the look you get when you get caught trying to get a really cute picture.  oh well. Still cute :)
 We celebrated Jonathan's birthday!
 We went ice skating at a new rink in the city next to ours!
 The kids all did great!

 Jonathan reenacting his fall (It was a bit like Superman flying through the air...the landing was not so soft though)
 Jonathan went to work and The kids and I went with Xiao Jun to pick up the girls from school.  Winter came running out of her class and bear hugged us!
 After that it got a bit chaotic because the kids went nuts at the school because we were there and followed us screaming to the 4th floor. We kindly got kicked out of the school so that they could regain control. Oops.  Who knew.
 Katherine worked on her cross stitch outside the school until the girls came out. They dismiss by grade so we had to wait for Yoyo to get out.
 We went out to eat dinner together.  This made me smile. Hamburger just doesn't have the same meaning.
 Kelly, Xiao Jun, Hua Quan

These girls were so excited about this meat!!

 Hudson was so proud that he could climb a tree.  I promise...the dogs did not chase him up there. haha!
 painting his new car
 The kids all helped make tons of Christmas cookies. Chocolate chip cookies

 And made some fudge....the kids have decided that they really like fudge :)
 Butterscotch oatmeal cookies
 The "main guy" said that when he sees these three walk in the door he gets so happy, like seeing family.  I'm glad they can spread a little light wherever they go!
 The dogs decided to sleep in her lap.
 Even the puppies got a gift! They love their new dog toys!!
 Benjamin got a cool shirt!
 baking toys
 That look...perfect for that shirt :)
 We even met a new family in our city that also homeschools!!! The kids are about the same age and they had a good time together.  They live on the other side of the city so it takes about an hour to get there, but glad to have them nearby!
 Just a little Christmas fun at the house.

 Benjamin was such a good sport and entertained his mom for a few pictures.

 Friends over for a Christmas party.
 Well, it look like it will start getting cooler, but Christmas day was a balmy 74 degrees! :)
 I'm so impressed by this! This is a handwritten  Christmas note from Regan to each of her coaches!
 Apple gift card!
 more soap!
chocolate covered raisins!
 Christmas morning!! They had the best smiles all day long!!  I love seeing the excitement!

 She's been wanting to read the next book in the series, but it didn't come out until November. She was surprised Santa found a way to leave it under the tree!
 Look at that face!  She was so excited because she THOUGHT she knew what it was!  I'm glad she was right!  That could have gone south quickly.  She said it just had to be a ballet barre.  Her dream come true!
 A watch! Just what he wanted!
 A new jacket and a basketball!
 An apron to help cook in!
 Little House on the Prairie!
 Santa left a very important note on this gift for Hudson...
 The look on his face when he realized what it was!
 He's been saying for months that he wished he had a pet that he could call his very own.  He now has his own fish...and the tank is self cleaning! Win Win.
 Braves outfit for her Build-A-Bear
 Her very own Fighting Gear!
 Some cool sunglasses!
 The look when they all realize that she got popcorn for Christmas!
 New bikes!
 I'm so glad that she has gear that actually fits her right now.
 Katherine said, "Yeah! Now I can punch you!" haha!
 These were the looks that we got often on Christmas day....The look of disbelief when they see candy that you can only get in America in their stocking!
 I love it!
 Santa even left the puppies some treats.
Thanks to the Nowlin's SS class for some extra special surprises!
 A new ball cap!
 PJ pants just like his brother!
 A jacket and stuff!
 A new shirt!
 Paint/Art supplies!
 Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal!!
 The kids then went outside to play for awhile...
 Until they ran into Ayi...they were so glad to see her!
 Check out Hudson's old bike (orange) vs his new bike (white).  I think it was time for a new one :)
 Her first batch of popcorn! Delicious!
 Regan posing for a picture with all the different TKD stuff she got (or earned) for Christmas and birthday.
Here we have it.  The girls' dream come true.  A big mirror and a dance barre in their room!  Now they can dance and do taekwondo all day long (after they get their school done) :)  Merry Christmas everyone!!!