Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's a Party!

Katherine is the first of all of us to celebrate her birthday in our new home. She asked for a pink cake, so I made one the night before. It is a bit different to make one here. For instance, since we only have a toaster oven, you can only bake 1 small pan at a time. Also, I took the cake upsatairs to our airconditioned bedroom to ice and decorate it so that it would not melt in the heat. And yes, the characters on the cake is Katherine's name...pronounced kai ting.

I went to my class and left Lauren and Katherine at home with Ayi. I came home to this cake in my bedroom. She denied every bit of it! I even showed her the cake and she said, "(Gasp) What happened to my cake?" She eventually fessed up after Ayi told on her :) So, instead of a nice relaxing afternoon eating lunch and finishing class, Jonathan ran all over town trying to get what I needed to fix the cake and I did eventually fix the cake.

Round two of the cake...not perfect, but at least it was edible.
This is a lady that we have gotten to know. She came to the party and Lauren enjoyed eating her cake :) She has taught us many things and we enjoy spending time with her.

This is Katherine's friend. We met this family shortly after we moved to our apartment. The girls are the same age and enjoy playing together. They are also in the same kindergarten class. You can see why the teachers get them mixed up sometimes.....same height, same color hair and eyes, but different personalities :) The friend is much like Regan was at that age, so she and Katherine make a good pair.

This was her gift from us and a big hit with all the kids. When she realized that she got a piano, she said, "It's what I wanted." She has enjoyed playing with it and even dancing to some of the music it plays. She had a really enjoyed her birthday!

This week, we also celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival. Schools were out and people spent the day with family and friends. We were invited over to some friends' house to celebrate with them. We enjoyed all the wonderful food. Some of it was quite spicy, but we like spicy., and they also served duck. Katherine was so excited to eat a "real" fish. Just the day before, Katherine and I were in the elevator with another lady when her bag a vegetable started jumping around! The lady laughed when we both jumped and she said, "We are having fish tonight." I think this was fresh in her mind when we arrived at our friends home. The fish was the only thing she would eat :)

We also had lots of these little guys. They were really slippery with chopsticks! Our friends noticed I was having problems and came out with bamboo chopsticks instead of the metal ones that they had given me. I never knew how much easier the wooden ones you know.
The holiday would not be complete without sharing mooncake and grapefruit after the meal.

Also, the fireworks went off right outside of our window. This is the face we got with each one! Priceless!

We also had a typhoon head our way this week. It actually missed us, but it brought on a breeze that was wonderful. When we get rain, all the card cames and other games that are being played outside are brought under shelter. These two guys were really into their game.

I forgot to put this earlier in the blog. We made homemade sugar cookies to celebrate the holiday. The kids enjoyed getting their hands messy.

Lauren in her attempts to help make the cookies.

We also made paint to decorate with. Regan painted with lots of detail, Benjamin painted all orange (hmmm, I wonder why), and Katherine mixed all her colors.

These were the fall leaves that we made to take to our friend's house. They had never had sugar cookies before and seemed to really enjoy them.

Regan and the final product of all her hard work.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This picture does not do justice to the traffic scene here, but it was as good as I good get from where I was sitting. Traffic is always worse on the weekends. This particular day was very busy...I'm guessing because next week they will celebrate mid-autumn festival. Make sure to take notice that the lines in the road, redlights, and laws, are merely suggestions to be followed. Whoever is bold enough to push there way through will be the ones to get where they are going. Our taxi driver this day was very bold. We got stuck in a little bit of construction traffic and he was determined to get in front of this line of cars. The cars, however, were just as determined not to let him. Our taxi won (he came within an inch of hitting the other cars). So, I thought theat was it. Nope, he decides to get right back out of the line he had just gotten in to try and get there faster. He drives right in the middle of the construction zone and stops right in front of this crater in the road. I'm thinking, "What in the world is he trying to do? Is he going to make a U turn?" Once again, my guess was wrong. He waits just for the right moment and BAM! He takes off into oncoming traffic and the other cars coming straight for us just went around us. He gets up to the redlight and waits to turn left (even though the light was already green...the other cars were still going) So, that was my exciting traffic story. I really felt like I was in a chase scene in a movie! :)
Katherine also got a package in the mail for her bday. You can see the excitement on her face. She has been asking me EVERY day, "Is TODAY my birthday?" My response is always, "Almost."

I wish I could put all the picks on here of her opening up the package, but you know me, I take a lot of pics. This was one of my favorites though. She loved this little penguin.

A major event occured in our household this week.....Bunny got a bath! It was long past due and since she has been taking Bunny to school, it had gotten pretty dirty. She enjoyed helping give it the bath. It's amazing what a little soap and water can do.

After the bath, Bunny got to dry with the rest of the laundry. Katherine decided at this point that Bunny did not need to take any more baths because he belonged in her room.

Second major event...Katherine's first haircut here. It, too, was past due. They did a very good job. I was very pleased. The only problem is now, she looks even more like her little friend who is also a foreigner. People already get them mixed up some, but now I am getting them mixed up. Yikes! :)

Here is the after picture. She also really liked her hair. Afterwards, we found a little store that sold some kid items and she spent he birthday money there. She bought a bubble gun (with bubbles of coarse) and some erasers and a wooden toy. The mini Sprite bottle and chapstick were from mommy.

Nearly every morning, Jonathan walks to the bread store near our apartment complex to pick up some bread for breakfast. (You have to buy it daily or it will go bad) Anyways, I stopped in the store on the way home and they had purple swirled bread. I'm not sure why, but it looked fun, so we tried it. I'm not sure if it was supposed to taste different or not, but to me, it tasted like normal bread.

I thought this picture was funny. Regan and Benjamin have discovered their daddy's PSP game. Lauren wants to do everything that they do. She would not give it back to us. She was so serious and just KNEW that she was really playing the game. She was too cute. Her other thing (that I'm not to fond of) is that she has figured out how to climb the ladder to the bunkbed. She will climb it and then get as far away as she can so that it is hard to get her back down. My little monkey.

This is Regan's good friend. She is so sweet. She would not smile for the picture, but I got a half smile anyways. The girls play almost every day (depending on the amount of homework). Her family has been so kind and helpful since we have been here. We are very thankful to have met them!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dragon Fruit

This has become Regan's favorite fruit here. The kids first had it at school and then asked us to buy it for a snack. I have to admit, I probably would not have bought this blindly....mmm good. I'm not sure what to compare it to. It is similar to a really big kiwi, but sweeter. If any of you have had it before, maybe you can help me with a better description.
This is the scene in front of me every day on the way home from the kids school. Don't panic! It's a one way road within our complex, so there are not many cars that travel it. There are, however, lots of bikes and people (especially at certain times of the day).

This is one of my favorite pictures. Lauren gets to ride with her daddy. When she gets bigger, she will be able to ride on the back of the bike.

Katherine has a seat on the back of my bike. She likes to ride. I usually pick her up first from school and then we ride together to pick up Regan and Benjamin.

Katherine's birthday is less than 2 weeks away, which means that mid-autumn festival is just around the corner. This is a big holiday and moon cakes (pictured above) are being sold EVERYWHERE! We bought a small box just to try. It was very dense and not at all like a moon pie in the States :) I heard someone say it was like eating a very dense fig newton. i can live with that description. Some of them even have an egg cooked in the center of them. We have not tried that kind yet.

This weekend was rainy and spent mostly at home. Lauren enjoyed playing with her big sisters. What a cute little princess.

Katherine also had a good time playing dress up and dancing in front of the mirror. she is doing better in school and we have even run into some of her classmates while we have been out and about. She is quick to tell me that they are in class together.

To finish the week, Regan finally got her wish. She has been asking to go on a mommy/daughter date to the nail salon. She ended up with pink fingers and purple toes. The best part is the price. It only cost $5.ooUS for her and $10US for me. This also gave me a chance to practice some of my new found language skills :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Days of School

This was the first week of school for Regan and Benjamin! Everyone was very excited to start the day. Benjamin was up and dressed and in our room at 5:30AM!! He kept telling us that it was no fun because it was taking so long. I responded by letting him know that if he had slept a normal amount of hours, that he would not have to wait long at all :) I'm sure you notice the "peace sign" or "victory sign" as they refer to it here. Everyone here does this sign when they get their picture taken. As you see, it did not take long for my kids to notice and start doing it also.
I just wanted a shot of the three of them with their little backpacks on. We walked to school the first 2 days, but the rest of the week, we let the kids ride their bikes. The school is pretty close to our apartment.

Here is my handsome boy on his first day of Kindergarten. Can you tell he is excited? He said he had to wear his Tennessee stuff to school on the first day so that everyone would know where he was from.

Here is Regan on her first day of 1st grade! I'm going to have to make sure I label this picture carefully because she is wearing the exact same clothes that she wore for her first day of Kindergarten in the States. She had a new shirt that I had in MY mind for her to wear, but she had "been saving this outfit" for the first day of class...she had no idea that it is what she wore last year, too. Oh well.

This week we had a cool spell. It got down into the 80's. I thought it was funny seeing our little one dripping sweat and wearing shorts and a T-shirt and this other little guy all layered up.

It's funny what things will make you think of "home." Jonathan and I were walking back from dropping the kids off at school when we both said, "Ahhh. It smells like America." What was it? The smell of fresh cut grass. I had to catch an image of this. There was one guy cutting the grass and three guys raking it up into these baskets, and then they would haul the baskets off somewhere.

Katherine will celebrate her birthday at the end of this month, but she was super excited to get a early birthday present in the mail! We were all a little surprised at how quickly it got here. It only took a week. She opened it up and got a baby doll (plus some candy and clothes).

In the birthday package, everyone else got a few surprises. One of those was POPCORN! YUMMY! This picture made me laugh. The kids were just shoveling it in. Benjamin is not in this picture because he took his own bowl and went and hid on the top bunk so that Lauren wouldn't "steal" any.

This is a wet market that we found when we got turned around. We were trying to find this furniture store to look for a bookshelf and our taxi driver dropped us off here. We walked down the alley and back, then saw the huge sign across the street for the furniture store. This is a typical stall though....fruit and veggies out to be sold, someone hanging out to sell the food, laundry drying above the food. Most of the places at this market had their homes above the store.

This is our little friend that we play with every week. She loves to play ball with the girls and she is very protective of Lauren. When she is there, she doesn't want anyone else playing with Lauren. It's quite cute. We tried so hard to get a picture of them together, but Lauren would not stay still long enough. We finally got one on the steps of the playground. Most kids tell us "goodbye", but this little friend always says, "See you tomorrow!"

I thought you might enjoy some picture from a local supermarket. Beef jerky anyone?

How about some pigs feet? I don't think I have had this to eat yet...key word...think :) Getting our meat has been a different experience here as well. You pick out your meat like you would fruit in the States. They have a little bag to put it in. You pick the piece (or pieces) that you want, go have it weighed, and then buy it at the checkout. Of course, if you don't want to get your meat at the supermarket, you can always buy it live on the street.

Our Ayi cooks lunch every day for us. She is a wonderful cook. One day she fixed some ribs and they were delicious. She usually fixes a kind of porridge for Lauren (and Lauren is a big fan of it), but the day we had ribs Lauren was demanding to try some. She liked them just as much as we did! :)