Monday, January 31, 2011

The Girls at Home

Because Katherine attends a local school, she has been out on holiday the entire week (and will be for 2 more weeks). She and Lauren have had a great time staying home with Ayi. Regan and Benjamin were both learning about the holiday taditions at school this week. Regan came home telling me ALL the things that we had to do before the new year. Her list included decorating the doors, cleaning the house, setting off firecrackers, getting hair cuts, and buying new clothes. We got the doors far as the other things...we'll see. This is the year of the Rabbitt coming up and the character in between the bunnies on the door stand for good fortune or wealth.

Regan has been playing with lots of girls the past two weeks. This week, one of the girls brought over her 3 year old brother. He enjoyed playing with the train track that we brought with us and also this pianio. He was a very cute little guy. It didn't take hime too long to warm up to us.

One of our neighbors came bearing gifts this week. He handed Katherine this huge thing of bananas. They are from his hometown. He typically just lives on our floor on the weekends, but since it is holiday season, he is here more.

Benjamin and I went looking for fireworks after school one day. We were successful. We bought some poppers and small firecrackers. Let's just say that niether one is like what we were used to in the States. They may look the same, but they are LOUD! :) Benjamin LOVED them! The girls... kind of liked them...if they were far enough away with their ears covered.

Yet again, poor Doggy Bones. Lauren just loves this dog so much. The dog goes with her everywhere.

And here is the great puzzle from Auntie Em. The kids worked so hard and had so much fun putting it together. I was actually surprised at how well they did with it. The hardest part of the puzzle was actually keeping Lauren from running off with pieces :) Now, we are just trying to figure out how we can keep it displayed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Show and Tell

The highlight of Benjamin's week was getting to bring something for show and tell. They have show and tell every Tuesday and he has been wanting to bring this item for a while. Yep, you guessed it.
Doggy Bones made his first trip to school. He was so proud of the dog and wanted all his friends to pet it (not all of them were as enthusiastic about petting the dog as Benjamin was) :)

My girls posing. I was actually trying to get Lauren to come home. She always likes to stop by the fish pond and look at all of the fish.

Regan talked for over an hour to her best friend in the was her birthday. We got a picture of the girls together since they are both 7 now. I cannot believe how much both of these girls have grown. I also can't believe that it has been a year since they have been side by side; but thanks to Skype, these girls will always have a very special friendship.

These plants are showing up everywhere! The closer we get to the holiday, the more we see.

This has quickly become my new favorite picture :) We always joke about how Katherine has a big mouth. Well, there was some debate in the house over who had the bigger mouth, Daddy or Katherine? I vote Katherine, but I'll let you decide.

Poor Doggy Bones. He only has one spot that is just his and now Lauren is trying to claim it. Well, at least the dog is fighting for a little space in the little bed :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ancient Village

We spent several days this week out on the basketball court. The kids played and I either talked to other parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or I was chasing after Lauren. She has become quite the handful. The kids gave Jonathan a basketball for Christmas, but Lauren seems to think it is hers.
I was very excited because Benjamin played with these 2 little boys for several hours. He skated over to me and told me that he has some new friends. They skated everywhere, held hands, bounced basketballs back and forth (while on skates), and went exploring with sticks. They had a good time. I hope we are able to see them out again soon.

Katherine has gotten pretty good at riding a bike. Lauren fits perfectly on the back. I have to give her a little push if Lauren climbs on. It's just a little too hard to get going with the extra weight on the back :)

I happened to look up to do my head count of children, and I saw Regan playing badminton. This sweet lady offered to play with her, and Regan loved it.

People are gearing up for the biggest holiday of the year! In doing so, there is even more laundry out everywhere! It was a beautiful day. Jonathan and I were going to sit on one of the benches at lunch, but this is what we found. The trees, benches, bushes, everything was being used for the laundry :) so we sat on a rock underneath a tree (that was also full of clothes)

This is another thing that makes me smile. Anything will draw a crowd. Now I don't think I would call this a crowd, but it made me smile to see that these men had all brought their kids or nephews over to watch the men pour concrete. It was the entertainment of the day.

This is our most favorite toy...the nu nu che! It is a great little toy. Katherine can go incredibly fast on it and Lauren is getting faster and faster too! Note Lauren's clothes...I got fussed at all evening for not dressing her warm enough. I thought 2 long sleeve shirts, a sweater vest, and 2 layers of pants was plenty warm. Oh well.

We went as a family to an ancient village this weekend. We saw a write up about it in a tourist magazine, so we thought we would check it out. The article said that you could see ancient architecture and see the inside of buildings and see some pictures (museum style) hanging inside some areas. So, when we arrived by taxi (out in the middle of nowhere) I was very surprised that this "tourist attraction" is still occuppied. People still live there, so we quickly became the attraction.

The kids didn't care much for all the buildings, but they had a blast with the local kids. It was quite amazing. These kids were catching fish with their bare hands. Most of the fish were small, but they had some decent sized ones that they caught.

The kids thought it was funny that Regan was afraid to hold one, but Katherine was all about it. They gave her a little one. The kids were very kind and one little girl even ran home to get a hair bow to put in Regan's hair as a gift.

So, here is some of the building styles we saw in this little village. We did not go into any of the homes, of course, but the temples were all open and some of them had been turned into museum type places. It was an interesting place to visit, and I enjoyed it. The people wanted to know if we give Lauren a perm. We actually get that question frequently which is funny to me, but then when I look at Lauren and Katherine side by side I can see why they would ask that.
So, after we looked around for a bit, we decided to try and find our way home. We figured we would have to walk towards the main road in the town to get a taxi home. We were right. We walked for 1.5 hours towards town (it seemed like 10 miles, but I'm sure it was just 2)

We finally got to town, and the kids all this what not a posed picture at all, but I thought it was too cute. We did finally catch a taxi here and rode home.

I just like this picture. Lauren had just gotten up from her nap and had her favorite sleeping buddies in her hands. Oh, and the fan in the background is actually a heater :)

This picture of my little one's hair cracks me up. We were so thankful to this week to receive some packages in the mail. The kids had such a good time opening them (and we did also!) The girls got these headbands in one of the boxes and put them in their hair themselves. Regan was also beside herself because she got a book from her best friend, Kayla. What a blessing to have such wonderful friends back home! Thank you all!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back into Routines

This week has been spent getting back into a normal routine. The kids started back to school after having 2 weeks off and we started back with our tutor after having a week off. It was a much needed break for us from the language. We still used the language, but we now feel refreshed and ready to go again. I have to say that the last few days of class was a struggle. I kept forgetting how to say things that I have known for a while now.
On Katherine's first day back, she received this certificate and all of her artwork for the semester. I am told that in preschool all the kids get one of these, but the reason will be different for each child. When the children are in grade school, only one or two are given per class for doing excellent work, so it is a special "prize."
It has also been cold here this week. That has made it even more difficult to get into our routine. It just really is harder to get up and dressed in the mornings when it is cold :)

We have spent time playing with our new dog. Katherine doesn't usually like to play with him, but she will occasionally ask if she can hold it. It really is a good dog. Regan and Benjamin like to run back and forth jsut to watch it follow them. Lauren is constantly asking for the dog, too. She calls him "go" which is how you say dog in the local language.

The girls decided to put themsleves to bed a little early thinking I would not notice and they could all sleep together in the tent. I "found" them. They were cute, but the older two did not get to "keep" Lauren in their room. I know better :)
I did not even take many pictures this week. So, this is all I have for this week.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years 2011

So, this week was so full of events that I could have done the blog every day and had PLENTY to write about. So, I will do my best to give you a picture of the week. The kids enjoyed playing during the break from school and especially enjoyed trying out their new rollerblades. It has been a great outlet for their energy :)
Katherine spent her time outside collecting sticks. All of the local kids started helping her. As you can see, she ended up with quite the collection. I wish you could see Katherine's entire outfit in this picture. I would not let her wear her sleeveless dress outside and told her she needed to change into something warmer...the end result was the sleeveless dress with a sweater on top and turquois pants underneath and hot pink rollerblades. It was definately a fashion statement.

We also celebrated Jonathan's 30th birthday. Regan decorated the cake all by herself. The kids got him a blender for his birthday (picked it out all by themselves) and then when he opened it they asked if he would make them an icee drink. Hmmmm is this gift really for Daddy? :)

Later that day, we went to a friend's house to celebrate. They had a cake for him also. This is the only kind of cake you can get here. It is not very sweet (but still good) and has fruit on the top and some little pieces cut up in the middle of the cake. OH! and white chocolate triangles on the side...I grabbed one of those.

Our friend taught us how to make traditional dumplings...called jaozi here. It is a lot of hard work, but well worth it. She rolled the dough out by hand, spins it around her arms to make the rind shape, cuts off small pieces, then makes the pieces flat and round using a specific technique.

This is what they should look like just befor they are cooked. Not all of them looked this way because we got to help make them as well. But after some teaching and a few practice rounds, we got pretty good at them also.

We ended up eating so many jaozi that night. I could not believe how many they fixed! They sure were delicious!!

In case you were wondering what they inside looks like just before the folding of the dumpling.

Little Benjamin only made about 2 or 3. The kids had a difficult time with the technique. It's very important not to loose the insides :) The kids had fun trying and then spent the rest of the evening playing with their friends.

We all would like a chair like this.

Meimei was the hit of the party (that is Lauren's name) Everyone has so much fun with her because she understands and speaks the language. Right now, Jonathan and I can still say more than her, but she will pass us up one day soon. She has the culture down. She knows exactly what to do and what to say.
Later in the week, the dog got sick and we took it to the vet. We were told that it would probably die later in the day. So, we said goodbyes and left the dog there. We left soon after that to go to Hong Kong for the New Years. Just so you are not in suspense...the doctor called us while we were in Hong Kong and said that the dog was doing much better. So, when we got back from our trip, we picked it up from the vet. The kids were so happy and Doggy Bones is full of energy :)

One of our favorite parts about visiting Hong Kong is the option of Western foods. We went out to eat and Katherine enjoyed a hot dog.

Lauren just couldn't handle all the excitement and fell sound asleep at the dinner table. It was hilarious. I would show the series of pics, but it would take up too much space :)

We saw another junk (the name of this boat). I just really like the old and new in one picture.

We decided to claim a spot to see the countdown for new years. We decided that a good spot would be where all the fancy cameras were lined up already on tripods. We claimed our spot and then the cameras came off and they started taking pictures of our kids. The kids didn't even seem to notice.

I forgot my good camera, but was pleased with the shot I was able to get with my little one that I carry around with me everywhere. The kids fell alseep on the ground while we waited, but we woke them up just in time for the countdown.

Welcome 2011!! I don't know why I was surprised, but the countdown started at about 20 seconds and I started to say 19, 18...then it hit me that the rest of the city was NOT saying it in English. Silly me. I have it on video. Lot's of fun, but probably won't do it again anytime least not with 4 little ones :)

I tried my best to capture the sea of humanity that we were right in the middle of. This was the best I could do. I don't believe a picture can actually capture it because the crowd was like this EVERYWHERE! I was very grateful to a guy that was walking behind us...he kept his hand out the entire time we were walking to the subway to make sure that no one ran into Katherine.
So, that was our week in a very large nutshell :)
Hope you all had a Happy New Years also.