Monday, February 28, 2011


I had a wonderful birthday this week. It started out well because it fell on a Saturday and Jonathan and the kids decided to let me sleep in! Then I awoke to the smell of breakfast and my kids telling me Happy Birthday! After breakfast and getting ready, a friend volunteered to watch all the kids so that Jonathan and I could go out for lunch. We ate at a noodle shop and did some window shopping before returning home. While the kids were napping/resting, Jonathan baked a red velvet cake for me. My request for dinner was Papa Johns Pizza. Our neighbors came over to celebrate and have cake with us. To top it off, it was sunny and in the 70's! It was a good day!

Yes, I am 32. Jonathan made sure the candles said so. He also said that my cake is starting to look like one of my dad's cakes...but I disagree...his cakes have LOTS MORE CANDLES! :) It looks like some of the ones at the top have just about burned all the way down. Oh well.

The kids were so excited about my birthday. I had gotten a few things in the mail as presents, so I saved some of them for my actual bday. The kids have been going crazy wanting to know what was inside them. I wanted a picture of me and my kiddos before they got ready for bed. Benjmain wanted to make sure we all knew it was a bday picture, so he held up wrapping paper in the background.

This was actually one of a series of pictures that I took of the girls. This one made me laugh. Actually, they all made me laugh but I could not put them all on here. When I look at it, I understand a little more why we get soooo many comments when we go out about Lauren's hair. It just boggles people's minds that I can have two kids, one with perfectly straight hair and the other with tight little ringlets. I cannot count the number of times I have been asked if we curl her hair or if it does that by itself.

My beautiful gift from Jonathan and the kids (on top of all the other things mentioned in the first paragraph)!

Benjamin said that He needed to blow up these balloons since we were having a party. Sounds like a good excuse to me. I thought it was a good picture of him.

This week, our friends returned from their hometown and we were able to reconnect. The kids were so happy to go play again. I have no idea what this game is, but it is one of their favorites to play.

And this is typically the closest thing to a beach we get. The kids love it (we even find seashells in it from time to time) I'm glad the kids enjoy it, but I don't enjoy taking the sand home with us. It never fails that we will have shoes or pockets full when we get home...and this week, I could not get it all out of Lauren's hair.

Katherine finally got to hold the baby. Too cute!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Busy and Fun

In addition to our language learning, we have been doing many things this week. The first thing on the agenda was to hold this sweet little baby! Our friends returned home after having their baby girl. She is adorable and I am so glad they are back!

We had a family over to our home for dinner one night. The kids enjoyed jumping on the bed together. The little girl was having so much fun and did not want to leave. Most kids here have no toys or only one or two things. The mom told me that they felt like they were in a toy store. I was a little embarrassed at first, but I am so glad that many of the local kids want to spend so much time in our home. It is great for the kids and us, too!

Our dinner was actually after Valentine's Day, but we decided to save the cookie making for this day instead. It was a first for them to make sugar cookies and decorate them. Everyone enjoyed eating them, and then our friends asked us why American desserts are sweet. I said, "I don't know. I just thought that is what a dessert was." :)

We spent the day with some more friends and he taught the kids how to make balloon animals. They had so much fun. (and I jumped every time a balloon popped) They learned how to make so many really cool things. If I can remember (or get good at it) I will have to show you the story of Jonah using a balloon. It was quite fascinating.

Katherine's favorite? Pirate swords. She wanted one in every color :)

Benjamin loved his parrot that really did sit on his shoulder. It goes perfect with his pirate patch that he plays with.

We were invited over to some other friend's home for dinner one night. We have learned that it is customary to bring a gift (although not required) SO, the kids really enjoyed picking out these flowers to take over to their home. We learned a few things on this trip that we are tucking away in our memory for the next time we go to someone's home. The main thing is...we might want to bring our own chopsticks. We never thought about it before, but it is probably rare for someone to need THAT many chopsticks at a meal. We do more than double the size of the typical family here.

One of the main courses...chicken feet! I have to say it was a first for me. I see them for sale all the time, but we never buy them. Our hosts got a kick out of watching us try to eat them with chopsticks...I could not do it without getting messy. They ended up giving all of us tissue to clean our hands while they were spotless. I still can't figure out how they devoured it so well, I could not figure it out. I guess it takes practice. Oh, and yes, those are fingernails (as the kids like to say)!

The biggest fan in our family of the dish...

After dinner, we went outside to play. It was actually already past our kid's bedtime and it was a schoolnight, but we made the exception. Our host had a remote controlled helicopter and wanted to fly it for the kids. Well, he drew quite the crowd of kids. It was hilarious to watch all these kids walk under the helicopter laughing and cheering.

This is a guy that I am alway wanting to take a picture of but haven't until now. He is the local barber. Now, don't get me wrong. There are PLENTY of places to get your hair cut in a store, but this guy ALWAYS has someone under his umbrella. So, he must be good, right? I'm not brave enough to try. :) I think he only does men anyways.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Well, this past week was the last week of all the kids being out of school. In one way, it will be nice to be back in our routines again, but I will miss seeing all of Regan's friends. She has had so much fun playing with them these past few weeks. The local kids are in school long hours and they have lots of homework. So during the schoolyear, there is not much time for play. These girls spent many hours in our home and many hours playing outside with Regan.
We also got really spoiled this past week because the temperature was around 80 all week. We even turned our AC on one night. This lovely weather did not last long. Yesterday it turned cold again.

Just before school started back, we went to our favorite noodle shop. We were the only customers because many places were still closed for the new year and many people were still away on holiday. The kids loved it. I would blame the messy eater above on the chopsticks, but this is how her area looks when using a spoon or fork, too. She is actually pretty good at the chopsticks.

Todayis also Valentine's Day. It is not celebrated here, so I did not think much about it. THe kids did not forget. They made cards for all their friends and Benjamin dressed up for the occassion. He said it was a "special day" :) Jonathan managed to surprise me once again with a hand made card and some little "gift certificates" of my favorites was "can be redeemed daily: Good for 1 get out of dirty diaper duty" :) Also, this morning Benjamin said, "Mommy, you look very pretty today." I thought Jonathan put him up to it, but it was all on his own...what a sweet boy!

This was the other exciting event. The tiles just started falling off od the building that we live in. It was crazy. This is our neighbor's door (and Benjamin by the elevator). I guess not everything like the sudden weather change :)

This was the mess after they stopped falling. I did learn how to find out if it was about to fall off...the kids have been trying it out everywhere. If you tap with your finger and it sounds hollow, it will fall off soon. If it sounds like concrete wall should sound, you are good to go. All of the ones by our door sounded good. Then my neighbor told me that it was because they all fell off just before we moved in and they have already been replaced!

I got a kick out of the maintance guy making sure that no more would fall from above the doorway and potentially hurt someone. Who needs a ladder?

And this is the picture that I forgot to post past week. Our door decoration made especially for our family by our neighbor.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Year of the Rabbitt

Well, we have officially celebrated the new year! We woke up New year's eve morning to the sound of firecrackers. They went off all day long. I took the kids out to play and just observed the people around me. There were not as many people out, but the one's that were out, I had never seen before. I saw many fathers playing basketball with their sons or helping them skate or picking leaves with their daughter. There was also a lot of picture taking...moms and dads posing with their child while another relative took the picture. You could see the love that these parents had for their children. I feel so very lucky that I can see my kids each and every day.
My neighbor invited me over to watch them paint the couplet for the doors. The one in the picture is the one they made for our door. Each one says something different and is kind of like a poem for the new year. I meant to take a picture of it up on our door, but forgot. I'll try to get one for next week.

Our neighbor also gave the kids new clothes to wear. You can see that Katherine will always find a way to make it her own style :)

Jonathan took the three older kids out to watch some of the fireworks that were happening outside (I stayed in with Lauren because she was a bit scared and we had a GREAT view) So, Lauren and I are on our balcony watching and listening when there is a knock on our door. It was Benjamin. He got so scared that he took off running and didn't stop until he got all the way home. He said he liked fireworks in America better because they were higher in the sky. Jonathan had already called me to let me know Benjamin had run off. I knew he was headed home. Jonathan and the kids only stayed for a few minutes at the basketball court. I think it was a little too overwhelming. I personally like seeing and hearing everyone's fireworks from our apartment.

On New Year's Day, everyone was dressed in their best clothes. Everyone buys new clothes for the new year and goes out. The children will say "happy new year" to people they see out and the adults will give them red envelopes filled with new money for the new year. I told our kids they would not get any (did not want them to be disappointed or to expect it) but they got 10 each. They were thrilled!
The fireworks have continued EVERY night. So, bedtime has been late every night. It's just so hard to get kids to sleep when there are all kinds of cool fireworks going off right outside their windows! I had to go out to buy some water because we were out (all the smaller stores are closed for the 2 week holiday...only the large chain stores are open). When I was walking, I could barely see because the air was so thick from the smoke from the fireworks. It's like nothing I have seen before.
We finally found a new bike for Benjamin. He gave his pink bike (that was really too small for him) to Katherine about 2 months ago. We happened to find a bike just his size and to top it off it was orange. I am so glad he and Regan both have had bikes during the break. It has been great for them to ride together.
Katherine got a very late birthday package this week. Her birthday was in September, so she was quite surprised to get a birthday present (I think it was lost in the mail, but it eventually got to her)
I am sooo excited that I have another cook in the family! :) Regan has become quite the pancake maker. Jonathan made all the batter and then let her do the rest. She made breakfast for all of us and it was great! (Now if I can just find a kid that likes to wash dishes...)
Regan's masterpieces....yummy.

Another surprise this week was for the kids. They love hearing stories from Auntie Em, but we have never done it via skype. It was great! The kids loved it just as much as if it were in person. Benjamin is still talking about the hippo and the train track and the chicken named Chicken'll just have to ask Emily :)