Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Cultural Experience

This week we experienced some cultural firsts. One of those was a swim meet. Our friend was competing and he was excited that Regan and I came to watch his race. He placed 2nd and 3rd (two different races) It was a little caotic, but fun.

This is our friend. On the way home from the race, Regan had the camera and took lots of random pictures, but I thought this one was pretty good. Regan and Jackie must have liked the Ritz crackers that I bought because they ate ALL of them! That's ok. That's what they were for anyways :)

After we got home from the race, we ate a quick lunch then the older three kiddos and I ran off to meet some different friends. We originally thought we were going to a movie, but ended up at this park. The kids had fun. We walked in through the entrance of the park and there ws this HUGE stone wall that was carved. I couldn't even get it all in the picture.

It was pretty elaborate. It was a hot day, but this park had many shaded places to walk and enjoy the view. The kids found many ways to entertain themselves.

The kids all posing for a picture. There were all kinds of petrified wood and big stones set up as displays. Benjamin enjoyed trying to find how each stone could hold his coke bottle.

I found this really commical. I thought these things were for the elderly...but I guess not. The kids were begging me to rent one to ride around in the park. I don't think so. We walked just fine :)

It was a really hot and susnny day so my pictures were not the best. If I had known we were coming to this type of place, I may have brought my good camera, but at least I got a few decent shots. Benjamin has always liked ties, but just recently he has decided to wear them with everything again. The lady that took us asked if I made him wear the tie or if he did it himself. She was amazed that he wanted to wear it.

Here's some of the stone "artwork" that I was talking about earlier. It literally was just one after another throughout the park.

I asked my friend about this tree in the park. It was filled with red cloths. She said that people would pay for the cloth, write a prayer on it, and hang it in the tree in hopes that one of the gods might see it and answer their prayer. It was really sad to see the tree filled with so much red.
At the end of our day, our friend had her friend come pick us all up to take us home (he had a van) So, on the way home they asked if we wanted to go shopping. I did not care so I said that was fine. We went to a place that reminded me of Sam's Club. We were walking around and they kept trying to get me to put stuff in my shopping cart. I told them I was just looking but I eventually found some things and they were very happy. This man that we had never met before saw that the kids got excited to see chocolate on one of the aisles and he preceded to buy them lots of VERY expensive chocolate. After all of the shopping was done, we all went to checkout and (again this man that we have just met) pays for all of our groceries! I tried really hard to NOT let him, but I was unsuccesful. After that he took us all out to eat to a really nice restraunt. It was quite the cultural experience....even at dinner when he insisted on buying MORE food for us to take home to Jonathan and Lauren. I did win that one because I said, "Really! It's after 8:00. They are already sleeping and ate a long time ago." Well, Jonathan was probably not sleeping, but Lauren would have been :) So needless to say, I was very tired that evening. I was literally out all day long.

This is one of Lauren's little friends. They are about the same age. They were both concentrating so hard on their artwork!

But Lauren could not help but look at his paper. She was just too curious what he was drawing. He never noticed and she went back to drawing her own picture.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer has Arrived!

I know it's not officially summer, but it feels like it! This week was perfect swimming weather. It was in the mid to upper 90's all week and the lows were in the 80's. Our apartment has a pool but you have to pay to use it. The kids have been begging us to go, so we decided to try a month family pass. I think it will be well worth our money. We went 4 times this week! These are two of Benjamin's classmates from school. he was so excited that they were swimming too.

Lauren was excited to "sim" Actually, she was calling it a bath for a while, but has recently upgraded her vocabulary to swim :) We are borrowing this little suit from a friend until we get one for her that fits. She's a cutie!

Regan was a big help to hold Lauren's hands while I took pictures. Son't worry the pool is shallow. You may have noticed that besides Benjamin's classmates...there are no other people in the pictures. Well, I found out why this week... at Katherine's school they have put in a pool, but there is still no water in it, so I asked them this week when the kids would get to go swimming in it. She looked at me surprised and said, "It's not hot yet. We will go swimming when it gets hot." So, the answer to the riddle is...only the foreigners swim when it's "not hot". I guess that's why we got a good deal on the family pass this time :)

They also had parent child day at Katherine's school. It was a lot of fun. They had one last semester and Katherine was the only one that wore her uniform, so this time I let her wear whatever she you can see, most of the kids wore the uniform. I still can't figure out when they wear it and when they don't! :) I also like this picture because you can see how tall Katherine is.

They had the kids and the parents make a craft together. The little kid across from us cried the first 5 minutes because his nai nai was not there yet. She showed up and all wsa good :)

My bashful little girl proud of her lion! She did so good. She even got up in front of the whole class and did "head and shoulders knees and toes knees toes" I couldn't believe it, but she will do anything for a sticker :)

The class would get up about every 30 minutes and get there little metal cups, line up for water, or sometimes hot milk, and sit back down to drink. Katherine doesn't like hot milk, so they let her get water again.

After the classroom events, they all went outside and showed us there morning exercises (it went much better than last semester) and they did these little dances and things...super cute. After that, they had parent child relay races. I think that was Katherine's favorite part (they always put the stickers on their forehead). Let me just say, not all the relays had western bodies in mind. We are a bit bigger than they are and I thought I was going to break something :)

We also got to celebrate my neighbor's birthday! She is my closest friend here and I am so happy that we live right next door. Just within the past few weeks, we have started walking at night. It's a lot of fun and I think it has really helped my language too.

Now this little guy was a cutie. He is 5 months old and he is soooo HEAVY! I was not expecting that when I picked him up. I really think he weighed more than Lauren, but maybe not.

I thought our washer was small in the States...check this one out. I put my hand in the picture for reference. Seriously, why make them so small? It would take forever to wash our clothes in this thing :) I'm glad we have a normal sized one!

Lauren and Benjamin were playing dress up/ cowboys / monsters / you might want to ask them...all I know is they were cute.

And then you have the transformer/cowboy/musician/now you know why I said to ask them what they were outfit. So, that was most of our week. I had plenty more pics, but I guess they can't all go on here! Have a great week!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dogs, Trees, and Oreos

This week has been a warm one. The weather has been hot and humid and lots of sun. The pool has opened up and the kids are begging to go swimming. We had plans for every day this past week, so we told them maybe on the weekend...wouldn't you know that it started raining this weekend.

I couldn't bring myself to eat these oreos. I'm sure they are good (the kids loved them) but an oreo is only supposed to be made one way, so I think I'll just wait for the original :) We have those, too. Just no double stuffed ones. :)

Poor Doggy Bones was in desperate need of a hair cut, do that was one of our goals this week. He looked so pitiful and couldn't even see his hair was so scraggly and long. Now, he... (it's really a girl but Benjamin insists on calling it a boy...and well, truthfully, we all get a little confused wether to call it a he, she, or now you know. It's a girl, but I may refer to it as a boy)...the dog, has a new look and is so much cuter. It doesn't even look like we brought home the same dog. Benjamin wanted to know why I made his dog look like a poodle. The look has grown on him. Benjamin now approves.

We have run into several little ones recently that either haven't seen us before or have gotten brave enough to come play. This little one was fascinated with Lauren and the ball. Several of the kids have also just wanted to touch the girls hair to see what it feels like....and then we had one little actually follow us home...the mom/ayi had to come get her.

The only other thing that I can think of for this week is that all of our millions of little tadpoles are starting to turn into these little bitty frogs. The kids have been having fun catching them. Regan wants to bring them home as a pet, but I have imformed her that we already have a pet and the frogs belong outside! :)

Monday, May 9, 2011


I want to start by saying that I am sorry for not having a post last week. I was out of town and just did not find the time like I had hoped.

Well, the highlight was that Jonathan and Lauren got interviewed on the news! They wanted to know what all people want to know...what is it like for a foriegner with 4 children living in this country? And of coarse, don't forget the most popular question of you perm her hair or is it naturally curly? And best of all, he got to use English. OK, well, so he really didn't get interviewed, but it was fun to watch. Some of our friends took us to the Science Museum and one of the things was to see what it was like to be on the news. So none of it was real person or anything, but it did make for some good pictures and laughs. I love the added touch of Lauren looking like she is afraid of the women. Ha!

Lauren was a littel unsure of some things at first, but quickly began to enjoy all of the things there. Her least favorite? I would have to say the robot was a little neat and a little strange all at the same time!

This was a room where all the kids had to work together to move the big bowling ball along. It was fun for all ages. The kids saw all kinds of things and got to "drive a car" and "fly a spaceship" They had several computer simulated games and a 4D ocean movie that the kids enjoyed. (I have a cute picture of Benjamin wearing the glasses but for reasons unknown to me, it will not cooperate and let me put the picture on here...maybe next week)

This was my favorite part of the trip. Katherine doing karaoke. If you know Katherine at all, you know how shy she is, but she loved having a microphone in her hand. She just sang her little heart out. I think she would not have done any of it if she had realized that she was actually on a video OUTSIDE of the room and the speakers were up loud so everyone could see and hear her from outside the booth. Too cute!

So, the REAL reason for the blog being late is that I was traveling. I flew to another city for some language learning and also visited with some friends that I have not seen in quite some time! The city I went to has many different people groups, so the people near the city have all kinds of traditional dress that they wear. My friend's daughter took the next few pictures. I just thought you might enjoy them.

I had to get the traditional shot my the city gates. I really hope to return to this city with all of the family some day. It was beautiful and the weather was great!

We ate at a great little place that served chicken fingers! What a treat! Their son was ready for his taekwondo class. He was glad that we got to see him for a few minutes.

This was a dish that I have not seen in my part of the country, but I really liked it. It was called hu pi jiang jiao...literally translated tiger skin seared peppers. There is not equivelent in the States and I have no idea how to describe the taste, but they were excellent.

A common sight in every city...the little old ladies and their hats :)

We went down several little shopping streets. They have flower street, bird street, pet street, craft street, etc. Anyways, I always find it interesting what you can buy for a pet...this week is it squirrels or chipmunks?

So, I HAD to take a picture of this little girl. She reminded me of Lauren when I saw her. I talked with her parents and asked if her hair was naturally curly or did they give her a perm. (I get that question at least once a day about Lauren) Well, I was a little dissappointed but not surprised. Her hair was permed!

The picture above requires a little explaining. The day before I left, Katherine decided to cut her hair! It was bad to us, but we have heard stories of MUCH worse. It was short enough that we could not get it evened out, but a small enough section that we can make it look decent with hair clips and headbands. Needless to say, all the scissors went least we thought. When I got home, she was quit to point out her taping job on the kid scissors. She said she taped them up so that Lauren could not hurt herself.

The girls and Benjamin also built tents while I was gone. This is in the girls room. Benjamin had one in his room too, but his room is much smaller so you cannot tell much from the picture that we took.
The kids also enjoyed some Little Debbies from the States (and yes, I did, too) What a great unexpected surprise. The funniest part was that they actually delivered four boxes to us. The mailman pointed to the other boxes and said "English" I guess he assumed that all the foreigners in the city know each other. Was was even more odd was that I actually did know them! One was for another foreigner that lives nearby and the other for Banjamin's teacher at school. Go figure. So Jonathan also played mailman while I was gone (on top of being Mom, Dad, and was a holiday so no school and Ayi was off)

Lauren "helping" clean.

I was gone for 5 days and had to bring back a souvenir, so the kids each got a doll in differnet ethnic dress. I think they all enjoyed them. Benjamin thought it was a little funny that the boy doll had such long hair.

I got home just in time to celebrate Mother's Day with my family! Benjamn made me this cake from scratch (Yes, Jenny, from scratch...not a box). Then they made an icing to write Mommy on the cake...with it's own artistic style :) Regan bought me a pen and a small notebook from the store, and all the kids gave me sweet little cards. It was a great day!