Sunday, July 17, 2011

Super Duper Chart

The kids have sticker charts that they fill up for doing things around the house or for good behavior. When they fill it up, they earn 2 Shedd dollars where they can buy items off of the list of rewards. Things cost 1, 2 , and 3 dollars. The kids can pick things off the list to "buy" like a piece of candy, a coin to ride a ride outside the store, a Sprite, 20 min computer time, etc. They also have a Super Duper Chart that they work on together. They can earn stickers for this chart by going above and beyond what is expected of them. It has worked really good and they get excited for each other when someone is rewarded with one of the Super Duper stickers. After they fill it up they will get a surprise reward. After 4 months, they have filled up the chart! Jonathan and I had seen this playground tucked away in the back of a bookstore. We thought it looked like a fun place to bring the kids to, so that was their reward. The kids loved jumping on the trampoline and all of the other cool stuff inside (we did, too!).

This was Lauren's first time to play in one of these cars and she had so much fun driving them around. She kept saying "qi che" (ride car). It reminded me a lot of when the older two were little and used to ride in the little cars in the gym on Sunday mornings.

They had a little zip line for the bigger kids...

a climbing wall...

and one of the biggest ball pits I have seen.

One of Lauren's favorite toys right now is a ball, so she really didn't know what to do with herself with so many balls surrounding her. She was so excited!

Katherine wouldn't slow down enough for us to get a picture of her, but Regan managed to get this picture of her. We all had a blast and the kids came home worn out...bonus! Bedtime was a breeze! :) We also decided to have pizza for dinner since it was a special day. Yum!
The next picture will give you a little insight as to why we have a hard time getting our 2 year old to sit at the table and eat at dinner time.

Our Ayi rides around with Lauren and feeds her while she plays. It is very common here for kids not to feed themselves for a while and for the parents or whoever to just follow the kids around wherever he/she wants to go and feed them. This is why we have a very confused two year old at dinner time. She wonders why we don't shovel food into her mouth and we expect her to sit with the rest of the family at the table. We have seen some improvement recently on this, but it is still a daily battle.
FYI for our loyal followers and so that you don't worry...

We will be on vacation next week, so we will not have a blog post. We are very excited about our trip and time with family. It's already been an adventure in just trying to get tickets! (more on that anther time). I'm sure we will have plenty of pictures to show you soon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Another City

We spent several days this week in another city. We loved the city and the people we met there. The security guard was trying to get us to take the kids for a ride in this display. We did not take it away from it's spot, but we did let the kids get in and pretend.

Do you have any guesses on what this building might be? We had to take a picture because it was almost unbelievable. This is the Wal-Mart in the town we went to! The kids thought it looked more like a castle and I have to agree that the building is pretty fancy. It really wasn't anything special...just Wal-Mart.

Pretty much every city here has a walking street. So, we hopped in a taxi and asked to go there. We thought it would be a good starting point. This was one of the nicest walking streets I have seen. I did, however, have to keep reminding the kids to look for cars/motorcycles! This city had tons of motorcycles and they drove on the sidewalks and streets and even on walking street. Benjamin was very excited to find this camoflauge umbrella. The sun was really hot this day, so we let him buy it to try and stay a little cooler.

So, this was/is pretty typical. It all seems so normal to me now, but I know that the "normal" can also help you see all parts of the culture here. It is very common to see at least 2-3 people on one bike, sometimes the ladies will sit sideways. Notice this man's shoes...also common...he is wearing dress pants and dress shirt and what we call house shoes. Most people wear a helmet or a hat of some sort, and I am certain that not all would meet the safety requirements that we have come accustomed to in the States. At least most of them are hard hats.

We walked by this guy making homemaid waffle cones for icecream. It smelled soooo good. We did not buy any, but enjoyed watching him make the cones.

One, funny thing happened that I did NOT catch on camera. We were crossing the busy street (I like to say "playing frogger") when this guy comes running up to Jonathan. I finished crossing the street with the kids but Jonathan got stopped IN THE MIDDLE of the street. What for? The guy wanted to take a picture. We were thinking that he wanted a picture of the kids (that is most typical) but no, he takes a picture of himself standing next to Jonathan with all kinds of motorcycles honking and going by on either side. If only I had known...I would have been ready to snap a picture of the craziest moment ever. It was definately a first.

It was very hot, so it was no problem to sit down when we found this shaded bench. We went and got drinks for everyone and felt a little relief from the heat.

This is another form of transprotation that we do not see in our current city. The kids wanted to go for a ride, so we asked the man if he would just ride around for a few minutes and then bring us back to where we got on. This did not make sense to any of them...why would we pay to go nowhere? This guy finally agreed and took us down the street and back. The kids enjoyed it.

As soon as he got back, he had round two. I think it was probably the easiest money he had made all day :)

I was so proud of my little girl. She has decided that she wants to try to use chopsticks. I thought she did pretty good for being a two year old.

She also had a plate full of squid. She and Regan both liked it a lot.

Also, another common thing to see, especially in the summer, is all types of things the keep the sun away from them. So, in this picture, the little boy in the back has an umbrella and wearing pants (in super hot weather). The mom has a sun hat, and long sleeves, and "oven mitts" on her bike. Sometimes they just have these sleeve covers that they will put on the lower half of their arm. Those covers are used in the summer to keep the sun off of them and in the winter to keep their jacket sleeves clean.

Some friends of ours went to the beach and sent the kids some shirts and things. The kids loved seeing their shirts change colors out in the sun and they had lots of fun with the finger paint.

Regan was very particular wear she wanted her fingers to paint while the others just enjoyed making some impressionist pictures :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011


This week we were outside of the country waiting on paperwork to get processed for us to return to the country. So, one might ask...What do you do for 8 days in another country with 4 little ones. Well, you are about to see :)

First, we ate McDonald's for breakfast nearly every day! The sausage was the best! I can say that by the end of our trip I never wanted to see a McDonald's again, but I am still very thankful to have it available.

It rained almost the entire time we were there, so most of the time we were stuck inside. The day we arrived, it was not raining (but we were too tired to do anything). We did see that there was a park near where we were staying and it advertised a playground...sounded perfect...

...then we saw this sign...still not sure we figured all of them out, but really? at a park? ...our interpretation of the pictures...1. no playing ball 2. no climbing over rails 3. no yelling 4. no elderly people with a cane trying to ride a skateboard? or is it supposed to be a storm cloud? either way, we are not elderly, so I guess it does not apply to us 5. no letting your dog go to the bathroom 6. no playing card games 6. no riding bicycles So what are you supposed to do at the park again? Oh yes, play at the playground...No luck there either. It was closed for remodeling.

So, back to the apartment we went and ordered pizza and ate chips and had sprite and coke. Besides eating lots of Western food, we also decided to take a complete break from the language. Before leaving our brains were in overload mode, and we really were struggling to function in either language. So we had a week of nothing but English...and it was a needed break. We now feel refreshed and ready to speak the local language again.

Since we did have really big rain storms, the older two kids played some computer games and the younger two enjoyed watching a few movies/cartoons. Jonathan and I enjoyed our evenings after the kids were in bed and took advantage of the really fast internet to watch 3 episodes of Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It was so much fun.

The little box of of random toys...still not sure how Katherine fit in there, but she did.

The girls decided to fix their own hair before we went out one day. Well, I guess I should say that Katherine decide to fix Lauren's hair. It was quite the site. We do love those little clips, but all at one time is a little overboard. Katherine was not happy when I redid Lauren's hair before going out.

I found it very interesting that while we were gone all of the kids called Lauren "Lauren" and spoke to her in English; but as soon as we got back to our city, they started calling her "Mei Mei" and speking to her in both languages again. I guess they took a complete break from language too :)

I had one VERY excited little girl that got to eat a pickle. We went to a burger place that was excellent!

We went to a Science Museum on Wednesday because it is free on that day. The kids had a great time and Benjamin loved the dinosaur skeleton.

The museum had a house of mirrors that was lots of fun. This was one of Katherine's favorites...a table full of Katherines.

It was also pretty cool to see the little bones inside of your ear. Benjamin couldn't believe how small they were.

Regan saw some pretty cool giraffe flip flops. We let her get them because they were very cheap and she has been asking for months for some flip flops. The sad part about these shoes is that they were from a women's little girl wearing ladies shoes! Now she does have big feet (she is a size 3), but you also have to remember we live in an area of the world where most people do not have big feet, so the ladies sizes are much smaller than in America.

Probably one of our most favorite things to do when we leave the country is lots and lots of bubble baths!!! We are still trying to teach Lauren that the water stays inside the tub. She has no concept of this because where we live the entire bathroom is one big room, so the whole thing is wet when you take a shower. How do you explain to a 2 yr old that many bathrooms don't have a drain outside of the tub? :)

More fun in the tub.

So, another thing we did was mall hop. Really not my first choice, but it lets the kids move around instead of being inside the apartment all day long. While we were at one mall, Lauren got run over by another bigger kid. She fell flat on her face. She had 3 loose teeth, a chipped tooth, swolen gums and lips, and lots of bleeding. We could not get her in to see the dentist for a couple of days. By then the swelling was completely gone, she had started eating again, and two of the 3 teeth were much firmer. We still took her to the dentist just to make sure. She is just fine. There is a chance that one or more of her teeth may turn grey, but that is just a wait-and-see thing.

We had told the kids all week that we had planned to find a beach, but with all the rain it was not looking promising. Well, the last day we were there, the forecast went from 100% chance of really bad thunderstorms to thunderstorms some places and maybe a few sunny spots. So, we packed up and headed to the beach. I had one excited little boy! He has always been my beach lover.

So, I took as many pictures as soon as we got there because I could see the storm heading our direction. Katherine had bought a little pail and shovel in hopes of coming. I'm so glad she got to use it.

We didn't actually go into the water very much because the under current was very strong. We did have lifeguards all around us, but I still did not want to be in that kind of current. And yes, we did get rained on! But the storm passed and we spent another 45 minutes at the beach....and believe it or not, we even saw the sun!

Jonathan helped the girls make a sand castle. With all the rain, it was not hard to get the castle to work. I think they are all ready to go again :)

Such a beautiful view...the islands and my kids! :) Gotta love em!

Also, while we were there I had an eye appointment to get new glasses. You may have noticed that the past several months worth of blogs that I appear in my glasses. Long story short...I cannot wear contacts anymore due to severe dry eyes (not making any tears), so I have been wearing old prescription glasses. I now have new glasses and can see clearly again! YEAH! It's also good to hear from my 7 yr old that she likes my new glasses because I don't look like I'm "wearing granny glasses anymore" I'm so glad that she approves. I guess I can still be a "cool" mom! :)

So, that is what we did while we were waiting!!! Oh, and yes, we got all the paperwork in order, all processed, and we are back home again!