Monday, August 29, 2011

School Has Started

Katherine's first day back to school...

She was so excited to get back to class and to see her friends and teachers. This year she is zhong ban at the preschool which is basically the middle aged group. She is on the third floor and feel like a big kid. I was a little curious how she would actually do going back. I was pleasantly surprised that the only thing different was the room. The teachers move up with their class as they get bigger, so she has the same teachers and many of the same friends.

Oh, yes. Bunny needed to have her picture made for the first day of school. Bunny even got to wear some new clothes to school :)

Jonathan made Ibu Ina's fried rise (from Indonesia). It was a big hit. The only thing ws that is made sooooo much food. This is only one of the dishes! So, it was easy to be able to share a meal with our neighbors.

I walked around the corner the other day to find Lauren aranging all the shoes...ours, Ayi's, the house shoes, guest shoes, etc. She was so proud of her artwork.

SO, this represents our cultural story for the week. We had plans to play with some friends at 10:00 on Saturday. She called at 9:50 saying that she was running late and that she would pick us up at 10:30. She also said she wanted to go swimming and then we could go eat McDonald's afterwards. So, we hurry to undress the kids, put swimsuits on, sunscreen, clothes back on, pack bags, find towels, and ready to go. So, at 10:45 she shows up with McD's, coffee/hot tea, and soft drinks, puts it all on our table and says she is going to go change. My kids were ready to walk out the door, but I'm trying to figure out if I'm supposed to eat this food or wait for her to come was none of the above. She wanted us to come back and eat it after we went swimming. You can image how yummy those fries were after sitting for 3 hours :) We had fun as usual!

Jonathan decided to take a picture of all the girls. We don't typically dress up here for any reason, but we all had put on skirts/or dresses. So, Jonathan wanted a picture of his pretty girls. :)

And then we had to have a picture of the tough boys!

We had some friends over for dinner. I call them friends because they are, but we have only seen them a handful of times because they work so much. The very first night we lived here, we had gone out at night to buy some cleaning supplies, mop, etc. when we got a little turned around as to where our hotel was. I guess we looked lost...4 kids at night, LOTS of bags, and don't know the language. Anyways. This couple stopped and said they could help. They carried our bags and walked us all the way back to the hotel.It was good to see them again and this time they had their little girl, LuLu. What fun!

Today was Regan and Benjamin's first day of school. They have been a little jelous that Katherine got to start a week before them. They have counted down every day this week.

Lauren felt a little left out of the picture making, so she posed with Regan.

the chaos as we try to walk out the door in the morning... get shoes on! Who's water bottle is this? Do you have your backpack? Don't forget your helpmet? Lauren, Ayi is feeding you more better listen. Get your bike. No! Don't ride your bike in the house! Is everyone ready? What?! Who pushed the elevator button? We still have one missing shoe! Ok! Bye Lauren! Everybody in the elevator!

excited to be on the 3rd floor

riding to school

Home from school and working on homework. She loves school and she loves homework :) It was a good first day for all of them.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Swim Lessons

Last week and this week are the kids' last two weeks of summer holiday (Katherine actually starts back this week). If you ask the kids about their summer and what they liked, they will tell you all kinds of things...except Benjamin. He told us that he only has fun in the pool. There are other things he enjoys, but the pool is by far his favorite. So, we decided that for the last two weeks before school he can take swim lessons offered by the pool at our complex. He swims every day from 4:00-5:30 So, he has learned very quickly!

This picture is kindof funny...he is coming up for air, not drowning :) They teach the breast stroke here, so he looks like a little frog in the water. He can swim all the way across the HUGE pool. He is doing great! This coming week, he will be working on getting the form of his swimming in sinc with his breathing. Right now, his form is good, but he just goes and goes and goes under the water until he can't breathe anymore, comes up for air and doggy paddles for a second, and then is off again. They are trying to get him to breathe with every stroke.

This also cracked me day it started to rain (no lightning) so the kids were not allowed to swim in the deep pool until it stopped and the coach stood in the middle of the shallow pool holding an umbrella! I kinda thought the point of a pool was to get wet :)

Regan and Benjamin ended up playing with a group of about 15 boys, 3 dads, and 1 big brother. It was some sort of Monkey in the Middle type game, but it was so much fun to see them REALLY playing with the local kids and not just playing near them. I think the dad's were getting a kick out of how many times Regan got the ball (Miss Competitive) because the girls typically don't play with the boys much...especially in the pool, they just sit in floats.

Katherine wanted a pair of goggles so that she could go under water. She loves the pool, but her hair turns so GREEN! It only takes her swimming once to have bright green hair. It fascinates my friends here that our hair can change colors :)

Lauren doesn't like swimming in the pool...just jumping in over and over and over again. She will give you quite the workout.

Regan has also learned to swim this summer. She is still afraid to get her face under the water. She can do about 4 different strokes to swim across the pool and never get her face wet :)

All the girls sporting their new sandals! Benjamin got some too, but did not want to be in the picture.

Katherine's Bunny got some much needed new clothes. She was so excited about them. The old clothes are now "pajamas" and the new clothes are for "school"

We also had Open House and Regan and Benjamin got to see their new classrooms and meet their new teachers. Benjamin is a frog this year (1st grade) and has the same teacher that Regan had last year. His class is in the new part of the school and I think he has the best room in the school! Great view!!
Oh yeah, and he has a new haircut. He has been asking to get it shaved for about a year now. He literally wanted to be bald. I had never let him do it, but the kids were getting their "back to school haircuts" and he asked again. I thought for a's not near his bday, not near Christmas...ok, it will have time to grow out if I don't like it. He was so excited that I let him get it so short. It is much easier and cooler in this heat!

...checking our his desk

Regan is excited to be a Panda this year (3rd grade). She was in first grade last year, but the school asked if Regan and one other little girl could study with the third graders. They felt like Regan was bored and needed more of a challenge. She will still be classified as a 2nd grader, but will be doing everything with the 3rd graders. I know, a bit confusing. I think it will be good for her.

There is a new girl there that will be sitting next to Regan. I was so excited to find out that they are almost exactly the same age...4 days apart! One of my concerns for letting her be in this class was that all the other kids would be older, but it's really not going to be that way. Third grade is also when they start having Science and American History classes. I think it will be a good year and I also think that she will be coming home with lots of "real" homework.

All the kids are very excited that school will be starting back soon! Hooray!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our Last Summer Trip!

We were on another trip this past week. It was so refreshing! A group of Friends came to visit us. We met up with them and had a great time together! One night, they gave us a date night! Jonathan and I went to Bubba Gumps and ate shrimp. I got a kick out of the sign...if everything is fine at your table, you leave it on "run Forrest run." If you need something, you change the sign to "stop Forrest stop". It was a great evening.

This was the view from where we ate! Amazing! I tried to get a shot with Jonathan and me in front of the city, but none of them turned out. All I had was my little camera. My good camera broke when we were at the Great Wall a couple weeks ago. I thought this one turned out nice though! You should come see it for yourself! We'll take you there :)

To top it off, our Friends took Regan and Benjamin to Disneyland! What a great surprise. They had a great time and seemed so big going to Disney without me! :)

We went to a mall for dinner and they had a Cars 2 display promoting the movie. The kids loved all the props. We considered at one time taking them to see it...then we found out how much it costs to see it in English...$20 US dollars a person (no kids tickets) I think we can wait until it arrives in our country one day. No movie is worth that...especially times 6 :)

And Lauren won the race! :) So, we are now back and should be in more of a routine again. The kids are excited that school will be starting in less than 2 weeks!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Great Wall Vacation

We had the most wonderful vacation! We went to see the Great Wall and so did Mamaw and Papaw. To top it off, while we were there, another friend of ours was there and we got to hang out for a few days. Tons of fun. We actually went to two different sections of the wall, but this one was by far my favorite. It was called Mutianyu. It was beautiful and not many people there at all.

We climbed all the way to the top! It was well worth it and no one complained. The view was gorgeous!

And yes, Lauren climbed the wall, too! She would not let us help her. We offered several times, but she insisted on climbing it herself (even though some of the steps were just about as big as she was) She did finally collapse. She sat down on a step and just fell sound asleep. Jonathan and Papaw took turns carrying her back down the wall...not an easy task...she was a dead weight and it was starting to heat up.

We didn't know that Little Puppy made the trip up to the wall. Benjamin had him stuffed inside his pocket and as soon as we got up there he pulled him out and wanted his picture on the wall. Every family member needed a picture by the wall :)

We visited a silk factory that was really cool. The kids saw how the silk worm grows and then got to watch every step of the process in making the silk. We even got to help at one point.

We also went to a jade factory. I actually got one of these balls. It intrigued me. They call it a "happy family ball." It starts as one piece of jade and they carve out a ball with 3 other balls inside. It is very detailed and was interesting to see them making this as well. It takes 35 days to make and if they chip it or break one of the balls at any point in the process, they throw it out. Each ball represents a generation, so they say 4 generations is a happy family.

We found a hard Rock Cafe and had some really good burgers while we listened to an Asian band sing lots of Classic Rock songs. You can see that my kids were trying to climb the sign :) Benjamin thought this place was really neat because it was just filled with guitars.

Regan and our friend, Cassie. I don't think Regan left her side the entire time she was with us. Oh, I just realized when looking at this picture that the kids did not eat burgers there. They all ordered Mac and Cheese :)

Katherine is riding the bull! We were just walking the streets when we passed all of these little bull statues. There were four of for each kid :)

The Forbidden City. Our vacation was for 6 days and for 5 days we had very heavy fog (which we have been told is not typical for this time of year), but it did make it hard to see everything clearly and it also trapped the heat in the city! I was glad for the fog during this part of our trip. I could not imagine how hot it would be at the Forbidden City with all that stone and the emporer did not allow any trees because he thought that enemies could hide in them...therefore, no shade.

This was called the love tree because the two trees were intertwined. It is custom for all couple to get a picture in front of it :)

The kids were excited that our hotel had a pool. When we went to it, we found out that all had to have swim caps. Thankfully, the hotel sold them. Then, the pool turned out to be ICE COLD! I backed out of the swimming...too cold for me. The kids (and Jonathan) did swim. Actually, they spent most of the time warming up in the hot tub and then jumping into the cold pool for a few minutes and then back again.

Made a trip to visit Tiananmen Square. Oh, you may notice all the GAP shirts/hats. There happened to be a store right next to our hotel and we bought everyone a T-shirt. We had so much fun just looking in the store, but I was quickly brought back to reality when I found two cute pairs of capris and decided that I needed them, so I would buy them, and then I saw the sizes...0, 00, 2, and for the "big" girls a 4 :) I guess I'll just have to wait to get some cute ones to fit this American body :)

Went shopping in a market place. I thought this was funny, but my kids actually attached themselves to Cassie. I guess they wanted to make sure they did not loose her.

A trip to the Ming Tombs....really a sad reminder of what so many believe.

On our way to the Badaling section of the Great Wall we got stuck in traffic. Then people just started unloading from the tour buses and walking down the highway. It was a steady stream of people. We were quite entertained by the whole thing since Papaw open the van window and greeted everyone that walked by....I think he only scared one kid (don't think he had ever seen a foreigner before)

Regan and Benjamin amused themselves by taking what seemed to be 10o pictures of themselves.

This section of the wall was jammed pack with people. Everyone wanted a picture of and with the kids...some asked, some just jumped in our pictures, and some just grabbed a kid. Our tour guide told us that we should charge for each picture and then our vacation would be, that's a thought. I wonder if it would work :)

Temple of Heaven

We also went to a pearl factory. I was very nervous in the store when they started piling all of these really expensive pearls on my two little ones. I took the picture then tried to get them to give back the pearls so I could get the kids out the door....TOO many nice things and too many little ones!

And that about wraps up our vacation. We are still recovery a bit from all the long days of fun and no naps and the 27 hour trip back home, but we would gladly do it all over again!