Sunday, September 25, 2011

Katherine Turns 4!

Here she is..the birthday girl!!! I think this is the biggest grin I have ever seen on her face. She was so excited that it was her birthday. The only thing she specifically asked for was for these two little friends to come to her party. So, we made a day of it and they had a blast!

She started her birthday morning by getting up super early (and I'm still not sure exactly what time that was). She was in our bedroom at 6:01 am, dressed, hair fixed, shoes on, bunny dressed, and asking me to put on her birthday ribbon. She has been saving this outfit ever since it came in the mail for her b-day. She has had it all planned out. Needless to say, it was a very long start to the morning since we were not picking up her little buddies until 9:30. She asked every 5 minutes if it was time yet. But the early morning was still a hit because we had hidden/saved for her bday some PopTarts that we found at the import store. Yummy!

After we picked up her friends, we hopped in a taxi and went to the play place that we found a while back. They played hard and had so much fun!

These three were inseparable. They were all laying on the trampoline while Regan bounced them around.

This was another favorite...kind of like a volcano of foam balls. It was on a timer, so you could fill it as much as possible and then it would shoot all the balls out of the top. The bookstore was not a quiet place while we were playing :) too much fun going on!

More fun...

Now, this cracked me up. Lauren discovered that you could "fly" in the ball pit and not get hurt. She flew from one side to the other and back!

It looks like Benjamin is running in the air. They came up with lots of little games. I could hardly keep up with them. I did not have to worry though because the entrance was guarded and kids could not leave without their parent.

Afterwards, we walked to McDonald's for lunch and ice cream. I thought we got lots of looks with 4 kids, but that day we had 6! I can't tell you how many times we heard "Wah! So, many kids! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6" (not in English, of course) I guess it was quite a sight.

Then we came home and crashed on the couch for a bit before all the siblings came over for cake and presents. They watched Monsters Inc. I really thought that they were going to fall asleep, but they all managed to stay awake.

The party was a very "Katherine" birthday party (nothing matched). I prefer for everything to match, but we just have to get what we can find and when we can find it. We brought party napkins with us, so the kids get to pick out their napkins at their birthday each year....she chose Minnie Mouse. Katherine really wanted a Dora party, but I could not find any Dora things until the day before the she had Dora cups. She had a princess birthday ribbon. I found the Hello Kitty plates on a trip out of the country and the Winnie the Pooh party hat and the Strawberry Shortcake hat for her bunny were also last minute finds. So, she was one happy girl about all the party things. I just tried not to think about it not matching :)

I tried to pass off the star candles as being Dora, but I don't think she bought it :) The cake was good, but did not last nearly long enough!

Blowing out the candles....

She also got another birthday package in the mail. Love the HUGE hat!

What little girl doesn't like getting money in the mail?! I wish you could have seen her face when she traded it in for our local currency....LOTS of money! :) She can't wait to go spend it!

checking out her new colring book...

So, what else did we do besides a birthday celebration? Well, our bed collapsed in the middle of the our landlord bought us a new one! :) YEAH! Our bed has been on its last leg for a year now, and it finally fell apart. He came within 30 minutes of us calling him, looked at our bed, said he would buy a new one, took the old bed away, and had a new one in all by the afternoon. It was great!

While he was looking at the bed, we asked if he would please put safety bars on the windows that could open. They are expensive, so I did not think he would do it, but he was in a very generous mood. He measured all the windows and had them made and installed within 2 days! Benjamin and Katherine liked pretending they were in jail. The weather has finally started to cool off a bit (in the upper 70's and 80's...occasional 90's but we'll take it!) so it is nice to be able to keep the windows open. Our Ayi was keeping all the windows closed for fear that Lauren would climb up and fall out. Now we can all be happy and safe!
Oh! Our landlord also bought something for our bathroom...which we did not ask for. He was so excited to show me. He said the kids were going to love it! So, what did he get??? I can guarantee that you will NEVER guess on your own, so I will just tell you. He bought us a new shower head. This is not just any shower head. This shower head lights up when you turn the water on! It is like a disco in the shower! The lights change colors and is quite a sight :) The kids are now asking to take showers in the dark! :)

This is not a great picture, but it's the only one I could find that had the bars shown in the window. We heard lots of sirens, so we looked out the window and saw a building on fire.

They got the fire put out fairly quickly, but the wind brought all the smoke right to our we had to close all of the windows again! :)

Regan got Katherine a scrapbook for her birthday. She was excited to get to do it with her big sister. She was having fun, but does not have quite the attention span yet for completing the task. That's ok. Lots of opportunities to scrapbook with her sister.

Regan has been asking all week to scrapbook with me, so we spent several hours Sunday afternoon making memories.

This is one of the pages in her scrapbook. I thought it was cute. She wanted me to print these pics off the internet. I think watching the wedding was one of the highlights of this year.... getting to see a real prince and princess get married. On the opposite page she has her postcard from some dear friends in London.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

At Home

I just couldn't pass up this little blonde hair, blue eyed girls. The expressions crack me up. It is exactly each of their personalities..."all grins and giggles" on the left, "Who me? I'm too cute to get into any trouble. Can't you tell?" in the middle, and "my poser practicing her princess smile" on the right.

Well, Bejmain and I were home for a big part of this week with strep! Yuck! It looks like I was coming down with it during the room painting weekend, but I thought my throat was sore from the paint fumes. I realized that I waited to long to go to the doctor when I woke up and couldn't yawn, talk, swollow, eat, or drink without lots of pain. I was at the doctor's office getting my much needed meds when Benjamin's school called saying he was sick. His throat only felt a little sore, but we thought he should come in and get checked out since mine was so bad. So we spent a few days laying in bed watching cartoons (and me trying to sleep a little). We both feel MUCH better now!

Having strep does not keep me from taking pictures of all the fun! Katherine got a birthday package in the mail. She has her new birthday clothes already set out waiting to wear them at her party. All the kids enjoyed the singing cards that she received and all the yummy kid cereal! I think next time I may try to get a video of her's a hard choice for me...I typically opt for the pictures :)

One excited little girl over all the cereal. This sweet little angel was found hiding boxes in her bed for later! :)

Benjamin got a new shirt for the fall. He looks like he is feeling much better already!

I could not pass up this photo moment. We have been noticing a lot of flies the past week and it has been very annoying, but the little vegetable store didn't seem to have very many. OH! I guess that's why! Just stick a bunch of sticky paper all around your veggies and "POOF!" No More Flies!! :) Genious! Although I didn't much feel like buying the veggies after reaching around all the flies.

So, the first day I feel better, my friend takes us out on a little lake for a few minutes. The kids were so excited to ride the boats. We never have ridden because I think it is over priced. The kids had a blast and I got a kick out of the life vests. Even little Lauren had to wear one and it went down to her knees.

We then went to the park next to the lake and had it to ourselves because the sun was out and people here are afraid of the sun. We gave it a second try at teaching friends how to play kick ball. It was a little more successful this time, but you really do need a slight knowledge of baseball to completely get it. At one point our friend had run all the way past "outfield" to try not to get out. Oh well. It still is a lot of fun.

At least once a month I download my pictures and find a few "extras" in the mix that I didn't take. I never have to ask who took them because this picture (or one very similar) is at the end fo all the extras.

This was the family project on Sunday. The kids had a mission to find 1 big stick, 10 small ones, and 10 leaves. They then got to tape them up on a big piece of paper. The papers read, "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning- the sixth day. Gen.1:31" Benjamin really impressed us with his retelling of creation. He had lots of details in there! Good job guys!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mid Autumn Festival 2011

I wanted to start off with this picture of Lauren playing dress up. It's hard to believe that she can wear all the dress up clothes and come up with outfits on her own. I guess she is about that age :)

This is my first time to have a friend in this country have a baby! It was so exciting. She is actually my 2nd friend, but my other friend returned to her hometown to have the baby, so I just now got to see her child and she has already gotten so big. So, back to this picture. My friend's baby is 2 weeks old. Here there are MANY "don'ts" Some of those include: do not leave the house for 1 month, no fans or air conditioners (even in this crazy heat), the mother cannot touch cold water, many things that you cannot eat, etc. The list could go on and on and on. My friend said that she did not mind if I came by to visit. I was so excited. This is going to be the only picture I have of her with hair. When they turn 1 month old, they shave it all off! They will take her hair and have it made into a calligraphy brush. I told her that Lauren is 2 years old and still has not had a real haircut. She told me that when we do that she will take it to have a brush made for me. I said, "Really? I don't think curly hair would make a good calligraphy brush." :)

We also celebrated Mid Autumn Festival. It is the 2nd most important holiday of the year. It is a time of getting together with family and friends, talking, eating mooncakes, and watching the moon. It is the 1 day of the year that the moon is the most round. You can google it if you want more of the story or I can tell you in person sometime. So, one of our friends invited us over this weekend to make dinner. It was my first time to help make a local dinner.

This is my disclaimer for those who are a littel squeemish (per request) :)

This was the part of the meal that was very different to cook. She pulled the shrimp out of the fridge and I thought they were already dead...but no. They wiggled just a bit. As the temperature of the kitchen rose as we were cooking the other things, those little guys were wiggling/jumping all over the place. She wanted me to show the kids, so she put it in a bowl and on my way there, it jumped out of the bowl and landed in between two pieces of furniture. I screamed and the kids screamed and we all laughed..especially Jonathan. She then took about half of them and cut their heads off with scissors and then cooked them. The other half, she boiled later. I don't think we will cook them in our house, but they were good. Her son wanted to know why the kids were so scared of them (even after they were cooked). She explained to him that kids in America buy them already cooked with no legs and no head. What a concept :) Makes me want some Red Lobster mmmm :)

A glimpse of a typical altar inside many homes here. They will set out fresh fruits, cookies, cake, flowers, candles, incense, etc, all to worship their ancestors in hopes that they will receive their protection and blessing.

So, what did we do the rest of our long weekend? We painted Regan and Katherine's room. It was a family event. Everyone helped (except Lauren who still thinks it's ok to draw on walls...we did not want to encourage that) Regan got to help the most because it was the room she has been asking for...

She got to have her giraffe room! We painted the room yellow and then 2 walls have the giraffe print painted on it. The room took a little longer than I anticipated, so it is ALMOST finished. The painting is all done, but Regan has some of her own artwork that she is going to put up in the yellow space/cutout (above). I think it will be the final touch.

Both girls are very happy with it. Katherine is my all pink girl who likes girly things and loves flowers, and Regan is all about giraffes. This was our attempt to do both. Anyways. It was fun and tiring all at the same time.

We also went out to eat at McDonald's and this little store was selling this giraffe growth chart. I was very excited about it. This is the wall where we have been keeping track of their height. We had just painted over it all (I wrote down the measurements and dates) So, now I can do it on here and do not have to worry about writing on the wall any more.

THIS! This was my son's dream come true. He has been wanting to do one of these since we saw them last year. It is called Kong Ming Deng or we call it a flying lantern. It reminded us of the movie Tangled (if you've seen it, you know what I am talking about) Anyways, by far the most dangerous thing we have done here :) but it was fun. So you take the paper lantern, light the wax, and when the flame is big enough and hot enough, the lantern flies away.

We did two during the day, so that our friends could teach us how. We also did two at night. It was pretty cool to see them light up the sky. I just knew ours was going to hit a tree or catch someone's laundry on fire. Thank goodness all flying lanterns did what they were supposed to and flew high in the sky above all the buildings and kept going until we could not see them anymore.

One excited little boy, AKA Benjamin, running to see where it was going next!

On the actual night of Mid Autumn Festival. All the kids go out at night with their paper lanterns (with a real candle, with a real flame inside) and walk around. People would stop and talk with their friends and people were in very good moods. I could not get any good night shots, but this is a picture of our kids on the bridge. They loved that you could see the reflection of the lanterns in the water.

And I could not pass up this picture! How excited children can get when they get to stay up past bed time! :) Loved this one!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Early Birthday

Katherine's birthday is not until September 24, but her school celebrates all the September birthdays on the first Friday of the month. So, if you want your child to participate in the big party, you can give them 5 kuai for a group photo and bring in a cake. I think this is the first time her school has had cupcakes, but they were special request from Miss Katherine. Typically, they just order a cake from the bread store and have it delivered to the school. But those cakes are very different from what we think of as birthday cakes. So, we baked them ourselves.

Here is Katherine putting her water bottle up. I didn't even get a bye. She loves her class so much. I'm so glad! I guess I will have to wait to see the group picture of her party whenever they get it to me.

She was so excited about her birthday egg! Every year on her birthday, her school gives her a hard boiled egg that is dyed red. I think it's one of her favorite parts about her birthday :) This year, she bit into her egg and it was a twin egg! A super special egg for a super special girl.

She was so excited to show me the gifts that she got from her teachers!

She got some kind of milk juice box (which she did not like at all), 3 pineapple flavored "cookies" (they are more like a fig newton), and a little bunny.

My cultural picture for the week... No matter where you go or where you work people here always get there rest time. I have been to stores during the rest time of day and all the employees are sleeping. I kindof feel bad waking the one's up at the cash register to pay for my things. This picture is from the grocery/vegetable store outside of our apartment.

Benjamin helped me give Doggy Bones a bath this week. I can't stand the smell of wet dog, but the dog looked pretty pitiful. Even my neighbor asked how often we give the dog a bath..hint hint :)

Regan holding a clean dog while it tries to lick her...

The kids had a pool birthday party to go to this weekend. Lauren wore the goggles all the way to the pool, but then never wore them at the pool. I guess she just wanted to feel like a big kid.

Lauren looks so serious wearing her little construction hat at the dinner table. This hat has officially made it through all the kids. I believe it was actually a gift for Benjamin when he was little, but Regan played with it just as much as he did.

We let the girls try sleeping together Friday night since it was not a school night. I was skeptical about them actually going to sleep, but they surprised me.