Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

 We have had a great Christmas and a busy one.  This was at our first Christmas party.  We arrived early to help decorate.  Benjamin decided that he would decorate himself :)
 We sang two songs in two languages.  We have been practicing, but none of us expected so many people.  Over 200 people showed up!!!  It was great!  And we have had many reasons to celebrate this year!
 Lauren is giving away one of her famous hugs.  If you haven't gotten one from her, get ready.  They are the BEST.
 This was at our Christmas party #2.  We tried to have some treats from the States there.  I had many grand plans of cooking all kinds of goodies, but ran out of vanilla extract.  It will be so nice to be able to run to a grocery store one day and pick up something that we run out of :)  I managed to get some things done and we had a great time.  Oh, and we got some more vanilla extract in a package! hooray!
 Lauren stocking up on her favorite snack.
 A friend sent the kids a each a gift for Christmas.  We didn't open it at first because it was all in characters and came from in country, so we assumed it was for our landlord...UNTIL I got a text around 11 pm asking if we got our gifts.  oops.  So the kids got to open them as soon as they got up.  It was a nice surprise.
 Local schools are still in session, but we have told the kids that they do not have to go this week.  I think they have had fun just getting to play together outside.
 Katherine snuck into Benjamin's room and geared up with his hand made weapons :)  It was her turn to have some target practice :)  I was actually quite impressed with Benjamin's assembly.  I'm not sure I would have thought to use a coat hanger and a paper towel roll to hold the arrows/sticks.
 On Christmas Eve, we open the from each other.  I love this one.  Jonathan was acting so excited over his gift, but he was actually opening up Lauren's gift that Katherine had given her.  So here the girls are just watching a little confused and Daddy is super excited over some blocks :)  All is good.  He gave them to Lauren and then she helped him open another present.
 Regan and I ended up with matching socks.  Benjamin picked them out for me and Lauren picked them out for Regan.  They have good taste :)  We love fuzzy house socks!
 Lauren got a little lamb.
 Regan got a stuffed kitty.
 I just love how awake the kids look in this picture.  You have to love Christmas morning!
And this is the picture before we opened presents.  We all had a wonderful day.  Regan got her American Girl doll, Benjamin and Katherine got CD players, and Lauren got roller blades.  We hope you all had a very merry Christmas!!!!!!!! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

11 Years!

 Yes, we just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary!  The best part....we had a date!!!  It was wonderful and I had been looking forward to it all week.  We are so thankful that Ayi knows us well enough and had enough courage to watch all four kids! :)
 Not only did we go Christmas shopping TOGETHER, but we tried out a new restaurant.  It was called Venice (but not really an Italian place).  I told Jonathan that we goofed on coming at dinner time.  There were people waiting everywhere.  We were told to go get in line and get a number.  No sooner were we in that line than they were pulling us OUT of line saying "No. No. No. Follow him."  So we did and they sat us right down.  It was great.  And yes, that is a steak. And no, it's not quite like one from America, but it will do for now. 
Oh yes, and do not forget the appetizer :)
 I also got these wonderful flowers...via my son, who so excitedly said, "Happy Anniversary!"  The big vase is from Jonathan and the "small vase" is from Benjamin.

 So, on the first half of our date, I knew the kids were up to something when I kept getting phone call after phone call with questions like... "What does sift mean?"  "What is shortening/do we have any? OH! Crisco.  I know what that is."  "Which knob turns the oven on?" Always followed by a very quick "Thanks! Bye!" before the next phone call.
 This was the final product.  A complete anniversary cookie with no adult help.  Regan and Benjamin did a great job...and I did taste it.  It was VERY sweet.  There was some substitution going on in the recipe.  For example, they did not know that confectioner's sugar was not regular sugar, a little maple syrup was added for part of the icing, etc.  Not a bad first try though.  I love the effort they put into it.  It literally took them HOURS to make.
When we got home, Ayi was reading a story to the girls.  Katherine was not very happy that Ayi was not in the middle of them, but Lauren was just as content as she could be in the arms of HER Ayi :) 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On the Mend

We had to go out of the country on some routine medical things.  Everyone was completely healthy and normal :)  It was a short, quick trip, but we tried to find something fun for the kids to do besides traveling all day, standing in lines, and seeing doctors.  We found a little park that had a cable car that you could ride for super cheap.  The kids thought it was great.
When we got to the top of the hill, we discovered this awesome playground.  The kids took off running as soon as they saw it.  They were soooooo happy. 

They managed to all squeeze in the top of this thing.
I just love this one.  You can see Regan running at the top, Katherine about to slide fast, and Lauren enjoying herself on the way down the slide.
These two loved this spinney thing.  I wasn't even thinking about my motion sick prone boy getting on it.  It wasn't 10 minutes later that he came to me so pale and saying he had a headache and didn't feel good.  Thank goodness we had some motion sickness medicine with us!   Thanks to a good friend, we are able to carry it with us on trips now.  It has been a life saver!
The kids enjoyed making little gingerbread men crafts.  (Benjamin went and put is buy the oven for a picture, but I like the one with him in it better.)
Creative Katherine...breaking the mold of "how it should be done"  I just love her creativity.  She loves being different.

Two days after we got back, Lauren got a pretty bad stomach bug/the flu.  I'm not sure if she picked it up at her school or in the masses when we left the country.  Either way, she had to miss a Christmas party that we were invited to with some other foreigners.  She was so disappointed, but she was so happy when Daddy brought home a present for her!

Regan got these earmuffs at the party. 
Lauren finally got better and was back to her old self and helping Daddy cook.  Benjamin was the next down with the same thing.  Not fun!  At the moment, everyone seems to be better.  We are just hoping that no one else comes down with it!!
These two had fun at the mall looking for a Christmas present for Daddy.  We finally found something.   The girls really liked this duckie with the Christmas hat.   

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nemo Hedgehog

Yes, it is a strange blog title.  There really is a reason behind this one.  We babysat again for my friend.  We watched a 1.5yr old and her 6 yr old big sister (above).  The kids had a great time playing together.  We got a kick out of the youngest girl because she copied EVERYTHING we said no matter what language we used.  The kids also thought it was funny and at the dinner table Benjamin said, "Nemo Hedgehog." It really was quite funny to hear it come out of her mouth.  She has the cutest little voice.
 Benjamin playing ball with some local college age guys.  He finally has some boys to play with ;)
 I just had to get a picture of this wok.  I had no idea they made them so big!!!  People are always amazed that our wok is so small (I thought it was big) because we have to feed 6 people.   
 Here we are practicing for our performance in two weeks.  We will be singing "Joy to the World" and "This is the Day" in both languages.  The performance is some kind of music thing/talent show.  I'll let you know after it's over :)  I also think it is funny that the front row of adults is posing and the back row is talking. 
I couldn't pass up this shot.  The kids all got home from school (yes, they got to school all bundled and stay that way until dinner).  Lauren wanted to watch a movie and was so enjoying watching "The 12 Dancing Princesses"  She love sot dance so this movie just made her day.  If you want a glimpse into her little personality, here is a link to a recent video of her playing/dancing in the house:
This is just a random culture picture.  My friend was showing me her pictures of her baby from birth to now and this shot was in there.  I had to get a picture of it myself to share with you guys.  They really do this!  It is so strange to me.  After a baby is born in the hospital, they put a floatie around their neck and they "go swimming" for awhile.  They do this several times while they are in the hospital.  I am told that it is because it will make the baby feel like they are back in the mother's womb.  Hmmm.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Very UN-Ordinary Two Weeks

We started off by picking Katherine up early from school.  She has been working hard for months to stop sucking her fingers when she sleeps.  Her reward was to have lunch with Mommy and then I would take her shopping to buy a special surprise.  She chose to eat at Subway and made herself very comfortable. :)  She ate an entire 6 inch Subway Melt, plus the chips and a drink!  She chose to buy a Hello Kitty necklace, a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved shirt. 
Ayi fixed Hot Pot for us.  It was actually very good.  The water boils in the middle of the table and you cook a little food, eat it, cook a little more, eat it, etc. 
Soon afterwards (2 days maybe) is when Regan developed a rash on her back.  We still don't know what it was that she was allergic to, if it was something she ate or just came in contact with.
We had a wonderful time babysitting this little girl for two whole days!  She was absolutely adorable!  Some of the comments when we went out were funny, too.  I had at least one person tell me that she didn't look as much like me as Katherine did, and one person that asked if we adopted her, and one that asked if I dyed Katherine's hair because my youngest had black hair.  It was quite interesting.
She was great to have around and all the kids "fought" over her.  Lauren enjoyed getting to play the role of "big sister" for two days. 
Here is our final thankful tree.  In the midst of everything, we managed to have two with pink eye, one with a 105 fever, one with allergic reaction, and two with hand foot and mouth disease (some kids overlap).  Needless to say, one of our thankful leaves was for Doctors.  By the way, please ignore all clothing choices in this picture :) 
We also had Thanksgiving!!  What fun to have some American food and a TURKEY!  (We did not think we would be able to find one this year, but we did....I was soooo happy)  When I went to pick up the turkey, there were 14 workers there checking out the turkey.  I got to the counter and said, "I am here to pick up..."  I got cut off by several people saying, "She's here for the turkey.  She's picking up the turkey."
This is the group that came over to celebrate with us.  We had such a good time and are so thankful for the many friends God has given us here.
This is one of Jonathan's friends that comes over sometimes to help him with his language. 
Since everyone was still recovering from illnesses and our late night Thanksgiving dinner, we decided to take Friday off for everyone and do some Christmas decorating!  The kids were so excited!  Lauren was my little helper to make sure that lights did not get tangled.
The kids had fun putting on their ornaments. 
This year, Katherine got to put the star on the top of the tree. 

Regan posing next to her favorite Kung Fu panda.
Ayi enjoyed seeing all the decorations going up. 
Benjamin in the Santa hat ;)
Lauren in the Santa hat
Lauren decided that Mommy neededd to wear the hat as well.
Not long after the tree was up, the first present showed up under the tree. 
Oh-it's Katherine under the tree! :)
So that has been an overview of our past 2 weeks.  We are on the mend, but still have some sick ones in out house.  Hopefully, all we be better next week!!!