Sunday, June 24, 2012

Elephants and Tigers

 Well, I fully intended on posting a blog or two while we were gone, but the internet was no very reliable to say the least.  So, this will be my attempt to catch you up on things.  We needed to leave the country to work on some paperwork and ended up being able to do some really fun things as a family while we were there.  The highlight for most of the kids was going to the elephant camp.  They loved feeding them, taking pictures, and the show was great.
 We then got to take an hour ride through the jungle....stopping occasionally for pictures or to buy a bunch of bananas and a bundle of sugar cane to feed to the elephants (all for a total of 1 US dollar) from local vendors along the way.  I do believe these elephants were the most well fed elephants ever :)
 One of the neatest things was being able to cross the rivers on the back of an elephant. 
 After all the elephant fun, we ate lunch and headed down the river by bamboo raft.  It was very relaxing and the kids all got a turn steering down river. 
 I really like this one of Regan, but at the same time I'm thinking "when did she grow up?"  I'm sure I will continue thinking that the rest of my life.
 The kids really did enjoy being out of the city.  It was so refreshing. 
 We also got the chance to play with some baby tigers!  This was, by far, the best part of our time away for Benjamin.  Katherine, on the other hand, was not convinced on sharing Mommy's lap with a little tiger.
 I did enjoy this part, too.  They were so cute!  (Don't worry.  We did not go in with the BIG tigers.  Although, we saw many people who did.  That was a little too much for me)
 Like I said, Benjamin had the best time here.  He is definitely my animal lover.  He has even asked for a real live tiger for his birthday in the past.  The little guys seemed to sense that he was on their side and they followed him around and got in his lap.  He was a happy happy boy!
 This was a different kind of adventure.  We tried the fish spa.  Yes, that's right.  You stick you feet in tubs of water and let the fish nibble away.  It was very ticklish for the first 30 seconds or so then you got used to it (a little).  Benjamin was the most ticklish.  This is him trying to count to 30!  He finally did it and then was hooked.  He begged EVERY day to go back!  So, Jonathan took the older kids back on our last day there.
 I was so proud of this little girl.  I shouldn't have been surprised that she would do it.  She's typically up for anything. 
 This picture has a story behind it.  Do you see the McDonald's sign in the background?  Well, this is the face we got when we said no to McD's for dinner.  We even had some onlookers who were quite amused with the whole situation.  While we were discussing where to eat, she had climbed to the top of the steps and sat down IN the entrance of McDonald's.  We knew where her vote was for. She handled it well and came to a "real" place to eat with us. :)
 Oh-side note.  Before we left, Katherine came home with an Honorable Mention certificate in a big art contest.  We actually didn't realize that her school had entered her work until she won something. 
 Back to vacation- DONUTS! mmmm the simple things.
Oh yeah, and before we left, these two pretty girls got a haircut!  You probably couldn't tell on Lauren because much of the time her hair is in braids, but they both had a lot cut off.
 We had Mexican food for the first time in over 2 years.  It was really good, but we are trying to figure out if the place we found was really spicy or if we have just forgotten what Mexican food tastes like :)  It was good though.  Oh, and the cold lemonade was a hit.
 After we got back, we went to eat at a local noodle shop.  It's under new management and the kids drew lots of attention this time.  This is their little girl who was just adorable.  They brought her over to Regan and took their picture and then after the meal Lauren went outside with the little girl and had many pictures taken. 
 It's also another holiday here.  This one has the tradition of eating zongzi (the things pictured above). It is a sticky rice creation with different tastes in the middle, wrapped in a leaf and carried home.  This year we got our fair share of these things, about 20 in all. 
This is my favorite food to make...jiao zi.  I have gotten several opportunities to learn how to make these, but the filling has always been prepared in advance.  This time, Ayi told us that she was going to make them for lunch, so I quickly changed my plans so that I could learn the entire process.  SO, the next step will be to try it on my own with no one to tell me what to do.  I think I can do it (and I took good notes..haha)  They are fun to make.  Lauren was also my little helper.  Can you tell which ones she made?
So, now we are busy busy busy packing!  We move in 1 week to a new city!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Children's Day 2012

 Two happy little girls on Children's Day.  We didn't give our kids gifts, but they sure did have fun in all the celebrations!  Lots of games and play time!
 It also happened to be Spirit Week at the older two kids' school.  They all had so much fun.  One kid from each grade was chosen each day as the "best dressed" and then they picked an overall winner.  Benjamin made it to the finals on this day :)  It was dress up dress down day...they were supposed to be as dressy as possible on the top half of their body and as casual as possible on the bottom half.  Benjamin wore his suit with swim trunks.
 One of the days was an everyone in your class was the same day.  Regan's class is called the Pandas, so they all dressed up as Pandas.  The buns are supposed to be the panda ears :) and her teacher painted little black eyes and noses on all the kids, too.
 Crazy hair day...and apparently crazy face day, too :)
 I just like this picture because he just loves to wear his sport coat.  This captures his personality well.
 This is Katherine's class on Children's Day.
 She was waiting in line for one of the games. 
 This was one of her favorite games.  They win stickers for doing good in the games.
 If you look real close, you can see the stickers that she won (on her dress)!

 What better way to celebrate being a kid than to go to the pool with friends!
  And then, Jonathan and Benjamin made a bow and arrow this week.  He loves it!  They found a piece of bamboo and some string and made some arrows to go with it...the perfect toy....but only to be used with his Daddy :)