Sunday, January 29, 2017

Year of the Rooster 2017

Life here has become so familiar to me that I sometimes forget to notice the routine and normal things.  I just walk right on by.  It's normal for me to see children first grade and up riding the public bus system in a city of 1.5 million people and normal to see little one playing on busy sidewalks.  I couldn't help but to smile as I walked past these two little girls whispering to each other.  They were just too cute.
There's just something about this picture that still seems so strange to me.  Out of all my kids, Lauren is the most girly.  She loves ballet and all things dance, so to see her all geared up and sparing with another kid who is four belts higher than her, again, made me smile.  It seemed so out of character, but she loved every second of it!
We decided to walk down at night to one of the parks for a little fun.  As soon as we got there it started to rain!  I checked my weather app and it STILL said 0% chance of rain.  Oh well.  I guess it's not always accurate.  We had no umbrellas and were already wet, so we told the kids they could go ahead and play for a few minutes.  I think the badminton courts are my favorite.
We weren't the only ones playing in the rain.  We were able to start a basketball game with a group of boys that were outside also.  They had so much fun!
Benjamin really enjoyed the time!
So, Hudson is not big enough to get a basketball in the goal so he just runs back and forth on the court.  At the end of the game, Jonathan was letting him "score baskets" in his arms.  The other local kids thought this was great and wanted to play this version of basketball, too :)
Chinese New Year is upon us.  It means lots of craziness leading up to the day and then ghost towns the day of.  The entire country is on the move for this 2 week period of time, so we stay put!  Before Ayi left to see her relatives, she wanted to make sure the kids each got some of their favorite foods, which means shrimp for Katherine. :)
This girl and her Ayi...Lauren has been dreading CNY because she would have to go "two whole weeks without seeing Ayi"  What will she do when we go to the States?
This winter has been a fairly warm one.  Yes, most people are bundled up, but Regan quite enjoys the weather being in the upper 60's and lower 70's.
Mother son matching outfits :)
My baby
New friends on that we met on the beach
I was able to talk for quite awhile with these moms.  They had some great questions and we had a good time sharing with them.
Regan said she discovered how to make "sand rocks" :)
AH! I am so glad my husband is a good cook!  What would I do without a little pizza now and then? ;)
SO PROUD of these two!!  They have worked hard!  It's not easy moving cities and it's not easy moving to a new taekwando center with new coaches and new everything, but these two have worked really hard this year and have earned new belts!!  Regan is now red and black!! (Next step is black) and Lauren is now a blue belt! Good job girls!
Regan just loves the sport! So much so that she decided to hurt her foot.  She actually hurt one of her toes and wasn't able to walk.  I took her to the doctor and when he looked at it, he said she needed and X-ray.  We checked in at radiology and they gave me a bag with her name and bar code on it.  She said, "Wait 30 minutes then go over to the kiosk, scan the bar code, and wait for her X-ray and report."  Pretty cool.  They weren't busy so it only took 10 minutes, and the printing only took 1 minute.  I'm still not sure what was wrong with her toe, it's been 2 weeks and it still hurts her, but at least she can walk on it now.  Everyone liked seeing the X-rays at home ;)
Holidays means unexpected visits from friends!  These were some of the kids' best friends in our firs city 7 years ago!  It was like no time had passed. They had so much fun together. (Ruth, Regan, Katherine, Dayuma, Abishai, Vaylah, Benjamin, Lauren, and Hudson)
Ruthee and Regan
Check out the new city bikes!  They are all over town!  There is a bar code to scan with your phone on the back wheel that unlocks the bike. It charges you 1 yuan per 30 minutes.  When your done, scan the bar code to lock it back up and just leave it wherever you are for someone else to use.  This is so much better than trying to find bike rental locations! Now you just use your phone to locate bikes near you.  How convenient!
Lauren's dance friend and mom came over for the afternoon/evening.
Many games were played...battleship, twister, guess who, coloring, dancing, tag, etc.
I needed this picture to prove that my kids will never lose the "Asian squat" :)  (Yes, she's on the edge of a table. No, she will not fall off.  She's a pro at this)  Katherine is ALWAYS resting in this position!  Who needs criss cross apple sauce ;)
The markets are all selling decorations for the new year.

More time with friends....I guess it's the same in all big families....the biggest end up carrying the smallest at some point :)
Benjamin and Vaylah were best buds when we first moved to East Asia.  I was so glad to see that they were still JUST ALIKE!  Benjamin didn't want his picture taken so I had to sneak one in.
It's not often that someone Katherine's age is her same height.
These two cracked me up.  I'm pretty sure that we were the first foreigners they had seen...and I guess they thought we were taking over (2 families 13 people) because the little one in pink looked petrified and and started crying at one point. (oh...a little fishing going on in the background)
What better way to end the cream for all!
Saying bye is never easy.  It was only for 2 days and it had been many years since we had seen them, but there were still eyes filled with tears when they had to say goodbye.
Movie Night (well, afternoon) on our bed.  I agreed as long as they didn't put their feet under the covers.  They always claim to have clean feet, but the dirt says otherwise :)
And yet, one more, new family friend!  This couple and their little girl live in our city, just on a different end of it.  It's nice for the adults to have conversations in English and this little one's parents enjoyed having 5 others to entertain/babysit their little one :)  Sweet family.
Yes. Ping Pong is a big deal here. Don't mess with these guys.  I can hardly keep up.
The girls were playing and this grandpa couldn't stand it.  He said they were doing it all wrong.  He stopped his game and came over to give lessons to the girls :)
The New Year is here! Most people leave the cities and travel to the countryside to be in their hometowns for the holiday, which means cities of millions literally become quiet!  We didn't have real fireworks, but a street vendor was selling sparkles so we bought a pack (which meant each kids got 2 sparklers)...and these were not your US was more like big ball of fire, lots of sparks, 10 seconds, done. I still managed to get a few pics though...

Just a few more CNY pics to show what we see around here.  Orange bushes with red envelopes hanging from them
These next three pictures are from my friend in a neighboring city.  This was the market near her house leading up to new years.  Our new city is smaller so we don't get quite this kind of crowd anymore, but we have been there done that....enjoy :)

Happy Chinese New Year 2017!

Friday, January 13, 2017

New Year Happenings

 I picked Hudson up from his taekwondo class (in our complex) and started to walk back to the house. Side note...he was wearing his new backpack that they gave him for a Christmas gift!  He looks up at me and says, "Mom, am I big enough now to go home by myself? I can do it. I'm big."  Well, it is in the complex and he is seven and Jonathan is at home waiting so..."OK."
 Don't worry.  I watched him go all the way to the door.  He was so proud of himself :) and yes, I called Jonathan to make sure he got off the elevator ok.  I wouldn't want anyone to worry :)
 There was a light show outside our window for New Year's Eve.  I was really hoping for a fireworks display, but no such luck.  It's ok. I had fallen asleep anyways.  Jonathan woke me up to say Happy New Year and to let me know that I didn't miss anything :) So sweet.
 Lauren had her ballet dance test.  She is officially level 4...which means officially practicing lots of things on "tippy toe" shoes.

 This is Lauren's dance teacher.  The younger kids tested first (which is Lauren) but they were still waiting for the judge (not sure what you call them...grader? judge?) to arrive.
 They had fun stretching and posing for pictures :)
 I never saw this one, but the mom of this little girl sent me the picture.
 Christmas and New Years were over, but Lauren had decided that she REALLY wanted to buy a tiny little Star Wars figurine for her big sister.  She was so excited and spent EVERY penny that she had.  Regan felt bad that she spent all of her money on her, but I told Regan that it was ok.  It was Lauren's decision and she just loves her big sister so much.  I don't need to tell you what little figurine is being displayed on a dresser right now.
 The kids ate their Christmas cookies (well some of the cookies).  Only Benjamin would turn his gingerbread man into Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon. :)
 It's been a while since I've been grocery shopping.  I was debating whether or not I should buy some fish heads...not really!
 So, Hudson has been struggling in school since we started.  He's doing well, but has a hard time because he has to literally climb into a chair and then try to sit "properly" to do his work.  It just wasn't working well, but we had no other option.  Well, we came across a steal!  We found a desk that is just his size!!! I have never seen him so excited!  I was so glad to see how well he did in school this week.  His handwriting was so much better, his coloring was awesome, and he paid better attention! It confirmed that it wasn't in my head and that he really did need a desk.
 Katherine had a soccer banquet.  She got an award.
 It last a long time.  They had a raffle giving away prizes throughout the night.  She was wanting to win something so badly....and she DID!  She won two tickets to a trampoline park.  I am so glad she didn't win some of the other prizes...they gave away mattresses, and picture frames the size of a couch! (I'm not joking)
 Ayi came by last weekend and took Lauren and Katherine out on the town.  I asked them what they did and they said, "walked around, went shopping for high heel shoes, and ate pizza"
 This is what our air has looked like for the past 2 weeks.  I'm really thankful that it's not worse than this, but this is midday and even the kids have started asking when the sun will come back.  We've live in this country for a long time and pollution is just a part of it, but it really bothered all of us this week....headaches, burning eyes, hard to breathe well, coughing...we even had to close all the doors and windows one day because you could actually smell the air. yuck!
 Regan was so excited that she was on "make dinner" with Daddy duty this week because she got to make fried rice!!!
This mat has been the best purchase ever!  He wakes up EVERY morning and starts playing with cars, building buildings, making train tracks, parking buses, etc.  It's one of the first times I have seen his imagination really explode.
The much anticipated day has arrived! Lauren got ballet tickets for Christmas!  She said, "This is the best day of my life!"
It turned out to be a beautiful night!  It wasn't hot, and it wasn't cold.  The sky wasn't clear, but we could still see the moon.
We had to take every opportunity to take pictures because photos were not allowed during the show.
I love seeing the kids so excited about things :)

Lauren ran into one of her ballet classmates at the performance.  She was so happy to see one of her friends there.  Lauren's eyes never left the stage.  She loved every minute of it.  We looked over at her friend and she was sound asleep.  haha!
It's almost time to start!!
Inside before it started
They let us take pictures at the curtain call.  Lauren was so glad that I got to take at least one picture :)
We also celebrated TWO YEARS of having Hudson! :)  Katherine wanted to make a cake for him.  She did everything by herself! 

I cannot believe how much he has changed and grown in 2 years!  I went back and looked at my blog from the day we picked him up and just laughed and laughed.  It was so funny.  I had completely forgotten so much.  I think my favorite thing that I read was how the first night he kept saying(while I was in the shower, "Mom, are you in there? Are you done? Are you still there?" And then that night he kept opening my eyes saying, "Mom, wake up. Let's sing a song." And then he just started singing. It's so funny now because he hasn't changed one bit.  I have never met a child who talks so much and so nonstop! haha! :)  I love this kid!  Happy two year "Gotcha Day"