Sunday, August 30, 2009

finally six

Tuesday morning, August 18, the first thing Mary said to Olivia was "You're finally six!" We started off with the traditional birthday morning favorite cereal buffet. Olivia loves Waffle Crisps.
I went in in to ISB with cupcakes for Olivia's classmates. Mrs. Chapman and the class sang in English and Chinese.

In the evening, we had a family dinner with Olivia's favorites, pigs-in-a-blanket, and macaroni and cheese and beans (the Boston-baked kind) and jello jigglers.

Sam insisted on making the cake. Olivia showed him one she liked from the Pink Princess Cookbook that Auntie Annie gave her this summer. Sam worked all afternoon and evening. He is a terrific older brother.

Of course, there was the present-opening-chaos. Our big present to Olivia was a new bike. I should have a picture.

Saturday August 22, Olivia had her friend party at the Ice Zone skating rink here at River Garden.

It was Caitlin's first time ice skating. Mary was excited to help her. She showed her how to use the cones to hold herself up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

first days

Our first days back in Beijing were about adjusting to the time change. U.S. to China jet lag is surreal. I start to feel like I'm dragging about four o'clock, when it's time to make dinner. The children are playing one minute and then quickly, a quiet falls over the house. I walk from room to room. All sleepers. I try to make it until 8:30p.m. I hate going to bed too early. I wake up refreshed and it's not even midnight. The kids are up again by 3:00a.m. It's not even 4:00a.m. before we all turn on the light and start the day. That takes at least a week.

More first days came later on in the week. Thursday August 13, was the first day back to school. It was Ben's first day as a middle schooler. Ben and Sam left for the bus by themselves in the morning. I took the younger kids to the welcome picnic at 11:00. That was frustrating to Mary. She was afraid that she was going to miss circle time.

It was Mary's first day of Kindergarten, but she attended all-day preschool at ISB last year, so this first day stuff was old-hat to her. It was Olivia's first day of first grade, and it was Bethany's first day to admit that I was embarrassing her with all my picture taking, and her first day of second grade. Kyle was starting fourth grade with Ms. Woolsey, the dream teacher, just what we need for Kyle this year.

Monday August 17, was Caitlin's first day of preschool. We walked down the block to Miss Bri's Create and Learn Preschool. Bri is my friend from church. She is teaching from her home in River Garden. The classroom looks beautiful. I'll get a picture soon. But for now here is Caitlin with Miss Bri and Ash the cat.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

heading home

Saturday, August 1, we attended the Beijing branch reunion at Rock Canyon park. It was fun to remember that place. Rob and I had been there during winter months when we were students at BYU. It's an enormous bowl of grass that the community uses for sledding. I hadn't been there for years. The kids played all night with their friends from Beijing. It was great to see our friends there.

Sunday we went to church and had dessert in the evening with Grandad and Judith and Jennifer and Shannon.

It kills me that I don't have the pictures from the kids' Monday adventure. I lost my little Canon camera somewhere. Whoever finds it will find some very cute pictures! Sam, Ben,Kyle, Bethany, and Olivia went crawfishing with Grandpa Bob and Grandma Julia and their cousin Kayla. Jeremy and Judy drove down to Provo with their little ones and we all had a crawfish boil, at our park when they returned. In the evening we went to see Wolverine with Grandad and Shannon.

Tuesday night we ate at Diego's with grandad and Shannon. Wednesday we met Grandad at BYU for lunch and a bookstore visit. We also visited his office and explored the science museum and art museum.

Thursday we drove to Centerville for my voice lesson with Katie Hill. We went back to Provo for more packing and cleaning. In the evening we went to Burger Supreme with Grandad and Shannon. Then the kids came back to play in Grandad and Judith's backyard for a while. We exchanged gifts with Judith and Jennifer.

Friday we got up early to finish cleaning. Jennifer and Judith and Grandad came by to say goodbye. We left Provo before noon. We headed up to Judy's house with the last of our food. We fixed lunch then Grandma Julia arrived. Rob and I headed off to the South Jordan temple. Then we did some shopping. While we were away the kids had pizza and the boys went over to Grandma and Grandpa's house to make dream catchers with a couple from their ward. When we returned we took the girls back to Grandma's house to get ready for bed and to do the final organization of all our suitcases.

Sam had been sick Thursday. Olivia became sick Friday night. So we spent some time wondering if we should postpone our trip. All of us Beijing Americans back in the states shared concerns about passing through the quarentine screening at the airport. Rob called the embassy and they told him that the H1N1 screenings had relaxed a bit, so we decided it was better to go than to stay, not knowing when we would ever have nine perfectly healthy children to travel with.

Olivia was better Saturday morning but Ben was sick. No one had a fever, just vomiting. Ben threw up walking down the aisle to his seat. The stewardess reminded me about the health screening in China. I just said, "well we don't really have a choice, we're in San Fransisco now, and China is our home." Ben started to cry. He was worried that he would be put in quarentine. I couldn't promise him that he wouldn't so I just told him that we would pay him 300 USD if he had to be quarentined. The tears stopped and the wheels started turning. I think he spent the whole eleven hour flight planning how to spend 300 USD. Fortunately, the screeners looked more interested in playing with William than reading our health cards or our temperatures, and we walked right past and out to the luggage. What a blessing! And what a savings for us! We could have been out 300 USD.

We met the embassy driver who loaded our fifteen plus bags on to the coaster, a small bus of sorts, cheerfully. We rode home in the rain. Later we found out that the rain was part of a typhoon. Our plane had landed just in time. Others travelling to Beijing that evening had had to be diverted to other cities. We felt so grateful to be home safely, and on to the new school year.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Friday, July 31, was our last morning to wake up in the cabin. Some of the children went on a deer watching walk with Rob.

We had breakfast, then cleaned up and said good-bye to the cabin. I am grateful that Rob's Uncle Keith and Aunt Adrianna gave us the opportunity to stay there.

We drove by the Flaming Gorge Dam.

Then we drove to another camping area to have a picnic and go on a hike.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

bethany's catch

Thursday, July 30th, I was eager to wake up early and sit out on the front porch of the cabin. The deer saw me first. I heard the sound of their hooves and turned in time to see their tails bounce away. The chipmunks were less aloof. They let me watch them run back and forth along the this made of trees fence, so simple and beautiful.

After pancakes for breakfast Grandpa Bob showed us the way to a fishing creek. Grandma and Grandpa, and Rob helped everyone get worms on hooks. I followed Grant, already in love with nature. Bethany made the catch of the day. He got amnesty.

In the evening we cooked hamburgers on the barbecue, then drove to another area for more fishing. The fish were jumping... at mosquitoes, entertaining but too wise
for worms. Kyle spotted a couple of beavers. We watched them swim around the pond. Grandpa Bob showed us a herd of elk in the distance. Rob was fascinated with the clouds and the clouds in the lake. When it started getting dark I had to lure the kids home by promising s'mores. They were almost as difficult as the fish.

After the marshmallows were gone we played games with Kayla. We are grateful for Grandparents and cousins.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


When Sam was eight, and we lived in Guangzhou, China, he developed an interest in astronomy. Maybe it was his natural attraction to gadgets, or maybe the stars became particularly mysterious to him because for two years we couldn't see any at all. There was too much air pollution and too much light pollution. Wednesday night, Rob took this picture from the porch of his aunt and uncle's cabin in Flaming Gorge, Utah. I am grateful for stargazeable nights.

Wednesday morning we enjoyed our final trip to the Ramada breakfast buffet. Annie met us at the motel to say goodbye. We took Grandma Martha to the airport where she went on her way back to Maine. We were sad to say goodbye to both so soon.

We started on our way as well. We were headed to Vernal, Utah where Rob lived as a child and has family still. We met Grandpa Bob and Grandma Julia there. Rob's aunts and uncles and cousins met us for dinner at Golden Corral. That was a great surprise.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

golden day

Tuesday, July 28, started off with some driving around Denver pictures. We were heading across town to the Natural History Museum next to the Denver Zoo. As we passed through the city center I was impressed by how much there is to do in Denver. When we've lived in Washington D.C. I've always wanted to tour the U.S. Mint, only to be reminded that it is in Denver now. So, Tuesday there we were driving takers. The capitol building area looked inviting too, surrounded by the morning crowd from the farmers' market. And then I had to take more pictures of churches, in their variety, and the Denver Post, and the Denver Art Museum.

I went in to check out the Natural History Museum. It looked interesting but had long lines and was expensive for us at 11USD per adult and 6 per child, especially after Monday's splurge at Elitch. We get spoiled by great free museums in D.C. After a bit of brainstorming we decided to drive a half an hour to Golden.

Here are two views of Castle Rock.

As we drove in to Golden we explored the neighborhood around the Colorado School of Mines.
Then Sam and Kyle and I ran in to the Golden visitors' center where a grandmotherly guide gave us an enthusiastic tour of her pamphlets. Sam took interest in the Museum of Mountaineering. It was just around the corner and across the street from a city park.

A guide at the museum, friendly, knowledgeable and patient, started us off with a ten minute anecdotal tour. Here are some pictures of the museum. Bethany is showing me what she learned about lightening safety and reading clouds. Mary is standing in front of an interactive map of the peaks in the Himalayas.

After the museum we played at the park for an hour or more... walking by the waterside, making up games with the dragon, examining the insects in the trees. Grant admired the city buses that stopped at the park.

We drove back to Denver in the evening to go to dinner at Casa Bonita with Auntie Annie.

When we dropped her off at home we said good-bye to Eric and the sunflowers.