Thursday, December 31, 2009

trout and treats

We're grateful for our friends at River Garden. The Mackays brought by a plate of Hollee's famous homemade Oreos. Delicious!

Sunday afternoon our friend Patricia and her son Luke came over to help the children make Christmas tree ornaments. Patricia loves to make crafts, but her son is too old to enjoy them. She was very kind to share her time and resources with our family. We were happy the Sevys came too.

Grant enjoyed the Thai chicken at the Bonner family open house, Thurday evening.
Do you see the lumpia? So yummy.

After the open house, we went down the street to spend the rest of Christmas eve at the Carrillos home with the Craig family too. They served us delicious turkey and baked trout.

Just before bedtime. Caitlin was getting ready for our nativity scene.

Ben looking more surley than shepherd

countdown to christmas

Monday, December 14, began our week of holiday activities at ISB. The first was the kindergarten party. I took in our cookie tin filled with snickerdoodles. Mary's teacher let me lead the class and parents in some holiday singing. The kids were able to move among the kindergarten classrooms to play with toys or make crafts. Mary's teacher asked me to help the children make star ornaments. At snack time, all the parents and children from the four or five kindergarten classes gathered in the Little Dragon theatre to enjoy the treats we had all brought to share.

Tuesday, the second graders presented "December Lights." Bethany had been excited about it for weeks, giving us little previews. She loved learning songs in several different languages. They sang a song in Hindi for Diwali, a Santa Lucia song in Swedish, a Christmas song in Spanish and a Hanukkah song.

Wednesday, Bethany's teacher prepared a pancake breakfast for the class. The moms brought in side dishes. I brought Bethany's favorite pigs-in-a-blanket. When I arrived the children were helping Ms. West decorate the table with fancy plates and glasses. They had designed their own decorations to garnish the table cloth.

Thursday afternoon I returned to ISB for Kyle's holiday celebrations. They had eaten pizza and watched a movie at lunch time,then they returned to the classroom for an hour or so of crafts and games. Here are Kyle and his friends playing a Hanukkah game and rolling bananas in chocolate and candy toppings.

Friday, Olivia and Bethany wore their pajamas to school for "celebrate reading day." I sent more cookies in for Olivia to share with her class while they read. Ben and Sam took some cookies in to contribute to their class parties, which of course, didn't involve parents. I felt like a bakery! I was grateful for a great week of activities. We were all excited about Christmas and three weeks of winter break.

must be santa

Grant really likes Santa, in theory. Saturday evening, after the Seussical Jr. matinee, we stayed at ISB for the Beijing International branch Christmas party. We had a potluck dinner in the high school cafeteria, then moved upstairs for a musical program. Here's a picture of the primary nativity scene. Yes, that is my son with the paper airplane.

Monday, December 28, 2009

seussical jr

Thursday, December 10 was opening night of the middle school musical, Seussical Jr. Sam played Mr. Mayor and Ben was a Who. It was thrilling to hear them sing on stage. I was so excited to see them so happy and confident on stage that I couldn't sleep Thursday night. Three nights of performances weren't enough for me or Caitlin. She had a huge tanrum when she found out we weren't going to Seussical Monday night too. Five of the actors in the top picture are kids from the Beijing International Branch. Ben made six LDS kids in the show. You can see more pictures in the slideshow below or at Many of the pictures are of our friends from the branch. They all did a fantastic job. I was grateful that the boys had the opportunity to be involved in such a fun production.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

haircut handsome

Friday, December 4, Kyle went to a sleepover at his friend Justin's house, Mary and Olivia went to Molly Weddle's house for her birthday sleepover, and Rob, Sam, and Ben went on a boyscout camp out. The weather was perfect for fulfilling the requirements for their Polar Bear badge. Our house was quiet with just Bethany, Caitlin, Grant, William, and I left at home. We ordered pizza and ate cookies and ice cream for desert. I convinced Bethany to let us watch Sense and Sensibilities. I forgot how much I enjoy movies when I get to choose. We all camped out in the living room, though Grant and William and I only made it through half the night before we wanted our usual sleep surroundings.
It was fun to have everyone come home Saturday morning. Rob and the boys pulled up in the van, just as I was off to collect Mary and Olivia from the Weddle home. Both groups had fun stories to tell. Ben and Sam made me quick piles of laundry in the garage that smelled of campfire. The campers showered up and then were off to ISB for their dress rehearsal. Rob McDonald's for lunch, for the Suessical boys, and the rest of us at home. Kyle was home in time for lunch.

In the afternoon Rob gave the girls and I haircuts, and most notably, William. Here are his first haircut pictures, complete with tear.

Saturday evening we bundled up and walked to the clubhouse. The River Garden management was hosting a big Christmas party, with buffet, entertainment, and activities for the kids.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

his first our first

Will and I shared our first birthday cake. Will chose the theme.
I got to choose the breakfast cereal. Sugar Crisps are my favorite. They remind me of Grandpa Alden who always ate wheat puffs, though he used the healthier variety.

Will was patient with me while I baked cookies and cleaned. We hosted our playgroup friends for lunch. Rob helped me order a ton of chinese take-out from "the greasy chop-stick."

In the evening Will opened his presents. We ordered dinner from my favorite Indian restaurant, Victor's, which is just up at the clubhouse.

Big sister and brother were helping Will.

Friday, December 25, 2009

thanksgiving day

The week of Thanksgiving was spirit week for the ISB middle schoolers. Ben and Sam had fun making up costumes for each day. Sam wore a wig for walk on the wild side day. There was pajama day and fabulously formal day. My favorite was crazy sports day. Both boys tore through the garage looking for any and all of the sports equipment to add to their outfit, not excluding Caitlin's pink swimming goggles.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I remember coming home from school as a child, and finding my Mom in the kitchen making her mother's stuffing recipe, chopping the apples and sauteing the onions and raisins.

I love planning the meal, shopping for the trimmings, and seeing the kitchen counter all lined with freshly washed vegetables, and cans of the familiar Thanksgiving ingredients. Jenny of our Jenny Lou's knows what the expats want for the holidays. She is a blessing to our community. She was selling turkeys, but we bought ours through the commissary at the embassy. Wednesday evening I made four pies, two pumpkin, an apple, and a cherry pie.

The kids had school Thanksgiving day. I always fall behind on the bus routine when Rob is home in the morning. They were running late, so he drove the kids up to the bus stop. We spent the morning cooking. We told the children we would pick them up at noon. I hadn't been organized enough to arrange a meeting place or write notes to the teachers. Sam called me at ten-thirty to say he had contacted every one's teachers and all the kids would meet Dad by the LES office. I was impressed and grateful for Sam's assertiveness.
Grant was too sleepy to join us for lunch.

We tried to get all the kids to say something they were grateful for before we began eating. Of course there were a few "come back to me's" and a couple of "getting out of school early" answers, along with a few more earnest replies. Caitlin said she was grateful for the jello. (It was Grandma Martha's pear and cream cheese jello salad recipe.)

In the evening Rob dropped Olivia and Mary off at a birthday party at A-Z. The rest of us watched a movie together and ate pie when the party girls returned.

Friday morning I spent some time at ISB. The first graders were performing in the LES assembly. Then I wandered about. I paid off our cafeteria debts, talked to Kyle's Chinese teacher about his progress, read a Christmas story to Mary's class, then had lunch with Mary and Olivia. I was grateful to feel reconnected with school life.

bethany's baptism

Saturday, November 21, we had to wake everyone up early to get ready for Bethany's baptism. We were supposed to be over at the Robert's house before 8:00. The Roberts live in a compound around the corner from River Garden called Leman Lake. The Branch Presidency opened the meeting there. Brother Curtis and President Cox gave talks, the children sang, and then we moved over to the clubhouse for the baptism. We were so grateful that three of Bethany's friends, Samantha Cheung, Garrett Smith, and Danny Carrillo, had also just turned eight, so we were able to have the baptisms together. It was a really wonderful morning. I felt so grateful to be in our Branch. We felt so much love and support from the members of our Branch family. We are blessed to have Bethany in our family and so grateful that she decided to be baptised.

(I need to get pictures from the Carrillos! We forgot our coming soon.)

village walk

Friday, November 20, Xiao Chen came early so I could go to ISB. Kyle invited me to accompany him on his class field trip, a walking tour of the village behind ISB.

The students all brought clipboards to take notes on their observations. Later in the day they would turn their notes into a story.

We got permission to tour an elementary school in the village.

The school, and much of China, uses coal to heat in winter.

We were peeking into the classroom. The classroom is very cold so they wear their heavy coats. The teacher and students were happy to have our visit.

Kyle and his classmates in front of the village elementary school.

After about an hour, we walked back to ISB and had hot chocolate in Kyle's classroom.
Friday night Sam went off to a Boyscout camp out. I tried to make pizza dough bu doctoring up some just add water pancake mix. Only Rob and Kyle and I liked it. Rob brought home a recent bid list so we could look over it to see if any other job opportunities might pop out as the right thing. It is always fun to think about new places, but there wasn't a lot left on the list at this late date. We made treats while the kids watched their Friday night movies. We were getting ready for Bethany's baptism.