Monday, March 29, 2010

dusty old dust

Friday evening, March 19, Sam, Ben, and Kyle left for a boyscout camp out. Rob joined them when he made it through a particularly bad night of Beijing traffic. In the morning they woke up covered in orange sand. Inhaling Gobi desert dust is exotic in a creepy way. The storm sounded like a distant train coming and looked like the last day on Earth. All morning I wanted Rob to get out his guitar so we could sit on the front porch and sing Woody Guthrie's song Dusty Old Dust.

Here's how the chorus goes,

So long it's been good to know yuh
So long it's been good to know yuh
So long it's been good to know yuh
this dusty old dust is a gettin' my home
I've got to be driftin' along
By Saturday night no sweethearts hugged and kissed in that dusty old dark and I don't imagine any preachers packed their churches Sunday morning, since by Saturday afternoon the sky was fairly clear, by Beijing standards, and the kids played outside without coats for the first time since October.
I wish my camera were better at taking pictures of dust.

Sunday night mom and children went to bed happy, knowing Monday morning there would be no evil get-the-to-the-bus routine. So now I'm catching up to ISB Spring break and what went on around here. I didn't do much about blogging, since I donated my laptop to the cause of harmony in the home. I won't write too much about all the electronics abuse that occurred. Sam likes to be productive so he did some meal planning, shopping and cooking.

Here's the chicken Parmesan he wanted for Monday night, from the Emeril Legasse for kids book. We worked on it together since he got a bit involved in Edward Scissor Hands towards the end of the cooking.
Monday and Tuesday I got another bout of compound fever and was all but surrendering to despair when I took some nutritive deep breaths and thought "what would I want to do?" I gathered up the only boxes I could find and started doing what I always do three months before a move, packing books. I started in the girls' room separating give aways, throw aways, air shipment, sea shipment, suitcase books. I felt so much better when I had finished one book shelf. Never mind that I have no travel orders to go anywhere and will probably not be driftin' along anytime soon, the girls' room looked better. I just need to find a place to stash my would be shipments. I left the suitcase and air shipment books on the shelf.

Wednesday Rob took the day off so I put the brakes on my fantasy pack out. Wednesday's adventure will be it's own entry. Thursday I moved on to Kyle's books. Sam did all the shopping for me for our Mexican food night.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

st. patrick's day

Wednesday, March 17 the girls woke up happily. It's fun to see them excited about St. Patrick's Day. They had their green clothing laid out and the green beads that Grandma sent them.

For dinner we had beef stew and these pretzel breads (close enough to soda bread for me) that I bought at Jenny's. These are worth remembering. We'll all miss pretzel bread.

I used the Many Hands cookbook to make Irish Broonie for dessert. This was Annie's book. I made this molasses bread on St. Patrick's day, with Mom's help, as a child too. I'm so glad that I still have the book after so many moves.

Wednesday morning I took the dogs to the vet for de-worming and to be spayed and neutered. I was glad to have them boarded at Peter's for a couple of days, to get all the you-know-what out of their systems. Poor guys.

Thursday I hosted playgroup. We had a fun group, as usual. Lots of food. I made salads, chicken salad, jello salad, broccoli with bacon salad, and we frosted shamrock cookies. The kids love coming home to the leftovers. I forgot to take pictures. So here is a picture from the playgroup a week before at Catherine's house. This cheesecake that Catherine made was unbelievable! Lime and white chocolate.

Thursday night Rob brought the dogs home in their "cones of shame." They were totally humiliated to be seen by Pepper and Jack the cats.

Friday morning I went to ISB for Kyle's fourth grade performance. Each class presented a folk tale. Kyle was a percussionist.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

for the love of pets

After thirteen years of parenting, the most disgusting thing I've had to clean up could of been Tuesday afternoon's picture,

but I refrained. It was our dog Harley's vomit, and on top a long, slimy, wiggling worm.

Why do I have pets? It must be my mental illness. Some people think I'm joking. Some people are starting to believe me. Rob knows it's true, but he's in denial because he doesn't want it to effect my medical clearance.

So back to Sunday morning. More snow. Off to another slow start with Caitlin's new and completely unwarranted dissatisfaction with everything in her closet. We were over an hour late before we gave up. The snow was heavy at that point and Rob didn't want to share the slick road with Beijing drivers. We built a fire and the kids volunteered to give "talks" around the fireplace as we watched the snow fall. Winter therapy.

Sam made his weekly Sunday sandwich for lunch, then he borrowed my camera and took a walk around the neighborhood. Here are some of his pictures.

I promised the boys I would make pie for 3.14... day. I had saved some crust in the freezer. I just used that and a can of peaches mixed with flour, sugar, and cinnamon. It wasn't too bad, since there was ice cream on top. Olivia handed me a little dog cookie cutter as I was rolling out the dough, so I decided to make doggie pie...that was before Tuesday's incident.
Monday I drove Rhino back to 4th grade.
Ben showed me his Egypt exhibit in the Ancient Cultures Museum put on by the 6th grade,

Kyle showed me his power point presentation called "Why People Move,"
and I met Olivia for lunch. She accused me of chewing with my mouth "too closed." I hadn't known that was bad manners.
Then it's back to Tuesday, and what's more appetizing. Cui Ayi helped me buy strawberries. They are cheaper in Baixinzhuang village, and they come with these beautiful stems.
In the evening, Cui and Zhang Ayi made dinner. Everyone loves the popcorn chicken.

back to birthdays

I was happy to hear Kyle recognize that his was the first birthday of the year in our family of eleven, especially since I planned it that way. Kyle is good at being grateful for little things.

I used to think of Kyle as my, not technically, but practically spring baby. Rob was two months from graduating law school at the University of Utah when Kyle was born. He was supposed to be induced, so we woke up at five a.m. and called the hospital every hour until sometime in the mid-morning when they told us we could go in. In the waiting time, I took a walk around the path that surrounded the University Village, the married student housing where we lived. Sometimes we saw deer, or heard owls there, that morning I saw buds on trees. No buds here. In Beijing Kyle is our winter baby. At least the weather was bright and sunny, if cold.

Here are a few scenes from Kyle's big day.

That hamster that Bethany is holding was not a birthday gift. That's Rhino, Kyle's class pet that he got to care for this weekend. It was fun to have Rhino's company for the birthday weekend, especially since he made it back to class alive Monday morning.
Hunter and the Sevys came for dinner. We made our own chicken tikka on the barbecue (finally used a mix I bought at the Indian grocery store) and ordered naan, samosas, and a few other things from Victor's. I could swear I ordered mixed vegetables in cashew sauce, not maraschino cherries in a strange cheese concoction, but that's what came. Cool to see Kyle enjoying the eggplant curry though. As for this picture, I wish I could say that it was just a bad hair day. This has been going on for weeks.

After dinner we had two cakes, a homemade chocolate cake, the recipe on the back of the Hershey's chocolate box, and the box kind for those less in love with rich things. Hunter ate a big piece of the homemade cake and I heard him say "I'm gonna die," as he left the kitchen.

Along with Rhino, we borrowed a copy of The Blind Side from Kyle's teacher. It revived my secret love for Tim McGraw and my secret interest in moving the whole family to Tennessee. I tried to get Sam on my move-to Tennessee side but he said "No way, too many Republicans."

That was all about Kathy Bates' line "There's something you should know about me...I'm a democrat."
Kind of reminded me of dating at BYU.

Monday, March 15, 2010

no such thing as a free lunch

When we do leave Beijing.... time at school with the kids is what I'll miss the most. Back in the states will mean back to my back- to- school hauling a double stroller and trailing a toddler days. Not quite so relaxing as Friday's lunch with Bethany.

Notice my rather large salad? That's from the help-yourself bar, so I always try to get my money's worth. I have a little problem with Eurest and their overpriced lunches. Actually, Eurest is kind of a bad name in my house. They don't recognize a good customer when she walks in the cafeteria. So my kids are occasionally over-drawn? So at least one of my kids is overdrawn on any given day? For what we pay, when I do get in to pay it each month, I ought to have my name engraved on one of the tables, preferably near the salad dressing.

So the intelligent solution would be pack a lunch. Rob suggested that last time we talked about our budget. I said "Great idea. Will you be in charge of that?"

I have yet to see a packed lunch of Rob's making leave the house, so I am assuming that he values his fifteen minutes of free time in the evening as much as I do.

I just told Rob that our kuai envelope was empty because I had sent a bunch of money in to Eurest, so I thought I could hold my debt-free head high when I walked in to lunch this time. Not so. Some lady, who I didn't know, but who knew me, cornered me in the hall to tell me that Kyle's lunch card was overdrawn.

In fact, three ladies cornered me on my last visit to the school and only one wanted to tell me that she'd heard me sing on t.v. The other one, who's name I didn't even know, wanted to tell me to "please tell my children to use quieter voices on the bus." To which I could only respond with, "we're working on that in the kitchen too."

Next time I go into school I'll need to borrow the boys' You don't know me...I'm with the FBI Witness protection program t-shirt that we bought on a street corner in D.C.

So Friday I dropped off some chocolate chip cookies for Kyle to share with his class, in honor of his birthday, wandered around a bit, then met Bethany for lunch.

Next, I had an hour to drive over to Pinnacle plaza to do some last-minute grocery and present shopping for Kyle's birthday. I had to prepare the breakfast cereal buffet. Captain Crunch was "on promotion", 55 kuai for a small box. That's eight dollars! I can't believe I paid that (but felt justified when I saw Rob ate two bowls Saturday morning.)

Driving out of Pinnacle plaza I waved at a security guard, looking every bit the part in his impressive black and white uniform. I had to laugh though, when I noticed the smiling golden retriever in the role of his "vicious" guard dog. So much in China is form without content. At least they were both very pleasant.

After my shopping I ran back to ISB for the kindergartners' performance in the big theatre...jazzed up Mother Goose.

I took this one during a very lively version of Jack be Nimble, too lively for a good picture.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

grade two circus

Here's a break from so much cause for reflection. Olivia has joined forces with the stay-in-Beijing allies. We went to see Bethany perform in the Grade Two Circus Thursday night. Olivia wants a turn next year. Can you blame her? This is a P.E. program like no other!

Pictures from the Hoe Down Throw Down. One of the T.A.s worked with the kids at lunch time for several weeks before the program to help them learn the dance. Bethany taught it to her sisters.