Saturday, January 16, 2010

Let The Games Begin...

Well, we thought that the riot-type activities were over, but unfortunately we were wrong...

I wanted to update the blog regarding our current situation because it affects our access to the internet. Apparently there is a large sum (to the tune of over $100,000, so we've heard) owed to the electric company in our apartment complex over here, and neither the current, nor the former, residential management company wants to take responsibility for it. In order to force someone's hand, make people miserable, or have something to take pictures of, someone has had the electricity to our entire complex of 3000 apartments turned off, whether you are up to date on your electric bill or not. This has caused not a small amount of unhappiness among what we understand to be the 2400 occupants who have paid their bills. We have heard that we will only have electricity on the weekends (this is how I am currently connected to the internet) and during the evenings during the week until the legal situation between the two management companies and the payment of this large bill is resolved. We're not sure how long this could take, though the US Consulate has been informed of the situation, and they have said that they will do what they can on behalf of the American citizens here. I will do what I can to update the blog when possible, but in the meantime, the countdown will continue to tick down to our return to the good old U S of A :)

The first picture above shows a sign that was erected by a group of tenants, and it says basically, "We want the old management group to come back!" The second picture was taken after the city police broke up the small riot that resulted in tenants kicking down the tent where the new management company had their temporary offices set up.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Tribute To Our Faithful Feline Companion...

On December 31, 2009, we had to say goodbye to Joe, our nearly 3 year old kitty, who had been with us through thick and thin. Here's to you, little buddy - We will miss you dearly :(

The first picture is Joe at 2 months / The second picture is Joe and his brother Frank, both at 1 1/2 years

Fish Are Friends....Not Food!

The big fun thing we did in Bangkok in between doctor and dentist appointments was visit the huge aquarium - We had not been there in 2 years, and we had LOADS of fun seeing all the fish and sharks, going in the glass bottom boat, taking the behind the scenes tour and having little minnows nibble on our toes!

Makin' Lots O' Cookies!

One of our favorite activities of the holiday season is making cookies, so we invited some friends over and made a day of it!

Hannah Grace, Hudson, Micah and Nathan and their moms came over and we had a blast making lots and lots of different kinds of goodies for Christmas - It was a TON of fun getting sticky and making yummy things to eat!

Not sure what Whitney is thinking in this last picture.... Maybe "Don't eat MY COOKIE!!!!"

Slowly Catching Up....

So you may have noticed that I am a bit behind on posting news and pictures.....

We spent 11 days in Thailand during December, returning to China late on Christmas Eve, and this did not help my blogging one little bit. So here is the beginning of the recap of our lives since Thanksgiving:

First is the shot of our lovely Christmas tree and jolly kids in Santa hats. Whitney looks particularly elf-like to me, and Brooks is asleep waiting for Santa already.

Next is a picture of the Mocha Mint Latte that I made in our apartment kitchen....IN CHINA! I was so proud of myself (and did I mention that I found this Krispy Kreme mug in XINGYI of all places?!?!?!? The little Chinese lady in the store had no idea why in the world I would want to buy this weird looking American mug....) that I had to take a picture of my creation. If you followed that sentence after the longest parenthetical expression in history then you deserve a prize of some kind :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Being Truly Thankful and Changing the Countdown...

We have so much to be thankful for this year, as always! Here is our spread - between us and our wonderful friends the Wilsons and Buis, we filled the kitchen for the meal and the entire table for dessert.....

We had turkey, dressing (thanks, Angie!), gravy, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, potato casserole, salad, cranberry sauce and homemade rolls.

For dessert, we pulled out sugar cookies (which the kids decorated themselves, and in fall shapes thanks to Aunt Brookie), peach cobbler, pumpkin cupcakes (in fall liners, with another big shout to Aunt Brookie), fudge mint brownies, oatmeal chocolate no bake cookies and pumpkin pie.

Now to those of you in America, this may just sound like the normal holiday meal, but to us it was a FEAST. We planned for months to have all of these things available, since cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin, andes mints, brownie mix, french fried onions, and occassionally even butter and cheese are difficult to come by and sometimes even impossible to find. We splurged on spray whipped cream for the pie and coffee this year, too, since we could find it! Even when you can find these things they are dreadfully expensive - Case in point: The turkey that fed our 6 adults and 6 kids cost $75 US when according to my sister in law it would have been 49 cents per pound in America!

We also drowned ourselves in sweet tea and coffee, thanks to some of you guys who have sent us decaf tea bags and coffee from America, as well as flavored creamers (yes, I'm talkin' to you, Angie). Yum Yum :)

We had some beautiful paper products, due to the generosity of Albert's sister, and we had my wonderful spiced pumpkin Yankee Candle burning bright, sent with love by my parents - seriously, the whole apartment just looked and smelled like home!

Here are my pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing (another shout out to y'all who sent me cake mix and frosting!) - I decorated some of them like turkeys! Aren't they precious? I got the idea from Family Fun magazine online. The only negative was that I had to save some of the precious candy corn that my parents sent us, which was a feat of will power, indeed.

We also played a few games of Settlers of Catan between wanting to sleep and eat again. It was an even race: Jasper won once, Aaron won once, Brooke won once, and Albert, Brooks and Kendall played close races each time. I never played because my brain was half comatose from food overload, but I am not complaining whatsoever. It was a day full of not thinking of anything but doing fun stuff with friends and all the things we were thankful for. It was incredibly awesome :)
We are also incredibly thankful for something else. You may have noticed that our countdown clock has changed. Your eyes are not decieving you. We have cut our countdown in HALF, and for that we are very thankful! We will arrive in SC on the evening of April 6th, 2010, and we cannot wait to see you. The earliest date that we would leave to return to Asia would be the end of January, 2011, but much regarding that is yet to be determined. What is already determined is that we will be living in Columbia, SC, for our time in America during 2010 and we are beyond excited - More details to come :)

Who Will Be The Sole Survivor???

Brooks was finally able to have his 14th birthday party, and what a fun party it was! His cake was chocolate fudge with crumbled cookies, sour coke flavored strings for weeds and green (edible) gummy army men....

The first challenge was seeing which team could get more marbles out of freezing cold water with their feet (each person had 2 minutes). It was amazing how these guys could use their feet like hands! Notice that Frank is watching from under the table and must now have no doubt that he really does live with crazy people.

Next the fellas are attempting to whistle with two moon pies in their mouths. Kendall is on stand by with a trash can - I was determined to not clean up puke for any reason...
Another challenge was creating a slingshot out of wooden chopsticks, rubber bands and their own smarts and trying to shoot down as many paper cups as possible with a ping pong ball. They really had some great ideas for slingshot design and paper cup formations.
The other challenges had to do with strange foods: wasabi flavored potato chips, chicken stomachs, sardines packed with black beans, and smashed chinese hot dogs in a dog food can. No pictures were taken of these activities in order to protect the guilty.
Pizza and fun were had by all, and Jesse was the sole survivor and winner of a floral toilet seat cover (no one guaranteed that the prize was prestigious or anything.....).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sending a Message to Two of our Favorite People!

We were out of town last week, which explains the lack of picture and update. Also, to answer some questions regarding why we have neglected to throw Brooks a party, it's because we told him he had been really bad this year, so, no party for him. WRONG! We had to postpone it for a few weeks until all his friends could make it and Albert gets back from his trip to Columbia, SC. Our pictures this week center around the fact that I am without a hubby for a little while, as he is visiting his dad. The granddaddy picture shows the children being their blessed, sweet selves. The daddy picture shows them how they look normally so that Albert will recognize them.
We miss you and can't wait until you come back! And we wish we could have visited you too, Granddaddy, and can't wait to see you again!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I do, I do, I do believe in fairies!

The twins are 9, and I can't believe it! Last weekend we had a Tinkerbell extravaganza, complete with fairy tag, lots of glitter and tiaras, and yours truly as the resident fairy godmother. Living at 6,000 feet above sea level (and, I'm convinced, the fact that my non-American cake pans were in league with the devil) served to make my layered castle cake less than I hoped for, but the kids didn't seem to mind. We are so thankful to Kiana for passing down her leftover Tinkerbell birthday goodies that were shipped from America so that we could join in on the fairy fun!
We filled the take-home goodie bags with candy, stickers and lots of pink, glittery things....This wasn't exactly Whitney's idea of the perfect party, seeing as she is not the "girliest" of girls, but we've told her that she can have her type of party (her dream theme is "Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe") next year when we are in America for their special day :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Creation Spa Party

Here are some pictures from Kendall's 12th birthday party, which had a spa theme. She had 5 guests: Anna, Lydia, Leah, Macy and Maddie. They all had fun soaking their feet and hands, painting their toenails and fingernails, and doing facial masks. Lydia, Macy and Maddie were able to spend the night, so we made a "Sleepover" cake. Each girl was given a bag full of spa goodies and a letter from her King reminding her that her true beauty lies inside.
Our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Psalm 144:12

Friday, October 9, 2009

Let's Try This Again....

Due to the fact that there are many folks that are uncomfortable using Facebook on a regular basis, I am going to try to keep a blog going for this last full year that we know we will be living in Asia. It is considerably more difficult to post pictures here, but I am going to give it a good college try. My goal is to post a paragraph about something that we have done at least once a week, with at least one picture, so that you can keep up with how we are doing and what our life is like on the other side of the planet. You can also keep track of how many days it will be until we leave for the US with our countdown clock in the right margin - this will mark the end of 4 entire years overseas! If you would like to be notified of when I add an entry to the blog, please click on "follow" in the margin. Feel free to make comments at the end of my blog entries as well.

The picture above shows how many hours of my day are usually spent - reading, reading, reading! The children are still being homeschooled like they have always been - Brooks is in the 8th grade, Kendall is in the 6th, Whitney is in the 3rd, and Sidney is in the 2nd. We are using Sonlight curriculum again, but are doing 3 core programs at one time this year (anyone who has used this curriculum before will know what a challenging goal this is!). We are studying world history and the eastern hemisphere. Sidney is progressing well with her dyslexia material and learning to read better than I expected. Right now we are also in the midst of the children's birthday season - Hopefully the next few posts will have pictures of the parties!

Thanks for reading our blog and keeping our family in your thoughts :)