Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Months ago we, along with 20 or so others, arrived in Beijing. We stepped into the midst of summer and the humid air shocked out systems adjusted to a Portland summer. A few of us were came in from the Pacific Northwest while others came from other parts of the States, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa...Talk of a distant Thanksgiving surface among some of the Americans. Fast forward to the present and the air has changed. Humid conditions gave way to dry and cold air. Days are much shorter as the sun takes its time to peak above the horizon and quickly settles in again as evening approaches (and winter is not even here!)

Thanksgiving also quickly appeared and provided an opportunity for us to gather with others for a wonderful evening. Expat life is strange in that our families are spread far about in the world. Friendships are formed with others thrown into the same crazy situations as ourselves. Home traditions find an important place in our lives. In Taiwan, we taught at an American School and Thanksgiving was a prominent feast day. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea, I remember finishing school and racing to Conakry, the capital city and home of the Peace Corps Headquarters, to celebrate Thanksgiving. So, it was with excitement that plans for Thanksgiving at our house got underway. Krista did an awesome job organizing and getting everything planned out. (Unfortunately, we teach at an "international" school so Thanksgiving is not a holiday. We feasted the Sunday before.)

The previous Monday, the turkey began its long thaw in order to be ready for Sunday. The big surprise happened on Saturday night when the oven decided to short-out. Whoops! A power cord was jiggled and back on it came. The long bake on Sunday featured several more outings but by the time everyone arrived, the bird was cooked!

It was great to have everyone over for nice company and food. One of our guests experienced her first Thanksgiving and enjoyed the November tradition. Happy Thanksgiving to all out there! Enjoy the time with your friends and families!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

LIttle Girls:Big Changes

Why oh why have there been so few posts on this blog? Plain and simple - Mom and Dad are getting run ragged. Personalities are exploding! Crafty abilities are increasing! Teamwork, conniving and problem solving have hit an all-time high! And they're taller. With more reach. More strength and more coordination. Our little girls are growing up.

November has been a serious month of change. The major struggles of potty training seem to be behind us though we'll spare the details. Both girls do a pretty good job of racing off to the bathroom as needed. They then expect high 5's and rousing cheers which the rest of us readily provide. And...drum roll, please...cribs are done with. What! Cribs and diapers (for the most part) in one month. It's been a wild ride.

The cribs were our safety net to nights of peace and quiet. That ended on the night that the girls were put into their cribs and loud sounds soon began emanating from their room. The sounds did not stop and we eventually went up (together as it was a bit frightening) to see what was going on. They were out and running around in the room. The next night, we decided to pull off a side panel of the crib and flip it so that they would not climb out. Can you say "Freeeeeeeeedom!"? We came up in the midst of party-central.

Caught in action...

Trying to run from the scene

In our nicely scheduled life (yeah, right) Chinese New Year, which begins at the end of January, would be spent gently easing the girls out of cribs and into beds. Hmmm. The girls decided that they just weren't down with that plan. They wanted their beds and wanted them...

Krista zoomed out to Ikea on a Monday night and when the girls walked into their rooms on Tuesday night they found big girl beds.

They were pretty excited!

A sign of more "fun" to come - dashing between beds.

Needless to say, the girls have been pretty excited when nighttime peaks around the corner. The begin giggling more and as soon as we leave the room, their little feet hit the ground so lead towards some sort of mischief. Several nights of off the wall craziness fortunately calmed them down but as this post was being written, "THUMP!" came the sound from above. XO logged in her first fall from bed. The excitement never stops...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall Fun

The evening hour rapidly approached as I stepped outside our front door. Saturday was an inside day due to poor air quality and I hoped that Sunday would offer clearer skies. The horizon line offered a sneak preview as a distinct line cut across the sky. Blue skies pushed towards us as the sunlight slowly passed on. By the time that Audrey and I finished our walk, the northwest wind was picking up fallen leaves and twirling them about. Aah, there was promise for a nice day!

Winds bring clear skies while taking leaves.
The mercury has already dropped lower than anytime in Taiwan and bike commutes to work have been in big, puffy jackets. The girls seem to enjoy the cold weather and Audrey acts as if she is getting younger as she tears about on our walks (I mean, she's on a leash...).

Heading out on a cold day
With leaves falling about, we enjoyed the weekend with a few crafts and some nice outings. The girls had fun making glitter pumpkins.

A walk around the neighborhood included a stop in the play area and leaf-angel training.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween 2013

A Care Bear kept us snuggly and warm while Dobby, the house elf, watched over every move. This was the girls first Halloween experience and they had a blast. Mom cooked up great costumes - great because they both hopped in with barely a complaint - that just seemed to suit each perfectly.

Meet Xian, the Care Bear. She's snuggly and warm.

Halloween was an opportunity to flash down her rainbow in a show of independence. She quickly figured out the routine: find a mob of people, climb the stairs to be with them, patiently wait, hold out bag, score something in a wrapper, say thank you, walk back down the stairs and repeat. There was little hand-holding as she took off on her own!

Xian charging it with bag in hand.

Stay away from my candy.

Then there is the friendly house-elf, Dobby, um Sage.

Not sure about Dad's carving job.
Sage developed her own strategy during the trick-or-treating experience. Understanding that a lot of giving was taking place, she often offered goodies out of her bag when at the door. People laughed and responded by giving her tons of loot. Her bag was packed!

Glowing little elf

All in all, it was a fun night. Our community had quite a few people that participated in Halloween and it was great to see the streets full of kids and to watch the giggling little ones have fun in costume.