Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In with Xmas Coffee, out with cookies

On a dark morning of the first day of December, a visitor arrived at our house. WangLin appeared. A book telling her story was set on the table along with sweet treats and special "Christmas Coffee".

Coffee is one of those sacred things in this house. The girls, even in the midst of 2-year tantrums, will pause if told that Krista or I need to get our coffee or they will calm down if they realize the morning cup of joe is in danger of being spilled. So, when given their own special cup of Christmas Coffee (aka hot chocolate) they were super jazzed.

So started our month with a holiday elf. Her name comes from a joining of the last names of the girls' birth families and she has provided lots of entertainment. Before we head down the stairs each morning, the chorus of WangLin, WangLin begins. You see, she goes to visit old St Nick each night and reappears in a different place in the morning. It has turned into a seek-n-find each day as the girls run around trying to find where she's placed herself.

Popping up inside the book case. How did she get in there? It's under a bit of a lock down due to a couple of book case wreckers.

Helping out with a bit of gardening. The girls check on their "baby" plants each day. (Side note - it's awesome to have green onions -leeks in this case - all the time. Just reroot the base after using and stick in some soil. It keeps on growing. I'm not sure how many times you can cut it until the plant stops growing.)

Climbing the wall map; our massive puzzle that I still can't believe we put together.

Hanging out in the stockings. Krista still has hers from being a wee one herself!

Marshmallow bath. Xian was excited to try out the "bubbles".

Helping to decorate the tree.

As the sleigh ride to Christmas comes to an end, our days with WangLin also are ending. Tonight, she will hop onto Rudolph's back and take off but she wanted to make sure that we prepared for the jolly man. This morning, she pulled out the baking supplies and cookie cutters. I guess we're making cookies today!

Silly elf - I guess you couldn't help making a sugar angel.

Until next year WangLin! The girls enjoyed looking for you every morning and will be pretty bummed out that you've taken off.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Temple of Heaven

Winter break is in full swing and we are enjoying time at home. Typically, the ringing in of a vacation finds us scurrying somewhere around the world but due to the craziness at home (the little rascals are up to just about everything) we opted for staying in Beijing, enjoying time with the monkeys and getting a few outings without the monkeys.

On Thursday, Li Xin came to watch the girls and we took off for town. The subway ran smoothly and beautiful blue skies helped the sun bring some warmth on a chilly, day before winter starts, kind of day. Walking along the east wall, it seemed as if we would have the park and temple to ourselves but as we rounded the corner to the northern entrance many others joined us. However, these other folks weren't heading out to see the sights but coming to the gorgeous grounds surrounding the park for exercise and entertainment.

Many walkways snaked through the grounds and they were filled with people doing tai-chi, dancing, singing karaoke, flag dancing, hacky-sackin' and strolling along. Few tourists roamed the walkways and the temple areas seemed vacant.

Visitors were not allowed into the temple but doorways were open enough for us to glimpse the ornate decorations inside. The temple area (multiple temples are located along the sprawling grounds) were historically dedicated to good harvests.

At the southern end of the park, we came to an area built up around the Heavenly Center stone. We climbed the many stairs to find a small boy perched on top of a round stone. His family snapped photo after photo - good luck?

After walking the grounds, we headed off for a nice lunch of Beijing duck and then were off to the Pearl Market for a bit of shopping. All in all, a good day!