Sunday, December 16, 2012


 Ok, I think I get two gold stars for taking the kids out into the frozen tundra to play.  We doubled up on clothes, with their jammies on underneath (MB thought this was overkill but I was cold!).  They kind of had a good time. 
 I don't think they understood the concept of playing in the snow.  I think they thought it was finally a chance for them to play outside, just like they used to when it wasn't so cold.  Ian looks thrilled here, doesn't he?

 They were happy to become reacquainted with the swings that they love so much.  When Leah slipped and fell, she cried because there was snow on her mittens.  Certainly no snowman making going on around here.

 Ian decided he didn't need mittens.  He didn't last very long outside.  He was crying to go back inside in about 7 minutes.  He really is my favorite child sometimes.

 Leah wasn't quite as anxious to get back inside.  She wanted to play on all of her favorite toys while she could.  Of course, while trying to get on this horse, she kept getting snow on the seat.  I helped her on up and then she was happy.

 I included this picture because it shows our house in the background.  There it is, right next door to the playground and on a cul-de-sac too.  We really lucked out.

I finally convinced Leah to head inside with the promise of some hot chocolate.  Well, some lukewarm chocolate.  My kids don't like to eat or drink anything even remotely resembling warm or hot.  They don't know what they're missing.

it's snowing

I've heard snow isn't that common here in Beijing, but it feels pretty common this year.  This week was the second time we've had snow since moving here.  And this time, it stuck around.  The kids were excited to check it out and I was happy for them to be looking at it from inside.  I couldn't take them out to play the first day (it's so cold here!) but I promised them that we could go out the next day.  More pictures to follow of the winter wonderland.  And yes, that is our patio furniture cushions that are being ruined.  What can you do?

we decorated for Christmas!

 I've had a couple of request for pictures of our Christmas tree and decorations, so here they are.  I have been trying to get things all organized and decorated (including switching out embassy furniture a few times!!) and am still working on it.  Things take much longer here to get done than they do in the US (no quick runs to Target or Walmart for everything you need), but I was excited to put the Christmas decorations up to detract from the "undoneness" that I can find myself easily obsessing over.

 The kids are thrilled with all the decorations and they keep talking about Christmas and Santa coming.  Leah continually thinks that Christmas is "tomorrow".  I'm sure when it's finally the 24th and Christmas really is tomorrow, she won't believe it. 

Wish I could show you a picture of the tree lit.  We bought lights here (no spare converter to plug in and use our lights from the US) and two days later, 2 of the 5 strands we bought aren't working.  And I bought them new, and she plugged them in before I bought them to show me they were working.  It's nice to know that the lights made in China and sent to the US are better quality than the lights made in China and sold in China.  I think this experience has taught me that even Christmas lights can be bootleg.  Oh China....

Thanksgiving in Beijing

 We had a fun Thanksgiving this year in China.  I made pie, among other things.  This was the first time I made an apple pie, though, so I had to document it.  I was a little nervous, especially when the ayi (our domestic help) kept telling me (in Chinese, no less) that she thought I really needed to cook the apples first.  I assured her that this was a recipe from my sis (thanks Catherine!) and I was sure it would work out.  I'm glad to know that I know more about apple pie than my Chinese ayi.  Score one for the United States....

 Oh, isn't that lovely?  I sure think so.  I also made rolls (the only ones you ever want to eat on Thanksgiving, the ones my mom makes.  Yum!), sweet potato souffle, stuffing, and pumpkin cheesecake.  We got together with two other families here in Beijing and had a great meal. 

Here's a shot of the kid table.  They didn't eat much beyond rolls and punch, as far as I could tell.  Until dessert time.  The saving grace was a basement where they escaped to for playtime while we adults enjoyed our turkey and mashed potatoes.  It was a fun party, until Leah threw up on the carpet downstairs.  Talk about pink punch.  A bit of a mess, but we got it all cleaned up and rushed Leah back home so the next time she threw up, she was at our house.  Another mess.  That was the start of a hellish night for the Browns.  We all got sick, and I layed in bed all night, trying to sleep, half listening out for the sounds of crying and/or throwing up from the kids.  We were running out of sheets, blankets and towels by the time morning came!  I was never so happy to see the ayi arrive and get to work cleaning the place up and washing the linens.  What a kind soul.  I won't even tell you about the 2 hours I spent laying in the bathroom next to the toilet, praying for relief.  It really was awful, but by the next day, most of the horror was gone.  Here's hoping for no sickness next Thanksgiving...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Beijing style

This year we celebrated Halloween on the 27th of October here in our neighborhood in Beijing. The clubhouse had a big haunted house, lots of kids in costumes and a costume parade that we missed.

While we were waiting for the trick or treating to begin we spent some time on the playground.

Ian dressed up as a dinosaur or a dragon, as some people guessed when they spotted him tonight.

Leah was a little tinkerbell. As I was putting her down for a rest this afternoon before the partying began, she told me she thought that tinkerbell actually had no sleeves so would I please take the sleeves off her costume. I explained that I put the sleeves on her costume because of the cold weather. Then she said ok, so I guess she got it.

The color of Leah's costume was perfect for walking around the neighborhood in the dark. She was practically glowing. I picked up most of the fabric (sequins and bright green- so awful but she loved it!) on my first trip to the fabric market. It was a great day. More about that later.

I grabbed stuff for Ian's costume from around the house. An old blue blanket (that I think used to belong to MB's old roommate a long time ago), Ian's green striped t shirt that was stained and michael's old solid green t shirt that was looking pretty rough. I was happy not to spend any money. And if we ever have really cold temperatures here, I have a warm suit for Ian to hang out in. I mean it's essentially a fleece blanket with arms and legs.

The kids did ok in the candy department. Only a few people handed out American candy. Most of it was Chinese, which they don't mind. But I have less to snack on at night (because I don't like foreign candy. Give me a snickers or a twix anyday!)

Ian spent most of the night asking me to unwrap candy as we walked to the next house. He ended up pretty dirty by the end of the night from the stickiness and the dirt, I guess.

Here's the aftermath. One filthy, sticky, exhausted kid. Leah was tired too and definitely hopped up on sugar but she was clean. By the looks of them, you would've thought they spent their evenings in different places!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Leah turned 4...a month ago

This girl could not have been happier with her birthday celebration. It was adorable, she was so excited about the cake and all the presents.

Our packages have been taking forever to get to us so we were waiting on gifts from both sides of the family. They finally got here and the cake was made.

She was counting on a birthday mermaid from her Grandma Mary, who did not disappoint.

A whole package full of little people princesses and even a cute grandma and grandpa little people set came in the mail, along with a princess memory game, and adorable Minnie Mouse pjs and matching slippers.
She also got her Barbie mermaid, an Ariel mermaid, and her own mermaid costume with a matching crown.

Michael and I (read: me) added in a tea party set and a pair of (hideous) light up Cinderella "glass" slippers. Leah was pretty much in heaven.

Here is Michael, pondering on my dress making skills as opposed to my cake dress making skills. I think he decided I'm lacking in both areas.

Of course the costume had to go on immediately.

And her crown and new shoes makes her outfit complete. It's a great shot here. I just wish I had a picture of her from the next day, walking down the street to go to the park in the same get up. It was quite a sight....

birthday cake time

We FINALLY celebrated Leah's birthday (about a month late- what can I say?). After seeing her cousin Jordan's princess cake, that's all Leah talked about for her birthday party. I don't quite have the skills that my mother has in cake decorating (she made Jordan's cake) but Leah was pretty happy anyway.

It was a pretty low key "party" but Leah didn't know any better. She said "I'm so happy Mommy!". Pictures of the actual party will follow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

the long awaited picture

Here we are in our tuk tuk. Just zipped over to the fruit lady to get our produce. See our 2 pumpkins in the front basket and the back. Hoping to actually use these pumpkins for baking this year, as the canned pumpkin is ridiculously priced here. We will see how that goes.

I've got the kids sort of secured in the back, in their carseats and a couple of trusty bungee cords. It doesn't take long to adopt a pretty casual attitude towards safety here in Beijing. Rode to church on Sunday in the back of a friend's van with the kids in our laps. It's about a half hour drive to the building in downtown Beijing. I think you get extra protection when you're going to church, right?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

our house

 Here are a couple of pictures from our house here in Beijing.  This is all embassy furniture and the pictures were taken before our shipment of stuff arrived.  Right now, the living room is full of boxes and things that need to be put away, somewhere.  I'm working on making this all feel like our home.

 It's a nice big house and we feel very fortunate (mostly to have double sinks in the master bath, finally!) but it sure needs some work before it feels like home to us.  We ordered a couple of pieces of furniture yesterday (custom built) and they should be here by the end of October.  I will post some more pictures then and hopefully, will be more happy with how things look.  In the very least, I'm hoping to be rid of all the boxes by then.

the most expensive grocery store in the world

 Dear Jenny Wangs (local grocery store here in Beijing),

      I want to take a minute to not say thank you for putting these adorable little mini carts in your store.  What was once a horrible job (grocery shopping with kids) is now impossible.  Neither myself, nor my fellow shoppers appreciate the inconvenience of having to dodge little mini size people running around the store unbidden with mini size carts, trying their hardest to make their mother lose her mind.  Do you really have to park them out front so as to make them unavoidable when we are heading into the store.  And while we're at it, no thank you for your ridiculously high prices.  Seriously, are you really charging $3 for a cup of yogurt?  It doesn't matter if it is imported from France and delicious.  $3??!!  And just so you know, the cans of Hunt's spaghetti sauce cost $1 in the US, so your $3 price tags are a slap in the face.  No spaghetti for us, not at those prices.  And seriously, where is our consumable shipment?  I'm hoping those 1,000 pounds of food will help me avoid the grocery store for at least a couple of months. 
 Here these two are, lined up for their grocery cart race.  It's Supermarket Sweep, Beijing edition.  I think Ian would take Leah, if he had the chance. As for me, I'm adopting a strict no kid policy at the grocery store.  Either I leave them home (with the ayi/nanny/domestic help) or I send the ayi and stay home with the kids myself.  I'm sure 3 years of that will leave them acting like orangutans when we move back to the US and they have to start going to the grocery store with me again.  I think I will face the music then and enjoy the solitude now.  Now I just have to find a way around the high prices...

Monday, September 24, 2012

here in Beijing

We're finally here, able to post to the blog in Beijing.  It took some time, but we can pretty much access any site on the internet that we could in the US.  These are pictures taken in the US and were used for the kids passport photos.

I'm working on taking more pictures here in Beijing and will post them as I do.  I know, I know, there are many requests for tuk tuk photos.  They're coming, we've just all been under the weather a bit so haven't felt much like taking pictures if we went out in the tuk tuk.  I'll post them as soon as I get them!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cinnabuns make everything better...

So we are just weeks away from our big move to Beijing. The stress and long to do lists that come along with that is abundant!

As I was doing some last minute shopping before our movers came, I decided the best thing to do was to stop for some adorable little cinnabuns for the babies. They were pretty happy. Of course that didn't stop them from trying their hardest to embarrass me in the store with their naughty behavior. At what point does their behavior become a reflection of their bad choices, not my poor (and, exhausted!) parenting?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 18, 2012

A birthday party, kind of

Ian turned 2 and we had a kind of birthday party. Nothing big, just some cake, candles, and birthday presents.

Ian didn't really know what to do with the lit candles. Neither did Leah or Isaac when we finally asked them to blow out the candles for Ian. I finally blew them out myself. Seriously, has anyone even been to a birthday party?

Ian wasn't even really getting opening presents. His late late afternoon nap didn't seem to help. At least he's got some awesome new toys to play with.

He's becoming more and more like MB everyday.