Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thrilled To Be Four

If it's Birthday Week at our house, I can anticipate a full schedule. There are cupcakes at school, dinners out, and celebrations at home.  Add in eleven (yes ELEVEN) days of a stomach virus on top of all of that, and it becomes a week we'd all rather forget.

It all started off well enough:  B3 was thrilled to be four.  He had anticipated it for weeks, perhaps even months.  Countless conversations have begun with, "When I'm four...."  on his end, and "Well, four year old boys can...."  on my end, trying to inspire some better behavior and habits.  He  was more than happy to put on his birthday shirt before school on February 4th, and he could barely resist that pile of packages. (And, yes, that is Free-From-The-Mall Christmas paper you see; we ran out of birthday paper.)

 Unfortunately, by early afternoon, his smile had disappeared, and he was feverish and pitiful.

He revived enough to insist on going out to his choice of restaurant, but he didn't eat a bite and tried to sleep while the rest of us enjoyed his birthday dinner.  When we got home, he managed to open two presents before crashing again.

Shortly thereafter, the cause of his misery became apparent.  Stomach virus.  Needless to say, the cake was uncut, and the majority of the presents sat, unopened, until another day.  The cupcake celebration with his classmates planned for the next day was postponed, so into the freezer they went (the cupcakes - not the classmates).

The next day, we managed to open a few presents.  These John Deere pajamas were an instant favorite; "I will wear these pajamas every night!", he announced.  I think he's succeeded for 11 of the 13 nights that he's owned them (after I put a 6 inch tuck in the waist).  Luckily, we do lots of laundry around here.  

 Another favorite gift was a remote control Lightning McQueen car for his GeoTrax track.  He has driven miles and miles!

He's had his cake planned since July when he saw it on Inga's iPad (thank you, Pinterest) during a breathing treatment in Georgia.  He didn't forget; he has talked about his "backhoe cake" weekly for months. We finally cut the cake on the 5th, but he only got to taste a small bite. Still, he was thrilled to have the cake he had anticipated for so long.

Obviously, that isn't a backhoe on his cake, but we couldn't find one that would work.  He was satisfied with a bobcat instead; who wouldn't want to eat chocolate cream cheese icing covered brownie from a bobcat scoop?

Ultimately, it would be five days before he was 100% better, and he missed the remaining four days of school that week.  Since the next week included the Chinese New Year holiday, we didn't get to celebrate with his class until the 15th.  But, celebrate we did - with yellow cupcakes with green icing and race cars on top, just as he dictated.  The race cars were a late edition to the party, but once they were announced, I knew we had to make it happen. At first, I was gathering supplies and courage to attempt these fondant race cars, but then I spotted the plastic ones at the baking store.  For only twenty cents apiece, I escaped hours of trial and error, and he was thrilled.

This was the first year that B3 really anticipated his birthday, and despite his illness, he has enjoyed it to the fullest.  He's already looking forward to the next one, in fact.  When I recently  asked him how old he was, trying to prompt a little better behavior, he proudly announced, "Four....almost five!"  I know time flies by, but I'm planning to enjoy having a four year old boy in the house!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Australian Adventure

Right now, I'm watching my kids run (and I do mean run) around an empty airport in Hervey Bay, Australia.  It's not a big airport, and there are no flights for the next 2 hours.  There hasn't been a departure in over an hour, so we've had the place to ourselves since then.  It's surprising how many places kids can find to hide in an empty airport, and there's no one to mind the shrieks that come from the being found part of Hiding Seek (as B3 calls it).  I'm sure there are others here somewhere, but we're the only in-transit passengers.  The gift shop, information center, and snack counter have all been locked up until later this afternoon.

And so, our Australian adventure begins.  We left Singapore yesterday morning and flew to Sydney.  It was an uneventful trip, and we spent the night in an airport hotel before continuing on to Hervey Bay from Sydney this morning. Trying to get our two to sleep was a challenge, so I challenged them to The Quiet Game.  The winner got first dibs on the iPad for today's flight, and I actually thought it would work.  Unfortunately, only one chile grasped the concept, and the other shrieked, "The quietest gets the iPad first!"  over and over and over.

We're en route to Lady Elliott Island in the Great Barrier Reef, but we're stuck here in this tiny airport until our afternoon flight to the island.  If it's anything like the brochure, it will be a memorable two days of snorkeling and beach fun.  It's turtle nesting season, and I so hope we get to see them. Swimming with a sea turtle would be a fantastic introduction to The Reef!

So far, our Australian experience has been good. The shuttle to and from our airport hotel in Sydney was waiting on us when we needed it, so that saved us from waiting with two energetic kids.  We got to the airport extra early this morning to give us plenty of time to find the luggage storage counter since we couldn't bring all of our bags with us on this little side trip (our plane to Lady Elliott Island promises to me small and scary!). 

That "plenty of time" turned into just enough as I realized that I didn't have my wedding rings on when we were storing our bags.  Ben threw some Australian dollars at me as I raced to find a cab to take me back to the hotel. They were right where I had left them, and I returned to find the rest of the family eating breakfast.  Whew. 

The people watching is better than I imagined.  Of course, airports are always good for watching, but this has been fantastic. We even spotted The Tooth Fairy! Of course, I chased her through ticketing to take her picture.  (photo coming soon)

We're going to spend the next 2 weeks touring around a little corner of Australia, and we're excited about what's to come.  Honestly, we haven't done the best job of planning our activities; we were lucky to find accommodations along the route we planned. We waited until November to really start making plans, and it's peak tourist season here in the Australian Summertime. Still, we're sure to have a grand adventure!  Who knows how much (free) Internet we will find, but i hope to post as I can. I suppose that's one benefit of being stuck in an empty airport; there's no one to hog the wi-fi! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Move Over, Martha Stewart!

Today, AK was all smiles when she bounced off of the bus.  That's the way she nearly always is in the afternoons, so today was no different.  She immediately started telling me about a recipe she had that we just must try.  I thought I was paying attention, but suddenly I realized that I must have misunderstood something somewhere along the way as I tried to listen and keep B3's toes out of the pool as I walked.  Certainly she didn't just say "Rice Crispies", "chocolate", and "Velveeta" in the same sentence?

When I asked her where she got this fabulous recipe, she grinned and tapped her head.  "My brain!", she said proudly.  "I imagined it!" 

At supper time, I finally remembered to ask about it again. She was more than happy to dig it out of her backpack.

 It reads: 
 Majic Food
 [Those squiggles beneath 'Magic Food' are "what you always see coming out of a scientist's experiment..." she said]
1 cup rice crisBise
1 3/4 sugerr
2 cups choclet
 2 cups velveta
sugar in bowl

She's so excited to try her creation, so we've decided that Saturday will be Marion Test Kitchen Day.  We have cautioned, however, that we'll be making a trial run with much smaller amounts while trying to maintain proportions.  Perhaps tablespoons instead of cups will work.  I may be able to convince her to cut the sugar back a little, but the girl does have a sweet tooth.  

 I promise to let you know how the final product turns out.    If I survive the taste test!

Two More Temples (Siem Reap #4)

On our third day in Siem Reap, we finished our Temple Tour.  We could have spent a week or more going from temple to temple to temple, but that's not our idea of a great time.  We chose a few highlights and concentrated on those. 

First, we saw Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom means "Great City", and it was the 9 square kilometer capital city of the Khmer Empire in the 12th century.  At the city gate, we found an interesting mode of transportation:
 ...And the ever present junk for sale.  Taking this picture brought about eight pesky salespeople running to see what size t-shirt I needed.

All along the bridge across the mote, these faces line the walk.  AK and I had fun studying them, and she especially liked the ones missing noses (and that one in particular that seems upset about his missing snoot).  You can see where some have been restored, but many of them seem to be original. 

At the city gate:

 The gate itself wasn't the only thing to see. As usual, the people watching was spectacular.

 Tuk tuks lined up waiting on their tourists to return.

At the center of Angkor Thom is Bayon Temple, which is known now in our family simply as "Faces".  Sometimes it's B3's favorite temple we visited, and it's always AK's.  It was built in the 12th or 13th century, and it's simply incredible.

And again, we pay someone's salary for a day by having our photo taken with the Apsara dancers.  All of their shows in town were too late for us to enjoy after a long day of touring, so we settled for this. 
 The carved murals are really incredible.  The detail is amazing.
 Bayon Temple is in various stages of restoration.  All of these stones are waiting to be reassembled.  I can only imagine how long it will take...

 I couldn't stop taking pictures of the faces. There are 216 of them, and they're all different. Bayon was so crowded and hot when we visited, and it was a little difficult to enjoy it. But, those faces were enough to make it worth it. I might actually have photos of over half of the 216. Not really, but my family likely thought so as they waited for me at every turn.

 This face is always fun to look at, too!

 At one spot, we found a face to have a little fun with.  The sun was in the absolutely wrong spot for this, but it was good for a laugh.

As we were leaving, I noticed this lady's handbag.  She was impeccably dressed, and she looked as if she had just stepped out of a limo instead of a tuk tuk.  So, her choice of accessories made me laugh.  B3 would love for me to have one, though.  Who doesn't need a bag with cement trucks and dump trucks and tractors?  

After leaving Angkor Thom, we continued on to Ta Prohm Temple.  If you've ever seen a Siem Reap Temple on an ad or in a movie, it's likely to have been Ta Prohm.  Our guide said that some even call it the Angelina Jolie Temple because her movie, Tomb Raider, prominently features Ta Prohm.  I suppose Angelina deserves a tiny bit of credit for encouraging a little bit of positive press and tourism in the area, but that's about it.  Anyway, Ta Prohm's claim to fame is that when the temple was rediscovered, the trees weren't cleared off of it like they were on the others we visited.  The roots still drip and drape over the walls.  

This temple has been adopted by the Indian Government to restore and protect it. It was fascinating to watch the men work with 21st century tools and 12th century methods to recreate some parts of the temple. 

 And, as usual, we were escorted by little salesmen as we walked back to our van.  Relentless!

this tuk tuk driver got bonus points.  If he had been our driver, I would have admired his ingenuity but hesitated to wake him. 

That concluded our Temple Tour in Siem Reap!