Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Making butter

Since we were learning about where food comes from, we made yogurt and butter! Yogurt is very easy- boil the milk, let it sit for 30 minutes covered, then stir in a bit of plain yogurt and let the bacteria do its work. Wrap up the pot in towels and place in a warm place (we put it in the microwave- NOT on). The only "problem" with yogurt is that it takes a while (we leave it overnight), so the need for instant gratification in kids is not satisfied! But I looked on-line and found out that in only 20 minutes you can make butter-- all you need is some heavy whipping cream and a tightly closed container. I turned on some music for the kids to dance to (while shaking/churning) and they all disappeared immediately to their rooms. Apparently they are trained to "dress-up" for our routine dance party, and since they heard the music, they couldn't dance without their princess and spiderman costumes! So funny. So they came down and we danced to Madagascar's "Move it, Move it," Lightning McQueen's "Life is a Highway," and a couple other favorites, all while shaking the cream. Magically, in 20 minutes of jumping and craziness, we opened the container and had butter! It separates from the whey (watery substance), and spreads easily on our homemade bread. It was so exciting for them!!!! They wanted to eat the butter with a spoon, but I decided we had enough artery-clogging fun for one day:).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Lazy Sunday

So excited that we finally are safe- with our new pool fence we can let the kids out onto part of the yard without the danger of falling into the pool. But then we can take off 15 foot sections (or all of it) if we'd like to swim. Very practical, not as challenging as a pool cover. It isn't the prettiest fence, nor does it offer an unobtrusive view BUT with 3 little ones none of this really matters.

It was a gorgeous, hot and lazy Sunday. Do you see why we are not unpacked yet!!?? Since we have no visitors to our house, I have NO pressure to get everything organized. The pool just calls you and its grip is so inviting- especially on such a hot day.

Tonito and Vivi played forever pulling each other around on this floatie thing we found in our garage. They always wear their life jackets in the pool, and I think this is actually helping them learn how to swim better.

You can kind-of see how the fence can be deconstructed one section at a time:

There isn't much shade in the back yard, so you must wear sunscreen even if you're only out for a bit. Another thing we are finding out is that the bugs go through regular bug spray on Tonito. He looked like he had the chicken pox after today! I need to find another method of insect bite prevention (please email me if you have any good ideas!).

Tonio and I did unpack several boxes from the garage, but without a basement it is taking us longer to figure out where things "belong." It is coming around slowly, and maybe by the time we have visitors we will be put together!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

ABBA, fresh bread, homemade strawberry jam

Coming back from Scandinavia, Tonio was on an ABBA-kick, so we blasted videos from youtube whil making bread and homemade jam. Today was picture day and so the kids started off in their Sunday best, and ended up in their birthday suits for fear of stains. They had so much fun smashing the berries (and eating half of them).

They like to call themselves "Chef Vivi" and "Chef Tonito" (and even "Chef Maya!") while cooking.

Much more fun when it is hands-on... though maybe not as sanitary.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Picnics in the Living Room

It was too hot and mosquito-y to have a picnic outside, and we don't have much shade in the backyard.... so until we break out of the 90s, we have picnics inside!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Funny sayings and updates

A random picture of Vivi dressing up in the beautiful knight costume Auntie Colleen made:

Bug Adventures:
We are discovering the insect world of Houston. Now I know that when Maya is crying that her foot hurts, it probably means some fire ants are in her sandals. Also, fire ant hills appear abandoned, but the instant you accidentally step on them, thousands of ants swarm your foot and inject their nasty venom in all available skin. Tonito also learned that when you use a stick to poke their home, the ants climb the stick to your hand faster than you can pull the stick away. Finally, we learned that fire ants eat other insects. Using chopsticks, we rescued a worm from a swarm, but could not save the caterpillar. I have some stories about enormous cockroaches in my dishwasher and under my garbage can, but I am trying not to traumatize my overly active imagination. We do have an exterminator now, because all environmentally-friendly tendencies are blown out of the water when flying, fist-sized cockroaches are involved.

Gardening dreams realized:
We always said if we ever move anywhere warm, that we would take advantage of the climate in our garening. Sooooo, we bought a mandarin orange tree, a papaya tree and a lime tree, to go with our already existing banana trees. Come over for fruit salad next spring!!!! We're going to add more next spring once we see how these do.

Funny/dangerous antics by the resident monkeys:
I walked out of the room for a second to grab the level, and came back to this scene: Vivi holding a hammer above Tonito's leg and saying "Come on, you drink milk, you have strong bones."
Me: "No, no, no! We can't hit anyone ever with a hammer!"
Tonito: "Yeah Vivi, you can only hit mommy or papi cause they're stronger"
Me: "No, no one has that strong of bones!!!"
Vivi: If I close my eyes while you're reading I can watch TV! And sometimes there are princess commercials."
As I hopped out of the shower, Maya latched onto my legs and giggled "Big mama, big mama!"

Vivi looking at an ad of a shirtless, muscular guy: "Why does he have all of those bumps?"
Celebrating Mexican Independence Day!
Contrary to popular belief, Mexican Independence Day is NOT Cinco de Mayo, but actually is Sept 16th. On Sept 16th, 1810, Father Hidalgo rang the bells of his church and called for everyone to revolt against Spain. (10 years later, they achieved independence). All over Mexico, people read the "Grito" (the call for independence) and celebrate with fireworks, music, of course food. We went to downtown Houston to celebrate the Grito at an outdoor concert. It was so fun! Too bad I didn't remember my camera. I promised Tonio that next year, unpacked and organized, I will make the traditional "Chiles en Nogadas"- chiles rellenos with meat, almonds, dried fruit, and bathed in a walnut and cream sauce, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. The red, white, and green represents the 3 colors of the Mexican flag- and the dish is DELICIOUSly sweet and spicy. Next year Tonio!!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Making Pretzels

We're studying where our food comes from. This is WAY more fun and WAY more interesting than unpacking the millions of boxes cluttering the house:). And anyway, the kitchen is unpacked! We took out some books about wheat, and learned how they grind it into flour. We made a wheatberry salad, and looked at dried wheat and compared it to "regular" grass. Then we made some dough to play with, and ended up making pretzels (well, not with lye, but basically bread shapes with cinnamon and sugar).

We made the initials of many family members, and then spelled out our own names for lunch:

hehe, no one noticed that Tonito had the longest name (phew). A few days later we were in a restaurant and Vivi pointed out the dried wheat in a wreath:)- so I guess they were paying attention!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vacation with Drew! (and family!)

With a house full of boxes waiting to be unpacked.... we instead went on a mini-vacation for Tonito's birthday to visit Drew and family in Shreveport, LA! Who needs to get their house in order, when you can play with friends in alligator-city? It was (sort-of) the midway point between our houses, and so we spent Labor Day weekend with Scott, Kimber, Drew and Riley. The excitement of Tonito to see his Urumqi buddy was priceless- I wish we lived closer so we could see each other more often!

We went to an alligator park which had a mini-zoo on the grounds. The thin fence between the alligators and the duck pen looked a little precarious, which was either torture or or exciting for the gators.
My little animal-lovers enjoyed the petting zoo, and of course wanted to feed each and every one- I'm surprised the animals are not obese the way they guzzle the "feed" pellets-

Feeding FRENZY when the guy started to bang the bucket of pellets on the dock-

Tonito, Drew, and Riley. Tonito was in heaven hanging out with the 2 older boys this weekend. He felt *so special* that they paid attention to him and played rough with him. He was a little sad the first couple of days of school that he hadn't made instant friends, so this weekend focusing only on Tonito was perfect for his self-esteem:).

The highlight was holding the baby gator!
Cutie Drew, and then unsure Maya:

Future vet and scared of nothing adventurer:

Picking grass to feed the pygmy ponies:

The best part for Vivi was the large collection of lemurs in the gift shop (that her mommy would not puchase):

The next day we went to the boardwalk.

Our last night, celebrating Tonito and Riley's birthdays at TGIF's. Afterwards Tonito asked me "How did they know it was Tonito's birthday?" :)

Buddies forever... Tonito still says Drew is his ge-ge (older brother) when asked.. Although we have virtually no information on his past, I am so glad we have contact with his friends from Urumqi!

Wrestling on the bed...

No China reunion would be complete without a dragon dance a la hotel blanket.