Saturday, October 29, 2011

highlights of the big game

No - not that big game.... the World Series game 7 last night.  I can't talk about that because my good friends are from Texas and they are a little devastated.  So I just can't bring it up - although I guess I already did....  The sad/ironic thing is that their eldest son's team is the Cardinals, much to his chagrin, so he had to don his cardinals uniform today for his game.  He tried to get away with wearing his Rangers hat - but that didn't get to far!
The game, or games I'm talking about are our Saturday morning baseball games.  Lets start with Lucy, shall we?
Her and her friend Molly did well, naturally.  It goes without saying, yes?  
 Hit the ball, go to first base, high-five the coach, and all is good (Doesn't the coach know that the high-five is passe and the new, much more cool thing to do is the pound?  Get with the times dude!  We won't talk about my slow transition to the pound.....)
Apparently Lucy got a little confused with the 7th inning stretch.  It became the 6th inning relax-on-the-infield-my-teammates-can-cover-for-me-while-I-rest-a-little-'casue-T-ball-is-excessively-strenuous time.
 She even had a little company.
 I'm not sure why the coaches didn't get her tuckus up and at 'em.  I would have but my tuckus was strapped to my friends camping chair.  Whatever the case, it must have revived her - look at that swing and the distance that ball carried.
 Second base was a good place to "readjust" - it was almost like a major league game with the shifting going on....

 Good sportsmanship is highly encouraged, even if they play the same team every single Saturday (there are only two t-ball teams).  It is hilarious watching as the coaches have them stand in a straight line, put out their hands and then tell them to walk.

On to the big leagues - machine pitch.  Cade and Jordan are on the "bad-news bears" team - actually they are the Orioles, but they could be the bad news bears.  They have the team where the majority shows up about 2 minutes after the game has started, and they aren't "stacked" like the other teams are.  Sort of the leftover kids would do have some connection to the people who organize the whole thing.  And it has showed - losses - mind-blowing losses with very few hits.  But today was a new day!  The practiced batting the other day and it paid off.  We got some hits - a lot of hits!  And they WON against the undefeated team.  Yah boy!

 Cade really likes playing catcher - that is him above with all the gear on.  I'm not sure why he likes it so much as the gear is all much to big for him and it looks like he can hardly move in it (and doesn't much, either).  But he'll grab a ball every now and then and for some reason he loves it.  That was always my nightmare position as the ball constantly came directly at your face.  Fortunately (?) I was so unskilled I hardly ever had to worry about it.
But my boy?  He's got skills - skilz with a z even.

 I'm delighted to inform you that the Orioles won 24-15.  Oh yeah!
And then a little cuteness for you all....

After the game, we stayed and watched Luke's game for a while, but after being in the sun for three hours we were done, so we left before it was over.  And we were hungry - very hungry.  We drove past this sight on the way home.

 You can tell I've lived here a while now.... this sight didn't even spoil my appetite.  But the following sight just about did....
There were live models on the second floor window display of a store called "Valdi".  It wasn't really surprising as their billboards, that are all over, are a lot like that.  It reminds me of some clothing stores/lines in the US as well.
I'm not exactly sure how advertising clothing using half-naked models makes sense.  If you're trying to sell clothes, why not show the clothes?  I guess its just me....

Friday, October 28, 2011

longing for

The perfect day in my mind right now:
Cold - so much so that you pretty much have to snuggle on the sofa in your jammies and a very soft blanket (but not so much so that your feet and nose would freeze going to the bathroom or kitchen).  Watching movies - fun, feel good Christmas ones that I haven't seen before or haven't seen for a while (I think those might be few).
Company - Eric and the kids (who are mellow and well behaved).  If we had a ginormous sofa and large screen TV, I'd have some family friends over as well (with their kids also being mellow and well behaved - although that goes without saying...)
Eating - yummy, hot, mildly spicy chili in a bread bowl with cheese melted over the top, runny over the sides (french onion soup style).  The cheese should be slightly crispy on top.  Dessert/snacks would be my Auntie Phyllis' ginger snap cookies (I had the recipe once, lost it in all the moves.... but it might not work up here anyway...), my mom's chocolate log-roll and some almond roca (since this is my dream world - the previously mentioned deliciousness would be calorie free so I could have as much as I want).
Drinking - ice cold Diet Dr. Pepper in my perfect turquoise soda-drinking glass (only one left - the other one broken... the downside of thin glass) with the chili.  Then ice cold milk (from North America preferably.... still not completely adjusted to the milk here) with dessert, and a side of Chai Tea - the creamy kind but could still use a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

those Japanese can party

I don't know if you remember the bowling birthday party we went to last year.  It was probably the best birthday party I have ever been too.  So much fun.  It was for one of Maddy's friends - a friend from Japan.  Well, this year they were at it again, and it did not disappoint!  The party was held at the Japanese school in Quito - a really big, nice facility that has a whopping 8 students!  I'm not sure how many students they used to have, but its a mighty fine place for so few students.
First we ate - pizza.   A lot of pizza.
Eric was a little disappointed when I told him we were having pizza for lunch - he remembered her spring rolls and sushi from last year.  They were incredible.  Well again, she did not disappoint.  There were still some Japanese delicacies for those who preferred.

The girls all sat on one side of the stairs and the boys all sat on the other side.  Odd.  They didn't seem to mind being around each other at any other point in the afternoon, but eating together?  No way.
After lunch we had a bunch of games.  They started with a tug-o-war.  Then had a few different relays.

After that was the grand finale - and obstacle course relay (not too many pictures as I was helping with the games....).  My station was the hide-the-gummy-candy-in-a-pile-of-cornstarch station.  For sanitary reasons, I had to replace the cornstarch each time.  Little did I realize how "interesting" that job was going to be.
Another mom took this picture - it was taken just after I finally opened the second bag of cornstarch - after wrestling with another bag forever (and two people had to skip my station because I couldn't get it done on time).  This bag sort of exploded when I opened it and a very large portion of the contents went down my shirt.  At least it took care of the sweat problem I was having.....
Between trying to get cornstarch bags open and pulling apart gooey gummy candies that were mushing together because of the hot sun, I was pleased that I only missed two people (yes, one from each team, to make it fair).  I kept wanting to yell, in my best Japanese accent "eat the wasabi" like on one of these Japanese game shows, but Maddy threatened me not to embarrass her (before the party, Cade and Mia helped me think of many great ways that I could have done just that, but I decided I should probably be nice....).
It was another great party.
We will be so sad come January when this family moves back to Japan.  They are so great.
 It will be a sad, sad day.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

switch 'em up whiteboard calendar

I miss my ginormous magnetic whiteboard.  A few years ago, back in CA, I made a huge magnetic whiteboard for our kitchen.  Eric and I bought two 3' x 4' pieces of aluminum flashing and I painted them with whiteboard paint.  Then Eric mounted them on the wall by our fridge to make one big 4' x 6' board.  I painted some baseboard materials and Eric cut them and put them up to make a frame.  I drew a big grid on part of it to make a calendar, each kid had a section to draw on and the rest of it was for note, reminders and posting paperwork, etc.  It was great, fun, very useful and looked great in the kitchen.

Since moving, we haven't really had a "command central", which was sort of what that was.  The calendar part is the biggest loss.  I loved having that big space where we could write everything going on, color coded by person and see at a quick glance what a day looked like.  It was about time to come up with something for our new home.
I'm sure that we could by aluminum flashing somewhere here but we have no clue where..... maybe eventually that will happen (although putting it up on these concrete and cinderblock walls wouldn't be a simple task).  For now, I came up with an inexpensive alternative.
I cut 6" squares out of sheets of balsa wood, one for each day of the month, plus some extra.  Balsa wouldn't be my first choice, but it can be found easily here, is fairly inexpensive and easy to cut.  Then I  painted the top inch black and wrapped pieces of whiteboard contact paper over the rest (contact paper was imported from the good ol' us of a).  The black was only for aesthetics.
For the numbers I really wanted to use 2 to 3 inch die-cut numbers and paint them a bright color, but I couldn't find anything like that.  Then I thought I'd print off some 3" circles with numbers in them from sticker paper I thought I had - but didn't actually have anymore.  I thought it would be fun to off-set them.  Finally I just made some out of address label sticker paper.  It wasn't what I hoped for, but it does the job.  After applying the numbers, I stuck a piece of velcro on the back of each square.
Then the opposite pieces of velcro went on the wall.
Now each month I can take off the squares an assemble them in the proper order for that month.  The extra spaces are filled up with either blank squares or squares for the next month (current month in turquoise, following month in orange).
Once again, everyone has their assigned color so you can see at a glance what is going on with each person.
The top piece for the month is also removable so you can easily write on the new month, but the letters for the days of the week (painted die-cut letters) are stuck there for good.  There is also a little area to the left for notes.
Seeing as there are less than two weeks left in October and I was somewhat lazy, I went straight for November.  Now I just need to fill in the rest of our goings-on.
I'm kind of excited for December to hit so I can rip off all the squares and start over.

busy, busy

For quite a while now I have desired my kids to be involved in something - almost anything.  None of them have really wanted commitments outside of school.  I was always the mom who swore "I'm not going to let my kids get over-committed and be involved in a million different things."  But I always thought they would be involved in some things at least.
This fall I am finally getting a little taste of what it would be like to have the kids involved in a bunch of stuff - and I'm not a fan.  I got my wish - they are all doing something - and I know it is good for them, but where are my nice afternoons at home with all the kids?

Monday - Lucy, soccer
Tuesday - Mia, soccer
Wednesday - Lucy, Awana; Maddy - Guardians (youth group type thing)
Thursday - Lucy, soccer; Cade, baseball
Friday - Mia, soccer
Saturday - Lucy and Cade, baseball

You may notice that the youngest one is involved in the most.... its really great for her, actually, but she does get awfully tired at times.  Thankfully, soccer is over at the end of November and baseball is done at the end of January.
The weekends are busier too.  Our family is actually starting to have a social life.  And this coming weekend will be no exception - 2 birthday parties, baseball, a sleepover, and of course, Casa G.  This past weekend Lucy went to a friends for night, we had baseball - no pictures - and then Maddy and I were invited to a tea with three of her closest friends and their moms.  We got there a little earlier to help set up.

 Marlo made cucumber sandwiches and scones complete with lemon curd and clotted cream (Devonshire cream) and of course - tea.  So good.
Before we ate, we did make-up and nails.

 I should have got a close-up of my eyes - pretty fancy.
After we were all done up, we ate.  There aren't any pictures of that since I was to busy stuffing my face (in a dainty and delicate manner, of course) with lemon curd.  Then we went outside to take some quick pictures:  Ayano (from Japan), Hileem (from Korea), Maddy and Mikala (both California girls)
The girls wanted to take some of the moms as well.  One of the moms said that we should do funny faces - so that is what we did.
 Maybe I should say, that is what I did.  I suppose I went a little more extreme than the others.  Very unusual for me.  

Then after the tea, a friend of Lucy's came over.  It was the little girl who went through the tragic situation last spring (or most of her life, in reality).  She is such a sweet girl and we want to give her some nice "real" childhood experiences.  The unfortunate part is that we made a big mistake in letting Lucy have a double sleepover - even though she didn't go to bed late.  She was pretty cranky for her next sleepover, so I'm still hoping and praying that this friend had a good time.

Sunday after church we went with Casa G. to a church fundraiser.  It was for a church that Casa G has done some outreach/missions work with.   They had a lunch to raise money for their school.

 The meal was pretty typical Ecuadorian faire - and very tasty, but not so visually appealing for the gringitos.... rice, yucca and whole fish complete with eyes, heads, scales, fins and bones.

 Even though all of the kids had been served meals like this previously, they were still a bit taken aback.  I was amazing though at how well they did eating it - and it really was very very tasty.  Lucy is usually the least picky, but probably due to her crankiness, she ate the least.  Her friend must have thought she was in a bit of heaven - she gobbled it all up and then some.
After lunch, the boys all played soccer - Casa G against guys from the church, and the kids all played on the grounds.  There were lots of things to do such as playing in the play ground or playing shuffle board.

 Some of the young adults from the church where very sweet in teaching the kids how to play shuffle board.

We were all pretty spent once we got home Sunday evening.  Our poor family isn't quite used to this much activity!