Thursday, December 27, 2012

Off To China

We leave later today for Beijing and I will be so happy when we get on that plane. However, I am not too thrilled about what will be waiting for us when we get off the plane because the HIGH temperature in Beijing yesterday was 21 degrees (after a low of 12 degrees!). Just a little chilly for our tropics-loving family!  

I have been quite stressed trying to organize for this vacation so soon after the kids' birthdays and Christmas and I have done a lot of scrambling around the last two days. Late Monday night, I realized that, not only did we all need warm clothes, we all needed warm clothes for five days. On his most recent trip home, Kevin brought his cold weather clothes back from Virginia so he is all set but the kids and I had nothing. nada. zilch. Fortunately, I have been able to beg, borrow and steal long pants, sweaters and coats from friends in Nichada for the kids and I to wear. My mother-in-law sent us plenty of socks, gloves, hats and scarves which really helped us out. I wasn't too sure I would be able to find that kind of stuff here in the tropics. My next-door neighbor moved here from Rome and she was able to lend us two coats and some sweaters. Another friend loaned us a jacket for Christopher. We will layer from head to toe and I think we have just enough that we will at least be comfortable (but definitely not fashionable). My biggest worry is that our feet are going to be cold as we only have running shoes to wear but I hope layering two pairs of warm socks will do the trick. We are meeting my brother and sister-in-law in Beijing and will play tourist around the city on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I think we are most excited to see the Great Wall but everyone has been telling us how cold it will be there so that is dampening our enthusiasm a little. Monday, we are taking a short flight South of Beijing to Xi'An to see the Terracotta Soldiers exhibit which sounds just fascinating. 

From Wikipedia... "This attraction is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife. The figures, dating from 3rd century BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers in Xi'An. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits near by Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were also found in other pits and they include officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians." 

We will return to Bangkok on January 1st and Jim and Jan will stay with us until January 11th. I  am using their visit as an excuse to cross off a lot of activities on our list of "things to see & do in Bangkok" and have planned lots of adventures for while they are here.

Other than the kids' Kindles, we are not bringing any technology with us on this trip so I, most likely, will not be posting until we return. 

Until then, have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Santa found us in Thailand!
Sonder posing in front of the Christmas tree.
He even laid down when I told him to - which rarely happens. He probably thought he was going to get a treat (his only motivation for doing anything).
My other boy.
If anyone ever wonders how my parents feel about Kevin, I would say the proof is in the Christmas stockings (made by my mom). Kevin's has got to be 3x the size of mine!
 Even the kids' stockings are bigger than mine. Hmm...
Sonder was calm at first.

And then he he started to play with his Christmas toy and got a little wild. 
And then the other boy started to get a little crazy too.
Our Christmas Tradition - a champagne toast and then we open our gifts.

 Loot from my (tiny) stocking.
 From Caitlynne and Christopher.
 From Caitlynne and Christopher.
I cannot wait to wear these! 
 My friend, Jane, in Miami, always sends me beautiful cocktail napkins. These are so pretty!
Christopher in his new hat which sure will come in handy later this week when we are in China. The temperature in Beijing is currently 21 degrees! Brr.
All of the excitement wiped out Sonder. 
 A pretty rainbow on his fur created by an ornament on the tree...

Christmas Brunch. 
Everyone was very happy with their gifts - Santa was very good to us this year for sure! The kids just went up to school with Kevin to hit in the batting cages for a while. The weather is just perfect! It was a cool 73 degrees this morning but I resisted all temptation to run and just walked Sonder very early. We will be lounging around for the rest of the afternoon and I will be making lists of what I need to pack for our trip to China. We leave on Thursday and I really haven't given much thought to the trip yet. 

I am cooking Christmas dinner this evening - steaks on the grill, baked potatoes (and a baked sweet potato for me), glazed carrots, salad and homemade bread (which I need to get started on).

I hope everyone has a wonderful day and is able to celebrate with family and friends!

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012 (And Other Stuff)

I ran 6 wonderful miles yesterday morning, the longest distance I have run since October 13th!  I felt fine all day yesterday - no aches or pains whatsoever. Although today should have been a "rest" day (and I was probably tempting fate by not resting), it was so cool and dry this morning that I just had to get out and run again. We haven't seen cool(er) temps like this - 75 degrees and 57% humidity - since last winter and it certainly won't last more than a few days. I know I would have regretted not getting a run in. I ran four easy miles and enjoyed the beautiful weather while rocking out to Air Supply and Barry Manilow. I am probably one of the few people who can write that sentence and still hold my head high! 

The boys played amazing baseball for the first three innings of the 2012 Bangkok Christmas Classic championship game yesterday. Unfortunately for our team, there were six innings of baseball to be played and we just couldn't keep it together after the first three. When we played well, there were some great hits and we had excellent plays in the field. Our defense was really strong for the first three innings. I don't think we even made an error in the field and we were able to hold them scoreless until the fourth inning. Then the errors and poor fielding (on our part) and the great hitting (on the other team's part) began...
Our team photo (minus one player who left for vacation yesterday morning). Photo courtesy of Marybeth Smith - our coach's wife and the mom of one of Chris' teammates.
The pre-game handshake. Again, photo courtesy of Marybeth Smith.
Christopher played most of the game at 2nd base...
Christopher pitched (not so well) the last inning and a half until he reached his pitch count (135 pitches) for the tournament. At his first up-at-bat, he had a nice line drive to left field to get on first base. A few plays later, he scored a run (our only run of the game). 

 On first base.
On second base.
In the dug out after scoring. He just wants me to get the camera out of his face so he can drink his Gatorade in peace.
We ended up losing 10-1. Christopher was pretty disappointed but, by the time he got home, he moved on to thinking about bigger and better things. Like his birthday presents!
For his birthday, Christopher decided that he wanted to ask two friends to go to dinner with us to a Japanese restaurant. Sorry these pictures are worse than usual. I forgot my camera and had to use my phone. In addition to the funky lighting in the restaurant, I was taking these photos across the table and over the smokey barbecue grill.
The boys (Kevin included) ordered several plates of different kinds of meats that they then cooked over the grill. His friends both speak fluent Thai so we had no problems ordering and getting exactly what we wanted. I had sushi and Caitlynne had pork teriyaki with garlic fried rice. 

For dessert, we went to Dairy Queen for ice cream. For the last couple of weeks, Christopher has been pestering me the green dipped cone and wanted to have that for dessert rather than a cake. 

We did pick up an ice cream cake to have for dessert after our Christmas Day dinner. I am cooking - still don't know what - but  at least I know dessert is taken care of. 

This afternoon, we are heading downtown to pick up a few packages from the Embassy mail room, do some last minute shopping and then go to Mass and out to dinner. 

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy 13th Birthday, Christopher!

At 12:20 am today, I officially became the mother of two teenagers. Yikes!

Happy 13th Birthday to my sweet boy! Your athletic & academic accomplishments and emerging leadership qualities make your father and I so proud. We love you very much!

13 years ago today...
His first year. And the most trying year for Kevin and I. If our marriage could survive Christopher age 0 - 12 months, we can survive anything.
Remember all of those baby photos of Caitlynne with smiles a mile wide? Well, that was not Christopher. He was, quite possibly, the most unhappy baby EVER. As my brother, sister-in-law and mother-in-law (our trusted babysitters at the time) can attest, he screamed. A lot. All of the time. For the first seventeen months of his life, he did not sleep unless the vacuum was turned on. Needless to say, we had a very clean house. 

We wanted five children and have two. As Kevin always says, "if Christopher had been first, he would have been last." Thank goodness he improved with age.

The first documented smile. (April 2000 - 4 months old)
Not smiling but not screaming.
  The dishwasher is always a great place to play!
Two in diapers at the same time. What was I thinking?!? (His sister always made him smile - and still does).

 Christmas photo - December 2000.
It is a good thing he was so cute and those eyes were so blue.
And now...Christopher and his best buddies.
I love these boys!

Have a great Sunday!