Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Now it's on to Christmas

With Thanksgiving over, it's on to my favorite holiday of the year...Christmas.

Tradition has been to put up the tree and all the decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving, so that's what we did. The Chinese are trying to get the whole Christmas thing and each year it seems to get better and better. I was able to find this "fake" tree our first year here and haven't seen one this nice since. I got an awesome deal for $40.00. I'm sure this would be way more back home. My two little elves, Nicole and Vika, did most of the work. We put on Christmas music and they got busy. The outcome was awesome. They did a great job. The only thing missing is snow...
Each year I always get at least one new decoration. This year I walked into Walmart, which I really try to avoid, and they had a whole section of Christmas decorations. I found these cute little Santa pillows and Santa.
I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!!!! The music, decorations and spirit make it the best holiday even here in China.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving....in China

We didn't get Thursday off for Thanksgiving here in Shekou but that didn't stop us. In our complex we have several American families that either work or go to QSI so we decided to have a progressive Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday afternoon. I spent the entire day cooking a turkey, mashing potatoes, baking desserts and rolls and enjoyed every minute of it. I turned on Christmas music and had a great time.

Our progressive dinner started at the Paugh's for appetizers. We could have just stopped there because they were so good.
Vika found a spot to chill with a cool drink. I love these little chairs. I saw them in Thailand a few years ago and wanted to get some but didn't know how I could carry them back to China. The Paugh's seemed to find a way and now I'm regretting not getting some of my own.

We sat around enjoying the weather, company and good food.
My two crazy girls who are inseparable...
Jonny does not like me to take pictures but Simon was able to get him to give me a smile.
After the appetizers we all went out to the park in the middle of our complex for some fun. Another group of teachers challenged our group to a game of football but there were just too many trees so we just all played around. Nicole, Chelsea, and Kate were the cheerleaders.
Of course Vika had to get in the picture. Anything girly and she is there.
My two girls again......Blair and Rachel
A little bit of throwing a football around. What would Thanksgiving be without football. There were at least 40 crazy Americans playing in the park area. The Chinese people couldn't stop staring.
A little bit of Volleyball.....
The pom poms all fell apart. Not surprising since they were made in China. This little Chinese girl had so much fun just playing with all the strings.
Of course Blair can get Jonny to smile.

After playing outside for about an hour we all headed over to the Galicia's for the main meal.

Am I seeing this right? Men in the kitchen and Gavin is carving a Turkey?
We ordered three turkeys for the 40 of us. They were Jenny O Turkeys imported from America. I'm not sure that they even have turkeys here in China. Not a cheap Thanksgiving with the turkey's costing $50.00 each but it was well worth it. The table was filled with lots of good food. Each family brought a few side dishes to share and we had more than enough. It felt like a real Thanksgiving dinner.

Vika enjoying her Thanksgiving food.We had wall to wall people in the house. This is how Thanksgiving should be...lots of food and people you love.

Gabriella and Mahika had never been to a Thanksgiving dinner. Gabriella is from Sweden and Mahika from India. Neither had even had turkey before. We also had a boy from Columbia there with us who ate turkey for the first time. I guess it really is a North American thing. I just assumed people from all over the world ate turkey.

Our night ended up at the Sedmak's house for dessert. We had WAY too many yummy desserts. We each brought two things and ended up taking a lot home.

It was a perfect day. We haven't had a real Thanksgiving dinner in three years. I guess it doesn't matter where you are in the world, you can make it a great day. All you need are people you love and good food. A grateful heart full of love...


I had to employ these two to spy on Nicole for me. Rumor has it that Nicole has a boyfriend and she is only ten. Not a good thing. She likes to go out and play night games with her friends on the weekends and when she asked to go Friday night I was a little cautious because her "boyfriend" is sometimes there and is a little to worldly (if you know what I mean). I decided to let her go after employing Rachel and Jonny to go spy on her. Of course, they jumped on the opportunity to maybe find a reason for Nicole to get in trouble (such the nice brother and sister). Fortunately, they spied and found Nicole playing hide and seek very innocently with her friends and no sign of the "boyfriend".

I probably needed to find two other spies to spy on Rachel and Jonny because they came up missing. They were later found at a cereal party down the street, then ran off to another friends house to watch a basketball game. Of course Rachel's "boyfriend" was there but Jonny kept them in line for me. Oh to be young and free again!!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Comfort Food

I happened across one of my favorite comfort foods that always brings a smile with memories to my face. Lemon Pudding!!!!!! Such a simple dessert but full of memories for me. My Grandma Bramwell would always make this when we would visit. Her specialties that we could always count on having were Toll House Cookies, Rice Crispy Treats, and Lemon Pudding. This is also a treat that my Dad would make for us. These things, along with Tapioca pudding which is another Bramwell favorite, have become my comfort foods.

Each bite brought a smile to my face. Not sure my family shared the same feelings as I did, but hopefully they will have some comfort foods that will someday make them think of me.

What's your comfort food and why?

Another Chinese Halloween

Even though Halloween was on Sunday this year, we were able to celebrate it at the QSI Autumn Festival on Saturday. Of course Gavin and I weren't too original with coming up with different costumes this year, Nicole and Vika made up for that. Nicole thought way ahead and brought back a costume we had in storage from the States this summer. Vika only wanted to be a fairy so we put together the costume with her ballet leotard and tutu, along with fairy wings and a crown we found at Walmart. Yes, Walmart actually had a few Halloween items. Each year they seem to get more and more as they try to adopt this holiday.

We started the day by meeting up with our friends the Galicia's and walked down to the school together. We got some strange looks from the Chinese but we didn't care. We are always on show here just by looking our normal selves.
Rachel, Jonny, Gabriella and Natalie had a table selling items for the True Children's Home Orphanage. This is an orphan for Chinese children who have been abandoned because of deformities such as cleft palate. The money earned will go to help a child receive the necessary surgery to correct their condition so that they can hopefully be adopted and live a normal life.
The Autumn fair was like a Halloween Carnival with games, haunted house, and food. Nicole and her friend Kate were inseparable all day.
Vika showing her stuff with Torin the Jedi knight and his brother TJ the Yoda in training.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

QSI Happenings

For Spirit Week at the Middle School, Rachel came to the teachers vs. students soccer game to play the school mascot. Our mascot is a dragon but since this is China they can never get things right so we ended up with a mascot costume that looks like a cross between a dragon and a bee. Not quite the scary intimidating mascot we would want.
She really enjoyed giving the younger kids a hard time. She would wrestle with them, tease them, etc. Of course she got the same treatment back. They all wanted to pull her tail. It was fun to watch but I had to step in a few times when some students were trying to remove her mask. One students succeeded at the end but Rachel was quick enough to cover her face so they still didn't see who she was. Of course that ended the fun and I escorted her off the field with some stern words to those students.
She tried doing some of her gymnastics stunts but the tail kept getting in the way so the only things she really could do were round offs, kicks, and of course the splits. That was enough to impress the students though.

Our Volleyball season came to an end a few weeks ago. Both Jonny and Rachel played on the varsity team this year. They had a pretty good season with both teams taking the championships at the Pearl River Conference Tournament which was basically the international schools in the Guangzhou and Shenzhen area. We had 8 teams participate in the tournament which was hosted here at QSI.
The final ACAMIS tournament was held in Guangzhou this year. Teams from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shekou come for a three day tournament. It is the big deal here and is a lot of fun. As you can see, Jonny knows where the right place to be is....with all the girls.
Rachel and Blair just being their crazy selves in between our games.
Our girls team was undefeated the entire tournament without losing a single match until the Championship game. They just didn't play their best in that game and were defeated by a team which they had beaten by a big point difference earlier that day. It was disappointing but the girls gave it their all. Here the girls are psyching up for the final game. The girls came home with second place and the boys came in 5th.

Now it's on to Basketball which Gavin and I are both coaching the girls team.