Archive for October, 2008


In : General, Posted by on Oct.10, 2008

Officially is my least favorite holiday.  We have never had so much candy in our house, and the kids’ diet has never been so candy based.  Neither of things are good for us or them.

Tess delivers candy to Riley, who is too shy to get it herself.

However, they were really cute.  Tess had a party at her school on the 23rd, and they walked around the island (in the rain).  Then they visited the other branch of Peter Pan and played with the other kids.

Riley had her party at school on the 24th with some dancing, a parade, and some treats.  Then that night we treat or treated around the on campus housing.   Here are the photos.

Riley and Tess at Borneland

This week has been Fall Break, which is why we trick or treated so early.  Todd and I have been sick for most of the break, so we accomplished nothing that we’d planned.  Oh well.  We were able to  venture out to the kids’ favorite indoor playground, Borneland.  Also Todd and Riley went to a neat park with our friends, Bob and Katy and their daughter Suzy and the Schatzkys.  Tess was napping at home with me.  Here are the photos.

Wow! Beijing!

In : General, Posted by on Oct.10, 2008

Wow! The shopping! I was completely intoxicated by the Pearl Market, a five story megacomplex of shops, so I spent a great deal of time and money there.  I only managed to make it to the third floor (I went two times and still only went to one floor).  There were 100s of small shops selling pearls, and each store had 100s of strings of pearls, beads, and stones.  They were also selling jewelry from jade and coral.  I actually had to go and find an ATM machine near my hotel, so I could spend more money.  I am thinking that most of what I bought will end of being Christmas presents, or maybe not!

Right next door was a toy market, where I stocked up on barbie dolls, wooden blocks, magnets, and dump trucks.  Riley got the doll which came with a TON of dresses and shoes.  Tess got the stacking blocks.  When she saw it, she put her hands to her mouth and kind of screamed.  (It sounds like it will be a fun Christmas).  The magnets and dump trucks are in the closet, and we are saving those for later on when we need them.  I am careful to make sure none of the toys go in their mouths because, really, who trusts anything now that is made in China, but they are a little too old for that now.

Me leaning out of the Great Wall

I even shopped at the Great Wall, where I replaced a t-shirt my mom gave me over a decade ago, and Todd got a bag that has the Chinese start and some kanji on it.  Who knows what it says?  I also bought some buddhas, silk pajamas for the kids, and I bought the girls the cutest little umbrellas that are just their size.  The Great Wall was amazing and surprising kid friendly.  I cannot wait to return with Todd and the girls.

Wow! The pollution! After the second day of the conference, I was meeting my colleague, Rhonda, and we were planning to head back to the Pearl Market for round 2 of shopping.  I went outside to check the weather and was assaulted by a gray, yellow cloud.  You couldn’t see the top of the buildings it was so think.  I was standing around with several other participants from the conference, and I asked in a loud voice to no one, “Is there something wrong?”  One member of group was from Beijing, and she assured me this was “normal.”   Apparently what wasn’t normal was the number of clear days they have been having.  Rhonda and I decided to brave the disgusting air and headed to the Pearl Market in a taxi.

As soon as we left the hotel we were stuck in a horrible traffic jam.  The car had no a/c, so we were forced to keep our windows open and breathe in the polluted air.  Rhonda was having a hard time breathing, and I was getting nauseous.  We finally arrived at the Pearl Market, where we shopped in relatively clean air, and then headed out to eat at a restaurant frequented by the Russia Mafia, or so I think.

Wow! The girls! After a great conference and a horrible flight, I arrived safely home on Monday night.  It was an excellent homecoming, but I cannot believe how much the girls had changed since I left.  Riley rode her first amusement park ride by herself.  I really think her positive experience here at school, and the new things she has learned has really helped her branch out and try new things.  She has really become so much more independent.  I am sad that I missed that, but what I cannot even begin to describe is how much Tess has changed.  She now can say all of her letters and her numbers up to 10.  She vocally answers my questions now and says about 50 new words (if you include the letters and numbers as words, which I do).  It is completely unbelievable.  I am now getting “love you” whenever I ask for it.

Jon and Celia came over last night and got to play with the girls, and then we had a lovely supper prepared by Todd.

While it was a great trip, I am so happy to be home.

Here are the photos.

Thrown to the lions!

In : General, Posted by on Oct.10, 2008

Life with Mom in Beijing takes it's toll on Riley...

Kirsten’s been in Beijing for three days now, and as you can see from the photo, the reality has finally set in for Riley.  To try and distract the children from their grief, the three of us went out to the Oji Zoo yesterday, searching for monkeys.


In the event, we never found them.  However, Riley took her first solo trip on an under-maintained carnival ride, and Tess arose from her nap to chase all picnicking two-year-olds in her path.  In all, a good day.  Now, though, the girls are in tears because I won’t give them any cookies.

My explanation that we have no cookies has not impressed them.

Sometimes it is All About Us

In : General, Posted by on Oct.10, 2008


This blog is 99% about the kids, but I think that Todd and I actually have a nice balance of family and adult time.  We use babysitters often so that we can go out just the two of us or with our friends.  Here is a photo from last Friday when we went out with Schatzkys and had way too much fun.

Kimono Pictures

In : General, Posted by on Oct.10, 2008


Here are the photos from our friends, Yuka and Masato, who had their camera.  There are some of Riley waiting and of her in Kimono.

We go back to the Ikuta Shrine on November 2 for the professional photo shoot, and the girls get to wear their kimono all day.

Enjoy the photos.

Lost Photos, Yummy Cookies, and Shichi-Go-San

In : General, Posted by on Oct.10, 2008

Tess loves the balls.

Last night when I was looking through my photos, I found some pictures that never made it to the photo gallery.  They are from a trip out on the town with Katy and Suzy.

Katy’s and my room are right next to each other, so we see each other a lot.  Suzy is right in between Tess and Riley’s age, so they all get along well (usually).   So today we decided to have a cookie making breakfast party.

I made some gingerbread cookie dough, and Katy made some sugar cookie dough.  We put cutting boards, flour, rolling pins, and cookie cutters on a low table for the kids.  They made an enormous mess, but fortunately we were able to clean some of it up before we left.


The kids were interested in making the cookies for about 20 minutes, and then they were distracted by all of Suzy’s toys.  Tess actually made some cookies, but most of her time was spent eating the dough.

We then baked the cookies for about 10 minutes, and then it was onto the best part – frosting.  Riley and Suzy iced the cookies with orange, green and white frosting.  The frosting was pretty messy, and knowing Tess, I kept her far away.

We finished around noon and headed to Subway for lunch.  We were all wiped out from a busy morning, and we came home and crashed for the rest of the afternoon.

Here are some photos from the event.

Yesterday we headed into town with Miki, Yuka, and Masato to go to the Ikuta Shrine.  In Japan you dress up in kimono have a special age ceremony when you are 3, 5, and 7 (Shichi-Go-San).  Since Riley is now three, we decided to join Miki in her age ceremony.

Riley is not one for dressing up, but we told her that she should look at the kimono and decide if she wanted to do it with Miki.  She immediately asked for a yellow kimono.

Another view of the Ikuta Shrine.

We waited in the shrine administration building to go into the room to try on and pick out our kimono.  The kids had a great time playing while they were waiting, and then Tess got tired, and Todd took her for walk to get her to sleep.

While they were out, our number was called, and we went in to pick out their kimono.  We walked into a room where the far end was a slightly elevated tatami room.  We took off our shoes and sat down while Yuka explained what we were looking for (Yuka and Masato pretty much took care of everything since my Japanese is nil).  Miki tried on a cute pink one, and then the woman went to go look for a yellow one.  Under a stack of pink ones, there was one yellow one that happen to be free on the day we selected, November 2.

Riley was very patient as the woman put on the kimono.  She looked very excited, as I am sure that I did.  When it was time to take it off, she told me that I was forgetting something.  She said that she had to look in the mirror.  There was even matching shoes and a purse to go along with the kimono and the jacket.  It was so cute, and Riley asked when she could come back and wear it.

We will return to the shrine on November 2, and we have to arrive two hours before our ceremony.  It should be interesting!  I am hoping she makes it to the actual photo.  The woman at the reception desk showed us an example, and it was gorgeous.

Just as we were about to leave the shrine administration building a wedding party walked out with the woman wearing traditional kimono and make up.  It was fascinating, and very different than what we are used to.  There were only a handful of people, they were very calm and serious.

Here are some pictures from that morning.

Tess thinks a bag of chocolate is her new purse.

I Love October

In : General, Posted by on Oct.10, 2008

Can you believe that Todd wrote a post?  It is the first one in over a year, maybe two years.  We should all feel blessed that he graced us with his presence.  He went to Shanghai a couple of weeks ago, and I am trying to get him to upload the photos and write a post, but let’s not hold our breath.

Jon throws Riley.

The girls are really loving school.  Tess knows some of her colors.  She can pick out red, green, yellow, and blue.  She knows about half of the alphabet and the numbers 1 though 4.  She is picking up more words everyday, but she is still not a chatterbox, yet.

Riley told me today about all of the things she knows now: to raise her hand when she wants to say something, to stand quietly in line, and to eat her morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack while sitting at the table.

Tess is so happy.

Her and Tess both have learned many new songs.  Riley randomly breaks out in song about 5 times a day, and her favorite is “Happy Birthday.”  Tess hums and sings a little of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  At her school they learn songs, and they put movements to them.  So she has her routine that she does as soon as she hears: “Twinkle, Twinkle”, “Itsy, Bitsy Spider”, “Wheels on the Bus”, or “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”  It is hilarious.

I know that October has just started, but it seems like it is already over for me.  I had Tobin Bechtel come in town last week to co-present MYP to the middle school and high school faculty.  The workshop went over very well, and Todd and I loved having Tobin in town.  We have Sports Day next Monday (if the weather holds), so we will have a shortened day and no classes.  Then I go to Beijing for a work conference from the 16th through the 20th of October.  We have class trips on the 24th of October, so no school that day either.  Fall break starts on October 25th until November 3rd, and I go to Tokyo for another work thing on the 30th of October.  Crazy!

Here are a TON of photos (81) of the girls and us around town and in the apartment.  Enjoy.  I will hopefully post before I leave on my trip. Or Todd could post a funny story about Shanghai!

Part of your complete breakfast

In : General, Kiddo, Posted by on Oct.10, 2008

Quick parenting story.DSC_1703.JPG

So, Riley woke up this morning just as Kirsten was leaving for an early meeting. Mornings with Riley are 50/50: either its hugs and kisses and giggling, or an impromptu concert by the Southern Kobe All-Demon Shrieking Choir.

Things were going well, when Riley asked to have ice cream for breakfast. Kirsten waved goodbye, and you could just hear her cackling as she walked down to the stairs. And when I denied her morning bowl of Lady Borden, Riley, predictably, erupted into a tantrum.

However, through supreme negotiating technique, I calmed her down, and got her to agree to a bowl of healthy, nutritious, unsweetened yogurt.

Which she ate.

After submerging it in a pool of honey.

And covering it in sugar-cookie sprinkles.

Nutritional catastrophe averted, and job well done.