While everyone in the US is still waiting for the arrival of the Easter Bunny, he's already come and gone here. We had a nice morning which didn't start too early and the girls enjoyed the egg hunt. We have a busy day ahead of us. Emily has a soccer game, we are going to an Easter brunch in the neighborhood, English Easter mass is at 3pm, Olivia has dance after mass and we are going out to dinner (Indian food for Easter!)
Here are the photos from the morning
Madeline was here with us in spirit!
We found this photo among our decorations so she's on display.
I'm not big on dying Easter eggs. It's alot of messy work and no one in the family but me likes hard boiled eggs. Plus, mine always crack. The last few years I have avoided it by sending the girls to Sarah's house for the experience (see last year's Easter post - it's great I have last year to refer back to!) No way to avoid it this year. And suprisingly we found some cool stuff here - plastic shrink wrap sleeves with Russian scenes and metallic rub for a finishing touch to colored eggs. Luckily I had food dye from the US.
Girls and Marcy's neighborhood friend Kyla
(nice Canadian family - we just love to find Canadian friends)
The finished product
One of the other Chevron ladies was telling me about these egg stands so she picked me up one when she went to the local bazaar. Very cool (until it tipped over and lots of eggs cracked.)
The Girl Scouts (Junior level only - Emily's group) recently earned the Horse Fun badge. One of the moms owns a horse here so it was very easy to make all the arrangements to learn everything about horse care. "Making arrangements" is not always an easy thing to do here. The girls found out that there is alot more to horseback riding then just the riding part and I think quite a few would rethink asking mom and dad for a pony. The horse, Orlick (small eagle in Kazakh language), was very well behaved and the girls got to meet some of his friends as well.
Chinook spends his days in Snuggles travel crate. He definitely can't be trusted to roam the house. Even if he were left in the kitchen he might decide to chew a cabinet out of boredom. We can't even let him stay outside now that the weather is nicer. He often chew rose bushes, brooms, trash cans, etc. Long story short, his crate needed to be cleaned. It was covered with winter time coal soot (just like the walls of our house - yuck!). Olivia agreed to clean it for a fee. She had to climb inside to get his towels out. Usually I have to cajole Chinook to get inside but with Olivia inside he jumped right in. I couldn't resist locking them in and going to get the camera.
The renovation is well underway and even though we are not there Sarah, Chris and Mary have been keeping up updated with photos. Unfortunately, Picasa is just one more thing I can't access in Almaty but some photos have been send as attachments.
Framing for the new bath and pantry
Framing for the new outdoor patio
I'm going to Dallas mid-May. I'll attend Madeline's Junior ring ceremony and watch her in the Jesuit one-act play she is in and check up on the progress and finalize all those decisions that I didn't get to in March. The one I dread most - paint color. I'll just leave it to Sarah. Almost every paint color that has been added in the past few years has been chosen by her and I'm quite happy with them all.
I realized the other day that I have been blogging for one year as of April 3rd. I decided to look back at what we've been up to in the last year. Turns out we've been REALLY busy. Here's what I found:
Places we've been - Calgary, Dallas, Lake Louise, Kimberley, London, Washington DC, Almaty, Rome, Moscow, and Astana (and Mexico - although it did not make the blog until after the anniversary.)
Holidays we've celebrated - Easter, Chinese New Year, July 4th, Thanksgiving (once in Sept!), Halloween (once in Rome!) and Christmas (and many birthdays, as well)
Sporting Events we've attended (only the ones I've blogged about) - Mavs, Rangers, Nationals, Cowboys, FC Dallas, FC Fulham, Kazakh Rugby, Asian Games
Things we've done (only the ones I've blogged about) - Soccer (12 posts), School events (14 posts), Hiking/Outdoors (4 posts), Girl Guides/Girl Scouts (5 posts), Cheerleading (5 posts), Winter sports (11 posts), Dance (4 posts), discovered our way around Almaty (6 posts)
And just to be sure that I've been giving equal blog time to each of my daughters I counted how many posts were dedicated to each one individually - Madeline (13 posts), Olivia (9 posts), Emily (12 posts), Marcy (12 posts). Looks like poor Olivia needs a little more attention in 2011.
And random posts not in the categories above - wedding gowns, hula-hooping, turkey smuggling!
On Friday the first of the "de" construction began as the workmen came, got the dumpster in place, sealed off areas of the house, and ripped out the old deck and lattice covering. I'm hoping we will have some in progress photos as we go along but we at least have some "befores" to compare. We are gutting a bathroom, complete redo on the kitchen, adding a powder bath, completely overhauling the back deck.
Marcy and Madeline's bathroom
The deck (all gone already!)
I'll be back in Dallas in May to check on the progress so I'll definitely have "in-progress" photos to post then. I had to do alot of prep work while I was in Dallas - making selections of cabinets and tile, etc., emptying the kitchen and bathroom, etc. I let everyone leave their mark on the old kitchen by writing on cabinets and tearing off wall paper.
Just like Santa photos, our zoo days have dwindled as the girls get older. It used to be we visited zoos where ever we were, when ever we could. Now, only if there is nothing more pressing to see, it's really convenient, and it's supposed to be a particularly good one. While we were in Dallas for spring break and I was busy with kitchen reno preparations and all the cousins were in school, Frank took Olivia, Emily and Marcy to the Dallas Zoo. It was the first visit since the Zoo renovated the Wilds of Africa area. Apparently it's quite nice now and because it was only about $5 more than the price of regular admission, we now have a zoo membership again - just like old times.
Inside the bird exhibit where they fed them and let them land all over them
The much improved giraffe area where they also got to feed them
It used to be a concrete pen with chain link fencing
I'm not sure we'll want to visit over the summer in the midst of Texas heat but maybe next Christmas time. I'll have to go see if for myself and maybe we'll pick up some stuff for trading at the nature center in the meantime.
We celebrated Madeline's 17th birthday in Playa a bit late. (Can you believe we have a 17 year old!!!!) Poor Madeline had to spend her actual birthday taking exams and studying for more. The realities of getting old are tough! But, we celebrated with a big Mexican dinner and some Haagen-Daz (sp?) ice cream.
Madeline got to help make guacamole...
and definitely helped eat the guacamole (her favorite)
The highlight of spring break was a trip to the beach in Playa del Carmen. Except for having to call a Dr. to the condos as soon as we arrived because of Marcy's nearly burst eardrum, it was very relaxing. (She had a bit of a cold and with all the up and down flying - Almaty to Amsterdam to Memphis to Dallas to Cancun the next morning - the Dr. likened it to a diver who comes up to fast and gets air trapped behind the eardrum.) We did lots of beach, visited Tulum ruins, snorkeled at Akumal, and ate alot of Mexican food.
Early morning on the beach - we were still jet-lagged
Ruins at Tulum
Views of the coast at Tulum
Snorkeling - we saw sea turtles, stingrays, big fish, small fish, coral and an eel!