Saturday, January 14, 2012

Catching up

I certainly should make "keeping up with the blog" a New Years resolution but I need to focus on other things.  So, I'll catch up when I can, like today.  We had a lazy Sunday planned so my morning was spent on the 6 posts you'll see below.  Enjoy seeing how our holidays were spent!  And now everyone can stop nagging me for awhile about never blogging.

Prospero Ano y Feliz Edad!

Ahhh...what a better way to spend the New Year than in Playa del Carmen with friends.  Another part of our trip home that we were really looking forward to was a few nights in Mexico.  After a bit if a scare about getting our passports back from the Kazakhstan Embassy in time, we made it there and had a great time.  (Although, we did not get any sleep.  Our condo was just down from an intersection with a bar on each corner.  They played competing dance music every night from 10pm until 4am, except on New Years Eve when it finally ended at about 7am!)  We did lots of stuff:

Burying people in the sand
(mostly Olivia)

Playing in the waves

a game of beach soccer

collecting really cool shells

eating ice cream
(and hanging out with Beth and the rest of the Parkers)

getting hair braided 

Thanks to the Parkers for inviting us along and including us in all their activities.  We felt like honorary Canadians once again.  And Emily relished all the fun time spent with Beth - we have to keep these visits up for their sake.

Let's Go Mavs!!

The Mavs have not been put in the greatest spot to defend their first National Championship.  The season almost didn't happen, they lost a few key players, new players are trying to find their role, and all the players seem a bit out of shape.  But, I was very happy to be home to use our share of season tickets for 2 games.  Mary and I went to a pre-season game and had a good time checking out the resemblances of players to various career paths (put Brian Cardinal in a suit and he's a mortgage banker), celebrities (I swear Beaubois looks like Don Cheadle) and mascots (Delonte West is the Mavs Man.)  Emily and I went to see the Toronto game.

That was fun as well but we were disappointed that no one would throw her a t-shirt and we only got on the big screen once from behind.  It's great to sit on the floor because you get to see the stars up close.

Like Dirk...

or Chloe Kardashian
(she seemed to be the one everyone really wanted to see!)

1st Annual Family Soup Contest

Theme: Tortilla Soup

We had a bunch of left over chicken and condiments from our Christmas Eve fajita dinner.  I told Mary that I had a good recipe for tortilla soup and she said her friend Rachel had a good recipe for tortilla soup and when we told Sarah she said she would find a good recipe for tortilla soup.  And the contest was on!  We chose the afternoon of the ND Bowl game.  Our bowls of soup were much better than the ND Bowl game.

Here are the "contestants":

And the judges (Rachel was there to try her own soup):

Based on the judges outright selections, Mary (with her modified Rachel recipe) won.  Based on a point system implemented by Chris, Mary and Sarah tied with 7 points each.  You can see in both cases I did not win.  BUT, after a poll of all consumers of the soups I received the the Children's Choice Award.  My recipe is not very spicy.  Regardless, I thought it was lots of fun and I didn't have real expectations of winning (not within my family - I definitely the cooking black sheep of the family.)  Can't wait for next year's contest.  What should the theme be - chili? tomato? potato?

Christmas in Dallas

We were all very eager to spend Christmas in Dallas.  August to December is a long stretch when it is spent in Almaty.  (Yes, we did have a week in Israel but it's just not the same thing.)  Maybe it was because Frank spent so much time in the US this fall and we were all longing to be there.  Anyway...we had a very enjoyable Christmas and were happy that Frank flew 48 hours to spend 48 hours with us between Dec 24 and Dec 26.  Here are the photos.

Christmas Eve:

Christmas Day:

Christmas Craft

After being bashed by my own daughter and then having it outed on my sister's blog I decided to get my children together for a little family Christmas crafting project.  Truthfully, I found this project in a magazine long before Christmas, tore it out, saved it, and then brought it all the way to Dallas from Kazakhstan.  So, I wasn't only motivated by the negative press.  We made Christmas plates using stencils and spray paint.  It certainly wasn't all happy, perfect family time; there was screaming and crying and mistakes and impatience but here is the result of our efforts.

Madeline's is the purple-ish one in lower right one and the picture does not do it justice.  She tried to use lace but it didn't work so she ended up scratching a pattern into the plate with a pencil and then spraying with blue paint.  It was very cool!

Christmas concerts

Once again this year we had the traditional Christmas concerts at school.  I was quite impressed with the overall presentation that the new music teacher worked out.  What I liked best is that both concerts were held at the school.  The acoustics were not great but it was much more convenient then driving somewhere else in the city.

Olivia's music class - bad lighting

Marcy and her 9 year old class

Emily and the Spanish students
(In this one she is just pretending to play the trumpet)

Emily took up trumpet lessons for after school activities for the 6 weeks before Christmas.  She was supposed to be having flute lessons but came home with a trumpet instead.  I wasn't very enthusiastic about that but she actually plays very well.  She and Marcy got to perform in an instrumental piece during the concert.  Marcy worked very hard on her recorder, going to school early for more than 2 weeks so she could be in this performance.  Here's a video of their performance (again, bad acoustics.)