Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday madness

Dulwich had their Christmas concert the week before Thanksgiving, which really threw me off my game!  I don't know why they did it so early, but they did a fantastic job.  Each class had a song that they sang, with the other kids backing them up.  The costumes were amazing and so adorable.  In previous school productions Lily has been very shy.  Not anymore!  She was front and center and singing her little heart out.  She loves her music teacher and is always singing around the house.  I couldn't have been more proud of her.

Being an expat can be challenging, but we do our best to celebrate all the holidays the way we would back home so the kids don't miss out.  In the spirit of that, we celebrated Thanksgiving on the Saturday after T-Day.  With the kids in school and Lucas working it made the most sense.  We had Jane and Duane (Brits) and Mark and Carmen (Canadian) over along with the kids to celebrate an American Thanksgiving complete with too much food, the Macy's parade, and football.  It was a great day with good food and good friends, can't ask for much more than that!

On Sunday we headed to Mohamed and Warda's for a second Thanksgiving with our BASF family.  There was turkey and two different lamb dishes as well as all the usuals.  We always have fun with our BASF family, swapping relocation stories and vacations ideas and tips.  It's always hard to be away from family during the holidays, but Lucas and I are so lucky to have made so many good friends here in Shanghai.  Without them the holidays would be a depressing thing indeed!  Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go wrap presents, I am determined to have it done before the 24th!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

UN day, Halloween, & Mommy's birthday!

One of my favorite school activities is UN day.  In the weeks leading up to UN day, the kids learn about different countries, and how they differ from us.  Parents are invited to go in to the class to speak to the kids about their home country, I volunteered to speak to both kids classes, but unfortunately Charlie was sick the day I was to talk with his class so I had to cancel.  I did talk to Liliane's class though.  I read a book that talks about what makes America the Land of the Free and showed them pictures of the things they talked about in the book, and then showed them pictures from around the country so they could see the huge diversity of America.  Most had no idea just how big America is.  I finished it up with a quick book about Betsy Ross and a flag for the kids to color.  It was loads of fun and the kids asked lots of smart questions.  On UN day the kids are all invited to dress up in their countries local costume for a parade that the whole school puts on.  Charlie was still sick for this so he had to stay home, but I dressed Lily in jeans and fourth of July shirt and a Red Sox cap, sounded pretty American to me. You can see how proud they are to take part of the parade and show off their country. One of the best things about being an expat is the exposure the kids get to other countries, languages and cultures.  Most Americans never leave the country (Canada does not count) and in my opinion, this often makes them very unaware of the world beyond America.  It's a shame really, because there are so many amazing places to see and things to experience.  But I digress...

For Halloween this year, the kids were allowed to dressed up in costumes for school.  Charlie made an adorable pirate, and Lily a beautiful mermaid!  I think they just loved the novelty of wearing something besides their uniform to school.

Last year we didn't go trick or treating because the idea of running up and down stairs in the apartment just didn't appeal to us.  This year a friend invited us to join them in Green Hills an American style neighborhood.  The best part, for the hours of trick or treating the whole complex is closed to cars, no worrying about crazy drivers! The kids had so much fun running from door to door collecting candy, and I'm pleased to say, remembering to say Thank You.  If not for the ayis taking kids around the neighborhood we could have been back home in New Jersey, well maybe not Jersey, there was no snow after all.  The kids came home with an impressive haul.  Charlie was even complaining about his bucket being too heavy for him to carry, poor guy!

I celebrated my eighth 29th birthday this year, yay!  My day started with beautiful cards that the kids made for me, my favorite kind, and each gave me a Pandora mom charm and a new leather necklace for them.  I proudly wore them all day.  After dropping the kids at school some of my friends took me out to breakfast and surprised me with flowers and a gigantic cookie.  We had a great time enjoying a leisurely breakfast and chatting, something that we can't seem to manage with the kiddie around.
Lucas has planned to take me to dinner in Puxi at an Italian restaurant originally, but our ayi had to go home to help with a minor family emergency and our backup babysitter was busy too!  So, we decided to just do a family dinner instead at the Blue Frog, one of our favorites, that just happens to be across the street.  Little did I know that Lucas had also invited friends to join us.  It turned out to be an amazing birthday, it's going to be hard to beat next year!  I am super lucky to have such a wonderful family and such good friends!