Monday, April 30, 2012

A Star Is Born

A few months ago, AK's school announced that tryouts would be held for a spring play, The Wizard of Oz.  When I asked her if she'd like to participate, she only had to think a moment.

"Yes!" She was thrilled.  "I'll be Dorothy!"

Uh Oh. 

"Actually,"  I said, "They will likely save the big parts for the older girls...but I know there will be something special for the KG2 (Kindergarten in Singapore terms) girls."

She thought just a minute and then smiled, obviously pleased.  "I'll be Toto, then!"

Well, it turns our our girl was perfect in the role of a Munchkin/Osian.  So, for three months, we've practiced after school and during the past two weekends.  We've sung all of the songs until I find myself humming them or even singing them out loud nearly all day. Every Day. 

Ben and I have laughed at the way words like "backstage", "my cues", "props", "miked" "cast" "main characters" and more have become part of her everyday vocabulary.  Never once has she complained about practice or the long weekend hours she's spent at school while the rest of us played. 

You may know that Ben spent much of the last two weeks in Venice.  If not for rehearsals of this production, we all may very well have had an Italian stamp in our passports.  Tonight was the big show, and I can say whole heartedly that it was worth staying home for.  I'm not sure she realizes that she wasn't the main reason why there was a packed house.   We appreciate that she has felt as much a part of the show as she would have as Dorothy. 

So, here she is. Our Munchkin. 
Yes, the bows are ridiculous.  She was encouraged to have "munchkin hair" and even wear makeup.  It was a first for her - blush and eyeshadow.  She wasn't much of a fan, however, so I don't think she'll be asking for her own anytime soon.  The bows, by the way, were a helpful way to spot her in the crowd. 

Here's a  video of her in action.  Just look for the pink bows :)  It's long and not the best quality, but it will have to do.  Rest assured, we'll have a professionally recorded version very soon.  I'm certain it will be on constant replay for the next several weeks. 

SAIS Wizard of Oz Video

All in all, it was a really, really well done production!  I was proud to be a Munchkin's mama, and I don't think we've seen AK's last performance.  She had a wonderful time, and I bet she'll be singing those songs for years to come.  I can't wait!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Last One

I promise.

It made me laugh when I saw him like this just moments after I put him to bed.  "I not tigered", he had insisted.  No, obviously not even a little bit 'tigered'.

I secretly enjoy finding him out of his bed.  Tonight, it gave me one more opportunity to snuggle with him, the boy whose most recent favorite game is buying pink popsicles (pretend ones, of course) for his Pancake bear.  I can only imagine what he's dreaming up for tomorrow...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

....And Another

Just in case yesterday's post left you wanting more....

Yes, he's really asleep.  I have no idea how.   Perhaps all those long hours of sleeping on airplanes has somehow led us to this ability to sleep in awkward positions?  I'm embarrassed to admit that it was over 2 hours after he'd "gone to bed" that I found him this way.  I can only assume he slept standing for at least most of those two hours. 

I'm off to see how he's sleeping tonight.  This standing pose will be hard to top!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nightly Ritual

Every family has them - their nightly rituals.  Our family's is quite ordinary.  We brush teeth, say prayers, read a book (or  three books or a chapter), give good night kisses, and turn out the light. 

Boring, right?  Pretty much.

Until recently.  Not long ago, B3 began to display a little rebellion by getting out of his bed after we've turned the lights out (or pulled the drapes at rest time).  At first, the signs were subtle.  Books from the shelf would be in his bed; the dump truck would be driven across the room.  Even though he was playing and reading, he'd make his way back to bed before falling asleep. 

That all changed earlier this month.  When Ben checked on him one night, he quickly called me to his room, saying that he was a little startled to find B3's bed empty.  Instead, we saw this:

Luckily, he's a sound sleeper.

Then next day, he actually napped. These days, that only happens about 1 out of 3 or 4 days.  Other days, he's too busy driving trucks or reading books or making 3456 trips to the potty to really sleep.  But nap he did. 

In his  chair.  Again.

Night after night, it's the same. We put them to bed, go about our nightly routines of washing dishes and making lunches and watching NCIS (God bless the landlord supplied DVR). 

And looking forward to seeing where he's sleeping tonight. 

Here are some favorite bedtime shots from the past two weeks.

We're confident that his choice of sleeping place is his way of pushing buttons.  He's testing the boundaries and he thinks he's a rebel.  So far, however, he's staying in his room. For that, we are grateful, and we're enjoying his sleeping adventures as much as he is!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Weekend 2012

I knew that the calendar said that Easter was the weekend after we returned from Spring Break, but it was somewhat of a surprise to realize that it was suddenly here.  We didn't have the normal warming days, blooming daffodils, and fantastic chocolate selections to cue the changing seasons.  After all, it's been Summer for as long as we've been in Singapore.

The stores have had a meager stock of Easter candy, but $8 for a bag of our favorites was a little too much for the Easter Bunny.  I did notice these in one of our stores.  Perhaps it's not really an Easter item, but who wouldn't want a Chocolate Pope?

The weekend started on Friday since it was a holiday for both Ben and AK.  We decided to go to the zoo and have breakfast.  We've been planning to go for months and just never quite made it.  Also, B3 asked to go to the zoo all week, so a trip was inevitable. 

Breakfast at the zoo is your typical buffet.  That is, until the guests show up. 
Meet Mika, the milk snake.  As soon as she was introduced and folks were invited to come have a closer look, AK was in line.  I stood only close enough to take the picture and regretted not having a zoom lens(sadly, I forgot the 'real' camera; the phone is a pitiful substitute, but it's all I had).  Not only did she hold it, but the snake's handler had to gently prod AK to give the snake back.  AK later returned for more snake holding fun.  She couldn't get enough!

B3 has to do what his sister does, so he, too, was determined to hold Mika.  It didn't take long for him to have enough; he quickly declined a repeat visit with the snake. 

While AK certainly enjoyed the snake ("She tickled me with her tongue!", AK reported happily), it wasn't the star attraction at breakfast.  That distinction goes to the other invited guests - Orangutans!

It was fun to see these incredible animals up close.  The babies were so cute, and the adults were enjoying their breakfasts (not from our buffet) as we posed. 

Our next stop, at AK's request, was to the Splash Safari show which features a Sea Lion named Philip.  He swims and splashes, and both AK and B3 are big fans.  Of course, they insisted on going to the front after the show to see and feel the action up close.
I'm not sure what the appeal of being splashed by a sea lion is, but it may have been the highlight of their day.  I've learned not to ask; it's better if I don't know that the pool water soaking was more of a thrill than breakfast with orangutans. 

After the show, B3 requested a visit with the zebras.  We did the quickest possible tour of that side of the zoo as the sky turned grey and the thunder rolled.  Sure enough, the clouds opened just as we hit a covered restaurant area.  We found a dry place to sit, and we snacked while we waited on it to pass. 

Unfortunately, it didn't pass. Instead, Ben became one of those people wearing the $5 lime green orangutan poncho while the other three of us squished under our one umbrella as we dashed for the taxi queue.  It was a short day at the zoo, but it was certainly a fun one!

Friday evening, a friend came over and dyed eggs with us.  B3 was uncharacteristically uninterested in the entire egg dyeing procedure.  He dunked one into the "John Deere" bucket of dye, and he was done.  Oh well; the girls (and their moms) had a great time!

Although AK was excited about the dyeing of eggs, she was more thrilled that we would "make Grandmama's special Easter Eggs" with the dyed eggs.  It took me a moment to realize that she was looking forward to deviled eggs.  In her mind, it seems, those are a rare treat only had after dyeing eggs at Grandmama's house.  (Of course, her version is pickle free. I'm told she looks like me, but I'm not sure how any child who shares my DNA would eschew pickles!) 
Saturday morning, we took the bikes out for a spin.  Both AK and B3 are fairly new to their bikes; AK has mastered riding without training wheels;  B3's legs have grown just enough that he can use his balance bike that he got for his birthday.  They're both doing great!

In the afternoon, AK attended a classmate's birthday party.  She had a great time playing with her friends, and the moms enjoyed sitting by the pool (in the rain) chatting and snacking on party food.  She was thrilled with her face paint, yet she couldn't understand why I insisted that it come off before bedtime.  Obviously, from the chocolate around her mouth, she enjoyed the cake, too.

AK wondered if the Easter Bunny would find us, and indeed he did.  He even brought AK the "giant chocolate bunny" she had been hoping for. 

B3 wasn't sure what to do with his basket at first, but he soon discovered the goodness it held:  gummy bears, stamps and an ink pad, and match box cars. 
After church, we had a little impromptu photo shoot outside.  Here are some favorites. 

And yes, that's a huge green bruise on B3's forehead.  That's what happens when you're three and you pitch a fit in the kitchen and you head-butt the granite countertops.  As hard headed as he is, the granite is still harder.  Even if he is a really, really good fit pitcher.  

It was so nice to have a three day weekend! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mercy Watson Goes to School

AK enjoyed Book Week this week at school, and the celebrating ended on Thursday with Character Dress Up Day. If left to her own imagination, she would have likely insisted on full Pioneer Girl gear- boots, long sleeves, crinoline, and bonnet - in honor of Either Laura Ingalls or Kirsten Larsen, Favorite American Girl of the Moment. There really wasn't time to pull that together, so I tried to steer her towards something a little more practical. It's too hot for multiple layers anyway. 

Thankfully, I was able to plant the idea into her head that dressing up as Mercy Watson was the way to go. She's loved Mercy for a while; they're kindred spirits, in fact. They both profess a love of warm buttered toast and buttered popcorn. All she needed to be thrilled to be Mercy was a mask made from a copy of a book cover, a popcorn bucket, and a pipe cleaner tail.

 B3 and I went to her school to enjoy the parade of characters, and what a parade it was!  There were an unimpressive number of kids dressed in recycled Halloween costumes, and it was a little disturbing to see ten year olds dressed as Katniss Everdeen.  Still, it was a fun celebration of books that brought back fond memories of similar parades from 30+ years ago.  I think the Kings Creek community might still be talking about the year the Patton Girls appeared as Pinocchio and Gepeto.  AK beamed when she reported that her school librarian commented, "Oh, Mercy Watson...great book!  Good choice, AK!", as she paraded across the stage. 
If you have a 4-8 year old and you haven't met Mercy, check her out!  She's certainly a favorite at our house. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break 2012 - New Zealand (part 1)

2001:  Canadian Rockies
2008:  Hawaii
2010:  Steamboat, CO
2011:  London
2012: New Zealand

Top Five List of Best Marion Family Vacations? 
Just the Top Five List of Vacations Made More Memorable by Someone Throwing Up. 

Ah, yes.  It's not just holidays that are made more memorable; we include vacations, too!  That's how we celebrated our first night in New Zealand.  We congratulated ourselves on a good flight, an easy handover of our camper, and a quick grocery shopping trip that enabled us to get out of Christchurch ahead of schedule.  Although we drove later into the night that we had planned, we successfully made it past Arthur's Pass and into Jacksons to a great campground.  Everyone was cosy and warm in their beds.  Until about 3 am, that is.    After that, I began to wonder whose crazy idea it was to go to New Zealand, and who thought a 5 x 10 space for all 4 of us was a good idea?  I was certain the entire trip was ruined!  Would we pass a virus around for the next 7 days? 

Thankfully, no.  B3 was our only victim (he did have an encore performance on night 5, too), and otherwise, the trip was absolutely wonderful. 

Prior to moving to Singapore, I didn't know I wanted to go to New Zealand; it had never been on my radar.  It's too far away from The States to be practical.  Now,   I can honestly say that it's one of the most amazing places I've ever been to.  Each day, Ben and I would comment that our surroundings reminded us of something familiar from another vacation or from another home.  We were reminded of:
  • Hawaiian Rain fForests
  • Highways around Mexican Volcanoes
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Drives
  • Yellowstone Valleys (We automatically searched for moose in swampy areas and bison in the fields)
  • Wyoming cliffs
  • Alaskan Mountain Views
  • Montana Skies
  • South Georgia Tea Colored Rivers
  • North Georgia Winding Roads
Perhaps that's why the trip was so enjoyable; everyday brought something new, but there were fond reminders of other favorite places.

It's Autumn in New Zealand right now, so some of the trees were even kind enough to have some color in their leaves for us.  The weather was cool but comfortable, and the rain was courteous enough not to completely ruin any of our days.  Although I took lots and lots of pictures, they don't compare to the amazing beauty that we were in awe of daily.   If I had asked Ben to stop each time we saw a view that I wanted to remember in a picture, we wouldn't have made it very far at all. The scenery was absolutely amazing, and everyone we met was kind, friendly, and polite. 

(Note:  I'm giving a little extra detail here so I have a record for our next trip to NZ ).  After arriving on Friday, we spent the night in Jacksons after crossing through Arthur's Pass.  We rolled in after dark and chose a spot in an odd little shelter .
We were thankful for that shelter when we awoke to rain (and other events at 3 am, but enough about that). Ben claims to have seen a kiwi here as well - the first of two he spotted on our trip.  I didn't see one, and I'm still a little bitter about that. 

Saturday morning's plan was to drive to the glacier area on the West Coast.  As we drove, it became obvious that the couple of cute one lane bridges we had seen the day before weren't unique.  Evidently, the entire country (at least the South Island) saves on its DOT budget by only building 1/2 of a bridge. 

I never got used to seeing another camper driving across the bridge as we sat and waited.  Crazy!

Another driving challenge was staying on the left hand side of the road.  Ben had a crash course in driving a right hand drive, manual transmission camper on the left side of the road.  He says that shifting left handed was the biggest challenge, and he only drove on the wrong (right) side of the road twice all week!  Thankfully, the road usually had arrows to remind us which lane was ours.

 We dropped out of the mountains and hit the west coast near Hokitika, where we had our first glimpse of the Tasman Sea. 
As you can see, it was windy, rainy, and not especially warm.  Even so, it must have made an impact on this little girl.  She asked questions about the "sea" and seemed thrilled to be there.  Later, she proudly unveiled an artist's rendering of what we had seen.

Note the raging storm clouds in the sky :). 

These two really were terrific travellers.  Aside from a daily spat over who got to sit by the window, they did a great job of filling the long drives with games and songs and giggles.

As we headed south down the West Coast through the Southern Alps, we had the odd combination of snow capped mountains, the beach, and a rain forest.  And, what would a rain forest be without rain? 
When we arrived at Franz Josef Glacier, all of the glacier walking trails were closed because of the rain.  So, we took a short walk in the woods just to stretch our legs and see the forest. 

It was incredibly green and lush and a bit peculiar to know that if we could have seen the mountains around us through the fog, we would see snow.

We spent Saturday night in the Franz Josef Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park, which was great.  Our little camper was just the right size, but we definitely didn't have room to spare.  Each night, my job was to occupy kids by brushing teeth or playing a game while Ben built their bed in our eating area.  By the end of the week, we had our routine well rehearsed.  We were definitely thankful to have the camper each day as we travelled many miles without seeing (m)any stores or facilities.  When we needed a potty break or a snack, we were ready! 

**Stay tuned for the next installment!**