This is a different kind of birthday week than we are used to. THIS week wasn't celebrating any of our birthdays, it was celebrating all of Jack's friends birthdays (three to be exact), and my goodness, they certainly do celebrate!
Celebrating birthdays almost defined our week because besides just going to each party, we were scheduling naps around them, buying gifts for them, and all the kids (and moms) were talking about them all week long! Don't get me wrong, it was a lot of fun, and we did things we wouldn't be doing anywhere else, which I guess is one of the reasons it's fun to live here. Even when we're with our expat friends, it's funny to still feel like it's a whole other world over here!
Party #1: Jack's good friend, Daisy, combined her party with her brother, Henry, who was turning 7 (their birthdays are a day apart). They invited a LOT of kids (I heard something about 80 invites being handed out, and I think almost that many attended) to a private birthday screening of Enchanted at the Emporium cinema. Wow. We arrived late, due to trying to give Jane at least a little nap, but only missed the first 20 min. (my hilarious father-in-law would have had a heart attack to arrive so late! Love you, Dad!). We sat down and enjoyed a really fun movie together! Jane really liked it, Jack got a little bored during the "plot" scenes, and both were a little nervous about the dragon, but overall, we all really enjoyed it. And now, Jack has a HUGE Enchanted poster he's determined to hang on his wall. After being turned into a light saber and all kinds of swords, during the after-movie catered meal (different world, I say!) it's pretty ragged. I think we might lose track of that one this week. Oops! By the time I got my camera out to take a picture of Jack and Daisy together, Daisy was done for the day. So, the picture I have is of her scowling, so I opted not to remember her like that!
Wednesday, no party, but we did have an awesome rainfall (hallelujah! Something other than heat!), and I got to see Jack do an awesome Taekwondo demonstration at his school. He was SO excited for us to come, and I have to say, it was the highlight of my week! He was right on cue with each move, and so attentive as soon as his teacher shouted out instructions. Is this how I need to format violin each day?
I mostly took video of him doing "his moves", but here are a couple pictures. For some reason, all my pictures are really bad this week. The lens must have been dirty or something lame like that. BUT, it was a crazy week, and so this is just one of the many things that went unnoticed! Is Jack cute or what?
He earned a yellow belt this day and was SO excited. He kept telling me not to bring his white belt at all, but I think it was a good thing I did, because they didn't get their new belts until the end! He was so proud to have Master Chai put it on him and get his certificate!
Jack and Oliver requesting a photo shoot. They are so silly together.
Jack's school has been preparing for a special "International Day" ever since we came back from Christmas break. It's been really fun to have him come home with new games, origami, foreign snacks (he thinks soybeans are so cool, especially when you get to throw them at Demons, as in the Japanese tradition), and all kinds of new information about countries we know little about. He's had moms come in to talk about Japan, Indonesia, Bhutan, India, Thailand, and of course, U.S.A.! I am the only American mom in the class, so I got to do it all by myself, and it was a lot of fun! We talked about the flag, the diversity in America, the Statue of Liberty, and ended with fun cowboy stuff. They dressed Jack up like a cowboy (I actually had to borrow a cowboy hat from my friend from Indonesia! I didn't bring anything cowboy-e!), made their own belt buckles, and got to wear their own bandannas. We even had trail mix for a treat. I think they enjoyed this stuff, but I'm pretty sure they enjoyed the authentic American fiddle music the best. I almost didn't pull it out because we were out of time, but I decided to, and the kids just danced around the room, laughing, jumping, and riding "horses" the entire time. It was a good time, and I loved finally being able to do something with Jack's class! Now, I'm looking forward to the actual "International Day" where Jack will be performing traditional Thai dance. He's pretty excited about it too!
Starting from the left: Naam Won, Jaskeerat, Rae, Sonam, Jack, Shonah, Menamu, Kazuya, Maya, Arjun, (on train) Oliver, Anna, and Sasha. You should have seen the way they looked at me when I told them to shout "Yee-Haw!", it was hilarious.
Such fun kids, and it was fun to see them in the classroom environment as opposed to play dates and parties which is where I usually get to interact with them.
Thursday afternoon was Shona's party (#2). Her mother, Yui, is so sweet. We get to enjoy chats when she occasionally gives me a ride home after dropping the kids at a school. She was worried when after 30 min. we weren't at the party! And, believe me, I was feeling bad too, but it was terrible traffic! It turned out to be just fine because then the Build-a-Bear process was a lot shorter, which is nice when Jane wants to try all the bear clothes on herself (which, might I add, all cost MORE than I spend on Jane's clothes... and she's real!). Anyway, Jack thought it was the coolest to build his own little puppy, which he named Jack, and get to carry him in this nice little house.
This is Jane and Justin, Shona's little brother, sharing the hearts with each other. Notice how Justin is as big, if not BIGGER than Jane? He's a year younger! He's a tank, I love it!
I think this was the 3rd time this week that Jane and Brandon got to be together. They are turning into quite the pair! It's a good thing too because his mom is one of my favorite moms in the class, so we are starting to get together more and more these days! I tried all week long to get a decent picture of these two, and honestly, THIS was the best one! They never stop running, jumping, moving around. And, if they do, their heads are always facing different directions. But, this picture does show how much fun they have together (and in this picture, Kazuya also). They light up when they see each other. It's been a blessing that Sukma (Brandon's mom) doesn't have a nanny either, because Brandon is her little sidekick just like Jane is mine! Everywhere we go for school related things, Jane has her favorite buddy to play with!
Jane spilled her entire drink on herself, so luckily, Kazuya's mom (Taka) had an extra shirt to go with the extra shorts I had. Jane looks pretty cute eating her cake, don't you think? This was at the restaurant behind the Build-a-Bear where they had food and cake waiting for everyone.
Jack and Kazuya being silly together.
After this party, we rushed to the park to meet the Wood family (the missionary family from Idaho we had over last week), to play and visit together. Luckily, they were late too (and actually never made it due to illness and traffic, unfortunately), but I did get to meet another amazing missionary family (who are friends of the Woods) from Washington. We had a really nice visit, and their two boys, ages 12 and 8 (I think), were immediately adopted as ideal playmates. Jack and Jane were pulling them all over the playground, and the boys were such good sports! It's so fun to meet such interesting people with great reasons to be here. They have been in Asia for 9 weeks and were only 4 days away from heading home. What troopers!
On Fridays, I've started going to a regular playgroup that a friend from Jack's school got me involved in. It's a group of about 10 women with children ranging from 12 months-3 1/2 that have been meeting together for years (since their older children were this age). It's turned out to be a really fun way to hear different expat experiences, learn about other places, and make connections that I wouldn't have otherwise. Last week, I heard one woman talking about going to China. I asked her about it to discover that she's going to China to run a half-marathon on the Great Wall. I had JUST been telling Jeff how amazing I thought that would be when I saw an internet advert for it! So, yes, I was so jealous. BUT, Jeff and I had also decided just days before that we wanted to start training for the Salt Lake City half-marathon that will take place when we are visiting in April. Karen and I discovered we have been running at the same park, and decided to try running together. I haven't run with anyone since I started to enjoy running, so it was really fun to have a partner last week for one of my longer runs (long at this stage, I guess, I'm still getting back into it!). Anyway, even though our paces are a bit different, I think it will be fun to have someone to run with occasionally and keep me motivated! In my dreams, I keep hoping one of her running mates for the Great Wall race will need to drop out and give away her ticket to someone else. Like I've said before, I'm a dreamer. So, tomorrow is our first day of officially starting our training programs for this race. We're both looking forward to having this schedule and hoping we can fit in our longer runs somehow while we swap who takes the kids!
Saturday was Jaskeerat's party at McDonalds (#3). We decided to make this a family affair, so after Jeff's run, my run, Jeff playing basketball with some church friends, and a Primary presidency meeting, we met up for lunch and playing. Jack was inseparable from Owen this week. They are in different classes, but really get along well. His parents are both from upstate New York and his mom is awesome, so we decided we really need to get these two together more often! It's funny to see who Jack really connects with. Sometimes I can predict it, sometimes not! This connection didn't surprise me much though.
More Jane and Brandon. They were dancing to the music in the party room with the big kids. Funny thing about this party: the music the McDonald's girls played for the kids do dance to, or play musical chairs, or other games was NOT kid music. It was actually pretty obscene, so we were grateful that the kids weren't listening too close and hope we won't be shocked to hear some choice phrases down the road that they picked up on from a party at McDonald's!
Last but not certainly not least, Jack and I were able to attend the funeral broadcast for our sweet President Hinckley today at the church. It's been nice to read thoughts about our dear prophet on so many of your blogs, and feel like I can relate in many ways. We learned Monday morning (Sunday evening MST) of his passing, and I was a little bit in shock. It took me a few minutes to process the texts and phone calls that all came at once, then I immediately started to feel happy. I will miss President Hinckley dearly, but as sad as it will make me to not see him at the pulpit this coming April for conference, that sadness is all but forgotten when I think of how happy he must be. He lived such an exceptional life of service, of reaching out to others, of caring and loving those from every walk of life. He has so many reasons to look back and be happy about the way he spent his life and the things he experienced. It just feels like the next step, moving ahead in the eternal realm. And, I have to admit, the happiest thought of all is the thought of him reuniting with his darling wife. They were meant to be together forever, and now their four years apart is in the past. They are together again, as was always intended.
A few favorite things I love about President Hinckley:
I love his focus on temple work and building temples so more people are able to participate in the work. I smile when I think of how wonderful it must be for him to see the results of all his hard work now that he is on the other side of things.
As a young women leader, I always loved to hear him be so encouraging to the youth of the church. Instead of seeing the mistakes and weaknesses in them, he saw the good. He saw their potential, including mine, as I was still in high school when he became our prophet, and was confident that we could reach it.
I love his emphasis on the family. The Family: A proclamation to the World is such an inspired document and I love that it came out at a time where the value of the family was declining.
I LOVE his relationship with his wife. The way they would walk together, the look in their eyes, and especially the way they spoke of one another is inspiring as a young wife and mother. I think Jeff and I could be like that, if I was a little more like Sis. Hinckley. I'll keep working on that.
I don't know where I heard President Hinckley say this (in so many words), but I always think of it when I see him with his cane, "My doctor said I needed a cane, but he didn't say I have to use it!". I loved to see him waving it around in greeting, rarely even touching it to the floor!
Again, thank you for all your thoughts this week about President Hinckley. It is obvious that he has touched millions of lives. We were lucky to have him for so long, and as my mom pointed out to me, we are so lucky to have so much to remember him by.
Have a great week everyone. And, if you get the chance on Super Tuesday, VOTE!