Hooray for family memories!
Typically, when it comes to holidays, we tend to stay home to celebrate. We are creatures of habit, really, deep down inside...somewhere...I think... We like our traditions and traditional foods. So, usually for Thanksgiving, we prepare our huge meal and invite our friends over to share it. Well, this year we decided to do something a little different. We went on a family trip over Thanksgiving break! *Gasp!* We made amazing memories--it was definitely a Thanksgiving to remember. More so than the generic ones we typically find ourselves enjoying.
It started off by an early morning drive out of Colombo into the hill country! We drove up to Nuwara Eliya--which is probably my favorite part of Sri Lanka. We enjoyed a day of wandering about the little city and the park and LOVING the cool air and sprinkling rain.
We stayed in a cute little house on the side of a hill. There was a big open dirt 'field' nearby where the kids spent ALL DAY running about and playing. It was glorious!
Our Thanksgiving dinner was HILARIOUS! We got a small turkey breast instead of a full size turkey, and I'm very glad we did! We cooked everything in clay pots over wood fires! And the wood was branches from cinnamon trees and coconut husks! I made stuffing in a wok! And the best was the yams--we opened canned yams and poured them into a clay pot, then added freshly squeezed orange juice, jaggery (a local sweetener somewhat akin to maple syrup), then ground up a bunch of fresh whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom) and poured it all over (along with a lot of butter)! We got that cooking over the wood fire, and wondered how we were supposed to brown the marshmallow to put on top... Well, necessity really is the mother of invention! We put marshmallows on forks and toasted them on the fire under the pot! When it was browned, we pulled it off the fork and tossed it into the pot! HA! Not all the marshmallows made it into the pot... Ha! It was such a fun dinner to prepare and to eat! We had to keep leaving the kitchen because the smoke got so bad! I'll never forget it, that's for sure!
Thanksgiving afternoon, we went to the botanical gardens nearby. Oh my. They were SOOOOO gorgeous!! We could have spent hours and hours there!
The next morning, we headed over to visit Lipton's tea factory--the original one where the real Sir Thomas Lipton (of Lipton Tea Fame) began his empire! It was super cool! I had no idea what went into making tea! But the BEST part was Lipton's Seat! We drove up and up and up past a million switchbacks to get to the top of this hill with this incredible vista! WOW! It was pretty overcast, and VERY windy, but so very beautiful!
The last stop on our list was to a waterfall on our way to our hotel. Then we wandered around an old Buddhist temple near our hotel while we waited for dinner to be ready--"No later than 7:30"--but we started eating at 9pm. Oh well. It, again, was memorable.
And then, the piece de resistance: The train ride home! Pictures will NEVER do this train trip justice. Incredible doesn't go far enough. Wow. Just wow. If you ever get the chance to just ride the 11 hour train ride through the mountains of Sri Lanka, DO IT! Don't let that chance pass you by!! I want to go again!!
Hooray for family memories!
Today I sat in piles and piles of silicon.
The little boys played in silicon mixed with water.
Josh used silicon to take pictures of it.
I used more silicon to post this.
This day was brought to you by silicon. (And carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen...among other things. Thank you chemistry lesson this morning.)
Dinner tonight is brought to you by spicy peanuts and spicy manioc chips. Yum.
Oh, and while Claire and I were walking to the store to buy the above yummies, a bird pooped on my head. Gross.
On our way home from the store, the bicycle bread guy was selling his wares, so we bought some sugar coated goodness for all the kids. Yum.
A lovely friend of ours is having a story written up about her daughter in 'The Friend' magazine (an LDS church publication geared toward children), and Josh has been taking her pictures for it!!! It has been SO much fun to watch him practice his art! That kid has some talent! And it's been so fun spending time with this lovely family!!!
So what's the story going to be about in the magazine? Well, it's a very cool story!! But, if you want to know what it says, you'll have to read it when it comes out!! Don't worry--when it's published, I'll post all about it! And then you'll get to see the finalized photographs, too, which turned out pretty amazing!
I think it would be really funny if there really were a National Handshake Day... But today, I refer to something we do in the foreign service. It happens twice a year (en masse), and I'm sure it happens at other random times, too. These are the days we plan for, study for, and agonize over for months at a time. This is the day we get our onward assignment.
Just to give you an idea of the thought processes and intensive study that goes into this, I'll tell you about how we prepare for this at our house:
Beginning a year or so before bidding season...or maybe a little earlier...we start to get curious and Devin prints off the projected bid list. We pore over the list and start to look at some of them that we've looked at in the past...or that we've not heard much about. We do a lot of research and usually end up with about 20 places that we're curious about. This lasts for MONTHS.
After a few months of our perusing, we bring the kids in. This is where it gets REALLY fun! I use it as a super mega awesome Geography course. We SCOUR the list the Dev and I have made up. We research the history of each country--the things to see and do, the weather, the current events, the people, the culture, the customs, the language, the church/religion, EVERYTHING. By the time we're through, we are experts on pretty much everything we can know about that country without actually going there. This also lasts for months--we really take our time and dig in. Every time one of those countries pops into the news, the kids see it and we read all about it. It's so much fun!
From these studies, we all work together to pick our top 5-10. This takes many months as well. Devin and I feel very strongly that our kids need to be a big part of this, as they have to live there, too! If they are part of the choosing process, then they own it, and they're much more keen about going and participating.
This year, we thought we had our choices nailed down by May. We were pretty confident with our choices. However, we tend to have this little issue...we think we have things all planned out, and then, right at the last minute, things change. Ah well. This time was no exception. We were sitting with some friends soon after arriving back here from our long summer break, chatting with some friends about the upcoming bidding, and brought up a post that we knew was on our list, but we hadn't really considered much. They talked about how much they LOVED it--best post they've been to! So, we started to look into it, and some really amazing things happened. We felt very strongly that this was a place we needed to look into further. There were just SO many things that happened after that, there was no question in our minds that this is the post for us! It was incredible! I LOVE when that happens! Let me tell you--God cares about where we live--where we go--what we do!
Now that you have a slightly better idea of the horrors that await us every few years, and the huge amount of effort that we go to figure out where we need to be next, I'm sure you're wondering where we're going! Well, this year, this was our narrowed down final list (in alphabetical order):
Bolivia (La Paz)
And instead of just naming our future home, I'll share some lovely stock photos:
Life is just so strange sometimes. Up until a month or so ago, we were going to Europe. End of story. Now, we've got our handshake to South America. Never a dull moment. Ever.
Halloween comes early here... Today we had party number one! Enjoy some highlights:
These kids worked SO hard on their costumes! Josh made Andrew's Rebel hat and his own Star Lord mask from floor mats and hot glue!!!!!! Andrew won best costume overall!!!! Peter was a smoke detector that had low batteries--so funny! He had a little LED light that he could blink and he would squeak just like it! Claire was Professor MacGonagal. We made that witch hat this morning with pink poster board and covered it with black material using double sided tape! Ha! And I made her little glasses with craft wire! It was SO much fun to make and gather all this! Devin and I were Mavis and Johnny from Hotel Transylvania. Good times! I used my black eyeliner as lipstick. It's driving me crazy, though, so I'm going to go wash it off right now!
I'm a lover of reptiles. I admit it. I know it's weird, but I just like them! This is a baby monitor lizard eating a slug in my backyard. I think it's super cool! The best was when a bird came down and tried to take away the slug! Ha! The lizard won. Way to go, my reptilian amigo'
My lovely picture of the day...our new friend snake slithering along the top of our backyard fence! Woohoo! The birds were going CRAZY around him, which made it even cooler to watch! They were chirping and screeching away! Neat!
I love our co-op. Every Friday we get together for some fun hands-on activities--this year we're doing simple/powered machines with Legos, and arts & crafts with Zeeniya...and we usually get in some documentary time and a little outdoor fun, too. It's so nice just to get together, though. I think all the kids appreciate the time with other kids who are raised similarly, and I KNOW we as moms love the time to chat and compare notes...and remember that we're not alone in this crazy endeavor! It's a ray of sunshine in our week!
Who Am I?
As a Stay At Home Mom of 4 wonderful children, I have the amazing opportunity not only to home school them, but to do so in many different places! I am married to the most amazingly wonderful (and handsome) man in the whole world! Together, we seek out, every day, that Joy in the Journey that makes life exciting!
I love to read and do reviews for Compass Book Ratings!
by Dan Brown
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I'm reading this one again. I liked it the first time I read it. I'm still liking it for the second time around. I like all of Shannon Hales' books. **Still lots of fun the second time around! I do like this book for a comfortable...