The Storm

We had a short but powerful storm hit our town on Sunday afternoon. I could tell you all about our adventures of that day, but I feel the story that came home from Kindergarten today tells it best. (One explanation: we didn’t have power for several hours, and since we didn’t know when it would be restored, we didn’t want to open the refrigerator.)



I love how every word makes complete sense phonetically. The picture below is Paige in the kitchen with her flashlight next to the fridge.

112There are only 19 more days of Kindergarten. Sigh.



A Poem

I’m clearing some piles from our dining room table this morning, and thought I should share this poem written by Andrew. Each student in his class wrote a poem about a body part. We saw them when visiting his classroom one day. Most kids wrote about their eyes or arms. Andrew, fittingly, wrote about his brain.

My Brain

By Andrew

The best part of me is my brain.

My brain speaks to my body.

My brain sends messages like a computer.

My brain cells zap and zip.

No nick, no trick, and no need to click.

Crooked, light, and goes ummm when it thinks, also as smart as a whip.

Brains bring bubbly things to bodies.

It is thoughtful and imagines a lot.

Now my poem is almost done.

So now my brain will dream about itself, my body’s number one.

Budding Artists

It is always fun to see the kids’ artwork that comes home from school. It is especially exciting to hear that their art was chosen for a special award!

Last summer, Morgan had a piece selected for the Up and Coming Artist Show. We were on vacation when the show was going on, and we didn’t know until we got home and got caught up on our mail, that she was actually one of the winners at the show! We tried finding out about her award, but we never heard back from anyone. Just recently, she got her prize: a third place ribbon and a sketch book! Go Morgan! We love you!


003Also recently, Andrew had some art entered in an art show and his artwork was selected as a winner also! His picture will be featured MidWestOne Bank’s 2014 Kids’ Art Calendar. We were glad we were around and available to attend a small recognition reception.

002All the winners are pictured above. Can you find Andrew? His head is about in the middle of the picture. You can see his ear. 😉

005His picture is to the right of the top of his head.

004Good job, Andrew! We love you, too!




Beijing — Day 1 (Part 3)

Right next to Tienanmen Square is the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was built beginning in 1406 and was basically the palace for the emperors for 500 years. It consists of more than 900 rooms which were used for governmental duties and the living quarters for the emperor and his wives and concubines. There were several throne rooms, meeting rooms, dressing rooms and such. It is all a museum now and shows the traditional Chinese architecture. We enjoyed seeing the huge space and people watching, of course.

Photo opportunities abound! (People taking a picture of Craig.)

Signs translated with Brittish English.


Intricate detail on all the ceilings above and large open courtyards below.


You can’t tell in this photo, but this child is wearing split pants, which is common in potty training kids in China. There is a split in the crotch of the pants so there is easy access to “go” anytime. I think it’s also common for kids to be over dressed and bundled up.

Detail everywhere you look …


A throne room.

The large bowls collected rain water to use to fight fires, which according to the history written on signs there were many fires and quite a few started by lightning.

Ben thought the stone by his feet looked like home plate, so he played a little baseball. 🙂


Tour groups often had matching hats and their guide carried a flag.


This structure is on a hill outside the Forbidden City. A moat surrounds the city area and the dirt removed to make the moat created the hill that the structure sits on.


More details. Hand carved stonework.


A funny sign …


The emperor’s new clothes …

And here are the perilous hills … This was located in a garden area.

A very harmonious, peaceful place …

The moat …

The view from atop the moat hill … It gives a better feeling for the size of the Forbidden City. All of those roofs are part of it.

That was a lot of photos, and probably not even half of what we took at the Forbidden City! It was a really interesting place to visit!







We interrupt this blog to bring you S N O W M A G E D O N ! Ha! ha! Just being a little dramatic. We’ve had two snow days in a row, what can I say? I think I need to get out of the house! 😉

So, I’m in the process of “catching up” on the blog, but we’ll put this post out-of-order, just for fun. Here’s what we do to stay entertained when a blizzard is swirling snow outside our house.

We raid the recyclables and cut up cardboard!

We color on cardboard.

And we create our very own “green” Zhu Zhu Pet houses.

We first tried using some block houses, but those Zhu Zhus are strong, and they bust through the walls.

I guess the above isn’t really a house. It’s a wrestling ring. In the style of a “Battle Arena” you could purchase for $22.99. The bleachers are below.

But, why buy more plastic junk for your house, when you can use the junk you already have? And it’s custom! People pay big bucks for custom stuff. This house has grass and flowers around the outside.

And a specially designed, flip-top roof, so you can view the action inside.

The Zhu Zhus have fun exploring their new place!

Sometimes they even look out the window.

They also try to climb the walls, but soon figure out it won’t work, back up and go somewhere else. (If you can read upside down, you’ll see that this is a “reseling” ring, too.)

Dancing in the house. Must have liked something on the TV on the wall. (Do you see the TV? It’s on a very tall TV stand. I suspect that was custom, too.)

And, we didn’t stop there. Oh no! We made some capes and created Super Zhu Zhus, or Zhuper Zhu Zhus, as Andrew called them. 🙂

The girls have a bow on top and the boy put his on the bottom.

Who said you can’t be creative with battery-operated toys?