Monday, December 28, 2009

Parties with a Purpose

We've been so thankful for the oppotunity to have lots of Christmas parties this year. Yes, it's been a little hectic, and yes, I'm thankful that we're finished, but we were able to do lots of entertaining and it's been really fun! Can I just say again how thankful I am for my house helper, who has done scads of dishes this week? Three cheers for Lou!

This picture is from the night of the party for my lady friends. I thought I didn't get a picture of the brownie, strawberry and white chocolate Christmas hats, but John snapped a picture before I even left the kitchen! Yum. They tasted as good as they looked! Some little friends enjoyed trying out the piano. The great thing was that my upstairs neighbor and my downstairs neighbor were both at the party, so no worries about the noise level!
I heard from a couple of ladies later that they really had fun. One even said she was so excited afterwards about the party and our upcoming study that she couldn't get to sleep that night! How do you like my girls' outfits? These traditional style clothes (meant to be worn with pants or leggings, of course!) were a gift that night.
This is part of a group of friends who came over the next night for loaded baked potatoes, Christmas cookies, and chai tea. We enjoyed getting to know them.
As usual, there always seems to be some congregating in the (tiny) kitchen. My kitchen has about two feet of walking width. But I love it! Every bit of space in my well-designed kitchen is usable. (John did the designing.) These friends were very interested in our magnet collection from all over the world.
They also really enjoyed the gifts they received! We sang some Christmas carols together, too.
The group picture.
It's been a full and busy Christmas, but also a very meaningful one. Pictures from our family Christmas and Clara Anne's birthday coming soon . . .

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Welcome to our home!

Inspired by a friend (thanks Sandra!) who gave a blog tour of her home, decorated for Christmas, I thought I'd share a few pictures of our home with its current festive style. I must admit that I am not the decorator in our family. I am happy to take care of all of the food to make Christmas special, but please don't put me in charge of decorations! It is my wonderful husband who sorts through the Christmas boxes each year, untangles the lights, dusts things off (this year unfortunately several things had mold on them from being stored in our damp basement and had to be thrown out!), and gets everything arranged beautifully. And, if there's a thing or two I personally would do differently, I keep mum about it and appreciate all the hard work he did to get it all set up! This year he did all the decorating the weekend that I came down with that terrible stomach flu. I stumbled groggily out of bed at midnight (after having slept since 3pm) to find our house twinkling and glowing. Bless him!

Come right in! Let's take a look around!

Our large round table has had a new centerpiece for Christmas, some things that we found locally. In the background is my "Jesus" plate that I found last year in the capital city, it has "Jesus" in the center and "shepherd mary wise man joseph manger angel peace" etc. around its rim. I love it and use it for serving. Or maybe you're feeling a bit hungry and need a little snack? Here's the table all decked out for a party we hosted recently.
Let's move over a bit into the living area. New this year are some stockings I found in a the capital city...don't you love these jewel tones? They were chosen based on their style and color to fit members of our family. John's is a masculine green and red. Mine is a lovely deep red with sparkly snowflakes. Clara Anne's is purple satin with gold trimming, suits her to a T. Chloe's is a beautiful deep blue, just like her eyes, with little sparkles here and there. Christin's is a plush red velvet with a velvet rose at the top of the stocking. They were really fun to fill and watch the girls open! (Note to self: the girls love small gifts! And if the gifts are in the stocking, they don't have to be wrapped! Everyone wins!)

Here's a closeup of the nativity set which we bought in Hong Kong on a trip in 2002. It was carved by an Asian minority group, and all of the features of the people are Asian, wearing Asian traditional dress, etc. We love it. One of my friends in town gave me the framed cross-stitch above; it means "Immanuel" in the local language. What a precious gift! (P.S. Look carefully and you will see two "interlopers"--small figurines that came from central Asia. They were a gift from friends who had been there and we decided it was fitting to have them join in the nativity.)
Our small tree sits in the picture window, where it can twinkle and glow out onto all of our neighbors. We did not bring any sentimental ornaments from the States, so all of these are either crafts that the girls made or simply decorative ornaments bought locally. The poinsettias are not real, either, but they add some wonderful Christmas cheer!

The girls really enjoyed doing this Advent calendar this year. I'm sorry this picture ended up rather small, but you can get the idea. It is cross-stitched, and the pieces for each day are stitched onto special plastic that can be cut out. The girls thought it was great fun to close their eyes to choose a new piece each day--but we save the piece with Mary and the baby for the last day. It's a beautiful calendar! I borrowed the pattern for this from a friend the Christmas that Clara Anne was born, and had it completed by a local cross-stitch shop. So fun to see the girls enjoy it more this year! Chloe reminded me every day at breakfast that it was time to do the advent calendar!
This little foam craft was new to us this year. John spent a few hours with a hot glue gun putting it together; each little piece required much assembly and then the frame had to be put together, as well as with velcro on each individual piece. Also a fun way to count down until Christmas! A piece each day meant we ended on Christmas Eve.

Here's a larger view of the top of the piano, with nativity set, lights, and candles:
And finally, our Jesse tree. This formed the core of our family devotions for the last month, we began on November 30th retelling the story of the Bible from creation until Jesus' birth. This year we used a book called "His Glorious Coming" by Ann Voskamp for our Scripture readings. (Fyi, her poetic style of writing the meditations wasn't as helpful for our kids, so usually John read the Scripture and then explained the text himself and asked the girls questions for comprehension.) The book came with beautifully illustrated "ornaments" that John laboriously cut out, laminated with packing tape, and trimmed with ribbon so that we could hang them on a small tree. (John also completed that project the weekend I was sick!) You could also put a poster up on the wall and hang the ornaments that way. Here's Chloe putting on the Christmas Eve ornament:
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of our home at Christmastime! I realize now that I forgot to take a picture of the girls' wooden nativity set that they play with, as well as Christin's felt nativity which was a gift this year from Grandpa and Grandma, but that'll have to wait until next year. The decorations won't last much longer--probably by the end of this week we'll take them down. But for a few more days, it's still Christmas at our home! Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day

Here's a traditional English Carol (interspersed with pictures of my dancing girls, loving the new Christmas dresses from Grandma and Grandpa) to inspire you today.

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play
To call my true love to my dance; Sing Oh! My love!
Oh my love, my love, my love
This have I done for my true love.
Then was I born of a virgin pure
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man's nature
To call my true love to my dance.

Sing, Oh! My love,
Oh my love, my love, my love
This have I done for my true love.
In a manger laid and wrapped, I was
So very poor, this was my chance,
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance.
Sing, Oh! My love!
Oh, my love, my love, my love
This have I done for my true love.

Sing, Oh! My Love!
Oh my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cheer

We've been a little busy around our house, as I'm sure you have as well, enjoying our advent devotions and preparing for Christmas. Our family Christmas will be celebrated tomorrow, with cinnamon rolls, family pictures, worship time, and gift opening. Then Friday, the 25th, we'll be celebrating Clara Anne's birthday and the five years of life the Father has given her! We will start the day by presenting the Christmas story at Clara Anne and Chloe's kindergarten--the teacher called me again this morning and told me how excited all the children are, looking forward to the program. I hope we won't disappoint them! I have a craft, a game, a Christmas quiz, and the Christmas story on coloring sheets prepared for them, not to mention a couple hundred Christmas cookies! It should be fun! We hope many will be interested to hear the TRUE story for the first time.

Last weekend we had similar events, including Christmas parties in each class at John's school, and it was a joy and blessing to be a part of that outreach. The kids really enjoyed it and it brought a sweet gladness to my heart to hear all of the kids and parents willingly repeating the new vocabulary after me: "Baby Jesus!" "King!" "Angel!" May He bless the seeds that were sown!

And last night, despite coming down with a terrible head cold which has now descended into my chest, I hosted a party which has been a long time coming. For almost six months, I have been feeling led to begin a study through the book "The Mission of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson, which was just translated into the local language this year. But one thing happened and then another, and the timing just didn't seem right. Finally, last night was our kick-off party. I invited several of my neighbors and some other dear local friends to join me for a Christmas party, and then during the party I introduced the idea of doing the book study together. We really had a wonderful night of warm fellowship and everyone expressed interest in returning for the weekly study. I'm excited! This is really going to meet a felt need in terms of mothering as well as just making friends. Recently one of my local friends said to me, "You have many more friends than I do. Truly! I wish I had as many friends as you do, but I am always busy with my child and family." So I do hope that our little group (it may be about 15 ladies) will grow in depth of relationship together as well as with Him--most are not in relationship with Him now.

For the party last night, I had a variety of snacks available: popcorn, clementine oranges which are plentiful and cheap right now, strawberries which just came in, a variety of Christmas cookies, and then the fun part was little Christmas hats that I made; I found the recipe on The base is a brownie mix that you bake in mini muffin tins. Then you turn each one upside down, top it with an upside down strawberry, and affix it to the brownie bite with a "scarf" and "tassel" of melted white chocolate. They were so adorable . . .and got eaten up so quickly I didn't even get a picture of them! Fun! The ladies also enjoyed sipping homemade chai tea as we chatted.

So, there's lots going on, I still have some gifts to wrap, candy to make, and we have 10 guests coming for dinner tonight. I'm so thankful for this season, though, and the joy that comes with sharing with others the meaning of Christmas.

I hope that you are also experiencing True Christmas cheer as you think about the miracle of the incarnation and the joy that is ours because of His love and sacrifice. I've been reading in Ezekiel this week and have been struck again by the utterly wonderful nature of HIM choosing us, despite our sin, ugliness, adultery in worshipping other gods, and depraved nature, He promises restoration and hope to us who can never earn or deserve it. May the gift of His hope, joy, peace and love be yours in full measure this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

Because. . . Even five year old princesses . . .
Need to get their beauty sleep.

Precious girl!
[Have I told you all how we have changed Christin's room into a schoolroom? We moved out the crib, she started sleeping in the double bed with Clara Anne at night and in a pack-n-play for daytime naps, and moved in the kids' bookshelf, a comfy chair, ottoman, and a long table with four chairs. This room has a big south window and windowseat that gets lots of sun! It's now my favorite cozy spot in the house, Clara Anne's too as you see!]

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

A few weeks late, here's my Thanksgiving wrap-up:

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. I posted several things the week of Thanksgiving about the state of my heart, and was so thankful for a tender heart that was especially thankful as we approached the holiday. Our celebration with other Americans was a fun, active, yummy party with everyone chipping in to make the meal really special. My girls were thrilled to wear their new dresses from Grandma and Grandpa, and we really enjoyed a special worship time with our friends as well where everyone shared a testimony of the Lord's faithfulness in the past year. It was a busy day but a really special one! Just for fun, here's our menu (you may be surprised that we were able to "swing" this being where we are...everybody dug deep to find the imported ingredients necessary!):

Appetizers: apples with caramel dip, a veggie tray with ranch dip, a cheeseball with crackers, and chips.

Meal: Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, au gratin potatoes, cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, roasted sweet potatoes with carrots and apples, three kinds of dinner rolls, and cranberry apple sauce.

Dessert: Apple pie, pecan pie (the best I've ever tasted, made by my friend Rachel!), pumpkin pie, chocolate mousse pie, chocolate mint brownies, apple crisp, pilgrim hats (also made by the talented Rachel!), and ice cream and whipped cream for topping! Wowza!

What a feast! There were plenty of leftovers so we all got to take lots home and enjoy it for the next few days. We are so thankful that we could enjoy that all together. (Though we agreed that next year: NO appetizers! They were all so yummy most people only had one helping of the main meal!) Our feast reminded me in a small way of the Feast to come. . . the marriage supper of the Lamb will be a feast like we've never even imagined. Amen, come Lord Jesus!

Snowy Day!

I found these pictures in my files and realized I had never posted them from several (many!) weeks ago when we found ourselves in a snowstorm in the capital city. That was the same day my mother-in-law sat on a plane for 9 hours, waiting to fly back to America, and finally ended up staying overnight and leaving late the next day. Yikes. But the snow was surely pretty! Fluffy, white, wet enough to pack and was lovely!

We had planned to meet our friend Becky (who came to the big city to shop for furniture) at a Starbucks at 11 that morning. After Chloe drained her kid's hot chocolate basically in one long, slow, blissful drink, she put her cup to other uses: Yes, they are "harvesting" snow outside and bringing it in to pack in our mugs. Or, why not just bring our mugs outside? It will be more efficient! And of course we're all about efficiency...
I only had fall jackets for the girls; what a surprise to wake up and see the snow! It didn't stop them from creating snow creatures-in-a-mug, though.

Could there be anything better than watching a beautiful snowfall from inside toasty warm Starbucks, with a cup of joe steaming in your hands? (Actually it was a decaf caramel macchiato with extra foam. Yummmmm.)
Clara Anne and Becky worked on the sculpture-in-a-mug while John helped Chloe talk to Auntie Beth in the States (calling family to update them on my MIL's situation.)

Voila! May I present Snow Bunny, Snow Bear, and Snow Kitten?
We love Auntie Becky, especially when she happily plays in the snow with us!
We tried for a girls' picture, me holding both girls (that's 70 pounds of child right there!) a bit awkwardly, but what a lovely background!
Pretty Clara Anne!
Cute Chloe!
What a fun time we had playing in the snow! Snowy day, come again!
PS: We found out later that the snowstorm was courtesy of the government's "Office of Weather Management." There was a weather front headed towards the northwest of this country, where there has been a terrible drought. So the government seeded the clouds, intending to send some precipitation their way. Unfortunately the weather changed, the front changed directions, and dumped it all on the capital city instead! Oops! Good thing I didn't let the girls eat the was chemically induced!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A morning's work

Since the sick bugs have been making their way through our home, we haven't been sending our girls to their local preschool for the last week or so. It seems like one child after another (and then mommy) had the yuckies, so no need to spread that to our sweet friends at preschool! The girls haven't been too disappointed, they've been playing, staying in jammies until noon, and creating an impressive volume of artwork. After one morning last week where I was busy with other things (i.e. the girls were on their own) here is visible proof of their morning of hard work:Mediums used: paint, colored pencils, crayons, markers, and glitter glue (that I helped with!).

Number of pieces produced: 16

Pieces of paper used: Not exactly sure, there was more than 16!

Fun had: impossible to be measured!

My favorite picture is with orange paint on the blue paper. It was done by Clara, and in the picture she is holding a pumpkin and running and I am chasing her! When Clara Anne showed it to me she started giggling and I did too--oh, the funny things kids come up with sometimes!

Now. . . back to my real job, pumpkin chasing that is!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Up from the grave . . .

Yes, I know that we just finished Thanksgiving, not Easter . . .

And yes, I certainly was not dead, just out cold (or hot! or both!) with a tummy bug . . .

But today, for the first time in three plus days, I got up from bed, was able to shower and eat a little food. Wow, that bug hit me hard!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration on Friday including enough food to feed an army and a special worship service together. Our family finally packed up and left about 7:30, and I was due to be at a wedding rehearsal for our friends Lisa and Victor at 8:30! I knew I was tired, but didn't realize I was starting to be sick. Thankfully I was able to participate in the wedding as planned the next day (I played the piano! My first time ever playing for a wedding!), and by the time we arrived home from the reception I crawled into bed and basically didn't get up until this morning.

Being sick always serves me to remind me of something I tend to forget: I am not God. I am not superhuman, even. I am weak. My body can get sick. In a time of sickness, it is so easy to give into sin: snap at the children, be impatient with a husband who is doing his best, be aggravated at noise in the house, and the list goes on. I saw in myself a pretty distinct lack of the fruits of the Spirit in those days. Worst of all, being sick like that takes all your energy--it's very difficult to focus your mind to read the Word, pray, or be concerned for others. Sickness can be all-consuming and overwhelming.

So what did I gain from my sickness? Several blessings, which I am thankful for. First, that reminder that I'm not God, that I'm humbly dependant on His mercies each day, even for the strength to get up and brush my teeth, much less serve the needs of my family. As well, even this brief bout of sickness rekindled the empathy I have for others who are struggling with chronic sickness. Our good friends Chip and Doris Stam are right now facing round three of treatments for Chip's cancer. He has maintained an attitude of thankfulness and joy through it all that gives such glory to God--and cannot be easy. This brief incident also reminds me how we are to give thanks in ALL circumstances. By His strength, I can be thankful that I got sick. I saw anew His mercies to me, was blessed by my husband's care, realized again what a mercy it is to be able to eat and drink, and am so thankful to be up and moving around--something I took completely for granted last week.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His lovingkindness endures forever!

Thanksgiving pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Thanksgiving Tree and other stories

Last Wednesday morning was a playdate for the record books. We still get together once a week with Clara Anne and Chloe's friends Emma and Samantha, and my dear friend Rachel. I'm not sure who enjoys playdate more, the kids or the moms! Usually the girls play together so well and Rachel and I get a chance to catch up. So we all have a vested interest in making sure play date continues to happen! :)

With Thanksgiving coming up, I had planned a simple craft that we could do together: a Tree of Thankfulness. Rachel and I helped the girls sketch some leaf shapes, then they cut them out and decorated them to put on the tree. The trunk of the tree is Jesus, and the most foundational branches are God's promises and God's love. We talked about how wonderful it was to have so many blessings to list on all of our leaves, but that there are seasons of our lives, like autumn, where the leaves fall. But in those times we still have everything to be thankful for, since we still have Jesus as the trunk of our tree.

It was a great lesson that I hope I'm still learning...but it may have been lost on our four and three year olds! That's ok though--we had fun anyway! Take a look . . . Another special event of the morning was having a hot chocolate party. We made hot chocolate from scratch (using cocoa powder, sugar, milk and vanilla--what could be simpler?) and enjoyed drinking it from my new tea set, a gift from my mother-in-law when she was here.

If you look closely you can see the steam! It was a cold day outside, so the hot chocolate was perfect! (Well, in theory. Chloe took one gulp while it was still too hot, burned her mouth, and then refused to touch it again. Samantha drank all of hers and Clara Anne and Emma sipped some and left the rest. Hmmmm. I think they were too excited about playing together to sit too long and sip, since usually my girls love hot cocoa!)

We all donned aprons for the event, including me! I wore my new, frilly, 50's housewife handmade creation that was also a gift from my mother-in-law. I love it! It takes me back in time and makes me feel like a Proverbs 31 woman when I wear it . . .you know, diligent with her time and rising early, providing for her family, and all of that!

What would we do without the Joy of Cooking? John and I recently saw "Julie and Julia" and I have had fun occasionally using a Julia Child voice while cooking in my kitchen. The girls think it's really funny!
Our third incident for the record books went like this: at the lunch table, I overheard just a snippet of conversation between Clara Anne and Emma. I didn't hear what came before, and I didn't hear what came after. But here's what I heard:
Emma: "Do you believe in Jesus?"
Clara Anne: "Yes, I believe in Jesus!"
Emma (very earnestly): " Yes, but have you been baptized?"
Clara Anne (just as earnestly): "No, but I believe in Jesus!"
There you have it! Glad we all know where we stand!
The final incident actually happened earlier in the morning. I had set out some scissors, planning to get ready for the craft, and then got interrupted with something or other, leaving the scissors out. Rachel and I were sitting on the couch for a moment when suddenly Emma and Clara Anne came out happily, scissors in hand. "Look, Mommy!" said Clara Anne. "We're giving each other haircuts!"

Upon investigation, it was true. I had never even approached the idea with my girls--certainly they knew that they shouldn't cut hair, right? Well, apparently not. Clara had trimmed a bit of her hair (not too bad, really), and Emma had trimmed some of Clara's hair and then given herself a little trim, too. Yikes. Rachel and I looked at each other, not sure whether to laugh or scold or what! Later she said that her girls specifically had talked about how scissors are used and what to do and not do with them, so she had to follow through, but I settled for a firm warning to the girls and a discussion on appropriate scissor use. Oh MY!

So, there's never a dull moment when we have a play date! We are SO thankful to have such very good friends, right here in our city. That is a blessing that we didn't always enjoy, which makes me appreciate it all the more. I'll end by echoing what several of the girls wanted to put on their Thankful leaves: Thank you, Lord, for friends!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Favorite Pumpkin Bread

This bread is so wonderfully moist and yummy with just the right hint of spice, I don't know why I always wait until autumn to make it! I made a loaf today (mixing time, approximately 7 minutes) and the aroma while baking was simply delightful. If you have a cup of pumpkin puree and 7 minutes, you've got a fresh, homemade Pumpkin Bread! Enjoy it with a cup of chai tea and you'll be feeling like Thanksgiving has arrived (which it almost has, in fact!).

2 eggs
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 2/3 c. flour
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
1/2 cup water

Beat the eggs. Add sugar and oil, blend. Add dry ingredients and beat on medium speed. Add pumpkin and water, mix well on low speed. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful, again

I've been thinking a bit lately about our baby that we lost through miscarriage in September. This week would have been just about time to be feeling the baby moving around if I had still been safely carrying the wee one. I'm not sure if it's that, or just maybe with Thanksgiving coming up this week, that my thoughts have been frequently straying to how thankful I am for that little one's life.

Striking to me has been the absence of bitterness in this process. I am thankful, truly thankful, that the Lord spared me from that. But that is not to say there isn't still a sense of loss. John and I had the opportunity last week to have a date, and as we sat and talked over coffee, the topic of the baby came up. I was surprised by the depth of emotion that suddenly welled up in me. Before I knew it, tears were flowing as we talked about life ahead without this child. Undergirding my heart's emotions, however, is a true and overwhelming sense of gratitude for the Lord's plan. He gave us the gift of this little one, He touched and changed our lives through her brief presence, and He sustained us as we dealt with the loss of our fourth child.

Thinking about this loss reminds me again of the fragility of life. We have a dear friend who is facing a difficult diagnosis, again, after a previous successful stem cell transplant. Others we know are experiencing other deep, deep trials, physical suffering, and loss of precious loved ones. Thankfully, these things can remind us of what is really true: this world is not our home, the promises of God are sure and steadfast, He will make everything right one day, our hope in Christ is secure because of His faithfulness.

So, to put it simply, as we approach Thanksgiving, let's remember that a thankful heart is also something to be thankful for. It's a gift from God to preserve our hearts in faith and give us a thankful spirit. I am thankful this year that the Lord protected and nourished my faith through the loss of our child, that bitterness is nowhere in sight, and that He has given me the gift of a thankful heart for this experience. May He be honored and glorified by our thanksgiving to Him!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I love this precious one. I'm thankful for her. Enough said.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Where are we, exactly?

We've been treated in the last week to some true winter weather . . . making me believe that perhaps we suddenly got teleported back to Minnesota or something! We woke up last Wednesday to steely gray skies and the threat of snow. It began to rain/sleet later in the afternoon and continued overnight, so that we woke up to a magically transformed winter wonderland on Thursday. SNOW DAY! The snow was supposed to keep on falling so we decided to cancel our day's regular activities and stay home, cuddle up in jammies and blankets, and drink hot drinks. This was only the third accumulating snowfall that has come to this city in the six years that we've lived here! Truly a rare occurance. We enjoyed it for all its worth! The girls and John went out to play and were joined by some other friends in the neighborhood; they had a great time making a snowman, throwing snowballs, and of course came in soaking wet with bright red cheeks. FUN times! I don't think I realized how much I miss the Minnesota snows until we experienced a bit of it this week!

But the pictures I wanted to share today came from a few weeks ago, when we were also wondering if we were still in a large, populous country in Asia. As a part of the national games, we went to see a baseball game. Yes, baseball. Largely unknown in this country, we were almost the only fans at the game, the others present were either volunteers or security people. The teams were very unequal; the capital city's team was playing the second string team of a much smaller province. The score reflected it--the capital city won in 6 innings, 15-1. (There must have been a mercy rule.) But we enjoyed our outing to a baseball game, despite feeling a little silly cheering loudly when no one else was saying a word. At one point, while we were cheering (for the underdog, of course!), the security guy next to me said (literally translated): "I see but I can't understand." I was going to try to explain the rules of baseball to him but didn't think I could manage the specialized vocabulary!

Here's the park, on an unusually beautiful, clear-sky fall day! We so rarely see this kind of clarity--smog is a constant issue where we live. But that makes us enjoy the clear days all the more!
Batter up!
Enjoying some Jelly Belly's (left over from our Hong Kong trip) while watching the game. Let's face it, my girls enjoyed the snacks much more than the game!

Chloe and I take a moment for a picture.

After a delicious lunch at a hole in the wall restaurant, we made our way to an equestrian event that afternoon. I don't know anything about this sport! But after watching about 20 horses compete, we learned! This was a hush-hush event, they even requested that everyone stay seated while the horses were competing. The event was called "horse dancing" and the riders led their horses through a series of paces that included a special kicking up of the heels that looked like the horse was dancing. It was interesting, and the horses were so beautiful! My girls were fascinated at first, but then, let's face it, it was the snacks that got them through!

Again, very few specatators. But the surrounding scenery was amazing! This arena was set up in the mountains and with the sky so clear, we could see for miles! Beautiful! Just got a little chilly, though, as the afternoon advanced and the wind picked up.

What a great experience, so very unlike anything we've ever done before in this country! It made us wonder a bit if we were really still here . . .but indeed, after a long day out, home was waiting for us just 30 minutes away by taxi. It was a fun and interesting day!