Daily Life of Boot Wearin' Dirt Kickers in China

A Midwestern American family figures out how to live, love and laugh in China

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June 12, 2009 Mohawks a Big Success

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

I don’t know why but the boys’ annual mohawks continue to be a hit with teachers and kids alike. The boys came home positively beaming from their big day of class “goodbye” parties and other final end-of-year activities where their mohawk hair do’s were the hot topic.

I helped out with Garrett’s class party…an ice cream sundae party. It was fun to get all the ice cream toppings together…the kid stampede wasn’t so much fun but we got them all in line and organized, and it all went fine.

Toby’s class had some snacks, watched a movie and then had an afternoon dodge ball tournement. I was not invited to the class activities (because they’re big 3rd Graders and don’t need mom so much:(

Garrett has had a wonderful year with Mrs. Brubaker (as did Toby when he had her for 1st Grade). There are six 1st Grade classes so we were surprised to have gotten the same teacher for both boys. She was a great teacher for both!

Toby also had a good year with Mr. Cook. Garrett’s former Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Natalie, will be teaching 4th Grade next year so it would be funny if Toby got her…but there are three or four other good 4th Grade teachers that he could also get…we’ll see in August!

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June 11, 2009 Annual Mohawks

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

Sorry – no photos of the barber!

Aaron had a team dinner tonight so the boys and I were on our own in the evening. I had planned to take them after school to get their annual mohawks but the evening got away from us. I remembered during dinner so I asked the boys if they wanted to go down the street on the bicycles to get it done or just wait until the next day after school. They both wanted to have their mohawks the next day for their class parties so we hopped on our bikes and headed out. We were home by 9:15 p.m.

They are now fully prepared with their annual mohawks for their last two days of school!

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June 10, 2009 Secret Agent Training

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

Toby completed his Special Agent Training in PE class yesterday but parents were not invited…but we were invited to Garrett’s Secret Agent Training today. So, after Aaron gave his first presentation round, I slipped out and went to one of the gyms where Garrett’s class was preparing for their final training and Green Card Certification. They received yellow cards in Kindergarten for their training…and then they will received red ones next year for 2nd Grade…IF they can successfully pass through all of the obstacles…in the dark…with loud “secret agent” music playing.

Believe it or not, Garrett does really well at obstacle courses and he was definitely one of the best kids there. Coach Schuster pulled me aside and told me that Garrett was quite good at the Secret Agent obstacle course because he thought each one through before leaping into it. “He thinks about it…and always has a plan of how to get over, under or through it,” said Mr. Schuster. I was sooo happy for Garrett!

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Over the acid pit he sailed!

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Receiving the official Secret Agent Green Card.

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Secret Agent Certified at last!

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After I said goodbye to Garrett, I met up with Aaron and we then went to lunch with Toby.

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June 10, 2009 Aaron Speaks at ISB Career Day

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

Following in Garrett’s foot steps from yesterday, Aaron presented today at ISB’s Career Day for the High School Students. I was the official PTA Greeter for the Technology Group so I stayed to hear Aaron’s presentation. I was prepared for the paint to begin peeling but it was really good. I’d never heard Aaron speak publicly before…unless the 2nd grade Sunday school class counts. High school kids are always a tough audience…but I think that Aaron and the other two speakers all did fine with them.

Photobucket Aaron presents at Career Day to ISB High Schoolers

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June 9, 2009 Garrett Presents on “Ants”

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

We are in the final week of school for the boys so this week is a zoo with all kinds of school activities taking place. Today, the parents were invited to Garrett’s class to hear their child’s presentation on an insect that they have been researching and observing for more than a month. The have actual meal and silk worms as individual projects in the classroom and were able to observe the cocoon, larvae, etc., stages as the insects developed.

Garrett’s insect was the ant. He was a bit embarrassed at first to be speaking to a “crowd” and his answer as to why he selected the ant as his insect topic was, “Because it was the only one left.” He was hanging his head and refused to look at the audience and I thought, “Oh no…is he going to do his entire presentation like this?” But then he hit his stride when he started going into his presentation and he was fine.

I have to admit that I was rather shocked at how in-depth the presentations were. The kids used computers/Internet and library books to research their insect. They also developed their own PowerPoint presentations…yes, you read right…PowerPoint presentations! I was amazed! During each of their presentations, the teacher had them demonstrate how they built their presentations (adding photos, bullet points, diagrams, motion, etc). I kept thinking, “what a bunch of work for the teacher to have to put these things together!” But then she told us that the kids did all of the work to research and build the presentations…I’m still flabbergasted…these are 1st Grader’s!

Oh, and they also spoke into a microphone and then used a pointer for certain sections…

Anyhow, Garrett said he wanted to wear a tie…so I dug out his clip on, a shirt and kaki pants…he even dug out his dress socks!

He did a great job and I was so glad to see him doing “public speaking” so early in life.

Garrett's class presention on ants Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

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June 6, 2009 Toby & Garrett Get Muddy

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

The boys went running around our end of the neighborhood this afternoon with their water guns and friends. Garrett had enough sense to come through the garden gate and shuck his wet and muddy things at the back door. Toby tromped through the front door, up the stairs and into his room to change…muddy foot prints the whole way! I put them both into the bathtub immediately.

Garrett after water gun fight Photobucket

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June 4, 2009

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

I know, I know…enough already about the stupid cherry birthday cake! But I can’t help it…I’m seriously dieting and so for me that translates to obsessing on the things that I absolutely cannot have…which means Snickerdoodle cupcakes and cherry cake.

I effectively took the cupcakes out of play by delivering the prescribed amount to school for Garrett’s party yesterday and then freezing the rest of them today. That way, I won’t have to look at them, they won’t get gobbled up prematurely by the boys and I won’t have to make them next week for their parties.

But this darned cake was going to be an issue…so I cut it up into three large pieces and sent it to work with Aaron! Whew…it was a relief to get it out of my house. One of the guys at work said that it tasted like the same cake that his mother used to make and bring to the field during haying season on their farm…he had 12 siblings so she must have made at least five cakes! Anyhow, he said that he had not tasted anything like it since and so it was an unexpected treat/memory as an adult living in China. And Aaron said, “yea, and you’re not throwing bales of hay so that makes it even better!” He readily agreed to that.

Ok, so here’s the final photo and chit-chat about what I am now calling the “Heirloom Cherry Cake.”

Donna's Very Cherry Cake!

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June 3, 2009 Aaron’s 38th Birthday

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

Aaron and the boys with the cherry birthday cake with almond butter cream icing that I made.

Aaron's 38th Birthday Photobucket
Here I am…getting ready to cut into my “creation!” Actually, I’m more than a little embarrassed that while the cake tasted really good, it looked like something that I would have made back in 8th Grade! I’ve just lost my touch with multi-layer cakes, I guess…Oh, well at least this crowd didn’t care…they just wanted to eat it.

For the first time in 2-1/2 weeks, I broke diet protocol and had something sweet…it was a only the tiniest of slivers but just enough to let me join in the fun and try out the cake. Wow…it was GOOD, even if I do say so myself!
Donna showing off Aaron's cherry birthday cake! Aaron opening his present Photobucket
A new watch and cuff links!

A new watch and cufflinks
Happy Birthday, Aaron!

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June 2, 2009 Baking

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

I made a cherry cake for Aaron’s birthday tomorrow…but first, I had to bake cupcakes for Garrett’s Literacy Club pizza party tomorrow and also for the boys’ class parties next week.

I used a new recipe for Snickerdoodle cupcakes with 7-minute icing. The cupcakes were a cinch but I was really worried about the 7-minute frosting. I haven’t made it in YEARS! Well, it turned out great but it should really be called 30+-minute frosting…because instead of beating it for seven minutes to cool the mixture to room temperature, it took more than 30 minutes.

Oh, well it was worth it as the little mini cupcakes looked soooo cute with their “marshmallow” hats! Yes, I should have taken a photo of Garrett helping to pipe the frosting “hats” onto the cupcakes…but I was up to my ears in hot sugar liquid, stiff egg whites, an electric mixer and kids who wanted to help!

I was so tired once I got Aaron’s cake baked that I just left it to cool and went to bed…will have to make the frosting for it tomorrow!

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May 30, 2009 Just Garrett

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

Just Garrett laughing…

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