Santa comes to China

Oh my! A lot has happened since I last wrote. We are never lacking in adventure around here! Get ready for a picture and story overload.

Around mid-November, we made a very quick trip to Thailand by car. I say “quick” trip, but I am discovering more and more that the drive to Thailand is not as quick as I would like it to be. This time we experienced long delays at both the Laos and Thai borders as well as wet, slick roads in Laos. The girls both threw up in the car due to car sickness even though I gave them more than the recommended dosage of Dramamine. Cameron almost broke his tail bone after our car hit a pothole in Laos and he was launched up into the roof of the car and then slammed back down into the seat. We had so many delays along the way that we thought we weren’t going to make it to the Thai border before it closed (although it turned out they are open late and we had plenty of time). Our “quick” trip on the way down turned into a 16 hour drive. It was no small miracle that the girls were so calm during that trip. In fact, I was more mad and grouchy than they were. After we finally reached our destination, we had 4 days to meet with some coworkers, attend a meeting, get Chloe her shots, buy some Western goodies, and have 1 day of rest and fun. I was particularly happy to get Chloe her shots since we now live in a place where kids actually die of very preventable sicknesses. Thankfully our trip home was much smoother, but I don’t think we will decide to do another random road trip anytime soon.

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After we got back, my focus turned to Thanksgiving plans. I was originally going to invite a few families to my house, but after talking with another friend we decided to join forces and have a big Thanksgiving for all the American folks in town at her apartment. Unfortunately, in taking on the role of co-host, I found myself in some hot water. The week of Thanksgiving, I heard through the grapevine that the non-Americans were feeling left out because they weren’t included in any Thanksgiving plans. In our small city, we have this problem whenever any foreigner hosts something. It is the same problem that I always had when I was in grade school – do we invite everyone or only a few people? My intent was not to leave anyone out, but the host and I felt that 35 Americans, adults and kids, was already more people than one apartment could hold. If we invited every foreigner in town, that would have been close to 70 people. It felt natural to limit the guest list to Americans since we are the only culture besides Canada that actually celebrate that holiday. Anyways, maybe next year we can find a way to include everyone without stressing out the host too much.

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After Thanksgiving, we jumped right into Christmas plans. This year we upgraded our 2-foot Charlie Brown Christmas tree, to a 5 foot one. Since we have two small children, I knew that putting up a tree was going to be somewhat futile, and boy was I correct. I tried to hang the ornaments out of their reach, but it wasn’t until that I had all the ornaments on the top 1-foot of the tree that they couldn’t get to them. I also had major issues with putting on lights. I wasn’t surprised that the Chinese-branded Christmas lights I bought were horrible quality, but after buying 14 strands only to have 4 work, I literally started crying. Cameron was a bit worried about the fact I was crying over Christmas lights, but I managed to pull it together and successfully get lights on the tree. As if our tree didn’t look bad enough, one day the kids pulled the whole thing down and the top section completely snapped off. After using duck tape and chopsticks, it is now barely staying up. I am actually planning to throw the whole thing in the trash in a few days. I wonder if a Christmas tree bought in the States can fit in a suitcase?

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The week of Christmas started off with a round of stomach flu for the whole family. That was the first time I have had to take care of a child with the stomach bug. I thought that I had reached the pinnacle of maturity after birthing two kids, but I actually realized I had more maturing to do after having to get down on my hands and knees to clean the floor after my child threw up. Maybe I have a weak stomach, but that might be the most disgusting thing I have ever had to do.

The day of Christmas, we had been invited by Claire’s teacher to design her class’s act during their school Christmas program. I found a cute song about Santa with extremely simple lyrics and made up a few hand motions to go with it. I even bought hand bells for the students in her class to use during the song. I was quite proud of fulfilling my school mom duty, until I watched some of the other classes perform their acts during a rehearsal. Most of the other songs and dances were more Britney Spears-esque with loud pop music and complicated moves (these are 3-5 years olds, keep in mind). It was definitely not what I would label as cute and sweet. I suddenly felt embarrassed that Claire’s class wasn’t busting a move up there, but I reminded myself that her class did have one thing the other classes didn’t – Cameron in a Santa suit. Yes, much to Cameron’s dismay, I forced him to get on stage while Claire’s class was singing and dance around in a Santa outfit. I initially promised him it would only be a few minutes of acting like an idiot and then we could go home. However, I didn’t anticipate that the principal would be so excited by Cameron’s Santa costume that he asked him to stay to do a speech, a raffle, hand out candy to the kids, and take pictures after. Cameron was giving me the “I am going to kill you” look the entire time. Oops!

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And here are a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure…

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