Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween in South Asia

We have never been huge Halloween people, although we have nothing against the holiday. Rebekah has just never really been old enough to walk around and collect candy (although her recent discovery of candy and chocolate would make this a definite trick-or-treating year if we were in the USA). 

Instead, Rebekah has dressed up in a boy costume (last year) and a girl costume (2009) when she was Thomas the Train and a Flower. She also enjoyed carving pumpkins in the past.

In our new home, several of the ex-pats got together so the kids could have a "dress-up party" during the Halloween season. Several of the mothers also got involved, and with our limited costume selection, Rebekah went as a cheerleader (thank you for choosing to be something girly again this year) and Kristie went as a New Orleans Saints fan, complete with a Mardi Gras-like mask purchased in the local market here in South Asia.

We went to the party with our friend Susan the peacock and her children, Natalia the princess and Judson the pirate.

The children posed together before the party, and at the party Rebekah got to decorate sugar cookies (she just wants to eat it off the knife, you can tell!).

And, with Kristie's help, she got to decorate South Asia's miniature version of the pumpkin.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Holidays: South Asian Style

Kristie loves holidays, and some of her lowest moments in our new home on our new continent is that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other "American" holidays will be celebrated differently. Luckily, however, within our first month in South Asia, we got to encounter the biggest of holidays.

Think of the lights of Christmas, the fireworks of July 4th (without any restrictions on setting them off in city limits--or even on your own rooftops), and the neighborhood Krewes around the Gulf Coast of MS & LA coming together to construct the best displays during Mardi Gras.

With that in mind, we bring you Diwali...

AKA, "the festival of lights." Driving around looking at Diwali lights, the streets were extremely crowded, and groups were setting off fireworks everywhere. There were big, brilliant explosions in the sky, but more often you saw the hectic, dangerous-looking blasts from in front of stores or homes.

This is our building, with the lights strung by our landlord. We live on the 3rd floor, which is the top of the left side of the building. There is a little 4th floor apartment above the stairs on the right side of the picture.

Our little neighborhood built this giant bamboo structure with cloth overlay.  In our part of South Asia, Diwali corresponds with Kali Puja (worship of the Hindu god Kali), so you see models of Kali, Lakshmi, and Shiva inset in the middle of the neighborhoods' structures.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Children's Museums

Rebekah does not need any help with using her imagination.

She loves to make up words to songs she knows, try to think of names for her imaginary brother and sister, and role play doctor or nurse giving vaccinations (hello, international living).

So when Rebekah and several of the toddlers from our training center went to the Richmond Children's Museum (on dollar night--thanks to Target, the corporate sponsor), she experienced all kinds of new things.

Milking a cow, just like her not-so-distant ancestors did...

Exploring caves...


Posing as a tree...

Trying out new jobs, such as weather reporter or bank teller...

(Not sure how old the child was who wrote this message at the bank, but it made us laugh.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Smithsonian Museum and Zoo

James said he wasn't really a jewelry guy but even he was a little impressed by the size of the Hope Diamond. We stumbled upon the diamond, as well as all sorts of other educational stuff, at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. 

The crowd was huge this Saturday in August, and Rebekah was a little restless. This may be due to the fact that she saw so many strange creatures, whose displays were not really aimed at a 2 year old.

Kristie did make James and Rebekah pose before the totem poles in celebration of their Native American heritage. Stereotyping? Yes, but they were okay with it. 

 Even in the crowd, though, Rebekah still found reason to smile. Perhaps this was because she had four different adults to swap carrying her around instead of just two. Or maybe she's just happy.

We then rode up to the Smithsonian National Zoo (which is awesome mainly due to the fact that it's free), where the girls all took a picture with the Giant Panda statue.

This picture was necessary because the actual Giant Panda didn't seem to interested in interacting with us that day.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wet in D.C.

Even before the hurricane and rains from the tropical storms, we encountered a little bit of weather. "A little bit" is actually understating it--the cool, overcast day became a downpour as we walked from the Zoo to the Metro stop. 

But we saw the sights as the afternoon dragged into evening, and thankfully the downpours subsided into light misting.

So here we are wet in front of the White House.

And wet at the Lincoln Memorial (yes, Kristie was soaked to the bone while wearing a white shirt).

To cap off the wonderful weather, the Metro had an issue so we waited nearly an hour underground, trying to keep our 2 1/2 year old fireball away from the subway tracks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Seattle: Pike Place Market

Of course, when asking locals or past visitors to Seattle where we needed to go, Pike Place Market was the one consensus choice. It was an interesting market, with a ton of great (and reasonably priced) fruit and flowers as well as normal souvenirs you find at tourist markets.

We saw all the famous sites in the market:

The fish-tossing guys

The pig

And, of course, the original Starbucks.

And, even amongst a lot of interesting characters, Rebekah made herself stand out by doing a very public dance to the music of the banjo and fiddle players in front of Starbucks.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Around Seattle

We hit the normal tourist sites during our drizzly day in Seattle. Our hotel was right next to the Space Needle, so with such a good view we didn't feel the need to venture to the top (partially for time restraints, and partially due to Grandma Roberts's aversion to heights).

Even the elevated train from the Space Needle to the Mall was a little high for Grandma, but she stuck it out like a champ.

And it was easy to get Rebekah to focus, though, since she was actually riding a train (she loves trains) with so many windows.

We went to the Seattle Children's Museum for a while, just to get out of the rain and tire Rebekah out for our drive to Lake Quinault.

And Rebekah was particularly, and surprisingly, interested in the bakery/cheese factory where you could watch the cheese be made from beginning to glorious end (yes, we--particularly Kristie and Rebekah--love cheese).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

D.C. in August

When we started our training up in Virginia, we took one Saturday afternoon to tour Washington, DC, with a couple friends of ours. We had quite an eventful day. Here is the Washington Monument pre-earthquake.

We took Beth Anne and Caroline for their first adult trips (they are recent college graduates) to the centerpiece of American History, and we took it upon ourselves to test their knowledge of the memorials and museums we took in.

We had a great time riding the Metro to all our destinations.

Rebekah remembered the trip primarily for these "train rides,"

Although the unexpected starts and stops caused her more excitement than she was prepared to handle.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wedding Day

What were we at the beautiful Lake Quinault to do?

Only a brave woman would plan an outdoor wedding in the middle of a temperate rainforest. But the wedding went off well, and we were glad to welcome Lisa into the Roberts clan.

Plus we always love any occasion to hang out with the family,

Or have an excuse for James to comb his hair and shave his beard.