Archives for 2010

First Night Vaca

I’d say we all look pretty content on our first night of vacation! We start our winter break with a week at Mui Ne, Vietnam. Kevin will relearn windsurfing, the kids will play on the beach, and Ann will work on a tan while catching up on some reading.

Thanksgiving with the PascoliniParuns!

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving this year. It was so special to spend it with our good friends Tom and Sandy. We are so lucky to have them here in Beijing.

What does the "P" stand for? Not pumpkin....PascoliniParun!

Regrettably, I have to admit I have never ever made a Thanksgiving meal! I do however make Grandma Soogie's Cinnamon Rolls each year. Thanksgiving was made thanks to Michael--again this year.




Sausage meatballs were included in a Michael's Thanksgiving

November was the month of Movember at ISB; therefore all of us ladies had to put up with very hairy men–all for a good cause of course. We were happy on December 2nd with all the Mo’s came off!

Dragon Award Winners!

In October Gigi won the Dragon Award for organizing herself quickly and being one of the first to sit on the mat, ready to learn eat morning.

Last week Vincent got the Dragon Award for showing improvement in attitude and for contributing so much to class discussions!

Malaysia, Purely Asia or in other words, Heaven on Earth

Malaysia is absolutely dreamy–especially the beautiful islands. We enjoyed a week on Langkawi in October. Below is a sampling of how relaxing and wonderful our time was there.

A family beach pic--even in the hazy weather, it's gorgeous!

We played a game where you weren't suppose to smile at the camera. Gigi couldn't do it.

Vincent couldn't all that well either!

One day Kevin and Vincent headed up to the highest point by gondola.

Another day we went kayaking.

Every day had beach time or.....

....or pool.

Kevin relaxing by the pool....

...and Annie too.

Our trip was beyond rejuvenating. It was really fun for us to slow down and take a time out with each other. It’s special that we get to share the same holidays as our kids. We lucked out with that! Here’s to the next vacation…..hmmmm, Vietnam for Christmas!

Flat Stanley in Beijing, China via Francesca

Flat Stanley is with the Krembs' in Beijing!

Flat Stanley has been hanging out with Vincent and Gigi in Beijing. Francesca sent him to us via the web. We printed him out, and we’ve shown him a little bit about our daily life.

Flat Stanley with Vincent in our neighborhood, Euro Village.

Flat Stanley swinging with Gigi in our neighborhood park.

Flat Stanley outside of the ISB school bus.

Flat Stanley in a Chinese Gazebo

Flat Stanley outside of our Starbucks across the street from our house.

Flat Stanley outside of our local grocery store across the street from our house.

Flat Stanley with Ann on the side of the road with a local Chinese person.

Flat Stanley with Kevin outside of Century 21--maybe Flat Stanley will give us good luck in finding a new home.

Flat Stanley with the kids at their school, ISB (International School of Beijing).

My Tweeps

Recently, I just had an amazing learning experience at the Learning 2.010 Conference in Shanghai. I was the cohort facilitator for the librarians’ group. Not only did I meet 25 other librarians, but I learned tons from all of them. I’m so proud of being a librarian, and to be honest, I have to admit, we are generally pretty cool people!

Aside from the highlight of learning from all the libs at the conference, I also got to have many tweet-ups. A tweet-up is when you actually meet a virtual friend from Twitter in real life. A tweet-up is always very exciting–you basically know who you are going to meet before you actually physically meet them. It might sound odd, but imagine learning from someone over in New York City for example. Adrienne Michetti is one such person. She’s my VGF (virtual girl friend). We’ve never actually met, but when we do, it’s gonna be like we’ve known each other forever. We even have the same birthday! You can follow her on Twitter @amichetti, and be assured she will become your friend too.

Jeff Utecht is the charming fellow who invited me to Learning 2.010. I always enjoy meeting up with Jeff–he’s from the Kan, just like me, so we have an instant bond. You can follow him on Twitter @jutecht. Be assured you will learn from Jeff!

He’s in the picture below. But first, you need to know who took the picture: Kim Cofino. She’s another girlfriend that is always there for me. We’ve only had about 3-4 actual contact hours, but we’ve spent much more online. She’s there for me to chat at the drop of a hat. Really! I have questions, anxiety, vents to release, and she’s always there. I follow her on Twitter @mscofino. My other really good VGF like this is Tara Etheridge.  On Twitter she’s known as @bookchica. She’s a fellow librarian, and we’ve determined we were probably very good friends in another life–even though in this life we’ve only had about the same contact time, 3-4 hours. We might have been sisters or princesses together. We definitely knew each other, and we had a fond love of shoes–even then!

Back to the tweet-ups.  In this picture below taken by Kim, you will find from left to right @intrepidteacher, that’s really Jabiz Raisdana. His Twitter voice is much different than his audible voice. I was surprised to find how calm and gently humble he is in real life. I enjoy his gumption on Twitter, and he’s a very profound writer and thinker online.  It was so nice to finally meet Jabiz. I always look forward to his tweets and posts.

Next to Jabiz is Melissa Griffin. She’s just brand new to Twitter (@lissgriffin), but she’s on it like a champ. She teaches with @chamada. There are some people you meet in real life, and no matter how hard you try they will always be their Twitter name. This goes for Clint Hamada. In my mind, he will always be ch-mada because of his Twitter name, @chamada. He’s a hoot! I really enjoyed meeting him. I also really enjoyed finally meeting Brian Lockwood (@BrianLockwood).  He’s now a colleague in China, so I will be seeing more of him soon! Plus, Brian resides on Bainbridge Island, WA during the summer–that’s just a ferry’s ride from Seattle! I didn’t get a picture with Brian though.

Then, next to me is Jeff. He’s the one from Spokane, WA! And, he’s fulfilling a dream of mine: he and his wife purchased a condo in downtown Seattle. Yes! Lucky them!  It’s gorgeous too.

Jabiz, Melissa, Clint (Chamada), me, and Jeff at Learning 2.010, Shanghai

Someone I finally met and had a blast with is Keri-Lee Beasley (@klbeasley). Not only is she gorgeous in person, but she is also really fun. We got into a fun ‘lil Kung Fu action. She was no match for me! Although, Keri-Lee does have the most beautiful voice; it’s to die for. She sang with the ukulele of new friend, Leslie Lindballe (@onepercentyello).

Leslie offered us Karaoke one night by playing her ukulele for us!

Ok, maybe Keri-Lee was winning the Kung Fu Fight Off!

I also met a lovely new friend, Liz B. Davis. I hadn’t followed her on Twitter (@lizbdavis) till I met her, but I was so happy to know her. I was also happy to meet Tim Lauer (@timlauer) from Portland, Oregon and Alec Couros (@courosa) from Regina (pronounced like ragina), Canada. The four of us had such fun together! And, I learned tons from these three fine educators.

Kim, Liz, and me. We were facilitators together.

Finally, I have to write about the person I met who has the same colored eyes as me! Sarah K. Patterson.

We have the same greenish, bluish, yellowish eyes!

It’s such a small world. Sarah knows Brian and Jen Krembs from working with them in Seoul, Korea. We follow each other on Twitter. Occasionally she reads my blogs. Well, we’d never met until this conference. Then, later, my sister Mary Margaret, writes to tell me she took an English class with Sarah in Seattle. It really is a small world. And, I do have to say, I’ve never met someone with the same colored eyes as myself. Sarah is really sweet, and since she is from the Northwest and friend with family, I know we’ll be meeting up again.

To finish this lengthly post, I’d just like to say how amazing I think social networks are. I have made connections with people all over the world. Many of them have been in real actual time, but some of them are made in this virtual world. Connections, in any capacity, are what is important. In the end, I don’t care how they are made. It was so nice to meet and continue to know all the tweeps mentioned in this post–plus the ones I may accidentally be missing!

Recipe: Baking for Your Teacher

The best part of baking is baking for others, and what better excuse than your teacher’s birthday!

Vincent’s teacher got lucky this year. She had a day off on her birthday for the Moon Day Festival, but she must not be forgotten. We baked her some cookies to be delivered the “day after.”

Vincent and I weren’t able to find macadamia nuts–well there were maui onion garlic and abalone flavored, but no regular ol’ plain ones, so we settled for cashew and white chocolate cookies. We found a recipe from our favorite spot, Tastespotting, and we adjusted it a bit. Here’s what we came up with from a little help from Handle the Heat.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour–since we added more butter we added another 1/2 cup here
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled–we just added the whole cup of butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk–couldn’t be bothered with the yolk separation so we added the whole egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips–we went with two cups here (the whole package)
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts (one cup didn’t look like enough to Vincent, so it was more like another 1/3 added)
  • plus, we added our family secret: cinnamon!

Vincent properly chopped these nuts with the "big" knife, and he did just fine.

Recipe: Banana Pups

For Gigi’s birthday, she wanted to bring in Banana Pups to share with her classmates. Basically, Banana Pups are a banana cupcake with a chocolate surprise in the center frosted like a chocolate puppy.


A plate full of Banana Pups

Here’s the recipe for the Banana Cupcakes. I modified Schweet ‘N Savory’s recipe just a bit.

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/8 cups canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups milk

I added a bunch of cinnamon–of course.
And a wonderful surprise in the middle: a mini Dove dark chocolate bar. Fill the cupcake tin with 1/2 the batter, add a chocolate square, and cover the rest of the tin with more batter.

Then Kevin made his usual chocolate butter frosting:

1/3 cup butter
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
plenty of chocolate powder to your liking

Once the cupcakes are frosted, we added chocolate hearts for the ears, chocolate chips for the eyes, a strawberry Mento for the nose, and some licorice rope for the mouth.

And voila! Banana Pups!

Gigi had a really good time passing the Banana Pups to her class!

This is Gigi’s good friend Alice. She really liked the chocolate surprise in the middle of a Banana Pup!

We’ve got a 7 year old!

Gigi with her gorgeous teacher (inside and out!), Ms. Fiona!

Gigi’s Chaoyang Surprise

This Sunday’s excursion was to the carnival area in Chaoyang Park. We surprised Gigi and brought her to this fun area to jump start her birthday celebrations. She’s 7 this September 13, 2010!

Heading out, Gigi wanted us to all wear mustaches.

Kevin is the only one who took his stache wearing very seriously!

Kevin and Vincent got us a four-seater bicycle.

Gigi at the helm.

Vincent is inside this floating tube like structure spinning round on the water like Gigi's pet hamster.

The birthday girl spinning around!

We're holding onto each other after a roller coaster that didn't feel too safe.

Getting all wet on the water coaster was super refreshing and fun.

We finished our visit with a picnic in the park.

Excursion: Beautiful Gorge

Kevin just got a hold of two new Beijing guidebooks–specific for hiking and venturing out beyond the city. On Sunday he took us to the beautiful Longxing Gorge. It was magnificent with huge cliffs to meander through on a putting boat.

The plums roadside were soooooo delicious!

Look at how positive this one is givin' the camera a wink!

We chose not to bungee jump--this time!