Monday, March 23, 2015

Brucie's Birthday Party

Bruce turned 6 years old on December 19th! 

I had to go shopping in the morning and the older children's school driver took me and the younger two boys. It was kind of fun because our driver, Khairulla, shares the same birthday as Bruce. On our way back home, Bruce got a FaceTime call from my parents, though it was hard to visit over Khairulla's loud music. No, he did not turn it down for us.
Bruce wanted a Christmas themed brithday party. We made it simple. He invited our friends the Willardson's over for his birthday dinner and "party".
Making a wish...

I missed my chance at getting a picture of Bruce blowing out the candles so this was a posed photo. :)
He wanted a strawberry cake with and a Christmas tree on top. We did the best with what we had to decorated the cake, and unfortunately all we had were little squeeze tubes of nasty gel frosting. The strawberry cake, however, was SO good! We made it with cream cheese frosting! Mmm!!! If you're interested, here's the recipe for the cake:

Bruce, thrilled to have a Lego Movie Lego set from Daddy and Mommy!
Hugging a Yoohoo and friends stuffed animal from Kate and James.

Opening his present from the Willardson girls. 

Brucie shamelessly trying to peek while playing Pin-the-nose-on-Rudolph.

Christmas Decorations

Our little (kind of sad) tree full of beautiful ornaments from Russia.

The children's tree to decorate and redecorate all they want throughout the season.

I finally made name snowflakes again!
From left to right:
Can you see the names in the snowflakes?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

'Twas the Night Before Brucie's Birthday

...And, he was really, REALLY anxious to get to bed so that his birthday would come sooner. Jon and I were busy at the moment, so we asked Bruce to help get his little brother dressed in his pajamas. It was super cute to watch!

Snow Dough

I found a great website for activities for children that included "Snow Dough" and I had to give it a try. (Link for recipe here:

Luckily, I already had glitter on hand because I would not know where to buy that here in Astana yet. I also decided to add a few drops of peppermint essential oil for fun and for more of a sensory experience for my lambs. The snow dough is great because it when you pack it in your hand it crunches like real snow. 

The kids had tons of fun and of course made a huge of mess. Oh, well! I guess they need to do that once in a while. ;-)

William all powdery from the snow dough

Yes, it was messy, but my biggest complaint was that the oil in the snow dough removed the painted eyes off some of the animals. Then, they looked creepy! I admit that I did have to add more oil to my snow dough because it wasn't packing as I thought it should. Despite that, it was a really fun activity!

New Years Decorations at Khan Shatyr

Early in December Jon and I took the three older children to Khan Shatyr (the tent) to buy Christmas/New Years presents that they had worked hard to earn up for each other (William spent the evening with his favorite girls). Khan Shatyr was decorated really cute for New Years and we had a great time! And, it was especially nice not to have to try to shop with a very busy (though adorable) three-year-old in a crowded shopping mall! Sorry, William. ;)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ear Pain

One day William started complaining to me that his ear was hurting. I thought, "Oh, no. Not an ear infection!" 

One of the best $50 purchases we have ever made was buying and otoscope. It took a little practice to learn how to use correctly, but I feel I'm fairly confident in using it now. It is so nice to use to make sure making a doctors appointment is really necessary. So, I grabbed my otoscope and peaked in William's ear only to find a strange foreign object that nearly completely blocked his ear canal. What the heck?!

Thankfully, it was close to the surface and there was a space at the top, so... with a prayer and some super-careful effort I was able to easily remove it.

I could not believe it! This is what I found:

It's the stem from a mandarin orange! No wonder it hurt, with those sharp points! What a crazy toddler, my William!

Looking Forward

Brucie made this adorable card, looking forward to our time when we'd get to go home to visit family in February.

(It's a LONG, crazy plane ride!!!)

Christmas Books

One of my favorite Christmas traditions to do with the children is our wrapped Christmas books. 

We used to have an HUGE collection of Christmas books when we lived in the US, but we had to leave them all behind. :-( However, we have slowly been accumulating a few books these past four years that we've been out of the country. 

Since we don't have very many books, we spread them out throughout the month of December. The children take turns opening a book and then we read it as a family.

I couldn't find any Christmas wrapping paper here in Astana, so I just used a roll of white paper that the children occasionally use for art and strung red yarn around them to look festive.

The children just LOVE this tradition and look forward to the "old" books and are thrilled with the new.

Dog Pile

William Stole Daddy's Kazakh Fur Hat