Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Goodbye Hammy Sandwich...

Without a doubt one of the best days this year was the day I arrived home from Pet smart, with a Guinea Pig for Yasemin for her birthday. She actually cried real tears of joy and instantly bonded with the little, baby animal.

She named him Hammy - as in a yummy Hammy Sandwich,  because he was so yummy! An instant bond was formed with Yasemin and Hammy adoring each other.

We knew the day would come when we would have to say goodbye to Hammy, we thought this day actually arrived some months back when Hammy was playing with Yasemin in the back yard. Yas was distracted by something and Hammy made a break for freedom and dashed into the giant wood pile. I was certain that was the last of our little friend, especially with the big dog Fifa living on the other side of the fence.

But Yasemin and Hammy were not meant to be separated so soon. Max located Hammy late the following day, much to all of our relief and Yas ended her period of mourning.

The dreaded day did arrive last Monday. Yasemin's lovely friend Skylar took Hammy home - but not before one last photo shoot which was followed by the inevitable bucket load of tears.

We miss you already Hammy - good luck in your new life with Skylar!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Part 1....

Americans really know how to celebrate holidays! So we are expecting nothing less than Ben Hur for Thanksgiving. In fact, even though Thanksgiving is not until next weekend - celebrations have already began in many places.

At both of my schools last week Thanksgiving fever was in full swing. At McKinley-Thatcher Elementary the Turkey Trot took place. A Turkey Trot? 

This event is where students and staff donate tins of food and even a Turkey or two. All of this food is then delivered to a local church and bundles of food are boxed up for needy families. The fundraiser culminates in the Trot, where staff and students run laps around the school track. Many students and staff purchase t-shirts to help raise additional funds and all staff are encouraged to wear their Turkey hats! I didn't mind wearing my Turkey hat at Elementary School because the little kids get such a kick out of seeing their teachers be a little bit silly - I don't think this would go down so well at High School.

Monica is our new PE Teacher and was the Turkey Trot grand poo bah and as such had the privilege of wearing the special Turkey hat.

I had a great time in the classroom last week with the ECE, (the four year old, pre-school students). They made their own Turkey Hats, which they wore with pride on the big day.

While the bigger kids enjoyed creating Turkey's from coloured paper to hang on the front door at home so that everyone who visits their home knows that they are thankful.

Because this was all happening last Wednesday, (the day I work at both Schools) I raced away so that I could celebrate the Thanksgiving lunch with Max at Lincoln Elementary. I was both amazed and impressed at the beautiful decorations in the cafeteria and the food! We were treated with Turkey, baked vegetables, stuffing, various types of gravy, freshly baked dinner rolls and a delicious pumpkin pie for dessert. Not bad considering that the cafeteria staff managed to feed an additional five hundred family and community members for lunch as well as the students. Jamie Oliver would have been most impressed!

It was a pleasure to share Thanksgiving lunch with Max and his friends Skylar, My My, (yes I did spell that correctly) Ahn and Max's wonderful kindergarten teacher Ms Blossom.

A great day was had by all - and still over a week to Thanks giving.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Denver Botanic Gardens...

Today was a public holiday, and we are all starting to feel better, after having had various cases of the flu and sinus during the previous week.

The exciting news was that Max lost his first tooth. Garry was shocked to arrive at school last Monday, only to find Max sitting on the rug in his classroom crying because he had literally lost his first tooth. All was forgiven with a brief note to the tooth fairy - she still left some money under his pillow!

Yasemin's world has also been exciting. She received the great news that she was the winner of the t-shirt design competition for her schools 2012-2013 school t-shirt, sweat shirt, water bottle etc competition. We are very proud of her and her design is great.

With only six weeks remaining in Denver we have started to pack and arrange to ship some purchases back home. This has taken some time and today being a holiday we had a break and visited the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Garry and I enjoyed the Bamboo sculptures, while Yasemin and Max were fixated with the frozen ice on the ponds.

In places the frozen ice created beautiful designs.

This was a lovely end to a very busy week. Only 6 weeks left - I'm in denial and want to pretend that we can stay for ever............

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Farewell Little Sisters...

Yasemin has been lucky enough to have played soccer in a great team called the Little Sisters. They are a wonderful group of girls who love the game of soccer. Together they have trained three nights a week, with professional coaches and competed against other teams on Saturday mornings. With this kind of gruelling schedule, it is no wonder the American women took home the gold medal in soccer at this years Olympic games.

It has been a joy to watch these girls improve throughout the year and see Yasemin develop to hold her own.  Yasemin actually scored two goals in her last game. I am sometimes shocked at the exceptional skills these little girls have already developed.

Yasemin has made some wonderful friendships and hopes to continue to communicate with the girls from Australia. Last night, we attended a farewell party with the Little Sisters.

Beloved coach Mike - one of the teams three coaches presented the Girls with new training shirts.

Coach Mike is a wonderful coach and he has been very supportive of Yasemin, she is really going to miss him and the team.

Good bye Little Sisters - thanks for a great year and for making us part of your family!

Four Distinct Seasons...

When people ask me what it is that I really love about living in the US, I have to answer that experiencing four distinct seasons is one of my favorite things. The trees in the front were currently a beautiful shade of red.

Max and Yasemin had hours of fun raking up the leaves in the front yard, creating a huge pile. They would then jump in the pile and throw the leaves all about only to begin again. It was great to see them having some good old fashioned fun.

We were enjoying the wonderful fall colors, watching them change daily, when a few weeks ago we had our first real snowfall - even though it was only a dusting of snow by Colorado standards. Excitement levels were at an all time high as we woke to see our street dusted with fresh snow. The beauty created still takes my breath away.

As the kids were racing to put on any warm clothes they could find, my first thought was about the beautiful red leaves being ruined. The leaves looked somewhat magical covered in snow and ice.

Max was happy to be outside, even at 7am and could think of nothing better than to kick his rugby ball around in the snow. (Pop you must be proud!)

Yasemin was not to be outdone and happily played with her soccer ball.

The house looked like it was from a storybook, complete with Halloween decorations. We are desperately waiting for a really good dump so we can begin the snowman building competition we have been talking about for months. Come on snow - we are ready!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween...

One of the great things about spending a year in another country is being able to share and participate in different cultural celebrations. Halloween is definitely one of these celebrations. Many people we have spoken with have suggested that Halloween is even more popular than Christmas in the US. If the house decorations are anything to go by, I could believe that Halloween is the biggest celebration of the year here. The images below show some of the wonderful displays.

Halloween is much more than just one evening of Trick or Treats. It starts with many Fall Festivals held  throughout the city. We went to the Pumpkin festival held at the Botanic Gardens. We had lots of fun in the massive Corn Maze, but eventually ended up in the Pumpkin Patch. As you can see, Max was determined to select the biggest pumpkin he could actually carry.

Pumpkin carving is quite an art, but it is made easier by the many different pumpkin carving tools sold at local supermarkets. Even though we purchased our pumpkins a few weeks before Halloween, they could not be left out as the Squirrels would eat them and you could not begin carving them to early as they would rot - who knew this was such a tricky business.

I was embracing the spirit of Halloween and even made a Haunted House from gingerbread with the kids - not bad for a first effort!

Of course the highlight is the fun of dressing up in costumes. We had many opportunities to wear costumes, the first was the fall festival at Lincoln Elementary. The kids were very excited and looked fabulous!

Most of the kids were dressed up in amazing costumes. I was proud to have inspired one of my students to dress up as Frida Kahlo.

We were all impressed with the intricate make up on one of the boys. The scars and wounds looked amazing. They really take dressing up seriously here!

One of the highlights of the festival was the Haunted House. I was shocked at how much fun and how scary it was - I actually screamed out loud as I wandered through the exhibit.

But we were really waiting for the chance to Trick or Treat! Max spent weeks counting down the sleeps. After a very big day at school we headed across the road to celebrations at Lunden's house.
The house was filled with children and adults in full costume, full of excitement. Yasemin and Brooklyn had a ball in the yard playing zombies.

I was extremely happy as Frida, and almost overwhelmed when Obama arrived.

Max met up with his little friend Ezra and they put on some moves for the camera.

Even the little kids were in on the act - little Heiko was a divine little dragon!

After a wonderful meal we set off at dusk for a long walk around the neighborhood. We were an impressive posse of more than twenty children and a dozen or so adults. I was impressed with how kind all the households were and shocked at how much candy was accumulated - an offensive amount of candy! Thankfully we can take any unwanted candy to the local dentist, where they will pay us for our donation and then send the candy overseas to the troops.

I can't remember having so much fun with the kids - Halloween was much more fun than any of us expected!