Monday, September 23, 2013

Gifts Galore

Welcome Flowers
Ephraim loves Moon Cakes
China is a very giving society, and we have already been the benefactors of this on several occasions.  This week we celebrated the Autumn moon festival, and received two boxes of moon cakes, along with a bottle of shampoo. :).               I received flowers at the airport. Eden and Ephraim have both been given plums on separate occasions by a lady while ordering take-out.
Our FAO bought our family boiled corn while waiting for our visas. We have also been blessed with things left behind by other families. Everything from dried goji berries, to towels, to metals stands amounting to a few less things we had to buy ourselves.  Our sweet neighbors two stairwells down gave us homemade banana bread.  Also our teammates and friends here have been amply generous with their time and services.

Yummy Food

Until we learn more of the language, we feel a bit like children right now. We have had to be shown everything, had teammates talk on the phone for us to order water, been shown how to order light rail tickets, and been shown where to find things at the grocery store.  Finally learning how to order our own water and buy our own light rail tickets has seemed like major victories to us. Now that classes have started we have students who have already eagerly offered to help us with these things, and we are so excited to make these connections.  We can't wait to know them better! On a side note, I met our next door neighbor the other day, and she spoke English! Apparently she lived in Canada for two years. She has two kids, and thought it must be a lot of work to have three.  Looking forward to meeting her kids.
Not a Moon Cake Fan

                          Showers of blessings:
Family movie night with homemade peppermint hot chocolate
Starting to be able to navigate the grocery store
I have mastered counting to 8 in Mandarin, thanks to Taekwondo
Like-hearted friends
Our apartment is painted!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sticks and leaves, balloons and trees

One of the things I loved about my childhood growing up overseas, and that I now love for my children, is the opportunity for creative play.  I know there is that opportunity no matter where you are, but I find it easier here to appreciate the simple things without all the distractions that I was used to before.  There's something about watching my kids transform the neighborhood into secret hideouts and theaters that gives me great delight.  
Last week we all went to view Jacob's five classrooms that he is teaching.  I and the kids waited outside by some stone benches, bushes, and trees. In no time ordinary sticks were transformer into ninja weapons and tambourines.  While the weather is nice, our complex has several places with outdoor tables perfect for picnics, there's even a concrete maze!
Our teammates live a couple of buildings away with their five kids, and there is another family two stairwells away with four kids to play with.  In the initial application process, we were asked if we had any preferences.  Knowing the need for third culture kids to be with other TCKs, our only request was that we be with other families. We were abundantly blessed, and are so thankful. Also Jacob's former skills are not going to waste. As you can see, he made balloon swords one night.
Eden and Ephraim started home-school this week, and they are learning to wash the dishes.  Ephraim climbed his first tree the day after we arrived in Changchun, and Xavier is starting to crawl.  One afternoon, a cute grandma taught the kids to do a few tai chi moves.There are challenges for our kids, but there are victories as well.  I'm especially thankful for the opportunity to get to spend more time investing in them, and teaching them to love China and it's people.

Showers of blessing:
- Homeschool coop
- Eden loving Taekwondo after only one meltdown!
- Being able to make Ephraim his favorite food: spaghetti
(going to attempt - - Eden's this week: fish tacos-
minus the guacamole. Avocados here are about ten dollars a piece!!)
- Jacob loves his classes and his students!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Journey Home

Ready for the Journey Home
     A few days before we left, a group of us non-teaching wives went on an outing to Ikea, an import store, and Mexican food.  I had never been to an Ikea, and the one in Beijing is massive, so that was an adventure in itself.  After our tiring adventure, the best thing about this day was the Mexican food place.  It was different than what I was used to, but it tasted oh so good!!  After our outing, I was wanting Jacob and the kids to experience this deliciousness and have a taste from home, so I had the bright idea the night before we left when we were not all packed yet to go to this restaurant.  I was so excited, and, after all, it hadn't taken very long to get there.  I didn't count on Friday evening Beijing traffic.  Our taxi driver got lost, and by the time we got there it had taken us at least an hour and a half.
8 Kids on the Team
Two rice bags taped togther
Nevertheless, we eagerly enjoyed our food and the company of friends we had made.  We decided to take a short taxi to the subway to meet our friends who would then navigate us back to the hotel since that would be quicker.  Problem was our taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong subway stop( and I really think he was just annoyed with the baby crying and wanted us out of his vehicle).  We waited there for 30 minutes then decided to take a taxi home.  Traffic was worse on the way back, and we were gone about a total of 6 hours, all for the sake of a piece of home.  We got our tired grumpy kids to bed and proceeded to finish packing winding up with, once again a total of two hours sleep.  Frustrating as it can be, I believe it serves to make us pliable for His glory and purpose.
Finally Home!
Our Apartment Complex
Once we got to the airport, I thought security on domestic flights would be more relaxed.  Not so.  I had to completely unwrap my moby.  Xavier and I both got the pat down.  They x-rayed, sorted through, and rex-rayed our carry ons, and I was unnerved with security's prolonged interaction with Ephraim.  By the time we got to where we were to take a bus to board our plane, I was done.  Then I sat on the floor to nurse Xavier, and I watched our and our teammates children playing together.  I saw the surprised smiles of the people in the airport as they watched our children playing.  Then I felt it, this is worth it, and my heart melted.  We are both adoptive families, and at one point in our time in Beijing our teammates said it best, "It looks like we have the United Nations here."  Too sweet.  The rest of the journey was filled with anticipation to see our new home.  On the plane ride this cute German couple sitting next to me opened my lunch tray for me while I was nursing Xavier.  It was sweet and humorous at the same time.  It was so refreshing to walk out of the airport and see clear blue skies.  Then we got to our apartment.  We are home, and we are blessed.  Before and after pictures to come after we paint!

Showers of Blessings:
The kids don't complain as much about their legs hurting while walking
Friendly neighbors
The kids appreciate PB and J's. Tonight Eden said,"Mom, I'd like to order in a PB and J"
Facetime with friends and family
Xavier is 7 months
Jacob found butter and mozzarella!
Playgrounds for my children