Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ephraim's Birthday

Ephraim"s B-Day in China
Ephraim is six...we brought him home when he was three...he has almost spent half his life with us. I have grown to love him even more over these last few months here in China. He is a walking bundle of energy, enthusiasm, competition, surprising thoughtfulness, generosity, and clashing irony of stubbornness yet tenderheartedness.  I knew this birthday would be very different from his last two, mostly in good ways, mixed with the sadness of missing family. I really wanted him to feel special this day. The night before, I made his ninja turtle cakes, and sat them on the table for him to see when he woke up in the morning.  He woke up before the rest of us, and the next time I checked on the cakes, they had fingerprints in them.  We FaceTimed with my Mom before starting homeschool. It was both their birthdays at the same time since we are thirteen hours ahead.  After homeschool, we let him open one present early, a transformer from my Aunt Linda. He played with that while I finished making Ugandan food.  We had coop that day, and I was doing the lesson on Uganda. My friend made the beans, and I brought rice, ground nut sauce, and matoke (steamed mashed green bananas).  We had lunch, while the kids played, followed by the lesson on Uganda, a short video of Ephraim's adoption, and a craft of a gorilla face glued to a sucker.
Happy B-Day Banner
Turtle Race Game
Games by April
Then Ephraim played outside with his friends while Eden and I went home to prepare for the party. I traced words on a banner, and she colored them in and added ninja turtle faces. Jacob brought home take-out for supper, and Ephraim picket the menu: chopped chicken wing pieces with sweet potatoes, eggplant, and a cold cucumber carrot dish with peanuts.  I had asked Jacob to try to find wrapping paper at Walmart, which I didn't actually believe they would have, but, sure enough, he came home with a roll of wrapping paper. Or, was it?  It turned out to be a giant party popper, which was a fun and messy surprise. On to plan b: stick the gifts in an old moon cake bag.

Last Night of Being 5!
 Ephraim made a remark, and we had a short talk about why there were only two gifts on the table this year.  He had a great attitude about this change. Then, his friends arrived, and the fun began.  I asked a teammate, more gifted than I at fun and games, to prepare the entertainment for the evening. And she did a great job. The kids had a turtle drawing contest on top of their heads without peeking, a toilet paper turtle shell contest, a turtle eating contest with dried fish, and a turtle race with face paint, a coon hat, mittens, and a basket back pushing a turtle egg (ball).   It was a blast. After cake and opening presents, we ended the night with the giant party popper. What a fun and appropriate way to celebrate our son . We love you, Ephraim.
Showers of Blessing:
Cute little fingerprints in frosting.
Package from family arriving in time for party.
Sharing a birthday with Nana this year.
Fun little friends to play with.
Thoughtful entertainment provided by April.
Banner paper for Eden to share her love for art.
Giant party poppers are better than gift wrap!
Being able to prepare Ugandan food in China.
One happy birthday boy!

Poochy Lips
Giant Party Popper!










Monday, October 28, 2013

Hospitality

Three weeks ago we had our first Chinese dinner guests over to our apartment. The wife is one of Jacob's students in his adult program.  On this blog we'll call her Katy.  Her husband is an engineer, and they have a teenage daughter.  We were so excited and so nervous.  We were concerned about making a cultural faux pas and not knowing it.  They brought gifts as customary when visiting someone's home in China.  For the kids they brought a small deck of cards with Chinese writing on them to help them learn (it will be a while). I tried to find out what they liked and made something simple: spaghetti and salad. It wasn't as simple as I thought because the salad wound up mixed in with the spaghetti along with the dressing.  I had pumpkin chocolate chunk espresso bread in the oven for dessert, and when I went to turn it in my microwave sized oven it flopped out of the oven with chocolatey orange goo oozing all over the kitchen floor. Thankfully we had very gracious guests who admitted to being as nervous as we were. We enjoyed the rest of the evening with their daughter entertaining our kids, us adults chatting and looking at pictures till they had to go. Their daughter had to finish her homework. Chinese children, once they are elementary age, spend  long hours at school, and have a heavy load of homework.
     This past Wednesday, we had the pleasure of being invited to their apartment for dinner, along with one of our teammates.  Katy actually lives in the same complex as us. We brought chocolate chunk banana bread as our gift. Her daughter loved it so much she took it to school the next day. I was quite surprised at how immaculate their apartment was. It's a two story with at least for bedrooms and three bathrooms, complete with a toilet seat heater. It's even been featured in a local magazine.  Let me just say that Katy is an excellent host. She pulled out her daughters old baby swing for Xavier, s children's table for Eden and Ephraim with things for them to color, and had Kinder chocolate eggs for them.  She prepared a lavish feast of beef and taro soup, green beans with pork, stir-fried broccoli, Japanese styled beef curry with carrots and potatoes, eggs and tomatoes (one of the kids favorites), rice of course, a delicious fruit salad made up of papaya, Elizabeth melon, banana, miniature tomatoes and sweet mayonnaise, and fresh squeezed carrot-apple juice.  The fruit salad was so good that I made it two days later. She even had her daughter' s old high chair, which they sent home with us later that evening, brought out for Xavier. For dinner, he had mashed up taro root for the first time. We enjoyed the rest of the evening chatting and looking at their pictures, of which, they have quite the collection. Wanting to be conscientious of their daughter's need to do homework, we finally wrapped it up, not to mention the fact that Xavier had made a smelly present, and we had forgotten the backpack at home.  A thought provoking part of the evening was when our Ephraim mentioned that we hadn't yet thanked Father for our food as we do in our home.  Please lift up our relationship with Katy and her family. They have been such a blessing to us. 

Showers of Blessing:
New friendships
Silver dollar sized honey oranges
A two year old in our org had a serious infection in her toe, and was able to receive the medical care she needed
Jacob finding a sister in his classroom




Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our Protector

     So a few weeks ago I fell with Xavier in the ergo.  Every night since then, I have thought about blogging about it, but I just couldn't till now. It was on a Thursday, and the kids and I were leaving our P.E. portion of coop walking back home.  THANKFULLY Xavier was in the ergo securely fastened to me. THANKFULLY it had just started getting cold, and he had his thick wool hat on.

     THANKFULLY he had fallen asleep, and I had snapped his head supporter on, which helped to prevent whiplash. All throughout our complex there are small round metal posts that stick up out of the ground that they connect more metal to in order to prevent cars from driving through. I always carefully avoid them, but on this occasion as I was walking by, the bow of my shoelace caught a screw that was sticking out, and we went flying. I felt as if we were going in slow motion, and fear overwhelmed me. I caught myself on my hands and knees, and horrific dread consumed  me as I let out a scream when I heard Xavier's head hit the ground with a thud. All kinds of terrifying images went through my head in the second it took me to pull back the cover to check him.  He had about a two second delay in his cry, I'm sure from being stunned. I quickly got him out and rushed back to the other homeschool Mom's to check him out. Ephraim grabbed our backpack when I asked him to, like the little man he is.
     It was one of the most terrifying moments. One mom held him while I looked him over, and another started talking to our Father.  Looking back, I believe Father had His hand on us in that moment, cushioning our fall, which could have been so much worse, and reminding us of His presence.  We came out of it with a small bump on his head, and a few bruises and scrapes for me.
Being away from home, away from comfort, away from better medical care, away from family and friends has the benefit of making us depend on Him more, and often being more aware of His presence.  We are blessed.

"For you are my protector, my strong defense against my enemies."  Ps 61: 3     
                     Showers of Blessing:
Healthy happy children
The best tasting tart miniature pears
Date night with Jacob eating hot pot for the first time
Ephraim's curious questions about Moses