In my previous post I mentioned an opportunity to go to a women's conference in Shenyang. Initially, I expected nothing to come of hearing of this conference, so I was pleasantly surprised when two of my teammates said basically, "Why not! Lets go." They offered childcare. So off we went, three girls ready for adventure, toting Xavier along.
Weddings were everywhere this weekend. In fact, we passed a wedding procession before we even got our first taxi to the train station.
We had a few dilemmas along the way, which provided more opportunities to trust Father. The first involved Erica's ticket being purchased with a previous passport number. While Kristalyn and Erica petitioned the ticketing agent, I talked to Father. He cares about everything. The agent was very kind and helpful. The whole process of fixing her ticket went unusually smooth.
We boarded the train behind us, and I sat between my friends so Xavier would be surrounded. He mooched pb and J from Kristalyn on the way there. Once we arrived and disembarked, our hotel was a convenient short walk from the station.
So many weddings! In fact, several took place on the same floor as our conference, which made for amusing background music.
They have Papa Johns in Shenyang! Xavier ate his first whole piece of pizza :)
Cute little signs everywhere.
I was so thankful for the childcare. Two of the best things about the conference were the intimate and glorifying conversations I had with my teammates and the time I spent in our room while Xavier was away having quiet time to myself, and reading a book I had been wanting to finish. One of my goals this year is to read more. There are so many great books out there, and I just finished two: Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem by Dennis and Barbara Rainey and SisterChicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn. I'm currently reading The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. After childcare was over for the afternoon, I headed on a walk with Kristalyn, and Xavier fell asleep. Lately, he falls asleep more easily on stroller rides. We got to sit at Starbucks, and enjoy peaceful conversation while actually sitting, not having to chase and corral him. It was delightful, and he is adorable :)
That night we had a buffet dinner at a hotel a short walk away on the 28th floor. This was our view.
Although, I must admit the style of presentation of the conference was not what I'm used too and challenging for me to appreciate, there was so much there for me to be grateful for. The music led by medical students from various parts of Africa was uplifting and beautiful, the times we spent talking to Father we focused on lifting others, we stayed in a very nice room with yummy food provided for an amazingly inexpensive price, we got to meet people from around the world, including a new connection in our own city, and it was refreshing to get away and appreciate home. Nothing was wasted.
Xavier likes to push his own stroller these days. The last session ended around 3:00, and we had about 5 1/2 hours to kill before our train left, so we chose to walk to a nearby mall to walk around and have supper. Xavier had been so good up to that point, that I received many comments about how calm he was and such a great traveller. He really is, but even a great traveller can only handle so much, and when that great traveller is a toddler, at some point you can expect a meltdown. This occurred at the mall, we found a grocery store. He decided he was hungry. A well-meaning salesperson gave him an orange sample on a toothpick. He decided to lick it instead of eating it. I finally couldn't stand it any longer, and took the treat away. I had visions of him poking his eye or the back of his throat with this toothpick, and having to quickly find the nearest hopspital here. I didn't see a trash can anywhere, so I swallowed down the orange, and put the toothpick in my purse, at which point X started screaming. He had giant tears rolling down his red face, and I'm pretty sure I got some misunderstanding looks. This was the beginning of several hours of discontent for poor Xavier. While supper was delicious, it was not eaten in peace.
We still had time to kill afterwards, so we walked around with grumpy X. Then we found it, the oasis. On the fifth floor, there was a beautiful new area with a room full of IKEA toys and completely void of children. Xavier got to play, and release his overstimulation. The place was clean complete with rooms with cribs, nursing rooms, changing station, and a scale (what?). The lady running it was enthralled with Xavier, and gave us to opportunity for my Chinese speaking teammates to have a meaningful conversation with her.
On our way out, we found some fun photo opportunities. Eden loves to draw the Mona Lisa, so I took this pic for her.
Erica did lots of shopping ;)
My friends said I looked a little tooo happy here!
So... we got to the station relaxed, and lined up to get our tickets punched when the ticketing agent noticed they were for the next day! This all would seem like an "Ooops!" However, I called Jacob to intervene on our behalf while Erica and Kristalyn went to figure out what to do. We missed that train, but wound up getting the one that left 15 minutes later, and arrived 20 minutes earlier. Hurray!
Xavier fell asleep at the station, slept the whole train ride, and taxi ride! The taxi ride was another answer. Many times at night from the station, taxis want to bargain, and charge outrageous prices, but we got a great taxi who used the meter moments after another driver said we would never get one and wanted to charge almost triple the cost.
Showers of Blessing:
Getting away with girls
Kind ticketing agents
My good little traveller
Time alone to refresh my heart
Nice cheap place to stay
Fun little amusing signs
Inspired authors who write great books
Honest taxi driver
Precious family to come home to
Husband who made the most of time with older kids
A Father who cares about the details, His plans are better than I could possibly imagine