Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Summer in America from Student Perspective

Five of our students spent part of their summer in America.  Jacob and I lifted them up while they were there, hoping that they would meet encouraging and helpful people.  They are precious, and we wanted them to have a positive experience.  They came over, and chatted with us about their trip while munching on peanut butter bars, small oranges, veggies and dip.  Then they each showed us photos and explained their trip.  K worked in a University cafeteria in Colorado.  S worked in a fancy seafood restaurant in New Jersey.  V, T, and E all took tours of University campuses.  V and T visited 9 campuses in 9 states in 20 days, including Harvard, Stanford, and Berkley.  Some of this is paraphrased, but here are some of the things they said: "I missed Chinese food."  "There is a fellowship on every campus."  "If I go to America, will it be difficult for me to get an internship?"  "The clothes are so cheap."  "The food is so expensive."  "I bought books at Dollar Tree."  (One of the books was our favorite book.)  "I went to fellowship twice.  I liked shaking hands, and I ate the bread."  "I went to fellowship, and I fell asleep."  

Moment that sticks out in my mind was when V got up from the table.  Xavier was in his toddler seat, and wanted V to get him out.  V thought it was cute, but kept talking to him, avoiding picking him up.  I got the impression he wasn't sure how to hold a little one, so I unbuckled Xavier, and handed him to a surprised V.  He wasn't quite sure what to do, but I was sure that it was good for him. ;)  He handled it very well, and Xavier was very happy with him.  He even almost fell asleep.  It was a long, but good evening, with some deep meaningful conversation at the close.

Showers of Blessing:
 of our home country from our students
Gift of green tea accompanied by, "It has little fat."
Friendly kids, ever thankful
More insight into the lives of those we care about
Meaningful conversation

Changchun Library

A few days after sports day, my friend J invited me to go to the library with her.  There are two in Changchun.  I had seen her a couple days before returning with children's books for her daughter, and asked her if they had any English books.  Since she wasn't sure, I thought it would be fun to take Eden with me and investigate.  There is a bus you can take, but since she was bringing her baby, we took a taxi.  

There were three levels of childrens books made  up of a small room on each level.  We went up a staircase, down a hall, and down another staircase.  We did find some books that were in Chinese and English.  We chose 7 books, including Snow White and Alice in Wonderland.  I had to preview the books first because one of the books suggested by the librarian was about a girl who wouldn't eat and had pain in her stomach.  Hmmm.  Not quite ready for that one.  Anyways, I was so grateful to find an alternative to the small Myers library at home.  They even had The Trumpet of the Swan on the second level.  That was the only English book I remember seeing on that level.  It's so nice to have another indoor alternative for the kids with the coming winter.  J was kind enough to give me her library card till I can bring Eden and Ephraim's passports to get one made for them.

Aren't they precious!

Showers of Blessings:
Sweet friends who share their resources
Different English books
Fun outing with Eden
Indoor alternatives for upcoming winter

Jacob's birthday

Jacob turned 35 this year.  He spent the day at a quiet place to reflect on his previous years, seek Father, and gain vision for goals of the coming years, with a short interruption to have lunch with us at one of his favorite restaurants.  Even in the time away we were not forgotten.  He messaged me that he wanted to change his birthday dessert plans to the next day, so that Eden and I could attend a party at a friend's house.  After he returned that afternoon, I got ready, while Eden scarfed down a piece of leftover quiche.  We headed to the light rail with a container of veggies and homemade hummus.  That night we enjoyed snacks including muffins and popcorn while watching Little Women in a girls only crowd.  These are moments I treasure with my daughter.  
We did wait till the next day to have birthday  dessert.  Instead of a cake this year, he just wanted an old-fashioned banana split.  You would think that would be simple, however, I think I'd rather make a cake next time ;).  The process involved making homemade hot fudge on the stove, boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for 2 1/2 hours, hand whipping some whipping cream because my beater died, and toasting nuts.  Put it all on top of a split banana and vanilla ice cream, and voila!  The only thing missing was a cherry.

Jacob has been successfully working hard to be healthy, and requested ankle weights for his birthday.  Kristalyn ordered those on taobao, and I surprised him with a shirt and mug with his university emblem on them.  The older two love their Dad, and wanted to be part of the fun, so they decorated the house.

Banana split was the theme.

Pin the tail on the banana. Ha!  I'm so not that creative.

They also created centers.  Here are a few.

Showers of Blessing:
Creative children who love their Dad
Banana splits
Quiet times to reflect
Thoughtful Moms who throw movie parties and include us
Little Women with my precious daughter
Husband who values relationships

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Baby sports day/BBQ with transfer students

I have gradually become friends with another mom, J, in the complex.  She has two children, and Eden gave her young baby boy his English name.  She was friendly from the beginning, and invited me to a sports day for kids.  I had no idea what to expect when I got there.  It was at a place called Gymboree, not the cute clothing store.  Thankfully, Kristalyn went with me.  It would have been utter chaos otherwise transporting the three kids, and caring for them in such a crowded place.   When we got there, we were given socks to wear, and the children had their temperature checked with an ear thermometer.  

I found J, and discovered that the games for the older children were in a different building.  I didn't feel comfortable sending them away, and even her older daughter didn't want to go, Eden and Ephraim had to stay and watch the babies.  I discovered that all the families here were from our apartment complex, which was a cool way to meet other moms.  I even met a Congolese mom, and got to practice my French.

The festivities started off with a cheer from the employees, pom poms included.  Then we were divided into groups.  Xavier was in the oldest group.  We then paraded around the place in our groups with our kiddos to warm up.  The crawlers went first for their races.

This was my friend's baby.  He was quite adorable, though not too happy about racing.

It was hilarious and precious.

The second age group had to climb over hurdles.  It was adorable how excited the parents and grandparents got over their little ones.

There was a fun airplane swing for Xavier to play in while waiting for his turn.

Finally, he was up.  Kristalyn had him at the start line, then he crawled through the tube with a ball that he had to put through a loop.  He did quite well, in my opinion, and even received a plastic winning medal.  We had a few minor incidents that frazzled my maternal nerves, and decided it would be a good idea to walk home instead of taking a taxi.  The walk took about an hour, and turned out to be exactly what we needed.  It helped that Kristalyn was with us, and I could have a comforting chat with her.  

That night we had some dinner guests.  Jacob has two students from Taiwan who are only here for one semester.  We have the greatest thing in common with both of them, and that itself was so encouraging.  A knows how to play the piano, and gets to share her skills with others once a week.  We requested the use of her skills to encourage Eden, and she played Pachelbel's canon.  

They were both very quiet, but seemed to enjoy the meal made up of bbq pork, potato salad, spiced roasted green pumpkin, fruit, and one of the three brownie mixes I brought with me.  Eden decided she wanted a potato salad sandwich with her bbq on the side, so they copied her.  :)

We chatted a long time afterwards, and the kids begged to watch a movie on the ipad in Eph and Xavier's room.  Xavier thinks he is a big kid now too, and always wants to be involved in what Eden and Ephraim are doing.  It was a full and funny day.

Showers of Blessing:
New friends with sweet kids
Different and fun opportunities
Toddler who is a good sport
Getting to use my french
Long walks with comforting chats
Dinner with friends with common interests
Pretty music
Brownies from America
Children who eat potato salad sandwiches
Toddler who loves his sibblings

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Field Trip

Last week, the kids had been going strong with four and a half weeks of homeschool, so Jacob and I decided to skip a day, and take them on a field trip to the zoo before it got too cold.  It's a good thing we did since it's been rainy and cold this week with our first snow flurries that didn't last too long, but still...I keep trying to mentally prepare myself for the coming winter, but with my history of living in Africa, I can't help but dread the cold.  Anyway, we were so excited to visit the Changchun zoo for the first time!

This was the map posted at the entrance we used.  As you might guess, we did a lot of walking, and there were a lot more animals than I had imagined. 

There were also some adorably amusing signs: Please don't TOP on the glass.

This baboon was impressive.  I was fascinated by his furry mane.

There were so many different kinds of moneys.

We got to witness a humorous moment of a Momma monkey next to her baby drinking from a water bottle.  However, I'm pretty sure we got as many pictures taken of us, as we took of the monkeys. :)

Love this pic of my guys.  Ephraim had seen a picture of himself without glasses that day, and decided he wanted to pose without them throughout the day.

Changchun has many plant sculptures throughout the city, and there were several impressive ones at the zoo.  X loved being free from the stroller for a while, but not enough to cooperate in the picture :)

Red panda.  No black and white pandas here, though.  We have yet to see a live panda in China.

Momma kanga with baby in pouch.  So precious!

I wish I had a better picture of this snow tiger.  Its' face was so fierce.

I am still puzzled about this set of sculptures: maybe seals with hats?

While Jacob figured out the map, the kids took a snack break of hawthorne fruit roll up things and pocky sticks: cookie sticks with flavored coating.  This one was strawberry.

Lovely view from one of the bridges at the zoo. 

A small amusement park was connected to the zoo.  We didn't visit, much to the kids' dismay.  They got over the disappointment quickly, though.

Eph with my favorite animals: giraffes

The first part of the giant staircase we climbed, just for fun.  X climbed them all while holding Jacob's hands.

The second part.

Tai chi at the zoo.

Favorite sculpture toward the end.  We saw many more animals than the pictures I posted.  It was a fun and successful field trip.

Showers of Blessing:
Conquering several weeks of homeschool already
A fun zoo to visit, my favorite animal included
Lots of space for X to run around, and not many people at that time
Beautiful weather that day
Pretty sculptures
Import store just a short walk away to buy butter and cream
Funny signs
Cute Momma and baby animals
Fun memory making with my children
Father's majesty expressed once again through his animals: some sweet, some funny, some fierce, 
  some small, some large, some seemingly insignificant but with great purpose.