Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Catching up: party from last semester

In the midst of ending last semester and all the chaos that goes with it, we decided to have a class party.  Jacob had a new class this past semester, and we had not given them a party yet.

Ephraim and Xavier playing with transformers before the party.

Sweet S wanted so much to be Xavier's friend, and she succeeded by showing how to play the Chinese feather game (same concept as a hacky sack).  Jacob and I think she kind of looks like a grown up version of our little girl. :)

Further proof that Ephraim is in constant motion.

Many of these pictures were taken by the students.  Jacob had them send him their favorites, and this was one of them.  

How food for the party looks when you are getting ready to go to the states for the summer: kettle corn from the guy across the street, jello candy, packaged swiss roll treats, peanuts, apricots, green tea, pear juice, and hawthorne juice.

Another class favorite pic.

The sweet guy in the pic below on the right got all the kids dragon boat necklaces.

I enjoyed some great conversation with A on the left.

The kids are never lacking in affection or attention when we have class parties.

This class was so sweet and special that the time went by so fast at this party.  I was surprised when it was time for them to go.  Three of the girls especially are on my heart.  One, L, asked me if I would remember her.  Yes, L, I will remember you.  These students are worth remembering, and lifting, and investing in.  Thankful we are still in Changchun.  We still have the potential to keep up with friendships we have formed.  

Showers of Blessing:
Precious students that prick my heart and make me hope for their future
Sweet girl that reminds me of Tessa
Cute brother moments with Ephraim and Xavier
All the Way My S Leads Me-Fanny Crosby

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Eden is 8!

My girl is 8.  How bittersweet it is to watch them grow, knowing you won't remember every great moment.  I remember rocking her as a sleeping baby, looking at the most beautiful and delicate face I had ever seen, and thinking, "I probably won't remeber this moment."  Of course, I did remember that one, since I was so afraid I wouldn't.  Now here she is, 8.  

Being a Mom is a sacred and challenging work.  You realize how selfish you are, how inadequate you are, how little you know, how much you need grace, and how much you need Father.  Children indeed are a gift, and I am honored to be Eden's Mom. 

Her birthday was spread out this year.  She preferred outings this time over an organized party, so we put out the decorations and had cake at a team dinner.  Last summer she chose Hawaiin decorations from Dollar tree to bring back.

The beach cake. 

Birthday blessing

Part of the team

Grant and Gretchen made dinner: stew, rabbit salad, and italian herb bread.

Deep breath...

and they're out all at once!

We had put off buying the kids bicycles, but since we are staying in China, the kids wanted scooters.  We got Eden and Ephraim scooters, and Xavier a tricycle.  Since she had already received such a large gift, Eden chose to spend time with Lily and Lydia for her birthday present.  First stop was burger king. Some college aged guys wanted to take pictures with our kids, but we politely declined since they were in the middle of eating and it was a birthday outing.  They came back with ice cream cones for the kids.  

Eden got exactly what she wanted from Lily and Lydia, a cap.  She put it on right away, and wears it constantly unless showering or sleeping.  She has deemed it her lucky hat.  She even wore it the whole time while playing at the play place, sweaty head and all.  In the midst of playing, the electricity went out for about 1/2 and hour, but it didn't seem to faze anyone.

Another hand-holding pic.  I love it!

Erica and Kristalyn decided to take Eden on an outing for her birthday.  I'm thankful for friends who know and love my daughter well.  We went to a place where you make figurines out of modeling clay.

Erica gave Eden a pink pig travel pillow for the airplane.

Our artwork.  The two on the far left are models from the shop.  Next are Eden's robin hood kitty, Erica's yoda cactus, my Tessa doll, and Kristalyn's blue crab for Maryland.

We went to a game store while they baked for 20 minutes.

Next on the list was pizza from Jello Factory.  I had never been, but it's definitely the best pizza in Changchun.  Eden got a free pizza, and we all got free drinks since it was her birthday.  

We also ordered nachos.

The back of Eden's head.  This is pretty much all we saw of her since the owner turned on the movie Home while we ate.  

Showers of Blessing:
My strong, confident, beautiful 8 year old who knows what she wants
Birthday blessings
Teammates who cook
College boys who treat others to ice cream
Lucky cap
Little friends to celebrate with
Teammates who have become family, and love my children well
Figurines to remember the day by
Free birthday pizza
Things worth remembering

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Picnic China Style

Right before summer break, we went on a picnic with some of Jacob's teacher friends and our teammate, Erica.  We  went to Nanhu park again, but a different area.

One of the teachers has an Australian husband who works and lives in Denmark.  He was very quiet but polite, and she, E, was fun to get to know.  The kids had plenty of green space to run around, as you can see in the background.  We sat on the grass for a while and chatted leisurely while the kids played and climbed a tree.

This adorable little friend behind Eden's hand came to pass out strawberries.  The teachers had our kids give him some seaweed snacks.  If you are given a gift here, it's customary to give one back as soon as possible so that you are not indebted.

Eventually snacks came out.  From my own observations, people usually eat drinks and snacks at picnics here, as opposed to more substantial meals.  We brought fruit and chicken salad sandwiches, and Erica brought a thai chicken pasta salad.  Xavier, of course, preferred the Chinese snacks.  Some of his favorites included pumpkin poridge, red bean-filled and sesame coated sticky rice balls, a peach, an apricot, and black sesame crackers. 

Eden liked the sandwiches best, and Ephraim devoured several packages of dried seaweed.

The teacher on the right, P, was so good with the kids.  She taught them badmitten, and now Eden wants it to be her new sport.

Notice all the tents?  Tents here are used for the daytime to shade from the sun.  People often will spend all day at the park, and take a leisure nap in them.  On a previous picnic it came in handy for Xavier to nap in.  

After the picnic, P sent Jacob an email with pictures from it.  I want to brag on Father and how humbled we are to see how He used Jacob last year by sharing some of what she wrote:

"By the way, I want to let you know that our students speak very highly of you in my listening class. Once we had a discussion on the topic "The person who impressed you most", a boy expressed his appreciation about your adoption of the Chinese kids.You set a very good example for those who know you! Thank you so very much for what you've done!"

Showers of Blessing:
A beautiful day with lots of green space
My TCKs who love pumpkin porridge, seaweed, black mushrooms, garlic shoots, pomelo, etc.
Cute kids who share strawberries
Seeing Father work
Watching other adoptive families meet their kids
Running 5 k again
Homeschool officially on summer break

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tea Party

After our friends left for Harbin, Jacob had a friend, Jason, come over for guy time: hot wings, chips, soda, ice cream, and Indiana Jones, while Eden and I headed to Tammy's (Jason's wife) for a tea party.  We took a taxi and climbed the seven flights of stairs to be greeted by two enthusiastic little girls.  I had researched high  tea, and we came up with a solution similar for our girls.  We included the three different courses, but ate them all at once, due to short attention spans.  We had savory: chicken salad sandwiches and stuffed cucumbers; scones with butter and jam; and sweet: white chocolate coated-peanut butter stuffed ritz, poppy seed bread, and fruit with dip.

Our friends are going to be stateside this year, and we are going to miss them tremendously.  Eden has really enjoyed Lily and Lydia, and is sad that their will be a shortage of like-minded girls her age this year.  

We talked about traditions of high tea, munched our delicious treats, decorated princess hats while wearing aprons I had brought from Dollar Tree, and played charades.  

Then Tammy read this really great book while we enjoyed citrus ginger roobios tea that Kristalyn had gotten me from South Africa.  Each girl received a china plate with their name and saying written on the back in permanent marker.  I appreciate Tammy for so many things: her gentle spirit, the book recommendations, the investment she puts into her marriage and her girls, honest conversations, the recipes she's shared, her self-control, her heart for the homeless.

Showers of Blessing:
Girl time
Other people who pour into my daughter's heart
Researching, planning, and carrying out fun ideas
Tea from South Africa

Harbin friends come to visit

Friday our friends Mark and Kim, Nate, and Samuel came from Harbin to visit us.  They took a 2 hour train ride, got turned around in the station tunnel, found a different light rail than planned, took one light rail, got off half way through, got on another light rail, and walked five minutes to our apartment.  What lengths do your friends go through for you?  That trouble alone made us feel pretty special.  They brought us a giant loaf of Harbin bread, which they claimed was the small one, and a bar of Russian dark chocolate.  We went through orientation together in Colorado and Beijing.  We are going to miss them, as they are moving to Shanghai.  

Xavier and Samuel spent some time together, but they are both used to playing with older siblings, not as much with kids their same age.

Since Nate is a special friend to Eph, Ephraim suggested we have Ugandan food for dinner that night.  We had Ugandan chicken stew, matoke (steamed smashed bananas), gnut (peanut) sauce, rice, irish potatoes (with Indian spices), and coleslaw.  We  enjoyed chatting with them in the evenings when the kids had gone to bed, and LAUGHING.  It's been a while since I've laughed so much.  I knew I would while they were here.  They are sooo much fun.  I'm always sure to experience something new with Kim.  Who else would I join in the community exercise circle with!

The next day, we packed a picnic lunch and headed to Nanhu park.  We found a space in a group of trees with a smaller audience, and chowed on pb and j's with Harbin bread, chips, nectarines, and revel bars (a chocolate oat cookie bar that was a favorite from my childhood).  

The toddlers were getting restless, so Kim and I headed home while the guys took the older kids on a paddle boat ride.  Heading home sounds easier than it is.  We had to walk and carry our toddlers along with several bags halfway across the huge park, no small feat.  Then we caught a cab, and realized halfway through that I forgot to get the keys from Jacob.  

Thankfully, Kristalyn had a key to our house.  I left Kim at the gate, walked to Kristalyn's apartment, and climbed the 4 flights of stairs with Xavier in tow.  Then we headed to the apartment, and ...the key didn't work.  We gave up and walked to the coffee shop.  We were halfway through my coffee and Kim's coconut almond milk when the guys showed up.  We  then finally made it home.  Realistically, Kim should have been annoyed with me at this point, exhausted, and frustrated, but this event didn't harm our friendship.  She just laughed and said, "It's just part of living in China."  She was patient, encouraging and full of endurance.  I love her for it.  

That evening we made the 45 minute walk (again due to toddlers) to Goose Island, one of the kids' favorite places, mostly because it has two ziplines over a small pond with 2 rafts to ride on.  
Ephraim enjoyed his time with Nate so much.  They were a good match for each other when it came to games.  They both like to make up rules as they go along.  Eden was impressed with Samuel's vocabulary, and thought he was so adorable.  

The next day, Kim asked Eden if she could brush her hair before we went to lunch.

Mini orientation reunion at lunch.  I love that Xavier is peeking over Jacob's shoulder.

They left shortly after lunch, and we missed them right away.

Showers of Blessing:
Friends willing to go the distance
Harbin bread and Russian chocolate
Reminiscing my childhood while observing my own children
Patient, loving, enduring friends
New experiences
Laughing hysterically
The way Xavier plays with my hair when I hold him
Our mornings now beginning with Rise and Shine and This is the Day