Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wishful Thinking

I wish everyone I know had a blog.

I've warned some of you that I was thinking about writing a post like this! :-) And I know blogging isn't something that everyone is interested in doing. But sometimes I can't help but feel like it's not fair that I write about bits of my life, but don't get in on yours. Oh, I know there are phone calls and all that, but somehow when things are recorded "on paper" as they happen, they take on a different quality.

Some of you have blogs, and I check them eagerly, many of them daily. Will there be a new post? Oh, not today. Or, yes! You've posted something new! What is it? What are you up to? What have you read, or seen, or photographed, or thought about, or heard from God? What have your children done? What cute outfit is your baby wearing today? Where are you going soon? What do you think about the movie you've just watched? Why is today a hard day for you?

I know you can't be completely honest and transparent in a blog. I know I'm not. After all, you don't know what stranger might read your thoughts. But a taste of life, here and there, just a sampling... that's what "Now We Are Six" is for me. Sometimes I put a nice, shiny finish on a day that you would see wasn't quite so sparkling if you had been privy to all the details. Sometimes I let you know that I was very anxious for my little one to be napping so I could have a break. Sometimes I tell you what great fun we had. Sometimes I tell you how very un-fun it was to be in the store too long with a restless child. It's a sampling of my life. Just a taste.

Could I taste yours too?

Free as a Bird

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Starting to Leave

Last week I had to start the good-byes. I was imagining that I still had well over a month before they would begin. This one took me by surprise, although I should have realized it was coming. It was the last day of Seth and Madelyn's once a week program for home schoolers, called The Greenhouse. Our family has been a part of The Greenhouse for three school years, and it has been a wonderful place for the children to to have a taste of a classroom experience, to learn amazing things from teachers who really care about them, and to enjoy being with friends for a day a week. In addition, it has given me a precious block of time each week where I am not schooling the kids, Gwen is napping, and I have a bit of time to myself.

Background aside, the time came last Wednesday afternoon for us to thank the teachers. I am not close to these women, but the things they have brought out in my kids, the time they've invested, the special projects and presentations they have spent many extra hours on for my children's benefit, somehow all combined to cause a rush of emotion. I snuffled and blubbered throught the first thank-you, and then decided to send Seth and Madelyn to thank the other three teachers on their own.

Now I know this was a cop-out. And I really wanted to thank them myself. In a way I was a little upset with myself for not being able to hold it together enough to do it. I stewed about it for a little while and let Seth and Madelyn contine the thank-you's and good-byes on their own.

When we moved here three and a half years ago, there were many good-byes to say. I remember that I tried to hold it together and not be emotional about them. But later I was sorry. Sorry that I hadn't been willing to be vulnerable enough to cry with a friend and let her truly know how much she meant and how much I would miss the every day stuff with her.

I want this time to be different.

Last Wednesday afternoon after I thought about all this for a while, after I had even left the building and joined the kids playing outside, I decided to go back in to The Greenhouse. I ended up only speaking with one more of the teachers, and I did cry a little, but I'm so glad I did. I got to tell her how very thankful I am for the things she has imparted to my children- and those things are many- and in return she so graciously thanked me for the privilege of teaching them and told me how much she would miss them.

So in the end I only thanked two of the four teachers in person. I had cards and little gifts for all four, so I don't think anyone was slighted. But I did feel like it was a small victory to have gone back in to the second teacher. I hope I learned a lesson with this first round of good-byes, one that will help me to take the time and risk the emotion to tell more people what they've meant to me before we go.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Beach Discoveries

Seth discovers how to ride a skim board at the edge of the surf...
Madelyn discovers the tingly feeling a starfish makes on her hand with its tiny feelers...

And Alyssa and Gwen discover what Caleb has in his net and bucket!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Excess Fun

If you happen to be a regular reader of my dear friend Rebecca's blog (As In a Mirror, see my sidebar for a live link), then you have probably already seen pictures quite similar to these. We spent a wonderful day with these dear friends last Saturday, on our drive back from our vacation. We packed a lot into a short time, as Rebecca details in her posts about our day together. One of the activities the girls enjoyed was this one pictured... putting as many hair clips and bows into their hair as they possibly could. I had suggested it, but thought nothing more of it until they appeared, heavily adorned, about 20 minutes later. Gwen was napping while this was going on, but once Emma Grace and Madelyn were heavy with clips, they couldn't wait to wake her up and show her! Emma Grace then removed all the clips from her hair and put them into Gwen's! Great photo op, as you can see!

Sleep Deprived

One good reason to move to China~

Not having to get out of bed for 3 a.m. conference calls with the Shanghai office anymore.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Classic

I just love this picture of Madelyn on the beach. It's such a natural, happy expression on her face.

The day after I took it, we lost the camera for a short time. I had left it on the railing of the little beach access ramp, where someone found it and turned it in to the snack bar. Scott found it there about an hour later. While I thought the camera was lost, I was sadder about losing this picture than I was about the camera itself!


I love this little girl like crazy, wouldn't trade her for anything.

So why is it that some days I can't wait for her naptime?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Got to love running on the beach with your cousin! Come catch me, Aunt Sarah!

Fast forward 60 some years... do you see a couple of retirees enjoying their morning walk on the beach?!
Heading out into the surf!

Monday, May 21, 2007


It takes a long time, it seems. Tonight I have emptied several suitcases, but the largest one is still full. It waits for me at the bottom of the stairs, too heavy for me to carry. Scott will bring it when he comes up. Most of the clothes I've unpacked today were clean, a definite benefit, but they still needed to find their homes in various bedrooms and dressers. Suitcases aside, the house is in a state of general disaray... mail in stacks, bags of books to empty and put away, shoes scattered in the kitchen and front hall, and tonight I noticed there were even a few shells on the kitchen floor.

Going to the beach for a week is an event... and so is coming home.


I love how this photo captured Gwen's expression of pure joy as she is swinging with her cousin... everything else in the picture is blurred but her face. I wish I could say I was able to take a picture like this due to my amazing photography skills... but no, it was just pure luck!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

Gwen has another mother. I haven't thought about her for a while, but I did yesterday. It surprised me, because when we were in the midst of the adoption process, and during the time when Gwen had first joined our family, I thought about her first mother all the time. At times it seemed to me that it would be too difficult to bear, these thoughts of the woman who had given birth to a daughter she would not be able to raise. I couldn't bear to imagine her sadness at losing this baby girl.

But yesterday in church, amid the special events of the service honoring mothers, I thought of her again for the first time in a while. I couldn't hold back the tears, as I watched her little girl bring a flower to me. How is it that now I have the privilege of being the mother of this child?

I know that Mother's Day wasn't celebrated yesterday in China, but there are mothers all over that country that were honored yesterday by mamas and daddys in this country who have beautiful daughters because of these women. Gwen's first mother is one of them.

And when I put Gwen down for her nap yesterday, she whispered in my ear, "I love you. You're so pretty. You're my best friend, ever, ever, ever." How come I get to hear these sweet words, and her other mother never will?

Last night at bedtime, I prayed with Gwen like I usually do, only this time I found myself praying for her first mother. I have never prayed for her outloud with Gwen before. As I finished the prayer, I wondered if she understood any of it. I wondered about praying for this woman with Gwen more, in the future. It must be the right thing to do.

Happy Mother's Day, Gwen's first mother. We've got a pretty special girl, you and I. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Time in the Tulips

I took these pictures several weeks ago at the sunken garden near our house... I've posted tulip pictures from this same garden here before! The bright colors are simply amazing... even more so when you look at the tulips up close. We stopped at the garden right after Seth's violin lesson... so he decided to play in the garden and see if he'd get any tips. He didn't, but he did receive several compliments. :-)

Love that bright color!

China Update

We are moving to China.

I know I've mentioned this fact, but now we have booked our tickets. One way tickets. It makes it seem much more real, to know the day and the hour we will leave this country for the Far East side of the world.

Our apartment negotiations are nearly complete... did I tell you that we actually lost the first apartment we had chosen, because the owner decided to sell it instead of rent it? Providentially, this happened right as Scott was arriving in Shanghai for his three week stint, so he and our agent were able to select another unit that is the exact same layout, only flip-flopped, and instead of being on the 47th floor, now we will be on the 48th. I'm not thinking that extra twelve feet in the air will make much difference!

This morning I received via email a document from Concordia International School, where the boys will be attending next year, for Caleb to rate his choices for his arts classes in the fall. We read through the choices together, and his top three selections are Media Literacy, which involves video/movie making using IMovie software; Sculpture, a class that focuses on realism in sculpture and incorporates a variety of media; and Clayworks, where the students will use both the potter's wheel and handbuilding techniques. He will get two of these classes next school year, for a semester each. I am so excited for this school experience for the boys... I wish I was going to be attending (at least for the art classes)!

We are periodically receiving e-newsletters from Abundant Grace International Fellowship, the church that Scott and I attended on our first trip to Shanghai. It's been interesting to read about their search for a full-time youth director, knowing that this is a person that will directly affect our family. I've also read about a Newcomer/Farewell Coffee that will be taking place next weekend, where all the new families can meet each other as well as the old-timers (which they described as anyone who's been attending more than 6 months!), and where all can say good-bye to the families leaving Shanghai permanently. Interesting to consider the kind of turnover the church and school communities will have there... everyone rotating through while they are on assignment, then moving on and out of each other's every day lives.

I am slowly clearing things out of my house, one little plastic grocery bag at a time. I've pretty much finished culling out the clothes we don't need anymore, and have done some of the toys... but there is lots more to do. Hopefully once we're done with school at the end of this month, I can really devote some more time to this effort. Right now it's still a little overwhelming, but I am enjoying the "light" feeling of less clutter!

Working on gathering what I need for the girls' passport and visa applications... hoping that Gwen's will slide through with no trouble. Hopefully her "US Citizen" certificate says it all. Then we just need a work visa for Scott...

We had a WONDERFUL surprise farewell party for Scott at Ernst & Young earlier this week... hoping to post some pictures from that soon. The children and I were included, which made it really special for our whole family to get to be a part of it. I'll post more on that event soon.

I guess that's the "Moving to China" news for now. Thank you to all who are praying for our transition. I know there will be hard days ahead... but the growth and the adventure will be worth it!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Unexpected Compliment

Gwen and I were at a playground in our neighborhood this morning. Her choice of activities was to push me on the merry-go-round. It was rather slow going, as you can imagine, but she could at least make it move around slowly. After a few minutes of slow circles, I asked her if I was heavy.

"No," she said, "You're cute."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Too (and Two) Sweet(ies!)

The Family Fun Foto Challenge ( for this week is "No-No". I didn't think I had a picture that fit, but just last night after we had all finished a dish of ice cream, I came into the kitchen to find Gwen sucking the last few drops out of the nearly empty chocolate syrup bottle. I uncharacteristically told her to keep it in her mouth while I got the camera! When I explained why, Madelyn liked the idea of the Foto Challenge theme, and so posed a few shots of her own!

Monday, May 07, 2007

My Girls in the Flowers

Every spring I look forward to the blooming of these trees at the entrance to our neighborhood. It seems we notice the tiny deep pink buds have formed weeks before they actually open. Then one day we notice that they are really open now, and there they are, row upon row of these lovely pink trees, and I just want to be up in them, and walking beneath them, with petals falling around me. They are inconveniently in the middle of the street, however, with traffic on both sides. But it's only neighborhood traffic, and they are so beautiful, and the blossoms last such a short time once they are really open, that at least once each spring we must walk through the yards and cross over the street into that narrow strip of lawn where these trees grow. Then we can walk under the branches heavy with flowers, and sit on the branches of the trees, and shake them just a little so that petals fall around us.

And of course I must take some pictures, because my girls are so lovely in the flowers.


Isaiah 41:13

For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you,"Do not fear, I will help you. "

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Her Eyes Have It

Have you seen eyes like these? I mean, really? Our four nieces and one nephew, and one of our sons, all have beautiful blue eyes... but I think these eyes belonging to our youngest niece just might win the prize.

Friday, May 04, 2007

An Unofficial Book Review

While we were waiting for Gwen, I collected a number of children's books with adoption themes. This book is one that was recommended, but I had been unable to find until now. (Amazon has it!)

When it came it the mail yesterday, Madelyn took it to read herself before I had even had a chance to look at it. The book is written from the perspective of a beagle puppy named Rosie who has been adopted by a family of schauzers. On one of the first pages, Rosie is listing some of the things she loves. She says she loves her family, and it shows the same picture as is on the cover (below). Right away Madelyn said, "How can that be her family? They look different from her." How ironic! I explained that our family was a little like that... oh yeah... then she realized. She hadn't thought of it before! She carefully read the rest of the book to herself without further comment, and when she was finished, she said, "That was a good book." When I asked her why, she replied, "Because it told a lot about adoption."

When I read the book later, I found that it is a fairly obvious discussion of the common questions children who don't "match" their adoptive families might have. But since the story is about a dog family, it seems like a fun way to think about these adoption issues.

I think it would be a good book to donate to your child's teacher, or maybe even to give to your child's cousins or friends who might have questions about adoption. I'm glad to own it... I'm sure we'll be pulling it out from time to time in the next couple years as we discuss these questions at our house.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Aunt Carol's Nail Salon

There were pedicures and manicures for all in my Aunt Carol's kitchen last Saturday. Where else can you sit on the counter to have your nail polish applied? :-)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Gotcha Outfit... Family Fun Foto Challenge

Here are all of the clothes Gwen was wearing the day we met her, minus the fish hair clip. I had laid them all out to take this picture sometime about a year ago, and had them saved with other special things from her adoption. I didn't imagine that I would be putting them on her again... but that's what we did tonight! Not all the layers, just the top one, which is fine corderoy, quite thick and puffy, like a comforter.
Interestingly, when our friends we met in China (whose daughter Kate came from the same orphanage as Gwen) visited us earlier this year, they brought pictures of Kate from a camera that they had sent ahead to the orphanage. This disposable camera with pictures of Kate in the orphanage contained several photos of her wearing this exact outfit Gwen wore on Gotcha Day! I was leafing through the pictures and recognized it at once! I guess the clothes are all shared around among the children there. Whatever is on top of the stack of laundry...

This week's Foto Challenge was to try the Gotcha Day outfit on again! I had not had Gwen's on her since the day we met her... when she was ten pounds lighter and six inches shorter... but look how well it fits! On Gotcha Day (sixteen-plus months ago) both the legs and the arms were cuffed up. Tonight I still cuffed the sleeves, but the pants fit just fine without cuffing. It was neat to get the outfit out and show it to Gwen, to tell her about the day we met her. She tried very hard to fit her foot into the adorable Gotcha Day panda squeaker shoes, and to my surprise we got them on and she was even able to wear them for a few minutes. I even put the little pink fish clip she was wearing when when we met her in her hair tonight, and then showed her a picture of what she looked like that day. I love being able to tell her about this amazing story in pieces... thanks, Donna,(2happy.typepad) for the incentive to do this with Gwen tonight!